Thursday, December 24, 2009

My New 5-Year Diary

2010 will begin with a new 5-year diary from Levengers (this photo is from their website). I also got one for my sister, who wrote the following in her Christmas letter this year:
"I read my Mom's journals this summer. For those of you considering starting a journal, I would highly recommend it. It was like talking to her on the phone. Mom's been gone for ten years and after reading those journals I felt like I had just seen her. I need to start my own journal."
Our mother, Judy Grothe, died from cancer at the age of 56. For years mom kept a daily journal with just the highlights of what she did that day, kind of like a 'tidbits' journal. She used plain notebooks, cloth bound books, daily calendars- something different each year.

We feel fortunate to have them and are glad she took the time to make journal writing a part of her life. Now her sisters have asked to read them. And, later, her grandchildren will be glad to have them. When they find their way back to me, I will post a few pictures and excerpts from them.

If you're interested there is also a 10 year journal keeper called Journal 10+ that I found in the Bas Bleu catalog for $45.

In the magazine Letters & Journals, I plan to have regular features on the types of diaries people keep, the books they use, what they write about, why they do it. In the meantime, I am excited about starting this new 5 year diary!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

I visited the Missive Maven blog as I do regularly and see that she has a contest to give away a copy of this new hardcover book, Yours Ever, by Thomas Mallon. Just pop over and leave a comment on Missive Maven's site to be entered to win.

I got my copy of the book from Barnes & Noble a few weeks ago when I wrote about the book and its recent reviews and awards. I have just started to read it and so far am enjoying it.

Good Luck!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Found Letter

I came across this letter inside of a used book that I bought not too long ago. And earlier this year one of my pen pals sent a copy of a letter she also found in a used book that she got from Goodwill. Aren't these fascinating these little glimpses into lives other than our own? And to see the letter as it was written, and not a typed facsimile, just adds to the mystery.

In this case, the writer used colorful handmade paper for the first page and speckled white paper for the second page (not shown). She talks about making the stationery in her first paragraph:

Hello Dearest Christie,

Carlin is napping, so I got his paints out just for fun for me and Frank. It is very satisfying and relaxing. I don't like the way this turned out. I need to get the real primary colors, but it was fun in process. I've been doing a Waldorf play group with Carlin, which is wonderful. All the materials they use seem to come from Germany. The paints, the toys, etc. It does make a huge difference using the high-quality, all natural materials.

It was wonderful coming across this colorful missive. learning about the letter writer (female, creative, has a child, in a relationship, foreign (I think, based on how she phrased some of her conversation), recipient is a female). And also wondering about all of the missing information? When was this written? Where did it go? Where is she from? How did the letter end up here?

Do you have any found letters? If so, how did they come to cross your path? What did you do with them. I've kept this one in my stationery box because once I found it, I knew I would have a blog entry about it. I don't know what I'll do with it now- probably put it back in the box with my other letters.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Notebook Purchase

I bought this mini binder (8.5" x 7") at russell + hazel stationery shop in Mpls., MN a couple weeks ago. I haven't decided what purpose it will serve yet, but I loved the smaller size and the assortment of colorful filler paper and dividers. They had a wonderful selection of colors for the binder and I debated between orange and lime green, but ended up choosing brown since I already have other notebooks in orange and lime green.

Possible uses this notebook include:

Monthly Highlights Journal
Business Expense Tracker
Goal Setting Planner/Tracker 2010
Letter Organizer
Magazine Planner (keeper of ideas, references, articles, art for Letters & Journals)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

russell + hazel Store (School and Office Supplies)

On a recent shopping expedition in Minneapolis I visited the russell + hazel flagship store for school and office supplies. What a fun (and dangerous) place for a stationery addict (Yes, I'll admit it. I can't help myself). The back of this store includes a work area that is wide open and inviting and looks like part of the store.

The russell + hazel products are known for having a contemporary design and color and also for adding some pizzaz to the product line. You can see for yourself by going here or here or here.

The russell + hazel brand is carried at other stores in addition to their own and you can also order online. Visit here for a list of stationery stores that carries their products.

What did I get, you ask? A planner, some filler for the planner and a few pens. For the curious I will post pictures and a review in my next blog update.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Old Letters

Old Letters. Do you have any? I have a few. In this pink folder I have some letters from my parents and grandparents (deceased), from my husband before we were married and from my daughter's grandmother. I also have some old family postcards from the early 1900s that have survived somehow to find their way into my possession.

I got out this packet of letters recently as I was writing an article on communication and I decided to focus on letters. Old letters. Memorable letters. Souvenirs of the soul.

James at Everyday Correspondence is creating a zine called blotter paper and he is looking for submissions as noted in his Nov. 25, 2009 post. So I decided to write my submission on 'Communication as... Memories' in the form of letters. Submissions are due Jan. 9, 2010. If you're interested in submitting, please read James' blog for instructions.

One of the aspects of the Letters & Journals magazine will be old letters- famous, infamous, historical, personal, tragic, heartbreaking, inspiring. I can hardly wait!

Friday, November 27, 2009

'Yours Ever'- A New Book About Letters

'Yours Ever: People and Their Letters' is a new book by author Thomas Mallon. I found this book from an entry on Twitter that linked to '100 Notable Books of 2009' at the NY Times. I also found this listed on the Indie Bound website which promotes buying books from your local independent bookstore.

If you visit National Review Online (NRO) you can listen to a short interview with the author as he discusses this book which just came out (Nov. 2009).

In addition to his novels, Mr. Mallon also wrote 'A Book of One's Own: People and Their Diaries' published in 1984.

I haven't read either of these yet, but plan to get them both. Common Good Books (CGB) is a local independent bookstore I recently discovered on a day trip with a friend. This store is owned by Garrison Keillor and opened in St. Paul, MN three years ago. The bookstore sits below Nina's Coffee Cafe which is a cozy, comfy, casual coffee shop that lends itself to promoting and inviting local writers to hone their craft while relaxing in the coffee shop with their peers.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Idea Journal

I started my Idea Journal in February 2006. I got the idea from visiting some some web sites that talked about the concept of an Idea Journal. This little booklet has been in my purse or work bag for most of the last 3 1/2 years.

Basically, with an Idea Journal, you have a ready place to write down thoughts, names, inventions, story ideas, jokes, a humorous incident, a funny/sweet comment your child or loved one made. Whatever you want. I enjoy writing and thinking of story ideas, so a lot of my ideas are geared towards that, but not all of them are.

I number my ideas and sometimes add the date. Here are some entries:

3. Letters & Journals magazine (Feb 2006)

10. Grothe Road, St. Louis, MO I was traveling in St. Louis and came across a street sign that was the same as my maiden name. Grothe is not a name you see everyday, so I wrote it down to remember it and to remember where I saw it. (Feb. 2006)

19. "Baseball is back in the news. Life is good." My husband is a big sports fan. One morning, while reading the paper, he made this comment and I wrote it down.

41. Giants Graveyard- Imagine visiting and walking among the gravesites of giants and how big their headstones might be. I think I had seen a giant rock that looked like a headstone and then just imagined a bunch of them and wondered what that would be like.

81. In defense of senility- I had misread a headline and thought that this is what it said and I was drawn in by wondering what the argurment could be for defending senility.

89. Edworthy- I thought that was a cool name

121. Arctic Smile- what must that look like? An author had used it in a book and I thought it was a great description.

I have found that when I have the book with me, I am more apt to look for or think of things to add to it. If I don't have it I may not always take the time to write my idea down to be transferred later. Sometimes, but not always.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sending Mail

If you enjoy sending mail, you might want to consider signing up for Send Love Today. This nonprofit organization sends mail to kids with brain tumors.

If you go to their About Us section you will find the email address and postal address of the two ladies who run this wonderful organization.

For the next two months I will be sending mail to 11 year old Claire along with one or two other volunteers. All you need to do is let Linda or Sandi know who you are and that you are interested in doing this and they will send you the information to get you started.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

When You Write a Letter

The friendly letter, according to this book, "...need not be written today; its composition may be deferred tomorrow or next week, or to that pleasant and indefinite future when we plan to accomplish all things worthy and worth while; it is the letter we write because it gives us pleasure to do so, or more likely because we hope to give some one else pleasure."

One of my pen pals (Christi) was nice enough to send this to me when she came across it somewhere in her book scouting (a hobby we are both passionate about).

Written in 1921, Thomas Arkle Clark was the Dean of Men and Professor of Rhetoric at the University of IL. The book was printed in 1938 by Benj. H. Sanborn & Co. The six chapters of this small book (7" x 4.5") are:

Letter Writing
Materials and Form
The Friendly Letter
Formal Notes
The Business Letter
Letters of Courtesy

I enjoy reading books on letter writing and this one has been a gem. It gives a glimpse into the culture and norms of society and how those change over time. In reading the chapter on formal notes, Mr. Clark went into some detail on a dinner party that his sister hosted where he described the process of creating the invitations (written or engraved- only the vulgar would have theirs printed) and the corresponding acceptance notes (he described some as bizarre).

'When You Write a Letter' has been a joy to read and hold (I love old books, especially those with a subject that is meaningful to me). Thanks, Christi! In Letters & Journals I plan to have reviews of books on letter writing and journaling.

Now, I must be off to accomplish things worthy and worthwhile!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sending Out Prizes

Below is the list of winners for the Big Idea Contest that was held in October. I was hoping to hear from the first two people so they could choose their prizes and give me their mailing information, but they did not leave any way to contact them, so if they don't check back here and get me their prize choice (here) and their mailing address, then I will proceed to the next winners on the list.

1. Passion
2. Lightmintypfunks
3. James at Everyday Correspondence
4. Curbside Annie
5. School Supplies Sleuth
6. James at Everyday Correspondence

I did hear from James at Everyday Correspondence, and will send emails to Annie at Curbside Treasure and School Supplies Sleuth.

I learned some things to make it easier next time! Can't wait! But first must finish this and work on the magazine for a bit. Cover illustration for Letters & Journals is in the works!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Contest Winners!

Thanks to everyone who took the time to comment on my October 26 post with ideas for Letters & Journals! What awesome suggestions! Some I had already considered because they were things I was interested in, and it's great to know that others are interested also. A lot of the others were new, so I was glad to hear them.

Here is the list of winners. I will also contact them individually to see what their prize choice is. This is my first contest and I'm realizing now that it might be time consuming to hear from each person and go to the next, so I would definitely organize more tightly next time.
1. Passion
2. Lightmintypfunks
3. James
4. Curbside Annie
5. School Supplies Sleuth
6. James

If you read this before I get around to sending the emails, please just leave a comment or semd me an email (jackieflaherty (at) yahoo (dot) com with your choice, and when it gets to your prize (if it's still available) then that is what I will send.

For choosing each winner, I listed each of the entries as they came in and numbered them in order. Then I created 39 numbers and just started drawing.

Thanks again! I loved reading the ideas and getting excited all over again for this magazine to become a reality. Finding/defining the audience has been one of the challenges of the magazine endeavor, so I'm happy to be interacting with like-minded people who would also like to see/read/enjoy Letters & Journals magazine.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Quo Vadis Planner Giveaway at Pen Archives

Pen Archives is having a giveaway of a Quo Vadis Planner. But hurry! The contest ends on Halloween. Just visit Pen Archives and leave a comment on this post on why you should win this planner.

Good Luck!

PS- this picture is not it. I just grabbed an image that I had in my files.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Next Great Idea Contest

The feedback for ideas on what the magazine should cover has been wonderful! Thank you! I'm so excited about Letters & Journals and am glad to find others who feel the same way!

This picture of .44 Thanksgiving stamps is one of six prizes being offered in this contest. The two previous blogs show the other prizes as well as the comments which have been submitted so far.

As a reminder, here are the contest rules:

1. Contest will run between Oct. 26, 2009 and midnight Sunday, Nov. 1, 2009 (CST)

2. Entries can be made by:
A) leaving a comment with a story idea for the magazine
B) leaving a comment with a suggestion of what would entice you to buy the magazine
C) leaving a comment with a link back to this blog from your blog or on twitter

Multiple entries can be made as long as they are legitimate ideas/links. The comments must be entered on blogs created between 10/26/09 (today) and 11/1/09 (midnight on Sunday).

Contest (continued)

Here is the photo of the Sakura pens that I'm giving away in the Next Great Idea contest (along with the Next Great Idea notebook as shown in the Oct. 26, 2009 post)

Imagine my surprise to see that there are only 4 packages of pens- not the 5 I had mentioned in yesterday's post. Boy, is my face red! But to make up for it, I will add a sheet of .44 stamps as the missing prize. I just got the new Thanksgiving Day Parade stamps that I will include as the 6th prize (picture to follow tomorrow).

Letters & Journals Contest Rules

Monday, October 26, 2009

'Next Great Idea' Contest

Welcome to the first contest at the Letters & Journals blog! As Kathy (Daisy Mae Design) and I work on finalizing some of the design templates for the magazine, I would love to get some feedback on articles you would like to see covered in the magazine. What is your great idea?

If you've been following this blog at all, you probably know that the vision for Letters & Journals is for it to be a quarterly national magazine celebrating the arts of letter writing and journal keeping.

Some of the featured articles can be found in this earlier L&J blog posting, as well as the blog that features the Table of Contents (still being updated). Now that you know what the vision is for Letters & Journals magazine, tell me what story idea would draw you in.

Here are the contest rules and prizes. There will be six different prizes! The 'Next Great Idea' notebook as pictured above is one of the six prizes. The other prizes are all pen sets that Sakura Pens of America furnished. I will post pictures of these in tomorrow's blog.

1. Contest will run between now and midnight Sunday, Nov. 1, 2009 (CST)

2. Entries can be made by:
A) leaving a comment with a story idea for the magazine
B) leaving a comment with a suggestion of what would entice you to buy the magazine
C) leaving a comment with a link back to this blog from your blog or on twitter

Multiple entries can be made as long as they are legitimate ideas/links. The comments must be entered on blogs created between 10/26/09 (today) and 11/1/09 (midnight on Sunday).

3. I will draw all of the names on Monday and post the winners on Nov. 2 or Nov 3. I will contact each winner and get their mailing information.

4. Each person can only win once and each winner will get to choose their prize in the order in which their name was drawn. Winner 1 would have a choice from all 6 prizes, winner 2 the remaining 5 prizes and so on.

Thanks! And Good Luck!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Clairefontaine Notebook Review

This Clairefontaine notebook came from Karen at Exaclair who had some extras and offered them up on Twitter. Lucky me! You can follow Karen at @exaclair if you're on Twitter.

The paper is lined and very smooth. The book lies flat when it's open, which is important to me. There is a slight bend to the front cover and the first few pages, but I think this could be from shipping.

First, I used my Lamy yellow Safari with the EF nib and the blue ink cartridge. It wrote very smoothly and had no bleedthrough. Next I wrote with my Waterman ballpoint pen and that was slick. I think I preferred the ballpoint on this paper.

Some pen and paper combinations are naturally a good fit and the ballpoint pen with the Clairefontaine was what worked for me.

In Letters & Journals we will have a regular section on product reviews. This includes notebooks, journals, stationery, pens, ink and much more. I love to read reviews by others but don't write a lot of them myself.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Postcard from Russia

This postcard from Russia is a perfect depiction of what I imagine Moscow to look like. Trading postcards through Postcrossing has been a phenomenal experience. You can get them as often as you like and are willing to send them, as you have to send one to receive one.

At the first level you sign up to send cards to whatever addresses are assigned to your account. You also receive cards from random countries each time one of your sent cards gets registered.

But on the next level you can sing up for the Forums on Postcrossing and choose to do tags, trades, notebooks, round robins, pen pals, postcards art, fan clubs and more. If you don't see one you were looking for, you can always start your own swap. If this is new to you then you should spend some time reading through what other people are doing here so you can understand what the expectations are, the lingo and how things work.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Stationery Shopping in San Francisco

A city-by-city stationery shopping guide is the sample magazine feature you see to the right. This one features San Francisco where there is a wealth of stationery stores and pen companies. Future editions of Letters & Journals will feature such cities as New York, Paris, Chicago, London, Hong Kong, Minneapolis and Denver.

This magazine feature is still being tweaked and Kathy Forss at DaisyMaeDesign is busy finding more stationery related photos to replace the more generic ones in this layout. Don't you love it? When I first saw this design it took my breath away. I don't think the scanned photo does justice to what should be a 2 page magazine layout (with more pages to follow).

Do you have a lot of stationery stores where you live? Where do you like to shop? What city would you like to see featured in the magazine?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

New Stationery

I received this lovely stationery from Julie at We've Got Paper. Julie has a blog and an Etsy shop where she sells her unique selection of stationery.

I love finding and collecting different kinds of stationery. I have a box filled with an assortment of old and new papers that I've accumulated over the years.

This was my first purchase from Julie and she was generous with sending some unexpected extras; cute notepaper, lots of stickers, 3 postcards.

Julie is sponsoring a giveaway of some her product if you visit her site and leave a comment. Here is a link that tells you about the contest. But hurry, the contest ends on Oct. 14, 2009.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Travel Journals

Expedition Journal: A Logbook for Travelers (published by National Geographic)

We started this travel journal in 2000- the year our family took a vacation to Washington DC. Since then we have recorded visits to Mexico, England, Ireland, Chicago, Boston, New York, Paris, Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Francisco and a Caribbean cruise.

I love this journal and am grateful for the opportunities to be able to travel to the different places and record our little adventures. After nine years it's almost full, but we still have room for a few more expeditions before buying a new travel book.

This journal is great because it has a soft leather cover and is interspersed with vintage pictures, quotes and some bios of famous explorers; Shackleton, Earhart, Cousteau.

In the magazine Letters & Journals, we will feature excerpts from famous travel journals as well as reader submissions of some of their travel journals. Do you keep or read travel journals?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Writing Areas

Do you enjoy seeing or hearing about the writing areas of other people? I know I do! Desks like the one in this picture can be calming, inspiring and charming.

Letters & Journals will have a department devoted to this topic. The magazine will feature pictures of writing areas as maintained in famous people's houses or museums, as well as those of readers who choose to send in photos of their writing areas.

The Guardian ran a series of articles listing descriptions and photos of places where writers create. They include such writers as Roald Dahl, Jane Austin, Charlotte Bronte, Charles Darwin, Rudyard Kipling and many others.

I wish I could remember where I found this picture- possibilities include a scan from a magazine or note card. Possibly it was from some miscellaneous surfing on the Internet. Possibly it is an image from the writing room of Vita Sackville-West.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Help with the Tagline

I'm looking for help in deciding the wording and order of the tagline you see in the Letters & Journals image to the right. Currently it reads:

Mail Art
Handwritten Letters

Although there may may be an occasional feature on Mail Art, I don't think there will be a regular dept, so I'm thinking I will shorten that to Mail.

I also wonder if I should change Handwritten Letters to either Letters or else Correspondence?

And what do you think of the words Pen & Ink?

I am leaning towards the following. What do you think or suggest?

Pen & Ink

Thanks for your help! Please forward this on to any you think may have an opinion.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


My pen pal, Jane, sent me this photo which is a picture from her farmhouse in rural France. Doesn't it look like a postcard? I thought so too.

Jane and I found each other through one of the pen pal magazines that are published and we've been corresponding for about two years now.

In addition to some close friends who I write to, I have a few other pals- all from the US and, once in awhile, I will hear from one in Norway. As much as I love letter writing I've had to cut back while I focus more on starting the magazine, Letters & Journals. But I still enjoy writing 1-2 letters a week. Sometimes more.

If you want to send (receive) mail, but don't want a pen pal, here are two websites that are all about getting mail!
We Love Snail Mail
Send Something

But if pen pals are what you're after, check out any of these Pen Pal magazines/newsletters:

Inky Trail News
The Letter Exchange
International Pen Friends

There is also one called Pen Pal Connection published by Dawn Thomas. Her email address is

There are also many pen pal groups in places like MSN, Yahoo, Google, etc, so you can check those out too.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sealing Wax for Your Letters

There are few things that can set one letter apart from all other letters such as a wax seal on the envelope. I picked up a couple of these seals when we were in London a few years ago.

Harrods has the most incredible stationery department! I must have spent 2 hours there going from room to room and deciding what to buy. It was glorious!

As much as I love having these I don't use them as often as I should. I recently came across an instructional video at Paper Source where they show you how to use a glue gun for the sealing wax. This is much more efficient and not nearly as smoky as burning the wax by the wick. So I will try to incorporate more of these seals into my letter writing now that I know this better technique.

I took some pictures of the wax seal on an envelope I recently did, but the detail in the picture just showed a red glob so I will revisit that post when I get a new camera with a better zoom.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Letters & Journals Magazine Update

Kathy Forss at DaisyMaeDesign has been busy with more of the magazine's layout. She also recently won the design contest for the MMPA (Minnesota Magazine and Publications Association) Excellence awards. Way to go, Kathy!

In this picture, you can see a sample page of the Table of Contents for Letters & Journals. Next will be a sample copy of the cover. Isn't this exciting?

I love this design- the fonts, the white space, the small images that go with each feature. I also love how the L&J logo goes at the bottom of the page near each page number.

The feature stories and departments are still being defined so the titles you see here are not necessarily what will be here for the premiere issue (although some of them will be).What would you like to see included as a feature story or recurring department? Anybody?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Make Your Own Envelopes

I love to make and use homemade envelopes. I've found an easy way to make them is with envelope templates that I got from Paper Source, but you can also use an old envelope that's unglued and opened up. Just trace the outline of the envelope on the paper you want to make into an envelope.

In the pictures in this post, you can see that I started with a large picture from a calendar and used the clear template to outline the envelope.

If you've never done this before, you can watch a video demonstration of the process at the Paper Source website.

It's handy to have white labels to put on the envelope so that the address is legible through the photo.

Paper Source also has videos for other fun projects - sealing wax, embosser, making envelope liners and more.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Carnival of Pen, Pencil and Paper for September

The second round of the Carnival of Pen, Pencil and Paper has been posted over at The Pen Addict. Lots of links to blogs and posts regarding this wonderful paper world of ours! Have Fun!

For those of you who like typewriters, you may want to check out Strikethru who showcases some pretty neat typewriter ephemera in her blog for 9/7/09. I love those images!

The School Supplies Sleuth is a blog I just came upon this week. There are some awesome reviews of products as well as a really cute and welcoming website and avatar (she reminds me of Miss Bianca from the Disney movie, The Rescuers).

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Letters & Journals Magazine Update

I bought this Moleskin planner for 2010 and am excited for the changes, adventures, thrills of this magazine venture as the journey continues. With 2009 coming to its closing quarter next month, I am making preparations for the next steps of the magazine for the end of this year and into 2010.

Over at the survey blog I removed the survey links I had been using to send people to Survey Monkey for the letter writing and journal writing surveys. I will leave the surveys up on Survey Monkey until the end of Sept. 2009 for the links that are still floating around the web and also in old posts.

Thanks to you and many others I collected almost 300 survey responses! And a big THANKS to all of you who passed the survey links along. I never would have gotten so many if you hadn't.

By the end of 2009 I expect to get a sample copy of the magazine printed and will start approaching potential advertisers. In early 2010 work will begin on the website.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Good Mail Day

I love this book! Good Mail Day arrived last week after I had read about it on the Missive Maven's blog and decided to order it. The book is nicely written with vibrant colorful pages- all having to do with mail!

The authors, Jennie Hinchcliff and Carolee Gilligan Wheeler, have two websites:
Good Mail Day

Inside the book you'll find pages of lovely pictures, directions, illustrations, guidelines, suggested ideas and envelope and postcard templates for designing your own mail art. They also include a list of resources which include books, websites and zines.

They stress that you do not need to be an artist to take up this hobby (which is good news for me!).

Some of the chapter headings include:

Correspondence Charm School
From Ordinary to Extraordinary
Judging the Post by its Cover

I plan to create one of these two postcards where they recommend:
1. Fill a postcard with things you hear eavesdropping
2. Buy candy you've never tried before and use the wrappers to make a piece of mail art

I'll update this blog with a description and picture of what I create.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Box of 10 Thank You Cards = 11 Happy People

What if, out of the blue, someone sent you a thank you card for an event long past? Or maybe they sent you a thank you for a recent kindness. Possibly they sent one to thank you for sharing a memory of a recently deceased loved one.

Who could you think to send a thank you card today? If not a thank you card, then how about sending a thinking of you card? Can you think of 10 people?

If I were to challenge myself to think of 10 different people to send cards to, here would be my list:

1. A favorite teacher (it's been over 30 years)

2. A local company recently featured in the newspaper for their green efforts

3. A local animal shelter

4. A girl scout who is doing a project to help animal shelters

5. A national politician

6. A friend who is going through a difficult time

7. A friend who has always been there for me

8. My husband

9. An elderly family friend

10. An author

Who would be on your list?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Every one of us is called upon, probably many times, to start a new life. A frightening diagnosis, a marriage, a move, loss of a job or a limb or a loved one, a graduation, bringing a new baby home: it's impossible to think at first how this will all be possible. Eventually, what moves it all forward is the subterranean ebb and flow of being alive among the living.

I don't recall how I found that quote by Barbara Kingslover, in her book High Tide in Tuscon, but it moved me enough to

1. Buy and read the book
2. Send the quote to friends
3. Write to the author
4. Create this blog post about it
5. Add it to my book of quotes

Isn't it funny how some books, people, songs or quotes speak to your soul? They touch you at a level reserved for wonder and awe.

In my journal I keep a list of quotes and favorite passages. Here are some of my favorites:
If we had no impulse towards caution, our curiosities would probably kill us. ~ Gregg Levoy in Callings
Stored within your cells, each one constructed of recycled atoms as old as the earth, is the timeless truth women have always known; all life is sacred, seamless, endless, connected. ~Victoria Moran Living a Charmed Life
You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world. And you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand. ~ Woodrow Wilson
Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

What are some of yours?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Pen and Ink Swap

I happened to comment on the Asda fountain pen that Sam reviewed in his blog at Future: Nostalgic that I wish we had that particular pen in the US. Lo and behold, we had worked out a trade and look at all of the goodies I got from the UK!

It's hard to pick a favorite. The Asda fountain pen (far left in the blue package) is a lightweight pen that comes with ink cartridges and has an excellent fine tip writing point, which I love. You can read Sam's review of this pen at his blog.

The Inoxcrom pen in the package on the right was a heftier fountain pen with a nicely weighted feel, but I found that the pen wrote a little hesitatingly. I like rich smooth flow of ink. Maybe I will experiment with different inks, like Sam did with his Parker 61 (which is on my wish list) to see if that will help.

The Pilot B2P is a new gel roller where the pen body is made from plastic bottles. It has a fine point (0.7) and a thick, easy flow of ink, which I prefer. It's a smooth writing retractable pen which is great for portability.

Probably my favorite is the Pentel Fine Style ballpoint pen. Although the flow is not thick or generous, it's a smooth writing fine point that's light weight and consistent. It has a slim design and a comfortable barrel.

As an added bonus, Sam included an Oxford notebook. This is a quality notebook with a hard cover and the smooth-lined pages. Naturally, I tested each of the pens on the paper and am very happy with the results. I should have added a picture, but it's pretty scribbly as I wasn't planning to take a photo when I was trying out the different pens. Next time I will know better!

Thanks, Sam, for adding to my collection/addiction!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Letters & Journals Magazine Update

Here is the first look at the design for Letters & Journals, a quarterly print magazine celebrating the art and history of letter writing and journal keeping. We are still working out the details of the tagline that currently says Mail Art, Journals, Blogs, Handwritten Letters, Postcards, Notebooks and Diaries. We are deciding on which words to use and in what order. Fun stuff, I'm telling you!

Letters & Journals will be dedicated to all areas of letters and journals such as:

Fan Mail Today
Famous People Journal Excerpts
Keeping an Art, Travel, Life, Success etc. Journal
Letters to your future self, your child, your past self
Make your own stationery
Best stationery stores by City
Stationery Product Reviews
Blogs that write about pen, ink, paper, postcards, journals, doodles
Scrapbook Journaling

I've gotten some great suggestions to possible feature stories and regular departments on the survey that I've been conducting at Survey Monkey. If you haven't taken either of the very brief surveys, I welcome your feedback and contribution.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Exotic Postmarks

I love the name of this department, Exotic Postmarks! What does that bring to mind for you?

Besides stamps, as shown in this sample article, I think of postcards, penpals, old letters found at an estate sale, vacations, Agatha Christie.

Or, how about a Vintage Paper Fair held three times a year in different CA locations? I recently read about this at the blog, where Annie at Curbside Treasure (don't you love that name?) wrote about it in her May 24, 2009 post. The pictures in her post are samples of exotic postmarks.

How many other Vintage Paper Fairs are going on around the world? How about a story highlighting them, their dates and places with some bloggers/writers/visitors offering feedback on what can be found there? I am dizzy with possibilities!

Exotic Postmarks, will be a regular department featured in Letters & Journals. I would love to hear your ideas and suggestions for this department.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Department Pages for Letters & Journals

Here is the first look at a sample of one of the department pages of the magazine Letters & Journals. I was so excited to see this when Kathy at DaisyMaeDesign sent it to me this week.

There will be 3-4 departments for articles on journals and 3-4 departments for articles on letter writing. This picture is a sample from one of the journal departments. In a later post I will show a sample of a Feature article.

I love the font she chose for the 'Journal Themes' heading as well as the placement for the title and the byline. I also like how she left a lot of white space so that the page is not crowded and tight.

One of my favorites things is how the background at the top of the page changes with the article background of the article. It's intoxicating thinking of all the stories that will be featured here.

I also am quite pleased with the red page number and the black magazine logo at the bottom of the page. They contrast each other nicely.

My next blog will be a sampling of the Letter department layout followed by a preview of the magazine's flag (or logo) for the cover.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Who Do You Write To?

The first question people ask when I tell them I'm starting a magazine on letter writing and journaling, is " Does anyone write letters any more?" And when I assure them we do, their follow question is "Who do you write to?"

The most common answers are friends, relatives and pen pals. Even with email and Facebook, people still do write letters. Results from the ongoing online survey I'm conducting on letter writing show

50% write 1-3 letters per month

And of those 243 respondents, here is who they write to:

74% write to friends
58% write to relatives
47% write to pen pals
22% write to someone in a category not listed

They could choose more than 1 category.

Some people want to write letters or just send/receive mail, but have no one to write to. That's where sites like,, Just Letter Rip, the Missive Maven, We Love Snail Mail and 365 Letters come in. You can find like-minded people here looking to talk about letter writing, read about it, comment on it and share in the passion of letter writing even without someone to write to. And if you are looking for people to write to, you can find those online as well.

There are also two popular pen pal newsletters that you can check out. They both have a printed newsletter and offer articles and information online as well.

Inky Trails
Lex Letters

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Carnival of Pen, Pencil and Paper

Nifty at Notebook Stories has created a nice collection of various blogs and articles all about pens, pencils, and notebooks which is called the Carnival of Pen, Pencil and Notebook. Here is the description of the carnival
The Carnival of Pen, Pencil and Paper is a traveling monthly collection of the best blog posts about notebooks, pens, pencils, paper products and anything else deemed relevant by the editors. The Carnival appears the first Tuesday of every month, starting August 4th, 2009. It will feature product reviews, photos of users’ collections, sketchbook art and doodles, and more!
There are a TON of links in the article and on the site itself. So if you are interested in pens, pencils or paper be sure to visit Notebook Stories.

Letters & Journals was featured as Notebook Addict of the Week on July 14, 2009. I shouldn't admit it, but I'll tell you -that the picture of my stack of journals/notebooks featured in the Addict of the Week was not even all of my collection. What can I say? Some people collect stuffed animals, coffee mugs, porcelain dolls, and whatnot. I collect notebooks and journals. And this awesome carnival of pen, pencil and paper shows that I am not alone.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Missive Maven

The Missive Maven is one of my favorite blogs on letter writing. She sends and receives the coolest mail and she includes photos that show you her fun cool mail. And, I've found that if you send her something, she will most likely post about it and send something back to you! How cool is that?

She's also got a ton of cool links on her site that will take you to all kinds of other interesting blogs, mostly on letter writing, stationery, postcards, stamps. I love it!

Miss Maven also did a blog on my letter writing and journal surveys and I got a lot of people saying they found the surveys through her blog. Thanks, Ilona!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

More Survey Results for Letters & Journals

The results from the Journal portion of the survey show a propensity for voyeurism as many people responded that they would like to see articles on how other people journal. I confess that I'm fascinated with that too.

Here are some of the highlights of the Journal Survey:

75.6% would like to see new/different ways of keeping a journal

74.4% would like to see how other people experience journaling

66.3% would like to read about different products in the journal market

66.3% would like to see different types of journals (art, nature, parenting, treasure maps, travel, idea).

People have been very generous with their time and ideas in sharing this information and offering suggestions and comments for things they would like to see in the magazine Letters & Journals. Thank you! (If you haven't taken this quick 3 minute survey, there is still time and I would encourage you to do so.)

Finally, as an added bonus for those who are interested, Becky Higgins is offering two printable PDFs (one for adults and one for teens) on her blog. This is to help you write your life story. If you've been meaning to do it but don't know where to start, this is a good place.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Some Survey Results for Letters & Journals

I've been watching the surveys come in for the letter writing and journal writing surveys that I've been conducting. I'm trying to gather additional information of what types of articles people want to see in the Letters & Journals magazine. I've gotten some great feedback and am taking copious notes for future articles and potential advertisers.

In this post I will focus on the letter writing survey. In my next post I will look at the results from the journaling survey.

Letter Writing
For the letter writing survey 50% of the 100+ respondents said that they write between 1-3 letters per month. 17% said they wrote over ten letters a month (I would be in this group) and 16% said they wrote 4-6 letters per month. I realize that the survey is skewed because most of the people taking the survey are letter writers, which drives the number up. It's not like surveying the general public of which many would say they write 0 letters a month.

Some of the articles that people said they would like to see in Letters & Journals include:

58.7% Product Reviews of Pen & Stationery items
57.9% Art of Mail Art
51.6% Pen Pal Corner
50.8% Letters in the Attic (Genealogy)
49.2% Desks of Famous Letter Writers (and Readers)

Some interesting suggestions that readers offered include these great ideas:

History of letter delivery (in the US and other places)
Letter writing protocol over the ages
Postcards (web sites that promote them, collections, etc)
Stamps (like an intro to stamp collecting)
Letter writing campaigns- Do they work?

If you haven't taken either of the two surveys, you can visit them here. They take less than 3 minutes to complete (unless you're in the mood to offer lots of suggestions, which are very welcome). Please forward this link on to others who may be interested. Thanks!

A special thanks to my friends who took the surveys even though they don't write letters or keep a journal. Thank you!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Letters & Journals Magazine Update

The Letters & Journals magazine is starting to take shape. Kathy at Daisy Mae Design has been busy creating the magazine flag. After 3 weeks of submissions and tweaking, we believe we have found the design of the flag, mistakenly, but commonly, called the masthead. Next is cover and feature design. Can you feel the excitement building?

While Kathy has been designing, I have been in the planning stages of creating the web site for launch in 2010. My plan is to start small with a basic web site and grow as the magazine grows. If there is one piece of advice I have received from the various magazine publishers I spoke with, the common theme has been start small.

Where to Start When Building a Web Site
I'm lucky enough to be employed at iProduction, a company that builds and hosts web sites for mid-size B2B publishers, so I've learned A LOT over the years as to what goes into making a great web site.

My education started in 2006 with the Mequoda Method. Following their own practice of offering lots of free content to registered users, the Mequoda web site is a wealth of knowledge on where to start and what to do when creating or updating your web site. And if you want to follow Amanda MacArthur, Editor and Publisher at Mequoda, on Twitter, she is a hoot and updates a lot (@amaaanda on Twitter and @mequoda on Twitter)

Here is a starting point for building a web site (NOTE: This is just a starting point):

1. Decide the purpose of the web site (How will success be measured)

2. Find web site designs that you like (Design, Function, Artwork, Whatever)

3. Create your taxonomy (Define your departments and how information will be organized)

4. Hire somebody to bring it altogether

There is much more than this, but as I mentioned earlier, this is a starting point. At some point you'll need to consider how to handle site registrations, newsletter frequency, advertising, order placement, fulfillment, etc. But if you think of EVERYTHING that needs to be done, you will get overwhelmed. Much better to break it into chunks and manage them as you go.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Pens & Notebooks

I love the internet! How else can a person so easily find others who share their same interest? I love pens and notebooks. The feel of a generously inked fine point pen over smooth paper...heaven. Pictured here is a stack of my current notebook/day planner stash.

And here are some blogs I've recently discovered who pontificate splendidly on the pleasures of ink and paper.

Future: Nostalgic, a pen lover from the UK, writes about a great pen find in this particular post. I found him on Twitter (@futurenostalgic).

Unposted was also found on Twitter (@nrepose) and also writes about pens, notebooks and other miscellany. Both of these blogs have wonderful links to many other like-minded blogs, some of which are listed below.

Pen Chronicles
Pen Addict
Pen Archives
Everyday Correspondence
Viva Snailmail

What's wonderful is that each of these blogs list other blogs of likemindedness (is that a word? Well, I think it should be if it's not).

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Letter Writing in the News

There is a new service that will print your emails and send them to your parents, grandparents or whomever you would for a fee of $9.95/month. The service is called Sunnygram and this article was recently featured in Time magazine. Sunnygram is trying to bridge the gap between those who only want to communicate in their computer generated environment and those who don't have or use a computer.

At first, I thought that was silly, and although I can't imagine ever having need of it, you have to admire someone finding a niche product to fill the communication gap. And if this is the only way for some of these people to get the emails and photos from friends and family, then it is worth the fee- especially considering that once the account is set up for the recipient you can have as many people as you want to send them email and photos for the price of just the one account.

One Husband, Two Kids, Three Deployments
On the other hand, an article more dear to my heart - letter writing. In this article the letter once again enriches lives of those it touches as written in this op-ed piece of the NY times. I actually came across this beautifully written piece while visiting the Green Paper Company blog.
Melissa Seligman talks about each of her husband's deployments and how the couple started with webcams and then found, eventually, that letters were more intimate. I won't say any more. You must read the article.

Friday, June 26, 2009

New Blogs

This week I've discovered some new blogs that talk about the things that I love to read about, such as a new stationery store, keeping a journal or finding the perfect pen.

Sara has a journal blog which she calls the Miscellaneous Ramblings of a Twenty-something DIYer. She has a lot of graphics, drawings and pictures in her journal which I really like. Her May 27, 2009 entry, Journal Freedom, is very appealing. She journals in a notebook and then includes pictures of the notebook in her blog.

Also, new to me is Parcel Post. I love the name and design of the blog. Audrey and her husband have two stores. One is Urbanic Paper Boutique (Don't you love the name of that? Me too!) and neighborhood. One of my favorite blog entries for Audrey is Post No. 164 Paper Basics (June 4, 2009). Lovely.

And, finally, for the pen enthusiast, please check out An Inkophile's Blog which discusses subjects such as fountain pens, ink, paper and more. Pure Joy! There are a ton of links to pen blogs and stores and much more. I will visit this site again to check out the links from other pen and paper enthusiasts.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Magazine Update

Daisy Mae Design has been busy! I started reviewing potential flags (logo/branding) of the magazine this week. It's very exciting trying to bring together what's in my mind- as I envision this book like quarterly magazine- with the reality of what's available outside of my mind. I also want to find the balance between current trends and classic styles.

Letters & Journals will contain articles on all kinds of writing related products and activities:

Letters Today/Yesterday
Different types of Journals- Art, Nature, Family, Historic, Blogs
Love of Pens and Notebooks
Mail Art
Best Stationery Stores in the area
Profiles of Artists who have created their own card/stationery line
Reader's Desk/Writing Area (send in your photos and tell us about it)

So many subjects related to the same thing- writing and sharing. If you come across articles that you think may be right for the magazine, please share that info to the comments section on this blog or forward them to me at THANK YOU! And thanks for visiting.