Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Stationery Stores in the Twin Cities - First Stop: Ampersand

Recently I visited the Ampersand Shop in Edina (suburb of Minneapolis). My goal is to visit all of the stationery stores in the Twin Cities' area between now and the end of next year. I didn't get a picture of the outside of the store (which is located in an upscale strip mall not far from another favorite place of mine, The Container Store). I found this image on their website.

Some of the stores are mostly all stationery and some of the stores have just a little bit of stationery with a lot of other types of gift items. Such is the case with Ampersand Shops.

Don't you love this Letters plate? Me too!
I took the photo above because I liked how their name was decorated with plates. Very original.
Here we have some postcards. Aren't they great? I love unique and unusual postcards
A wonderful selection of boxed note cards.I maybe should have taken some close-ups of some of the designs.
This is my favorite - a giant LOVE ball. They have a variety of sizes and colors. This one is a 5' ball that sells for $99.
Stay tuned next week for another stationery store visit. What's your favorite stationery store?

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Dot Journaling - The Book

When I first heard the term 'dot journaling', I wasn't sure what that was. Then I was sent a free review copy of this book, Dot Journaling―A Practical Guide: How to Start and Keep the Planner, To-Do List, and Diary That’ll Actually Help You Get Your Life Together by Rachel Wilkerson Miller,  and the book explained everything. Every thing. I loved it and am inspired to finally try (again) my own dot journal, also known as a bullet journal.
Dot Journaling is authored by Rachel Wilkerson Miller, who's a lifestyle editor at BuzzFeed. Think of Dot Journaling as a combination of diary, planner and to-do list. She published her book this summer.
The book has wonderful (and plentiful) illustrations, ideas and examples. I was particularly impressed with the variety of spreads and all the ways you can customize the journal to what fits your needs.
I was familiar with bullet journaling and had tried this for a few months in 2016 - a very basic attempt. Although it is extremely flexible and customizable, there is still a learning curve and a commitment to the process.
The author addresses concerns (commitment, learning curve, dissatisfaction with penmanship) and offers ideas on how to overcome them.

I am inspired by her work and her words and look forward to creating my own 2017 (what remains) bullet journal.

Bullet Journal was created by Ryder Carrol. For a wonderful selection of informative articles, podcasts, etc., please visit

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Cute Post Office Alert

I have driven by this cute little Post Office in Bayport, MN, many times. If I had more time on this visit I would have stepped inside to see if the inside is as quaint as the outside. Maybe next time.
My pictures do not seem to capture the cuteness of the building. It was hard to snap pictures in between the blur of cars going from I-94 to the south, into historic downtown Stillwater, MN, a few miles to the north. Both towns sit on the Minnesota side of the St Croix River across from Wisconsin.
If I got too close, you couldn't read all of the words, and if I stayed too far away, the building seemed to lose its quaintness.
Just up the road (and across the street) is the Bayport Library, which was new to me so I stopped there too and took some pictures. I absolutely love the rounded window room as shown below.
Doesn't the sitting area look inviting? You can sit and admire the beautiful garden area.
What's a library garden without a statue of a girl (or boy) reading a book?
The tree-lined sidewalk offers a lovely venue to go for a stroll (Hint: Go to the left.)

Sunday, June 11, 2017

My Visit to the PaperSource Store at Mall of America

A couple weeks ago I visited the PaperSource Store at the Mall of America. I was lucky enough to get a fellow pen enthusiast as my cashier and we spent about thirty minutes sharing information on our fountain pen favorites and preferences.

She introduced me to one of her favorites, a TWSBI, which she had attached to her shirt behind her name badge. She was even kind enough to let me try it.
I purchased a couple Pilot G-tecs, a sheet of decorative paper for bookmaking, a rubber stamp of the #4 (about 2" tall) and some stickers.

I sent my PaperSource helper, a postcard of Letters & Journals later that week.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Old Postcard from North Dakota

One of the oldest pieces of mail I own is a postcard that was sent to my great-grandmother, Alma Olafson (below), before she married my great-grandfather, John Holen in 1912. This photo was taken in the 1950s. Alma was the recipient of the postcard below.
The front of the card has about an inch of white to the left of the photograph. I'm unsure why this is or if it was done on purpose or accidentally.
You can clearly see the year is 1910, although the actual date is not noted. Alma would have been approximately 22 years of age the year she received this.
The postmark says it is sent from Pleasant Lake, ND, which is the name of the lake in the photograph. The lake was called Broken Bone Lake by the Dakota Indians and is located Pleasant Lake National Wildlife Refuge, which is east of Rugby, ND.

Etta G, the author of the postcard, I think may have been Alma's cousin, Emma Groettum, who went to teach at Pleasant Lake.

My grandmother, Alice (daughter-in-law to Alma) had this postcard in one of her photo albums that I inherited when she died years ago.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

What I Bought at Faber-Castell in Germany

Last October we traveled to Nuremburg, Germany where I visited the Faber-Castell shop. I did a post on the Castle Grounds and also my tour of the onsite Faber-Castell Shop.

I spent the most time deciding on the fountain pen I wanted to purchase. I ended up purchasing this LOOM pen with a medium nib. Normally, I prefer a fine point pen, but for a fountain pen, I prefer a wider nib.
I selected the silver color which has a shiny barrel, a matte cover and a grip area with fine rings for easier handling.
Below is a close up of the nib. Even though the nib is medium, it writes like a fine. The ink can be a little heavy at times, but it could just be the user acclimating to the personality of the pen.
I selected three colors of ink cartridges: Hazelnut Brown, Violet Blue and Deep Sea Green (shown below).
I also selected this quality set of watercolor pencils. I've long been fascinated by the art of creating art with watercolors, but I haven't experimented much with using these.
I've recently begun creating Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) and exchanging them on Swapbot.I will post some examples of those in another blog next week.
These pencils have a triangular shape and a sturdy dot grip not to mention a wide variety of color.
More posts to follow with my watercolor experiments masterpieces!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

"Snail Mail" by Michelle Mackintosh

Michelle Mackintosh is a book designer and illustrator with a passion for mixing up the discarded with the new, collaging vintage, cute and modern aesthetics into something totally unique. Her book, Snail Mail, is a delight! What a beautiful testament to the gift of a letter.
Her brightly colored book is amazing! The illustrations are gorgeous and they draw you into a world of mail and art that makes you want to make more of it yourself and to surround yourself with all of this mail goodness. Whimsical,colorful, bold, cute- it's all here.
Even the sides of the pages with their red, white and blue stripes evoke a feeling of letters and mail.
Michelle travels to Japan three times a year and is inspired by the Japanese love of stationery and letter writing.
Also included in the book are stickers and templates so that once you are inspired you'll have some of the tools to create your own stationery stash to use and share with others.
My photos don't do justice to the color and images that pop off these pages.
Below are some of the stickers included at the book of the book.
What do you think? Are you inspired? I am. Gotta go!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Brillante Pencils

The shimmery brilliance of these metallic colored pencils by designer Louise Fili are called, Brillante, companion to two other pencil sets, the Perfetto and Tutti Frutti.

There set of twelve double-sided pencils comes in six metallic shades in a strong and sturdy keepsake box. The six colors are silver/purple; copper/blue; gold/green.

These pencils are ideal for drawing, coloring or writing and perfect for desktop display in a sturdy, elegant box.
The pencils write exceptionally smooth on any color paper, including black. Theses pencils are ideal for drawing, coloring or writing and perfect for desktop display in a sturdy, elegant box.

Here are the same colors on white paper. Unfortunately, the scanned photos don't do the shimmery colors justice.

You can order here or here.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Valentine Postmark

I have a lovely pen pal in Loveland, CO who sent me this special Valentine card with their own Loveland, CO postmark. The postmark and accompanying red sweetheart stamp (bottom left) are part of the Sweetheart City Valentine Program.

According to the website of the Loveland Chamber of Commerce, here's the history of Sweetheart City Valentine Program:

Since 1947, the chamber, the Loveland post office and 60 volunteer stampers have been bringing love, hope and sentiments to people in all 50 states and more than 110 countries with a special cachet stamp and message through the program. More than 130,000 valentines get mailed each year from mothers to sons, grandfathers to granddaughters and everyone in between. Famous athletes, celebrities and even the president often get valentines stamped with Loveland’s special message. Some of the most heartfelt valentines that have come through Loveland are the ones sending messages of hope and love to our troops overseas, to children battling life-threatening illnesses and to those who are overcoming tragedy and need an extra note of encouragement.
This annual event begins on February 1, so start planning to get your Valentine's stamped for 2018.