Who could you remember with a card?

I’ve not been keeping up with my letter writing to pen friends during this pandemic as well as I should be, and that would be another post! But I have been doing other types of communicating with cards and notes by post (or hand delivery) to others.

Earlier in the pandemic I made an effort to mail out cards to various friends, family, and acquaintances – just to be friendly and communicate in a more personal way, when people were first stuck at home more.

Also, prior to this pandemic, I had a ministry at a nursing home, where I led a church service for the old folks (I am a lay preacher). The nursing home has been closed to visitors and outside groups coming in, and still is. There are 61 residents, and back in May, I took 61 greeting cards there. Forty I made with my rubber stamps, and the other 21 were not handmade but I did embellish these cards to make them more personal. I was able to utilize some excess card making material I had on hand, so that was good – as some had been in my drawers too long!

I dropped the cards off at the nursing home, and they were distributed a couple days later. As a precaution, the cards had to sit a couple days first.

Now in August, I took 61 cards again, and also took word search puzzle books and some body washes. This time I purchased cards from Current. Remember Current? I’d actually not thought of Current in years, as they were more popular years ago, but they are still in business! I got a variety of card packs for a reasonable price. On each envelope I rubber stamped a couple images. Photos below. On the envelopes in May, I rubber stamped a typewriter image and wrote hello on the paper in the typewriter.

If you forgot about Current, or maybe never heard of them, here is the link: CURRENT. I just noticed their website says they have been in business 70 years.

It put a smile on my face to see they still sell the cute critter cards from years ago! I’ll put an image of these cards below too.

When I placed my card order it said there would be a mailing delay due to the pandemic, but they arrived faster than anticipated, so that was great!

Rambles about stationery, and Barnes & Noble

I had a post a while ago entitled “Stationery, stationery, stationery…where can it be found?” bemoaning how hard it is to find stationery now-a-days and I suggested places, such as thrift shops, where you may still find it. Many of my pen pals also bemoan how hard it is to find stationery today, and they often resort to writing letters on small/narrow notepads or on computer stationery – those 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheets. Of course, there is nothing wrong with writing letters on such, as I do sometimes!

To clarify, stationery and paper products are still out there. One can look at Walmart or chain craft/office stores and find note cards, note pads, etc. However, these aren’t what most pen pals are usually thinking of when they think of “stationery.” Rather we are thinking of the stationery sets that were ubiquitous years ago – a box or package that contained a stationery set: matching paper (typically 6 x 8 size) and envelopes with a pretty or cute or whimsical design, such as flowers or cats or bears. Such as these thrift shop finds with dates from the 1980’s and 1990’s:

Well, I’d forgotten all about Barnes & Noble! I rarely go in a new book store, buying most of my books at local used books stores, thrift shops, and online. But I was recently in a Barnes & Noble and was reminded of their lovely stationery section! And I’d say they have expanded the stationery section as I remember it. There was a variety of stationery sets as well as other lovely stationery items – such as artistic or unique note cards – unlike the typical boring or more ordinary cards at chain craft or office supply stores.

However, the prices were not cheap! But the stationery was high quality, so worth the price. I told my husband that if anyone asked him where I’d like a gift card, he should suggest Barnes & Noble – where I’d buy not books, but stationery.

The Barnes & Noble stationery section really did look expanded, at least somewhat, as I remember it. I wonder if this is because (?) there has been a bit of a revival of postal letter writing in the younger generation (but older too) who find it a unique throwback. Someone forwarded me the link to this article: Look Out, Email. Handwritten Letters Are Making a Comeback

A lovely stationery folio

For Christmas, a relative gave me a “used” item from a thrift shop. (It is perfectly acceptable among us to give a used gift in good condition.) I was thrilled by the new or like-new item from Levenger! I’d forgotten all about Levenger, and once reviewed their catalog many years ago. Levenger offers luxury fountain pens, planners, professional notebooks, quality paper, portfolios, leather bags/briefcases and other timeless gifts. I never purchased anything from them, their items being too fine and expensive for my taste! Nonetheless, I admired their stuff. It does look like their product line has changed some since years ago, with advances in technology I suppose.

The suede stationery folio that I received as a gift is likely from their product line awhile back. It is lovely though. Two photos below. It will be perfect to carry stationery and a pen, for writing when on-the-go. My relative got it for $2 and I know it cost considerably more than that new! A real find!

The description says: “The Suede Stationery Folio has 10 note-cards and envelopes for all your corespondent needs. A pen loop keeps your favorite writing instrument handy for spur of the moment letters. The beautiful suede cover makes this stationery folio a pleasure to hold.” – Indeed! An apt description.

Stationery, stationery, stationery…where can it be found?

As a life-long pen pal, my stationery has often been the envy of pen friends. They adore my writing paper, and state they can’t find such stationery in their area. My writing paper tends to be cute, colorful, etc. I am always on the lookout for stuff that is not ordinary, but unique in some way. In recent years, stationery gets harder to find, but my general tips on finding stationery remain about the same. (I am not a user of fine or luxury stationery paper, being a bit too frugal for that, although it is lovely!)

Number one tip? Stop looking at chain stores, big box stores, popular stores! These places are not likely to sell stationery anymore anyways, but even back in the day, their products were usually not too interesting.

Rather, look at independent shops, thrift stores, and other places off the beaten path – such as in the “Chinatown” section of a city or in the “artsy” district. I always have my eyes open, and sometimes stumble upon stationery products when I least expect it.

A few years ago I found a big variety of cute Asian stationery in a Chinatown shop, and I stocked up! Cute? Think hearts, puppies, etc! The salesclerk looked at my cash carefully, as I must have been the first person to buy $50 of stationery all at once! haha. The prices were reasonable, so I got a good amount of stationery for what I spent.

I am not a spendthrift, but since finding stationery can be a here and there or infrequent occurrence, I don’t hesitate to buy when I do find it! Taking the photos for this post, I realized I am getting towards the end of my supply of certain stationery that I acquired as long as 15 years ago! Boo-hoo!

I’ve acquired my Sanrio stationery in several ways: years ago there was a Sanrio store in a local mall, years ago I visited a Sanrio store near Times Square in NYC (that sold stationery normally only available in Japan), and more recently a dear pen pal in Japan sent me a package of awesome Sanrio stationery!

Used/independent book stores can have a section of paper products, like journals and note cards. I have found off-beat or old-fashioned note cards in these shops. A relative of mine tends to visit artsy areas, and has bought me unusual note cards in the past.

In the last several years, I increasingly find stationery at thrift shops. As people write less, I think they are cleaning out their desks and donating it. Sad, but good for those who still love to hand write letters! Much of the stationery I am finding is from the 1980’s and 1990’s (people taking too long to de-clutter!) but the paper is still in great condition. My “big find” last year was a huge selection of cat themed stationery that the thrift shop had packaged together. It was only $6 or $7 and it had multiple pads and packages of cat themed stationery, note paper, note cards. I was thrilled. (Yes, I love cats!)

On that note, garage sales can be a source of stationery products to.

Around the corner from where a relative used to live was a dollar store, but it was not a chain dollar store. It was an independent one, owned and run by Asians (not sure what nationality) and they lived on my relative’s street. This store had a variety of items – things a bit different than what you’d find at other dollar type stores. The owners must have had special contacts for buying products from Asia. I appreciated their stationery/office supply isle.

Think there are no such stores in your area? Are you sure? For example, a friend told me there were no used book stores in her area. I looked, and yes, there were a couple. Are you just driving to and from the nearest chain shopping plaza? Stop it! (haha) Get off the beaten path. Ask around. Use the internet to locate shops in your area.

And while I am not a fan of chain stores, I have found unique stationery products in Marshall Home Goods and TJ Maxx. Their stock changes, but for awhile I was finding Punch Studio stationery products. Don’t know Punch Studio? They make colorful note cards featuring butterflies, birds, flowers, etc. I love their stuff! See this ebay listing for some examples. However, I paid much less than the ebay prices! I don’t remember paying more than the $3-$6 range for anything.

By the way, I have rarely (if ever?) bought stationery products online.

In close, an example of finding stationery when I least expect it. This was at least a dozen years ago, but I was at a local indoor shopping plaza that was struggling to make it (the plaza is now closed) and someone had rented a little space, short-term, to sell Diddl products! Diddl is the cute little mouse from Germany. You can google it if you don’t know Diddl. I was surprised and happy to find Diddl in the US! And, of course, I stocked up, and bought a bunch of Diddl stationery pads…only a little remains.

The joys of office supplies??

Hardly anyone reads this blog, but I just wanted to share these thoughts in a brief post.  As a postal and paper enthusiast of many years, almost no one likes to give me what I want or like!! What do I mean?

There are times when someone asks my husband for gift ideas for me, and he shares things like: stationery, note cards, postage stamps, a nice pen, etc. And this is apparently perceived oddly, as they do not get me those things.

In the year 2018, it is harder to find stationery but other related items can still be found. However, this goes back years. Even back in the 1990’s, it seemed most did not want to get me such items.

In the 1990’s, I was a “secret pal” at church several times. You filled out a sheet of info about yourself so your “secret pal” had an idea of what little items to buy you. Of course, I put stuff like note cards and stickers. Easy enough. Did I get these things? No.

One secret pal, after the reveal (finding out who your secret pal had been), told me she had no idea what to get me – so that is why she gave me house plants every time. Uh, why not give me the little things I listed such as stickers or note cards? (Of course, I did not say that but it was what I was thinking.) I did not indicate on my info sheet that I liked plants or gardening. In fact, I have a brown thumb and my cats destroy house plants (haha).

I don’t want this to sound ungrateful. It was nice this person gave me plants! But the point is….This is just an example, that even back when people used the mail more often,  such things were not seen as gift items.

Perhaps these things are seen as childish? The secret pal program…it was for adult women. But the last time I did it they decided to allow teen girls age 13 and up to participate too. Well, this time I actually got the things I liked – stickers, notepads, etc. It was great!! Hmmm. Yep, at the reveal – a 13 year old got me! haha. The young teen got me things I just loved!

That reminded me of a recent experience…I was visiting thrift shops with an acquaintance and saw some small bags of rubber stamps packaged for sale. I was carefully looking at one bag, deciding whether I’d buy it, when the person with me said something about them being for a child. Uh, no, I was looking at them for…me.

Perhaps these things are perceived as boring? But paper products and office supplies are not boring to some of us! Oh the joys of browsing in an office supply store, stationary/card shop (the few left around), or in the section of a craft store with paper related items.

Paper, pens, post-its, paperclips, cards, stickers, highlighters, folders, notebooks! Some of us love back-to-school time even though we are no longer students.

We really would love paper and office supply items as a gift!

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*I never know who reads my blog. And I want to add that I appreciate a relative of mine who indeed gifted me with things like note cards, stationery, and rubber stamps over the years – often really special ones from their travels and jaunts to out of the way places.