Valentine’s Day cards…

I utilized my rubber stamps, stickers, and other paper craft supplies to make Valentine’s Day cards that I dropped off today at a local nursing home. As these COVID-19 times continue, try to think of folks that might feel particularly isolated and reach out in some way.  Here are 2 photos of the cards – about 60 of them.

Rubber stamps related to snail mail

I’m blogging more than usual, so if you’ve not been here in a while, you may want to take a quick scroll down to peruse recent posts.

Last post featured photos of the desks in my hobby room. Here are some pictures of my rubber stamps. This clear case sits on one of my desks. I also have more stamps in a desk drawer and in several small decorative boxes.Here is an up close of rubber stamps related to the mail and writing:

The above stamps are from here and there, acquired in various ways and from different sellers. The below photo is stamps that came together as a set. I bought them on etsy. I love these, especially the “long live snail mail” ones! I keep them in an old cigar box, as you might be able to deduce. See them HERE on etsy. My only initial compliant with this stamp set is when I got them they had a horrible, very strong rubber odor. It filled the room! Slowly the odor lessened, and finally went away. I have bought stamps since the 1990’s and never encountered this unpleasant odor issue before.
NOTE: I am NOT an affiliate or anything like that. There is no benefit to me if you click on the links I sometimes provide in a post.

Welcome to my pen pal and paper craft room

I always enjoy when a pen pal or paper crafting blogger shows photos of their desk, craft area, etc. So I thought I’d have a couple such posts. This time, my desks. I am not the best photographer of objects and better at scenery, people, etc. But here they are with descriptions. The first photo was hard to get with the window behind as there were glare issues. I am fortunate to have a room that is mostly mine. It is primarily used for my hobbies and other personal life pursuits, although there are some general household items stored in the room too.

This is my beloved roll top desk that I’ve had for many years, since 1995. It was a gift from my husband when I got my bachelors degree. This is mostly my pen pal desk, but it is also used for some household paperwork. It is generally a bit messy. I can roll down the top to hide the mess! I love all the little slots and small drawers. Much of my stationery, as well as note cards, postcards, envelopes, stickers, and address labels are in this desk.

On the right side of the desk, you can see my digital postal scale. I’ve had it since the late 1990’s, and it still works accurately. It is helpful to be able to weigh letters, and maximize the items I place in a letter without going over the weight limit for a stamp. But I do keep a variety of stamp denominations on hand so I can add extra postage if necessary. (My stamp storage tray in a below photo.)This is my rubber stamp and paper craft desk. The big flat top is a good work space. We got it used from friends who were getting rid of it. It was handmade by someone they knew, and great quality. The cubicle of storage behind (on top) was made by my husband who does woodworking. It is perfect for holding paper items. You’ll see a paper cutter to the right (a gift from my husband), and to the left are my rubber stamps in the clear drawers. I also have rubber stamps in a desk drawer, and the boxes on top have some stamps too. Oh, the world map on the wall behind. We love international travel, and on this map I place a pin on places we have traveled.

This sits on top of a storage chest in the room. I bought it at a shop that sells handcrafted items by artists. It was re-purposed. The artist took this old item, and painted and decorated it. When I saw it, I knew I had to buy it! I am not an impulse buyer and am actually frugal, but when I saw this it was special and very “me.”  My husband agreed! The top is where I put incoming mail from my pen pals. In the two little drawers I have FBs and FB making materials. If you don’t know FBs, see here.

This “mess” (although more organized than it looks!) sits on top of a file cabinet. The first is a glass tray with butterflies/flowers on it, but you can’t see that at present. This tray holds my postage stamps. I have more stamps on hand than usual for a couple reasons, and a big order of stamps I mail ordered from USPS arrived several days ago.

The tray behind holds “tuck ins” for my letters. What’s that? See here where I blogged about it. I dislike sending only a letter (although, of course, letters are the main thing!) and I always look for things to enclose with my letters…postcards, articles, tourist pamphlets, paper ephemera, etc. When I come across anything that is a potential tuck-in, I place it in the tray.

The butterfly magnets on the file cabinet? I made them. I took butterfly stickers, laminated them, and stuck a magnet on back. The butterfly stickers were a dud, they would not stick! So, I decided to do something else with them.

Well, that is all for now. I’ll have another post with several more photos.

Finding calendars for envelope (and card) making…

Some pen pals make envelopes from old calendar pages. Past post here. I’ve had pen pals say they have a hard time finding old calendars. I have excess calendars on hand and no problem acquiring them free or for cheap. How?

Each year I have 2 wall calendars hanging in my house, one in my kitchen and one in my office/craft room. That gives me pages for 24 envelopes when the year is over. Usually one of these was a gift, as those close to me know that I still use wall calendars to “schedule” my life.

I know less people use wall calendars now-a-days, but I’ve asked family/friends to give me their old calendars at year’s end and I’ve acquired a few that way. In the first few months of a new year, I’ve seen wall calendars in thrift shops for cheap – say $1.

I have already received 6 wall calendars for 2020 from charity groups!! I normally don’t get this many – and it appears that one nature organization that we support has sold our name and address (grrrr….) but at least I will make use of these excess calendars! I feel no obligation to donate money to a place that sends me an unsolicited calendar.

[We do donate money to various organizations, but only to ones that we have carefully investigated and want to support – not simply because they sent a calendar or address labels! I’ve received freebies from organizations that I would most definitely not want to support due to ideological differences or evidence that they misuse funds.]

Several years ago I was in a “salvage” store, and they had a pile of calendars from the previous year for FREE! These were lovely, quality calendars featuring nature and animals. I took 7 or 8. I still have some of these.

Yes… I have calendars a plenty for envelope making!

Besides for envelope use, I utilize the back cover of calendars.The back cover often has a small photo of each month’s picture, so you know what you are getting when you purchase it. But even free calendars from charity groups can have these on the back cover. I cut these out and utilize them when I make cards with my rubber stamps. For example, the cards below I shared in a post last year, and each has a photo from the back page of calendars (featuring cats!) for the month of October.

I also have plenty of old roadmaps to make envelopes, and have no problem finding these either. For example, buy an old road atlas at a thrift shop for cheap.

My envelope making supply stash overflows!

Finding pen pal and paper craft supplies at thrift and consignment shops

This is my blog so I can ramble sometimes, right? I often find pen pal and paper craft related items at thrift shops for cheap: rubber stamps, stationery sets (“vintage” from the 1980’s or early 90’s), note cards, scrapbooking/cardmaking paper, envelopes, decorative scissors and punchers, notebooks, calendars, etc. I’ve had pen pals express surprise and state that they never find such at thrift shops. Really, I do! I sense some have doubts about my claims.

Maybe one reason I find these items is that I am in thrift shops regularly, at least once a week. One huge charity thrift shop that really clears the merchandise (gets lots of donations and sells a lot!) is only about 2 miles from my house. It easy for me to run in there on my way to or from somewhere else. There are 2 sections of the store with items that especially interest me, and I check those sections. I may only check those areas, going in and out of the store quickly. So don’t think I am spending excessive time in thrift shops! I am not. But my frequency increases my chance of finding items, as opposed to someone that only goes to thrift shops on occasion.

It is hit or miss. I may find nothing for a few weeks, even months, and then find something great or even a bunch of stuff or find stuff several weeks in a row!

There is also a huge consignment store about 3 miles from my house, and I find rubber stamps and paper craft items there – but less often than the thrift shop. The items cost slightly more, as it is consignment, but I still find good deals. The items decrease in price the longer they are in the store, and bargains can be found. The price slowly goes down from 25% off to 50% off to 75% off. They package rubber stamps in bags of about 5-15 instead of selling them individually like the thrift shops. Often, I only really like or want half the rubber stamps in a bag, and I’ll decide to take a “wait and see” approach, returning when they have been marked down.This is a risk, as someone else could buy them, of course! But I’ve also found the stamps still there, and got a bag for a deeply discounted price.

In closing, I visit a relative several times a year who lives about 3 hours from me in a small town, and this little town has 3 charity thrift shops! None as huge as the ones near me, but I always stop in these shops when I am there. I’ve never found rubber stamps, but I have found stationery.  I am always on the lookout in my travels – and you just never know what you will find…

Washi tape frustration

I only discovered washi tape about a year ago when 2 or 3 of my pen pals began using it. I buy most of my pen pal and paper craft related supplies (stationery, rubberstamps, etc) at thrift stores – therefore I may not be aware of new trends. I do go in craft stores every so often, as you can’t find everything at thrift stores!

Washi tape seems to come in multi-packs, with anywhere from several to a dozen rolls in a package. Usually there seems a theme for the pack. My frustration? I usually only like 1 or 2 rolls in the package! I don’t want to buy 5 or 10, disliking most, just to get a couple rolls I do like!

Anyone else? Maybe I am too picky. I suppose many just take what they get and use it. I guess I want to really love each tape design! I wish it was easier to buy individual rolls.

One time in a local craft store they did have a bin filled with single rolls of washi tape. They all looked partly used and were inexpensively priced. Probably they used them for a craft class, and these were ones left over. I found one roll I liked – yeah!

Some postal themed blogs…

Here are several postal themed blogs I’ve found, but not all post regularly.

Lost Art Revived, Crafty Snail Mail, Letter Writing, Pen Pals, and Paper Crafting.
This blogger has not posted in some time, but it is worth a look through past posts to see all the photos of creative envelopes and stationery! This blogger also has an etsy store where she sells letter writing kits.

Mrs Murphy’s Mailbox Magic! A blog that celebrates all things postal.
This blogger shares various mail related thoughts and ideas. A recent post is about books and letters, and states “Most of the postal people I correspond with are also book people. It must be the sheer love of words.”
– I too love books! How about you?

Paper Pastries. This blog is actually for a brick and mortar store in California. Look on google for the location and some great photos. The store sells paper related goodies – stationery, rubber stamps, pens, etc. You can shop online too. A recent blog post interviews someone about their rubber stamp collection.
– Not all pen pals are into rubber stamps but I am. I’ve stamped for 20 plus years, and have gone through phases of more or less stamping. Right now I am in a “more” phase!

Ephemera. Cut quotes from old books to paste to your letters.

The below thoughts are from a column I used to write for a pen pal newsletter called Inky Trail News. When I ceased publishing my own, I enjoyed writing this column for another one. Unfortunately, Inky Trails ceased publishing too.

In past columns, I’ve mentioned my obsession with ephemera. Basically, ephemera refers to paper related mementos that were usually not meant to be kept, but thrown out after a short time. I have a particular attachment to travel and pen pal related ephemera, such as postcards, ticket stubs, tourist pamphlets, and greeting cards.

Well, I discovered that a gentleman named John Johnson was a great collector of printed ephemera. He actually collected over a million items of ephemera that he recovered from the waste paper baskets of the last 300 years! These items are on display in the Johnson Room of the Bodleian Library (University of Oxford) in England. On display are items such as banknotes, political pamphlets, Christmas cards, Valentines, tourist brochures, advertisements, and much more! Check out the website. Click on images, and then click image gallery, and you can view ephemera by category. I love cats and enjoyed the cat category. Here is a brief description of Johnson from the site:

“Collecting printed ephemera was Johnson’s hobby, from the early 1930s until his death in 1956. Johnson collected retrospectively. The earliest piece of printed ephemera in the Collection dates form 1508 but its strengths are in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. He assembled c. 1.5 million items, divided into 680 subject headings.”

On another note, I wanted to mention a way I’ve been adding something a little extra to my postal letters and cards. I’m a practicing Christian, and extra Bibles have accumulated over the years. Some are falling apart, but I just couldn’t bring myself to throw a Bible in the trashcan or recycle bin. So, I got the idea of clipping verses out of the Bibles and attaching them to my letters and cards. I suppose some might not like the idea of cutting up a Bible, but I thought I was at least putting the Bible to some use.

The same idea would work for…old books of poetry or quotations. Cut out quotes or poems and likewise paste them to your letters or cards.

I use “rubber cement” for gluing paper items to paper. It doesn’t ooze as much as traditional Elmer’s glue, excess is easily wiped off, it dries faster, and doesn’t make the paper lumpy or warped.

Postal mail becomes more and more of a novelty. Remind people of the pleasures of the post by sending out some cards and letters! Yes, there is a place for the phone call and e-mail, but there is something special about finding a personal note in the mailbox that you can hold and enjoy.