Say it With a Stamp~

This is my outgoing mail this morning. Mary had recently asked me where I was getting the old stamps I’m using on my recent letters.

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Readers of our book and blog already know I am a stationery and paper addict. I don’t do “mail art,” per se, though I am fascinated by those who do. But I am a bit odd in that I enjoy using pretty envelopes, interesting address labels, or…stamps.

For instance, I had these address labels made from a photo of me on the beach, an experience I’ll never forget. I mostly save them for the letters I send to my sister, Joan, who was responsible for my opportunity to see the ocean. It was her home we stayed in while we visited Florida. She and her husband David took us to the beach.

address labels

For awhile, I was ordering PhotoStamps kits on ebay, purchasing as many as 10 sets (that make 20 stamps) for $72. You don’t need to be a math wizard to figure out that meant I was getting personalized stamps for less than the cost at the post office. ($7.20 for 20 stamps)

photo stamps

When that seller discontinued selling kits, I found another resource for unusual stamps; a collector who sells his excess on ebay under the name of jeweleryandtreasure, at a discount. It was the book and writer stamps that lured me in. So now I have a drawer full of lovely postage to decorate (and mail) my letters with.

And you can too, if you are so inclined. Just check out his stamp listings by clicking HERE. You’re welcome.

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Half Price stationery find

Do you have a Half Price Bookstore near you? Click HERE to see. My daughter Elizabeth gave me a Half Price gift card for Christmas, and I’m glad I saved it for something special. It’s a rare find, but when I stopped there last week, I discovered boxes of lovely stationery priced at $5.99. I have the educator’s discount card so got a 10% discount. I’m sure we all agree I couldn’t pass up that deal. You might want to check out your local store to see if they have the same stationery in stock.

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Pretty by Post

For those of you who share the Mary’s love of all things paper, but aren’t having a lot of success locating a source of cards and stationery, you’re in luck. You don’t have to spend hours haunting thrift stores or online resources, the paper and cards can come to you.

Pretty by Post® offers a bi-monthly greeting card subscription service, and a quarterly stationery box for paper lovers.

Founder and fellow paper lover Danielle Nelson, believes in the power of intimate connection and keeping the old school way of communicating alive. She is a self-proclaimed paper junkie, obsessed with stationery, journals, lovely notebooks, and greeting cards. Like this Mary, she heads to the office supply aisles in whichever store she visits.

If you sign up for her newsletter, you net a free shipping code and subscriber-only discounts, sneak peeks and first dibs on her offerings.

For $35 for a 3-month subscription, you will get a box of notebooks, journals, stationery, note pads and note cards once a month.

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Each box will include one of a kind offerings. If you aren’t interested for yourself, you might consider this as a Mother’s Day gift for the paper lover in your life.

You can also choose a subscription of greeting cards, a gift subscription, or even a mini-gift subscription for $12 every two months.

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Follow Pretty By Post on Instagram for pretty card images and updates, or on
Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

If you have an idea for blog topics, e-mail Danielle at info@prettybypost.com.

If you’d like to know more about a 30-year friendship linked by letters, you can read my guest post (and maybe win a book!) that was featured on Day 12 of her #sendcardsspreadlove challenge.

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Click HERE to read the post. And don’t forget to make a comment underneath the post for your chance to win a free book!

Going once, going twice, SOLD on stationery!

I’m often asked where I get my stationery. While the majority is discovered at thrift stores and Goodwill, the online auction site of ebay has also been a wonderful source for my paper habit.

Now, if you’ve seen my shelves of stationery, it’s obvious I don’t actually need to purchase any more.

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I have more than enough to last me a lifetime of writing letters.

That said, occasionally I need a little pick-me-up, something to brighten my day. Or, I may have sold some of my stash and feel the need to restock. Because I do often sell stationery that isn’t bringing me joy, or isn’t the texture I like, or I get tired of using. Yes, the wrong texture of the paper, or a bad pen, can ruin my letter-writing fun.

Now, as much as the other Mary claims a penchant for paper, her letters are more often written on notepaper, often of the “free” variety, while I am the one in our duo more likely to purchase pretty paper and stationery sets, as is evidenced by this pile of letters I’d written Mary.

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Note the colorful, decorated envelopes that matched the bright and cheery stationery inside. This was during my early 2000’s Mary Engelbreit stationery era.

Perhaps some would view my investment in paper as an extravagance, but I allow myself this one vice. It isn’t expensive jewelry, purses or shoes, but it’s obvious from my filled baskets that it is, indeed, a vice of mine.

As a public service for fellow paper lovers, I’ve decided to share my tips to discovering good deals on stationery on ebay.

  • If you type “vintage stationery” into the search on ebay, you come up with 2985 results. I love vintage stationery.
  • You can narrow down the results by typing “Hallmark vintage stationery,” or “scented vintage stationery,” or whatever it is you are looking for, like I did when I searched for bird stationery, and came up with this result, two boxes I purchased.bird stationery.jpg
  • Another idea is to spell it incorrectly in your search. Type in “vintage stationary” and you’ll get significantly fewer results (780 vs. 2985), but the majority are different listings. (some sellers know to spell it both ways in their description, because for some reason, this is a word that gets mis-spelled frequently) Someone might attend an estate sale and end up with a bunch of greeting cards and boxes of stationery that they aren’t sure what to do with. Or maybe their mother died and they cleaned out her desk. But for whatever reason, these people just want to get rid of something that seems so foreign to them. Stationery? (or stationary, to those not familiar with it)
  • I sometimes search under “huge lot of stationery.” I’d rather pick up five boxes in one fell swoop (and have) than purchase one box at a time. The same seller who had the bird stationery also had lovely sunflower and flower print vintage stationery listed, and was happy to combine shipping, even though his listing didn’t state that. I e-mailed to ask him before I purchased additional sets.

sunflower stationery

  • Some sellers list stationery under Collectible Paper Ephemera. That’s a clue they take their paper very seriously. That’s where you’ll see vintage stationery priced at $40 a box, or the box all by itself (with no paper inside) for $20. Avoid that category for your stationery search. I’m assuming you aren’t collecting stationery, but using it.
  • If you love a certain brand of paper, like Lang, try searching under “Lang paper” or “Lang printer paper.”  One of my favorite packets of stationery was from the Martha Stewart collection, but with just five notecards, five postcards, and five sheets of paper inside, I’m not about to pay the $13.27 Amazon price.

martha stewart stationeryAnother favorite was Susan Branch boxed set of paper with tea cups on it.  Occasionally, I’ll search ebay for these sets. There’s a Martha Stewart set listed right now, for $24.99, and yes, it is listed as stationary. 

  • My last tip would be to think outside the box (pun intended) when you are searching for stationery. Unfortunately, our Hallmark stores don’t carry as much boxed stationery as they used to. (“No one writes letters anymore,” I was informed when I asked why) Check out your local drugstore, bookstores, specialty shops. Don’t forget your Goodwills or consignment stores. I’ll share some online sources in the coming weeks.

Take the April Challenge; write a letter~

In 2001, the U.S. Postal Service officially designated April as “National Card and Letter Writing Month” to raise awareness of the importance and historical significance of card and letter writing. While Mary JH and I don’t need a month designated to letter writing to write each other (we’ll do that regardless) I do love a challenge, and the idea of sending out at least one letter or card each day in the next 30 days appeals to me, particularly if I up the challenge and make it a card or letter to someone other than Mary!

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I often get asked where I get all my stationery and cards. While the majority of my stash is unearthed in thrift stores and from eBay, I have a penchant for paper, and there are times when I can’t resist a splurge. Like this butterfly paper I discovered in our local Widner drugstore last year. I mean, really…as much as I like butterflies, how could I have resisted?

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As part of the April challenge, I’ll be sharing some stationery resources in this blog.

Today’s feature is the Lang Company, where today only (April 1) you can get 30% off your order with the code JOKES.  They sell gift items, as well as calendars, notepads, and notecards, like these beautiful Christian notecards.

lang note cardsYou might want to check their clearance section out for some good deals on beautiful gift items, calendars, address books and notecards as well.

 

Book Review: Last Letter from Your Lover

Reviewed by Mary Jedlicka Humston

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I’ll admit from the start that I am a JoJo Moyes fan. I love her fast-paced, emotionally-engaging novels. Her characters and plots hold me long after I’ve read the last sentence. So, it’s no surprise I enjoyed The Last Letter from Your Lover.
If you’ve ever wondered about the importance of a handwritten letter, then this novel will prove how one letter (received or not received) changed lives.
Let me explain. Moyes takes you back in time to the early 1960s to main character Jennifer, the wife of rich Laurence, and to her lover “B.” Jennifer and “B’s” letters become even more intriguing when Jennifer suffers a head injury and can’t remember anything. And, I do mean anything.
The action moves to 2003 when Ellie, a young journalist, discovers one of “B’s” letters stuffed in an old box hidden away in her newspaper’s archived library. Ellie becomes intrigued enough to doggedly pursue the details.
I don’t want to give too much away, other than you’ll be turning pages long after you should’ve gone to bed. While I’m usually not too keen reading about infidelity and cheating spouses, the storyline takes you onto deeper issues of merit.
The author’s superb storytelling will make this one hard to put down. Enjoy.

Letters from Mom~

I spent an entire afternoon with my mom today.

That’s quite a feat, considering my mother passed away in 2010, but it’s possible when you save letters.

letters in trunk

An article in the Dubuque Telegraph Herald, ‘Letters to Jane’ prompted this visit with Mom. The article was about a Dyersville woman who wrote her daughter Jane hundreds of letters while she attended the Iowa School for the Deaf in the 60’s and 70’s. It got me to thinking about the box of letters I store in my trunk. I kept every letter my mother ever wrote me, but until today, I hadn’t taken the time to look through them.  I’ve read, and re-read, the letters she wrote my grandmother in the 60’s. Since her death, I’ve read her notebooks and the Memory book she filled out for me, but for some reason, I’ve never revisited some 200 letters I had stashed away.

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How appropriate that the first one I pulled out of the (unorganized) box was dated 36 years ago yesterday.

In this letter, Mom informs me that there is a little snow falling, but my Dad doesn’t think it will amount to much. She also tells me that the previous week was the warmest January she could remember and she even hung out laundry and Dad raked leaves. The letter continues for two pages. My brother John had just been laid off work and was waiting for unemployment to kick in. My younger sister Jane had to stay home from school for several days with an earache, and my sister Pat’s children were recovering from the flu. But what I hold most precious from this letter are the words of encouragement regarding my college classes. I began attending the University of Northern Iowa in the fall of 1978, got married in the summer of 1979, and had my first child in March 1980. At the time my mother wrote this letter, David and I were both taking classes and working part-time, but we’d arranged it so that one of us was always with Dan.

“When we think back on it, we realize there must have been a lot of determination on your part to finish school, and you must have had a lot of discouragement too. Putting your stubbornness to good use,” my mother had written, a back-handed compliment (was she calling me stubborn?), but precious words of encouragement, nonetheless. As were these words, before my graduation in December 1985.

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She didn’t make it to the graduation celebration, but there were several more letters that revealed her frustration and disappointment at not being there.

My Dad died the following May, and my mother became a widow at the age of 58, just a year older than I am now. I lived in Cedar Falls at the time so wasn’t privy to much of her grieving, but she shared pieces of it in her subsequent letters. She knew that first Father’s Day would be hard for all of us.

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That first holiday season must have been excruciating for her, and yet she was still thinking of her children. This also wasn’t the only time she expressed a desire to write more letters.

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I hadn’t remembered that Mom had attended a bereavement support group. This was in September, four months after his death.

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Just four months after the death of her husband, and my mother was “helping” others in their grief. Note, too, how she laments the letters she owes others.

Many of the letters left me in tears, made me wish for another chance to talk to Mom, to ask her a question, or comment on something she’d written. There was laughter too, with some of Mom’s descriptions. Occasionally, a note from one of my younger sisters was included in an envelope. Once or twice, my dad wrote something.

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But it was these words that really touched my heart today as I face some decisions in my life.

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Thanks, Mom. I needed that.

 

What a “good mail day” looks like to one of the Marys

A couple of my children might tell you they are scarred for life because their mother actually used to sing this song when she spotted the mailman at the end of the driveway.

I nearly sang it today when I arrived home from work and saw these things in my mail:

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The boxes of vintage stationery were purchased on eBay. The textbook is for a course I am taking toward grief counseling certification. And what mail day would be complete without a letter, from the other Mary of course.

While I didn’t immediately sit down and write a letter, I did begin reading the textbook, getting to page 55 before I looked up and realized it had gotten dark outside. Yes, I love learning, and am fascinated by anything related to grief or psychology, and this textbook includes both.

It doesn’t take a lot to make either Mary happy, but a good mail day truly makes me want to sing!

 

Book Review: Dear Ann, Dear Mary

“Where was I in your grief? I feel like such a thoughtless, insensitive person not to have been aware of what you were going through, not to have called you as you have called me just to say help, not to have communicated more that I care about you and your family- not just at Stu’s memorial service but weeks, months, and years after. Because you have such a loving heart, I feel you have not blamed me, but I am remorseful. You are teaching me how to give comfort to others.”

So wrote Ann Carli to her friend Mary Scherr in Dear Ann, Dear Mary, a compilation of actual letters and e-mails exchanged between the two women in the year after Ann’s husband died. Mary’s husband had died five years before. The women share poetry, prayers, creative rituals, and dreams in these exchanges.

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Where was I in your grief? This is not a question my Mary (Mary Jedlicka Humston) will ever have to ask me. Readers of Mary & Me know exactly where she was after the death of my husband in 2012. Mary sat next to me and held my hand during a portion of David’s wake. She wrote me letters. She drove 80 miles once a month to take me out to lunch. Despite not having experienced widowhood herself, she somehow knew what it was that I needed, and as uncomfortable as it was to companion someone through their grief, she still did it. She has continued to be there for me in the weeks, months, and yes, years following the loss of my husband.

As I read this book, I couldn’t help but contemplate a future when I will be the experienced widow. These two women were in their 70s.  Despite the unfairness of me having to face the same situation in my early 50’s, I trust that my experience will someday help me companion others in their journey.

~Greeting Card Request Alert~

What fun! We have a request from one of our followers. Do you have a greeting card to share with her mother? It only takes a minute or two and will bring a smile to the face of this multi-talented mother.

From Erin:
“My mom, Lois, is finally(!) retiring after years of being a hairdresser, county clerk, a lunch lady, and dietitian in anywhere from hospitals-nursing homes-WIC. She’s very much looking forward to getting back to her hobbies and spending more time with her grandchildren, and not waking up at 5:30 am (unless she wants to, which is never). I want to surprise her with a big basket of retirement well wishes and have already asked friends, family, and all of her previous places of employment…but why stop there? I’ve started asking some of her favorite places to shop and eat and am now turning to the World Wide Web for help getting the world out. I’d love funny and or/thoughtful cards from all over to include in the basket, and I’m happy to write a card in return (so please include a return address if you’d like a card back) telling about when she opens all the letters. Please send cards by January 10, 2017 to:
Lois G.
c/o Erin Thompson
4214 Rownd St.
Cedar Falls, IA 50613

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Do you have a greeting card request for us?