Category Archives: Snail Mail

Mother’s Day Greeting with an “Edge”

I was supposed to send cards enclosed in handmade envelopes for this year’s Mother’s Day celebration. Plans had to change at the last minute because the cards I bought are ‘small’ compared to the envelopes I made.

(L-R) A length of ribbon, card, single puncher

(L-R) A length of ribbon, card, single puncher

Beribboned cards all in a row

Beribboned cards all in a row

In the end, I think things turned out well. To make the store-bought 4 x 5 packets pop out a bit, I decided to stick “Happy Mother’s Day!” labels on top of the sealed flaps. Labels with an “edge,” that is.

If you’d like to give it a try, print or type “Happy Mother’s Day!” on paper that’s thin enough so you can easily shape the edges, but not too thin that a small tear can ruin your entire work. When doing the lay-out, make sure to leave about half an inch of border around the words so that you’ll still have that space framing the greeting even after you’ve torn around the edges.

Labels with an "edge"

Labels with an “edge”

Make it straight . . .

“Straight-laced” label

“Straight-laced” label

. . . or curved.

"Curvy" label

“Curvy” label

Either way, you’ll end up with pretty labels that pack just the right amount of “wow.”

Mother's Day cards ready for their intended recipients

Mother’s Day cards ready for their intended recipients

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Cardcetera and Its “French Connection” Postcards

It’s almost impossible not to think of my trip to Paris while looking at “The French Connection” postcards from Cardcetera.

I’ve been there many years ago. The group study exchange program I was a part of had wrapped up, and my fellow students and I decided to stay in Europe a few more weeks before flying back home. Although our group of four subsequently parted ways, one of our common destinations was, you guessed it, France.

While I can no longer remember the exact places I went to, it’s not too difficult to pull up details like the Eiffel Tower, River Seine, Arc de Triomphe, Sacré Coeur Basilica, the trip to Cannes, the small apartment I initially stayed at, the much bigger apartment I lived in before going to Germany, the very cold weather (it was spring), the train ride I took to visit a popular science museum (all I can recall is the extensive – and impressive – collection of bugs), a flea market I stumbled into, getting lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood, and so on.

This is because when one is more focused on experiencing rather than recording a trip, it’s much easier to go back in time. Even the minutiae are easily taken in when one is simply living in the moment.

I’ve had these “French Connection” postcards for about two weeks now. It took me “this long” to say something because each beautiful image looks just like a glossy picture! Much better than those I took back then! Each time I take a postcard in hand, my world slows down and I find myself carrying a conversation with my younger self, “You never went inside Sacré Coeur Basilica. Why’s that? You mean you chose the science museum over a historical building?”

When I was looking at the postcard bearing the croissant, baguette, and confiture, it actually made me think what a friend and I had for breakfast when we stayed for a few days at the Assumption Motherhouse in Paris. Similarly, the bucket of macarons made me wonder if we had those for dessert in Paris or Cannes . . . or if we had them at all. Surely, we drank wine!

That is the kind of whimsical conversation and rumination I have in mind all because of Cardcetera and its “French Connection” series.

Have you ever seen postcards that bring you back to your favorite places or make you wish you could be in those places? Take a look at “The French Connection” and see if you don’t start feeling wistful, too.

The French Connection: In Jardin du Luxembourg

The French Connection: In Jardin du Luxembourg

The French Connection: Aperitif

The French Connection: Aperitif

The French Connection: Croissant, Baguette, and Confiture

The French Connection: Croissant, Baguette, and Confiture

The French Connection: Bucket of Macarons

The French Connection: Bucket of Macarons

The French Connection: Breakfast

The French Connection: Breakfast

The French Connection: Pigeons in Montmarte

The French Connection: Pigeons in Montmarte

The French Connection: Sacre-Couer from Orsay Museum

The French Connection: Sacre-Couer from Orsay Museum

The French Connection: Parisian street clock

The French Connection: Parisian street clock

The French Connection postcards - All in a rack

The French Connection postcards – All in a rack

My Current Source of Inspiration for Illustrations

Title: Pictures in the Post: The illustrated letters of Sir Henry Thornill to his grandchildren
Edited by: Michael Baker

I purchased this coffee table book from a bookshop that sells books in various forms of state: new, used, overruns, and so on. This particular copy is used; its jacket is torn in places. I decided to buy it, just the same, for inspiration.

I’m the kind of letter writer whose imagination is limited by what she has on hand: rubber stamps, decorative tape, and stickers, among others. I used to draw when I was much younger, and then it was totally forgotten when I pursued communication – and not fine – arts in college.

Sir Henry’s illustrated mails to his grandchildren are like little works of art! I hope I can do the same to the letters and cards I send to the young, and even not-so-young, people in my life.

"Pictures in the Post" (front cover)

“Pictures in the Post” (front cover)

"Pictures in the Post" (back cover)

“Pictures in the Post” (back cover)

What’s Inside your Letter – Some Thoughts on Letter Stuffing and Proper Handling

The very first “letter stuffing” I made was a little heart (about the size of a dollar coin) made of bread dough clay. This was way back in high school, when I was very much into sewing and drawing. I found the recipe in one of my craft books and thought it might be fun to try something different.

Making bread dough clay is very easy: just mix bread, water, and tacky glue. Mash and knead until the dough is no longer sticking to your hands. Once dry, anything you form from it can be coated with clear nail polish or sealant (such as spray varnish) for protection.

I remember making a batch of those bread dough hearts for Valentine’s Day. The heart is attached to a length of pink satin ribbon. The friends I gave those hearts to liked the token. So encouraged, I made another batch for mailing.

I was already into writing and sending letters at the time. Not knowing any better, I thought sending those hearts was as easy as slipping them inside an envelope along with a card. No so.

I didn’t realize a letter goes through so much “punishment!” By the time one of my friends received her Valentine’s Day card along with the heart, it was crushed. She was crushed and, well, so was I. I put my heart (pun not intended) into making those hearts!

Quickly thereafter, I learned that you have to choose the kind of stuffing you’ll put inside your letter.
• What material is it made of? I’ve sent beaded bookmarkers and handmade door charms to friends. The door charm is pretty tough in itself, but it can ‘pierce’ the envelope you slipped it in if not packed properly.
• What about weight? How light or heavy is it? Please remember that the heavier your letter stuffing, the more expensive your mail will cost.
• Consider the distance. Fragile items have to be packed well.
• Think about the packing material you’ll use. It need not be expensive. In recent years, I simply re-use the plastic covering that many greeting cards come in. When I receive gifts swathed in sheets of tissue paper, and the latter is not torn and still in good condition, I re-purpose them as packing material. I’ve also begun stocking up on padded envelopes, those with special bubble wrapping inside.

Putting stuff inside letters is fun! I wish I can take a photo of the expressions of friends who receive surprises in their letterboxes. But I have my share of misadventures, too. One time, I sent a batch of letters with door charms in them to a select group of friends. All but one received hers. We waited, chalking up the delay to a weeklong government holiday. Lesson: be aware of the risks of sending letters with stuff inside.

Having just narrated all these, it occurred to me how a friend’s letter stuffing from Tokyo – a small, decorative bottle – arrived at my letterbox intact. Anyway . . .

How about you? What letter stuffing have you sent and for what occasion was it?

“Lessons From Snail Mail”

By: Gwen Hill (2012)
Link: Lessons From Snail Mail

. . . I did save two letters I unearthed from the piles of paper. Both were written in longhand on folded pieces of stationery. Old-school correspondence. Unlike e-mail, which gets swallowed into the techno-void almost instantly, these missives seemed to demand attention.

Random thoughts (14 January 2013)

When I was much younger, I used to think writing a letter meant filling out the entire stationery, some of which were as big as an 8.5 x 11-sized bond paper. Not surprisingly, I ended up with letters that sounded contrived, if not boring, because they were long. Long on words and short on essence.

Eventually, I learned I didn’t have to write everything that’s happening to me. I discovered my hands are less tired – and my readers less bored – if I talk about one experience and elaborate on that.

Nowadays, I get more satisfaction when I send a card to congratulate a friend on an upcoming wedding, on the birth of a new member of a family, or simply to surprise someone. In short, I find it more meaningful to write letters that focus the spotlight on those around me.

Sentences are no longer just letters put together to fill a space. They’ve become important components in building and sustaining a connection between me and those I cherish.

Received and noted

“I got the card. It’s really nice and meaningful for me. I will keep it forever. Thanks for your kind wish.”

It is reactions like these that encourage me to keep sending “snail mails” (a card, in this particular situation). I was never close to this former colleague, but the occasion called for something that will help him get through the holiday season.

Looking for the right card and choosing the right words took time, but all the steps that were taken to send that hand-written message to him was clearly worth it.

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