Monday, January 30, 2012

Caving To Peer Pressure (But in a good way!)

I know I'm behind on posting pics from weeks 15 and 16 of the 52 Weeks of Mail project.  Sorry about that, and I'll try to get those done by tomorrow afternoon.

But I wanted to share another (sort of offshoot/simultaneous) challenge that I'm participating in.  Because, really, I was doing it anyway.  This just gave it an official name. :P :)

I had already seen news of this challenge around the internet; the 52 Weeks of Mail facebook page mentioned it, as did Save the U.S. Postal Service by Writing More Letters, and, of course, more than a few fellow epistolary blog friends.  At first, I didn't give it much thought because I'm already getting geared up to do the A to Z Blogging Challenge in April.  The way my days seem to be flying by recently, that's like... the day after tomorrow!

I was finally won over to participate in the Month of Letters challenge by fellow blogger and letter writer Becky who sent me the sweetest email.  I have to give Laura of Daily Dodo a huge shout out here, because she was the darling friend who gave my blog link to Becky in a comment.  Thanks, Laura!!

If you want to participate by sending out a letter a day (minus Sundays and one postal holiday) in February, you can sign up HERE.

See you at the mailbox!!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Thought I'd Share

As promised in my Gratitudes list, I am sharing this fabulous free printable day planner sheet that I started using last August.  It was created by Dani at Life's A Journal.  Follow the link to save the file, or use this one and blow it up to paper size.  Awesomeness.  You are very welcome. :)

A Gem From My Childhood

I can't believe I actually found this!  I remember this short from FOREVER ago.  (I was around 11?  Maybe?)  So, so funny!
Have a watch to find out the answer to that intriguing question: Why did the beetle cross the road? :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


This morning as I checked my blogger dashboard, I saw the most amazing thing.
My page views counter has topped 30,000! 30,000!!!

Some other fun numbers:
My 4 year blogiversary is coming up in April, but I didn't do much with the blog at all for the first 3 of those.  The stats show a total of 234 posts (not including this one), with 189 of those belonging to 2011.  '08, '09 and '10 combined only total 34 posts.

February of 2011 saw me reach the 1,000 mark, with a handful of followers and only 10 posts so far for the year.  (I celebrated by publishing this post.)  The turning point in my writing came when I found the A-Z Challenge.  If you own a blog and have never done this challenge, PLEASE do it this year!!!  It is so much fun!!  I visited (and began following) a ton of other blogs that I would never have come across otherwise.  My own followers count tripled in only a couple of weeks and I finally began to feel like I had found my voice.  What I was writing and offering out to the world to read was in fact being read!  In less than half a year, I suddenly found myself surrounded by new friends and writing this post to thank you, my sweet, sweet readers, for coming back for return visits another 9,000 times!

Now it's been 6 months again, and I am awed beyond words (well, obviously not, as I'm 4 paragraphs into a thank you post!), grateful and so, so blessed to be thanking you for achieving 10,000 page views not once, but 3 times!  Wow.  Wow, wow, wow!  The blessings aren't limited to you popping by and saying "Hi!", either!  Some of you write to me using for real pen and paper too, and I love getting your letters in the mailbox! I also love reading your blogs about all the awesome mail you get, and sometimes seeing the mail I have sent to you in your posts and getting to know it reached you safely and brought you joy!  Blessings, blessings, blessings! :)

Thank you, thank you for 30,000 page views!  You are amazing! :)

PS- Don't forget to vote in my poll on the right sidebar over there. ------->
I am interested to know what posts you are enjoying and want to see more of.  Please take a look and cast your vote!  Thanks! :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

He is!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the lyrics in this Tenth Avenue North song.  I love all of their songs, but this one just lifts my heart so much!

"And He'll break open the skies to save those who cry out His Name- the One the wind and waves obey is strong enough to save you!"

No person, situation, heartache, life or circumstance is hopeless.  Nothing is impossible with God.  NOTHING. IS. IMPOSSIBLE.  (Luke 1:37)

Turn it up loud!  Shout it to the heavens!  Be encouraged!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Adam's Birthday

This post is about 2 of my favorite things: My friend Adam Jones, and the Letter Writer's Alliance.

Adam's birthday is in September.  Coincidentally, I happened across the LWA and was in the process of joining it in August.  While link-hopping on the LWA site*, I wandered over to 16 Sparrows, the shop belonging to the LWA founder, Donovan B. (Heads up, a few of the items have strong language on them.  You were warned.  I chose to overlook those, though, and shop anyway, mainly because the tag line was so intriguing: "Sarcasm folded in half"! Lol!)

For as long as I can remember, Adam has always had this persona about him that says "I'm more refined and educated than you, simply because I'm Adam Jones.  But you're a great person too, so don't let it bother you."  He's incredibly smart, his wit is razor sharp without ever being cruel in any way and I ALWAYS come away from a visit with him feeling like he has not only identified points of worth and value in both of us during the course of the conversation, but that I have also learned something new and valuable for having had his insight and point of view.  I'm probably making a mess of explaining how I love to visit with him**, but that's the best I have right now. :)

Getting back to the story...
As I was shopping 16 Sparrows, I found the PERFECT birthday gift for Adam.  We don't have a tradition of exchanging birthday gifts, but I could not resist.  I added the item to my cart along with my LWA membership and eagerly awaited its arrival.  As (not so great) luck would have it, it was actually a long while later- November, I think- before we were able to schedule time to meet and chat, but it was worth the wait. Excellent Greek food at the Douglasville Diner, excellent conversation and fun, and I captured Adam opening his gift:
I love so much that it came wrapped in brown paper, tied up with string. :)
Adam getting a good look at the Awesomeness that is...

Photo from 16 Sparrows.  Click HERE to order your own set!!!
You can find Adam's blog here.  He will probably give me flak again for saying this, as I did in a previous post about him, but I'm going to do it anyway: for those of you who may be new around here, Adam's blog often contains inappropriate language and content.  But it contains much hilarity too, and he's been my friend these many years, so I follow and read it whether it aligns with my own views/upbringing/morals/what-have-you or not.  Stop by and give him a "hi" if you want to.  Don't if you don't.  He's understanding and gracious that way.

Happy Birthday (and a quarter, by now), Adam!!! :)

*You can join the LWA without going to 16 Sparrows.  Here is the LWA site and membership info.
**Adam and I discovered in high school that although we adore each other as friends, there was/is not and would NEVER be any sort of romantic attachment/emotions/complications.  That fact = no potentially awkward moments when we get time to catch up!  Which is awesome, because the conversation flows so much more freely.  People often comment, "Oh, so you love him like a brother, then?"  Actually, the answer to that is no, not really.  We each of us have family issues we would never wish on anyone, let alone someone we are FRIENDS with, so that sort of "sibling I never had" feeling?  Nope, we don't have that either.  What we do have is "I met you years and years ago and took time to get to know you as a person, and my life is so much richer as a result; let's respect each other's differences and find common ground for conversation and enjoy each other's company over tea and good food."  Yeah.  That's us. :) :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

In Which I Overhaul The Way I Keep Track Of My Mail

Being the start of a new year, I wanted to revamp the way I was keeping track of the lovely mail I've been getting and sending.  Originally (that is, in October, at the start of the 52 Weeks of Mail project), I had printed a 2 columned sheet of paper that looks like this:

I discovered from using this method for about 10 weeks that I am a "batch sender", which is to say, I write around 8 or 10 letters over a period of a couple of days and then send them all out at once, rather than write one or two a day and stick them in the mailbox in the mornings, a few days in a row.  Although my post office is just 5 minutes down the road, it is actually past the interstate, so it's not really technically "on the way" when I am out and about.  So I have to fit it into my day to remember to get over there.  While this list does show what I'm sending and what I'm getting, the sending list is much longer than the getting list, since things take a while to arrive.  It was getting... messy and confusing, very quickly.

Then I read The Pen Thief's Post About Her Mail Log and I fell in love with her idea of making it more like a daily journal than a list.  (Go check it out and come back, I'll wait!)  She's right that a computer generated list conflicts with hand-written letters.  It just does.

I decided to give it a go.  I found this awesome peacock journal at Ross:

I don't really have a good sample page to photo yet, but so far it is working MUCH better than my other method.  Like The Pen Thief, I'm keeping track of the postage I'm spending so I can see what my hobby is running per year.  (I'll tell you this- so far it is waaay cheaper than Civil War Reenacting!  The gasoline!!!)

I also organized my actual mail.  I got an accordion file and put the senders in alphabetical order by last name.  I copy all of my letters before they go in the envelope so that I have both sides of the conversation and don't end up repeating myself.  All of the letters to and from one person are paper clipped together.  Right now it looks like this:

It's getting pretty full (Thank you!!!), so I'll have to go through and bundle some of the earliest ones and archive them in a storage box pretty soon.

I also have gotten so into making my own envelopes and such, that I have gone through all of my old boxes of art supplies and pulled out anything that can be used for letter writing:

A lettering guide for envelope addressing
and a rainbow of pens for coloring and embellishing!
Remember that I worked my way through my college and early married years at Michael's, with a lovely employee discount!  Remember also that even now, I work at Hobby Lobby, which also comes with a lovely employee discount and coupons as well!  Over the course of the last 12 years, the MANY bits and bobs that are leftover from other projects are showing up as very useful for mail art! :) :) :)

Lots and lots and lots of papers for making envelopes! :) 
This pad of beautiful pages was procured at a 40% off sale.
Half the pages have glitter!  All are gorgeous, with or sans glitter.

This is my FAV out of the pack.  I love old sailing ships! :)
I also got this guy around Christmastime, to keep watch over my shoulder as I write.  He's not much good lighting by himself, but combined with other task lighting, he serves as a wonderful little muse. :)

What have you treated the Letter Writer in you to, lately? :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

52 Weeks of Mail: Week 14

It's been a great mail week!


Gorgeous piece from Katie Marlowe with some peacock themed
stationery and the sweetest note ever enclosed!

Pocci, the winner of my last giveaway, sent me a wonderful letter from Germany
(I love the peacock feather on the front!!!) and I got my first post from the state
of Iowa from new pen pal Sharon. :)
Check out this unbelievably gorgeous stationery and post card!!! :)
Sharon's card from Iowa is so cute!  I wonder what's around that bend in the drive? :)

So thanks to wonderful people like Katie M., The Pen Thief, Cappuccino And Art Journal, and several others, I am now a complete DIY envelope maker!  All of this weeks outgoings were made by yours truly using either a page from a gorgeous calendar I had up last year, or a piece of scrapbook paper. There would have been more going out, but I spent so much time making the envies that I haven't finished the letters that go in the second half of them. (Time management fail. :})  I ended up splitting the stack in half; these got done for week 14 and the rest will belong to week 15.  And I'll stay caught up! LOL.

From top: To a new pen pal from Nebraska; To Mavis in China; To Katie M
in Pennsylvania; To Lucie-Jane in England; and my favorite: an over-the-toply
Harry Potter themed containing a letter written on parchment for Kendall C. of
Happy Little Mailboxes. :)  I had way too much fun making all of these! :)
See you at the mailbox!!! :)

Friday, January 13, 2012

52 Weeks of Mail: Week 13

Hi!  I've missed you!  Thank you all for your love and prayers.  I've had a decent week this week; got a lot done and was even a bit creative. :)  God is so good.

I only got one piece of mail this week, but it is just lovely.  From a new pen pal in Connecticut came this Victorian card:

On the inside she enclosed a recipe card with her address clearly printed on one side, and her mini-bio of likes and interests on the other for quick reference.  What a great idea!!!  At the bottom where it says "Serves" to say how much the recipe makes, she wrote "Everyone.  I'm a mom! :)" The whole thing completely made my day! :)

I had a couple of hours blocked to get a good sized pile of outgoing mail written for Week 13, but with the rainy nastiness that has been going on outside, Cute Gremlin #4 and I took that time to cuddle and sleep off a sinus migraine (me, not her.  She was just grumpy and 3 and needing a nap!).  So Week 13's outgoing is a bit modest, but you know what?  It was still lovingly created and I still made the goal of having outgoing post!  Quality over quantity, right?  Here is what went out:

The round thing is a package for my Nashville, TN pen pal.  Clearly, I do not
possess any skills whatsoever for wrapping objects that are not square.  Also going
out were some of my first attempts at "for real" mail art: To fellow 52 week-er Ana in
Spain, and new Michigan pen pal Emily.
I was getting crazy with the glitter stickers, y'all! :)
Encouraging card to Candace of The Misadventures In Candyland (please stop by
and show her some love!).  Last but not least, a reply letter to new Connecticut
pen pal Krista. Like Candace's, Krista's address was outlined in pen and then
shaded in with colored pens.  You'll see more about that in my upcoming post
about the hoard of new letter writing/art supplies that I got recently! :)
Closer view of the two artsy pieces.  I had been eyeing that music paper in
the scrapbooking aisle at work all month in December and finally caved and
bought a piece.  I love it!  The postage print of Ana's is so much fun too!
If you want a great tutorial on how to make your own envelopes like this,
go to Cappuccino and Art Journal's post here.
That's it for Week 13.  I'll be posting Week 14's goodies on Sunday, Jan. 15th.
See you at the mailbox! :)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Blogger In Need

I'm sharing this from Laura at The Daily Dodo.  It's important.

Please read this post from Candace at The Misadventures in Candyland and help if you can!  If there is one thing I have learned about blogging and bloggers, it's that we are more than people who post stuff on the internet for other people to read; we are a community of people who care about each other!  So follow the links, hear her story and show her some love.

Hug your family.  Tell them you love them.  Help people who need help, whether you know them or not.  Remember when you are going through a hard time- or even when things are going well for you- that there are others going through valleys of their own and we can be encouraged in our challenges by encouraging someone else through theirs.

"I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor, and upholds the cause of the needy."
~ Psalm 140:11-13

"And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus."
~Philippians 4:19

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

52 Weeks of Mail: Week 12

Confession: I'll have to tack on a week at the end of this project, because for the first time in 12 weeks, I missed one.  In my defense, the Post Office was closed on Monday the 26th for Christmas holiday (and I was working that day anyway), I was working during their operating hours on Tues and Weds, and then my whole life kinda came crashing down around me for a little bit towards the end of the week. (Thursday was the day that sucked the most.  For serious, y'all.  Major suckage on Dec 29th.)  And Saturday they were closed for New Year's Eve.

But it's not really likely that I'll actually "end" this project.  Even amid all the personal mess I'm dealing with, and the pace of life in general, really, I still love snail mail so, so much and October 2012 will probably see me both wrapping up one 52 Weeks of Mail and starting a new one.

So, no outgoing for week 12.  (wait til you see week 13's outgoing stack, though!) :)

Let's get to the good stuff- what sweet people have been filling my mailbox with in week 12!
Fellow 52 Weeks participant Mavis sent a lovely card from China
(top left tan envie); Ana in Spain sends me a beautiful note, Christmas
wishes and a sweet post charm(!) (brown envie); sadly, a letter I sent to
Svenja in Germany in October got returned undeliverable. :(
Top right is a wonderful Snoopy Christmas card from a friend in TX. :)
Fabulous pen pal charm from Ana in Spain!  Thank you, Ana!
It's lovely! :)
I love international postage!  Spain and China this week.  So cool. :)
 Related to my Postal Happiness, I got this lovely letter box for Christmas from my mum, and also 3 books of stamps!  I should be set for... well, not a very long time, but for a few weeks at least! :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

So True

It's been a while since a Music Monday post was published.  Enjoy. :)

I hope 2012 is being good to you so far. :)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

December Gratitudes

Or: "Bye, 2011.  Don't let the door hit you on the way out..." :)

I don't think it's fair to try to weigh out all of the things that happened in a year and then stamp it as either  a "good" or "bad" year.  The last month of 2011 saw me crying both tears of pain and tears of joy.  I had some truly wonderful days, and some days that I wish were only a nightmare that I could wake up from and forget.  I think, finally, that I'm learning to live One. Day. At. A. Time.  This is not to say I don't set goals or make plans for the future.  Of course I do.  But isn't life less about trying to forget a "bad year" and remembering all of the "good times" no matter what year they happened in?  And creating more good times to look back on?  I had so much to be thankful for this last month of 2011.  I'm looking forward to my blessings in 2012 as they unfold.  God bless us.  Every one.  :)

  • 12.31- Goodbye, 2011. I learned a lot and I'm ready for a fresh new start!!!
  • 12.30- Day off from work=more productive clearing out at home! Also, Friend Christina takes me to the gym and I discover that I really like it
  • 12.29- The truth has set me free. Grateful for family who love and support me. Lord God, hold me together and bring beauty from the ashes
  • 12.28- Friend Christina helps me get some things sorted and cleaned out. Both of us make like Allie Brosh and CLEAN ALL THE THINGS
  • 12.27- Sweet friends and customers made work today really nice
  • 12.26- A morning shift at work so that I can spend time with the kids and their new toys. :)
  • 12.25- CHRISTMAS! My Jesus was born to set me free!!!
  • 12.24- Grateful for my family. Seeing the kids after family kept them all week while I worked and spending time with my Dad's side for Christmas
  • 12.23- While Christmas shopping, found Cute Gremlin #4's birthday gift on sale. Felt good to be shopping savvy. :)
  • 12.22- Bestie sent me goodies from River Street Sweets in Savannah!!!!!
  • 12.21- Christmas shopping :)
  • 12.20- Spring stuff has arrived at work! I got to display lovely garden accents and it brightened my day
  • 12.19- God's grace to stay cheerful at work after hard weekend
  • 12.18- Spending time after church eating pancakes and reading a wonderful letter from England
  • 12.17- The prayers of friends and family as my world began to crash
  • 12.16- Talented friends
  • 12.15- discovering a link to a blog that compares the SEC teams to Muppets
  • 12.14- another full day at work
  • 12.13- Completely and utterly Graced by our church family
  • 12.12- Tree is finally decorated
  • 12.11- giant pot of clam chowder
  • 12.10- same as yesterday
  • 12.9- Full and busy day at work
  • 12.8- Lovable, loud, ginger friend has a birthday today
  • 12.7- Eldest Cute Gremlin is officially a teenager
  • 12.6- The Christmas tree is up!
  • 12.5- The fun involved in trying to outdo a friend with funny Star Wars youTube vids via Facebook
  • 12.4- Seeing friends at a wedding gig
  • 12.3- An old and dear friend called me on his birthday to catch up :)
  • 12.2- My warm coat
  • 12.1- Great day at work