Monthly Archives: February 2012

Message in a Bottle

I promise I won’t continue to blog about DIY ideas too often but had to share this one from Danni at Oh, Hello Friend. She’s come up with such a simple way to send hand written notes to those who need a pick-me-up in their lives (and don’t we all from time to time?). Check out her latest post to find the basic steps in making this little package of goodness.

Messages in a bottle.  Your friend will be touched by the thoughts and appreciate reading the handwritten notes whenever they need a lift. It’s your good deed of the week.

    Healthy Hearts & Wedding Bells

    The US Postal Service has jumped on the “healthy lifestyle” bandwagon with its latest Heart Health stamp, an effort to raise awareness of the importance of a healthy heart. Painted by artist and passionate runner, Nicholas Wilton, the stamp’s runner and elements surrounding him symbolize “vitality that comes from physical exercise, while a large red apple at the figure’s feet represent a well-balanced diet” states the Postal Service.

    Although the Postal Service has promoted many health-related causes in the past, they’re now joining NBC’s The Biggest Loser to encourage viewers to mail letters of support to their favorite contestant while using the Heart Health stamp. What a fantastic idea to not only promote the purchase of stamps but also encourage snail mail rather than texting. So rare on reality television shows these days. You can watch this message to learn a bit more of you’re interested. Hey, anything to get people to write letters and support the Postal Service!

    Speaking of the USPS, in last Sunday’s NY Times there was a great article on Wedding Stamps.

    The Postal Service heavily relies on revenue from the many folks planning on marrying this year but the question still stands, will the engaged couple lean toward the traditional path and mail invitations rather than emailing attendees? The 2011 American Wedding Study found one in five couples are connecting with guests through email or evites which some believe are less expensive and environmentally pleasing.

    When we were married in 2001 I don’t recall evites as even an option and emailing our attendees never entered our minds. Even if a wedding invitation is not printed on some fancy paper written in calligraphy, I feel the experience of receiving and opening an invitation to a wedding celebration can never be replaced with the digital age. And thankfully the Postal Service is keeping the Brides-To-Be pleased with some new and eye catching wedding stamps each year.

      And the Invitation Please

      It’s my favorite time of year to watch television…Award Show Season!!! Since I can remember, watching the Oscars has always been a special night at our house. My mom has always been a movie buff (still is, she has seen every Best Picture nominee) and before I had children, I was right next to her in the theaters. I’ve attended a few Oscar themed parties over the years but none more memorable than the one I hosted with my old housemate and dear college friend, Dana.

      This winter I was digging through a box of old letters when I found our invite from 2000. We did this party right. Not only were guests welcomed with a red carpet entry and served elegant drinks, food and buttered popcorn (presented in film canisters), but our invitations were sealed with a gold wax stamp (see actual wax above). We might have had more fun making the invites and planning the party than the actual event.

      So as this Sunday night approaches, if you get the urge to whip out a few invites to watch the 84th Academy Awards, aka the hottest night on the tele, don’t hold back. Grab some glitter, a shiny pen and you’re golden baby. And don’t forget to print out a few nominee ballots ahead of time! Go Clooney.

        Breaking Through the DIY Fear

        When I see the acronym DIY associated with art projects I often freeze up. Over the years I’ve taken painting classes, sewing classes, photo album making classes…you name it. I usually leave the class frustrated and not very pleased with the final result. Photography has been my passion but even in the dark room while developing my black & white masterpiece I grew impatient and dissatisfied. Maybe I’m a closet perfectionist when it comes to creating something with my own two hands. Whatever the reason, my fear still hasn’t stopped my intrigue to try new things. Which is why I was enthusiastic to sign up for a Valentine’s Card Workshop at Paper Source a few weeks ago.

         

         

        I mean, how hard could it be? The students follow an instructor in how to create three differently styled cards and, on the way, if you get creative and decide to put a twist on the sample card, go for it.

        Being a gal who follows recipes to a T, I hardly veered from the examples but, surprisingly, I did get a new rush in the creative side to card making. It’s unclear if it was the combination of a variety of stamps, baker’s tween, colorful paper, sparkling powder or chocolate but at some point I hit a creative groove and I was digging it! There is something so rewarding about making a piece of art with your own two hands especially when you like the way it turns out.

         

         

         

        Other than the occasional leaf blower, power tools have never been my thing. But once I was handed the Heat Gun I entered a whole new world of gadgets. Every student in the class was already a proud owner of the device but that did not hinder their excitement towards my new tool. Paper Source says it’s one of their favorite crafting tools, essential for effectively applying directional heat and bringing rubber stamping to life. Needless to say, I walked away with my own heat gun, embossing powder, a Versamark pad and enough stamps to last me a through a few more holidays. Bring on the homemade Easter cards with yellow embossed eggs!! And if you are so moved, follow this link where a card designer from Paper Source takes you through the heat embossing with rubber stamp process.  Super straight forward.

        Although I might not have been born with the creative gene, my husband’s side is flowing with it and the Brown Family enjoys all of their creations. Nick’s Aunt Lucy, who lives in Vermont, makes cards from her drawings and watercolors. Most of her subjects come from the garden or “whatever else lands on our kitchen table…(which) has intriguing colors and shapes” she shares. The originals are usually larger so to make the cards she uses a commercial color copier and reduces the originals to card size. Lucy recently set up a new space to work, a large drafting table which welcomes in the morning sun and a view to the garden and lilac bushes.

         

         

         

         

         

         

         

         

        (Lucy’s holiday cards above)

        Aunt Wendy is also a talented card designer and maker. We see this in each birthday and holiday greeting which lands in our mailbox.  Check out her “Black Cats in a Pumpkin Patch” below. Of course it’s always an extra bonus to see how Wendy wraps and creates name tags on the holiday gifts. It often pains me to open each one!

        A good friend of mine, Alecia Stevens, wears many hats. Not only is she a phenominal interior designer and writer/stylist for national magazines, she is also a fantastic photographer. Recently, Alecia created a book of postcards, Genus Loci: Italia, filled with black and white photos from her travels in Italy over the past six years with her husband, Lee.  She has selected her favorite moments of Italian life and created this momento to share with others. Lucky us!! The book was printed and bound locally in Minneapolis by Smart Set and can be purchased at Gallery 360 or on her blog.

         

         

        And tada!! My final creations. To be honest I have yet to open my heat gun but have full intentions to start enjoying all my new gadgets especially since it motivates me to write more letters to friends. So I encourage you to break through that fear: it’s inexpensive, messy and rewarding. All good adjectives.

          Get Creative or Find Help

          Tomorrow is the day your loved one is expecting a card from you. Yes…you. If, by chance, you have not found the ideal card for your sweetheart, (or if you find yourself in some other unusually sticky “I really need a great greeting card” situation), you might want to contact David Ellis Dickerson, a former greeting card writer for Hallmark and now a freelance greeting card emergency solver.

          This past Sunday morning I caught an interview on NPR’s Weekend Edition with David where he discussed how to pick the perfect Valentine’s Day card. The interview lead me to his Greeting Card Emergency youtube stories where he solves some interesting “card giver” dilemmas. LOL stories these are. And if you are really moved by David check out his memoir, House of Cards, where he shares tales of his time with Hallmark.

          If nothing suits your fancy at the end of your greeting card search, simply write down one heartfelt thought to drop in the mailbox for that someone who may or may not be expecting a Valentine’s Day card. It will not only warm their heart but likely a bit of yours too. Or…