Monthly Archives: March 2014

Write On

If my last post, 30 Day Challenge, did not place a little fire in your belly, this post might be the one. Thanks to The Paper Chronicles recent blog post, I learned about the latest writing challenge from the collaborating minds of hello! Lucky and egg press. In celebration of April’s National Letter Writing Month (let me hear a CHEER!) these two groups are kicking off both a give-away and a letter writing campaign called WRITE_ON. Their passion for letter writing to continue to connect friends and loved ones is one I admire!


The group’s mission is for each individual to write a letter for everyday in April. And if you sign up soon, this special WRITE ON Letter Writing Kit which contains 4 letterpress printed cards, 2 from each printer, can be yours! Their hope is “to see an ever-increasing web of connectedness and good feelings” and they invite everyone to share their letter writing adventures online at #WRITE_ON. For more information head to the egg press site.

Initially it may sound overwhelming, however, you can make this a simple activity while you wait for the snow to melt. On your more hectic days, write down and mail a postcard of one thoughtful word or sentence to a friend. Or take 10 minutes to write that follow up from last weeks meeting, or write a letter to Congress on a stance you support. For me, I’m going for it, both 30 days of journaling and writing. In the end, my handwriting will have hopefully improve, moments will be captured, and hearts will be touched.

30 Day Challenge

The other day on Instagram (I’m a bit obsessed) a friend mentioned a blogger who will begin a 30 Day Challenge on April 1st. Usually when you hear about this type of challenge you might think 30 Days of no wheat, sugar or alcohol or 30 Days of being positive or even 30 Days of intimacy or 30 Days of squats. Journaling for 30 Days might not be on the top of one’s list. But, much to my delight, this one is simply so. A challenge to take the time, pick up a pen and write for each day in the month April.

The Everygirl's 30 Day Challenge: 30 Days of Journaling #theeverygirl

For me, the timing could not be more perfect. Our lovely Portlandia rain is turning to snow right before my eyes and it seems like everyone I know is escaping the remnants of the polar vortex by heading South. But aside from hanging at home while I order garden seeds, creating homemade body scrubs, and keeping up with the store, I look forward to having some time to get back to my many faithful journals.

The creator of this challenge, Jessica Coffin from The Everygirl, is hoping to gain perspective into the repetition of life, finding a therapeutic pattern through this everyday ritual. We all find so many routines in each day but this one could actually make a significant change in ones life.


L & E Photography

If you decide to join the challenge, make sure to tweet or Instagram with #TEG30DayChallenge. And if you are still looking for a journal, check out our selection at the shop. I plan to jump in on the movement next Tuesday. It’s the right time to honor this period in my family’s life before Spring is in swing, then Summer flies away, and all of a sudden Fall begins, and I find myself wondering where the time has gone. My journals will be there to remind me.

Artist Way

Art seems to rush in like waves in my life and recently they seem to be at an all-time peak.

This past Thursday night Emmett and I spent time at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts checking out the new Matisse exhibit where we were inspired to “draw with scissors” and create our own colorful collage postcard to send to someone who inspires us. (Bonus: The Institute mails the postcards for free, smart promotion!). How brilliant to combine personal art with writing!

Then on Saturday afternoon our family took a walking field trip to the Weinstein Gallery, my favorite gallery in the Twin Cities. Martin Weinstein has an eye for talent. He currently is featuring a collection of work from local Alec Soth, a world renowned photographer. We heard Alec speak a few years ago at The Walker and I was hooked instantly. His projects have taken him everywhere from Paris to down the Mississippi River, each bringing with it a raw, visceral effect, giving a fresh perspective on today’s world. The piece below is my favorite from his Niagara project. No surprise, it’s handwritten. Alec asked locals to find existing love letters in their home which he then photographed. This one has my heart.

Would You Come Home? 2005

Another artist who combines personal notes with art is Cape Town artist, Lorraine Loots, with her project 365 Paintings for Ants.

In 2013 Lorraine created a miniature painting and postcards for everyday of the year, some driven by a client, others not. This year she is continuing the project with each piece painted with a Cape Town theme. Not only is the art for sale but Lorraine will handwrite a personal message on the back of each piece or postcard, making this a personal piece to treasure.

A few other exhibitions recently surfacing in the Twin Cities…

St.Paul artist Siri Knutson will feature a lovely, new collection this Saturday night between 8-10pm on 48th & Chicago (just picked up a few tiny gold circles I am crazy about!).

Alecia Stevens

Looking forward to the new Edward Hopper exhibit at The Walker, Hopper Drawing: A Painter’s Process, which includes never before exhibited drawings and preparatory work.

It’s a gift to live in a world with such great talent, using their hands to create art which can bring one to a different place, touching each one of us differently than the other.  

Spring Pause

Spring has sprung…I think. At least the melting process has begun up here in the north country.  This seems like the perfect time to stretch out that writing hand of yours and write a simple card.  Reach out to a friend you haven’t connected with for ages, invite a loved one over for tea, remind someone how much you appreciated their advice taken decades ago, or celebrate the beginning of Spring with a neighbor, all through your very own handwriting!  As much as the general public has been sucked in by the digital world, the simple fact is this…People still very much enjoy and appreciate receiving written correspondence.


(photo my Emilie at L & E Photography)

Last month I was a part of the Morningside After Dark Storytelling and Live Music Series where I kicked off the Postcard Project, handing free and stamped postcards to each attendee. The idea was for guests to connect with others through a simple and short handwritten message, whether a relationship currently in their lives or from the past. I was amazed at the reaction I received by these strangers. Not only did they thank me for beginning the process of a correspondence, but also how such a small project can be a reminder of the value of this kind of communication. The meaning behind the words become intimate rather than the predictable and impersonal email or text. Give it shot, just one letter, one note. The action will force you to pause as well as the recipient.


By the way, in celebration of Spring, Brown Ink Paper Goods will be posting its first Giveaway on Instagram starting tomorrow morning. Perfect time to starting following us at browninkcom!

Back Pocket

I know a guy (let’s call him Paco) who loves to write. His dream would be to write for a living but for now he writes a column for online and print newspaper when he’s not working 9-5 in a garden center.  About ten years ago Paco made a conscious decision to try and become a writer. Actually, he knew there was no option but to follow his heart. He felt there was something very natural inside of him that needed to come out. So, he took a job that does not make a lot of money or have great benefits but allows his writing to come out. Paco is my hero!

But, what’s even more cool about Paco is how and where he writes. His day job gives him the ability (and the experiences) to write while at work. His small, spiral notebook sits inside the back pocket of his Carhartt bibs at all times, and whenever he gets an idea, he races off to the bathroom to scribble out notes. No one is aware of all of this tomfoolery because Paco, to be sure, is a very responsible employee. You might catch Paco watering plants, but he’s also deep in thought, crafting sentences.

writer's notebook pile

His columns are roughly 1,000 words each (then get trimmed down to 800-900 words) so he uses a pocket size notebook to take notes. He normally writes at work for two to three weeks, jotting down sentences and sequencing stories. And then Paco sits down for a week in his kitchen at 5:30am, takes all the handwritten notes and creates a finished story on his laptop.

The beauty to all of this is Paco admits he would not use an electronic device even if it was ready at hand. “When I am writing notes for a column my hand and brain are in sync whereas having to type is laborious and slow. Nothing beats pen to paper. It’s all about flow, one that connects the rapid firing of thoughts in my brain to the page. The thoughts come boom-boom-boom…sometimes in the checkout aisle of the grocery store, sometimes at the gym…and it’s way easier to get them on paper. Plus, if I took my random notes on an electronic device and later went back to check the writing, it would look like some crazy wacko typed it.” Crazy or not Paco, you placed your heart in the right direction and are keeping your words alive by handwriting. Bravo my green-thumbed friend.