Tag Archives: Paper Source

Guests Take Note

Every summer we head to the Oregon coast where we rent a house on the beach for a week. And at the end of our stay I make sure to share some of our memories in the house’s Guest Journal.

I page through the past entries, noticing how other guests have spent their time while staying at the Neahkanie Treasure and also looking back at our first years on the beach when our boys were just babies. There is usually some kind of consistency…sand castle making, wine consuming, relaxation. Either way, the journal welcomes us in each year and keeps our memories in a safe place.

Looking back, ever since college I’ve had a thing for Guest Books. My freshman year roommate and dear friend, Dana, would drag me (though I never fought) to Milwaukee for the weekends to enjoy a home-cooked meal and clean sheets at her mother’s home. I recall the first visit when I was struck by a Guest Book sitting on a bureau in their entry way. Where was I? An inn on Cape Cod? Kim, her mom, was not running any sort of B & B but she always made you feel welcomed and your presence was appreciated. The Guest Book was an extension to this authentic greeting.  I felt like a wanted, celebrated guest through documenting my time in their home with my own writing.

So lately I’ve been thinking, why not purchase a Guest Book for our friends and family to sign when they come to stay with us? Not only will it remind me of who visited over the years but hopefully it will provide the same welcome feeling I received in Milwaukee on those chilly Wisconsin nights.

With one of my childhood friends, Theresa, arriving from Des Moines to enjoy a girls’ weekend last month, I quickly purchased a Guest Book from faithful Paper Source.

And thus begins the documentation of visitors at the Brown’s home for hopefully years to come.

If this intrigues you to find one for your own home, look no further.

You can match the style and color of your home with this satin, rayon or leather Mi Casa Home Guest Book and personalize it with your family’s name.

I found this Guest Book to be simply odd. I suppose if you are a lover of books this guest journal might suit your home quite well.

This one reminds me of some kind of Bavarian Inn but it sure has warmth.

And of course for those of you who enjoy a second home up north, a welcoming Cabin Guest Book is a must.

Then again, a lovely generic journal is just as acceptable as any of these traditional Guest Books. At the end of the day, your guests’ own personal mark will hold the greatest meaning no matter what form the journal comes in. The ink cannot be replaced (neither can the memory of your kids waking your guests up at 5:45AM!!).

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.

Cupid is Sharpening His Arrow

The day after Christmas I ran to Paper Source to check for their annual holiday sale where I always stock up on cards, invites, and gift tags. Although the sight of the welcoming Valentine’s Day section made me gasp,  I shouldn’t have been surprised. Approximately 144 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged every year (not including packaged valentines for classroom exchanges), making Valentine’s Day the second-largest holiday for greeting cards. Hallmark first offered Valentine’s Day cards in 1913 and currently they create more than 1,400 Valentine’s Day greeting card designs. Let’s just say you have no excuse for not finding the perfect card for that special someone this year. So here go my favs this year.


If you are anything like my husband and gravitate towards the blank cards so you’re able to create your own message, then this card is for you. Created by MarMar Superstar, you can check them out online or stop by Gallery 360 in Minneapolis.


I found these postcards on my new favorite site, Ship & Shape, and knew they would be dynamite to mail to friends. Who doesn’t want to look at the world through rose colored, heart shaped shades most days of the week?


For the Valentine’s Day card that keeps on giving, send your sweetheart an actual wooden heart to hang and remind them of your enduring love. This mail-friendly construction kit from Finland includes everything they need to enjoy the European designed heart.

J.Falkner has created a line of cards using bright Palm Beach colors with chic images and playful phrases. This Valentine’s Amazed card will bring out the lighthearted side in anyone.



And then comes the kiddos. It’s hard for me to deny them their love of Star Wars on this particular holiday especially when each of these Valentine’s comes with its own pencil. That sealed the deal for me. Target always comes through. But where’s the creativity you say?



Look no further than Paper Source of course. I’m not sure who’s looking more forward to making the Love Bugs, Puppies and Kittens Cards, the boys or me. Emmett was with me one afternoon when we stopped at Paper Source and he went crazy for these cards. Lots of opportunity for the boys to be clever and use their noggins when creating and scribbling out their own Valentine’s greetings.

Lastly, I need to give another round of applause to Paper Source for these sweet letterpress tags. Rather than use them for gift tags, why not write multiple messages to your beloved and hide them all around the house, car, or wallet. I understand Valentine’s Day is a bit commercial but why not shower the person who rocks your world with the attention they deserve? And while you’re at it, buy some chocolate for yourself.

Meaning in a Mug

I have to say this blogging thing has made an impact on my pencil and pen collection. It’s brought a new dimension to what’s been popping out of my grass colored pottery mug…And I like the change!

First off, admitting you enjoy writing to your friends and family, so much so that you are blogging about it, is a pretty direct hint to folks looking for gift ideas.  And in 2011 I scored. Ha. Seriously, though, people were too kind.

The rage kicked off on my birthday when my friend Dana sent me a sweet Retro 1951 Tornado Classic Lacquer in brown…but of course. When I want to feel like a true professional writer or the CEO of Brown Ink, this is what I grab (thanks again, Ding!).


Christmas morning I found these Keep Calm and Carry On pencils from Paper Source in my stocking. Perfectly sharpened and calmingly red, I feel like British royalty with these 12 red charmers gazing at me from my mug. Thanks Santa.



My friend Jane provided our family with even more goofiness with this Predict a Pen which my boys are obsessed with using. When asking “Can we eat chocolate donuts for dinner?” and the reply comes back “Dude, No Way” they stomp their feet and ask to spin the pen once more. Pure entertainment.


Carrie’s always one for pizazz so it was no surprise to receive this Xonex Tri-Tone Pen in a happy blue/aqua shade from her for a holiday gift. You can pick one up in all sorts of snazzy colors at Epitome Papers for those of you who live in the Twin Cities.




I did treat myself to a piece of art from Gallery 360 which actually serves as a pencil. Sculpted by Agelio Battle, the pencil is part of a graphite series where the artist’s reverence for organic forms was inspired by his countless hours in nature. He believes “we discover things about ourselves and our thoughts by engaging the hand in a mark-making process.” Right on.  Instead of the Olive Branch above I selected the Quill which is believed to write words imbued with a spiritual and ancient guidance.


For our anniversary not only did I surprise Nick with a Sterling Silver Tornado rollerball pen (I’m hoping this soon ends up in my mug and not his mail slot), but he and I received a pair of Anna Pens by Alessi from my in-laws. These two-headed pals look they are about to head down the aisle. Cheers Sal & Jim.



Aside from these sweet additions to the mug I have also found some gems along the way that remind me of certain events in 2011. The silver Mickey Mouse Ears pencil brings back memories from November when I found out the in vitro had worked as I waited in the Disney Express Bus line headed to Wilderness Lodge. The pink & green striped Beverly Hills Hotel ballpoint pen is a memento from my LA trip to visit Jenny Fritz who continuously shows me a marvelous time in her home town, as well as the Marc Jacob lipstick pen which we picked up at Bookmarc on Melrose (a great find for little gifts). There’s always a few hotel pens from Nick’s travels on the road which tug at my heart since they represent a past absence but, like passport stamps from prior trips, they’re fun to have around.

So the question you might be asking yourself is ‘do they all write well?’  Yes, they all do. My mood often determines which one I grab. But when it comes down to my all time favorite pen, the one I always need to have a few of in case of an emergency, is the ever faithful Ultra Fine Point Sharpie. Tada…

It is permanent with a capital P (lots of evidence of this on our office desk thanks to the nonstop writer, Emmett) and it can bleed through thin paper, but the quality, control and smoothness which comes out in every word is unmatchable. I am completely hooked. So tell me, what’s in your office mug today?

PS. It was a good thing I checked up on Missive Maven last night. I had not a clue the cost of stamps went up 1 penny this past Sunday, January 22nd. I’m all about supporting the financial crisis with the Postal Service but where was our warning??? I checked in with The Queen Bee of letter writing, my old neighbor and friend Sandy, and this is what she shared with me.

The new rates are as follows: 45 cents for 1st class, 32 cents for a post card, $1.05 for international and 85 cents for Canada & Mexico. The good news is if you have old 44 cent stamps they are considered Forever stamps and you do not have to add more postage. But this does not apply for the postcard and out of USA stamps. Thanks Sandy!

A Few of My Favorite Things…

It was too challenging to narrow the list down to only a dozen, so hold on to your pens my friends. The holiday gift idea list is a bit on the long side.

First off, to the postal lovers.


The World’s Smallest Post Service is at your service, ready to be enjoyed by your favorite letter writer. What a great excuse to sit down, focus on something small and send it off to someone you love. 


For those of you who may have a family member who still looks back with naustalgia at the carrier pigeon days, here is the perfect gift. This Pigeon Post package from Letter Writers Alliance (one of my favorite sites) provides you with everything you need to send the pigeon back and forth, holding a letter in it’s pouch, just like the good old days.


You can’t go wrong with a custom stamp from Paper Source works. Although this means you would be stamping and not writing, if a stamp provides the motivation to write a letter then bring it on. I gave my mother and mother-in-law these personal stamps for Mother’s Day this year and both were thrilled (free shipping with orders over $100).


Now let’s celebrate stationery.

I am sucker for notecards and sales. And right now R.Nichols has a great deal for you. Free shipping and 25% until the end of this week. Too hard to pass this up!

This Ikat Domino + Wood Box Set from Stripe and Field might be the ideal gift for that family member who appreciates hand written notes…or just to keep for yourself!!








These stationery sets are beautiful enough to frame.  Peony from Satsuma Press is produced by one woman in Oregon and the three dimensional Retroplants from Crafterall is created here in Shorewood, MN by a one gal as well (love you single, female artists!).


And for that friend with the beautiful handwriting…

My friend, who will remain anonymous, is surprising her sister with her very own OpenType font created from her personal handwriting. I thought this was a brilliant idea especially for someone with impeccably, unique handwriting.


Spread the Journaling Bug.

For the bird watcher or traveler in your life, this Hamline Pocket Journal is made in Heirloom Cognac leather and can even be personalized. Can we say Father-in-Law?


And for those bloggers (who ever you are) out there, this Archie Grand notebook from J.Crew is the perfect way to keep track of your favorite sites.


Pens and Pencils are perfect stocking stuffers.

The retractable, ballpoint Spectrum Pen in the MOMA color palette will keep you smiling all the way through every journal entry.


Why not step out of the box and pick up one of these beautiful pottery mugs to use as a pen and pencil holder. Something a loved one would see every day at their desk can make a meaningful gift.


And for those of you with more expensive taste…

From the Rad and Hungry, a site which sources interesting supplies from around the world, treat the pencil fanatic in your life with a Yearly Subscription of (twelve kits over 12 months) of 14 STMT X Pencils each month!

Coming from Symthson on Bond Street, this Jonathan Saunders Panama Diary is one you want to hide from the kids.  It’s elegant in every way using goatskin leather and lined with printed silk. Oh la la (or Ho Ho Ouch!).


In my world, the ultimate gift would be a quarterly surprise in the mail where you would be delighted with cards from different artists each season. Parchment Post read my mind. Here you can purchase a six month or one year subscription of their seasonal collection of cards. Sending handwritten cards just became even more enjoyable.


Lastly, for those of you still in need of holiday gift tags, look no further.


Etsy rocks with many treasures created by talented artists including…

Joy by Paper Lovely Letterpress




And Tree and Red Cherries by Conversational Design.






These gifts cards from Rifle Paper Co. can be ordered online or, if you live in the Twin Cities, pop into Paperista and droll over the beautiful variety of stationery (check out their blog as well).

So there you have it folks. My list of the year. Hopefully something grabbed your fancy and you will join me in making this holiday season a time for writing and reflection.

Merry Merry.