Tag Archives: usps

It’s Just This Heart

Yesterday afternoon I found myself running down our snowy sidewalk in my socks. I usually prefer running shoes even in our balmy 22 degree weather but my heart made me do it. After missing our Postman’s pickup, I had no other option than to hand deliver the Valentine for my sidekick to the Postman’s mail truck.  Love is in the air and at that particular moment there was nothing more important than making sure my postcard was in the mail on that day. The Postal Service also has reason to share this emotion. The USPS has recently announced The Love Letters Project, posting stories of individuals who owe a great deal of thanks to the Postal Service for a making love connection and drawing people together. Now through February 19th you can follow these stories through audio clips shared online.

Conversation No. 1

My favorite is the story of Sandy and Donna, both heartfelt and thought provoking. You must listen to hear it all but here’s my favorite clip from Donna…

“But there is this moment when you receive that (letter) and it’s stepping into a whole other world. And I think that’s just the whole thing, suddenly being able to say things and choosing words properly without intonation, without implied messages, without anything. It’s just this heart.”

Make sure to take a listen to the other stories, all connected to letter writing through the Postal Service. But be warned, you just might be stirred to pen some sentiments of your own! Happy Valentine’s Day.

Wendy’s Wednesday Picks

I’m alive and well, fellow readers!! Aside from a quick trip over to Paris with Mr. Brown (more on this next post) life has been jam-packed as we make the final tweaks to the Brown Ink Paper Goods online boutique, opening soon. My time to blog these days has been spotty, but eventually this will change. For now, I’ll be highlighting my favorite topics every Wednesday to keep you up to speed on interesting points in the writing world!

First off, check out the new blog from the founding editor of Stationery Trends, Sarah Schwartz, called The Paper Chronicles. For a paper lover like myself, this blog is fabulous for introducing new lines and connecting with those who appreciate the handwritten note. Congrats Sarah!

The Paper Chronicles

Speaking of new businesses, these letterpress business cards from The Beauty of Letterpress are out-of-sight. Crazy about this one, numbered and perforated. So original.

My in-laws, Sally and Jim, just returned a few weeks ago from a month long trip to Alaska. Sally, a big fan of handwriting, sent numerous postcards to our family. We loved hearing about their adventures through writing and pictures of wildlife they came across.

IMG_0007I was the lucky recipient of a postcard full of the Alaska State Flower Forget-Me-Not seed. Love.

To celebrate its first birthday, Olive Box has come out with a stationery box filled with beautiful greeting cards for every occasion. Perfect for a gift or to have on hand!

Card-olivebox-bigFor you local folks, it’s the 20th Anniversary of Lunalux, my favorite letterpress printing and stationery store in the Twin Cities. To comemmorate the anniversary, they created a beautifully letterpressed party invitation, printed it on a unique lead and wood type, and added lined envelopes to boot.

lunalux.two-oh!.invitation1Make sure to stop by next Saturday on Customer Appreciation Day with 20% off products.

Speaking of local, temps have only begun to drop in Minneapolis, yet soon enough the Holiday season will arrive. Just our luck, the 2013 USPS set is larger than ever, with 8 holidays stamps. Check out the history of each one. Here are a few of my favs…

Global Holiday: Evergreen Wreath

Global Forever: Evergreen Wreath

Gingerbread Houses 

Poinsettia

Poinsettia

Finally, a word from my son Oliver. The other day he needed a little alone time in his room and, with no direction from his parents, returned downstairs with this note in hand.

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Translation: Bea I am sorry I spit on your head. Priceless.

fueling the fire

It’s been years since I’ve been involved in an ongoing, consistent relationship using letters. This is too bad. It’s not as though detailed emails or longer phone calls with out-of-state friends or family have taken their place. No, simply put, overall communication has generally fallen off. Bugger. And it’s a bigger disappointment when you admit the value and purpose in sharing bits about ones’ lives through letters has almost disappeared. Thankfully not for all, such as with my friend Julie…

letter envelope

Julie (juliekesti.com) and Cheyenne (rudolphclaystudios.com) became instant friends 11 years ago, both spending the summer as work-study students at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee (home of the worlds largest Salt and Pepper Maker Shaker). Soon after Julie’s departure, the letter writing began and it’s never stopped.

On average a letter is sent every month, running about three pages in length and often composed over a couple of weeks. They purposely email or use the phone only when needed for business or big news. Being a teacher, Cheyenne often reuses paper and Julie tries to guess its origin. And Julie uses colorful pens, stickers and drawings in her letters and envelopes, always a treat for Cheyenne. They once made a painting through the mail, mailing pieces back and forth to each other, which was eventually used in an art show.

This is their first experience with pen paling, but it easily became a natural correspondence. Cheyenne feels through writing “Julie and I have a different kind of friendship…I feel very open to her in ways I am not with other, more local friends. I think with writing, we share a part of our self that is more private or more authentic than we could get through email or phone.”

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Julie says, “You get to be a part of moments in a faraway friend’s life that you probably wouldn’t otherwise. This happens a bit with Facebook but a letter is much more direct and personal, more like you are really present with the person – it’s magical.”  Cheyenne agrees, “A real letter is substantial and important, because it’s tangible and some other person took real time and real physical effort to make the letter.” These women are committed and consistent pen pals. I give them praise!! It might take more time, but the reward is priceless.

The people at The Little Folk also believe in the power of a Pen Pal but for young kids. They recently launched Pen Pal Collective, a traditional letter writing program for children 4-13. Once signed up, Little Folk will match your child with two writing pals as well as with a writing kit that includes paper, pencil, stamps, and more. The Brown boys will be sure to share their correspondences this spring.

In this file photo, a mailman for the U.S. Postal Service closes the door on his postal vehicle on November 15, 2012 in Miami, Florida.

In addition to these existing relations which fuel the fire, news just in from the USPS. The Postal Service plans to delay its plan to end Saturday delivery mainly because they do not have the authority to make such a decision. The question still remains where the postal service can save money. So for the time being, see if you can’t ignite a pen pal with a letter to a college buddy or sign your child up for the next round of pen pal from Little Folk.

fire up. up. up. up.

After the recent news of the USPS possibly dropping the Saturday delivery, I’ve noticed more and more opportunities to send a letter in the mail.

Black Sheep Postal Service first caught my eye on instagram around Valentine’s Day. This service was not simply sending out cards but ginormous Valentine’s hearts around the country. It all started with a guy named Justin Kerr who loved writing cards to friends but rarely received one in return. Black Sheep was created for the people who have good intentions to write but never get around to picking up a pen. This is where Justin steps in with his hand-crafted cards and ambition to keep people staying in touch with those they care about. Black Sheep offers many card options including monthly, birthday, and holidays. We love this man with a mission.

 

Cleverbug

For those other similarly good-intentioned people who are stuck to their phone, let me introduce cleverbug. This phone app allows you to send a printed, personalized card (even including pictures from Facebook) directly from your phone to their home. No, it’s not handwritten but if this fires up the “younger” generation to appreciate snail mail for a change, we’re all for it.

Lastly, we wanted to mention a piece our friend, Julie Kesti, posted this last week on brown ink.  Julie is one of those amazing women who finds beauty in everything she sees. She is an artist who also has a fondness towards writing letters (more on her pen pal correspondences later). Currently living in Shanghai, Julie is hoping to attend an artist workshop on Cortes Island this summer and has created a brilliant opportunity for others to support her campaign.  Her packages of goodness for contributors to her trip are brilliant and hopefully put a fire in the belly of those with similar dreams.

American Apple Pie

I never thought I’d find myself daydreaming about the US Postal Service like I have this past week. It all started with a flurry of new stamps issued in January (including the increased cost) and continues with the likelihood of saying goodbye to Saturday mail delivery. But let’s start with the good news…..

Global Forever®

One no longer needs to question the cost of an international stamp whether you’re sending it to Nice or Nicaragua.  The newly introduced Global Forever Stamp can be used on a 1-ounce First-Class International letter to any country in the world for a mere $1.10

The Apple postcard stamp is one of my new favorites.  The selection includes the bright red Baldwin, the green Granny Smith, the yellow Golden Delicious, and the multi-colored Northern Spy. The stamp art is illustrated with pen, ink and watercolor, with some additional detail added on the computer.

The Emancipation Proclamation stamp commemorates the 150th Anniversary of receiving Lincoln’s signature on January 1st, 1863. The designer, Gail Anderson, used rare type she found when digging through old typeface and dingbats used in a Nashville letterpress shop, one of the oldest print houses in America; a great deal of effort placed into an important stamp.

Kaleidoscope Flowers

Flowers are one of the most popular features for stamp collectors as well as with the purchasing public. With these Kaleidoscope Flowers stamps the designer and artists have taken these classic perennials and brought in a graphic element to keep it modern.

Belgium to issue stamps that taste of chocolate

And just in time for Valentine’s Day, the Belgium Post Office plans to issue chocolate smelling and tasting stamps. The Bpost states, “We have added a chocolate taste to the glue of the stamps. You can taste [it] when you lick it. It was not easy to get the scent and flavor of the dark chocolate right. In the end, people from Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland all worked on it.” Maybe our USPS can come up with a US flavored and smelling stamp…American apple pie, smores, hot dogs?  On to the bad news…

On Wednesday the US Postal Service shared its plans to end Saturday letter delivery beginning this August. The news was not a complete surprise but it still broke my heart. I got the news via text from a close friend, Angela, who is the Executive Prodcuer at our local WCCO news channel. She was curious if I would agree to an interview concerning the topic. Yikes. If it wasn’t for the possibility of promoting brown ink (apologies) I would have hesitated. I freeze at public speaking. But in the name of letter writing I agreed to the interview. And all in all it was short and sweet…

I get it. Since 2007 first-class mail volume has declined by 37% as online communication and payments have skyrocketed. Hundreds of post offices have closed, hours cut and staff reduced over the same time. By stopping Saturday delivering the USPS will save $2 billion a year from its annual loss. A good chunk of change. But where does the cutting end? In the 1950’s twice-a-day delivery was cut to once a day. In another five years will we see a weekday delivery cut, more post offices closed? The end to Saturday delivery will be harmful to small businesses, rural communities, and elderly who rely on their mail for commerce and communication.  However, in every article I’ve come across I hear most Americans favor the change.

I honestly don’t have any solutions on how to stop this downward spiral. So for now, I will continue to buy more stamps, mail more letters and support Post Offices like this one in Vermont which needs to stay active in order to stay afloat. Jane Davies, the woman who who runs the post office, is getting creative; when she receives any art postcard she will send one in return. No, Jane is not issuing the new USPS American Pie smelling stamp but she’s driven and passionate about mail. And sometimes that’s what it takes.