Stamp mates….for like evs

I met Margaret Haas in person for the first time on November 11, 2015.  I was visiting Los Angeles doing research for what would become Mail More Love and I booked an appointment at Paper Pastries to shop and pick Margaret’s brain about being the owner of a stationery store.  She was pregnant with my now pal and pen pal Ellis Rose #swoon and we ended up chatting for like ever. We had so many touch points in the conversation and I knew immediately we would be friends for like ever.

That day when I stepped into the former Paper Pastries location that was in Downtown Los Angeles in the historic Spring Arts Tower, I felt as though I was stepping into the 1950’s and heaven all at the same time.  It was a magical place filled with the most amazing collection on stationery I had ever laid eyes on.  My budget died that day!  But I gained a parter and friend for like els.

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I shopped my face off and chatted with Margaret and soon learned that we both have loved rubber stamping for our whole lives!  We’ve been ardent pen pals ever since and each trip I make west, we are sure to have one or more play dates.

IMG_5732Fast forward a few months when I started strategizing Mail More Love, Margaret was my sounding board for everything. She gave her feedback on logos, designs and which stamps to make.  And when the USPS tried to shut down my little business, she consoled me and gave me the pep talk I need to dust my self off and get back to business.  She also signed on to produce all of the rubber stamps that were part of the subscription box.

Margaret  was also my cheerleader and inspiration in starting the New York City Letter Writers Society.  I had been toying with the idea of a letter writing group but was turned off my the entertaining aspect of holding a monthly meeting.   I did research for months on letter writing groups in NYC in the 1800’s and once I had all the info I needed, I bounced all my ideas off of her.

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But outside of all of this Margaret is my stamping muse.  When I buy a new stamp or sit down to try a new design on an envelope, it is usually because she has inspired me or because I am making something I want to show her…..like these bunnies….this bunny stamp is from my first visit to her shop and it has a special place in my heart.

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Margaret and I are both obsessed with color theory and I’m always coming up with new combos to thrill her.  Clearly, I am her biggest fan, so I thought it would be cool to tell you all about how she inspired me and let you know that many of the Mail More Love rubber stamps are available at Paper Pastries.

Margaret’s nickname for me is The PostMistress so I will sign off for now with this beautiful custom stamp that she name for me!  All your rubber stamp dreams can come true at Paper Pastries.  Hop on over there now!  Until the next note, Rhea

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A little girl, a Princess and a love letter…

Everyone can remember with startling clarity where they were when tragic events happened.  For my mom’s generation it was the  assassination of President Kennedy or Martin Luther King, Jr.  For me of course September 11th is a big one.  One that really stands out for me is the death of Princess Diana of Wales.  At the time I was living in Boston and had just driven back from 2 days in Martha’s Vineyard where I had been to see Henry Louis Gates, Jr., host a panel on race in America.  I got back to my apartment and tired from the day travel, I took a nap.  When I woke up around 9pm I turned on the news and saw the reports of Diana’s accident and breathed a sigh relief once it was announced that she was alive and only had a leg injury.  Not long after the truth was revealed.

As a little girl growing up on an island in the Caribbean I spent my free time with my nose in a book.  Three of my favorites were photography books on Princess Diana.  I was obsessed with her…those watery blue eyes, her impeccable style and the dresses, oh the dresses.  I remember waking up at 4am in 1981 to watch her get married to Prince Charles and being mesmerized by the crowds, the carriage, the tiara, the train of her dress and wanting during the ceremony to finally hear her voice when she took her vows.  Such a different world than the one we live in now.

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The Principal of my school in 1981 was a red headed British woman named Sylvia Bibby who had a huge St. Bernard dog.  7 year old me found out that she went to England each summer when school was out and immediately thought she would be able to deliver a letter to Princess Diana for me.  I went to her and asked and she said she couldn’t make any promises but to write the letter and she would try to get it to the Princess.  I can’t remember what happened after that but she must have been successful because 1 year later I received a letter from Buckingham Palace.

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I’ll never forget how excited I was to get that letter and to feel the imprint of  Buckingham Palace on the stationery.  In the letter from Hazel West, HRH’s Lady in Waiting, I was told that the Princess was unable to send me an autographed picture.  Despite the fact that I did not receive the autographed picture I requested in the letter, I was still so excited that I framed the letter and put it next to my bed.  And I was on to my next quest which was what is a Lady-in-waiting how one becomes a Lady-in-Waiting.   I tortured my mother to help me figure that out.  Ahhhh the days before the internet.

As fate would have it, I became somewhat of a Lady-in-Waiting.  For 15 years I worked for a celebrity who personally responded to every request she received for an autographed picture.  I remember some years ago when we were on a trip to London sitting on the floor of her suite recapping what we had done during our free time that day.  I told her I had gone to Kensington Palace to see an exhibit of Diana’s dresses and then I told her about the letter.  She marveled at my 7 year old desire and at Mrs. Bibby.  Always one to get the room laughing……I’ll never forget she said “how lucky were you to have a Principal who cared so much”…..and then “so I wonder what ever happened to Hazel West?”.

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August 31st marks the 20th Anniversary of Diana’s death.  I will never forget waking up at 4am on September 6th 1997 to watch Diana’s funeral.  My friend Jenn came from NYC and we spent the day watching and crying.  A few months ago as I was going through all my old books at home I found those well worn Princess Diana books and out floated the letter.  It made me smile at 7 year old me and it made me happy that I sent a love letter to a Princess I loved who enchanted so many of my days.  To whom will you send a love letter today?

 

 

 

Summer Letter Writing Challenge

I began my foray into writing a letter every day with a 30 day snail mail challenge back in July of 2015.  Below is a FLIPAGRAM of the 30 days.  That adventure filled my world with gems I never expected to encounter.  My own stationery business, a snail mate, friends near and far, a Letter Writing Society, and a role-playing fairy godmother to fledgling letter writing groups across the country, to name a few.  As I saw July approaching I felt compelled to repeat the challenge to connect with 30 special people and hopefully inspire many others to send more mail!

Back in March I launched my 30 days of Letters Kit and it was a big hit!  I got lots of feedback about the ways people used the kit.  Most bought it with the intention of filling their loved ones mail boxes and getting lots of mail back in return.  Others just wanted to revive the lost art of letter writing.

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Science says that it takes 21 days to create a habit – bad or good.  Some people began using the /30 rubber stamp included in the kit to keep track of the days they wrote in their journal.  Other stamped the inside covers of books they read as part of a book challenge they were doing and some used it to track 30 days of new recipes on recipe cards.  If you decide to do the challenge – follow along and let me know you are writing by posting on Instagram and hashtagging #thesummer30daysofletters.  You might pick up some new pen pals and become a Mail More Luvah!

This is how I will be structuring my 30 day challenge – 10 days of ice cream themed cards, 10 days of postcards, and 10 days of old-fashioned letters.  I put them all in a box, any box will do – try a shoe box.  Put some pens, pencils, postage stamps and anything else you like to make your mail pretty and you are off to the post office!  Each day grab that box and write a note to someone you love.

If you need a few tips to make this challenge easy breezy – click on this link to my blog about the 30 Days of Letters kit

Until the next note, Rhea

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Dear Sally…

Saturday night I had the pleasure of seeing Lillian Helman’s The Little Foxes on Broadway with two theatre actresses I am absolutely enamored with – Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon.  I saw Cynthia Nixon in Wit years ago and vowed to see her on stage whenever I could.  On the subway ride home, I got to thinking about the fan mail I recently wrote to one of my favorite actresses, Sally Field. In March, I saw her in The Glass Menagerie and it took my breath away. But more than that, it left a deep imprint on me and the show kept flashing through my mind weeks later.  This new interpretation of this great work has been controversial but boy did it ever hit the nail on the head.IMG_7653

A week ago after reading an article in the Sunday Styles I decided to write Sally Field a letter.  Not just about my thoughts about the show but about her career and what it has meant to me throughout my life.  I sat outside at the Sweet Corner Bakeshop on the corner of Hudson and Charles in the West Village and put it all on paper. It started on an Iron Curtain Press card and continued on Rifle stationery.  As it usually happens, the words just flowed out of me.  I started with Gidget and and the Flying Nun and went through each role, without using Google, just my memories of Ms. Field each time she touched me the deepest.  With each of those roles she became that person and I could find each of them within me.  As I type this I realize that in my stream of consciousness letter writing, I forgot to include the movie I have seen 10 times – Steel Magnolias and the line I quote to myself all the time – “Your colors are pink and pink”.  Oh well, she won’t mind the omission.  IMG_8085

I used to work for a celebrity who wrote back to every single piece of fan mail she received.  Quite and achievement.  I don’t expect Ms. Field to write me back, that wasn’t the purpose of this letter or any of the others I have written to famous people who have touched me.  It was simply to let her know that what she set out to do with each role was achieved.  She knows when she looks at all her awards and reviews and wealth that she has succeeded but sometimes it makes all the difference in the world to hear it from the person who showed up at the theatre or tuned into the show week after week (Brothers and Sisters – boy I miss that show!).  And that is reason I write letters – to let someone know that I was holding them in my mind with love.

Special Delivery….

After I finished the letter and lettered the enveloped in true Devoted Diarist style, I had the brilliant idea that I would walk it over to the box office where I bought the ticket to The Glass Menagerie and ask them to give it to her.  My office is right next to the Theatre District so I always buy my tickets in person to hand pick my seats and avoid service fees.  I sprung the news on my colleague, Kara that we were walking to the Belasco Theatre at lunch to see if they would accept a letter for Sally Field.  She was game.IMG_8161

Much to my excitement when I asked if I could leave a letter for Ms. Field, the gentleman at the box office said “you need to leave it backstage.  Go around to the stage door and ring the buzzer”.  The man who let us in was so lovely and said he is the first person Ms. Field sees when she arrives and he would be happy to deliver it.  I was so thrilled to know that she would actually receive the letter that I skipped up the street on our way to get lunch.  I don’t expect a response from her.  This particular fan mail, was a deep and sincere thank you to a role model and icon – and a thank you note needs no reply.

Until the next note, Rhea

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