The passing of a loved one

Recently the mother of one of my dear friends husband passed away suddenly. At the beginning of June I stayed with these friends. They are the kindest, most giving people who made me feel so at home and loved. I had never met the deceased but her passing pained me because I knew the pain it would cause my friends. They were half the way around the world attending to the arrangements.  Each morning I thought of them and imagined all they were going through and I felt helpless.

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Grief is so difficult and it is something I struggle with at the oddest of times.  I recently read a definition of grief as left over love that people have a hard time expressing because the recipient is no longer there.  It is further complicated by all the leftover residue of things left unsaid or undone and also all the things that were said and done that we wish were not.  When I know someone who is in the throes of grief, I always want to make it better. Because my friends were in Switzerland, I didn’t have any of my usual ways to show my sympathy at my disposal.  So after writing them a sympathy card, I stamped the outside of the envelope with this darling heart with wings stamp (pictured above) that I bought years ago at The Ink Pad in NYC.  It dawned on me that this would be a great way of showing my friend that his mom would always be flying around with him.

Then as I finished up some other letters, I decided that I would stamp each piece of outgoing mail with the heart with wings stamp as a way to commemorate the life of my Phillipe’s mom.  Each day I stamped my outgoing mail in her honor and it made me smile and think of my friends, but the sadness was turned upside down.  I imagined all the places those letters would travel to and how the recipients would love seeing that heart with wings.  And somehow it made me feel better to honor this woman I had never met before in this way.

Until the next note, Rhea

 

 

Recycling stationery – huh?

About a year ago I started recycling bags and cardboard packaging into letters to my nearest and dearest.  I think it all began after a NYC Letter Writers Society meeting when I got on the floor and wrote a letter on a huge piece of paper from an easel after being inspired by the head letter writer at the Colorado Correspondence Coalition, Megan Hillman.

I love writing letters on different mediums and finding the perfect folding technique and the perfect envelope.  Below are some examples of different items I recycled into stationery.

Unicorn letter written on the packaging of a bar of Compartes chocolate from Pink Olive.  I ate almost the entire bar as I wrote!

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While prepping for a mini dinner party, Caroline Weaver, the head Pencil Pusher at CW Pencil Enterprise introduced to Trader Joe’s Wine Store.  When they put my purchases in these beautiful rose themed Wine bags I was so excited.  When we unpacked our purchases, I folded the bags up neatly and put them in my purse.

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The first museum shopping bag I wrote on was one from the Met.  I will write to one of my pen pals about what I saw during that visit or recap the visit to the person I went with.

I spent a lovely day in May with one of my friend and great inspiration Eunice Roe of @thedailyroe while she was visiting NYC.  We walked from the Lower East Side to Soho hitting all my favorite stationery stores and we had time to stop in at Too Cool for School a brand Eunice has loved for years that I just starting patronizing a few months before.  The packaging is so cute it makes you want to buy makeup and skincare that you don’t need.  I turned this hand cream package into a “I had a lovely time with you” letter to Eunice.

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My favorite thing on my desk is my Dear Hancock Year of Bunnies calendar.  Each day looking at these amazing illustrations by Gwendolyn Mason transports me right back to the little girl who begged her mom to read The Tale of Peter Rabbit over and over again.  Around March it dawned on me that I should be sharing these amazing bunnies with my pen pals.  At the end of each month, I tear off the month and then write a letter on the page – recapping my month and sharing the bunny LOVE.

My greatest inspiration is Samantha Dion Baker @sdionbakerdesign  The pages of her journal make my heart happy.  If you can believe it she is more wonderful than her art.  She has been helping me put down my Copics and explore watercolors.  So earlier this year when I believed a box with some of my art supplies was in storage in Brooklyn, I immediately got on Amazon and bought a new watercolor set.  I fell in love with this one and felt it was perfect since I am in a tropical location right now.  I wanted to let Samantha know that I got a new set and how much I was loving it so I decided to write on the box.  I added a few washi tape embelishments and voila a different letter was created.

The heat protector in this shot with the Rauschenberg quote is from a cappuccino I got at MOMA on my last visit with Samantha.  I slipped it into my bag after I finished the drink and a few days later wrote her a note on it telling her what a splendid day I had with her.

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I hope you have enjoyed this tour of some of my recycled stationery.  I have a few others in store just waiting to be written.  They will be making an appearance on Instagram someday soon.  Until then write more letters and as you can see, you can write on ANYTHING.  Until the next note, The PostMistress

My Classiky Desk Tool Box

I purchased my Classiky Desk Tool Box from Baum Kuchen in Los Angeles after asking a long list of questions of my dear friend and stationery GURU Eunice Roe about the box.  It was a considered purchase so boy did I consider it.  Eunice warned me that the box would not be good for air travel, being jostled in a suitcase, it was too fragile, and better suited to be a desktop letter-writing box.  As you will see from all the pics in this blog, I completely ignored her advice.  I will say after the travels I have taken it on, it is still in perfect shape but I do agree with Eunice, it is a better for being left at home on your desk or in your crafting studio.

Rhinebeck, NY – this is the first trip my Classiky took.  I was staying in the woods on a retreat with a dear friend and needed to have all my letter writing gear.

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Westport, CT – I spent last Labor Day weekend housesitting for one of my besties in Westport.  It was so amazing to get away from my studio apartment and have an entire house to myself.  And what a house and back yard it is.  I wrote letters every day and virtually participated in the Letter Writers Alliance Letter Writing Social.  My Classiky was VERY happy in Westport.

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Palm Springs, CA – this was the first time my Classiky Desk Took Box got to the west coast.  I was lucky enough to be invited to the weekend 40th birthday celebration of one of the member of the NYC Letter Writers Society.  I spent one glorious evening that we all stayed in, writing letters.

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NOMAD, NYC – this park off of Madison Square is one of my fave letter writing haunts when the weather is great as it is right under the FlatIron building and looks directly at the Empire State Building.  In a real estate obsessed town, you can’t get any better.

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Davis Bay, St. Croix – Just last week I took my Classiky to the Carambola Beach here on la isla bonita for an afternoon letter writing session and to enjoy the beauty of my homeland.  I had just learned that Hurricane Maria was bearing down on us and I wanted to engage with the natural beauty and let the sound of the waves de-stress me.  It worked and I wrote some lovely letters from this vantage point.

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What do I fill my Classiky box with when I go on a trip:  Rubber stamps and lots of them including my rolling date stamper and return address stamp, an ink pad, many rolls of washi tape, pencils, stickers, erasers, colored pencils, copic markers and postcards.

I collect postcards and I put some of the ones I will never send in the top of my Classiky. It takes them out of the box where I store all my stationery and gets me to feast my eyes on them.  I usually change my two featured postcards every month.

Hope you have enjoyed the tour of my Classiky….it sure does get around – LOL – happy letter writing!

Until the next blog, Rhea

 

 

Hurricane destressing with a letter writing challenge

IMG_1598I lived through some pretty gnarly hurricanes growing up on la isla bonita.  Hurricane Hugo specifically that left us without electricity for 9 months.  Yes, I learned many survival skills.  We also had a 6pm curfew for weeks.  The bright side of this was that I read most of my high school text books thoroughly and as a result aced four AP courses which allowed me to test out of the first semester of college.  Gotta find the silver lining!

So when I found out that Hurricane Irma was bearing down on St. Croix, I was reasonably stressed.  I knew there would be a lot of waiting time before and after the storm with no wi-fi, and likely no electricity.  A light went off in my head that this would be a great time to write letters.  This calmed me down by directing my focus to something I love to do.

After we did all the necessary pre-storm preparations, I got busy packing a letter writing kit.  That kind of makes it sound like a small case.  So let’s be honest, it is a huge gardening tote from Apolis with lots of cool pockets that I have repurposed into a letter writing supply bag.   When I packed up my Carrie Bradshaw desk and put it in storage in NYC, I knew I was going to have to find a way to store all my letter writing gear in a portable way until I had a permanent home again.  One Saturday this spring after leaving a letter writing session at Maman Soho on Centre Street, I passed Apolis.  I have wanted one of their Market Bags since a trip to Ojai two years ago so I popped in to get a NYC version of the Market Bag.  They were sold out so I browsed around and saw the Gardening Tote and thought it would be perfect for all my gear.  I thought about it for two weeks as I do with most big purchases and then went back to get it.

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I packed tons of cards and stationery, my vintage and current postage stamps,  my favorite Palomino pencils, my portable pencil sharpener, my entire collection of Copic markers, my favorite new Caran D’Ache colored pencils, an ink pad, my return address stamp and a few other rubber stamps, my letter writing clipboard, my journal and my watercolor paint set.  And of course Postmaster Patrick resides in one of the outer pockets.  He is a hand knitted doll given to me by my snail mate Patrick of Edelweiss Post.

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Once I was all settled in at Grandma’s house on Tuesday evening, I started writing letters and hand lettering.  We lost our electricity at 9:30 the next morning and Grandma and I sat on her screened in porch all morning waiting for the storm.  Before Irma was directly  over us, I was at the 15 letter mark so I decided I was going to turn Hurricane Irma into a 30 letter writing challenge.  With my mind completely focused on that I forgot about all the terrible things that could happen and just wrote and addressed and wrote and addressed.

When the curfew was lifted the next morning at 6am, I had 31 letters completed.  As you can see from the photo, only one was a postcard full of stickers or my definition of cheating.  Most importantly everyone was safe and sound.  My memories of Irma are now all about time spent with my Grandmother and the 31 people I connected with while I wrote to them.  Here is a little look at my output.

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In the event that you are a nervous flier, writing letters is also a great distraction when flying.  If you want to try a 30 letter snail mail challenge and get your mail box filled with mail, head on over the shop and pick up your 30 Days of Letters Kit.  You may just find that you pick up a habit you can use to calm you during times of stress!

Until the next blog, Rhea

 

 

 

It’s a blue, blue summer

No this blog won’t be about Bananarama : )  It’s about my favorite letter writing spot in NYC is Maman Tribeca.  A splendid little french confection where you can wile the day away with the most delicious Quiche, chocolate chunk cookies, coffee….and for me tea.  I was introduced to Maman 2 years ago by one of my besties and loved it so much I began making the short walk from my apartment there every weekend to write letters.

Sometimes despite how lovely our homes are, we need to experience another environment where we can get away from our quotidian responsibilities.  Those places can inspire us, make us feel at home and make us appreciate our own homes when we return to them.

Maman soon became my favorite date spot with @sdionbakerdesign.  And eventually I started going every morning on my way to work when time permitted.  I am fascinated by the patterns of the coffee/tea cups – each day the barista gave me a different one.  I started taking pictures of them to save for a Pinterest board of tile ideas for my one day dream home.  Being in that beautiful space and carrying the pretty tea cups on the subway made me want to redecorate my apartment in a blue and white theme.

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I just kept envisioning the wallpaper all the time and gravitating to everything blue and white that I encountered.  I decided it might be a little less costly to create a box for Mail More Love with Maman as my muse.  So I did just that.  The Blue Box contains five amazing cards for varying occasions by some amazing card makers. One of them features the illustration of one of my favorite illustrators Kelsey Garrity Riley.

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Also enclosed is my favorite roll of washi tape in the world.  For use on your mail, in your journal, planner or anywhere you want to make more beautiful.  If you lined your walls with this washi, you just might feel like you were in Maman.

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I always write the location I write from at the top of my letters.  The people who received some of my Maman letters loved looking it up on-line and being able to visualize where I was when I was writing.  Next time you are in NYC, pop into one of the Maman locations….and if you see a brunette with curly hair writing letters, it just might be me!

Until the next note, Rhea

Independent Bookstores – my favorite!

My mom is a librarian and my sister demanded no less than 4 books read to her each night when I was en utero so clearly I am an obsessive reader…..and letter writer….well I guess I am an obsessive everything.  I worked at Barnes and Nobles when I was in college and barely took home a dime. When I moved to NYC 18 years ago my passion for independent bookstores grew exponentially.  When I lived uptown, my favorite was The Corner Bookstore on Madison Avenue.  The cash register is enough to make you faint.IMG_5409As my life progressed downtown I became a regular at Three Lives & Company and McNally Jackson.  McNally Jackson has one heck of a card section so it’s pretty much where my budget goes to die between the books and the cards. This is a pic of one of my recent hauls : ).IMG_8114

It is also situated on my my favorite walk in the city, the route from Soho through Tribeca to my apartment.  Probably my FAVORITE thing to do in the world is wander around NYC.  I fancy myself a Flâneuse which is defined as the feminine form of flâneur; an idler, a dawdling observer, usually found in cities (as coined by Lauren Elkin in her amazing book Flâneuse).  More on that in another blog.  When a wander includes McNally, or any independent bookstore, it’s heaven.

But the reason I love both of these stores and truly any independent bookstore is that I find book treasures that I would never discover in a big chain store.  Case in point a book I found a few weeks ago on one of my dawdling wanders through McNally Jackson, The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman.  Of course it was the title that first caught my eye – the reference to a postman.  When I read the premise I was shocked.  I stood at the table and read up to page 8 and after this passage, I knew I had to read the book:

“Bilodo was an unusual postman.
Among the thousands of soulless pieces of paper he delivered on his rounds, he occasionally came across a personal letter – a less and less common item in this era of email, and all the more fascinating for being so rare.  When that happened, Bilodo felt as excited as a prospector spotting a gold nugget in his pan.  He did not deliver that letter.  Not right away.  He took it home and steamed it open.  That’s what kept him so busy at night in the privacy of his apartment.”

IMG_8116I guess now I know why it takes so long for some of my mail to be delivered.  Just kidding USPS!  This slim little novella captured my attention and I must admit I was a little on edge the entire time I read it, constantly waiting for Bilodo to get caught.  If you love mail, all things postal and poetry, you will love this book.  And there is a sequel which isn’t out yet.   Not giving anything away but it’s called The Postman’s Fiancé.

Until the next note, Rhea

 

 

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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