Thursday, November 30, 2017

My Tea Set - off topic

I get so mushy when I see this box. There is no date on it, but I received it as a gift when I was 3 or 4. Probably 4. I demanded to learn cursive before I was in kindergarten. From a very early age, the alphabet fascinated me.

When my granddaughter was visiting in October, a month before her 4th birthday, I pulled this out for her to play with. The box is more of a keepsake than the tea set.

It was fun photographing it and I took one photo to use as the base for an envelope. The close up of the lid shows how I was trying to add a fancy swash to the end of my name. I can't imagine why I would have done that. Maybe I had seen swashes in ads in magazines or on logos. The world is full of alphabets and design. Some little kids are noticing those details. Other kids are noticing other things. I wish we had a wide range of school options so that kids could hone in on the very specific details that fascinated them at an early age. It saddens me that so much of our education is cookie-cutter.

I'll print this on a regular paper and turn it into an envelope.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Un-mailable to KateR- Aug Exchange

This was a postcard in the pile of stuff-to-be-sifted. I just can't make myself mail postcards.

Below was a test run on an idea that I still like. I like the top idea, too.

These two will go in another envelope -

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

WIP to Susan - Test Pattern

New idea. Since so many of my envelopes go through different stages and layers, it might be interesting to post them as they progress.

This one started when I needed to test a bunch of markers to find the ones that were still juicy. So the colors are completely random.

At this point I actually like it and would be happy to send it along. The address would go in the space at the bottom.

Next step will be to ponder stamps. Since it is square I think I need 70-cents. The PO keeps changing the rates so it is difficult for me to remember. If I had any sense, I would post the rates on a a Post-It on the front of my computer. Or is that method of keeping important info in front of me out-of-control? Should I post a photo of the front of my computer? I'll tell you right now, there have been some pretty embarrassing notes. This one is now tucked in the top drawer and I still need to check it from time to time.


Those are the four states that may or may not have double letters - after having the note out in the open for 15 years, I almost have them memorized - but I still check myself from time to time.

Monday, November 27, 2017

hApPy biRtHdAy eLLeN

Shout out to my daughter (who has probably never looked at the blog because she is not into mail art) who is turning 37 today. She was born on Thanksgiving so I tend to observe her birthday on Thanksgiving rather than the 27th. Or we celebrate twice.

She lived in Australia for a couple years during which time she hatched my granddaughter so I thought of the two of them when I saw these stamps. Ellen came back with so many fun stories about Australians.

This series of stamps illustrates what a great sense of humor they have. If you Google Australia living together postage stamps you may see more in the series.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Re-Run or Lost in the Piles/Files?

From Jannie for one of the spring exchanges.
I'm always finding images that I am pretty sure have not been on the blog - but I have no way of doing a search. I know there must be some way to get all the images on the blog in one place - but, I have no idea how to do that. At one time, they were all on Picasa - but when Google rolled Picasa over to whatever the rolled Picasa into - I was not able to figure out the new system.

There is nothing to learn from this post. However, if anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Hanging Scissors (Sat off-topic)

Off-topic, although it does lead to some interesting recycled paper that relates to mail. Also an opportunity to delve into mail art if I ever feel adventurous.

Whilst surfing around looking for ideas for creative mending, I found this site. If I had time, I would become a performance artist and have my little desk in a museum where I would sit and address envelopes. I would have all of my pens and markers hanging over me on retractable cords. I guess I would need an assistant to pull each one down as I needed it. Although, I should probably get up and retrieve the pens on my own as it would be better to get a little exercise.

If you go to the site, you learn that the artist invites the viewers to cut fabric which she then mends. I've been mending clothes because I get holes in some of my favorite shirts and I am looking for creative ways to mend them so that I do not have to find new things.

It gets better.

I Googled to see her current work. Then scanned back over previous work. Discovered a really cool mud-brick house that she built in Nebraska. That reminded me that I need to go visit the sod house that is only open in warm months. I've always wanted to go into a sod house. I've been in a root cellar - which I found to be very need to visit a sod house. I think there is one in Iowa where you can even stay all night.... like AirBNB -- only DirtBNB...or SodBNB

And it gets even better.

Obviously, I wondered where the little house is. That led me to Art Farm. They have many little buildings and offer artist residencies. I could apply to do a mail art project. If I was accepted and went there - my family would have no idea where I was. Only my brother reads the blog and he would not tell anyone. Of course --- they could track me through my cell phone. I might not be able to go that far off the grid.  It is tempting. I'm thinking I want to collaborate with a film artist who would want to make an odd film out of the experience. It seems a little too close to camping....

The opening page is very off-putting, unless you like complicated descriptions. It looks more interesting when you get to the descriptions and photos of the different buildings and studios.

Friday, November 24, 2017

How to Make a Postal Clerk Smile

While drinking my noon cup of coffee, I thought I would schedule a post about a recent visit to the post office. As I stepped up to the counter, the nice lady said, "How may I help you?"
I replied, "I would like to send this priority. There is nothing fragile, liquid, perishable, or potentially hazardous inside. No lithium batteries or perfume."
She smiled and said, "Oh! You know the drill!." She seemed very pleased. I asked her if she got tired of asking the same question all day. She said yes. At that point, she had to point to the little computer thing and say..."It's asking you again."

Anyhow, I thought I would toss out the idea to my readers that maybe you want to memorize the questions so you can make your postal clerks smile. And since every post needs a photo, I Googled *smiling postal worker.* It was pretty exciting to have the very first picture of a clerk at the counter be this one. There were four photos ahead of this one but they were all out-of-doors.

I was so happy to see that this guy is in the Tahoe area, South Lake Tahoe. My son lives in Tahoe City which is the center of the west side of the lake. A while back I posted a photo of a Tahoe area post office that was for sale. Jean's dream: to own her own post office.

Here is an excerpt from a post on one of my other blogs that ties in with this one.

"At the same Brooklyn post office where I saw the boy nearly blinded by the bag, there is, amid the self-inking stamps used to label mail, one that reads “PRETENTIOUSLY HAZARDOUS.” So flawless was this, so in perfect pitch with the light-speed-changing neighborhood in which it sits, that I thought maybe I had dreamed it up. So I returned and there it was again, the accidental poetry of an author within the United States Postal Service, some 625,000 men and women strong..."
quoted from: Ethan Hauser is the author of the novel “The Measures Between Us.”

I might have to make my own rubber stamp that says:
This envelope does not contain anything....etc.
Or maybe I should just write that on an envelope.....

We will return to actual mail tomorrow.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Sol LeWitt Story

The second version of this painting that I worked on.
This is for people who have nothing to do today. And to mention that I am thankful for some of my weirder experiences.

Back on Nov 22, 2016 while blogging about the joy of tedious jobs I mentioned that I had a job watching paint dry that I really enjoyed. Of course, that was only part of the job. Pictured is the two-story mural by Sol LeWitt that is in one of the Wells Fargo buildings in Des Moines. Sol LeWitt was a pioneer in conceptual art. He designed works that could be executed by teams of artists rather than doing the actual work himself. The Des Moines Art Center (our local art museum) bought this work and the first version is layers of ink applied directly to one of the walls in the museum. Over the years, the colors have darkened. Different pigments were used on this project and the colors are even brighter than what they appear to be in this image.

When Wells Fargo needed something for a wall in a new building, the DM Art Center discussed the possibility of doing a second version with Sol LeWitt and he said OK. He sent an assistant to Des Moines to manage the project. It was going to take about 3 weeks to complete and they needed to find people who were available for full time work during those 3 weeks. I didn't know anything about the project until I got the phone call from the director of the museum asking me if I was interested in working on the project. While I had taught at the museum for several years, and had met the director, I was surprised to get a personal phone call from him. I thought to myself, if he is calling me, they must be desperate to find people to work on this project and for such low pay, so I guess I better help them out. As I recall, we were paid less than $10 per hour and the director was apologetic about the skimpy budget.

I arrived for work on the first day and met a very interesting man, Hidemi, who worked for Sol LeWitt. There were 4 other men, all artists whom I had met at the Art Center. I was 50-55 and they were all 30-somethings. Hidemi was closer to my age, but younger. What does age have to do with this? I had not considered what it meant to do work where you had to climb scaffolding. There are two types of scaffolding. The type of scaffolding used for this project, requires workers to climb on the outside of the supports which are vertical and each level has a little gate that you open which also keeps you from falling off. Climbing a vertical ladder is more difficult than the other type of scaffolding which has attached stairs. Also, being able to access different levels is only partly helpful. You must stretch to reach high spots and stoop, kneel, and belly-flop to reach low spots. And then there is that most difficult area where you have to reach the spot obstructed by the floor of the scaffolding. I am not prone to any kind of physical activity, so I knew this was going to be challenging.

Uff da.

The first thing we had to do was draw the lines on the wall. Hidemi gave me the job of creating paper templates. He showed me how to do it starting with plain paper, making folds and figuring out how to make it all square. I knew this was a recipe for disaster, so I got in my car and drove to the art supply store and bought large sheets of graph paper. When I returned he asked me where I had gone. I showed him my perfect templates and he said OK. I had the impression that he was not accustomed to people just charging off on their own.Then he said he had forgotten to bring thread, so we had to find a spool of thread. What I learned about thread and murals was worth the skimpy paycheck. It is the coolest thing ever to be able to create perfect straight lines with thread and masking tape. You just pull it taut and tape it down and voila, you have perfect straight lines. I have used thread -in place of guide lines- on numerous occasions and passed the tip along which has helped many people with the logistics of ruling seating charts and posters - or when writing quote on walls.

We worked in teams of two and my team made the only mistake in the plotting of the squares. It was a really bad mistake and while Hidemi caught the mistake in time to fix it, there are still some tell-tale signs that I can point out. Hidemi did not make us feel bad about the mistake, but he also was not generous with any kind of positive comment. He was a steady stream of tips on how to make the work better. At the very end, the stronger, more athletic guys had to hang off the outside of the scaffolding to paint the black borders. We did not mask off all the squares, so there were some dots of splashed ink that had to be removed. This was beyond tedious and body breaking to reach these areas and carefully remove the black with an X-acto knife. This was also the last bit of work and people were burned out and finding excuses to not show up. I think I was the only one who showed up faithfully for full days and chipped away at the splats. One time, he passed by and said, "Good." It was the only time I heard him say anything close to approval. Although he might have been complimenting the heck out of the other guys in a very quiet way. He was like a ninja the way he scrambled around on the scaffolding. You'd think he was on the lower level and then - bam- there he was, on the top level looking over your shoulder. The rest of us were so clunky when we were going up and down that the whole scaffolding would shake a bit. When you moved from level to level, you had to carry your bucket of ink along. This added a layer of difficulty to the climbing.

The actual painting was a process using ink that was mixed up in 5-gallon buckets (or maybe 10-gal - they were about 18-in tall, but the ink filled only about a third of the bucket. Red, yellow, blue and black. Each bucket had a rag and there was a specific process for swirling the rag to mix up the ink which settled very quickly, wringing out the rag, then making a uniform wadded shape that fit in your hand. Each section was assigned a color and the colors were built up of different layers of color. A simple blue shape might be 4 applications of blue, and each application had three layers. the first layer was swished on in loopy figure eights. The second layer was daubed. The third layer was another swish. So, there was a total of 12 layers for a plain blue section and you had to wait for each layer to dry before adding the next layer. I do not recall how long it took to dry. Maybe 15 minutes.

Some colors were built up using combinations of colors and there was a recipe or road map for each square with designation like Red, Blue, Red, Black. At one time I remembered which color had the most layers, but I have forgotten. I believe there are books that have the recipes for Sol LeWitt's artwork. Each section had to be taped off. Some sections had many more pieces to be taped off and took much longer. The tape had to be sealed with a couple layers of clear sealer before the ink layers began. At first, there was always an area that needed work. Towards the end, working on the last sections, there were times we just had to sit and wait for sections to dry. I remember that someone came from the local paper to do a story on the project and wanted some action shots. We were at a point where we were waiting for the ink to dry and I think we were a bit surly about why we were not going to drag ourselves over and pretend we were working....somewhere I have a copy of the article...

I wore the same jeans every day and they completely wore out. If the project had lasted longer, I would have needed another pair of pants. I remember being tired at the end of each day, but did not ache so much that it was painful to go to work. Towards the end, all the climbing was easier. I did find a pair of knee pads that I wore every day. And -yes- I know I sound like a completely wimpy, milquetoast, pampered ding-dong.

On the first day of the job, Hidemi asked us to write down our names and addresses. I figured we would get a personal thank you note from the studio of Sol LeWitt. Uh - no - thank you note. Something much, much better. An original gouache painting, signed by Sol LeWitt. Yowza. It was a spectacular thank you and more than made up for the skimpy paycheck.

Another funny tidbit. Over the course of the three weeks, I kept asking Hidemi if he wanted to go to the museum and see the original work. He kept declining. Finally, towards the end, I insisted that we all treat ourselves to lunch at the Art Center restaurant and see the original. Hidemi agreed. We trooped in to eat lunch in our super grubby work clothes alongside the ladies-who-lunch in their super not grubby clothes. Then we trooped over to see the original. Hidemi pondered it for a while and then said, "I should have come over and looked at it earlier." I have always wished I knew why he said that. But, by that time, I learned that he was a man of few words and asking questions seemed too intrusive. Maybe I just didn't know the proper way to ask questions. I asked him if he wanted to look around the museum. He said, "No." Then I asked if he wanted to stop and see my studio. I had something to show him. He said, "OK." What I wanted to show him was a drawing I had done when I was right out of college. It was a version of a Sol LeWitt piece that I had seen in an art magazine. It had a little code for how to construct the piece. It was made up of layers of Red, Yellow, Blue and Black parallel lines. He studied it, as if he was checking to see if I had followed the recipe. He said, "Yes. You got it right." Thank you. (Rolling my eyes. I didn't need him to tell me whether I can follow a recipe. Although he might have been recalling that I was one of the two people who were responsible for the biggest mistake on the wall. I think he should be included - three of us are responsible - I guarantee you, if I had been project manager, I would have proofed those pencil lines very carefully before proceeding with the next step - she said with her 20-20 hindsight.)

And with that, we were finished and my name is on the little plaque that tells who the artist is and who executed the work.

Not the end of the story. A few years later, another building in town needed a mural. They contacted me and I said, "Sorry, I am too old to work on scaffolding. However, I think I know some people who would be happy to work on it if you pay them a decent wage. So, I rounded up a bunch of artists and negotiated an hourly rate that was closer to $25-35 and they were all very happy to get started. I went down on the first day just to check in and give them tips. I noticed that it was a three story mural and I could see that the additional height would make it very dangerous for the workers to be climbing on the outside. I did not check the OSHA rules, but I was pretty certain that it would not have been OK with them. I recalled that on the first project, there were office workers who could see us working and  they were so concerned about the leaning over the edge to reach areas they called someone who came and told us to stop being so reckless. Somehow I convinced the project manager on the second project to call the scaffolding company and get a stairway added to the outside. The second Sol LeWitt mural in Des Moines was much easier because each layer was painted. I do not recall if they did more than one coat of paint on each section.

The sad part of the story is that shortly after this project was started, Sol LeWitt passed away. So, while the workers were paid better, they did not get the special thank you artwork from Sol. Apparently he did not have a stack of thank you paintings sitting around.

So, that's my story.
If I ever get tired of envelopes I think I might make a quilt that looks like the painting.

The original version of the piece that is in the Des Moines Art Center - that I did not work on.
I worked on the second version of this one..

The second Sol LeWitt piece that I did not work on.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Paul Newman + Frilly Border to Chuck and Troy

The September exchange started out with Jean and her stack of experiments. There were two envelopes with frilly gold borders. There was a half sheet of Paul Newman. I thought that Paul and the frilly order was an absurd combination so I had to find an equally absurd style of writing.

I toyed with the idea of placing the stamp lower -on Troy's- and putting a thought bubble over Paul saying, "That Jean has lost her mind." But I knew that I did not want to add the shape of thought bubbles into the mix, so I left well-enough alone. Not that these are *well-enough*  -- maybe absurd-enough.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Tennis Ball to Carol

Really specific descriptions in the titles might be just the solution I am looking for in my organizational problem.

I have nothing to say about this. I don't love it nor does it annoy me. It's just one of the 30 I did in September. The exchanges are usually 20-25 people. If I get more than 30, I am not sure I will be able to exchange with everyone. If I do not exchange with everyone - how will I decide who goes on the lists that do not exchange with me. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.

There is a very predictable arc to my exchange envelopes. The first 5 are ho-hum. Then I get on a roll and a bunch of them are to-my-liking. Then I fall off the wagon and they no longer please me, so I stop. Sometimes I redo the ones that do not please me - but sometimes I have to just grit my teeth and mail them.

Monday, November 20, 2017

From Limner - Doily + Dots

This one is mesmerizing in person. Doily dotting, Then a sky filled with dots. GW looking pretty pleased with his placement. Sadly, the PO ran their barcode across the bottom.

The doily wraps around to the back. More dots. I really like the variety of silver and gold and different weights.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

From Amy - July Exchange + Using Up an Odd Stamp

This envelope had a note enclosed indicating that AmyS was not entirely pleased with this envelope. I like everything about it and if someone said I had to make a suggestion for improvement, I can only think of one thing to mention that is the thing that I have the most trouble with and that is centering the words within a centered design. It drives me crazy. While I like the idea of centering everything - if it does not come out just right - it. drives. me. crazy.

I'm a big fan of uber-out-there lettering.

Amy's will appear again in December. I've been pairing these will-be-repeaters with something that I sent to them and I do not have one to post to AmyS - so I will post one that went to CathyO that was close to not even being posted on the blog. It relates to Amy because a long time ago Amy gave me a huge stack of vintage stamps. I've had a whole sheet of these stamps and they have been very difficult to use since it is not a topic that I care to joke about - nor do I want to send it to someone who might find it a difficult topic to just show up. So - when I had another one of these playing-with-my-new-bottle-of-McCaffrey's-ink -- and I couldn't think of something really nice to finish the envelope - I jumped on the opportunity to use up the stamps. I like monochromatic themes. I think I enclosed a note explaining that I just needed to use up the stamps and hoped they were not offensive. CathyO is a retired postal worker and I figured that made her the perfect recipient. She could roll her eyes and recall that not every postal decision was a fantastic one. I guess the biggest problem I have with the stamp is the tag line *You can beat it!* As if a person was going to use the stamp to send invitations to an intervention??

So the next thing I wondered was when were postal rates 18-cents for one ounce. March of 1981 until November of 1981. Very short time span for a rate.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Orange Spheres from KathyS - White Ink on Kraft to Kathy

I love the spheres - but I'm not sure what they are. I want to say persimmon, but I have no idea how persimmons grow and I suppose they should be pointed on the bottom...maybe they are symbolic of all things spherical and edible.

Love the branch - love the J

Kathy treats herself to very nice envelopes. It's a smart thing to do. If I ever use up all my cheap envelopes I plan to treat myself and my fellow exchangers to only nice envelopes.

Kathy's orbs will pop up again in December - so below is one that will not be repeated - ever. It was so blah. I thought parting with favorite stamps would give it adequate ooomph. Sadly it is still boring and I wish I would have used one or more hefty black stamps.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Akim-esque from Rachael - Blue+Lace to Rachael

Rachel sent this in July. She mentioned that she was inspired by the Akim sample that she had seen on the blog and said that this was a pretty loose interpretation.

The whole point of Akim is to be very loose - and actually, Rachael's version is more traditional in the width and spacing of each stroke - which is fine. It is a really cool variation and it is always very exciting for me when someone spins an idea off something they saw on the blog. I'm not sure I have ever seen Akim done with a pointed nib - so right there - I'm seeing something that I am just itching to try.

Very cool. Thanks. This will pop up again in December.
Here is one that Rachael received from me. I had been playing around with my new bottle of McCaffrey's ink and did the lettering. Then the envelope sat in a stack of *how-to-finish?* I resorted to parting with some stamps that are hard to part with.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Smash's Eclipse Envelope

In the middle of September, I am sitting here creating the posts that will pop up in the middle of November. And I have already pre-posted almost all of the eclipse mail. However, I do not know when those envelopes are scheduled so I can't tell you if this is the last one or one in the middle.

All of this information is entirely useless - just illustrating for the umpteenth time that I do not have a workable system for organizing the mail. I am forever toying with the idea of having some organization to the blog and actually knowing what's what and what's where. Seems like a dangerous thing to do. Going against my entropy loving nature.

Smash is one of the professionals who shares her talents with the beginners and intermediates. It's that thankful time of shout out to the Smash-girl....and all my other pen pals. In case I do not say it often enough - this exchange is not a skill-based exchange. It is a process-based exchange.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

From Maggie - To Maggie (Volleyball)

Another envelope that will show up again in December due to technical difficulties in my head and on my desk.

I'm crazy about this lettering and need to copy it - so- I will add the stealworthy label.

The flower arrangement is also very nice. I can't tell if they are watercolor or very tiny markers. I need to collect all the envelopes I have questions about and go on a road trip where I knock on the door and say, "How did you do this?"

Not my favorite lettering - but the texture from the volleyball added to the name was so much fun to do. I would have redone this envelope and used a much chunkier style of writing - but when I can't buy a full sheet of a specific stamp, there is no point in spending a lot of time with ideas that go with the stamp.

Note added on Tuesday. My husband could use some “Hang in there” envelopes. He is always impressed with the way my readers respond to requests for Alex. So it will cheer him up to get some mail this week. Put your return address on the back and I’ll send a super fun thank you envelope to you when I get home after Thanksgiving. And don’t feel obligated if you are heading into a busy time of year. This is just for those of you with time on your hands. Or those of us who embrace any opportunity to do envelopes instead of chores.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Cactus from Grace - Birthday to Grace

This one from Grace will be run again in December.

For those of you who do not exchange, -empty- written on the back means that the envelope is empty. My exchanges are *envelope* exchanges. A lot of us are not chatty and do not want the pressure of having to write a note inside. I do write a few - but when I am running out of time, it is nice to know that people are just as happy getting the envelope. Obviously, if you need to hear from can just read the blog every. dang. day.

and the front looked like this:

I like that border around the stamp. The lavender rectangle and triangle is actually paper, collaged onto the gray envelope. The cactus and my name are also collaged on top. It looks like she cut out the wagon wheel by hand. That is above and beyond.

Sometimes I feel guilty that people spend more time on the mail that comes to me than what I spend on the mail I send to them. But, If you factor in the amount of time I spend blogging, it's probably a fair trade.

Below are two envelopes that did not take that much time and I really struggled with sending them because I thought they needed something else. In the end, I added some pink colored pencil, but did not have time to re--scan them. I do like the idea of putting a message along one side of the envelope. The addresses went below the names in black or gray ink.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Mixed Up + From and To KateR

I discovered that I had posted a few envelopes twice and it's easier to just add something new to the double posts rather than delete because when I don't actually know how many duplicates there will be.
Above is from Kate and below is to Kate. I started teaching again and this style is one that I like to use with beginners. Ooops. I had to delete the photo. I forgot to blur her address. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Jeri and Tome

Jeri (above) and Tome (below)
Holiday mail.

I always think about doing a thanksgiving mailing.

The day that I am writing this is in the middle of September. It is always fun for me to read my posts on the day they pop up and see where I am 2 months later.

Both Jeri and Tome have a lot of training in traditional calligraphy. I think it shows - even in the very loose, casual styles

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Maggie and Anne - Dec 2016 Exch

Maggie and Anne.

Two fun ideas for scrolly gold lines.
One made into Xmas lights and the other made into holly.

Stealworthy ideas.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Stephanie and Tom - Dec Exch & Mail 2016

Stephanie and Tom.

Stephanie is an exchanger, Tom is a calligrapher friend.
His envelope came enclosed in a package with a photo he took a few years ago.

At a calligraphy workshop, all the participants were handed a skinny strip of paper - about 1/4th inch by 5 inches...and they were instructed to write a birthday greeting to me. Then Tom put them on bamboo skewers and inserted them into the top of a delicious chocolate cake. It was like a forest of tiny little greetings on top of the cake.
So pretty.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Shana and AmyIA - Dec 2016 Exchange

Shana and Amy.

These two were fun to receive in the same month. They remind me of that kind of snow that comes down in clumps.

Bonus post below.

Bonus Post - 4th Birthday

I just ran across this link to a set of letters, pre-written from Santa, his head elf and each of the reindeer. I will be making fun envelopes for my granddaughter who turns 4 today. At some point, I will post a photo of the envelopes - or I might save them and space them out. But, if any of you have kids or grandkids who are in the *believer* years - you might enjoy these letters.

12 Letters of Christmas

A really devoted grandma would rewrite all the letters and change the wording to be more personalized. But this grannie is lazy and all I care about is my own blog and my own readers. I hope y'all appreciate the love and attention that I shower on you. And I expect nothing in return - except I am going to add a feature where you can donate to my stamp fund. The price of postage is cutting into my meager art supply budget.

This envelope is unrelated. It came in an exchange and got lost below the edge of the computer screen. I did not know that photos could slide down there - but they can. And I had not renamed it - so I can't tell you who did it. Maybe Carol C? The postmark says Sept of 2017 - You'd think I could keep track of things for at least a couple months, but apparently not.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Lisa and Eric - Dec 2016 Exch

Lisa and Eric.

I am writing this in October. I am drinking coffee. I sure do enjoy the exchanges. I have made negative progress in my methods for posting and writing blog posts. My chaotic life should make all y'all feel better that you are higher functioning than I am.

Unless you are not.

In which case, you have my deepest sympathies.

That top one looks like coffee beans.

I like coffee.

The bottom one looks like geometry.

I like geometry.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

CathyO and KathleenRH - Dec 2016 Exch

CathyO and KathleenRH.

More ideas for the upcoming holidays.

Nice alternative colors.

Bear with me...I'll be back to *normal* commentary pretty soon.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Bonus Post Mary Engelbreit

Mary Englebreit has been mentioned previously. She's been a favorite of mine since she launched her business in the mid 80's. We are the same age - and it has been fun watching her evolve. I always said that her balance between sweet and mushy -and- snarky was parallel to my outlook on life.

Thanks to Pinterest - you can see all of her work - just plug her name into the search. I also discovered her IG - and was just a little bit surprised at how pointed she has become about certain topics. But she is still very balanced - and includes plenty of her original sweetness.

Another good find --- her snarky side has blossomed into Engeldark.
...get it?

I can't wait to see what she's up to in another 20 years.

If you like snarky - head on over to her website. And maybe snarky isn't the right word. If anyone wants to suggest an alternative, please do. It's the opposite of Pollyanna....I want to say Maxine. I'm sure plenty of you remember Maxine from the Hallmark greeting card series. Edit: Edgy is a better word for Mary's darker choices. For Maxine, I think I'd go with sarcastic.


Today's regular post is right below.
I'm adding some bonus posts on the days when I was struggling to write educational comments.

Two from Lynne - Dec 2016 Exch

Two from Lynne.

Two good ideas.

The point of running these in November was to give all y'all a chance to ponder your holiday mail.

Is it working?

Sunday, November 5, 2017

JeanR and CarolC (UT) - Dec 2016 Exch

Jean and Carol..

Do I get a by or a bye - two days in a row?

These are green
and pretty.


It is hard to get into the holiday mode when it is actually the middle of October.
I think when the 2017 holiday mail shows up, I need to schedule all of it and post it promptly.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Bonus Post - Film: The Master Calligrapher

Below is today's regular post. It's an odd one. It seems like a good day to toss in a bonus post which is a film that you might enjoy.

It's a true story (1 hour and 37 minutes) about a calligrapher. Not a lot of action, but an interesting guy. He loved teaching which is probably why the film appealed to me so much. The *action* sequences are when he gets frustrated and crumples up his paper. I guess when the Japanese invade - there is some drama. And I love the part where the authorities (Communists) put paper barricades across his books because they are no longer acceptable. It would be interesting to know if he truly left them that way until 1976 - living in one room with all his books behind flimsy paper strips. I don't want to spoil the film for anyone. I'll be curious to know if anyone watches it and enjoys it as much as I did. Or after 5 minutes - if you think it is way too boring - that's fine. I'd be a little concerned about anyone who had my quirky taste in films - except for you-know-who.

If you are just curious about his life - here is the Wiki article.

Tom and Geri - Dec 2016

Two red envelopes from calligraphy buddies.

Staring at the keyboard.



Moving on.

Never missed a day since Feb 17, 2010.

Do I get by?

Or is it bye?

Friday, November 3, 2017

Smash and CathyO - Dec 2015 Exchange

Two black envelopes.

Yesterday, I discovered about 10 posts with no commentary.

I also waited more than a week to turn the page on my calendar (from Sept to Oct) and that has caused some serious scrambling.

The next 10 posts will all be coffee-induced babbling.

These are pretty.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Grace and Phillip Dec 2016 Exch

Top one from Grace, Bottom one from Phillip.

I think I saved all the 2016 December exchange envelopes to run in 2017. I put the images up - and left the commentary for later.

It is now *later* and I am scrambling to get my exchange envelopes done - so - commentary will have to wait....

There is a bonus post below for the people who wanted to see me as Princess Leia.

Bonus Post - Princess Leia

OK, the photo of me in my Princess Leia costume was right there in the box marked Holidays. It is a terrible photo and now I wish I had  a better picture. I did win first prize at the party. Or co-first prize. Olive Oyl and I were the two lady winners. The two men who won were outstanding. One was Leatherface who showed up with a chainsaw and was not afraid to turn it on. The other man winner was a guy who always had a beard, but shaved just for the party and hired professionals to make him look like Tootsie, the Dustin Hoffman character. It was fabulous. The party was a theme party - come dressed as your favorite actor in a favorite role. Currently, I have enough hair to recreate the hairdo, but it is more than half gray so I'm not going to go there.
I cut my hair off into a short bob two days ago. This post refers to an earlier post with a WonderWoman envelope. Yesterday I gave the address of the blog to 6 new people in my current class. Blog posts are scheduled weeks (or months) in advance. A few comments show up in real time.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

November Exchange Sign Up - Rachael's Dec 2016 Env

Rachael had some fun with black envelopes and a white gel pen. Then she made some cute cards. It's taking a lot of will power to not steal this idea and do all of my November Exchange envelopes in this style. Or maybe I'll wait and use (steal) the idea for December.

It's time to sign up for the November Exchange.

PLEASE remember to type out your name, address, and email.
PLEASE follow the format below
and send it to
jmwilson411 -at- yahoo -dot- com

Jane Doe
123 Oak Street
Ames, Iowa 50312 USA

I will send lists on Nov 5th or 6th.
You will get 4, 5, or 6 names on your list.
You may get one international address which will cost $1.15 in postage.
Let me know if you have a November birthday - and exchangers may do a birthday themed envelope if desired.
Enclosures are optional.

Please put your return address on the back and it is nice to add:
PTEX-Nov  & Empty -or- Open (if it is an empty envelope -or- if it has an enclosure)

Any theme, any medium, beginners are welcome.
If you are OK with sending 10 envelopes, let me know and I might put you on two lists. It is nice to make all the lists come out even.