Monday, November 28, 2011

Combining digital and snail mail

Red Stamp is an app that you can download to your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad device and use it to design postcards, using the photos you take with the iPhone, et al. Then, the Red Stamp service prints the postcard and mails it to the people you list.

It's free to download the app, and many of the designs are free. Depending on how many postcards you send, they cost anywhere from $1.99 (for one) to 49 cents (for 1,000 or more). However, you can send the postcard electronically for no charge.

The app can be used for postcards, invitations, greeting cards, notecards and more.

Take a look at what they have going on at Red Stamp.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Writing's not just's good for you!

According to research, writing letters of gratitude can improve your level of happiness and decrease feelings of depression that you may have.

Steve Toepfer, associate professor in Human Development and Family Studies at Kent State University at Salem, conducted a study and published the results, that showed that writing a series of letters expressing real gratitude improves levels of happiness and that improvement increases with each letter.

“We know people who receive letters of gratitude benefit, but what about the authors? Will you feel better by writing letters of gratitude? Are multiple letters better than a single composition? That’s what we examined here," he said.

According to information released by Kent State, Toepfer said, “What we come away from this study is that if you are looking to increase your well-being through intentional activities, take 15 minutes three times over three weeks and write letters of gratitude to someone. You’ll feel better on those three variables. There is a cumulative effect, too. If you write over time, you’ll feel happier, you’ll feel more satisfied, and if you’re suffering from depressive symptoms, your symptoms will decrease.”

Toepfer said people have a store of gratitude that they carry with them all the time, and by simply using it, they can improve their well-being in significant ways.

“We have this powerful resource we’re carrying with us, but we need to tap into it in order to let it work for us,” he said.

To read the complete information from Kent Sate, click here. To read the online article from the Journal of Happiness Studies, click on this link: Letters of Gratitude:  Further Evidence for Author Benefits.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Nothing is new

According to the website Futility Closet, even "spam," those pesky emails trying to convince you that someone desperately needs your money or has money they need to send you, etc., has been around for about 200 years.

Greg Ross posted "Antique Spam" about scammers who sent handwritten letters to wealthy people in England, pretending to be needy people.

The Futility Closet is an interesting site with little bits and pieces of fascinating information. Check it out.

Great story about the impact of letters

Claire Martin of The Denver Post wrote a great story about how letters written by school children impact U.S. soldiers.

Take a look at the story, and don't forget to watch the accompanying video:

Letters a link to home: Afghan GI, Sgt. Kennedy James, thanks students for project

Not just letters...LOVE letters!

Have you seen this yet?

Hannah K. Brencher founded "The World Needs More Love Letters" website and project after she started writing and leaving love letters to strangers on the train in New York. She and others now write and send anonymous love letters to strangers.

It's not as weird as it sounds like it could be. The letters are uplifting and inspirational, a voice of kindness to someone who needs it. The website has suggestions for writing and "delivering" the letters, even examples of love letters that have been written. There's also a blog attached to the website.

The "Twelve Days of Love Letter Writing" is a project to collect love letters from letter writers like us and send them to people who need a boost. If you're interested in participating, click the link above and sign up and then follow through.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Holiday Stamps and Postmarks

If you are sending out any type of holiday greetings this winter, you might want to consider USPS holiday stamps and special postmarks.

For specific holidays, there are two Christmas-oriented stamps, the Madonna of the Candelabra by Raphael and the Holiday Baubles stamps; for Hanukkah, there is a colorful stamp with a dreidel on it; and for Kwanzaa, the stamp features a family celebrating the holiday. The 2011 stamps are all Forever stamps and may be used as First Class 1-ounce postage now and in the future.

From the past are Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa stamps marked 44-cents, which are good for First Class 1-ounce envelopes this year and until the postage rates increase. After that, they may be used in combination with additional postage.

For New Year's greetings or other winter holidays, the Holiday Evergreens, Celebrate! or Love stamps might be appropriate. 

Additionally, holiday mailers can request special postmarks from towns with festive-sounding names. For example, you can have your holiday cards postmarked in Rudolph, WI; Santa Claus, IN; or The North Pole. 

According to the USPS website, you can get a North Pole postmark on a letter from Santa or on your holiday greeting cards.  Click on the link above for a PDF document from the USPS about the service. The letters from Santa and the greeting cards need to be sent to Anchorage by Dec. 10. 

If you'd like other postmarks, write to a specific post offices for postmarks to keep or to share with friends. Enclose a stamped, addressed card or letter in another envelope or box labeled “Christmas re-mailing” and address it to the postmaster of one of the towns listed below. Allow enough time for
postmarking, re-mailing, and delivery. You can have your cards and letters postmarked in Christmas, Florida, or Christmas, Michigan.

For non-Christmas holiday or winter cards, consider Star, Texas, or any of the towns named Hope, Faith, Frost, Snow, etc. For a list of towns with holiday names, check out the USPS list.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Yikes! The U.S. Postal Service shows $5.1 billion loss!

Have you seen this story yet? The U.S. Postal Service looks to be in serious trouble.

According to the U.S.P.S. website, the Postal Service ended its 2011 fiscal year (Oct. 1, 2010 – Sept. 30, 2011) with a net loss of $5.1 billion. 

A big part of the problem is that people aren't mailing letters and other First Class mail:

Total 2011 mail volume declined by 3 billion pieces, or 1.7 percent, from 2010. The Postal Service’s largest and most profitable product, First-Class Mail, continued its year-over-year decline, from $34.2 billion in 2010 to $32.2 billion in 2011 (5.8 percent), which dwarfed continued growth in its more competitive products, packages and Standard Mail.
There's a news release on the website, if you want to read all the details here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Turning your letters into a journal

Rachael of wrote a guest post for the Making This Home blog (Katie writes that one). Rachael writes about turning the letters from her grandparents into a storytelling journal.

She gives step-by-step instructions in the "Writing Your Stories Via Snail Mail" post.

It's a lovely piece.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mailman Movies?

Back in the early days of this blog, we listed some movies that were about letter writing. This past weekend, my family and I watched an old movie that isn't exactly about letter writing, but one of the main characters is a mailman.

In "The Shaggy Dog" (the old, 1959, black and white version), Fred MacMurray plays Wilson Daniels, a mailman who hates dogs. It is just his bad luck that his son, Wilby, uses an ancient spell to turn himself into a dog.

Do you know of other movies that feature letter carriers or postal workers? Tell me about them!

Friday, November 4, 2011

He wrote 15,000 letters - How many have you written?

According to Stanford University, 18th century writer and philosopher Voltaire wrote 15,000 during a period of time when Europeans wrote letters almost as often as Tweets are posted today. In fact, the network formed by the letter writers, mostly scholars and intellectuals, is called the "Republic of Letters," and researchers at Stanford have been studying what they wrote about.

The researchers used modern technology to "map" the letters. According to Dan Edelstein, assistant professor of French at Stanford, "We tend to think of networks as a modern invention, something that only emerged in the Age of Information. In fact, going all the way back to the Renaissance, scholars have established themselves into networks in order to receive the latest news, find out the latest discoveries and circulate the ideas of others."

For more information about the project, visit the Stanford website or the Mapping the Republic of Letters site.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

So, penmanship DOES matter!

Here's a video by The Wall Street Journal about what happens to letters with addresses that neither the computer nor the people can decipher.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

How to get more mail in your mailbox

10 Ways to Get More Mail

1. Write more letters. The more you send out, the more you'll get in.
2. Write to people who will write you back. You know which friends will write back. Write to them more often.
3. Join a penpal club. Click on some of the links on the left side of this blog; many of the bloggers post their mailing addresses online so that you can write to them. Or search "penpals" online. The blog Penpalling and Letters has a great list, too.
4. Join a swap, postcard or mailart group. (Use the same resources I listed in #3 above.)
5. Request freebies to sent to your mailbox. Search "freebies" online. There are many websites and blogs that post freebies daily. Here's a hint: if you don't want your email inbox flooded with sales pitches from the companies you request freebies from, create a new, free email address just for putting on freebie forms.
6. Order catalogs from companies that you like to buy from. To make this more environmentally friendly, share the catalogs when you are finished with them. If you don't have any nearby friends who share the same interests, donate the catalogs to resale shops, nursing homes, etc. Or, mail them to penpals!
7. Make donations to nonprofit organizations. Many organizations send out literature, address labels, etc. to donors.
8. Write to celebrities, artists, authors, musicians and others whose artistic work you admire. Ask for an autograph.
9. Write to businesses whose products you enjoy. Be specific about why you like the product and maybe even make a suggestion for an improvement.
10. Write to politicians about a relevant topic.

(Mailbox clipart courtesy of

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Three Biographies Based on Letters

With "P.G. Wodehouse: A Life in Letters" scheduled to be released this week, I was researching the book when I came across two additional books created by compiling the subjects' letters. I'm sure there are more, but today, I'll share these three, all published by The Random House Group publishing companies.

According the website, the Wodehouse book is "the definitive edition of P.G. Wodehouse's letters, edited with a commentary by Oxford academic Sophie Ratcliffe.  One of the funniest and most admired writers of the twentieth century, P. G. Wodehouse always shied away from the idea of a biography. A quiet, retiring man, he expressed himself through the written word. His letters - collected and expertly edited here - provide an illuminating biographical accompaniment to legendary comic creations such as Jeeves, Bertie Wooster, Psmith and the Empress of Blandings."

"Orwell: A Life in Letters," published last year, features previously unpublished material, including letters which shed new light on a love that would haunt George Orwell for his whole life, as well as revealing the inspiration for some of his most famous characters. Presented for the first time in a dedicated volume, the selection of Orwell's letters is a companion to his diaries.

According to the publisher's notes, "Orwell's letters afford a unique and fascinating view of his thoughts on matters both personal, political and much in between, from poltergeists, to girls' school songs and the art of playing croquet. In a note home to his mother from school, he reports having 'aufel fun after tea'; much later he writes of choosing a pseudonym and smuggling a copy of Ulysses into the country."

Francisco Goya was an artist in the 1700s and 1800s. According to the publisher's information about the book, "Goya: A Life in Letters," from an early age Goya was anxious to preserve a record of his life, but few of his writings have survived and his most personal records appear in his letters. He corresponded regularly with the aristocracy and the monarchy, as well as with friends. Goya's surviving letters reveal a highly emotional man, prepared to state his feelings as passionately to the authorities of a Cathedral as to a close friend. His letters make few concessions and are literary works in their own right. Uniquely individual, they signal a new attitude on the part of a fine artist towards his profession, his social position and his sources of inspiration.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...