Thursday, April 30, 2015

Anchored Scraps Address Book now available

Last month, I introduced the readers of this blog to Helen Rittersporn and her Anchored Scraps website. Helen is a certified project manager who blogs about keeping in touch with family and friends through correspondence.

Helen and I have been collaborating to create an Anchored Scraps Address Book, which she debuted yesterday in her website's online store.

But, as many of us do, Helen blogs about more than just letter writing. She writes about carving out time for yourself, for connecting with others, for finding balance in our lives. The "anchor" that is in the Anchored Scraps name and logo and that finds its way into many of Helen's blog posts, represents her father, who passed away earlier this year, and his naval service. It also serves a reminder to stay anchored, or grounded, in our daily lives, remembering what's important to us.

The new Anchored Scraps Address Book can be ordered from Helen's online store. She also features the address book in yesterday's blog post.

If you haven't visited the Anchored Scraps website yet, I encourage you to click on over there. I think you'll like it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

World Stationery Day

Today, in the middle of Britain's National Stationery Week and at the end of the U.S. National Card and Letter Writing Month is World Stationery Day, April 29, 2015. It's organized by the London Stationery Show (wouldn't that be a great event to attend?!?!) and encourages people worldwide to pick up a pen or pencil and write a letter by hand.

Let's all celebrate!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

She Writes Letters with a Feather and Ink

What a fascinating story The Breeze, James Madison University’s student-run newspaper, ran earlier this week! It's about  Kimberly Heidinger, a sophomore elementary education major from Ridgefield, Connecticut, who writes letters to her family and friends using a fountain pen or a quill made from a feather and a metal tip.

Read more about Kimberly on The Breeze's website.

Monday, April 27, 2015

It's National Stationery Week!

All month long we've been celebrating National Card and Letter Writing Month. Although letter writers are naturally an international group of people, the "national" in this month's designation tends to refer to the United States. Certainly, though, we have invited the whole world to join us in our enthusiasm for letter writing! Now, as we enter the last week National Card and Letter Writing Month, we all get to join Britain in celebrating National Stationery Week, April 27-May 3, 2015.

And the organizers and sponsors are doing it right! There is a website, a Facebook page and Twitter and Instagram accounts and a Pinterest board. National Stationery Week lists its partners as the Greeting Card Association, the National Handwriting Association, the Writing Instrument Association, the British Post Office and Cambridge University Press. There are also many sponsors, which you can see on the official National Stationery Week website.

According to the website, "National Stationery Week celebrates the written word and all things stationery – the wonderful products which make it all possible, and give so much pleasure to so many people."

On the website are activities for kids, polls to take, videos to watch and more! Go check it out! And, then, write some letters!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Write a Meaningful Letter

In the news this week have been several stories from Australia and New Zealand about the Gallipoli Campaign, a campaign of World War I that took place on the Gallipoli peninsula (in modern Turkey) in the Ottoman Empire between April 25, 1915, and January 9, 1916. Several of those stories include tales of letters, lost, rediscovered and remembered.

April 25 is Anzac Day, a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in  wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations. Originally, Anzac Day honored the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli.

A story in The West Australian tells of the family of Donald Shapley McLean. He was killed at Gallipoli, and the family was told that he had left behind a small packet of items, including a letter. But, the family never received the letter. Apparently, it had been inadvertently sent to the family of another fallen soldier with a similar name.

In New Zealand's Timaru Herald, an article shares John Parsloe's story of rediscovering a bundle of World War I letters from his great uncle, Hedley Ferrier, and the interesting information the family discovered within.

Business Insider Australia has pictures of the letters from Eric Whitehead, who was also killed 100 years ago. His letters give his family — and the world —great insight into what life was like in the trenches of Gallipoli.

As we head into the final few days of National (U.S.) Card and Letter Writing Month, take a few minutes to think about the letters you write. Are they of such substance as to provide fascinating details to those who come across the letters 100 years from now? Let's spend the weekend writing letters full of depth and meaning!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day 2015

In honor of Earth Day 2015, I've decided to breathe some life back into my CAT Productions blog, which is about recycling, repurposing, reusing, eco-living, etc.

In my first post in quite some time, I've blogged about a topic that connects that blog to this one...the practice of reusing paper and cardboard that we often think of as trash, repurposing it into stationery to use in our letter writing.

Of course, I love a brand-new box of fine writing paper as much as the next stationery addict, and I would never suggest that you submit a resumé cover letter written on the back of your electric bill, but I think the concept is something we can have fun with. Take a look at the post by clicking on the link above.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Book About a Couple of Letter Writers

I've been reading about an upcoming book, "Mary and Me: A Lasting Link Through Ink." It sounds like a good one.

Authors Mary Potter Kenyon and Mary Jedlicka Humston have been writing letters to each other for 30 years, and their book, which is scheduled to be released in September, is about that and more, according to what I've read on their Facebook pages and on

We'll have to keep an eye out for this one!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Letter Writing With Kids

From the Melissa & Doug website.
Of course letter writers can discover their thrill with mail at any age, but I think many teens and adults enjoy correspondence because of fun they had getting and receiving mail as kids. I don't know of many people who don't get excited about getting a letter (not bills) in the mail. That envelope with your name written on it, just waiting to be exciting!

Several blogs and websites have posted ideas for mail-related projects for kids, including TinkerLab, Sew Liberated, Lasso the Moon and more.

Some items for working on such products can be found in crafts stores and online at places such as, Melissa and Doug and JoAnn.

From JoAnn's website.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Benefits of Saying 'Thanks'

Lately, on the 365 Letters Facebook page, I've posted several items about writing thank-you notes. The topic seems to have been in the news a lot lately, from golfer Jordan Spieth's thank-you letter to the family that started the fund that helped pay for his education, to an article about how thank-you notes can be great business networking tools. Even The American Greetings card company has launched a thank-you campaign.

I recently spotted another mention of the benefits of gratitude, a news release by the American Psychological Association. Although the item doesn't specifically mention writing thank-you notes, it did include journaling. It stands to reason that people who show their gratitude by writing letters of thanks would experience some of the benefits discovered in the research.

According to the report, the study involved 186 men and women who had been diagnosed with asymptomatic heart failure for at least three months. Using standard psychological tests, the researchers obtained scores for gratitude and spiritual well-being. They then compared those scores with the patients’ scores for depressive symptom severity, sleep quality, fatigue, self-efficacy (belief in one’s ability to deal with a situation) and inflammatory markers. They found higher gratitude scores were associated with better mood, higher quality sleep, more self-efficacy and less inflammation. (Inflammation can often worsen heart failure.)

To further test their findings, the researchers asked some of the patients to write down three things for which they were thankful most days of the week for eight weeks. Both groups continued to receive regular clinical care during that time.

“We found that those patients who kept gratitude journals for those eight weeks showed reductions in circulating levels of several important inflammatory biomarkers, as well as an increase in heart rate variability while they wrote. Improved heart rate variability is considered a measure of reduced cardiac risk,” Mills said. “It seems that a more grateful heart is indeed a more healthy heart, and that gratitude journaling is an easy way to support cardiac health.”

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Stamps Continue to Captivate Collectors

Through the years that I've been blogging about letter writing, I've found that there are several other topics that complement the subject, such as stationery, pens, ink and stamps.

When writing about stamps, I've often wondered if anyone still collects stamps. I collected stamps when I was a kid, but I never really got serious about it. I had a bright yellow stamp collecting book that I attached stamps to with the little paper hinges.

Nowadays, I pay more attention to the stamps that I put on letters and to those on the letters that I receive. I rarely save the canceled stamps unless I'm saving the entire envelope.

But, it seems that stamp collecting is, indeed, alive and thriving. I recently ran across a story by Sharon Schlegel on She quotes experts on the matter.

Several auction houses handle high-end collectible stamps, and the rarest stamps can sell for thousands, hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars. A recent find is an inverted 1875 Russian stamp (pictured at right) that is expected to be auctioned this spring by Daniel F. Kelleher Auctions of Danbury, Conn.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Google Celebrates the Pony Express

Have you seen Google's Doodle today? It's great! The image honors the 155th anniversary of the Pony Express, which started in April 1860. If you go to and click on the Pony Express image, you can play a little game of picking up letters to deliver.

For more information about the Pony Express, visit the Pony Express National Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri, or its website, For more information about Google's Pony Express image and game, visit the Google Doodle page.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Nebraska Museum to Focus on Letters

The The Neihardt Center in Bancroft, Nebraska, will host its 34th annual Neihardt Spring Conference on April 25, and the focus of the day-long event will be on the role of letters in the lives of the people who were living in the Great Plains region in the 19th and 20th centuries.

According to the Center's website, the conference will "explore the correspondence of John Neihardt and Willa Cather and the collections of lesser known individuals whose letters bear witness to the struggles of frontier settlement or of displacement, as in the letters written by Dakota men imprisoned in Iowa after the Dakota Wars of 1862."

The promotional material for the conference includes this inspiring paragraph:

 "Letters are often deeply personal, private exchanges that reflect the complex cultural norms of the time period and the life happenings, both tragic and celebratory, of the subjects who author them. If you’ve ever searched through old postcards in an antique store or come across an old letter bookmarking a worn, leather—bound volume, then you’ve probably been struck by the beautiful handwriting, by turns of phrase poignantly rendered, and by the maneuvering of etiquette and social politics."

The conference will take place at the Neihardt State Historic Site, a branch museum of the Nebraska State Historical Society.

John G. Neihardt (1881-1973) is the Poet Laureate in Perpetuity of Nebraska. Neihardt was a writer, newspaper editor, poet and university lecturer.

The conference's keynote address will be presented by Dr. Pam Gossin, who will speak on “Unhidden Treasures: The Voices and Visions of John G. Neihardt.” Other scheduled topics include:
* “The Dakota Prisoner of War Letters of 1862 - 1868” by Dr. Rev. Clifford Canku
* “Willa Cather’s Life in Letters: The Role of Correspondence in Literary Creation” by Dr. Andrew Jewell
* “Letters of Great Plains Homesteaders: A Lifeline to Family, Friends, the Past and Future” by Steve Kinsella
* “The Art of Calligraphy” by Cheryl Dyer with Calligraphy Envelope Exhibit

For more details on the conference, Neihardt or the museum, click on the links above.

It sounds like a wonderful conference and a great tribute to the value of letter writing!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Weekend Letter Writing Topics

If you lead a busy life, you may have to save up your letter writing for the weekends when you have more leisure time. Still, as you wind down from the hectic work week, you may find yourself at a loss for what to write about. Here are some ideas for this weekend, midway through National Card and Letter Writing Month:

* Write about something that makes you happy. I know it's tempting to complain, to get things off your chest, to share your misery with someone else. But, in truth, it will put you — and the person you're writing to — in a better mood if you write about good things.

For example, it brightens my day and makes me happy to get little drawings from my husband. He takes junk mail envelopes and sketches "envelope people" on them. Then, with his artist pens or sometimes with an app in his phone, he adds color and jazzes them up. Sometimes I get them in text messages, sometimes in email. Sometimes, he leaves one where I'll find it when I get up in the morning. One way or another, they make me smile, and that's something to write about! (See an example of the "envelope people" at right.)

* Write a letter about the weather. It may sound a little cliche, but the weather is big news these days. Whether it's drought or floods, snow or heat, tornadoes or hurricanes, people are talking about it. Add your thoughts to the mix.

* Write a letter about your favorite book. If you haven't had time to read much lately, write about a favorite book from your childhood. Or, write about a book you'd like to read.

* Write a letter about your pet. It tells your letter's recipient a little about yourself, gives them some insight into your life.

* Write about food. Everyone has something to do with food. They buy it; they grow it; they cook it;  they eat it; they love it; or, they hate it. Write about your favorite food — or your least favorite. Write about your cooking skills — or lack thereof. Write about your comfort foods — or your diet foods.

And, while you're writing about yourself and the things in your life, don't forget to ask some questions. That way, your pen pal will have some inspiration when he or she writes back!

Happy Letter Writing!

Wendy Wolff giveaway

Wendy Wolff, author of the book "The Letter Writing Project," is having a giveaway for National Card and Letter Writing Month.

Entrants need to post photos of their letters on Facebook. She will have a drawing for a copy of her book and for some stationery from Kerry Conway Designs.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Another Reason to Write Letters — History

There are a couple of books out right now that illustrate a great reason to write letters — historical record. Of course, we have newspapers that record history. And, many people use various social media sites, email and other electronic resources for marking events in their lives.

But, who knows how long each of the electronic devices will be around and accessible (how many people even remember the passwords to their old social media accounts?). I just found out recently that the little portable USB flash drives for digital data (sometimes they're called "jump drives" or "thumb drives") aren't "forever." Obviously, they can be easily lost or damaged, but, also, the devices are only expected to last 10 at the maximum before they start to deteriorate and you lose your data.  The same holds true for camera cards and most types of personal digital storage devices. Everything we've done — all the pictures we've taken, emails we've written and received, documents we've written — is in danger of vanishing from the digital devices on which we've stored it.

On the other hand, we still have letters and other documents that were written dozens, hundreds,  even thousands of years ago, depending on your definitions of "document" and "writing."

The new books I recently read about tell historical stories based on letters. Please note that I haven't read either of these books; I've only read about them. But, just their existence speaks volumes about the power of the handwritten letter.

According to the Beaver, Pennsylvania, Times Online, former teacher Jay Paisley tells William H. Huffman's story through his eyes via letters he wrote to his family and friends back home in Darlington, Pa., during the Civil War. "The Huffman Letters: Civil War Letters to Beaver County, Pennsylvania," is an in-depth look at the soldier who served in the Union Army with the 100th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers from 1861 to 1865. The newspaper story (click the link at the beginning of this paragraph) gives a little bit of information about where you might be able to find a copy of the book.

The MinnPost website reports that, in “The Crops Look Good” (published by Minnesota Historical Society Press) Sara DeLuca weaves the Williamson family letters into a larger portrait of the war years and Depression, followed by midcentury prosperity and the decline of the family's Wisconsin farm. "The Crops Look Good" is available on and other booksellers.

I hate to sound like a hoarder, but not only should we write letters,  we should save them, as well. We should preserve the letters that we receive, and if we think that there is some significance to the letters that we write, we might want to make copies of them before we mail them and save the copies.

We should write letters full of details about our daily lives and the things that are happening in the world and how they affect us. We need to be specific in our letters, writing complete dates at the top, including place names and people's names. We need to write for the intended recipient but with the idea in mind that others might read the letters, tomorrow, next year, in 100 years.

Write letters for the ages, as well as for one.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Letter Writing is Everywhere

Letter writing seems to be everywhere these days. I'm sure it has to do with the fact that I write about letter writing, but I am constantly coming across references to correspondence. Often it's in commercials on TV or even news segments. All the time, I find newspaper, magazine and website articles about related topics, such as pen pals, handwriting, the mail system, as well as about the basic subject of letter writing.

Currently, I've been seeing an Edward Jones commercial equating some of the company's success to its representatives who write thank you notes to their clients.

Along that same thought-line, the American Greetings card company has started ThankList, a new project to encourage people to write thank you notes to the people they care about. According to the website, the program's purpose is to make the world a more thoughtful and caring place. You can read more about the ThankList by going to the American Greetings website. There are inspirational links, links to free Thank You notes
you can download, and much more.

I must admit a certain, long-time affection for American Greetings. Way back when I was in high school, I worked for American Greetings, taking care of their card display in the variety store my dad managed. I would straighten the cards, putting them back in the proper slots, ordered new cards when they sold out, took down the seasonal displays and put up the new ones. It was one of my first non-babysitting jobs, and I loved it. Maybe it had some impact on my continued love for cards and letters.

I encourage you to visit the ThankList site and make your own list of people you need to thank. Then, during this month, National Card and Letter Writing Month, write some of those thank you notes and put them in the mail!

Happy letter writing!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Letter Writing Ideas

 There are so many great reasons to write letters — they connect us with other people; they can be saved and savored; they can be read over and over again, even in places with no cell phone service or even if the power goes out; they give you the opportunity to send a little something extra, a bookmark, a perfume-scented lace handkerchief, a dried flower...

But, sometimes we run out of ideas for writing letters, especially if we're writing to people we don't really know, at least not yet, such as pen pals, postcard pals, etc.

One of my favorite ways of finding something to write about is to look at the calendar. April is a busy month. It starts with April Fools' Day...send a joke with your letter. Then come the holidays; almost all of the world's religions have springtime holidays. Do you celebrate any of them? If so, write a letter about it! Describe your family's traditions.

Moving on along in the calendar, we can see that April 22 is Earth Day and April 24 is National Arbor Day in the United States. Use those topics as jumping off points. Write about your earth-friendly activities, how you recycle, etc. Or, write about your favorite tree.

Look on your own personal calendar for upcoming birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, etc. Write letters with all of those cards you'll be sending out!

Be sure to spread the word about National Card and Letter Writing Month!

Monday, April 6, 2015

New US Stamp Kicks Off Letter Writing Month

To kick off National Card and Letter Writing Month, the U.S. Postal Service introduced a new stamp, the "From Me to You" stamp. The stamps are bright and colorful and come with a set of stickers for decorating your envelopes.

According to the USPS website, the stamp was dedicated on April 1, and U.S. Postal Service Judicial Officer William Campbell said:
 “Sure, email and texting is quick and convenient, and Facebook has photos and videos, but nothing beats the thrill and excitement of opening your mailbox and finding a personal letter addressed to you. Letter writing improves social and penmanship skills. More importantly, it helps create lasting memories with the people you care about most. That’s what the From Me to You stamps are all about. After all, nothing else cultivates a romance, nurtures a friendship, or helps you stay connected like a hand-written card or letter.”
The limited edition Forever stamps bear the words “From Me To You” in capital letters. Surrounding the four rows of stamps in the center of the sheet are colorful self-adhesive stickers. The 11 labels at the top of the sheet, in the shapes of hearts, circles, and rectangles, carry messages such as “Happy Birthday,” “Miss You,” “Thank You” and “Get Well Soon.” Along the sides and bottom of the sheet are 26 decorative stickers including hearts, envelopes, flowers, mailboxes, and a kiss (red lips).

Stamp artist Michael Osborne of Palo Alto, CA, chose bright jewel tones and primary colors to reflect the happy, playful personality of the stamp design.

A variety of standard philatelic products are available for the stamp design.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

No Foolin' — April is National Card and Letter Writing Month

Let the celebrating begin! Today is the first day of National Card and Letter Writing Month!

I know some of us, including myself, often find ourselves too busy to write proper letters. But, really, when you think about it, we make time for all sorts of less productive things every day. So, how about we take this month to reset our letter writing centerpoints, if necessary.

In the spirit of FlyLady (aka Marla Cilley), even if we have a stacks of unanswered letters sitting on our desks or stuffed in our purses, let's not think of it as being behind in our letter writing. Let's just start from where we're at, to quote FlyLady directly, and write letters this month. Just start with one letter. Open it and re-read it. Get out the appropriate stationery or notecard or even a postcard. Find a pen, and answer that letter! Immediately address the envelope and put a stamp on it. If you can, put it in the mailbox now. If not, put it right on top of everything you'll be dealing with tomorrow so that you'll be sure to mail it then.

If you have a blog, website, Facebook page, etc., spread the word about National Card and Letter writing month! It's an idea worth sharing!
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