Tuesday, April 26, 2011

 On April 21, 2011, in Washington, DC, the U.S. Postal Service issued the Wedding Roses commemorative stamp, which shows two white roses resting atop a piece of wedding correspondence. A white ribbon is visible in the background.

The new stamp is a “Forever” stamp, priced at 44 cents. in one design in a pane of 20 stamps. It is also available as a block of 10 stamps or a block of four stamps. For collectors, the stamp is available as a First Day Cover for  88 cents, as a Digital Color Postmark for $1.60, and as a Keepsake package that includes the Digital Color Postmark and a pane of 20 stamps for a total of $10.95. You can order online now.

Designed by Ethel Kessler from Bethesda, Maryland, the Wedding Roses stamp features a photograph taken by Renée Comet of Washington, DC.

The stamp is meant for use on the RSVP envelope often enclosed with a wedding invitation and on announcements, thank-you notes and other correspondence.

Wedding Roses can be combined with the Postal Service’s other wedding-themed stamps, including the 44-cent Wedding Rings stamp and the 61-cent Wedding Cake stamp (for letters up to two ounces, such as wedding invitations). There are also several custom stamps with wedding themes, but they are priced higher.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Letter Writing Topics 107-113

Here in this part of Texas, we've been overwhelmed by wildfires this week. Thousands of acres not far from us have burned. We wake up every morning to a house that smells like a campfire. Everyone is on edge, hoping that the fires are put out soon.

Many people who live near the fires have been evacuated. We have city fire departments, volunteer fire departments, out-of-town and out-of-state fire departments, the Texas Forest Service and now federal firefighters here helping to extinguish the wildfire.

People from the communities in this area are making donations upon donations. They're giving clothing, toys, bedding, etc. for the evacuees and those who have lost their homes, and they're donating water and other drinks, food, eye wash, etc. for the firefighters.

Last night, we started getting a little bit of rain, and it's been cloudy and humid for most of the day, so hopefully, they'll be able to get this situation under control.

All of that brings me to the first letter writing topic for this posting:

Letter #107: Write a letter of thanks to someone who might not hear "thank you" often enough. Consider firefighters, police officers, deputies, police department dispatchers, 9-1-1 operators, ambulance drivers and other emergency workers. Tell someone how much you appreciate what her or she does.

Letter #108: What is your favorite way to relax? A warm bubble bath? New age music? A hammock in the shade? Write about it in a letter today.

Letter #109: Do you spring clean? Or, is your house always clean? Tell someone today how you keep house.

Letter #110: On my desk is a paperweight that my cousin gave me for my birthday. It is a crescent moon featuring a quote by Anais Nin: "Dreams are necessary to life." It's a greatly inspiring quote, and I enjoy reading it every day. What quote inspires you? Write about it in a letter today.

Letter #111: As I mentioned above, neighbors have been helping neighbors around here this week. From giving a place to stay to plowing up a firebreak around someone's house, everyone has come together to survive the wildfires. Who are your neighbors? Do you know them? Do you share a cup of coffee every morning, or are you more like nod-and-wave neighbors? Tell your penpal about your neighbors.

Letter #112: Do you talk to yourself? I don't, usually. But, all around me, people talk to themselves. When I'm in the same room with someone, and I hear them talking, I think they're talking to me. So, I'm constantly trying to answer people who say, "Oh, I'm just talking to myself." Is it normal to talk to yourself all the time? Is it normal not to? Discuss it in a letter, maybe even a letter to yourself.

Letter #113: Are you a copy cat or an original? Do you love to spot a new fashion trend that someone else is wearing and then try it out yourself? Or, do you prefer to be like no one else and do your own thing? Write about your personality in a letter today.

Happy letter writing!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Typewriter Revival

A recent New York Times story tells how today's generation of young people are fascinated with manual typewriters, using them to write, among other things, letters!

The Digital Generation Rediscovers the Magic of Manual Typewriters says, "At a series of events called 'type-ins,' they’ve been gathering in bars and bookstores to flaunt a sort of post-digital style and gravitas, tapping out letters to send via snail mail and competing to see who can bang away the fastest."

I've written a few blog posts about typewriters. Click here for a list of posts on this blog that have the word "typewriter" in them.

New U.S. Postage Prices

The good news is...the price for mailing a regular, 1-ounce or less letter will not go up. On the other hand, the cost of mailing postcards and heavier letters will increase a few pennies.

Beginning Sunday, April 17, 2011, the cost of mailing a regular-sized postcard within the United States will cost 29 -cents. Additionally, the postage for a 2-ounce letter will cost 64 cents, and the cost of a 3-ounce letter or a square or odd-shaped 2-ounce letter will increase to 84 cents.

First class 1-ounce letters will remain at 44 cents, and square or odd-shaped 1-ounce letters will stay at 64 cents. There are a few other increases, which you can read about online at the USPS website. For all US postage prices, click here.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I love these new stamps!

Have you seen the new postcard stamps? I love them!

Earlier this month, the U.S. Postal Service issued the new 29-cent Herbs stamp in five designs, featuring various herbs used for fragrance, flavoring, medicine, and/or decoration.

According to the USPS, artist Teresa Fasolino, of New York, N.Y., created original oil paintings for each stamp. Each stamp depicts a particular species in bloom, as well as a typical leaf and flower or seed capsule. The species shown are Origanum vulgare (oregano), Linum perenne (flax), Digitalis purpurea (foxglove), Lavandula angustifolia (lavender), and Salvia officinalis (sage). Only the common names appear on the stamps.

The stamp was designed by Phil Jordan of Falls Church, Virginia.

The stamps are available in a pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) pane of 20 stamps and a roll of 100. They also are available in a pane of 10 or a strip of 5.

The new stamps will be necessary to mail postcards within the U.S., beginning Sunday, April 17, when some postage prices go up. Postcards will cost 29 cents to mail domestically.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

National Card and Letter Writing Month

Did you know (I know many of you do...) that April is National Card and Letter Writing Month.

It's a month recognized by the U.S. Postal Service as a time to make an extra effort to send out handwritten letters and cards. Often, the observance is extended until Mother's Day, which this year, in the U.S., is on May 8.

Be sure to share the news so that more people will send "real" letters.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Magazine Article About Letter Writing

One of my favorite magazines is MaryJanesFarm, a publication dedicated to the "Farm Girl." It has all sorts of good articles, mostly about gardening, organics, raising animals, cooking, making things, and many other things that farm girls do and enjoy.

In the Aprill/May 2011 issue of the magazine, Editor-In-Chief MaryJane Butters writes about letter writing. In a column titled "The Handwritten Life," she writes about the joys of sending and receiving letters. MaryJane prefers to write with a mechanical pencil with a 0.7 lead.

Also in this issue is an article on how to make a quill pen. Interesting.

Pick up an issue at the newstand.

Letter Writing Topics 100-106

Try some of these letter writing topics:

Letter #100: Write to a former teacher. Let him or her know what an impact he/she had on your life.

Letter #101: What's your favorite flower? Do you grow them in your yard? Do you receive them on special occasions? Write about them in a letter!

Letter #102: Write about something that frustrates you and what you're doing about it.

Letter #103: Be a little crazy today. Write a letter on "nontraditional" stationery. Write a letter on a paper sack or the inside of a cereal box or on any other piece of "paper" that is normally used as stationery. Sure, your letter's recipient may think you a little nuts, but it'll be fun.

Letter #104: Write a letter forgiving someone. If it isn't appropriate to say, "I forgive you," make it clear in the letter that's what you've done.

Letter #105: Are you a Scout troop leader? Do you feed the animals down at the Humane Society? Do you serve up meals at a shelter? Today, write about some volunteer work that you do. How do you help out? Share what you do, invite your recipient to join you.

Letter #106: What's in your wallet (or billfold)? Do you have pictures of your family? The password to your email? Expired credit cards? Write a letter today about the stuff that you carry around with you every day.

Happy Letter Writing!

Have you seen this blog?

Oh, Write Me! is a well-written and interesting blog about letter writing and stamps and Postcrossing and more.

It's written Limner, and I think that you'll enjoy it.

Letter Writing Topics 93-99

Try some of these letter writing topics:

Letter #93: There are just a few more weeks of school left for most U.S. school districts. Those with traditional summer vacations will be getting out in 6 to 8 weeks. That seems like such a short time for most adults, but for kids, it can seem like "forever." Today, write a letter to a school kid who needs a little encouragement. With spring in the air and warmer temperatures outside, it's more and more difficult for a youngster to keep his or her mind on school work. Share some memories, offer some tips, be positive about school.

Letter #94: What's your favorite salad dress? Thousand Island? Ranch? Bleu Cheese? Oil and vinegar? The house dressing at your favorite restaurant? Write a letter today about how you like to dress your salad.

Letter #95: Write a letter today about the biggest challenge you've ever faced.

Letter #96: Write a letter on a postcard.

Letter #97: Are you a neatnik or a clutterholic? Write a letter about it today.

Letter #98: Do you have a nickname? Write about it today.

Letter #99: Are you eco-conscious? Do you recycle? Reuse? Write about your "green" efforts.

Happy letter writing!

Neon Celebrate! Stamp

Do you send a lot of greeting cards? Or, do you have a party coming up for which you’re planning to mail invitations? Or, do you just have a reason to celebrate?

If so, the Neon Celebrate! stamp might be what you need to jazz up your envelopes.

The stamp was released on March 25, in Cleveland, Ohio, by the U.S. Postal Service. It is a Forever stamp,  priced at 44-cents and available in one design in a pressure-sensitive adhesive pane of 20 stamps, a strip of four stamps or a block of 10 stamps.

The Neon Celebrate! stamp was designed by Art Director Phil Jordan of Falls Church, Virginia. Inspired by a visit to the Museum of Neon Art in Los Angeles, Jordan began to think about the possibility of using neon to depict a stamp subject. He decided that a “Neon Celebrate!” stamp, with its imagery of vivid colors, fit the bill.

“Most neon is huge and stamps are so small,” said Jordan. “The mechanics would be a monumental challenge. Not everyone thought we could pull it off.”

After reviewing the work of a number of artists, Jordan chose Michael Flechtner to craft the U.S. Postal Service’s first neon stamp design. Interested in neon from an early age, Flechtner honed his glass-bending skills while working in a neon sign shop after graduate school, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts in sculpture. This background enabled him to create neon tubing that depicted three-dimensional objects instead of the two dimensional forms typically found in signage and other graphic neon displays.

Working Flechtner of Van Nuys, California, they developed an exciting and vibrant stamp reminiscent of a fireworks display on a summer evening. Brilliantly colored images of swirls, circles and dashes in pink, blue, orange, yellow and green seem to erupt from the ground to illuminate the darkness. Each letter of the word “Celebrate” and the exclamation point that is part of this stamp’s official title, are highlighted in bright white light.

Flechtner came up with the idea for his stamp design while watching a fireworks display. “I felt that fireworks, with all their color, light, and motion, were the embodiment of a celebration,” he says. “Since neon is all about color and light, it was the perfect design for the medium.”

The 2011 Neon Celebrate! stamp is the first U.S. Postal Service project for Flechtner.

Other items for sale include the Digital Color Postmark for the 44-cent Neon Celebrate! for $1.50 and the First Day Cover for the 44-cent Neon Celebrate! for 82 cents.

Letter writing topics 86-92

Here are some letter writing ideas:

Letter #86: Write a letter to a cousin. In some families, cousins don't keep up with each other too much. In other families, cousins, second-cousins, first cousins once removed -- they're all cousins, and they're all important. Today, pick one of your cousins and write him or her a letter.

Letter #87: What's your favorite sport? Golf? Did you watch The Masters? Basketball? Did you watch the NCAA Tournament? Baseball? Who's your favorite team? Write a letter about it today.

Letter #88: Write a letter seeking advice. Think of a trusted friend or family member and write to him or her about a situation you've been dealing with. Be open about needing some direction.

Letter #89: Write a letter about your hobby. Do you collect stamps? Rocks? Knit? Write? Tell someone about what you do in your spare time.

Letter #90: Have you made a mistake? Recently or in the past, it doesn't matter when it was. Was it a big mistake or just a silly little goof-up? Write a letter telling someone about your mistake.

Letter #91: Wildfires, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods...the news is full of natural disasters every day. Write a letter about the dangers associated with your area. Around here, in north-central Texas, we have all sorts of pending doom, such as wildfires and thunderstorms/tornadoes. And, though we're often in drought, we also have floods. And, then in the winter, there are ice storms. What's it like where you live?

Letter #92: Does your given name suit you? Do you use your first or middle name? Did you change your name? Write a letter about your name.

Happy letter writing!
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