Thursday, May 31, 2012


Last week, I ordered some stamps from the USPS online shop. I love using a variety of stamps to make the envelopes and postcards more interesting. So, I picked out a few new stamps and a few older stamps, some worth 65 cents, some worth 1 cent. I think I had 14 or 15 different types of stamps.

They were delivered to my mailbox within a couple of days for only $1.25 for shipping and handling. That's a great deal!

And, since they arrived, I've been having such fun counting up the correct amount of postage for letters and postcards!

Now, I need to order more of those unused vintage stamps. I love those, too!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Forget "Air Mail," he's talking about "Space Mail"!

U.S. Astronaut Don Pettit has been on the International Space Station for since December 2011. He recently blogged about what his space address would be, if it were possible to send "snail mail" into outer space. You can read his ideas, as well as his other posts from space on Letters to Earth on the NASA Blogs site.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Another postcard!

I received this beautiful postcard featuring scenes of the French Alps from Jean-Michel via If you love to send and receive mail, and you're not signed up on, get over there and sign up. (Be sure to read the comments to determine if the addresses are up-to-date.)

Friday, May 25, 2012

International Postage

I was wondering about postage that too "nerdy"....that I sit around thinking about postage?

Specifically, I was wondering how much a Forever stamp is worth when being used on an international letter.

The concept of the Forever stamp is that you can buy them at the current first-class postage cost, and then if the postage rate goes up, that stamp can still be used to mail a first-class letter to a U.S. address. In the olden days, before the Forever stamp was invented, when postage went up, you had to purchase "additional postage" stamps to add to your first-class stamps so that they would equal the new price. Starting in 2012, all newly issued First Class mail stamps are Forever stamps.

But, the Forever stamps don't have an amount printed on them; just the word "Forever." So, I didn't know if I could use them, in combination with other stamps, to mail international mail. And, I was wondering if they were worth the current price of a postage stamp or if I somehow needed to remember how much they were worth when I bought them.

Thankfully, the U.S. Postal Service doesn't leave much unanswered. I found the answers I was looking for on the MailPro page of the USPS website and in Postal Bulletin 22325, published in December 2011.

According to the Frequently Asked Questions:
Customers can use Forever stamps for international mail, but since all international prices are higher than domestic prices, customers will need to attach additional postage. The value of the Forever stamp is the domestic First-Class Mail 1-ounce letter price in effect on the day of use.

 Through the years, that information has been posted on the USPS website in several locations. According to what I see online, all postal employees may not honor such usage of the Forever stamp (see this note on Zine World), so you might be prepared to purchase additional postage, if necessary.

By the way, I love the way the new Four Flags stamps are designed so that they say "Freedom Forever," "Liberty Forever," "Equality Forever" and "Justice Forever."

Memorial Day holiday

Don't forget...Monday, May 28, 2012, is Memorial Day in the United States, a day of remembrance, honoring all of the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

There will be no mail service on Monday, and post offices will be closed.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Note cards from Tulsa

I came across a story in the Tulsa World about a small greeting card company, Arbor Vitae Cards. Designer and company owner Claire Harkness sounds like an interesting person, and the cards are beautiful! If you go to the website, be sure to download the has quite a few more cards than are shown on the website.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New Stamps - Great Film Directors

Today, in Silver Spring, Maryland, the U.S. Postal Service will issue four new stamps featuring "Great Film Directors."

The "Forever" stamps (that means, once you buy them, they can be used to mail a 1-ounce or less letter first class, no matter how much the current postage rate is) cost 45 cents each and are sold in blocks of four or 10 or a sheet of 20.

The four directors featured on the stamps are Frank Capra, John Ford, John Huston and Billy Wilde.

For all the details on the Great Film Directors stamps, visit the Beyond the Perf site or the USPS online shop.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Delightful day at the mailbox!

What a great sight when I opened the mailbox this morning! Four postcards were waiting for me!

Today, I received three Postcrossing postcards — one each from Vienna, Poland and Belarus — and one vintage postcard from Carol V.

I love mail days like this!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Incoming Postcards

For a while, I sadly let my Postcrossing account go dormant. But, I really missed sending and receiving postcards, so I recently reactivated the account and started sending out postcards again.

So far, I've received two postcards — a very colorful card from Lotte in the Netherlands and a peaceful looking postcard of Franklin D. Roosevelt's house in Warm Springs, Georgia, from karmakat.

Now, I need to send out some more!

Honoring Rural Mail Delivery

The Smithsonian's National Postal Museum has launched a new online exhibit, "RFD: Marketing to a Rural Audience" (, telling the story of how an experimental mail service in the late 1800s created a new commercial market.

For an interesting look at the history of the U.S. rural mail delivery system, including several old photos, take a look at the exhibit!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mother's Day Letter

I promised my 11-year-old daughter that I wouldn't put her Mother's Day letter on my blog, but maybe she won't mind if I just tell you that, as part of my Mother's Day gift, she wrote me a very sweet letter. It just melted my heart!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Letter of Introduction

If you love writing letters but find it to be a one-way street because your friends and family never write you back, getting a penpal might be the solution to your problem. Last week, I blogged about how to find a penpal.

Once you've discovered a complete stranger you want to exchange snail mail with, you're faced with that blank sheet of stationery and the question looming in your mind "What do I say?" If you're new to letter writing and/or penpalling, you might want to develop the "letter of introduction," a basic missive that tells just enough to interest your new penpal without (1) overwhelming him/her or (2) handing your identity over to any unscrupulous characters lurking about out there.

Before you start to write your first letter to a new penpal, think about what makes you you. Think of a few things about you that make you interesting. What's your favorite color? Do you have any pets? What is your town like? What's your favorite food? What color is your hair?

Write up a little blurb about yourself, and don't forget to talk about why you like to write letters.

But, don't stop there. Ask some questions. Give your new penpal a chance to write about him- or herself.

Do you have anything extra to slip into the envelope? Some stickers? A bookmark? A map of your hometown?

Then, put that letter in the mail and sit back and wait on the reply!

Happy letter writing!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Finding people to write

I've noticed more and more blogs and websites featuring the theme of letter writing. I think it's great!

As you can see, I appreciate technology, and that includes email, texting, blogging, etc. But, I also think there is much value in the handwritten letter; even a typed or computer-printed and then mailed letter evokes a different feeling than an email or text message.

One frequent topic I've noticed on many blogs is an issue I faced when I was writing a letter a day — finding people who will write back. Most of us can think of plenty of people to write letters to — friends, family, celebrities, businesses, politicians, etc. — but getting those people to write a return missive isn't so easy. And, we generally understand. People are busy. And, most haven't seen a piece of stationery or a real postage stamp in months, if not years.

But, still, we want to write letters. And, we want our mailbox to be filled with fun messages.

Really, the problem is easy to solve...with penpals.

Back in the old days, there were all sorts of penpal clubs that you could send your name to. Then, you either received a letter from a penpal or were sent the name and address of someone to write. That's not such a common practice anymore, but you can still find people to write to.

One easy way is to check out some of the blogs by letter writing fanatics. There's a list on the left side of this blog. Several bloggers provide their address on their blog in hopes of receiving mail. For example, Olive at the blog billionsandbillions has her address posted on her blog. Others, like Nicole of BADbadFrancine might not have their address posted,  but they often leave clues for fellow letter writers, such as showing their address on photos of their incoming mail.

You can also find letter writers via swap sites, Postcrossing, and sites like Penpal of the Week, where Julie posts interviews with letter writers, as well as "ads" from people seeking new penpals.

As a word of precaution, if you are slightly concerned about sending out your home address to strangers, consider getting a U.S. post office box or using your work address (or your parents' work address, if you're a younger letter writer).

Check back Monday when I'll have some tips for writing that first letter to a new penpal.

Happy Letterwriting!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Politics or Not?

It's election season in the United States, and in many other countries. The races are heating up, from local commissioners to the presidency.

I'm curious, do you write about politics in your letters to penpals? Or, do you avoid the topic in favor of conversation more suitable for "polite society," such as the weather, your hometown, family, etc.?

For me, I'm always up for a spirited debate with close friends, but I tend to be a little more reserved with penpals, especially those I don't know very well yet. However, I might mention current affairs, including politics, without taking sides.

How about you? Tell me how you handle the topic of politics in your correspondence.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Post Offices to remain open!

According to the news today, the U.S. Postal Service has a new strategy to keep rural post offices open, although it may be with shorter hours and with fewer employees.

For more details, read the news release on the USPS site or the news article on the Associated Press site.

Friday, May 4, 2012

'The Letter' on American Idol

We were having TV signal reception problems at our house earlier this week, so we didn't get to watch American Idol. But, I was looking online and saw that my favorite this year, Phillip Phillips, sang "The Letter," originally recorded by The Box Tops in 1967.

If you'd like to here the Phillip's AI version, visit the site and click on the Phillip Phillips picture in the list of videos. While he sings, there are pictures of letters on the screens behind him.

Pen Pal Project

I just discovered Kellie's Pen Pal Project (I don't know why it took me so long)! It's a great place to find a pen pal. If you're interested in writing letters to people around the country or even around the world, click over to The Pen Pal Project and sign up!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Letters in the news

There are quite a few stories out there about letters. Take a look at some of them, for inspiration in your letter-writing adventures:

Emma Johnson won a Royal Mail letter writing contest by writing about the Olympics.

A letter written in 1840 by shipwreck heroine Grace Darling (what a great name!) was recently sold at auction for about $744 (US dollars).

Teen novelist Steph Bowe (author of "Girl Saves Boy") lists seven things she would like to be able to write, including letters.

Blogger Shoko writes an interesting post about letter writing and wonders if anyone has any letter-writing ideas to share.

Lust For Life blogger Mary attended the letter writing social at the U.S. Postal Museum in Washington, D.C., and she has fascinating photos and stories to share!

Delightful artist Susan Branch has a fun post on her blog about writing letters.

So, before you sit down with pen and paper today, take a stroll around the Internet and check out some of the stories and posts about our beloved "snail mail." Maybe you'll even find a new friend or two.

(Clip art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy.)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

You know you're a letter writing fanatic when....

You know you're a letter writing fanatic when....

.... you read a headline like "Best Ink Awards" 

and you think of this:

instead of this:


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