Monday, December 8, 2014

Letters to Santa

The Huffington Post has a blog post today on "The Adorable History of Letters to Santa," and the U.S. Postal Service has a special section for Holiday News this year.

And, Macy's Department Store will donate $1 for every letter to Santa they receive (up to $1 million) to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Letter writers can drop their letters to Santa off at a Macy's store or fill out the letter form online. According to the FAQs, there is no age limit...anyone of any age may write a letter to Santa via Macy's, and the company will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish.

Visit Macy's Believe page for downloadable stationery. There's also a Teacher's Activity Guide that you can download, even if you're not a teacher. It has some games and puzzles for kids, information about Make-A-Wish, and much more.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Letters Are Highlight of Marilyn Monroe Collection

Auction catalog
On Dec. 5, Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills, Calif., will auction off a collection known as the "Lost Archives of Marilyn Monroe." It includes a variety of items, including photographs, clothing, documents and other personal items. What may be the highlight of the collection are love letters sent to the actress by two of her husbands, Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller.

Monroe died in 1962 and, according to an Associated Press article, willed the items to Lee Strasberg, her mentor and acting coach. He gave the collection to a friend he trusted would take proper care. The family of that friend is putting the items up for auction.

(Photo courtesy of the Julien's Auctions press release)
Julien's Auctions reports that the "letters from DiMaggio written to Monroe proclaiming his undying love after their separation and Miller’s brilliantly written love letters to Monroe during their courtship and marriage are so personal, so emotional and so captivating that one can’t help but think of how deeply Monroe was loved throughout her lifetime by these two men." In the letters, Miller expresses his love and encourages a despairing Monroe. A letter from  DiMaggio, written just after Monroe revealed in a press conference that the pair was getting a divorce, asks Monroe to come back to him.

Also present are handwritten letters Monroe never sent, including a response intended for Miller.

In the AP article, the auction house's owner estimates that the collection could bring as much as $1 million. For details about bidding, visit the website

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

War Letters Update

Today is Veterans Day in the U.S., and in light of this holiday, the recent AARP Bulletin has a story about a veterans topic that has been covered on this blog several times: The War Letters project and book by Andrew Carroll. Read about how AARP Bulletin readers responded to a May 2014 story about the collection of war letters on the website:

To read more about the project, check out some of the 365Letters posts from the past few years:

Happy Veterans Day! Thank you to all who have served and who are serving our country.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Veterans Day Holiday

Just a reminder: The U.S. Postal Service will observe the Veterans Day holiday Tuesday, Nov. 11. Post offices will be closed, and there will be no mail delivery.

And, it'll happen again in a couple of weeks when the U.S. celebrates Thanksgiving Day on Nov. 27 and next month for Christmas, Dec. 25.

Last year, in honor of Veterans Day, the USPS issued the World War II Medal of Honor Forever stamps, and earlier this year, a stamp honoring the Korean War Medal of Honor recipients was released. You may read more about those stamps at the USPS website by clicking the links above.

Thank you to all of the veterans and service members who have served to protect our country.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Rudolph's almost here!

I have to admit...I love Christmas! And, Rudolph is one of my favorites, especially the TV special that premiered 50 years ago, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."

So, you can imagine how excited I was to see this year's USPS stamps featuring scenes from the show. The four-stamp set features images of Rudolph, Santa, the Abominable Snow Monster, aka the Bumble, and Hermey, the elf who would rather be a dentist.

The Smithsonian's National Postal Museum will host a stamp dedication ceremony Thursday, Nov. 6. The event will be free and open to the public. What fun it will be for those who can attend!

If you can't make it to the ceremony, you can still order the stamps online or get them from your local post office. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Dear Darlin' - Letter writing song

"Dear Darlin'" by Olly Murs (written by Murs, Ed Drewett and Jim Eliot) features a guy handwriting a letter to the girl he's lost.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Bif! Bam! Pow! Batman stamps to be at Comic Con!

 Holy stamp collecting! It's Comic Con and National Stamp Collecting Month all rolled into one!

This Thursday, Oct. 9, the U.S. Postal Service will issue the Batman Forever stamp to kick off New York Comic Con 2014

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the introduction of the Batman character in DC Comics, and the 20-stamp sheet ($9.80) features eight designs, including four versions of the iconic DC Comics super hero from different eras of the Caped Crusader's history, according to Additionally, there are four versions of the Bat-Signal featured on round stamps. The full sheet includes a background illustration showcasing a silhouette of Batman standing on a bridge with the skyline of Gotham City looming above him. The back side of the sheet features two illustrations of Batman and text about the history of the character.

The stamp collection also includes a variety of philatelic products, such as First Day Covers ($7.44), Digital Color Postmark First Day Covers ($11.95), Ceremony Program ($6.95) and a mounted and framed set of the stamps ($39.95).

The USPS also is using the introduction of the Batman Forever stamps to promote the hobby of stamp collecting. 
“Batman is the quintessential American superhero,” said U.S. Postal Service Executive Director of Stamp Services Susan McGowan in a press release on the USPS website. “What better way to introduce stamp collecting as an educational hobby the entire family can enjoy. A great way to get started is to visit the American Philatelic Society’s (APS) website — With nearly 32,000 members among more than 110 countries, it’s a perfect source for getting involved in stamp collecting.”
For more information about the Batman Forever stamps, visit the USPS website.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

She's still writing letters 50 years later

In The Dallas Morning News recently, attorney Susan Sanders Wansbrough writes about the first -- and only -- love letter she ever wrote. Although she may not have continued writing love letters, she did keep sending other types of letters. Her column is touching and inspiring.

I think you'll enjoy it!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Tribute to an Old-fashioned Letter Writer from India

In an essay posted yesterday, Aman Sen from Massachusetts writes of "The Art of Letter Writing in an Ancient World" about the letters his family used to receive from his grandmother in the 1970s.

Like Aman, I had a grandmother who expected responses to her letters. Though my Granny may have been happy with typed letters as well as the hand-written variety, she would rarely write again until you had answered her last letter. My grandmother and I grew up in the U.S., and Aman writes of growing up in India and of the traditions he experienced there, but I get the feeling grandmothers are much the same world-wide. And, they all seem to enjoy a hand-written letter from their grandchildren.

Aman's story is one worth reading. And, who among us can't help but love the name of the site he's writing for, The Aerogram!

Some Things Are Worth Waiting For

Today, many people expect instantaneous results in everything they do. When they say “OK Google” to their phones, they want the Google voice to immediately answer their questions. When they send a text message to a friend, they sit, staring at the phone, waiting impatiently for a response. If they have to use the incredibly slow method of communication called email, they constantly hit the “check email” button, looking for a reply.

Letter writing does away with all of those expectations. Letter writing is, in and of itself, a lesson in patience. When you write a letter and place it in a mailbox, you first must wait on the postal employee to pick it up. Then, you must wait while the letter navigates the system and travels from your location to your recipient. Then, you must wait for that person to find the letter, open it, read it and respond. If they choose to reply via the mail, then the waiting process starts all over.

And, if you know a letter is coming, that eager waiting you do is called “anticipation.” Carly Simon sang about anticipation back in the 1970s.

Andy Warhol is quoted as commenting on the concept: 
“The idea of waiting for something makes it more exciting”  
So, with that line of thinking, we can theorize that letter writing makes your communications (or at least some of them) more exciting. And who wouldn’t want that?

If you want to make sure your letter’s recipient gets to experience the joy of anticipation, mail your letter and then send the recipient a text message or email, letting them know it’s on the way. Just don’t tell them what you’ve written, except to assure them that it’s not bad news, if they’re worrying.

Anticipation...yet another reason to write a letter!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Thinking of You Week

The Greeting Card Association, a trade organization representing the UK greeting card industry, has declared next week, Sept. 22-28, as National Thinking of You Week. According to the group's website, the aim of the week is to create a wave of love, caring and happiness across the nation by joining together to send a card a day to different people during the last week in September.

How about let's make it an International Thinking of You Week? Sure, many of us write letters and send cards all of the time, but we could put forth an extra effort to send some "just because" cards and letters next week. For more information, visit the GCA's website.

(Note, this is different that the Girl Scouts and Girl Guides World Thinking Day, which is Feb. 22 and focuses on the girls learning about girls around the world.)

Mail Art Adds Another Dimension to Letter Writing

Back when I was in high school, quite a few years ago, I had many penpals from all over the world. In an effort to save on postage, many of us wrote our letters on super-thin and light-wright airmail paper, aka onion skin paper. We also often used traditional airmail envelopes.

But, I noticed that some of my penpals from Europe would make their own envelopes from magazine pages. They made the pile of mail quite interesting.

That was my first taste of "mail art," as simple as it was. Later in life, a co-worker who moved away mailed me letters in elaborate envelopes she decorated with rubber stamp images and colored pens and pencils.

Once I started this blog, I discovered the entire world of mail art. There's a great book about mail art, Good Mail Day. And several blogs on the topic (see the list I've made over in the column on the right side of this blog.

And, sometimes, bloggers who typically blog about other topics will champion mail art. For example, PostMuse often writes about the Orphaned Postcard project, but yesterday the focus was on mail art.

If you're not familiar with the concept of mail art, read up on and then try your hand at it. It's fun, and it makes the mail just a little more exciting.

So, there's another good reason to write letters...mail art!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Another Snail Mail Blog!

I've come across a very nice snail mail blog recently. I'm not sure who's responsible for it, but they are promoting snail mail with lots of photos of cute letter and envelope ideas, pen pal listings and more. The blog is simply called Snail Mail Ideas. Take a look.


Back when I was a young girl, it was romantic to think of getting or sending letters that were "Sealed With a Kiss." Alas, I was only about 12 when I first started writing real letters to friends I had left behind when my family moved, and most of my friends-turned-pen-pals were girls. So, I didn't have much opportunity to mark my letters as "SWAK."

In our funny pre-teen ways, we would make up our own acronyms, such as SWALCAKWS. Did you ever use that one? Can you figure it out? It stood for "Sealed With A Lick 'Cause A Kiss Won't Stick."

But, being able to seal a letter with a kiss is a great reason to write a letter today! If you don't have a sweetheart to send a SWAK letter to, send a funny letter that is SWALCAKWS.

Monday, September 15, 2014

New Holiday Stamps -- Winter Fun!

Winter Fun postDo you follow the USPS Stamps blog? If you're interested in postage stamp news, it's the place to go!

Today, the blog features a look at the upcoming "Winter Fun" stamps to be released on Oct. 23 at the American Stamp Dealers Association show in New York, N.Y. They are so cute!

The booklet of four designs includes images of a couple ice skating, kids making snow angels and building a snowman, and of a beautiful red cardinal. Art Director Ethel Kessler designed the stamps using illustrations by Janet Atkinson, Jing Jing Tsong and Christine Roy.

In addition to these Winter Fun stamps, which will be great for everyday mailing or for holiday cards for just about any winter religious observation, the USPS is also coming out with the Christmas Magi stamps, which will complement last year's Holy Family stamps, and the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer stamps commemorating the 50th anniversary of the beloved TV special. I can't wait!

USPS Winter Fun Stamps

Reason #6 to Write a Letter: Care Packages!

Last week, I started thinking of reasons for people to write letters...and the ideas just keep coming!

We started out last week with the thought that you should write a letter because it's the next best thing to being there, and we rounded up the week with the reason that writing (and mailing) letters supports your local post office.

Let's start this week off with the idea that a good reason to write a letter is that you can send it along with a care package!

Who should you send a letter and a care package to? How about:
* A college student away at school
* Military personnel far from home,
* A family member who doesn't live near the rest of the family
* A spouse or other kin who has had to go work somewhere else
* Someone who's sick or feeling down,
* Someone who's right there in the same town as you but is going through a rough time,
* Someone who goes out of their way to do things for other people
* Someone with something to celebrate, such as a birthday, an anniversary, a new marriage, a new baby, a new job, etc.
*Anyone who needs to know that you care.

What should you put in that care package? Well, the first thing you need to think about is who you are sending it to and why. If it's a friend who's been sick, you might pack up some chicken soup, a nice bowl, a soup spoon, a pretty cloth napkin, a good book to read, a small vase of artificial flowers, and, of course, some stationery, stamps and a pen.

Are you sending a package to a college student? Consider food! Homebaked goodies are still popular with that crowd. Look for recipes for sturdy cookies or breads that will be able to take the trip through the postal system. Bar cookies, oatmeal cookies, banana nut bread, brownies, etc. typically make good care package goodies. Also, think of things the college student can cook in the dorm room with the few appliances that are allowed (sometimes, that's only a hot pot for boiling water), such as ramen noodles, mac and cheese cups, cup-a-soup, flavored coffee mix. Or, opt for food that doesn't have to be cooked at all, such as cheese-and-cracker packets, peanut butter, mixed nuts, pre-popped popcorn, sturdy chips, etc. If you can, you might throw in a gift card to a standard retail store, a roll or quarters for the laundry room, a package of quirky socks, etc.

One thing to keep in mind when mailing a care package to a college student, you might want to send them a text message to let them know it's coming so that they can keep an eye out for it.

When planning a care package, always keep the recipient in mind. Try to know as much about the person as possible. Don't send a bag of peanuts to someone with a severe nut allergy. Also, think about the weather and the contents of your package. If it's the heat of summer, it may not be a good idea to send chocolate.

If you're sending a care package to a deployed military person, be sure to find out if there are any restrictions about what they can receive. has some great information.

Finally, be sure to pack the package in a way that is acceptable to the postal service. For mailing in the U.S., check out the advice on the USPS website or talk to someone at your local post office.

(Image courtesy of ClipArt101)

Friday, September 12, 2014

What a Find!

A British man is searching for the families of the writer and recipient of a letter written 99 years ago.

According to an article in the Coventry Telegraph, James Bagnall found the letter in an old book he purchased several years ago. It was written by a man named Charlie, a British World War I soldier, to Nancy Roberts, who lived in Hillfields, just outside of Coventry, England.

You can see photos of the letter and read its entire contents on the Coventry Telegraph website. It's a great piece of history!

600,000+ Reasons to Write a Letter

Writing a letter is good for the economy! How so? According to statistics from the beginning of this year, the US Postal Service employs more than 600,000 Americans. That's more than half a million people working to make sure your letters and packages get delivered. (And, if you don't live in the US, I'm sure your postal system supports your local economy, as well.)

A report released by the USPS last month indicates that First Class Mail is down again -- for the 32nd consecutive quarter. Let's boost those numbers by writing more letters!

(Photo courtesy of the USPS)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Sometimes, a Letter is the Only Way

Sometimes, a letter is the only way a person knows to express their feelings and thoughts, even in this technologically advanced day and time and even when that person is a 14-year-old girl.

Many adults think that all today's youth want to do is send and receive text messages on their phones. But, fortunately, that's just not true. That point is made poignantly clear in a letter posted on the Madeleine L'Engle website.

L'Engle, the author of "A Wrinkle in Time," died seven years ago, and  Abigail, the girl who recently portrayed the main character in a stage adaptation of the book, knows that L'Engle that the author is deceased. Yet, she felt like the best way to convey her message was in a letter to the writer.

It's a good letter, and you can read it on that website.

Is there a letter you need to write today?

A Reason to Write a Letter

A very good reason to write a letter is that, if you write the right kind of letter, it will bring great joy to the person on the receiving end.

The emotion of getting a letter in the mail is captured so perfectly in these lines from the W.H. Auden poem "This is the Night Mail":
And none will hear the postman's knock
Without a quickening of the heart.
For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?
Make the effort to quicken someone's heart today by mailing them a letter to assure them that they are not forgotten!

(Clipart courtesy of

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Interesting Pen - and Letter - Blog

Have you seen the blog "My Pen Needs Ink"? Bob reviews mostly pens and sometimes ink, paper, notebooks, etc.

He also writes about letter writing sometimes and is encouraging people to write letters during the month of September.

Check out his blog! My Pen Needs Ink.

Why should you write letters?

I'm continuing my list of reasons to write letters. Today's reason: stationery! Almost everyone I know loves stationery and can't resist buying new paper, even when they have plenty of it at home.

To a letter writer, few things hold such potential as a blank piece of stationery. And, if you have a variety of such paper, it's sort of like a puzzle, matching the perfect stationery to the person you're writing to and the type of letter you're writing. That piece of paper can set the mood just write and make it even easier to convey your message.

Oh, yes...justification for buying more stationery is definitely a great reason to write more letters!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Janis Joplin stamps

Last month, the U.S.  Postal Service issued the fifth in its series of Music Icon series stamps. This legendary singer Janis Joplin, joining the likes of Lydia Mendoza, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles and Jimi Hendrix, whose stamps have already been issued.
stamp features l

To order the stamps and to see other USPS items related to the new Janis Joplin stamp, go to the US Postal Service's website.

Another reason to write a letter

Another reason to write a letter: Getting to put up the little red flag, letting the postal worker know you have an out-going letter. For those of you who don't have a street-side mailbox with a flag to raise, oh, what you're missing out on!

(Clipart courtesy of

Monday, September 8, 2014

What can letter-writing lead to? How about marriage!

The Post-Tribune website has a sweet story about a letter-writing project that turned into 45 years of marriage. You can read all about it by clicking here.

If you'd like to write to a U.S. service member serving in the military today, check out the AnySoldier website. But, I think it's best to approach such a project on the basis of friendship rather than romance

Why write a letter? Here's a reason!

As I last wrote, there are some people out there in the world who think that people aren't writing letters anymore. We know differently, of course, but I thought we might list off some reasons that we have to write letters.

Today, I'll start with what may be the most important reason to write a letter:

Writing a letter is the next best thing to being there, in some cases, it may even be better. The
recipient can open your letter, read it at his or her leisure, treasure every word you write, touch the paper you touched. He or she can hold the letter tight and imagine you sitting there writing it. They can run their fingers along the handwriting and practically feel the warmth of your hand as you wrote it. And, it doesn't have to be a love letter. Any letter that you write and mail off to someone can connect you to that person.

John Donne, an English poet who lived from 1572 to 1631, may have said it best in this line from a poem:
"...more than kisses, letters mingle souls,
For thus, friends absent speak."
To mingle souls...who needs another reason to write a letter? But, there are some other reasons, and I'll bring those up in future posts.

In the meantime, go write a soul-mingling letter!

(Clipart courtesy of

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Letter Writing is NOT Dead or Lost!

In working on this blog, I'm always on the lookout for stories about letter writing and "snail mail." Too frequently, the stories I come across have headlines such as "Snail Mail is Dead!" or "The Lost Art of Letter Writing."

Well, I hate to disappoint those writers of dramatic headlines, but letter writing is not dead or lost!

Of course, with all of the different forms of communication available today — phones, email, texting, video chatting, Twitter, Facebook, etc., — people are writing fewer letters. We are reminded about how few letters people send nowadays with every news story about the postal service.

But, still, there are many people worldwide who still write letters! The Letter Writers Alliance has more than 4,000 members, many of whom are signed up for the penpal service. has more than 600 people registered who just enjoy sending and receiving things in the mail. Postcrossing has almost 500,000 members worldwide who have sent/received a total of 25,149,931 postcards. According to the Postcrossing website, that's an average of 1,222 postcards an hour. Snail mail is not dead!

There are dozens of blogs and websites dedicated to letter writing and/or all of the things that go along with snail mail...stationery, pens, inks, etc. There are Facebook pages and Twitter trends and Pinterest boards all dedicated to letter writing.

If you write letters, write more and let the world know about through whatever means you have available (blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, etc.). If you haven't started writing letters yet, get to writing! 

(Photo of all that mail courtesy of the Newsroom)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Snail Mailing

I just love coming across new blogs — or blogs that are new to me — that are about letter writing, snail mail, mail art or other such topics. Sometimes they offer information on how to write a letter. Others focus on their incoming and outgoing mail.

Today, I found two "new" blogs. Naomi's blog is about much more than correspondence, but she does have a link on the right side of her page to all of her snail mail posts. The most recent post features a list of letter writing-related things online. More things to explore! She even has a novel titled "Airmail"!

Over at Snail Mail Lady, Christine displays several of the notecards she makes. Christine's profile IDs her as a rural mail carrier in Wisconsin. She creates some nice cards!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Handwritten Letter to go on Auction Block

According to an article on the Daily Mail's website, a letter written by Lord Horatio Nelson in 1795 will go on the auction block next month. (Ignore the MailOnline bullet-point that says the letter was written in 1975. That's just a typo. Lord Nelson died in 1805.)

The letter is interesting — and maybe worth more — because it was written by Lord Nelson with his right hand two years before he lost his arm in the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

According to the article, the letter will be auctioned by Hansons Auctioneers and Valuers on Sept. 27 and is expected to bring bids as high as £10,000 (almost $17,000, US).

You can also read more about Lord Nelson and some of his other letters on the BBC website.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Write a letter today!
As the daily news reminds us over and over again, we have but a brief time on this earth to do what we're going to do. Let's not waste it by putting off what we really want to do. Spend your time wisely and happily.

Don't hesitate to write that letter today. Write more than one. Write another one tomorrow. Connect with people you haven't seen for a while. Tell them how much they mean to you. Make plans to get together.

No, a letter won't cure someone's depression or fix everyone's problems, but you have a better chance of helping someone who needs help, even if it's yourself, if you do something rather than nothing. Reach out.

Let go of the excuses.

No stationery? Write on any scrap of paper you can find, the back of a sales flyer, a paper grocery bag. There's paper all around.

No envelope? You don't have to have one. Fold your writing paper into a homemade fold-a-note; write the letter on the inside and the address on the outside. If you can, tape it closed.

No postcard? Cut the front off that box of PopTarts you had for breakfast and scribble a note on the back of it, leaving room for the address or taping the address to the front.

No stamp? Scrounge up 49 cents and buy one at your nearest post office. (It only costs 34 cents to mail a postcard in the US. Note: postcards must be no smaller than 3.5 by 5 inches and no larger than 4.25 by 6 inches for that price.) If you can't find 34 or 49 cents, hand-deliver the letter.

No one to write to? Write to a family member or an old friend. Write to your neighbor. Write to a soldier. Write to a stranger and leave the letter on a park bench or a bus seat. Sign up for Postcrossing or some other letter writing project. Browse through some of the posts on this blog for places to find penpals. I've written on the topic several times.

Don't wait. Write a letter today!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Letter Writing Topics

Are you interested in writing more letters but sometimes don't know what to write about? That can especially be an issue if you're writing to a new penpal you don't know very well or are participating in a mail art swap or postcard project. What do you have to write about to someone you don't know?

A fun way of finding something to write about is to look up "fun holidays" on the Internet. Of course, they're not official holidays, most of the time, and they are often silly. But, such celebrations can spark an idea for a letter.

For example, Wednesday, Aug. 13, is Left Handers Day, an observance first celebrated by the Left Handers Club in 1992. Write a letter about whether you are left-handed or right-handed or ambidextrous. If that's not interesting enough, then take the general idea and expand on it. Are you different than most of the people around you? (Only about 13 percent of the population is left-handed.) How so? How do you deal with it?

Then, on Aug. 14, those who love the flavor combination of orange and vanilla will be celebrating National Creamsicle Day. Write a letter about your favorite frozen summer treat. Do you like Creamsicles? How about ice cream sandwiches or snow cones?

For a holiday with a little more of a serious tone to it, Saturday, Aug. 16, will be National Honey Bee Day. The theme for this year's observation is "Sustainable Gardening Begins with Honey Bees." Do you have something to write about that topic?

A quick search online will provide you with more information on these topics, if you need or want it. But, often just the idea is enough to get you going on a letter. Once you get into writing the letter, just let your natural conversational style take over and write as if you're talking to an old friend.

Happy letter writing!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Snail Mail Project

Kate blogs at Day Old Sushi, and she's been writing letters lately. You can read about her project on the blog and see her favorite mail art ideas on her Pinterest board. On her blog, she says she's specifically looking for fun snail mail ideas. Drop by and leave her a comment when you get a chance.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

New US Stamps Salute Farmers

These new Farmers Market stamps are gorgeous! I can't wait to buy some!

In a ceremony today at the FRESHFARM Market by the White House, the U.S. Postal Service issued the four colorful stamps saluting America’s farmers markets.

“For years the Postal Service has celebrated — through the power of stamps — America’s
agricultural abundance,” said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, according to a news release on the USPS website. “Postage stamps have depicted fruit, flowers, corn and a bread wagon. Today, we’re celebrating farmers markets, which are a popular and communal pastime for many Americans, with the issuance of these four beautiful stamps.”

USPS art director Greg Breeding of Charlottesville, Va., designed the first-class Forever stamps, which were illustrated by Robin Moline of Lakeland, Minn. The design isn't just for stamps — Notecards, a framed art display and a variety of philatelic items are also available.

Visit the USPS website today to order your fill of the Farmers Market stamps and related items.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Review: 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered' book by Nina Sankovitch

Earlier this year, the publishing house Simon and Schuster released "Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Celebrating the Joys of Letter Writing" by Nina Sankovitch.

If you've fallen behind in your correspondence, this book will inspire you to rush right to your desk, pull out your stationery and favorite pen and write a letter immediately. If you already write letters on a regular basis, Sankovitch's story will validate your constant scribbling.

The nonfiction book was inspired by an old trunk full of letters discovered in the backyard shed of the house she and her husband had just bought. The home's previous owners didn't want the contents of the trunk and told Sankovitch she could keep the letters.

It took her almost a year to read through the letters that had been written in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Many of the letters were written by James Seligman to his mother, and Sankovitch got to know him through the letters.

But, the author's experience reading the correspondence of people she never knew is only part of the book. From there, she goes on to explore, in depth, what letters can mean.

For example, she writes about her older sister Anne-Marie, who died from cancer when Sankovitch's children were young. Over the years, Sankovitch had kept all of the letters her sister had written to her, and now she says about those letters:
" is the written words she left me, postcards and birthday cards and letters exchanged over my forty-plus years of being her sister, that allow me to hold in my hand the very substance of who she was, to me and with me. To touch: I can hold my sister still, in a very real and lovely and lasting way."

About letters from her son, away at college, she says, "A letter brings him home again."

Throughout the book, Sankovitch discusses many letters written by people through history, and often she reflects on the letters, comparing them to events in her own life. She wonders, for example, if she should offer advice to her son in her letters, as poet W.B. Yeats advised his daughter as she grew up.

From the letters in the trunks to the published letters of famous authors, Sankovitch explores how much we can learn about people through their letters. As in life, some of the chapters cover the topic of love, including some of the more racy letters that people sometimes write, as well as the other emotions that can be conveyed via the hand-written word.

If you'd like to see a video of Nina Sankovitch talking about the book, visit the Simon and Schuster page for "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" and scroll down. Click on the link for the video "Celebrating the Joys of Letter Writing."

You can also purchase a copy of the book on that site.

It's a great book that will be thoroughly enjoyed by letter writers and letter readers alike.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Address Book in the 365 Letters Etsy Shop

Several weeks ago, I finished designing the address book I've been dreaming about for years, and now it's available in the 365 Letters Etsy shop. You can read all the details on the Address Book page of this blog and in the Etsy shop.

It's available in two versions, the standard address book and the customized address book that lets you tell me exactly how many address/name spaces you need for each letter of the alphabet.

Happy letter writing!

Yes, You Can Change Things with a Letter

I'm sure 7-year-old Charlotte Benjamin had high hopes that by writing a letter to the Lego company she could convince them to make more girl Legos that go on adventures instead of just going to the beach and shopping. Thanks to the Internet, Charlotte's letter garnered lots of attention, and now the Lego company has introduced a new set of Legos featuring female scientists in a lab that includes a telescope, dinosaur model and chemistry lab.

Yea! Not only did Charlotte help encourage more positive role models for girls, but she also showed the world how powerful a hand-written letter can be!

Is there something you need to write a letter about today? Write it!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Back to School Letters

(Clipart courtesy of Webweaver's Free Clipart)
For most American children, back-to-school time is quickly approaching. Many kids will be experiencing the first day of the 2014-15 school year in the next few weeks.

This is a great time to write a letter! If you're an adult who has already finished your schooling, you can write to a school child about your favorite first-day-of-school memory, maybe talk about some of the supplies you had to have and how that's changed through the years.

If you're still in school, write about what you're looking forward to, as well as what you're dreading, this year. Try to keep the letter upbeat, especially if you're writing to a fellow student. This is a good opportunity to get the school year off to a good start!

Happy letter writing!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Making friends with a letter

When a little kid wants to make a new friend, it's usually not a big deal for him or her to just walk up to another youngster on the playground and say, "Hi! Wanna play?" Then, they run off toward the seesaws or swings. Even shy children are often approached by other kids and quickly find themselves in the middle of a group of new friends.

It's not always so easy for adults to make new friends. By the time we're grown, we've developed a layer of self-consciousness that makes us second-guess ourselves. Before we have a chance to greet someone, we often hear a little voice in our heads saying, "What if they say no? What if they don't like me? What if I have broccoli stuck in my teeth?" Sometimes, what should be a ready-made friend pool, such as an office at work or a classroom at college seems full of cliques and people who already know each other.

Here's how I reconnected with an old acquaintance several years ago and developed a long-time friendship....I wrote her a letter. Specifically, I wrote her a short note inviting her to coffee.

We had gone to college together and then worked at the same place for a couple of years. But, at the time I wrote the letter, we were both freelance writing from home. I was feeling rather isolated from the working world and wanted to connect with someone...make a friend. Even though I was accustomed to calling up strangers and interviewing them over the phone, I was suddenly shy when thinking about calling up this old friend I had grown apart from.

So, even though we lived in the same city, I wrote her a letter. I don't remember exactly what I wrote. I know I invited her to meet me for coffee sometime soon to catch up on our lives and talk about writing. I think I probably included my phone number in the note, and I'm pretty sure she called me to schedule a "date."

We live in different towns now, but we still get together from time to time, to talk over old times, discuss our careers and families, etc.

If you're looking for a friend but think the art of adult friend-making is kind of awkward, consider writing a letter. You might even explain that awkwardness in the letter:

Dear Jane,

Twenty years ago, I would've just said, "You wanna come over and play?" but that doesn't seem appropriate for adults, does it? However, I've noticed your interest in art and was wondering if you'd like to meet for coffee sometime and then take in that new exhibit at the museum. My husband doesn't enjoy modern art, and my daughter would probably be texting the whole time. If you're interested, please give me a call at (123) 456-7890 or email me at, if you'd prefer.

I hope to hear from you soon!


Monday, June 16, 2014

World-wide Postal Woes

Many who write letters today are aware of the troubles their local postal services are facing. As fewer people write and mail letters, and as fewer bills, advertisements and other information are sent by mail, the post offices are struggling — and often failing — to stay relevant and solvent.

Here in the U.S., some proposed solutions include reducing mail delivery from six days a week to five or fewer, doing away with house-by-house delivery and replacing the personal mailboxes with large, neighborhood boxes.

Despite our 21st century access to worldwide news 24-hours a day, we often don't see the news that similar issues are going on all over the globe. The Sydney Morning Herald recently printed an article about how "Snail Mail is crawling to a standstill" in Australia.

Aside from all of the statistics and data listed in the article, one of the most interesting things was the part about the Australia Post's Education website section. The page aimed at students offers tips for letter writing; some history of the alphabet, paper, pens and more; an interactive letter writing tool; and much more.

It would be nice if the U.S. Postal Service offered some educational information like that on its website, some proactive marketing. What a fun job that would be...helping to save the postal service by teaching the younger generation the joys of letter writing!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Rarest stamp in the world

The British Guiana at Sotheby's.
Although the sending of written messages from one person to another surely has been around since about the time the written language was invented and formal delivery systems have existed for more than 2,000 years, the concept of the postage stamp is relatively new. Based on historical accounts, the modern stamp came about in the early- to mid-1800s.

One of the earliest and most rare postage stamps, the One-Cent Black on Magenta British Guiana stamp is scheduled to be auctioned off at 7 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time Tuesday, June 17, 2014, in New York by Sotheby's.

It is estimated to be purchased for $10,000,000 to $20,000,000. No, you did not read that wrong. Ten to twenty million U.S. dollars.

As far as anyone knows, this is the only copy of this stamp to exist in the world. The entire history of the stamp is detailed on the Sotheby's website, along with a couple of short videos on the history of the British Guiana.

If you have an interest in the history of stamps, this is a fascinating story. I encourage you to visit the site and read the entire story.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Summer Letter Writing Ideas

As those of us in the northern hemisphere are heading in to summer, many will have more time for writing letters. The days are longer, some are on long vacations, etc.

If you find yourself facing letterwriter's block, here are some ideas to get your next missive off to a good start:

1. Write about summer vacations -- your favorite vacation from the past, your dream vacation, etc. If you're not the vacationing type, write about why you're not taking a vacation. What do you do instead? Have you ever planned a "staycation"? Write about it in a letter!

2. Keeping cool -- Do you live in a hot climate, or is it more moderate where you live? Do you have air conditioning? What else do you do to keep cool? Go swimming, visit the museum, drink ice-cold lemonade?

3. Speaking of lemonade...write about your favorite summer snacks and beverages. What's your favorite ice cream? Cold drink? Do you have a recipe? Send it in the letter!

4. Outdoor activities — With warmer days and better weather, many people spend extra hours outdoors during the summer. What are some of your favorite outdoor activities? Softball? Tennis? Sunbathing? Gardening? Seeking shade?

5. The big picture — Summer is the time that many big, so-called block-buster movies are released. What are your favorite types of movies? Do you like action films or romances? Animation or documentary? Tell your letter's recipient all about it (just don't give away the ending!).

If your summer is jam-packed with activities, buy some postcards or small notecards for jotting off quick notes that let you stay in touch with your penpals all summer long.

(Clip art courtesy of

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Letters from Camp

For those kids who are lucky enough to get to go to summer camp, the letter home is a rite of passage. Often, camps have a time of the day set aside for resting, reading and writing letters.

Nowadays, many camps have password-protected websites that parents can go to and see photos of their kids participating in various camp activities. That helps to ease the anxiety many parents feel, but it doesn't really take the place of a handwritten letter from your child.

If your child is going off to camp this summer, check to see what the options for letterwriting are. Some camps have stores with accounts that parents can put money on, so that your child can buy stamps, postcards, etc. But, there's no guarantee they won't spend all the money on T-shirts and baseball caps.

Another idea is to pack a letter writing kit, complete with stamps, stationery and envelopes pre-addressed with your address on them. Even that's no guarantee you'll get a letter, but it may increase the odds.

Maybe you'll get a letter as entertaining as the one Liesl Testwuide writes about on her website, Hairpin Turns Ahead.
Liesl Testwuide
Liesl Testwuide
Liesl Testwuide
Liesl Testwuide
Liesl Testwuide

Monday, June 9, 2014

Another article supporting handwriting

Screenshot of The New York Times article.
The New York Times recently published an extensive article. "What's Lost as Handwriting Fades?" by Maria Konnikova, citing scientific research to support the benefits of writing by hand.

In part, the story states:
When the children composed text by hand, they not only consistently produced more words more quickly than they did on a keyboard, but expressed more ideas. And brain imaging in the oldest subjects suggested that the connection between writing and idea generation went even further. When these children were asked to come up with ideas for a composition, the ones with better handwriting exhibited greater neural activation in areas associated with working memory — and increased overall activation in the reading and writing networks.
 Not everyone in the article puts as much importance on handwriting, but most of the research suggests great benefits from handwriting.

It's an interesting article that, while not about letterwriting, complements many of the things letter writers are interested in. Take a look at the complete article!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Mike Myers stamp

Mike Myers on the CBS Sunday Morning Show

According to the CBS Sunday Morning show, comedian/actor/filmmaker Mike Myers of "Saturday Night Live" and "Austin Powers" fame will be featured on a Canada Post stamp. On the segment that aired Sunday, June 1, it looked like CBS briefly showed a picture of the new stamp. But, I can't find any other news or images about it online. And, CBS doesn't seem to have a video of the full segment loaded up. But, you can read a story version of the interview online. They talk about the stamp at the end of the story.

Although the story and some comments I've seen online indicate there are no other people on Canadian stamps besides Queen Elizabeth II and Mike Myers, a quick look at Canada Post reveals that to be untrue. There seem to be several other people on Canadian stamps.

Update: Thanks to James who posted a link to the Sunday Morning Show's Google+ page, we can get a good look at that stamp (see the embedded file below):

Monday, May 19, 2014

Letter to a Cat

According to an article on the Houston Chronicle's website, Rice University successfully recruited a high school football player by sending a letter to his cat. The Chronicle reports that the letter read:
“As you know we’re trying to convince J.T. Rice is the place for him. I know you’d like to keep him close so he can feed you and change the litter box. Please help us to get him to choose us. Paw me if you have any questions.”
 See...the art of letter writing is not only not dead, it's getting more and more creative!

Happy letter writing!

Friday, May 2, 2014

War Letters

I've mentioned this before, but it's worthy of another look.

Andrew Carroll founded the Legacy Project,  a national, all-volunteer initiative that encourages Americans to honor and remember those who have served—or are currently serving—the United States in wartime by seeking out and preserving their letters and e-mails home, and has written and/or edited several books, including "War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars," "Behind the Lines: Powerful and Revealing American and Foreign War Letters---and One Man's Search to Find Them" and "Grace Under Fire: Letters of Faith in Times of War."

Then, "War Letters" inspired an "American Experience" episode on PBS. You can read excerpts from some of the letters on the PBS website. Especially interesting is the spot about Morton D. Elevitch, who fought in Germany in World War II and went on to become a writer. He founded a magazine, First Person, that featured personal narratives, including letters and diaries, according to the American Experience page.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Great idea for decorating with letters

This story can be found on the Dallas Morning News website.
I recently came across this Dallas Morning News article about Sarah Harmeyer's decorating style. The article, "Uptown Dallas homeowner balances glitz, glam with natural touches," was written by Jamie Knodel a couple of years ago. It describes the way the 30-something-year-old fund-raiser blends styles in furnishing her 1930s Uptown Dallas duplex.

One way she added an extremely personal touch was by framing copies of letters and hanging them on the wall. Read the entire story and see more photos on the Dallas Morning News' website.

What a delightful way to show your appreciation for the joy that letters can bring into your life!
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