Post Script: LA Pen Pal Club Founders Margaret and Victoria

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Crane & Co.: The Blog

Meet Margaret Haas and Victoria Vu, founders of the LA Pen Pal Club. The two stationery enthusiasts host the monthly meetup, during which guests can talk correspondence, share interesting letters they’ve received, saddle up to a typewriter or take pen to paper. Here, they talk about postcards from Italy and the pen pal who wouldn’t have to write anything at all.

Margaret Haas, Paper Pastries

When did your interest in the epistolary world begin?
I was making birthday cards for family members when I was very young, around kindergarten10832300_895321993813553_338458302_n of first grade. They were mostly decorated with stickers, but a heartfelt message was always the center of attention and what I’d spend most time on. I’m sure there were a lot of typos, but you got the general idea. Picking out just the right postage stamp for the envelope was always the cherry on top.

Tell us about your Pen…

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Do you save cards and letters?

Long time no blog!

Here are photos of my bulletin board before and after from this afternoon.  I enjoy having them up on my board to remind me of the wonderful friends and family I have and those who like to keep in touch through written correspondence.   Every couple months I take down cards that I put up and put in a file.  At the end of the year I’ll go back through them and either toss them or hang on to them.  All mood driven.  I’m a big fan of  The Minimalists, but believe you can still have the memory of something even though you no longer have the tangible item (sorry mom, I tossed the peacock glass Christmas display thingy you made for me years ago–but see, I still remember it).  😉

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I went to Europe last month and enjoyed sending postcards from the Netherlands and Belgium.  One afternoon friends had to wait for me to go to the post office to get stamps.  They couldn’t believe how much I spent on postage, but I figure if I didn’t spend it on that it would have been for some meaningless souvenir…Here is a photo of my postcard and stamps.  The other photo is from the post office where I think the USPS could increase revenues if they had a number system like they did in Belgium.  So, I picked # 301.  When I looked up at the screen it was #290 so I perused through the stationery racks and supplies they had there.  Let’s just say I purchased more than just postcard stamps.

Of course I thought the stamps were lovely.  In Belgium they were beautiful butterflies and in the Netherlands they were of bikes, cows and tulips.    I know I returned home before these arrived, but it’s still fun for me to send to friends and relatives.

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Happy June!  I’ll be posting more soon.   Until then, I’m just wondering–do you purchase postcards when you travel?  Do you save cards and letters?  Regardless, I hope you find time to write someone even if it’s just to say hello.

Guys who write …

guyletters3“What are the odds?  Not one, but here are two cards we received already this year from guys and were the same type of note cards.  I hope American Greetings sees this and is thrilled!

I received Owen’s card last month for donating to his Rally Me fundraiser for his windsurfing competitions (remember I mentioned loving sports in my last blog?).  The greatest thing that was by donating $20, that was the perk–I’d receive a handwritten thank you note.  I was beaming when I read that!

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The holes in the cards are because they have been up on my bulletin board.  I don’t think I’ve ever had two cards at the same time like this and definitely not from two guys.  Very cool!

The other card is from a friend my husband has known for years.  We attended his surprise party a few weeks ago and not only was I completely shocked to receive this handwritten note from him, but his writing was quite nice and I never expected it to look the way it did.  Total judgment I guess, but I expected it to be sloppy.  Ha!  I’ll have to send him this link and hear his response.

Being a former middle school science teacher I have a strange memory where if I run into a former student, I remember their writing more than their face or name.  I’ll have to dig out some old letters from former students…someday.

This morning I read this article, How a personal touch stands out in the digital age and even posted it onto a friend’s Facebook page.  I’m all for emails, texts and twittering to and about others, but whether it’s a co-worker, boss, vendor, or customer, today’s businesses could still utilize sending a handwritten note.

Rich Eich summed it up in the last sentence of the article, “The business world could gain a lot by recapturing this lost art. The next time you want to congratulate someone for a job well done, share a project outline with your co-workers, thank your boss for giving you a raise, inspire a newly hired worker, or show appreciation to a client, make it personal and better yet –write it by hand. You will be pleasantly surprised by the effect it has.”

On the Facebook post I said, “I’m visualizing a nice flat note card with your name or business logo on it.  I forgot to add that Embossed Graphics is my favorite for personalized stationery. Their partner websites Fine Stationery and Gifts in 24 have a great deal with free return address on envelopes that normally cost $29.99.  50 note cards for around $50 isn’t bad.  I think they make a bold statement, so another reason to purchase if you have a need for personalized stationery.  The card stock quality is medium paper weight and comes in a nice gold box.  I have given men boxes of this stationery and they raved about how much they enjoy it, use and re-order!

The verbiage about the banner card and bordered cards are not only worded perfectly, but are the ones I’ve purchased the most!

“Impressive & classic! Our bestselling Banner Card is designed to impress. Its thick, creamy paper feels smooth and substantial in hand, and the name confidently announces itself. The personalization appears in upper-case, crisp, embossed lettering, accented by two bullet points at either end and two horizontal bars above and below. Ships in 24 hours.”

“Order the Bordered Note as your primary stationery. Your eyes will widen as if you were staring into a diamond. Each note is enclosed by a border that will adorn your message. A simple design gives you enough freedom to use this note all year round. Made for every occasion, the Bordered note will deliver each time.”

I read this out loud to my husband and he thinks I’m crazy.  I don’t think I’m crazy, just full of passion!  This is exactly why I started this blog–to share my passion for keeping the art of hand-written letters alive!

Bottom line, guys write!  Right on!  I’m going to share this post with guy friends and ask them to let me know the last time they wrote a handwritten note or letter.  ~JM

Alex Rodriquez: A letter from a very famous baseball player

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Being a big sports fan I came across this article about Alex Rodriguez today.  I don’t have much in common with a man who has a $275 million 10-year contract.  I think he’s a great player, but was disappointed when I heard he was using illegal PED (performance enhancing drugs).  What intrigued me most about the article was his handwritten letter “to the fans”.  I was like, “Oh cool, his own writing, but then remembered when I was a teacher (not English, remember that when you read my blog, ha!) and sometimes when students were misbehaving we’d pull out a copy of a paper that talked about being respectful and have them copy this sentence or paragraph and write it x number of times until the bell rang.  I didn’t do this often as it was just a waste of time.  My point is, did Alex Rodriquez write this?  Did he sit down and really think about what to write or did his agent or lawyers sit a paper down next to him and suggest he copy it?  I’m no copywriter, but I would have liked the letter more if it read, “To my wonderful and amazing fans”…”to the fans” seemed so disconnected.

My blog, letters just because … what does that even mean?  Did he write a letter “just because” he wanted to try and save face for using illegal PED.  Did he write a letter because he wanted to put pen to paper and be honest and let the words truly come from his heart?  I have a hard time with people doing things until they get caught.  Not saying he’s right or wrong by writing the letter.  Will it make an impact for his upcoming $27.5 million year salary?

I could go on and on about this, but I believe actions speak louder than words.  I need to take action on writing some thank you notes.  Below are note cards I had designed from my lovely friend Karin.  Don’t think I posted these before, but she’s ramping up her website now so I will have to post later when we can hopefully purchase cards straight from her site.

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Happy writing the rest of the week~J

Happy Valentine’s Day and more …

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I purchased this cookie card last week for my husband and because he eats much more healthier than me, each bite was enjoyed by yours truly.  I hope you are having a great Valentine’s Day.  There’s so much hoopla over it.  I like it and even though we are staying home (my husband just had a birthday where we were out of town earlier this week to celebrate) tonight, I do hope people find ways to let others know they are loved and appreciated.  I’m sure it is hardest for those that are single.  I try and be considerate of my girlfriends that don’t have a significant other, but I guess I’ll start another blog all about relationships-ha!

Below were my favorite Valentine’s cards I received this week.  The one of the dog cracks me up and the photographer’s website, Sexy Chicken Photography name is quite clever too.  I encourage you to visit the website and look her lovely nature photos.  The detail in each photo is magnificent!

The card with the dog holding the letter is darling.  I love that I have some girlfriends that even though we live close by (same county) we still take time to write each other throughout the year.

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A very unexpected gift that arrived yesterday was this adorable zippered pouch filled with 6 folded quote notes with coordinating envelopes, compliment cards, labels and a pack of colorful markers.  The photo below is what came in the zippered pouch, but after I took the photo I turned over what I thought were white note cards with polka dots, only to find inspirational quotes, with the first one saying “You are amazing” on the back.  I like the bold colors and different fonts she uses.  Erin Condren has a fabulous website and it was a big mistake for me to peruse it …I think I’ll be making an order soon.  I dare you to check out her website and see if you can’t find something you like.  This Bundle-love note clutch I received is a perfect gift for a hostess or friend.  My friend Ellen who sent me this is not just Ellen, her official name is Ellen, my stationery friend.  I never say just Ellen.  I’ll have to dedicate an entire blog to share about her sometime.  Nonetheless, I am grateful for our friendship and the love of stationery that we share.

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The last photo for today was taken a few hours ago when I thought about how I could make someone’s day anonymously.  I’m a big fan of random acts of kindness and especially Kindspring.  Their motto, small acts that change the world is all we can do sometimes. I went to our local Dollar Tree store and purchased 10 Valentine’s balloons and randomly slipped them into the windshield on cars around town.  I know this blog is about letters, but there was a small note attached to the balloon that read, Happy Valentine’s Day!  Keep for yourself or pass on to someone else.   It was fun and not knowing the recipients made it even better.

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How was your Valentine’s Day?  Share your about your experience below–card related or not 🙂

There are worse vices …

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Saturday I drove to Santa Barbara and like I always do, stopped by Pierre Lafond Market on the way.  I feel like I’ve written about this before.  I didn’t find it in previous posts so here it is.  I attended Westmont College in Montecito, CA and lived near this market for one year before moving back to campus.  Every time I drive to Santa Barbara I exit San Ysidro Road and make the quick, albeit sometimes expensive stop to one of my favorite stationery stores in town.  Pierre Lafond is a winery, market, bistro and known brand in this area.  I’m not really a foodie, but their food is delicious and desserts to die for.  Brownies.  Yum.  What gets my attention though is their “wall of cards”.  I need to write them and thank their buyer.  He or she is phenomenal!  I snapped a quick photo before spending at least ten minutes purchasing way too many cards for my quick stop before proceeding north.  I seriously LOL along this wall.  I think I startled an older couple who were sitting there enjoying their salad.  There are always new brands of cards when I shop here.  Sometimes I go three or four months without visiting and other times only a couple weeks.  The best is knowing I can always count on a good smile or chuckle when perusing their cards.

The average card I purchased was $3.95 and a few for $2.75.  Take that Hallmark.  I did however splurge on a couple.  As soon as I see cards that would fit someone I know I don’t even look at the price, but imagine the recipient laughing, smiling, enjoying the card I chose for them.  The photo below is of a local card that had a price of $10.  I normally wouldn’t pay that amount, but this is also an ornament.  Very cool.

My dear friend Felicia who I went to Westmont with lives in Florida now, but she fell in love in Santa Barbara, had a ton of fun in college there and her daughter now attends Westmont.  I thought she’d enjoy this keepsake.  I’m all about supporting local so I was thrilled to turn the card over and read that it was designed locally by Alessaro Designs.  The ornament was made in Mexico–so I’m cool with a collaboration and hoping this person receives some compensation for their artwork.

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This card below was one I busted out laughing over because I actually thought this last weekend.    I’m recovering well from my surgery, just need to get moving and drop a few…I don’t know who I’ll send this to, most likely just a “hi”, “thinking of you” type correspondence.  There were about a dozen of these cards from Hit and Run Greetings along the wall.  I limited myself to only two.  Too bad you can’t see all their cards on the website, but I know I’ll be purchasing more soon.  I escaped the market under a $100, but not by much. The brownies are only $2.25 🙂   So much for simplifying and scaling back with cards this year.  We will see how I do this month.  There are worse vices, right?

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Happy February!  We know what fun holiday is in a couple weeks so I’m sure I’ll post more about that soon.  ~J

Who I am writing today …

After reading Roxanne’s blog, A More Creative Me a few days ago, I wondered what my “vision” for this blog was.  Is it really letters just because (I know I shouldn’t use just like I do, but too bad because I’m not an English major and I’m not trying to win an award blogging) or is it to keep an ongoing record of who I write to and why?  Who knows where the vision or direction of my blog will go this year, I am open to letting it unfold however it may, all letter writing related of course.

A thank you card is in order today for the wonderful Sarah from the concierge’s desk at the hotel where we stayed who so kind to not only put flower petals on our bed, but also arranged for this lovely display to be in our room upon arrival.   Loved it!  We had a wonderful time (minus the Green Bay Packer loss) and are blessed to be able to take little getaways as much as we do.

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So, I’m in the gift shop and had to (!) purchase some cards.  Remember my last post where I said it was nice to get a pack of cards at Target for $3.00?  Well, these are on the higher end of the scale at $6.00 a piece. What can I say other than I am a visual and tactile girl.  The photo below does not do justice to the thick quality cardstock and letterpress indentations. Feeling these cards makes them worth $6.00.  I have only been to Orlando briefly, but if I’m ever near that part of Florida again, I’d love a tour of Rifle Paper Company if they would allow me.    I have seen letterpress machines and could have spent all day at Oblation papers in Portland, Oregon when we went there last year.  Do you have favorite letterpress stationer?  There’s yet another future blog post!

Rifle Paper Co. cards

Also, last week I wrote about sharing articles with you that I’ve kept on my phone and wanted to share a one today.

I took the postcard from the resort and wrote to Tom Purcell thanking him for his article titled, On Handwritten Letters.  I like researching online and aside from spending an additional half hour looking for a physical address for him, I was able to read more of his articles that weren’t letter writing related, but it’s cool to learn about others.  I know I’ve written this before, as he may never get my postcard, but I enjoyed taking the time to let him know he had an engaged reader out here in cyberspace. The best thing about his article to me was, “Still, I miss getting handwritten letters in the mail.” And, that my readers is why I believe it is a nice gesture to still write on paper with one’s own writing.

Terranea Postcard

Here is another postcard that was in the room.  They also provided a flat note card and envelope that was on the desk.  Any hotel that still provides stationery for its guests will get a repeat customer out of me!  I always keep a couple first class and postcard stamps in my wallet for occasions just like this!

Terranea Postcard

I wish you a good rest of the week.  I’m off to purchase some of these beautiful stamps online as you know what fun holiday is coming up in a few weeks!