Autumn: Brilliant Leaves, Happy Mail, and Seven Reasons Why

Last week the temperatures finally dipped into the 50’s and this morning we woke up to 30’s and a freeze warning. I am excited that autumn has finally made an appearance–in terms of temperature at least. [Note: I live in the South, so temperatures may well be in the upper 80’s or even lower 90’s by the end of the week].

I searched for signs of autumn while taking a short walk last week. There was little indication of the season’s change, but I was elated to find autumn leaves on a favorite Dogwood.

It is delightful watching this tree transition over the months, and though I look forward to the blossoms in spring, its autumn leaves beautifully illustrate why I love the season.

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My penfriend/love notes pal Andrea recently sent a bit of autumn-inspired pocket mail. In the one of the pockets she enclosed a list of six reasons why she loves autumn.  [Click an image for a closer look].

Andrea ended her list by inviting “me” to share why I love the season. Of course, it doesn’t take much to get me to extol the virtues of autumn, so here are [my not necessarily top] seven reasons why autumn is my favorite season:

  1. Changing colors of the trees and foliage–especially now that I live in a place where I can see the brilliance of the season
  2. Milder temperatures–long-awaited relief from the oppressive southern summer and a short break from budget-busting utilities bills
  3. Boots and sweaters
  4. Hot chocolate/cocoa and popcorn [yum!]
  5. October–the best month of all!
  6. My new favorite throw [a birthday gift from a new friend]–chocolate brown, leaf embossed, plush–perfect for movie nights
  7. Pumpkin everything–except I’m not too impressed with Krispy Kreme’s pumpkin cake donut. It would be soooo much better if they’d lose the sugar/glaze on top

How about you? What do you love about autumn?


[Also, linking up with Dawn of The Day After in the Festival of Leaves photo challenge]

Many Postage Stamps + Washi Tape = Happier Mail

When an envelope that looks like this (below) arrives in your mailbox, you almost forget there might be something even more interesting inside!

After studying the stamps for several minutes, I did finally open the envelope to find an elegant handmade card from my penfriend Beth. She and I had not corresponded in quite some time, so I was overjoyed to receive a newsy letter from her.

“This Is the Day,” Handmade Card by Beth

My scanner is being weird, and no matter what I do, I can’t capture the vibrant colors in the card.  “In real life,” the white is whiter, the pink is “pinker” and the gold is “golder,” shinier, and more glittery.

Beth made the card with card stock, washi tape, and a scripture stamp. If I remember correctly, she’s the reason I made my first washi tape card (so embarrassed by it now) and postcards many moons ago. I haven’t made a washi card in years!

Her card comes at a good time. I’ve been bored with my washi tape (and my Cricut), but you can guess what I’ll be up to this weekend…

Thanks for the happy mail and the weekend therapy, Beth!

My Mailbox Speaks French: “Les publicités anciennes” (Old Advertisements)

Though my skills in other languages are minimal, my mailbox is multilingual. Just a few days ago I retrieved a happy envelope full of postcard goodies from France.  Louise of Drops of Everything sent me the package thanking me for a kindness.  Of course, this was unnecessary, but I’m learning not to stifle people’s desire to give or my mailbox’s right to be happy. 😉

Louise sent a note via Instagram letting me know that “a little something” was on the way. I had no idea what, but since I love surprises, I didn’t even try to guess. Therefore, I was thoroughly pleased when I opened the envelope and found five glossy vintage French advertisement reproductions.

The postcards are from a collection of vintage postcard reproductions.  I’ve done my best to find out more about the collection, but my French is beyond rusty (an understatement).  No matter. There was a lot of great information on the backs of the postcards.  The collection is called “Les Publicites Anciennes,” roughly translated “old advertisements.”

Reproduction of a beautiful lithographic poster executed about 1900 (anonymous author) for cocoa "Van Houten." Printing works F. Champeois, Paris. Source: private collection

Reproduction of a beautiful lithographic poster executed about 1900 (anonymous author) for “Cocoa Van Houten.” Printing: F. Champeois, Paris. Source: Private collection.

 

Reproduction of a famous and original charm-lithography of 1893 designed by the artist Firmin Bouisset for the "Chocolat Menier." Printer: Offices Camis Paris. Source: Private Collection.

Reproduction of a famous and original chromo-lithograph of 1893 designed by the artist Firmin Bouisset for the “Chocolat Menier.” Printer: Offices Camis Paris. Source: Private Collection.

 

Reproduction of an original chromo-lithograph of 1897 designed by the artist Firmin Bouisset for "biscuits Lu" (Lefevre Utile). Printer: Offices Camis Paris. Source: Private collection.

Reproduction of an original chromo-lithograph of 1897 designed by the artist Firmin Bouisset for “Biscuits Lu” (Lefevre Utile). Printer: Offices Camis Paris. Source: Private collection.

 

Reproduction of a beautiful chromo-lithograph produced at the beginning of the 20th century for Ets Vendors which at that time made "Calais" biscuits. Printer: F. Champenois, Paris. Source: Private collection.

Reproduction of a beautiful chromo-lithograph produced at the beginning of the 20th century for Ets Vendors which at that time made “Calais” biscuits. Printer: F. Champenois, Paris. Source: Private collection.

 

Reproduction of a famous illustration (first half of 20th century) produced by the artist Germaine Bouret (1907-1953) for the Paitissiers de face collective, found on pastry packaging and cake boxes. Source: Private collection.

Reproduction of a famous illustration (first half of 20th century) produced by the artist Germaine Bouret (1907-1953) for the Pâtisserie de face collective, found on pastry packaging and cake boxes. Source: Private collection.

Aren’t these delicious? And they arrived in time for the holidays. 🙂

It seems the postcards come from a collection “Les Authentiques et les Imaginares.” In my search for more information about the postcards, I discovered that there are a number of counterfeits of Germaine Bouret’s work and some vendors continue to sell the postcards even though it is illegal to do so.  I’m baffled by the lengths people will go to profit off someone else’s creative and intellectual property, but I’m curious about the Bouret counterfeits.  In my curiosity, I was led to an original sketch of the illustration above: Bouret Advertisement Illustrations.  In fact, on this site the particular collection from which this postcard comes was listed as an offender (but not this particular postcard).  Interesting, right? When time permits, I’m going to uncover as much as I can about this collection.

So…Louise, thanks for sending me a bundle of gorgeous postcards AND the unplanned intrigue!

 

Autumn Happy Mail

I hope you’re not tired of reading about autumn, because I received a bit of autumn happy mail today and I have to share!

Swap-bot’s Midteacher sent a swap in an autumn-themed envelope with a gorgeous autumn card and photo.  Autumn was not the theme of the swap, but it is not unusual for swappers to send extras that the receiver will enjoy. Of course, my love for the season is no secret.

I will share the swap items tomorrow, but for today, let’s just take a look at the envelope and the autumn extras.  Here’s the pretty mail art:

Zentangled Leaves by Midteacher

Zentangled Leaves by Midteacher

Just seeing this envelope makes me smile.

On the inside was a card designed with one of Midteacher’s photos and embellished with paper, ribbon, and other items.

Fall Card made by Midteacher

Fall Card made by DBW aka Midteacher

I mentioned Midteacher’s card-making techniques in a post earlier this month.

She wrote a special thank you note inside which made me feel warm, fuzzy, and appreciated.

She adhered a little photo  inspiration to the inside of the card:

Photo Inspiration by Midteacher

Photo Inspiration by DBW aka Midteacher

And added a photo featuring her favorite autumn mug and a crunchy, frosty pile of autumn leaves:

"Leaves and Tea," Photo by DBW/Diane aka Midteacher (swap-bot)

“Leaves and Tea,” Photo by Diane aka Midteacher

Now, I have to make a decision: Should these go on my “Fall Wall” or should they be used in my journaling?  Maybe, they should go on the wall until I’m ready to use them in a journal. Hmmm… I’ll figure it out later. For now, I’ll just enjoy the little happy-makers.

“See ya” tomorrow…

 

Make More Happy: Snail Mail Quick Tip

Sometimes, people shy away from sending happy mail to others because they don’t know what to write. If you’re one of those people who breaks out in a sweat at even the suggestion of writing a sentence or two, there is indeed a way to put a smile on someone’s face without the anxiety.  It is so simple. So easy. You’ll kick yourself for not realizing you could have been doing this all along.

What am I talking about? Sending quotes through the postal system! Inspirational. Motivational. Scriptural. Humorous. Snarky. Political. Historical. Woman-centered. Bookish.

A postcard or a notecard with a quote communicates that you’re thinking of someone just as effectively as a letter or note.  Seriously.  Don’t believe me?  Here’s a simple postcard:

Quote Postcard.

“I want the life, sedateness and leisure of the little town, and its less competitive life leave me more time and space to ponder on problems that seem never to have answers.”

Love it, right? Now, here’s the message:

"Hope. It's the only thing stronger than fear..." From the Hunger Games Movie

“Hope. It’s the only thing stronger than fear…” From the Hunger Games Movie

Nothing fancy. Not even a greeting on this one, but don’t you love it even more?

Here’s the inside of a favorite notecard I received earlier this year:

“It Was Never Random”

This notecard carries major sunshine because, even though the quote selection seems random, the person took what she knew about me and found short quotes I’d like.

You see? It’s pretty easy.  Now, it’s your turn.  Get a postcard–any postcard–find a quote, write it on the postcard, and send it on its way. Don’t have a postcard? Try a notecard or even a piece of card stock. Easy-peasy.  Stickers, washi tape, and doodles are optional.

It’s a win-win. Your mood will be elevated during the time you spend selecting quotes and writing them on postcards and you’ll make someone else’s day a bit brighter.

Do you need help finding quotes?  You’ll find more than you need at any of the sites below:

Now, let’s go make some happy!

 

 

Pretty Purple Postcard!

Squeals! Look at what was in my mailbox:

"Creativity, Light, and Love," by Tiare Smith Designs

“Creativity, Light, and Love,” by Tiare Smith Designs

Neither my hubby nor I checked our mailbox Thursday, so this bit of awesomeness was retrieved Friday morning as I was heading out to work. Why the squeals?  My friend Cy and I “discovered” Tiare Smith Designs moments apart.  I actually shared her Etsy link with Cy when I saw some AKA sorority-inspired art.  As usual, I was multitasking while shopping, so the “Tia Collection,” one of the sets of postcards I placed in my cart, sold out before I could place the order.  I lamented missing out on Tia, but who didn’t miss out? And who sent me this postcard?  Cy!

Pause for the “happy mail” dance.

According to her creator, “Tia is here to bring light and love into the world.  She has many stories to share.”  Besides her “purpleness,” I love the innocence, sweetness, and light Tia projects.  She makes me want to skip through a field of flowers with nary a care in the world.

I initially went to Tiare’s shop to purchase a birthday gift for myself–a print the artist posted in “Black Women Who Plan and Create,” a community of black women planners, crafters, and artists on Facebook and Instagram.

"Fearless Girl" by Tiare Smith Designs

“Fearless Girl” by Tiare Smith Designs

This print captured everything I was feeling in the few days after my birthday. Focused. Determined. Fearless.

There was so much eye candy in the shop that I couldn’t resist purchasing other prints. Besides, I had gift cards to spend. 🙂 I purchased a total of 16 postcards, and Tiare included four extras, including three abstract still life prints and a multi-paneled print with tips for including it in planner layouts.  Here’s a peek at the order:

A collection of prints by Tiare Smith Designs

A collection of prints by Tiare Smith Designs

Tiare is a mixed media artist and instructor who obviously has fun with her work, but she also takes her work and her customers seriously.  She has great customer service–ships quickly, responds to questions, and customizes orders.  If you want to see more of Tiare’s art, check her out at Tiare Smith Designs or at her Etsy Shop. She’s also on Instagram and Twitter as @iamclassygirl and on Facebook: Tiare Smith Designs.

It’s always a treat to find a random postcard from Cy in my mailbox, partly because the writing side is always handled with simplicity and elegance.  Her message included a quote sticker:  “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” A “truth” to live by! 😉

Thank you, Cy, for always having my “postcard” back.

 

 

Nine Little Pockets Full of Happy

Few things make me giddier than unexpected mail from a friend or an immediate written reply to a personal letter.  I went on a letter-writing spree late last month.  I expected to hear from no one any time soon.  But within a week of my sending her a letter, my penfriend Beth wrote back. She didn’t send “just” a letter, but a pocket letter.  Now, in case you haven’t heard, pocket letters are the latest snail mail craze.  I’ve done six since I learned about them late winter/early spring.  Two of my colleague-friends and I tried them out on each other first (see their first pocket letters near the end of the post).

Traditionally, pocket letters are put together using nine-pocket trading card protectors.  I make mine with Project Life pocket pages. I prefer the larger “canvas” and the various shapes and sizes to work with.  Besides, I have boxes of PL pages screaming to be used.

Pocket letters have been “popularized” by Janette Lane.  On her blog, she provides instructions, tips, templates, and even a video for putting them together. You can insert into the nine little pockets anything that will fit, but the “letter” is a must for one of the pockets.  Enough chat.  Here’s the pocket letter:

My Very Pink Pocket Letter

My Very Pink Pocket Letter from Beth

 

Pink, sparkly, and cheerful!  And that’s just the front…

The Back of My Pocket Letter from Beth

The Back of My Pocket Letter from Beth

It is typical to stash items in the back of the pocket letter, so Beth tucked lots of fun goodies inside–tiny stickers and embellishments I plan to use in my planners and for making ATCs.  Besides the letter, there are really no strict “requirements,” but I don’t think I’ve seen a pocket letter yet that didn’t contain a factory sealed tea bag.

Here’s a closer look at the items tucked into the pockets:

Fun stuff!

But the best part of the pocket letter is…you guessed it! The letter!  Beth wrote a nice long letter and used stationery recycled from leftover journal pages–something I also do with my leftover journal pages!  I loved all the quotes and insights printed on the pages.

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Interesting side note about the “do not follow” quote: It is usually attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, not T.S. Eliot.  Investigation time!

The cool thing about pocket letters is that they fold neatly into a business envelope–or in the case of the ones I make, an A7 envelope–and placed in the mail.  I reinforce the edges with strong washi tape or clear packing tape. They usually cost between $1.50-2.00 to mail (USA domestic).

Here are pics of the first pocket letters I received [click an image for a closer look]:

We’ve all improved tremendously since our first pocket letters!

Pocket letters are a fun way to share more than a letter with a friend or relative. Instead of dropping photos, tips, inspirational material, etc. into an envelope with a letter, you can incorporate all of those things into a unique and personalized pocket page.  They take a little more planning than letter-in-envelope, but they make attractive and unexpected gifts.

Try one out today!