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Archive | March, 2012

The Language of Stamps + Free Printable

13 Mar

The Victorians, at least the well-to-do variety, sure did have a lot of time to pay attention to details. They devised the use of Personal Calling Cards, the selection of flowers to send a certain message, and lots and lots of rules about etiquette. Even today, we are discovering (and reviving) Victorian traditions. For letter writing and mail enthusiasts, there is one in particular that has gotten notice in the last few years: The Language of Stamps.

Special EuropeanPaper.com stamps (not for postage use)

A few special stamps we mocked up for EuropeanPaper.com

Just as it was a Victorian tradition to select flowers based upon a message you’d like to send (the red rose equating to true love still exists today), there was a tradition of affixing a postage stamp to a letter in a certain way. Upside down, tilted left or tilted right, the direction and placement of the stamp said much more than ‘postage paid.’

Perhaps the most interesting part of the language of stamps is that there were no distinct rules. An upside down stamp might have meant one thing in the southern U.S., another in the northern U.S., and another in the UK. For all intents and purposes, the language of stamps was restricted to particular groups or regions. Even then, there is evidence that individuals and couples had their own private codes they used just between themselves.

Today, this tradition has made a resurgence (albeit a small one) with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Men and women writing to spouses serving overseas flip stamps upside down or in another direction to signify things like “I miss you” and “I love you.” The ‘codes’ in these letters are generally just between the letter writer and the recipient and there is by no means a true system out there today.

There is also a section of the US population that are avid letter writers who see value in reviving traditions like these. Major newspapers and popular websites have covered this very topic in recent years which has helped to draw more interest (and participation).

Communicating an additional message with a stamp is all about details. Not only is the letter writer taking time to write a letter, put pen to paper, fold it up, put it in an envelope and mail it, but they are going the extra mile in selecting the way the stamp is adhered to the envelope.

And, in case you ever wondered, if you place your stamp somewhere other than the upper right hand corner of your envelope, it will still get delivered. (However, if you do choose to place the stamp elsewhere on the front of the envelope, the letter might be slightly delayed due to the postage machines not able to scan it normally and therefore it will have to be handled manually.) In fact, this is the reason the original process of the recipient paying for the postage of a letter changed to the sender paying the postage. Senders would affix a stamp a certain way or put some other code on the exterior of the envelope or letter, and many times the recipient would get the message and decline paying postage on the note. Needless to say, word spread and the system was abused to the point that it was changed to where the sender pays the postage.


To encourage you to partake in the Language of Stamps tradition, attached to this article is an editable letterhead document you can download and print! Click the following link for a letterhead made specially for you to download and use –> EPC-Stationery-Hot-Air-Balloon-Editable

It is a PDF and features a hot air balloon in the bottom right hand corner. This particular image was lithographed in the Victorian era and is a rather appropriate subject for the sending of ‘air mail,’ no? After you download the letterhead, open it up in Adobe Acrobat (free) and click where the text appears. You can enter your own name or details for truly personal stationery. It prints two sheets to a standard sheet of 8.5” x 11” paper. Just cut right down the middle.

Interested in more reading? Here is a selection of articles and posts on the Language of Stamps you might be interested in:

From Love to Longing to Protest, It’s All in the Tilt of the Postage [New York Times article from 2005]

Blog post with lots of vintage ‘language of stamps’ postcards [by Rio Wang]

The Language of Stamps [post by Letter Writer’s Alliance]

The Language of Stamps [article on Philatelic Database]

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Meet the Writer: Cole Imperi is a business owner and a proponent of the handwritten word. When not at Doth Brands, a Branding & Identity firm catering to the health, wellness & deathcare professions where Cole works as Owner and Creative Director, you might find her on her yoga mat teaching yoga or behind a laptop writing for Simplicity Embellished, a letter-writing and lifestyle blog.

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Monday Morning Review Round-up

12 Mar

Notebook/Planner Reviews

Recording Thoughts: Living with the Leuchtturm1917 Master Dots notebook

Plannerisms: Guest post: Millie’s Moleskine weekly notebook as journal!

Pen/Pencil Reviews

From the Pen Cup: The Pilot Acroball 3

Well Appointed Desk: Lamy Studio Brushed Stainless Steel & My Vintage Esterbrook Fountain Pens

Multi Pen Dimensions: Lamy Tipo Rollerball Aluminum Pen

No Pen Intended: Pilot Hi-Tec-C Slim Knock Gel Ink Pen

Note Booker Esq.: Tombow Object Rollerball

Stamp Reviews

365 Letters Blog: Beautiful Stamps & National Postal Museum celebrating women

Mailbox Happiness: Texas Brags Postcard-Texas Size!

 

Green Goodies for St. Patrick’s Day

9 Mar

Saint Patrick’s Day is just around the corner, and while everyone around the world celebrates their own way, “green” is always involved. Whether that’s literal or eco-inspired, we’re sure the following round-up will inspire you to keep green close at hand this following weekend (at least so you don’t get pinched!).

1. Moleskine Passions Wellness Journal (5 x 8.25 in.) - acid-free paper
2. Leuchtturm1917 Large Hard Cover Ruled Notebook (5.75 x 8.25 in.) - acid-free paper + archival quality
3. Apica CD-11 Series Notebook (Set of 3) (5.75 x 8.25 in.) - acid-free paper
4. Poo Poo Paper Stationery Sets (11.5 x 8.5 in.) - tree-free alternative fiber
5. Mudlark Eco Clare de Lune Boxed Note Cards - 80% post-consumer recycled content + printed soy-based inks

And a few interesting St. Patrick’s Day:

“The shortest St Patrick’s Day parade in the world takes place in DripseyCork. The parade lasts just 100 yards and travels between the village’s two pubs.” Wikipedia

“Though green is a very popular color on St. Patrick’s Day, the original color that was very popular and often related back to St. Patrick was not green, but blue.” TopTenz.

“There are four places in the United States named after the shamrock, the floral emblem of Ireland: Mount Gay-Shamrock, WV; Shamrock, TX; Shamrock Lakes, IN; and Shamrock, OK.” History.com

“Another St. Patrick myth is the claim that he banished snakes from Ireland. It’s true no snakes exist on the island today, Freeman said. But they never did. Ireland, after all, is surrounded by icy ocean waters—much too cold to allow snakes to migrate from Britain or anywhere else.” National Geographic

 

10 Ideas for a Journaling Jump Start

8 Mar

Today, journals come in so many designs, materials, and sizes that there is something for everyone. Once you’ve found the one for you, however, you might find yourself with pen or pencil in hand, staring at the blank pages and thinking … now what? What do I write?

It’s happened to everyone at some point whether in personal or professional cases. That’s where we come in to help. Need inspiration of where to start? Use these ideas to jumpstart your pen across those white and empty pages:

  1. Count Your Blessings: Too often we let the things we are most grateful for slip by without being fully appreciated. Start writing down three things you’re grateful for each day. It will help you to not only take note of these moments in life, but to actually watch for them and give them the attention they deserve.
  2. Make Lists: While grocery lists are rarely exciting enough to merit a place in your journal, keep lists of everything from what musicals you saw this year to what fishing lures you like best to what tricks you want to learn on your snowboard. Each list can inspire you to develop the items more.
  3. Set Goals: Writing down goals is considered the most important step to actually accomplishing them. Whether you start small and write down what you want to achieve today or this week, or if you go big and write down what you want to achieve this year or in your lifetime, you have so many pages to break down the goals into individual steps.  Check back often to write how you’re doing.
  4. Record Dreams: Sometimes dreams are unbelievably insightful—and other times, they are just crazy images inspired by too much bad television and a questionable glass of wine before bedtime. Writing down what you remember about your dreams can help cement the lessons you might otherwise lose.
  5. Note Quotes: A journal is a great place to write down quotes or sayings and refer to them later for further writing inspiration, a pick-me-up, or sharing with friends and family.
  6. Review Books/Movies/Performances: Write down your opinions about the book you just finished, the movie you just watched, or the performance you just attended. What did you like best? What do you wish was done differently? What was just completely WRONG? Did someone surprise you? You could even include pictures or your ticket stubs as extras!
  7. Remember Moments: Just like a camera, a journal can hold onto moments—fun times with your friends, worldly observations, outlandish ideas—that you will want to mull over again later. Write them down quickly and if you want, revisit that moment later to respond to it, simply reminisce, or flesh out the details.
  8. Marking Birthdays/Anniversaries: How about a special journal you bring out once a year for your birthday or anniversary? You can write down what you did, where you went, who was there, what gifts you gave and received and all of those other details. Important dates come and go too quickly in our lives not to grab onto the details so we can look at them again next year.
  9. Keep Contacts: Use a small, portable journal for writing down the names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and web sites of the people you network with at parties, work, stores, and other locations. Pull the journal out of a purse, messenger bag, or back pocket and get that contact info before the two of you go in different directions, so that later, when you are at home, you can get in touch. Always jot down a couple of words next to the name to jog your memory of why you wanted to follow up.
  10. Monitor Expenses: Are you number-minded? Wondering how much you spend on eating out or filling up the gas tank? Where does that weekly paycheck keep disappearing to? Write it all down in your journal. If nothing else, in a couple of years, when you look back at it and see what gas prices used to be, you will get a good laugh.

Open up the cover, uncap the pen or sharpen the pencil and fill in that first page. A journal is yours to create—so start writing! What words are ready to go on your page? What moments do you want to capture? Use your journal and go!

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 Meet the Writer: Tamra Orr is a full time writer and has written more than 300 books for readers of all ages. She is also mom to four and writes an average of 50 letters or more a month.

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Why We’re in Love with Lamy

7 Mar

Lamy Brand Story

“No design writes better,” promises the famed German pen manufacturer Lamy. With countless fans to attest that claim, Lamy rose to prominence using groundbreaking techniques with molded synthetic plastics in their pens. This is most notable when very carefully inspecting Lamy pens for lines where sections meet – look long enough and you may see the very faintest of a connection point, unnoticeable to the untrained eye.

Lamy’s Foundation: The 2000 Fountain Pen

Founded in 1930 by Josef Lamy (originally a sales representative for The Parker Pen Company), Lamy pens quickly rose to prominence as one of the most modern pen manufacturers with their flagship fountain pen the Lamy 2000, first released in 1966 and still their premier pen to this day.

Lamy 2000 Fountain Pen on EuropeanPaper.com.

Check out the Lamy 2000 Fountain Pen on EuropeanPaper.com for all the details.

Made of a combination of fiberglass and brushed stainless steel known as Makrolon, the Lamy 2000 Fountain Pen is piston filled and thus can only be used with an ink bottle and not with ink cartridges. No worries though, the piston has quite a large and reliable capacity. It also has a gorgeous 14-carat gold, platinum-coated nib that is hand polished and semi-hooded to prevent ink drying when left uncapped, not to mention the spring-loaded stainless steel clip that can hold up to years of clip-on, clip-off.

Designed by Gerd Alfred Müller, the Lamy 2000 was awarded the Busse Longlife Design Prize in 1984. The 2000’s sleek design and smooth writing style has stood the test of time as it stays at the top of many a fountain pen enthusiasts’ wish lists. Just be sure not to leave it lying around the office as its refined look is sure to catch attention and it may “walk off” on its own! The innovative Lamy 2000 is so revered that it is on permanent display at the Museum of Modern Art and has won countless design awards. One other tip: the 2000 nibs are not marked, so keep the box you bought it in so you can always have the nib size on hand!

Lamy Safari Fountain Pen

Then in 1980, Lamy created the Lamy Safari, a fountain pen for beginners and students primarily, now heralded as one of the best introductory fountain pens on the market.

Lamy Z50 Nib

Lamy Z50 Fountain Pen Nib on EuropeanPaper.com

Designed by Wolfgang Fabian & Bernt Spiegel, the Safari’s stainless steel Z50 nib is interchangeable with several other Lamy fountain pen collections including the CP1, AL-Star, Vista, Joy, Studio, Accent, and Logo. Some other models that are fitted with a standard Lamy steel nib can also swap out nibs, but the previously mentioned styles are the most available and used in the US. The Z50 nibs do not fit the Lamy 2000 fountain pen.

Back to the Safari though: With a shiny flexible chrome clip, the Safari is ready to travel and comes equipped with a Lamy T10 ink cartridge so you can write with it straight out of the box. You can also modify the Safari to use Lamy’s Z24 Converter, in which case you can use any bottled ink like Lamy’s T52 Bottled Ink.

Lamy Safari Fountain Pen on EuropeanPaper.com

Grab the black, white, blue, or red Lamy Safari Fountain Pen on EuropeanPaper.com or get all four!

Made of sturdy ABS plastic, the Safari is available in Charcoal, Blue, Apple Green, Red, and White, on EuropeanPaper.com and is designed with the writer’s comfort in mind with its molded grip section. The Charcoal Safari comes with a black coated steel nib (your choice of fine or medium nib), while the Blue, Red, and White Safaris come with a non-coated steel nib (once again, your choice of fine or medium nib).

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen

In the late 90s, Lamy’s Al-Star line up exploded onto the scene. Also designed by Wolfgang Fabian and incased in lightweight brushed aluminum, the Al-Stars boast similar styling to the Safari. It has the same interchangeable Lamy nibs, chiseled edges for a rounded-square look, and wire grips (although the Al-Stars come in either black or chrome.) You’ll also find that the Al-Star has a slightly larger diameter and is a tad bit heavier. It also has a smoky translucent grip because, after all, an Al-Star has nothing to hide. It also accepts the Z24 converter, so you can write in your favorite Lamy T52 bottled ink:  Turquoise, Blue-Black, Blue-Washable, Green, or Red.

Today, Lamy has branched into ballpoint pens, rollerball pens, mechanical pencils, and more, and is still at the forefront of pen innovation. Still made in Heidelberg, Germany, Lamy is a brand you can trust for quality, durability, and versatility.

Carnival of Pen, Pencil & Paper

6 Mar

Welcome to the March 6, 2012 edition of the Carnival of Pen, Pencil, and Paper! We’re thrilled to host this month’s Carnival and we hope you enjoy the selection!

Notebooks

Nifty Notebook presents Early 1980s “Comp” Pocket Memo Notebooks posted at Notebook Stories, saying, “Some gems from my collection: 1908s spiral notebooks that look like composition books!”

Alex Witte presents (Most of) My Notebook Collection posted at Economy Pens.

Sandra Strait presents Bleedthrumanade in Moleskine & Review of the Moleskine Squared Notebook posted at Life Imitates Doodles, saying, “A review of Moleskine’s Squared notebook showing how it holds up to the alcohol marker.”

Sandra Strait presents New Tangle Pattern Malacca & Review of the Moleskine Volant Journal posted at Life Imitates Doodles, saying, “This could be considered for the art genre as well as notebook because I always do artwork to use in my reviews.”

Sandra Strait presents New tangle pattern Twining & Review of the Rhodia Unlimited Pocket size Notebook posted at Life Imitates Doodles.

@EuroPaper presents The Birth of the Book Letter posted at European Paper Company.

Office Supplies

Charles Chua C K presents All About Living With Life: 10 Office Efficiency Tips posted at All About Living with Life.

Liz Shaw presents You Can’t Make This Stuff Up posted at Liz Andra Shaw, saying, “How the lust for office supplies led one woman into a funny situation.”

Pens

Cheryl from Writer’s Bloc presents STAEDTLER Mars Draft 924 Technical Ballpoint Pen Review posted at Writer’s Bloc Blog.

Okami0731 presents Featured Pen – Waterman 42 Safety posted at Whatever.

Heather presents Pentel EnerGel 0.7mm Black posted at A Penchant for Paper.

Miscellaneous

Tiger Pens presents The Fountain Pen Rest Stop posted at Tiger Pens’ Blog.

Charles Chua C K presents All About Living With Life: Office Feng Shui – 5 Great Tips posted at All About Living with Life.

Clement Dionglay presents Ink Review: J. Herbin Ambre de Birmanie posted at Rants of the Archer.

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Thanks so much for joining us! Use this shortlink to share this post: http://wp.me/p1PnL4-og

Submit your blog article to the next edition of Carnival of pen, pencil and paper using the carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on the blog carnival index page.

Monday Morning Review Round-up

5 Mar

Ink Reviews

Rants of the Archer: J. Herbin Ambre de Birmanie

East, West, Everywhere: Postscript: Scabiosa and Poussiere de lune

Notebook/Planner Reviews

Gourmet Pens: Comparison: Large Brown Midori Traveler’s Notebook vs. Large Burnt Cognac Pelle Leather Journal & Mailbox Goodies: Pink Ikea Sketchbook

Plannerisms: Quo Vadis Executive weekly planner

Pen/Pencil Reviews

A Penchant for Paper: Pentel EnerGel 0.7mm Black

FPGeeks: Lamy AL-Star the Awesome Review

Multi Pen Dimensions: County Comm Embassy Pen (Rev. 2) Black & Tombow Egg Rollerball Matte Black

Does This Pen Make Me Look Fat: The Bexley Jitterbug!

Pocket Blonde: Lamy CP1

Rhonda Eudaly:  The Pilot Plumix – Medium Nib Beginner Fountain Pen & The Palomino Blackwing Wooden Pencil

No Pen Intended: Sharpie Liquid Pencil

Stamps

Your Postal Blog: Submarine Mail in New Mexico

Pen Thief: Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

 

Friday Blogger Tuck-ins

2 Mar

1 –>  Laurie at Plannerisms wrote a strongly worded post regarding the new trend in using Pinterest and why she adamantly is against it (and has requested all of her images to be removed from Pinterest). As more companies and individuals flock to the image-sharing site, she brings up a good conversation regarding privacy and copyright laws. What’s your take on it?

2 –> The Quo Vadis blog has some neat information (and time management tips) from Dr. FG Beltrami, “the founder of Quo Vadis and inventor of the Agenda planner with its one-week-on-two-pages layout” that you will want to read. Here’s Part 1 and Part 2.

3 –> TigerPens has a great post offering other writing instruments if you want a change, but don’t want a fountain pen particularly. Read it here.

4 –> As seen on This is Colossal ”Love Is Making Its Way Back Home: A Stop Motion Animation Using 12,000 Sheets of Construction Paper.”

5 –> Looking for a penpal? Check out Julie’s blog Penpal of the Week – each week she posts another person looking for a penpal to help people connect!

6 –> Check out some of the pages being created within the Webbies for the Rhodia Journal Swap! Several have been passed to the next person, are you one of them?

7 –>  We love that the Guardian featured an article titled “Why I Love Stationery” by Lucy Mangan. Here is an excerpt:  ”The right pen and the right paper brought into conjunction, runs the unspoken thought, cannot help but result in a sudden influx of bold, brilliant and original ideas, the germ of a bestselling novel that will in its turn be inscribed in another, perhaps larger notebook more worthy of the task, in sentences as creamy and beautiful as the pages on which they are written.” We’re just wondering why the image is of post-it notes on the author instead of … stationery, obviously.

8 –> Michael at Orange Crate Art shared this image originally “by the Illinois WPA Art Project for the WPA Statewide Library Project. Stamped March 25, 1941. From the Library of Congress’s online archive American Memory.”  We fell in love with it and just had to share. It’s time to whip out some books!


 

5 Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block

1 Mar

Writers love to discuss writer’s block. Is it real or is it just fear? Is it a symptom of being creatively drained or of being undisciplined? Regardless of which side of the discussion you side with, there is one truth:  Whether you’re an avid journaler, a dedicated letter writer or a professional writer, we all get stuck once in a while. No matter how hard you try, sometimes those blinking cursors and blank pages stop us in our tracks. Next time you get stuck, try one (or all!) of these five tricks to overcome your block.

Tips for Writer's Block by Maggie Marton on EuropeanPaper.com

Obsess … With a Timer

It’s okay to fret about being stuck. It’s normal and healthy – as long as you don’t let it derail you completely. So spend a few minutes obsessing, but set a timer to keep you focused. Set the timer for nine minutes. Spend that time doing nothing but obsessing. Think about why you’re stuck. Is it the project? Do you have other, perhaps more important, tasks that you should do first? Let your mind wander. When that timer goes off, use one minute to refocus. Take a couple deep breaths, open a new window or flip to a new page, and start writing.

Dig Into Your Past (and Present and Future)

If you just can’t think of anything to write, start with your past. If you’re working on a daily journal entry, try to remember the names of your elementary school teachers and how they made you feel. If you’re struggling with a piece of fiction, start with the worst day you can possibly remember from when you were a child. Describe the people, the smells, the scenery. Apply those same principles to the present (how did I feel this morning during my commute?) and to the future (what is the best thing that could happen to me in the next five years?).

List, List, List

This is my go-to strategy anytime I feel stuck. Start a list. List anything: groceries, your friends’ names from junior high, things you’re grateful for, goals for the year, things you’d buy if you had a bottomless bank account. Get creative with your lists! Try your favorite books in alphabetical order or aim to list 101 of something.

Create Sentence “Starts”

On a sticky note or the back page of your journal, draft a handful of sentence “starts” that you can refer to when you get stuck. Some good options:

  • Nothing makes me happier than …
  • If I could change one thing about my family …
  • If I found a $50 bill on the sidewalk, I would …

Make a list of 10 to 20 that you can refer to whenever you feel blocked. Use it to start a journal entry or a piece of fiction.

Walk Away

This last-resort trick is for when you’ve tried everything but nothing’s working. Stand up, turn around, and walk away. Take your dog around the block. Make a cup of tea. Watch a daytime talk show. Sometimes the pressure can be too great, and when you’re focused on the fact that you’re stuck, it can be really difficult to find a way to get unstuck. Let your smarty-pants subconscious do the work for a while. The important thing here is to stay away from tasks that will keep you away from your work. Pick something short and something mindless (that laundry’s not going to fold itself) so that you don’t divert all your brainpower away from your writing. After a short break, do some stretches, take a couple deep breaths, and then get back to it.

Everyone gets stuck. In any creative project, it’s only normal. The difference between being successful and unsuccessful is to let a little block stop your progress!

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 Meet the Writer: Maggie Marton is a freelance writer who lives in Bloomington, Indiana, with her husband and their three darling dogs. View more of Maggie’s work at MaggieMarton.com

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