extreme enveloping: woodland wrapping paper

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Hey, remember back in the days of yore when I wanted to make “creating envelopes out of unusual materials” a thing?

In November, I showed you, gleefully, the envelopes I’d crafted from a recycled roll of wallpaper, hoping to kick off a glorious new age of extensively eccentric envelope fabrication–and then I proceeded to spend the next eight months making envelopes out of nothing but magazine pages.

There’s no time like the present, though, and I’m happy to say that in my continued quest to catch up on all the pen pal letters I owe (if you’re still waiting on me, you should have yours soon!), I decided to turn my manufacturer’s eye to a new substance: wrapping paper. (Specifically, ridiculously cutesy forest creature wrapping paper probably designed for literal babies but I don’t particularly care.)

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outgoing mail: species speaking

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I’m working at catching up on my post-wisdom-teeth-drama letter backlog, I promise! The first step is creating envelopes, which is always my favorite way to occupy idle hours: especially with a fresh stack of old calendars and magazines featuring Hawai’i’s native species from my parents back home.

I don’t know what silly mood inspired me to bestow speech bubbles upon these creatures that share my island birthplace–they include two nēnē (Hawaiian geese) and a wide-eyed humpback whale–but I’m rather fond of the goofy finished product!

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outgoing mail: billions & billions of stars

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Space may be the place, but the sold-individually decorative paper section at a certain major craft store (that will remain anonymous as I still refuse to provide free marketing for chain retailers on my little-read, niche blog) is currently also “the place.” I don’t know when their paper design department upgraded from stripes and polka dots to sky-maps and painted galaxies, but I am not complaining. And neither, I hope, will my pen pals when they receive these envelopes!

(If you want to know how to sing the title of this blog post, check out my #1 jam as a highschooler: one of Symphony of Science’s quality musical remixes of quotes from various “great minds of science.” I think Bill Nye was responsible for this title-worthy phrase!)

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postcard party

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Surprise: I’m traveling abroad today (and am posting this from the past in my usual time-hopping manner)!

Do you know what else travels? Postcards! (I kind of hope that I could get overseas faster than a postcard, but who knows?) By sheer coincidence, it seems like pen pals (and parents) have been sending me a plethora of postcards lately. I’ll let them take the lead today while I jet off to parts unknown!

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A Year in Letters: 2016 Edition!


‘Tis the season to reflect on another wonderful year of snail mail! Once again, I am astounded and delighted by how many lovely people I’ve had the pleasure of “meeting” ever since I decided to start sending mail to random fellow humans around the globe at the start of 2015. I feel very honored to share a letter-writing-relationship with you!

For me, penpalling is all about making friends and glimpsing life outside of my tiny New England town. I’m certainly not in it just to check countries off a list, but after a year of writing I always find it fun to take note of the places from which I’ve received mail. Over the past twelve months, I’ve had the pleasure of sending letters to twelve different countries in Europe, the Americas, and Oceania. Where will my mail travel next? Only 2017 can tell!

(Before you read on, you might want to check out my first “A Year in Letters” post from 2015 to see how my snail mail network has expanded this year!)

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Pen Pal Printables | Museum Mail Tag!

museum mail tag

One of the first things I discovered in the early days of 2015: A Letter-Writing Odyssey was a fun little activity called “mail tag”–a long-distance game played by challenging pen pals to send easily obtainable ephemera. Like the art historian I am, I decided to trace back the “provenance” of this practice, and all trails seemed to lead to Bianca Jagoe: whose mail tag page is both informative and home to some of the cutest handwritten text designs I’ve ever seen.


It’s no secret that most of the little gifts I tuck into my pen pal letters are pamphlets, maps, and cards I’ve picked up during my various museum adventures. Though someone wandering through a gift shop might find the prices intimidating, museums are also treasure troves of no-cost souvenirs–there are often free exhibition postcards, gallery activity books for children (or not!), and so forth.

Wouldn’t that make a museum trip just perfect for a mail tag challenge?

Inspired by this, I’ve created a mail tag card for you to print and send off to your museum-going friends around the world. Here’s to learning more about your pen pals–and the art they love!

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What’s in my Mailbox? | Random Acts of Stationery


random acts of stationery

Rather like a certain Mr. Baggins, I experienced a kind of unexpected party just a few days ago while checking my mail: a large package from a pen pal I’ve been getting to know for nearly half a year. Though there wasn’t a dwarf or wizard in sight, I was delighted to discover an incredibly generous treasure trove of stationery, featuring a real positivity-blast of bright and colorful designs. On a day when I really needed a little cheer, this not-so-random act of kindness overwhelmed me–while simultaneously feeding my stationery addiction.

(And it’s certainly a lovelier birthday present than Gollum’s…)

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