January 2, 2020

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Dear seafaring friends,

How have the past three hundred and seventeen days treated you? I hope so desperately that you’ve been well throughout at least a good percentage of them! It is difficult to resist the blogging-monologue temptation to tell you exactly what manner of misadventures and magic have colored my past year – but in the spirit of the newly-arrived “twenties,” I will strive to dwell upon the future instead of the past.

I want to start blogging again. No, that’s not quite right – rather than simply returning to form, I intend to change the way in which I share words, pictures, and history with you.

In the five years in which I have “maintained” (a word I use loosely here) this blog, I must have attempted to reshape its overall image and identity at least ten times. I strove to keep up with the times and to adhere to changing design trends, aspiring to a digital minimalism that does not remotely reflect my fondness for visual excess.

When I considered returning to Mailbox Mermaid once more, I decided to search the depths of the British Library’s public domain historical images Flickr for inspiration – and found the perfect late nineteenth-century illustration that captured the frantic and overcrowded coral reef of ideas and whims that has emerged in my mind of late.

“Coral Bank in the Red Sea,” featured in my new blog design, hails from Robert Brown’s 1893 monographic Our Earth And Its Story: A Popular Treatise on Physical Geography. The vivid colors and intricate textures transport me to a stunningly saturated underwater fantasy, a pelagic paradise in which an endless spectrum of pictorial delights compete for the viewer’s attention – here a scattering school of fish, there a distant yet watchful shark.

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What is to come on this blog (if I indeed manage to remain true to my intentions) will involve a similar ecosystem of the imagination. I fancy writing posts that sound like letters more than articles, and sharing stream-of-consciousness musings inspired by the books I read, the natural wonders I observe, and the things that I make by hand.

I aim to cultivate a collection of one-sided correspondence and create a virtual place that feels like a tranquil tidepool tucked at the edge of a halcyon lagoon. May I write to you, and share some of my maritime dreams? I do hope you’ll say yes – at least for one more post! 

Sincerely,

Mailbox Mermaid

What’s In My Mailbox? A Whale of a Tale or Two

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Thanks to the wizardry of an automatically queued blog, I should be spotting actual humpbacks by the time you read this! Before that, though, I wanted to share the last two pen pal letters I received prior to heading west. The parcel from the Netherlands included little nods to my oceanic destination, while my French pen pal’s mailing referenced a different kind of fauna.

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Outfit of the [Yester]day: Ceaseless Seahorses

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(“Two posts in a row?!?” you might say upon reading this outfit recap. Well, yes: if all goes well, I hope to spend tomorrow traveling, so enjoy this Friday post a little early!)

Lately, I’ve really done my best to cut down on my clothing purchases. I have so many lovely dresses already, and I am trying to save as much as I can! Still, I have had my eye on this Hell Bunny seahorse slip dress for about five months now, and when it went on sale, finally, I considered it a self-Christmas present.

Thanks to the imminent arrival of the most recent “polar vortex” weather conditions, there’s no way I could wear this on the East Coast any time soon. I guess it’s lucky that I will be near the tropics within a few days: provided this weekend’s winter storm lets me escape New England without too much delay!

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Extreme Enveloping: Jewels & Jungles

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Sometimes I dream of starring in the mail art equivalent of Chopped, where contestants try to best each other at creating envelopes out of the most unexpected things imaginable: opening their supply baskets to find, like, take-out menus and that strange pliable glue that kids would pull off magazines in the 90s. (Guilty as charged.)

I’m far from the most masterful crafter out there, but I’m very pleased with my latest accomplishment. With nothing more than a roll of wallpaper, some stickers, and tape, I’ve put together these very cool rainforest envelopes that are surprisingly strong and roomy. To really add an elegant touch to my outgoing mail, I’ve also mined (ha!) a damaged geology textbook for cool photographs of gems and crystalline structures.

If you, like me, have come into the possession of a wallpaper treasure trove from the Goodwill, read on to discover the challenges of working with this bizarre material. (Or you could just, you know, put it on your wall like normal people do.)

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Fins & Pins! Unicorn Crafts Review

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Everyone’s abuzz about pins these days–it feels like it’s 2003 again! As a lifelong brooch appreciator, I’m perfectly happy that these colorful little accessories are back in style and readily available. Enamel pins in particular may be all the rage, but I actually prefer the look of acrylic/resin ones myself: for whatever reason, they’re usually slightly larger and perfectly sized to fit on the lapel of a Peter Pan collar!

One creator of pretty laser-cut pins is the lovely Unicorn Crafts, a California-based designer who makes whimsical jewelry and accessories that are perfect for a fairy-tale dreamer like me. While browsing her wares on Instagram, I encountered this incredible mermaid pin (who’s even hugging a tiny octopus!) and knew we were meant to be. Come and marvel along with me as I open up this candy-colored mailing and the sweet siren it contained!

(Here’s my usual disclaimer–I bought this with my own money and my opinions are unendorsed and unbiased. I just like to share small businesses that I love!)

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Prehistoric Pen Pals: Recycled Book Page Envelopes

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Remember that amazing vintage science book for kids that I discovered at a library sale? Though I enjoyed exploring its well-worn pages, it was one of the most damaged books I’ve ever seen. The binding and cover had long gone the way of the dinosaurs, and I figured the time had come for its reincarnation.

That’s how my outgoing mail hopped back a few eons!

Some delicate book-surgery, lots of tape, and some stickers and handmade labels were all it took to help this dying relic evolve into something a little more sustainable. I would’ve slipped a small fossil from my collection into each envelope, except I’m pretty sure they’d far exceed the usual “Non-Machinable Surcharge” limitations…

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Cambrian Cuties: Science Lessons from 1942

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The only thing better than a well-stocked used book sale is a well-stocked used book sale with a free bin. After buying my fair share of gorgeous volumes at a local like-new literary extravaganza this weekend, I stopped by a table of unwanted scraps and paperbacks, ready to glean to my heart’s content.

It’s appropriate that I had to basically excavate my way through the Burgess Shale of coffee-stained romance novels and old sheet music to find this incredible treasure: a natural history book for kids from 1942. As a girl who loves vintage children’s illustrations as much as she loves Tiktaalik, I am delighted by this rare opportunity to peek back a few decades–and aeons!

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