Sunday, February 4, 2018

A Capital Idea!

During the month of January I read three books from the Oxford Medieval Mystery series by Ann Swinfen.  The first book in the series is The Bookseller's Tale.  The story is set in Oxford in 1353 and the title character, Nicholas Elyot, is a bookseller. The story is a mystery and involves Nicholas discovering a body floating in the Cherwell (but that's not the part that inspired my snailmail).

The book details interesting information about the making of paper and the creation of books during the 14th century. The details were fascinating! The amount of work that went into one volume was incredible.  Just one more reason to be thankful, folks. Digital books!! (Not to mention the printing press.) Anyway, I digress. 

I was inspired by the work of the scriveners in this book. During medieval times books were hand copied by these folks. They were true artists and often added illustrated capitals to start a new chapter. I thought I would follow suit and start my letter with an illustrated capital! 

There are a lot of examples out there to inspire you. I am somewhat limited by my lack of true artistic ability and my tools (I used Crayola markers), but I always feel like the letter is the real gift and any goofy little doodles I draw simply add to the fun. Remember, perfectionism is for those who send no mail! Not only was the illustrated capital a fun artistic element to add to my letter, it was also a nice way to share about the book I read. 

Looking for inspiration for your mail? Maybe it's something from the pages of your books!! So read a book and write a letter.  It's a capital idea! And magical! 

Go postal, everybody!
Mrs. Murphy

Monday, January 1, 2018

Wishing You a Happy New Year and A Full Mailbox

As 2018 dawns I am excited to begin another year of postal projects! Sending and receiving mailbox magic has truly been a highlight of 2017! Thanks for sharing in my love of all things postal!

I've checked my mailing logs and am happy to announce I mailed 161 pieces of mail incuding letters, postcards, notes, cards and packages in 2017!! I didn't quite reach my goal, but it was my first year of recording all my outgoing post so I'm looking forward to surpassing that number in 2018! This year I think I will log the correspondence I receive, too!  It will be wonderful to look back on that information at the end of the year...a record of all the postal people who have corresponded with me across the globe!  Magic! 

As always I am hoping to think of new and creative ways to connect with friends and loved ones via the postal system and share them with you here on my little Snailmail Blog! Thanks for all of your kind comments and support thoughout the year! May your mailboxes be full in 2018! 

Go postal, everybody!

Mrs. Murphy

"More than kisses, letters mingle souls."  John Donne

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Books and Letters

Most of the postal people I correspond with are also book people. It must be the sheer love of words.

"She had always wanted words, she loved them; grew up on them.  Words gave her clarity, brought reason, shape." Michael Ondaatje. (The English Patient)

One of my favorite subjects to correspond with others about is, of course, books. I want to know what you're reading. Do you love it? Hate it? Recommend it? Who are your favorite authors? Genres? What is on your TBR (to be read) pile? I often find myself stuck in my favorite rut and want to be challenged to read outside my usual genres. I have a penpal who undertook a Dewey Decimal reading challenge and read one or two books from each category of the Dewey Decimal system every month. I was so inspired, I followed suit. So interesting! (She's a librarian, by the way. They make the best pen pals!)

I have a few young pen pals to whom I send books or book recommendations. I love to write and ask them their thoughts on the books. It's like book club without the hassel of actually leaving one's house. Introverts of the world, unite! (But just through the completely non-threatening method of mail. Winning!)

Every year I set a reading goal and keep track of my books. For 2018 I think I might try to write a letter about each book I read and send it to a bookish pal with questions to discuss via post. Doesn't that sound heavenly?

"She reads books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live." Annie Dillard. (The Living)

So, go read a book! And then write a letter about it, of course. It's magic! 

Go Postal, Everybody!
Mrs. Murphy

Thursday, November 30, 2017

A Season for Snailmail

Many of my friends and neighbors have already decked their halls. Christmas trees, light displays, stockings, garland, ornaments, and presents. Many folks put these things out while the turkey from Thanksgiving is still digesting!! They are really excited about Christmas, I guess, and simply can't wait for its arrival, with all its glitz, tinsel and noise. But not me. Nope. Believe it or not, I like to slow things down this time of year. (The snail is my spirit animal, after all.) 

The hustle and bustle of the holidays is decidedly not my thing. On the contrary, Advent is right up my alley!  Advent is celebrated during the four weeks leading up to Christmas. It is a period of prayer, waiting and preparation. As a Christian, I want to use this time to slow down and celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Advent is a whole season in and of itself and it is worth it to slow down. On the first Sunday of Advent I hope to put out our wreath, hang the stockings in preparation for St. Nicholas Day (see below) and break out my snail mail supplies!

This year I am planning on sending some Advent awesomeness through the mail. As a postal twist on an Advent Calendar I am going to mail some Advent letters, not a traditional newsy Christmas letter but a thoughtful letter specially written for a few people that are placed on my heart during my time of preparation. While writing these letters I hope to slow down and take time to express my love and care for my recipients. I don't want to increase the pressure or add stress to my life so I think one letter for each week of Advent would be perfect. (More if I can manage it!) 

I am also planning on celebrating St. Nicholas Day. When the Murphy Bros. were little we would celebrate the true story of Santa Claus that begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century.  His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young.  He obeyed Jesus' teaching and sold all that he had and gave his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and became known for his generosity to those in need and his love for children. Through the centuries many stories and legends have been told of St. Nicholas' life and deeds.  One story tells of a poor man with three daughters. This poor man's daughters had no dowries and were therefore destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home, thus providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. St Nicholas Day is celebrated on December 6th. I'm planning on sending a little St. Nicholas snailmail to the Murphy Bros away at college. I think I'll include a cute St. Nick oragami guy I've been practicing and some "gold" for my poor college students. (And maybe some oranges so they'll get a little fresh fruit in their diet!!) 

Whatever your traditions are during this holiday time of year, I hope you will include a little snailmail!  It's a great way to spread joy, glad tidings and...magic! 

Mrs. Murphy

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Eating an Elephant

My reply pile is intimidating me. It looms large on my desk, growing ever larger, mocking me. It grows bigger everyday!! (Yay! Thanks for the mail! Keep it coming!!) But I still have pen pal writer's block.  My creative juices have turned to sludge. I'm not feeling know...magic.  My life seems pretty boring right now. I don't have anything to write about. Do you ever feel that way, my letter lovers? There are 30 letters in that pile to which I need to reply. 30! That's a lot. So what's a blocked pen pal to do?

I started by making a few envelopes. I decorated them with washi tapes and rubber stamped images and found beautiful, coordinating postage. I took one of my new, beautiful envelopes and found the oldest letter in my return pile and addressed it to that lovely pen friend.  I carried their letter, my envelope and some paper with me at all times. And then I simply waited.  I waited for inspiration to strike...and it did.  Woo Hoo! I found some time to write and it felt great! It felt amazing!  It felt like magic! 

So don't worry if it feels like your postal prowess has plunged, your mail mojo has minimized. Just keep tackling one letter at a time! No matter how late your reply may be, any day that contains an actual letter is a good day! No, it's not just good, it's magic! 

Go postal, people!

Mrs. Murphy 

Monday, August 14, 2017

It's a Date With SnailMail Magic!

One of my favorite things is connecting with people in meaningful ways. Obviously, one of the ways I do this is through the post, writing and sending letters and packages to friends and loved ones all over the world.
 But I also enjoy creating simple, unique date ideas to connect Mr. Murphy and myself.  Just trying to keep the ol' romance fires burning! 25 years is a long time, people! (Don't let anyone kid you...True Love takes a lot of work!)

When the elder Murphy Brother recently told me that he started dating someone, my creative wheels started turning! Now was my chance to create a fun date and send it to someone via the mail service! Two of my favorite pastimes colliding in a wonderful, magical, postal way! It could be like finding a magical package full of happiness, adventure, love and joy right in your mailbox! Um...well, you know, it might be sorta fun.

When the elder Murphy Brother described his new friend as someone who enjoyed classic cinema and especially Audrey Hepburn, my creative juices started flowing! Why not mail them a date night package based on the movie Charade staring Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant. One of my personal favorites and possibly a film the younger set may not have seen.

The film is set in Paris so this date is chock full of French inspiration. First, the menu...  My son likes to cook but he is a busy college student, so I suggested serving some simple food with all of the "French" but none of the fussiness.  I came up with a few options that the couple could choose from based on time, finances and energy level. (I want this to be fun for them...not a bunch of work.)

Option One: Pick up some croissants, French cheeses, fresh fruit and brew up some yummy French coffee to enjoy while  you watch the film.  Go out for ice cream cones after the movie. (This is a tie in to the film)

Option Two: Cook some simple, but delicious French inspired food at home. Serve a salad of mixed greens, Chicken Cordon Blue Pasta Skillet and a French bagguette. Go out or serve ice cream cones for dessert.

I also created a playlist of Charade inspired music...a little Mancini, of course (he wrote the theme song for the film), Carla Bruni, Django Reinhardt, etc. to help set the mood. Everything's more fun with themed background music, right?

I created a card based on the movie poster to mail with my package and wrote my letter on the back, including all the date details.  Hopefully, the elder Murphy Brother and his date will find this date magical. I know I had fun creating it!

Share your ideas for fun and adventure with special people in your life. It will totally surprise them and they might find it absolutely magical!!

Go postal, everybody!!
Mrs. Murphy

PS; There is a refernce to postage stamps and stamp collecting in this film, by the way!  (No wonder I love it!)


Thursday, June 1, 2017

A Postal State of Mind

I love to send and receive mail with folks from different parts of the world. It's great fun learning all about their towns, cities, states, provinces and countries! I purchased some wonderful stamps from Patrick of Edelweiss Post featuring my home state that inspired me to create some state themed mail to send to my pen pals all over the globe!

This mail project involves a little research...think 4th grade social studies project. You can include details about your state's motto, nickname, bird, tree, flower, animal, song, etc.  You can also list such interesting facts as your state's highest and lowest points, largest and smallest towns and famous folks who come from your state.

It's also great to include touist attractions and points of interest and of course, your personal favorite places to go and things to do!  I like to include my favorite places to eat, too! I love the idea of making an infographic with all the information. You can also send a fun postcard from your home state/country.

 To encourage return snail mail of a similar nature, why not create a fill-in-the-blank for your pen pal to complete with information about their home.  I would love to get some real insider information about some of my pen pal's home states/countries! Hooray! It's a custom travel brochure created just for me!

Send some touristy, information-filled mail, people. It will put your pen pals in a magical state of mind! And don't forget the state themed stamps!

Mrs. Murphy