Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Inspiration From Peter Rabbit

I was encouraged and inspired recently by Miss Beatrix Potter and her lovely characters, especially Peter Rabbit. The artwork is beautiful and I'm always striving to improve my watercolor skills. Yet, the real inspiration came from the story behind her stories. I learned from the biography of her life that Peter Rabbit started out as a letter to a child of a friend. She simply stated, "I don't have much to write to you about so I will tell you a story. It's a story about four rabbits, Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter." That letter went on to be the seed for the most sold children's book of all time! 

Miss Potter has inspired me to get even more creative with my letters. I plan to include more sketches (I love illustrated letters!! There's nothing better!!) and maybe a little story or two!! A tale about the squirrels that live in my yard and torment poor Lexi the Wonder-Dog, might prove interesting for my pen pal! 

Let's go postal and send more Beatrix-style letters!❤️

XOXO Mrs. Murphy

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My Empty Mailbox...

As a snail mail enthusiast I create and send a lot of mail and I LOVE doing it!  But my own mailbox is often empty. (Boo Hoo)  No matter how wonderful it is to send mail to our friends and family more often than not these wonderful people will NOT send us any snail mail in return.
So in an effort to remedy my empty mailbox blues I went in search of like-minded people who would actually send me mail, too! I happily discovered Swapbot! ~ an online service that organizes snail mail swaps and creative individuals. Squee! It's free and easy to sign up. You simply fill out your profile detailing your likes and dislikes for snail mail and choose from one of the hundreds of swaps to participate in! It's fun and easy and, believe me, there is something for every type of snail-mailer! You'll get connected with people from all over the world. I've received snail mail from the US, Germany, the Netherlands and Ireland so far! 

Outgoing post!                                                                                                               Incoming post!

Join me in sending more mail! (And receiving some, too!)

Go Postal, Everybody!
XOXO Mrs. Murphy

Monday, April 7, 2014

I Sent Some Really Great Mail Once...

One of the unique things about Snail Mail as a hobby is that you create something unique and wonderful and you mail it away...never to be seen again by you.  I love creating awesome snail mail but sometimes it takes me FOREVER to be inspired.  And once I mail it away, I quickly forget my brilliant idea, clever pun or cute illustrations.  I needed a way to document my snail mail masterpieces!! I didn't want to do double the work and make an exact copy of the piece, nor do I have unlimited storage space to file away the duplicates. What to do????

That's when I stumbled upon a wonderful app called Artkive !!

Artkive is really intended for digitally storing, printing and sharing your child's art and schoolwork.  The Murphy Bros. are teenagers now and don't bring home artwork from school anymore (sniff) but I use this wonderful app to document my snail mail projects!!  It's user friendly and fun to use!  I never have to tax my old memory again trying to remember exactly what pun I wrote in Mom's Mother's day card or Grandma's birthday letter!

Go Postal, Everybody!
~XOXO Mrs. Murphy 

Snail Mail Inspired Zine

It's time to get creative!  A mini-magazine or "zine" is a fun and postal friendly project!  I like to make my zines from one sheet of 11x16.5" printer paper.  The paper is cheap and easy to fold.  It's also a little bit bigger so the zine pages have a little extra room to get creative!!

My favorite hobby, obviously, is SNAIL MAIL!! I thought it might be fun to send a little tongue-in-cheek zine celebrating unusual and dangerous hobbies!  I titled my zine "Hobbies: A Guide for the Curious and Adventurous"

(Cover page)

I have a small circle stamp that I use to create my signature "circle people." I love these little guys and use them in most of my mail creations.  I used to make thumbprint people, but got tired of the messiness (Yuck!)  I replaced my thumb with a small circle stamp and my creativity was unleashed! 

I researched dangerous and crazy hobbies and created simple little illustrations for each one.  I added color with colored pencil and Washi tape on the page edges! 

Remember that this is just printer paper so if you are using markers, place a piece of card stock between your pages to prevent bleeding through. 

Creating my hobby zine was a blast!  I hope my pen pal enjoys receiving it as much as I did making it! 

Go Postal, Everybody! 

~XOXO Mrs. Murphy 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Older & Wiser

Writing to older people in my life is another one of my favorite snail mail activities!  (Let's face it, I pretty much love all snail mail activities.)  Elderly folks, especially those who are limited in their mobility really appreciate snail mail!
(Letter to my older and wiser pen pal!)

I write to a special pen pal who has early onset dementia. She has a hard time remembering current events but she does much better with events from the past. I like to include lots of questions about her childhood and young adult life.

I get bored with the usual letter fodder when I'm writing my mail so I try to think of silly themes.  Most recently I wrote a "National Hat Day" celebration letter.  I couldn't really think of anything to write about so I Googled "On this day in history" and "Holidays and Observances" for ideas. There wasn't anything very exciting on the day I was writing but I looked back a few days and discovered National Hat Day!!  That sounded like a perfect theme for my letter. I asked my pen pal about her most favorite hat she's ever worn.  I was able to tell a few stories about some of my favorites hats, too.  I made sure to complete my letter with a few of my best hat illustrations! I even included a paper hat for my friend to wear.  (It did lose some of it's panache when I folded it to stick in the envelope, however.)  Oh well! Happy Hat Day, everyone!

(Festive paper hat!!)

Let's go postal!!

~XOXO Mrs. Murphy

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Letter Writing is Child's Play!

Sending mail to children is one of my favorite snail mail activities!  When it comes to creating mail for kids, you don't have to write a logical, hum-drum daily event filled letter.  I admit I'm sometimes self conscious about my "extra" creative letters for other adults. (Should I send this? Will they think I'm super weird?!)  Do you want to write a letter about chickens? (I did!)  Go right ahead!  A child will receive such a letter with giggles and delight!

(The Chicken Letter for my 6 year old pen pal, Violet!)

I try to include a lot of drawings and sketches.  Kids appreciate any art that you include and will think you are an artist extraordinaire!  Remember, perfectionism is a KILLER!  If it's silly or looks goofy that's okay!  Your recipient will laugh all the harder!  Sending a letter in honor of or even from the family pet is another fun idea.  

(A dog inspired letter to a young pen pal in honor of my dog, Lexi!)

Get colorful!  Use fun pens and add decorative tapes and stickers!  Include poems, jokes, magazine photos or coloring sheets.  Another technique I use to inspire return mail is asking questions!  I might include my "TOP 5 Favorite Things About Me" and ask for my recipient to tell me their own TOP 5. 
Don't forget to incorporate the envelope.  Opening the mailbox and finding a beautiful and fun envelope only heightens the happiness! 

(Doodles and vintage "dog" postage adorn the envelope!)

Writing to your own children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews is the place to start!  Any letters from you will most likely be saved and treasured for a lifetime!  Children of friends (or friends of your children) are also wonderful letter writing relationships to cultivate.  There is nothing quite like a fun letter filled with encouraging words!  Who wouldn't want some Mailbox Magic of their own? 

Get out there and write an awesome letter to a young friend or family member!! I'm pretty sure you will receive a reply! Yay! 

~XOXO Mrs. Murphy 

Love Letter 101

As a snail mail enthusiast I LOVE sending and receiving mail to and from far away pen-pals! It's certainly romantic to think of a letter traveling half way around the world from one hand to another! While some of you may be in the tough situation of separation from your lover, I am not. Thankfully, Mr. Murphy and I reside happily under the same roof...but as the saying goes, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder"  and  "Familiarity breeds contempt." I often spend much more time and energy on a letter for some stranger than I do telling dear Mr. Murphy how I feel about him. Therefore, today's post is all about love letters!
(An actual love letter from Mr. Murphy...from a LOOONG time ago!)

My name is Mrs. Murphy and I am a recovering perfectionist. Anybody feel me? I used to struggle to come up with the PERFECT letter before posting anything...discarding draft after draft in the process! Usually this resulted in NO LETTER. Imagine that?! So my advice to you, my letter writing friends, is DON'T be a perfectionist. The not-quite-perfect letter is much better than no letter at all.  We all need a little motivation and guidance from time to time, so I've included a little Love Letter Outline to get those creative juices flowing!

1. Open with a special endearment. Traditionally love letters begin with "My Dearest" or "My Darling"  but a special nickname that you use for your sweetie is the best choice. The more personal and private the better!

2. Include a purpose statement at the beginning of your note. "I don't tell you as often as I should how much you mean to me." This not only sets the tone for your special correspondence, but puts any suspicious minds at ease. (If you've never written your honey a love letter, they might be thinking, "What did I do now?" or "What did she do now?")

3. Chose at least one special memory to write about. It can be big or small, but chose some memories that you feel define your relationship. What made you fall in love? What qualities and character traits do you most admire in your partner? Be very specific and illustrate each quality with an example from life. Everyone deserves to hear what another person loves about them!! This is very encouraging and affirming and will do wonders for your relationship!!

4. Describe the ways your life has changed for the better because of your true love. "Because of you my days are filled with laughter and my nights are filled with tenderness." Remember this is for your darling's eyes only so be as explicit as you dare. (One word of caution... Most people tend to keep all their love letters so if you don't want your future grandchildren to read racy stuff about you and your amore, you might want to keep it PG)

5.Close with a declaration of your commitment to the relationship. I like to think of it as "renewing my vows." Nothing says "I'm here for you"like a declaration of love and a promise to be faithful and true. Need some inspiration? Check out Shakespeare's love sonnets. Just remember to use this as inspiration only. A love letter in your own words is much more meaningful than copying someone else's words (even Mr. Shakespeare).

6. Consider including a token of your affection. A lock of hair is very old-school romantic. How about including a ticket from an event you went to together? Or a love quote or poem on an small card that your Sweetheart could carry with him? A spritz of perfume is always nice, too, but it can smear some inks so scent your paper before you start writing.

7. Always write your love letters by hand. Even if your penmanship leaves a little to be desired, a hand written sentiment is extra meaningful when it comes to love letters. This also is a wonderful way to document your handwriting for future generations. (Aww...Grandma totally loved Grandpa! And her handwriting was gorgeous!)

8. Send your love letter via post!  This blog is all about mailbox magic so, of course, I'm encouraging you to actually mail your love letter. Won't your Romeo's joy be multiplied when he finds some special snail mail just for him? It also gives you an opportunity to add some special LOVE postage! Fun!

I hope you feel armed and ready to write a beautiful love letter to your Special Someone! Please share with me any ideas and tips you have! Now get out there and GO POSTAL!

XOXO Mrs. Murphy

 (Love letters from Mr. Murphy... and my garter from our wedding! That elastic is totally shot.)