Saturday, December 31, 2011

Teacups and New Years!

It's New Years Eve! Can you believe it? I certainly can't! Do you have lots of fun plans? I do! Tonight, my family is having a huge New Years party/triple birthday party! We're celebrating the new year as well as my cousin's 17th birthday, her mom' (my aunt.) birthday, and my father's 50th birthday! My cousin was born on her mother's birthday! Can you imagine? And turning 50 in a really big thing in my family since most men of the family don't live to be that old!

It's going to be really nice to see all of my extended family. :) We drove down here (to L.A.) from Northern California and my family is heading back tomorrow,l while I'll be going to San Diego until the 12th to stay with my best friend! Wahoo! Want to know the best part? I get to skip the 7-8 hour drive home and FLY back to Sacramento! YES!

Anywho, while I was here (we're staying at my grandma's house as usual!) my grandmother mentioned that she was going to head to the same postal store I go to in order to have all of her mother's tea cups packed and mailed to her cousin in the midwest...Tea cups? I HAD to see them! I love tea cups and I love to display things! So she let me pop the box open and check everything out! Unfortunately, a couple of pretty cups had the handles broken off, but the rest were intact!

Look at them all!! And here is the best part...she's letting me keeping TWO! I', sending them home with my parents so they don;t have to be put in my suitcase...aren't they lovely?

This one is rather Moroccan, don't you think?

And I also chose this one! I love the green and purple in the design!

This was kind of a random post, I know. I don't have any mail to post except for the mail I got prior to leaving home on the 28th! Unfortunately, Grandma has super close DSL internet, which means downloading images to her computer goes at a snails pace! I'll have to make a full post (and another stationery review!!) once I get to my best friend's house in San Diego and once I find some proper wireless internet!

I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Gone postal?

How many people have you met that can say that they have a post box in their bedroom? Two? Six? Twenty four? As far as I know, having a PO box in one's room is rather unheard of. But I have one! Yes! That's right! I have a PO BOX in my bedroom! Alright, it's not a working box, but it's a box door! And a vintage one at that! I've had this post box door in my bedroom for a year now and I've only just started thinking about where (and how.) to hang it! it weighs a solid few pounds and is made of some sort of heavy metal, so hanging it might get a bit complicated! I'll have to employ my father for that project.

Anyhow, here it is! beautiful, isn't it? Apologies for the image shadows! It's brass, maybe?

This is the post office is came from, I believe. Or at least that's what my grandmother said. She pulled it from her barn, which really isn't a barn. By now, it's sort of half fallen down and still full of err...'stuff'. We're pretty sure it is the original 'number 12' PO BOX and it was thrown out when they converted to new boxes!

Look how tiny the post office is! Note that the entire building is NOT the post office! Only the small little brick building towards the left!

Where is this teeny post office, you ask? TOIVOLA, MICHIGAN! For those of you who aren't familiar with the Upper Penninsula (Or 'The UP'.), it is that little finger of Michigan above Wisconsin that is situated on *Lake Superior! I spent summers from age 9 to 13 with my grandmother on her farm (no animals...except for 16 cats and a husky. Yes, i said SIXTEEN CATS.) riding ATV's, picking raspberries, and accidentally breaking things. It was fantastic! We were only 10 minutes or so from Lake Superior and loved to go there and explore Agate Beach. For those of you who don't know what agates are...Click me!. Lake Superior is also known for it's shipwrecks! 350 to be exact! And it's deepest point reaches 1300 feet!

How did I manage to find a teeny town like this? Well, someone in my family helped found it! That also means I'm related one way or another to...well, most of the town. It's a small town. A very small town. "Toivola" roughly translates to "Hope Town" in Finnish and was founded in 1892 by Finns. Okay, enough history, more pictures!

Look! The original combination papers! Just wait until you see the combo lock!

LETTERS!! Not numbers!

I also managed to get it open! I've always thought the 'G' on the combination paper was a 'D', so getting it open was a first for me, haha.

WELL! That's it for my random postal thing post! I can't wait for mail time tomorrow! Woohoo!

*I highly advise that you never, ever, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES go swimming in Lake Superior after a storm...I've almost drowned twice. Not fun.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Last minute Christmas Post!

I meant to do this earlier, but I thought it would be fun to show off some of our Christmas decorations! And my sleepy brothers! At the moment, we're waiting to bring my dad is coffee. Nothing gets done in the morning without his coffee! I could only get some of our decorations because the rest are on timers. :/ The tops of the cabinets in our kitchen are lined with lit garland and even the light fixture above our pool/billiards table is wrapped in lit garland!

The banister leading to our second floor:

Our stockings over out 'fireplace'! It's a gas fireplace (behind glass.) and is turned on my a light that really a fireplace?

Some of our 'Christmas Village' decorations:

Our eclectic, fake tree! Some people have matchy-matchy trees with fancy ribbon and what-not but I love ours. :) It has ornaments that my parents have collected through the years and even the first ornament my parents ever bought together! Unfortunately, we have to go fake because I am deathly allergic to Christmas trees. :( I love real ones so much, though!

The gifts! (I couldn't fit them all in the photo. They go towards the back/right side of the tree, too.) You also can;t see the 32 inch flat-screen TV my parents bought my 16 year old brother (it's pretty much his only gift.) that he found out about. Nice surprise, eh? -_-

And the brothers!

Wooohoo for Christmas!!

Happie Stamps!

You know, I told myself that I absolutely, positively, was NOT going to write this review until after Christmas/New Years. Until I ended up waking up at five a.m. in the morning on Christmas Day. Now, you guys don't know me that well yet, but sleep is a serious hot commodity. Typically, I have to put myself in a medicated coma (sort-of. Don't worry, not Micheal Jackson status.) to sleep but I went to sleep last night at a decent hour (11 p.m.) which is absolutely AMAZING for me as I normally go to sleep after 1 a.m., and what happens? I WAKE UP AT FIVE IN THE MORNING! So frustrating! And my poor tortoise is probably freezing his little shell off, even with his heat lamp on! My room always hasn't had the best ventilation so the 'heater' sometimes puts out coldish, we had another hard freeze here in California tonight and I heard the temperatures dipped down to the 20's or so. By the way, said tortoise really isn't that small. He's about 6 pounds. ANNNYYYWAAAYYYS, onto the review! *puts on glasses*

Tommie of HappieStamps seriously makes some amazing stuff, guys. Like, it's awesome. I am ALL FOR handmade, but can you get any better than HAND CARVED?? I've always wanted to try stamp carving but I've been such a chicken! Anyways, all of her stamps carved and sold are one of a kind, not mass produced, so COMPLETELY handmade. She doesn't outsource her carving to any commercial companies, nothing. Awesome, right? She takes custom orders as well, but she is only able to do doodles and names and whatnot. Her name stamps are TO DIE FOR, by the way! As you can see below, she does several types of personalized name stamps. I would really, really like to get one of these for myself!

She even makes custom wedding/couples stamps! Um, hello? Hedgehogs. Need I say more?

Tommie was kind enough to send me a couple of her mini stamps to test out and I was so excited to ink them! Speaking of ink, don't be alarmed if there is already ink on your stamp when you get it in the mail! Tommie sometimes needs to ink and stamp the stamp while she is in the process of carving it just to make sure it comes out perfect!

Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to photograph the envelope she sent me in, but it lovely! She covered it in her own stamps and it was fully wrapped in packing tape. In her store notes, Tommie specifically mentions:

I try my best to use recycled/up-cycled materials, such as shipping boxes.

Great, right? She even has a blog that shows you how to use her stamps and how to get creative with them! There are TONS of great ideas on there! Here it is.

Now! Onto the stamps!

I was sent five tiny mini stamps. An adorable bird, a 'lovely' coffee cup with a heart in the middle of it, a snowman, a cherry (I think?), and my favorite, A TURTLE!

Super cute, right? Those photos were of the stamps before I used them, so you can see the small amount of ink left on them after she is finished carving them. These guys are carved fantastically out of pink rubber and usually mounted to a wooden handle/block when you purchase them, however I went for unmounted stamps.

Want to see what the stamps produce? Here you are, folks!

Isn't that coffee cup adorable? I love them all!

Also, have you seen the detail in her stamps? It's quite incredible. Here is just one stamp that I thought was really detailed and lovely.

Inside the envelope she sent me, she included the following list of instructions/tips:

For longer use, please note:

1. After using the stamp(s), avoid rubbing to wipe/clean. Instead, pat on tissue to get rid of ink.

2. Please avoid storing the stamp(s) in the sun/hot place.

3. The ink that is already on the stamp(s) is there because I stamp as I carve them to make sure they will look like my original design. Thank you for understanding.

Little tips:

- Dab the ink pad onto the stamp instead of dabbing the stamp onto the ink pad.
- If you warm the stamp with your breath after use, you can get another image without more ink.

I wanted to test out that last bit, so I did, however I didn't warm the stamp with my breath. No, I didn't do it for some fancy scientific blogging reason...I just forgot. So, below, you'll see just how many stamps (and what they look like.) that I got out of ONE ink application. Of course, I used the turtle. ;) Hopefully, you can count, but if you can't, that is SIX visible stamps from one ink application!

Tommie's stamps really are great. Very handmade, very unique, and very well made. She even made some that would be put to great use in our snail-mailing community! Check it out! I'm hoping to purchase some of these as well as a custom name stamp sometime in the near future!

Now, would you like to get to know Tommie? It's always nice to hear a little something about the person making the things that you love so much. And trust me, you'll adore her stamps! Here is a mini-interview I held with her!

Tell me a bit about yourself. Hobbies, where you're from, etc.

My name is Tommie Tillery and I hand carve rubber stamps. I just love what I do.
I am a Mommy of a 2 yr old too, so being able to work from home is a dream job for me! I am IN LOVE with handmade stuff. It is a joy for me to be able to produce things with my own hands, instead of machines.

Why did you choose to make this type/genre of product?

One day in 2008, when I was having fun carving my own address stamp, My Hubby told me that I should start my own business. Back then, I just laughed and called him crazy. But after thinking about it over night, I said why not give it a try! Since then, I have been carving away!

What are your favorite materials to work with?

Other than the rubber stamps, I like beautiful paper. I swap my paper art with other artists around the world. I enjoy making matchboxes, inchies, and ATCs ( Artist Trading cards). I also like to sew, knit, and paint. (*note frome me: Can you say well rounded crafter? WOW!)

Favorite characters to work with?

This is a hard question….. I think I like to include animals in my designs.

The Hedgehog I have in my shop is a good example. I often use him for event stamps, such as Wedding, Holidays, and The New Years.

What inspires you?

Anything and everything in my life.

Do you plan to create things/own your own business as your life career?

Yes I would love to expand Happie Stamps. My dream is to write a children’s book and illustrate by using my hand carved rubber stamps.

Time for some things I have to say about Tommie and her work! She was an absolute joy to work with! Tommie is super prompt in returning any messages you send her and she is a seriously awesome lady and crafter! Like I said, I plan on heading back to make a few purchases and I high suggest that you do, too!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Introduction to Mail Art

Today I have have something extra special for you today! A mail art tutorial! I have had several people ask me, "What is mail art?" when I've mentioned it in my letters. According to Wikipedia, the definition of mail art is:

Mail art is a worldwide cultural movement that began in the early 1960s and involves sending visual art (but also music, sound art, poetry, etc.) through the international postal system. Mail Art is also known as Postal Art or Correspondence Art.

Something interesting that Wikipedia claims is that one of the first instances of mail art was when Cleopatra had herself delivered to Julius Caesar in a rolled up carpet! Interesting concept, no?

The definition of mail art to me is simple. Art being mailed. Simple as that. But often, my mail art delivers a letter along with it! Some prefer to send mixed media postcards, some like to hand paint an envelope or letter...the different types of mail art are limitless. There is no such thing as 'bad' mail art, either! There are no limits! Your mail art can be as simple or as elaborate as you want! A great way to get ideas or find new techniques is to follow blogs that are written by mail artists. Also, you can simply Google 'mail art'! My favorite blog for mail art used to be "Goodnight Little Spoon," however, Bianca over there seems to have taken a hiatus.

Here are a few samples of her work!

Another recent discovery has been Rin over at "Papered Thoughts"!

Some samples from her blog:

Above is her version of what is called a zentangle! Or at least I think it is. 'Zentangle' wasn't noted anywhere. A zentangle is normally a small piece of art made by repeating patterns, usually using pen or marker.

As you can see, you can also make mail-art'd postcards! Rin's postcards are lovely in a simplistic and modern way!

Don't know what to use? How to start? Well, I've prepared a very, very simple postcard mail art tutorial for you! For this card, I used a piece of cardboard that I cut out from an old box last night....hopefully it wasn't a Christmas light box! Anyways, I wanted to make a postcard that was more 'industrial' looking and cardboard was my first choice for a background. Yes, you can send a piece of cardboard through the mail!


- backing of choice.
- glue of some sort. (my choice was glossy Modge Podge.)
- paper bits and bobs.
- well...anything else you feel could be added!

I tend to hoard paper, so I had old book pages, map pages, vintage music, lottery tickets, board game money...the list could go on and on. Seriously, you can use ANYTHING! Receipts, tags...I even have the tag/sticker (the one they put on your package) from the last time my grandmother flew here stashed away! I also enjoy adding postage stamps to my art. I have a rather large stash of vintage unused and used postage stamps and I use them on my mail art a LOT. You can also add things like brads, rhinestones, glitter...the possibilities are endless! Also, rubber stamps and various inks are great to have on hand for further embellishing once your glue medium dries! I've found that stamping/applying ink on wet or damp Modge Podge is a smudgy no-no.

What I Used:

What I Do:

So, take your base piece (my cardboard) and choose some sort of papery bit to adhere to it. When I do this kind of collage-ish art, I always just layer, layer, layer! Use an old paint brush to slap some Modge Podge on the cardboard and stick your paper bit to that, and then go over it with a layer of your glue-y substance.

And then begin layering from there on! Below, you can see the direction I went with mine. I tend to not be exact, so the edges always end up hanging over. I just cut them down once everything is try. I don;t like to get my scissors sticky! :P

Skipping forward to when I was nearly done! Be sure to put glue/podge down first, then your paper bits, and then slap on another layer!

The photo above was my finished product! As you can see, I am still waiting for it to dry so I can cut it, but I went super simple for this post. Maybe because I'm lazy? Anyway, hopefully you are a bit inspired to get your glue and bits and bobs out and get to work!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chewy Tulip Giveaway!

Chewy Tulip Giveaway

I reviewed Chewy Tulip's fantabulous products and now it's time to give them away to a lucky visitor!

Your prize package will include:

- Three Chewy Tulip postcards.
- One Chewy Tulip magnet
- One Chewy Tulip Sticker (that you can no longer purchase!)
- A small stash of used stamps from a variety of places.

Ways to win:

- Comment on this post with your favorite item from the Chewy Tulip shop.
- Favorite Chewy Tulip on
- 'Like' Chewy Tulip on Facebook (

Winner will be chosen at random! Please make sure to leave an email address for contact if you win!

Ends January 10th!

Chewy Tulip!

This is my first review on this blog and I couldn't ask for a more fantastic seller and products! These are really fantastic. Today I have some 'slightly humorous' items for you! Cara over at Chewy Tulip sent me some awesome goodies! I received her envelope today in the mail and even the envelope was awesome!

Check out the sticker on the front! What is that, you ask? IT'S A PICKLE! Maybe I'm the only one stupidly excited about a pickle sticker, but seriously? How awesome is that? And I think it's modeled after a dill pickle (My favorite. I hope its a kosher dill. Yummm.), so that makes me even more attracted! Cara's pickle stickers are sold in sets of four and are a very reasonable $3.00. Now, you might be thinking, "$3.00 for only 4 stickers"? These are HAND STAMPED, HAND CUT, and HAND COLORED! You can get just the pickle stickers, but why buy only the stickers when you can get pickles on envelopes, and pickles on postcards! (1. 2)


Speaking of postcards! She also sent me postcards! Three to be exact! I have here...the "Triple Threat Trees" postcard, "Misfit Manatee" postcard, and the "Grumpy Bear" postcard!

All of Cara's postcards are 4" by 5" and beautifully printed on a glossy front/matte back card. One of the most irritating things for me is when the back of a postcard is glossy and ballpoint (and even sometime Sharpie!) smears or takes 6 weeks to finally dry. These guys definitely look like they will be fountain pen proof, as well! It also seems that all of her cards feature either a blank back with the name of the card, production date, and artist name:

Or the classic (sort-of. Chewy Tulip postcards are in no way commercial looking, right down to the backing.) 'split' backing that most commercial postcards have:

Chewy Tulip Postcards can be purchased in sets of two cards for $3.00 or a set of "pick five" cards for $6.00. I really suggest you have a looksie at her "Narwhals are Not Magical" postcards and her "Hey Ladies!" tortoise postcards!

The next lovelies are absolute MUST HAVE'S for us pen-pallers/letter-writers! Stationary! I have a couple of stationary designs here to share, all of which are quirky to say the least!

The first is a T-Rex theme! Unfortunately, I'n unable to find it in her shop, but it's adorable, so why not show it? I would assume it would go for the same price as all of her other letter sets, which is $5.00. Perhaps if you fall absolutely in love with this little green dino, you could convo Cara via Etsy? Anyway, here he is!

This particular Tyrannosaurus rex is printed on the same light gray paper as this set here.

She also sent me sheets of her red brain stationary (however, this sheet is printed on pink paper like in this set. I actually quite like the red brain on the pink stationary! It stands out nicely!) and her plum octopus stationary. You can see both below! She also has a blue feather design.

All of Chewy Tulip's stationary sets include on envelope and six sheets of unlined paper of whichever design you choose. Each sheet measures out at 5.5" by 8.5". Something I really, really love is that the envelopes she sends with her stationary sets are wide enough to fit the finished letter folded vertically only once. I hate, hate, hateeee when I have to double fold or fold things horizontally to fit into an envelope that is obviously too small to fit the paper given with it. The paper is thin, which is great for if you like writing long letters (she encourages it and so do I!), however I wouldn't suggest using a fountain pen. If you are dead set on using one, make sure that you use a fairly dry one. I tested it with my wet-ish Lamy Safari and it bled. I would suggest a good old ball-point! Keep in mind that the postcards ARE fountain pen friendly! The thin-ness of the paper will prevent you from needing an extra stamp, though!

Along with paper products, Chewy Tulip also produces some great magnets and stickers! As with everything else, her stickers are hand stamped, hand cut, and hand colored! If you're a sticker junky, make sure to check out her fake postage stickers!
Awesome designs, fantastic humor, and great quality. can you ask for anything better?

Also, I wanted to interview Cara to find out more about her and why she does what she does! Here is what she told me!

Tell me a bit about yourself. Hobbies, where you're from, etc.

Hobbies include solo dance parties by glitter lamp light, wandering off into the woods (I believe other people call it "hiking"), knitting, crocheting, keeping a journal, writing letters, designing, drawing, screen printing, and reading the French version of Nancy Drew books. I am from the wilds of New is still mostly farmland. The cows on the dairy farms in the area outnumbered the people in the county until about 1970. It's definitely not the part of New Jersey that usually comes to mind.

Why did you choose to make this type/genre of product?

I started making postcards and stationery because I have a bad habit of making the things that I want to have, but either can't find or can't afford. It is truly a letter writing addiction that has spiraled out of control.

What are your favorite materials to work with?

My favorite materials are my technical pen for drawing, and concentrated liquid watercolors for slapping some color where it belongs...which is everywhere! I've also got a weak spot for any kind of ink, which I will use both in my growing fountain pen collection, and in my sketchbooks, as an alternative to paints.

Favorite characters to work with?

I tend to work with animal images the most, especially any kind of critter that tickles my funny bone. The list includes owls, lemurs, armadillos, and anything else with a crazy gleam in its eye. Pygmy goats come to mind. (note from kay: I love her animals list!)

What inspires you?

The silly things I talk about with my friends inspire me the most. The ideas wouldn't be itching to get out of my brain if it wasn't all a part of my life, somehow.

Do you plan to create things/own your own business as your life career?

Yes. The ridiculousness that is chewy tulip is the main goal of my life. It has been my full time job in the very recent past, and it will be again, soon!

Make sure you check back soon for when I host a giveaway of Chewy Tulip goodies!