Posts in Snail Mail
Snail Mail Gift Guide

I took a deep dive into the best corners of the internet and called in a few favors with my stationery industry buddies to bring you… drum roll… my 2018 Snail Mail Gift Guide! Let me know what you think, and if I missed anything fun.

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Write More pencils - Dahlia Press
I Licked An Envelope For You card - Paper Bandit Press
My Love Language is Snail Mail card - Paper Bandit Press
Snail Belated Birthday card - The Social Type
Snail Mail Holiday card - Bloomwolf Studio
Snail Enamel Pin - Gingiber
Snail Mail Moving card - Gingiber
Letter Lover enamel pin - Night Owl Paper Goods

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Snail Mail enamel pin - HibouDesigns
Just Saying Hello card - Darling Lemon Paperie + Studio
Snail Mail is my Jam tanktop - Julie Ann Art
Happy Mail enamel pin - Queenie’s Cards
Parcel Post Envelope pencil bag - Belle & Union Co.
Parcel Post Mailbox pencil bag - Belle & Union Co.
Parcel Post Stamp pencil bag - Belle & Union Co.

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Tiny Envelope earrings - Tiny Forget Me Nots
Correspondence Set enamel pins - City of Industry
Snail Mail Sticker Set - The Imagination Spot
Snail Mail Superstar enamel pin - Constellation & Co.
Better Than a Text postcard set - Ginger P. Designs
Good Mail Day postcard set - Ginger P. Designs
You Make My Mailbox So Happy card - Constellation & Co.
Snail Mail Superstar zipper pouch - Constellation & Co.

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Snail Mail Superstar shirt & sweatshirt - Designed by Constellation & Co., available on Cotton Bureau
Airmail Sticker Sheet - Mr. Boddington’s Studio
Snail Mail Socks - Constellation & Co.
Stamp enamel pin - Rifle Paper Co.
Letter Lover necklace - Oh Hello Friend
Postage Stamp holiday ornament - Little Postage House

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Snail Mail Hello Notecard - The Lavender Whim
Acrylic Mail Tray - loopsandbelles
Snail Mail Sticker Set - Yellow Daisy Paper Co.
Snail Cards, Choose Your Message - Whimsicals Paperie
Funny Snail Mail Sticker Set - Kiss and Punch Designs
Pen Pal Flair Sticker Set - Kiss and Punch Designs

The Music of the Mail: Another Postcard by Barenaked Ladies
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This is the least serious song on my playlist, but it's probably my favorite. Have you heard this song? It's about POSTCARDS FILLED WITH CHIMPANZEES! I'm inspired. I know I already wrote a post about postcards, but that one was sweet and sentimental. This post is all about how much fun you can have with your correspondence.

Sending mail doesn't have to be a sentimentality fest. You can send ridiculous things in the mail. Like a coconut. Or a potato. Or a tacky tourist postcard. Or postcards filled with Chimpanzees. Sometimes all you want to accomplish with your correspondence is to make someone smile. 

Maybe don't troll someone incessantly with chimps. (But if you do, you have to tell me about it, pretty please?) But why not send a brief message of love or laughter or silliness? The stamps are cheaper, you are forced to brief, and you can have a lot of fun with it. 

Now stop wasting time reading this nonsense and go send some postcards. May I suggest our A-Z Nautical Flag postcards

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You can't imagine so many monkeys in the daily mail
All of them coming anonymously so they leave no trail
I never thought I'd have an admirer from overseas
But someone is sending me stationery filled with chimpanzees

Some chimps in swimsuits, some chimps are swinging from a vine
Some chimps in jackboots, some chimps that wish they could be mine
Starsky and Hutch chimps, a chimp who's sitting on the can
A pair of Dutch chimps who send their love from Amsterdam

Another postcard with chimpanzees
And every one is addressed to me

If I had to guess, I'd say the monkey-sender thinks it's great
He's sending me, maybe she's sending me just to see me get irate
I'm losing sleep - and it's gonna be keeping me up all night
I thought it was funny, but now I've got money on a monkey fight

Some chimps in hard hats, chimps a-working on a chain gang
Some chimps who love cats, burning rubber in a Mustang
A birthday-wishing chimp, a chimp in black like a goth
A goin' fishin' chimp, a British chimp in the bath

Another postcard with chimpanzees
And every one is addressed to me

Somehow they followed me even though I packed and moved my home
No matter what, they come and they come they won't leave me alone
Another monkey in the mail could make me lose my mind
But look at me shuffling through the stack until I finally find

Some chimps in swimsuits
Some chimps in Jackboots
Some chimps in hard hats
Some chimps who love cats
I've got some shaved chimps; that's chimps devoid of any hair
I've got depraved chimps dressed up in women's underwear

Another postcard with chimpanzees
And every one is addressed to me
Every one is addressed to me
Another postcard with chimpanzees
And every one is addressed to me

The Music of the Mail: Please Read the Letter by Robert Plant
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I love this song. Like, "sing it at the top of my lungs with my eyes closed" kind of love. While it's about a letter on the surface, it dives much deeper into the magic and mystery of written communication. Writing a postcard can be the thing you do while you wait for your coffee to brew. Writing an inspired and heartfelt letter is the kind of thing you wake up from a dead sleep to do. It's the kind of thing that love or passion or disappointment or anxiety drives you to do. It's a fire within your chest that can't be extinguished until you've put pen to paper and said your peace. The letter this song begs you to read is a letter that might not be fun. It's a letter than might awaken new ideas or fears or doubts. It's the kind of letter that uncovers the secrets and the memories we cherish in the deep.

There are some things that just don't belong in a text message or an e-mail. They're personal, heart to heart topics that require time and intention. Face to face suits these topics best, but that's not always possible. Or helpful. Or safe. Writing letters gives us an option that is personal and intimate, but still at arm's length. There are things you might not find the courage to say in person, but a letter will do nicely.

Lately, I write a lot of letters to myself. Moments that I can't bear to live in my own skin, so I scribble until the feeling passes. I can write the things my brain won't let me think. I can write the things I can't find the courage to say out loud. Lately I'd give just about all I have to receive a letter than promises: everything's gonna work out fine.

Caught out running
With just a little too much to hide
Maybe baby
Everything's gonna work out fine
Please read the letter
I pinned it to your door
It's crazy how it all turned out
We needed so much more

Too late, too late
A fool could read the signs
Maybe baby
You'd better check between the lines

Please read the letter, I
Wrote it in my sleep
With help and consultation from
The angels of the deep

Once I stood beside a well of many words
My house was full of rings and
Charms and pretty birds
Please understand me, my
Walls come falling down

There's nothing here that's left for you
But check with lost and found

Please read the letter that I wrote
Please read the letter that I wrote

One more song just before we go
Remember baby
All the things
We used to know
Please read my letter
And promise you'll keep
The secrets and the memories and
Cherish in the deep

Ah…
Please read the letter that I wrote
Please read the letter that I wrote
Please read the letter that I wrote

The Music of the Mail: Postcards by Meadowlark
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I learned during my snail mail playlist endeavor that postcards are a very popular topic in songwriting. Everyone from James Blunt to First Aid Kit to The Who have written songs about sending and receiving postcards. 

Some popular postcard message topics:
We're having a lovely time, wish you were here
I miss you
Look at this cool place I visited
I've arrived at my destination
I'm thinking about you from far away
Hello from Paradise
Remember that time we...?

This particular song by Meadowlark offers a few new ideas. Firstly, it's a breakup song. If you've gotta send an "I don't love you anymore" letter, I wouldn't usually suggest a postcard. The public nature of such correspondence makes that gesture a bit of a public announcement. (You'll really perk up your postman's day, though.) However, in this particular instance, the person sounds like a big giant jerk who probably deserves a petty postcard. 

While this has been a fun detour into the land of postcard etiquette, I digress. The sentiment in this song that stopped me in my tracks was this:

I just want you to know it's nice being loved.

This message distills down a lot of the complications and distractions of sending snail mail to its most important element. Correspondence is a reminder that we are loved and thought of. The writer of this song hasn't found love with the receiver of this postcard, but elsewhere. Regardless, the sentiment is significant. It's nice loving and sending that love out into the world. It's nice being loved, and receiving physical proof of that love, made of paper and ink. 

Yesterday
I sent postcards to your front door
Reminisce
Bruises reappear
All we were was a high-speed train
We derailed in the summer rain
Yesterday
I sent postcards

I just want you to know, you to know
It's nice being loved

I found love
Drinking coffee
On the hilltops
I found love
Everywhere you're not

Seven years of being clean
Gave you up like nicotine
Yesterday
I sent postcards

I just want you to know, you to know
It's nice being loved

I just want you to know, you to know
It's nice being loved

I just want you to know, you to know
It's nice being loved

Letters Beyond Life: A guest post
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This beautiful essay about letter writing was written by our C&Co. letterpress printer, Brooke Usrey.

I can still remember coming home from college during a summer break, huffing and puffing as I pulled out my huge tupperware container from under my bed. My mission was to cram another bursting stack of letters in a corner somewhere; evidence of a well corresponded year. Each pile had rubber bands wrapped around it with a hand-written date for reference, a record of new friendships and explored identity. I found my mom soon after, sat her down by the tub, and said, “If I die before you do, I want you to take all of these letters and somehow display them at my funeral. They are my life’s work.” She took it all in, accepted my wishes, and returned to her weeds in the garden.

My mom, of all people, would have understood. She modeled for me the benefit of letter writing, and she learned it from her mother. Once a week during my childhood I could find my mom sitting at her desk, address book open, stamps at the ready, keeping friends and family up to date with our lives and offering support, congratulations, or condolences for recipients on the other end. When I left for college, she wrote me religiously. I could find something from her in my mailbox every week, and this continued on as I moved across the country and back, to Europe, to remote islands, Appalachia, and Seattle. No matter where I went, or how long I stayed, she would always ask, “what’s your address?” as soon as I arrived.

Fast forward twelve years from that summer and some things are the same while others are forever changed. I have suffered the loss of my mother and I have felt the ebbs and flows of grief. I have found true love, survived graduate school, worked a million different jobs, and been through the darkest and lightest of days.  In my grief, I find healing through letters and correspondence. I treasure the letters we wrote one another and correspondence with her friends who help me remember and honor her. When I need a moment to connect, I can go to the letters and touch them.  I can see her handwriting. I can feel her essence again.

I have found relief through writing my mother beyond her death. When I am lonely and missing her, when I am feeling small or proud, when I want to share mundane parts of my day, when I want to complain or speak my fears, I write to her. I sit down at my grandmother’s desk, I get out some paper, and I write to her. On special occasions, I will buy her cards, fill them with words, and put them on display. Usually, emotions ramp up during this process, and usually I feel better when I am done.  

Sometimes she writes me back. I never could have imagined this when she was alive. If I put my pen down and wait a few minutes, I often feel an urge to pick it back up, and the words come. Her responses always have some message that helps me get through these uncharted waters without her. These days, I save the price of two stamps, a walk to the mailbox, and the two week turnaround; now we can communicate instantaneously. While this will never replace the real thing, I have found letters to be a comfort on those dark days, and I’ll take all the comfort I can get.

I no longer consider letters from my early 20s to be my “life’s work.” Collecting friends and having mail from all corners of the globe is exciting, but not nearly as important as personal growth or daily ups and downs with my partner, my dad, and my closest friends. Nothing new or exotic can compare to the depth and richness of daily life. I have come to see letter writing as a personal and spiritual journey that nourishes and connects me to what is most important. Perhaps this, then is my new legacy: connecting to what is real in this moment, and saying what my heart needs to say, even if it’s unclear if anyone is listening (although they probably are).

The Music of the Mail: Box Full of Letters by Wilco
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I have a box full of letters. I've had several over the years. They document many friendships, my family history, and my old relationships. Some of the letters are beloved. Some of them are cringeworthy. They all document a different part of my life and the other lives that helped shape mine. 

I've been writing letters since I was about six years old. My first pen pal and I wrote letters like: "Hi, how are you? I'm fine. I like puppies. Do you like puppies? I love you. Bye." They were beautiful. I still have a few of them. (Shout out to you, Sarah!)

I have letters from my Grandma Jean that mean the world to me now that she's gone. They weren't effusive or filled with wisdom for my adult life, but they show her particular love for me. I cherish them like I cherished her. 

I revisit letters from friendships and relationships that have ended, looking for clarity. Looking for "a lot of answers to...all these questions being directed at me." It's tempting to look to these relics of the past for evidence that I've grown.

All of these things I've shared are reasons I think it's worthwhile to be a little sentimental and keep evidence of feelings and words exchanged in your own box of letters. But the part of this song that keeps me coming back for future listens is this: "I can't find the time, to write my mind, the way I want it to read." This may be the truest thing I've ever heard about sending mail.

It's emotionally expensive to spend time gathering your thoughts to write and send words of love, encouragement, and support. We don't always know the right thing to say or how to say it - especially when someone you care about is going through a hard time. It can be nerve wracking to risk saying the wrong thing, and tempting to say nothing at all. 

I can't guarantee that your effort to send letters will always feel worth it. I can't promise that you'll never put your foot in your mouth, or that you won't feel rejected if they don't write back. There will never be enough time to write exactly the write words, in exactly the right way, at exactly the right time. In your struggle, don't forget that it's like this for all of us. Sending letters is an extension of our relationships, and relationships are tricky business. I'll always wish there were a few more words in my vocabulary and a few more hours in the day so I can make sure to "do it right." But like everything else in life, doing what you can is better than letting fear keep you from making an effort. "You'll come back again, and I'll still be your friend."

Got a box full of letters,
Think you might like to read
Some things that you might like to see,
But they're all addressed to me

Wish I had a lotta answers,
'Cause that's the way it should be
For all these questions,
Being directed at me

I just can't find the time
To write my mind
The way I want it to read

You'll come back again
And I'll still be your friend

I got a lot of your records,
In a separate stack
Some things that I might like to hear,
But I guess I'll give 'em back

I wish I had a lotta answers,
'Cause that's the way it should be
All these questions
Being directed at me

Just can't find the time
To write my mind
The way I want it to read

You'll come back again,
And I'll still be your friend

I can't find the time
To write my mind
The way I want it to read

Just can't find the time
To write my mind
The way I want it to read

The Music of the Mail: Songs about correspondence and what we can learn from them
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I like making playlists. I have a playlist for soccer match days, a playlist for dance parties with my son, and a playlist for days I'm feeling blue and need to cheer up. Music helps get me hyped up for the task at hand. It's only fitting that I should have a playlist for writing letters and sending mail. With this in mind, I set off on a several days' rabbit hole of collecting songs about correspondence. There were a few classic snail mail songs I knew had to be on there - Please Mr. Postman, Signed Sealed Delivered, Return to Sender, etc. While doing some keyword searches on Spotify, I was reminded of many amazing tracks by artists I love that reference to sending mail. I also discovered a ton of great songs I'd never heard. I ended up choosing 54 of my favorite discoveries and sharing them on a Spotify playlist. You can listen to it here! It's been a popular soundtrack in my brick & mortar shop for the past few weeks.

I'll be choosing a few of the most poignant songs and sharing them here with links, lyrics, and my thoughts on what they can teach us about being our best snail mail superstar selves. Stay tuned for those posts - I'll be sharing one per week in April. 

And if you have a favorite correspondence themed song that's not on my list, please comment and share it with me! I'd love to expand the playlist to include everyone's favorites. 

Snail Mail Themed Window Display!
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I like to celebrate each new season with a fresh window display at our brick & mortar shop. For National Card & Letter Writing Month, I went all in on the snail mail theme. I made an army of tiny papercraft envelopes, painted some watercolor mailboxes, did some big sketches with the Tombow dual brush markers we carry at the shop, and had a lot of fun pulling it all together. 

I Send Cards Because:
A doodle from my sketchbook - Black Tombow Dual Brush Marker and watercolor

I like the way it makes me feel.
It makes the receiver feel special.
It’s hard to say certain things in person.
I’m really busy and can’t always hang out, but I always have time to send a little card.
Writing by hand is soothing.
It helps me articulate my feelings.
It’s more personal than a text.
I can include little gifts.
It builds stronger relationships.
It shows support in hard times.
It supports artists and small businesses.
I make cards for a living, so I kinda have to. ;)
It’s cheaper than shipping a box.
Paper is fun and addictive.
Using my fountain pen makes sending my correspondence feel really fancy.
It’s retro in a good way.
It’s romantic and nostalgic.
Sending cards spreads love! #sendcardsspreadlove