Posts in Snail Mail
Snail Mail Gift Guide Holiday 2019

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! ‘Tis the season for all things snail mail. Where folks who would normally shun the slow-paced parcels, packages, and postcards, now they’re making room in their hearts for cheery, cherished memories via the mail. And we’re all for it.

Being all about community and connectivity, we’re excited to share our holiday snail mail collection of gifts, cards, postcards, and more! Snail mail superstars, this is your chance to get those traditionally non-responsive pen pals geared up for a new, refreshed perspective of snail mail and all its lovely qualities. Or, maybe it’s that you are looking for a way to drop hints to loved ones about what kind of gifts and stocking stuffers you’re hoping to get this year! Whatever your opinions or reasons, we excitedly share our Snail Mail Gift Guide for the 2019 holidays with you!!!

Mailboxes Tea Towel // Mailboxes Tote Bag // Mailboxes Travel Mug

Sara's been hard at work, creating these beautiful products, perfect for holiday gifting!

If you’d like some extra inspiration, here are just a few of our most popular items:

Let us know what you’ve got on your list from our Snail Mail Gift Guide! Tag us, pin us, share us… and leave us some comments below!

Michelle: Collector, Guardian of & Preserver of Snail Mail

Today’s blog post was written by C&Co team member, Michelle!

Back in the 90s when stationery was neon, Lisa Frank was in, and Japanese mechanical pencils were popping up in the U.S., I was beginning my journey with snail mail.

It wasn’t my favorite thing. Being from the South, it involved a lot of manners and rules. Addressing a letter felt like agony. My first letter writing memory is of me sitting in the kitchen of our new house, fidgeting and complaining, struggling to understand the massive amount of letters and numbers and how to stack them in the right way, like you would a good block tower, so that our mail carrier knew where to send my messy-looking words. I was very much a perfectionist. The eraser shavings from my frustrated writing attempts made my envelopes look like sad, little construction sites.

This memory comes from a time when had just moved to a different state, the first really big thing to happen for me, especially as I had finally reached an age where friends began exchanging matching BFF jewelry and were special, treasured things. Leaving friends was hard. It was for this reason that I was beginning my writing journey. Telephone calls weren’t really a thing for some reason, so my closest gal pal had begun writing me from a few states away, asking in her misspellings and reversed letters how I was doing with all the new in my life. I even remember one of her letters including little wooden beads she had painted from a 90s craft set and how special it felt to receive them. I remember this so well because I never wrote her back and I regret it to this day! Sorry, Ruth. Letter writing was hard then!

The very next year, I did something else really huge; I went off to camp by myself. I was pretty young, so it was a big deal. I remember thinking how brave and proud I was of myself for going off without my family for two weeks. It was extra special because my mom, as well as my little sister and a friend wrote me letters for while I was away (later letting me know they sent them around the time I left so they’d arrive in time… so funny). My sister’s letters were mostly amoeba-like drawings of what I think was supposed to be our cat and family, but they were made just for me, so they were special. My mom sent the traditional kind of snail mail, a good few pages, handwritten on teacup-bordered paper, wishing me the best time and letting me know about all the people and pets that missed me. It’s funny now to think that two weeks seemed like forever and how important the letters were to me while I was away. Whenever I go home to visit and find that stationery set, I think about those camp letters (I see now we weren’t big letter writers since it’s still around!).

Over the next few years, that stationery set gathered dust as snail mail focused more on  Valentine’s Day cards for my classmates, birthday invitations, and thank you notes in response to those invite-inspired gifts. And birthday cards. Lots of those! Don’t forget the handwritten notes passed between classmates and boyfriends throughout my tweens and teens. Ha!

It wasn’t really until college that traditional snail mail returned and had a bigger impact on my life. I remember being given my own college P.O. Box and going to check it religiously. Regardless of how much (or little) mail I got, there was something about having the opportunity to receive things of my own, on my own, for the first time. My mailbox was one of the first signs of growing into adulthood and taking ownership of myself. I even had a kind friend who wanted to be penpals. Sadly, I didn’t keep up with sending her letters, which I also regret! Ah!

When I was a sophomore in college, I had the opportunity to study abroad for a semester, one of my main reasons for going to college. No kidding. I wrote about it in my application essay.

I ended up in Rome, Italy and got to experience snail mail in another special way. My best friend from college knew that I would need a little love from home every so often, so she organized a letter campaign for me. She gathered letters from our friends to go with me, instructing me to open one a week. Although I was LOVING being abroad and settling in, I was still going through culture shock, learning a new language, adapting to being the new kid, and learning that the world was a much bigger place than what I thought would fit in the palm of my hand.

When I was having a hard time and realizing how small I was in a city older and bigger than I’d ever lived in, the letters would give me a sweet boost of encouragement and love from far away in a small, middle-of-nowhere town where friends were thinking of and missing me. I even had the cool experience of having one of my best friends come visit me and us getting to see one of Italy’s (and maybe the world’s) first ever post boxes together!

While I was abroad, I wrote very little snail mail, but I received it and cherished it. I still wish I had written more during that time, but that year, I began to understand a bit more about my relationship with snail mail and how it played a role in my life.

It was at a leather market in Florence that year that things got a bit clearer. A friend and I, although perhaps not great letter writers, were very much into literature and creative writing, so we were on a search for leather journals and sketchbooks. After pushing through crowds and getting to a quieter corner of all the excitement, we came upon a stall full of beautiful, leatherbound journals. And to our pleasant surprise, stationery.

This wasn’t just any stationery, though. It was Florentine, gilded paper with flowers galore with shining silver and gold accents. It was so elaborate and old-fashioned, like stepping back in time to the days when handwritten letters were one of the few ways to communicate. With that sense of awe, alongside a journal, I bought some stationery in the brightest and deepest of blues and silvers. I may have splurged even further and bought a Florentine paper-wrapped pen… shh.

When I got back into the States from my adventures, I laid out all of my treasures. And what I found was that almost every one of my finds was a paper good. Magazines, pamphlets, snail mail, maps… and that beautiful, Florentine stationery and it’s paper-wrapped pen of a cousin.

Life has changed a lot since that special year of self-discovery. I’ve even moved a few times, and each time, all of these paper goods (and many other stationery-related items) have come with me. I’m not willing to part with them. I now even have an overstuffed file folder of all the cards I’ve received since I was a teenager. So. Much. Paper.

I realize now as I’m looking back at my journey with snail mail that I’ve known something about myself for awhile. I don’t like to admit it, but I’m not the best letter writing kind of snail mail superstar, as I often wish I was. I have stationery gathering dust on both coasts of the United States of America (Sorry, Mom.).

And you know, that’s okay! I’ve finally come to a revelation of the unique relationship to the industry that’s all my own… and here it is:

I’m 100% a collector, guardian of, and preserver of snail mail and all it’s related fun!!!

I love paper. I love the beautiful variety of styles, colors, patterns, designs… I love the differences in people’s handwriting on cards and letters that makes each person unique and special. I love the smell of paper goods. I love the creativity and joy that comes from washi tape, colorful pens, stickers, and postcards. And the joy that comes from giving and receiving these things.

And although the act of letter writing isn’t how I tend to think about my journey with snail mail, I remember what it was like to find the special things that made letter writing not so much about perfection, but about fun and joy for me.

I remember visiting a stationery store with my mom in the 90s and buying a sticker book. I remember being rewarded for doing good work in school and getting to choose a prize from my teacher’s plastic treasure chest. I chose themed erasers almost every time (I still have my eraser collection!). I remember trading Lisa Frank stickers at the lunch table, Markie the unicorn being very coveted (I also still have these!). I remember picking out a mechanical pencil when they got popular, and mine being orange themed, even having a little orange slice dangling from the end. Then the gel pens… whew. I’ve recently invested in a series of gel pens to appease my inner child. And all the thank you notes and greeting cards in their variety of colors and themes. I finally got around to organizing them recently. Kind of.

And I love where God has led me on my unique snail mail journey, to Constellation & Co. I would never have imagined all those years ago when struggling to address a letter that I would be the one figuring out addresses for C & Co. shipments of beautiful cards, or when picking out my new favorite writing utensil as a child, that I’d get to be the one who helps maintain a shop full of these lovely, lovely kinds of things. What a privilege to work under Sara and be gatekeeper to joyful moments through the stationery items we sell that inspire relationship-building letter writing.

It’s crazy how seemingly small things can connect and become big life impactors, even in something as simple and wonderful as snail mail and it’s supporting stationery items.

Oh little me, who got her first sticker book at another lovely stationery shop over 20 years ago… who would have thought you’d be here, working in stationery? And maybe, just maybe, as you work with Sara, a little bit of her letter writing will rub off on you. Your life-long sticker collection needs to find some envelopes to decorate, after all! :)

The Music of the Mail: Letters Never Sent by Carly Simon

Do you write letters you don’t intend to mail? I’ve heard it suggested over and over through the years as a way to process thoughts and feelings without the risk of involving others in our messy first drafts. I’ve never been very good at holding back. I tend to just go ahead and write or say what’s on my mind. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and my fountain pen scribbles away, pouring my heart onto paper. My internal struggle buzzes painfully on my fingertips until it’s been tapped out on the keys of a typewriter and freed from my mind.

I’ve always been more afraid of letting things go unsaid than I fear saying things I can’t take back. What about you? Do you share freely, or have a box of unsent letters? Maybe a little bit of both?

In a suitcase tied with string
On the highest shelf
In the closet down the hall
Hidden from myself
Fits of madness, pools of grief
Fevers of desire
How peculiar these remain
Salvaged from the fire
For some I crumpled some I burned
Some I tore to shreds
Lifetimes later, here they are
Ones I saved instead
Letters never sent to you
Letters never sent

Never reached their destination
Mostly born of pain
Resurfaced with the purpose of
A trip down memory lane

Broken hearted, breaking hearts
All the way it went
Evidence of what I saw
My experiments

Life's a riddle, life's a dream
Life's an accident
Now I'm gonna set them free
Letters never sent

Letters never sent to you
Letters never sent
Once upon a time taboo
Letters never sent

Letters never sent to you
Letters never sent
Incongruous, and overdue
Letters never sent

Snail Mail Envelope Art Inspiration

Hi buddies! I’ve recently been enjoying adding images of creative mail art to my Snail Mail board on Pinterest. I especially enjoy envelope art - both art intended to go through the mail, and art added to envelopes after they’ve been sent and received.

According to Wikipedia, mail art (also known as postal art and correspondence art) is:

a populist artistic movement centered on sending small scale works through the postal service. It initially developed out of what eventually became Ray Johnson's New York Correspondence School in the 1950s and the Fluxus movement in the 1960s, though it has since developed into a global movement that continues to the present.”

Looking at all the beautiful pieces shared on Pinterest, I’m excited to share some of the inspiring envelopes I’ve received and added to my correspondence collection. While I appreciate and enjoy all snail mail, even in an unassuming white envelope, these envelopes all bring a little extra fun to the table. I like to imagine the mail carrier smiling when they slipped these into my mailbox!

Sent to me by Christina from Athens, Greece

Sent to me by Christina from Athens, Greece

Sent to me by Julienne from Illinois

Sent to me by Julienne from Illinois

Sent to me by Akasha from Washington State

Sent to me by Akasha from Washington State

Sent to me by Alex from Seattle

Sent to me by Alex from Seattle

Sent to me by Rebecca from California

Sent to me by Rebecca from California

Sent to me by Shari from Washington State

Sent to me by Shari from Washington State

Sent to me by Rodja from Austria

Sent to me by Rodja from Austria

Sent to me by Chelsea from Seattle

Sent to me by Chelsea from Seattle

Sent to me by Alex from Seattle

Sent to me by Alex from Seattle

Sent to me by David from Colorado

Sent to me by David from Colorado

Sent to me by Kim from South Carolina

Sent to me by Kim from South Carolina

Sent to me by Michelle from South Dakota

Sent to me by Michelle from South Dakota

Sent to me by Michele from Washington State

Sent to me by Michele from Washington State

Sent to me by Jon from Seattle

Sent to me by Jon from Seattle

Sent to me by Kim from South Carolina

Sent to me by Kim from South Carolina

Letter Carrier #152, Seattle, Washington

My great-grandfather, Harold Steinke, was a collector of postcards. He swapped with fellow postcard enthusiasts across the US and around the world. For the past several months, I’ve been reading, scanning, and sharing one of his postcards daily for “postcard happy hour” on my Snail Mail Superstar Instagram and Twitter accounts. The series of postcards featuring my home city of Seattle are my favorite in the whole collection. I don’t know for sure if my great-grandfather ever visited Seattle (it’s quite unlikely), but his love for postcards and snail mail gave him a connection to the place I call home.

As you can see in the images above, my great-grandfather corresponded in the 1920’s with a letter carrier in Seattle named Ralph W. Ives. The postcards give us only basic information about him: his age, occupation, location, and the fact that he enjoyed postcards featuring images of church buildings and beautiful scenery, but preferred not to receive cards featuring other types of buildings.

We don’t learn too much about life in Seattle from reading Ralph’s messages. We do learn that, of course, it rains in Seattle. The message on the left below does seem to reveal that Mr. Ives has chosen to love Seattle despite the rain, as I have. “We have had some fine rains, the weather cool, and life is worth the living.”

Each time I prepare to share a postcard from the collection, I do a cursory Google search for the person who sent it. I rarely find much, but I keep doing it, just in case. This time, I was surprised. I typed “Ralph W. Ives” letter carrier Seattle into the search box, and the first result answered questions I didn’t know I had. The result in question was a small article in the pages of The Daily Missoulian, a newspaper in Missoula, Montana, from September 11, 1914.


I read the article with an ache in my stomach and tears in my eyes. It may seem a little silly to be so affected by this. Both the sender and receiver of these postcards are long gone from this world. I’ve never met either man face to face. But grief and loss are real and palpable, even after 105 years.

In the 1920’s, my great-grandfather was a young man, exploring the world through postcards. In 2018, I dove deep into the familiar comfort of snail mail after the loss of a dear friend. I wonder if Mr. Ives was doing the same? His days would have been filled with delivering mail to the city of Seattle. Did he spend his evenings reaching out into the world for some small sense of connection and comfort to ease the pain of the loss of his son, if only for a moment?

These are just the imaginings of a sentimental soul, 100 years removed from this interaction between a mail carrier in Seattle, WA and my great-grandfather in Woodstock, IL. Few of us make ripples in history large enough to be remembered (or Googled) 100 years later. It’s heartbreaking that the worst day of Ralph Ives’ life is what history remembers. So today, I share these beautiful postcards with you, to add one more ripple. I hope you received all the peaceful churches your heart desired, Ralph. Thank you for reaching out into the world and leaving behind this beautiful legacy of the place I call home.

With just a bit more internet sleuthing, I’ve discovered that Ralph’s son, Almon, was laid to rest just a mile and a half away from my shop. I wonder how long it’s been since someone remembered him or laid flowers on his grave? I can do that for you, Ralph. You and your son aren’t forgotten.


I drove to Mount Pleasant Cemetery on a cold Seattle weekday morning. I brought flowers, one of Ralph’s postcards, and one of my own postcards. I parked my car and started to walk toward the cemetery entrance. I heard footsteps down the street and turned to watch a mail carrier going about his route. I couldn’t help but think of Ralph.

I entered the cemetery and wandered the rows for awhile reading names on headstones. Blaine, Mercer, Bell…many of the people laid to rest at Mount Pleasant were pioneers who settled in the area and founded the city. As I wandered, I realized how incredibly difficult it would be to read every stone and find the one single marker I was looking for. I needed help.

After a few wrong turns and incorrect buildings, I found the Mount Pleasant office. Upon opening the door, I was greeting by the familiar sound of zebra finches, flitting about inside their cage, singing to each other. I asked the woman at the desk for help finding a specific grave. I half expected to be turned away, but she was very kind and helpful. I told her the name I was looking for (Ralph Almon Ives) and the year of his death (1914). She said something along the lines of, “Oh, that’s an old one.” Regardless of the age, she was able to pull out a large three ring binder and find the name I was looking for. The information beside the name gave her a location, which she marked for me on a map of the cemetery.

The woman explained to me that most graves from 100 years past were marked with a simple concrete headstone. Families with wealth could afford marble, granite or bronze headstones and markers, but most families could not. As time and nature march on, the concrete markers become covered in dirt and moss and grass. The cemetery staff let them be covered, because when nestled under a blanket of earth, the markers are safe from corrosion.


Once I had the map in my hand and a location to head to, I was ready to go find Almon, or at least get close. I expected, once again, to be sent off alone. Instead, the woman at the desk sent a message to another woman who works at the cemetery to meet me out at the spot and help me find the specific grave I was looking for. I went back for my car and drove slowly through the length of the cemetery to its farthest boundary.

The area of the cemetery marked on the map for Almon’s grave was quiet and beautiful. Huge trees grew up between scattered, moss-covered grave stones. I imagined the rows of unseen grave markers, safe and warm beneath the earth. I walked slowly, trying to decipher words from the corners of smooth, worn stones peeking out from under grass. A soft rain began to fall.

“We have had some fine rains, the weather cool, and life is worth the living.”

After taking a few slow laps around the area, I assumed Almon’s stone was buried, and this would be the end of the road. I sat for several minutes in quiet contemplation on a large tree stump. I thought of Ralph and Almon and Steinke. I thought of all my grandparents, laid to rest far away. I thought of my friend Chelsa, her life cut too short, like Almon’s life was.

I heard footsteps, and shook myself from the fog of my thoughts. A woman walked toward me, and asked if I was looking for the Ives grave. I’d stopped a few hundred feet short. She’d found the grave for me, and uncovered it. I followed her with careful steps, weaving between stones and markers, until I saw the little mound of dirt and freshly uncovered stone.


Ralph A. Ives
Sept. 6, 1914
Age 15 Years

Ralph Almon Ives was laid to rest in Mount Pleasant Cemetery by his father, Ralph Waldo Ives and his mother, Louella Sumwalt Ives. 105 years later, I knelt by his grave and softly outlined the A of his middle name with my finger. I left flowers of remembrance. When I left the cemetery to return to my life in the present, the young woman who helped me find the stone, covered it up with earth again. It will rest there, safe for another 100 years.

I added images to Almon’s Find A Grave listing in the hopes that someone in his family will find them if they’re looking.
More info about Mount Pleasant Cemetery can be found
here, here, and here.
You can find more info about my great-grandfather Steinke’s postcard collection

While doing additional research about the Ives family, I discovered the obituary for Ralph W. Ives’ wife, Louella. The story of her difficult and beautiful life was an encouragement to me today, and so I will share it with you.

“Louella Sumwalt was born on April 17, 1864. While she was only a little girl her mother died, and not long afterwards her father also died, and she and her four brothers were left orphans to battle with the world. She early came to a realization of her responsibility, and at the beginning of her useful life, while still a young girl, she was baptized into Christ, and followed him closely until the end. At the age of thirty-two she became the wife of Ralph W. Ives, whose life for thirty-one years she constantly encouraged and strengthened, and it was through her encouragement and influence that Brother Ives, under trying circumstances and difficulties, shunned not to preach the gospel of Christ. To this union there were born two boys, only one of which, Jesse, remains to mourn wither husband and her four brothers. She was an exceptionally good wife and loving mother. She took great interest in the development and the training of her home. She was quiet, retiring, and exclusively modest, a disposition which caused her to gain friends slowly, but which made for her the best friends, whose love and respect she forever retained. She was not demonstrative in her affection, but loved intensely, and considered no sacrifice too great for those she loved. She went to sleep in Jesus, March 19, 1928. In the last months of her life her suffering was intense, but her faith in Christ did not waver, and she passed over death'’s river in the triumph of a Christian faith.”
J. W. Maddox. - Gospel Advocate, May 17, 1928, page 479.

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


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.


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.


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


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

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


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

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

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

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. 

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

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

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

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!

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