Tuesday, April 30, 2013

NLWM Statistics

This month has simply flown by.  Thank goodness I had National Letter Writing Month activities to keep me occupied through all the grey, chilly, not at all spring-like weather that was April, 2013.  (Although today was pretty awesome, I have to say.  Because I actually left my coat ... are you ready for this?...in the car when I came back to the office after lunch.  I know, crazy, right?  That's how warm it was!  I don't want to jinx it but I heard tomorrow might be warm too.  But so far, that's just a rumour.)

But I digress.  I wanted to sum up my NLWM experience, since today is the last official day.  What a wonderful month it was! What an amazing bunch of friendly, talented ladies I have interacted with as part of this project, both online and via the mail.  (We did have one guy in the group but sadly, no one ever heard from him.  Hopefully he is okay, but things happen, maybe he just got busy and wasn't able to take part after all. Maybe being the only guy in a group of 99 was a little intimidating, who knows?)

Here's how my statistics for the month look, as of today:

99 = number of participants (or possibly 105, see below)
56 = number of items sent
44 = number of items received
21 = number of postal delivery days in April, 2013 in Canada
13 = number of postal delivery days I received more than one item
9   = most items received on one day (+1 letter rec'd from a non-NLWM participant)
8    = number of items received from my assigned penpal, Beth

3    = number of postal delivery days I received 4 or more items
3    = number of postal delivery days I didn't receive anything

Add it all up and it was a whole bunch of awesome!!

The most unusual thing I received this month?  This book thong from Sharon L.  What a clever idea! :)

I feel badly that I didn't send something out to each and every person on the mailing list but I think for my first year, without any advance preparation or knowing what to expect, and having been sick for at least half the month with this very annoying and de-energizing cold, I think I did pretty well, all things considered.

A great big thank you to everyone who participated, to my friendly and helpful post office employee Jovy, to everyone who sent mail to me and especially, to Lindsay Ostrom, the group organizer (who indicated on her blog today that there were actually 105 participants, which makes me wonder - how did I lose 6 people??!).  I can't wait until next April to do it all again!

Monday, April 29, 2013

A Love(ly) Postcard

I was going through some ephemera that I picked up at a flea market in Portugal two years ago and came across this postcard:

It's so romantic!

Here's what it says on the back.

I'm assuming it is some sort of engagement or wedding announcement but if anyone speaks Portuguese and can translate for us, that would be great!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

From A to B

If you're wondering how your mail gets from point A to point B, check out this fast-paced video!
Many thanks to Linnea, who shared this with the National Letter Writing Month group on Facebook.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

No Return to Sender

Here are some samples of the items I've been sending out to my fellow National Letter Writing Month members this past month.  So far, none of them have been returned to sender!

I made some postcards:
Some of the NLWM members
celebrated birthdays in April.

Tracy Bunkers' Mail Art rubber stamp sheet
really came in handy this month!
You can order one here.

Many thanks to Louise from my Journal Junkies group
who gave me this cute stamp!
I've been making cards as well, often using collage:
Featuring actual postage stamps

Tickled Pink
I've also been sending out some of my collection of vintage postcards, like these ones:
A wishing well somewhere in Florida

High Park in Toronto
Hard to believe the month is almost over, I'm still full of lots of ideas for cards and postcards to make!

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Skyline From Judith

One of the pieces of mail I received this week was this fabulous skyline postcard that Judith made:

The icing on the cake? These Disney stamps on the other side.
All around awesome.  Thanks Judith!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Things Are Greening Up

I've been keeping an eye on the view, watching for signs of spring, but it wasn't until tonight, when the sun shone briefly during this early evening rain shower, that I really noticed how far along the foliage has come.  The grass is greening, you can see the weeping willow coming into its summer self and the rest of the trees are definitely starting to bud.  In the meantime, the evergreens are looking especially verdant.

Perhaps spring is closer than it seems!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Meet Jovy

Jovy (rhymes with "groovy") is the friendly postal employee at my local Canada Post substation, situated in the back of a Shoppers Drug Mart.  For the past year or so, she has been serving me with a smile whenever I come in.  She always exclaims with delight when I decorate an envelope or package and notices when I don't.

She has been extra helpful this National Letter Writing Month.  I told her what I was doing at the beginning of the month and explained that most of the participants are in the U.S. and that I'd like to use an assortment of stamps or special stamps if possible.  She was the one who told me about the larger sized one dollar stamps I showed you in this post.  I take my envelopes in to her and she stamps them by hand, after she explained that the larger stamps need to be done that way rather than go through the machine.  I delivered a thank you note to her mid-month, telling her how much I appreciated her helpful and friendly manner.

The other day when I went in to see her, she told me about some new stamps that had come out the day before.  The theme is "adopt a pet", although this picture on the front looks more like a wolf than a dog to me!

Inside are animal stamps, very cleverly displayed in cages with open doors. The sketching in the background shows the pets as they would be in a forever home environment, lying on a dog bed by the fire or sitting by the window watching the birds.  As a person who is learning to sketch, I love the concept, wish I'd thought of that!

These stamps are for use in Canada so they are worth 63 cents.  Jovy very patiently counted out the 25 cent, 2 x 10 cent and 2 cent stamps I'll need to make up the extra 47 cents for mailing to the U.S.  We did discuss how it would be easier to just use two domestic stamps, but that would mean "wasting" an extra 16 cents per letter and that just didn't seem practical to either of us.  Plus this way, I get to send envelopes with multiple stamps on them and I know my fellow NLWM group members will love that!  And as someone involved in fostering cats for adoption, of course I'm all for the idea of using these stamps to promote that cause!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Walking Along Bloor

I had an appointment with my dentist in the late afternoon one day last week and afterwards, took a walk from Bay and Bloor west to Bathurst.  There seemed to be a lot of unusual towers and turrets along that stretch of road that I hadn't really noticed before.

Check it out - I caught a pigeon in flight!
There were street performers

as well as some cool street art.

It was a little on the chilly side (the bare branches reminding me that winter is only just making its exit and hasn't quite turned over the stage to spring just yet) but it was still nice to be able to stroll along in the fresh air and early evening light.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Gelli Joy

Yesterday, I got together with Kelly and Barb at Bizzy B for our monthly play date (unfortunately, Laura was sick and unable to join us).  Barb had mentioned she was going to try out her new gelli plates and I was curious, because I had heard different people in the art journaling world mention them in recent months but I had no idea what they were.

Julie Balzer describes this monoprinting process very well here.  Basically, you spread paint on a flat pad of silicone gel that comes in different sizes (I have the medium size, which is about 8 x 10 inches), place a piece of paper over top of the paint, roll over the back of the paper with a brayer to be sure the entire surface gets covered, peel off the paper and voila. You can do with or without stencils to add a pattern.

Here's a picture of Barb as she is preparing the gelli pad:

and holding up a finished page:

Here is Kelly creating a page

and one of her finished creations:

See that candy dispenser in the background of the photo above? It was filled with a very special batch of M&M's.

We had so much fun doing this yesterday. We started about 1 p.m. and kept going until close to 10 p.m.!!  We ran out of our first batch of cardstock paper around 4:30 p.m., had to send Kelly out for more.  She came back with 3 9 x 12 inch journals filled with mixed media watercolour paper, one for each of us, and we got busy filling them (after a quick dinner break, panini sandwiches from Tim Horton's - yum).  In the end, I made 59 pages, filling up exactly half the book.  We knew it was getting late and kept saying we really should stop...but we just COULDN'T, we were having too much fun making art!

Here are a few of the pages I made:

Now we just have to decide what to do with our creations. Background pages in the art journal? Cut them up to use on other pages?  Make them into greeting cards?  The possibilities are endless!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Newly Obsessed

Play date.
Bizzy B.
Gelli plate.
59 pages.
2 hours.
Completely Obsessed.
More later.
'Nuff Said.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Visiting With Bull

I was at the Royal Ontario Museum today for a talk led by the managing director of the BioDiversity program, introducing one of their new exhibits - the skeleton of Doni, a kimodo dragon who used to live at the Toronto Zoo whose remains were donated to the museum.

While I was waiting for the talk to begin, I spent a few minutes sketching Bull, the white rhino that stands at the entrance to the BioDiversity exhibit on the 2nd floor.

Here's how my sketch turned out:
Coloured with gouache
You can see how Bull came to be at the ROM on this video:

One of the interesting things I learned today was that while white rhinos were previously an endangered species, they have been protected for the past hundred years or so and their numbers improved to such an extent that they were taken off the endangered list. Unfortunately, they are now at risk again, as poachers are killing them for their horns, which are believed by some to be an aphrodisiac.  In reality, their horns are made of keratin, the same material that our fingernails and hair are made of, which has no such magical power.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Eight Years Now

It's the eighth anniversary of my dad's death today.  It's been such a strange week, what with the tragic news from Boston and Texas consuming the news reports and the weather being all over the place (it's warm, it's cold, it's dry, it's wet, it's winter, it's spring).  I've felt rather off-kilter for the past couple of weeks. I thought it was because I was sick last week but I'm feeling much better this week and things still feel just a little strange.  Nothing major, just not quite in the normal groove.  Distracted, slight disoriented, never quite sure what day of the week or time of day it is, that sort of thing.  Adding to that sense of the surreal were the scenes on the TV this morning of armed police officers swarming through deserted residential neighbourhoods in Boston.  It didn't occur to me until this morning that perhaps my body is more tuned in to the anniversary and the feelings associated with it than my mind is.  Mentally, it does seem easier to handle as each year passes, although it is still a sad day and I can't quite forget its significance on the calendar.  Maybe I'm just used to missing him now, it has become a part of whom I am.  Like it or not, it has become familiar and unchangeable.
Dad with the ever sweet Murphy,
I miss them both.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Goodies from Beth

Beth is the lovely lady who was assigned as my penpal from the 100+ people that signed up for the National Letter Writing Group (organized by Lindsay Ostrom). She helped fill my mailbox with wonderful things the other day when I found not one but FIVE different mailings from her.

One was this postcard - check out the expressions on the faces of these cats!  (luckily, she is a cat lover too!)

Another postcard from the coast of Oregon (where she lives), picked up on a weekend outing.

This handmade envelope decorated with washi tape and covered with several interesting stamps (I am amassing quite a collection of U.S. ones thanks to her!)

had this card inside to remind me spring is surely on its way (somehow she must have guessed that I like birds!):

Another pretty envelope - love the rainbow!
I love how the retouch feature I used
 to blur my address added the lynx face from the one stamp all over this image!

with this handmade card inside, decorated with washi tape (such a simple idea but look how fabulous! I am totally going to copy this idea!!):

This envelope (more stamps and another cute little birdie!)

had the cutest owl notecard inside

which contained this artist trading card she had made for me, since I had mentioned how much I love Paris.  So thoughtful!

I am definitely humbled by the creativity Beth and my fellow NLWM members have been demonstrating this month.  So much awesomeness and the ones pictured above are just for me!  I am a lucky girl, no doubt about it.

Beth, if you are reading this, thank you so very much for this treasure trove of wonderful that arrived in my mailbox!! xo