Friday, 2 February 2018

2018: The Year of the Capsule Wardrobe?

I moved recently from an old 3 story house with decrepit radiators and noisy heating, a bathroom that bred mould and mildew to Olympic standard, very little insulation and a core column of cold that began at the kitchen and went through the centre of the house. Often is the time I could be heard shrieking at my husband in the winter months 'SHUT THAT DOOR!' as our old home had three hot spot rooms where the warmth had to be jealously guarded or else it evaporated. 

Another thing about my old home was that it was a 40 minute walk to work.

What does this have to do with a Capsule Wardrobe? you may be wondering.

I will tell you.

A cold house necessitates a large supply of big socks and big jumpers to help insulate the body. It also means that jeans and trousers need to be worn far more than skirts and dresses as even with leggings these latter fashion choices leave you a bit chilly. A 40 minute walk to work, in my case at least, generates sweat, necessitating a change of top, meaning that I tended to wear trousers with a scruffy t-shirt for walking in and then a work top to change in to at the office.
Time for some style sudoku? Some tips from Su Sews
My new home is a bungalow, built in 2009 and has fantastic up to date heating that WORKS. My journey to work now involves a 15 minutes walk, a 30 minute bus ride, and a 10 minute walk. Combine these two facts and I am now in a prime position to:
* Reduce my collection of big, chunky, unattractive but fit-for-purpose jumpers 
* Reduce the number of scruffy tops for sweaty activity to less than half what I own now
* Wear more skirts and dresses, both around the house and to work, which is what I have been wanting to do for ages, and decrease the number of trousers/ jeans in my closet

In short, it means I can have a go at creating a proper capsule wardrobe! I can get rid of (i.e. donate to charity) all those clothes I have been keeping not because I really like them but because they fulfil a basic necessary function. I can consult the articles I have been pinning on Pinterest and get inspired. For a few years now I have been reducing my wardrobe to the point I own nothing now that I don't wear, but I've never felt able to consider my wardrobe a true capsule offering because of all those 'necessary' clothes that I needed to wear but didn't feel great wearing.
From Looking Stylish
I can consider things like colour schemes so all items co-ordinate and I have the chance to create a number of outfits from a variety of pieces. I don't have a specific number in my head to limit my wardrobe to at present. I love seeing what people can do with only 12 items but, as I don't have a tumble dryer and English weather can make getting washloads dry in good time a bit of a challenge, I wouldn't want to have such a tiny 'pool' of clothes to work with just in case.

Tonight, I'll be getting all the clothes I own out and on the bed, possibly tussling with a ginger cat or two as I endeavour to sort things properly. I'll pick a palette of colours I want to work with, get any accessories I have in my possession out in the open air too, shoes, coats, jewellery, the whole shebang. Pants, socks, you name it, out it will come. Will the final curated result be a mega-neat inspiring selection that would make a great photo to rival all the professional ones out there on the internet? I imagine NOT. However, it will be a start. The journey towards a capsule wardrobe begins with a couple of empty hangers after all.

Friday, 26 January 2018

InCoWriMo 2018: who to write to

You have all the relevant stationery and postage you need and lots of ideas on what to send for InCoWriMo - but if you're honest you aren't sure exactly who you are going to send out all your lovely snailmail goodness too.
Taken from Sweet Spot Stamp Shop
Below are some ideas to help you with that conundrum.

Before I launch into the list: a word of caution. Use common sense and kindness when choosing who to write to. Think carefully before sending to anyone who you believe would be upset and distressed to receive something from you out of the blue. You can include your address and leave the window open for a reply or send without - your choice. Don't put yourself at any risk by giving your contact details to someone who may not have your best interests at heart. I feel a little sad to have to write this but feel it needs to be said.

And on with the fun part of the post!

I'll start with the basics.

  • Family - existing or new. Is there a baby in the family who has never received a postcard? You know what to do! Are there in-laws who have joined the fold that you haven't had time to reach out to and say hello?
  • Friends - old and new. Close and estranged.
  • Your partner - or partners if you live in a polygamous situation. You can post letters to your home address if you want to send something to someone you live with.
  • A colleague at work or a colleague you used to work with.
  • A neighbour, past or present.
  • A support worker, youth worker, social worker - someone who helped you yesterday or decades ago.
  • A teacher - someone who taught you in the classic classroom setting or someone you learned valuable lessons from in the outside world.
  • A non-human - like I said in my post yesterday you don't have to send to a person! You could send something to a family pet. If you have very fond memories of a hotel or house you visited years ago, send a letter to that place, make the building itself the focus of your writing. 
  • To the Owner of . . . - Were you in love with your local sweetshop as a child? If it still exists send a letter to the owner of the shop, telling them what fond memories you have. 
  • An author, an actor, a poet, a burlesque artiste - someone who has impacted you with their work or made a difference. Let them know. Not sure where to write to? Depending on how well known the person is they are likely to have a website that will have contact details somewhere; if they have an agent, find the address of that agent and send via this route.

Other Ideas
You could join the League of Extraordinary Penpals and pick 28 names at random to write to from the database. This penpalling group does have a fee to join, but I can recommend the group having been a member for 8 months.

You could sign up to Postcrossing if you are thinking of focussing on postcards and have the pennies to send abroad. Be warned though that as a newbie you will only get a small number of addresses to send to; additional ones will be provided when your cards arrive, and if you are sending to countries like China or Russia this can sometimes take weeks.
The Letter Writer's Alliance might be another possible for you, though I have no experience of this group. 

Have you been thinking about writing to serving soldiers for a while and never got round to it? You could try Forces Penpals. I have no experience of this group either so can't advise from personal experience. 
Get a copy of The Secret Letters Project and write one or more of the suggested letters. Some of these letters are intended as a kind of therapy so be wise which one you pick as you might get to the end of it and decide you don't want to send it after all.

There you have it - the last of my three InCoWriMo posts. Now time to get round to prepping all my stuff . . . 

Thursday, 25 January 2018

InCoWriMo 2018: what to write

You want to have a go at your own version of InCoWriMo but just don't think you'll have enough to write about for 28 days? Fret ye not! Here are some ideas for you.
Image from Pixabay - African Pygmy Hedgehog, if you were interested
National and International Days
There are Days for everything. Yesterday was apparently Beer Can Appreciation Day. If you are feeling uninspired have a look at what's out there and let that guide some (or all) of your correspondence.

  • National Carrot Cake Day is on February 3rd. Make your own if you have the inclination or find a cafe or shop that sells carrot cake, sit down with a slice and tell someone about it in a letter or postcard. Rate it out of 10. Reminisce on the best carrot cake experiences of your life. Or go on at length about how you despise carrot cake and why. No time for baking or writing? Print off a picture of a piece of carrot cake and send it to someone in a card. 3rd Feb is also Ice Cream for Breakfast Day if that inspires you more.
  • Need to use up some animal themed postcards? There's Hippo Day and Hedgehog Day
  • February 18th is Drink Wine Day in the US. With my family pretty much every day is Drink Wine Day so probably won't be sending anything to commemorate this myself but if you have a more teetotal gene pool you could always let them know.
  • Want something very random? International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day should see to that! You could send a small pack of dog biscuits to a canine you love - you don't have to send something to a human! 
  • Fancy telling someone how you got fired on 1st February for honouring Working Naked Day? Do it!
  • Get cuddled up in your favourite jumper/ sweater and tell someone what it looks like and how much you love it for Sweater Day. 4th Feb is also thank a postal carrier day so if you see a postie say hello - if you know your postie describe him in a letter or postcard. If it's a postcard, keep it nice or you might find it doesn't reach it's destination...

From Life of Lovely
Journal Prompts
There are lots of examples of journal prompts on the interwebs - just go to Google or Pinterest and do a search. Use them to tell someone something they might not know about you; to share memories or goals or dreams or snippets about your personality they may be oblivious to.
From Pixabay
Step Back in Time
Do you keep a diary? Look back to what you were doing last year, the year before that, or the year before that. Did anything fun happen that involved a friend or relative? If so, send them a note reminding them what you were doing back then, and what your memories of the day are. If you haven't got in contact with that person for a while, it's an even better reason for sending them something.
From Pixabay
Someone Else's Words
Too tired or busy or stressed or lacking in inspiration to write more than an address? There are thousands of poems and quotes and song lyrics out there in the world. Do you and a friend have a beloved song that brings back shared memories? Copy those words into a card and post it. Do you have a favourite writer or politician or actor who has come out with a phrase you absolutely adore and want to share with other people? Do you know someone in need of upcheer who would laugh at a dirty limeric sent on a correspondingly rude or confusingly highbrow postcard? Find a silly or rude word in the dictionary and write it out with flamboyant style, the definition underneath.
From Pixabay
A picture worth ten thousand words
Send a photo. Send a postcard with just your name and the other person's address on the back because that picture is all you need to share.

For me, sending correspondence every day in February isn't just about telling people how I am or what I'm doing. It's about taking the time to reach out to someone in a way that takes more thought and effort than a text or Facebook update. Maybe you'll send something to someone who doesn't understand what the point is, but the majority of people will get a simple pleasure from receiving something in the mail and knowing that you thought of them enough to sit down, create something and send it to them.

I'll be doing one more InCoWriMo post before the start of February - ideas on who to write to.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

InCoWriMo 2018: what to send

The official website for InCoWriMo 2018 can be found here. The idea is to send a handwritten letter every day in February. A bit like NaNoWriMo you can sign up on the website, log your progress and get a certificate at the end if you complete as planned. I'm not fussed about signing up on the website and updating it as I find that this kind of thing takes up extra time I would rather spend elsewhere, but I will be doing my own version of InCoWriMo in February, and seeing if I can persuade friends to get into the spirit of it too.
Image from Pixabay
Does the thought of writing a letter a day for 28 days seem impossible to you? For a lot of people, it probably is! What with work, family commitments, social life and just general grey-weather February exhaustion and lack of motivation, you might be setting yourself up for failure if you think of InCoWriMo purely in terms of letters.

Money worries might be another reason why you don't think InCoWriMo is a possibility for you. Christmas is not that far in the past and belts are tight at this time of year. To put this challenge in simple figures, posting a standard item second class in the UK will cost 56p a pop so that's £15.68 in total for February. If you are in the habit of buying a chocolate bar or a packet of crisps a day and want to cut back on that, you could buy a stamp instead and have a slightly healthier day as a result. If you are a fan of posh coffee you could get one every other day instead of every day and you'll be more than able to manage the costs of InCoWriMo. You don't need fancy writing paper - pages from a plain notepad will do, and you can get one of these and a pack of 30+ envelopes from Poundland or Wilkinsons for a couple of quid. Check out your local charity shops for low price postcards and cards - I've got some real bargains from my local ones.

So, what could you send if you decided to post something every day in February?

From Pixabay
If you have a stash of postcards, what a great opportunity to de-stash! And maybe justify getting a few more . . . ? They don't take long to write and could provide a nice little slot of me-time in a busy day. Been tempted to buy a pack of postcards from somewhere like Amazon or Waterstones and never felt you could justify it? Now's your chance! Personally, I love the look of The Art of Pixar postcards. Fancy using this opportunity to share the achievements of women? How about the Women in Science set? Seriously there are so many sets available out there, from Roald Dahl to Ladybird Book Covers to Animals to Beetles to, well, all sorts! 
I've been coveting this set of Vintage Correspondence Cards in Waterstones for a while now and may just use InCoWriMo as the excuse to purchase them. The 25 designs are all different and I like the look of each one, a real rarity for me in any card set. In my town, Clintons still have sets of notecards on sale with more than 50% off. If you want to get tailor made cards for certain people and blow a load of cash in Paperchase then get to it! If you find that once you start writing in the card you have more to say you can always continue on a sheet or two of extra paper. The Works do sets of greeting cards for something like £1.99 for 20 (buy one get one free offer) if your budget is tight.

A gift with a quick handwritten note
How many times do you see things and think how they would make a quirky little gift for a friend or relative? Here's an excuse to get that pack of cacti illustrated post-its and for your cactus loving friend and send them with a note that doesn't need to say anything other than 'saw this and thought of you' with your name (and maybe an X) at the end. Or that sachet of unusual sounding hot chocolate that you think might taste putrid but a chum of yours would love to try? 

Occasion cards
Valentine's Day is 14th February so already you have one day covered for a specific occasion card if you're struggling to think of something. Odds are that you know someone with a birthday or an anniversary coming up in February. Not sure who? If you have a Facebook account have a quick stalk and see who has a birthday that month. Double check with family members and friends of friends to see if anyone has any big events on the horizon like taking an important test or going for a job interview - a good luck card could be in order. I'd say you have a pretty high chance of knowing at least one person who is sick in February so a Get Well note or card or postcard can tick another of your 28 boxes.
Last but not least, the humble letter. Would getting a nice pad motivate you to drop a line to a different person every day in February? If so then go forth, purchase and make a list of all those people you would like to get in touch with. There are some enticing notepads about. Ohh Deer have this very cute dog one and Wrendale Designs have a lovely flamingo jotter. 

Have all the stationery, postage, pens and materials you like but no idea of what to write? Check out my post tomorrow for some ideas on that front 😃

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Library Life: True Story

My first job as a teenager was in my local village library. My first full time job as an adult was also in a library. I no longer work in a library but I have fond memories of the time I did. When Pinterest throws up random related things, like this set of library-themed alternative book covers, it makes me giggle.
All pics above found on Pinterest.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Mail Love

12th January
Philatelink order! It arrived as I was walking out the door to go to work, along with a letter. That moment when you want to stay at home and go through your mail but you know that to do so would mean getting to the office late . . . completely worthwhile in terms of personal affirmation but not in terms of generating good vibes in the workplace.
The letter provoked envy/ admiration for this very cute little ink stamp on the front.
13th January
I'd like to up my game a bit when it comes to my mail - by that I mean I want to put more thought in to what I send out, and take the opportunity to try some of the many, many, many projects I have pinned on Pinterest. With this in mind, I've made up a little batch of stickers parcelled up in neat little teabag packages. 
The 'how to' for the teabags comes from the Post Fabriek blog which has some lovely snailmail piccies/ ideas on it and is worth a look if you are in to your letters.
14th January
Writing letters in different locations is something I would like to do more of in 2018. The majority tend to be scribbled while I am sat out in the garden or curled up in bed with at least one cat in residence. The letter written this morning was done while staying with family, accompanied by the lovely sound of a tawny owl
15th January
First time I've ever felt the true weight of Blue Monday - coming home to find 2 letters waiting for me perked me up on this miserable day. How beautiful are these stamps? While taking pictures of them I discovered by accident that there are in-built filters in my camera so yay to that too.
16th January
It's lovely to get a letter which makes you laugh within seconds of opening it. This sticker achieved just that. 
17th January
Some home made envelopes are just too beautiful to plaster with stamps of varying prices. Every now and then, I do use a standard stamp all on its own.
18th January
Getting any kind of envelope in the post is fun but there is an extra bit of excitement when the envelope is a homemade one, like this one received from the Holland. 

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Free Fold & Mail stationery!

My love of fold & mail stationery is well documented. Recently, I discovered to my delight that Pinterest is full of FREE templates! Yay! Fold & mail stationery isn't that easy to find in the shops. The majority of my purchases have been made online, and the rarer sets are pretty pricey. These online templates are a good option for people who want to send this kind of snailmail but don't want to shell out for a whole pad.
Found here - there's a whole range of cute bird themed fold and mail in this style.
Fancy an envelope with a fox reading in bed, a bear, lemurs, pugs or a zebra? There is printable stationery out there for you.
Found here - one for the EPP enthusiasts!
Want something with more of a pop culture reference? Spongebob Squarepants perhaps? Maybe Doctor Who, Star Wars or Alice in Wonderland are your preferences? No problem.
Found here - a bit of man in the moon action.
If you prefer a simpler floral print then there's options out there as well. I've pinned a load on my Snailmail board on Pinterest if you care to peruse for further ideas.
Found here - a touch of vintage to jazz up your snailmail
If I'm honest, what I really want to work out is how to make up my own templates so I can share some random fold and mail goodness with the snailmail community out there. Watch this space!