My First Blog with WP

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Daily Euphoria: Early morning mushroom obsession

beautifully lit Bridal Veil mushroom via

What do you do when you are waking up with coffee and your computer, and happen to click on  this  ?

You find yourself going down the rabbit hole, researching freaky, lace-adorned, carrion-scented fungi, and wishing you could be somewhere tropical, like at the base of a rotting log in Central America, so you could draw these suckers from life.

You also wonder how you can work the term Crinoline Stinkhorn into your daily lexicon.

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Daily Euphoria: Nekisia’s Granola

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Did I forget to mention the other secret ingredient? Can you feel it radiating from my baking sheet?

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Sunday Morning Pick Me Up #12.  Follow the gluttony on Instagram.

This granola  is on regular rotation here at Casa Hobo.  Dubbed “Farmhand’s Choice” by its creator, Nekisia Davis, the secret synergistic ingredients are maple syrup, olive oil, and sea salt.  Trust me on this combination!  Anyone I’ve fed this to always asks for the recipe, which was featured on Food52.  I like to use a little less oil , but make up for it by being  heavy handed with the pepitas and coconut.  Substituting in hazelnuts is also pretty divine.  Making a batch of this granola is the best kind of aromatherapy, in my opinion!

You can find out more about Nekisia’s other products at Early Bird Foods.

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How to write more fun mail – Part 2

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Samara O’Shea’s For the Love of Letters.  (Portrait of the author via.)

Now that we’ve got materials under our belt, how about finding some other sources for inspiration?

For the Love of Letters holds a special place in my heart as it is peppered with funny, heart-wrenching and self-deprecating anecdotes from Samara O’Shea’s life that, naturally, become the fuel for her art.  In addition to her own missives, this book features letters penned by the likes of Marie Antoinette, Beethoven and Emily Post, as a means to instruct and offer advice on how to express oneself on the page.  You can read an excerpt  of the book and her latest musings on Letter Lover.  In addition to publishing her latest title,  Note to Self:  On Keeping a Journal and Other Dangerous Pursuits, O’Shea also offers her services as a hired gun.  I’m intrigued – I wonder what her most unusual letter request was for?

 

I made a mental note to find John Kralik’s book, 365 Thank Yous , after listening to his author interview on NPR.  A short and sweet memoir,  what struck me was his candor in describing the many ways in which 2007 almost broke him.  A turbulent period of personal and professional challenges, as the year draws to a close , Kralik resolves to turn things around in some small way, by writing a thank you note a day.   I imagine anyone who has received some unsolicited words of gratitude for acts, big and small,  would be proud to receive one of Kralik’s missives.  He is a keen observer and a lively narrator.   While not a “how to” manual by any means, this book certainly gives me aspirations to convey with the same sort of humour and sincerity Kralik does, a deeper appreciation for the people in my life.   And if that involves pen and paper, all the better!

image via

Okay, you’re sick to death of the feel-good instruction manuals and memoirs.  May I suggest a novel about the disappearance of an eccentric genius,  told entirely through correspondence between her family, friends and enemies?  I just finished Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette and would recommend it to anyone looking for a great read this summer.

Illustrated letter by Edward Gorey in the book Floating Worlds. Via

If you’re fan of Edward Gorey’s illustrations, you’ll enjoy Floating Worlds: The Letters of Edward Gorey and Peter F. Neumeyer.  Featuring letters and illustrated envelopes from a year long correspondence in the late ’60s, it appears to offer some amazing images and insight into the minds of two creative intellectuals.  Enjoy more examples of his illustrated works and a review of the book at  Brain Pickings.  And while you’re at  the Brain Picking’s site,  read the hilarious over-the-top, apology letter by Lewis Carroll which  is featured in the review for Charles Osgood’s  Funny Letters From Famous People.

Another gem of a site is Letters of Note, curated by Shaun Usher and described as an “attempt to gather and sort fascinating letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes, and memos.”  It is an eclectic collection, from Annie Leibovitz to Walt Whitman.  One of my favourites has got to be from the dynamic duo of  Dr Honeydew and Beaker to the Mars Rover Mission team. Read the full transcript here.

(Letter originally posted on Muppet Wiki by Scott Hanson. )

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How to write more fun mail – Part 1

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streetside table + almond milk latte + stationary on hand = perfect letter writing conditions.

First off, let’s talk environment.  Is there a place in your house that you gravitate most to – one with good light, a flat surface and a comfortable seat?  Maybe when you’re on campus with time to kill between classes there is a picnic table en-plein-air that calls to you?   When writing, do you like to fly solo with nothing but the breeze as your soundtrack, or do you prefer the low din of a public place for maximum productivity?  More often than not,  when I find myself in a cafe at a sunlit table and  happily caffeinated, the letter-writing muse strikes!  Having lamented the fact, too many times to count, that I don’t have the tools on hand to  take advantage of the moment,  I have finally wised up and taken note of my preferred writing venues.  If there is even a remote possibility for coffee shop schlepping, I gather together a supply kit to take with me when I leave the house.  Conveniently, Moleskine sketchbooks have little accordion pockets at the back that perfectly fit a selection of notecards and stamps.  If you’re feeling crafty,  you can easily DIY it, and glue an envelope into a day planner or journal that is easy to carry around with you.    Do as the Scouts do and “Be Prepared” for the write moment. ( I know.  pun intended. I’m groaning too. )

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Choose materials you love to look at.  The more aesthetically appealing the stationery, stamps and writing instruments you have, the more likely you’ll want to use them.  Start with stamps! If you aren’t already a regular at your local post office, pick a time of day that won’t be super busy to visit (avoid lunch hour!) and ask to look at some of their limited edition offerings.  Unusual stamps mean that you can take a more minimalist approach to addressing your envelopes if you are not of the “more is more” camp.   Their design and beauty will speak volumes and it’s like giving two gifts to the recipient – a well penned missive and a keepsake.  I still paste my favourites into a scrap book.   Anne Stark Ditmeyer, of the travel blog Prêt à Voyager , recently featured some wonderful stamps of illustrated French Idioms on her instagram feed. Have a look at these irreverent designs and get schooled here .

I love this card from Paper Rifle Co.

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Some favourites from my stash – Shiv card by Seltzer Goods and Like a Match Made in Heaven by Tom Frost for Urban Graphic.

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Beautiful custom address stamps by Paper Pastries.  And another reason to buy more Washi tape!

Whether you plan on writing an epic letter or a short and sweet thank you note, there is a multitude of choice when it comes to paper and writing instruments .  Experiment with different mediums – from Bic ballpoints to feathered quill pens,  yellow legal pads  to handmade paper – and find out what your preferences are.  Ultimately it comes down to what feels natural in the hand and on the page.  I love the look and cachet of fountain pens, but they are not well suited to the way I write.  I gravitate towards the more utilitairan, but no less satisfying,  Uniball Vision Rollerballs  and colourful gel pens.   I am a sucker for a darkly humoured “encouragement”  note card and when it comes to full fledged letters, I tend to gravitate towards simple blank sheets housed in a brightly hued envelope.  My handwriting knows no boundaries ( aka chicken scratchings) so I eschew lined paper and allow my cursive some room to roam across the page.

Here are just a few of my favourite resources to get you started if you are looking to add to your stationery stockpile:

Have a curated selection of letter writing goodies sent to your home with monthly stationary subscriptions  from Nicely Noted or Green Gables.

Themed pencil sets that will make you chuckle.

Irreverent rubber stamps and stationery from the Small Object.  My favourite is sunny eyes.

My favourite, David Shrigley postcards at Polite Cards.

Letterpress loveliness from Egg PressYellow Owl Work Shop, Port Paper Co.  and Papillon Letterpress.

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Daily Euphoria: attention to detail

tattly mailAll this talk of fun mail has clearly put the postal gods on my side.  This week, my order of Tattlys arrived and I was especially pleased to find such beautiful stamps adorning it.  Small details,  like those butterfly wings, certainly do heighten the anticipation and pleasure of opening mail.  Don’t you agree?

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How to get more fun mail

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Window Display at The Regional Assembly of Text in Vancouver, summer 2012.

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Vintage loveliness seen at the St. Lawrence Antiques Market, Toronto. Winter 2013

Hankering for some snail mail, but too shy to get the ball rolling?  Let me offer you an intriguing and no-strings attached suggestion:  Stuff In Envelopes.

You can sign up to receive a free letter from the SIE crew and here’s the best part, you get to choose the topic of the letter if you like. Based in British Columbia (hello, beloved left coast!), they are a dedicated bunch of folks who want to put an extra spring in your step on the way to the mail box.  I’m looking forward to being a part of their next round of mailings on August 1st – there’s still time if you want to join me!  And their motto, “Bad handwriting has never looked so good”, makes me love them that much more.

If you already have someone in mind to write to  but find yourself procrastinating, perhaps the Post A Letter Social Activity Club can help?  With local chapters all over the world which include Toronto, Los Angeles and Copenhagen, this club’s mandate is to “promote letter writing as a social and political tool, as well as a powerful generator of love, surprises, anticipation, relaxation and fun!”   Gather with some like-minded individuals and hunker down at a cozy location to write letters, have a beverage and maybe swap stationary. I dig the idea of hanging out with other people over a shared love, but not having the pressure of maintaining a running conversation the entire time. (Why yes, I AM an introvert. How could you tell? ).  For my fellow Torontonians, the next event is happening on Wednesday July 31 at the Holy Oak Cafe from 7-10 pm.

If you live in Vancouver, head to The Regional Assembly of Text on the first thursday of every month and join their letter writing club.  I had the great pleasure of visiting their flagship store on Main St. last summer and it is a beautiful space filled to the brim with swoon-worthy paper products.  I can’t imagine a better place to congregate and get inspired to write!

Maybe you’re already a prolific writer of missives and are looking for a little novelty to add to your routine.   Pigeon Post from The Letter Writers Alliance, has got your back.   You can send your pigeon, as is, within the US for just $2.86!  If someone sent me a plastic carrier pigeon in the mail, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be able power wash the perma-grin off of my face.  With more than 3700 members across the globe, the LWA is well-supported in their dedication to preserve the art of letter writing. A $5 (USD) membership gets you some neat swag (there’s a badge!) as well as access to a pen pal swap, membership mailings and exclusive LWA items such as the limited-edition RSVP mailing.  The Royal Society of Venturesome Post is a 4-week mailing full of special postal-related items curated around a specific theme.  Have a look at the latest RSVP #12 on the Paper Pastries blog.  What a lucky girl!

If you have any other tips on how to make your mailbox a hub for fun mail, I’d love to hear them!

Pigeon Post image originally published on LWA.
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Snail Mail

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I’m sitting here at the dining room table with the computer on my lap because, as you can see, three decades worth of  correspondence has exploded onto every flat surface within reach.  It’s a little overwhelming sharing space with the motherlode of nostalgia in front of you.

It also feels like I just won the jackpot.

Here in Toronto, we’ve had  two wild storms in as many weeks.  They left a large number of trees uprooted ( like this historic landmark) and countless basements flooded in their wake.  Casa Hobo was lucky enough to avoid damage, but it definitely forced me to survey our subterranean space,  aka “The Graveyard of Indecision”,  with a more discerning eye.  What are my prized possessions down here? What would I save?

The letters. Bien sûr!  We have a lot of history together.

My love for paper and ephemera started early and with the most accessible of utilitarian objects:  recipe cards from the “junk drawer” in the kitchen, graph paper pads liberated from my dad’s drafting table, post-it notes from my mom’s clinic.  I distinctly remember saving four different shades of pastel-coloured Kleenex (does anyone else remember that fad?) inside an Ovation chocolate box, which was also deemed worthy of collecting for its unusual shape.  Welcome to the mind of a weirdo seven year-old.

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You thought I was joking about the tissues, didn’t you? This is a box I saved from my childhood c. 1980s.

When I got older and discovered The Muppets and Hello Kitty , my allowance took a big hit from the stickers and stationary sets. It was also around that time, that my older cousin Audrey took pity on me and started a correspondence,  sending short notes about her life in Montreal .  Being a few years my senior, everything about her was sophisticated and mysterious to me.  How else would I have known exactly how annoying older brothers were and what it was like going to a school run by nuns?   While I had little of interest to report from grade school (see letters below for evidence of this)  I certainly put an extra effort into picking the right stationary and accoutrements to make an impression. Cue the scratch ‘n sniff stickers, googly eyes, and scented markers.

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And so began a lifelong love of snail mail, not only for the excitement of receiving news from afar,  but also for the chance to send something out into the world that might somehow communicate who or how you were , even if you weren’t old enough to have the words for it.  Okay, I’ll say it:  Miss Piggy paper unwittingly  helped me tap into the joy of creative expression.

This week’s muse is snail mail.  In my back pocket, are some neat links about the art of lettering writing,  inspiring missives – illustrated and otherwise – from my personal archives, and lots of  correspondence-related eye candy to share.   I’m getting so excited thinking about it that I feel it’s time to put pen to paper and  send some fun mail out into the world right now.   Until tomorrow!

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If I had a dollar for every time I saw this…

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