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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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. )
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 .
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:
Themed pencil sets that will make you chuckle.