Friday, July 29, 2011

Busy Busy!

  It is headed for 99 degrees today, so I was outside at the crack of dawn picking things from the garden. Today is preparation day for the Sabbath. I will clean the house from top to bottom, cook for the four meals we will eat between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday and somehow fit into the mix, processing all of this wonderful bounty before the sun goes down. Why then you ask, am I sitting at my computer instead of making progress on the tasks at hand?

Well, I needed to cool down some, (I got a headache from the heat while in the garden...) and I wanted to show you all why I might not be as timely as I usually am getting return letters written!  I have been working pretty hard to get caught up on outgoing mail and by the end of tomorrow I should be up to date. But I have had to put a lot of time in the garden and  the kitchen recently, so I am later getting things out than I like to be.

  I have received some wonderful mail goodness in the last couple of days, but I am going to have to wait to post them until after I finish the tasks at hand. I also have a couple of fun projects to talk about... One is a project I am working on with my pen friend Country Dirt at We are writing letters back and forth taking on the role of a fictional brother and sister in the year 1876. I will be writing a blog entry on this project in the near future. The other project is going to be a "Summer Fun" mailart call, the details will be posted in the next few days, but for now it is back to the kitchen to process all this produce... anyone want to lend a hand...?

                                                         Until next time, I'll see you in the mail!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I Have a Confession to Make...

  Hi! This is a confession I hate to make... I am dyslexic... really... sometimes I can't read even the clearest of handwriting and trust that I am interpreting important specifics like an address.  Don't get me wrong, I love getting hand written letters. I enjoy the ink and the different styles of handwriting, it is part of the fun, and for the most part I do fine when reading the body of a letter, it is just making sure that the address is correct that worries me...
  At this moment I have a letter ready to mail out to Hanna in Sweden, but I can't make out some of the important parts of the address... I am so sorry, but Hannah, if you are reading this blog post would you please e-mail me at and give me your return address? I loved your letter and want to make sure that my return letter actually reaches you, I don't trust my ability to interpret the address.
  Well, while I am at it, I guess I will just make this a request from anyone who writes me a letter for the first time... Due to my challenges with reading and deciphering handwriting, if you would please print, type or use a address label for your return address I would really appreciate it.  I want to make sure that you receive my responses to the lovely mail you all send me. Thanks so much for your understanding! See you in the mail!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Rest of the Photos I Promised to Post...

A very cute note card from StoneZebra

A lovely handmade envie and letter from Hester.
My outgoing mail. I was going to post them individually but decided to wait until the letters reached their destination before posting close ups. That way I don't spoil the surprise for the recipient!

My most recent rubber cut. 
Today I received some absolutely awesome mail! I won't get the photos up for a day or two, since I am really trying to get my return letters written. I'll see you in a day or two with posts of my most recent incoming mail and a some really lovely gifts from my dear pen friends. Until then I'll see you in the mail!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

One Very Happy Mailbox_ Incoming Mail

I have had some wonderful mail days recently! I have gotten mail from many of my regular pen friends and have had some new pen friends write as well. What a blessing! I have been working my way through the pile of letters to writing returns, and as usual, I mailed a bunch out without photographing them. Sigh... But I did get some photos of the last round of letters I wrote. I will post them after I post the incoming mail. So here we go!
Post cards from Susanna, Pamela, Super Hero, Bev, Sharon, Patty, Post Muse, Mim

The front of a very intricate and fun card that Limner sent me.

The back of Limner's card. There was a teabag attached as well, but I used it! Thanks Limner! I love tea!

A really cool envie made from a nautical map (nautical map made of Tyvek, what a wonderful idea...waterproof and virtually indestructable!). Linda is a new penfriend and finding her letter in my mailbox was a very pleasant surprise. She also enclosed a packet of goodies to use on my mailart!

A post card from Genevieve, a letter from Angelia, the letter from Kimi has vintage postage on it.

I recieved a letter and this postcard from Pen Thief. The post card was quilted by her mother... it was very nice of her to share her mother's talents with me... Thanks to both of you!

Wanda sent a lovely letter and some of her photographs. Isn't the hummingbird photo awesome!

A nice note from Bev and a vintage seal and send from my new pen friend Eunice.

A card from my new pen friend Chris. The photgraph is by Chris, isn't it beautiful?

 This letter full of mailart goodness is from my pen friend in Finland. She and I are both fans of Marjolien Bastin, she sent me two great MB cards to add to my collection. I adore the pink gingham check on the inside of the envie!

Sirpa's letter was charming as usual, but this one was especially so since she decorated it with watercolor paintings of her new kitten Sissi. She is very talented!

Sirpa also shared her garedn with me through a really fun garden journal.

There were many pages of colorful photos and descriptions of her gardens... It sounds so beautiful! I wish I could see it in person!

  Wow, I am just amazed by all the wonderful mail I've gotten! I was going to post it all in this post but I think I will post the rest in my next blog entry since this one is getting kind of long.
  It is really great to be connected with so many lovely and generous people. I am constantly amazed by the interesting and creative people I have come to know through the mail. Thanks to all for making my mail box a happy place to visit! Until next time I'll see you in the mail!  Elle


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

More Unpacked Boxes

  We have been living back in the USA more than a year now, and finally I have my art supplies out of boxes! I found some things I thought got lost in our return trip from Costa Rica: my beloved paint brushes, which have seen better days, but I love them anyway...they aren't worn out, they're well broken in...! I also found the set of Berol Prismacolor pencils that I have torn the house apart looking for several times and just recently replaced. Sigh. Isn't that the way of things, as soon as you give up on finding something and replace it, you will find the lost item.

  I have been putting off opening my "art stuff" boxes, since we have been reworking some of the rooms in the cottage, I had no place to set up my space until recently. For most of my adult life, I had to use the dining room table for art projects. This was difficult at best, since I hardly ever got finished with a project in one sitting and the table would need to be freed up for meals. So I drag my stuff out of the closet, set it up and rush like crazy to get to a stopping point where I could clean it all up before dinner needed to be served.

Then a few years ago, I stumbled across the answer to my problem. I drove by a "weekend sale", different from a yard sale since it was open Friday,Saturday, and Sunday. I hardly ever get to go to yard sales; we are Torah Observant and keep a Saturday Sabbath, (a day of rest with no commerce of any kind). Since most yard sales are on Saturday, I usually miss all the good bargains, so I was very excited to see the sign for a Friday through Sunday sale! I drove past the sign and then abruptly u-turned, forsaking my intended destination for greener pastures. I thought I heard something calling my name... ever so softly, "Elle, come find me... I'm waiting to be yours..." When I got out of the car and started walking up to the sale, I saw on the driveway a piece of furniture with a big sign on it that said "Please take me home". There were two ladies standing there looking at it, one remarked to the other that it was an interesting piece of furniture, but she had no idea what it would be good for. I knew exactly what it would be good for and as soon as they were a polite distance away I grabbed the sign and went to the woman sitting behind a T.V. tray with a cash box on it. I asked how much it was and she said "oh... we had been asking $85 dollars for it, but if your can take it with you when you leave, you can have it for $75." Normally I wouldn't think of spending that kind of money on the spur of the moment, but I didn't think twice, I wrote a check and danced all the way back to the car. I couldn't believe that it was actually mine!!

It's mine all mine!! This vintage drafting table began its life in a university architecture classroom in the 1940's. It is now a permanent fixture in our family room and will one day belong to our youngest son, who like his mom, is artistically inclined. Most people would need to sit on a tall stool for it to be the right working height, but I always work standing up, so it is the perfect for me! The table top tilts and the cabinets can be arranged within the frame in several configurations, to suit the needs of the user.
I am afraid that the tilt top will never get used, since I always have wa-ay too much stuff sitting on it!

  In the boxes that held my fabric and art supplies, I also found some other things that have been packed away since we left for Costa Rica in 2009. At one point in the past I was very involved with "altered arts", like altered books, art dolls, atcs and the like. I eventually found that even though I really enjoyed the challenge of a "round robin" altered book or an "add and pass" art doll, I really didn't have the time or money to commit to these kind of projects. I decided to stick to my love of letters as a my personal outlet and to expend my creative energies on my mail... But I still have a few of the projects I worked on during that season of my life, and I thought you might enjoy seeing a few of them. So over the next couple of posts I will include a short show and tell of some of my finished (or almost finished...) projects.

  I made a cloth book in commemeration of a Mad Hatter's tea party that I had at Heart's Ease Cottage one year. It was a lovely day for a garden party. Each of the friends that attended brought a hat of some sort to decorate. I provided the supplies to decorate the hats with and as it turned out all of my generous guests brought things as well, so we had a virtual treasure trove of goodies to decorate with! We munched on hazelnut flavored, dark chocolate dipped strawberries, (berries compliments of our strawberry patch), as hot glue and glitter, silk birds and strings of faux pearls and other goodies became part of our party chapeaus.

  Later, brunch was served in the shade of our huge Shingle Oak trees in the front yard. We brunched on homemade chocolate chip or blueberry waffles, quiche, fresh blueberries and strawberries picked from the garden that morning. There were several choices of iced tea, and frozen fruit ice cubes to keep the tea cold without diluting it with melting ice. As a finisher there was a checkerboard, citrus flavored, Mad Hatter's cake with candles that burned with green, orange and pink flames. We all ate and laughed and talked until we could unbirthday party no more...

The art dolls on the front cover represent me,(the blonde,)and my dear friend Ketzy,(the brunette), who helped me prepare everything for the party.

The silk flowers that are embroidered and embellished to the left page are from the table decor. The background on the right page is made from one of the table napkins I chose for the buffet table.

The right page has a photo of the cottage all dressed up for the party.

The Mad Hatter's Cake

Decorating hats

Finally, a group shot of the mad hatters. I never finished the last page, so it is on my "to-do" list. Then to bind the book? Right now I am holding it together with string threaded through the grommets, but I want something else for the final binding. Anyone have any suggestions?

    Well, my next post will be about all the lovely mail that has been pouring into my POB. I just need to get it all logged in and photographed. Thanks to everyone who wrote me and brought some very happy mail days! Until next time, see you in the mail! Elle

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Forth of July!

Hi everyone! I hope you are all having a good holiday. We went to our small town parade this morning...I love all the cub scout troops, vets from foreign wars, horses and vintage is the one thing about life in our little community that hasn't changed....
  Tonight there will be fireworks in a large clearing across from the post office and everyone will set out camp chairs and coolers, kids will run around like wild indians, catching lightening bugs and waving sparklers until the fireworks start. Then every eye will be on the sky, oo's and ah's will abound. I love to forth of July! Since there is no hope of a good mail day today, since the PO is closed I thought I would send you all a little note saying "Happy Fourth of July"! Now I'm off to get a cheese burger. See you in the mail!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Sad Mail Days...

Going to the mailbox is one of the highlights of my day... I walk with bated breath to the PO box, turn the key and quickly pull open the door with an anticipatory smile on my face. When I find mail in the box, I do the "Snoopy dance", sometimes literally sometimes only in spirit... clutch my treasures to my heart and I make my way back to the car. The letters will ride with me, sitting on the seat next to mine where I can see them as I complete my other errands.
  I always try to make reading my letters an event, make a pot of tea, curl up in my favorite reading spot and relish my goodies. But in the last three weeks I have only had mail in my mail box once... I was so glad to see something in the mailbox that I didn't even wait until I got to the car to read it, I just used a key to open the top and read it right there in the post office! I have gone from checking it every day to checking every couple of days and then still finding the box empty and forlorn. I wondered if maybe the post office has been holding my mail for some reason and was just about to go ask them about it when I opened my mailbox and saw the red envelope of a Netflix... so the post office seems to still be delivering my mail... hm-m... Thoughts rattle around in my head, did I say something wrong? Did none of my outgoing mail reach its recipient? No... I don't think that is the problem, I think most likely that it is summer, people are out having fun. They are having a life and enjoying the nice weather and some day (hopefully soon...) they will write and tell me about it! So for now, while my sad little po box sits collecting dust, I am going to make envelopes and create mail art so that when I have mail to respond to I will be ahead of the game! See you in the mail!!

Friday, July 1, 2011

I Never Wrote a Love Letter to My One True Love...

Newlyweds 1978
   I and know it sounds odd to say it but...I have never written a love letter to my one true love. It is odd...but then our romance began oddly. We never dated either. Nope, not even once. My husband and I met through a mutual friend.  I went to visit my friend, who lived down the hill from me. Curtis wasn't home and Da, who was his roommate, answered the door. He was beautiful, tanned from working outside, a head full of unruly sun-bleached hair, a smile that to this day reminds me of Peter Pan, boyish and full of zeal. His eyes so blue they took my words and I just stood there staring...
  I had been dating someone for years. I wasn't looking to find my life's love. I was just trying to visit my friend Curtis...who wasn't at home. Uh-h... so once I collected my wits and discovered that my friend wasn't home, I left a message with the fair haired boy and made my way home.
  Over the course of the summer I got to know Da better, as we, (my boyfriend and I), came to hang out with our friend Curtis. At the end of the summer, I was moving to a new place and Da's lease was up. I needed a roommate and he needed a place to live, so he rented a room from me in the place I had just purchased. It was the late 70's, male and female roomies were fairly common. I had a steady boyfriend and Da was dating, the arrangement was platonic. It worked out well. I had someone around to help with upkeep and he was good company.
  Over the winter we experienced what we have jokingly called "The Four Horses of the Apocalypse". We had the worst winter weather in years.The winds howled their angst through the jalousie windows, depositing a thick layer of snow on the sill inside of the windows. The furnace blew up, the pipes broke, flooding the yard and freezing the van to the driveway until spring thaw. My pet birds and hermit crab froze to death one bitter night. I hurt myself in a fall on the ice that left me unable to work for weeks while an elbow injury healed, so money was short. When the pipes broke the inside of my trailer flooded so everything was wet... it just went on and on. Da and I face each new blow with the optimism of the young ... In times of weakness when I would start to worry or despair about the state of things, his constancy and light-hearted attitude helped me through. He helped me care for the details of life, he cared for me... he was my best friend.
  Then spring came. The ice thawed and the van was freed from its wintery prison. Da and I were able to make repairs to the house and life was beginning to sort itself out. I was still dating my boyfriend of 3 years, but he was no closer to seeing our relationship as permanent than in any of the previous years. I decided to take a job that would move me to another city and Da was going to join the military. I dissolved my relationship with my boyfriend and began making my plans for a new life in Richmond. One night while Da and I were in the kitchen making dinner, the conversation turned to what life would be like when we no longer lived under the same roof. We hadn't really thought about that part of the changes that were coming... gee... the more we talked about all we had been through together and how well our life together worked, the more we realized that while we were busy dealing with and surviving the "apocalypse", we had forged a relationship that might actually last. So we decided that night over cooking stew in the kitchen, that we would begin our life together. There were no dates, no proposal, no engagement ring, no big wedding plans. It was not romantic in the conventional sense, it was just the two of us in agreement that we could make a good life together. The wedding took place shortly afterwards and we began our next adventure...
  We both joined the military, saw the world, and started a family. We created a fruitful homestead out of North Carolina red clay, homeschooled and raised two boys and lived in the rainforest of Costa Rica. Our life has been full of stories, some wonderful, some tragic, with lots of just everday stuff, but there is a single thread that has been woven through it all, we are good together. I haven't written the love of my life any love letters because words don't suffice. Instead, together we have expressed our love through our actions, through faithfulness and faith, by having grand adventures and considering the impossible possible, by being content and feeling blessed by the simple things in life. We have held each other through a sea of heartaches, trusting that God will carry us on to solid ground again when we were unable to get there on our own. We have seen His hand on our lives and we have rejoiced. Our love letters have been written on our hearts, with the permanent ink of a decision we made long ago... that we would remain together until death parts us.
  Today, 33 years ago, we started our life as one. I still lose my words when I look into his bright blue eyes...