Category Archives: Office Supplies

In My Mailbox: Vintage & Current

Happy October! (Obligatory can-you-believe-it’s-already-October comment here…) It has been so hot and humid here this week, it’s hard to believe it’s pumpkin weather. But, I know that’ll change soon enough. I’ve been super busy the past couple weeks preparing for Brookfield Fine Arts Festival and Music, Art, & Wine at Empowering Gardens, and applying to more shows this fall and winter…this month is going to be busy with preparations for that and some other changes I’ll talk about soon. For now, let’s talk about mail!

Recently in my mailbox, I was delighted with a surprise package from Robyn. She found this vintage Forest Park, ILL stamp at a flea market. Isn’t it fun? I’ve already used it on some mail. I made me curious to know when the post office changed to 2-letter abbreviations for states. It turns out it happened in October 1963 and it was because of the zip code! Apparently, in June 1963, the post office came up with a list of abbreviated state names, but it was too long for the 23-character limit of addressing equipment. So, they had to change it again in October. Weirdly enough, Illinois was Il. in 1831, and for some reason, they added an extra L from 1874-1963 and removed it again for the final 2-letter abbreviations we know today. And we are both fans of Schitt’s Creek and we convinced Katie to try it again when we all got together for gel plate printing, so the keychain is fitting. If you haven’t watched, I can’t recommend it enough. I was not crazy about the first part of Season 1, but I stuck with it and it’s totally worth it…it’s just so fabulous.

Also, how cute is the package Robyn sent?! It just made my day. Thanks, Robyn, for the treats and for prompting a little postal history lesson, too!

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Washi Weekend: Handsome Man Bartender

We were shopping in the fancy department store, Takashimaya, when I found this hilarious “Handsome Bartender” washi tape. Naoto made me buy it because “it’s so you!” and it made me laugh. There are several other Handsome Man tapes: a teacher, a high school student, a host, a doctor, and a freelancer. (You can see the others below the Handsome Bartender link.) Really, there’s a handsome man for everyone. Right now I’m using him on my cocktail notebook (a gift from April who purchased it at an old school stationery store in Massachusetts.) I also put him in my planner for July because he just fits. I think I need to find a way to use him on some mail this month. I can’t keep him all to myself!

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April in Chicago in April

My pen pal, April, and her partner Geof were in town this month for a visit. They live in New Zealand and April is a huge fan of Presley so she stops in to see her when she’s in town. And, we always go to Greer when she visits. It’s so fun to shop in Greer with someone else who loooooves stationery and fancy office supplies as much as I do. We were the only customers in the shop while we were there, but you’d never know it as much as we were chattering about Mr. Boddington’s great style, vintage pencils, the many, many notebooks we have in our stashes, and the great variety of greeting cards at Greer. mr. boddington's stationery, pencil case, vintage pencil, Mr. Boddington's pencil stationery Naoto gave me a gift card to Greer for Christmas and this was the first chance I had to spend it. I still have some money left to spend again, but I this time I chose some Mr. Boddington’s pencil-themed stationery, a vintage pencil, and a new pencil bag. (Neither the vintage pencil nor the pencil bag are available online.)We also went to Quimby’s to look at zines and take pictures in the photo booth. (I can never pass up a photo booth.)April and Geof were in town for Record Store Day and they shopped a lot of the record stores in Chicago, so we took them to Val’s Halla and Old School Records in our neighborhood. Val’s had live music which really put me in the mood to shop. On their last day in Chicago, it snowed six inches, so our plans were adjusted. We ended up going shopping and to Portillo’s for Chicago-style hot dogs and Italian beefs. Weirdly, we didn’t write any letters together this time, but there’s always next year!

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Olivetti Valentine

Naoto surprised me with one of the best gifts ever for my birthday last month: an Olivetti Valentine. If you don’t know, the Valentine is one of a few holy grails for typewriter collectors. It was originally designed to be an inexpensive portable typewriter, but became a classic among design lovers. There’s even one displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. This page has some fun information and old Olivetti Valentine advertisements. I was shocked because I don’t really remember dwelling on wanting one. I think I mentioned it in passing once when we saw one in a store window in Japan and that it is a coveted design item featured at the MOMA. But he remembered and managed to find one and have it shipped safely to him with a week to spare. I was genuinely shocked, which is rare because he has a very hard time keeping a secret and I never thought he would buy a typewriter. This Olivetti was made for Spain so it has some Spanish characters, like ñ and ¿. As much as I want to leave it out to admire it, I know dust is a typewriter’s kryptonite so I’m keeping it in its case and vowing to put it away after each use. Oh and I’m only using this typewriter for letter writing and other fun things–I won’t be using it for Galaxie Safari. I want to use it, but not put it through the card-making abuse that my Smith-Corona and Royal are put through. Its case is a hard red plastic that snaps into the machine. Apparently it’s designed to be a wastebasket when you take it off to use the typewriter. Every detail was considered! So far I’ve written a few letters on it using my personalized stationery from last year’s birthday. I’ll leave you with this fabulous 1970s advertisement for the Olivetti.

 

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My Tidied Letter Writing Spot

It’s Monday and I’m finally feeling human again! It feels so good to be able to breathe out of both nostrils again and to be free from the amped up feeling I get from being on cold medicine. I spent some time recovering on Saturday by clearing off the sunny side of my desk so it would be ready for writing this month.

(Please note that I have only shown you the tidy third of my desk…the rest is still a work in progress. Always…) I made a little shelf of mail knick knacks. They won’t live here forever because they are taking up too much desk real estate, but I like them here for Letter Writing Month. For now, I have plenty of space for writing letters, but when I’m making cards, I need a clear deck for production. Eventually I’ll probably hang a shelf for my mail toy collection. And I switched out my supplies in my Classiky box…I went with a mail theme for now, but I also have all my spring and Easter things waiting in the wings…so many choices for April! I wrote three whole thank you notes on Saturday before I had to take a rest. It feels good to be participating in life again!

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Happy National Pencil Day!

Galaxie Safari, National Pencil Day, pencils, vintage stampsI’m celebrating by writing a few notes with my favorite pencils and prepping my calendar for April…it’s National Card & Letter Writing Month! Do you have any pencil or letter writing plans this weekend?

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Washi Weekend: Wrapple

 

Back to Japan posts–

Since our last visit, Wrapple moved out of Parco and into a bigger, street-level spot near Tokyu Hands. It is such a fun space–clean and bright with lots of washi tape accents.On the first floor, there’s a counter where they offer tea, coffee, and sweets and then as you go back into the store, all of the washi tape, stickers, embellishments, and packaging are displayed along the walls. There are so many rolls of washi tape. In all of the stationery stores we visited, Wrapple has the best selection of washi tapes. They have brands that I didn’t see in other stores and the most extensive selections of solid mt tapes. They also sell their own exclusive designs that are really different and fun!The stairs are decorated with mt’s home washi tapes. I loved so many of the new home designs, but alas, I have some at home that I’ve never put on our walls so I didn’t allow myself to buy more. Upstairs there are couches and tables where you can enjoy your coffee or tea. There were people working on laptops and meeting friends up there. It was really quiet and no one was playing with the washi tape, so I felt a little weird playing at the Make & Take table. But, I decided the washi tapes were too tempting so I made myself a little tag. Since it was Halloween time, you could also make a washi tape mask, or decorate your placemat with the washi tape. Next time, I’m going in with a plan and making some postcards to send!

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In My Mailbox: Traveling Mail Kit

My penpal Nic sent me this fabulous traveling mail kit just in time for our trip to Japan last year. Her mom made it and is hoping to sell them, so Nic asked me to “test” it out and see what needed to be changed or fixed. It’s made from this gorgeous orange gradient Japanese fabric with metallic gold accents. My pictures aren’t doing it justice! Inside, she used an accent fabric of orange, black, and gold. There are pen loops and pockets to keep stationery and stamps and little extras organized. She thought of everything! Nic tucked in some postcards and stamps to get me started……and some stickers and a playing card holding some washi tape. (Isn’t that genius? The washi tape comes right off the coated playing card! It’s such a perfect way to carry a little bit of washi without the bulk of a whole roll!)I carried my little kit with me everywhere on our trip. It is so light and compact, perfect for long days of being a tourist and walking all over Tokyo. I tucked postcards inside, along with Japanese stamps, my travel address book, a pen, and some ephemera that I picked up along the way.

Now that I’m home, I still tuck the mail kit in my bag when I’m out and about in case I have time for a postcard or a quick note. It’s held up beautifully through all my travels, so I’m confident Nic’s mom can start production when she’s ready!

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Washi Weekend: TV Tray

A long time ago, I asked my parents to keep an eye out for a single TV tray so I could eat my lonely dinners on the couch. (When Naoto works, that’s where I eat…I know it’s uncivilized, but it’s very cozy!) I’ve also been using my TV tray as a letter writing desk. I don’t have any “before” pictures, but it’s basically just a boring oak TV tray, probably from the 90s. This week I decided to jazz it up with all of my mail and writing themed washi tape. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out! It’s satisfying to see the whole “story” of some of my washi tapes that only get seen on envelopes. And, as always, it’s always good to spend out some of my stash! If I get tired of the mail theme (NEVER!) or the tape gets ruined by a soup spill (likely,) I can always switch it out for something else.

In other news, this pretty much sums up my accomplishments for the week. I’ve been keeping up with writing letters and I’ve been doing a lot of reading…I don’t think I have the winter blues right now, but I’m definitely feeling like I’m in hibernation mode. Thankfully, my work schedule is getting busier and we have a few events on our social calendar this month that should get me out of the house more often!

 

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Stationery Tour on the Chuo Line

I randomly started following a few Japanese paper shops on Instagram last year. When we were planning this trip, I told Naoto I wanted to visit some new places, and it just so happened that three of my top choices are situated along the Chuo line, out to the Tokyo suburbs. Our first stop was Hachimakura, a vintage paper shop.  Hachimakura is tiny and smells of old wood and paper. It is packed in every nook and cranny with vintage papers from all over the world. I spent so much time in there sifting through tiny envelopes and packages of labels, stamps, magazine pages, and patterned papers. It was a dark and moody shop, but oh so perfect for the wares. I ended up buying some new screenprinted patterned papers, some old deadstock Taiwanese labels, and some vintage Japanese beauty labels. Next up was Tonarino, a tiny stationery store located a little further along the Chuo line. They carry a lot of standard Japanese stationery brands, but also a lot of independent designers and they have so many cards and stationery that are designed in-house.Tonarino was so white and bright inside, making their colorful array of products pop off the shelves. It was such a cheerful little shop. I ended up buying some Halloween cards (which I sent from Japan) and a house-designed postcard and stationery set. The last place we went was Yamada Stationery. Yamada is in the suburb of Tokyo, Mitaka. Sadly, it was dark by then, so I don’t have any pictures of the outside or inside. I loved this shop, and probably would have bought so much more if we had visited later in our trip. They sell everything from basic Japanese office supplies, to craft supplies, and unique lines of washi tape and stationery. I ended up with a library themed purchase: library cards and pockets and stickers, library card washi tape, and a tube of lotion that looks like old school glue.

Each shop on their own had a lot to offer, but I’m glad we spent some time mapping out the visit so that we didn’t spend an hour on the train hitting up one shop…I always love a stationery adventure.

 

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