Category Archives: Office Supplies

First-Day-Of-School Pencil Pack

pencil gift, first day of school, CW Pencil enterprises, folded chopstick holder, pencil paperKaren started a new job last week teaching a class at University of Illinois at Chicago. We wanted to give Professor Karen (I’m sure her students call her something more formal.) a little good luck gift to send her off on her first day.Frixion pens, Japanese pens, CW Pencils, editing pencil, highlighter pencil, combo pencil, pencilsLike me, Karen loves Frixion pens, so I pulled a .05 from the “Japanese vault” and added it with a couple of pencils from C.W. Pencils. The Editor looked like a perfect pencil for grading and planning. (Are papers still graded on…paper?) And the Graphite/Highlighter combo seemed perfect for planning and note taking.  I folded a little origami pencil holder for them out of my new favorite pencil paper. I’ll post a quick tutorial for the pencil holder next week. It’s so easy and they have so many uses! (They’re actually chopstick holders!)

P.S. Thinking of our friends (and family!) in Florida and the Carolinas this weekend as another hurricane heads for the US. The devastation on the islands in the Atlantic is just heartbreaking. And still thinking of our friends in Texas who are cleaning up after last month’s hurricane.

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Chalk-Full of School Supplies

Chalk pencils, Chalkboard tape, Japanese office supplies, Hester & CookI think my husband’s punning is rubbing off on me…

I have a little chalk theme going on today. I am old enough to remember chalkboards. Our school transitioned to white boards during my high school years. Mrs. Petersen kept her blackboard though. I always appreciated that about her. I always found the marker to be so slippery on the white board. It didn’t have the same feeling as writing with chalk. And the sound! Normally, chalk sounds so pleasing scraping across the board. But then there’s always that one moment when the chalk makes that horrid high-pitched squeak that catches everyone in the room off-guard. I wonder if that sound is why white boards were invented. I ordered this Hester & Cook “Midtown” white pencil because I’m always looking for a new way to write on dark papers, especially this time of year as I gear up for Halloween mail. I was pretty skeptical about it because colored pencils usually don’t show up well on dark papers (in my experience.) But the pencil was really good! I thought it looked very chalk-like and it writes sort of like a cross between a crayon and a colored pencil. It was a little waxy, but it wrote smoothly, and like I said, covered the dark green paper well. (I smeared it a little bit…) Hester and Cook chalk pencilI plan to use the pencil to decorate the table and black place cards for our next Phantom Flight Night. Though I really like the classic green chalkboard look, too. Nihon Rikagaku chalkboard tape and chalk set, bunbougu cafe, chalkboard tape, Japanese office suppliesI picked up this Nihon Rikagaku black chalkboard tape set at bunbougu cafe last year. (The green tape in the top picture is also Nihon Rikagaku. I found that at the Paper Source Warehouse Sale, though it is not carried at Paper Source.) Nihon Rikagaku is another old Japanese company. They’ve been making chalk since 1937 and since 1960 they’ve hired adults with cognitive disabilities to work in their factories. (I didn’t know this at the time of my purchase, but it makes me want to look for more Nihon Rikagaku products on our next trip. You can find their basic chalk on Amazon!) Nihon Rikagaku chalkboard tape and chalk set, bunbougu cafe, chalkboard tape, Japanese office suppliesThe tape is made from Japanese washi paper and it’s coated so chalk can be erased easily. I’ve only used this on gifts (like it shows on the tiny package label) so far, but I think it would be a fun way to label things in our pantry.

 

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Red/Blue Pencils

caran d'ache and mitsubishi red and blue pencilsOk back to school supplies!

I’ve been using these red and blue editing pencils in my planner this summer. I got the Caran d’Ache from CW pencils last year and I just uncovered the Mitsubishi (similar) in my Japan drawer. (The Japan hoard is vast, guys!) caran d'ache and mitsubishi red and blue pencils, planner checklist, So…I know this is groundbreaking…I use my red/blue pencils to mark my to-do list. (As you can see above, last Thursday was a very productive day.) When I complete a task, I check it off in blue. When I don’t get to something, I draw a red arrow next to the task so I can move it to the next day. I know I could do all of this with a plain lead pencil, but where’s the fun in only having one pencil in your pencil cup?caran d'ache and mitsubishi red and blue pencils, RSVP listI hosted book club this month and I used the red/blue pencil to keep track of RSVPs. Blue checks for yes, red X’s for no. 
caran d'ache and mitsubishi red and blue pencils, color test, Hobonichi techoSo, which pencil is better? Honestly, I just reach into my pencil cup and grab the closest pencil. I’m not using them long enough to truly have a favorite. (Though I do tend to be biased towards all things from Japan!)

The Caran d’Ache is a bit softer, and apparently the lead is water soluble, though I’m not drawing or coloring in my planner, so it doesn’t really matter for my uses. The pencil is a hexagon, which can sometimes be more comfortable than the round Mitsubishi, but again, I’m just checking off to-do lists, so I’m not holding it for very long.

The Mitsubishi is a firmer lead and a round barrel. But the writing feel is similar to the Caran d’Ache. I love the way they both write in my Hobonichi planner, very smooth and easy. Even though the pencils look like the colored lead would be very different, the colors look pretty much the same to me. The Mitsubishi red is a bit more orange and the blue is a tiny bit darker (it says Vermillion and Prussian Blue on the barrel,) but the two pencils are very close in color.

I’d love to hear how you color code your checklists.

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Washi Weekend: Back to School Edition

washi weekend, MT tapes, sparrow notebook, school suppliesI’ve been in 100% neon mode for my mail and my planner this summer. I’ve been using all of my neon washi tapes, pens, pencils, stickers and papers. It’s been fun, but I’m ready for a change, a change to school supplies. Even though I’m not going back to school, I ordered myself a few pencils from CW Pencil Enterprises last week. Those new pencils got me in the mood to refresh my desk space and break out some back-to-school treats from my washi and Japan stationery hoard. I have a “Japan drawer” in my desk that holds a bunch of washi tapes and backup pens. Since we most likely aren’t going to Japan this year, I’ve been dipping into my stash more and more. It’s like having my own little store to visit. washi weekend, MT tapes, sparrow notebook, school suppliesI bought a few limited edition washi tapes during our last trip that fit the back-to-school bill perfectly. The top two are collaborations between mt and two iconic Japanese brands, and the bottom one was a special tape created by bunbougu cafesparrow notebooks, sparrow washi tape, japanese office suppliesThe first tape (similar) comes from the Tsubame Notebooks in Japan. These notebooks are iconic in Japanese schools, kind of like composition notebooks here in the U.S. Except, as usual, Japan Does It Better! The paper is high-quality and works really well with pencils and a variety of pens. (This JetPens video shows it all nicely!) Tsubame Notebooks have been hand-bound since the 1947 and have remained unchanged since then. I just love the graphic sparrow logo. And here’s a little secret: I bought the notebook after I bought the tape. Fueki glue, Japanese glue, washi weekend, MT tapes, school suppliesFueki glue is another popular Japanese school supply. Fueki-kun, the little yellow mascot, is a pot of glue. It’s made from 100% corn starch and is safe for young children. Fueki has been around since 1925 and offers a large line of products, including (grown up) glue sticks, India inks, paper supplies, and even cosmetics. I’m a bit older than the Fueki-kun market, but I thought the little pot was so cute and it was only sixty cents so I bought a few. The little dog makes such a cute tape, don’t you think?

bunbougu cafe, tokyo office supplies, tokyo stationery, washi tape, pencil sharpenerAnd lastly, a little bit about the bunbougu cafe tape. It has drawings of pencil sharpeners, pencils, and pencil marks. Next to the pencil sharpeners, it says, “gari gari” which is the onomatopoeia for “grate grate.” (Things sound different in Japanese–all of their animal noises are different too!)

presley with Fueki nori on her head, things on my catI’m looking forward to some back-to-school mail this week!

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The Royal Society of Venturesome Parcels

Letter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailOnce in a blue moon, the Letter Writers Alliance will release a small subscription series called the Royal Society of Venturesome Parcels, or RSVP. It’s a four-week themed mailing of postal and vintage surprises. Most recently, the theme of the RSVP was Pigeon Fancier and I managed to get one of the subscriptions. There is so much mail love in the mailings…Donovan and Kathy really go all out curating the perfect items for each theme. And the design and the details–like the pigeon stamp and wax seal on the address label–just make it such a treat to find in your mailbox each week. Letter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailLetter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailThe first mailing included a Pigeon Fancier membership card. Subscribers received an email asking us what our pigeon’s name should be. I chose Dorothy Zbornak of Golden Girls fame. And there was a bag of tea (that I haven’t tried yet) and a bag of delicious coffee, too.  Letter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailAnd! There was a pigeon espresso cup! (I believe it’s made by Circa Ceramics here in Chicago.) Letter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailThe second mailing was a sweet little box. This is what it looked like inside. Letter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailThere was a pigeon patch, two tiny pigeon rubber stamps, a pigeon washi tape, and a pigeon tape dispenser. (OK, it looks more like a dove, but you get the idea…)Letter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailThe third mailing was Dorothy’s papers. It arrived in a personalized kraft folder with some pigeon stamps. Letter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailInside, there was a stack of vintage pigeon awards and diplomas that can be used in mail art (or added to my paper collection.) Letter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailAnd, Dorothy has her own personalized stationery…she will be penning a letter shortly. Letter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailThe final mailing–surprise!–was Dorothy herself! Donovan’s calligraphy adorned a banner on the top of the box. Letter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailEach pigeon was hand painted according to our specifications. (I requested a blue pigeon based on this information.) For now, Dorothy is living on my (messy desk) but I have plans to hang a shelf for some of my mail things and she’ll probably live there. Or maybe I’ll mail her someday…

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Stamp Out Hate 

Stamp Out Hate, resist, #resist, political postcards, Paper Pastries, sakura moonlight gel pens, letter writers allianceDonovan of the Letter Writers Alliance has taken letter writing to another level with her latest project, Stamp Out Hate. Stamp Out Hate is a “project devoted to spreading hope through the mail.” It encourages positivity and kindness by writing letters and postcards. Each month, there is an action item where Donovan shares the story and address of a person or an organization who could use some positive mail vibes. So far, it’s ranged from mosques and women’s groups to individuals who have received hate mail for speaking out. Stamp Out Hate, resist, #resist, political postcards, Paper Pastries, sakura moonlight gel pens, letter writers allianceDonovan has also been hosting mini letter socials for each action. This month I had a chance to go to one at the Read/Write Library in Chicago. There were pens, rubber stamps, stickers, a stack of postcards, and plenty postage. She had the addresses and stories ready to get us started writing. It took about fifteen minutes to write three postcards. It felt good to be a part of something positive. Sometimes writing elected officials brings out anger and stress. Writing people and organizations who are helping make the world a more welcoming place makes my heart a little bit lighter. (Not that I’ll stop writing my elected officials…it’s just not always fun.) If you’re interested, here’s the Action Items for July. Obviously you don’t have to meet Donovan to write a letter. You can write on any postcards or stationery you have at home, or print out some official Stamp Out Hate postcards or stationery. And there’s stickers, stamps, and postcards available to buy in the Letter Writers Alliance shop. But really, I think just writing is the key to Stamp Out Hate. The other stuff is icing on the cake. Spinning J's pie, raspberry lemonade pie, pie and coffeeSpeaking of cake…or pie…if you DO end up going to one of Donovan’s Stamp Out Hate Socials, they are often in her neighborhood which means you will be close to Spinning J’s Cafe & Bakery. I highly suggest you treat yourself to a slice of pie.

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Stationery, Not Stationary 

greer chicago, stationeryI wanted to share a little round-up of the things I bought at Greer during the LWA anniversary toast. In LA, Margaret and I talked about our stationery collections/hoards and how we have enough for a lifetime of letter writing and how we try to impose buying moratoriums on ourselves…yet we still buy. It just means I need to write more letters more often.

I am running low on my Original Crown Mill stationery (a lovely grey cotton paper and envelope set) so I decided to replace it with some classic white cotton paper. And at the register I snagged a “Stationery not stationary” key tag. (I couldn’t find this exact one online but how great is the “Stationery maven” one?! I want that one now too!) Mnemosyne paper, Greer Chicago, grid paper, Japanese stationery Donovan and Kathy both suggested this Mnemosyne paper. It’s a top spiral notebook with perforated grid sheets of the smoothest paper I’ve ever felt. Of course it’s made in Japan. Like I mentioned earlier, the paper is great for fountain pens and other pens. (I mostly use gel pens and LePens in my letter writing.) And…pencils glide across this paper like butter…sigh. If you are my pen pal, you may be receiving a pencil written letter soon. I had Naoto translate the yellow introduction page for me and he basically summed it up in a rough translation as “Great for creative expression, tool for group discussion, easy to carry in a purse, and good for capturing inspirations while you are out and about.” I think that’s why Donovan likes it so much–she’s an on-the-go letter writer!cheree berry dear/PS stationery, greer chicagoAnd I fell in love with these flat cards from Cheree Berry. It’s a super-thick letterpressed card with a tiny extra card and envelope for a little P.S. message. Genius, right?

I am in the middle of a giant desk clean out. My living room is a mess of stacks of mail, stationery, greeting cards, pens, paper…all in the name of getting rid of some stuff and getting the desk organized better. No visitors please…but maybe I’ll share pictures next week…or next year when I get it all done. Oy.

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Shopping at Paper Pastries

Paper Pastries, Glendale, CA, LA stationery shopsI was so excited for my trip to LA, obviously to celebrate the LWA, but the cherry on top was a visit to the Paper Pastries shop. I’ve ordered online before and some wonderful friends have sent me Paper Pastries gifts, so seeing it all in person was a delight. Paper Pastries is filled with the sweetest stationery, gifts, wrapping paper, pens, rubber stamps (that Margaret designs and makes in house,) and one of the most incredible selections of indie greeting cards I’ve ever seen. Most of the shop consists of independent artists’ and designers’ work, which always makes for unique finds! Paper Pastries, Glendale, CA, LA stationery shops Paper Pastries, Glendale, CA, LA stationery shopsLook at all of the fun greeting cards! There are tons of letterpressed options and most have bright colors and funny or cheerful greetings. There’s even an entire section of CAT CARDS! things I bought, Paper Pastries, Glendale, CA, LA stationery shopsPictured above (on top of one of my favorite (now discontinued) donut papers from Snow & Graham) is what I bought at Paper Pastries: sushi stickers, a travel journal, a neon notepad, greeting cards, a cat stationery set, rubber stamps, resistance postcards, and a postage stamp pin.

I’ve been sending a lot of neon mail this summer, but I think cat mail may be the next trend!! Stay tuned!

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Craft & Vintage Market at Friendly Tap

Friendly Tap, Berwyn, Craft and Vintage Market, Galaxie Safari set-upA couple weekends ago, I did another craft show, this time in Berwyn at the Friendly Tap & Coffee Lounge. It’s a tiny bar/coffee shop/music venue in a nearby area. The group of sellers is small and eclectic and rotates throughout the year. I’ve shopped there a couple of times and came away with some great pottery. Friendly Tap, Berwyn, Craft and Vintage Market, Galaxie Safari set-up 2Naoto got to wear his Galaxie Safari “uniform” for the first time. And it was the first time bringing my own table to a show, so I had to work with a little bit of a smaller space than usual. I need to figure out a better display for my unframed quotes, or just sell them framed at shows because they were a challenge to keep in order throughout the day. So many things to keep figuring out! It’s so much fun though! Merchandising is my favorite thing.Galaxie Safari, father's day card, dad you're out of this world, vintage postage, mercury project stamp Galaxie Safari, father's day card, looking sharp dad, vintage postage, desert flowers stampIn the shop, I added two new cards for dad…just in time for Father’s Day. Both did well at the show and I’m especially excited to add a few more space-themed cards to my shop!

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Write On Party

Photo on 4-23-17 at 4.26 PM, Write On GuestsLast Sunday I had a few people over for a letter writing party. I ordered the Party Pack, which was kind of a party-in-a-box with pens, confetti, and Write On packs for everyone, along with other goodies like a printable invitation, a letter writing themed playlist, and a Write On calendar and tote. air mail envelope garland, Write On party set-up 4, National letter writing monthI hung some vintage air mail envelopes and a Japanese air mail kakejiku (hanging scroll) from the ceiling and I strung up a few more air mail envelopes to make a garland. Write On party set-up 1, National letter writing month Write On party set-up 1, National letter writing monthI covered the table in kraft paper and sprinkled the confetti along with some mail things from my collection. Each person got a Write On kit and a little brochure about letter writing. Write On party set-up 3, National letter writing monthOn the stereo, I had all of my mail themed rubber stamps and washi tapes along with some extra air mail envelopes, postcards, and my new Mr. Zip book. (He deserves his own blog post!) Write On Party, envelope pies, letter writing treatsFor snacks, I made a pot of tea and put out some Trader Joe’s truffles, some Japanese Happy Turn crackers, and I made these little envelope pies. I found the idea here–they were so easy and even though mine looked rather imperfect, they were a really fun addition to the simple menu. write On party guests, National letter writing month write On party guests, National letter writing monthIt was a relaxing afternoon of chatting and letter writing. We all really wrote letters! (I finished two!!) My only regret is that we didn’t have Naoto take a picture of us writing in action, but we got a fun group shot using Photo Booth (at the top.) I think I’ve said this before, but I love letter socials. Obviously letter writing is a good solitary activity, but sometimes it’s interesting to get together and share our hobby in person.

I’m a little sad Write On is over, but the letter writing shall continue! I managed (thanks to a solid push to the finish line last night) to finish 31 postcards and letters and I’ve replied to everyone from my pile of overdue mail…whew! I need to give myself a pep talk to keep that momentum going in May!

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