I wonder if you enjoy Art Play

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I wonder …
Whether writing a post or a letter, I always start with a blank piece of paper and  a period of wonderment – What shall I write about today?  This sweet little Victorian boy seems to be wondering  too.

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Because I’m fortunate to have lots of various interests, it doesn’t take me long  to find things to write about in letters.  Do you have lots of interests too?  Years ago one of my  college professors gave me a little advice.  She said, “Develop many interests and cultivate them into passions. These passions will serve you well.  They will act as legs for you to stand on.  If one fails you, there will be others to support you.”  I never forgot that advice and I worked hard to cultivate my interests into passions.  I’m happy to say I succeeded, and you probably guessed by now that the Art of letter writing is a passion at the top of my list.

There are so many different aspects to letters.  Today let’s talk more about one of the artful aspects – Stationary.  I wonder if you have a favorite type of stationary.  Some people prefer to have a trademark paper which they use for all their letters.  I think that can be very nice indeed, but I like so many different papers, and in addition to what I can purchase, I really love to create a lot of my own stationary too.   It’s Art Play!

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 I hope the stationary I create amuses my letter friends half as much as it amuse me.  It’s important to  keep my eyes open everywhere I go in search of  materials to use for my stationary designs. The page of Victorian  children seen above was one of my  great finds.  It is one sheet of about 30 which I purchased at an antique shop. These old-time pictures are part of a series reproduced and called The Gretna Collection.  Historic images such as these are great fun to scan and use in creating letter papers and cards. Drawing  just a little background, or perhaps putting words in the mouths of the characters, creates a lot of fun for me and my letter friends… at least fun for me!

When I began writing letters years back I never thought of art play as part of letter writing fun, but one thing often leads to another and some of my creative pen friends put one, then two, then 200 ideas in my head, and now I’m off and running.

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I keep finding books that inspire art play. This book, “The Great Thumbprint Drawing Book” by Ed Emberley, gave me all sorts of ideas.  Sometimes  creativity  just needs a jump.

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Ed not only suggested all sorts of facial expressions for his thumbprints, but he also created a variety of thumbprint creatures.  What a riot!  I dreamed-up all sorts of ways to elaborate on his basic ideas, and if you get a copy of his book, you would too.

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In my last letter I was telling Amy in Pennsylvania about Ed’s thumbprint book

And this morning I wrote my friend Barbara in Rhode Island.  I  created  for her a type of letter gift.  I often speak of ‘the gift of a letter‘, so why not wrap the letter up with ribbon.  Then it really looks like the gift of a letter.

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I’ll decorate the outer packaging of the letter in various ways – with polka dots, abstract designs, or in this case, by cutting out little butterflies, chalking them, and letting them tumble out of the envelope when opened.  (Here’s a tip though:  If you’re making a seashore picture I wouldn’t use sand, for I tried that once when I lived in Boston and frequented the beaches there.  The sand  didn’t go over very well. My sister had just washed her kitchen floor, opened my envelope, and she had to wash part of her floor again.  Oops!)

But back to my letter gift… can you see how the letter is placed within the outer packaging  and then tied with a ribbon? I saw something similar in a card shop, but it cost a lot more money than my design, and besides the cost, buying that card would have deprived me of art play.

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I find materials for art play in all sorts of places.  The other day I was strolling around the  charming town of Chagrin Falls and I popped into a very fun shop.  Not only did I buy a wonderful music cd (Carla Bruni singing sexy Little French Songs), but I found the most delightful decorative papers.  There were at least 30 different designs and though temped to buy one of each I mustered up some self control and purchased only four.  Take a look!

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Pretty snazzy, huh?

Nothing like a day shopping where you’re not looking for anything in particular but things  just pop out at you.

When you have lots of interests and passions something is always popping up saying “Buy me!”  And that’s why I limit my outings and shopping trips, but because we’re living in the material world we’re bound to discover things which delight us, and a little delight now and then – or a lot – makes life all the sweeter.

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So, although the very best part of writing letters is the sharing of ideas, art play is  great  fun too.  If you’ve never tried it, if  you’re still typing black letters onto white paper with no color, design, or creative touches, it’s my opinion that you’re missing out on a lot of fun.

Maybe you’re having lots of fun, just different fun from me.  If that’s the case, do share! You know what I always say.

Sharing doubles the Joy 

Hang on to your old books

I love books.  I have always loved books, and over the years I have collected quite a few – I mean hundreds and hundreds.  I have book cases in each room.  There’s the living room collection,

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the guest room shelves,

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there’s a wall of books in my writing room,

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and book case in a spare bedroom,

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some rooms have books running along the ceiling,

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some rooms have collections on tables,

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the music room has a shelf system to hold old books,

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and certain pieces of furniture display favorites,

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of course there’s the library where we added two walls of bookcases floor to ceiling,

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There are books on the porch,

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and there are more –   many, many more .

Did I mention I love books?

Well, I thought I’d write about one of my favorite books today, so I strolled around the house scanning my collection, and I came upon this one by David Kibbes.

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Metamorphosis, written in the 80’s,  contained a style system whereby the reader was told what type of clothing would suit her based on body type.  Kibbes  grouped women into the following categories:  dramatic, natural, romantic, classic and gamine,  and though his particular fashion suggestions are now out of date, his system had a lot of originality and depth to it.

Being a spiritual person myself, what I found most fascinating about Kibbes’ system was how he not only considered the shape and size of a woman’s body, but also her spirit.  For example, I tested as  a classic type, but because I have many romantic notions in my personality David typed me as a  “Soft” Classic and made many suggestions on how to romanticize my classic look.  I found this to be very helpful and clever on his part.  Dramatics could be soft or theatrical. Naturals could be soft or flamboyant and so on.   We must make the final decisions about our appearance, but Kibbes gets us thinking in a fun way.

The blog, Brainy Beauty Talk, is creating posts these days updating some of Kibbes fashion  ideas and adding  new original  thoughts in  regard to his system.  You might enjoy checking it out.  There’s also a sample mini quiz  on line (type in: David Kibbes Metamorphosis).  It’s  the kind of quiz used in the book  which determines your yin/yang balance and image identity.       You may find the test and Kibbes whole concept fun.  I did, but,  if you get all fired up and  want to find a copy of the book for yourself

 GOOD LUCK!

And this is what I’m getting at.

Hold on to your old books.  I don’t remember what I paid for Metamorphosis  some 30 years ago, but I doubt it was more than $20.  Well, Amazon now is selling a  hardcover used copy for $77.59 and if you want a new copy, you’ll have to pay $176.70 for it.

WOWWY  ZOWWY!

So now you know why I titled this post as I did.

I think I’ll leave you now and see what some of my other books are selling for these days…

Maybe I’ll trade a few dozen in and take a trip to Bermuda.

Coffee Shops are for me

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The other day I was introduced to yet another French coffee shop in my area and I must say the warm blueberry-filled crepes dusted with powder sugar were absolutely delicious, but my waiter did not look anything like the fellow pictured above and the coffee shop did not look like anything pictured below.

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No, I guess one must go off to Europe, take a trip back in time…

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or find a book like this one, “The French Cafe” by Marie-France Boyer, in order to enjoy such romantic places.

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Starbucks in Brentwood, California
Here in the States there are coffee houses to be had, but they look more like this one.

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Another view…

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And here’s my favorite view because it contains a picture of my son Patrick working on his statistics.  But nice as this coffee house was, and I came here a number of times myself, there were no waiters in black tie nor were there any white tablecloths to be seen.  Sigh!

I was impressed because this Starbucks had live orchids on some tables.  Do you see one in the background?

Starbucks does have a good dark espresso roast so I’m always happy in one, and do you know –  if you buy their coffee in the market, you can bring your empty bag  back to the Starbucks, turn it in, and get a free cup of coffee? Yes, it’s true.

But I enjoy all sorts of coffee houses and when I’m back in Hudson my favorite is a Pete’s.

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Caribou Coffee

Until recently the Hudson Pete’s was  a Caribou Coffee and it looked like this.  There was a fireplace and a wall of windows.  The windows are still there but the fireplace is sadly gone now, and there have been other design changes in the room too, but many of the workers are the same people and the coffee is just as good.

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The nice fellow who works the counter

Do you enjoy spending time in coffee houses as I do?  A coffee house is a great place to read a book, write a letter, meet a friend,  plug your laptop in and create posts for your blog  or reach out to the whole world via internet or while writing letters while sipping a cappuccino.

My “dead friend” Lord Byron said, “Only in letter writing do we have solitude and society simultaneously”, but though he has a point there, coffee houses also grant  a certain amount of solitude while enjoying  society.

You can even make new friends while enjoying a coffee house.  I met a lovely man recently by the name of  David.  He is old enough to be my father, so don’t worry.  There’s no hanky-panky going on, just friendly conversation.  It’s always so nice to meet interesting new people, don’t you agree?  David worked in theatre and public relations, but  he also created and still creates  beautiful leather goods.  Every time David and I see each other at the coffee house I learn more and more about this interesting man, and isn’t that how friendship grows?

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This luxurious “naked” finish leather is drum-dyed, not spray painted and is without the fillers, pigments and plastic coatings found on commercial-trade leathers. The result is a warm natural look and buttery-soft suppleness found only in superb “naked” leather

Was I surprised when he gave me this lovely pencil case which he made with his own two hands.  I would’ve never met David nor enjoyed owning such a great pencil case if it weren’t for my love of coffee houses.  And look how much I’ve learned about leather. Now you’re learning about “naked” finish leather too and all because I frequent coffee houses.

So

Unless you’re reading this in France you may not be able to find coffee shops where waiters are wearing black tie and carrying  white towels, and you may not find coffee shops with white tablecloths, but nevertheless,  GO!…

Go to a coffee shop.

Read there!

Write there!

Meet People!

Coffee shops are great!

They’re for me and maybe they’re for you too.

Let me know what you think.

When Things Come Together

The other day I received an important  message.  Today that message is coming to you.  The message came at me from three separate sources:  from Mister Rogers of classic tv’s Mister Roger’s Neighborhood,  from Eloise, a fictitious little girl of the classic Eloise book series by Kay Thompson and from Amy Hollingsworth, a writer.  These three  individuals directed me to another book and the source of the message, to Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince.  I don’t know about you, but when things come at me in two’s or three’s I pay attention.

It all started when I was reading The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers by Amy Hollingsworth

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and a lovely book it is too,  filled with many warm and wonderful spiritual reflections. (I highly recommend this book to you.)  It seems The Little Prince was one of Mister Roger’s favorites.  Amy, one of Fred’s pen friends, said Fred spent most of his life quoting the following words from The Little Prince: 

L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux

Well, I always loved Mister Rogers and I’ve written to him myself.  I also love the French language, along with many other  French things – French food and the restaurants that serve it, the French countryside, and my lovely  French friends, Stephanie, Patrice and their sweet children – Llyona, Marc-Aurele and Arpad.  So, when the above French words popped out at me from the Mister Rogers’ book, of course I took special notice of them.  In case you don’t speak French here’s what they mean:

“What is essential is invisible to the eye”

Have you ever given thought to this idea?  I have, especially in regard to  letter writing.  You see, I write to very many people whom I’ve never met ‘in person’, never even seen in a picture.  I get to know many of these people by way of  The Letter Exchange, (www.letter-exchange.com) an organization which puts letter writers together.  Though some folks I meet in this way will send pictures of themselves, most will not, but pictures or no pictures,  great friendships evolve as letters are shared.  You may think it strange that people could become great friends even though they have  absolutely no idea what each other  look like, but it is possible.  I have many of such friends. (Hello to Gwen, Patricia, Erika, and all the rest of you)  Why, I could be sitting next to one of these favorite people on a plane and never even know it!   But  I’ve often thought how wonderful this is, for  in letter writing people can get to know each other’s spirit without  letting physical appearance get in the way.  Looks can be so deceiving you know!  And I do believe

“What is essential is invisible to the eye”

But besides the spirit of a person being invisible yet very important, there are many other invisible things we should not  neglect.  What do you think they are?  What is essential for you? It’s good to take time out for serious reflection now and then, the kind of reflection letter writing provides, for only with thoughtful reflection will we ever come to know what is essential.

My “dead friend” Lord Byron, the poet,  put it very well when he used to say: 

             A life without reflection is a sad affair 

But you may be wondering where Eloise comes in to this story.  Well, I was having a movie night for the children in my church choir  and  I needed a good film so I did a search on Net Flix for something fun, but something that was also thoughtful.   I came upon a Disney remake of the classic Eloise at the Plaza.  Ah, the Plaza!  I love that hotel in New York City.

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The Plaza

So that was enough for me and the film proved to be just delightful.  I suggest you check it out no matter how old you are.  Julie Andrews plays a darling nanny (nothing like Mary Poppins).

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An older nanny, but very sweet

    And Eloise is so cute, so devilish, but  so full of life and thoughtful too – I found her very inspiring.  We’d all have a lot more fun if we acted like Eloise now and then.

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Eloise

Disney was so true to the book too – a wonderful thing.  Here’s an example.  Just take a look at the book and then a scene from the film.

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And the film had a little prince in it too -not Antoine’s Little Prince but a prince just the same, a prince who was quite touched by the message in Saint Exupery’s  book, a book which became  important to Eloise’s story.  The prince was touched by the  message in The Little Prince as was I, as was Mister Rogers and  hopefully as  you are too… because it’s so very true.

“L’ essentiel est invisible pour les yeux”

WHAT IS ESSENTIAL IS INVISIBLE TO THE EYE

Let this be your thought for the day

(or at least one of them)

by way of Mister Rogers, Eloise,  Amy Hollingsworth

and

ME!