They don’t call it the ART of Letter writing for nothing


When people talk about the art of letter writing I realize they are usually referring to the thoughts contained in a letter and the verbal construction of that letter.  Just as one would write a novel or a poem writing a letter is a literary act. There is an art to how we spin our phrases and reflect upon ideas, but there is also visual art involved in letter writing too.

Hand writing is an art in itself.  Unfortunately with technology many people are forgetting how to hand write and even worse, many children are not even being taught cursive writing.  How will these children be able to read the great writing which has come before them?  They will be illiterate.  They will not be given the chance to develop their own unique script which is a reflection of  personality and style.

But in addition to the art of hand writing there is also the very real art of stationery, distinctive papers sold in fine stores or those we create ourselves. One very frugal soul I have written to in the past worked cleaning offices after hours. She would raid the wastebaskets in those offices collecting  any papers with a blank side and she’d use those papers for her correspondence.  I must say some of the business matters discussed on those papers was as interesting as the thoughts and activities shared in those letters. The papers we use for our correspondence say a lot about us.

Pens, with their various fine or broad strokes, ink colors, types of paper, our unique hand writing all work together creating a uniquely personal and one of a kind missive.  So the Art of Letter Writing is a combination of verbal and visual expression.

 I do love all sorts of  beautiful cards and letter papers which I find in stores all around town, but it’s  great fun  designing my own stationary too,  using color and design in any number of ways.  Some people tell me they have no ability in art but I don’t believe them.  One doesn’t have to draw or paint in order to have fun with art. We can create bits and pieces of artful objects, arranging these things to create stationery that can be quite delightful. It’s called art play.

Years ago while strolling through an antique shop I found pages from some old magazine with the cutest historic images.  I purchased these old illustrations and now scan them to decorate some of my letters.  Adding a few sprigs of grass or background material makes for a fun looking letter.  At least I think so.

How about writing the name of the month at the top of a letter adding some color.  Perhaps edging the paper with that same color and adding a few polka dots…

… or using laces and/or ribbons, co-ordinating their color with that of the paper.  Such touches may be simple, but they are still artful.  My letter friends tell me they have great fun visiting craft shops collecting all sorts of materials for their stationary construction and letter writing fun.  I do too.

I’ll see some cute illustration in a book and I’ll make it my own by changing a few details here and there.

Did you ever try making flowers by placing finger prints onto ink pads and drawing stems and leaves? . . .

I once saw  boxes of greeting cards for sale. Each card pictured the drawing of a little handbag containing an initial. Now anyone can draw a handbag putting their own initial onto that bag and  presto!  You have monogrammed stationary for pennies a card.

My town of Hudson, Ohio has a clock tower on its village green.  I love to sketch that clock tower on my stationary.   I add a few trees of the season – a Christmas tree in Winter or a deciduous tree with green leaves  plus a few flowers in Summer.  Maybe your town has some famous land mark too.  Did you ever try to draw it?  Go ahead.  Try.

 When I write my sons I like to send happiness and hearts.

And there’s nothing like a little bubble therapy when I’m in need of a pick- me- up. Spreading the idea around to my letter friends is easy in words and in pictures too. Actually I got a card very much like this picture once upon a time. You probably get lots of cards too, cards that would be very easy to make your own.  Why just color in a book? Use those cute cards as models, recreate those images, and then color your very own picture.

I’ve always loved flowers even way back when I was a wee little girl.  I remember creating a little booklet back in the 3rd grade.  Each page had the picture of a flower and a brief description. I enjoyed creating my little book and I was very proud of it.  I remember showing it to my teacher expecting her to shower me with praise, but I was quite disappointed when she made nothing of it only suggesting I use that energy and time on my school work. HA!  I continued to enjoy art class at school but it’s no wonder I stopped drawing flowers for a long time.  Then in high school when given the option of extra art or music classes I chose the music probably  because back in the third grade I was not given encouragement for my art.  Music has been my life and I have no regrets, but when I became a letter writing enthusiast the love of art surfaced once again and now I regularly create stationary with drawings of flowers on my papers.  The artist in me is back and I’m very happy she is.  I missed her.

Maybe you liked art as a small child and somehow you forgot all about that love. But even if you never thought about art before, think about it now.  It can be a wonderful therapy.  It can be a most relaxing delight in your day and if you share your art in your letters. . . well you know what I’m always saying – sharing doubles the joy.

“True art is in the doing of it.”

Jean Renoir

Guests are on their way to share my Country Inn Day

The Jeremiah Brown House 1853

How I look forward to Country Inn Days, my regular escapes from reality and ordinary life.  Every Inn Day is a little different.  Today my Country Inn Day has magically transformed me into an Innkeeper. Why Innkeeper?  It’s because tonight guests are expected here at the Jeremiah Brown House and someone has to prepare for them.  Who better than me!  If  you’ve ever entertained you’ve assumed this role of Innkeeper yourself whether you realized it or not.  

I love to entertain because I believe in sharing.  Sharing doubles the joy.  If we’re lucky enough to have a home I think we should share that home with others.  It shouldn’t be for us alone. What fun is that?   So today as Innkeeper I will get busy and also supervise the Inn staff, that being the Inn housekeeper (me) and Inn chef (me). Together we’ll work at fluffing, polishing and preparing the Inn for tonight’s guests.  There’s much to be done.


I order the housekeeper to wash all the floors  and vacuum all the carpets.  She gets right to it. Do you enjoy cleaning?  Well, having guests in gives one a little extra incentive to pull out the rubber gloves, bucket of hot soapy water and any other tools necessary to make the place sparkle.  Having frequent guests inspires one to keep things in tip top order.

If a little cleaning is done regularly not too much has to be done to prepare our place for guests.  Besides, we should all live well every day in every moment and that’s easier to do if our surroundings are tidy, clean and pleasing all the time.


The night before this Country Inn Day, because I am a conscientious and caring Innkeeper, I got a head start preparing the Inn for my guests.  I visited the local gourmet market to pick up a few things.


Flowers for sure!

“How can one help shivering with delight when one’s hot fingers close around the stem of a live flower, cool from the shade and stiff with newborn vigor”  – Colette

I am lucky to have the Hudson Heinen’s Market nearby where I can find flowers of every kind – roses, Asiatic lilies, delphiniums  and many other gorgeous blooms.  Some women love shoes.  I love flowers!


All dwellings deserve flowers every day.  I want my guests to step into the Inn and be delighted with what they see.  Flowers delight.

“I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.” – C. Monet


At every turn flowers give the eye something beautiful to gaze upon.

“Flowers really do intoxicate me.” – Vita Sackville-West


To walk in the door and be greeted by flowers is just the nicest thing.

“Bread feeds the body, indeed, but flowers feed the soul.” – Koran

I keep fresh flowers around every day.  You should too.  Life is short and we must treat ourselves to beauty every chance we get. But on Country Inn Days, and especially when guests are expected at the Inn,  a few extra blooms are added.  And that’s just one of the reasons why I love Country Inn Days.


“When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other.” – Chinese proverb

On a personal note I feel sad that my own mother did not enjoy flowers in her home as I do. This was for good reason.  My mother lost many sisters and brothers in her lifetime, attending many funerals with many flowers, so flowers began to represent death to her rather than life. This was so tragic because beauty is designed to lift us up, not put us down.  We need flowers in our daily life now, flowers all around our happy moments.  Why?  It’s because beauty is a very good thing.  It becomes us.  It improves us.  Then when flowers are sent at sad times that beauty will help us feel better, not worse.


But flowers are not the only thing I buy at the gourmet market. This market is a good place to find special drinks as well as prepared food items.  Buying prepared food items  on Country Inn Days takes the pressure off the Inn chef.  She (me) always creates something special for guests, but appreciates a little extra help too. So today I buy grilled shrimp to serve guests at cocktail time.  I will also serve the Inn chef’s specialty of the day. What is that specialty?  Today it’s Cheese Straws.  Have you ever made Cheese Straws? Let’s step into the Inn’s kitchen and see how they’re coming along.


I see the puff pastry is rolled out ready for the Gruyere and Parmesan cheese topping.  I’m told the cheeses are mixed with thyme amonst other things.

IMG_6639[1] They are then cut into strips,


twisted, and placed on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  They bake at 375 degrees for just a few minutes and


the Cheese Straws are ready for our guests.

The Innkeeper, Inn Housekeeper and Inn Chef have done their things and now it is time they are transformed into Inn guest. That’s me!  I now will enjoy the fruits of their ( my) labor along with the other guests who will be arriving soon.  Ah, the magic of a Country Inn Day.

IMG_6649[1] The drinks are being readied.


The candles are lit and the fire is set.


One last look around to be sure everything is in just the right place.  I must place the Cheese Straws on the table.


And it looks good to me.  I hope the Inn will look good to the other guests as well for I want the best for my guests who deserve nothing less.  I want them to enjoy their stay here.  I intend to enjoy mine. Each Country Inn Day is a great escape from the ordinary.  The shopping and cleaning and baking and polishing is always worth the effort in the end.


The guests arrive.  We have a lovely time chatting and sipping and sampling the appetizers and then we decide it’s time to venture into Hudson for a little dinner.  This dinner the Inn chef (me) does not have to prepare.  She gets a night off.  Goodie!


We’re headed to one of Hudson’s best restaurants, Solaire.  It’s almost a secret because it’s hidden away upstairs in one of the buildings at First and Main. I don’t think too many people know about this luxurious hideaway, and that’s fine with me, because it’s never crowded and always quiet.  I hate noisy restaurants where you have to strain to hear or be heard by your dinner companions. One purpose of Country Inn Days is to ‘rest and relax’ and at Solaire dining is a luscious, restful experience.  Come with me.


Just follow the oriental rug.


and we’re here!  Lovely, isn’t it?  Intimate and elegant.


 There are tables for two and tables for more, all set with crisp, white linen and flowers.


 The gal behind the bar is sweet and attentive.


She shows us to a table and takes very good care of us.  It’s nice to serve others, but it’s also nice to be served.  There’s a time for everything under heaven.  I hope you take that time to treat yourself and others well.


A little work, a little play, a little imagination and life seems so much sweeter.  Country Inn Days put it all together.  We don’t have to venture far away, packing our bags and spending lots of money in order to have sparkling fun.  We can do those things, but we don’t have to. It’s possible to stay right at home or in our very own neighborhood. All we need do is look into ourselves and create the life our heart imagines, a snazzy life for ourselves, our spouse, our family, and our friends.  We should create this sparkle every day, but add a little extra pizzazz on Country Inn Days.  Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes agrees with me for he wrote the following words in a letter to a friend back in 1911.

“Life is a romantic business.  It is painting a picture, not doing a sum – but you have to make the romance , and it will come to the question how much fire you have in your belly.”


The wonderful Art of Letter Writing


Today I started the day by writing a letter to my pen friend Jennifer in Delray Beach, Florida.  I hope you also had some letter writing fun today.  After all, a day without letter writing is like a day without sunshine.  Don’t you agree?  And if we add art play to our letter the experience is even more enjoyable.


Today I decided to create a floral note card for Jennifer’s letter and to help with that I pulled out a  book for inspiration.  This “Flower Sticker book” designed by Fiona Johnson contains pictures of garden flowers with notes regarding their size, blooming time and characteristics.  I don’t use the stickers in the usual way, but rather as models for my own drawings.

A page of Fiona’s book
I’ll choose a flower from Fiona’s book, a flower  that is currently in bloom, take out my watercolor pencils, and go to town.  You don’t have to be a great artist to enjoy drawing.  Think of the fun little kids have. Well, you can have that fun too.   I always make a note in the book as to which flower design my correspondents  receive for there’s  no point sending the same design over and over when there are so many flowers to choose.


And after a little art play I have a one-of-a-kind card to use for my letter writing.   Fun, fun, fun!  The price is right too because I have a great source for purchasing paper.  It’s Hollo’s in Brunswick, Ohio.  (   I figure each of my handmade cards costs about 10 to 20 cents to make, but I don’t make these cards because I’m frugal.  I make them because art play is so much fun!

Today I decided to draw the Clematis flower for Jennifer’s letter.  Are you a gardener familiar with this climbing plant?  Clematis loves to cover walls and fences.  Its flowers can be purple, blue, pink or white, and as you can see, its leaves are oval.  I love flowers, don’t you?  Well, if you try to draw them you will love and appreciate them even more for you’ll be forced to focus on their details, details you may never notice otherwise.  Like they say – to really love something you must know it, and if you’re like me, you’ll get to know and appreciate flowers even more when you attempt to draw them.

I don’t think it matters at all how great an artist we are, What matters is that we’re exercising our creativity and enjoying ourselves, then sharing our joy.  You know what I’m always saying – Sharing doubles the joy.  And one of  the perfect ways to share our joy for art is to send our artistic creations away in the form of  letters.

Jennifer’s letter

Of course the ideas we share in our letters are the main event.  Jennifer and I were discussing creativity in our correspondence and let me share with you some of her fine words on the subject.  She writes:

“Creatively I’ve tried many things but of late have found an interest in making handmade  greeting cards and note cards.  I’m thinking this is an endeavor I can enjoy for years barring any physical or mental incapacity.  I just have to give myself permission to ‘let go’ and let my hands guide me rather than my mind as I have a very strong and active inner critic. “

(And don’t we all?)

Jennifer then went on to tell me what her mantra is.  Her mantra, which she repeats to herself over and over, is a quote by Kelly Kilmer.  Jennifer loves these words and so do I.

It’s all about the journey.  Make.  Create.  Don’t worry or over think.  Make art for you and your own sake.

So what have you created today?  There are so many ways in which to be creative.  You probably guessed  two of my favorites are writing and art, and when you put the two together what do you get?

The Wonderful Art of Letter Writing

Share Joy

Carol Ann coming to call

I’m gonna wrap myself in paper

I’m gonna dab myself with glue

Put a stamp on top of my head

And I’m gonna mail myself to YOU!

Wishful thinking I know.  but as a Lady of Letters with a highly cultivated  imagination, it’s fun for me to think about doing just that, mailing myself to you so we could have a little visit over a cup of tea.  As it is, I have to be content writing you this post.

 The little poem  I’ve shared with you is actually lyrics to a  song  I used to teach  the children in my music classes at  schools in Boston and Cleveland.  It’s a Valentine’s Day song and Valentine’s Day is tomorrow.  Are you ready?

 Wouldn’t it be fun if we really could send ourselves  to everyone we cared about, all on the same day, the way Santa gets around?   We could bring along a present for each person  — a sentimental, beribboned, and flowery present.  I’d love to come over to your house with my pot of tea and  some of the Valentine cupcakes I’m making.


Maybe I could bring you some flowers too.  Everybody loves fragrant  fresh flowers, don’t they?


But if you’re one of the rare people who doesn’t like flowers, I bet you’d like a box of chocolates!


These are for my husband  – mums the words – but I’d be happy to get some candy for you too, if only I could pop over to your house tomorrow… but I can’t.

I should be sending you a greeting card.  Cards and letters are always nice when you can’t visit in person.  I was delighted  to receive this pretty card from my pen friend Joy.


 Joy is the perfect name for this lady for she shares joy with me in every one of her letters.  But how does one send cards to all the people they care about?  Daily life gets so in the way for these thoughtful  things we want to do.

Some of my friends even make their own special greeting cards.  That’s what my pen friend Gwen does and she sent this card to me.


She’s getting so good at making her cards, they hardly look home made.  They’re beautiful – just like Gwen.

Most people love holidays, but as nice as they are, I have to admit holidays frustrate me.  That’s because I’d love to make every holiday very special, celebrating each one with every person I care about, creating all the pretty things I imagine or see  in the glossy pages of magazines.  But I can’t manage it!!! … just as I can’t wrap myself up with paper, dab myself with glue, put a stamp on top of my head and mail myself to you — and  it’s so FRUSTRATING!

All I can do is  keep a song in my heart (and that I can manage because, after all, I AM a  music teacher)  and let my little light shine, sharing love and joy in bits and pieces with everyone I meet…  not just on holidays, but every day.  A smile here,  a greeting card there, an invitation to tea, sending a friendly letter, giving compliments, paying visits …little things done with love.   It’s not just Valentine’s Day and other holidays that should be special.  Everyday should be special and everyday we should share joy in some way.  If we all do this our world would be a nicer place for sure.  And this reminds me of the lyrics to another song.

I’m gonna make this world a better place

I’m gonna make this world a better place

I’m gonna make this world a better place

Just by being me

I’m gonna care about others not just about me

Gonna make a difference you will see.

There’s got to be more to life than things

And I’m gonna find out what that means

So have yourself a Happy Valentine’s Day, but if you can’t get around to everyone you love on this one day, or on any other holiday, don’t fret, there’s always tomorrow.



How did you share joy today?  I’d love to know.  Please leave a comment.