Tuesday, September 30, 2014

On my Writing Desk

Well, not literally. I don't actually have a desk, but I have been getting into the swing of letter writing again. In truth, more like letter doodling. I am having fun working on the art side of snail mail. It all began a few weeks ago when a friend from church and Instagram suggested a little swap. I jumped at the opportunity, who doesn't love receiving something fun in the mail?! I kept it fairly simple, but it kinda prompted in me happy memories of past pen pals and the fun letters we swapped. I would spend my allowance on stamps, stickers and stationary. I would ask for special stamps at the post office so that they'd be pretty on the envelope. It might seem a little silly now with technology making things quicker and cheaper, but I wrote a letter this week that made me slow down and think through what I was going to say. I carefully chose what I wanted to represent and how I wanted to introduce myself. It was fun. I think I took a whole week to put together a letter. I took my time with the art and heart of it. I recently signed up for The Snail Mail Project over at the Snail Mail Ideas website. It's a one time sign-up to write to someone somewhere and you receive a letter from someone else from somewhere else. I got a lady's address in Mexico. How fun!

I saw online that Moleskin has put out a mailable notebook and knew I could make one and it wouldn't cost me $9. I grabbed an envelope and used it to make myself a template. I sewed in the paper as my stapler isn't quite long enough. I then treated it kind of like an art journal. I included a paperclip banner and a couple paper embellishments, but mostly it's pen work. This keeps the postage costs down. At least in theory.

paper feather template found here

I had a package of permanent stamps and figured it would take three stamps to cover the cost to Mexico. I'm glad I decided to go into the post office and double check though because I learned some new things  about postage. Internationally, the permanent stamps are not recognized. They must have the cost printed on the stamps to be valid. The lady at the post office helped me to save my stamps and replace them. She helped me to pick out pretty stamps and made sure that everything was the right size etc. Sadly, my letter size board must have a tiny bit of give to it as my letter squeezed through the standard size slot on my board, but not the acrylic one at the post office. After working hard to keep it small, I ended up having to pay for an oversize letter in the end. I guess I could've taken it home and removed the tea bag or paperclip banner and it would've been fine, but I wanted to send it all. I need to be more careful in the future or I won't afford to send many letters at $5.90 a piece. The lady at the post office gave me one other helpful hint, don't use tape over top of your stamps (she was referring to the ones we saved and were now less sticky) or they will be rejected. Use a good sticky glue. Good to know. I like knowing the rules ~ I'm a bit of a risk management geek.

I've dusted off my doodling hobby. It helps to have great fine tip markers. I do lack original inspiration and for that I go to Pinterest. No need to re-invent the wheel. The other day Abby and I sat down at the table and doodled owls. The owl I sent in the letter was my third attempt. I don't really consider myself an artist in the tradition sense, but more of a crafter. I thoroughly enjoyed my side-by-side time with Abby, though.

Thank you for those of you  that signed up for my creative pen pal swap. I hope you have fun with it. Vive la Snail Mail!

bookmark inspired by this picture

free camera printable found here
I have a few people who have agreed to continue to write, so I am looking forward to more snail mail art. Yay! BTW, Canada Post, I'm for door-to-door!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Snail Mail ~ Creative Pen Pal Swap *CLOSED*

Here's a random fact for you, I used to be a pen pal. I had three friends that I faithfully wrote to for years. I got married and had children and the art of snail mail had fallen to the wayside. Sad. I LOVE mail. Have you seen that movie Paul Blart Mall Cop? There's this scene that I like:
  • "Give me your cell phone". -"I don't have one"
  •  "What are you talking about? Every kid has a cell phone."
  • I prefer handwritten sentiments."
although somewhat unrealistic these days, it's a nice thought. There is nothing quite like getting actual mail delivered to your mailbox.

So, what I propose is this: join me in a Creative Pen Pal Swap. Think mail art! If you scrapbook, dress it up with stickers and embellishments. If you draw, go nuts! Be as creative as you want. Here's how it'll go down. Email me at mrsgingras (at) gmail (dot) com with

  1. Your name and full postal address (I'll only share this with your partner)
  2. Your preference for domestic or foreign match ups (I can't promise, but I'll try)

When you receive an email back from me you will then send your pen pal a letter which should include
  1. A bit about yourself and/or your family
  2. what hobbies you enjoy
  3. a small gift* (nothing elaborate and handmade is great though not required)
  4. and perhaps a picture of yourself
* Here's the challenge and a little rule: In order to keep the costs to a minimum, please keep your letters to the size established by your postal delivery company as Lettermail and not parcel mail.

In Canada those requirements can be found here. When you go to the post office they have an acrylic board that they slide your letter through to make sure it's not too thick. If you are a Venture One member (small business owner) then you can purchase one, but I looked up a picture of one online and with a ruler and some markers, made my own. I printed off the current postal rates and attached it onto the board, I like a quick reference guide. I don't have a weigh scale yet, but it's on my wish list. You could use a digital kitchen scale if you have one (I don't). 

If you need some creative ideas for making your letters creative or for small mail-able gifts, check out my Pinterest board for inspiration.

One more thing, please commit to writing your pen pal at least once a month for six months. At the end of the six months you can decide together if you'd like to continue or not. Let's have some fun!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Our 10th Anniversary Party ~ The Rest

So, let's talk about our venue for a minute. We were graciously hosted by Rob & Lois Friesen at their family farm and it was so amazing! Rob & Lois are no strangers to hosting events and ours was a small one in comparison to events like Farm Fest and their daughter's weddings. The outdoor stage was such a picturesque backdrop for our ceremony and the barn provided a shady getaway. The landscaping is gorgeous and so lovely, it suited us and our needs beautifully! Thank you, Rob & Lois!

After the official ceremony, we had time for people to just play, visit and explore. We had music playing in the background and the children took the opportunity to turn the stage into a dance floor. David had fun putting together a playlist and I thought I'd share it in case you were interested.

click image to enlarge

Supper was simply a hotdog bar with potluck salads and desserts. My friend makes the most amazing London Fog Cupcakes, you should definitely order some!!! We considered a traditional cake, but decided that cotton candy was a bit more our style. David spun the sugary goodness and let me tell you, fresh cotton candy has me spoiled for anything less.

Instead of a guest book, we decided to have a wine bottle time capsule that people could leave messages for us to open in one and five years. Our Abby spent a long time at the table, so it will be fun to see what treasures she's put in there for us.

THE DRESS! Thanks to your support, I was able to find a dress that I LOVE. Thank you!

We didn't actually pose for any pictures, so I have an action shot here for you.

Finally, the Gingras family tradition quiz and First In Bed ~ Official Rules. We wanted to end our party with laughter and fun. David and I love quirky traditions and we thought it would be a good time to share some. I made a little quiz and we shared the details. If you'd like to play along, feel free to answer the quiz in the comments and I'll share the answers later.

click on image to enlarge

The final tradition we shared was a game that David and I have been playing almost every night for 10 years. It's ridiculous and funny and we love it.

click on image to enlarge
And just because, here's a few more great pictures....

Oh my! He's so handsome!!!

My favourite picture of the two of us

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Our 10th Anniversary Party ~ the Ceremony

A friend of ours was kind enough to take pictures for us, so the following pictures credit goes to Greg Gerbrandt ~ thanks!

Just like our wedding, we wanted our party to be fun, celebrate what God has done and to reflect our unique personalities. I think we managed to accomplish that. The ceremony began with us dancing in and inviting everyone to join a mini dance party. Song here.

My parents (left) dancing while David dances with his sister, Tabitha

Huge participation points go out to all the children - Aisha shows her super high kick!

It was super fun to see everyone participating!

Norm, our friend, who officiated, shared about marriage and why we were there to renew our vows. During our marriage ceremony David and I read the following bible verse:
"Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." 
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Over the last 10 years our three stranded cord (represented by God, David and I) has grown into a large knot thanks to our friends and family. We showed a visual representation of what that looks like in a monkey's fist knot. We thanked everyone for being a part of that knot that keeps our marriage together. We've been so blessed by community and support!

David explains the monkey's fist knot of our marriage

Something that we wanted to share was our vow renewal. We figured that one of the hang-ups of doing vow renewals is the pressure to throw a big event or party, and since we had the party and the officiant already, we figured we would invite the married couples to join us in renewing their vows. We told our parents ahead of time so that we'd have someone participating, but we were pleasantly surprised to see most (if not all) the couples stand and join in. We handed our ring pops to exchange and I pre-made certificates to hand out to each participating couple. 

We exchanged ring pops and vows - Abigail is standing by to "steal" one of our rings

David and I shared communion with each other and used Dr. Pepper (a throw back to our wedding ceremony) and Mum Mums (baby crackers for the stage of life we are in).

Communion with my love

We ended the official ceremony with confetti rockets.

We had a great time and it was great to renew my commitment to David. I am so thankful for 10 years with my best friend and co-founder of our Gingras family.

I still have more party to share, stay tuned.