Friday Favorites – food box flair

How to add flair using food boxes

To be honest, today’s favorite is fairly new. As in, I only started it last week.

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But once the idea hit me, I couldn’t quit thinking of things to do with it. Because of the versatility and the potential for fun, I see it being a favorite, so I’m going to go ahead and share it with you.

I bought this box of cereal for my kids to eat the day that my husband and I went to see the new Star Wars movie. We made a big deal of them staying home with a sitter, so they got special SW-themed cereal and snacks.

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I love the Yoda on this box. You may not be able to tell, but the detail is actually really good for a cereal box. Once the cereal had all been eaten, we put the box beside the trash can, too large to fit inside. I was staring at it when it hit me.

“I’ll cut him out!”

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And from there, I just kept finding things to cut out.

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I was also really excited to find the Hungry Jack box since I know someone named Jackson. Then I started thinking about all the things that use that name… Cracker Jack, Apple Jacks, Jack Daniel’s.

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I don’t know why I never thought to use food boxes before. They’re thick and sturdy cardboard, and as long as I use the proper adhesive, there shouldn’t be a problem going through the mail machines.

So what do you think? Is this something you’d try?

FoodBoxFlairProgress

 

Friday Favorites

Upcycle Sheet Music

I was recently at a Goodwill looking for books when I came across a folder of sheet music. Remembering the suggestion of my friend Karen who has also been enjoying sending out fun mail, I snatched it up!

I’ve played piano for years. I love it! And I miss it. I haven’t owned a piano in my adult life, and I haven’t played one since my church replaced theirs with a keyboard.

This music was begging to be made into envelopes.

Envelopes-SheetMusic

How fun are these? I’m already thinking of so many people who would like getting musical mail. Friends who play instruments, or sing, or live in Georgia, or are Lady Gaga fans.

If you had sheet music envelopes like these, who would you send them to?

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Friday Favorites

Twenty years.

That’s how long I looked for her.

We became friends in the fourth grade. She was my first bestie! When her family moved 500 miles away without notice, I was left with a friendship hole that I didn’t know how to fill at the ripe old age of ten.

Somehow we managed a few letters back and forth at the beginning. But keeping up with current addresses wasn’t exactly easy for grade schoolers, especially before the magic of Google and social media were available.

Her birthday – June 18th – became my favorite day of the year. I’d internally wish her a happy birthday every year. I even tried to plan my wedding on the same day. (It ended up not working out, so I planned it for the week afterward.) As I passed life milestones, I found myself wondering if she were doing the same thing. Did she go to college? Was she married? Did she have children?

I looked for her for twenty years and never found her even with the help of Google and social media. I made other friends along the way, as I was sure she had also, but a part of me just always wanted to find her.

Earlier this year, I decided I needed to move on from the friendship that just wasn’t meant to be. I let go of June 18th, and I let go of the idea of ever finding her.

And then it happened. Less than a week later, I got a Facebook friend request from someone I didn’t know. I ignored it for a few days. Then the mystery person sent me a message that got stuck in my other folder which went unnoticed for a few days. Once I finally found the message, I still couldn’t figure out who this person was. They said they knew me from school. That we were friends. How on earth could I NOT remember this person?

Then a little light in my head came on, and I realized that not only had my bestie indeed gotten married, but she’d also shortened her first name.

I was so happy that I cried! Some people won’t understand the emotions behind that, but I’m very relationship-driven. I like to form solid friendships and hold onto them. We caught up as best we could, and we do some catching up on something new every week or so. It’s amazing to have this friend back!

That was a few months ago. And the thing I want to share with you for my Friday Favorites is a “birthday in a box.” This year was the first birthday I could celebrate again with my friend, and I wanted to make it special. A birthday in a box is something I do occasionally if someone lives out of town. They’re so easy to make, are completely customizable, and always make recipients smile!

Most boxes contain typical birthday items – everything one needs to celebrate their birthday without me, things I would give them or do for them if I were there. But because I hadn’t seen my friend in so many years and because we’d missed so many milestones, I also sent her cards for those big events that I missed in her life.

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Her birthday box included a tablecloth, plates, napkins, party hats and noise makers (for her, her husband, and her daughter), candles, and of course, cake! (Sometimes I send streamers, confetti, balloons. Sometimes the box is themed like a beach party or a farm party.) I also included a small gift for her and wrapped the entire box in festive paper before I mailed it out.

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I was very glad to hear that, once again, the birthday in a box took my friend by surprise and she loved it! It was a great way to celebrate her first birthday since our virtual reunion.

Whose birthday do you celebrate from afar?
Do you think they would like a birthday in a box?
What would you put in it? 

 

Friday Favorites

Upcycling Wrapping Paper for Envelopes

I love me some pretty packages.

And brown paper packages tied up with string are cool and all, but I recently received birthday presents in such pretty paper that I just had to repurpose that wrapping paper into envelopes.

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I used both my large and small templates (which you can find here) to create envelopes out of this pretty paper. I avoided holes and tape marks, and I got several nice envelopes out of them.

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WrappingPaperEnvelopesThis is a great way to upcycle wrapping paper that doesn’t get torn to shreds during the gift-opening process.

Being green can actually be pretty and fun!

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Friday Favorites

Spruce up your Father’s Day mail!

Even if you don’t mail your Father’s Day cards and gifts, you can still decorate the envelopes to add an extra smile to Dad’s face.

It’s somewhat of a bittersweet holiday for me. Father’s Day 2011 was the last time I talked to my granddad. He lived a good, long life and passed away shortly thereafter.

Father’s Day 2013 was the last time I talked to my dad. While it was difficult for us to have a meaningful relationship in his latter years, I remember our conversation that day being so sweet. He was in the hospital and allowed himself to be vulnerable to me. He passed away a couple months after our conversation.

Father’s Day is a great reason to celebrate the men in your life – whether it’s your father and father-in-law or the father of your children or other father figures in your life. Men appreciate being appreciated. And what a great “excuse” to stroke a man’s ego.

Here are some ideas to get you started, but there are sooo many things you could do, depending on your man’s personality.

Sports

Whether Dad is an avid fan that attends events or a home spectator or a local team participant, show him you know what he loves.

Father-golf

Father-baseball
SuperDad

Give him the chance to see his name on a superhero envelope! If you’re not comfortable drawing a hero logo, try printing one out or cut one out from an ad or comic book. (Just make sure it’s not one of Dad’s!)

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Dapper Dad

Does Dad love to dress in his best? Is he a sleek business man? Then look no further than to draw a tie. This is probably one of the easiest things you could do.

Father-tie
Hobbies

Is Dad the gaming guy? Or the grill master? Or the puzzle whiz? Incorporate his hobby right onto your card or gift box.

Father-chess

Father-grill

Father-sudoku
Kids’ Art

Let your kids do the art! My son isn’t old enough to draw, but my daughter loved coloring this and picking out the stickers for her Daddy.

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I used a variety of mediums for the envelopes including Sharpies, chalks, and of course crayons.

You can also try these:

  • stickers
  • paint (watercolors are in!)
  • magazine pictures cut out and glued on
  • stamps
See something you want to try?
How are you going to decorate Father’s Day cards?

 

 

 

 

Friday Favorites

Mail Carrier Gifts – summer edition

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” It’s not an official creed of the USPS, but in my experience, our mail carriers do a mighty good job delivering our mail.

We had two heavy snows this winter, and despite our road not even getting plowed, our carrier got our mail to us as soon as possible.

Our mailbox area tends to get flooded thanks to some shoddy work by our builders. Mail still gets delivered, even if the water has to be stepped in.

We also live on a huge hill, and sometimes our carrier has to bring large packages up the hill, then climb an additional eleven steps to our door.

Not to mention that this time of year, it gets hot out there! I am an Alabama transplant to Kentucky. If my Kentuckian friends think it gets hot here, you should know that I hail from an area that sees triple-digit degree days regularly in the summer. And that’s not even the hottest part of the country!

Clearly, our mail carrier deserves gifts! And I bet yours does, too. 

CarrierGiftsSummer

Frozen water bottles

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See this? It cost me a whopping $2. I can give our carrier a frozen water bottle every week all summer long. Here’s to staying hydrated! You can also leave them a mini cooler full of ice so they can chill their once-cold drinks now gone warm.

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Frozen fruit 

Who doesn’t love a frozen fruit treat during the hot summer months? If your carrier knows you and trusts you, you can probably put frozen fruit in freezer bags and set in the mailbox for them. If you don’t want to make them feel uncomfortable with home-prepared frozen fruits, you can buy a bag of frozen fruit for them.

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Alternatively, check out this idea from HealthEasy for freezing watermelon into cubes. Not only a great treat for your carrier, but also a nice addition to your own summer! Just cut watermelon into cubes, space out on a sheet of waxed paper, freeze, and bag them up.

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Cooling towel

I grew up on a ranch and worked many summers on my grandparents’ farm. My grandmother used to have some handkerchief-design neck towels that I loved. She would wet them and put them in the fridge or freezer, and my brother and I would wear them around our necks as we worked outside. It was a fantastic way to keep cool! I found this similar towel at the Dollar Tree. I hope it works as well as the ones did when I was a kid.

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Hand wipes/lotion

Mail is nasty. Seriously. You might never know it by the mail in your own mailbox every day, but I worked in a mail room for two years, and one of my least favorite aspects of sorting mail was how dirty it was. I often felt like I couldn’t wash my hands often enough. My fingers would be black at the end of every sort. Not only do mail carriers handle mail, though. They also touch countless mail boxes, flags, animals and insects, dirt, doorbells, and who knows what else. Hand wipes are a must! These are the moisturizing antibacterial kind.

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Non-melting candy

Gum, Mike & Ike, Bottle Caps, Air Heads, Laffy Taffy, Skittles, Starburst … whatever floats your boat. And even though m&m’s are supposed to melt in your mouth and not your hands, I don’t recommend using them in the hot months. They may not melt in the box, but the insides of the candies will be too warm and messy for your carrier.

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Which one of these are you most likely to give to your carrier?

I must give a hearty thank-you to my friend Mendi who has not only been a giver of gifts to her mail carriers since she was a child, but also married a USPS employee. Mendi has given me many tips for mail carrier gifts in all seasons. I’m looking forward to sharing more of her tips with you in the future. 

Side note: any of these would also make great gifts for your trash management providers!

Friday Favorites – address books

I am sure that, as a whole, address books are becoming a thing of the past. Contact records are now kept in people’s phones or email accounts or are simply not kept at all.

Sending a note to a friend? Just text and ask for their address.

Need to mail invitations for a party? Nah … just hand them out at the next get-together.

I keep an address book mainly because it is one consistent place for me to keep everyone’s contact information. That being said, I only keep addresses in it. Phone numbers go in my phone, and birthdays go on the calendar. Addresses go in the address book. 

I also keep the book because it feels nostalgic to me. There’s something fun about flipping open the book to the page with your [hopefully current] address on it. It makes me feel like an adult. It makes me feel a tiny bit like my grandmother who I can remember sitting at her dining room table writing letters.

So, a while back, I decided to get a new address book. I’d recklessly used ink in my old book. Little did I know that my friends and family would move so much and that I should be using pencil. After months of perusing and poring over different styles and designs, I finally settled on this amazing Norman Rockwell book. (The one on top of it is my old one.)

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It’s not femininely pretty, which is what I was originally wanting, but I love it! It’s spiral-bound, with a protected binding. It has plenty of space for adding information. And it has over forty full-color Rockwell images. Since I won’t be owning one of his $5k lithographs any time soon, this book is a great way for me to enjoy his works.

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Yes, I know there’a pen in the picture. Don’t use pen in your address book! The fifth time your best friend moves and you find yourself out of room in that alphabet letter, you’ll wish you’d used pencil all along.

I’m a little sad to get rid of my old book. I loved the 3D cover leaves. And the pocket inside the book was nice for holding address labels and stamps.

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In case you’re in the market, you can find the Norman Rockwell address book on Amazon here.

Below are some other designs worth considering. If these designs don’t suit you, the companies they represent have many more options.

Lang has this pink butterfly and other genuinely beautiful books on their site. This one is ring-bound and has the option of refill pages:

Addresses-Lang

Erin Condren has a truly unique address book, and I wish I would have found it sooner. All of their books are customizable and include a pocket, zippered pouch and labels:

Addresses-ErinCondren

Franklin Planner, a division of Franklin Covey, not only has address pages for your regular planner, but they also have separate address books. This one – called the Little Book of Addresses – really is a little book. It measures a mere 5″ x 3.75″ for those who prefer something small:

Addresses-FranklinPlanner

Barnes & Noble is carrying this Vera Bradley address book. It has the very iconic VB look and has a great magnetic closure:

Addresses-VeraBradleyBarnesNoble

The Delicate Utility on etsy has this genuine leather address book for sale. If you’re into awesome leather journals, be sure to check out their entire collection of products. I guarantee you’ll find more than one that you’ll fall in love with:

Addresses-TheDelicateUtility

Friday Favorites – All Things Sharpies with giveaway!

Yes, I know it’s Saturday. I had a little bit of trouble getting this ready for yesterday, so we’ll just pretend it’s still Friday for a bit.

Let’s talk about Sharpies for a minute.

And if you read to the end, I have a giveaway for you!

This is my collection.

SharpieAll

I’m sure some people will see that and think I’ve lost my mind. Others might see it and think I need more.

I really enjoy using Sharpies to decorate envelopes and packages. With a variety of colors, tips, and mediums, they’re the perfect all-around writing and drawing utensil.

Although the company was originally founded to manufacturer ink and glue, the iconic Sharpie marker was introduced in 1964 and has been going strong ever since. Over the past five decades, the company has introduced at least 30 colors and over 50 different products including DVD markers, counterfeit detectors, laundry markers, and peel-off china markers.

So these are the fine point markers, what I consider the original.

SharpieOriginal

And these are the ultra fine ones. They write much like a pen but still have ink like a marker, so I advise not using them on thin papers.

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If unique colors are more your thing, you might like their metallic options. I have both the markers and the paint pens. Love!

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I also like the twin tip because I can get the best of both worlds with just one marker. I usually have one of these in my purse at all times.

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I even have a mini Sharpie. It used to be on a keychain but had to be removed since a certain little toddler kept taking it off and using it as a personal creation tool. 🙂

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But THESE ……

These are my favorites.

The Sharpie pen.

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Behold the pen that I have to keep buying because they mysteriously disappear when people borrow them and discover how great they are.

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You really have to try these for yourself to really understand how awesome they are. Which is why I’m giving one away to two of my readers.

YEP – it’s giveaway time!!!

Two readers will each win one Sharpie pen, courtesy of yours truly. And of course, they will arrive in fun mail containers to boot!

Click the link below to go to the giveaway. If you have trouble loading the giveaway, try opening this page in a different browser.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday Favorites – magazines (free printable!)

YES!

I have a freebie for you today!

For all the mail I send out, one of the best things I do is make custom envelopes. While I can use many different things to make envelopes, one of the best resources I have is old magazines.

And one of my favorites is Real Simple.

RealSimpleStack

RealSimpleSpread

Issues have several pages worthy of making an envelope, and the pages are large enough to accommodate a variety of envelope sizes.

RealSimplePages

If you want to play around and make some envelopes for yourself, check out this envelope template I use. (I recommend cutting it out onto thick cardstock so that it won’t bend and get misshapen.)

National Geographic is another favorite for envelopes.

NatGeo

Their long-loved photography makes for amazing mail, and although the pages are smaller than most magazines, they are still usable for a small envelope.

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To get the small envelope template, click here.

Just look at these finished envelopes. Who wouldn’t want one of these? Send a note to someone special in a custom envelope. It’s an easy process with big impact!

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Both envelope templates include step-by-step instructions on how to create custom envelopes. Once you get the hang of it, the possibilities are endless!

Pin it:
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Friday Favorites – USPS stamps

I’m not a stamp collector. Or even a real enthusiast, per se. I don’t know their history or which ones are rare.

But I do enjoy using fun stamps more than regular ones. One of my favorite things about mail is the stamps I put on envelopes and packages.

These are some of my recent favorites. I have crazy dreams when I’m pregnant. One night, I dreamed that I found Batman as a squatter in our attic and that he and I became friends. While this would be super creepy in real life, it was cool in my dream. The next day I went to the post office to ship stuff out. I saw these and couldn’t pass them up. I especially like the circle ones, and I even cut off the side panel to add to a card.

StampsBatman

These are some that I want to buy. I love the idea of the big circus, even if some of their practices are debated.

StampsCircus

And these songbirds. I also want these because they remind me of my grandparents. My granddad could name every bird in his yard by the song it sang.

 

Seriously, the USPS has such a huge variety of stamps. Nature, history, people, entertainment. Just take a look at some of their offerings below and get some the next time you hit up the post office. Also, check out the round stamps at the very end.

Mail Tip: If you can’t find the stamps you’re looking for at your local post office, try online at http://www.usps.com. You can also look for older or sold out stamps on eBay, though you may pay a higher price there.

StampsCivilWar StampsCivilWarB StampsCivilWarC StampsCivilWarD Stamps1812 Stamps1812B Stamps1812CStampsWilt StampsBlackHeritage StampsChisholm StampsDavisPiaf StampsHarvey StampsHendrix StampsHeston StampsJohnnyCash StampsJoplin StampsMaya StampsMendoza StampsRayCharlesStampsChefsStampsWeddingStampsCherryBlossomStampsFernsStampsForgetMeNotStampsLilyStampsTulipStampsMarketStampsScoutingStampsSnakeStampsRamStampsWaveStampsWestVAStampsNevadaStampsMillStampsButterflyStampsCelebrateStampsEmancipationStampsFromMeToYouStampsHeartStampsHarryPotterStampsInt'l1StampsInt'l2