April Challenges & Events for any stationery lover

It’s April! Well it arrived about a week ago but… April is here and there’s just so much going on. This is one of my favourite months here on Aumsome. It’s like Christmas in the stationery world right now. There’s just so much going on and this amazing month is going to end with my favourite week: National Stationery Week! Even before that though, this month is full of so many great things that I thought I would kick it off with a very quick overview of some of the amazing challenges that are taking place this month.

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Newly released Royal Mail MARVEL Stamps

I’ve spoken quite a bit about sending letters and post. I have not, however, covered the stamp part of a post. Stamps are something that I adore looking at. It’s so interesting to see the different stamps that different countries have. I love receiving international post just to see what their stamps are like. However, the Royal Mail group have some incredible designs themselves. I honestly am contemplating collecting stamps more often. That was something I have not really done before but with the vast collections that I see these days that I adore, I kind of want to. I have a few sheets that I have saved but not really a huge collection of them.

Royal Mail Leonardo da Vinci Special Stamp Issue
Leonardo da Vinci stamps

As you may know, Royal Mail regularly release themed stamps. February’s theme was Leonardo da Vinci. It captured some really great moments and drawings of his. I love the writings and texts on the stamps, making them look a bit more vintage. However, March’s theme completely floored me. It vastly differs from February but it’s so great. If you haven’t already seen them… You can now order Marvel stamps! Yes, that’s right, Marvel. They were released yesterday and are now in stock to buy.

Royal Mail MARVEL Special Stamp Issue
MARVEL Character Stamps

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Goodbye February, Hello March – National Craft Month

Many years ago (well when I was a child), Craft and Hobby Association (now known as Association For Creative Industries or AFCI) made February the National Craft Month. This has been a big part of the craft industry in North America, I believe. And despite it not being very relevant to where I live, it’s something I really wanted to focus on this month.  

So Happy National Craft Month!

National Craft Month

For me, crafting is a really fun hobby. I could definitely spend more than just a single month talking about craft. I’m sure I’ll have more craft related posts later in the year for you. However, I did want to focus on it because I wanted to introduce more crafting to my life. Although I love arts and crafts, it’s also one of those things that I never seem to have time for. There’s always other things to do, for example, like blogging. Craft is a really good way to look after your mental wellbeing though and it’s something I’ve been trying to incorporate into my weekly plans. Every week, I try to dedicate a little bit of time to just crafting something – absolutely anything.

So in National Craft Month, I am going to ensure I stick to this plan and craft a little bit every week. The best thing about this hobby is that there are many different things you can craft. It’s not limited to just paper materials, for example. Craft includes needle work or knitting, upcycling furniture or heck, even brewing beer (it’s called Craft Beer, is it not?).

Essentially, craft is some sort of activity that involves making something by hand. These are a few of the things that I like. However, it would be great to hear what sorts of crafts you enjoy and if you are planning to do anything for it. If you’re curious, a lot of these ideas are also in my Stationery Self-Care post, which shows the different ways you can do self-care with your stationery addiction. Continue reading “Goodbye February, Hello March – National Craft Month”

The Joy of Penpals – Hannah’s Story

Letters from Hannah's penpalsThe joy of letterwriting is something I speak of often and always, to anyone who listens. However, today, I wanted to feature someone else and get their take on it. I’m very pleased to welcome Hannah from Han Plans to the blog. I’ve actually had the pleasure of meeting Hannah in person, through the planner community (why yes, there is a community). Not only is she a kind and amazing lady, she’s also an avid planner, crafter and – you guessed it – letterwriter.

So without further ado, let’s hand over to Hannah and hear her story!

Like most people I had my first penpal when I was at school as some kind of English project. I vaguely remember that my penpal went to one of the schools in a village near Hitchin. I think we’d all been paired up in a sort of “exchange student” kind of way. Now, I have no idea where I’d start but I’d love to track down my penpal. One day I might need to see if any of my letters are still with all my school work in my Mum and Dad’s attic.

I’ve always loved keeping a journal (online or notebook), loved card making and scrapbooking. I will often send postcards when I’m away on holiday. As I write this I’m on a train to Birmingham – I’m wondering if I’d have time to send Jaxon a postcard while I’m away. It seems silly as I’m away less than 24 hours but I think he’d appreciate getting his own post for once.

Anyway, so back in 2007, I graduated from university, I had a temporary job while I found something a bit more permanent. Around this time I stumbled upon Swap-Bot. I signed up for small swaps and joined in. One of my longest penpals is Bob, he’s based in Kansas in the USA. He’s an artist and nearly always (no actually make that always) decorates the outside of the envelope. I think I have kept nearly all the envelopes because they are works of art in their own right.

Hannah spotting a letter from one of her penpals

Now it’s almost 12 years later and I’ve had some penpals that have lasted 2 or 3 letters and then fizzled out or other penpals that keep writing. I’ve learnt about life in Australia, USA, Denmark, Hungary and Norway amongst other places. I’ve told my penpals about life here in the UK and taken them on adventures with me too. I think I posted a couple of letters from Paris before we went to Disneyland Paris back in May 2018.

Most of my letters are in English but I’ve attempted to write the odd things in other languages depending on whom I’m writing to. I’ve wished my German friend Frohe Weihnachten and my friend in Denmark Godt Nytår. Sometimes I’m worried I’ll get it wrong and call someone’s Mum a goat or something like that. But, I hope that my penpals know that it’s me trying to make an effort rather than intentionally insulting them!

Letters from Hannah's penpalsSo in such a technological time when it’s so easy to open an email and fire off a few sentences, what is it I like about handwritten penpal letters that is so important.

Well, to me it’s the time it takes. It’s the thought that goes into the letter. You sit down with a pen and paper and you write (in your best attempt at neat handwriting) a letter that you hope will bring someone some sunshine. I love those days when I’m having a terrible day and then a penpal letter arrives. Clearly, when the person wrote it they had no idea that I was going to have a bad day and yet that moment it arrived, I needed to see it.

Then it’s the topics, do I write about what’s going on around me or do I write about something specific? Maybe I have something going on and need to talk about it. When my grandmother had a stroke back in 2008 and passed away the same day, I wrote to my penpals. I poured a lot of grief into my letters. But also when I found out I was pregnant and then when Jaxon arrived in the world I celebrate with my penpals too. I’m friends with a few of my penpals on social media so we sort of touch base between letters but there’s something about those letters charting our friendship.

Letters from Hannah's penpalsPenmanship and writing letters is a dying art, our banks and mobile networks give us discount for paperless billing, less people are sending Christmas cards because of the cost to the buy the card and then the cost of the stamps. It’s easier just to post on social media and move on with life. But in a time when we are more connected by technology than ever before, more of us are feeling lonely. Maybe writing penpal letters is the way to shrink that loneliness.

What better way to end this month’s focus then with a personal story from a friend. I’m thrilled to be able to share her experience of letterwriting and the penpals she has made through it. Hannah’s story has definitely made me want to write more letters and get some more penpals.

I really love the creativity that goes into letterwriting. Some people choose to express themselves through words, other choose to draw or decorate them. There’s no right or wrong. It’s all about connecting people together and I really love the freedom it gives people.

Follow Hannah over on her blog, Han Plans. She’s also active on social media and has a lovely Instagram, full of stationery and crafts!

From Me to You – The Big Letter Write

Throughout this blog, I’ve spoken a lot about mental health and the impact that it has on physical health, particularly for myself. However, it’s important to recognise that sometimes it’s the other way around. A physical illness not only affects your body, it can also affect your mental health and your emotions. Cancer is a very clear case of this. It has a strong impact on patients and their loved ones, affecting their mental health and causing a lot of stress. And that’s why, when I saw this website called “From Me to You“, I instantly thought it was brilliant.

From Me to You is an organisation that encourages you to pen a letter to someone with cancer. The idea of writing to someone that is going through an illness that I cannot truly understand is a little scary, to be honest. There’s always the question of: “Am I going to say something wrong?” or even something as basic as “How do I start this?” However, From Me to You addresses those fears by providing a lot of writing tips, which include ideas on what to say or what to avoid saying. Their helpful tips have helped me to put together this post for you today.

World Cancer Day

On World Cancer Day, on the 4th February (this Monday!!), From Me to You is encouraging everyone to join the Big Letter Write and to pen a letter to someone with cancer. There are two main ways to get involved. You can either reach out and write to someone you already know or you can choose to donate a letter to a stranger who could use a friend.

By signing up to donate a letter, I received a writing kit from them within a few days, which contains a variety of useful information. This kit takes a few days to arrive so you won’t receive it until after Monday but if you want to join, I’ve collated my favourite tips and some things that you could do to get involved before the pack arrives. So you can join the campaign and make a difference to someone’s life this World Cancer Day. Continue reading “From Me to You – The Big Letter Write”