Category Archives: Correspondence

Gold Medal Idiot

I have tennis elbow. For the first time in my adult life, I’m dealing with chronic pain in my elbow, wrist, and hand. Does anyone know of a professional who can help with hand and wrist pain??? It has been bothering me for about two months. It started as a sore arm. I thought I’d overdone it at the gym. And then it moved up and down my arm. There would be mornings I couldn’t move my wrist and others when I thought my elbow was on fire.

I watched YouTube tutorials. I bought a brace (or three) on Amazon. I did the stretches as suggested. Jason started massaging Aspercreme on my arm before bed. (Have you ever read a sexier sentence? Woof.) And then finally, I did what I should have done at the first ache, and I made the physical therapy appointment.

This week I started a “dry needling” program. The inflamed area is identified and then a series of small needles are placed into the angry muscle and tendon. The needles are then hooked to an electrical system and small amount of electricity is run through them, which makes your hand clamp and your arm jump like a fish out of water.

For the most part, this was painless. Until it wasn’t. I was supposed to have three more needles inserted than I could muster on the first visit. I had about 10 in my arm when I was in so much pain, I was in tears. But the good news? Yesterday was my first pain free day in months. Today, the aching is back, but not as severe. Tomorrow I go back for more needles and lasers and whatever other magic this PT wants to throw at me. Fingers crossed, it appears to be working.

How does someone who doesn’t play tennis get such an elbow? Are you sitting down? I’m pretty sure this repetitive use injury is from two of my loves: writing and knitting. Holding a pen and writing uses that exact series of muscles and tendons, as does knitting.

I’ve been working on Christmas cards, which have always been important to me, for over a month. And I’ve been able to write out about 10 envelopes and cards a day before my hand refused to hold a pen any longer. I’ve been taking notes at work with my right hand, which only I will later be able to decipher. It isn’t pretty, but it is better than nothing.

As for knitting, a few rows here and there. The timing of this injury couldn’t be worse. Christmas is around the corner. I’ve got projects stacked up and an arm that is either throbbing or screaming in pain.

The silver lining:

  1. We have excellent healthcare that I can easily access.
  2. The card project is finally done.
  3. Aleve comes in giant arthritis bottles that are so easy to open.
  4. I can still run. I am finding so much joy in running again. I put the brace on my arm so it doesn’t throb, get on the treadmill, and run until I’m ready to collapse.

The moral to my story is don’t be like me. If you have pain, stop. “No Pain, No Gain” is a slogan for Olympians, not knitters.



New stamp!

I received a lovely new address stamp in the mail this week, thanks to the ever creative Trial By Cupcakes. Perfect timing for COAK. Love, love, love!

I think this will be my standard new home gift. Guess who I get to buy one for first? That’s right — Adam and his lady are moving to Colorado! I can’t believe it either. That man has been my best guy friend for, what — nearly a decade. Having them here is a dream come true.

Now, there are a few more I need to focus my relocation efforts on.






noun: Space required for living, growth, and development.

Peace Corps Letters

God bless the Germans for their command of language. Want romance? See French. Spiciness? Spanish. The language of literature — Shakespeare’s English. Poetry? Persian. But German? Like their cars, their shoes and their way of life — it is efficient. I admire such precision (and often lament, “Why isn’t there a word for this?”)

Peace Corps Letters

I subscribe to AWAD. Have you heard of this? An ex-boyfriend was a word junkie. He regularly kicked my chagrined butt at Scrabble. To cheer me up after yet another defeat one sad evening, he quietly subscribed me to AWAD. I couldn’t have been given a more thoughtful gift.

My favorite email of the week arrives Sunday when the word dorks around the world come together for the week’s compendium email. Each week has a theme. The Sunday review includes the craziest and wittiest emails Anu Garg — the creator — has received. At times there is a challenge or prize associated, but the real reward is the quirky multilingual views and opinions people about have about language.

In other words — word nerd heaven.

I’ve shared these compendium email several times with other friends to note the strange and interesting comments only to receive “what a bunch of pretentious asshats!” as a response.

Needless to say, these pretentious wordie asshats are my people.

Peace Corps Letters

A few weeks ago, the theme of AWAD was German words. This was yet another reminder of the fluidity of language — how English has been modified with time by the influence of other cultures. The words included lebensraum and:

  • Sitzfleisch noun: 1. The ability to sit through or tolerate something boring.2. The ability to endure or persist in a task.
  • ersatz adjective:  Serving as a substitute, especially of inferior quality; artificial.  noun: A substitute or imitation.
  • diktat  noun: 1. An order or decree imposed without popular consent. 2. A harsh settlement imposed upon a defeated party.
  • schwarmerei noun:  1. Extravagant enthusiasm.2. Excessive sentimentality.

Peace Corps Letters

With quite a bit of characteristic schwarmerei tucked in my pocket this weekend, I continued packing for my move. This included a giant shoe box of letters I’d stashed in the back of the hall closet. Not necessarily forgotten, but certainly years since being opened, I decided it was time to do something with the countless sentiments mailed around the world when I was in the Peace Corps.

The tiny bits of ephemera I saved was unbelievable. I had handwritten love letters from my Peace Corps boyfriend, my notice of early termination and plane tickets receipt, emails printed out from the one house in my training community that had Internet access (still a miracle, now that I think about it) and more.  Even more, I found letter after letter from family, my closest girlfriends, ministers and others who wanted to know I was supported and loved.

(Also mailed to Cameroon: the People magazine spread on Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston’s wedding; the notice of Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid’s divorce; gobs of photos of baby Bennett who will soon be 11!; and the hilarious and wickedly entertaining tomes of my closest girlfriends’ college romances. I was laughing as hard as I was crying while organizing.)

With time, I’ll scan these and make them into a book to be saved forever. For now, they are behind plastic sleeves and still very much cherished.

The greatest gift is that of lebensraum: noun: Space required for living, growth, and development.


Tutorial: Fabric Correspondence Envelope

What to do with those handmade cards you buy at the local coffee shop? Or order from Paper Source? Or buy in bulk from Etsy? (Or perhaps my favorite new local shop: See SawDesigns. Hello, adorable letterpress creations!)

Finished correspondence envelope tutorial

Finished correspondence envelope tutorial

How about a fabric correspondence envelope, with space for both your cards, stamps and your favorite pen? You could use this to clean up your stationery drawer, or throw it in your suitcase when you travel to keep postcards and an address book handy.

{Yes, I actually travel like this. And yes, if you are in my address book, you’ve more than likely received your fair dose of correspondence over the years.}

Let’s start with fabric selection. Pick two pieces of fabric that are decor weight to give this some heft.

Finished correspondence envelope tutorial


– 2 pieces of decor weight fabric, interior 10 ” x 14 ”

– 2 pieces of decor weight fabric, exterior 10 ” x 7″

– 2 pieces of lightweight fusible interfacing,  one, 10″ x 14″; the other 10″ x 7″

– 1 fabulous button, with needle and thread to attach

– general sewing notions: scissors, machine, ruler, pencil, etc.

Finished correspondence envelope tutorial


All seams are 1/2 inch.

Cut your exterior and interior pieces, along with your interfacing. Iron the interfacing to the wrong side of your exterior pieces. Place the exteriors (with interfacing now attached) and interior right sides together. You’ll have two stacks. The 10″ side is the bottom. The 14″/7″ side is the height.

Now, we are going to cut the larger set of pieces  to make the point of the envelope. Pin the 10″ x 14″ exterior and interior piece together.  Use a ruler and a dull pencil and measure 7″ from the bottom of the sandwiched pieces. The wrong side of the either the exterior or the interior should be facing up. Draw a line across the 10″ width at the 7″ (from the bottom up) mark. Now, draw a line from top to bottom at the 5″ mark. You should have two lightly drawn lines across one piece of your fabric.

Starting at the left corner of the 7″ mark and the left-side of the fabric, gently draw a line to the top 5″ mark, creating one side of the envelope point. Repeat on the other side of the fabric, creating the other side. You’ve now drawn a perfect triangle. Trim your envelope pieces accordingly:

Finished correspondence envelope tutorial

You started with rectangles.

Finished correspondence envelope tutorial

Now you have four pieces, two with a triangle top.

Let’s sew these pieces together. As per most sewing patterns, the key is to always sew things right sides together and leave a hole so you can turn it right-side out when you are done. Starting with the smaller 10″ x & 7″ pieces, place right sides together and sew only the top edge closed. (see the above photo) Press with your iron, turn right-side out, repeat seam with a top stitch.

Finished correspondence envelope tutorial

Now, leaving a 3″ hole along the bottom 10″ piece — we are going sew the envelope portion together. Place the 10″ x 14″ (pointy envelope) exterior piece and interior pieces right-sides together. Sew along the outer edge, leaving the 3″ hole along the bottom. Place the other two pieces (10″ x 7″) right-sides together and repeat, leaving the same hole. Clip the corners. Turn both sets right sides out. Using your iron, push out your seams as far as you can. Match up both sets of fabric along the bottom edge (both with 3″ holes). Carefully turn these in and pin. Pin around the entire outer edge of the envelope and top stitch, enclosing your 3″ turning holes. You should now have one giant envelope.

To create pockets for the pen and cards, measure in 2″ from the left-hand edge of your fabric. Run a seam from the bottom to the top of the pocket section (only 7″ tall, not the entire 14″ triangle point!). You’ve now got one large pocket — on the right — for cards and stamps, and one little pocket — on the left, for your pen.

Finished correspondence envelope tutorial

Now, pick a coordinating button to sew on the front of the flap. This is simply for decoration, and to provide a bit of weight to keep the flap down. You won’t create a button hole, so your button doesn’t need to be practical. Go wild!

Finished correspondence envelope tutorial

Add a personal label if you’d like, fill with stationery and a pen and enjoy!

Finished correspondence envelope tutorial

Finished correspondence envelope tutorial

Finished correspondence envelope tutorial

Finished correspondence envelope tutorial

Yay! Letters! Who doesn’t love letters (especially love letters)!


A letter or two…

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The winner for the stationery is Becky Sue because she hit a cord with her pro-book stance:

“I don’t know if this is considered “old-fashioned” but it certainly seems the tide is turning with all these new e-book thingys like the Kindle and the Nook. Give me a good old-fashioned book any day…I love the feel of it in my hands, the feel of the pages, the smell. I have never listened to an audio book either, and I don’t really care to – even if it might save me some time.”

I am all for technology, but I can’t imagine the time I’ll take a Kindle over a great used book found on a dusty shelf at my local haunt. I like the sensory experience of books and I cannot believe this is now old-fashioned, but so be it!

Your comments about the letters you’ve written, saved and cherished over the years brought out the sentimentalist in me. I am so thankful so many others celebrate this simple joy. I’ve learned you received letters your grandparents had written each other when courting, you’ve written letters to your future children when pregnant, you penned letters to introduce yourself, and to end relationships too.

What used to be an art now seems to be contrite; I still find a good letter a great entertainment. Thank you for sharing your stories!


Letterpress Dreams

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If I had gobs of money to spend on new hobbies, I’d be taking letterpress classes. I love the design, look, feel and weight of letterpress stationery. It is simply perfect.

Alas, this is not in my immediate future. (Although a friend mentioned yesterday he knows someone who knows someone…) In the meantime, I enjoyed the current stationery sale at JoAnn’s and bought a few new supplies that fueled an afternoon of correspondence creation.

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That Ginger Rogers really did get the short end of the stick. You know who else gets cheated? Every single female character on Mad Men. Have you watched this show? I am a bit obsessed. The fashion, set design, and feel of this show makes it visual art. The writing makes it brilliant. I simply love Mad Men, but I am struggling with the female leads. I don’t identify with any of them.

It makes me wonder what my grandmothers put up with and how they view the world today — one where in certain circles, not wearing panties gets you splashed on every magazine for the week. How the art of femininity has changed for the masses.

My love of a great handwritten note and Mad Men are linked in that  I’m enamored with all things old fashioned. Sure, text messages are efficient, but a well written letter? A letter you hold on to. Certainly jeans and soft cotton t-shirt work, but a tailored dress, flats and pretty jewelry? They make me feel like Christmas morning.

And so, another contest for a bundle of handmade stationery. Leave a comment describing one of two things: a letter you’ve received or need to write and why it is special, or, what old fashioned thing you consider the bee’s knees. I’ll select the most creative answer and post it Friday.


Adventathon: 13


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Um, holy Moses. This 24-days of advent thing I’m attempting? Phew. You’d think I would have started this with a plan of action, but really I started on a whim and have been struggling to keep up. Not to mention next week I’ll be scheduling posts while I’m on the beach and exploring Mexico with my family. Feliz Navidad! So, thank you for hanging around for all this crazy creativity. The self-imposed challenge has me learning to work with new medium and rethinking patterns, etc. I really do appreciate your feedback.

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Stationery is one of my favorite things to have on hand. My love of correspondence is well-known. Stamping cards for the holidays is an easy blend of several passions — art, the holidays and the craft of letter-writing. Plus, it is an inexpensive way to check in with so many people during this time of year. I regularly underestimate how many I will need, but this year capped my list at 150. Stamped, mailed, sent with love.

Next year I am going to save the trees and the energy by the mail trucks and email a photo collage. It simply makes more sense ecologically.

Are you making your holiday cards? Do you ever save cards? Reuse the envelopes for scratch paper? I have mine displayed on the mantle. My favorites include the family chronicle letters with lengthy updates on everyone’s activities.



Thankful correspondence

Letters for this week

Sunday I was in charge of Children’s Moment at church. The timely lesson was about giving thanks. I whipped up some Thanksgiving cards and we talked about the importance of being grateful. The kids went into the congregation and found someone to give a card to and then we worked on cards for their families in Sunday School.

I am a bit like Johnny Appleseed, but with correspondence. Johnny Stampyseed? Kelli Appleletter? Hmm… I like to spread it and make others write letters too. (My brother told me the other day he’s saved all the letters I’ve sent him since he left for college and there are more than 100. I’m a little crazy, I know.) The kids agreed — getting personal mail rocks.  They now know the secret too — to get mail, you’ve got to send some stationery love too. They were as excited as a group of little ones gets about a thinly veiled manners lesson.

November Music Mix

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I whipped up some music mixes this weekend too. Looking at this photo I just realized the Four Seasons song is a Vivaldi and it is Violin not Violent. Ha! Violin autmun, not violent autumn.

I think these might be my two very favorite things to receive:  handwritten notes and mixes of la musica.

Hope your Thanksgiving week is off to a great start!


Cordially, Fondly, With Love

africankelli seal

so pretty!

viva la frida

initial stationery

frida's birthday is coming up

packages ready for post

cards for correspondence month

I was the kid at summer camp who always came home with a stack of addresses and managed to write a dozen pen pal letters in the first week, chronicling life in suburban Arizona as though it was dramatically different from the other WASPY childhoods of my new friends.  No surprise my fondness for this form of communication carried forward into adulthood, although my Hello Kitty stickerbook has been updated a bit. I typically start the new year with a fresh address book, making edits to the year’s changes in addresses with a stack of Christmas card envelopes in hand, and adding birthdays for new babies, etc. I keep a running list of birthdays in some attempt to remember as many as possible.

I’ve got plenty of people who think I’m crazy for operating on a pencil/paper system these days, even though my Blackberry is permanently attached to my otherwise technologically savvy self. I like an agenda where I can doodle, make lists, paperclip notes and not worry if I spill my morning coffee. Ink runs, but it doesn’t spark.  Same goes for my address book. It’s a scratchy mess by the end of the year — it seems this is a time of life when most friends hop from rentals to mortgages — but it is my mess and it doesn’t ever need to be in binary code.

And so, every few months, I find stationery and stamps and create a stack of  notes to be posted. In part, I enjoy writing letters because it forces a thoughtful selection of word choice and flow. There are things I’ll discuss at length when writing with pen that I’d never consider sending via gmail. Plus, with email how often do you have a greeting, a point and a kind valediction?  And in part, I write letters selfishly because the sense of opening the mailbox to find something handwritten and personal is the bee’s knees.

I’m adding this to my “list of descriptive words I need to create,” along with the feeling of finding an unexpected love letter. My mom used to tuck notes of love in our lunches on occasion. My dad slipped a letter into my luggage once when I left for a long trip. My grandma regularly sends me letters of love. I’ve even found one or two romantic, sappy and completely exhilirating notes from ghosts of boyfriends past. It isn’t just the words, but the paper and the ability to tuck such sentiment away to be cherished again and again.

I’m in the mood to spend extra time writing letters and connecting with friends. A correspondence month admist an otherwise busy technological world is old fashioned or vintage, quaint or lame, thoughtful or a waste of time. Like everything else in life, it depends on your perspective. I’m venturing to bet on I’m not the only one who appreciates kindness signed, sealed and delivered.