metamorphosis mail

Last week my family received live caterpillars in the mail as a spring gift from my mom! That was a first. Two plastic cups with lids arrived in a small cardboard box. Inside were tiny little black caterpillars and some brown food that we decided to call “pudding”. We designed an environment for our new pets to inspire them to grow.

caterpillersAnd grow they did! They ate a lot of pudding and within a week were huge and starting to transition into their chrysalides.

transitioningThis guy actually transitioned before our very eyes! It was fascinating and also a little gross- from black and fuzzy to smooth and brown in a matter of minutes. I loved every second of it.

chrysalidesNow we wait. In a few days we’ll transfer the chrysalides to a net habitat and a week after that, butterflies will emerge! When their wings are strong, we’ll release them in our garden.

We have loved this experience. If you want to give it a try visit Insect Lore; The Original Butterflies by Mail Company.

Viva Metamorphosis!

The Love Letters Project

Are you a fan of Story Corps? I am. And it seems that USPS Stamps is too, as they rolled out something similar called The Love Letters Project, in time for Valentine’s Day. I enjoyed listening to these audio recordings and hearing people’s very personal correspondence stories. I hope the series continues and that the producers of this admirable project cast a wider story net. All 5 stories are about white people and that does not reflect our incredibly diverse citizenry.

Treasures of the Post

shell postcardSummer is upon us and its postcard season! I just returned from a summer kick off mini vacation with my family and guess what I forgot to pack? Postage stamps.

VSM summer postcard sending tip #1: Tuck some postcard stamps in to your wallet so that when you are near postcards you can take advantage.

VSM summer postcards sending tip #2: Start a address book so that your snail mailing addresses are retrievable online. Its free!

VSM summer postcards sending tip #3: Visit the site, Bad Postcards, for some postcard inspiration.

Viva summer postcards!

Memory Mail

Becky Cooper is the brainchild behind Map Your Memories. Back in 2009 she walked around Manhattan, approaching strangers and asking them to fill in blank, letterpress maps with their memories. The back of the map had a return address and Cooper’s p.o. box started to fill with responses. These maps have been compiled into Mapping Manhattan: A Love (and Sometimes Hate) Story in Maps by 75 New Yorkers, a book that comes out next month. It even has a forward by one of my brain crushes, Adam Gopnik. I love this project!

I have lived in New York City for 20 years and before that, was a regular visitor throughout my childhood. But this city just keeps changing. It feels no obligation to remain the way it is in my memory and that can sometimes feel like a personal insult. Visits to Manhattan from Brooklyn, where I live, are a bit of a memory minefield.

If I were to complete one of Cooper’s memory maps it would definitely include the location on The Upper West Side where I met my husband, many moons ago. And my Grandpa’s neighborhood on The Lower East Side, the subject of a documentary I made about memory and place. And maybe all the Chipotle restaurants and bank branches and pharmacies and luxury condominiums that I enjoy visiting so much. No wait. Scratch that last part. Film Forum and The Museum of Modern Art and Veselka and wandering in Chinatown. All still wonderful.

Despite my crankiness about how it has changed, I will always love Manhattan. The memories run deep. Thank you Becky Cooper for giving shape to this truth.

Bunny Mail

One of the pleasures of this VSM hobby/passion/practice is that some of the adults in my life send very creative mail to my children. Our mailbox is a fun place where paper surprises appear.

Gifted illustrator and nature observer, Beatrix Potter, began many of her now famous children’s books as fun mail. She wrote and drew picture letters to children of friends and family members. Later she borrowed back these letters and used them as the inspiration for books like The Tale of Peter Rabbit, which was published in 1902.

Beatrix Potter: The Picture Letters is on exhibit at the Morgan Library in Manhattan until January 27, 2013. There is a reading area of Potter’s books so bring a kid along! You can view examples on the Morgan Library’s online exhibition.


The World Needs More Love Letters

Are you familiar with the paper mail project that is The World Needs More Love Letters? It is the brainchild of Ms. Hannah Brencher and the basic idea is for people to send love letters to strangers.

A few years back Brencher started writing love letters and leaving them in public places in New York City to be discovered and appreciated. This initial project quickly grew into coordinated efforts by groups of people to write bundles of love letters for strangers who could benefit from some postal love.

Right now they are asking for love letters for baristas in the busy holiday season. Explore the site to find all the ways that Brencher’s lovely idea has blossomed.

Photo courtesy of 


I was so moved by the NOLA TO NEW YORK blog. People in New Orleans who survived Hurricane Katrina submit photos of themselves with handwritten messages to people in NY/NJ where we are immersed, in some cases literally, in recovery efforts. Such an excellent fusion of the personalized use of human handwriting and the connective power of the internet.

Pimpin’ for Paint

My new pals over at Martha Stewart asked if  I would be interested in making something with supplies by Martha Stewart Crafts to help promote their new Pinterest board. Free craft supplies? I AM IN!

I decided to make some Autumn inspired postcards to send to friends.

So here’s the blog post to justify the very excellent Martha Stewart Crafts paints and papers and rubber stamps that I received in the mail. Take a look at Martha’s Craft Tools & Tips Pinterest board! Take advantage of the Michael’s Craft store coupons that they’re posting through the month of October! Get inspired to make something!

Viva Martha Mail!