A Call for Holiday Recipes!

That’s right. I’m on the hunt for holiday recipes for inspiration.

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Three years ago, I found a fabulous paper created by the Mr.Boddington’s crew and was immediately inspired. I used that paper to design my Hanukkah Latke’s recipe/greeting card that came with an envelope lined with that paper. And it launched a million and one ideas of what could be done with fabulous holiday specific recipes.

But then I sat. I did absolutely nothing with the ideas, aside from thinking about it and telling some friends.

And now, I’m trying to quickly collect them before the holidays are upon us. I tend to cut myself short, as you see. I’ve gone through my collection of cook books and cookie recipes looking for the best and most holiday specific cookie recipes, but I’m falling short. I’ve asked some friends. I even managed to find while organizing a recipe binder a cookie recipe collection printed in the Washington Post back when I lived in the DC/Northern Virginia area in maybe 2005. It’s so old, it’s turning yellow. Not to mention, the recipes didn’t really conjure the inspiration I am seeking.

So I’m asking you guys! If you have a recipe you don’t mind parting with, that reminds you of the holidays, please leave a comment below and I’ll respond, or you can email me at info [at] s2stationery [dot] com.

When I say holidays, I’m all inclusive. Ideally, I’d love to have Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkha, and Kwanzaa focused holiday recipes as we’re approaching that season. Honestly, though, we don’t have to stop there. If you have a favorite Ground Hogs Day recipe, send it my way. The same goes for Easter, Valentine’s Day, Passover, any holiday!

The deadline to submit holiday recipes is Monday, October 17th. That gives me some time to sketch things out and get some ideas on paper. Literally.

All recipes will be shared by name, even if not selected for a design, on this blog. Recipes used will be properly credited and the person who shares will get some free product with their recipe(s).

Again, to get in touch with me, please leave a comment below and I’ll respond, or you can email me at info [at] s2stationery [dot] com. 

So please, help inspire me, if you can! And ask your friends to share, too. The more recipes I can get, the better!

 

A Customer Leaves Me Breathless + An Update

Happy New Year friends! It has been quite a while since I last wrote on this blog. I got lost. I’m not apologizing, per se, but I am letting you know why the hiatus.

The good news is that the hiatus is over!

The blog is going to undergo a bit of a revamp. Actually, S2 is going to undergo a bit of a revamp. We’ll see how it all plays out, but not only will this blog still tell the personal bits (I’m willing to share), it will also tell the business story as it spreads it’s message on writing, love, and inspiration.

There’s a lot of talk about actions being louder than words in this World. Yes. There is truth to that. But words, words can mean the World.

A simple hello could start a friendship/relationship between two people. A bad word can start a fight. Words in a book can start wars and create tensions that might not exist. They can also cause so much emotion that they’re banned. Go figure. They’re just words, right? Wrong.

S2 is going to focus on words moving forward and how we use them to express ourselves passionately, with vulnerability, and even in fear, along with everything else that comes in between that.  So yeah, stay tuned. There’s a lot headed your way if you’re patient and willing to explore with me.

Until then, you can read today’s post, which I’ve been dying to share with you since Thanksgiving…

it’s about a new friend and member of the S2 family, someone who shares a love for words, or vulnerable expression. Erin won a set of S2 “My Thankful Space” paper placemats on the Etsy NY Team blog* back in October of 2014 and here is her story through pictures of her family’s Thanksgiving table and the art created by the small and not-so-small family members on their place mats.

In her words, “Thank you so much for such a wonderful Thanksgiving experience! We moved the mats before we ate and plan to add onto them next year! The kids absolutely loved it! The adult couples all shared mats and thanks. Wonderful idea, and possibly our newest (and only) family tradition! Thank you.”

When I saw Erin’s photos, I gasped with a full heart. Her photos show exactly what I had hoped for when I created these paper mats. It reminded me of the moment when I saw the paper that inspired this product; the excitement I felt when I knew the font was the right font and when I printed the top layer and cut the bottom layers and then glued them together. It was a return to that magic creative space; a space of love.

When I created these place mats a few years ago, I was excited. I thought people were going to love these place mats as much as me. I thought I’d burn through them and not be able to keep them stocked. I was wrong. They were a hard sale. It was a little depressing. But I get it, people barely use place mats any more. When they do, they use the disposable kind that you can find on cheap paper for prices that seem reasonable, but I find expensive. Sure they are cute, but they aren’t very memorable. When you add in the price for these (they are pricey, but I work with high end materials and my time is valuable!) and that they are paper – I get why they didn’t sell. Yet, they are one of the most beautiful pieces I’ve created and the idea that they aren’t desirable to customers really hurt. See, I never see my designs and products as stuff. To me, these place mats are not just place mats. They’re the item you safe in your closet and find years after that Thanksgiving. They’re the product that you might frame. They are a keepsake item. They allow you to remember a moment of love, engagement, and fondness. Erin captured that at her Thanksgiving celebration in 2014. I may never sell these place mats. I may never give another set of these place mats out again, but I at least know that one family found them, used them, and saw my vision and used it as part of their lives. I’d call this a success for S2 Stationery and Design and for little ole me.

Thank you Erin for sharing your photos with us and for allowing S2 Stationery & Design to be part of your Holiday season and life. I am so pleased to have you as part of the S2 fam.

*An FYI, I don’t participate in giveaways often.  I am incredibly selective about which events I participate in and who I am willing to collaborate with. That being said, the Etsy NY Team is a solid group and I do almost every giveaway with/through them.

 

 

 

S2 Gives Away!

In time for the Holidays, and to help you decorate your Thanksgiving table this coming November, S2 Stationery & Design is participating in a giveaway as part of the EtsyNY Team.  S2 Stationery and Design is being featured as an Artisan on the blog and to complete the article, I’m giving away three (3) sets of my “Thankful” Paper Placemats.

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You can read more about me and the giveaway on the blog, but to enter the giveaway, all you need do it leave a comment on the blog, or like the S2 Stationery & Design Facebook Page. That’s right, simple, easy, and you get a chance to win some beautiful paper placemats that not only decorate your table, but are a keepsake for your family and friends.

You can find all the information on the EtsyNY Team Blog.  Good luck to everyone who enters! Please, feel free to share the giveaway with your friends. These placemats should spread joy and cheer and love this coming Holiday Season!

Decorating Your Thanksgiving Table with S2 Stationery & Design Paper Products

I’m sure you’ve noticed that I don’t really talk about my work on this blog. I don’t put collections of my stationery together to showcase. I’m not sure why. It’s not that I don’t want to share what I create, it’s that I’d much rather write 900+ words about my emotions. Or share the brutally honest ups and downs of being an entrepreneur struggling to balance passions, life, work, and everything else that comes my way.

Today, I’m changing that.  Today, I’m going to post three products of mine that I love just in time for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. I realize this is too late for potential orders on these items, but if I were hosting Thanksgiving in my home, I’d definitely decorate my table using these items!

“My Thankful Space” Paper Place Mats available in White and Silver, and Red and Blue with Gold Paper

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Gobble Gobble Thanksgiving Mini Cards

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Giving Thanks Thanksgiving Mini Cards

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You could combine either of the mini cards with the paper place mats, although, I think the “Giving Thanks” mini cards are more aligned with the elegant feel of the paper place mats, or you could do one or the other. A few years ago, a customer and friend used the mini cards to decorate her Thanksgiving table. I thought she used them well and they were just the perfect touch of elegance to her rustic decor.

The paper that makes the base of the place mat is a paper from China that has grooves to make it look like a basket weave textured paper. I spent so much money on the paper and bought so many sheets of it because I thought they were going to fly off the shelves! Now, please note, I don’t have a brick and mortar store with shelves for them to fly off of and I make each by hand when ordered.  Anyhow, they are available in a white and silver combination and a gold and red and gold and blue combination.  I realize that for some these may not be their chosen colors for their table, but if they were, these would be perfect.

The idea behind these place mats is really simple. I wanted a host/ess to be able to give her guests something more than just dinner. Something they would be able to take away with them after supper. I also think it would be an amazing if before everyone sat down to lunch or dinner, or whatever, they would sit down to a table with these place mats and jot down what they are thankful for and then share just before they start eating and after saying prayers, if they are a family that gives thanks.

I know that the place mats are not a novel idea. There is a fabulous company that produces paper place mats already and they can be customized, too, but these place mats are different in the quality and the texture. While I totally get that some people will say, I’m not spending that kind of money on something that food is going to fall on and get tossed, my response is, you are missing the point completely. With these place mats, I’m doing the following:

  • trying to create a tradition of thanks, but interaction aside from eating;
  • ease of whatever family drama may occur around the table and day in your home, and most importantly;
  • a moment of reflection and a way to create a tangible keepsake

Now about those mini cards…well, they are just fun. They can be used to write a message to your guests, or as seating cards. They are so small that really you can’t do much with them, but they are a perfect little touch to any table.

Something else of note on the mini cards is that they were designed quickly after a co-worker was going to throw out an Avery package of blank badges she no longer needed. I told her, “WAIT! I’ll use them for something!”  She gave them to me and I sat working on that little turkey and designing these cards that dressed up a Thanksgiving table. The lesson here – there’s always another way to give paper a new life.

And with that, I wish you all an early Happy Thanksgiving! I will be posting again before the holiday, but I wanted to share some work that I’m thankful for having created with all of you.

Oh, and before I forget, the Montclair Pop-Up Shop is officially open as of today! I am so excited, not to mention the shop has been giving me so much love via the social media world. You can find our opening celebration tonight, as well as some of my Thanksgiving Mini Cards for sale at 102 Walnut Street, Montclair, New Jersey 07042.

I’ll be dropping by to see everything in action. I doubt that many of my readers will be able to stop by, but if you can, you should. If you can’t, then visit the Montclair Pop-Up Shop’s Facebook Page and give it some love!

And now, for real, I’m signing off on this Thanksgiving post. If you want to share how you are decorating your table this Thanksgiving, please leave a comment. If you want to share your thoughts on paper place mats, you can do that, too!  I’d love to hear your shares and thoughts.

Thanksgiving a la Japan! Or This Thanksgiving I am Thankful for Japan

* Note extremely LONG post. You’ve been warned!

Yesterday was Thanksgiving in America. Because I am 14 hours ahead at this point, Thanksgiving just ended. It feels weird because it is Friday night in Japan.

Yesterday, while my friends and family and loved ones were all sleeping off Wednesday into the holiday, I was trekking up to the north of Fukui Prefecture on the hunt for a tourist site called Tojinbo Cliffs located in a town called Mikuni.

Tojinbo Cliffs
Me at the Cliffs in the rain.

Rather than take the JR (Japan Rail) directly to Awara Onsen and catch a bus to the Cliffs, I took JR to Fukui and then transferred to the local railway called Echizen Railway. The rides in total were a little over an hour and well, it’s a good thing I enjoy train rides as much as I do.

When I got off the train at Mikuni, I followed an elderly couple as they walked to a bus stop where a bus was waiting. Within minutes the bus pulled off and drove us along the coast, up a hill and dropped us off at the base of a touristy set of shops and restaurants that led to the Cliffs.

As we all got off the bus, I wasn’t sure where to go as the signs in Japanese led one way and the stores led another. At this point, a woman boldly said to me in English, “well, are you going to come with me?” I was a bit confused, but I said, “Sure!” and followed her through the narrow street of shops and restaurants.

As we walked, she introduced herself (without ever giving me her name) and explained that she was visiting her sister who lives in Kyoto and they had come up to Fukui to see a few sites, Tojinbo Cliffs being one of them. We exchanged conversation for a while about travels and her being from Taiwan and me being from America. She was really very nice. We separated briefly and when we met back together, she was explained that her sister and her were going to get going because they had to catch a train back to Kyoto from Fukui.

Before they left though, they turned to me handed me a Japanese orange and said, “Here is some crab rice, too. We ordered it for breakfast at the hotel this morning and couldn’t eat all of it. Enjoy!”  With that, off they went leaving me with a smile and a chance to walk around the Cliffs alone and in the rain grateful for random meetings and their kindness.

After taking a few pictures and wandering around a bit, I decided to walk down to get lunch. Yes, I ate the crab rice ball (it was delicious!) and I went and had lunch a few minutes later. Either way, I had what I call my Thanksgiving Feast. It was noon and quite a sizeable meal. I had a big bowl of rice with sashimi on top (salmon, octopus, squid, shrimp, and a few other kinds of fish I don’t know) and a smaller bowl of miso soup with two legs of Echizen crab.  It was all incredibly filling and delicious. It was by no means Thanksgiving dinner – there was no turkey, stuffing, macaroni and cheese, arroz con gandules, greens, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, or anything else of that deliciousness, BUT it was hands down some of the best fish I’ve ever had.

Echizen crab!

I decided after lunch that I could head back to the train and maybe walk around Fukui a bit. After all, it was raining and I didn’t know what else to do. I walked to the stop where the bus dropped us off and found the schedule that said I had just missed the bus and the next one would not come for two hours.

At that point, I bundled up more (because it was rather cold) and I started walking. Two more hours at the Cliffs in the rain was not my idea of a good time.  So I walked. And walked some more. And I had no clue where I was going outside of remembering certain things from the bus ride up. At a certain point, I was rounding a curve and came across a wooden building. The sign outside said, “Pueblo Coffee House for Members – Open.”  I immediately got curious. “I mean a coffee house (I love coffee!) in Mikuni named after a Native American Indian Tribe in Japan?” Of course I went in!

When I walked in, the woman, Junko, who I believe is the owner, came out and looked at me curiously. Clearly, I am not a member. I pulled out my Japanese/English dictionary and told her in extremely broken Japanese that I saw her coffee shop and just wanted to look around. She asked if I was American and I said yes and she took my umbrella and showed me in.

Walking into this coffee shop almost made me cry. I am serious. I had many, many emotions welled up inside me as I took in the simple décor of the coffee house, the open and airy space, the owner who was collected and calm and very zen-like, and the small tee-pees and dream catchers scattered all over the place.

Inside decor of Pueblo Coffee House for Members

I recently wrote a post about how I wanted to live on a Reservation as a child and how something about being in Echizen reminds me of that dream every day and this coffee house, this random, small coffee house, in an extremely small town in Northern Fukui, Japan, brought it all full circle.

As I continued talking to this woman in broken Japanese and she in her broken English to me, she pulled out books of American parks out West and about Native American lands. She also offered me a coffee as a “present.” I tried to pay her and she said, “No. Present.”

We celebrate Thanksgiving in America as a way to share our gratitude with our loved ones, but to remember the Pilgrims and Native Americans first harvest together. If we look at Native Americans now, we should be ashamed for celebrating a holiday where we have forgotten the origins and the people we should remember and have all but forgotten.  Instead we overeat and fight with our family, but still say we’re grateful.

At this moment, in “Pueblo Coffee House for Members” I was grateful. Grateful for a delicious cup of coffee (this country does not do coffee well!), a warm place inside from the rain (it rains a lot here!), and this fateful moment where America, Native Americans, my dreams, heritage, love of coffee, travels to Japan and curiosity all converged and brought me to this shop.

I spent a while talking to her and another woman who came in before heading out to continue walking down to the train. As I left, I had the biggest smile on my face. I was happy.

As I continued on down the hill, walking along side the road (no sidewalks), I recognized places I had seen on the bus and knew I was going the right way. I’d say, I walked probably four miles from the Cliffs to the Mikuni train stop, but I had many stops a long the way. I left the bus stop at 12:12 pm and made it to the train station at 2:50ish, just in time for the 3:11 train to Fukui. Not too bad.

Anyway, I ate my Japanese orange as I walked along and watched fisherman bring in their catches of Echizen crab to sell. I watched people come in and buy crabs and even watched one cook steam crabs. Very cool!

As I got close to the point where I had to turn, I noticed the Mikuni Spa. Awara Onsen, the Awara hot springs was 9km away from the Cliffs and I did not want to walk 9km in an unknown direction. I had been itching to get some onsen action on and decided when I saw the Mikuni Spa sign to peek in.

I am so glad I did because it was wonderful! I want to spend many, many more days at hot springs because they are divine!

There was a wonderful moment of confusion where I didn’t know where to go and the girl at the front desk didn’t speak English and the manager had to come out and he didn’t understand me, but we finally made progress and one of the employees showed me the locker room and where to go to change and shower and get in the hot pool.

I didn’t stay in that long because the water is hot and I didn’t want to harm myself by staying in too long, but I stayed in long enough to feel relaxed and to feel good about my decision to spend 500 yen sitting in a pool with naked older women.

After I got out, I wandered around the spa to the “beach” there and noticed how dirty it is and also sent a little message to a friend I am missing and whose birthday it was. I sent it across the ocean and the sand with a kiss and the hope that they received it like a warm hug.  I then turned southeast and walked along to the street needed to get me to the train station.

Dirty, Dirty Beach!

As I turned on the street, I noticed a ton of cute little shops that I hadn’t noticed while on the bus. I was determined to avoid any and all because I had already spent more than I anticipated on my little lunch feast, but my eyes caught a small “stationery shop” and I couldn’t help but enter.

I walked in and greeted the woman, the owner, I believe, and immediately set my eyes on a calendar. It was adorable and I knew in an instant that it was the calendar I would buy for myself for 2013. Adorable and inspirational and just plain cute!  Then I found an expensive pair of scissors that part of me is mad for buying because they were expensive ($12!), but I bought anyway because they say “Mark’s Style” and well, one of my best friends is named Mark and it just seemed appropriate. And then I bought a gorgeous little blue purse/pouch that cost less than both the calendar and scissors individually.

The woman in the shop thanked me quite a few times for the purchase, which made me feel weird, but appreciated. All I could think was, “What an adorable shop and I’m so glad I found it before leaving this town!”  I told her I love her shop and thanked her right back.

As I was getting ready to leave the store, the woman rushed over to a shelf and then turned to me with a pair of socks in hand and said, “Please, present for you.”  She put the socks in my bag and I thanked her. I have been looking for another pair of socks and there was a pair being given to me as a gift. I couldn’t believe my good fortune all day, but furthermore, I couldn’t believe how open and generous all of these women were being toward me.

Currently, I am living in a house where I am a persona non grata.  Things have turned sour between my host and me and I still have seven more days as a guest in her home. You may be wondering why I am staying and the truth is because it is my plan and I’m changing that part of my plan. I’ve already changed my plans enough to leave the house ahead of schedule and in doing so, while going off to discover and see more of Japan, I am also ending my stay in Echizen.

Please know that I am not complaining. As much as I would love to stay here longer, I can feel in my soul that it is time to move on. No regrets there. Not to mention, there is a whole lot of Japan left for me to see and I can’t wait for that stage. Plus, I plan to return to Echizen in the future many, many times, whether I communicate with my host or not in the future. That will have no effect on me.

My point is that my host has done everything in her power, through mannerisms and some words, to let me know that she can’t wait for me to leave. I have graciously not responded. As a matter of fact, I responded with, “I too am looking forward to the day of my departure.”  Because of this, I have battled with at times feeling bad that I haven’t just packed up and left, annoyed at her childishness (although, I get not wanting someone in your house and having to deal with them because an agreement is an agreement, but when you are 30+ there is a way to act), and not feeling bad about it.

Yesterday though, showed me that the horrible person my host is trying to make me out to be is in fact not true. That is her issue. That is her problem. I don’t have to acknowledge nor do I have to fill the role. I can in fact continue to be me, respectful, curious, and generous regardless of what others project and feel.  My host’s feelings are not an actual reflection of who I am. I will remember that and I will move on.

In the past, I would have tried to fix the situation. I would have done anything to make the situation better and to have my host like me again. The other day, as I had a conversation with the bathroom mirror, I looked at my reflection and said, “Sara, it always comes down to one thing: is it worth it or not?” The answer, I saw in my eyes and felt in my heart, “no.” Not because my host isn’t worth it. In fact, she is a great artist and is a kind person, but she and I don’t jive well and that is nobody’s fault, so I said, “I’m thankful for her kindness and generosity the past few weeks, and for having met her, but it ends there. I refuse to feel badly for something I cannot control and for something she is equally unwilling to work out.  While that doesn’t stop the dread of going into her house when she is home at night, once inside in my room, I turn on music and do some work and go to bed. Forgetting that I don’t feel bad, nor care because we’ll be parting soon and I’ll be off to the next steps in my papermaking journey in Japan.

Either way, I’ve discovered a lot about myself and who I am and what I want in life. (Not completely, but enough to let me see a bit of the Sara I know which shows me that I am on the right track and getting closer.) I am grateful for this opportunity and for Japan allowing me to find myself again in her precious bosom – in a Prefecture full of amazing people, culture, and beauty.

I am thankful to have spent Thanksgiving in Japan this year, even though I am a day late in my gratitude and I miss my family.  Most importantly, I am thankful for a wonderful Thanksgiving that brought me to four generous women, who all opened their doors and arms and businesses to this gypsy girl named Sara and reminded me of what being thankful is all about – being at peace with yourself and sharing/spreading love and connection.

Thank you, thank you, thank you Universe, God, Paper Goddess, and all the forces that came into play yesterday and every day as I’ve been on this journey. Gracias y Merci!

Oh, and because I cannot forget this! I’ve talked about my paternal grandmother coming to me when I’m on the right track in her ladybug form many times. So I have to tell you that yesterday, when I got off the train at Mikuni, the poster board outside of the train on the platform was of a large drawn ladybug.  I knew then that going to Mikuni was the right thing to do, I just had no idea how much good fortune and all I’d have to be grateful for would present itself. Thank you, Grandmere!

I hope your Thanksgiving, if you are American, was just as full of gratitude and wonder. If you don’t celebrate the holiday, then I hope you experienced small miracles yesterday that reminded you of the beauty that peppers our small world.

Post Office to Post Office With A Dash of Tears

I still owe many emails about Japan and what I am doing here exactly. I’m getting there. I promise. I have short hours to respond to emails, attempt running a business from afar, and write blogs, no matter how much I want to right.

At night, when I can write, I don’t because it is so cold. Bone chilling cold that all I can do is dive under my covers and get warm. Which means I end up falling asleep early. I am by no means giving up excuses for not writing, instead I am explaining why even though I have a million thoughts in my head to share with you, I just haven’t written them down.

However, things are changing. Next Friday, November 30th, I’ll be leaving Echizen, Japan and paper making for now, to head South to Osaka and Kyoto, again, before heading back to Tokyo for the last 20-something-odd-days until my flight back to the States (to LA specifically) on January 7, 2013.

But that has nothing to do with my blog post for today. Instead, as I get ready to put together a huge box of things I brought with me that I am sending home before I get there, with a few additional pieces, I bought along the way of traveling around Japan, I decided to devote a whole post to my favorite place, the post office.

The first time I visited the post office here in Japan, I was a bit hesitant. I mean, I speak NO Japanese! Okay, that’s a lie, I speak some Japanese. I speak like a handful of words and I can not say that I am studying paper making in Echizen to those who ask. At least I think I can. A student asked me the other day and I gave her my response and she seemed pleased with my answer, so, I think I’m saying it right.

Anyhow, back to the point. The first time I went to the post office, I had one letter and a handful of postcards. I was in Tokyo and it was my first leg of my Japan trip. It wasn’t bad. And fortunately for me the woman who helped me could speak a bit of English. With her help, I was able to buy five more postcard stamps and walked out pleased.

When I arrived in Echizen, the Post Office was the first place I looked for, with the cafe that offers me internet for the small fee of a cappuccino or cafe au lait, and maybe a piece of cake, the second place. Another fortunate, the post office is on my way down hill from the house I am staying at to the Museum. It is also within five-minute walking distance from the Museum, which means I’ve made many quick walks or bike rides over to mail away my goodies.

I would say that I have the US Postal Service working hard from afar than I did at home, because I’m mailing more than I have mailed while at home. At least it feels this way. Last week alone, I visited the post office twice in one day and that was four days after visiting the post office in Kyoto to mail off a quick gift package that I had been debating sending, but decided to send.

While I love and fully support my USPS, I have to say that I find the post offices here in Japan, more of an enjoyable experience. The people that work there are always smiling. They offer some of the BEST customer service I’ve ever had and that includes not being able to fully understand what they ask me.

I did have a bit of a snafu with the package I mailed from Kyoto – I realized it four days later, which does me know good – but I didn’t put a customs form on the package. My hope is that customs in the US doesn’t fret and they see that the package says clearly on the front, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” and let it slide. Otherwise, I think they’ll have to open it and then tape it back and that will delay the entire process. Fingers crossed. (Please, please, please, Universe, work with me here!)

I of course did have a minor meltdown where I started crying in the post office. Why I can not handle certain situations without crying, I don’t understand. Of course, I realize that part of it is my own stupidity. I didn’t think about the customs form. I will be really sad if that package doesn’t get to it’s destination. There was a multitude of emotions behind those tears, but then the employee looked at me with a kind smile, walked over to the computer, brought back a note pad and wrote “invoice needless.” The “invoice” being the customs form.

I looked at him and he smiled and I said “Really?” and he smiled and pointed to “needless” and I said, “okay, arigatou gozimasu” and walked out. As I jumped on my bike, I said, “okay, I have faith, and believe it will get there.”

Now, of course, I was thinking the entire time, “if I had only waited until yesterday when I brought in two small boxes and the woman who always helps me asked me for customs forms for these two small boxes, then the freaking envelope would have had a customs form! But NO, Sara Stroman. No you can never be patient enough!” As my brain warred with itself, the other side that was fighting back said, “But you couldn’t have waited. The moment to mail was Friday. You did exactly what you needed to do. So just have faith.” That side clearly won out. And it hasn’t discouraged me from using the post office.

Again, I have a big box that will be mailed from Echizen by next week with my items, plus a customs form. I will also hopefully be sending out that same day some packages to donors to my Indiegogo Campaign. I can’t wait for those to go out. I won’t be mailing all of the packages out because I won’t have the time, but I can’t wait to see everything come together and to get those out the door. More importantly, I will miss these three employees who have greeted me and cared for my mail with gentle hearts and hands when I leave next Friday. They have made my extreme mailing easy and seamless in the past six weeks.

As we get closer to Thanksgiving Day in the US (cry, I’m going to miss that day!) I am thankful for both a fully functioning and efficient Japanese postal service (complete with cute stamps!) and for the United States Postal Service, who has delivered some of the many pieces of mail I’ve sent already. I know they are having a hard time, but I’m glad they are still able to deliver stuff to my loved ones while I am many, many miles away. Domo Arigatou Gozimasu!

Oh and foreigners traveling, ALWAYS remember a customs form on your packages!

A Thanksgiving Table Tale, In Mostly Pictures

A few weeks ago, I met up with two women Kata and Sandra who are interested in selling some stationery note sets on a website they are launching in 2012.  We met for about an hour or so and chatted and discussed my business and story and their business and stories and theirinterest in my stationery. I don’t want to get too into the details here because when it does happen, I’d like for it to be a surprise, but before our meeting, one of the ladies, Kata emailed me and asked me to bring one set of my “Gobble Gobble Thanksgiving Minicards” and one of the “Giving Thanks Thanksgiving Minicards” for her to purchase.

  

I don’t have to express how excited I was-potential business deal AND an immediate purchase. Oo la la!

At the meeting, I gave Kata the bag with my logo seal outside and she loved it! She and her friend/business partner, Sandra, gushed over how cute they were and Kata explained how she wanted to use them-to put them at each place setting around her Thanksgiving table. Her boyfriend and she were going to Connecticut to pick up some pumpkins that they were going to use on the table, some orange and some painted white. They were also going to put candles around the table and create this festive, rustic Holiday decor for their meal. I was ecstatic! This is exactly what I had intended these cards to be used. Someone who could share my vision is someone I will always get along with (okay, maybe not always, but we’re almost kindred spirits).

As the meeting continued we made quick pals and discussed tons of things, not all business related. We discussed Japan and art and design. We discussed men and weather and personal histories. We also discussed the importance of creating stories.  Not just stories about products, but stories that connect your life with the objects you love.

Part of my love for and of stationery is my passion-I have loved paper since I can remember. The passion I talk about is built of stories from my youth and younger years as much as now. I have stories about paper and the way it has created memories for me since I was a little girl taking stacks of deposit slips from Citibanks for the carbon sheets inside, to the “Sara’s favorite giftwrap wall” in my bedroom growing up.  So it’s natural that I’d want to convey you story with my designs. I think paper is as much a piece of our story as anything else.

Yesterday, Kata and I were emailing details to each other and I asked her about her Thanksgiving and how the cards turned out at her dinner party. I also asked her to send me photos if she had any. She sent me five incredible photos showing the decor of her Thanksgiving table and my cards on prominent display.

I love when stories converge and say something together. Here’s Kata’s Thanksgiving story with some S2 flair. I think the photos speak for themselves and for Kata’s incredible decorating ability.

 

I love ALL of the pictures, I like the mood they create, but I love the bottom picture the best. How adorable do the three lovely ladies look holding their cards? Love it! Really, I don’t think pictures can get any better! While the photos above are great for showing how the cards were used to decorate, the bottom picture makes the cards more real, shows engagement, and dimension. Most importantly, it shows those minicards helping to create a memory for the guests in attendance.

I am glad that S2 could be part of someone’s Holiday. I’m even more glad that it is people I know, people I’m building a relationship with, people who are inspired by my product.  Hooray!

Until tomorrow, when I regale you with tales of a hawk and mail, happy story creating and memory building.