Tuesday, October 29, 2013

My Package went Walkabout

Well, I had placed an order for some postcards I have been working on.  They shipped (yea) and were to be here last week.  But this tale has a bit of a twist.  Seems my postcards wanted to travel the US courtesy of the Postal Service and UPS.

There are some companies that utilize UPS as a hand off to the local post offices.

Here is the travel itinerary of my PCs.

From UPS.


 So on October 21, UPS handed off my package to the Postal Service.  So far so good.  Even made it about 3 miles from my house.  And then the Post Office sends it to Stockton (why?) and then to Springfield, MA.  HUH??  So to date I still have not received my postcards and have a lovely track record of their journey. 

Anyone else have some tracks of odd journeys??

Friday, October 18, 2013

Database Progress

So here are a few screen shots of the database so far.  Input welcome.  I can't think of everything folks and your input is what will make it better.  This will be a FREE database to whom ever wants it.

Main Screen

Website integrated

 Notes: Individual entries let you track incoming and outgoing.

I have one place on the main screen for inserting a scanned image of the letter.  I will have a place for a letter per note entry when done.  The "where did I get this pan-pal from" is editable and adds the entry for future use.  And yes I know I got the site wrong for good mail day.  Already fixed.

Like I said, this is basically an open source database.  You give a good suggestion and I will see if it makes sense to add it.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Do you make your own postcards?

Some of you have received some of my home made cards before (or incoming).  Some folks have asked me what I use and how do I print them.

The paper is 100lb stock.  I get it from my local paper store.  They are even nice enough to quarter them for me.  So they end up just shy of  a 4x6.  I have found clip art from everywhere but mainly have utilized Dover Publications clip art as they are EPS and TIFF files that allow for resizing.

For the applications used I bounce between Photoshop and Illustrator.  However there are free alternatives to each of these programs.

For Illustrator try Inkscape

For Photoshop try GIMP or Seashots  Seashots is a Mac only app while GIMP is cross platform.

Between the 2 of these you should be covered.

If you are quartering a 8.5 x 11 you are going to end up with an off size paper that is still quite OK for postcards.  Beware the bleed.  What this means is beware the edges of your print.  Not all printers will do a true edge to edge print and will end up cutting off your image.

My current project (almost finished) is my upcoming holiday cards.  I decided to do from scratch this year and am still playing around with the designs.

What I've gathered for this project.

Clip art (EPS) from CanStockPhoto.  I tried some of the images from Etsy but found the scans I received lacking.  Just not good enough for resizing and generally messing with as they were JPG images.

The Postcard graphic is just full of all kinds of wonderful.  Each word is an individual graphic and can be individually manipulated to your liking.

Fonts: just the ones included with Illustrator for me which included some scripting fonts.  But if you are looking for a GREAT source for FREE commercial use fonts go check out Font Squirrel.

This was all done in Illustrator.  If you would like a template for your usage, let me know.  This template is for a 2 up on 8.5 x 11.

Here is the project so far.

I'm toying with sending these off to a printer and having them done right.  I am getting pretty good results but having some trouble with the registration.  At this point I think I'm at the mercy of the printer feed intake :)

Now for the printers listing.

I have sent off for samples from all of these folks.  However there is one company that is offering a free 20 cards for shipping with YOUR design.  I should have them next week and will share when they come in.

4by6 (free offer)
Modern Postcard
Vista Print (they do offer a free sample of your design to try them out)
MOO (I know there are some of the other bloggers who use these folks and I will try them for some stickers I am working on)
Stickeryou (looks as they could print just about anything you can want in vinyl)

Printers at home.  I am using a plain laser printer.  HP 1102w.  It seems to handle the card stock I'm putting through it well.  A straight path printer (in the front out the back) is your best option if available as it's not bending the paper.

Well that's all for today.  Hope this helps some of you out in your DIY postcard projects.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Organization and Falling Behind (and forthcoming giveaway info)

So, by now I'm sure you've all read the goings on over here at Casa Dodson.

For a little update, doing well.  lost 85 pounds since this whole process started in June.  Just hit the 3 month post surgery date this week. Feeling MUCH better with more energy.

So what does this have to do with the subject of this post.  LOTS.  When this all started in late may, my mind was very much elsewhere.  As I am coming out of the funk of all of this and getting back to doing things I enjoy.  Like listening to the Tigers game while I write this.  GO TIGERS.

Recently at work, I have been working on some FileMaker work getting my house in order there as well.  I doing that, I started working on a database for my mail as well while I am playing catch-up.

I have tried keeping a paper log.  Always forgot to put the entry in and resorted to "the pile" on need to respond and stuff in a bag to get to.  I keep EVERY letter/postcard I receive.  The goal going forward is to respond to everything within 2 weeks if possible (I'm still on a very strict follow-up schedule with the docs).

So in that vein I have created a database that allows for multiple addresses per person, an extensive note section (single entries dated), website (if they have a blog, you can view from in the database), Google Maps (again from within the database), containers for your/their correspondence (scan and hold in the database).

I would like to know how YOU folks track the in/out going of your correspondence.  I tried the LWA forms.  I have created some very nice log pages of my own (available to ANYONE that wants the file to print for your usage).  When I am DONE tweeking the database I will make it available as well as a stand-alone app to run on your computer.  So if you would like to be a part of a correspondence address/letter/postcard tracker/logger.  Chime in.  Inquiring minds want to know. 

To the folks who have written me and wonder is this guy a flake?  Nope.  Just getting life back in order.  I have everyone's stuff and am slowly working through it.  You may get a PC to start.  If you want a nice long letter respond.  Gotta start somewhere right.

Now to the good stuff. see had to read through the crap to get here.  I am coming up on my second anniversary for this blog.  To celebrate I have been "gathering" some special items for the giveaway(s) that are going to take place in December.

Some of the items are as follows:

Field Notes colors (I have a bunch) America the Beautiful, Tradesman, Lager and Ale
From Kickstarter - The NOCK Co. Pen Cases - I ordered the whole lot.  I will be parting with the ones I cannot find a use for.  The Delivery wil be when I get them.

From Kickstater - Rainbow Pencils

From Kickstater - Kreate-a-lope  (C6 envelopes - for a5 paper both the envi and liner templates)

Kickstarter - The Wrylon Robotics Field Guides (3 books GREAT artwork)

J. Herbin -  Wooden Collectors dip Pen set

J Herbin Box Set - 'A la Perle des Encres'

A truly excellent combination of old world expertise, this gift set is a timeless piece for any writing enthusiast. It is presented in a lovely wood box and contains 1 nib holder, 5 different stainless steel nibs and 1 bottle of ink.
For the traditionalist, the Brause (Made in Germany) Stainless steel nibs are among the world's finest for a dip-pen writing experience. This set has 5 different types - Iserlohn 50, Brause Cito-Fein Iserlohn, Brause No. 361 Iserlohn, Brause No. 85 Iserlohn, Brause No. 65 Iserlohn.
They are complemented by 30ml of Violet J Herbin Ink (Made in France) and a nib holder.


  • CONTENTS: 1 Wood Box / 1 Nib Holder / 1 Bottle of Ink / 5 Nibs
  • SIZE: Box is 245mm x 85mm x 57mm / Nib Holder is 200mm long /Ink Bottle has 30ml
  • MATERIALS: Wood Box / Stainless Steel Nibs
  • SOURCE: Nibs Made in Germany / Box, Ink, Holder Made in France
I am trying to figure out the specifics of the giveaways.  YES you will have to do something per item and if you've ever read my stuff for the giveaways before, there will be tings yous gotta do.  Not just post a reply to the post (that would be way to easy)

So keep an eye out.  good things coming and please post your organizing tips.