Kind Regards by Liz Williams

I run a stationery company, so it should come as no surprise that I love handwritten letters. I loved writing to friends in my childhood and teens – even the dreaded post-birthday thank you notes.

But somewhere along the line, between the advent of email, a bigger workload (first at school, then uni, then work and now a business) and a swag of other grown-up activities, I admit my letter-writing habit has slipped off the radar.

I’ve been conscious of wanting to change that, so when I spotted Kind Regards: The Lost Art of Letter-Writing in one of my fave local gift shops, I was instantly intrigued. Could reading this book inspire me to pick up the pen again?

I certainly hoped so.

Part One: From paper to post

The first of three sections outlines the history of letter writing, from the fourth century BC through to pigeon post and couriers to the invention of the postal system and postage stamps. It gives some good advice about preserving letters (I never knew it was a bad idea to store them alongside newspaper clippings) and even a recipe for making scented ink if you are so inclined.

It was a comprehensive and interesting introduction, if a little fact-heavy.

Part Two: Letterquette

The second section was more practical and explains different types of letters and the formats and conventions of each. Particularly useful is the sample letters for tricky correspondence such as those for condolence, sacking or resignation.

The author provides wisdom such as ‘Write to express not to impress’ and ‘Never write a letter when angry’. She also makes a case for why the thank you letter is so important, which left me nodding in agreement.

She explains that letters may have gone out of fashion but they have not lost their impact. I would argue that they have more impact since they are so rare.

Part Three: What we can learn from letters

While not as useful as the etiquette advice, I found the final chapter to be the most interesting and poignant.

It included fascinating letters from Samuel Pepys describing the Great Plague and an open letter to a Nazi. There were telling excerpts from Marie Curie recommending a promising young scientist called Einstein and a letter to Emperor Trajan warning of a wretched little cult called Christianity.

Summary

Kind Regards was well laid out and contained many interesting facts, but at times it felt like just that: facts. It read more like one long Wikipedia entry rather than a lighthearted book by a single author.

The dust jacket tells us that Liz Williams is a lifelong keen letter-writer, yet sadly none of this passion – or even personality – came through, which is a real shame. The ‘soul’ of the book came from the many fascinating excerpts of letters and from direct quotes.

The etiquette chapter would be particularly practical and useful for anyone who’s ever struggled to set out a letter or express themselves in writing.

It was an interesting – if a bit dry – read. But ultimately it didn’t particularly inspire me to rush and take out my letter-writing set.

Buy this book if you:

  • Love writing and receiving letters.
  • Love the romanticised notion of letter-writing.
  • Are confused by different letter types and how to set out and write each of them correctly.
  • Love quotes by famous people.
  • Enjoy interesting historical facts.
  • Want to grasp what we have lost in this digital age.

This book may not be for you if you:

  • Are looking for a humorous read.
  • Want in-depth advice on how to find your own writing style.

Support your local bookseller (I bought mine here) or buy online here!

Have you read Kind Regards? I’d love to hear your thoughts below!

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vintage jars

I went to a couple of my favourite antique shops recently – oh my, how I have missed it!

Granted, I was actually shopping for props for a photo shoot, but it was still lovely to browse the gorgeous vintage wares.

Naturally, I found all kinds of other things apart from the props I was supposed to be looking for. I was very restrained and only brought one of my finds home with me: this unusual bottle with a marble stopper. It is embossed with ‘J.D. Murphy Crystalworks Wellington’. Since my maiden name is Murphy I had to have it!

My friend brought over the amber jar with flowers when we had her over for dinner (so thoughtful!). I love how the flowers pick up the yellow and oranges of the print behind it.

vintage jars

Do you have any fun decor items with your name or initials on it?

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This post is sponsored by Target.

Target Essentials frames

In yesterday’s post I showed you how we The Man installed some new picture ledges. Now onto the fun part – selecting and framing some happy faces!

I wanted to go for a monochrome palette, partly because some of the photos were black & white already but also for a more simple and sophisticated look. I’ve mentioned before how much I dig Target photo frames because the quality is so much higher than their price tag. Prices ranged from $2 to $15 originally, but I picked them up for even less than that at their winter Home Sale.

Target Essentials frames on picture ledges

I used some with regular mats, some with large mats and some without, plus used a variety of sizes and cropping to vary up the look. I mixed three different styles from the Target Essentials range but kept them all simple and white to tie it all together.

Target gallery wall

I still need to add a couple more family members who are missing from the display – it’s looking rather narcissistic at the moment! But that’s the great thing about using picture ledges and a mix’n'match of frames: it’s easy to add to and rearrange the wall at any time.

It’s so nice enjoying a daily reminder of our favourite memories instead of having them hidden in albums (or worse, on a harddrive) . It’s making me want to print out and frame so many more of our happy snaps.

What’s your favourite way to display family photos?

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I’m off galivanting around the world for a few weeks so I have lined up some some talented ladies to hold the fort while I’m gone. Hope you enjoy!

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From reading her blog Look See I know that Naomi loves nothing more than packing her bags and camera and visiting new places. She has a way of capturing the simple beauty that others might miss. So I couldn’t think of anyone better to give us some unique ideas on how to display travel photos. I’ll be using some of these ideas when I get back for sure!  – Alicia

displaying travel photos

Hi everyone, I’m Naomi Fenton from Look See. I’m a Tasmanian photographer and  secondary school teacher and I’m so chuffed to be sharing some ideas for displaying your travel photos in this guest post for Alicia.

This is something I’ve been putting a bit of research into since returning from living overseas a couple of years ago. My partner and I are both into photography and you can imagine that after travelling together, we’ve got quite the collection of shots that we’d love to have on display. The sting in the tail is, that our living space isn’t large to say the least, and while we both love traditional framing – it’s quite expensive if you have a lot of prints you want to display. (And we do!)

So, keeping that in mind I trawled through the interwebs (and can I just say – thank you internet Gods for inventing Pinterest – you can follow me here if you like) and found a few great ideas.

mini peg display
I Still Love You

The mini pegs display is by Melissa over at I Still Love You and actually includes a free, downloadable tutorial to take you step-by-step through the process. I like the simplicity of the version above, but I have also seen others that incorporate a lot more images which can have a great impact as well.

instagram fridge magnets
Just B

The amazingly awesomely creative and talented Kootoyoo over at Just B has an easy peasy tutorial for creating fridge magnets from your Instagram shots. I love how simple this idea is to execute and I love the freedom of being able to play around with different layouts as well.

coathangers and clipboards

Ladies & Gentlemen | The Painted Blackbird

Over at Ladies & Gentlemen, Jean & Dylan found a great way to display prints, especially if you are renters and handy with wood. Of course, you can simply use the hangers on their own, minus the shelving.

Kim at The Painted Blackbird is a bit like me in that she’s got a major crush on old fashioned clipboards (I’m actually using some in an exhibition later in December – I’ll post about it on my blog Look See, so check back if you’re interested in having a gander at how they look in that kind of setting.)

Both of these ideas are great for creating a vintagey kind of vibe and you can find them online or in op shops.

polaroid bulldog clips
The Creative Mama

Stacey posted the bulldog clip idea over at The Creative Mama. This is a great option again for renters (or if you just don’t want to mess up your freshly painted walls) – you can find scrap pieces of wood (keep them as is, or paint them), hammer in the nails and attach your photos with the clips. Then use 3M tape to attach to the wall. No muss no fuss.

So there you have it, just a few ideas for displaying your travel (or any kind) of photos – the tip of the iceberg no doubt. I know I’ll be keeping an eye on Pinterest for more!

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About the guest poster:

I’m Naomi Fenton – a high school teacher, artist and photographer from the North-West Coast of Tasmania. I love creating pieces of work that celebrate the small details and I delight in nostalgia. I share some of my work and inspiration on my blog Look See.

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kid quotes mini book2

kids quotes mini book

I love hearing stories from friends of the funny things their children have said. Sure, it might be nice to share with the friends and aunties on Facebook, but after a while they will be lost.

Capture those little pearls of wisdom with this darling free printable book from Delightful Distractions.

You can find it here at her blog.

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frame with pegged photos

I have a bit of an obsession with old thing painted in bright colours and empty frames in general, so I adore this project by Goodwillionaire. Such a great way to display your Instagram photos or polaroids, don’t you think? And at Christmas and birthdays it could easily be repurposed as a card display.

As it happens I have a couple of old frames and an almost complete lack of happy snaps around our house so perhaps I need to do this myself.

See all the project details and more photos here.

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I apologise for the title. I really do. Hearing people say ‘totes’ is like nails on a blackboard for me.

In this case, however, I am taking about actual totes.

Camera totes to be precise.

Jo Totes camera bag

(Apologies for the horrid grainy photos – I obviously had to dust off the ol’ point and shoot to take these photos.)

I’m not sure if I’ve even told you this but The Man and I are heading off overseas for five weeks this summer (HOORAY!).

I love travel photography, but I’m a bit of a princess and find all the paraphenalia frankly a bit annoying. I have a second lens but I never use it because I hate lugging it around, so I take the compact camera bag instead of the bigger one with room for the extra lens (then I’ll be taking a snap and go ‘Ugh, I wish I had my telephoto with me’). I also find it inconvenient to carry around a camera bag as well as a backpack or handbag.

Plus – you know me – I’m all about the functional but there’s no reason why it can’t look good too!

Jo Totes camera bag

Enter Jo Totes.

I had been coveting this baby for awhile now so I was very excited to unwrap it on my birthday recently (thanks to my parents and in-laws).

I looove how I can fit my camera and spare lens(es) all safe and sound between the padded dividers and there’s still room for my wallet/sunnies/cardi/whatever. There’s even a secret pocket at the back for my iPad as well as pockets at the front for the usual out-and-about essentials. I also like how it doesn’t scream ‘I AM A TOURIST AND I AM CARRYING LOTS OF VALUABLE EQUIPMENT’.

OK now I just sound like an ad I know, but seriously Betsy is going to be my new best travel buddy. The Man also gave me an iPad camera connector so I will be able to upload photos on the go.

Now I’m all set for blogging anywhere in the world!

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I’ve decided to do a semi-regular series on how to reuse your wedding decorations in your home decor – I hope you like it!

After the big day - Oil lamps

I collected various oil lamps to use as centrepieces at our wedding reception. I’ve now got an instant collection that looks so pretty catching the light on a window ledge.

First image by Luke Simon Photography

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Alicia & Ryan wedding

Today’s Rethink & Reuse is somewhat selfish. You see, I have a type drawer that I bought to display some family photos at our wedding. I absolutely love it, but apart from a brief stint as an advent calendar two Christmases ago, I’m actually at a bit of a loss as to what to do with it now.

type drawer advent calendar

Here are what some clever folks are repurposing theirs for:


Jewellery rack | Tonya Staab

Apartment Therapy type drawer
Shadow box | Apartment Therapy

Justina's type drawer on DesignSponge
Shadow box | Design*Sponge

Justina's type drawer on DesignSponge
Craft supply storage | 26 Letters

type drawer coffee table
Memento coffee table | Zween

These are all great ideas, but I already have jewellery storage and a coffee table, prefer my craft supplies to be kept out of sight and I don’t really have many tiny mementos for a memory box. I would LOVE to hear your suggestions of what I could do with my cool – but currently useless – type drawer.

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Atypical Type A - Concertina photo album 2

Has it really been two weeks already since my last project for Polka Dot Made? I just don’t know where the weeks are going lately!

Head on over to check out the full details of this little concertina photo album, perfect for doting new grandparents or as a wedding keepsake.

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A collection of pretty meets practical ideas to inspire a happier home

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