Surrounded by Books and Paper

Before I headed home from a speaking engagement in Waterloo this morning, I took the time to peruse the wares at two different thrift stores.  I have two weaknesses, and neither one requires a huge outlay of cash as long as I shop used. But considering I just sold over 200 books and Ziplock bags full of greeting cards and stationery at my garage sale, one might wonder if I could benefit from a support group of some sort.

My name is Mary, and I am addicted to books and paper, and not necessarily in that order.

This is what today’s shopping spree adds to my already overflowing bookshelves and drawers of paper (that I actually write letters on, go figure)

Note that two of the books are on grief. Not only do I find myself studying grief, but I am currently involved in a writing project involving devotions for a grief Bible so I am immersing myself in God’s Word along with Christian perspectives on grief:

Splurge purchases included two big coffee mugs with a grape design ($1 each) and some $1 Vera Bradley plates that were so beautiful, I couldn’t resist. As I took the picture, it crossed my mind that they were almost too beautiful to eat from.

Then I turned one over and realized the plates are meant for display only, and could poison food. Now I’m not sure what I’ll do with them; I’d intended them for special guests. I don’t like poisoning my friends and family.

And for my daughter Elizabeth, two golden-oldies I used in my parenting when she was a little girl, along with a bag of vintage crayons “just because.”

What about you? What types of “things” do you love? Do you tend to go overboard in your acquisition of those things?

garage sales, paper


I know many readers will understand the thrill of the garage sale hunt. Fewer will understand that particular excitement I experience over paper products. My daughters and I hit several of the city-wide garage sales on Friday but it wasn’t until late in the day that I hit the mother lode. Katie, age 12, eyed me warily at first as I grabbed stickers and notebooks, and then she looked downright distraught as I piled arm load after arm load next to the checkout table.  “Mom, what are you doing? You’re going to spend way too much money at this sale.”  I just smiled. Packages of construction paper~10-cents, new packages of stickers~ 10-cents, new greeting cards with envelopes~ 5-cents each, cute notebooks~ 10-cents, a box of Current stationery~ 25 cents, plastic organizers with little drawers for Katie and Abby’s sticker collection~ $1.  I left with four bags of treasure and spent…Drumroll please…$13.

I laughed our loud when I got home and opened up the back of the van.

I could imagine David shaking his head, but smiling. He didn’t understand my penchant for all things paper, but he tolerated it. After all, there are worse habits a wife could indulge in,  ones that involved much more money; $300 purses come to mind. (my daughters and I had also wondered at the long waiting line at one sale as the garage doors opened. The women rushing to the table of Coach purses answered that question)

“Mary, do you think some couponers are actually hoarders?” a male friend asked me recently, and my mind’s eye flashed to my modest stockpiles of cereal, peanut butter and shampoo.

“It can get that way, like the extreme couponers I see on television,” I replied, then added truthfully, “But if I hoard anything it is stationery and paper.”


“Stationery?” his wife’s eyes immediately lit up. “I would love stationery! I can never find any nice stationery.”

I sent her a “care package” of stationery that week.

The only thing that dampened my enthusiasm for this sale was the absence of my oldest daughter, Elizabeth, also a paper addict. After a morning of garage sales, she ‘d returned to the hospital to be with Jacob during the last 24 hours of his latest chemotherapy treatment.

I think it is time to put together another paper “care package.”


letter-writing, stationery

A love affair~ with paper

I have written before this regarding my fascination with all things paper.  I am sure there is a scrapbooker inside of me simply because of that fascination. I cannot pass up a good deal on scrapbooking supplies any more than I can do without a clearance box of stationery. Beside the fact that I am a writer and I deal with paper and pen on a daily basis, I am also an avid letter-writer. I am a great fan of Alexandra Stoddard books, such as her tome on letter writing, Gifts of a Letter.  I love the way she writes about paper and pens and find myself practically drooling over her description of her files and bins of fine papers. The fact that she might use colored ink with a $500 fountain pen to write a simple note does not detract from the fact that we share a common interest in the love of paper.  I am sure my cupboard of boxed stationery, printer paper, inexpensive Papermate pens and assorted envelopes doesn’t hold a candle to Stoddard’s stash, but it still pleases me:

I haven’t decided yet if my paper obsession is a healthy or an unhealthy one, but I lean towards it being healthy since I do use the papers and pens and not just hoard them. I also have the decidedly healthy habit of sharing my bounty with others; as Christmas gifts for an equally-obsessed daughter and sister. I regularly go through my cupboards and get rid of any stationery, paper, or pens that are no longer pleasing to me. If you are under the illusion that paper is paper and a pen is a pen, you are sadly mistaken. The thickness or the texture of a piece of paper can make a huge difference in the enjoyment of writing on it.  The same goes for whatever instrument one uses to write with. I don’t like writing with pencil at all, and prefer a blue ink to a black, along with a very rounded nib instead of a sharp one.

It is evident that I have more than a passing interest in papers and pens when I browse the stationery aisles of a store. Even at thrift stores I will search for vintage stationery and scrapbooking supplies. And when it comes to online sales of stationery products, I can’t resist at least perusing the virtual aisles of offerings.  Which is why I used my Living Social $5 sign-up bonus to purchase a gift certificate from Vistaprint today.


For $10, TODAY ONLY, you can purchase a $50 gift certificate for personalized stationery, business cards and even mugs. Even without the $5 bonus, this is a must-do offer for any paper lover. I’m sure I’ll be able to find $50 worth of paper products for my $5 investment. And this is one of the few offers I can’t resist sharing with my paper-loving friends.