Fruits & Vegetables: USPS Forever Stamps

At no other time have I been more concerned about the USPS. The Postmaster General is seemingly trying to destroy it from within and the timing is especially harmful. The pandemic isn’t going away any time soon and the most important election of our lives is just weeks away. Reliable mail delivery is paramount.

I certainly can’t save the Postal Service on my own. None of us can individually. But each of us can support it in tiny ways. How? Make a few purchases from the post office.

When you really think about it, it’s so cool that we have a choice of different stamps. They’re colorful and pretty and whimsical. They don’t need to be. A stamp could be quite utilitarian. But we’re provided choices of new ones on a regular basis — practical pieces of art celebrating American culture.

Back in 2014, the Celebrity Chef stamps were a favorite of mine, along with the Farmers Markets stamps. Now, you can purchase USPS Farmers Markets Notecards, which include the stamps. They’re a nice gift for yourself or someone else.

I’ve never bought notecards from the Post Office, but I will in the future. However, I did recently purchase two books of the new Fruits and Vegetables stamps. They’re so pretty!

The stamp designs that we’ve known and loved over the years were created under the direction of USPS art director Derry Noyes. Noyes was interviewed for an article on Artsy, where she explains the process.

It all begins with the Citizen Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC)—a 12-person panel composed of historians, educators, designers, and others who determine the subjects for each year’s crop of stamps. (Noyes actually served on the committee herself for several years, before transitioning to art direction in the early 1980s.) Their goal, she said, is ‘to pick a broad spectrum that reflects American history, pop culture, people, events—to try to get a good balance for each year.’ …

The stamp-making process typically lasts between two and four years, Noyes said, though it can go on for much longer—particularly if legal issues arise. During this time, the four USPS art directors meet monthly to discuss their ongoing projects and critique one another’s work. Eventually, they share their work with the CSAC to see if they like the direction. The committee eventually votes to approve the final stamp designs, which then must be approved by the postmaster general before they can be released. ‘Unlike a fine artist working for him or herself, doing whatever they feel like, this is a real team effort,’ Noyes said.

While most of us don’t send as much mail as we used to, we still do every once in a while. So buy some stamps that light you up, so the next time you send some snail mail, you’ll spark some joy in the simplest of ways.

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Photo Credit: USPS

Massachusetts License Plate MV 1

Massachusetts License Plate MV 1

If you’re driving around on the roads of New England, you might want to lookout for Massachusetts license plate MV 1.

What is it about us in the Bay State, that makes us obsessed with low number license plates? I’ve never had one, but always notice them and wonder about the owners. These plates are prized family heirlooms passed from one generation to the next.

Well, apparently the generation passing didn’t happen for the MV 1 license plate. Because this past Sunday, some lucky person bought it. The Vineyard Gazette reports that it was purchased via live auction for $46,500.00.

Celebrities are no strangers to the Vineyard and Seth Meyers, who was visiting with family, hosted the Zoom event. He joked that the winner of the plate would still need to make a ferry reservation and that motorists should acknowledge them.

Be sure to say thank you — maybe two polite honks. But this is New England . . . so if they cut you off, feel free to give them the middle finger.

Most of the proceeds go to Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, so the money raised will do a lot of good, which I had no idea until now. It’s nice to know that these vanity plates benefit people in need.

So if you play the license plate game, you might want to add a twist and focus on low number plates.

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Image: Possible Dreams 2020

Make Your Own Reed Diffuser

reed diffuser

Being someone who appreciates food and an abundance of flavors, it’s no surprise that I have a strong sense of smell. I enjoy scented soaps, lotions, perfumes and often burn incense and scented candles.

A few months ago, I remember seeing some very pretty reed diffusers at a small pop-up shop. They were somewhat pricey and I wondered how well they actually worked. Would the scent really permeate my whole apartment like a candle or incense?

Then a few days ago, I saw an Instagram post with some simple instructions on how to make my own reed diffuser. I realized that I already had all the items necessary to make one. So why not give it a go?

About an hour ago, I made my own. It took about 15 minutes, which includes the time it took to empty a spice bottle and remove the label.

I probably used a little more than the recommended 25 drops of essential oil. Don’t! I shouldn’t have. I had removed the stopper from one of the bottles, so it spilled out. The smell is actually a bit too strong now.

Next time I’ll be more careful with measuring and will play around with the different scents. It does smell good though and will fade over time. Plus, I like the look of it.

This cost me nothing to make, because I already had everything at home, so I’m glad that I didn’t spend money buying one. The markup is incredible.

So if you like making things and already have most of the ingredients at home, do it yourself and save the $25 or more for something else. Below is what I used, based on the post from Wandering Wild Home.

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DIY Reed Diffuser

Small glass bottle with a smaller opening at the top – spice bottles work perfectly.
7  bamboo skewers
1/4 cup grape seed oil
2 T vodka – I only had vanilla vodka, but it worked fine.
25 drops of essential oil – I used 5 drops eucalyptus, 10 drops orange, about 12 drops vanilla.

Mix the oil and vodka in a tiny bowl. Then mix in the essential oils. Use a funnel to pour the mixture into the bottle. Put the skewers in and you’re done! Flip the reeds when you want a stronger smell.

Dîner en Blanc Boston 2017

Dîner en Blanc Boston

Today is the last day of summer, so it seems like perfect timing to write about a big event that capped off the summer seasonDîner en Blanc , which is French for dinner in white.

I wrote about this event back in 2015, but had never attended it. If you’re not familiar with the event, it’s basically a dinner where everyone dresses in white. Plus, the location is secret until a couple of hours prior.

When the location is emailed to the attendees, they gather up everything that they need for their dinner — tables, chairs, place settings, food, etc., and quickly go to the now revealed location. Then they set up their tables and have their meals.

Dîner en Blanc started in Paris nearly 30 years ago and events are held in cities all over the world with thousands of people attending each one.

Me dressed in all white for Dîner en Blanc Boston

This year I finally attended! A friend of mine happened to mention that she was on the waiting list and wanted to go. Since I was invited to go as media, I brought her along as my guest.

We had a great time! That’s me in my new white outfit! One of the perks of going as an invited guest was that we didn’t have to bring anything with us. We got to hang out in the comfy media lounge and enjoy sandwiches and champagne courtesy of Bon Me and Taittinger.

One of the best things about this event was the diversity of the crowd.

There were many people of color and people of all ages too. The range was probably from 20s to 60s. I feel like this doesn’t happen too often. It was nice to see, especially considering all that is happening in this country right now.

The Ring Fountain lit up and steamy at Dîner en Blanc Boston.

When the dinner started, it was light out. If you can’t tell where we are, it was at the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway. The location was perfect. The weather was perfect. It was maybe mid 70s, so it was warm enough out even as the sun set.

We were near the Rings Fountain, which lit up and spewed steam and water. With everyone dressed in white and walking around, the effect was just magical. Dreamy. Enchanting. It’s hard to describe.

There was live music playing during dinner, with singer John Everett Martin featuring Bob Christopherson and Gregory Holt. Click here for some video that I took so you can see, listen and get a feel for the ambience. It was so very nice. Smooth and jazzy. Singing one of my favorite Sinatra tunes — Witchcraft.This couple dancing it up at Ring Fountain at Dîner en Blanc Boston.

After dinner the band left, then DJ Ryan Brown got everyone up and dancing. He played music that appealed to the whole crowd and everyone really seemed to have a good time. Including me! What a night!

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Disclosure: I attended the event as invited media. My guest and I were admitted free of charge.