01 August 2007

Paper Freak

Our Wine Cork Cardholders keep your pretty paper things in place.
With back to school just a few weeks away (sorry, teachers, to break into your summer reverie!), I thought it was high time for a post on paper.
I'll begin with a confession: I am a paper freak. Have been since childhood. From the age of three into early elementary school, I wrote and illustrated my own stories on the inside front and back covers of my Little Golden Books. My parents didn’t mind. They supplied me with plenty of scratch paper, but my crayons, and later on, pens, gravitated only to what paper was between two perfect bound covers. I guess I knew from an early age that whatever I had to say, whatever characters my mind could generate, whatever witty dialogue I could spin, it was supposed to live inside the two covers of a book. When my mind (and word count) outgrew Little Golden Books, I moved my writing life into spiral bound notebooks. Lots of them. Like, one for every story. Because for some reason, it brought me a great deal of discomfort to scrap an idea, turn the page, and begin anew with a fresh idea. With each new idea, I needed a new notebook. Rest assured, the idea of simply ripping out a page and throwing it away occurred to me. But I didn’t like how the pages would then bear the imprint of the words I’d just rejected as too “dumb,” too “babyish,” too “superficial” (yes, this was me at seven). The imprints of my discarded story still were legible, as if they had been written in invisible ink awaiting a milk decoder formula. I felt that my new ideas deserved an unadulterated landing place that had not been marred by what came before. For each new idea, a new notebook. A spanking clean little tome whose paper smelled of possibilities.

Winsome handmade card by calligraphy artist Helen Lewis of Illuminating Words.


As you might imagine, by the end of high school, what I had were lots of empty notebooks with the first few pages torn out. Back then, I wasn’t a finisher.

Handmade notebooks and sketchbooks from Illuminating Words.

Then came college, where finishing made the difference between completing a workshop course and not. So I had to learn to follow my characters until the end of the stories they wanted to tell...or at least until the end of the page requirement. Usually I was long winded (no kidding???). We usually had to write stories that were ten to twenty pages, though this was more of a suggestion than a rule. Mine generally ran more toward the forty page mark. Single spaced. They wanted to be novellas. For one workshop, I had to submit a five page story, double spaced. Not four, not ten, five. This particular assignment was an exercise in compression, elucidation, extracting only the essence of a moment, an idea, a character. We were to be like poets writing in the short story form. Only the choicest words and details would do.
I won a prize for that story. Go figure.

Reproduction vintage French "cahiers" (notebooks). Just enough pages for a stirring little epistle.

Triptych of Scrap Journals by Secret Leaves.

Today, as a boutique proprietor, I get to lavish (hi, Becki) in all of the notebooks, journals, and wonderful paper products I can find. Yes, I’ve finally gotten my fill of paper. Here are some wonderful finds at The Blissful to whet your own writerly whistle (Off-rhymes are purely unintentional, I promise.)

Sharon and Ann at Secret Leaves custom-designed these French-inspired Scrap Journals for us. For an inside look at the design and construction process of another type of journal (it's fascinating), go here to read their blog.

Send out all your correspondence and packages with our Tour Eiffel-embellished mailing labels.

Small enough to fit into your handbag or any roomy pocket and fat enough to fill your palm, our little travel notebooks will inspire you to record your dreams and observations when you're abroad...or right in your own backyard.

With a former English teacher at the helm, you can be sure The Blissful is full of interesting titles to help you while away the hours and learn something new.

In lieu of a beach read, take along "Entre Nous" by Debra Ollivier, a cheeky page turner about the qualities of mind, habit, and character that give French women that je ne sais quoi. A must-r ead for Francophiles and aspiring Francophiles alike.

In addition to what you see pictured here, we've got pretty file folders, beloved paperweights, decorative correspondence sets, stationery, labels, cute erasers, and much, much more. Going back to school this year? Sending someone off in just a few weeks? Ease the transition back into the paper-loving way of life with something from the shop. Or buy your favorite teacher a little something to start off her schoolyear on a sweet note.


And don't forget to pre-order your Sid Dickens Memory Blocks in time for holiday gift giving! I have been taking phone orders from people around the country (how cool is that?), so they truly are booking up fast. The artist just released the first half of the 2007 Retiring list, so stop in to see which Blocks will no longer be in production after December 1st. The second Retiring list will be released later this month. Oh, so much suspense! You've got to love a line with such mystique and cache surrounding it.


A bientot!


a la mode designs said...

Hi, Abby--

From one Paper Freak to another - you are TRULY a girl after my own heart! :)


Secret Leaves said...

Hey Abby. What beautiful things you have here! Helen Lewis's calligraphy is lovely. You truly are choosing the best of the best for your store. I wish we could see it in person!

Thanks for the mention and link--we appreciate it!

Sharon and Ann
Secret Leaves paperworks
Secret Leaves paperworks

Secret Leaves said...

Oops! Didn't mean to type our company name twice!

AnastasiaC said...

everything looks FAB!
i too am a paperfreak - wish your store was close by, looks like you stock some beautiful things!

Flea Market Queen said...

Oh my...I would be in heaven at your store! Everything is absolutely lovely...

Faith said...

Ah - I loved this post and I remember those notebooks well. I also remember your kickin old school word processor. I hope you still have that somewhere.

Lovely curated shop and notebooks especially - I hope I make it up there soon...

The Blissful Home said...

Hi, Faith--

Aack! The word processor! It's been such a long time since I've thought about that. I remember my twenty hour all-night writing marathon when I stared into its 2x4" screen at the tiny, LED-green letters until the birds were chirping.

I would LOVE for you to swing up here for a personal tour of The Blisful!


Anonymous said...

Hi Abby,

I read about you in Diana Rossetti's "Life" colunm on Sunday.

I was your third grade teacher at Clarendon Elementary.( I think!) I recognoze your creative writing and your beautiful smile. Although,I haven't seen you since third grade.
Yes,I remember that you had difficulty finishing your stories, but your characterizations were absolutely amazing! You are and were a gifted writer. You would be excellent at writing children's books. Think about it.
I will visit your shop, The Blissful, very soon.

Ms. Erma Smith

The Blissful Home said...

Ms. Smith--

It's such an honor and a pleasure to hear from you! I have thought about you often and with great fondness over the years and have often wished I had a way to tell you how much your early influence meant to me as I've continued through life. You remain one of my very favorite teachers.

Thanks for your kind and encouraging words (and your remembrances of me from third grade!). I can't wait to see you and talk with you in person.


Margo said...

Abby-Hi, I was looking at your lovely blog + store just now (man it makes me miss my store!)and I saw that you are considering Maison et Objet. As you saw in person, my store was extremely influenced by my many trips to Paris, and Maison was something I awlays wanted to do! If you are interested, I have a bit of advice about doing that show if you ever plan to attend!!