monster love

Monster cards colored for you.

Hello and happy Valentine’s Day! My monsters want to wish you a light-hearted and colorful day because sometimes Valentine’s Day is just too much pressure.

Colored for you and some to color yourself!

Color these creatures however you wish (or get them already colored by yours truly). Attach a piece of candy, sticker, poem or joke, and show your friends some love.

You can also use the backside as a postcard:

Turn it into a postcard. (Our local post office confirms they’re the right size and weight for a postcard stamp.)
Color them all however you wish!

My family plans to color these ourselves and tie on a finger-puppet-monster for each kiddo. I think I can punch two holes in a corner, push some yarn through, and tie on the finger-puppet. I’ll share a pic in Instagram once I’ve got it figured out.

Happy day of love!!  Or…if you want to be really cool…tell everyone, “Happy Oregon’s Birthday!” because my state’s birthday is also February 14th. I know, some might say that’s more nerd than cool, but not me.


the deep satisfaction of snail mail


One of my favorite projects at Carrot Condo right now is my Customized Letters: two handwritten pages, both illustrated, and tucked into an envelope (also illustrated) and mailed once a month for five months.

So far, most of the letters have been purchased as a gift to someone. The customer tells me a little about the recipient: they like coffee, their non-profit work keeps them busy, they love books and the beach. Then, I write.

The recipient receives cheerful, fun mail each month and an excuse to put their feet up and read for a few minutes. No need to write back. All the fun of a pen pal without any of the obligation.


What is not so simple to describe is how deeply satisfying these letters are for me to create. I have a real audience to write to (not a vaguely imagined editor), a real purpose (letter due February 5th), a prompt (he loves dogs), and a length limit. And, once the letter is created, I send it off. It’s not tucked away on a shelf or on my hard drive waiting around for a place and purpose.

Sometimes the illustration inspires what I write; sometimes the other way around, but the process always begins with looking at the recipient’s name, reviewing what I know about them, and just thinking about them for a few minutes before I start.

And except for one subscriber, I’ve never met any of the people I’m writing to.

A 70-year-old man named Tim Johnson recently wrote and mailed 108 handwritten letters in 108 days. He’s the first to come close to describing my experience (and I read four books about letter-writing before putting Customized Letters in my Etsy shop).

He says a lot of great things, but this was spot-on: “these letters demand more time, thought and effort than the typical email, but my reward is a sense of creative satisfaction as I come up with a soliloquy custom-made for a particular person.”

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Creative satisfaction, yes. And because each letter is unique and shared only with that recipient (the most anyone else sees are the pictures here), I don’t draw the same thing or tell the same story more than once, which gives me a rewarding creative challenge.

Fascinating how such a simple thing, a handwritten letter, can be so fulfilling. If you want to give it a try, egg press organizes a letter-writing challenge called write_on every April. Keep an eye on egg press’s blog for details. Taking part last year is what inspired my Customized Letters, and I plan to take part again this year.

Perhaps this Customized Letter project is only beginning …

Happy writing! (And, as always, thank you for reading and for your interest in Carrot Condo; I’m so glad you’re out there!)

last craft sale of 2017 & snail mail?

I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving weekend. We sure did, but I’m kind of exhausted from all the eating and merry-making. Back to working! Speaking of which, I had an incredible time at the Llewellyn sale a couple of weekends ago. I met three more amazing artists, and went home with a print one of them gave to me.

This Saturday, December 2nd is the Lewis Holiday Bazaar and Tree Sale, 10am-3pm, at 4401 SE Evergreen Street in PDX. IMG_6878

One thing that’s difficult to show at these sales is my Customized Letters. Since they’re all personal letters, I don’t share them, just snippets (like below … I’m thrilled about these snails and slugs and very surprised to be so excited about snails and slugs!)

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One customer thought I wrote letters on behalf of someone else. Like, rather than being from me, written by me, signed by me, I’d write it as if I were the recipient’s friend and sign it, “love Joelle” or whatever. This made me think, maybe I ought to change their name. Maybe call it: Snail Mail Subscription…?

Well, it’s a fun challenge to have. These Customized Letters/Snail Mail Subscriptions are the most time-consuming product I have, but incredibly satisfying work!

Perhaps I’ll see some of you Saturday!

you’ve got mail

I had so much fun writing letters for the write_on challenge in April that I created a new product for Carrot Condo: Customized Letters. They’re handwritten, illustrated, old-fashioned snail mail. Creating them has been as satisfying as I’d hoped.

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You can subscribe to a monthly letter for yourself or as a gift to someone else. You tell me a little about the letter recipient, and I take it from there: once a month, a handwritten, illustrated letter arrives in the mail. Something cheerful to look forward to amidst the bills and junk mail.

Every letter is unique, which keeps it fun for me and personalized to the letter recipient. They get all the fun of a pen pal without having to write back, and I get monthly writing projects and inspirations to sketch and draw.


Once I’ve written the letter and created drawings to illustrate the pages, I decorate the envelope, choose a stamp, and send it off. Walking to the “blue box” has never been more fun!


This project has revived my love of writing and it’s helped me get closer to a long-time goal: combining my writing with my drawings. I get new ideas with each new letter. Sometimes the letter inspires the illustration, and sometimes the illustration sparks a story for the letter.

I can sell only a few subscriptions because the letters take a long time to make, but once one subscription is finished, I can put one back in my shop–this way, I get to create snail mail all year long. Happiness!