Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Chinese New Year!

Fireworks, parades and music traditionally signal the arrival of the Chinese New Year. But traditions related to money permeate the New Year rituals and celebrations.

According to, “the most popular greeting is Gong Xi Fa Chai (pronounced 'Gong Hay Fat Choy'), which means ‘congratulations and make a fortune.’ ‘Make a fortune’ is to wish people rich, because Chinese love to talk about money.”

One tradition is to give a Red Envelope containing brand-new money to children. It is believed that children who sleep with the Red Envelopes under their pillows will sleep well – no bad dreams – and will become richer next year.

There are many activities that you are advised to avoid on Chinese New Year’s Day because of money-related superstitions. For example:

• If you sweep the floor or dump the trash, it will take away the wealth and luck from the house.
• If you take a nap at noon, you will be lazy year long.
• If you wash your hair you will wash your good luck away.
• If someone owes you money, do not ask for the money back on this day. Otherwise, you will do it often in the rest of the year.
• If you let people take anything away from your pocket or purse, you will lose money during the year.

Well, we need to do everything we can to increase our chances of better fortune. And fortunately, this is the year of the ox in the Chinese calendar. Here’s how one website describes the attributes of Ox people:

"The Ox, or the Buffalo sign symbolizes prosperity through fortitude and hard work…Invariably solid and dependable, Ox people are excellent organizers…systematic in their approach to every task they undertake. People born under the sign of the Ox usually have strong codes and work ethics…Ox people are usually strong and robust, and according to ancient wisdom, they should be blessed with long lives."

Sound familiar? President Barack Obama, born in 1961, is an Ox person. He may be just what we need to lead us to prosperity in these uncertain times.

If you want to share Chinese New Year’s greetings with far-flung friends and family, stop by, where they have a wide selection of Chinese New Year e-cards.

Check out this sample, with my best wishes to everyone for a happy and prosperous year of the ox.

Update: Last night we ordered takeout from our favorite local Chinese restaurant, Bamboo Gourmet Cuisine and Sushi Bar (Bedford, MA). Attached to the bag containing our dinner was a plastic bag containing a red envelope. Inside the envelope was a note welcoming in the Year of the Ox. The note described the custom of giving out money in red envelopes as a symbol of good luck and prosperity. To our surprise, the note ended with these words: “…in appreciation for your patronage, please accept this gift and blessing for the New Year” - and included a brand-new dollar. I feel more fortunate already!

This is a scan of the red envelope.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

With the stroke of a pen – why signatures matter

Upon becoming President of the United States, Barack Obama almost immediately began to establish policy in a variety of areas by signing executive orders. The first acts of a presidency are often seen as symbolic, and the ritual of signing an executive order is witnessed and recorded as part of history.

Why do signatures hold so much power? Why does a president have to “sign” a bill? Wikipedia tells us that a signature serves as proof of a document’s identity and of the intent of an individual regarding that document. It also provides “evidence of deliberation and informed consent.” That may be the reasoning our founders used to require that Presidents sign bills into law.

The pens used for important signatures can themselves become prized keepsakes. Indeed, as the New York Times noted, “Even before President Obama signed his first executive orders, a pen was immortalized.” No fountain pen for this president - the specially designed black lacquer rolling ball pen features Obama’s signature along with the presidential coat of arms.

When a president signs a bill, it is common to see him using multiple pens to sign his name. What happens to those pens? Usually, those pens are given as souvenirs to legislators and others who played a role in developing that legislation.

For example, when President Lyndon Johnson used multiple pens to sign the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the first pen was given to his Vice President, Hubert Humphrey, while the second pen went to Senate Republican leader Everett Dirksen, symbolizing the bipartisan support behind this legislation. And to add to the “signature” symbolism, the bill was signed 104 years to the day after President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill freeing slaves who were forced into working for the Confederacy.

Presidential signatures vary widely in terms of legibility – check out the samples from But I think it is safe to say that none of them match the glorious penmanship of the signature to end all signatures – that would be the signature of John Hancock on the Declaration of Independence. In fact, signing a document is sometimes referred to as “putting your John Hancock on it.”

Signatures can evoke powerful emotions – a signature made using a real pen with real ink is irrefutable evidence that a particular real person touched that document. When famous people sign their names for their fans, these “autographs” become mementos of the recipients’ encounters with celebrities. So if you find yourself lucky enough to have a document with the “John Hancock” of any celebrity – and you know it’s not just a reproduction or something signed by an “autopen”, trust Purple Raincoat to handle your souvenir with care and respect as we showcase it in a unique keepsake collage.

We got this card in the mail as a holiday “thank you” for participating in Obama’s campaign – ah, if this were only a real signature…

Purple Raincoat will take 50 percent off the first order we receive for a collage featuring on something actually signed by Barack Obama – if you’ve got something in hand, hand it over to us ASAP so you don’t miss out on this deal.

Friday, January 23, 2009

An inauguration invitation grows in Brooklyn - it’s the real thing

I’ve been searching the web for images of the “actual” invitation to President Obama’s inauguration and guess what? It turns out that the invitation I received in the mail and turned into a Purple Raincoat sample inaugural keepsake is the “real” invitation, after all. One million of these invitations were printed in less than a month by Precise Continental, a small union shop in Brooklyn that worked overtime to meet the deadline. I learned a lot about this from the Red Stamp blog, which is dedicated to “stylish correspondence.” I can dig that.

Turns out that this inauguration invitation pretty much follows the traditional template that has been in place since Harry Truman was inaugurated. It is printed using a technique called “engraving”, which Red Stamp calls "the epitome of all things formal + tasteful”. But there are some 21st century updates - for example, the Obama people insisted that the invitation be printed on recycled paper. The Neenah “Classic Crest” Paper selected for the invitation has been called the “greenest premium paper in the world…completely FSC Certified, Green-e Certified as being made with 100 percent renewable energy, made 100 percent Carbon Neutral, and Processed Chlorine Free.”

Ironically, this invitation itself is less likely to be recycled than the invitations to previous presidential inaugurals. HOWDESIGN notes that “This invite, like others in history will likely become a collector’s item—perhaps treasured more than any other as America’s first black president” takes office. Of course, I hope many of them are "recycled" into Purple Raincoat keepsakes.

The fonts used for the invitation were designed in 1972 by Matthew Carter. Both of these fonts, Shelly Allegro and Kuentsler, are available through at 25 percent off through inaugural week. Here’s your chance to buy a piece of history and use these elegant fonts to create invitations for your own once-in-a-lifetime (well, maybe twice in Obama’s case – it’s possible) occasion. This is an interesting option for people who are making their own invitations.

I’m still waiting to get my hands on a “real” invitation to an inaugural ball or one of the infamous “purple” swearing-in tickets – come on, people, I’m counting on you! Give Purple Raincoat the opportunity to turn your once-in-a-lifetime experience into a one-of-a-kind keepsake. Senior Obama administration staff, I know you’re busy getting down to the business of remaking America, but don’t forget about your memories – put them in Purple Raincoat’s hands and prepare to be delighted.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Calling All Purple Ticket Holders!

What you can do with that purple ticket…

While glued to MSNBC yesterday watching the inauguration (along with the pre-game and post-game shows, so to speak), I heard some of the commentators mentioning that there were people who had tickets to the swearing-in ceremony but were unable to claim their rightful seats. I thought about how heartbreaking that would be – to be so close and to have a ticket but to be turned away.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the tickets were color-coded and that it was thousands of the people holding purple tickets who were denied access. You can read about them at the Huffington Post, and get a first-hand account from a holder of a “cursed purple ticket” at Barack Oblogger.

Being “purple” people, they weren’t about to take this injustice lying down – even though they were packed into an underground tunnel so tightly that they were unable to move. Already, more than 1,000 people have joined the “Purple Tunnel of Doom” Facebook group. And there are calls for President Obama to do something to compensate these ticket holders, many of whom had worked their hearts out to help him win the election.

Well, purple people, the President has a pretty full inbox, and helping you out may not be at the top of his list but it is at the top of mine. As you may have guessed, I have a special place in my heart for the color purple, so let’s turn that lemon into lemonade.

Here’s the deal: Purple Raincoat will turn your purple Obama inauguration ticket into a beautiful framed keepsake that will bring a smile to your face when you look at it. It’s a way to accentuate the positive, if you will, which feels appropriate given the tone of the new administration.

The Purple Ticket keepsake is going to be a special size and have a special price: $44 in honor of our 44th President (plus tax and shipping, as appropriate – hey, a girl has to make a living). This offer could be withdrawn at any time, but I will guarantee it for the next 44 days – that would be until March 6, 2009. Call or email us today so you can pick yourself up and dust yourself off…you get my drift.

Power to the Purple People! Purple Raincoat is here for you. See, don’t you feel better already?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Happy Inauguration Day!

Tips for an unforgettable inaugural experience

Were you lucky enough (or connected enough) to get a ticket for Barack Obama’s inauguration as the 44th President of the United States? If so, you may feel as if you won the lottery – which, in a way, you have. You will be part of history whether you have a reserved seat at the swearing-in ceremony, a place along the inaugural parade route or an invitation to attend an inaugural ball. And you swear you will never forget it. But what is the best way to make sure you don’t forget it?

This inauguration will be unlike any other in our nation’s history, but it will go by in a flash, and you will want to do everything possible to hold onto your memories of this very special event. Any piece of paper that gets you in the door - no matter what the event - is your ticket to a lifetime of memories, but not when it is kept in a drawer or hidden in a shoebox.

You can think of the inauguration as a celebration similar to a personal milestone such as a wedding or special anniversary. And as we know, if the celebration involves any kind of invitation, that invitation can serve as a powerful tool to help you remember the emotion associated with a special event, such as the inaugural ceremonies and celebrations.

So the first step to making the inauguration unforgettable is for you to collect memorabilia associated with the event. This includes invitations, tickets, photographs, programs, place cards, flyers, buttons and other souvenirs. The next step is to select the pieces that are most meaningful and deciding how to showcase them in a way that will make the memories the most vivid for you.

To take these memories to the next level, let Purple Raincoat design a unique framed collage to showcase your memorabilia. The power to remember is multiplied when your memorabilia is incorporated into a creative piece of art that stirs the emotions. Purple Raincoat is ready, willing, and able to turn your inaugural memorabilia into a one-of-a-kind work of art. Our goal is to create keepsakes that celebrate life’s special occasions and serve as the perfect touchstones for remembering those special days. And there won’t be many days more special than the day of Barack Obama’s inauguration.

The inaugural "invitation" is layered on embossed copper-gold paper, textured black paper, flecked copper vellum and a ton-on-tone taupe floral printed paper.. The background is a shiny textured cream cardstock, topped by black-on-black striped cardstock accented by gold mesh. Stripes of black satin ribbon accent the design.

Remember: for an unforgettable inauguration experience, take the time to collect those pieces of paper and do something meaningful with them. You will never regret taking the time to preserve those memories in a creative, unique way, and your actions will be enormously helpful when you are asked by future generations to talk about your emotions on what is a momentous day in our nation’s history.

And here's a special offer: if you order an inaugural keepsake from Purple Raincoat by January 31 to be shipped anywhere in the United States, we will discount that order by 44 percent to honor our 44th president. This could be a once-in-a-lifetime offer, so don't miss out on this unique opportunity to have Purple Raincoat preserve your memories of this milestone moment for the United States of America.