Signs by Terra.

You know you want one.

And I will explain to you in a few minutes how to get one.

First though, I think I should let you know that some things never change.


I think I have a problem.

Someone needs to call Jeff VanVonderen and gather around a group of my friends and family who just wanna love me to pieces and help me help myself from buying/collecting/hoarding writing utensils.

The sad truth is – this is but a small portion of what the actual collection looks like. This is just from cleaning out one shelf of my desk/supply drawer. Ben actually applauded when I walked to the trash can triumphantly holding up 5 (yes that is five) pens that I could bear to part with since they were broken/out of ink/didn’t write smoothly.

I don’t understand this phenomena in myself. I actually have very high standards for my pens. they have to feel heavy in my hand (lightweight pens feel cheap).

they have to write SMOOTHLY and immediately (I hate scratching out circles all over my paper trying to get ink flow started).

they have to have some unique characteristic (rubber grip, special ink, pretty colors, horse heads attached to them, etc).

and last but not least, they usually have to write in a pretty color.

(and yes, i realize that the fact that i have thought through all these things in such detail and that it really does bother me when they are not all met does give me a slight penchant towards psychosis.)

I remember the first time I ever saw one of those awesome pens that you could click the little lever and


make it change from blue to green to black to red ink. I remember like getting all verklempt that I NEEDED a pen like that and scheming ways to steal it from the little girl’s desk in my classroom. I didn’t. And I think I did probably eventually get one of these pens for myself. But then they of course had to come out with one that had like 25 colors of ink you could write in and THENNN the fun started. Cause then I had to write my homework by clicking the pen into a different color for each letter. T-click-E-click-R-click-R-click-A {puffy heart colored in with different color}click R-click-E-click-A-click-D….and inevitably at that point my teacher would be tired of hearing the incessant clicking and I’d get that pen taken away for a few hours.

Which is probably a good thing considering I was already having the early warning signs and symptoms of carpal tunnel in the third grade from all that clicking already.

But then I hit the big time in the 5th grade – when the future spread out magnificently before me.


The mother lode.

Yes. I had found my calling. I would use my pretty pens to bring joy and light and prettiness to others around me.

and Signs by Terra was begun. My fifth grade entrepreneurialship. My business manager, Sara, handled all the order taking (because let’s face it – when you are the creative genius behind a product, you can’t be bothered with silly things like order forms and making change.) Before I knew it – I had a backlog of orders. EVERYONE wanted a sign by terra. Let me tell you they were MAGNIFICENT!

I was mostly commissioned to do names. For everyone’s desk. Because those fugly old things the teacher made with the proper handwriting lines and the contact paper sticking them to your desk – blase’ ! No – a Sign by Terra was the perfect thing to make your desk say YOU. Show your personality. Because I didn’t just mass produce these puppies. I asked what your pattern preferences were, what your favorite colors were, what your hobbies or things you did after school were. You and me – client and producer – we BONDED over markers and paper. come to think of it – I don’t know where I stole got the paper from. I probably used a pass to get into the teachers copy room and skiffed a few of the big poster size sheets. anyways. it was high quality. And in case you were wondering – each one cost $.25. As in a quarter. But if you had a super long name, or if you wanted LOTS of fancy patterns, it was $.40 (because that was how much milk cost, and that’s all the change most kids brought with them).

i remember well the day we expanded our franchise from the 4th/5th grade room. Our teacher let Sara and me go around to ALL the classrooms (of which there were three), and sell our product. The kindergartners thought we were GIVING them away so we quickly left there. 1st grade was slightly more interested, but we hit the jackpot in the 2nd/3rd grade room. 

{and for the curious – no – i did not attend school in a one room wooden shack with a pot bellied stove in the middle and Laura Ingalls as our teacher. It was just a small private school that was held in a church. I think there were MAYBE 40 students in all. clearly – i wasn’t making a fortune.}

But i had big dreams and grand plans.

And then we moved to Milwaukee, where I went to a REALLY big school (where there were like 40 people in my whole GRADE!!!!), and Signs by Terra was put on the back burner.

But my love of pens and costco-sized packs of colored markers has never waned.

Maybe signs by Terra can make a comeback after all. Because if i was still making a career out of my passionate choice back then – we’d be worldwide.

Starting with your very own “sign by terra” as today’s blog giveaway!

One 13×19 inch sign with wording of YOUR CHOICE!!! You will get one entry for leaving a comment, one entry for subscribing to terratalking (if you don’t already), one entry for following me on twitter (click on the icon over to the right!), one entry for retweeting this contest, one entry for Facebooking about this contest, and ten entries if you bring me a coke or portillo’s chocolate cake.
(leave a separate comment telling me that you did each of those things!)


You could have a “Welcome to our House” sign. Or put your name on your bedroom door! Or declare your love for your spouse with a “______ loves ______” sign!

Alright – so enter soon and enter often!

(I am going to come back in a few with sample signs! I am actually giddy at the thought of this! because WHO DOESN’T wanna waste an afternoon with markers and paper??? I might even add glitter. Since my abilities have matured since then. Obviously.)


Mama's Losin' It

this post was written for this week’s “Writers Workshop” over at mamakat’s blog. Come join in the fun!



Till tomorrow my friends~



The long awaited sample sign!!! Control your impulse to order one for everyone on your gift list…


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  1. If your needing help with determining which pens are out of ink…I’ll send a certain 2 year old to your house…she does an awesome job of figuring out which pens will glide easily over her skin….leaving an ambiance of red or green or brown.


  2. i KNOW i want one. and that Bic pen? with a Trapper Keeper for my 6th birthday- I was in *h*e*a*v*e*n*

  3. I need something in the style of Lisa Frank but with a little more class. Pink bunny on a tropical island in a blue bikini? And have it say: 2nd place is the 1st loser.

    Thanks, Signs by Terra!

  4. You forgot to add that you could also branch out and provide colored water to enhance the total experience!

  5. I am posting you to my facebook page.
    I want a sign to say “Merry Christmas” to my best friend.

    Cool idea for a give-away!


  6. what would I do without my morning fix of Terra?!! You better pull my name. I want a big ol’ KLIPPEE sign.

  7. I drove Paul and Cheryl Lynn to the train station this morning and seriously considered stopping by CFA. How many entries would that have been worth? I chose to make sure the kids didn’t go to school in their pajamas instead.

  8. ok, the unopened package of pens SCREAMS Terra… they are much too pretty and fun to “waste” by opening them…. you must just stare at them and take in all their glory until you have that ONE special reason to use them.

    Also, the pentels… that was all me… $10 pack from Costco, you were just jealous of their awesomeness.
    Also also… remember the time you entered Crayola’s “name the new color” contest? and we wrote with all the crayons trying to see what the perfect name for each color was? Good times.

  9. That is a great idea! I too have many many pens and writing utensils that all have special purposes and have to write in a certain way… but paper – don’t get me started on paper!

  10. I had a serious love of the multiclick pens and was in heaven wen they started appearing in the dollar store. They went nicely with my colored notebook paper. I hate bic for tge crap feel.

  11. This post made my day yesterday at the horrible prison called work. I laughed at your way with words and I laughed because it hit a little too close to home. I have my own obsession with pens of many different colors. I get way too excited at the discovery of a new set of pens that comes in even more cool colors. That I have to have immediately. I carry a pen pouch – not to be confused with a pencil pouch because pencil do nothing for me – in my purse filled with as many pens as I can carry because how can I possibly get through the day using the same color pen. It’s horribly crazy to others, but to my it’s perfectly insane.
    I begged and begged for the 25 colors in 1 pen, and I always “borrowed” my grandparents 4-color in 1 pens before that.
    It’s just something about the pens and colors.
    Keep inspiring me!
    I’ve actually signed up with word press and began designing my blog…just no writing yet but it’s coming sometime in the next year…ssss. 🙂

  12. Hahahahaa!!! This is hilarious! But I TOTALLY GET IT!! When I was in 5th grade, I think it was, we had to bring in our collections. My “collection”? PENS and PENCILS!!! LMAO!! My mom decided that after she saw the picture of me sitting at my desk with my “collection” that she needed to start a real collection for me. She felt so badly! To this day, I still love pens, but maybe not quite as much as you do! LOL

  13. This is a fun post, we all have to have a fun obsession right:) I saw you on The Sits Girls, love your name!!! I don’t meet many Terra’s spelled like ours. Have a fabulous weekend!

  14. I would have LOVED you in grade school! I used to sell candy and cupcakes, so I was an entrepreneur as well. It would have been nice to have a marketing tool such as a “sign by terra” to pull in new customers! LOL!

    Hi! I found you from SITS!