Monday, June 29, 2009

Penpal of the Week #3

This week, let's hear what Joana from Portugal has to say!

1. Please tell us about you!

Olá (Portuguese "Hello"). In two months I’ll be 21 years old and I live in Portugal, my tiny but historical country. I’m currently living in an ugly city named Marco de Canaveses, which is pretty far from the beauty of the other cities of Portugal, where I study. I was born in Leiria, central Portugal, and lived almost all my life with my family in a small village close to the sea.

I’m finishing my studies in archaeology and I plan to attend university next year and to work. I have two female cats, Shiva Maria and Maori. I like to enjoy my freedom, learn about everything and to think deeply about many issues.

Here's a recent photo of me and my lovely Shiva Maria, which makes me proud that she's such a good model, different from her mummy :)

I’m very spiritual and really interested in oriental philosophies which transmit to me peace and harmony. I dream of the perfect world, and I fight for it doing my part, I’m an ecologist. To me simple things can be great when they are meaningful, and quality is better than quantity. I’m proud to know what it is to be human and to be trustful and when I am fighting for something I do my best. The most important things to me are peace, love (which can be associated to many things, not just with the person we love), union and respect!

2. Describe your personality in 10 words!

Genuine, honest, generous, friendly, very open-minded, spiritual, free, intuitive, observer, bookaholic.

This is my beloved Shiva Maria. Oh! She fell asleep when she was reading "The Europeans" by Henry James.

3. How long have you been penpalling? How did you first start? Tell us about your first penpal!

I started penpalling with foreign people when I was 13 years old, so almost for eight years. Once my French teacher asked to me and to my classmates to write a brief introcuction of ourselves, she wanted to send it to a French magazine dedicated to young students. Some months later I got a letter and felt a little confused because I didn’t knew why I was receiving a letter from France. I opened it and checked that it was from a girl from France who read my profile in that magazine and who liked it, she was young like me. Well, it was how I started, it was quite fun, who doesn’t remember the first letter? To me it was five times better because I wasn’t expecting it. We did it for a long time, then she moved to Lyon and we lost contact, I remember she told that she would go to study piano in the conservatory. Actually I remember almost everything she said in her letters, I can remember easily what everyone writes in their letters, which is really cool.

This is the little Maori, the cat teenager, who I can't take high quality photos of. This one I took at night, when she was preparing to sleep.

4. How many penpals do you have now and where are they from?

I have 14 penfriends, all girls, and no I don’t have anything against men, but now I don’t have anyone, actually I already met some nice guys, whom I enjoyed talking to a lot.

My penfriends are from Austria, Brazil, Finland, Germany (living in Finland), Iceland, Índia, Jamaica, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Puerto Rico, Slovenia, Taiwan, UK, US. They all mean a lot to me, some are old penfriends, the oldest are from almost five years ago, some aren’t so old but we match since the first moment and I feel incredibly happy when I see their letter inside my mailbox.

Some of my postcards. I have a collection and I adore to collect postcards with views of countries. Thanks to all of you!

5. What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?

Oh I don’t have any favorite topic, actually I’m pretty happy with my letters and the letters from my penfriends. We talk about everything, our past, childhood, the present, what we want to do in the future, our likes and dislikes, history of our countries, we debate ideas about actual issues, books, films, religion, politic, trips, so much to tell here.

You all must know that you can't tell everything about you in one single letter and when you meet someone you have a whole life to tell to that person, without forgetting what you are doing in your daily life, feelings, the state of the world. The issue never ends, like it also never ends in your daily life with your friends.

Some of my passions: postcards, the world, books, penpalling, music... <3

6. What are you looking for in a penpal?

Honesty firstly, and in second the same will to do penpalling that I have. I like people who are really interested to know me better, who care, who are genuine, someone in who I can trust to tell everything, because I offer the same. Tolerance.

7. What do you like the most about penpalling?

In fact everything around this "world" fascinates me a lot. Since the moment I see a letter inside my mailbox until the day I send my reply and I see the letter man choosing the amazing stamps we have. Isn’t it great to see something that someone from the other side of the world sent you with so much care, making you a special person? I appreciate everything, the handwriting, the colors, the envelope and its decorations, the texture, the stamps, every word and every dream we share. It’s a beautiful world that not everyone knows yet, e-mails can’t give us a half of that.

My handwriting.

8. In what language(s) do you correspond?

Now only English and Portuguese, but I corresponded in French once and in Spanish. I would love to have that chance again, but I need to train it. English is a language of the world, the way to communicate with every nation. I always feel amazed to improve it, but I want to keep learning languages and improving others that I can’t use in daily life.

9. What are some of your habits in regards to letter writing?

When I get a letter soon I feel the excitement to reply, looks like everything is fresh in my mind, so at the end of the day I sit calmly in my sofa and start writing.

On other days I can’t stay in the sofa, I have so much to answer and to talk about that I need something plain: a table, to write, write and write! Normally I need two days to answer one letter and if I have the chance I send it within one week, but sometimes my school schedule makes me busy and I need to wait for an opportunity, but of course I always try to be quicker, that’s what I like.

I don’t like so much those letters which took months to arrive or when I need more time to send it, but who never had problems? I totally understand those problems when I trust in people who already trusted in me, that’s friendship!

I took this picture three years ago, I was going to a Christmas party.

I always write with pen with black ink. Once a teacher told me that she needed to write in black because the blue color tends to disappear with time, I was young and never forgot it.

I have a book to write when I send or receive a letter from someone, to see if some letters got lost or if I am not forgetting to answer to someone. I also write what I sent to that person, I also have addresses there, we never know if something horrible happens and I don’t want to loose anything.

I always write the place from where I am writing.

10. Has anything strange/funny ever happened to you since you've been penpalling?

I’m remembering something which surprised me a lot and I couldn’t shut my mouth. I guess I can tell this here because it was many years ago. I had a penfriend when I was younger (she was young too), I remember she used to talk about her boyfriend, then she stopped writing for long months. One day I got a letter from her, she started writing: "I have a son". It shocked me a bit but it made me laugh! :D

11. Have you met any of your penpals?

Not yet, but soon I plan to meet my Austrian friend and to meet my friend from Puerto Rico in Spain.

A friend of mine took this one when I was asleep in a café, it was late, I don't usually sleep in cafés!

12. Are you currently looking for more penpals?

No, I’m fine with those I have. It would be fine if we could say "yes" to everyone, but we can forget something: time, care and money. I think when we have too many it’s a little bit harder to pay the same attention to all, to send some beautiful things and to care about all in the same way.

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us, Joana!

If you're interested in being featured as the Penpal of the Week on my blog, leave a comment with your email address and I'll contact you!

Julie xox

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Québec Day

On June 24, it was Québec Day (Saint-Jean-Baptiste). I didn't really do anything to celebrate, but I went to see fireworks the previous Saturday with my boyfriend, his sister and her friends.

Louis-Justin had a fun day though! First, he got to put a lot of toys on the couch and play with them while Nicolas vacuumed the living room.

Notice the morning hair?!

Then, it got really hot and humid outside so Louis-Justin got to play with a water gun for the first time. He has no idea what a gun is, so to him this was just a fun toy to cool him off.

Later, Nicolas took him to a park where they had games for children and Louis-Justin got his first fake tattoo! He still has it 4 days later. He's so proud!

You probably can't tell, but they are dolphins.

Yesterday, I went swimming with Louis-Justin at the pool. He started swimming lessons last Friday and he's more advanced than the other 3 kids. He likes it so much that I'll try to go with him at least 2-3 times a week. It's good exercise for me too, so it's nice for my health. We just look kind of dumb with our swim caps (sorry, no photos!), but I guess I'll have to get used to it.

It's gorgeous outside today but I have to work! I might take the day off tomorrow...

Julie xox

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I recently decided to stop selling labels in my store because I want to focus on what I love the most: letter sets. I still have a few label listings in my shop, but once they expire I'm not going to renew them.

These 2 sets are going to expire in a couple of days, so they've been marked down from $10 to $6. Get them while you can because if they get sold, I'm not going to relist them.

Julie xox

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Penpal of the Week #2

Hi everyone! Sorry that the interview is a day late. Today, let's welcome Lina from Sweden!

1. Please tell us about you!

My name is Lina and I turned 26 years old in May this year. I live in the South of Sweden and I've lived here for about 4 years now. I have my roots up North and my family still lives up there (about 1200 kms from where I live now). The reason for me moving here was love. Love can make you do stupid things! :) But I guess it was a good thing that I moved here since me and my boyfriend have a good thing going on. We've been together for about 5 years now and we have a beautiful daughter named Nema who's 3½ years old. I never thought I would be a mum at the age of 22, but sometimes life doesn't turn out as planned.

Right now I'm on a sick leave and I've been on one for about two years now. I started studies to become a social worker in January 2007 and after only one semester I got sick with something called rheumatism and I had to take a break from school. I might go back to school some day in the future, but not now. Now I want to work and earn some money so that I can afford to travel and see my family more often and also travel some (I haven't been abroad in about 5 years now, but I used to do it quite a lot before that).

A pic of me, taken by Klas in 2007.

2. Describe your personality in 10 words!

Gosh, such a hard question to answer. But I'll give it my best. I think I would decribe myself as: stubborn (and my daughter is growing up to be just like me I'm afraid!), a bookoholic (I love to read. I most often read chick lit or crime stories, but I try to read everything at least once! :), open minded (I don't want people to judge me, and that's why I don't judge people I meet), grown up (I've never been one of those who like to goof around and I've all my life felt a lot older than I really am. And I guess me feeling older than I am is the reason why I fell in love with a man 11 years older than me.), metal-lover (I'm a heavy metal chick but don't look like one), honest (Sure, I can tell a white lie from time to time, but I never say things to people that I don't mean), social but anti social (I can enjoy to meet up with friends or have friends over for dinner, but from time to time I can also enjoy to spend time on my own or just with my little family), strong minded (I always stand for what I believe and I almost always have an opinion and I'm always up for a good discussion where I can fight for it), impatient (I always want things to happen right away).

My pride and joy. My daughter Nema (pic taken in Feb 2009).

3. How long have you been penpalling? How did you first start? Tell us about your first penpal!

I've been writing letters for about 16 years now. It was such a long time ago that I almost can't remember how was my first penpal and how we found each other. But I think I found my first penpal through a magazine that was really popular when I was a child. My first penpal's name was Lisette and she was one year younger than me. Later on I also started writing with a friend of hers, Hanna was her name (and we also met a couple of years later). We don't really keep in touch nowadays, but Hanna and I write text messages to each other once in a while.

4. How many penpals do you have now and where are they from?

I'm not sure how many penpals I have right now (since there are a few that haven't written their first letter to me and some who haven't written me back). But I guess I have around 30 penpals and they are from all over the world (Sweden, Finland, the UK, Germany, Italy, Norway, Austria, Switzerland, Australia, Poland, Iceland, Canada, Spain, etc).

I think it's fascinating how people often have a few countries where you find your "best penpals" in (the penpals that you often get along with the best and enjoy writing letters to). My fave countries when it comes to penpals are Germany, the UK and Italy (that's the countries where I've found myself the greatest penpals! <3).

5. What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?

I enjoy writing about pretty much everything. I know I must sound boring for me saying so, but that's the truth. Even if my penpals write about something that I know pretty much nothing about -well, then I see that as an opportunity to learn. And if I/my penpal has a problem -then that's the most important thing right then. And if we end up having a discussion with very different thoughts -maybe we can widen our views through listening to each other? So I see every topic as a chance to learn and a way to get to know each other better. And I think that's why I can't say that I have a favorite topic, I really do enjoy writing about everything that comes my way.

My daughter Nema and I. Taken in August 2006. I like how the light falls in this pic (and I guess what makes me like it so much is that it happened by coincidence)

6. What are you looking for in a penpal?

A friend! :D But besides that... hm.. I prefer penpals who have been writing letters for a while, just because they know that you have to give it your all to manage to stay friends for a long time.

The only thing I have written in stone is that I only want female penpals. I just find it a bit hard to open up to male penpals. But besides only wanting female penpals... I like penpals who write medium/long letters, who don't always take 4 months to write me back (I'm not saying that I need my penpals to write me back right away, but how can you get to know each other on a deeper level if you only hear from each other only twice a year?). And I guess that's pretty much the only "requests" I have.

I've written letters to people who are younger and older than me, who have the same interests as me and some who don't, etc -and I've found that how old you are, how your life looks like and what you find interesting are things that don't matter really as long as you're both looking for the same thing in a penpal.

7. What do you like the most about penpalling?

I like the fact that through letters you can get to know another person that I would never else have met. A conversation a la snailmail is very deep, honest and you tell your penpal a lot more than you would have told a person in real life in that short period of time. I truly believe that you can get friends for life through writing letters. It's just so much easier to speak freely when you're writing. And the thought of sharing your life, your ups and downs and having a friend next to you all the way, even if it's just through letters, that's just awesome.

I love this pic so much. It was taken on Christmas Eve 2007. Nema was so tired and fell asleep in my arms just as Donald Duck started (it's a tradition in Sweden and pretty much everyone sees the same Donald Duck program every year, I've seen it every year since I was born, except for one year when my family was abroad). Nema was so disappointed when she woke up.

8. In what language(s) do you correspond?

I can only write in English and in Swedish. But I can understand Danish and Norwegian (since Swedish, Norwegian and Danish are very close in both writing and speaking).

9. What are some of your habits in regards to letter writing?

I write most letters on our sofa in the livingroom. And I almost always write my letters during nights having the TV on in the background.

I try to write back as soon as I can, but sometimes life comes in my way. But I try to write back within a month. And I always try to write a whole letter at once. I'm not sure why I do this, but my letters seem to turn out a lot better when I write them all at once (or that's what I imagine ;).

I try to write back to letters in the order that I get them, but sometimes I get some letters that I just want to write back to right away and then I have to make an exception. The length of my letters often depends on the penpal I'm writing to..
. but I usually write about 4 A5 pages back and front.

I always save the letters I get, it's nice to be able to go back and read what a penpal wrote 1-2-3 years ago!
After writing a letter I always write down in my note book (a calendar where I write short notes of what I've done each day) so that I don't lose track of what I've told and not (I guess this would be a good time for me to admit that my momory sucks sometimes! :p).

Moi. This photo was taken just about a month ago when me, Klas and Nema were out on a walk.

10. Have you met any of your penpals?

I have met a few of my penpals (all from Sweden). But I guess that there are three penpals that I've met more than once and who mean the most to me:

-The first time I met Sofia (that I started writing to when I was about 15 years old) I went to Ireland to visit her (where she studied at the time). I was 19 years old. We hadn't even spoken on the phone before I went there, so I didn't know what to expect. During my first 24 hours there I wondered if I was mad for going there because we were SO different and she didn't even have a bed for me to sleep in. But things got better after the first day and we ended up having a great time together. When she moved back to Sweden and she was going to school in the same town as I lived in, we actully shared an apartment for a while :)

-I started writing to this girl named Jessica when I was around 14 years old and we still write letters to each other. Jessica is the penpal that I've been writing to the longest and we are more like friends who write to each other than penpals who share letters. We've met a couple of times and we also went to Italy (Sicily) together in 2004. I think it's kind of cool to have a penpal that you sort of have grown up with.

My penpal Jessica (I don't have any other pic of her, and this one doesn't show her real self.
In real life she looks just like a doll -no kidding!)

- The last penpal that I'm going to talk about is Lollo (or Lovisa as her real name is). I've met her twice. She last came to visit me in June 2008 and we're planning a trip just as we speak for me to go up and visit her as well. The first time we met she came to Umeå (where I used to live) to visit me. That weekend me and all the three girls I've talked about in this section decided to meet up. We had a fun weekend together and I hate the fact that we haven't been able to meet all at once since then. That weekend I was feeling a bit blah because I felt so swollen around my waist. And Jessica, Lollo and Fia all asked me if I didn't think that I could be pregnant. And I said "nooooo, no way"... But the thing is that I really was three months pregnant at the time and we all laugh about that now.

My penpal Lollo and I, taken at a pub in June 2008.

11. Are you currently looking for more penpals?

Sure, why not?! I can never say no to a penpal who is as serious as me about penpalling! :p

But I can't take on many more penpals since I want to have enough time to write everyone a nice and long letter back.

Thank you for this great interview, Lina!

If you'd like to be featured on my blog as the Penpal of the Week, just reply to this post and give me your email address!

Julie xox

Monday, June 22, 2009


I'll post the interview of the Penpal of the Week. It's a bit late, sorry about that... But you will survive, right?!

The show yesterday was so excellent that I don't know what words to use to describe the experience. Le Cirque du Soleil is simply amazing. Take a look at this video (it only lasts 1 minute 36 seconds) and I'm sure you too will be amazed. You just have to click on "view trailer". Let me know what you think!

I'm finally in a better mood so that's a relief. Nicolas went to visit his dad with Louis-Justin last night and they're coming back later tonight. I enjoyed the break from "real life" and spent a lot of time with Mario. <3 He's currently asleep in my bed, so I'm going to join him soon.

Good night,

Julie xox

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Cirque du Soleil

My day was slightly better today, but I still wasn't my usual happy self.

I found out that the 4 year old boy I talked about yesterday does have cancer and it's not looking very good. Let's hope he recovers! I can't help but feel sad for his parents.

Tomorrow, my mom, Louis-Justin and I are going to see Ovo. Have any of you heard about Cirque du Soleil? When it started, about 25 years ago, it was fairly small and only popular here in Québec, but now it's known worldwide!

I'm sure the show will be fantastic. I've seen photos and it looks very impressive. Louis-Justin is really excited! Unfortunately, cameras aren't allowed inside the Grand Chapiteau (Big Top), so I won't be able to show you pictures.

I'm happy because I'm almost all caught up on my mail! I'm sending a 20 page letter with 41 photos to my wonderful penpal Cindy in BC on Monday (we share the same birthday!) and then I only have 2 letters to write. I received mail from Shawna in Alberta and Marie-France from France recently. It feels good to no longer owe letters to all my penpals!

I hope everyone's having a good weekend!

Julie xox

Friday, June 19, 2009

Trying to be positive!

Wow, my blog must be fabulous because I got another award! Woohoo!

Thanks to Jacqui from Blooming in Japan for this one!

Unfortunately, I'm in a very bad mood today. Thankfully, that doesn't happen too often! I used to have mood swings when I was a teenager, but I'm a cheerful person most of the time now. I guess I'm just sad when I see sickness and tragedies around me and there seem to be a lot of those these days.

A little guy I know who's only 4 years old probably has cancer... A family member's cancer is back after a short remission...

My own dad died from lung cancer almost 4 years ago. My son was hospitalized exactly 4 years ago (a month or so before my dad passed away) because doctors worried that he might have leukemia. This was the worst week of my life! Thankfully, my son did NOT have cancer so we were sent home after 5 days. But it still makes me sad to think about all this. I'm so grateful to have a healthy little guy!

Hopefully the rest of my day will be better!

Julie xox

Thursday, June 18, 2009

And the award goes to...

We've Got Paper!

Thank you to the wonderful jbEbert who gave me this award! I only started blogging recently, so I'm glad to know that other people enjoy it as much as I do.

So now it's my turn to make bloggers happy with this fun award!

Here are the rules:
*Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link.
*Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.
*Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


I just ate olives while drinking fruit/mango juice at 10:30 am. I swear I'm not pregnant!

I always love to hear funny / weird / plain gross combos that pregnant women crave. When I was pregnant, my main craving was tomato sandwiches and I admit that I had a crazy ice cream phase as well. Nothing too extreme, as you can see. Any stories to share? ;)

Here's my favorite pregnancy photo, about 2 weeks before I gave birth to Louis-Justin. Nicolas took it when I was at 39 weeks.

I wouldn't want to have another baby right now (well, I'd obviously love and keep any baby of mine if I did get pregnant), but I sometimes miss feeling a little being's kicks inside my belly. :)

Julie xox

Monday, June 15, 2009

Panda Girl Notepad

Anyone who would like to buy a Panda Girl Notepad and Pen Set better do it soon! I only have one left and the listing in my Etsy shop is going to expire on Tuesday or Wednesday. After that, it will be discontinued so it will be too late. So if you want it, get it now!

Julie xox

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Penpal of the Week #1

Hello! From now on, there will always be a person who will be featured on my blog as the "penpal of the week"! I love hearing stories about penpalling and I thought that you might too!

So this week, let me present... Ilse from Belgium! *clap clap clap*

1. Please tell us about you!

Hello! I'm Ilse, I just turned 22 and I live in Belgium. During weekdays & examination weeks I live in a student's residence in Leuven where we live with two groups of ten people who take care of a fellow student with a handicap. It doesn't demand that much, we just create a schedule to make sure that there's always someone in the building in case our friend needs help, but usually the people in our residence don't need a lot of help.

During weekends and holidays I live in Oostende, a city at the North Sea, with my mom. I'm now studying for the exams of my master's degree theology & religious studies and next year I'll spend a year on the the teacher training. Afterwards I'll probably look for a job as a religion teacher in secondary schools or as a pastoral worker in a hospital.

My facebook (if anyone adds me, please mention something like penpals in the message)
My livejournal
My penpal blog

A picture taken last month.

2. Describe your personality in 10 words!

Wow, that's a hard question. Some words that apply on me: shy, talkative (those two already might seem like a weird combination but it's all about who I'm with), doubter (I find it hard to make decisions), chickflick-fan (I love watching movies!), penpaller (my penpals are as important to me as my real friends), chocoholic (the word says it all), girl next door (I'm actually quite the average girl), caring (I care a lot about my friends & family), music (I listen to music a lot), travelbug (I've been bitten by the travel bug and I hope to travel more often in the future).

This is me on a holiday in Prague last September.

3. How long have you been penpalling? How did you first start? Tell us about your first penpal!

The very first beginnings of my penpal history are in the first years of secondary school, when I started to have fun writing my classmates letters. Later on I placed an ad in some kind of youth paper & on the Internet and I started writing to some people I didn't know yet in Belgium and the Netherlands. Soon the Belgians had stopped writing, but the Dutch girl kept on writing for three years, until I was sixteen. Even though we didn't write that often in those three years, every letter of her I received caused a great joy. I just loved getting her letters. It's that joy I started missing when I started a new search for penpals about three years ago. I found some really nice international penpals, but unfortunately all of them stopped writing really soon. I still wanted to penpal, so I just started again placing ads and now I'm already writing for about two years to some of my current penpals, it's awesome!

3. How many penpals do you have now and where are they from?

About twenty. I'm sure that sounds like a really big number, but not every penpal writes that often. I have penpals who write back right after receiving my letter, but also penpals who write only once every three months or so. I think it all comes down to sending and receiving about two or three letters a week, so that's pretty perfect to me.

I really don't mind if people don't write often, it's no criteria for liking them any more or less, nor is the stationery type. I have some penpals who apologize for using just plain paper, but really, people should never worry about that. Of course it's nicer to write on cute paper, but penpalling is most of all about getting to know people and becoming friends.

My penpals are from pretty much anywhere: Australia, France, Germany, UK, US, South Korea, the Netherlands, Finland...

All of my penpals are female. At first it was a choice, but a while ago I've been actively searching for a male penpal without any result. A lot of men really don't seem to understand the idea of penpalling...

I wanted to make my penpals more visible, so this is what I did.

4. What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?

Anything that's going on in our lives. We keep each other updated about our studies/work, love life, any events we've been to recently, things we're looking forward to, things that cause us trouble... Anything you'd tell a friend actually. And of course the more random topics like our culture, movies, music and even recipes. They keep the conversation going when life gets a bit boring and of course it's always nice when a penpal can recommend me something.

This is me on a free festival last summer, watching the Animals and a Belgian band called De Mens.

5. What are you looking for in a penpal?

First of all a friend. I really consider my penpals as friends who I can tell just anything. I often have the feeling that I might be able to tell them even more than my real friends, because sometimes it's just easier to say things on paper, maybe because you can just take your time to sit down and write what's troubling you. But of course, lots of letters are about happy stuff as well. :)

It's great when penpals keep on writing back, so that you can establish a long-term friendship.

6. What do you like the most about penpalling?

The friendships I've established and the excitement I still feel every time I find a letter in my mailbox. There's not much that can beat that! Sometimes you also get surprised by your penpals, p.e. they include something they know you like in their letters, or they send you a package for Christmas or your birthday just out of the blue. It does make me feel a bit guilty though, because I haven't sent any penpal a package yet. I did send small things in envelopes, but no real packages, because the package costs are just way too expensive over here... But I just made a resolution: I want to become really good at finding nice small things that fit in an envelope.

This is the penpal stuff I have in my student's room, but I've got lots more at home.

7. In what language(s) do you correspond?

English and Dutch. I have French & German penpals as well, and though I technically speak those languages, I write in English with them as well, because I'm a lot better at English than at those other languages.

8. What are some of your habits in regards to letter writing?

I write my letters at my desk, while I've stalled all my stationery, stickers and pens on my desk, or in the sofa. I really like to make my letter as pretty as possible (I'm not that creative...) by using nice stationery paper and nice (often colored and/or scented) pens, stickers, stamps.... Sometimes I make my own stationery on the computer.

I always try to write the whole letter at once, instead of writing a bit every now and then. It's not always that easy to find a good time to do it though, because I easily need 1,5 hour for a letter, sometimes even more, depending on how much I have to say. Writing back can take some time, depending on the person I have to write back to. I don't respond to letters in the order I received them, but look at other things. P.e. when I get a letter of a penpal who always writes back right away after a letter of someone who writes once every three months, then I'm going to reply to the penpal who writes back quick first. This way, if you need some time to write back to me, I'll take time to write back to you as well. Generally speaking, it can easily take a month for me to reply to a letter. I don't think my penpals mind about that, because it has the advantage that I've got (usually) actually something to say. Letter length also depends on the penpal, but usually I write about 3 A5 pages front & back.

Everytime when I finished a letter, I write some keywords in a notebook so that I can look up what I have & haven't said when I'm writing the next letter to that person. It's a useful system to make sure you're not repeating yourself.

I also write in my blog site when I've sent or received a letter, because it has happened that penpals thought I had stopped writing, while the letter just got lost in the post. I wouldn't like anyone to drop me as a penpal because of that.

I always save the letters I received, even when the penpal has stopped penpalling. I keep them in the original envelope in a chest of drawers (I had to look this word up, so hopefully it's the right word).

Sometimes I make my own stationery (using existing pictures I find on the Internet) with a free program called GIMP, it's fun to do and it's also a way of personalizing the whole penpal thing.

9. Has anything strange/funny ever happened to you since you've been penpalling?

Last Christmas it was a great surprise for me to see that some penpals had sent me packages. I've never had that before and found it really great! On my birthday, about two weeks ago, I was really surprised to find some nice gifts in the mailbox as well.

Also, sometimes it's really hard to know whether a penpal stopped writing. Most people, when they stop writing, just stop without letting you know. So when I haven't heard of a penpal for a long time, I just assume they have stopped. About 1,5 year ago I was looking for some new penpals and one girl seemed interested. She asked me to write the first letter and so I did. I never heard anything from her anymore, so I assumed she didn't like the letter, but a year later she just emailed me, out of the blue, to ask if I still had the same address! She then sent me a letter, responding to my letter - she still had it. When I received her letter I decided to write back anyway, but when I e-mailed her for her current address, she never answered. I suppose she'll do in some months, but writing once a year is really not enough to create a bond. Especially not when it takes a year to reply to someone's first letter.

Another weird thing are the bunch of marriage proposals you get when you post your ad on certain penpal sites, but I'm sure that some of the readers are familiar with this. It takes some time to know what the good penpal sites are.

Just a recent picture...

10. Have you met any of your penpals?

Not yet, but in July I'll be going to the UK where I have two penpals. One penpal unfortunately can't afford to come to London to meet me, but chances are high I will meet the other one on July 11th. She's one of the penpals I connect most with, so I'm really looking forward to it!

11. Are you currently looking for more penpals?

Yes, but only a few more. I wouldn't like to have more penpals than I can handle.

This one's taken two years ago after lunch in the foodmaker in Brussels, but I still like this picture.

Thank you to Ilse for this wonderful interview!

If you'd like to be featured on my blog as the Penpal of the Week, just reply to this post and give me your email address!

Julie xox