Monday, September 28, 2009

Penpal of the Week #16

This week, let's hear a big round of applause for Samantha from Mexico!

1. Please tell us about you!

Hello readers! My name is Samantha M., “Sam” for friends ;)

I was born in Mexico City in 1985. That same year there was a tremendous earthquake that almost destroyed the city, so, we moved out.

I’ve always lived in Mexico, but in different cities. I’ve lived in the mountains, in the jungle, in the desert, at the beach, in big and small places in between. Moving out a lot at a young age was challenging, especially being an only child, but it gave me a chance to experience different lifestyles.

Hello Internet World, this is me. I came back from German class that Saturday and although I had a thousand things to do, all I wanted was to read that book.

I’ve finally settled in one place! I’ve been living in Puebla for 9 years now. Puebla is a “small” charming city with solid family values (entire families still go for ice cream on Sunday) and an exciting and constant growth.

I have a BA in English Language Teaching and Translation. I went into this area almost by chance, but I am glad I did. Learning other languages gave me the chance to broaden my horizons and, of course, to meet some of my best friends!

I am currently working as a Spanish Language Teacher for foreign students. I enjoy my work as it allows me to share my culture and my language.

Me (in pink with the blue umbrella) in a fieldtrip with my students and a couple colleagues. My job also allows me to travel a bit!

Besides teaching, I also continue to study. I study German on Saturdays and soon I will apply for a MA program. I am simply in love with knowledge.

When I am not teaching or studying, I spend as much time as I can with my tomatoes (I am a gardening enthusiast) and my pets. I have the cutest little bunny (Cone), a loud and flirty cockatiel (Coto) and a very timid Betta fish.

2. Describe your personality in 10 words!

My personality, I believe, is still work in progress :) hehe

I’m considerate with other people’s feelings so I try to be polite and amiable.

Sometimes I’m anxious (in a funny, Woody Allen way) for no reason and spend hours at a time brooding. I am, however, loquacious and even flamboyant when I talk or write about the things I love or when someone or something sparks a dormant interest of mine.

That reminds me: I jump from rock to rock. I’m eclectic and curious which is both a blessing (boredom is, thankfully, rare for me) and a curse (I have such a hard time finishing projects, I am sadly a procrastinator).

Besides leaving everything for later I am also really lazy, but I try to convince myself that laziness is the price I have to pay for creativity. I am creative and constantly creating “artsy” stuff. I am absolutely obsessed with music too. I even get withdrawal pains when I am not near my iPod!

This is my morning sky. I see this everyday when I am getting ready to go to work. And I listen to Zero Seven most of the times (Red Dust).

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

Good question! First of all, I should tell you that penpalling in Mexico is almost non-existent. None I know has this hobby and I have only seen ONE Mexican address in the many FBs I’ve signed.

So, penpalling was a lucky accident ;)

When I was 16 I was collecting stickers for the Panini “Harry Potter” albums and I joined a yahoo group for collectors to swap these. In this group, I met a woman from Spain and another one from Italy, and soon, besides exchanging stickers we began to write short messages in our e-mails. One of them asked me if I had any penpals and I had to google that. I came across a small website and posted a clumsy and non-descriptive profile there. Some time after that a girl from Germany contacted me.

She was actually married to a guy from Colombia and she had lived in Latin-America for a while. She also wrote amazing travel journals.

Unfortunately, my old, trusty mailman retired and the third letter of my first penpal got lost. She also got a very demanding job right then and we just lost touch. In order to continue to penpal I had to hire a PO Box (my current mailman is evil), find a larger website and write a proper introduction.

Me in front of the Cathedral of my city. This is one of the biggest ones in Latin America. A must see!

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

I think I have somewhere between 15 and 20 penpals… hehe, how’s that for math! They come from the UK, Germany, France, Belgium, Thailand, Austria, Italy, Slovenia, Czech Republic and Rusia. They are all very different (although four of them are in the language teaching-translation area) and I am thankful for that diversity, since it’s what I was looking for, you know, to somehow understand life in different places and under different circumstances. Out of these penpals, only one is a boy. Boris who is actually the boyfriend of another of my penpals (Cate) and I am glad I met both of them.

I’ve also had penpals from the USA, Canada, Australia, Greece, Egypt and South Korea, but we either lost touch or our letter exchange wasn’t entirely successful. It’s sad that this happens so often in the penpalling world, that is why I cherish long-lasting friendships.

I enjoy the friendship of all of my penpals, but with some I feel a stronger connection. If you follow this blog closely you may remember Lisa from Germany. She doesn’t know I am doing this questionnaire too and I would just like to say that she’s too the sister I never had.

Meet the loudest bird in the planet. She has a very punk hairdo and attitude, don’t you think?

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

Oh! I will discuss most topics! The first thing that comes to my mind is childhood. I always ask my penpals what they did when they were kids, what kinda toys they had, what kinda cartoons they watched. I also love to ask about celebrations and festivals in their countries, FOOD, traditions, sayings…

Some “sensible” topics, such as politic views or religion, I prefer not to discuss, especially if we seem to have a very different view on the matter as I have no way of knowing if the topic will cause a strain on our relationship, and to me, neither of these topics makes a difference on who I am.

And, of course! I also like to write and read about goofy things! I always discuss my dreams (as in night dreams) with my friend Anya and for some reason Sarita Conchita and I always talk about ghosts, scary stories… and astronauts ;)

The apple of my eye! The furriest and cutest creature I know. (Besides my aunt Gerta... joke!)

6. What are you looking for in a penpal?

The first thing that comes to my mind is a penpal who knows how to balance their life: I like friends who do interesting things but still have time to write about them. Some penpals have a lot of hustle in their lives and cram a ton of activities in 24 little hours, and then, when they get around writing they go on complaining about how busy they’ve been.

I also like meaty letters. Some penpals don’t do much out of the every day routine and write just one page with this as an excuse. Me, I don’t have a life full of crazy adventures, but that is never an excuse to write a short or boring letter. There are many, many things to write about even if you don’t jump out of a plane every weekend! So, a big no-no is an impersonal and short letter.

But, I guess what we all want is honesty and kindness. I want that too.

Moi and the famous Cone.

7. What do you like the most about penpalling?

What amazed me from day one was the kindness of these people I hardly knew. People who ask you how are you doing, how’s your family… Friends who actually care and wish you lots of luck for all of your plans, friends who even offer their help. That’s what really amazed me and continues to surprise me.

So, I really love how two people who never met before can grow so close and feel empathy for each other. I truly worry for my penpals when they are not doing very well, and I’m glad to hear their good news. My mom’s very involved in this whole thing too. Sometimes I gasp or laugh or comment out loud on a letter and she asks what’s going on. Sometimes she even asks, so, how’s Lisa? How’s Sarita? And she’s always happy to know that Cate said hi.

May be completely unrelated, but this picture is one of my favorites because it fully represents my favorite afternoon. A good conversation, coffee, cake and twilight. This inspires me to write.

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

English! I love writing my letters in English as it was one of the reasons why I liked the idea of penpalling (practicing the language I was learning back then).

Of course, I do write in Spanish to Cate and Boris, who are both Italians and in the language area. I wouldn’t mind writing in Spanish to more penpals if they wanted to practice the language or had any questions.

And German, well, I understand full letters in German (with my trusty dictionary by my side) but it is painfully difficult and slow for me to write in German just yet. Someday, I hope.

This is me, writing about a children song in Spanish for a friend in Austria.

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

I don’t really have a routine when it comes to letter writing. Back in Uni I would read and answer my letters at class (if the class was particularly long and/or boring). Now that I have more time I can afford to sit in a clean and well-lit place. I usually choose the kitchen table and turn the TV on just for background noise.

Time - a touchy topic for a procrastinator. Well, it depends upon the length of a letter. I have received 40+ pages with tiny, precious handwriting and that of course takes me weeks. I don’t even try to answer at one go anymore since most of my penpals write meaty letters. Only very short letters get answered in one go.

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

A few months after creating a profile in a website I began to receive e-mails from men who said “I am older than you but young at heart…”, “I wanna marry you and go to your land…”, “Send me nude pics plz!” and the like. I simply ignored those; the only message that did tick me off was from a gay man. He said he and his partner were looking for a surrogate mother and that they could “pull me out of my life of poverty”… excuse me? They didn’t know anything about me but immediately assumed that I was in dire need of money. I hope they had luck with their search, but I couldn’t help feeling slightly insulted.

I am glad I have a PO Box. Although the main reason why I have it is because mail delivery in my area is impossible, it’s always comforting to know that even if someone a little cuckoo finds my address, that person will only find a big, cold, office building and I’ll be blissfully ignorant of this.

You’ve got mail baby, yeh! This is my PO Box. Notice the lovely Lillebi keychain, courtesy of my dear Cindy.

11. Have you met any of your penpals?

*Big sigh* Nope. I haven’t met any of my penpals yet, although several have expressed their wish to come to Mexico and I surely wanna meet all of them!

I’d need a small fortune to travel to Europe right now, and although I work hard, my education takes the most of my cash. I do have a wonderful idea; since I am tiny I will crawl into someone’s bag and sleep my way through the flight. Once I land somewhere in Europe I’ll hide in those oversized women’s purses from train to train until I make it to Rostock. Or I will build a canoe and sail to ol’ Thailand. Or maybe I will join an international mariachi band and tour around Europe, playing one night in every major city!

My penpals all know they are welcome in Casa Samantha. We even have plans (seeing turtles, bungee jumping, girls’ night in with funky hairdos, karaoke singing, horseback riding, stalking locals boys with our cameras, playing pranks, TESOL conference…) and I hope to be able to share these moments with my friends.

If I had to make a bet, I’d say Sarita’s gonna be the first one to come.

Welcome to my hood! Lol! This is my neighborhood (700+ houses that look the same). BTW, VW bugs are very common in Mexico.

12. Are you currently looking for more penpals?

It’s really hard to say no, but I wanna spend enough time writing to each of my penpals, and as always I prefer quality over quantity.

I do want to meet friends from specific countries. Since I watched “Fado” I wanna meet a penpal from Portugal, and my love for Bollywood makes me wanna meet a friend from India. I am also very curious about countries like Finland and Iceland.

I would also love to try different things. I would like to meet someone who would wanna record the letter in a cd or cassette instead of putting it in paper, I think it may be interesting to listen to a penpal instead of reading for a change. I would also love to try postcard penpalling. That is, cramming as much as we can in a postcard, that would be challenging!

In any case, anyone who reads this and feels the need to write to me (hehe, how pretentious of me) must do it! Introduce yourself here: s.macuil at

Thanks Julie for the chance you’ve given me, answering these questions taught me a lot about myself and made me smile lots of times remembering my good pals :) I hope this wasn’t too horribly boring to read!

Not boring at all, on the contrary - thank you for such an entertaining interview, Sam!

If anyone would like to be featured on my blog as Penpal of the Week, just reply to this post with your email address or get in touch with me!

Julie xox

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Giveaway #2

It's time for another giveaway!

Visit We've Got Paper, browse and find your favorite item.

Reply to this post and let me know which one is your favorite & why for a chance to win the item of your choice. Be sure to leave your name and email address so that I can contact you if you're the winner!

Become a follower of my blog and post a separate comment for an extra entry. (If you're already a follower, you can still post a second comment.)

Sign up for my newsletter here and post a separate comment for another extra entry. (If you're already on my mailing list, you can still post another comment.)

Post about this giveaway on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, InterPals, MySpace, LiveJournal (or any other social media) and post the link in a separate comment.

Purchase anything in my store in the next 16 days (until 11:59pm on October 13) and post another comment with your order #.

Wait & pray... Then come back on October 14 to see if you've won! :)

So if you're good at math, you'll find out that you may submit up to 5 entries for this giveaway. Please make sure that you leave separate comments for each entry!

Julie xox

Friday, September 25, 2009

Happy Fall!

Yesterday, Louis-Justin and I went to the orchard to pick apples with our friends Véronique and Trinyté. Fall is already here, but it was a gorgeous day and I have a huge sunburn on my whole face! Leave it to me to remain white all summer but get sunburnt in autumn.

Today, Nicolas has a day off so we're going to clean the entire house because it's his best friend Fred's birthday on Sunday and he's coming over for dinner. I have to bring my car to the garage for an oil change this morning and I also have some errands to run... See, my day will be filled with wonderful things! ;) I'm sure you're all jealous. At least it's a beautiful day: sunny but a bit cold, exactly like I like it!

I hope everyone has a nice weekend!

Julie xox

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Thoughts on motherhood!

This afternoon, Louis-Justin and I went to the movies to see "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" in 3D. My little guy looked very geeky with the huge glasses, it was actually adorable! I thought the movie was great. I even cried a few times. I'm so emotional!

The movie was obviously in French since that's our first language, but it's kind of funny because if I translate the French title to English, it would be something like "It's Raining Hamburgers". Which is kind of weird since you can clearly see meatballs and not hamburgers on the picture.

I feel so lucky and blessed to be staying at home with my little boy! I would be so sad if he were going to school... I'm totally comfortable with my decision to homeschool. Actually, I realized a few days ago that my philosophy is probably closer to unschooling than homeschooling. If you're curious, you can read about it here: Unschooling - Wikipedia.

Louis-Justin is smart, creative, imaginative, witty and he loves learning. I'm not worried at all because he already knows how to count to 80 in French and 16 in English. He always gets compliments on his extended vocabulary (in French) and he already knows a bit of English. (He tells me "I love you" every day!) He invents stories, talks about his feelings, swims without aids, plays nicely with younger and older kids, has long conversations with adults, is interested in many things and asks questions, has swimming lessons and acting lessons... The only thing he doesn't seem too interested in so far is drawing. I don't believe in forcing him, so we sometimes try and sit at the kitchen table together with paper and markers, but he gets bored in less than 5 minutes, so we end up doing other things.

So I'm happy to spend most of my days with my son. He makes me laugh all the time! I've been making juice popsicles for him these days and he calls them "popsicoons" - no idea why, but it cracks me up! I still spend a few hours a day working, but I can do it at night when Louis-Justin is asleep or during the day if he's watching a movie or playing with his figurines or his trains... It works for me! And he usually goes to my mom's house one afternoon a week, which is a nice break for me.

Have I ever said how much I love being a mom?! :) For those of you who are parents... What do you like the most about it?

Julie xox

Monday, September 21, 2009

Penpal of the Week #15

This time, let's welcome the wonderful Rachel from the UK!

1. Please tell us about you!

Firstly, thanks Julie for asking me to be "Penpal of the Week"! I've loved reading the interviews and I'm excited about mine!

My name is Rachel Miller and I'm 31 years old (32 on October 6th, which makes me a Libra I believe!). I'd say I'm a fairly typical Libran - artistic, sensitive, diplomatic...

I live in a village called Brough (you pronounce it Bruff!) in East Yorkshire in the United Kingdom. It started life as a Roman ferry port at the south end of the northern road to Newcastle and has grown a bit since then! Our nearest city is Kingston upon Hull, 12 miles to the east, and we have everything you could ask for in the village, including a direct train service to London.

I am married to my lovely husband Ian, who is 40 and works as a Health and Safety Officer for an American company that makes air filters for trucks and planes. We met through a mutual friend (it's a very long story) and were "just good friends" for over a year until my relationship broke down and I needed somewhere to stay. Ian offered me the use of his spare room as a stop gap and it wasn't long after I moved into my own place that we got together. We were married in 2005 and don't have any children at the moment, although it's on the cards for the future.

Ian and I on our wedding day, April 2005.

I'm a children's dentist by trade and I apologise to anyone who reads this and runs away screaming! I am aware that we dentists don't have the best press in the world! :-) I work with children and also with the homeless, which is eye opening and very rewarding. One day a week I also teach dental students so I have a varied job and I love it.

As far as interests go, I am generally a busy person! Ian and I both play in a brass band (he plays cornet, I play flugelhorn) and I also play quite a few other instruments. I'm also in a drama group in Brough and have ballroom and latin dancing lessons. I may never appear on Strictly Come Dancing (our version of Dancing With The Stars) but I love it! I'm also a bookworm and love most types of literature (it has been said of me that I would read a cereal box if I ran out of books), and my other interests apart from penpalling are scrapbooking, cross stitch and going on long walks with Ian.

Another (slightly better) wedding one.

You can find me on Facebook as Rachel Miller and on Interpals as flugella (a nickname derived from my love of my flugel!).

2. Describe your personality in 10 words!

This could be fun!

I'll start with CARING. I guess that would make sense given my profession, but I do genuinely care about people and how they are. My family and friends are very important to me, and I'd like to think I am a good listener and a good friend.

Ulp, this is hard and I'm only on word two! I'll go for LUCKY - not in the "winning the lottery" sense, but I have been fortunate to meet some amazing people in my life, and to have some fantastic opportunities to pursue my love of music and my career. I'm aware that not everyone maybe has that chance and I want to make sure that I don't waste it!

Despite this I am actually a little SHY (which not many people believe!) - I come across as quite confident but inside I'm usually feeling sick and terrified. I'm definitely UNCONVENTIONAL, I don't follow the crowd and I'm happy to be a FREE SPIRIT.

I would also say that I'm STUDIOUS - I am a strange person in that I love to learn things and if there's an opportunity to learn something I take it. CREATIVE would definitely apply to me, certainly musically, and I would also say that I am DEDICATED to things and people that I love, OPEN-MINDED and REALISTIC.

Ian and I in band uniform!

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

I started penpalling when I was 8. I got a letter one Christmas, out of the blue, from Manuelle, the daughter of my mother's French penfriend from her school days. We weren't too good at keeping in touch initially but we managed to begin a very regular correspondence when we were about 12 years old. Since then I have always had at least a couple of penpals. I found IYS (the International Youth Service) very useful when I was in my teens as well. Sadly, Manuelle and I aren't in touch any more but I am very tempted to write to her and resurrect our correspondence.

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

At the moment I have 12 regular pals plus a handful of new penfriendships that are just starting out and I'm waiting to receive a few introductory letters. I have pals from the UK, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Germany, France and Ireland. Everyone is different but we all have things in common and they have become very dear friends to me through our letters.

Some recent mail that I've received.

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

I think a letter is a "living" thing - I don't really have set topics that I discuss, although work, family life and what's going on at band and drama do feature fairly regularly. I'll happily discuss anything and everything that comes up! I'm particularly interested in the little things in life - silly things that make people laugh, finding a really excellent author by accident, discovering a new coffee shop, that sort of thing.

6. What are you looking for in a penpal?

Someone who I can communicate with (although I guess that's a bit obvious!). I like people to ask me questions about anything, no matter how bizarre, as it makes me think more about myself and my life, and people who will share things with me. I love writing long letters but I don't think being specific about it helps in any way. Ads that say "you must write 5 sheets of A4 every 3rd week" tend to make me run away. One page letters don't tend to do it for me though!

I don't mind if my pals type or write their letters. I always handwrite mine because my brain goes to mush in front of the computer but I won't be offended if my pals would rather type!

A sample of my handwriting!

7. What do you like the most about penpalling?

Everything, really. There is something so magical about seeing an envelope with your name on and knowing it's from a friend that you've maybe never even met but you feel you know so well. Ian is resigned to the fact that he will get no conversation out of me if I have a letter waiting to be read! I also love sitting down writing a letter, knowing that you're sending a snapshot of your life to someone for them to share with you. I always describe it as spending time in my penpal's company. We may not be in the same room but we are sharing time together.

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

Mainly English, although I am desperate to resurrect my French and German. I finished lessons in these languages aged 16 and I still have a decent grasp of them, although I now realise that the English exam system equips you for getting around and asking for the nearest bus station and a bag of crisps, but teaches you very little about grammar! Anyone who is willing to accept a few paragraphs of grammatically terrible French or German within a letter is very welcome. My ultimate aim is to write and speak these languages to a level where my letters in them are more like my English writing style, if that makes sense.

Actually my Gran's Diamond Wedding celebration (60 years of marriage!) - Gran , Mum, my cousin Debbie and me.

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

You can usually find me sat on the sofa in my living room to write my letters. Sometimes, if I'm writing in French or German I'll be upstairs at my desk so I can get to my dictionary easily, but that's rare. I use a clipboard to rest on that I designed myself, and usually use a black pen apart from when my fountain pen comes out.

I usually design my own writing paper - I blame my mother-in-law for this as she is a very talented card maker and thanks to her I got the idea of using rubber stamps to decorate plain paper and make it more personal. The stamp collection has now taken over the spare room... I do have a decent stock of bought paper too, which I tend to use for introductory letters if I'm not sure of someone's interests. After that though, out come the stamps and patterned papers!

I like to reply within a month if I can. I appreciate that we all lead busy lives (and I have a busier life than most!) and if I am delayed then I try and email people to let them know. However, I am pretty flexible about things.

My homemade clipboard!

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

Hmmm... I'm thinking about this here and I can't really think of anything particularly weird. I do get the usual influx of mail from African women thinking I could be their new husband or wanting to give me their inheritance but other than that I've had a fairly uneventful penpalling life in that respect. I think I'd like it to stay that way thanks!

11. Have you met any of your penpals?

I have! I met a Jamaican pal in my teens which wasn't overly successful as we had very little in common, but then 3 years ago I met my German penpal, Danni, for the first time when she came over to the UK with her fiancé. We had an amazing time together and we made a return trip to Bavaria that summer, when we were invited to their wedding. I was honoured to be asked to play the trumpet during the service - you can imagine the faces of the airport security staff when my hand luggage went through the scanner. I was actually asked NOT to play it on the plane!

Rachel and Danni enjoying a coffee in York!

We had a lovely week with Danni and Franz prior to their wedding day and after the service itself we were guests of the happy couple and Danni's parents for the night. That was a HUGE party, to say there were only half a dozen of us. By the end of it we were trying to teach our hosts the Yorkshire dialect and I have never seen so much food in my life! Being offered beer and cake at breakfast the next morning was less welcome though!

In Germany with Danni and Franz.

12. Are you currently looking for more penpals?

I am looking for a handful of new penpals - so feel free to get in touch with me! I'd love to make some new friends!

Thank you, Rachel! Hopefully some wonderful people will get in touch with you after reading your interview so that you can make a few new friends!

As usual, if you're interested in being featured on my blog as Penpal of the Week, just leave a comment with your email address. Thanks!

Julie xox

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sale - Sarah Rose

This is my last Sarah Rose Letter Set! You can have 10 sheets of writing paper + 5 envelopes or 20 sheets of paper + no envelopes.

If you purchase this (click on the image above or below to see the listing):

You will get this free Sarah Rose Notepad and Pen Set!

But quick! The listing for the letter set is expiring on October 1st, so whoever is first will get the notepad! :)

Julie xox

Thursday, September 17, 2009

September favorites

I love the month of September! Here are my current favorites:

Food: miso soup, crab legs, scallops, Greek potatoes, bok choy, napa cabbage, veggie burgers.

Music: Alice - Pogo, Stratus - Uyama Hiroto, One Day You Will Teach Me To Let Go Of My Fears - Sleepmakeswaves, Discipline - Nine Inch Nails, Shot In The Back Of The Head - Moby, Celebration - Madonna, any Michael Jackson song!

Movies: 8 Mile, Les pieds dans le vide, Les doigts croches, De père en flic.

Series: Medium.

Websites: InterPals, Etsy as usual...

Crushes: Louis-José Houde, Guillaume Lemay-Thivierge... Mario!

Interests: homeschooling, cooking (who knew?!), reading, writing letters.

Guilty pleasures: chick lit and Facebook!

What are some of your September favorites? :)

Julie xox

Monday, September 14, 2009

Penpal of the Week #14

This week, let's meet Sarah from Germany!

1. Please tell us about you!

Hi! I’m Sarah. I’m a 23 year-old uni student from Germany. I grew up in a small town and I think that says a lot about me. During an average week I commute between my small hometown and Münster, a beautiful city just 50 km away. The weekend I spend at home, the week in Münster. There I study English Philology but with a special focus on Book Studies. My degree also includes two minors which are History and Religious Studies. These subjects kind of sum up my passions: English, Books, Literature, History and different cultures and religions.

I just love where I live. View from the balcony.

I’m close to graduating, which means I’ll probably need another year. After that I want to do something connected with books. I’ve thought about becoming a librarian lately.

As I mentioned I love books, reading and writing and I read a lot. I also love knitting, surfing the Internet, talking with friends, watching movies...

I’m Pagan and I am trying to be open about my beliefs – I’ve hidden them long enough. It’s nothing I will talk about continuously and certainly nothing I want to convince others of but it’s a big part of my life and my personality.

I can be reached at Interpals via the nick leilani or this address: alinja_nin[at]yahoo[dot]de

The most recent picture of myself in our living room.

2. Describe your personality in 10 words!

That’s hard… First of all, and very generally, I hold a positive attitude about life and I’m quite optimistic. Then, what people notice first, I think is that I tend to be quiet and a bit reserved – I rather think and then act than the other way round. This results in a way in being contemplative and imaginative. But I am not that boring ;) I can be quite eccentric and like doing things that people don’t expect of me, sometimes to the point of being silly. I’m also a free-spirit and don’t like to be told what to do. Sometimes I am so much in thought that I can be quite confused by reality. I am curious and always up to learn new things. I also consider myself creative and open-minded.

Another recent picture of myself that I quite like.

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

I have been penpalling since I was 13 or 14 – so 9 or ten years. My first penpal was a girl from Bavaria. We had a lot in common back then and wrote a lot of letters. One day she wrote a postcard saying that she didn’t want to write anymore. It turned out that she had been quite ill. She wrote again when she was better but we had become so different from each other that it didn’t work out anymore.

My first “international” penpal was a girl from the UK but I’m not in contact with her anymore either.

Here I keep my letters, in my wardrobe so yes, that’s clothes.

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

At the moment I have around 11 penpals though I haven’t heard from some for some time and I also have given my address to a few new penpals and have written two first letters myself. We’ll see what becomes of that. My penpals are from Germany, Scotland, England, Finland, the Netherlands, the USA, France, and Iran. Some have become real friends over time =)

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

Everything that comes up, really; from everyday problems to politics and current affairs, philosophical questions and so on. One of my favourite things to discuss is literature though. I love to give opinions on books that I read recently and also love to hear about what my penpals read and their opinions.

Some books I ordered in June - haven’t read them all yet, though.

6. What are you looking for in a penpal?

First of all I’m looking for people to communicate with; people to tell what I have been doing, thinking, experiencing, etc and of course reading about all those things. I love to share all that – I’m a Gemini, I love communicating. Eventually I hope I may find more friends. It’s really important that my penpals be open-minded. I certainly will do my best to respect all their opinions and I expect the same back. I’m looking for people who are able to also think and hold deep conversations at times (not all of the time of course) and people who know how to express themselves.

Letter-length is not so important to me but more than a page would be nice.

7. What do you like the most about penpalling?

Uhm, everything? Well, I love the feeling of finding a letter in the mailbox, the curiosity what will be in it, what news my penpals have, what they have to share. Also I love the opportunity to learn something new, to use my English-skills, to put my thoughts and my life into writing. I like the idea that through a letter you can pin a moment on paper, send it over half the world and there someone else can participate in that moment.

My sister, our cousin and me (with really dark hair) last Christmas.

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

In English mostly but also of course in German which is my native language. I also have basic knowledge of Spanish, I can read it and understand it mostly but find it very hard to express myself in Spanish.

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

I try to respond quickly. Sometimes it can take a bit longer but I try to reply within the same month. Sometimes I’m much quicker though. I usually sit at my little desk in my apartment. When I’m at my parents’ I sit at the kitchen table. Usually I listen to music when I write, sometimes the TV is on but if so, nothing that deserves full attention, as the letter really needs close to full attention. I like to use cute stationery. Sometimes I will use blank paper as well though. It’s not so important, I think and I don’t really mind what kind of paper my penpals use. It’s the content that matters, after all.

Sample of my handwriting... which is a bit useless as it looks different each time.

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

I have thought about this question a lot. I’ve always been careful with my address so I have rarely received letters from people I don’t know; just a few from people who had read my address in a FB. Lately I’ve been getting weird emails like from a Evangelical Christian group, from Jehova’s Witnesses and then from a number of African women who seek a man for marriage... weird...?!

11. Have you met any of your penpals?

Only one. Unfortunately I’m not in contact with her anymore. She came from Germany, just a few km from my hometown so we met a couple of times. I have also met some people I met in an online chatroom. I also still want to meet some other penpals but flights are so expensive...

Some of the more colourful letters I recently received.

12. Are you currently looking for more penpals?

Yes, a few. I’m looking for a few new penpals at the moment so feel free to write me. It would be good if you were around my age and we had things in common. Also, as I only have girl penpals so far I would be interested in meeting a guy that still likes to write letters. Oh and other pagans or other knitters are very welcome, too.

Thank you for the interesting interview, Sarah!

I need more people who would like to be featured as Penpal of the Week on my blog in the coming weeks, so please get in touch with me if you're interested or leave a comment with your email address so that I can contact you! Thanks.

Julie xox

Rachel Miller

Could you please give me your email address again? The one you left in a comment last time is not working!


Julie xox

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cold, Hot n Spicy Treasury

Another one of my items is currently featured in a treasury! Wow, what a great week! :)

This time, it's Diablotine that is in the Cold, Hot n Spicy Treasury.

It will expire on Tuesday morning, so click on the picture to visit the treasury and leave a comment before it's too late!

Julie xox

Friday, September 11, 2009

Retro Chic Treasury

My Woman in Black Letter Set is currently featured in a treasury!

Click on the image to visit the treasury! It will expire on Monday morning.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Julie xox

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


It's my sister's birthday! Annie is now 35 years old. Hard to believe!

Here's a photo of her that I like with Louis-Justin when he was a few months old.

Annie is actually my half-sister and we don't look that much alike physically since she looks a lot like her mom... But we definitely have a lot of similar personality traits that we got from our dad! My sister can be silly & funny and she makes the best red cabbage salad!

We're having a dinner party later and she asked me to bake my special chocolate cake. I started making it last month when I searched for a recipe that had no milk, eggs, corn or refined sugar for Louis-Justin's 5th birthday. It's a delicious cake made of flour, cocoa powder, vegetable oil and maple syrup. It's not loaded with refined sugar, so I don't have to worry about anything! :D (My whole body starts shaking when I eat sugar... Not good!)

Bonne fête, Nini!

Julie xox

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Hostess Treasury

My Cherry Grocery List is currently featured in a treasury!

I think it's kind of ironic that the treasury is called "Hot Hostess Must Haves"... Not that I'm such a terrible hostess, but I just don't think it's a title that applies to me! ;)

Julie xox

Monday, September 7, 2009

Penpal of the Week #13

Today, I'd like to say "bienvenue" to our Penpal of the Week: Olivia from France!

1. Please tell us about you!

Thank you soooo much Julie for letting me be the penpal of the week!! You rock and your blog rocks too but just not as much as you do ;)

My name is Olivia and I am a 23 year old girl from France. I am now living in Paris but I am far from being from here; I actually just moved here about a month ago so that's all new. I was born in Brittany, a beautiful region of the West of France just accross the Channel coming from England ;) During my studies of International Business Management, I had the chance to live during 2 amazing years in the UK (both London and Newcastle) and well I had a great great time... It was so great that I want to go back there next year and live there for a while again.

That's me with a big smile on my face (not that big actually)

I am now studying Marketing at La Sorbonne University in Paris and not enjoying much my happy moments in the Parisian underground but getting used to it.

I used to live in Luxembourg, well I did live there during a year just before coming to Paris and my boyfriend still lives there but we get to see each other every week end so that's not bad at all :)

In my free time I love writing letters to my pals and reading them, it's always a pleasure to find a letter in my mailbox when I get back from work or school :) I also love reading but don't usually take the time to do it even if I buy lots of books every time I go into a bookshop, I think I'd need like a year holiday to be able to read all the books I have bought in the past 5 years ;) I am a huge TV shows fan and won't list here all the ones that I love ;)

I love cooking, travelling, being with my friends, having a caffe latte at Starbucks, watching DVDs, being online, photography, sports, watching rugby and tons more...

My favorite pic :D Me and my rugby ball with my St Paddy's Hat ^^ Love it!!

If you want to know more about me or contact me, you can still visit my page on Interpals: Lil_Miss_Rose

2. Describe your personality in 10 words!

Ok, that's the hardest question ever!! I feel like being on a job interview with an HR person asking you "In your opinion what are your strengths? And what about your weaknesses?" haha I hate it... So, 10 words, that shouldn't be hard... or maybe it will!! *hehe*

Let's start with...

OPEN-MINDED... I guess you have to be when being that much in love with penpalling, don't you think?

STUBBORN... That's what all French people say about people from Brittany and they are totally right, a real Breton is a total stubborn and proud to be :D

Me, in front of my future house in Brittany ^^

MOODY, should I explain this one?! haha No, I am sure you don't want to know; you want to keep thinking about how great I am!

SARCASTIC and FUNNY, those 2 belong together... Sometimes I might be a little too sarcastic and people think I am arrogant, if I wasn't French I am sure they wouldn't even think I am being arrogant... or would they?! :) and I love to make the audience laugh *haha*

Well, that's already half of it... Missing the other half now...

KIND and BITCHY... Maybe those 2 do not belong together but I want them to be together cause I can be the kindest person ever if I love you and I can be the greatest Bitch ever if you are acting like a bitch to me so be careful *haha*

So now that's said, here comes the 8th word which is SPITEFUL... Don't they say about Scorpios that we are spiteful? Well, I am Scorpio and I am spiteful, sometimes too much but when I am hurt I just can't forgive the person who hurt me, I have tried sometimes but I keep thinking about what that person did and it can never be a full forgiveness...

PASSIONATE... My life is all about passions and addictions :)

And last but not least, I think BECKY BLOOMWOOD would be the best word to describe myself but I don't want to sound too pretentious *haha* It's not just about the shopaholic thing, it's about her life in general and about who she is... She could really be my best friend if only she existed ;)

Sacré Coeur... The pic was taken 2 years ago but I live close to Montmartre in Paris now :)

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

I think I started penpalling when I was about 13, so around 10 years ago and got my first penpals from an agency in Finland called IYS... It was a time when you had to pay to get penpals addresses and it was kind of fun to just receive a little piece of paper with just an address and all you knew about the person was name, age, sex and country!! It was even more exciting to get to know the person... But well I didn't get lots of answers of surprise pals from that so I am happy there are some great websites nowadays to find really great penpals!!

I can't remember if my first pal was Cecilia from Sweden or Chiara from Italy but I remember both of them very well but we lost contact and are not in touch anymore... I lost contact with lots of pals from before I moved to London and there are so many of them I would love to get back in touch with like Annette from the Netherlands or Katie and Katherina from Germany or Marian from Ireland... Well we never know, maybe they'll pass by here and see me and become all excited about getting back in touch with their old pallie ;)

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

I cannot really count them, not that I have too many but well you know what it is when having lots of new pals, you never know if it's going to last or not so I would say I have about 20 pals, all girls ^^ and they are from many different places : Germany, Austria, the UK, Spain, Mexico, Finland, USA, Seychelles, Italy, the Netherlands, and I am sure I am forgetting lots of them... I hope they won't be mad if they read this and don't find their country listed *oops*

Some letters I have received recently...

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

I love to talk about everything in my letter... It could go from "I am eating chocolate right now" to really deep conversations on love, sports, politics, litterature, cinema, traveling, etc. And well it's all about everyday life too, I love to know what my pals usually do, get to know their friends, the places they love to go...

So I guess my favorite topic to talk about in letters is LIFE... What makes it bright and shiny and sometimes what makes it less shiny.

6. What are you looking for in a penpal?

My penpals are my friend so I am basically looking for Friendship ;) I want them to share everything with me so that we can really get to know each other... I don't care if they take time to answer my letters because I prefer a long, chatty and fat letter which is a bit late (well, after 3 months it's kind of becoming TOO LATE ^^ *haha*) than a short letter which is answered straight away after reading my letter which just says "Oh I am sorry this letter is so short but nothing has happened lately"... What's the point in writing a letter if you don't have anything to say?!

I don't need my pal to be the exact copy of me and like the same things and have the same kind of life... I love meeting people with different interests, who have studied different subjects and who just don't see the world the same way I do ;)

So I am just looking for a friend with whom I can share everything and who shares everything with me... That's what Friendship is all about, isn't it?

Me at the Louvres Museum, 2 years ago.

7. What do you like the most about penpalling?

I like everything about penpalling.

I love the feeling you have when receiving a letter from a new pal and you really don't know what to expect; I love the feeling when receiving a letter from a pal you've been writing to for a long time and you know what to expect :D I love when I receive more than one letter on the same day and my mailbox is full; I love the idea of having friends all around the world... And the idea of meeting them all someday!

I even love the crappy letters I used to received when I was younger... Now it makes me laugh a lot!! With one of my friends, Aleksia, we used to exchange those crappy letters we received from weird guys or strange people and we called them "the weakest link" ;) haha That's part of my love for penpalling ^^

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

Well, I write to my pals in English mainly but also in Spanish and French and I am starting to write part of my letters in Italian to my Italian pals (*thanks girls for helping me out with your beautiful language*)

That's a letter I wrote to my Spanish pal so you can have an idea of how my handwriting looks like.

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

As I have been moving from one flat to another every 6 months for the last 4 years, it's kind of hard to have habits regarding my letter writing process *haha* So, I'd say that now, I usually write my letters on my desk in my studioflat cause that's where all my writing materials are and all my stickers and notecards and all that cuteness bought on Janetstore :) I love having all that stuff around me when writing so I don't have to look for them all around the flat! But when I was in Luxembourg, I often wrote my letters in front of the TV on my boyfriend's couch and I liked it too...

Part of all my cute stuff bought on Janetstore and received from pals.

I usually take more than 2 weeks to answer my letters but it all depends... Sometimes I can take less than a week and sometimes a month; but I cannot really set an average cause the last months have been pretty busy (and my pals know!! *hehe* sorry for that guys) and now I have lots of free time to write letters and I am making my pals all happy... But we never know, life can get busy when we less expect it so I am not going to say it's gonna take me a week to answer when I don't know :D So well, between 2 and 4 weeks, depending on the busy aspect of my life :D

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

Well, as I wrote before... This "weakest link" thing was kind of funny and weird at the same time cause we really received strange letters. One guy from Ghana once asked me for a Game Boy Color but well I guess we all received that kind of letters or guys telling you they want to marry a woman from Europe, etc. Apart from that, I don't think anything weird or unusual has happened to me since I have been penpalling... Well, at least, nothing I can remember.

This was taken in May in Brittany close to where my sister lives. She is lucky, isn't she?

11. Have you met any of your penpals?

Ok, I won't share all the stories with you cause 2 of them are kind of sad but I have met 4 of my pals... 2 Spanish girls and 2 French girls...

I met the first one in 2003, Elena from Spain, we had been pals for 3 years and had been planning that trip for a year, that was really exciting to plan the trip through letters; so she came to my house in Brittany during about 2 weeks and then I came back to Barcelona with her and stayed there during a bit more than 2 weeks, we basically spent the whole month of August together and we became like best friends!! I loved her so much! And we met again in 2005 but everything was different then :'( I stayed in Barcelona during 2 weeks and those weeks were nearly the longest of all my life... She wasn't the same anymore and I guess I wasn't either; our letters were still the greatest ever but I guess it was because we were really thinking about the other one when writing the letter but then when we met all she wanted to do was being with her boyfriend which I totally understand but I was young and sad to have lost the attention of my friend so well it was not the best holiday ever and we haven't talked to each other since then :( She added me on Facebook last year and I was so happy, but she never answered my message and she deleted my wall posts on her wall so I decided to delete her from my friends list... So that's the first story, I really miss her sometimes, she was an amazing friend !

I have also met another pal from Spain, once when I was living in London, she came with some friends so I spent part of the afternoon with them... And we met again last April in Belgium and I realized we were too different so end of the story *LOL*

A picture I made in La Rochelle (the amazing and beautiful city where I did my studies).

And my 2 frenchiiies :) I met Clarisse in 2004 for the first time and then in 2005 and she's like one of my greatest friends in my heart... We haven't talked much lately cause she is now a mum and started studying again but she's always in my heart and I know I am in hers too :)

And there's Aleksia (yes the one from the weakest link joke), who came to visit me in Brittany for my 18th birthday and she's like Clarisse, an amazing friend who I love deeply and she has always been like a little sister for me and I hope our friendship lasts forever...

12. Are you currently looking for more penpals?

I can never say no to someone I feel like we could be the greatest friends ever so I guess that YES I am still looking for more pals. People who love sharing experiences, write long letters and be there for each other :) What more can I say?! You have the link to my profile on Interpals at the beginning of the interview so you can come and see me and drop me a line if you feel like we are meant to write letters to each other and be friends :D

Merci ma chère Olivia!

If any of you would like to be featured on my blog as the Penpal of the Week, just reply to this post with your email address!

Julie xox

Sunday, September 6, 2009


My dogs want to say hello to you.

Here's Capsule! She's a 7 year old Golden Retriever and she loves going for walks, taking baths and watching over Louis-Justin.

And here's Astuce, my Boston Terrier. She's almost 7 years old too and she loves licking my feet, sleeping on my lap and making funny noises. A lot of people think that Boston Terriers are ugly, but I think that Astuce is beautiful and very charming! <3

Are there any other dog lovers out there? If so, what are your favorite breeds? Tell me about your dogs! :)

Julie xox