Monday, December 28, 2009

Penpal of the Week #29

Today, I'm pleased to announce that our Penpal of the Week is a man! He's only our second one so far, so let's welcome David from Costa Rica / the USA!

1. Please tell us about you!

Hi, my name is David Jiménez, I will be 29 years next month. I am a professional mathematician (I bet you don't hear that too often). I was born and raised in San Jose, Costa Rica, in January 1981. Although I always lived in San Jose's suburbs, I moved thirteen times before moving with my wife, and three times since. That's a LOOONG story!

Since I was very young, I liked science and math, and when I was in high school, I started participating on math competitions, and when I got into college I started as a Computer Science major with a Math minor, but at some point very early on, those got inverted, and I graduated with a BSc in Mathematics in July 2001.

For a couple of years, as I was death broke, I worked as a high school math teacher, before applying to grad school. I got into the Math PhD program at Georgia Tech in Atlanta in the Fall 2003. It took me five years to finish, and it still feels awkward when someone calls me "Doctor". I specialized on quantization problems, something applied to Image and Signal Processing. But of course, we are not to enter on technical stuff here. Once I finished, I got a Postdoctoral Professorship at Texas A&M University, and I've been here for three semesters, and will be here for other three.

My wife Susana and I, New Year's, 2008.

I have been married for eight years next March. Susana (my wife) and I met during my first semester in College. She was then a third year math education major. I realize she was amazingly bright... just after meeting me she took an immediate dislike of me. (I am serious on both, she is bright, and she did take a dislike of me as soon as she met me!) Unfortunately for her, I managed to charm her somehow (I still wonder what I did to do so) and we started dating about six months after we met. We dated for two and a half years. By that time both had graduated and decided to marry.

So far we do not have children, and as of now, we are in no real hurry to become parents. The truth is that we are very comfortable just the two of us. Probably at some point we will feel the call to raise the next generation, but who knows. But we do have a third member on our family. Her name is Mawamba, and she is a three-year old Ball Python. Snakes are very misunderstood pets, and Pythons are really tame and nice pets, though, not so cuddly! But living in an apartment, I don't feel like having a dog!

This is my pet Mawamba, picture taken a few days ago.

I have a few hobbies, just like everybody. I have always liked writing. Short stories, entries in a journal, entries on my blog (feel free to visit: - I know it is not grammatically correct, but most of my other options were already taken), and pen paling of course. I love martial arts, though, I have not been practicing for about two years. I enjoy hiking (but this is Texas, gosh! Flat as a pancake, I need to move to the North West, or the Canadian Rockies!). I enjoy photography, but I must admit I have to dedicate a bit more time to my hobbies.

Ah! I am atheist, what for some reason seems to bug a lot of people. Really, in many places and with many people you say "I am an atheist" and they look at you like if you had just said "Hi, I am a suicide bomber!". But believe me, just like 20% of the people born in the 1980's, I reached the conclusion that just like Santa Claus, God does not exist. Nevertheless, I am very interested on what people believe, and further more, why they believe it and how they rationalize it! And by the way, I am a fan of Bill Maher!

2. Describe your personality in 10 words!

Well, let's have fun with a bit of narcissism. I mean, having ten words to describe my personality, most people would, most likely, exalt what they perceive as their best attributes. Anyway, let's start.

* Rationalist: I think, therefore I am! I am someone who tries to rationalize most aspects of his life. I want to find the reasons behind my actions, behind the things I believe to be truth. To explain things. Probably that's one of the reasons I am a mathematician.

* Talkative: My mom used to say, when I was little, that if I didn't have someone to talk to, I would talk to the walls... and she was almost right. A few years back I had a bad cold and it degenerated on an ugly throat infection that left me literally voiceless for two weeks. And when my voice returned, my wife hugged me, kissed me and told me that "she had missed me A LOT" (and she had spend most of that time with me!). I enjoy talking, I enjoy hearing people... and I must admit, I enjoy finding disagreements, and exploit them to make the conversation even more interesting.

* Creative: I consider I am a quite creative person. I like creative writing (short stories and stuff like that), writing is one of my dearest hobbies, both to pen pals, on journals, opinion pieces, or plain fiction writing. I am not gifted at all when it comes to performance arts (my wife says that hearing me sing is a torture!) but I think I have my way with words.

* Happy: Have you ever met someone who seems to be always on a good mood, to the point of being annoying? Well, I am that guy! I learned early in life that worrying too much for things and getting too upset over trivialities would lead me to the grave rather soon, and make me miserable in the mean time, so, I tried not to worry for what I cannot change, and not to get upset over trivialities... and for the most part it has worked. That doesn't mean I am an irresponsible slacker, I am not (believe me, I didn't get my PhD in a cereal box!) and I have my bad days like everybody, but you see me once every day for a year, you will probably see me smiling more than three hundred times!

* Practical: I said I am not a slacker... but I am a firm proponent of the MEL (Minimum Effort Law). If it is not a hobby, I like things to get done, to get done in the best possible manner, and to get done fast and with the least amount of effort. So, I try to be as practical as possible, and can accommodate easily for unexpected surprises.

* Curious: Oh goodness, if there is something to be known, I want to know it! You would see me reading things, visiting Wikipedia very often, talking to people about things they know about and I do not, and researching things I want to know better. It's just the way I am. Even with pen pals, after a couple of letters, when the ice has been broken, I can probably ask a thousand different things.

Hapkido Belt Test...2006?

* Liberal: I would say that for the most part my views are very liberal. I think that people should be free to live their lives the way they want, as long as they are not imposing themselves on other people, and they are not committing crimes. And I think that a "victimless crime" is not a crime, and a crime where criminal and victim are the same person is not a crime either (just a fantastic display of stupidity, very likely!), and that as long as nobody is abused, people can do whatever they want. Activism is not one of my first priorities, and the time I spend on it tends to go towards GLBT rights, but that doesn't mean there are not other issues I would aboard if I had more time.

* Playful: I must admit I am a bit of a clown when I am in the right environment (social gatherings with people I trust). It was not something that was part of my personality since I was a toddler. It actually developed on my late teens... and like many things on a man's personality, it was discovered and developed as a resource to attract girls. As most kids on the last years of high school, I was terribly self-conscious of my looks (yes! men are just as self-concious of their looks, we just have been trained not to express it), I was not athletic... more on the geeky side, and I was by far not a smooth talker. But almost by accident, on a plane, when I was trying to get flirty with the girl next to me, and out of nervousness started telling jokes... and in no time I had her and the girl on the third seat were both laughing her socks off! I realized that many girls around me found me funny, and that could open me some doors. Later on, I just enjoyed making people laugh in general, and I am not too bad at it... though with time I have gotten "shy" at it, meaning, I tend to joke that much just around people I trust a lot.

* Strong minded: I tend to meditate a lot about my points of view, and thus, I tend to be hard strong minded about them. Also, I consider conflict as a part of life, that we tend to see as very destructive, but it may be the total opposite, and thus, I tend not to be afraid of it, and I have found that just fundamentalists tend to feel offended when you openly disagree with them, most intelligent adults understand someone may be a great person, and still disagree with you on many fundamental issues. But of course, I size my pen pals, and choose when and with whom to discuss (or not) certain topics. Sometimes is not worth losing a good pal over a philosophical debate!

* Honest: I know probably everybody says the same about themselves. I don't think people like to think of themselves as liars. But I think I am an honest person... not perfect but honest as much as I can... sometimes even too much. With this I mean, don't expect me to be the guy who would sell you the moon and the stars for something! I am more of the "what you see is what you get" type! I respect other people's opinions, I have my own. I don't invent parts of myself, I expect other people to do the same!

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

That is a question that may have different answers, depending on how you look at it. If you define pen paling as just the somewhat regular exchange of correspondence with someone... then, probably as soon as I learned to write in the second half of the 1980's. I have an uncle, Jorge, who, at the time, was living in Germany pursuing a PhD, and who I had never met personally, as he had studied his undergrad, master and first PhD in Brazil, living there since before I was born. So, once I saw the address on an envelope my grandma asked my mom to post in the mail, I copied it and wrote to him. It seems to have, at the very least, amused him, as we corresponded for several years, until it was easier to email.

Now, if you define pen paling as correspondence with someone unrelated with you, then, it started in 1992, when I was 11. There was this children magazine called "Tambor", that had a section for kids looking for pen pals. I wrote to four ads I liked, a boy and three girls. The boy never answered, but the three girls did. Two of them, whose names escape to my memory right now, stopped writing within the year, but Andrea, the other girl, did keep in contact for about six years. At the time, we lived about 30 miles away, a huge distance when you are 11, but we met a few times, when we were both in High School. Then, she went overseas as an exchange student, and we only wrote to each other about two letters during that year, and when she returned, we were enrolled in the same University (Universidad de Costa Rica), and indeed, we were classmates, taking a common class in humanities. After that, life got busier, and we drifted apart for some time, but when I moved to the US, we sort of reconnected. Now, every time I go back home (not as often as I would like to) we meet once or twice for coffee or lunch.

My dad and I, New Year's, 1982.

Finally, if we count international pen pals, well, it all started in 2006. You know how from time to time there are events that make us think about things in life probably quite unrelated. Well, that year my dad passed away. Although we had a sometimes difficult relation (two hard headed analytical men with very different points of view about almost everything in life), we were really close. If I have ever been closer to someone, probably it was only to my wife. After that, I thought about those simple pleasures in life I had abandoned, and it came to mind... I really really liked to go to the post office, open the mail box and finding a letter to my name. So, I searched online (had to learn the term pen pal, as it is somewhat different to the Spanish term). The first I found were tons of sites to pen pal with inmates... but I did not like the idea. Then, I found pen pal world, found a few profiles, started writing, and with some of them I correspond to this day. The first, in this case, was Tatevik, from Armenia, a lady my age, a published poet, and professional translator... and a very interesting person for those and many other reasons.

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

Well, again, it depends. Let me explain.

There are the pen pals who have been with me for a while, with whom I have exchanged more letters than what I can count with my fingers, and who have been writing with me for over a year, and are, I think, unlikely to stop for no reason. There are five in this category, and they are from Armenia, Russia, Estonia, Canada and Sweden.

There are the pen pals with whom I have been writing for much lesser time, maybe just a few months, but we have already exchanged at least a couple of letters and, at least I, have found the correspondence quite interesting. There are eight in this category, and they are from Hungary, Poland, Sweden, Russia, Singapore, Ireland, and two from the US. I would love to say that all of them will keep in contact forever, but from experience, sometimes even great pen pals go MIA.

Now, there are a few new pals, people to whom I had given my address, or to whom I have written a first letter and I am waiting for the reply. These are from Russia, Germany, England, Italy and India.

As of now, all my pen pals are female. Not that I have anything against my own gender, but I haven't found male pen pals that have the same ideas about pen paling as I do. You can go to question #10 to hear the creepiest cases, but also, I have found guys who only want to talk about their seemingly tremendously exaggerated claims of sexual deeds (the liar's club, I tend to call them), or just all about gaming. I played with a few consoles in the 80's and early 90's, but I haven't touched one at the very least since 1995! So, nothing that I really find interesting. But I would enjoy having some male pen pals.

Recently replied letters.

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

In general, anything that comes to mind, from the mundane to the philosophical, that makes both of us (my pen pal and me) interested. Sometimes the simplest topics turn out to be amazingly interesting. From funny childhood anecdotes to the difference on how we were raised.

But it varies depending on the pen pal. I do not have taboo topics (except for bank account number or balance, and similar information... but that's rather common sense), but there are topics that may cover much more than half my letters to a pen pal, that I would probably not touch with another. Let me see.

Politics: One of the American pen pals I've come acquainted with recently (about six months ago) is very eloquent and articulate when it comes to expressing her opinion. And it happens to be that we have VERY DIFFERENT opinions on a lot of topics of political relevance. We write VERY LONG letters to each other, debating about topics from Jeffersonianism to Prop 8 and Health Reform. But I know that there are many people out there who do not like their views to be challenged on any way (for me is a necessity, if I don't know the opposite point of view, it makes me feel I am losing something), so, I would discuss this only if the conversation naturally takes that direction.

Sex: I believe that sex is an important part of the life of healthy adults, and I don't correspond with kids. I don't mean the most graphical details told in the sleaziest of the ways. No! I am talking about general experiences people have. Again, this is something that not too many people like to talk about, and I respect this. But with several of my pen pals, the conversation has taken that path. Particularly, with my long term Swedish pal, she has such a free spirited and refreshing stand regarding her sexuality, that it is amazingly interesting hearing her stories and her opinions on the topic.

But in general, one of the things that I like, is to know about the stories of our lives. Those little things that we think make us who we are today!

6. What are you looking for in a penpal?

Honesty! That is the first thing I would expect from a pen pal. Also, people who are not afraid to share more than their grocery shopping list with me. The idea is to get to know each other on a way that sometimes we don't even know people who interact with us all the time.

Also, creative people. For example, if you ask me "Tell me about your mom", I wouldn't only reply "Her name is Maribel, she's in her early 50's, and lives in San Jose, Costa Rica". That may be relevant information, but way too incomplete! If it is one of the first letters, when I am not sure what my pen pal is expecting, I would probably be a bit general, but it will include at least a couple of paragraphs, where I would try to paint a mental image of her, so, you have a closest idea of what kind of person I think she is! Well, I expect the same. It's somewhat discouraging when you include a dozen questions on your letter, and the other person tries to answer all of them in three lines!

Some basic level of knowledge in a common language. I have seen letters from people (some of which are supposed to be native speakers) that are complete ciphers. Note that I am not a native speaker, and neither are over half of my pen pals, though I know that I will write and I will read letters with some minor grammar mistakes here and there. I don't even mind, as I think they make letters colorful. There is a cuteness on catching those small mishaps. But when whole paragraphs make no sense what so ever, and you have to re-read each sentence fifteen and twenty times to get a small grasp of what the the writer may have been attempting to say, it sucks all the fun out of reading the letter.

Finally, someone who writes back, and writes more than a few words. I understand the fact that sometimes it is a bit awkward to write a first or second letter. But when you get to the fifth letter, and the volume is still barely over a page, then, there is something missing. I am not sure if it is worth my time and postage!

7. What do you like the most about penpalling?

Well, what is there not to like? I like the feeling of anticipation on receiving a specific letter, the thrill of getting to the mailbox and finding out a letter for you from some corner of the world. I like the intimate friendship that can be developed by words on a sheet of paper. I love when a pen pal has told me about some dilemma on their lives, and then, later on getting to know how it was solved.

Also, I remember how thrilled I was when Tatevik, my Armenian friend, told me she and her husband were expecting their first child. At the time, my sister was also expecting, and I found interesting how I was always craving news from both of them (as my sister and I live a few thousand miles away!). Those kind of personal news, specially when you have started to know that person, are very rewarding.

I wanted the picture to show I was standing on the edge of a 100m cliff,
but it didn't. On the background, the Columbia River.
I am in the Oregon side, Summer 2005.

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

Currently I write to all my pen pals in English. It is the common language with them. I could also write in Spanish, as it is my mother language.

My uncle (my "first" pen pal) has lived over half his life in Brazil, and when we wrote to each other, years ago, I asked him to write in Portuguese, as it is "in the language neighborhood", I could read it very very easily, maybe stopping once or twice per paragraph to look for a word in the dictionary. But I would reply in Spanish.

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

My habits to write have evolved a little bit since I re-started a few years back, but for now they seem to be somewhat settled down. Normally if I received a mid-length to long letter, I would probably read it all at once. Then, I would re-read it, writing down in a piece of paper some of the points I want to refer to, and once this is done, probably the following day I sit down, depending on my mood at the time, either in silence on my office when I am alone at home, or some times in front of the TV, and write.

When I was finishing my doctoral thesis, I have to admit, I neglected my pals a little bit, in a few cases, not replying for over four months, so, since then I have made the personal pledge that I will reply to my pen pals within the month, and earlier if I can. I rarely write a letter all at once, as I am a pathological day dreamer, and often, I am writing something, and a related idea comes to mind, and I stop writing and start thinking about it for several minutes. But I have also pledged to myself that once I start writing a letter, it should take me no more than five sessions to finish them.

I write in a variety of papers, from 4"x7" (10cm x 17.5cm), to 16"x20" (40cm x 50cm), but for the most part, I write in regular letter sized paper (8"x11"). I may write in different types of paper (different grammage, texture, ruling size, etc), but I don't really write in what most people understand as stationery. I don't really decorate my letters, I am not so art inclined, though, I find interesting when people do.

Very often I write on ruled paper, and my handwriting has the tendency to naturally adapt to the size of the ruling, thus, I tend to look for those papers where I can write smaller, and write more per page. But in contrast, I have been "accused" of wasting paper, as some times I write with fountain pens (rarely, as they tend to slow me down) or with some pens that do not write, but rather spill ink, and then, I write in one side of the paper only. The good news for people who like my letters to go both sides of the page, Pilot is no longer producing V-Ball pens, so, once I ran out of the few I have left, I will write with ball point!

Sometimes I write in graph paper, or with pencil. But I don't do this often, as some people don't like it. But if I received a letter with either of these peculiarities, I would probably write back in the same style.

The average length of my letters vary from pen pal to pen pal. For the most part, they tend to go from 5 to 10 letter-sized pages (understand, one side of the sheet), but 15 or more are not unheard of.

I thought to offer a neutral sample of my hand writing,
instead of a letter, two of my favorite poems.

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

Oh boy! Where should I start? Yes, there have been several funny and also creepy things that have happened. The first surprise, and probably the only innocent that I have had, was when a pen pal with whom I had written back and forth only a couple of times sent me, out of the blue, a gift book, the Spanish translation of "The DaVinci Code". It was sweet... though, I had already read the book in English! Curiously enough, she wrote back once more after that, telling me she was getting married, and then, never replied my following letters.

I have had my share of creepy things happening, most of them associated with one single mistake I made. Just after I started pen paling again, in 2006, a guy sent me a PM on a website asking for my address. I was living in Atlanta at the time, and had a P.O. Box on campus, so, I didn't think it twice and sent it to him. About three weeks later I received a thick envelope from him, where he included a booklet with an ad with my address, where he had copied my profile photo and part of the text. I wrote back to him, a bit upset, and asked him to remove me from that list. Well, I don't know if he did or not, but I had quite a few replies for about a year.

It seems this particular booklet/magazine had two main markets: inmates and gay men. I first received a letter from a guy, very typical from a first letter, a presentation, the name of his partner, where he lived, and a tiny bit of his story. I wrote him back in about the same fashion, but never got an answer. I think it was the fact that my partner's name is Susana, clearly a female name! I think he was expecting me to be gay!

Later on, I started receiving letters from convicts. About two or three a week for several months. None of them really creepy, but I am not really interested on pen paling with inmates. But about four or five months later there was this letter that was the creepiest I have received. This guy, who was old enough to be my father (indeed, he was older than my father would have been at the time), sent me a first letter, confessing me that he was bisexual, that his wife didn't know and he didn't know how to tell her, and a long sob story about living a double life for so long, as being "as he was" was not something accepted in the 60's and 70's. Not too terribly creepy so far... though a little bit for a first letter. But the interesting detail is that he sent me three pictures of himself naked! I don't know if I would call them suggestive, as they didn't suggest anything enjoyable to me, but they creep me out! I wrote him back telling him not to write me again, and he didn't!

Since then, I tend to spend a few emails before giving my address.

11. Have you met any of your penpals?

I met Andrea, my first unrelated pen pal. But unfortunately, I don't have any picture of the two of us right now. But I hope to have the opportunity to meet at least a few personally within the next five years. I'll see how that goes.

12. Are you currently looking for more penpals?

Well, I could never say no to a good pen pal. As recently I have written a few first letters, and given my address to a few pals, I am probably not going to look for profiles to write to in any site, but it would be wonderful to hear from someone else interested on writing.

Thank you so much for sharing your stories with us, David!

Anyone who would like to be featured on my blog as Penpal of the Week - please get in touch with me.

Julie xox

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Mini Woman In Black

New mini letter set in my store!

Click on any image to see the listing on Etsy.

Julie xox

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Stationery Finds #4 - Tea

Up until a few years ago, I thought that tea tasted like dirty, soapy water. Now, I wouldn't say that I'm a big tea drinker, but I enjoy having a cup once in a while.

I had fun finding these products! If you like an item, just click on the picture to see the full listing on Etsy.

Wendy from mulberrymuse has an impressive selection of stationery featuring tea in her shop! This gorgeous set of notecards is my personal favorite, but it was hard choosing just one.

This beautiful card was hand-stamped and hand-colored by Betty of bettyhendrick.

How adorable is this card by Helen of Storeyshop?!

Heather from hdawnparratt sells cards & tags in her shop and she likes custom orders! These mini tea time notecards are lovely.

Fuzzy Bunny is a cute character designed by Marilyn of mpatrizio. On this notepad, he's enjoying a nice cup of tea.

Another cute character is this tea-sipping tortoise by Annette of nutandbee. I love this letter set!

These little guys also seem to be enjoying their cup of tea. This card was illustrated by Jannie of ChickengirlDesign.

I love these funny dogs because they remind me of Astuce, my Boston Terrier! This card was designed by Gemma of gemmabear.

This card by icecreamsocialpaper is perfect for anyone who likes tea and letterpress. (And people like me who like lobster!)

According to Catherine from Bumpkin, happiness is a cup of tea and a good book. I know that a few of my penpals would agree! This bookmark would be a wonderful gift for a bookworm.

This stationery set by emilyanndesigns comes with matching stickers. The notecards can be personalized!

If you're thinking about having a tea party, these classy invitations by damnfrenchdesserts are a must.

Looking for tea stickers? This set by vintagebella has a beautiful antique look.

Finally, take a look at these gorgeous tags made by Kholoud of 4UrEyesOnly. They come tied with pretty ribbons.

Once again, I hope you enjoyed my selection of stationery! Do you have any favorite items? Also, do you like tea? If so, any favorites to share?

Happy holidays!

Julie xox

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mini Set - Juicy Kiwi

Just listed in my shop...

Julie xox

Monday, December 21, 2009

Penpal of the Week #28

Today, I'm happy to introduce you all to Ashley from the USA!

1. Please tell us about you!

Hello! My name is Ashley Womble. I was born on December 6th, 1988, which would make me 21 years old. At the moment I work full time at a clothing distribution in a very small town in Tennessee. I also attend college part time. I've changed my majors about 4 or 5 times already and at the moment it is elementary education. I never can make up my mind because it's a scary thing... Here I am paying 100% of my college fund... and I have no clue as to what I'd like to really do! All I want is to be happy and comfortable in my career.

It's me with my collection of colorful bottles.

Jason, my boyfriend, and I have been dating since March 31st 2007. We met on myspace through friends. We lived in the same town, about 5 minutes away from one another and never had met before. In August 2008, we purchased our first house. What was crazy about it, was that my best friend had lived in this house when I met her in the 6th grade. I practically grew up in this house on the weekends with her! I knew I had to buy this house when I saw it up for sale. We absolutely love it here.

This is Jason and I.

In my spare time that hardly exists, you can find me sitting in my craft room on the internet playing games, signing slams, writing letters to pen pals, or making artist trading cards (a new hobby of mine). I love to spend the weekends going to thrift stores, garage sales, and antique stores. Jason and I share the love of unique old furniture and such. I have 4 tattoos and 1 lip piercing. I also have the love of dying my hair. It's been every color. I love doing something new to it! We have no kids, but only furr-babies. I have a Siberian husky and 4 cats. My dog's name is Koda and my cats' names are Seven, Turnip, Noodle, and Braille. They are all rescued pets. I love the feeling of the season fall... the leaves, the colors, the hot soups, the holidays that are around the corner. The fall makes me feel a little bit warmer inside.

The day I got Koda, my love.

You can always reach me either at my email ( or personal myspace.

I also just reactivated my interpals page. So you can visit that here.

2. Describe your personality in 10 words!

This is hard, but it makes you think!

Creative: My co-workers are always telling me that I'm a creative person and that I would be good at becoming a teacher for children. I am always making up crazy stories just to make people laugh. Most of the time they are "on the spot, please stop and talk" stories... so no telling on how the story ends up! I just tell everyone that it's too dull at our work, so I am trying to liven it up.

Just me.

Sensitive: I may not ever show it, but my feelings get hurt easy. I wish that it wouldn't affect me in such a way, but I've always been like this.

Spontaneous: I am one to wake up at 2am and go grocery shopping. I don't like to plan everything out. Especially a normal everyday thing that people have to do.

Caring: I hold a lot of compassion for animals and children. Any type of abuse is not tolerant in my book, so when I hear of someone being abused, it breaks my heart. I try to help people out as much as I can if possible.

Random: This may count in with spontaneous, but I am a very random person. I'm the one that will feel the need to "bark" in the middle of a silent meeting. Or... I am the person that feels the need to say something completely off the wall just to get a reaction from someone. I love to see someone laugh... And sometimes that means making myself look like an idiot at times. My favorite thing to do at the moment is to ask people who walk pass me at work if they like corn. Yes, the puzzled look on their face is worth it.

Jason and I in 2007, this was probably the month that we met.

Jealous: This may not be a good thing to be... but I'm honest. I can become a little jealous at times. I am working on this however. It's nothing serious.

Open-Minded: I try not to judge others. I understand everyone has their own opinions.

Indecisive: As you can tell from changing majors in college so many times, I have a tendency to change my mind... a lot. My feelings also create a dilemma in my head sometimes... I have mixed feelings from time to time and I like when someone can understand how I'm feeling and can soothe my mind by their advice and convos.

Addictive: I become addicted to video games, books, tv shows... lots of things really! One of the most thing people notice I'm addicted to is hair dye. I love to change the way I look with just dying my hair. It's been every color under the moon!

Me when I dyed my hair red, my addiction of hair dye.

Procrastinator: It seems that I start projects and then get interested with another project... I have a circle of things I should be doing to try and finish up, but sometimes I need a little motivation. I love the feeling of finishing something though!

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

I first started penpalling around the age of 14. I don't remember my first penpal's name, but I do remember he was from Japan and he sent me many pictures of him and his pug. I still have all my letters to every penpal, so one day I will look for his letters and try and find him. Maybe he will still remember me. We just lost touch.

This was taken in town behind a local store.
I thought it was just a normal rainbow,

but when I edited my pictures later on that night,
I discovered that it was a double rainbow.

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

I have about 6 penpals that write frequently. Rose and Jennifer are the ones that I've wrote to the longest. I have several more that have written to me for years as well. Rose is from MD and Jennifer is from MS. I also have a few that are from Japan.

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

We talk about life in general. I like to be asked questions and I try to do the same in my letters. I don't like when someone types out a letter and sends the same copy to everyone of their penpal. It doesn't seem personal. I like getting deep into topics and finding out who this person really is and how they think. It's a nice feeling - a connection of friendship through paper.

This is one of my best friends. Her name is Autumn.
We like to go to Target's and rearrange furniture displays :)
She taught me a lot about being random and goofy.

6. What are you looking for in a penpal?

I'm looking for long lettered penpals that write neat and interesting letters. I love "fat mail"! Common interests between my penpal and I does not have to exist because no 2 people are alike... Plus I like to read letters about new ideas and feelings. It opens up conversation and creates a friendship.

I want a penpal who will write to me regularly.

A painting I did. Something pretty simple, I know.
But I was pretty proud of it.

7. What do you like the most about penpalling?

I like getting to know someone that lives miles away. From time to time, I try to include small surprises. It's nice to receive stickers and extra stationery and small trinkets.

Sometimes at work my mind trails off to wonder about my mailbox... "Did I get any good mail today?" By the time I get home I'm so excited to see if I got anything! My favorite sound is hearing the mailman pull up to my mailbox. I wait till he pulls away and then I dart out the door to see what awaits me!

To me, penpalling is almost like a replying journal... If you have a bad day and you don't want to talk to anyone out loud about it... you can always just vent on paper and let someone know how you feel. Chances are they have advice for you in their next letter to you. I love seeing a unfamiliar address on a colorful envelope in my mailbox... It's usually the first thing I open up. Having a new penpal to get to know is great!

This is my latest letter box.
I keep all my letters in boxes for easy storing.

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

English as of right now. I took a Spanish class in high school but I wouldn't feel comfortable writing in it. I hope to study more in Spanish in college however.

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

I like to write my letters in a comfortable place alone. It doesn't matter if it's quiet or not as long as no one bothers me. I use to write my letters in classes. If I knew the teacher wouldn't bother me, I could get away with a couple of pages to my penpal.

This may sound strange but if I love the pen I'm using I can finish up a letter pretty quickly. I love pens and cute paper.

My handwriting. It changes daily.
That's why I wrote in print and cursive.

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

I've been thinking about this as I read over others' answers to this question. The only thing I can think of is when I was writing to this one woman and she would say pretty strange things (I couldn't remember exactly, but I remember feeling puzzled). I always felt like something was up... Like she wasn't who she said she was... Then she sent me a CD of her band. It was just a guy on the cover and then I played it and it was only a guy singing. I think she was a "he" trying to fool me. It wasn't the fact that I thought this person was a male... It was the fact that something didn't feel right. I have no problem with writing males if their heart is in the right place and are just wanting true friendship.

A bush that grows in the back of my yard. When I moved in, it wasn't in bloom
and I considered chopping it down because I thought it was just a dead bush...
But when it finally bloomed, it was breath taking gorgeous.
I don't know what it is, but it reminds me of grapes. :)

11. Have you met any of your penpals?

I haven't met any of my penpals yet. Jennifer, the one in MS, will be having a baby shower soon, so I plan on driving 3 hours to attend. We were supposed to meet up in Tunica MS to meet at the casinos... But plans changed and now it will be next year. I am very excited and I cannot wait to meet her!

I had to stop and take this picture while I was traveling to an auction one night.

12. Are you currently looking for more penpals?

Yes! I am always looking for snail mail penpals. I want to get to know as many people as I can. It's fun getting new penpal letters in the mail.

Thank you for your time, Ashley, and for sharing all these beautiful pictures with us!

Julie xox

Sunday, December 20, 2009


I love envelopes, but before I had my stationery shop, I didn't buy a lot of colorful ones for several reasons - one of them being that most pretty envelopes I found were sold in packs of 25 or 50 with the same design or same color. Since I like a variety, it would have been too expensive to get more than a couple of colors at once.

Now that I have my own stationery business, I have thousands of envelopes, so I thought I could sell them in small packs of assorted colors. These won't be sold in my shop forever though - I just have a few extra packs for sale since I'm using the other ones for my letter sets.

Click on any image to see the whole listing on Etsy.

Pack A - 16 envelopes (4 available)

Pack B - 16 envelopes (2 available)

Pack C - 15 envelopes (6 available)

Pack D - 16 metallic envelopes (3 available)

Julie xox

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Stationery Finds #3 - Snowmen

Louis-Justin and I had fun building snowmen in the front yard recently since there have been a few snowstorms over the last couple of weeks... I don't remember the last time I played in the snow and had that much fun - it must have been over 15 years ago!

It gave me the idea of featuring snowman stationery on my blog, so here you go! If you like what you see, just click on the pictures to see the full listings.

If you're still looking for holiday cards, JumpingJackDesigns has a cute set for you. A snowman + red birds (you know my love for cardinals) = a great combo.

This snowman looks like an overweight grandma to me - I love it! Chichiboulie, an illustrator from France, specializes in artwork and creations for children and the young-at-heart.

You can tell that StarLitStudio makes her notebooks with love and care! This kit of 2 snow people notebooks is cute and elegant at the same time.

I want to be friends with this snowman enjoying his slurpee! Joy from SugarBeetPress has a few holiday cards in her shop and this one is my favorite along with the Candy Cane.

Connie from TheTinyFig has some cute gift tags that can be used for Christmas as well as winter birthdays.

Need some pretty stickers to use as envelope seals? sugarivy has several designs (check out the strawberries and cupcakes!), including these adorable snowmen and penguins.

Julie from bohtieque has an amazing selection of labels in her little shop. The round ones seem to be very popular - isn't this snowgirl adorable?

I use notepads for everything. They make wonderful gifts too! This one is magnetic and can go on your refrigerator. Hilary must love snowmen too because she has a snowman bookmark, a snowman brooch and a snowglobe wall hanging in her shop, sweetpaperart.

Here's a gorgeous notebook made by Liane of PrairieGarden. And it's currently on sale!

For those of you who like glitter, I found this nice little set of mini notecards by Melissa of whimsypics. There are also bigger snowman cards in her shop as well as glittery gift tags.

These postcards by Caroline of calobee make me laugh. Let it snow, man!

These tiny greeting cards make my heart melt. Aren't they sweet? At MerryBluesArt, you can also find cards printed on banana paper!

Finally, these holiday journal notebooks made by Zany are just too cute to pass up. The snowmen look so cheerful!

I hope you enjoyed my selection of little snowmen! Any favorites? And when was the last time that YOU built a snowman? ;)

Julie xox