Friday, June 24, 2011

Letter #193 from England

Letter #193 comes from Marina in England.She is in her final year of high school,where she studies English Literature,Theatre,Textiles,and Spanish.She loves school and says that her mother is a Spanish teacher there,so they get to live in a flat at the school.Next year she plans to go to the University of Exter and study Film and Spanish.She is so excited about going to univeristy.

Her family is half English and half Spanish,which is obviously why Spanish is so important for her.She has also lived in Spain and the Czech Republic.Her mother has lived in Texas,Canada,The Philippines and France.Marina feels so blessed to have been able to experience different people and cultures.

Marina has a variety of hobbies that she enjoys,including postcrossing where she trades postcards,twice a week she enjoys Zumba dancing with her mom...I think they talked about that on The Biggest Loser. :) She is also a member of her school's drama club and at the time she wrote the letter,they were preparing for their production of "Grease".I hope it went well.I loved seeing that play when I was a kid and we went on field trips to see plays.I think it's one show people never get bored of just seems like it resonates with every generation.

Marina's favorite tv show is "Gilmore Girls" and a debate show called "The Big Question"...I will have to look that one up on youtube to see if we can watch it.As for movies,she watches a lot of movies as a film student,including alternative,indie and blockbuster movies,but she simply cannot pick a favorite.As for animated movies,she did say that her fave was "Up".I agree,I loved that movie,too,I thought it was so sweet.

In terms of collections,Marina likes to collect pez dispensers.I know I had many as a kid.She also collected badges as a kid and even included one in our letter from a tourist attraction called "The Millenium Dome".It was once a huge interactive museum,but is now a huge concert hall and exhibition center.

Travel wise,she has been to many places,including Morrocco and China.She went to China in 2008 for the Beijing Olympics and said it was breathtaking.She walked along the Great Wall and even watched a basketball game between China and Spain...she was happy to report that Spain won. :) She said there were thousands of spectators and she got her face painted with a spanish flag on it.She was also was fortunate to visit the traditional Hu-tongs and the Forbidden City.The food was divine and she felt it was a hundred times better than any take away food in England,in her opinion.

In addition to her letter,Marina included some coins and a postcard from an art exhibition she attended last year.It seems like Marina is very fortunate to have been able to travel and learn about other places at such a young age.I hope that as she gets older,she is able to continue to travel and explore many more places.Thanks Marina for your lovely letter (we love Diddle),postcard,badge and coins,which can be seen below:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Requesting a favor....

Hello everybody.I was hoping that you could help out my middle daughter,Fatima.She has written a story that she has entered for her very first writing contest.The grand prize is $1,000 along with some other goodies.She really wants to win the money to buy a Wacom drawing tablet since she really loves to draw and would love to be able to draw on the computer.I think she has so much potential in art with all the right tools.Anyways,she needs people to "heart" her story if they like it and the ten stories with the most hearts will be the finalists and from those one will be chosen.Voting ends on July 1st,so I hope you will take a moment to heart her story (if you like it).You will have to sign up for an account but it's quick and easy and you can read lots of other stories,too.Her story's title is called Vignis & you can click her to see it.It would be so great if you could also spread the word,she's so excited to win,but it does seem to be a popularity thing to get into the finals,but I told her not to give up till it's over.Thanks to all who vote for her and spread the word.She would be beyond thrilled if she won and I think it would finally motivate her to write more.I think she's really great at writing (I know I'm biased,but even if she wasn't my daughter,I think I would still think she was good at it). :)

Letter #192 from France

Letter #192 comes from Stéphanie in France. (Yes,I just figured out how to make an accent mark...I'm so proud of!)

She started off her letter with the thought about how technology is changing our lives each and every day.She recalls the days of big mobile phones (my friend's dad had one of those big ones and I remember thinking it was so cool).Computers were mainly used in businesses/hospitals,etc.People didn't have computers in their houses until the mid-late '90's.Stéphanie recalls when her family got their very first computer....she won it in a school lotto and she was beyond thrilled since they had just started to become popular.She screamed and jumped with excitement.I think I would,too  if I was a kid winning something so spectacular.It seems like kids have so many things these days that it would be no big deal to win something because everybody already has all the latest technology,so I don't think things are appreciated as much as when I was little.Maybe others can relate with me on that or is it just me?

She told us about how her son will never know a life without technology since he was born in the technological age.Even though her son is only three years old,she feels that he understands how to use the technology more than she does. :)

Stéphanie grew up in Auch,France,which is a little country town in the south of France,near Toulouse.Life there was quiet for her and she thought that all she wanted in life was to live in a small town,take long walks with a husky dog,raise three children and write books for a living.That sounds like such a sweet and simple life.Now,if she was to tell you what's important to her,it would be books.She has had a passion for books ever since she came across a 12th century Bible at her local library.She recalls it was hand copied,with beautiful,colorful illustrations in the margin.At that moment,she then decided that she either wanted to be a librarian or a publisher (while still writing books,of course).She hasn't been able to live her dream of writing and may never do so.I would just like to say that I don't think that anybody should ever give up on any of their dreams.Don't deprive others of your talents.I am always so sad when I see talented people do things that don't make them happy.It may take a long time to make money off your talent,but I'm sure you will eventually, if you don't give up.Yes,you may have to write your story late at night after work,but if that's what brings you happiness,why not stay up late.Isn't it worth it to say that you lived life on earth doing what made you happy?When our children don't see us trying to live our dreams,they will only repeat what they see us do.I know I am guilty of this,too since I feel like I don't have enough time,but you know what,I need to start making the time so that I can be an example for my kids to show that you should never give up.

Stéphanie has also come up with a great idea that she is doing for her son.She has decided to write him a letter every year.She is undecided,though when she should give him the letters.She thought about saving them for after her death but then thought that he might have questions about what she wrote and she wouldn't be there to answer the questions for him.She thinks maybe she will save the letters for a special day like his wedding day and hope that he doesn't throw them out.I think it's such a wonderful idea and great way for her son to know more about his mom and how she was feeling throughout his life.I used to write letters to my daughters,but stopped a few months ago,but now I am motivated to start doing it again.I think it's such a great thing that our kids can look back on after we are gone.I hope that the letters will bring smiles to their faces instead of sadness.Like she says,most people don't know who they are or where they came from,so  you can tell your kids all these things about them in letters,so in case you die before they are older,at least they will have the letters to help them solve some of their questions about themselves.

Stéphanie considers herself a citizen of the world  because she loves food and loves to try foods from other countries.She says that you can understand a lot about a country through its food.It's a good way to open yourself to other cultures.She has even gotten her son to try different foods so that he will be open to things that are different from what he is used to so that it won't be such a shock.She has also tried to get him to watch cartoons in different languages.I think it's such a wonderful thing she is doing to try to expose her son to such a variety of ethnicities.Our world is growing and yet becoming so small (thanks to the internet) that I think being exposed to other cultures at a young age is needed so kids don't grow up to be ignorant or afraid of others that they don't know.

Stéphanie has written so much more that was so interesting to read,but it's just too much to type here,so now I will share with you some facts that she shared with us about France.

Population:  65.8 million
Motto: Liberté,égalité,fraternité
Language: French,with local languages such as basque,corse,breton,alsacieu,etc.
School: compulsory from 6-16 years old
Currency: Euro (used to be the "franc")
Capital city: Paris

She says that if she remembers correctly,more than 50% of the working population earn less than 1300Euro/month for a full time job.

Alsace is known for its road of wines as seen on a postcard she included.

Stéphanie has included so many goodies with her lovely letter (written on cute stationery from LaPapierre),such as postcards,clippings from magazines,stamps (one of our fave things to collect),recipes,and ticket stubs.Thanks Stéphanie for your lovely letter and goodies that can be seen below: (you should be able to click the pictures to see them bigger)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Letter #191 from Florida

Letter #191 comes from Rhonda in Florida.Rhonda was born in Covington,Kentucky, but has lived in Florida since 1981.Her father was in the Marine Corps,so that's what led her family to move to Florida.She has a sister that is a forensic scientist with the FBI.Rhonda works in a nursing home as a nurse's aide.She says that it's a very hard job but she really loves her patients so it's worth it.She says that when you do something you love,the days go by faster.She also said that she still has no idea what she wants to be when she grows up,even though she's in her 30' seems like we had so many letters saying the same thing,maybe it's just that we don't have enough confidence in ourselves to just go for what we want since we feel that we have to be realistic and just take any job so we can pay the rent,etc.That's just one of my theories,I could be wrong. :)

Rhonda is a mother to two wonderful children,a son and a daughter.She also says that she loves where she lives because she is close to Disney,so she was able to bring her children to explore such a magical place with them.As she says,most kids never get to experience Disney,so her kids are quite fortunate.

She also mentioned that the part of Florida she lives in isn't like what you see on tv or in the movies.The beaches there are not filled with clear,blue water and white sand.They also have more pine trees than palm trees.The town she lives in is a very large military town.

She also told us that she is a huge fan of history,early American History,to be specific and would love to visit our state since it is rich in history.We live in the southwestern part of the state,but hope to explore out east and see all the historical places that our state has.Also,if you ever come to our state,you must see the Blue Ridge Parkway,we haven't been on it yet,but have seen pictures and it's a beautiful drive that one must take when in Virginia!

Thanks Rhonda for your lovely letter,which can be seen below:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Letter #190 from Massachusetts

Letter #190 comes from Emilie.Emilie was very creative with her letter and wrote on a paper bag from The Walden Pond gift cool is that?And of course she had some great stamps on it,with one of them being the new green stamps that says,"recycle more". :) Great job recycling Emilie...we really loved getting a letter on a bag,very clever,indeed.Emilie lives in Boston,MA,where she goes to college.She is studying hard for her Masters in French.Bonne chance Emilie with your studies!She has even included a bookmark showing the library at Boston College,which she says reminds her of Hogwarts.Wow,I would love to see that!I love beautiful libraries!

Emilie has sent us a couple of fun goodies to enjoy.She included a parking ticket,which she notes is not hers,she found it (no,she did not swipe it off a car) ;) ...she says that Boston is notorious for parking tickets.Hopefully if we ever visit Boston,we never have to see one with our information on it. :) She also inlcluded a T pass,which is the Boston Subway system and a ticket to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts,along with a brochure.

She also says that she plans to go whale watching this summer with her boyfriend.She is really excited about seeing a whale up close.I hope she does get to see at least one up close...I hear they are amazing!She also enclosed a brochure about this,too.Just in case there is any interest,the website is,last,but not least was a brochure featuring the Freedom Trail with some great pictures of places I would love to see,including  the Old Corner Bookstore.These pictures make you feel almost like you are back in time and I'm sure they are amazing to see in person.

Thanks Emilie for your lovely letter and "doodads" that you included.She told us she will tell her mother about our project,so hopefully she will be writing to us,too. :) Enjoy her letter and goodies below:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Letter #189 from Missouri

Letter #189 comes from JaqueLynn in Missouri.She sent us a very creative letter as you can see below.She works in a laboratory in a hospital.One of her favorite places to visit is the St. Louis City Museum,she says it is full of very cool art.She enjoys creating art during her free time.She really enjoys drawing and embroidery.She decorated the letter with digital art she drew with a pen and India ink.....very cool indeed.Thanks JaqueLynn for your very creative letter that can be seen below:

Letter #188 from Finland

Letter #188 comes from Elina in Finland.She says that her name is quite common for women of her generation.She says that she was born during the decade of big changes.In the mid 1960's-'70's,many Finns moved from the countryside to the cities ans some even emigrated to Sweden.

She says that the city she lives in,Vantaa is a big city (by Finnish standards) and is a part of the capital area.She also says that both herself and her husband were born in Helsinki and have both lived in the capital area all their lives.

Elina loves nature,animals,reading,movies,cooking,and crafts.She says that crafts,knitting,cooking,baking,gardening, and home decorating are currently very popular in Finland.She also says that traditional Finnish cooking is becoming a rising trend,but that's ok with her and her husband since they have always eaten traditional foods since that is what their parents cooked for them as kids.There's also a huge difference in culture between the West and East and these lines have existed since the 14th century,possibly even longer.The capital area,though, is a melting pot with over one million inhabitants.

Elina has also added pictures to her letter,the top picture showing a lake close to her house and the bottom picture showing Turku Archipelago at sea from the deck of a cruise ship.She has also included some wonderful postcards.The first postcard is from Hakaniemi,a part of the lower working class side of the city in the old days.She says the unions still have their headquarters there surrounding the market square.The Hakaniemi Market Hall is a popular shopping place for both locals and immigrants.In the second postcard is a view of a popular sea fortress,which is also a recreational area for the locals.Elina  says that it is one of her favorite places in Helsinki and that she went there as a child for art summer camp.In the third postcard is Helsinki City Centre and the Lutheran Cathedral.In the old days,this was the upper class side of the city.She also noted that Helsinki (and Finland) got their first McDonald's around 1985 and that the modern cafe culture only came during the turn of the millenium.She says there are many nice cafes,both chains and individual ones,but no Starbucks,though,which seems to be a disappointment to her.

Thanks Elina for your lovely letter and postcards,which can be seen below:

Friday, June 10, 2011

Letter #187 from Greece

Letter #187 comes from Katerina from Greece.Katerina lives in a city called Thessalniki,which means "Victory over Tessaly" from ancient times.If you noticed the "Niki" ending,it is better known to us as Nike....we recently learned that the brand Nike came from the Greek word niki and thought that was interesting.I know there are many things things that we use daily that come from Greece,such as the days of the can google it to find out what they mean,I think it's quite interesting. :)

She has also sent us some wonderful postcards and explained their pictures to us.On the one of her city is the "Old White Tower" and a statue of Alexander the Great,who came from Pella,a town nearby.

On the second card is their capital,Athens,which shows a soldier from the Greek National Guard wearing traditional clothing....yes,he is wearing a skirt,which she compares to the Scottish kilt.You can also see the Acroplis on the card,along with with the Parthenon Temple.

Katerina wrote our letter while she was on summer holiday.She says it is too hot to stay in the city (it has been very hot here,as well) ,so she likes to go seaside.She also says that she is a retired art teacher but still loves to create art and send it all around the world.She also has a son that is artistic....he specializes in photography,so they both keep pretty busy creating must be genetic. :)

Thanks Katerina for your lovely letter and beautiful postcards,which can be seen below:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Letter #186 from California

Letter #186 comes from Gail in California.She sent us a short,but sweet letter telling us about her hometown of Oakland.She says that she thinks/knows it is one of the best places in the world and that it often gets  bad press,when there is more to the city than what you hear on tv.She says that the crime is in a small area and that their mayor is addressing the problems to make it a better place for families to live.

The city is very bike friendly and Gail has been without a car for three years now due to this.Can you imagine the money she saves on gas?She also says that the weather is wonderful!While they do not have distinct seasons,if you are in the mood for a particular "season",you can drive a few short hours to see snow,the desert or take a 30 minute drive to the ocean.It is really sad when areas are portrayed as bad places when they have small pockets of crime as do many places,you just have to know which areas to avoid.I'm sure Oakland must be very beautiful....has anybody known the landscape of California to be anything but breathtaking?

Thanks Gail so much for your letter and Oakland stickers.It can be seen below:

Letter #185 from Colorado

Letter #185 comes from Cassandra in Colorado.As she says in her letter,Colorado is mostly known for their mountains and some of the best ski resorts in the country.Even though she doesn't ski much,she says there is still plenty of other things to do to keep one busy,such as hiking,boating,fishing,hunting,camping, and white water rafting.I've always wanted to try white water rafting as it looks so fun,but it may not be wise for me to try it since I don't know how to swim,but it still looks so fun! :)

Casssandra lives in the state capital,Denver and actually used to live very close to the capitol building.She said it was very nice to live downtown because you could walk to so many different places.She also said that the Denver Public Library is so huge that it covers an entire city block and is three stories high.Now that is my kind of library!My daughters and I love nice libraries where you can find many books and sit down and relax.

If you ever plan to visit the area,she recommends you make a stop at 16th street,which is lined with everything from restaurants to a movie theater with 16 screens.And of course,you will have to stop at the 16th Street Mall,which is a big tourist attraction.There are also many talented people that perform on the streets and if you get to tired to walk,that's ok,just take the free (yes,she said free!) mall ride,which is a shuttle that goes up and down the dozen block length of the mall,or if you are really in for a treat,take a horse-drawn carriage ride.

Cassandra has lived in Colorado most of her life and loves it because there is never a shortage of things to do,especially in Denver.In Denver, you can find Six Flags,Lakewood Water World and Pirates Cove,which is geared more towards kids.

She has also shared some interesting history with us.She says that in Denver thereis a museum called The Molly Brown House,which is named after a real person named Molly Brown,which was also known as "Unsinkable" Molly Brown because as a baby, in the 1800's,she was found floating down a river in a basket and was raised by a kind family.She grew up to marry a man named John Brown,who later became well known for being one of the first men to find gold in Colorado.They became wealthy and built a huge house in Denver,which still stands today.She was also aboard the Titanic and this amazing woman survived two potentially deadly encounters in water.She was also known to be quite a loud and obnoxious woman who didn't really fit in with the upper society of the area.Cassandra said that there is even a movie about her....we will have to look into that for sure because it seems like an interesting story.

Thanks Cassandra for your lovely letter,which can be seen below:

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