Friday, April 29, 2011

Letter #132 from Italy

Letter #132 comes from Massimo in Italy.Masssimo was born in Florence,Italy,but currently lives in Belgium,but shared with us information about Italy.

Italy is located in south central Europe and like everybody already knows,it's shaped like a boot,which makes it easy to find on a map. :) To the north,it borders France,Switzerland,Austria and Slovenia, along the Alps.The south consists of the Italian Peninsula,Sialy and Sardegnor,which are the two largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea,along with many other islands.The territory of Italy covers 116,347 square miles  and has a temperate climate.Italy is the sixth most populous country in Europe and the twenty third most populous country in the world.

The capital of Italy is Rome and was the political center of western civilization for centuries.Ceturies later,Italy became the birthplace of the Renaissance.Modern Italy is a democratic republic and the president is Giorgio Naplolitano.Italy is also ranked the 23rd most developed country.It's also a founding member of what's now the Europeam Union and is part of the Eurozone.The Apenine Mountains form the peninsula's backbone.Italy's highest point is Mount Blanc,which is 15,782 feet high.Italy's longest river is the Po River,which flows from the Alps on the western border with France and crosses the Padan Plain on its way to the Adriatic Sea.

The five largest lakes of Italy are: Garola Lake,Maggiore Lake,Trasimeno Lake, and Bolsena Lake.There are fourteen volcanoes in Italy,three of which are active: the Etna,Stromboli and Vesuvius.The Vesuvius is the most famous for the destruction of Pompei and Herculanum.Several islands and hills of Italy have been created by volcanic activity.

Italy is subdivided into 20 regions,110 provinces and 8,100 municipalities.Massimo also listed all the regions and their capitals for us.The largest religion of Italy is Roman Catholicism.Most Italians believe in God or a form of spiritual life form.

Italian cuisine is noted for its regional diversity,abundance of difference in taste and is known to be one of the most popular in the world.Ingredients and dishes vary by region.Cheese and wine are the most important part of the cuisine.Italian cuisine is also well known for its use of a diverse variety of pasta.There are hundreds of different shapes of pasta.Coffee has also become important to Italian cuisine,with many types,such as espresso,cappucino,cafelatte,etc.The most famous Italian dessert is called tiramisu,which we haven't yet tried,but looks fabulous!Tiramisu literally means "pull me up" and is often given to people who are recovering from sickness to make them strong again,or to "pull them back up".

Florence is the capital of Tuscany and is the most populous city in the region and is known for its history and importance in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance,and especially for its art and architecture.It is also the birthplace or chosen home of many notable historic figures,including Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo,just to name a few.The best well-known site is the domed cathedral of the city,called Santa Maria del Flore.In 1982,the historic center of Florence was declared a World Heritae site by the UNESCO.Florence has many beautiful and important things,buildings and places.The Ponte Vecchio is a Medieval bridge that is still popular today,especially with women since there are many jewely shops located there,along with oneof the finest art museums on the world.

Massimo has shared so much information that we loved reading about and has also enclosed a lovely calendar for next year and two wonderful postcards.I really feel that if we ever get the chance to visit Italy,we will already know so much in advance about the country,along with some places that we should see,especially the bridge with the jewelry shops. ;)

The letters we have been receiving have been so great at explaining the culture,food and shops of the area that we feel that we could visit any of those places with knowledge that most people might not have before visiting the country.Even if we never visit that particular country or state we have gotten a letter from,we still feel we have so much knowledge about the area and got a real feeling of being there that one cannot explain from these letters.The letters have been so well written and we always look forward to our next "trip" that our next letter takes us to.Thanks Massimo for the great letter,postcards and calendar,which can be seen below:

Letter #131 from Arizona

Letter #131 comes from Garci in Arizona.She lives in a suburb of Phoenix.She says she has learned a lot through meeting people,travelling and having international penpals.Phoenix is the sixth largest city in the U.S. and Arizona was the 48th state to join the union in 1912,so there will be celebrations next year for the centennial.The state's anniversary shares the same date with a popular holiday,Valentine's Day.

She also says that Arizona is known for the 5 c's - copper,cattle,cotton,citrus,and climate.She lives in the desert region so they get very little rainfall and lots of sunshine.They have mild winters,which attracts many tourists,including retirerees who go there to get away from the snow up north and then go back home in the summer,which they call "snowbirds".I know in Michigan,many people would go to Florida for winter and then the Upper Peninsula (in Michigan) during the summer.

In Northern Arizona,there are many pine trees,mountains and of course,the Grand Canyon.She also told us that Route 66 runs through the state.It's a very popular highway that many people like taking,especially for cross country trips.There are many diners and stores with 1950's memorabilia.I have always wanted to travel on Route 66 and take in all the views.

Arizona has 27 different Native American Indian tribes.Garci even attended a Miss Arizona Native American Indian Beauty Pagent and says that it was quite interesting,especially with their unique costumes and dance.

Another thing in abundance in Arizona are palm trees ( I love palm trees).They are not native to the area,but were brought in from another place and they happen to grow really well in her area.

Garci loves to ride with her fiance on his motorcycle,travel,create mail art and penpal.Thanks Garci for your lovely letter and for the postcards highlighting the treasures of Arizona,the Grand Canyon,Route 66,cactus and since we love blythe dolls,she also sent a blythe postcard.You can see them all below:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Letter #130 from Italy

Letter #130 comes from Aurora in Italy.She is the cousin of another letter writer,Manuela (letter #66).She is 8 years old and is in her third year at elementary school.She has one younger sister and she says that her grandmother lives just downstairs.That must be really nice to get to see your grandma everyday.

Aurora also has two dogs and one cat.Her cat just had babies last month and she says she really loves them.She also told us that she will be receiving her first Holy Communion next month,so she is really excited about that.I can remember mine very vividly because I was the only girl to have a dress with long sleeves on a hot day and I was so jealous of all the other girls dresses that looked like wedding dresses.

Aurora also drew us a wonderful picture of her village.It looks like she lives very close to a castle,which must be really amazing!I think I read somewhere that we do have a castle or two in the US,but I forget where.I would love to see the inside of a real castle one day.

Thanks Aurora for your beautiful letter and drawing!We really loved it!We love letters from kids!She also included a printout about the Holy Communion.Thanks so much Aurora!Look below for her letter and picture:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Letter #129 from Slovenia

Letter #129 comes from Vesna in Slovenia.Vesna comes from a small town in Slovenia and lives with her husband of 15 years and their labrador named Brina.She used to work as  a Slovenian language teacher.Slovenia is a small country with a big population,over 2 million people.They are also rich in natural landscapes,such as the Adraitic Sea,the Alps,many lakes and forests.

Vesna has shared a multitude of information with us about her country,so I will have to condense it so this post doesn't become a novel.She has really shared an enormous amount of information with us that I will share below:

•Every year they plant over 1,200,000 trees and is the third most forested country in Europe.
•Most biologically diverse country in the world with over 24,00 animal species.
•the Secovlje Salina Nature Park is on the UNESCO list of wetlands of international importance.
•Home to the one of the largest brown bear populations in Europe.
•Has over 27,000 km of rivers,streams,and other watercourses.
•Home to the oldest vine in the world at over 400 years old and still provides enough grapes to make 25 liters of wine every year.
•Has largest number of religious buildings per capita in Europe;over 3,000 religious buildings.
•Tallest cliff on the Adriatic Coast,with a an almost vertical wall rising to a height of 80 meters.
•At carnival time in Cerknica,the Simpletons take over the local government.The Simpletons are the literary creations of Fran Milcinski and were famous for having taken leave of their senses long ago.Hmm,maybe they have taken over our government,too,at times. ;)
•Traditional dish for special occasions is a type of cake called potica.
•You can find traces of real dinosaurs,such as the Triassic there,which are around 200 million years old.
•Over 60 world records in ski jumping and ski flying were set in Planica.
•The first man to ski down Mt. Everest,Davo Karnicar,was a Slovenian.He was also the first man to ski the highest peaks of all seven continents.
•The first man to successfuly swim the Amazon,Mississippi and the Yangtze rivers was a Slovene named Martin Strel.
•Slovenia has over 7,000 km of mountain hiking trails.
•You can actually pay to sleep inside a prison cell at a place called Celica Hostel,which was a former military prison.Hopefully it's not so nice that you want to visit a real prison. ;)
•Some scenes from the Chronicles of Narnic:Prince Caspian,were filmed in the Soca Valley.
•Couples get married on Bled Island to ensure a long and happy marriage.The groom must carry the bride up the 99 steps leading to the island.I guess if the groom doesn't complain after that,he's a keeper,right. ;)

Vesna loves reading,especially mysteries.Some of her favorite books are written by Colin Dexter,Minette Walters,Henning Mankel and Val McDermit.She also loves theatre and has even once written a play that was performed by a theatre group at school a few years back.She also has a very eclectic taste in music,liking such bands as INXS,The Doors,Nickelback and many more.

She also loves travelling and has travelled quite a bit around Europe.She has visited Switzerland,Spain,Germany,Austria,Italy,France,Czech Republic,Slovakia,UK,Yugoslavia,Greece and Bulgaria...ok,I need to catch my breath.That sounds like some pretty fascinating places to visit.I know many people in Europe always talk about visiting so many countries since it's easy to travel in Europe,so they are very fortunate,but I wonder if people always think that Americans probably always visit Mexico and Canada since they are our neighbors?I have been to Canada only twice for quick shopping trips when we lived in Michigan,but I wish we could have seen more before we moved down south.I wish we had more countries on our continent that were a close drive or plane trip to get to so that we could enjoy seeing other cultures in person.It seems like we are so far away from everything.Vesna says that she keeps a travel journal.I would love to see that journal....perhaps she has it on flickr or pinterest?

She also likes to collect postcards and has about 3,000 of them.I thought we had a lot at around 400 or so. :) She also likes fridge magnets,cute pens,key chains,book marks,letter sets and more...all those girly things that we love,too.She also shared some really funny stories about growing up in Yugoslavia and her parents having to smuggle things in from other countries since there were things they didn't sell or were very expensive.They were even limited with how much washing powder or coffee you could bring back into the country,so her parents always made sure to take all the kids,so they could bring more back into the country. :) She even had some funny stories on how they were able to sneak in money,but I won't be sharing that with you all here,I'll let you use your imagination. ;)

Vesna is really into paper crafts but says that they don't have craft shops like we do in the U.S.I can't even begin to imagine not having craft stores nearby.Our den is filled with all types of art/scrapbooking supplies that we enjoy during our free time.Things like rubber stamps and paper punches are almost impossible to find in her country.She has even enclosed a bookmark that she made herself that is really cute.

Vesna has also enclosed some lovely postcards,one of which shows their capital city,Ljubljana and the otehr featuring many different cities.Thanks so much Vesna for your lovely letter and postcards,which can be seen below:

Letter #128 from the Netherlands

Letter #128 comes from Evelin from The Netherlands.She currently lives in the Netherlands but grew up in Brazil and will be visiting Brazil soon and will write to us from there about her home country.She lives in a village called Hilversum,which is 20 km southeast of Amsterdam and 20 km north of Ultrecht.It's often called "media city" since it's the principal center for radio and television broadcasting in the Netherlands.Radio Netherlands is heard worldwide via shortwave radio since the 1920's and is based there.Hilversum is known for their town hall designed by Willem Dudok.The village has one public library and two swimming pools,shopping centers and sporting halls.The city center is known as "het dorp" which means "the village".

Evelin also enclosed some wonderful postcards from her village.One shows a school,old town hall,church and the Media Museum,another shows the train station,school,New Town Hall,Bandstand,and shop fronts and another one features the New Town Hall,tv and radio tower,shopping area and a church.She also sent us a printout featuring an interesting building called the Museum of Sound and Images,which was made with colored glass panels and is related to radio and tv in the Netherlands from its beginning to the present time.

Thanks Evelin for your lovely letter and postcards that can be seen below:

Friday, April 22, 2011

Letter #127 from North Carolina

Letter #127 comes from April in North Carolina.April actually lives on an Indian reservation,about 50 miles from the main reservation in Cherokee,NC.April is part Cherokee Indian and loves learning as much about her heritage as she can.With many people marrying outside of their race,many people are now losing their ethnic history since many people are focused on their "American" identity and forgetting their past ancestry,so I think it is nice to keep your ancestry alive to tell your future generations.That is one of the great things about America,the diversity of people and being able to learn about other cultures without having to go to another country.

Everyday life for April consists of work and spending time with family.Some of her pleasures include reading (#1 on her list),traveling,photography,writing letters,learning her native language,and watching tv.She loves to collect glasses,postcards,stickers and photos.

April currently works in the middle school on the reservation,working as an advisor/tutor for grades 7 and 8.

April has enclosed a wonderul Cherokee cookbook with bread recipes.We really enjoyed the way it was written,I actually felt like we were there listening to her tell us how to make the bread.The book showed a picture of each step with the lady explaining each step....such a unique and interesting book.She also gave us a copy of the Lord's Prayer written in her language and a wordsearch puzzle and also a chart showing the syllabary.April says they don't have an alphabet,but a syllabary made up of 85 sounds,with a character for each sound.It was created by Sequoych in the 1800's and her tribe is the only one with their own written language.How interesting!I never knew we had an Indian reservation in the state right below us,so I will have to look into this interesting fact more.April also told us that her grandmother gave her the name Apple...I guess grandma wanted her to be a sweet person,which it seems like she is. :)

Thanks April so much for your lovely letter.I have always been curious about Native American life because we thought we had Indian blood in our family when I was younger,but found out we probably do not.Thanks also for the wonderful cookbook,stickers,bookmark, and the printouts.Please look below to enjoy her goodies:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Letter #126 from Brazil

Letter #126 comes from Adriana in Brazil,who describes herself as an old-fashioned girl,preferring quietude and the small,simple things in life.One of the things she really enjoys is penpalling and opening the mailbox to see a lovely letter greeting her.She loves stationary,books,postcards,and other cultures,which penpalling allows her to explore.She says that penpalling always leads to wonderful new friendships and a smile at the mailbox.

She has told us a little about her great country of Brasil.It is divided into states and is a federation and has a federal district called Brasilia.Adriana lives in the state called Ceara and lives in the capital,Fortaleza.In Brasil,the official language is Portuguese and not Spanish,as many think.Almost all other Latin American nations speak Spanish,except for them because they were colonized mainly by the Portuguese,therefore it became their language.She also told us that Brasil is the 5th largest country in the world and that like the U.S.,it has diverse climates,weather,food,accents,etc.She said she loves being Brazilian! She also told us that you can get a direct flight from Atlanta to her hometown and hopes that we can visit one day. :)

She made us a visual map of her little corner of the world,along with a playlist of music she likes and a postcard of her hometown,Fortaleza,which will be hosting the World Cup Games in 2014.Thanks so much Adriana for your lovely letter,postcard,map and playlist!You can see them below:

Letter #125 from Florida

Letter #125 comes from Ethan in Florida.Ethan is a 9th grader and is on the school's swim team and tennis team.He is also in the marching band because of his love for music.It seems that Ethan is quite a busy guy.

He says that it is finally warming up enough that he can get out to the beach,which he says is a blast.On his last visit to the beach,he said he swam out to the sand bar and caught tons of sand dollars.He was also able to see a few dolphins while out.Unfortunately,he left with a sunburn,which in the end left him with a tanned chest and a white back. ;)

He also said that the weather has been quite crazy lately (here,too),with it raining one day,cool the next and then tornadoes and then hot weather.He never knows how to prepare for the weather because it's so different every day.But now the weather has been amazing and his math teacher even let them do their work outside,although Ethan was wishing he was at the beach,but at least he was outside.I loved when our teachers would rarely let us go outside to do our work,it was always nice to get some fresh air after being cooped up in the old classrooms.

Thanks Ethan for your lovely letter...hopefully you don't get anymore tornadoes or bad weather.You can see his letter below:

Letter #124 from Washington

Letter #124 comes from  Vela in Washington.Vela starts off her letter with facts from the time before she was born.Both of her parents are from Europe,but from different countries.It was not until they both came to the U.S. that they met,in Los Angeles,to be exact.They met,fell in love,got married and had lovely Vela.They left L.A. when Vela was just a child,only 5 years old because they wanted a better life for their family.The crime was just too much and life was too fast paced and more of a competition to be ahead of others than relaxing and enjoying your family life.

Their search for the right place to raise a family landed them in a small,quiet town in Northern Idaho,called Coeur d'Alene....doesn't it sound like a place in another country?Vela lived there until she had to go away to college.She recalls her fond childhood memories of exploring the woods,with her cat named Flower.The town has many mountains,forests and two lakes- Lake Coeur d'Alene and Fernan Lake.She recalls the quiteness of the town,which is no longer the town it used to be.It has now become much bigger and more noisier now.

Vela finished college and earned a degree in Special Education and Spanish.Finding a teaching position proved impossible.She then came across a job as a caregiver to the mentally and physically disabled.Whileshe loved this job and helping people,she felt the need to do more so she quit her job and started nursing school.She says that if you really love helping people,you should think about becoming a nurse, so you can help people every day.

Some of Vela's interests include reading,writing,drawing,calligraphy, and making cards.She also enjoys listening to music,playing the piano and bellydancing.She also loves learning about other people,languages and cultures.She also says that she does not easily get bored since there are many things to keep her happy and busy.

Now Vela lives in a unique region of the U.S.,named after the Native American tribe that settled there.The area is called The Palouse,which is located in Washington state.The topography of the area is described as gently rolling hills,not tall,pointy mountains,but peaceful,gentle mountains.The terrain was created during the last Ice Age that carved out the land as the glaciers moved south.They left behind a unique landscape filled with lots of twists,turns and hidden pockets,which is a feast for the eyes to enjoy.The area is also known for growing such wholesome foods,such as wheat and other grains.The town is filled with such lovely people and the town is quite small,with a fifteen minute drive between towns.

Thanks Vela for your lovely letter that is written with such beautiful penmanship.You can see her letter below:

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Hello everybody!Just wanted to keep everybody updated.Sign ups have slowed down a lot and we haven't gotten a letter since Saturday,so that is why there are not many posts for this week.Hopefully things will start to pick up soon.We have already gotten over 100 followers,over 100 letters and over 10,000 page views,which is amazing,so thanks to you all for this little achievement of ours.We thank everybody that has sent a letter,spread the word and for all of you that will be mailing us a letter.If anybody knows of any sites that would love to post about our project,please let us know so we can get the word out.We always appreciate any help,tips,advice.We hope that everybody has enjoyed this project and that you are enjoying the blog.We hope to be back with a letter post soon,so stay tuned.Have a great night/day!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Letter #123 from England

Letter #123 comes from Abigale in England.Abigale works as a cook and says she has always loved to cool.She can remember baking in the kitchen with her mom when she was little.She even told us that come May,she will be working as a chef at Jamie Oliver's Italian restaurant.Now that is amazing!Congrats on the new job and for living your dream!

Abigale also enjoys reading (she has 300 books),dancing,yoga,music,operas,writing letters,making lists,cross stitching,decorating envelopess,scrapbooking and making little things for her friends.And since she loves to cook,she included a recipe with her letter,

Her dream is to tour Italy and learn to cook like a true Italian,so she is saving her pennies (or should I say euros :) ) to reach her dream,which she hopes to accomplish in the year 2013.

Abigale lives in Portsmouth,which is located on the southeast coast of England.It's the second largest city within the county of Hampshire and has a population of 200,000 and is about an hour commute from London.

She also shared some interesting facts with us about Portsmouth.She said the Charles Dickens was born and raised there and also Author Conan Doyle,in case that name doesn't sound familiar,he wrote  Sherlock Holmes.The D-Day Museum,Royal Navy Museum and the Portsmouth Museum can also be found in her city.

As for some of the fun things she said to see in her area,she told us about three great places to visit.First on her list was the Spinnaker Tower,which is the tallest free standing structure in the UK,it's taller than Big Ben and the London Eye.Second on her list is Gunwharf Quays,which used to be the site of the Royal Navy Shore base,but it has been renovated and now has 95 designer shops and outlets,bars and restaurants,a cinema and also Spinnaker Tower.She says she lives close by and is a great place to spend the day.Last,but not least on her list is the Isle of Wright,which is six miles off the coast of Portsmouth and has so many things to do,she included a brochure to tell us since it would be too much to write. :)

She also informed us that her sister, Mia has writen us a letter previously,so this makes the second (or third) family to participate in our project,which is amazing.Hmm,maybe we'll have to see if writing letters is a genetic trait.I know my grandfather used to be good at writing letters and my father-in-law used to write a lot,so I wonder if that's where my children got their love of writing from?Maybe we'll have to do a survey on the topic one day to find out.

Thanks so much Abigale for your lovely letter,brochure,recipe for Double Death Brownies and postcard (which shows her house,too),which can be seen below:

Monday, April 11, 2011

Letter #122 from Australia

Letter #122 comes from Carolyn in Australia.Carolyn is a retired school teacher.She used to teach 5-7 year olds.Her field of teaching was literacy.She worked in the public school system for almost 30 years and loved every minute of it.

Carolyn has been married to her wonderful husband for almost half a century (I think that alone is one great accomplishment :) ) and together they have three children.She says that in 2000 they travelled overseas to England,Scotland and Ireland for a month.In 2009,they went on another adventure;they took their car and caravan to the Mainland,crossing Bass Strait in a large vehicular ferry.They travelled for three months right through the Outback to Uluru,Darwin,Kakadu and many more places.She said that that there was beautiful orange/red soil,amazing wildlife and a great contrast of scenery.This year their adventures include visiting Northeastern Australia-Queensland,for 3-4 months.It sounds like Carolyn is living her dream life of travelling the country.

She also says that her state,Tasmania,is Australia's smallest state and is at it's southern most tip.Their capital,Hobart,has about 300,000 people,while the entire population of Tasmania has only 500,000 people.They also have a small,heritage listed,wilderness area in their state,which generates a lot of tourism,as do their lakes,beaches,and convict areas.

Carolyn's hobbies include reading,gardening and crafts.Thanks Carolyn for your lovely letter,which can be seen below:

Letter #121 from Canada

Letter #121 comes from Elaine in Canada.Unfortunately the package arrived open with no letter inside,so I'm not sure if there was a letter enclosed or not,but she did send us a lovely book!After perusing the book,my daughter realized that the person who sent the book was also one of the authors of the book.How amazing is that?!It's our first author to participate in our project.Her wonderful book is titled "The Hippo and the Unicorn: A Rainbow of Words",which happens to be a series of letters between an earthy hippopotamus named Hroshi and an ethereal unicorn named Evangeline.So,it's a cute story about our favorite thing,penpal letters.I wish I would have had a book like this when I was a kid.

Here is the Pre-story that is found inside the book:

"Would you write to me?"
Imaginary or imaginative?You decide.
It all began with a phone call,late one starry night,between two friends...
"Evangeline,dear,would you be interested in corresponding with me?",asked Hrsohi the hippo.
On the other end of the telephone,in a cozy abode in Cochrane,came an immediate affirmative response from Evangeline the unicorn.
Thus,dear reader,"The Hippo and the Unicorn:A Rainbow of Words" was brought into being.
Soon both correspondents were inscribing their thoughts and dreams onto writing paper,tucking the letters into multi-hued envelopes,addressing them and licking them shut,and trundling off to the post office to mail them.
Now that their first letter-anthology has been compiled,Hroshi and Evangline invite you to lift the flap of each envelope to see what lies inside.May your hearts be colored by their rainbow of words.
"It's something Ive always dreamed of."

This is definitely a great book and should be in all schools.It's an easy book for kids to read and looks so fun to read.It really brings the fun of letter writing back to kids who may not even know what the word penpal even means in these days of texting and facebook.This is the type of book I would be thrilled seeing my child bring home from school or the library,since it's a nice change from most of the books available for kids these days that pressures them to grow up or all this vampire craze.This book makes you remember the fun of being a kid and having a special friendship with a deep connection, through the art of letter writing.It's the type of book that your child can read alone,but I also think it's the type of book that is best to be shared and read outloud with a loved one by your side.I would definitely recommend this book.The publisher of the book is iuniverse,so I believe you can maybe buy the book through their website, iuniverse.This will be a special book that I will read outloud with my youngest daughter and I'm sure it will provoke a lot of conversations about writing and friendships.I hope the next books in the series will come out soon because I just know we will have to have those,too. :) Please enjoy her book below and thanks so much Elaine for sending us this great book!

Letter #120 from England

Letter #120 comes from Emilie in England.She is from a historic market town called Bicester,Oxfordshire,England.She has been there for only six months now.The population is just under 30,000.The name Bicester comes from Latin,meaning "2 forts"

Bicester has two train stations,Bicester North has trains going to London and Shropshire Bicester going direct to London.She lives in an area with a lot of tourist attractions,like the Pit Rivers Museum (which she included pictures of).

She also told us that Bicester is in the Doomsday Book of 1086,recorded as Berencestra,two manors held by Robert d'Oily who built Oxford Castle.

Emilie's hobbies include photography,writing letters to her big sister (how sweet!),who is the one who told her about our project (thanks to her!)

Thanks Emilie for your lovely letters and wonderful photos and postcard!She included photos of Big Ben,London Eye (two things we'd love to see in London),photos from the museum,picture from Kew Gardens and some photos of Oxford City Center, and a postcard of the Roman Baths,which looks so beautiful!Enjoy all her goodies below:

Letter #119 from Florida

Letter #119 comes from Erika in Florida,the "Sunshine State".Erika is a mother to three wonderful boys.She has lived in Tampa all of her life.She lives close to the original site of Fort Brooke.She also shared some facts with us about her area that I will list below:

•They are the thunderstorm capital of the world.
•Even though they are located on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico,she says that they haven't seen any negative impacts from the BP oil spill.
•The population of the "Greater Tampa Bay Area" is close to 4 million people!
•Tampa grew to become the metropolitan area that it is today through exporting phosphate and cigars.Vicente Martinez Ybor moved his cigar factory there from Key West after Henry B. Plant expanded the railroad to inlcude Tampa.His legacy lives on today in Ybor City,which is a cultural center for Cuban-Americans.
•Henry B. Plant also built a luxury hotel there,which has been restored and converted to the University of Tampa.It is done in a Moorish style with silver minarets with crescent moons.She says it is very pretty.

Erika grew up on Davis Islands,which is a man-made archipelago of three islands that was created from back-filling two natural land masses.Today the islands have been reduced from three to two because the canal between the last two islands were filled in to make a runway for Peter O. Knight Municipa Airport.The islands were even featured on the show "Extreme Home Makeover" because an airplane crashed into the house of the popular pizzeria (Tates Brothers) owner's  house.

She has said that in the last ten years, the city has changed so much.It has gone from a small town vibe to a "fancy pants" area.

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

Letter #118 from Spain

Letter #118 comes from Ana in Spain.She said that she wrote the letter in the colors of their flag.This is another letter that has beautiful penmanship!All these letters with beautiful handwriting makes me want to practice calligraphy again.She lives off the shore of the Cantabria Sea.She said that Spain is considered to be Europe's oldest nation and it is a consititutional monarchy.It is also a EU member and uses the euro as their currency.She also told us that Spain has experienced a dramatic population increase in the last twenty years due to massive immigration and generous social coverage.

Despite having the world's lowest birth rate,their country is home to 47,000,000 souls.Their official laguages are Castilian,Spanish,Basque,Catalan, and Galician and some others.She says that the story of her country is quite interesting from them fighting against Islamic invasion for five centuries to the discovery of a new continent called America by a Spaniard,not an Italian, as people had previously thought.The first city found by a European in the US is Saint Augustine in Florida,who was a citizen of her city.She says that many states were explored and named by Spanish explorers and settlers,such as Tejas (which we call Texas) and Montana.

Their national sports are soccer,golf,tennis and Formula 1.She also told us that homeschooling is not allowed in her country.Most kids attend school at age three,but is not mandatory until age 6.

Thanks Ana for your beautiful letter about Spain!You can see the letter below:

Letter #117 from Canada

Letter #117 comes from David in Canada.He grew up in Chester,Nova Scotia,but moved to New Brunswick a litle over a year ago.He says that Chester is located on the ocean in an area of Nova Scotia called the South Shore.It is situated on a body of water called Mahone Bay.The South Shore is known for their many small coastal towns.

Mahone Bay is said to have 365 island,one for every day of the year.That's pretty cool!That makes it an excellent area for sailing.Chester has lots of summer residents that come every year for the sailing.

He says that New Brunswick was actually part of Nova Scotia until 1784 when it became its own province.New Brunswick is Canada's only bilingual province,with both French and English as official languages.Fredericton is the capital of New Brunswick,but is only the third largest city.

David has said that he is working on improviong his handwriting,so sending a letter also helped him practice his penmanship.Your letter was very easy for us to read,so thanks for writing to us.He also enclosed a photo of a covered bridge and a bilingual stop sign.Thanks again for the letter and photo,which can be seen below:

Letter #116 from England

Letter #116 comes from Sukie is England.She is 15 years old.She says that when she turns 16,she'll be allowed to drive a tractor in England. ;) Maybe that was one of those laws that was passed in the pioneer days or something or maybe because there are a lot of farmers in the area.I don't know our laws on age requirements for driving a tractor,but since she mentioned it,I just thought it was something fun to share.

She lives in the south of England and they recently celebrated a sort of national holiday event.It's called Red Nose Day and it's a huge fundraising opportunity for a charity called Comic Relief.People all over the country do crazy things to raise money.Her school held a non-uniform day where they brought in money (one pound) so they wouldn't have to wear the uniforms and the money was donated to the charity.

She also told us that homeschooling is not a common thing there and all children go to state schools called comprehensives,which is like public schools here because people pay taxes that fund the schools.Sukie attends a private school,which you have to pay for as we do in the states.

Sukie has had to deal with the loss of a loved parent in 2009 at such a young age.She says that many people ask her how long it takes to recover from the loss of a parent,but she says,she doesn't really know because she is still grieving.It must be hard being a teen and losing a loved one and I am sure it will get easier.I guess the key is to maybe strive to do something good in your life,maybe achieve that goal you mentioned with your loved one.Do something that your loved one would have liked to see you do.I know that if I died,I would,of course want my kids to miss me,but I also want them to be able to go on with their life and be a good person.One could also do volunteering in the honor of their loved ones,so that their memory is not forgotten.I guess I would also tell people not to take their loved ones for granted because you never know when their (or yours) time will come to an end,so spend less time arguing over petty things and be thankful your loved one is still alive.I think Sukie would agree with that. :)

Sukie says that her teacher at school is actually from the U.S.She says that he tells the class that the differences between England and the U.S. are both big and small.She says that one example he gave them is that the idea of comedy in the two countries is totally opposite.She says that she even watched The Daily Show since her penpal told her that the show is hilarious,but when she saw it,she didn't even crack a smile.She didn't find it amusing at all.She said that British comedians have a lot more humility and aren't as blunt as Americans.She also said that she had heard that the word "lovely" isn't used here,I'm not sure who told her that because I use the word lovely and have heard people use it,too,so I know it's still in use.

She also says that England has a huge multi-cultural society.There are even people from every continent in her school.She says that there are a few places that aren't so multi-cultural,but most are.Another interesting fact she shared with us is that London is technically considered to be a forest,based on something to do with the amount of trees per square meter.Her brother goes to school in London,so he is always telling her little facts like that one.

She also told us that her name name is very Old English and is originally a nickname for the name Susan.

Sukie enjoys playing the guitar and collecting antique books.She has a poetry book by Robert Browning (one of her favorite poets) that is 114 years old and in good condition.Her mother has a book that is 60 years old that came from a library in New Zealand.She says that she got her love of literature from her father.He loved when she would read the classics and was thrilled to discover her love of poetry.

Thanks Sukie for your lovely (see,I always use the word "lovely" :) ) letter!She has also enclosed a postcard and a cute double decker note pad,which can be seen below:

Friday, April 8, 2011

Letters #92-115 from California

Why so many letters you ask?Well,we had a wonderful fourth grade class from California in Mrs. B's class write to us.Unfortunately, due to privacy rules the schools have,we cannot tell you the name of the school or show their letters,but we will show you the envelopes so that you can see that they did write to us.They know who they are and I hope that they get to see this post with their letters on it! :) I can tell you about some of the wonderful things they wrote about so they know we did read their letters and so everybody else can know a little more about their class.

A couple of the students told us that they like the book titled, "Wayside School" because it is funny and they like how Mrs. B reads it.Another book they read in class that was liked is called "Stranger".Another student told us that they have recess three times a day.My daughters also had three recesses in Michigan but here in Virginia,when you had PE,you didn't have recess on those days.I thought it was terrible that the kids weren't allowed out for a few breaks during the day.

Another student of hers told us that they liked the idea of getting Domino's Pizza if you had perfect attendence,so he hasn't missed a day of school since third grade.Good job!We also had some letters that told us they like "free reading" time because you get to read a lot of books and use your imagination.I think just about every student said they liked reading,so that is really great to hear!Keep up the great job reading!

In another letter,the student mentions that she likes to sing math songs because the songs help her remember better.When I was in third grade we used to listen to records that sang the times table to us and I can remember loving it,too.

Another great book recommendation was a book called, "Marven of the Great North Woods".In the story the boy goes to lodging camp on his own, without his parents.I'm curious to see what happens to Marven in the story.

A couple of the students also told us that they are looking forward to missions because they get to make projects.Another said she is new to the school and loves the new school and thinks Mrs. B is the best teacher in the whole wide world!She also asked us why we wanted 2,011 letters.Yes,your teacher was right,we wanted the same number as the year we are currently in,2011. :)

Another student wants to grow up to be a singer and be wonderful,beautiful and nice,just like Mrs. B.Aww,isn't that sweet?In another letter,they mentioned their favorite game was heads up seven up.I can remember playing that a lot in my classes and it was always our favorite.Any time the teacher gave us free time,all of us would request to play heads up seven up.It was really fun!Other students told us they liked drawing and building,another told us she likes cheerleading and knitting.

We have another book recommendation,a book titled "Heat Wave",she says they read it in class and she liked the part when the plants go under the porch.We are really getting some great book recommendations from this class and love it!The next recommendation is for a book called "The Last Dragon".She said that they even got to make a dragon in class.I wish we could have seen all of your beautiful dragons!We also can't forget the student that gave us a lovely Discovery Education bookmark.We'll have to visit that site one day.Thanks!

So,from all the letters we have read,we have gathered that this class likes two things,reading and being creative.Those are both great things one needs in life to be successful.I think this class has some very smart students and that Mrs. B must be a wonderful teacher!I can still remember my fourth grade teacher,her name was Mrs. Campbell and I went to a school called Katherine Drexel Elementary in Louisiana.It was a great school with some of the best teachers ever.I know that these students will probably always remember their teacher Mrs. B,too because she sounds like a great teacher!

We want to give Mrs. B.'s class a great big THANK YOU for taking the time to write us a letter and tell us your favorite things.We really appreciate it!You even helped us get past 100 letters which we think is amazing!Thanks so much and look below for your envelopes.I'm sorry we can't show your letters but we loved them!

**Update-I can post their first names to give them a proper thank you!Thanks to all of these students below for your wonderful letters!


Letter #91 from Sri Lanka

Letter #91 comes from Yasara in Sri Lanka.She wrote a main letter and then three separate letters for each of my daughters.She said that Sri Lanka is a small island located a little below India,in the Indian Ocean.It's also called "The Pearl of the Indian Ocean".The capital has a very long name,Sri Jayawardhenapura Kotte...I think it's best to break it down when attempting to read it,it becomes a lot easier.There are about 20 million people in her country.She said that she recently read in a newspaper that it is a little smaller than West Virginia.She says that the island is like the palm of your hand.It's funny that she mentions that because when we lived in Michigan,everybody would always use their hand to show which part of Michigan they lived in,if you look at the palm of your right hand,we were close to the thumb,but south of it.We always thought it was such a cool way to tell people where you can't do that with any other state,can you? :)

Back to Sri Lanka,Yasara says that there are three geographical regions,the coastal belt,the midland plains and the central highlands,according to the height and distance from the sea.Yasara lives in the coastal belt,about 20 minutes from the sea.

She also says that they don't have any seasons,it's warm all year round.She said that in the central highlands,the temperature is about 18°-22°C,but it never goes any lower than that.She also said that there is a city called Nuwara Eliya in the central highlands that gets really cool,so people call it "Little England".

Sri Lanka is popular for tea,cinnamon,beaches,elephants and much more.Sri Lanka is the world's number one exporter of tea.She says that if you have heard of Ceylon tea,then that means it's Sri Lankan tea.Ceylon is the name the British people used to call Sri Lanka,so the name Ceylon is still popular today because of the tea.European countries,Japan,China and a lot of other countries buy their tea.She said there is tea everywhere you look,even on the mountains and that it's quite a lovely scene to look at in person.

Cinnamon is another popular food from Sri Lanka,with more than 90% of the world's cinnamon coming from her country.So they use cinnamon a lot when cooking.

Sri Lanka is also popular because of their beaches.She said that the prettier beaches are located in the south and you can see a picture of one of them below this post.In 2010,it topped as the best tourist destination,so it has been a really popular place for tourists to visit.

The mother language of Sri Lanka is Sinhala and the second languages are English and Tamil.Yasara speaks Sinhala and English.She also says that Sri Lanka is a Buddhists country,but there are some other religions,too.

Thanks Yasara for the letters,recipe for toffee and pictures!Please enjoy her letters and pictures of her country below:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Letter (?) #90 from Colorado

Well,we got this small envelope with only a small card enclosed,no return address,no note or anything so we are a little confused by this.Was there supposed to be a letter included with this that was forgotten?Does anybody know anything about this type of card,it's significance?We only know it came from Colorado because of the postmark.If you sent us this,could you please tell us more about it,thanks!

Letter #89 from New York

Letter #89 comes from Maggie in New York.She sent us a very unique and interesting letter with an assortment of goodies.She says that a few years ago she moved from Pennsylvania to New York and was happy,but felt isolated,even though there were so many people,but she says that nobody talked.So then she got the idea to make art and small books and little things and would include her address and then give them to strangers throughout the city on the bus,on sidewalks,on the train,etc.She would give them in hopes of receiving some mail in return from them.Through this great idea,she has made some friendships in her city as well as around the world.I think that is really a clever way to meet new people!Maybe we should try that one day. :)

Please enjoy all of Maggie's assortment of tickets and stamps and other goodies along with her letter.It was really fun looking to discover all the little goodies and notes she typed on the papers.Also,look at the stamps on her envelope,aren't they amazing!

Letter #88 from North Carolina

Letter #88 comes from Teri from North Carolina.She is one amazing lady!She does so many things,she is also a fellow homeschooler and enjoys knitting,spinning her own yarn,growing her own cotton,growing and making her own herbal medicines and she even makes her own inks for pens.She actually wrote the letter using her homemade ink that she made from pomegranate peels.Who knew you could make ink from a pomegranate peeling!

She enjoys making things from plants and loves animals,as well.She volunteers as a wildlife rehabilitator,helping orphaned opossums and squirrels,mostly.They also just successfully incubated their first batch of chicken eggs.We recently watched a show on PBS that showed people who did the same thing and it was amazing.

Teri also says that she enjoys "drinking" in life and all that it can teach her.I would love to visit Teri and have her teach me all the things she wrote about.She also said that the world is an oyster and I couldn't agree more.Thanks Teri for writing.She also shared a recipe for sweet potato pie since she said North Carolina is the sweet potato capital of the US.

Enjoy her letter below which shows some of the things she enjoys doing:

Monday, April 4, 2011

Letter #87 from Oklahoma

Letter #87 comes from Terri in Oklahoma.She happens to be the mother of another letter writer,Brian,that wrote to us from Missouri.She currently works as a children's vision screener at a non-profit organization that provides free vision screening for students statewide.She says that one in four school age children has some type of vision issue.She says that to test Pre-K and Kindergarten students that can't yet read,they show them a chart with shapes and so they play a quick game of identifying four shapes,then they get to wear "magic glasses" to search for an "E" in one of two cards.She says the kids love it and the older kids really love it because they get out of class.I remember those days when we got out of class,sometimes we didn't do anything since it could sometimes take a while.

Her territory covers the northeast corner of the state and involves a lot of travel,but she gets to come back home each day.She says the driving across the state is one of the perks of her job that she enjoys.She said that in 2010,she drove 12,604 miles!She gets to visit such diverse schools,for example,she said that at one school they had a total of 37 students (Pre-K-8th grade) and their fitness plan involved climbing trees! :) I bet that must be a fun school and they all must remain friends or hate each other for being with them for 9 or 10 years straight! ;)

She also told of how she has met some students with some very unique names,such as these: Appearance American Horse,Magic Buffalo Eater,Sparkling Star (that must be a girl) and even twin boys named Whiskey and Bourbon!And there was also a family that named their children Spring,Summer,Autumn and Winter and then they had a brother named Season.Oh,let's not forget the student named Cyclops,who she said had 20/20 vision in both eyes.Since they are in Oklahoma,I am assuming that most of the kids were Native Americans judging by the names,although I could be wrong since I don't know everything. :) Please do not take this as me judging the kids' names,I definitely hope it didn't seem like I pointed out their names to poke fun at,they are just unusual names we never heard before and wanted to share with everyone to show how different people are.It's kind of neat being unique.

Se says that her town is 45 minutes north of Tulsa (I have been to Tulsa before since I have a lot of relatives there).I remember the land along the highways being so green and mountainous and very clean!She also says that they are a city that oil built.Two brothers struck oil BIG TIME and started an oil company that transformed from a small business to a global energy enterprise,called Phillips 66 or Conoco-Phillips Oil Company.

She also noted that her city is home to the Price Tower,the only skyscraper designed by Frank Llyod Wright.It was completed in 1956.It has 19 stories and includes a museum,offices,restaurant and the Inn at Price Tower.She said the interior rooms are triangular in shape.That must be pretty neat to see a triangle shaped room. :)

Terri's favorite restaurant is Murphy's Steak House,it's actually not famous for steaks and not an ideal choice if you are looking to eat healthy food.She says their slogan is "Gravy over all" and they really mean it,just look at the letter below and you'll see beef gravy on french fries....I haven't even tried cheese on my fries,let alone gravy,I'm just not the type to experiment with toppings other than ketchup on my fries,but who knows,it could be good.What will they think of next?Cream cheese over fries...hmm. ;)

She also told us about The Buffalo Stampede which was introduced a few years ago as a fundraiser.The vision was to bring life-size bison sculptures to parks and businesses throughout the city in a public art project.In all there are 15 of these bison statues.Each statue is purchased and them painted in a theme.The proceeds from each bison usually totals about $2,500.She said that when both of her older kids came back home to visit about two years ago,they arrived at midnight and it was cold and rainy,but Terri and her husband loaded the "kids" in the van and brought them to do some "buffalo hunting".The kids thought they were crazy since they had been living out of state,so they didn't know about the statues.I wonder if Brian and his sister thought they had been away from home just a little too long after hearing their parents tell them they were going buffalo hunting at midnight! ;)

Please enjoy Terri's lovely letter and postcards below:

Letter #86 from England

Letter #86 comes from Claire in England.She lives in Leeds,which is in the northern part of England.She grew up in Coventry,which is a smaller city right in the center of England.Coventry has about 300,000 people and is thought to have been a settlement during the Bronze Age.It was bombed heavily during WWII,so very few original buildings remain.The city was then rebuilt in the 1960's and 1970's with an abundance of concrete.It wasn't nice to look at so she knew she wanted to live elsewhere.

She has travelled around Europe with her best friend and they saw many different places,including Amsterdam,Berlin,Prague,Budapest,Salzbur,Rome,Venice,Verona,Florence,Sorrento,Nice,Paris,and the Jura.She says it was the best experince ever.I think that would definitely be on the top of my amazing things I did list. :)

She moved to Leeds to start working on a degree in Linguistics.She fell in love with the area and her four years of school flew by.

The population of Leeds is around 800,000 and is much larger than Coventry.It is the largest center for business,legal and financial services outside of London,there in the UK.She says that Leeds has so much to offer and so many different students to mingle with.She says that even though the city center is huge,but in only a 10 minute drive,you can see beautiful fields and countrysides and is only an hour from the seaside.She says the weather is not great and most days can be described as dull,gray and miserable.

Claire has gotten engaged last year,but has no wedding plans just yet.She says they have a lodger that she lived with for 3 years in university accomodation and is working to become a midwife.They also have a guinea pig.

She got a part time job working in local prisons and then decided she wanted to work with offenders and has been trying to persue that career ever since.She works full time with the parole department and she wants to be an officer one day.She also volunteers some evenings with young offenders (ages 10-16...yes she said 10) in police stations.She also enjoys writing to people in prison since she knows it can be very lonely.

Claire is also currently studying for a degree in Criminology and Psychology.She also says she is quite the night owl and loves to go to gigs and night clubs.Her favorite musician is Leonard Cohen.She also loves tattoos an has about 8 of them,one of which she sent us a picture of.

She loves all things vintage,such as cupcakes and old jewelry.Her main interest is photography.Her and her fiance love to collect old and toy film cameras.I have one of those Diana cameras that does lomography but haven't used it yet,but we've seen so many cool pics with the camera,that we just had to have it.I love to collect cameras myself.

Oh,she also sprayed the letter with her favorite perfume,Issey Miyake L'eau D'issey.I will have to see if our stores sell it so I can sample it. :)

Thanks Claire for the letters,card, brochures and pictures that you all can see below:

Letter #85 from England

Letter #85 comes from Craig in England.This is another lovely letter with beautiful penmanship,just look at the "hello" greeting,it's simply beautiful!He said that his letter was written with a dip-pen,a pen that is the next step from a quill pen,but made of metal to increase its life.

Craig lives in the most northernly part of the English counties on the east side of the country that borders Scotland.The county name (Northumberland) comes from a long time ago when the county was a lot bigger and more important than it is today.About 120 miles south of the city of Newcastle upon Tyne is a city called Hull,the river that runs through Hull is called the Humber and that is where the name Northumberland comes from - the land north of the Humber;Northumberland.

The county is a rural county producing food and has a small area,but is close to Newcastle,so it still has some "heavy industry" including shipbuilding,once the main industry in the River Tyne.The other big industry nearly 140 years ago was coal mining.Coal mining was so important,that a saying, "taking coals to Newcastle" which was pointless,was coined;nobody would bring coal because they had so much of their own. :) The area now produces automobiles (Nissan),beer, and is famous for its hospitality.He said that a few years ago it was said to be the 5th best city in the world for its nightlife.

He moved to the area he is in now 15 years ago and decided to stay because the area is so beautiful and unspoilt.He works for a well-known American company in a factory that produces perfumes for men and women.

He and his wife have many pets and his wife loves tropical fish...their fish collection seems to keep multiplying and they call their aquarium the cats television because their cats could sit and stare at it for hours....I guess they are wondering when they will become their dinner. ;)

Craig used to be in the army and spent most of his army life in Germany,but also went to the Falkland Islands twice,where he said he saw a lot of penguins.He also spent 8 months in the US and even drove from Florida to California,that must have been such a long and tiring trip,but also exciting to see so many states,although you don't get to see much from the highway,but you do get to see different landscapes.

His hobby is riding motorbikes and during the warmer months,he works with the police,teaching them how to ride more safely.

Craig loves writing letters to people all over the world.He has penpals in the U.S.,Canada,Indonesia,Germany and in England.He enjoys making his own envelopes,so that each letter is different.He also buys books from old book shops or clearance shops and turns them into something more interesting than store bought ones.We would love to see his transformed books.We bought some old books with beautiful covers just to do some art journaling in and make them unique,but we haven't started yet.It's always hard to start it for fear of ruining a great book.

As you can see from the letter,he loves to use fountain pens and having people to write to gives him an excuse to buy more pens,paper and ink.He loves the pens so much that is he actually having a custom made pen being made for him in New York!I think we have a lot to learn about the different types of fountain pens obviously.I just thought they came in small,medium and large,but I guess there must be a variety of different types of pens.

Thanks Craig so much for your lovely and beautiful letter!Please see his letter below that he enclosed in a handmade envelope that we love:

Friday, April 1, 2011

Letter #84 from Ireland

Letter #84 comes from Dominique in Northern Ireland.She is originally from Normandy but has lived in Northern Ireland for 21 years now.She went to Ireland while studying English in France and ended up staying in Ireland.She has two daughters,one of which just became penpals with my youngest daughter,who is thrilled to be penpals with her.She describes herself as creative,disorganized and a chatter box.

She says that her daughter,Eileen is very good at art and is always making things.She wants to be a journalist and her favorite subject is German.She says that her other daughter,Flo is a very good girl,very shy and is their little "monkey". :) She loves to cook,read books and loves animals.

They also have a cat,a dog,guinea pigs and four hens.

They live in a little cottage on the school grounds where she teaches French and her oldest daughter attends that school,too.

The town she lives in is called Ballymena,meaning "the middle townland".It is located in the county of Antrim and has a population of 28,717 people.The town was built on land given to the Adair family by King Charles in 1626,on the basis that the town hold two annual fairs and a free Saturday market in perpetuity.As of 2010,the market still runs.The town used to host Ireland's largest one day agricultural show at the Ballymena Showgrounds.The Town Hall was built in 1924 on the site of the old Market Ballymena situated in the Northeast of Ireland,about 45km from the capital of Ulster,Belfast.

Dominique  says she also loves nature.She says the beaches in her area are beautiful and wild.There aren't mountains but they have hills.She says the people are really friendly.She said that when she first went there,she was scared because of how the media portrays Northern Ireland as being a dangerous place with terrorists,etc.,but she says she has never felt threatened and recently things have quited down,so it is much safer now,too.She says the weather is not really great,with all the rain,but if it wasn't for the rain,you wouldn't see such beautiful grass growing in Ireland.I know when I picture Ireland,the first thing that comes to my mind is all the green grass and open space,so I agree with her that they need the rain to keep it beautiful.

Along with her letter,she included some brochures and recipes of Banofee Pie and Ulster Fry.I have taken a picture of the recipes alone so that hopefully you can click on the picture to enlarge it to get the recipe.Dominique's lovely letter and brochures and colorful envelope with a great assortment of stamps can be seen below:

Letter #83 from Belgium

Letter #83 comes from Caroline from Belgium.She studies Dutch and English literature and linguistics at the Univerity of Leuven,which was founded in 1425 and is the oldest univeristy in Belgium.She says that for her English exams,they can choose to take the test in either British English or American English.She chooses British since that is what she was taught in school.

Caroline's native language is Dutch,but it's the same language they speak in The Netherlands,but the dutch they speak in Belgium is a little different.She says it's often called Flemish.The way she describes it is like the english spoken in Britain,America,and Australia,they all speak English but with different dialects.They love to laugh at each other's Dutch dialects. :) Here are some dutch words/sentences she shared with us below.See if you can figure them out since they are common words we use everyday, I will not put the translation for you. :)
• hoe gaat het?

Erica says that in Belgium,most people speak more than one language.There are three official languages:Dutch,French and German.Most people also speak English and even some Latin.She can speak Dutch,English and French and can understand some German.Next year she plans to learn Japanese.We love all things Japanese so it should be exciting to learn Japanese....hopefully we will get a letter from Japan.

She also said that she has lived in the same place her whole life.She loves to travel,but has never been out of Europe.Her recent travels include Amsterdam,Leeds and Paris (oui,oui). :) Her dream is to one day visit Tokyo and the US.She would really like to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida.

She says her favorite show is Glee,but that it's not well-known in Belgium.The cast of Glee will be visiting London and Dublin this summer but will not be able to attend.

Erica also gave us a few facts about Belgium:
•Official name:Kingdom of Belgium
•Founded in 1830
•First king:Leopold I
•Current king:Albert II
•Motto: "Strength through unity"

Erica also enclosed a variety of ticket stubs and a map showing us where she lives and a booklet about the museums,which she says that when you're 26 or younger,you can get into the museums for $1.50.She also sent some coins worth 1 euro cent each,she says most people dislike the coins because they really can't use them and so they just take up space in your wallet.Thanks Erica for the lovely letter and goodies,which can be seen below:

Letter #82 from New Jersey

Letter #82 comes from Erica in New Jersey.She lives in a city called Waldwick,which is a 30 minute drive from New York City.She also lives 5 minutes from the train station which is very convenient,but very expensive,it costs $20 for a round trip ticket from her home to NYC.She loves to go to NYC with her friends and visit museums,shows,restaurants,etc.She says the shopping is very good in NYC.....I would love to go shopping there one day,too. :)

Erica has a sister that is deaf,so she speaks ASL (American Sign Language).We used to know how to sign the alphabets when the girls were small but now we have forgotten.We have been interested in learning sign language,so maybe we will have to look into that over here.She says that even though her sister has a college degree,nobody will hire her since most companies don't like to hire people with disabilities...that's really sad.I hope she can one day find a good job.Maybe she could teach people sign language or help tutor other kids that are deaf,too,until she can find a job,although it's so difficult for anybody to find a job these days.

Erica enclosed a brochure to her local pizza place that is very popular and also a postcard from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.Thanks Erica for your lovely letter and for the brochure and postcard!See her letter and goodies below:

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