Thursday, August 18, 2011

Letter #265 from Oregon

Letter #265 comes from Danya in Oregon.Danya typed us a lovely letter on the most beautiful paper that we'd love to know where she got it from with a beautiful stamp on it.Danya lives in Portland where it is filled with greenery all year.Most of the year it is quite rainy,which is why it stays so green.On fall and winter mornings,you wake up surrounded by fog on all sides and it is really beautiful.She says that summer is the most beautiful in Portland because it is very sunny and warm and always perfect weather for picnics and bike riding along the river,the Willamette.She said that Portland is a very outdoorsy city,people love doing outdoor activities since the weather is so beautiful.People enjoy biking,kayaking,hiking,camping,rock climbing,rafting,etc.She also said that she is not far from Mount Hood,the highest peak in Oregon at about 11,000 feet.On clear,sunny days,you get a beautiful view of the mountain.

Portland is also a very artsy city,with lots of musicians,writers,artists,DIY hobbyists and crafters.They are also well known for the most famous bookstore,Powells,where you can spend days searching their different rooms of books.We would love to stay there for a few days and absorb the smell of new books and turn the pages of all those great books.We do not want to embrace the kindle....we love the feel and look of books too much. :) There are also many great coffee shops (which is a great place for most people to go when it's raining).Her favorite coffee shop is Stumptown's,which is one of the most widely served coffees in the city.

Along with Danya's lovely letter,she enclosed some tickets and postcards of Powells and Mount Hood,which can be seen below:

Letter #264 from Italy

Letter #264 comes from Nicole in Italy.She told us that she sent us a letter a while back,but unfortunately it never arrived,so I am really glad that she decided to send another letter that was finally received by us.Nicole also goes by the nicknames Nikki or Nicchan.Nicole is 17 years old and lives with her parents and younger brother.She also a three year old kitty named Tom Tom and even though she acts like a little devil,she always makes Nicole laugh,especially when she sleeps and the cat goes into all these strange positions while asleep.

Nicole loves listening to music,drawing,reading books and comics and photography and of course,snail mail.I think she requested to be penpals with my oldest daughter,so I will have my daughter write to you as soon as she can.

Along with Nicole's lovely letter,she sent us a beautiful postcard of her hometown,which was founded in 268 B.C. by the Romans as a colony and is now a tourist area.On the postcard is the Arch of Augustus that the Emperor Augustus had built in 27 B.C. to celebrate a battle he won.It  must be an amazing thing to see in person!Thanks so much Nicole for the lovely letter and postcard,which can be seen below:

Letter #263 from Australia

Letter #263 comes from Jaime in Australia.Jamie is located in Bendigo,which is in the region of Victoria,just over two hours northwest of Melbourne. (Just want to say that we love Australia's rocks!!) Back to the letter... They are currently having their winter season so it is quite cold there now and she says she will be so happy when spring arrives.

Jaime was born and raised in Wisconsin....cheesehead! ;) She moved to Australia in 2006,where she lives happily with her husband,cat and beloved puppy.

She also shared some Australian slang with us that we found amusing...(I will list the US English version first,then Australian):

trunk of a car - boot (??) of a car
hood of a car - bonnet (is this a pioneer one?) of a car
have a look  -  have a captain cook,these just make us giggle :)
have some tea or coffee - have a cuppa.... ok,this one is more what we would expect
have a good afternoon- have a good arvo.... huh? :)

I think we would love listening to the Australians speak....I have heard that they call cotton candy "fairy floss" and popsicles "icy poles" ,which we think is really cool.Thanks Jaime for your lovely letter,which can be seen below:

Letter #262 from California

Letter #262 comes from DeeLee in California.DeeLee's real name is Deandra and she is half Chinese,half Caucasian.She was born in Vancouver,Canada and moved to California as a child.That's so funny because our previous writer lived in California but moved to Vancouver,so it's just the opposite. :) She said that her favorite childhood memory is camping up in Big Bear Mountains.

She says that the area she lives in currently started out very rural and unknown,but is now becoming a new "hot spot" in southern California.It's full of lush vineyards,pretty views and well kept agriculture/gardens.There is also a marvelous school system there and a lot of nice trails to walk on.It's also home to the biggest casino in California- Peehanga.DeeLee saw the musical, "Hairspray" there and one of her fave bands,the Goo Goo Dolls play there.

Thanks DeeLee for your lovely letter,brochures and goodies,which can be seen below:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Letter #261 from Canada

Letter #261 comes from Shaylin in Canada.Her mother wrote us the previous letter and Shaylin was interested in writing and becoming penpals with my youngest daughter,Semeeah.Shaylin has one brother and will be going into 8th grade next September.She enjoys playing the piano,playing soccer and dancing.

She said that while we were having a heat wave,they were getting cold weather.She also shared some facts with us about Canada:

* There are 10 provinces and 3 territories
*It's the 2nd largest country in the world
*It's very cold! :)
*There are lots of beaches,forests and mountains.

Along with Shaylin's lovely letter,she sent us a beautiful postcard and said that you can see in the background of the postcard where they live,on the side of the mountain.

Thanks Shaylin for your lovely letter and postcard,which can be seen below.Semeeah will be writing back to you soon!

Letter #260 from Canada

Letter #260 comes from Susan in Canada.She lives in North Vancouver with her daughter (her letter will be posted next),son and her husband.Susan works from home as an editor,researcher and writer.They have three cats named Little Bit,Jamie (also known as Mr. Trouble) and Dottie.

In her spare time she enjoys all kinds of crafts,reading,walking,gardening and spending time with her family.She also said that she likes to do anything with mail...who doesn't?

She told us that North Vancouver is just across the Lions Gate Bridge from Vancouver,on the North Shore Mountains.They live 680 feet up one of the mountains,so steep hills are a part of their everyday lives....steep hills really scare me and I don't know how they deal with snow on the mountains...scary!They have a forest in their backyard and get a variety of wildlife visiting quite often,with the most offensive visitor being the skunks,then there are raccoons,coyotes and even black bears!She says that they don't live in the country,yet there was a cougar in their neighborhood.From her deck,she can watch a bear roll around on the lawn and also see the view of massive skyscrapers downtown.When her kids were in school,the teachers had to check out the playgrounds to make sure there weren't bears out to attack the kids.I don't think I would ever play outside if I thought there were bears.

Vancouver is a beautiful city and she says you can literally go sailing and skiing on the same day!There are forests,beaches,farmlands and all the things that come with a big,multicultural city.But it's also a rainy city,and not very snowy where people live.She says that they don't get as much snow as the rest of Canada does,so that's a good thing.

Susan is originally from the San Francisco area and says that life in Canada is very similar to life in the states.She says they get books,tv and music from the US and Britain,so they get a variety of choice.She also said that the stereotype that Canadians are very polite is absolutely true!

Thanks Susan for your lovely letter and postcards (we love olympic mascots),which can be seen below:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Letter #259 from Michigan

Letter #259 comes from Kate in the great state of Michigan.When I looked on the map,she doesn't live too far from where we used to live.Maybe if we ever go back,we can stop by and say hi to her. :)

Kate will be a senior this year.Kate has one younger sister and also a Shetland Sheepdog named Blaze.She enjoys dancing at the dance studio where she does all types of dance,including ballet,tap,and jazz.My dream in middle school was to be a ballerina,but I was never able to take classes,so I wonder if I would have been good at it.Kate also says that she is the family photographer since she is the only one who likes taking pictures.She also enjoys travelling and has a blog with the pictures she took on her travels,called Kaitlyn's Travels.

She says there isn't much to do in her town called Davison since it's a small,quiet town,but has recently been buidling up a lot the past few years.During the summer they have a festival called  The  Festival of Flags.They have a carnival,art fair and fireworks.There's also a great pumpkin festival in the downtown area in the fall.

Her favorite places to go in Michigan are in the northern part of the state.She enjoys places like the small towns and cities on the coast of Lake Huron,such as Tawas and Oscoda.Her family enjoys camoing up north every summer since it's so pretty there.The day before she wrote this letter,she had gone to Port Huron and says it was so fun.She got to see the Blue Water Bridge,which connects Port Huron to Ontario,Canada,She says she has never been so close to another country before.She says they plan to go back since they live so close and they had so much fun.There are so many great places to see that we did not get to visit while living in Michigan,but if you are thinking about visiting Michigan,here are a few places that people over the years recommended we see:Holland (especially during the tulip season),Sleeping Bear Dunes,Mackinaw Island (we went to the city,but the ferry ride for all of us to the island was too expensive so we stayed in the city,which I also recommend).There are a lot of great places farther up north,too,such as waterfalls and of course you could stay in a cabin and enjoy the great weather since Michigan truly has the best of all four seasons.Yes,I am the advocate for travelling to Michigan...we consider it to be our forever home even though we are here.Oh,before I forget,Kate and her sister were so inspired by our project that they started their own project to collect 365 letters in one year...we wish them the best on their project,too!

Thanks Kate for your lovely letter and two postcards that we love,which can be seen below:

Letter #258 from Florida

Letter #258 comes from Michelle in Florida.She says she just had a birthday in did I,but we won't reveal our ages. ;) She's been living in Florida the past six years and lived in Illinois previously,in a suburb west (about 30 min) of Chicago.Chicago was one of our fave places to visit when we lived in Michigan,so we went quite a few times,it's a great city,but too much traffic,but you still gotta love it!She used to work at the Art Museum in downtown Chicago and told us about how the workers would eat lunch at the park and the squirrels would come and take food from your hand.She once even fed them a powdered donut...wonder how he liked all that sugar? :) Now she lives in a small town,right across the river from the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center.She could even see the shuttle and rocket launches from her backyard!That must have been pretty amazing to see and to not even have to leave home...prefect!Unfortunately,we have seen the last space shuttle launch so a lot of people in the area have lost their jobs.Michelle works as a guidance counselor for  a jr./sr. high school in the area and has seen the enrollment go down because of the loss of jobs.

Michelle's town is also near the ocean and is also about a 20 minute drive from Port Canaveral where the Disney Cruise ship and other ships go out to sea.Next to Port Canaveral is Cocoa Beach (reminds me of I Dream of Jeannie),where tourists like to visit.

Unfortunately her town was only busy during the space shuttle launches,people would line the streets along the river to watch the take-offs,like people waiting to see a parade.She also lives 40 minutes east of Walt Disney World,Sea World and Universal Studios.She recently went to Sea World during her summer break.She hoped to sit in the splash zone where Shamu splashes,but there was no room.She enjoys seeing the Florida Manatee and touching the sting rays and dolphins.

She also told us that the area she lives in doesn't usually get hit by hurricanes very often,so that is a good thing.She also says that are further from Orlando,so they don't get as much rain as they do there.

Michelle also has four dogs,two goldfish and one small turtle.She enjoys teen books and fishing.Sometimes at the beach,she catches small sharks,but they always throw them back.Thanks Michelle for your lovely letter,which can be seen below:

Letter #257 from Australia

Letter #257 comes from Jemma in Australia.Jemma wrote to us from Queensland on a warm and sunny day,even though it is the middle of winter there.When she wrote the letter,the temperature was 22° C.The part of the country she lives in has a sub-tropical climate,so it never gets really cold there.But, in Victoria,they are probably having their ski season in full swing.She also said that none of the cooler weather ever seems to last as long as in her home country of England.And she also said that she finds the summers in Australia to be really hot since she is used to cooler weather,of course. :) Like she said,it's possible for us as human beings to adapt to most things,we just may never really enjoy it.

Jemma says that before November of 2009,she had spent all her life in Oxford,which is well known for Oxford University,one of the UK's most prestigious and oldest universities.She says that it's not a campus based university like here in the states,but it is formed out of 44 separate colleges.Many of the beautiful old buildings that make up Oxford's skyline belong to the university.But there is a also a lot of history there that doesn't belong to the university,such as the Castle Mound site (the remains are from 1070 AD).Also,there is the Saxon Tower of St. Michael at the North Gate,which is 1,000 years old that is still standing!That must be amazing to see!

She really misses the history from her home city since Australia is a newer country,in terms of being populated widely,so there isn't as much history to the area.She also misses her family and friends,but is thankful for the technology that allows her to keep in touch with them,so she wonders how people years ago coped with only letters from their loved ones and the fact that they may never have seen one another again.

She moved to Australia she could be with her partner who is Australian and in the army there.They do hope to live in Europe some day soon though.She never imagined she would live there as she had always lived close by her family and says that everybody in the family thought she would be the one who would never move so far away....looks like they were all wrong.You just never know where life's adventures will take you.

Jemma studied Geography and Sociology at Oxford Brooks.You need to be an exceptional student to get into the Univeristy of Oxford,so she went to the city's second univeristy.

One of the things Jemma has come to learn moving overseas an starting from scratch is that life doesn't come to you,you have to go and actively find it!With her partner in the army,she has move around a lot.When her partner had to leave her alone for two months,she realized that she could shut herself in her house and miss him terribly or she could push herself out the door and join some local groups to meet people and not feel so lonely.She says that she is not the type of person to just go out and join in,but she took the plunge and found it to be well worth it.She says that how one little thing leads on to lots of other little things,like the snowball effect.She joined the local singing group,which helped her meet wonderful people of all ages and backgrounds.She also got the opportunity to sing at many places.She also helped with the community newsletter,made cards to sell for charity,volunteered at two vineyards,which led her working for three months bottling wine...quite different from her office jobs in England. :) Her advice to anyone moving to a new place is to join some sort of club in your area an if there are none,she says to start  your own.She also says to be willing to try anything (within reason) once and be open to new experiences and have a sense of adventure.

She has recently moved again,this time to a busy suburb,but she says that even though cities have more people,it's always harder to meet new people and that there are less local groups,although she has just found a papercraft group and possibly a choir,so she takes what she learns from her previous home and adapts it to her new home and it has worked for her,so far.I'm glad to see that she is having so much success at finding new friends to keep her busy since it must be so hard to be so far away from loved ones.

Thanks so much Jemma for your lovely letter and beautiful postcard,which can be seen below:

Friday, August 12, 2011

Letter #256 from Canada

Letter #256 comes from Carrie in Canada....say that fast five times. :) Carrie describes herself as a champion procrastinator,even though she has managed to get two university degrees and a college diploma by age 37.She gets things done,but it just takes her a little longer.

She even said that she was a little worried about how she would represent her country or city.She has lived in Edmonton,Banff,Calgary,Montreal, and currently lives in one of my favorite places I want to visit,Vancouver.She has a graduate degree in library and information studies,so she is an arccivist and librarian.She takes care of historically important documents,but with the current state of the economy,her job hasn't been a permanent one as of yet.

Carrie told us that it was because of the love for her sister that she moved to Vancouver and wanted us to know that life doesn't always turn out how you hope or plan,so basically always make room for the unexpected to happen in life.I'm so glad to hear that she made the decision to be with her sister to take care of her in her time of need and think that she sets a good example of how families should act.She says that her sister is getting better,I'm sure with time she will heal more and more.

Carrie has been with her partner for eleven years now and doesn't plan to get married since she's not one for traditions.She also told us that she has many tattoos,used to shave her head and dyes her hair various punk colors,with blue being her favorite.She currently has long dreadlocks and says the plus to that is not having to brush your hair,so I guess wind is not her enemy. :)

So to sum up Carrie,she has moved around a lot,sometimes writes reviews for money,edits and proofreads for money,watches a lot of tv,reads a lot of books (her favorite writer right now is Amelie Nothomb),watches a lot of movies,prefers walking to any other form of transportation,listens to a lot of music,writes letters,makes cards and bookmarks (and is thinking about selling them).Whew,that was a lot,but that is what she listed for us to know about her,yet she feels like even all those descriptions doesn't really tell us who she is.I hope Carrie is happy with this posting and how she comes across here.

Along with Carrie's lovely letter,she included some postcards,stickers,ticket stub,and their business cards,which can be seen below:

Letter #255 from California

Letter #255 comes from Samantha in California.Samantha says that she will be moving to the east coast soon to start college,where she will be studying journalism.When I was in high school,that was one of the things I wanted to be in the future since I loved writing.She says she also loves to read and do creative things such as crocheting.She loves vintage things and even typed her letter on a vintage typewriter that belonged to her great-grandfather.I think vintage typewriters are so cool,I have a small collection myself,but they need some new ink ribbons,so we haven't been able to use them. :(  Samantha also enjoys swing dancing and the "big band" music that goes with it.She goes dancing at least once a month with her friend and they have a blast!

Samantha is a wonderul mix of Cuban and Italian and grew up speaking Spanish and knows more about the Cuban culture.Her family went to California after the Communist Revolution in Cuba in the 1960' ince it wasn't safe anymore.One of her favorite things about Cuban culture is the food and she is worried about missing her food when she goes to school.Hopefully she won't be too far from any Cuban stores or restaurants so she can have her fave foods such as natilla,a dessert that is similar to creme brulee,which she even gave us the recipe to,so that should be fun to make.

Samantha describes her family as being very big and loud...sounds like a fun family to me. :) She said that on Christmas Eve,the whole family gets together for a big dinner party with traditional Cuban foods like lechon,platanos fritos,frijoles negros and cafe con leche (roasted pork,fried bananas,black beans and coffee with milk).They also enjoy playing their favorite Cuban music,such as Celia Cruz,who enjoyed living life and was very optimistic.

Thanks Samantha for your lovely letter and recipe,which can be seen below.We also want to wish her the best when she starts college.

Letter #254 from Singapore

Letter #254 comes from Qinyi in Singapore.This is our first letter from Singapore so it was quite exciting.Qinyi (pronounced Chin-yee) is a Chinese girl born and bred in Singapore.She says that her home country is full of migrants since a lot of their ancestors moved there from the 1800's.Singapore is an island state,meaning that technically they are geographically smaller than Manhattan,NY,but still considered a country.Her country has about four million citizens and other expatriates there.Most of them live in either public or private apartments due to land scarcity.To give us an idea of just how small the country is,she says that if you were to drive 2-3 hours in any direction,you would be out of the country.

There is a diversity of people from different ethnicities and the four major races found there are - Chinese,Indian,Malay, and Eurasians.The national language us Malay,or to be more precise,Behasa Melayu,which is different than the Indonesian Malay that they call Behasa Indonesia.Despite the fact that Malay is the national language,English is the "lingua franca" there and is taught as a first language,due to the fact that they were a British colong until the 1950's.The British educational system is still used in their country to this day.

Qinyi speaks English and Mandarin and can understand a little Malay and Cantonese - a Chinese dialect.She lives only 20 minutes from the city,or main shopping area.She says that you can find food at almost any time of the night.Since the country is so small,many people spend time travelling around the region.She has travelled to China,Malaysia,Indonesia,Thailand,and Hong Kong.She also lived in Brisbane,Australia for just over two years,where she studied art history at the college there.

Qinyi currently works as a curator at a university art museum and her job consists of researching about art and also to conceptualize and put up art exhibitions.It is a very challenging job,with little pay,but is something she enjoys doing.She also enjoys writing letters since it is much more intimate than an email....I couldn't agree more.I definitely think you can learn a lot about people from a handwritten letter that you could never get from an email.She noted  how her city is so hectic yet she is trying to slow down and enjoy life as it is.Letters are indeed a nice way to relax and not have to worry about the outside world.

Along with Qinyi's lovely letter,she enclosed a postcard of an art exhibition,which can be seen below:

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Letter #253 from California

Letter #253 comes from Jennifer in California.Jennifer lives in southern California and works at Disney so she let us know ahead of time that the letter will include a lot about Disney since it is her life. She has been collecting Disney items since she was four years old,so I guess it makes sense that she should have a job there. :) Jennifer is the ultimate Disney do we know that?Well,she wrote to us on Mickey Mouse stationery using a Mickey pen on top of a Cars lapdesk while wearing Buzz Light Year socks...ok,maybe that was a little too much info,but I told you she was a true fan,right? :) She is even fortunate enough to have an annual pass to Disneyland so she goes often.She says she tries hard to be a grown up,but she loves cartoons and Disney too much.I'd like to know who said adults can't watch cartoons because I still love cartoons,too. :)

Jennifer also enjoys cooking,writing letters,hanging out with friends and family and reading biographies.She also loves to travel and has recently visited the Grand Canyon,which is only a six hour trip from her house.She said that when you stop and look out at the canyon,it looks like a huge painting because it seems to never end.We've never been there but it's on our list of places to visit one day.

She loves where she lives because there are countless places to eat at.Within just 10 minutes of her house,she can get any type of food you can imagine.Her favorites are Japanese and Italian,while her fiancé prefers Mexican food.

Jennifer also gave us a quick run down on how close she is to everything....

20 minutes to the beach
20 minutes to Hollywood
55 minutes to Disneyland
1 hour to see snow
3 hours to Las Vegas,NV
20 minutes to downtown L.A.
15 minutes to the zoo
3 hours to San Diego
4 hours to Mexico
6 hours to San Francisco
6 hours to Sacramento...the state capital

Along with the letter,Jen sent us a couple of postcards,which can be seen below.Thanks Jen for the letter and postcards! :)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Letter #252 from England

Letter #252 comes from Gavin in the capital of England and of the United Kingdom,which is London.The United Kingdom consists of four seperate countries - Scotland,England,Wales and Northern Ireland.Gavin is originally from Scotland,but moved to London at age 18,which is when he discovered a city with a population that was larger than his whole country,which was quite shocking to him.

Gavin lives in a flat (apartment, for us in the US),as most people there do.Above him is a family from Bangladesh,below him is an Englishman and below that man is a couple from Nigeria.That goes to show you how diverse London really is because you can find people from almost any country living there.He lives in the central part of the city,where the neighborhood is predominately Bangladeshi,with a mix of white British.Gavin says it is quiet difficult to find someone born and bred in London that actually lives in London since it is so diverse.He says that it is a very cosmopolitan place and it shows that everyone can,on the whole,live together and get along together no matter where they are from.

They also have lots of little squares that are live parks,but smaller.The places he sees on his walk are some well known places,such as St. Paul's Cathedral,Tower of London,Bow Church,Big Ben and Covent Garden.He says he is fortunate to live within walking distance to all of those great places.Makes me really wish I was there.The downside,he says,is that he lives where the tourists come to stay,by the thousands.Less than a minute from his flat are six large hotels and two youth hostels,so it can be quite noisy,but since it is the noise of people having fun,he doesn't mind.

Gavin's are is called Bloomsbury and is famous for a literary and artistic community called the Bloomsbury Set.The most famous person from there would be Virginia Wolf.She wrote a book titled,"Orlando" and Gavin says they have turned it into a fanous movie and he recommends both highly.

There are many museums in his area,the most famous being the British Museum,which is where he used to work as a book buyer.His favorite museum is The Tate,which he says is worth looking up online.He says the British Museum would most likely be helpful for homeschooling since it covers world heritage....he also noted to check out the Assyrians artifacts on their website since it is lovely stuff and very dramatic.I will definitely have to check that out since he made it seem really interesting.

When Gavin was at school in Scotland,all children were taught to knit,but that has sadly stopped just this year.Hmm,wonder if the internet is the cause of that?Anyways,he has started knitting again since it is very relaxing to do,unless you make a mistake,then you might want to rethink that. :) He likes that you can make something useful.He also told us that they call yarn,wool over there.I would love to learn to knit and crochet one day,too because I love the thrill of making something handmade.I always wished I had a crafty family that would give me all handmade gifts because I truly love handmade gifts the most.They are always unique and of good quality.

Gavin also told us that he loves to cook.On the weekends,they have a farmers market where farmers from outside London bring their wares to sell to the city folk.He tries to shop this way,but it is not convenient or cost effective.The city also recycles a lot and is very craft and food oriented.I think this may be my dream place to live. :) He also doesn't own a car since many people use buses,trains or tubes.The public system is very good there and most people in the UK use their services,but there are still a lot of cars in the city.

The main shopping street in London is Oxford St,which is best to avoid, if possible.He says that it is so busy that you would never believe there is a recession going on if you saw all the people there.Each different area of London has their own shopping areas.He also told us that London is made up on small towns and villages that have joined up in what they call an urban sprawl.Oxford St. was originally built about 150 years ago to provide shops for the whole city in a central location.

He ended his letter with some random facts,such as his flat was built in 1830 and that if you read any of Charles Dickens's novels set in London,then it is likely to be where he lives.His (Charles Dickens) former home is now a museum with a good cafe that is within five minutes of his flat.

Thanks Gavin for such a wonderful letter.... I can tell you are very proud of where you live and I really felt like getting on a plane to go and visit the areas you mentioned!Gavin's lovely letter can be seen below:

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