Monday, April 29, 2019


     Hi! It's been a while, hasn't it? My sister-in-law, Sarah, mentioned my blog at Easter and it made me really happy to know that there's at least 1 person who occasionally reads this. Ha. Well.I've been busy since the end of January, especially with some letter writing projects, so I'll give a little update and hopefully blog more regularly.

        This February I participated in 2 letter writing events. Lettermo and InCoWriMo. Both events challenge the participant to write a letter (or more) every day of February. I was super behind with my penpalling so this caught me up and allowed me to write to a few new people. I had participated in Lettermo for a few years so it was delightful to reconnect with old friends. I like Lettermo because you create a profile and you can read through to find people you might connect with before you write. This was my first year doing InCoWriMo, where there is a list of random letter writers all over the world and you pick who you'd like to write to. I chose my recipients kind of randomly. I had each boy choose a few people I sent mail to and then I chose the rest based on location. It is warned that you might not receive any mail since the chances of someone randomly choosing you from the list could be pretty slim, but I got a lot of great letters. Some of the people I wrote too responded as well. In general, I get along well with letter-writers. They're my type of people.Letter writing has connected me with many friends that I may not have naturally connected with if I had encountered them in everyday life. I'm constantly learning and building friendships.
      March was filled with music festivals. It was so cool to watch both my students and my oldest son growing as musicians. My son and 2 of my students even got solos. I worked with a chorus of 100 boys from grades 6-9 from 65 different communities. It was a wonderful experience.

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In April, we took a short trip to New Brunswick, Canada. I will write another post about that soon. I also took part in a letter writing campaign during National Letter Writing Month called Write_On. I learned about this from someone who sent me mail during InCoWriMo. I'm so glad I learned about this because I've connected with some amazing people online. I'm hoping to get to know many of them! Their mail is incredible. Everybody seems so interesting and talented. Fortunately for me (and unfortunately for Matt?) I have discovered many new snail mail related companies I'd like to try out too. I will share some of those with you too in future posts.  Here was some of my outgoing Write_On mail.
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      I don't really have any talent with visual art, but the nice envelopes I made were from recycled calendars. (If you're a person who sees me regularly and you ever have a calendar you're about to throw out, consider saving it for me.Vintage stamps too!) I realized as I was writing this post that I don't often write many letters/cards/etc. to family and friends that I see often. Truthfully, some of the reason is that I know many of you don't "get" my "weird mail obsession," but if you'd ever like some postal joy, let me know and I'll send something out to you.
     I've been good about writing, but I've been awful about logging things. If I owe you a letter and it's been a long time, please let me know. I have a large "reply" pile but I'm less than a month from when I received your letter. If it has been more than that, please touch base.
      Ok, I have to head out to modify a quiz for my 6th grade music class. Have a great day!  If you're new to the blog, feel free to say hello and introduce yourself.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Netgalley books from January

I might try something new this year. I read books for NetGalley all the time and I thought I might feature some of the books I read every month. I always request a weird blend, so bear with me throughout the year. The first 2 are books that you could normally find in my "to read" pile.

The Forbidden Door by Dean Koontz

The Forbidden Door (Jane Hawk, #4)     
     I have loved Dean Koontz since I was in about 8th grade (with a small break for a few years.) The Forbidden Door is the 4th book in The Jane Hawk series. Jane Hawk is an FBI agent who has gone rogue after some troubling events in her personal life (like the suicide of her husband) and discovering a powerful group who seem to think they're beyond the law. This particular book addresses that Jane has been set up as a villain who is being searched for by the media and law enforcement. The whole thing is a rouse set up by the people trying to infect society with mind control technology. Jane is also trying to reunite with her 5 year old son, whom she has left with trusted friends. I enjoyed this book a lot. I liked the variety of the characters I hadn't read before and the familiarity of those I had.This book was published in October. Go pick up a copy!

Past Tense by Lee Child
Past Tense (Jack Reacher, #23) 
     The Jack Reacher series is another one I like. This is book #23 and it was published in November. This book is mostly set in Laconia, NH, which is fairly close to me so it kind of sparked my interest. At the beginning of the book, I felt it was a little slower than some of the other Jack Reacher books I've read but then it delved into some "family mystery" stuff and got more interesting to me. I always tend to like books that start as separate story lines and then join together somewhere in the book. Unfortunately, that added to the "just one more chapter" problem that I have before bed sometimes. I think I accidentally read 16 chapters in one sitting when I had originally planned to read 3 before getting some work done. Oops.

Other things I've read in January:
Am I Alone Here? by Peter Orner

Am I Alone Here?: Notes on Living to Read and Reading to Live

Next up for book club: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.
Little Fires Everywhere 

What are you currently reading? Have you read any of the books above?

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Mail Pile

     Do you know that feeling you get when you start seeing your "respond" pile slowly dwindling down to nothing? Well, I'm almost there. Thank goodness! If I continue writing at the pace I have been writing, I'll be done. The letters I still have to respond to are to: Marianne (NL), Marilyn (VA), Christy (FL), Donna (Canada), Wendy (Australia), Connie (Germany) and Sheri (AZ.)   This will bring me up to February, which I am super excited for. I'm taking part in 2 letter writing events:

The Month of Letters Challenge: The month of letters challenge is just what it sounds like.
  1. In the month of February, mail at least one item through the post every day it runs. Write a postcard, a letter, send a picture, or a cutting from a newspaper, or a fabric swatch.
  2. Write back to everyone who writes to you. This can count as one of your mailed items.
Lettermo 2019 Participant Blue
I apparently starting participating in Lettermo in 2016. (Some years I did better than others.) I am still penpals with many of my Lettermo friends so I'm so excited to see what kinds of mail I get in the month. I love discovering new friends.

InCoWriMo- I might actually be slightly more excited about taking part in InCoWriMo. (I don't think I actually know what the whole acronym stands for. I think it's actually International Correspondence Writing Month)  The idea is to send a handwritten letter, card or note to someone every day for the month of February. It doesn’t have to be a novel or even news, it’s entirely up to you what you write. There is a list of over 1500 people from many different countries. You choose who you write to. They say that, realistically, the numbers are against you getting a whole bunch of mail from this event since there are so many participants,but hopefully I'll get at least 1 letter. I plan to write a bunch, I just have no idea how to choose the addresses. Some of my current penpals participate in this too. If you're not a letter writer, you are missing out on some really cool friends.

       Are any of you taking part in either event? If you'd like some mail and are a visitor to my blog, feel free to send me a message. :) Have a great night!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Happy New Year!

     Hi everybody, remember me?   Happy New Year! It has been a long time since I've written. 2018 was just hard. 28 people I know- including former students, colleagues, church friends, my nana and my mom- passed away. Friends and family were diagnosed with diseases/sicknesses. There were not many fantastic moments. I was really looking forward to 2019. I'm not usually a person who cares about the calendar year changing, but I could use a "reset" this year. So... thank goodness for 2019.
       Some blessings from 2018:
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I found a pile of WWII letters written by 3 brothers in the Navy in a used bookshop and reunited them with the family they belonged to.

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Took a road trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama (and ate at Lambert's)

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Tim's team got 2nd in the state for baseball. (SO close to the Little League World Series, 1 out away)

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Got a kitten who is MUCH bigger now. Her name is Emmie.

          I did okay in my reading challenges this year. I met the Keyword Reading Challenge and didn't quite complete the other two. Frankly, I'm okay with it. Most of the year I walked around mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted. This year, I'd like to read 60 books.   

      I would also like to go back to my challenge to send at least 1 personal piece of mail every day. So far, so good. I'll start putting updates up this weekend.  If anyone is dying to send some fun mail out, please feel free to reach out. I will be participating in both Lettermo (3rd year?) and InCoWriMo-1st time. If you just found my blog and would like some personal mail, comment and I'll get back to you. My goal is to get back to all of my penpals, who have been patiently waiting, then I can address new mail.
    That's all for now. I hope that 2019 is filled with many blessings for you.

Monday, August 20, 2018

While I was away...

These are the cards I received in my mailbox when I got home from vacation.

Novgorod Kremlin (UNESCO)--Russia

 Elderflower punch- From Germany. I have never tried elderberry but maybe I'll give the recipe on the back of this card a chance. 

Also from Germany. I learned about the band Brings from Koln. Interesting sound so far. I look forward to listening to more of the band. 

This incredible building is an aquarium in Russia. Very cool.

From the US. I have always wanted to see the Northern Lights in person. 

 From Washington. Ironically, I just spent a little time in Tennessee, where Elvis lived from the age of 13. I didn't go to the Memphis area though.

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UNESCO sites of Germany

I also got 4 letters, an advanced reader copy of a book and a traveling notebook from the Netherlands. 

Friday, August 10, 2018

Cards week of 8/6

This card is from Jenny in NY. Ironically, she had just been talking about my town with a co-worker when she was assigned to send me the Postcrossing card!

 John and Annie from Hong Kong sent me this card of the Asian instrument, guqin. They also send some great stamps showing traditional Chinese wedding attire and some national scenery.

Postcard  from Finland about a fairy tale that explains that gnomes are nice and not scary.
Schloss Weilburg an der Lahn. This card is from Poland. I would love to see what the inside of this building looks like!

Another palace, this time from Munich, Germany
     Alena from Russia introduced me to the musician Pelageya. Russian women have such a dark, low sound. Anyone know why that is? I like it.
      Look at this intense guy! This card is from Belgium.
This is from my postcard pal, Sheri. It was 114 degrees there when she wrote this card. I could not survive living in 114 degree weather!
     Today is also received an incredibly encouraging letter from a woman in India whom I've known online. God's timing is amazing and her letter was like fresh air to my soul. Arielle, I'm super grateful!
Another cool owl card sent from Tereza in Czech Republic.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Rest of cards from 7/23 and week of 7/30

This card is from Joan in Taiwan. She is a university student studying animal science. She also played violin for 10 years.

Nessa in MD chatted with me about music. I love this quote.

Tarva in Finland introduced me to the band Nightwish. (Nessa, if you are reading- it might be "harder" than your normal music, but you might like them! Holy cow, check out their Phantom of the Opera!!!) I really enjoyed their songs.


Aliessia sends a Pixar card for the boys. I read a book called Culture Code that mentioned how Pixar works to improve their movies. I highly recommend it.

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Then I also received a from Sheri in Az. (Sorry, I already filed this card away when I responded.) I was assigned to send her a card through Postcrossing and we decided to be postcard pals. This plant grows in her yard. The flowers of this plant only bloom once in the plant's lifetime of about 100 years. That's pretty cool. They started to bloom on her plant last month.

This card is from Thomas in Germany. It is a historic place called Hartenstein. I commented to him that it doesn't look too different from some of the houses in the US.

Dorothy in New York sent me this gorgeous card of the Williamstown Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge. She loves walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, but I think I would be nervous. I know there's a section for walkers but it's a little too high up for me :)

This card from Milena in Poland shows some Polish symbols. The national costume and sausages were the ones I associated most with Poland. I didn't associate lavender with Poland before. I love learning new things.

This card is from Shawna who just moved from Minnesota to South Carolina. This reminds me a lot of the river we stayed by in Wisconsin, but the postcard shows the St. Croix River and we were on the Wisconsin River at the Dells.

Ha ha... I had never seen these "pressed fairies" before. Lady Cottington claimed to take photos of fairies. This is from "Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book" by Terry Jones.  Thanks Cheryl.

Ludmila from Belarus sends this other fairy. Funny to get 2 fairies in a row. 

Can you tell I've been sending a lot of mail lately? It's great to see my mailbox so well-fed.