How I Store Everything?

After 12 years of penpalling I have SOME received letters and letter supplies to store. Probably even too much. As some blogs that I love to follow (mostly Finnish ones) have posted how they store their supplies so I chose to jump to the bandwagon and show how I store everything in my room. Please note that I have burnt some letters (and postcards) that I have received, mostly from people who wrote a letter or two (or UGLY postcrossing cards) and then decided not to write back anymore – I know some penpallers (or postcrossers) might see this nearly sacrilegious but I don’t have that much space to store letters in and I’m soon moving out and need to take everything with me so it’d be nice if half of my stuff wouldn’t be letters or postcards.

But to storage~
I store my letters in three different boxes.

Floral box for received letters (and postcards) that I haven’t replied to yet

Bought from Tiger

Bought from Tiger

Peek to the box that reminds me I have to get my assignments done asap so that I have time to write letters!!!

Peek to the box that reminds me I have to get my assignments done asap so that I have time to write letters and postcards!!!

A huge box I took from my last apartment – my ex flatmate used it to carry her laundry to the laundromat and back but left it to us when she moved to Austria. So I chose to use it to store my foreign (replied) letters in it.

Foreign letters 2009-2013

Foreign letters 2009-2013

Just so you'd understand how big it really is :)

Just so you’d understand how big it really is ๐Ÿ™‚

White box for Finnish letters

Finnish letters from 2001 to 2013

Finnish letters from 2001 to 2013

Then I have two boxes for two different kind of postcards – postcards to be sent to penpals/via Postcrossing and a small tin box with beautiful postcards and unwritten cards from penpals I want to put to my postcard collections as written. Sometimes when I don’t have fitting postcards in my “to be sent” box I go to my favourite cards box and pick a card from there.

To be sent postcards - I've divided those by themes, for example Moomins, Jetoys, Animals, Finland, Other countries, Christmas cards and illustrations

To be sent postcards – I’ve divided those by themes, for example Moomins, Jetoys, Animals, Finland, Other countries, Christmas cards and illustrations

Unwritten cards from swaps and penpals - I usually send these to my pals asking them to write something to those and send back to me :)

Unwritten cards from swaps and penpals – I usually send these to my pals asking them to write something to those and send back to me ๐Ÿ™‚ All sorts of cards and mixed themes

Another tin box (I received these as Christmas presents from my parents some years ago – for postcards that I’ve received. After nearly 700 received postcards via postcrossing those aren’t big enough ;))

All my stickers BARELY fit the tin box - I buy more before I've used up all the stickers I already have :S

All my stickers BARELY fit the tin box – I buy more before I’ve used up all the stickers I already have :S

For letters and postcard to be sent I have a small tissue holder that I liked and bought instead of those lovely “MAIL” holders that cost quite a lot ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Hearts for the love of penpalling and Postcrossing :)

Hearts for the love of penpalling and Postcrossing ๐Ÿ™‚

For my stamps I have a small folder you get from Post Office if you order stamps online (I think I have at least 3 of those). And the stamp sheets I’ve promised for certain pals I keep separately and most of the time remember which sheet is for who ๐Ÿ™‚

Stamps folder and my current stamps - running out once again! :S

Stamps folder and my current stamps – running out once again! :S

Sheets for my Malaysian postcard pal, German penpal and my BFF

Sheets for my Malaysian postcard pal, German penpal and my BFF

And last but not least my huge collection of different letter sets.. I have way too much of those but can I give those away? Most of the time no. Does it stop me from buying more and new ones? Unfortunately not.

Unopened and barely opened letter sets, unused letter pads, some swapped sets (envelope + 2 papers) - envelopes and papers that don't match are stored separately in 2 other boxes I cann't find right now.

Unopened and barely opened letter sets, unused letter pads, some swapped sets (envelope + 2 papers) – envelopes and papers that don’t match are stored separately in 2 other boxes I cann’t find right now.

My favourite letter sets that I haven’t even opened because I don’t want those to run out?

I love fairytale themes, Amy and Tim, Miki, Angry Birds and everything UK themed

I love fairytale themes, Amy and Tim, Miki, Angry Birds and everything UK themed

And my most favourite sets - 5 different Sentimental Circus letter sets :3

And my most favourite sets – 5 different Sentimental Circus letter sets :3

Have you gotten rid of some of the letters or postcards you’ve received (if yes, how)? Do you have some exact places where you store your supplies and/or received letters and postcards? ๐Ÿ™‚ Do you have some letter set brands or characters that you really love and store unable to open and start using those? ๐Ÿ™‚

~Kristiina

Postcard Pals

While I’ve been a part of various penpal sites and penpal groups in Facebook I’ve read many MANY times that people don’t really care about postcard pals.

“There’s Postcrossing/tags/swaps if I want to send and receive postcards!”
“That’s just a waste of money!”
“You could never get close by just sending postcards./Letters are more personal.”

I’ve heard many excuses why people say it’s crap and why they won’t even give it a chance. Before I got contacted and asked whether I’d like to be postcard pals I didn’t even know that there could be a way to communicate just by sending postcards that it isn’t just “Hi, how are you? The weather in here is nice. School keeps me busy, bye!” I actually feel quite close to my postcard pals and we talk about everything that comes to mind.

Sent to my Russian postcard pal

Sent to my Russian postcard pal

My first postcard pals were from Netherlands, Thailand and China. From those three I only exchange postcards with the Chinese girl, the two others dropped me or just disappeared… A shame since I did exchange cards with the Dutch girl for 2 or 3 years, even during the time she was working as an au pair in Australia. We usually sent postcards in an envelope as I could easily fill 3 to 6 postcards while writing to her but with the other two I send the cards “naked” (written and stamped).

At the moment I have at least 9 active postcard pals from Great Britain, Malaysia, Japan, Russia, China, Hong Kong and Lithuania. I love all of them and sending and receiving cards from them usually makes my day. For example this Tuesday I received envelopes from Japanese and Russian pals.

Postcard pal with similar interests - everything cute and Asian. AND cats :)

Postcard pal with similar interests – everything cute and Asian. AND cats ๐Ÿ™‚

We exchange fantasy/illustration/Moomin postcards and usually add something small with those. And use pretty stamps :3

We exchange fantasy/illustration/Moomin postcards and usually add something small with those. And use pretty stamps :3

LOVE the cards and the small extras I receive ๐Ÿ™‚ And as the postcards are sent in envelopes there’s more space to write and to write in depth without the worry of someone else reading the back of the card ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t personally worry about these facts but some do..

I’m personally just as open about my feelings and experiences no matter whether the postcard is in an envelope or naked. Why worry over someone reading the back of the card? Thanks to Postcrossing there are thousands and thousands of postcards travelling all over the world all the time, not to mention soon coming Christmas season. No one has the time to read all the postcards so why worry too much? ๐Ÿ™‚

Me and my other Japanese penpal send two cards at a time, naked, and talk about current events. For example in her latest postcards we talked about koyo and the 2020 Olympics that are going to be held in Tokyo. Why worry over the fact that someone might read the cards? Don’t write anything too personal to those if you don’t want to, it’s that simple ๐Ÿ™‚

I personally prefer postcard pals over Postcrossing for many reasons, the tree most important reasons for me are…

1) You get to know the person a lot better and she/he won’t be just a stranger who sends you one card and that’s it.
2) You get cards that you actually like. Your pals get to know you and what you like and send cards accordingly to that. You can also agree what kind of cards you send to each other, for example my Japanese pals both send me illustrations by Japanese artists I love (SHU and Kaori Wakamatsu for example). In exchange I send whatever they want; Garfield, Looney Tunes or Moomin cards or even Linda Peltola‘s illustrations.
3) The stamps are AMAZING.

Japanese and Hong Kongese stamps.

Japanese and Hong Kongese stamps

My pals know that I love stamps and they mostly use the prettiest/newest/rarest stamps they can find – and I do the same for them.

I’ve met most of my postcard pals in Postcrossing or Postcrossing forums but Lithuanian girl found me thanks to one of the swaps inย Swap-bot over a year ago, the Malaysian pal I got thanks to the fact that we had been reading each others’ blogs for a while and one of the Japanese pals found me thanks to my swap ad in Lettersets.com.

Writing postcards is usually faster than writing a letter so I tend to reply to postcard pals a lot quicker – I can write the cards between classes, during a bus trip home or even before I go to bed. Letters take me hours and hours (sometimes days) to write depending on the length of the letter I’ve received but 2 postcards are ready to be sent in less than 30 minutes ๐Ÿ™‚

I even exchange cards with my best friend since we live hundreds of kilometers apart! I send her empty cards that I want her to fill and send back to me and she sends me her empty cards to be filled ๐Ÿ™‚ Both get exactly the cards we want to. And to be honest my “I NEED these cards written” pile is a lot bigger than my “postcards to send” ๐Ÿ™‚ This because I LOVE and collect postcards but I want those to be written before I add those to my collections ๐Ÿ™‚

Illustrations and a Masking tape from Japan

Illustrations and a Masking tape from Japan

2 postcards from Japan (left) and 2 from Hong Kong (right)

2 postcards from Japan (left) and 2 from Hong Kong (right)

Now I need to go and write a couple of postcards to my pals ๐Ÿ™‚
Does anyone else have postcard pals or do you think it’s just a waste of money/stamps/pretty postcards? ๐Ÿ™‚

-Kristiina

Where do I buy postcards and letter supplies from?

I was planning to write a post last week but as Iโ€™m apparently the only one in my family who has a camera and my mum was going to Paris so I gave her my camera (and she ended up not getting how the camera works โ€“ bought it in 2008 and have let it get wet in a pouring rain in 2011- so she didnโ€™t even get that many photos and instead used her phone). Iโ€™ve also been a bit lazy and uninspired ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Luckily mail brought me my letter set, postcard and sticker orders from Postcardgarden and Perromania and those got me inspired.

Letter sets, papers and a couple of envelope sets

Letter sets, papers and a couple of envelope sets from Postcard garden

Postcards and one set of stickers

Postcards and one set of stickers

Moomins and Belle and Boo card from Perromania

Moomins and Belle and Boo card from Perromania

World Heritage Site cards from Perromania

World Heritage Site cards from Perromania

Cards from Porvoo Autumn Market (Oct 3rd-4th) Moomin cards for only 0,5โ‚ฌ :)

Cards from Porvoo Autumn Market (Oct 3rd-4th) Moomin cards for only 0,5โ‚ฌ ๐Ÿ™‚

From where do YOU buy your letter/postcrossing supplies?

At least in Finland letter sets/papers are nearly impossible to find unless you want to use those boring white lined papers or buy expensive 10 papers + 10 envelopes set โ€œmeant for little kidsโ€. I do buy those whenever I get the chance to or find those but 3โ‚ฌ for such a small amount of paper is ridiculous โ€“ I usually use 3-5 A5 pages per letter.

Postcardgarden

As those are rather expensive and hard to find Iโ€™ve started to order letter sets and pads online since 2010 when I found Finnish online store Postcardgarden. Back then it was rather small and everything wasnโ€™t sold out the moment it hit the store like nowadays and unless my memory betrays me Iโ€™d argue that back then the prices were lower. The prices in the store are high compared to many other foreign stores but for, at least, Finns the postage is free after youโ€™ve spent over 20โ‚ฌ (which is easily done with just buying 3 different letter sets). ย The postcards are the main focus in the store but the sticker and paper selections are good if you manage to click to the site when the new products are put up (I recommend you to follow their Facebook page where the new products are mentioned).

The foreign stores I tend to use the most are Modes4u from Hong Kong and Janetstore from Taiwan.

Modes4U

Modes4u might have a smaller selection of goodies and is more expensive BUT the store offers free postage after youโ€™ve used over 60โ‚ฌ at the store. And they ALWAYS have some Sentimental Circus goodies no matter when youโ€™re looking. (Iโ€™m a HUGE SC fan and I LOVE the stickers and letter sets SO much!!).

Janetstore

Janetstore has good selection, I could use hours and hours going through the site, and the prices are quite low, for example one of my favourite letter sets, Amy and Tim (80 papers and 8 envelopes) costs nearly 9โ‚ฌ in Postcardgarden while in Janetstore the price is $2.8. Everything is cheaper than in any other online store. So whatโ€™s the catch? The postage prices are usually ridiculously high. If you spend the minimum of $10 in the store, no matter WHAT you buy, be it only stickers and small letter sets you can expect the postage to be at least $10. Last year I and my flatmate chose to order something together from Janetstore as its selection is amazing. We spent 90โ‚ฌ in total, of which 40โ‚ฌ went to postage. 40โ‚ฌ. RIDICCULOUS.

The shipping is FAST in all of the stores. I usually wait for a week, max.2 and I have everything in my hands ๐Ÿ™‚

Postcards on the other hand..

I tend to buy most of my postcards from a small store in Porvoo called Sadunhenki as the postcards from there are CHEAP. The cheapest cards are just 0,3โ‚ฌ and the most expensive ones are 1โ‚ฌ. And the most important thing is that all the Moomin cards are only 0,5โ‚ฌ! ๐Ÿ˜‰ CHEAP compared to the normal store prices that tend to be 1,5-4,8โ‚ฌ.

Perromania

But online stores that I use are mostly Postcardgarden, though I donโ€™t usually buy that many cards from there, and I finally tried my luck with Perromania, a store that has had its ads in Postcrossing.com and Iโ€™ve read of in some Finnish blogs (and yes, they mail abroad as well ;)). I bought way too many Christmas cards from the store and some โ€œrareโ€ Moomin cards as well as UNESCO World Heritage Postcards for a postcard pal of mine who seems to collect those now ๐Ÿ™‚ So far all of these stores have worked just fine for me but does anyone know a good online store for letter papers within Europe? Iโ€™d rather not pay high postage and pay a lot to the customs as all the orders OVER 23โ‚ฌ outside of Europe are stuck until you pay a lot. Any other recommendations than Postcardgarden

-Kristiina

Postcrossing – how to and why?

“If you send a postcard, you will receive one back”

About Postcrossing

I was introduced to Postcrossing back in August, 2009. I got the link, registered myself, took 5 addresses (which is the limit of how many cards you can send at once in the beginning) and sent the cards out the next day. Since then I’ve been addicted to the project, though I took some “time off” 2011-2012. In the beginning of 2013 I got back to the project and by today (September 25th 2013) I’ve sent all in all 635 postcards that have been registered of which 287 were sent in 2013. From the beginning the project was easy to understand, the page is in English but it’s easy to navigate in even if your English skills ain’t that good and the about page of the project has been translated to over 10 languages; Finnish, Swedish, Russian, French, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese to name a few.

How easy it actually is!

The start page of Postcrossing. Easy, right?

The start page of Postcrossing. Easy, right?

Click yourself to the site and this is what you will see. The basic “how to” is visible and right under it you can click “Create your free account”. You need to write your address, email, name, make up some sort of username and come up with a password you won’t forget. Then click create and you can start sending cards! ๐Ÿ™‚ Please remember to update your profile/description about what kind of cards you would like to get or what you’re like! ๐Ÿ™‚ No one likes empty profiles and they would rather come up with a fitting postcard to be sent to you based on what you describe yourself as, or what kind of postcards you like!

After you've created your profile this is what your homepage of Postcrossing will look like

After you’ve created your profile this is what your homepage of Postcrossing will look like

How many cards you’ve sent and received, how many cards of your current limit are travelling and what’s the distance all together. As I said in the start the cards allowed to be sent simultaneously is 5 but it grows quite fast to 10 and after that you get one more to send after every 50 cards that have been registered.

Sending a card

As visible there’s a “Send a postcard” option on the left of the site. By clicking it you open a window like this:

So you want to send a postcard?

So you want to send a postcard?

Rules about the project and confirmation that you’re absolutely sure you want to send a postcard.

I get to send within Finland!

I get to send within Finland! Go down the “and your postcard will go to” page and you get to see the the preferences of the receiver

There are various options, such as do you want to send and receive cards from your home country and do you want to send cards to repeated countries. I have the first options ticked and second not. (available in “Edit -> Profile”) I want to send only one card to one country at a time and I recommend all newbies to do that as well, otherwise you might end up with 5 postcards sent to Russia and having to wait 20-80 days for the cards to be registered and you to get your first card!

And while sending the card the possible demands you come in contact in some of the profiles are all just wishes, like written in the page:
You may state which type of postcards you like the most, but you can not make any demands for specific postcards. Your preferences will be used as reference only and not necessarily always satisfied.

Not all of the cards you send are to the recipients’ liking but you might also receive an ugly card you don’t like!

But when you take an address, go through some postcards you have or go shopping (most postcrossers tend to have a box full of unused postcards waiting to be sent ;)), put a stamp, get a pen and start writing!

All you need is to start writing!

All you need is to start writing!

Writing the postcard. Most people also like to see the date you wrote the card :)

Writing the postcard.Most people prefer to see the date you wrote the card ๐Ÿ™‚

Registering the card

There is an ID code given to you while sending a card. That MUST be written to the card or else the recipient might not be able to register it at all and you won’t receive a postcard! But when you receive a postcard with an ID code and message (maybe just the ID code and “Happy postcrossing” or a postcard FILLED with text, you never know!) you get to click yourself to this wonderful page:

Register the postcard and write something back to the sender, thank yous or ask for an address for a thank you postcard

Register the postcard and write something back to the sender, thank yous or ask for an address for a thank you postcard

Not all of the postcards you receive are to your liking but EVERY card you receive must be registered. And as you try to fill other postcrossers’ wishes you’re happier when people fulfill your wishes! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve received cards I haven’t liked at all and cards that I’ve liked so much that I’ve wanted to send a thank you postcard back! ๐Ÿ™‚

WHY do people do this?

I personally got hooked the moment I sent the first cards, I actually even remember what two of those sent cards looked like! The first card I received came approximately one and a half week after I had registered and sent my cards. It was rather ugly multiview card of some small town in Germany and the background of the card was poison green. It was ugly but I LOVED the feeling of getting something in the mail. Nowadays I’m the one picking the mail in hopes of getting to be the first to see whatever I received ๐Ÿ˜‰ And now that Finland FINALLY got its own Postcrossing stamps as a second country in the World (only Netherlands beat us to it!) I see no point in stopping. At least until the postcrossing stamps are sold out ๐Ÿ˜‰
To be honest I REALLY think the Dutch Postcrossing stamp was a LOT better as it actually depicted postcards. The Finnish stamps on the other hand…

Four stamps (if I remember right the Dutch had 10) and at least the "smiling/laughing" lips has been said to look too seductive/sexy/porn-ish!

Four stamps (if I remember right the Dutch had 10) and at least the “smiling/laughing” lips has been said to look too seductive/sexy/porn-ish! Not a safe stamp to send to Islamic countries I guess..

…yeah..
But I buy and use the stamps as most foreign postcrossers seem to like those, even though in most of the cases the receivers haven’t really commented on the huge (bigger than average) stamp.

I’ve also met some of my penpals and postcard pals (more about that later on) thanks to the hobby and received a bunch of amazing postcards from people around the world! How on earth would I have otherwise received a postcard from Iran or Bosnia-Herzegovina?

Some of my favourites I've received in 2013 (left-right, up-down): Japan, Norway, Russia, Netherlands, Taiwan and UK

Some of my favourites I’ve received in 2013 (left-right, up-down): Japan, Norway, Russia, Netherlands, Taiwan and UK. Not a big fan of city views ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks to postcrossing we can make someone’s day better by sending them a card they might find after a long and tiring day at work and the same will happen to us. Why not try to make someone’s day with a pretty postcard and a short message? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Some of the top countries in Postcrossing: (most users/most cards sent)
USA, Germany, Netherlands, Russia and Finland

Any fellow postcrossers want to share their opinions about the hobby? Or someone who might want to start sending postcards but has a question or two? ๐Ÿ™‚

-Kristiina

The Beginning.

Who am I?

Let’s all agree to use my 2nd name Kristiina as I’m sick and tired of people misspelling and/or mispronouncing my first name – been experiencing it for as long as I can remember and besides Kristiina sounds prettier! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m 22 years old tourism student from the 2nd oldest town of Finland – Porvoo (50km away from our capital Helsinki).
More can be found from About Me.

Why the name? Where does it come from?

Letters, Postcards and a Cup of Tea – the three most important things in my free time. I can’t wake up or even think about eating breakfast without a proper cup of black tea (with a little bit of milk poured in). Letters and postcards come a bit later as our mail lady tends to come around noon and I’m often waiting for her next to our small mailbox. I’ve been into letter writing since I was 10 (way back in 2001) so my letter writing hobby is coming to its teenage years while my Postcrossing “career” is only 4 years old.

How did I start letter writing?

I can’t remember how I wrote my first letter, when I wrote it and to which kind of paper but I do remember that I got my first proper letter after a week at a summer cottage. We came back home and on my desk was a Winnie the Pooh letter waiting for me:

Cancellation stamp states July 20th 2001 - 3 days before my 10th birthday.

Cancellation stamp is dated July 20th 2001 – 3 days before my 10th birthday.

I wrote the first letter to her as I got her address on one of those children’s crossword magazines.
I can still remember how thrilled I was to read the letter and I practically ran to my daddy telling him how my penpal likes S Club 7 just like I did! (it seems so long ago that they had their own tv-show and “made” music)
It was the letter that started this craziness with not enough space to store all the letters I’ve received and way too much space taken up by stickers, postcards and letter papers.
Too bad the pen friendship with K only lasted for about a year before she dropped me without a proper note and I moved on to longer lasting pals with whom I still write. One of my pals has written with me since 2004 so we’ve practically grown together! And yes, I still store some of the letters from people I don’t write with anymore. The letters have sentimental value.

How did I start Postcrossing?

A classmate back in Upper Secondary School (2009) told me how he had penpals from all over the world, most importantly from Japan which was my favourite country EVER back then (things have changed since then, thank god!). And as I got jealous I asked why did he get so much mail from abroad while all my mail came from within Finland. He gave me links to both postcrossing and interpals (more about it later on) and I got hooked after I got the 5 first addresses and sent the cards to Netherlands, Germany, USA, Poland and Malaysia. Now (September 10th 2013) I’ve sent over 610 cards all over the world and as Finland got its official postcrossing stamp just yesterday it seems I won’t be quitting anytime soon!

Thank you for checking the blog and if you’re not too busy I’d like to hear how you’ve started penpalling and/or postcrossing ๐Ÿ™‚ Would appreciate the share as well ๐Ÿ˜‰

-Kristiina

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