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 🙂

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 🙂 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 😦

Hearts for the love of penpalling and Postcrossing :)

Hearts for the love of penpalling and Postcrossing 🙂

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 🙂

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? 🙂 Do you have some letter set brands or characters that you really love and store unable to open and start using those? 🙂

~Kristiina

Pages for penpal hunting

Someone asked me in my Postcrossing post whether there are similar sites to penpalling. That got me thinking and I thought to mention and write about the couple of sites I’ve found postcard pals and penpals from.

Interpals Penpals

Interpals Penpals

The most known site (in my experience) is Interpals. It’s the site from where I got my first foreign penpals and I still write with some of them. The site is really easy to use, just remember to write something in your profile so that fellow penpallers can learn something about you before they contact you 🙂 You wouldn’t like to contact someone with a blank profile either, would you?
And it’s best not to be put off by some relationship and similar messages from men around Africa and Middle East. Those are quite common if you’re online daily unless you choose to block men. There is an option to choose people who get to contact you (age range and genders) and if someone offends you, you can always block them. The men who use the site as a dating site are the biggest minus in my mind. And they are one of the reasons I don’t check the site that often anymore..

Send something site after you log in. REALLY plain.

Send something site after you log in

If there’s a penpalling site that’s almost like Postcrossing, in which you request an address and get one random address from anywhere in the world it’s Sendsomething. I heard about the site from various penpal blogs and after approximately a year I gave it a try. Sent a bunch of postcards and a couple of letters (mostly to USA as most of the users are from there) and received a letter from Netherlands and a postcard from USA. Unfortunately not that many people reply to the letters or postcards they get from strangers – I sent 15 items in total and got 2 replies and while I replied to the letter and postcard I got from strangers thanks to the site, I never heard from them again.

Here’s a sample from one profile I got

Random Address + Profile I got by clicking "Random Address". You don't have to send them anything if you don't want. Instead you can browse the site as long as you want and choose someone who sounds interesting.

Random Address + Profile I got by clicking “Random Address”. You don’t have to send them anything if you don’t want. Instead you can browse the site as long as you want and choose someone who sounds interesting. Not too much info but enough to get some sort of an image of the person.

My current favourite penpal pages for the last year are the following:

Deutsche post's Letterner

Deutsche post’s Letterner

Letternet is a penpalling site for Germans, though there are some people all around the world as well. You can register and get the page in English but before that the site is in German and for people who don’t speak any German (I can say hello, thank you, I love yo and some curse words) it can be a bit challenging to start.

You register, create a really weird profile – you describe what friendship means to you, what stress is for you and what your humour is like by choosing from a couple of pictures they offer you. You get a chance to upload a SMALL profile picture, write things such as your name, gender, birth year and choose your occupation, written languages and interests/hobbies from lists. You have NO space to write anything personal and you can’t even start to look for German pals before your address has been verified by sending you a letter with a confirmation code you have to write to the site before your profile is available for others. In my case the letter came within a week back in 2011 when I first started using the site.

The cons of the site are the facts that there are no possibilities to contact other people. You send them a request – requesting to become penpals and the first contact you have after the request is accepted is by sending each other letters. In some case the letters can be a bit of a let down as you have NO idea whether the person writes fluent English or not. And I’ve also gotten a letter written entirely in Finnish using translators and dictionary.. Let’s just say the letter wasn’t that deep or understandable. And for foreigners – you can ONLY send requests to Germans. So far I haven’t been able to visit ANY other profiles no matter how hard I’ve tried and one of my pals I got thanks to the site told me that she has penpals from all over Europe thanks to the site.

Up and running once again! :)

Up and running once again! 🙂

Penpal of the Week is a post blog dedicated for the art of penpalling. The Canadian blogger Julie posts penpal ads of her readers (the ads are always handwritten and sent to Julie and she scans those for the blog) and interviews of penpallers from all over the world.

The blog was quiet for the summer but during the last couple of weeks Julie has become more active once again and is posting a penpal ad nearly every day!! Penpallers over the age of 20, go and check if you’d find a new penpal from these lovely ladies that have sent ads to Julie!! 😉

I haven’t personally mailed any ads to Julie but I have found 3 really dear penpals of mine thanks to Julie’s blog (both of my American penpals!). Not every ad in there makes me want to contact the person and ask whether she’d like to start penpalling with me but it happens now and then and I usually have to battle in order NOT to send an email or letter to the person. I need to remind myself that I’m a bit behind on my letters and need to write those and keep my “to reply” pile as small as I can for months before I can even think about a new penpal!!

Hopefully the post was to any help for people looking for penpals – or people stuck on one penpalling site 🙂

~Kristiina

How I Started Penpalling?

As I wrote in my first blog post, I received my first letter in July 2001, over 12 years ago. Back then snail mailing was still quite a big thing, many penpalling advertisements in various magazines and only two of my friends had PCs and I didn’t even know what e-mail was! And letter papers, letter sets and cute stickers were sold in almost every store. Oh how things have changed…

Two out of Three letters that came this week - 4th letter from Emma, first letter from Vanessa. Both from Finland

Two out of Three letters that came this week – 4th letter from Emma, first letter from Vanessa. Both from Finland

I got my first penpal thanks to a children’s crossword magazine and I wrote with her approximately a year. After that it took me a while to find my next penpal whom I got in touch with in 2004 thanks to a girl’s comic magazine W.I.T.C.H’s summer extra. With the magazine came a huge poster of one of the main characters Will and behind the poster (I swear it was at least the size of A3! Too bad I’ve lost it ages ago) were tens of different pen palling ads from girls between the age of 7 and 14. I was almost 13 at that time and got in touch with Viivi, a 11 year old girl living only 50 kilometres away from me. While writing with Viivi I also tried to contact a couple of girls via Pollux horse book club from Finland, Germany and Sweden. Too bad, only one of those girls, Katri from Finland, replied to my letter back in 2004-2005. There was also a try to write with a couple of old classmates in 2002-2004 but it never lasted longer than 4 or 5 letters as they weren’t as interested in letter writing as I was.

The first letter I got from Viivi. Horses and Harry Potter were SO in at that time :)

The first letter I got from Viivi. Horses and Harry Potter were SO in at that time 🙂

I wrote with Viivi and Katri throughout my teenage years and shared nearly everything with them. There were one or two penpals that exchanged a couple of letters with me between 2004 and 2008 but all of them disappeared for some reason. In 2007 I spent a lot of time in YouTube, chatting with people who had similar taste in music and liked the same TV-series. Little by little I got to know Maria and after about one year of emails and text messages back and forth and chatting online I asked whether she would be interested in exchanging letters with me. The answer was yes and we’re still in contact, I actually got her latest letter just last week (70th letter from her)! I’ve even met both of them! With Katri I met last time back in 2010, with Maria just last weekend! Too bad I don’t have any pictures of those meetings as all of the pictures have disappeared thanks to my external hard drive or laptop crashing and I and Maria didn’t take a photo when we met… I’ve also met with Viivi various times but we have more or less lost contact since 2010 even though we’re still Facebook friends with each other.

The 70th letter I received from Maria with a couple of postcards and a bookmark of David Tennant, my favourite actor :)

The 70th letter I received from Maria with a couple of postcards and a bookmark of David Tennant, my favourite actor 🙂

Until April 2009 all of my pen pals were from Finland and my letters were approximately two A4 papers written on both sides. Then a male classmate of mine started bragging how he received letters and postcards from all over the world and I demanded him to tell me why and how. He gave me the link to Interpals and I got my first foreign pen pals. The 4 first girls I exchanged letters with were from Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Germany and South Korea. Out of those 4 girls only Erica from South Korea still writes to me a couple of times a year to update how her busy life is treating her.

After I had got enough of men treating Interpals as one of the many dating sites I moved to other sites looking for penpals. My personal favourites are Letternet, from where I’ve gotten all my dear German pals, and Penpal of the Week, a blog by a Canadian snail mailer filled with penpalling advertisements. I’ve also met some of my current penpals via Postcrossing and even Instagram.

I need a LOT of space while I'm writing and usually like to have noise around me - music or internet reviews mostly ;)

I need a LOT of space while I’m writing and usually like to have noise around me – music or internet reviews mostly 😉

When I started snail mailing my letters were quite shallow and about normal, everyday things such as how school was, what my plans for summer were and how I like this and that. Nowadays I have started to notice that my letters are deeper and deeper, thanks to my pals notifying me of it. With some pals I still talk about everyday things but with others I really share my thoughts and secrets. I started with a couple of pages per letter, nowadays I tend to write 3-5 A5 papers, both sides, and my longest letter I’ve written this year filled a small A5 notebook.

My next outgoing letter will be sent in this. My first try with masking tape!

My next outgoing letter will be sent in this. My first try with masking tape!

In the beginning I just wanted people to write with, nowadays I get put off the moment I have a feeling that the pal doesn’t like me for who I am and only writes with me in hopes of getting something from me as I tend to put something small with the letters. For example, last week I sent 2 postcards to Japan and included 2 Angry Birds liquorices and chocolate tea just because I felt like it!
Some of my closest pals are like best friends whom I’ve never met while others are great buddies with whom I get to talk about my weekend and school.
At the moment I’m not looking for any new pals but if I could get another pal who’s not afraid of writing pages and pages talking about everything I think I’d like to write to him/her.. Only that I have to finish my assignments and THEN I can write back 😉

How has your penpalling “habits” changed during the years? What are you mostly looking from a potential pal?

-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! 🙂 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 🙂 Would appreciate the share as well 😉

-Kristiina

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