Archive for Penpal Interviews

December 27th, 2013

Penpal of the Week #136


Today I want to introduce you all to someone who loves animals and penpalling.


Please tell us about you!

Hi Snail Mailers,


My name is Lori Waters and I’m 27 years old (although I don’t look it at all!) residing in sunny Miami Beach, FL where it is hot and humid all year ’round! I share my life and my home with my awesome husband Josh, our 2 year old German Shepherd Zoey and our 2 male cats Oakley and Michi. We’ve been married for over 2 years and have been together for 4, originally starting off as friends, then becoming best friends and finally dating and getting married! We are both huge animal lovers and animal activists supporting our local shelters through donations, volunteer work and also attending events. I own and operate a pet care service here in Miami Beach called The Litter Sitter, Inc. We specialize in dog walking, pet sitting and cage free boarding and through my work I’m able to host events in honor of local animal shelters! Currently I’m running a pet food drive to benefit Miami-Dade Shelter pets!


Lori 1

My German Shepherd Zoey and I.


When I’m not working with animals I like to nerd it up and:


- Organize my #Filofax

I recently stumbled upon these planners and am officially obsessed with them and this whole world I discovered, it’s awesome! I currently own an A5 Finsbury in black and am hoping to get  my hands on personal size Malden in Ochre or Aqua :-)

It’s basically a planner to keep your life, work, etc organized but you can decorate it however you like! Kind of like crafting but in a planner!


- Pen Pal

I have a few consistent pen pals that I write to all the time and really enjoy being able to make friends with people from all over the world. I especially love being able to swap postcards as it makes me feel like I’m traveling the world without ever leaving my living room lol



I’ve always been a big journaling person. I’ve been writing things down in notebooks since I can remember. The first store I ever went to that got me HOOKED was Sanrio! I’ve been obsessed ever since. I’m not as active with my journaling as I used to be but I try to be as consistent as possible with my busy work schedule even if it’s to jot down the high and lows of that day!


Lori 2

Military Ball 2011.



I also hoard books for a living. I honestly buy books faster than I can read them which is starting to become a problem because I’m running out of space to store them and am going broke! But I love books! I love their smell and the way they feel… as creepy as that might sound. My husband always gives me shit for buying so many books… he says I’m just killing trees when I can just buy them as ebooks, so I’ve been trying to purchase more and more of them as ebooks or audiobooks instead!


- Hike, bike, beach and do anything else outdoors

I’ve very much an outdoors person. Since living in Denver, CO for a few years I’ve learned to appreciate nature in it’s entirety. I love the mountains! I love hiking, snow boarding, walking (I hate running), biking and just anything outdoors. There aren’t very many places here in Miami to do these things and if there are they are a ways.



Watching movies is also a past time my husband and myself like to enjoy. We’re always going to the movies to see all the new releases. It’s just a thing we’ve always done :-)


Lori 3

Halloween 2012 – Killer Bee & Army Soldier turned Zombie!


You can reach me at:



Blog: (pet related/work)


I don’t have a personal blog although I have been contemplating making one for some time now…


Lori 4

Zoey at 6 months.


Describe your personality in 10 words!

- Random











Lori 5

Found a Ghost Buster in Denver!!!


How long have you been penpalling? How did you first start? Tell us about your first penpal!

I haven’t been pen palling for long, 6 months! I started pen palling when I discovered filofax planners. These planners virtually opened the door to penpalling and postcard swapping for me. I came across a lot of hash tags on IG for #snailmail #happymail and #mail and had no idea what they were about so I did some digging and lo and behold there is a huge community of people who LOVE writing letters! I love writing and more than anything I love getting mail that isn’t BILLS! So I thought this would be a great thing for me to try out, so I did :-)


How many penpals do you have now and where are they from?

I have between 10-15 pen pals. Some of them are pretty consistent and I write to them every few weeks and then some I hear from every few months, which is  understandable because life happens and you get busy.


Lori 6

Walking 2 of my daily dogs in Miami Beach,

Wesley (the dane) and Bentley (cocker spaniel).


My pen pals are from:











and a few others I can’t remember…


What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?

Honestly  I just like hearing about my pen pal and what they do in their daily lives. I feel like you learn more about a person by just having them tell you about them than anything else. I’ve learned a great many things from people that way and when they happen to mention something that peaks my interest I’ll ask them about it and they’re usually more than happy to elaborate.


Lori 7

My mom, aunt and I on my bday.


What are you looking for in a penpal?

I’m looking for a pen pal that likes writing long and chatty letters, someone who is consistent in their replies, that likes to decorate them (always nice to those in my mailbox) and just basically someone who I can have as a friend. I don’t like pen pals who write short replies or ask a million and one questions like it’s some sort of interrogation. It just doesn’t seem very personal to me that way.


What do you like the most about penpalling?

Being able to make new friends from all parts of the world! Hearing about other peoples cultures, lives and experiences and being able to see pictures of it all :-)


In what language(s) do you correspond?



Lori 8

Wesley my little, Great Dane!


What are some of your habits in regards to letter writing?

I like to write my letters at night, usually around 10-12am. That’s about the time that I’m winding down from my day. I usually use regular lined paper and decorate my envelopes but am on the hunt for some decorative stationery to send my pen pals! It usually takes me about 40 or so minutes to write a letter. Like I said I like long, chatty letters so I tend to send those kind of letters out. My letters are typically 2 pages long, front and back and this is letter size paper.


Has anything strange/funny ever happened to you since you’ve been penpalling?

Not really. I always get teas, stickers, cards or postcards!


Have you met any of your penpals?

Never but it would be pretty cool to be able to do that one day.


Lori 9

Miami Beach Sunset.


Are you currently looking for more penpals?



Thank you Lori!


I’m in need of some letter writers to interview in the new year, so if you’d like to be featured on my blog in 2014, no matter if you’re looking for new penpals or not, please drop me a note!

December 7th, 2013

Penpal of the Week #135


Hello, long time no talk! I’ve been busy with stationery orders this past week, which is why the Penpal of the Week is featured later than usual this time. Ready? Let’s start!


Please tell us about you!



Sarah from Australia here!


I’m a 32-year-old wiling away the hours, weeks and years in a small town in the Flinders Ranges, South Australia (think rugged mountains, saltbush plains, bone-dry creekbeds and dirt. Lots and lots and lots of dirt!).


Sarah 1

Me, Sydney Harbour, April 2012.


I share an Victorian stone cottage (referred to with affection as “Lil Green”) with my partner (Shane) and our dog-son (Bailey). I keep a large garden and have varying degrees of success growing fruit and vegetables, cottage perennials, and native trees and shrubs in the hard clay soil. It rains little but the sun certainly shines a hell of a lot.


I work as a legal secretary in a small law firm, and I’ve been working there now for nearly eight months. I studied Law at University, and whilst I loved it I didn’t want to be a lawyer after I graduated, so spent around seven years moving through a string of miserable jobs until I finally found this one, which I actually kind of like. I tend to get a bit apprehensive in admitting that, though, as if the moment I do it’s going to turn ugly. I work four days a week and get three-day weekends every weekend. But I also help my partner out with his business on my “days off” since he is technologically inept; anything that requires use of the computer I end up doing. So, I effectively have two jobs, which means that I don’t always get much of a “weekend” at all!


However, when a bit of spare time presents itself I tend to devour it rather quickly writing letters, reading, watching and re-watching awesome TV series’ and favourite films, flicking through comic books, blogging, and day-dreaming. I also enjoy gardening and baking.


Sarah 2

Shane and Bailey-dog, Flinders Ranges, July 2013.


I’m vegetarian and have been for over a decade. I grew up on a farm and have an enormous compassion for animals. I’ve recently stopped consuming dairy products because I feel sorry for cows. I try to grow a lot of what I eat, or I have it given to me by my parents (who are also keen organic gardeners). I’m quite interested in environmentalism and conservation. I don’t get along well with flat-earthers or people caught up in their own consumerism; they just feed my misanthropy.


I’m also a bit of a word nerd. I like old words, new words, weird words, and made-up words. I’m interested in the meaning of words, use of words, the history of words, and the way words sound. I’m quite the bookworm and am always reading something. I love libraries, especially the kind with endless labyrinthian isles of books that I can sneak away into and get deliberately lost.


Sarah 3

Our house, Lil Green.


I am a history geek with a curious mind and a gypsy soul. I love to travel and discover. I get restless after having remained in the same place for an extended period of time, so I need to travel regularly. At least once every three months tends to do the trick, and it doesn’t have to be a major holiday – just a weekend getaway where the scenery is different, the faces are new, and where I can enjoy being unknown and anonymous. I love big cities and small towns. I’ll camp in a tent in the middle of nowhere, or pack up the car and just see where the road leads. I love the freedom in the thought of being transient, even if I’m not actually transient myself.


I like things that get me thinking and are a bit out of the ordinary, and I am completely fascinated with the paranormal. That is, ghosts, demonology, necromancy, spiritualism, tarot, reincarnation and parapsychology. But, not UFOs. I have to draw the line somewhere.


Describe your personality in 10 words!

Introvert. Pisces. Quiet. Lazy. Curious. Bookworm. Obsessive. Empathic. Compassionate. Nerd.


Sarah 4

Me, seeing snow for the first time in New Zealand, April 2011.


How long have you been penpalling? How did you first start? Tell us about your first penpal!

I’ve been penpalling pretty much non-stop since I was 7 years old, and I was 7 a quarter of a century ago, so it’s been awhile!


Growing up, I used to spend a lot of time with my grandparents on their farm, and my Nanna was a letter-writer – it was a weekly routine for her to sit down at the dining room table with a pad of paper, some envelopes and a pen and write letters to people. Then on the next trip into town we would go to the post office to get stamps for the letters she’d written that week. The post office had this massive, polished wood bench that I could barely see over, and on the bench were some vintage weights and a selection of postal stampers. My Nanna would give me the mail and I’d push it towards the postal clerk, who would put stamps on the envelopes and then cancel the stamps by hand with an ink stamper. Once the mail had been posted we would check the postal box and collect the mail for the week. I found the whole experience fascinating and, unsurprisingly, wanted to send and receive letters too.


It was my Nanna who found me my first penpal, Karyn. Karyn lived on a farm in a neighbouring town and was around the same age as I was. After 25 years (during which we have attended different schools, different Universities, lived in different towns and even different states), we still keep in touch. These days it is mostly via Facebook, email, or the yearly Christmas “catch up” letter, but still in touch nonetheless.


Sarah 5

Bunyeroo Valley, Flinders Ranges, mid-summer.


How many penpals do you have now and where are they from?

I don’t count. Honest. I don’t think I ever have. The numbers and locations fluctuate, as people move on, lose interest, or find better things to do with their time. People can be fickle. I never go into a penpalship expecting to be the best of friends with someone forever and ever, amen. I take each letter as they come, and if I’m lucky, I’ll get to forge some really amazing friendships with some truly awesome people.


I try to write to as many different people from as many different countries and cultures as possible, because I like to learn about people and the lives they have outside Australia. I like to think that the greater variety of people I know, the greater understanding I’ll have of the world and our place in it. Nothing particularly deep, I’m just immensely curious about people and why they do the things they do.


But I also really enjoy writing with fellow Australians, particularly to those who have a similar background and upbringing to my own, who share similar interests, and have a similar world perspective. There’s an affinity in writing to people from the same country, I think.


Sarah 6

Woolundunga bushfire, January 2012.


What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?

I like witty, intelligent letters – letters that get me thinking, and it doesn’t really take much! I try to write witty and intelligent letters in return. How successful I am with that only my penpals could say. I have an unenviable ability to write pages and pages about nothing in particular, including why I do or do not like a book, film or television show, person or superhero, or even just the weather.


I like to share ghost stories and paranormal experiences, then dissect them and mull over the pieces. I quite often just “think out loud” when writing letters!


I have a tendency to share my dreams too. The stranger one is, the more likely someone’s going to hear all about, in far more detail than they’d really care to know.


I’ll even chat about politics, religion, the economy etc, as long as it is on a well-informed, intelligent basis. I lose patience really quick when ignorance rears its ugly head, though. I don’t have time for narrow-mindedness.


Sarah 7

I love to take photographs, esp of cemeteries and ruins,

and I love to share them with the people I write with.


What are you looking for in a penpal?

Wit! Creativity! Intelligence!


I like to write long letters and I like them to be conversational. I get bored very quickly when a letter is one-sided. And don’t ever send me a form letter! I will scorn you for a millennia.


An open-mind is a must. I like conversations with people who can think laterally and critically; people who can bring something new to the discussion – something I’ve perhaps not previously considered myself.


Imaginative, creative penpals are F-U-N. I like to send mail art, write letters in notebooks, create letter booklets etc, and it’s nice to have penpals who enjoy sending the same in return. Having said that, however, the content of a letter will always win out over how pretty something looks.


Sarah 8The back of some mail art postcards that I made as part of a 365 project.


What do you like the most about penpalling?

I don’t talk a lot. I much prefer written correspondence to spoken conversation, which is why I am such an avid snail mailer. It gives me the time to consider appropriate responses, and the opportunity to be “heard” without interruption.


Also, I am curious about people. I want to know everything, deep down to the bones of them. It’s not something that’s revealed in a single letter, or even over the course of many letters. It’s the type of knowledge that comes from being friends with someone for a very long time.


In what language(s) do you correspond?

I only speak and write in English.


Languages have never been my forte, much to my frustration and dismay. But I do like to learn common words and phrases in different languages, so that I can incorporate them into my letters and feel clever and worldly!


Sarah 9

Handwriting sample.


What are some of your habits in regards to letter writing?

I have a roll top desk that was given to me by my parents for the purpose of letter-writing, but I have a terrible habit of piling it up with all my letters and stationery and ephemera and magazines and washi tape and postcards and postage stamps and pens (far too many pens!) and receipts for pens (too many receipts for pens!). Then I just slide the lid shut so no one knows that beneath its polished veneer there is a paper Armageddon unfolding.


As a result, I often find myself writing letters at the dining room table, or under the back veranda at the outdoor dining suite (if the weather is nice and there aren’t too many flies!). Sometimes, especially when it’s mid-winter and cold, I crawl into bed with a hot water bottle and write letters leaning on a clipboard.


But, alas! I am not the fastest at replying to letters. Just ask my penpals! The letter-writing process for me is full of indecision and procrastination. Sometimes I don’t think I have anything interesting to write about, whilst at other times the mere fact that I know a letter is going to be an EPIC 80-page monster is somewhat off-putting!


It can take me up to four months to reply. But then again, sometimes I can reply within the week. I make no promises and offer no guarantees aside from the fact that I will write. Eventually.


Has anything strange/funny ever happened to you since you’ve been penpalling?

I haven’t come across anyone particularly crazy, although this year I received snail mail spam for the first time from someone who were supposedly a part of the “penpalling community” and had got my details from a friend of a friend of a friend. They didn’t include a return address, so I had to use the magic of the internet to find this person just so I could send them their crap back. I guess I’ve been lucky to have been penpalling for so long and that’s the worst thing I can come up with!


All I know is that people are strange. You have to expect that sometimes they’re going to do really strange things.


Sarah 10

Letter in a book of postcards (bound) made by me.


Have you met any of your penpals?

I have been privileged to meet a number of my penpals over the years, some who have since disappeared into obscurity (or death. I mean, how would you ever know?), but most have become solid friends.


In 2006 I spent three weeks in the United Kingdom, where I got to meet two of my penpals. The first was Claire in Wales, with whom I have been corresponding since I was about 14 years old. We originally connected over a mutual, gushing teenage love of Take That and Robbie Williams (don’t laugh!). We met in person for the first time outside the Cardiff Museum and went to an amazing restaurant for lunch. I freaking loved Wales, and it was so awesome to meet such a long-time friend. We still correspond regularly.


That same trip I met my penpal Nicola from Kent for the first time. We met up outside Highgate Cemetery in London. We’d initially connected over a shared obsession with Buffy the Vampire Slayer when I was about 21 years old. Nicola came out to Australia on a working holiday in 2007 and hasn’t left! She met a boy, got married and is now an Australian citizen, living with her new husband in my old city.


However, the strongest bond I have is with Laura – my BFF. We have been writing with each other for around 17 years now and originally connected over our love of vampires and history. We are so alike and have so many shared interests it’s almost kind of weird. We met in person for the first time in 2012, when I stayed at her home in the Blue Mountains for a week. But it didn’t feel as if we’d never met before. There was no awkwardness about it at all. It was more like we’d not seen each other in awhile and were just settling in for a long, overdue catch up. This past July she moved to London on account of her husband’s work. I was – am still, devastated. London is so much farther away than the Blue Mountains. But I am currently planning a trip to the UK in 2014 to visit her, so we can do and see all the awesome things there are to do and see over there that we’ve spent the last 17 years writing about wanting to do in our letters. In the meantime we write letters to each other in books, chat on our iPhones every Friday, send emails and communicate via Facebook, and Instagram, and Twitter. If soul mates exist, then Laura is mine.


Sarah 11

BFF Laura and I at Quarantine Station, Sydney, May 2012.


Are you currently looking for more penpals?

I have very specific requests for new penpals:


(i) I prefer to write to females. It’s not that male penpals are an automatic no, but I tend to find I have more in common (and therefore more to write about) with women.


(ii) I tend not to write to people under the age of 27, or over the age of 40. It’s a generational thing – I need people to understand my pop culture references and know what the hell it is I’m talking about!


(iii) I’ll only write to people who are willing to send the first snail mail letter, and I honestly do not care where in the world you come from.


(iv) I’m kind of bored with the run-of-the-mill introductions that I’ve been dishing out and getting in for far too long. If you’re going to write me, grab my attention. For example:

* You could tell me about a paranormal experience, ghost story, urban legend or myth from your area;

* Or you could tell me about the most frightening or bizarre dream you’ve ever had – in all its crazy and vivid glory;

* Or you might like to strike up a conversation about superheroes (or supervillains), and why some are just simply better than others;

* Or you could give me some pointers on how you are getting prepared for the zombie apocalypse, or an alien invasion;

* Or tell me when, where and why you plan to travel the next time you TIME TRAVEL;

* Or anything else that you think might pique my interest.


(v) Finally, I am super keen to have more intelligent and creative penpals in Australia. I don’t really care as to what part of the country you’re from, as long as you like to write and receive long letters, and dabble in a bit of mail art. If you think there’s the potential we could correspond indefinitely, then I would love to hear from you. The post is quick (relatively speaking!) and the postage cheap, so I figure this is a tempting proposal!


The best way to get in contact with me is via my blog, where you’ll find all my contact info: xo.sorcha.ox.


I look forward to hearing from someone (or maybe even a few someones?) in the very near future!


Thank you Sarah!


My name is Julie and I'm 34.
I live in Québec (close to Montréal) and I speak French.

I write letters, I love stationery and I have a handwriting fetish. I often eat sushi, still feel like I'm 16 and only wear skirts & dresses (with colorful tights when it's cold).

I'm happier with a mind full of ideas, a mailbox full of letters from my penpals, a shop full of stationery, a house full of cats and a day full of hugs.

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