Archive for Penpal Interviews

July 21st, 2014

Penpal of the Week #139


Happy Monday everyone! I know that we’re only a month into summer, but I’m almost feeling ready for fall (my favorite season). I loved summer so much as a child, but now I prefer autumn, and I can’t wait until the weather cools down a bit.


But first, it’s my son’s birthday on August 8 (and like every year, you can expect an 8/8 surprise at La Papierre), and then it’s the international hot air balloon festival in my city from August 9 to August 17. Denise is excited about that! Next month I’ll try to post pictures of the beautiful balloons that fill up the sky above my house.


After that, it’s time to shop for school supplies because Louis-Justin will be in the 4th grade already! Then the leaves will start to turn yellow, orange and red… But I’ll stop daydreaming about August and September now and will get back to reality. It’s time for a penpal interview! Are you ready?


Please tell us about you!

Hi! My Name is Ellen Gehring and I am 32 years young. I live in Virginia Beach, Virginia with my husband Zach and our three crazy cats. Our cats names are Elliott, Tony and Sparkie. I am a graphic designer at a diploma framing company where I have worked for almost 8 years.


Ellen 1

My husband and I on our wedding day reading a letter from my mom.

Our wedding theme was vintage love letters!


I have a ton of interests… I love to cook and bake and I recently took up making homemade jam! I like to watch movies, read books, craft, hang out with my friends and family and most of all I love to write letters!


I have a letter writing blog: My email is My instagram is @postmarkedwithlove. And my etsy shop is


Describe your personality in 10 words!

Giving, creative, caring, sensitive, hard working, forgiving, loving, strong, positive, self-aware.


Ellen 2

Two of my three furry babies! Elliot and Tony.


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

I have been penpalling for as long as I can remember. My first penpal was my mom. I used to spend the summers with my grandparents in South Carolina every year and my mom would write me letters all the time while I was gone. I remember sitting at my grandparents house writing her back and getting so excited waiting for the mailman to come get the mail and seeing if I got a letter in return. When I was home, my grandparents would write me too! I recently found all of the letters that I had written to my grandparents that they had saved over the years.


I moved to New York for College and my mom and best friend would write me letters almost every day to make sure I didn’t get homesick while I was gone. I loved it! Since college, I have started getting more and more penpals!


Ellen 3

Our mantle that contains a few of my favorite things!


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

I recently did a penpal ad, so I received a lot more pen pals through that as well as through my letter writing instagram account!


Before that I had a penpal that I received through Letter Writers Alliance who lives in Colorado. I write to several family members in South Carolina and have a penpal in Canada and Japan! My mom and I still write letters to each other too even though we see each other all the time and live only a few miles away from one another!


Ellen 4

I like to save stamps off letters I receive,

this is a bunch drying out to use for future projects.


What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?

I think my favorite topics to discuss in letters are the everyday happenings in life. I think that is the most interesting. What do my penpals do day to day, what is a day in their shoes like. Just keeping letters real and honest. A place you can be yourself.


What are you looking for in a penpal?

I think it is nice to have some things in common with your penpal so you have things you can relate to each other about but it is also nice when you are opposites. You learn so much when you don’t relate on every topic. Keeps the letters interesting!


Ellen 5

Me with one of the Banksy art pieces in Manhattan!


What do you like the most about penpalling?

I like the connections you make most with penpalling. I have kept in touch with several friends that I might have lost touch with if it weren’t for penpalling. And just the great people you get to know by becoming penpals. If I ever got the chance to meet some of my penpals that would be awesome, but if not then that is ok too! I think you have a connection by being penpals that maybe you would never have with someone by just knowing them.


In what language(s) do you correspond?

I correspond to my letters in English.


Ellen 6

I love to make envelopes out of random newspapers, maps, etc.

This is two envelopes I made using old newspaper articles on family members!


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

I have several different places I like to write my letters. I either sit on the couch with a clipboard or at the kitchen table. I sit at my desk in the office to work on my mail art and decorating mostly.


Depending on what is going on in life depends on how long it takes me to write back. I always try to write back within a week or two, but sometimes it takes me longer. Unfortunatly life gets hectic sometimes and puts a delay on my responses.


Most of my letters are pretty long. I have large handwriting, so I think that makes them appear longer than they are too. :)


Ellen 8


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

I have never had any weird requests or received anything unusual from penpals! I would love to see what other penpals answer to this question.


Have you met any of your penpals?

The only penpals I have met are the ones that I was friends with before we started writing. If I ever get an opportunity to meet any of my penpals that would be awesome!


Ellen 7

Some envelopes I decorated using some of my many rolls of washi tape!


Are you currently looking for more penpals?

I am always seeking new penpals! I love having penpals from all over the world.


Thanks Ellen! You make me want to go decorate envelopes and play with washi tape…


Now who wants to be interviewed and featured as Penpal of the Week on the blog in August? Get in touch!

July 14th, 2014

Penpal of the Week #138


Here’s an interview with our second Penpal of the Week from Russia. (First one was Natalya, in November 2012.)


Please tell us about you!

Hello! :) My name is Marina & I’m 29 (OMG!), my b’day is in the end of February. I remember just one year when it was not -20 or -30 C on that day. And it would probably help to guess that I’m from Russia. I live in Yekaterinburg, that’s a big city in the Urals. (For history nerds – it’s the place where the last Russian emperor was killed together with his family).


Marina 1



I studied languages at the uni & have a degree of a linguist-translator. Majoring in English & minoring in German. I also studied Finnish and Spanish but now I remember just a few words and phrases. Plus, I learnt Czech for some time. It sounds pretty funny for a Russian ear, so it was very mood-lifting to study it :)


I live with my boyfriend Grisha and our dog Vanya. Last January we celebrated our 3rd anniversary (Since we met. And we met in the Internet. Accidentally :) And Vanya turned 3 yo in December. He’s a lovely Pekingese, my dad brought him as a gift for my b’day). My parents also live in Yekat. And so does my sister.


Marina 2

Me and Grisha.


I work from home as a freelance translator (‘cos of the health problems). But one day I decided to try crafts to distract myself and now it’s a big part of my life. I learnt to make soaps & other bath-and-body things, chocolate and candies, earrings & so on from polymer clay (now I plan to try epoxy resins hoping it’ll turn out well :) ). I can also knit a little bit. My friends and the friends of my friends now order something made by me before the holidays as gifts. And as a result I’m always very busy before the local holidays (especially New Years and the 8th of March aka Women’s day).


Besides languages, crafts and penpalling I love reading. Paper books, e-books, audio-books, anything. I like some classics (i.e. Master and Margarita by Bulgakov), modern prose, humour books, fantasy and thrillers :) My favourite Russian writers are Andrey Kruz and Alexey Pehov. Right now I’m re-reading (or better to say re-listening) my beloved post apocalypse zombie-series by A.Kruz :D I know it doesn’t sound very girly but I love those books to bits :)


When I was a student I liked changing my looks from time to time (which was especially easy because I had (and still have) a hairdresser friend). I tried lots of hair colours and cuts. At the moment I have my natural haircolour and am happy with it. But there are moments when I want to turn myself into a redhead again :D


Marina 3

Older picture of myself.


As a girly girl I like skirts and dresses (I love highheels but can’t wear them anymore sadly), perfumes and make-up. I like nail polishes a lot, I finally bought a thermo nail polish that changes colour depending on the temperature and am sooo happy :)) But my relations with shopping are complicated :D I like it only when I’m in the shopping-mood. Without that special mood it just doesn’t work. Oh, I also like silver jewellery, pearls and amber.


And I have a collection of postcards. Viewcards aka postcards with the sights, then cards by Inge Löök, and cards by Russian painter/illustrator Zarubin. And I also help my sister by giving her stamps for her collection.


Marina 4

Some of the postcards that I collect.


I like cooking and baking. And I’m a fan of everything sweet, chocolate, cakes, pies, cinnamon rolls, muffins… yum-yum.


If you ever visited Russia you might notice that Russians drink a lot of (no, not vodka!) – tea. And I’m not an exception, I have lots of different tea at home. But my favourite one is plain black tea with herbs (like thyme or melissa). I like coffee too. Especially with cinnamon. Grisha bought me a coffee-machine for New Years and it’s just great :)


In case you want to see more pictures or contact me (or see the pics of my crafts :D ) here’s my Facebook page. I also have an Interpals page.


Describe your personality in 10 words!

Optimistic, creative, kind, happy, friendly, understanding, curious, calm, caring, introvert.


Marina 5

Me and Vanya.


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

I’ve been penpalling for more than 13 years now. I got my first «real» penpal when I was 15. Together with my best friend in one magazine. We began writing with two friends from another Russian city. My best friend isn’t into snail mail anymore. Unlike me :) And I still keep in touch with my first pallie. We exchange letters, parcels and me met in person too. My friend is only a couple weeks younger than me, she’s also Pisces and we understand each other very well.


Marina 6

Xmas outgoing mail.


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

I have about 20 penpals now. They are from Russia, Spain, USA, Finland, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Slovenia, Poland, Brazil, China and so on.


What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?

I can pretty much write about anything. But as I find cultures very interesting I always want to know what is life like in other places. I like sharing emotions. It’s great to get a letter where a person writes not only «been there-done that» but also their feelings and impressions.


Marina 7

Envelopes ready to be filled with letters.


What are you looking for in a penpal?

For me a penpal is a friend. Just a far away one. So I’m looking for friendship. :) It’s when people support each other, share ideas, dreams and secrets.


What do you like the most about penpalling?

It’s an opportunity to get to know someone on the other side of the planet. The excitement of seeing a bright envelope in the mailbox. Learning something new and knowing about people’s lives :)


In what language(s) do you correspond?

Russian and English. I also write in German but it takes me a hell lot of time and brain-racking.


Marina 8

My handwriting.


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

I usually write when I’m alone at home (that is when Grisha is at work) at weekdays. My desk is the best place to write. Here I have everything necessary like lovely paper, stickers, rubber stamps and so on. I used to deal with a big problem when I couldn’t find any pretty paper in local shops but now I know where they sell nice writing pads & I bought a lot :D


I like using either handmade envies (I use magazines for it) or plain white envelopes that I decorate. I also bought lots of pretty stamps. So I do hope that my letters look nice :)


Marina 9

Stamps I use for my letters.


It usually takes me from 1-2 hours to a few days to finish one letter (it depends on many reasons). And the length is 4-10 A5 sheets back and front. My longest letter was 18 sheets.


Sometimes I reply very fast and sometimes it takes a while. It’s just life and I can’t predict it. Oh & I’m dealing with the Russian post that is probably the slowest in the world :S And they like losing mail from time to time. That’s why I always take pics of every letter page just in case and ask my pals to do the same ‘cos nobody likes re-writing letters.


Marina 10

Outgoing mail.


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

Many years ago when I was beginning to write with people from abroad. I exchanged a few letters with one man from Ireland. In the beginning he seems ok but then he sent his photo at the same time asking for a photo of me «with less clothes on» and adding that he would marry me. :D I was shocked. And never replied. In his photo he looked like 60 yo man with drinking problems.


Marina 11

Some of the received letters. And adorable stamp with Legolas <3


Have you met any of your penpals?

Yes, I met with 2 of my current Russian penpals, with another Russian girl that I write via online messages now, then 2 more Russian girls that I don’t keep in touch anymore. I also met with my czech penpal but she doesn’t write anymore.


Do e-pals count? :) Back when I was a student I exchanged emails with some guys and met some of them while travelling. Now I don’t have time for emails, so, just snail mail for me. :)


I actually still remember how awesome it was to meet up in person with a penpal for the first time. I stayed at my pal’s place, we chatted almost till the morning barely managing to get up later in the morning to run to the movies. And we did the sights, tooks pics & simply had a great time.


Marina 12



Are you currently looking for more penpals?

I’m not actively looking but I could accept a couple of new friends.


Thank you so much, Marina! Beautiful mail art…


Anyone who’s interested in being featured as Penpal of the Week: click here!


Also, on Facebook, we want to know what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever received in the mail: tell us here.


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.

Read my Top 10 Quirks here.

This is me with my girlfriend,
Denise. We met through the
League of Extraordinary
Penpals and are living
happily ever after amongst
piles of cats and stationery.

Denise will blog here
from time to time and is
the one in charge of the
social media: Facebook,
Twitter and Pinterest.

She's 38 years old,
from the United States,
and in love with me, washi
tape & imperial rolls.

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