Things have been a little too quiet around here lately… so today I want to introduce you to Sarah. She is a fabulous member of the League of Extraordinary Penpals!
Please tell us about you!
Hello! I’m Sarah E. Hoffman.
I’m female, 30, and have been with my awesome husband for 10 years. I move a lot but mostly for good reasons – like education. I am working on my third degree (second Masters). I’m headed up to Yellowknife for a new adventure very soon!
My hobbies include jigsaw puzzles, reading, zines, blogging, crafting, bicycling, camping, snowshoeing, roller derby, rock climbing, watching hockey, whiskey, beer, Supernatural, Star Trek TNG, science fiction, brewing, kombucha brewing and food.
I have a food blog: Coming Home to the Kitchen.
This is a really recent photo. I love this thrifted leather jacket!
PS – The entire other side of my head is shaved!
Describe your personality in 10 words!
I’m honest, creative, open-minded, and completely unable to think of more words to describe my personality.
My husband and I on a bike camping trip. I think we were 60km into a hot, sweaty, 90km day! #somuchfun #evenifourfacestelladifferentstory
How long have you been penpalling? How did you first start? Tell us about your first penpal!
I have had series of being involved in mail culture through my life. When I was a pre-teen, I had a few international penpals. When I was in my early 20’s, I got back into mail for about a year but dropped it for some reason. I joined the LEP about two years ago and have gotten really involved in mail culture! I think this is a hobby that is going to stick around for a while.
I’ve even started a mail culture zine that celebrates all things mail! It’s called Winged Snail Mail. I put out two issues a year and it’s such a rewarding hobby. I have so much fun putting together the cut-and-paste style zine but I also have a lot of fun sending complimentary copies out to contributors and trading with random folks. Sometimes I even get an email from someone saying how much they enjoyed it. Copies can be purchased from: http://wingedsnail99.tictail.com/products/zine
The cover of the second issue of my mail zine!
How many penpals do you have now and where are they from?
I get about 3-4 letters per week so… a lot! I have been writing to some people for a while now, while other folks I just exchange a few letters with. Whether or not a correspondence results in a long-term mail relationship I view the exchange as beneficial and worthwhile – something special is exchanged when letters are written that can not be replicated in any other medium.
We saw these adorkable foxes in Yellowknife this summer – as a consequence I associate Yellowknife with foxes and not polar bears or northern lights!
What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?
I view letters as an exchange of monologues. This means I basically just write stream of consciousness letters about my daily life or about concepts I’ve been thinking about recently. If I wrote you a letter today I would write about moving, winter activities, relationships, whiskey, thrifting, fake trees, the nature of public/private food consumption and winter travel plans.
This is what we really look like!
What are you looking for in a penpal?
Someone who writes back! I have a very relaxed approach to letter writing – I write when I have the time, energy and inclination to do so – which means that sometimes I reply on the same day I receive a letter and sometimes it takes weeks (or sorry-to-say months) to reply. Therefore the best match for me is someone who understands this approach!
I’ve just gotten into derby so I’m still pretty wobbly!
What do you like the most about penpalling?
Mail culture is such a wonderful thing – and something that is hard for me to articulate. It’s really amazing and magical that for $2.50 I can send my thoughts across the world (you would have to pay me more than that to walk something across the street!) Mail culture has really helped me this year as this was the worst mental health year of my life and waiting for mail basically kept me alive. That’s the power of mail!
In what language(s) do you correspond?
This is the total lifetime tally of cribbage games I’ve played with my husband – in my handwriting!
What are some of your habits in regards to letter writing?
In my entire academic career I’ve never been into writing in public, but since I’ve started sending more letters I’ve really embraced writing replies in cafes. I have an on-the-go mail bag which is full of stationery, envelopes, and mail add-ins. I carry everything but postage stamps in there. That mail bag really helps me use my large (and ever growing) hoard of mostly thrifted mail supplies as I have to go through my stash and pre-select items that I want to use. Then when it comes to actually replying I only have to choose from the 6-8 options in the bag rather than my entire stash.
I usually write 2-4 replies in one session. Once I finish a reply I add postage and put the outgoing mail in a different canvas bag that I have decorated with fabric mail badges (most are from the Letter Writer’s Alliance). The replied-to letter goes on a magnet board that is used to display cool cards and postcards that I receive. Every couple of months I go through those letters and take off postage (I collect food themed postage stamps) and separate add-ins and whatnot and store the letters.
This seems like a complicated system but it means that I’ve never lost a letter, forgot to reply to one, or forgot to send one out!
We bought this great whiskey in celebration of our 5th wedding anniversary!
Has anything strange/funny ever happened to you since you’ve been penpalling?
Have you met any of your penpals?
Nope. I worry about meeting someone IRL would ruin the magic of mail exchange. (Though if you need an excuse to visit Yellowknife, NWT then mail me a letter or two and I might just let you crash on my couch!)
This is a photo of me geeking out with my best bike, Esmerelda, in Toronto.
Are you currently looking for more penpals?
Yes! I reply to everything that comes to me. Email email@example.com for my current mailing address. (I seriously move A LOT!)
Would you like to be interviewed and featured here on the blog? Then what are you waiting for… send me an email!
I will close now and go help Julie get some La Papierre stationery orders prepared and shipped.