A Post About Post

20 Oct

As of today I’m just two postcards away from a “200 Postcards and Counting” post and only one away from “Postcards from Wonderland #4″ so I have had postcards on the brain. My dad sent me a bunch of postcards upon his return to California and I just ordered a few from this awesome artist after a pen friend sent me one of Sandra Vargas’ owl postcards. I showed my mom that link and she was not surprised that I’m infatuated.

Feel free to click the pic! :-D

Feel free to click the pic! :-D

Though March is several months from now, I find myself preparing for the next March of Postcards and Othella has been nice enough to indulge me. We seem to have come to the decision that in addition to picking out postcards for each other we’re going to send each other the postcards we love too much to use (in envelopes) so that we can each get our favorites back. I’m very excited about this idea and look forward to seeing some postcards I love return to me.

As excited as I am about all this upcoming post, I was recently reminded of two of my pet peeves when it comes to postcrossing. The first thing is when users don’t give a wishlist, let alone any information about themselves. I like to try to pick postcards I think people would like so when there’s nothing to go off of I find myself choosing the ones I like the least just to be rid of them. My other pet peeve is when people want you to send their postcard in an envelope. Not only do I find that defeats the purpose of a postcard because the stamp and potential wear and tear is part of its charm, but I also find it a bit tacky since, at least in my experience, those users usually ask for people to enclose things, and that thing is usually a “sample” of currency  from their country. Though maybe I’m just a wet blanket. I still enjoy postcrossing though despite those grievances, if you can even call them that.

Not to count my eggs before they hatch, but it’s really sounding like I’ll be getting a P.O. Box on or around Christmas– AHH! I’m going to love having two different mailboxes, for a lot of the reasons I mentioned here. The first thing I’m going to do is put the box address up in the League of Extraordinary Pen Pals’ database, the second thing is switch addresses on my postcrossing profile, and the third thing is provide the new address here on Sincerely Kate. I may have already picked out the address labels I want to use, hehe.

Hope you have a great week, and that my fellow mail lovers get some great stuff this week :-D

Sincerely, Kate ~!~

Vari-Kate-ions: October

15 Oct

Could it be? Did I actually finish my Vari-Kate-ions by the middle of the month this time around? I guess my decision to make no more than 5 pieces of mail inspired by this list a month was a good one. The five themes I tackled this month were:

  • Cat
  • Tears
  • Sorrow
  • Happiness
  • Under the Rain

DSCF7425Originally I was going to use cat for someone else, but since I double dipped for mother nature last month, that opened me up for making this postcard for The Thellie Kitty, AKA Othella. I cut out pictures from an old calendar and arranged them like so. If only I could arrange to send one of our cats, haha.

IMG_20141013_210259_249Tears was something else I meant to do last month. Penelope, a LEP member, and I once spoke of taking turns doing a zentangle and I thought one of the themes would be a good venue for that. I find the theme I chose a bit symbolic now that I’m so deeply apologetic that I didn’t get around to this in August. It may not resemble tears at all if/when we finish, but I wouldn’t cry over that ;-) I thought about adding more than what I did, but A) I wanted them to still look like tears when Penelope saw it, and B) if we’re going to take turns, why do all of my contributions at once?

DSCF7427When I thought of sorrow I thought of condolence cards, but fortunately none of my pen pals are in need of one of those. I decided I would make a fill-in-the-blank card for Allison to use should she ever need to. Nothing says “I’m sorry” like rhyming luck and suck with another four-letter word!

DSCF7430The thought crossed my mind about making a congratulatory card for Allison to use as well, but then a new pen pal came along who was interested in discussing mental illness as neither of us are strangers to it. After I told her about some experiences of mine, like reaching my breaking point to see my doctor about depression (a trip to the ER was involved), I thought the letter could use some happiness shoved in it– confetti, stickers, stationery– even a random bookmark. I consider myself a very empathetic person, so I’m always going to try to turn a friend’s frown upside down.

DSCF7431It’s been a rainy week so when responding to the letter I received yesterday, I really incorporated the weather. I decorated the paper accordingly and mentioned the weather prior to taking it outside so the raindrops could alter all the ink a bit without making things too difficult to read. And yes, it’s for Allison, too.

Well, hopefully I’m out of whatever rut I was in, though with 2015 on the horizon I’m planning to change things up again soon.

All the best with all you do!
Sincerely, Kate ~!~



My Life’s Soundtrack

13 Oct

I decided to take on a new pen pal over the weekend, and as I do with all intro letters, I asked some random questions. One of my favorite questions to ask is “If your life was a movie, what would it be called, who would play you, and what are three songs that would be on the soundtrack?”

I thought I would finally share my answers to the last part of that question on this blog of mine, and include a bonus three songs. In the order they’d appear in Little Wonders, of course. Don’t read too much into the drug references in the first song, a 90’s kid has to have a 90’s song featured in her movie as an opening montage, haha.

Semi-Charmed Life- Third Eye Blind
“I want something else to get me through this semi-charmed kind of life.”

Unwell- Matchbox 20
“Hold on; feeling like I’m heading for a breakdown, and I don’t know why.”

Chemicals React- Aly & AJ
“Like my world’s spinning in slow motion, and you’re moving too fast.”

Lost in this Moment- Big & Rich
“Watching all my dreams come true, lost in this moment with you.”

Little Wonders- Rob Thomas
“Our lives are made in these small hours– these little wonders, these twists & turns of fate.”

I Could Not Ask for More- Edwin McCain
“These are the moments I know all I need is this.”

There will (likely) never be a movie version of my life, but there will always be music in this life of mine, whether there’s an actual soundtrack or not.

Sincerely, Kate ~!~

Q&A with SK

10 Oct

It’s understandable when a stranger doesn’t get why you’d rather write letters than send emails. Sad, but understandable. What’s a bit unnerving though is when your own postal workers don’t get why we like to have a plethora of stamps to choose from, or why we’d prefer they put custom labels on the place reserved for it and not over our mail art. If you’re not into this hobby of mine, I’m sure you’re rolling your eyes that people actually give a damn about such things, but everyone has their own hobbies whether it’s sports, cars, or role-play. Using my mother and her students to my advantage, I will answer some of the questions people have about pen palling so maybe everyone who doesn’t love it can at least understand why there are those of us who do.

Disclaimer: My mom’s students do not speak English as a first language, and seem to be more interested in asking my questions about writing in general than this particular hobby… though I’ll find ways to sneak it in.

Why do you like to write letters and have pen pals?

I think anyone who has written letters for at least a year has been asked this, usually with the addition of “when email is so much faster” at the end. To be honest, I think there is such a thing as too fast. When I’m talking to someone via email, the paragraphs seem to get smaller and smaller as we run out of things to talk about, and then things come to a complete halt. With a letter, not only are you adding a personal touch to your words, you allow the anticipation to build. In the time that passes between letters, you not only will hear what’s new with your pen pal, but have your own stories to share as well, much like when you’re hanging out with a friend you haven’t seen for a while.

Speaking of, I don’t get the opportunity to go out and about much, so writing letters has been a convenient way for me to socialize. Instead of going to hang out with a friend, I can sit down with a pen and some paper and write a friend instead as it’s convenient for me. It actually works out really well because I think I have a much easier time expressing myself when I write compared to when I speak.

Do you have any pen pals in other countries?

For the most part I just write people in the US since A) the postage is significantly cheaper and B) I’ll likely hear from them sooner than if they lived further away, but I am no stranger to exceptions. I even have written a handful of my mom’s students in the past :-)

How do you come up with ideas for writing?

The nice thing about having pen pals is that each letter is a continuation of what you talked about before. One of my pals will say something whether it’s about her relationship or about a show she’s interested in and that will give me material to work with. It’s like you’re constantly getting ideas from something that was already an original idea of yours.

This blog kind of operates the same way. I’ve been toying with the idea of doing some sort of Q&A on here for a while, and it got to the point where I felt it was something I could involve my mom with. Everything seems to start as a little seed and you just have to decide whether it’s worth planting or not.

What topics to you like to write about?

In the League of Extraordinary Pen Pals, I go by Wonder Katerz and that is (mostly) because of my love of asking questions. Sure, I like talking about books, TV shows, and the like, but what really is fun for me is asking questions based on what I already know about my pen pals. If someone hints around to family drama, for example, I’m going to dig around for a bit of dirt. I’d just like to say that I don’t judge my friends, I’m just a curious person.

Is there something you wrote that you feel is one of your best ever?

Out of everything I’ve written, I’m especially proud of the I-Search papers I did in my Honors English courses. The first one was a mash-up with a personal essay where I explored my feelings for Gabe when we first were reconnecting, and the second was when I was seriously considering donating eggs. I love the fact that I was able to find topics of my own that were worth researching instead of being assigned specific things.

Are you embarrassed when you make mistakes in prepositions or grammar?

I do strive to use the correct usage of there, their, and they’re and whatnot, but mistakes happen. Especially when I have Logan to distract me or something happens on TV that catches my attention. If it’s just a small mistake I will usually scribble it out and write what I originally intended, but bigger blunders call for some white out.

Would you laugh at your friends who make grammar mistakes?

Laugh? No. When I know it’s a common mistake that a friend is making, like how one person says “even know” when she means “even though,” I will let them know, but if it truly was a once-in-a-lifetime mistake I don’t bother pointing it out.

How much do you worry about grammar? Do you try to improve your grammar?

I wouldn’t say I worry about it; it fortunately is something that just comes fairly natural to me. I definitely want to keep improving because I think I have the potential to become an editor. Just because I excel at editing though does not mean it’s something that everyone needs to stress over. If you’re writing for fun it should be exactly that– fun! Editing is something that can happen later once you’ve found a story worth telling.

Do you want to be a writer in the future?

I believe I’m already a writer, I just don’t get paid for it. ;-) I would love to write professionally though. The dream is to be a writer &/or editor for a newspaper.

Have you written a novel? Would you like to?

There is always going to be a part of me that would like to write a novel, but there’s a bigger part that doesn’t believe that’s very realistic. Fiction just isn’t my forte, and when I do write it I can usually say what I wanted to say within the confines of a short story. If I were to publish a book, perhaps it would be an anthology of short stories.

How often do you practice?

I find time to write every single day. In a perfect world I’d get a letter every day so when I came in from getting the mail I’d always have something to respond to. On the days I don’t receive any mail I will write out a postcard or two, work on upcoming blog drafts &/or journal a little bit.

Do you consider yourself a good writer?

I do, and I think pen palling only solidifies that. If I were to become an author, I have already gotten really good with having a conversational tone. Sometimes when I’m reading a letter I will laugh-out-loud at something my pen pal has said, and it makes me want to return the favor. I think one of the best lessons any author can learn is to know your audience. If you, for example, want to write a book geared towards teenage girls, using words in every other sentence that will have them looking at a dictionary (or an app equivalent) is asking them to find a different book instead. Having the array of pen pals that I do, I have gotten used to modifying the way I write to each of them. I haven’t personally changed to accommodate them, but I know the sort of subjects they’d rather I talk about with them.

Do you think that writing is difficult?

It certainly can be. Back in high school we had to do a paper where the central theme was “nature” and that’s just not a topic that interests me very much. I decided to find a way to make it Kate-friendly and that way was to bring up the benefits of having vehicles like those in The Flintstones, something I was/am very much familiar with. The show, not driving those vehicles. In this life we’re always going to have things we don’t want to do, and it’s usually in your favor to just make the best of it. I think once you get over the “I don’t want to write this” mentality, you’ll find that writing it wasn’t as difficult as you thought it originally was.

How can we fall in love with writing?

I think it’s all about venues. I know I like having this blog to spread the word that snail mail is still very much alive, but I have also enjoyed keeping a journal where I’m the only person to ever see its contents. I think just by asking this question, there is already a part of you that loves writing, but you haven’t found your voice yet. I’d suggest writing a quick note to your friend, something a bit more elaborate than what you’d text him or her. Decorate it with stickers or washi tape. Send it in the mail and imagine their reaction when they receive it. Instead of thinking of everything you write as a homework assignment, think of it as something you could use to have fun &/or bring something fun to someone else.


I think this is a nice note to leave you on, though I’d be happy to answer more questions anyone has about pen palling. If this blog is any indication, I enjoy this subject very much. Gabe is coming around to the idea of getting a P.O. Box in addition to the mailbox we already have, and if/when that happens, I will definitely welcome you sending me questions that way, hehe, but for now, the comment section here will have to suffice.

Take care and happy writing!
Sincerely, Kate ~!~

Calling All Boils and Ghouls

6 Oct

imageedit_8_9992179866I really love this time of year. Not only are the colors outside gorgeous and the weather favorable, Halloween is such a fun holiday. Going to pumpkin patches? Love it. Watching movies like Hocus Pocus and The Nightmare Before Christmas? Love ‘em. Finding morbid yet cute decorations? As you can see, I love that. Finding a way to mix this favorite holiday with my favorite hobby? Yeah, I love that, too. I decided that this month would be the perfect time to try out an idea of mine. I wanted to give my pen pals a theme, so over the month whenever they send me a letter– provided they want to, of course– they could make &/or decorate an envelope built around said theme. I plan to take pictures of any and all mail art I receive, post it here on Sincerely Kate towards the end of the month, and let you all vote for the piece you like the most.

But wait, there’s more! I decided to open this up to ANYONE who has my address already. If you want to design an envelope or even a postcard with a Halloween theme, I want to see it! Please make sure I have your masterpieces before the 30th so I can post the pictures on here so favorites can be chosen. I will announce the winner the following Monday. It doesn’t matter whether you’re very handy with a pair of scissors or can barely draw a straight line, I promise. I, for one, am far from a professional– here are a few envelopes of mine that prove that:

I’d just like to say that I’m sorry not *everyone* can participate, but I’m just not comfortable sharing my address publicly. If you want to make your own festive mail, I suggest doing so and sending it to someone you think could use the treat! I’d be happy to answer any and all questions in the comments below, but the most important thing is to just have fun!

Sincerely, Kate ~!~

The “Thanks but No Thanks” Letter

5 Oct

It’s admirable when someone will respond to every letter they receive, but I am a firm believer in quality over quantity. If someone can keep every person who writes them straight, more power to them, but sometimes it’s good to keep your pen pals at a number that is manageable for you.

You may be thinking, But Kate! These people were nice enough to write me. I owe them something in return!

And I’d say fair enough, and tell you about the “Thanks but No Thanks” letter. In these letters (or postcards if you can fit your thoughts onto it) you can tell the person how grateful you are that they wanted to write you, but that you just can’t take on another pen pal right now, or that you don’t think you have very much in common, or that you’re uncomfortable writing to someone of the opposite sex, or whatever reason you have for not wanting to keep that mail cycle going. When I send one of these letters, I will answer the questions they’ve asked since I feel like it’s the polite thing to do, and I avoid asking any questions of my own so they don’t have anything to necessarily respond to.

Prior to joining the LEP, this isn’t something that I did. If I got a letter from someone I wasn’t feeling a vibe towards I just wouldn’t respond to it. Now that I’m in a group where people are about as obsessed with this hobby as I am, it feels like such a nice courtesy– like something that should be a protocol. It’s impossible to hit it off with every single member– there’s 400+ of ‘em– but because of the sanctity of the group there is an integrity that needs to remain, and sending a letter instead of leaving someone hanging, even if it’s to tell them you’re not feeling it, could do just that.

You may be thinking it’s a bit rude to tell someone that you’re not interested in writing them, but what’s more rude? Telling them the truth, or letting them think they will be getting a letter that is just not going to come? One of my pen friends says that her feelings get hurt when someone says they want to write her and then don’t respond to her intro letter, and though a letter or even a postcard saying “thanks but no thanks” may hurt them too, she’d prefer that over not knowing. Someone actually told her once that her handwriting was too hard to read, and so she offered to type her responses. Sometimes the “thanks but no thanks” letter could actually result in a compromise. If, for example, someone was way too personal in the very first letter, saying that that’s why you think it’s not going to work could have them reevaluate how much they say until they’ve gotten to know someone better.

Again, you may be thinking, Kate, don’t you think you’re judging a book by its cover?

And I would say no. Just like I have my preferences when it comes to the books I read, I have preferences when it comes to those I write to. There is nothing wrong with wanting to write someone who is around your age, or from the country that you live in, or from any country but yours. If you know what you prefer in a pen pal, you won’t be writing to someone you’re uncomfortable talking to– if you wouldn’t ever hang out with someone in person (provided you were given the opportunity), why should you feel obligated to write them? Pen palling is supposed to be fun, so do yourself a favor and remember this post when you stumble upon a letter that feels like it’d be a chore to respond to.

And should you get one of these letters, dear bleaders, please don’t take it personally that you don’t fit someone’s preferences. With one less pen pal, you’ll be open to finding someone who fits your own preferences.

All the best!
Sincerely, Kate ~!~

Vari-Kate-ions: September

30 Sep

If you’re new to this blog of mine, Vari-Kate-ions are when I take a theme from this list and build some fun mail around it. Whether you’re new or a regular here, you should know that I bit off a bit more than I could chew last month, and though I didn’t complete everything that I had yet to get around to, I did do three more projects: Mother Nature, Trouble Lurking, and Foreign.

DSCF7404As I was thinking of Mother Nature I was reminded of this craft project my mom and I did where we ironed leaves between two sheets of wax paper. I used some leaves from my yard to make two postcards– one for each of the LEP members who sent me blank postcards for a Nerd in the Brain endeavor.

DSCF7402Though this project didn’t involve any ironing, Trouble Lurking was much more tricky. I decided I would just decorate Ashley’s letter with some appropriate washi tape and send her a bit of each kind as well. Whoever originally thought to wrap samples around old playing cards is a smart cookie.

DSCF7398I have a postcard pen pal from The Netherlands, named Frida, so anytime I send her a local postcard that’s already pretty Foreign. Well, I decided to use one of the postcards my mom gave me from Taiwan on one of her trips home for Frida to really make this postcard go around the world. I was a bit worried that the odd shape of this postcard wouldn’t be big enough for the international stamp, address, and a little note, but I wound up getting everything to fit on the back quite nicely. Hopefully it doesn’t cause too many issues in the postal system!

I am just about all caught up on my letters from last week– I just have one more to respond to– so I think I may start planning and plotting some Vari-Kate-ions for October. Sure, I still have two themes from August I need to tackle, but I am feeling much more optimistic now that I got some bigger projects out of the way.

Sincerely, Kate ~!~



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