Creations Unleashed

30 Oct

In addition to loving mail I also love this time of year. I hoped to receive a bunch of Halloween-friendly mail art, as explained here, but wound up only getting two festive envelopes. Regardless, I will share ‘em here and have you pick your favorite!

From Erika:


From Sarah:



The winner will be announced on Monday and something will be sent their way shortly after. I’d definitely like to try this sort of thing again, though it will likely wait until I get a P.O. Box so people who aren’t my pen pals can easily participate too. As a potential participant, dear bleader, what theme would you like me to use via contest early 2015?

Some members of The League of Extraordinary Pen Pals recently made me feel they’d like to see more of the squirrels I made for the group back in May, so in the spirit of “Creations Unleashed” let me show you my latest batch of the things!


These five critters have yet to be named or given personalities; all I really know is that I was inspired by Halloween to make a pirate, a zombie, a clown, a witch, and a princess. I hope that once they’re sent out in the wild their journeys will be safe and all their hosts will have fun with them.

And may all of you beautiful creatures have a safe and happy Halloween!

Sincerely, Kate ~!~


My Third Not-so-Mad Tea Party

27 Oct

As explained at my original tea party, these posts are my take on the “if we were having coffee” posts that have been seen around the blogasphere. Thanks for joining me yet again!

My post last Monday was almost called “The Book of Gone Boxtroll Girls,” haha. I have been to the movies three times within the past month, which is more than I’ve been within the past year. If the mash-up title isn’t enough of an indication, Gabe and I saw Gone Girl, The Book of Life, and The Boxtrolls– Logan joined us for that last one. I enjoyed all three movies and have every intention of adding them to our collection one day. Gone Girl was rather loyal to the book which is always a positive, especially considering how much I liked said book. Gabe may only be a quarter Hispanic, but that guy loves all things “day of the dead” and The Book of Life was no exception. The story itself was a bit on the predictable side, but it was so well done I didn’t even mind. I love the colors, the random quotes, and the incorporation of music like a cover of “Creep” by Radiohead. As for The Boxtrolls, the boys and I saw that on a whim in honor of Sweetest Day. It was a cute movie (despite the drag queen ;-) ) and I can see us watching it rather regularly around here as there’s something for everyone.

Speaking of Sweetest Day, I woke up last Saturday not expecting anything, but then Gabe came home from early with flowers and goodies for me and a toy for Logan since he knew he couldn’t leave the little guy out. He totally called it– as Gabe was pulling out a notebook for me Logan said “What you bring me?” It turned out to be a pretty sweet day.


This past Friday was also pretty awesome. My friend Anna and I went to see a live performance of Rocky Horror and we had such a good time. We used props, yelled, and sang along to the songs we’ve been singing along to since we were high school freshmen. The only thing either of us would have changed was Riff Raff– the guy wasn’t a bad actor, but he can’t sing to save his life so it was a good thing he had few singing parts. Should this become an annual event Logan and I would gladly go again.

I have other plans for this Friday as it’s Halloween. My brother Erik and his wife are going to be in Michigan this weekend for our grandparents’ 60th anniversary party, so we made some plans with them during the time they were free. The Children’s Museum is having all sorts of festive stuff going on like a maze game and face painting so we’re going to go there with the Loganator and hopefully be home in time for trick-or-treating.

But that’s not all we’ve done for Halloween! Yesterday Gabe and I took Logan to both the Children’s Zoo and our favorite pumpkin farm. The former had what they call a “Zoo Boo” so kids were encouraged to wear costumes and get candy from several different booths. Logan didn’t care too much about the candy, but he still had fun wandering around and taking a train ride. Same goes for the pumpkin farm. Not long after we came home we carved the pumpkin Logan picked out, but instead of rambling on I’ll just show you some pictures…

The last bit of exciting news I have is that my brother Doug’s getting married! In just a little less than a year he and Jessica will be tying the knot in Florida, with a reception to follow at Disneyworld. So excited, both for them and to go. I am a bit worried that Gabe won’t be able to come since beet season is a horrible time to ask for time off, nor does our bank account want to take the hit, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. In the meantime we have some saving up to do because of course Logan and I want to go to the Magic Kingdom since we’ll literally be in the neighborhood.

Well, thanks for joining me, but I really must be going. Until next time!
Sincerely, Kate ~!~

200 Postcards and Counting

25 Oct

It was in October of 2012 that I first started postcrossing, and though I only send a postcard when I have no other reason to put my red flag up, I still enjoy it two years later. Every time I receive 50 postcards, I write a celebratory blog– the first fifty, 100 total, the previous batch. One thing I noticed about this most recent set is that there are more “fun” cards than ones of certain places and things. Sure, there are still a bunch of the latter, but receiving novelty stuff has been a nice change. It really pays to have more of a wishlist– in addition to having Wonderland-friendly postcards on mine I also have gnomes, postboxes, and “something funny” so I think postcrossing users are having a bit more fun when they’re given my address.


Not only did one postcard teach me that “kalyska” is their word for “cradle” (complete will random illustrations), I learned from another postcard that Belarus is in the center of Europe.


Both of the postcards I received from Belgium were sweet like the waffles– one was of a little toddler hand holding a flower, and the other said “Start each day like it’s your birthday.”


Despite the postcrosser from Bulgaria telling me how there are picturesque mountains and breathtaking beaches– her words, the postcard she sent me was of a bird, and it was a drawing, haha.


Both of my postcards from China were more on the traditional side as far as postcards are concerned– one was of The Three Gorges and another was the bust of someone (can’t make out the name) from a museum in Beijing.


One postcard featured the art of Inge Look, and another had the following words of wisdom on it that the postcrosser was nice enough to translate for me: “Create your dreams, sing your songs, dance your dances, use your heart, and enjoy the journey.”


This postcard also featured artwork, this time by Salvador Dali; it appears to be an interpretation of a railway.



In addition to that guy/lighthouse, I also received postcards featuring cities like Cologne, Limberg, Frankfurt, and Berlin, one with the first law from the new democratic Germany, one with a sea dog, and one that looks like a scene out of Brothers Grimm, complete with little elves that almost look like gnomes.

Great Britain

My 200th postcard came from here and it was of a postbox– perfect timing! Another postcard was from a set where an artist went to different countries, in this case Cuba, and photographed families and all their furniture… outside. Hope the artist helped them move the furniture back and forth!


This postcard will make another appearance on this blog sometime ;-)



One postcard was an illustration called “The King & The Jester” while another was chosen for my by the postcrosser’s princess of a daughter.


This postcard arrived in the summer so the user from this country told me about her summers over there.


Another fun duo– one was an “Oriental Bar” drawing and another was of a baby orangutan.


There were postcards on all ends of the spectrum– something local, something tribal, something religious, something near and dear to this Alice in Wonderland lover… There was also a couple postcards with a wintery vibe, one that seemed to merge real life with animation, and another postcard that was completely illustrated.


My postcard from Sweden was of both kittens and flowers– how could you go wrong?


The postcard I received from my mom’s chunk of the globe was from a town called Macon– the user described it as being rather dirty thanks to tourists :-P

The Netherlands


In addition to this Dutch postbox I got to see a gorgeous snow-covered church and hill. A 12-year-old boy also sent me a circus postcard 12-year-old-me wouldn’t have been able to part with, and a mom and teacher sent me a random cow.


I also saw a mailbox from here, complete with a cat on top of the fence! Other postcards include one with a dog by some flowers, a winter scene, and a multi-view of Zhytomyr.

United States

This Michigan girl received postcards from North Carolina, Georgia, Washington, New York, and Florida. I’m sure you can figure out which one had the legend of the sand dollar and which one had the KFC with a big-ass bird out front. The laughing gull and fir tree home may be a bit trickier to figure out. I also wrote “Arthur Rackham” in my notes *shrugs*

Well! I hope you’ve had as much fun reading about these blogs as I had receiving them. If you want to start sending and receiving your own postcards definitely check out postcrossing, or at least my original post about it should you have questions. All the best!

Sincerely, Kate ~!~

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 ~!~


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