It's the end my friend...

National Card and Letter Writing Month started April 1st and ends on April 30th. I'm so sad to see it go. 

I've spent this month with all of my friends at the League of Extraordinary Penpals. I hosted two Facebook events that brought together some like-minded people and we shared and supported each other as we tried, and succeed in reducing our reply piles.

I've gotten down to where my reply pile is answered within 2-3 days after I get the letter. I think my pen pals must think that I've been taken over by some alien life form. I will admit that I wasn't taking the time to write back as promptly as I should have. I always wondered if I had enough things to talk about if I wrote back right away. But comes to find out that I did/do have it in me to write things of substance.

When I was in Jr. High School I went away to camp during the summer and before we left school I asked if I was able to write to my bus driver while I was away. She said she would be honored if I would. I wrote to her several times over the summer and when I got back to school she told me that I wrote like that I was right beside her talking instead of through a letter. That made me feel very good.

We talked in the event on Facebook about our first pen pal experiences. When I was in high school we had to choose a pen pal from a specific country but only two people could choose the same country. Trying to find something different became difficult for me so I said, "OK, we live in the town of Lebanon, PA let's pick the country of Lebanon." So I got a pen pal from there. It was nice talking to the young man. He and I talked into our early 20s until the post office where he got his mail got bombed. One of his friends was searching the mail piles for his own mail and came across the letter I wrote to him. He wrote to me and told me that it wasn't safe for him to write to me anymore and he'd write again when it was. I never heard from him again. I wish I knew where he was and if he was safe. I can't even remember his name anymore it's been so long.

In the group, Crystal told us her story: 
When I was in junior high I moved from BC to Alberta. My still best friend Tammy got me some Disney letter sets, stamps, and pens. We wrote to each other. From there I was addicted.
I'd love to hear about your first pen pal experience, are you still pals with them today? Is your reply pile dwindling? I hope things are looking up for you as we prepare for National Stationery Week April 29-May 5th.

A Month of Letters Challenge - February

It's been a while; I've slacked off, goofed around and shirked my responsibilities. At the end of last year, I had sent out 104 replies to pen pal letters. It was impressive, but not what it could have been. Thanks to the League of Extraordinary Pen Pals I was motivated to send out letters more often than I would have. *waves at the LEP community*

Last year I joined in on a project called A Month of Letters Challenge. Every day in the month of February you send out a letter, so that's 24 pieces of mail (we're excluding Sundays since the mail doesn't run that day) out. There are badges that you can earn for sending out certain letter types.

Here's a few of them:

I replied to mail - Answering a letter from someone in your letter pile.
I sent mail today - Sending out a piece of mail.
Postal explorer - Send out a piece of mail from a different mailbox.
Postal adventurer quest - Using 3 mailboxes that aren't your own.
Contact your representative - Contact a government representative.

And there are so much more. Last year I didn't work on those badges because, to be honest, I was a little lazy. I worked on getting my reply pile down and sending cards/letters/postcards to those that I love. It was nice connecting with them on that level and knowing that they were surprised to get something in the mail from me, or anyone that wasn't a bill. I'm sure that you know that feeling. I do plan on working through those achievements this year to see if I'm able to expand my horizons a little bit.

Will you join me in the challenge? Will you post on or read the forums and find the pen pal of your dreams? What writing challenges do you join or what writing goals do you strive for this year? Let me know in the comments below.

I LOVE Postcards

I've collected postcards for many, many years. At first, I wanted to have my postcards brought back to me from wherever the person who gave them to me had gone. But since I have joined Swap-Bot and have been a pen pal with League of Extraordinary Pen Pals I have wanted to swap them "naked". The first time I heard that term I was like WTF, really? And like a total noob I had to ask, "What's naked mean?" I certainly didn't think that they were going to want me to write them while I was naked because no one but my boyfriend would want that! So what does it mean?

NAKED: Mailed to the recipient written on, stamped and sent through the mail. You do NOT put the postcard in an envelope. 

Normally I buy my postcards on Ebay, Amazon, yard sales and thrift stores. I have been known to sneak into a local Chamber of Commerce and ask if they have any postcards that they are giving away. Sometimes they will give you as many as you want for free; sometimes you end up paying a nominal fee. I prefer the FREE way as it is one of my three favorite four letter F words. If you would like to know what they are, leave a comment below and I'll fill you in.

Just recently I was searching Google for something pen pal related and came across someone's blog post (I should have saved the link, so sorry guys - but I thank that person for the information) that described this service called AmazingMail.

Disclaimer: I am NOT getting paid to write this post! Not one red penny. I'm not getting a percentage of sales, or a kickback of any kind. This is my unbiased review of something that I am in LOVE with and wanted to share with you.

When I found the site I noticed that they gave you 5 FREE (there's that word again) cards to try out; who wouldn't want to do that? Then if you take a survey telling them about your experience you get one more free card to send. After a few days, I had a follow-up email from a guy named Chris, *waves HI CHRIS*, who wanted to make sure that I had found everything that I was looking for. I realized then that this service was mainly geared towards businesses; I was a little sad. But I emailed Chris to see if he could send me out a sample pack of cards so I could see the quality of what I was sending out to my friends/family. He sent the info pack and I realized yet again that maybe I wasn't in their target market. Don't fret my friends, I got over that fact quickly.

After reviewing their site more closely and looking at the price (I hadn't even bothered until then) I saw that you were able to buy the credits for the cards in quantities of 1-9 or higher. So this product could be for me. I just had to use it properly. Click HERE to see the full pricing and the discounts you get for each level, you'll have to scroll down about halfway to see them.

Here's a list of what buying a credit will get you:
  • Postage
  • Full Color - Premium Coating
  • Next business day print & mail
  • No minimum order
What more could I ask for?
  • International postcards? GOT THEM!
  • Greeting cards? GOT THEM!
  • Great customer service? GOT THAT TOO!

Call me skeptical, but I'm still digging around to find a fault in these guys, but so far this pen pal hasn't dug up any dirt on them. I even looked them up on the Online Better Business Bureau and they have a flipping A+ rating and they are accredited. 

So here's the deal, try these guys or don't - but know that I'll be using them. And if you do decide to use them Chris was able to get us a promo code for 20% off on your first order but only if the discount is $200 or lower. :)

The promo code for that my dear readers is: PENPAL17

But another disclaimer make sure to check their website first for a banner on the top of the page that may be showing any promotions that are currently going on. Because at the time of this blog post there was a discount of 25% on your first order with a max discount of $250 (for you ballers out there with some dough in your pockets).

The promo code for that is: POOLPARTY17

Now, for those of you who are a little skeptical of what's going on, and the quality of their cards, if you comment below and send me an email to penpaladdict.blogger (@) (don't use the (), I just don't want nasty spammers emailing me, I'll send you the sample card that Chris was able to send me. You'll be absolutely awed and amazed by the quality of these cards. 

Well, off to send out some postcards in swaps that I have going on right now. That way, I can finish filling up my photo box with postcards and start another.

I look forward to your comments and emails.

Huggles to you all, and have a great day!

Washi Tape Addiction

Much like pen pal letters, washi tape tends to grow like weeds. I feel like sometimes they grow like bunnies. I swear I don't go to the Dollar Tree, or to Michaels or any other store that carries it and blindly put it in the cart because "it's on sale" or "I have a coupon for that". They have their own little cute babies.

Being a pen pal most likely involves a bit of mail art, even if it's only through a bit of washi .I've gotten some mail that makes my mail art look like a kindergarten school kid made it.
My envelopes will sometimes have the washi tape on the bottom, or in times of real inspiration, I'll go diagonally. You can see that these envelopes have address windows on them. When I get a bill in the mail I take the envelope that comes with it and put it in a pile. Supplies for this hobby can get expensive, so I save as many envelopes that I can so I don't have to buy them for as long as possible. When I get them I make sure to cover any barcode that happens to be on there (you can see this on both tops of the envelopes) so they won't go through the mail and get to the recipient looking too much like a bill coming in. 

Now back to the point at hand, washi tape! 

Some of the places that I find the best washi tape are:

I do quite a few swaps on a website called Swap-Bot. And in these swaps people will send along wonderful little extras. Some of those extras are washi tape samples. Most of the samples that are sent are about 18" long so that you're able to get a few good uses out of them. Many people place these samples on playing cards or other forms of study material in which the tape won't stick and peel the delivery method.

I enjoy putting them on:
  • Playing cards
  • Fake credit cards that are sent to you when credit card companies want you to apply for their cards. I put packing tape on them if the card is not made of a plastic material.
  • Or washi sample templates that I get from blogs that I follow. Check out this one: Click Here I will take these templates and put them on heavy cardstock and then laminate them.

I've found that there are two types of washi tape. There is the type that is very much like masking tape and the one that is more plastic like. My favorite is the masking tape kind, I'm just not quite a fan of the plastic kind, just makes washi seem "off".

How much washi do you have? Which is your favorite? Give me a link to where you buy your washi tape. I'd really love to know. You can never have enough.

My beginning to pen pals began with Swap-Bot

My beginnings to pen palling (paling?) began with my Swap-Bot membership. It's a great place to get to know people and to swap things that mean things to you. I'm learning about people's music "ear bugs" by hosting a swap there entitled It's Stuck in My Head. I thought you might be interested in hearing what's stuck in my head this month.

I Have Pen Envy

I have a horrible problem. It's a true but sad story. I didn't want to burden you with my issues, but since you are reading my blog, I figured you'd want to know.

*stands up*

Hello, my name is Tami - and I have pen envy. I want all the pens, pencils, and markers. If you happen to give me one, likely I will steal it. If I go to doctor's offices, vets, hotels etc. if they have a pen with their name on it, I want it. And I'll be honest, I'm not be too proud to beg ask for it. Here's the collection of writing instruments that I have.

Excess/Gel Pens/Zentangle Project

What I Pulled From End Table
In Bedroom
On Bedroom Dresser
In this picture you have the blue tote which carries all of my excess pens, pencils, and highlighters. On top of that is my baggie of red white and blue instruments that are for a zentangle swap I am doing for the Facebook group Zentangle Artist Trading Card Swap. I'm doing a red/white/blue patriotic swap now, and a black and white one soon. The thing in front is a 48 pack of gel pens that I received for review from a site called Tomoson.

When I cleaned out my end table next to the sofa to see how many things were in there, I came out with the next picture's worth of pens/pencils/highlighters/grease pencils (used to draw objects on the window so I can paint them)/markers. I honestly didn't realize how many things were in that drawer. So after I took the pictures I took my end table drawer and my nightstand drawers out and cleaned them up a bit and made sure all of my pen pal supplies were in the end table drawer. The end table is about to collapse under the weight of all the things I have in it. Crochet books and tons of recipe books and clippings, now add to it pen pal things and you are full of things that I have in my life.

The next picture shows you (on the left) all the markers, paint pens, and Sharpies that I own. I don't know if you can see how deep that container is, but it's quite full. And with my OCD all of the different types of writing utensils are in their own quart sized baggie. On the right you see my coloring markers, or letter writing markers if you only want to use one side of the paper (but Mother Earth will frown upon the waste of a beautiful tree, but don't think I haven't done it - because look at those colors how could you not?) and last but not least my Micron pens for my Zentangle. I have to have different thicknesses for the tangles to get the right depth of character.

The last picture (and aren't you glad) is the two containers I have on my other dresser of  things I just wanted to keep out. Some of them are things from my late husband and I just couldn't bear to keep them in a drawer and besides, I didn't have anything in my OCD scheme to put them in. And should you wonder, "Self, I wonder if all of Tami's pens and pencils actually work." The answer to your query is YES, they all work. I test them all once a year to make sure that the ink hasn't dried up, though this year I haven't quite gotten to it yet and have found a few that have dried up.

I'd like to know what you use for pens/pencils, and which are your favorites. My favorite of all times is the Champ Pentel pencil. And for the longest time I had to talk to my friend Robin (HI Rose - there's an inside joke about that - I love you!) and have her get them from the Nash Community College (shout out to the Accounting department) bookstore. So, like I said, it's time for you to share - what is your favorite?

Places to Find a Great Pen Pal

It's been about two years since I started my pen pal journey, and I swear I am not addicted to it at all. It started out so innocently, 5 pen pals here, add another 5 there, until today I have 35 pen pals.

Yes, I do write to them all, and mostly I remember what it is that we are talking about.

Many people ask me, "Tami, where do you find your pen pals?" And when I tell them, they look at me with this look of complete bewilderment because they have never heard of the places that I am talking about. So I thought for the addicts out there that want more, or want to start pen palling (doesn't that word look silly?) I'd help you out with a few links.

The first place I got my pen pals was on Swap-Bot. When you're on this site you are able to find interesting swaps that are not pen pal related, and also swaps that will have you swap a letter with one person. Hopefully this person and you will click and they will write you back. You will send a letter to one person, and another person will send a letter to you. So you have the opportunity to have two pen pals if you'd like. The only downside is that you must search the listings for pen pal related swaps, but when you find them, it's well worth it.

Another site you can find great pen pals is You place an ad describing yourself and people inbox you with responses. It's a great system. While you're there, you can go to their main page and order some stationary to start writing your letters. The only downside I've found on this site is that if you want to keep your ad going and get some results on a regular basis you need to place your ad again. It's tedious, but it's doable.

There are plenty of Facebook groups that you can find and join. My favorites are Snail Mail Pen Pals Ladies Only which you have to join and be approved. The approval status is relatively quick. You can do one of two things:

  1. Sit around a lurk to see if you find someone that posts for a pen friend that seems interesting to you.
  2. Do a quick intro right away and ask for pen friends.

The only thing that bugs me a bit, but I have learned to get over it, is the fact that most pen friends want to be your "friend" on Facebook. I've been trying to weed my list down for a while, and adding pen friends immediately after they've asked if they want to be pals is a little daunting, especially if you are one to post things that may be not quite PC.

My other favorite Facebook group is Lots of Crazy Pen Pals (No Men). They are a group of very active pen pals. If you're not one for a LOT of notifications, you may want to turn them off for this group. It is very well managed and one person a day runs the show by keeping the girls talking about things like, "Did you get mail today?" or "What's for dinner?" and other topics that keep the group talking. I think my favorite thing that they do are the word games. You'll have to join to find out what games they play, I can't give you all the information first.

This group also has people that want to be your Facebook friend right off the bat, but like I said, I've gotten used to it. Could I hit the decline button - of course, But I've always had a problem with saying no to people. So another Facebook friend it is.

How do you find your pen pals? Please leave a comment below, I'd love to find some more places to look.

Huggles to all,