Saturday, October 30, 2010

Letter #303 -- Not this weekend

If you, like me, were thinking that this weekend would finally be the end to Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. for this year, you were wrong. I know I was. If you'll remember, back in 2007, the dates were moved, and DST now ends on the first Sunday in November, which is NEXT Sunday, Nov. 7!

What do you think about DST? Do you love it, hate it or never even think about it? Does it affect your life?

Write a letter about Daylight Saving Time today.

Letter writing topic for Oct. 30, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Letter #302 -- Candy, candy and more candy

It's that time of year when the aisles of the stores are filled with giant bags of candy, more bite-sized pieces of candy than you ever dreamed existed.

What's your favorite? Chocolate? Sweet tarts? Caramels?

Candy corn! I love to eat them, one color at a time from the top down! But, of course, I also enjoy a nice nibble of a Hershey's Special Dark!

Whatever your favorite candy is, Halloween is sure to give you a chance to stock up on it! Enjoy!

But, before you get your fingers all sticky, write a letter to a friend about your favorite candy.

A Different Type of Letter a Day

In "I Am Writing a Letter Each Day..." is a blog by a sister writing to her brother who is in prison. It's a different look at a letter writing project.

Letter #301 -- From the future

Where do you think you'll be in 5, 10, 20 or more years? What do you think you'll be doing? Do you think flying cars will be invented by then?

Use your imagination. And then write a letter from the future. Describe to yourself or someone else what's going on in 2020 or 2050 or any other time in the future. Use the letter as a goal-setting exercise for yourself or as just a fun creative writing exercise.

Letter #300 -- Snack Time!

What do you choose for a snack? Something healthy like carrot sticks or yogurt? Something indulgent like cookies or ice cream? Crispy and crunchy? Soft and gooey? Sweet? Salty?

Write a letter about your typical snack, that little something to get you through the rest of the afternoon. If you can, send your letter with a small package that includes a sample of your favorite (nonperishable) snack.

Letter #299 -- Love 'Em or Hate 'Em?

Some people love them, some people hate them. Some people can't live without them, some people aren't even sure what they are..... social media or social networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. I know some people who post everything that happens in their lives, including things most of us never wanted to know. I know others who have an account because they think they're supposed to, but they never post anything. And, then there are the many people in between the two extremes. Plus, there are those friends (and relatives) of mine who are beyond the extremes and don't even want to hear about "friend requests," "tweeting," etc.

What's your take on it? How do you think social media affects the world around you?

Merge the old with the new and write a letter about social media today. (And, if you're so inclined, write a Facebook, MySpace or Twitter post about letter writing!)

Letter #298 -- Nephew

Write a letter to your nephew. Tell him how important he is and how much you love him.

Letter #297 -- The Wonderful World of...

... Disney! What's your favorite Disney movie? They range from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (first screened in 1937) to the latest version of "Alice in Wonderland," released this year. Spanning those 73 years have been movies about other princesses, dogs, cats, a talking car, talking toys, many singing characters and much more.

Write a letter to a friend about your favorite Disney movie. Include some details...why you like it, when was the first time you saw it, what the movie is about, etc.

Letter #296 -- Graciousness

Write a letter to someone who could use a touch of gracious, a kind word, a gentle comment. Write your letter so full of niceness that no one could ever find anything to object to in it. Sometimes, it seems that our world is full of ugliness...share some goodness with a letter.

Letter #295 -- Another Perspective

After suffering through some computer problems that hampered my ability to post for a little while, I'm almost caught up with the letter writing topics....

Take another look at your favorite book character and then write a letter from that character's perspective. This is another form of ghost-writing, which I've mentioned before. It's a little wacky, but it's fun to do something out of the ordinary from time to time.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fun story about kids letter writing

Here's a nice story about some third-graders and some senior citizens in Massachusetts becoming pen pals. This indicates snail mail isn't dead yet.

Letter #294 -- Take a stand

Write a letter standing up for yourself. Is there someone who has said something inaccurate about you? Someone or something that has cheated you? Have you been blamed for something you didn't do? Write a letter taking a stand in defense of yourself.

This is another letter you may choose not to mail. This could be the kind of letter you write and then burn, sending the message up in smoke. Or, if you need to, you may choose to send it on. Depending on your situation, think it through and then do what you gotta do.

Letter #293 -- Take a (backward) cue from Brad Paisley

This is a letter that you may or may not mail. You might write it to yourself, or you might write it to someone who needs to hear what you have to say.

Write a letter from your younger self. I know, I know. Brad Paisley's song is about writing a letter TO his younger self. And, that's a fine letter to write.

But, your younger self probably had a different outlook on life. Maybe he or she was freer than you are now, maybe more creative, less conformative. Could you use a shot of youth right about now? Do you know someone else who could benefit from the way you used to be? Think back to how you were then, and write a letter from a younger you.

Letter #292 -- Sweet Niece

Write a letter to your niece. Let her know how proud you are of her and how much you love her. She may have loving and supportive parents, but, still, knowing you care will mean something to her.

Letter #291 -- Thrills!

What's your favorite theme park ride? I haven't been to a theme park in years, but I don't think we can keep our daughter away from Six Flags for much longer. I know it's changed over the years, but maybe the log ride is still there.

Back in my youth, I was not afraid to try a rollercoaster or two. I'm sure I rode on the Shock Wave in the last 1970s with my uncles, braving the double loops. At smaller carnivals, I've always preferred the Himalaya ride and the Tilt-A-Whirl. My daughter is familiar with the carnival rides and thinks the scarier the better. So, I'm sure she'll be dragging me toward the roller coaster whenever she does get to Six Flags.

Write a letter to a friend about your favorite theme park or carnival ride. Write about your experiences. Ask about their experiences.

Letter #290 -- Finding Beauty Online

As you browse blogs, don't you see sites that are delightfully pretty?

There are so many talented designers out there, as well as great photographers and artists, that there are many beautiful blogs to visit.

Which is your favorite? What blog gets your vote for the prettiest?

Share your thoughts with a friend in a letter. Encourage him or her to visit that blog and leave a comment.

Letter #289 -- Celebrity Crushes

Letter writing topic #287 got me to thinking about celebrity crushes. Those TV shows with the ideal (or dysfunctional) families often had cute kids.

The first fellow on TV that I probably had a crush on was Bobby Sherman who was in "Here Come the Brides." Later, I remember Leif Garrett (yes, I know about his recent troubles), Shaun Cassidy, Donny Osmond, Robby Benson, and I'm sure there were more.

How about you? Who were your celebrity crushes? What has happened to them?

Write a letter about it!

Letter #288 -- Do you want ice cream with that?

Which do you prefer? Cake or pie? I suppose it depends on the occasion, right? On your birthday, you might want birthday cake, but on an all-American holiday, you might want apple pie.

I think if I had to choose, I'd pick hot pecan pie with vanilla ice cream as my first choice. Secondly, I'd choose carrot cake with cream cheese icing.

What's your favorite? Write about it in a letter!

Letter #287 -- Favorite TV Family

With the recent deaths of Tom Bosley, who portrayed the father on the TV show "Happy Days," and Barbara Billingsley, who portrayed the mother on the TV show "Leave It To Beaver," the world (or at least the U.S.) said good-bye to two more beloved actors.

I grew up watching re-runs of "Leave It To Beaver" and then in the 1970s "Happy Days" became a favorite. Nowadays, it seems that there are few TV shows that appeal to or are suitable for the entire family to watch together.

In fact, the shows are so scarce that when television broadcasting switched to digital, we just switched it off. You read that correctly...for more than a year, our little family has not had regular TV service in our house. We've never had cable, satellite or any other "premium" service because we didn't want to spend the money on it and because our rural location limits what's available to us. Our old, small TV wasn't pre-equipped for digital service, and we never got around to obtaining a converter. So, when the big switch was made, we stayed behind.

We still have the TV, and we watch videos and DVDs. We have some recordings of old TV shows, such as "Andy Griffith," "The Lucy Show," "The Waltons," "Leave It To Beaver," etc., and we watch those, as well as movies.

As you watch a TV show, you begin to feel like you know the (sometimes) fictional family portrayed on the screen.  Which TV family or character do you most identify with? Who's your favorite? Think about it. Write a letter about it. Mail it.

(TV graphic courtesy of

Letter #286 -- Ask a Question

In journalism school, students are taught to ask the 5 Ws and the H -- who, what, where, when, why and how. When those questions are answered -- sometimes multiple times -- you have a pretty good story.

But, as a letter writer, you can use the 5 Ws and the H in a couple of different ways. You can use them as guidelines for asking questions of your letter's recipient. Some examples: What is your new job? When do you start working? Where is your office? Why did you decide to switch jobs? Who are your co-workers? How did your old boss react when you told him you were quitting?

You can also use the 5 Ws and the H to make sure your letter -- and the stories within -- are thorough and newsy. When writing your letter, ask yourself if you've answered all of the questions your reader might have.

Letter writing book

I haven't read this book, but it looks interesting — Curly Grandma's Letters: Writing to Kids and Capturing Your Autobiography by Anita Bryce, aka Curly Grandma.

The author wrote the book after discovering that she could write more interesting letters to her grandchildren and tell them about her life at the same time. She looked for books or websites on the topic but couldn't find anything, so she wrote a book herself.

The book is available as a paperback, e-book and audio book.

Letter # 285 -- Who invented it?

Write a letter to the inventor of your favorite product. Is there something that you can't live without? An item that has enhanced your life? Do a little research and write a letter to the inventor. Of course, many things we use today were invented so long ago that you can't write a letter to the inventor. So, instead, write a letter about the inventor. Sure, it's a little like a research paper, but it'll be fun to learn something new!

Mother Teresa stamps

Last month, the U.S. Postal Service issued a 44-cent stamp to recognize Mother Teresa, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her humanitarian work. The stamp was issued during a special ceremony held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in the nation’s capital.

Noted for her compassion toward the poor and suffering, Mother Teresa, a diminutive Roman Catholic nun and honorary U.S. citizen, served the sick and destitute of India and the world for nearly 50 years.

“Often, stamps are referred to as a nation’s ‘calling cards’ because they reach a national, and even an international audience,” said Postmaster General John Potter in dedicating the stamp. “They focus attention on subjects our country regards with respect and affection, and that is certainly true of Mother Teresa, who believed so deeply in the innate worth and dignity of humankind and worked tirelessly on behalf of the poor, sick, orphaned and dying. That’s why I am so very proud that our country, after making her an honorary citizen in 1996, is honoring Mother Teresa with such a lasting memorial.”

When Mother Teresa accepted the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize — one of her numerous honors and distinctions — she did so “in the name of the poor, the hungry, the sick and the lonely,” and convinced the organizers to donate to the needy the money normally used to fund the awards banquet. Well respected worldwide, she successfully urged many of the world’s business and political leaders to give their time and resources to help those in need. President Ronald Reagan presented Mother Teresa with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1985, the same year she began work on behalf of AIDS sufferers in the U.S. and other countries. In 1997, Congress awarded Mother Teresa the Congressional Gold Medal for her “outstanding and enduring contributions through humanitarian and charitable activities.”

Mother Teresa died in Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta), India, on Sept. 5, 1997, and is buried there. She was a citizen of India since 1948.

In 1996, President Bill Clinton and the U.S. Congress awarded Mother Teresa honorary U.S. citizenship. The honor has only been bestowed on six others. Winston Churchill received it in 1963, Raoul Wallenberg in 1981, William Penn and Hannah Callowhill Penn in 1984, the Marquis de Lafayette in 2002 and General Casimir Pulaski in 2009. With the exception of Hannah Callowhill Penn, each of these figures has also appeared on a U.S. postage stamp: the Marquis de Lafayette four times (1952, 1957, 1976, and 1977), William Penn in 1932, Churchill in 1965 and 1991, and Wallenberg in 1997. General Pulaski was honored on postage in 1931 and 1979.

The stamp features a portrait of Mother Teresa painted by award-winning artist Thomas Blackshear II of Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Letter #284 -- Dear Ol' Dad

Continuing with trying to catch up (after computer problems caused me to get behind)...

Write a letter to your Dad (or about your dad or to a father-figure in your life). Don't just pick out a card and sign your name to it...write him a real letter!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Stationery Giveaway

The Wild & Precious blog and Moonbeam Wishes Etsy shop are giving away some stationery sets.

Visit here to see all the details.

Letter #283 -- Love, love, love

Write a love letter. Mail it. It's as easy as that to share your love.

Rural Letter Carrier

There's an interesting post about a rural mail carrier on the Permanent Fixes blog. Check it out.

Letter #282 -- Corsages

We recently had Homecoming in our small town. Homecoming (for anyone who isn't familiar with the term) is an event tied to a high school football game (at least around here it's football). Graduates of the high school come back "home" for the game. In our town, the high school students elect a Homecoming Queen and King. In some other towns, they also elect a "Coming Home Queen and King" from the alumni.

One of the things that makes Homecoming different from all the other football games is that the girls wear Homecoming mums, large flower corsages, decorated with ribbons, trinkets, etc. If you're not familiar with this concept, type "Homecoming mums" into Google Images and see lots of pictures. Typically, boyfriends give the Homecoming mums to their girlfriends, but many parents, grandparents and "just friends" give mums to girls. And, in return, the girls often give Homecoming "garters" to the boys. Those are decorated flowers on arm bands that the boys wear.

Now, back in the "old" days (the 1980s, I know), girls wore real flowers, chrysanthemums, elaborately decorated. Nowadays, the flowers are artificial (silk) so that they can better withstand all of the stuff that is attached to them. The pictures that you see online are often the extreme, and around here most of the girls attach the mum to one shoulder or the other and do not wear them around their neck like gigantic necklaces.

This year, my daughter is in the fifth grade and still a little too young for a Homecoming date. Yet, she wanted a Homecoming mum. I wasn't about to pay up to $100 for a mum (I'm not kidding....many people pay that much and more), so we bought a basic, undecorated mum and some ribbon and trinkets and made one by ourselves for much less.

From what I understand, back in the really olden days (the 1960s, for example, when I was a little girl), girls often wore much smaller mums or corsages to many football games, not just the Homecoming game. I hope they cost a lot less back then!

Have you ever heard of such a tradition? Have you ever received a Homecoming mum or a corsage for a sporting event? If so, write a letter about it today. If not, is there anything similar where you live? Write a letter about your traditions!

Holiday cards? Will you send them?

Daniel Hamermash wrote a blog post on the New York Times about holiday cards. The post generated the most comments of any of his recent blog writings. Read his post and the comments. It's interesting.

Will you send out (or have you sent out) holiday cards this year? Or, will you email?

Letter #281 -- Flowers or Candy?

Which would you prefer to receive as a gift....a vase of flowers for your desk/table or a box of gourmet chocolates? Of course, as life goes, you might not get either on a gift-giving/receiving occasion, or you might get both. But, if you had to choose, which would you rather get? What do you think that says about you and your personality (and your waistline)? Write about it in a letter to a friend today. (But, think about it first....don't write a letter about how you'd much prefer chocolate and send it to a friend who sent you flowers...)

U.S. Holiday Stamps

The U.S. Postal Service is issuing four, new Forever stamps and a single stamp featuring a musical angel for the 2010 holiday season.
“With these wonderful new stamps in hand, you will be ready for the upcoming holidays — and we’ll be ready to deliver your messages of peace and joy across America,” said Maura Robinson, Postal Service vice president, Pricing. “...both the new Holiday Evergreens Forever stamps and the Angel with Lute commemorative issue will be available nationwide.”

Holiday Evergreens Forever
Decorating with evergreens during the winter holiday season is a popular and appealing tradition. These beautiful new stamps feature close-up views of the foliage and cones of four different conifers:  ponderosa pine, eastern red cedar, blue spruce and balsam fir.
The artist, the late Ned Seidler, was a gifted painter of nature subjects. When painting flora, he frequently used cuttings from plants and trees in his own yard as reference.

Angel with Lute
For the holiday season, angels represent peace on earth. This stamp features an angel playing a lute, an image from a fresco painted around the year 1480 by Italian Renaissance artist, Melozzo da Forli, for the apse of the Church of the Holy Apostles in Rome. It radiates serenity and dignity, along with compassion, while the lute points to harmony and song.

Also, available now at Post Offices are 44-cent Madonna and Child, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and Eid stamps this holiday season. (And, last year's Winter Holidays stamps are still sold on the USPS website.)

Letter # 280 -- Sincerely

Write a letter asking a friend (or relative), "How are you?" And mean it. Don't use that question as simply an introductory sentence. Add some statements and further questions that let your letter's recipient know that you're truly concerned. Share a little bit of your life, but don't go on and on...this letter isn't about you; it's about your friend. She (or he) will appreciate it.

Letters & Journals

Have you stopped by Jackie Flaherty's Letters & Journals website lately? She's planning to launch her magazine in 2011, and she needs 5,000 potential subscribers to let her know they'd be interested in such a magazine. Once she gets a list of 5,000 names, she'll start approaching advertisers. Earlier this month, she had 2,300 names. If you haven't contacted Jackie (you can sign up for her free e-newsletter or ask for magazine updates), do it today. If you have already signed up, think about who you can share the news with! If each person who's already on her list gets one more person to say they're interested, Jackie will have her 5,000 names.

She's ready to get this magazine off the ground! Let's see what we can do to help.

Letter #279 -- Writer to writer

Write a letter to the author of  your favorite book, fiction or nonfiction. Tell him or her what it is you like best about the book. Is it one you've recently discovered or one you read as a child and have kept reading, year after year?

Everyone likes to get positive feedback!

A discussion about letter writing

The Money Saving Expert website had a discussion about letter writing that, in my opinion, spotlights what people think when they receive a handwritten letter. Click here for the post.

Keep on writing!

Letter #278 -- Dear Mom...

Write a letter to your mom today. You know she wants to hear from you. And you know she'd love to hear from you in a letter that she can save and read over and over again.

(As with all of these letter writing topics, adjust this to fit your life. If you can't write a letter to your mom, write one about her. Or, write a letter to a mother-figure in your life, or your mother-in-law, etc. Just use this idea as inspiration.)

Letter writing for a cause

Tree Hugger Mama hosted a letter writing party last month, inviting her guests to write a letter to U.S.  Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar regarding off-shore drilling in Alaska.

And, she blogged about it. Read more of the details here.

Letter #277 -- Favorite sandwich?

What's your favorite sandwich?

My favorite traditional sandwich (two pieces of bread and some filling) is made with whole wheat bread, fresh mozzarella cheese, thick-sliced home-grown tomatoes, a little bit of mayonnaise and some freshly ground black pepper. For a little extra zing, add a few sprigs of fresh basil. Then, grill it until the bread is toasted and the cheese is all melty. I like to cook the sandwich in my George Foreman Grill. It's a great sandwich!

Write a letter about your favorite sandwich...why is your favorite? How did you learn to make it? Does anyone else like it? Share your recipe!

(Sandwich clipart from Webweaver's Free Clipart)

In Celebration of Letter Writing

I've just discovered the Women of Letters group in Australia. According to the "About" section of their website, "Women of Letters is Melbourne’s newest literary event – an afternoon that celebrates a diverse range of strong female talent whilst simultaneously raising funds for Victorian animal rescue shelter, Edgar’s Mission. Co-curated by writers Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire, the monthly occasion will bring together five of Melbourne’s best and brightest writers, musicians, politicians and comedians in celebration of the beautiful lost art of letter-writing."


And, to add to the interest, the group is offering it's first Men of Letters event on Sunday, Oct. 31.

Visit the Women of Letters website, click on the links. I like it!

Letter #276 -- I spy something beautiful

Look out your window. What do you see? Look for something of beauty out there. A flower, a ray of sunshine, a drop of rain, a leaf, a shadow...if you look hard enough, you can find some little speck of beauty anywhere. Now, write a letter about the beauty you see out your window.

(Window clip art courtesy of


I must apologize profusely! I've had some computer problems in the past few weeks, and that greatly hampered my efforts to get online and post letter writing topics.

But, I've been keeping a list of ideas, so it's time to get this blog caught up!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Message in a bottle!

I got the idea for the previous letter writing idea from this story about a letter in a bottle that traveled from Florida to Ireland in about 16 months.

Letter #275 -- Message in a bottle?

Have you ever written a letter, sealed it up in a bottle and thrown it in the ocean? Did anyone find it?

Would you consider doing it now? I wonder, with all the trash that is out there in the ocean already, do we really need to be throwing bottles in the water? It's a fun project, I'm sure, but are there other options? Releasing balloons into the air doesn't seem too eco-friendly, either.

What about leaving a letter somewhere? On the seat of a bus, in the fork of a tree, on a park bench. Of course, in this day and age of terrorist-awareness and "suspicious packages," maybe we'd better write our "letters" on postcards, so there's no worries about what's inside the envelope.

Additionally, it's probably a judicious decision not to leave your name and address laying around in public for any potential bad-guy to find. Instead, consider some other options, such as using a pen-name and a post office box.

Or, instead of asking for a letter in return, you could start a Facebook (or other social networking, blogging, etc.) page and ask the finder of your letter to post a message on the page and then leave a similar letter asking someone else to leave a message on the same Facebook page, etc. Maybe create a game that combines the elements of "Where's George," geocaching, treasure hunting, letter writing and more. Use the Facebook page to promote letter writing!

It might be fun.

A "new" letter-writing blog

I just came across a "new" blog about letter writing! Julie in Ontario started The Letter Writing Revolution in June. Check out her blog (be sure to go back to the archives and read her earlier posts!).

I only wish I lived in her area so I would qualify for the giveaway she's having! Paper/Papier sounds like a wonderful shop!

Letter #274 -- For teachers

Write a letter to your child's teacher thanking him or her for everything he/she does for your kid. I remember before Anna started to school, we did the typical things parents do...we taught her the alphabet, we read her books, we taught her simple words like "cat" and "dog," but we didn't get much further than that. Just a few weeks into kindergarten, that child was reading books! That's what professional teachers are for! Let your child's teacher know that you appreciate what they go through with a room full of kids every day!

More on cursive writing

Here's an interesting newspaper column on the need for cursive writing in today's society. What do you think about the topic?

Demise of the Curlicue by Colin Hickey

Letter #273 -- Would You Rather?

One of the books on my daughter's Scholastic Book order form is a book for best friends that includes a list of questions that each friend answers. The questions all start with "Would you rather...." Now, keep in mind, this book is aimed at older elementary school kids, so some of the options are a little gross. (The example in the flier asks, "Would you rather drool maple syrup or sweat cheese?" Anna and I both agreed we'd rather drool syrup.)

Now, take this comment and turn it into your own fun quiz for a penpal. There are some examples online, if you search for "Would you rather questions," but beware...some of the sites are a bit risque. Here are a few ideas to get you going:

Would your rather send mail or receive it?
Would you rather get a letter with a pretty envelope or a pretty stamp?
Would you rather get a hand-written letter from someone with messy handwriting or a typed letter?

Keep adding to that list and send off your questionnaire today!

Letters for Lyrics

I was reading an article about a teacher in Farmington, N.M., who is teaching her students to write letters when I found out about the Zac Brown band's Letters for Lyrics program.

Sarah Menapace-Walker's students wrote and illustrated 92 letters to troops serving overseas. She started the letter-writing lessons after learning about the Letters for Lyrics program.

The Zac Brown Band and Ram Trucks are giving away free copies of the CD "Breaking Southern Ground" to anyone who writes a letter to a soldier and takes it to a Ram Truck dealer. (The offer is valid while supplies last.) They have a goal of 1 million letters, and they've received 327,545 letters so far. You can get more details by clicking on the Letters for Lyrics link above.

Letter #272 -- Exercise

What's your favorite exercise? Do you like to run or jog outside, facing the elements as you get or stay in shape? Or, do you prefer to watch TV inside while you ride a stationary bicycle or walk on a treadmill? Do you like to lift weights? Play basketball? Push-ups? Sit-ups? Walk around the block? How do you exercise?

Write about your favorite exercise in a letter to a friend today.
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