Mail art from our members

We have some seriously talented members in our LEP community and I think it's about time we start showing off their mail art!

So, I'll kick this off with a few pieces and hopefully I'll soon be able to share more submissions from our members!

A lovely second letter getting to know the very generous Alethea! 
(Submitted by Rosie T. in the UK.)

Autumn/Halloween themes 
(Submitted by Lisa S. in the USA.)

Here is a collage of pictures of my Halloween swap that I'm pretty proud of.
(Submitted by Arlene S. in the UK.)

This is a happy doodle envelope, one of my favourite ways to decorate an envie. I love to 
draw in ink and use pencils to add some colour. I also love typography and 
always write the address in fancy lettering when I create mail art. 
I think the houses are so cute!
(Submitted by Alison B. in Australia.)

All handmade: two scrapbook paper envelopes, one woven envelope made from scraps of 
scrapbook paper, and a stamped stationery and envelope set!
(Submitted by Jen E. in the USA.)

Thank you for your submissions, LEP mail artists! Whether you decorate your envelopes or keep them simple, we can all agree on one thing... sending and receiving letters is one of life's most beautiful things!


Shine On LEP Members!

One of our members was inspired to write a poem about the LEP and it will certainly make you feel good about our penpal club!

The letters dripped from my pen and scampered cross the page.
They ran hither there and yonder where they screamed as in a rage.
But finally they gathered up and into word and phrase they fell.
Then sentences just appeared and this story they did tell. 
There is a League who still believes in paper and in pen.
They are comprised of him and her and those and sometimes them.
They believe the written word extends the reach of human touch.
And in this world gone so insane we need this so very much. 
Quixote like they joust the windmills of human despair.
You see they are our champions and friends extraordinaire.
Their lances are their fountain pens and they write letters long and true.
But most of the time they send a brief, "Friend, how'd you do?" 
They believe in Dulcinea beauty in each and everyone.
Their souls as brilliant as the fire radiating from the sun.
So shine on LEP members, I raise my glass and give a hail.
Send bundles of letters bright and bold and play havoc with the mail. 
~ Christopher Bombardier AKA Last Cloud Warrior

Thank you Chris for penning such sweet words for our community!

LEP Secrets

"A secret is something you tell another person," Bono once advised, and while that would seem to defeat the purpose of secrecy, if you think about it, he had a point. A secret untold is just mental dead weight, a fact or event or suspicion that the mind chews on endlessly, sometimes to the point of madness. As humans, we are constantly evaluating ourselves- in fact, self awareness is one of the things that makes us human, one might say. When we communicate and interact, we are, in effect, asking for validation, subconsciously demanding that the world confirm the things that we think we know. A secret that a person has not shared gets no feedback, no confirmation from the rest of humankind, and that can be frightening.

Some time ago, a call for LEP secrets was put out, and the results poured in. All secrets were scrubbed of identifying information, and then scanned into a computer, and they are reproduced here. They are the collective unconscious of us all- heartbreaking and personal and very real. There is obviously no feedback for these secrets, unless the provider chooses to step forward on his or her own. They are here, in part as an exercise in unburdening, and in part to remind us all that there is not a single one of us that does not have a hidden side, and thus we should view each other, and everyone else as well, with even more compassion than we already do.

~ Michael AKA Slayer of Popcorn

Bucket List Swap

We've been so busy welcoming many new members that we almost forgot about our blog space! In case you were thinking that this penpal club was inactive, I wanted to let you know that it's definitely not! As I'm typing this very sentence, we have 510 current, active members!

Back in April, we hosted a Bucket List Swap. Participants were encouraged to write their bucket list in the form of a letter and exchange it with their partner. As members signed up for the swap they were asked this question:

"What is the most important item on your bucket list?"

Do you want to hear the responses?!? Good, because I want to share them with you...


It was seeing Fleetwood Mac in Concert... Now it's going to be self publishing three books by the end of the year.




Publish (or just print) a collection of original poems and photos.


Writing a book.


Travel... and a lot of it!


Writing a complete book.


Fall in love!


Visit the Egypt pyramids!


Travel! I want to travel almost everywhere!


Getting my Bachelors!


Do photography for the Special Olympics!


Have another baby.


It's not important, but the most pressing I'd say is to pass the driving test.


The most important item on my bucket list, hmmmm, it's so hard to choose but one of the most important things is seeing the Northern Lights.


To live my life to the fullest.




Love and be loved in return.


Not actually on my list but my motto for it is: There are no excuses.


Staying curious!




Going to Canada.


Go back to Quebec and eat REAL poutine! 


Seeing the world! I've traveled extensively in North America and the Caribbean, but it's time for me to visit other continents.


Writing a dystopian novel.






A trip to Paris.


Spend a month in Paris.


Become a teacher.


To go tour the UK.


Visit my German penpal.


Get a dog.


I think be a mom. But there are so many things on there!




Climb a 5.14 level rock climb.


Knit up my entire yarn collection. However, that means I would have to stop buying yarn. Challenges, oh man! ha.


Taking a culinary tour/trip of Italy to learn about the various regions of Italian cuisine!


Write a book and have it published.


Road Trip with my family.


Trek to Everest Base Camp.


Visiting every continent in the world (not sure about Antarctica, though).


Travel around the World: specifically Ireland, Scotland, England, France, Hungary, Italy, Greece, Egypt, India, Japan, Ecuador.


Mmmhh, I have not even started my bucket list. Therefore I really love this swap as it introduces me to something new and exciting. I have some vague ideas, so for now I think the most important item is spending one year concentrating on creativity (writing a novel, photographing for a whole year, learning how to paint). 


Move back to Minnesota: completed August 2014. ;-)


I would like to live in another country, preferably non-English speaking.


And there you have it... the official unofficial bucket list compilation from members of the League of Extraordinary Penpals!

Our members do a fabulous job of hosting new and exciting swaps that come out in our newsletter each month. Aren't you excited to see what comes out in the July edition?


Sweet little village

One of our members created this visionary masterpiece that we felt compelled to share! This sounds just lovely! 

Sometimes I wish LEP was an actual place. 

Like a sweet little village of the cutest homes surrounding the town green with a great big stationery store and post office and darling little cafés to pen the days away. Throwing confetti would be a commonplace greeting instead of shaking hands. Blanket forts and teepees would dot the parklands and the weather would be perfectly suited, with cool rain sprinkling the windows of an evening.

Mail would be delivered each day. Reply piles wouldn't get unruly and no letters would be lost. 

Kindness and compassion and loveliness would be the normality and no tears would come from the harshness of others.

LEP would truly be our utopia.

Like a great big hug when you need it most.

Thanks for being that in the virtual world, beautiful people.

Thanks to Bel in Australia for writing this. Won't you come and join us?


Movie Mail Art Swallenge

In January, we had a really fun mail art swap. Tina in Germany hosted this swallenge (swap/challenge) for us and she has put together a post to display photos of some of the movie themed mail art pieces.

Hello hello you lovelies! All in all it was a fun & creative mail art swallenge. It seems as everyone had fun & did enjoy being crafty & creative. That's what I love about the LEP & the members: we are one big community with the same love & passion for mail where everyone invests some of their own heart & soul.

Kathleen H. created a "Greta Garbo" envelope: A dramatic 20,000 Leagues
Under The Sea address side! Her little intro card is made by a designer
who created that typeface for a silent movie restoration! The ramblings of a possibly
mad woman, accompanied by bits of her favorite films of all time!

Tanja K. used a scene from one of her favourite movies "The Notebook" & added
a beautiful quote from "Gone With The Wind", her swap partner's favorite movie:
"You should be kissed often by someone who knows how". Since her swap partner also
likes poems, Tanja added a piece of a poem that was used in "Interstellar". To close
the letter she just had to use the famous words "Frankly my dear I don't give a damn".

Natasha P. made a gorgeous booklet of film recommendations to go with her envelope,
and the envelope is meant to resemble the outside of a cinema with her
swap partner's favourite film being displayed.

Bonnie M. came up with awesome "Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas" envelope and stationery.
She typed out bits of Hunter S. Thompson's original article, on which the movie is based.
She used her bat stamp because, "We can't stop here. This is bat country!" is probably her favourite line in the movie. Bonnie also drew the cacti and the skulls, and sponged distress ink along the bottoms of the pages to create sand. Everyone who's interested in the article can click here.

Mara E. used "Amélie" as a theme for her movie swallenge mail art.

Heleen created a lovely envelope plus a booklet she made of her favourite movie.
She does not have time often for watching complete movies, but if so, then she usually watches animation movies. Ratatouille and Up, they're great! As are many others,
that definitely haven't been created for children only. And one of the 'real people movies'
which touched Heleen most is the "Shawshank Redemption". 

Tina (me) received the beautiful & creative mail art from Marie H. She chose the theme "Jack Skellington meets The Corbes Bride", which is also one of my favorite movies. She added beautiful quotes plus some interesting background information about the movie / story.

I sent an "Alfred Hitchcock" themed mail art & chose "The Birds" for Lara P. I wanted to keep it black & white, printed some of my favorite scenes from the movie & used some birds & film role washi tape. As an envelope I used an original popcorn bag I got at the movie theater a while ago.

Thanks so much for hosting this fun swap, Tina! I loved all the movie inspired mail images! 



How do you want to feel?

One of the swaps we hosted in January was a New Year Notecard. Members were asked to fill up a notecard with thoughts about the 2015 year. Each participant was encouraged to answer questions like...

Do you make resolutions?
Do you set goals?
What are you most looking forward to in 2015?
Is there something you would like to add to your life in this new year?
Is there something you'd like to drop?
How do you want to feel in 2015?

As LEP members signed up to participate in the swap, we asked them to fill in this sentence...

In 2015, I want to feel __________.

Here is how the participants would like to feel:

~ more at peace with myself.

~ the weight of my worries disappear!

~ accomplished.

~ like I can take better care of my inner child.

~ happy.

~ happy with who I am, what I do, and where I'm going with my life - and I'm ready to
make the changes to get there.

~ creative.

~ fulfilled.

~ more like myself.

~ alive and fit!!

~ more peaceful, more relaxed (less stressed by all things I (think I) have to do.

~ content and settled!

~ healthier.

~ integrated.

~ contented.

~ productive and content.

~ GREAT! (and positive, and healthier, and so much more).

~ engaged.

~ Way better than the last year & a half!

~ accomplished, happier, healthier and that I did everything I could to make it a good year.

~ like I am worshipping at the altar of my own intuition.

~ content.

~ really happy!

~ happy, loved and sexy.

~ dauntless.

~ confident, happy, balanced, loved.

~ more connected to friends.

~ as if I have earned my stripes as an eccentric old lady who was created by
Charles Dickens or Oscar Wilde.

~ passion.

~ happy.

~ on top of my game.

~ at peace with myself, in control and confident.

~ excited.

~ thankful.

~ accomplished and in control!

~ like a mother to be.

~ like I accomplished something.

~ more confident about the choices I make, more pro active, more energetic,
stronger within myself.

~ the joy that comes from a happy life; good health, great friends, loving family.

This is a great list!

My feeling words to focus on in 2015 are efficient, generous, enough and healthy (physical, emotional spiritual). I've made a few adjustments, but I still need to spend some more time focusing on the way I want to feel.

I hope your 2015 is getting off to a great start! How are you feeling?

10 year old LEP members

In the 10 Surprises Letter Swap we hosted this month, we asked participants to send a letter to their swap partner based on their 10 year old self. Participants shared 10 things about their current life that their 10 year old self would be surprised about. This swap was inspired by Julie's blog post over at Penpal of the Week.

As members signed up to participate in the swap, we asked them to describe their 10 year old self in 3 words. Some of the responses are funny, some are insightful... take a look!

~ Musical, nerdy, giggly

~ Imagining my future

~ Sensitive, animal loving, awkward

~ Friendly, creative, solitude-seeking

~ Studious, uptight, shy

~ Timid, judgmental, depressed

~ Nerdy, awkward, skater

~ Tomboy, dreamer, fearful

~ Awkward, precocious, desperateforacceptance

~ Shy, tall, awkward

~ Only three words?

~ Precocious, nerdy, bookworm

~ Just plain weird

~ Tomboy, Matilda

~ Insecure, shy, imaginative

~ Dreamer, romantic, curious

~ Bookish, happy, tomboy

~ Conscientious, tidy, uncool

~ Shy, uncoordinated, creep

~ Shy, creative, smiling

~ Sensitive, imaginative, shy

~ Dirty, running, heedless

~ Bookish, thoughtful, quiet

~ Scared, self-sufficient, taller

~ Bookish, tomboy, shy

~ Introverted, musical, brainiac

~ Whiny, dependent, scattered

~ Sensitive, singular, silly!

~ Nerdy fat girl

~ Waiting for spotlight

~ Horse lover, adventurous, swimmer

~ Painfully weird, awesome

~ Spunky, bookish, thoughtful

~ Shy, eccentric, curious

~ Shy, imaginative, girly

~ Adventurous, boisterous, clumsy

~ Bookish, quiet, animal-loving

~ Naive, sporty, free-spirited

~ Innocent, carefree, happy

~ Optimistic, forward thinking, people pleaser

~ High-achiever, perfectionist, extremely insecure about looks and social status

~ Loner, geek, short

We have quite a few members who saw themselves as awkward and a tomboy at age 10. I have a hard time remembering my 10 year old self, but I bet tomboy and awkward were involved.

Many thanks to Sophie AKA Rambling Reader for hosting this swap for us!



Joke Swap

At the end of December, we hosted a postcard swap amongst our members. On the postcards, participants were to write a joke and mail it off to their partners. Lots of humorous mail traveled around the globe!

To get the ball of humor rolling we asked each participant to answer the familiar philosophical wisecrack.

"Why did the chicken cross the road?"

And here are the witty responses from the participants...

... To reach the popcorn! Duh!
... Potato.
... 'Cause that's where all the fun was at! Woop woop!!
... To meet the other chicken. He liked her so much he put a wing on it. :-p
... Because Chuck Norris told him to.
... To get to the other side.
... To get to her mailbox?
... To join the Chic-fil-A picketers. Moo!
... She was afraid someone would caeser.
... The chicken found a similar chicken on this side of the road to be repellent.
... Why *wouldn't* the chicken cross the road?
... To get her breasts examined at the local clinic?
... To beat the egg and settle the score on the issue once and for all?
... Robert Frost: To cross the road less traveled by.
... The chicken did not cross the road. The road passed beneath the chicken.
... To prove to the squirrels that it can be done.
... He wanted to stretch his legs.
... To get away from the fryer.
... To prove that he wasn't [a chicken].
... To avert an existential crisis among joke-tellers.
... To lay an egg--oh, wait--maybe the egg crossed the road first, and then the chicken---?!?!?
... For absolutely no reason. Chickens are not smart creatures.
... Because he felt like it. :)
... Because she was looking for a stationery shop. She went paper-chasing.

And now you get to vote. Which response is the funniest?

2014: a truly extraordinary year!

Happy New Year, LEP members and blog readers! Have you written your first letter of 2015? Did you get the year right? I'm proud to say that I wrote 2 letters so far, and I didn't need to use any correction tape for the dates. That's a pretty big victory for us letter writers, isn't it?!

So 2014 has come and gone, and now 2015 is here. But before we start thinking about all the great things we want to accomplish this year (I don't know about you, but world peace is on my list in 2015), let's see what happened in the penpal club in 2014:

+ The League had a big makeover as I launched LEP 2.0 on February 1. Back then, the penpal club counted 150 members. Would you believe that by the end of the year, membership had more than TRIPLED?! That's right: on December 31, the group had grown to 461 active members! Wow. We were sad to see 57 members leave over 2014, but really excited to welcome 368 new members! That's one new member a day on average.

+ Some members got involved in the beginning of the year: the LEP REPS! These ladies do an excellent job of helping new members get accustomed to the club when they join the Facebook group. Thank you my friends!

+ My personal life went from disastrous (ruptured ectopic pregnancy, emergency surgery, separation) to phenomenal (met my soulmate through the LEP (of all places!), got married and lived happily ever after). My wife became even more involved with the League and is now in charge of the customer service. If you need assistance with your membership, Denise will be happy to help!

+ Michael AKA Slayer of Popcorn became the first man to take a look at the lesbian massage parlor's webcam (he glanced for about a second, and promptly fainted). He also started writing for the newsletter: the article, the website of the month, and DID YOU KNOW, a collection of totally unresearched and unverified facts about League Members!

+ The LEP got some media coverage in 2014. One of the articles that mentioned us was by Kate Dailey in BBC News Magazine: The allure of an old-fasioned pen pal. Another one was by Jessica Bateman in The Guardian: Dear pen pal: how writing letters to strangers is making a comeback.

+ We got a new illustrator! Beth AKA Phantom Image has an impressive portfolio, and she gracefully accepted to do the superhero portraits you see in the monthly newsletter. All the staff got brand new portraits as well!

+ Hundreds of friendships blossomed, and dozens of LEP meetings happened all around the world. The biggest one was in the UK, with 11 members present. Another one involved 6 LEP members in Michigan. And I was lucky enough to meet a few LEPsters myself when I went on a crazy road trip across the United States in April!

+ In addition to all our existing LEP clubs (Reading Lair, Mail Art Heroes, Needles and Nonsense, and The LEP Fountaineers), we created a baking club: Tea and Treats, and a LEP Flea Market.

+ Close to 50 official swaps were hosted through our monthly newsletter, the LEP clubs and the Facebook group. Some of them were documented on the blog: the Random Object Swap, the ABC Letter Swap, the Mail Art Supply Swap, the Ugly Mail Swap, the Made Up Story Postcard, and the Home Postcard Swap.

+ The LEPep Squad was created, and currently counts 128 cheerleaders who receive a weekly pep rally email. Our mission? Welcome new members, and bring some extra cheer to LEP members who are struggling.

+ Our very first LEP Recipe eBook was published. Don't look at it while you're hungry, because I promise you will drool everywhere!

+ Thousands of letters were written and read across the globe. This fact alone makes me incredibly happy.

Long live the LEP! Thanks for making my 2014 so special. I love you guys! I'm convinced that the coming year will be even better. If you're reading this and still aren't a member, I hope you'll join the fun in 2015!

AKA Super Sushi