Penpalling & Letters

Monday, 5 December 2011

The Christmas Season in Spain

At the end of the month of November you can feel in the air that the Christmas Season is approaching. It is then when streets are decorated with typical ornaments, motifs and Christmas lights. In some cities, a beautiful Christmas Tree is put in the main square, next to the town hall or in some mall. Also, recently, in bigger cities, an ice-ring is set up in a square or in a large area of the city during the season. Shops put decorations, too, and the shop windows get full of gifts and toys as well.

Christmas is celebrated in many countries all around the world and Spain shares many traditions with all these places. Families meet to share the joy and happiness of these special times and to celebrate the birth of Jesus. However, there are traditions and customs which only happen to be here and reflect the personality of the country during the season.

Some special elements of Christmas in Spain are:

- The Nativity Scene: it consists of a mini representation of the birth of Jesus Child. It is a strong tradition to put the Scene in all homes. Some Nativities are important and large (they are set up at institutions, worship places...). They are very carefully decorated, plenty of details and very artistic! You even can find the river with real water and a waterwheel, shepherds taking care of the flock and herd, representations of manual jobs (potter, washerwomen, blacksmith...) and the Three Kings following the Star to Bethlehem... In some cities and villages, on the night of the 24th December, a live exhibit of the Nativity takes place (see video below), with animals, real people and of course, a baby! There are also contests to award the best Nativity Scene in many cities and villages.

- The Christmas Tree: As in many other countries, the Tree has become a typical element of Christmas in Spain as well. People gets an evergreen coniferous tree into their homes and decorate it with all kind of ornaments, Christmas lights, garland, tinsel, glitter... Under the Tree gifts will be placed later so it is really important, but also gives a real warm feeling and meaning of Christmas as well as the Nativity does.

- Christmas Carols ("villancicos"): These typical songs in this time of the year are sung everywhere. Nowadays you can hear them through the loudspeakers in the street or in malls, but there was a time in which the children, with a "zambomba" (traditional drum-like instrument) and a "pandereta" (tambourine) were singing these traditional songs (which are about Bethlehem, the Jesus Child or what is happening to Jesus family) along the streets asking for the "aguinaldo" (Christmas box). The "aguinaldo" consisted of a few coins or some typical sweets of this season.
Below I am adding a video of one of my favourite Christmas carols in Spanish. Besides, I am also giving links to several other Christmas carols which are very popular.

Christmas Carols in Spanish: "Pastores venid", "Los peces en el río", "Arre borriquito", "Campana sobre campana", "Ande, ande, ande la marimorena", "Hacia Belén va una burra, rin, rin", "Veinticinco de diciembre, fun fun fun", "Vintecinco de decembro, fun fun fun - in Galician", "¡Ay del chiquirritín!", "Canta, ríe, bebe", "Campana sobre campana"...

- "Aguinaldo" (Christmas box): Besides the children asking for "aguinaldo" while singing carols, it is also called "aguinaldo" a bonus or special payment received by workers (Year End Bonus). To some other workers, people give "aguinaldo" when they consider they did a good job all year-round. It can be monetary or in kind. Some workers who receive it are postmen, caretakers...

Despite the festive atmosphere might be felt much earlier, if one has to choose a day when the kick-off of Christmas takes place in Spain that is the Christmas Lottery on 22nd December! In Spanish it is called "Sorteo de Navidad" or "Lotería de Navidad" and it is the most popular draw in the whole year. The first ever Christmas Lottery draw took place in 1812 and it is organized every 22nd December ever since. The name "Sorteo de Navidad" was used for the first time in 1892, though. As measured by the total prize payout, the Christmas Lottery is considered the biggest lottery worldwide. Pupils of the San Ildefonso School draw the numbers and corresponding prizes, singing the results aloud in front of the public in a really particular way of singing (see video below). December, 22th is the last day of school for children before the festive season starts. They will be back right after the "Three Kings Day".

On the 24th December, Christmas Eve, families have dinner together to celebrate the birth of Jesus (which will take place in a few hours). Christmas Eve has a family feel and it is a time to be spent at home. Dinner is organized with care.

Dishes prepared depend on each family and each Spanish region. Let's say that in coastal areas one or several of the dishes consist of seafood: fish and shellfish (cod, hake, red bream, gilthead bream, sea bass, sole, crayfish, different kinds of crabs, scallop shell, lobster, barnacles...) while in the rest, dishes consist mostly of meat: roasted beef, capon, turkey, lamb, suckling pig... Of course, both types of dishes are accompanied by vegetables. Typical drinks are wine, cider, cava... and the typical Christmas desserts are sweets like "turrón" (a kind of nougat candy), "polvorones" (I heard it is similar to "shortbread" in New Zealand but cannot confirm it), "mazapán" (marzipan), "mantecados" (traditional Christmas sweets made mainly from lard), nuts, dates, dried fruit... After the dinner, there was a time in which many people were attending the "Midnight Mass" or "Misa del Gallo" in Spanish. This tradition has been forgotten little by little and less people attend this mass nowadays.

On the contrary to many countries in the world, presents aren't exchanged on Christmas Eve (or in Christmas Day). In the latest years Santa is more present than ever, though, and still many children get a "little" gift or sweets, either on December, 24th or 25th. However, there are three Spanish regions which have their own Santa Claus, so to say. In the Basque Country it is called "Olentzero", "Tió de Nadal" in Catalonia and "Apalpador" or "Pandigueiro" in Galicia.

The "Olentzero" is a mythological character of the Basque Christmas tradition, a chubby coal merchant, good-natured and kind, who goes down the mountains to the cities and villages on Christmas Eve and brings the children presents and sweets.

"Tió de Nadal" ("Christmas Log") is a Catalonian mythological character also known as "Tió" or "Tronca" and popularly called "Caga Tió" (pooping or giving log in English). In many Catalan homes you can find the "Tió" as a thirty centimetres long hollow log.

In recent times some accesories have been added to the log altering the more traditional and natural appearance of a dead piece of wood: it stands up on two or four little stick legs, has a broad smiling face which is painted on the higher of the two log ends, a little nose, and, on top, the typical Catalan hat called "barretina". Around the Festivity of the Immaculate Conception (December, 8th) the Tió starts to be feeded every night and it is also covered with a blanket so he won't be cold during the night. On Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day (depending on each family), the Tió is put partly into the fireplace and it is ordered to "poop". To make the Tió poop, it has to be beaten with sticks, while singing various songs of "Tió de Nadal". The Tió does not poop large presents, but Christmas sweets, candy, little gifts...

Finally, the "Apalpador" or "Pandigueiro" is the mythical figure of a coal merchant, that, according to the tradition, lives in the mountains of O Courel and Os Ancares, in eastern Galicia. He goes down the mountains to cities, towns and villages to touch the children's belly and check if they have eaten well during the last year. He gives to children lots of chestnuts, some gifts and wishes for a new year full of happiness and food.

On the 25th December, Christmas Day, families gather together to have lunch. Typical dishes are among the ones I named above, as well as for drinks and desserts. Usually there is a long after-lunch conversation while children enjoy their gifts and sweets. Otherwise it is a calm day to be spent with the family.

The 26th December is festive in many countries, but not in Spain, except for one region: Catalonia. Catalonia's "Boxing Day" is called "Sant Esteve" (Saint Stephen). Catalonians spend this day with the other relatives they could not have lunch with at Christmas Day or relaxing. The typical food eaten on this day are canneloni, made with the leftovers of Christmas Day.

Spain has its particular "April Fool's" on December, 28th, called "Día de los Inocentes" (Innocent Saints). It has its origin in the massacre of children that King Herodes committed in Judea to avoid the loss of his throne to the new-born Jesus Child. Nowadays, pranks and tricks are played on this day on friends and family. Also the media plays tricks, jokes and absurd news which, sometimes, are not that easy to realize!

On the 31st December family have dinner together to celebrate the New Year's Eve (again dishes are some of the explained above). The special tradition taking place in Spain is that when the clock strikes the midnight, one grape for each ring of the bell has to be eaten. If you are able to eat all the grapes, it guarantees a new year full of prosperity, according to the tradition. The twelve grapes are related to the famous "Puerta del Sol Tower Clock" in Madrid, where the goodbye to the old year and the welcome to the new one is always broadcasted on TV. Already in the New Year, people go out to party until the early hours of the morning. Just before coming back home, it is typical to have breakfast: "chocolate con churros" (thick hot drinking chocolate with a thin cylinder of dough, deep-fried in olive oil and often dusted with sugar).

New Year's is a peaceful day where there is a family lunch and a long after-lunch conversation, too, although some people will be sleeping for a long time after partying the whole night. Every January, 1st you can watch the New Year's Concerto from Vienna and the New Year's Ski Jump in Garmisch-Partenkirchen broadcasted in TV, characteristical features of the first day of the year for many people all around the world.

With the arrival of the New Year, all Spaniards know that there is only one celebration (especially dedicated to children) left: "Día de Reyes" or "Three Kings Day". Before January, 5th comes, children have to write a letter to the Three Kings, also known as the "Three Wise Men" or "The Magi". In this letter they have to write about their behaviour during the last year and which toys they would like to receive as a present. The Three Wise Men know very well which children are good and those who aren't that much... so the first ones will surely get presents but the second ones might get coal (nowadays it is candy coal) so they know that the Three Kings are not joking when it comes to reward (or not) them!

On January, 5th around 18:00h the Cavalcade of Magi starts in all Spanish cities, so the children can go and see the Three Kings, who later in the night will be carrying presents to their homes. While riding on the streets, the Magi throw sweet and candy to all the children who crow together to see them. When the night comes, children have to go to bed early, so the Three Kings can visit them. In fact, the Magi will only visit when they know that children are sleeping, this is why they are never seen while delivering presents! It is a magical and special night during which many children are so nervous and excited that sleeping is difficult for them! Before going to bed, some people have the following traditions: some leave their cleaned shoes next to a window or under the Christmas Tree so the Magi know how many children live in that house. Other people also leave food for the Magi: milk and biscuits or some Christmas sweets as well as water for the camels!

On the morning of January, 6th children get up really excited and run to the Christmas Tree to see if the Three Kings left them some presents. It is a thrilling morning for the little ones who are very happy because they got wonderful toys and gifts from the Three Kings! Also adults exchange gifts on the morning of January, 6th. On "Día de Reyes" it is typical to eat "Roscón de Reyes" (Three Kings Bread) for breakfast and even after lunch. The Roscón is a mixture bread roll, decorated with glaced fruits (which symbolize the rubies and the emeralds of the Three Kings robes) and sugar on top. Within the dough there are two small trinkets hidden: a bean and a figurine. The one who finds the figurine will have good luck all the year long, while the one who finds the bean will have to pay the "roscón".

"Día de Reyes" is the last celebration of the Christmas Season in Spain. Children usually don't come back to school until January, 8th as the day after "Three Kings Day" is always a holiday for them (guess to play as much as possible!). Once "Día de Reyes" is over it appears the feeling that the festive season is gone until the next year. In the following days all decorations, the Christmas Tree, the Nativity Scene... will be removed in all houses until nearly one year later when the next Christmas season comes and the same traditions and customs will be present in the lives of Spaniards one more year!

¡Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo!

Zorionak! -Basque-

Feliç Nadal i Bon Any Nou! -Catalan-

¡Bo Nadal e Feliz Ano! -Galician-

If you are interested in reading more articles related to the Christmas time and New Year's, check the following:

- Sinterklaas
- The Saint Nicholas tradition
- Christmas Time
- New Year's Celebrations
- The Three Kings Day or "Día de Reyes"

If you would like to read more interesting stories don't forget to check the links you can find at the following section: Travelling around the World sharing Cultural Heritage, Folklore and Background.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The Penpalling & Letters Official Forum is here!

Dear Letter-writers,

We are happy to announce that Penpalling & Letters has its Official Forum now!

The Penpalling & Letters Forum is accessible to registered members only. Therefore you have to register first (click image above). Afterwards, feel free to associate it with your Facebook ID, your Google ID or any other ID allowed that you will see in the access page. And no, you do not have to come up with yet one more ID and password to enter the discussion boards!

The only requirement from the Penpalling & Letters Team is that you provide enough information certifying you are into penpalling before registering.

How to do that?

Just show us your reference online. It can be:

- your Facebook profile
- your Google+ profile
- your personal Blog/website
- your Postcrossing profile
- your Swap-Bot profile
- your Interpals profile
- even any visible profile of yours online
- be recommended by anyone the Penpalling & Letters Team knows already
- be recommended by an already existing member of the Forum
- be recommended by an already existing member of our Facebook groups

and also show us a visual proof you write and receive letters, postcards... (for example, showing a picture in which your name is shown and it is clearly stated that mail was addressed to you. Please, don't send a random picture you might find online!) by contacting us through penpallingandletters[at]gmail[dot]com.

If you are eligible to enter you will be notified by the Penpalling & Letters Team. We go through all petitions individually, therefore, if you fail to fulfill our requirements, your profile will be rejected. And please, notice that if you register yourself but don't accompany your petition to enter the Forum together with an e-mail presenting yourself you won't be accepted. Please, understand that there won't be any exceptions to these requirements and that we are not asking for anything "impossible" to fulfill. The Penpalling & Letters Forum is based on mutual trust among members, therefore it is intended to be a closed and safe place for letter-lovers, postcard-lovers and swappers, and we are doing our best to keep it this way!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Lovelia's contest winner!

Ana Isabel from Lovelia was presenting her creations in Penpalling & Letters not long ago. A contest was organized at the same time together with her interview and the winner was offered cute address labels and bookplates exclusively designed by Ana Isabel/Lovelia. The contest ended some days ago, and after deliberating together about choosing a winner, we came with a result, finally:

All the names of the participants were written in little pieces of paper

All the little papers were put inside a bag

An innocent hand took the winner paper out of the bag

And the winner is Got That Swing!!! Congratulations Aga! You are really lucky to get these fantastic addresslabels and bookplates from Lovelia!!!

Thank you everybody for reading Lovelia's interview and supporting her, as well as for taking part in the contest! More surprises will be on Penpalling & Letters in the future so remember to keep an eye on the Blog!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Penpalling & Letters is on Google+ Pages now!

Penpalling & Letters is on Google+ now! By joining you can read all the posts published until now, participate in discussions about the letter-writing world or explain about your chosen answer at the penpalling polls. Besides, we will be talking about our own experiences when penpalling and sharing facts, ideas or opinions. At last, but not least, we will also be discussing about our homelands, culture, languages, customs, typical food, legends, festivals, traditions... Everybody is welcome to join and participate!

NOTE: To visit Penpalling & Letters Google+ Page click on the image above.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Celebration of the harvesting time: Samhain

Once more a new post featuring Travelling around the World sharing Cultural Heritage, Folklore and Background is online on Penpalling & Letters! We are stopping at south-western Europe in this occasion, on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Neighbouring countries are France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia along the Alps. The two largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily and Sardinia, belong to this land. Its capital city was the political and religious centre of Western civilisation and also the capital of the Roman Empire. It is also the cradly of the Renaissance, a very important intellectual movement in the development of Europe some centuries ago. Have you already guessed we have just landed in Italy this time to meet a penpaller called Silvia?

Ciao Silvia! Welcome to Penpalling & Letters! It is great you are sharing your time with us today! Would you like to tell us a bit about you and the place you live as well as your letter-writing experiences?

Ciao from Italy everyone! I am Silvia, a 32-year-old vegan witch from the green lands of Tuscany in Italy! ;) I will always thank my English teacher at school who introduced me to penpalling through IYS-International Youth Service when I was 12 years old. Years passed by and I lost all of my penpals and (shame on me!) I forgot about penpalling for many years - until three years ago when, during a very difficult moment in my life, I was sitting on my chair and wondered if penpals still existed in the Internet era! What a big surprise when I found out penpalling is still quite popular!! I have almost never spent a day without writing a letter (or part of it!) since then!
I have always liked postcards, too, but never really collected them! I am a member of Postcrossing, but I don't consider myself a postcard collector in any way! I don't care where the postcards come from, I don't look for specific countries... What I like of postcards is that they are little coloured thoughts that come to your mailbox to bring a smile to your day!
Are there people into penpalling who are not interested in stationery, pens, stickers...?! :) As you can guess, I love cute stationery and I always try to make my letters as cute as possible with loads of stickers and deco-tape!
I like collecting faeries figurines. You can spot them in any corner of my house! I also like to swap postcards, bookmarks, lettersets and other small items. I used to swap magnets as well, but now my fridge door is made of wood so... :)
At the moment I am not looking for new penpals. I have already sixteen and it is enough for me. I like to handwrite long letters and I usually reply to letters within a week... so I couldn't handle more penpals!

Most people call it Halloween, some others call it Samhain. Most people consider it a special chance they have once a year to wear scary masks and indulge themselves in their darkest side (but just for fun!) for a single wild night; some others consider it like one of the most special and magical nights of the year.
If you have always considered Halloween to be nothing but a business born in the USA or a children-only thing, I am here to give you a different point of view!

Samhain is the Gaelic/Celtic name of this very ancient harvest festival (the last one of the year and thus, really important for the life of the ancient people who lived mainly on agriculture) held on October 31th – November 1st and it is still celebrated nowadays by the (neo)Pagan community worldwide. Being myself Italian and Pagan, I try to reconnect to the most ancient (read: pre-Christian) traditions of my own country, that's why I call it Calenda. But no matter how you name it, we are still talking of the most magical night of the year.

During this night, the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest and people have always been really aware of the wandering souls, both the good and the evil ones, trying to "socialize" with them: that's why they used to offer their ancestors' souls some warm wine and food and put small lanterns next to doors and windows to show them their way home and they also wore scary masks (probably not as fancy as the ones we wear today, but they made their job nevertheless!) and created scary figures to keep away the evil spirits. Can you see how similar it all sounds to what we all know as Halloween nowadays?

So, enjoy your special scary night and keep in mind that your ancestors celebrated it (almost) like you are doing today! Feel the connection with the past and spend a few moments remembering your beloved ones who passed away.
Carve your scariest pumpkins and put them outside so that all the evil spirits will take their distance from your house; eat warm and delicious seasonal food (don't forget to add some cinnamon!); make an extra cup of hot cider and leave it on your window together with a couple of cookies and a small lantern just in case some wandering souls belonging to your family need to find some rest, and if you want to get rid of anything in your life write it on a piece of paper and burn it.

Are you wondering how Samhain/Calenda is related to All Saints? As everyone in ancient times celebrated their beloved ones passed away on this night, during the VIII century, the Pope by then moved the Christian celebration of All Saints from May 13th to November 1st so that people didn't have to get used to a new tradition!

In Italian "trick or treat" sounds like "dolcetto o scherzetto": What about your own language?

Thanks for taking part in Penpalling & Letters, Silvia! It was really interesting to read how you celebrate Samhain at your corner and your feelings, thoughts and ideas about it!

If you are interested in reading more articles featuring anything related to our homelands don't forget to check: Travelling around the World sharing Cultural Heritage, Folklore and Background.

I am always looking for people who would like to take part into this section of the Blog: Travelling around the World. If you would like to write about your homeland don't hesitate to contact me at: penpallingandletters[at]gmail[dot]com and we will work on it!

Monday, 10 October 2011

The magical world of Lovelia!

Welcome one more time to "The person behind the letter-writer"! Ana Isabel from "Lovelia" is Penpalling & Letters special guest this time! She is going to introduce us to her lovely Lovelia world and dear readers! make sure you don't miss the wonderful surprise she has prepared for you all!

- Hello Ana Isabel! Welcome to Penpalling & Letters! Thanks for visiting and participating in The person behind the letter-writer! We are really looking forward to hear about your experiences in design and "Lovelia"! Would you like to present yourself and tell us about your experiences?

Hello everybody! I am so happy to participate in "Penpalling & Letters"! My name is Ana Isabel as you already know and I am a 27 year-old girl from Spain. I studied Illustration and Design and besides drawing I also love creating things handmade.
When I was a child I used to write letters to my friends, specially in summer. We always had to tell a lot of adventures and sometimes we were not in the same city, then this was a pretty fun way to keep in touch. I remember I had a folder with stationery to write letters, and when I had to write a letter I would choose one of those to send to my friends. I love these cute sheets. I still have some of them!
I also love postcards, specially if they show a nice illustration or something curious. I started collecting postcards when I was in Art School. I could find postcards with different photos and drawings and, almost without realizing, I got myself a lot of postcards so I decided to classify them and start my collection. I also have lovingly postcards that I received from my family and friends on special occasions, birthdays, Christmas... Sometimes I take my box and I get to read them, as they bring to me nice memories.
I love all this kind of stuff related to penpalling. I have a lot of glitter-pens and I used to draw with them in the letters to my friends. I also love to collect stickers, I have a box full of them. I also like to collect clothing labels. When I purchase clothes, if the label is nice, I include it in my collection, and I have also a lot of labels that my friends have given to me.

Wemba de Ladybug

- Ana Isabel, would you like to present us Lovelia? Why did you choose this original, sweet name, "Lovelia"?

Lovelia is the name of my trademark to create things handmade with my cute characters (purses, cushions, bookplates, brooches...). The reason why I chose this name is curious. Lobelia, with "b" is a beautiful plant with tiny flowers between blue and purple (a very beautiful and unusual colour in flowers) and since I was a child they have always fascinated me as they are like taken out of a fairy tale. Then, when I had to choose a name to define what I do, I thought this name is perfect to describe my little world of fantasy and illusion, but I decided to change the "b" to "v" so to bring the word "Love" for what it represents as well as the affection and love I put into each of my creations.

Xima the Hedgehog

- How was "Lovelia" born? When did the first thought to create this cute world appear in your mind?

Lovelia began just over two years ago. I wanted to make a Valentine's present for my boyfriend and since I was looking for something original, I decided to buy felt to experiment. The truth is that I liked working with this material so much that without realizing it, I had got myself a few yards of different felt colours! One day the idea to bring the characters I have designed on paper to felt came to life and this is how the idea of creating the first coin purse came up. To me it is like if my drawings have come to life! Having never handled a sewing machine before, it seemed difficult at first. But since my mother is a great expert, I was taught to use it quickly. My mother has helped me a lot when starting this project!

Yared the Crab

- Would you like to present us the "Lovelia" family, Ana Isabel?

Of course! The Lovelia family are several funny and cute characters of different species as they are a ladybug, Wemba, a couple of raccoons, Dunoki and Puchina, a monkey, Sambi, a frog, Phine and many more! Little by litlle the family continues to grow! You can visit the Lovelia family both in the "Lovelia Etsy Shop" and in the "Lovelia Blog" to find out how all the members look like.

Phine the Frog

- Which kind of materials do you use to bring to life the Lovelia characters?

To make my creations I use different materials as they are paper, card, beads, wood... but, perhaps, the most widely used and the most comfortable I feel with is felt. I use it in most of my creations and I love the warm and welcoming effect that it gives!

The RainbOWLs

- Where did you get the inspiration to create the "Lovelia" family? How do you inspire yourself, especially in every new creation which joins the "Lovelia" world?

I have always enjoyed creating illustrations with a touch tender child, and animals have always seemed very tender to me. So, to create the characters I inspire on my own style of drawing.

Dunoki the Raccoon

- When you work on a new Lovelia creation, do you imagine the item in your mind before it comes to reality or do you work on an initial idea and then you build it as inspiration comes to you and the feelings about the new member/creation of the Lovelia family develop?

I always imagine the item first. When I visualize the idea, I pick my pencils and start doing different sketches to give expression to it on paper, and it ends up taking shape. Sometimes you feel that the idea flows more easily and sometimes you have to give it more time to get the final result. Once that I have come to a final design on paper, I can start to create my item in a different material.

Pacha the Spider

- How long have you been working into handmade stuff by now, Ana Isabel?

It is true that since I was a little girl I have always loved to create handmade things. However, I can not give an exactly date about when I got started. I would say that it did not happen in a more steady way, at least, until I decided to create the Lovelia world.

Luru the Koala

- How much time does it take to have a new member of the Lovelia family between us? Do you mature the idea for a long time before it becomes a reality?

It all depends on the time of the year. There are seasons during which I have more orders. For example before Christmas, therefore, during those days I use most of my time to prepare shipments and stock items that I already have for sale. Once that those busy days are gone I have more time to devote to my future creations.

Sambi the Monkey

- How much time do you need to build any of the items we can see in your shop?

It depends on the details of each character, but the average time to build a purse coin would be around two hours and around an hour to build a brooch. To make the mobiles I need some more time as each mobile takes about three hours to be done.

- Among all the Lovelia creations, do you have a favourite?

I could not settle on one as they are like my children, so be sure each of them means something special to me!

- Which little creature of the Lovelia family is the favourite among your customers?

I could say that Wemba the Ladybug, Puchina the Raccoon and Pacha the Spider seem to be the most popular ones for now.

Trick or Treat

- Which items are the most popular among your customers? Which ones are the most requested?

Purses and bookplates. The most requested ones are purses of the characters I named before and the Rainbowl's bookplates are very successful as well.

- Can we expect new Lovelia creations in the near future as well as new items?

Yeah! I am currently working on new Lovelia creations and I hope that I will surprise you all! Hopefully you can enjoy them soon!

Pink RainbOWL

- If a customer suggests a specific item or gives you some hints about a new design, would you be willing to work on it?

Of course! I love to create custom items. Sometimes customers request me a different animal or ask me to customize any of the ones which already belong to the Lovelia family. It is special and a lot of fun to make something different by exchanging ideas with the costumer.

Blullaby - Rain Cloud

- Could you explain us how purchasing, payment and shipping work in Lovelia?

Purchasing is really easy and fun in Lovelia. You just need an account on Etsy; it is free and easy to create. Once you have created your account you have to enter my shop: "Lovelia Etsy Shop", and add to a cart everything you want to purchase. Afterwards, make the payment to my PayPal account through your Paypal or credit card. Finally, once I have received the payment I will be shipping your order within two days via postal mail.

Lovelia Calendar

- During all this time you have been managing Lovelia, have you ever experienced any anecdote or situation you would like to share with us?

Yes, I have a lot of funny anecdotes to share. One of them happened recently: It was about a girl who bought one of my creations as a gift for a friend of herself. This girl asked me if I could send the gift directly to her friend's postal address as a surprise but she didn't leave a note saying who was the sender. So when her friend received the gift, she contacted me through Facebook and asked me: "Who are you? Why did you send me this purse?" The girl's friend could understand nothing, but finally I could explain to her that I had sent it in behalf of a friend of hers, and she finally contacted her friend to thank her for the lovely detail.

Xima the Hedgehog Wood Brooch

- Can we find Lovelia in any website online (i.e. Facebook, Twitter)?

Yes, you can find Lovelia on my "Etsy Shop", on "Lovelia Blog" and on "Facebook".

- Which creature of the Lovelia family fully represents the essence of your work and designing experience in your opinion?

I don't think that only one of the creatures represents the essence, I think it is a mix, all of them together are Lovelia. But, certainly, the common factor is that all of my creations are made to be colourful, always with a lot of colour, and a touch of fun. I think that it is important to add these feelings into our lives.

Wemba the Ladybug Earrings

- Are there some thoughts or ideas you would like to share with us, Ana Isabel?

I would like to recommend everybody to try to do things handmade. It is fun, develops your creativity and makes you feel really well! I would also like to thank Bea for this interview in Penpalling & Letters and her interest in my creations and work!

Ana Isabel, thank you very much for this lovely interview and for introducing us to the Lovelia world and how everything came to life! It was a pleasure to work together with you on this interview and hope that you decide to visit us in P&L any time soon!

And now it is time to talk about the contest that Ana Isabel and her Lovelia world through the "Lovelia Blog" and the "Lovelia Etsy Shop" have prepared for all of you!

By participating in this contest you can win eight bookplates and eight addresslabels designed and offered by Ana Isabel and her cute Lovelia world! You can see part of the prize in the pictures below.

Lovelia Addresslabels
Lovelia Bookplates
RainbOWLs Bookplates

How to take part in Lovelia's contest?

1. Visit the "Lovelia Etsy Shop" or the "Lovelia Blog" and tell us which item(s)/members of the Lovelia family you like the most. Come back to this interview and leave a comment below together with a way to contact you.

2. For an extra entry be/become a follower of the "Lovelia Blog" (notice that to be a follower you don't need to have a Blog of your own but an accessible Blogger profile. Also, if you are already a follower you are in) and let us know about it. Make sure you leave a way to contact you as well.

3. Tell/link/twitter about this giveaway on your Blog/Personal Website/Twitter for another extra entry and again leave a comment in this post. Make sure you provide the link to your Blog/Website/Twitter post together with your comment as well as your contact data.

4. Join "Lovelia Facebook Page" (if you have already joined you are in) for a third extra entry and leave your Facebook name or the e-mail you are using in Facebook here and, of course, a way to contact you.

Bear in mind that you should participate with a name/nickname in this contest. Any "anonymous" won't be taken into account. You can sign up with a Blogger, Twitter, Facebook, G+... account. Or at least, leave your name and tell us you are in Facebook, G+, Twitter or any social network, website... If we cannot find you anywhere, we are really sorry but your participation won't be taken in. Sorry!

Please, notice that to participate in this contest, your reply has to be written here, in this same interview. Comments in any other place around the net won't be taken into account for participation.

Taking part in this contest organized by Ana Isabel and her Lovelia world is very easy! Everybody is welcome to enter and if you feel like it, tell your pals and friends as well. It is a wonderful chance to win some cute handmade stuff made with love, care and fun by Ana Isabel! Deadline will be the 31st October, 2011, at 00:00 GMT+1 Time Zone, yes, that is Halloween! The winner will be announced shortly after.

Lots of good luck to everybody and keep enjoying the magical Lovelia world!

If you would like to read more posts from "The person behind the letter-writer" section keep an eye on the links you can find at: The person behind the letter-writer.

If you are interested in being featured in "The person behind the letter-writer" because you have a cute shop, you are crafty and would like to present your creations, you have an ability and would like to tell us about it... contact me at: penpallingandletters[at]gmail[dot]com and we will work it out!

Friday, 7 October 2011


It is time to visit some amazing place in the world again in the frame of Travelling around the World sharing Cultural Heritage, Folklore and Background. The land we are visiting today is encircled by different seas: the Aegean Sea to the west, the Black Sea to the north and the Mediterranean to the south. Also, the Sea of Marmara is located in the northwest. Terms associated to this country are the Anatolian Peninsula, the Bosphorus and Dardanelles Straits, Mount Ararat, Lake Van or the Cappadocia.

Hello Sibel and welcome to Penpalling & Letters! Thanks for taking part in our trips around the world! Would you like to tell us a bit about yourself and your penpalling activity?

Hello P&L readers! My name is Sibel and I am a teacher of English in her thirties. :) I come from Ankara, the capital city of Turkey, where I am living and working. Being creative and productive mean a lot to me. I am always serious and hardworking, not only at work but also in my personal life. I am addicted to discovering and learning new things. I believe rules and principles must be always in our all circles for the sake of people and the world as well.
I have been into penpalling just for two years as I lost my childhood contacts long ago! Thanks to Facebook I am into it again. :) When I was in secondary school, my English teacher led me to have penfriends. I like stickers, stationery, magnets, postcards, actually all cute stuff in penpalling! :) I am into postcards as well. My first pals sent me such nice postcards that I remembered my childhood hobby and started to collect them now. As a result I started to swap postcards which show city views only. I collect magnets as well.

And now it is time to share my home made Baklava recipe with you all!

Ingredients for the dough:

- One tea spoon of salt
- One spoon of vinegar
- One spoon of yoghourt
- Flour as needed
- Between sheets, 250g walnuts roughly chopped
- Onto the dough, one glass of mixed olive oil and butter (boiled at 100ºC)

Ingredients for the syrup:

- Two glasses of sugar
- Two and a half glasses of water
- One tea spoon of lemon juice

And now, the directions to do the home made Baklava:

1. Mix salt, vinegar, yoghourt and flour in the bowl.

2. Leave the dough to rest in a bowl for half an hour.

3. Then, roll out the dough by twenty sheets filo pastry which must be as thin as a paper is.

4. Lay ten sheets of filo pastry, one at a time into the tray.

5. In a clean bowl put the chopped nuts and spread the mixture over the pastry in the tray.

6. Layer up the ten remaining sheets on top of the nut mixture.

7. Using a sharp knife, cut this dough into small diamond-shaped pieces.

8. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat and add olive oil into it. Boil this mixture at 100ºC. When you drop it onto the dough, the dough must had been boiled for some time, too.

9. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

10. Place the baklava in the pre-heated oven for approximately 20 minutes, then decrease the oven temperature to 150ºC and cook for an additional half hour to 40 minutes, or until the pastry is slightly puffed and golden on top. Do not allow the top to burn. Remove and allow to cool slightly.

11. For the syrup, heat the sugar, water in a small saucepan and cook over a medium heat until the sugar has melted and a syrup is formed. Then, add lemon juice just before turning off the owen.

12. Pour the syrup into the baklava slowly and leave the baklava to cool.

And the tasty Baklava is done! After so much hard work, it is time to enjoy it!

Thanks for participating in Penpalling & Letters, Sibel! Let's try your recipe in our homes to taste your home made Baklava! Whenever you feel like participating again let me know!

If you are interested in reading more articles featuring characteristics of our homelands don't forget to check: Travelling around the World sharing Cultural Heritage, Folklore and Background.

I am always looking for people who would like to take part in this section of the Blog: Travelling around the World. If you would like to write about any aspects of your homeland don't hesitate to contact me at: penpallingandletters[at]gmail[dot]com and we will work on it!