I received an e-mail from Karen Pennebaker this week. Turns out, we share an affinity for the letter ‘G’ that for Karen, goes back 60 years.

When Pig Latin was the “thing,” Karen and her childhood friend came up with their own secret language that only they knew—inspired by that wondrous little letter that we’ve all come to love.


Waldorf chalkboard drawing introducing the alphabet in 1st grade. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons; Hgilbert

“When the other kids in school would start speaking Pig Latin, we would talk to each other in Gigickilan, and it drove them nuts because we could understand THEIR language and they didn’t have a clue as to what we were saying. Camping, to us, would have been “gamping” rather than “glamping” but I know how you got the “glamp” part … glamorous camping sounds like the best kind.”

“Gi gent go ge gail gox gand gound ga getter grom goo.” (I went to the mail box and found a letter from you.)

And here’s my splash page, an ode to ‘G.’


Thanks for sharing, Karen!! Gi gove git!

  1. Terry Steinmetz says:

    That’s awesome. My oldest grandgirl speaks in pig latin with her mother all the time just to drive her younger sister crazy. It won’t be long though and little sister will figure it all out!

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Pinch me!

Oooh la la

Art, literature, and some of my favorite female figures from cherished fiction?

Pinch me!

I must be dreaming.

I’ve just enjoyed a tantalizing glimpse into a new book that will be released on August 27.

Look …


“A treasure of a gift for the well-read woman, this collection brings together 50 stirring portraits, in watercolor and in word, of literature’s most well-read female characters. Anna Karenina, Clarissa Dalloway, Daisy Buchanan …”

And, yes—Jane Eyre!

“Each seems to live on the page through celebrated artist Samantha Hahn’s evocative portraits and hand-lettered quotations, with the pairing of art and text capturing all the spirit of the character as she was originally written,” extols the book’s description.

Are you drooling?

Me. Too.

As if I wasn’t hooked already, I hear that the book will have a silkscreened cloth spine, debossed cover, and “pages that turn with the tactile satisfaction of watercolor paper.”

Pardon me while I swoon.

I’m a sucker for a book with tactile appeal, and I cannot wait to get my hands on this one.

Tell me—which characters are you hoping to see?


Holly Golightly; Photo courtesy of Samantha Hahn;


  1. Terry Steinmetz says:

    I’m with you on the drooling! I love tactile things as well. I will definitely be checking out this book. Maybe I can get the library to get a copy for all to enjoy?

  2. Pat says:

    Did someone say JANE EYRE? Ok, I’m all for that. Reading that book changed my life at 14 and taught me that being pretty (which I’ve never been accused of) isn’t everything! Gave me confidence and courage. Been to Haworth (where the Bronte family lived and the books were written from)………well, “worth” the trip. Our once in a lifetime journey. I’d go back in a nano second. So, I’ll look this book up certainly!

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Three Bags Full

What could possibly be mysterious about …


Photo by Roger Green via Wikimedia Commons


This is a question best asked of German writer Leonnie Swan, who seems to sense something a bit more …

sharp? savvy? shrewd?

about these curly critters than the average pasture passerby might surmise.

Swan is the author of Three Bags Full, an unlikely suspense novel surrounding—in fact, starring—sheep.


Cover of the latest edition of Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann; Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Warm up your funny bones, girls, ’cause this sleuth spoof is worth a read.

Picture an idyllic hillside meadow in Ireland …


Photo by Eric Jones via Wikimedia Commons

But don’t be fooled.

(No, we’ll have no wool pulled over our eyes.)

This is the scene of a crime.

A beloved shepherd has fallen victim to a garden spade,

duh, duh, DUH!

Continue reading

  1. Terry Steinmetz says:

    I’m going to find this book & red it for sure!

  2. karlyne says:

    Looks like a movie waiting to happen!

  3. Melissa says:

    I picked up this book at the library a few years ago, and I must say it is one of the best and most unique books I’ve read. Definitely recommended.

  4. Kay (Old Cowgirl) Montoya says:

    I live in a very small town. Just a few stories and restaurant and Pizza/Bar place. Anyway, it is a sheep oasis. We even have Sheep daze, where there is a parade, goodies both to eat and buy. This reminds me of here.
    I read Agatha Christies New series she started then it was taken over by another author. It stars “Agatha Raison”. It is set in England country side. They are a mystery but also just plain fun to read. I will get this book as well. Thanks for the tip MJ.

  5. I have a copy of this book which evidently was a huge bestseller in Europe. It has been on my ” summer reading list”. I am now moving it to the top of the list for sure adn reading it next. I love sheep but have not had the privilege of actually raising them. I look forward to this mystery.

  6. I looked, and this is available on my Nook, so I’m getting it ASAP! Thanks for posting this Megan! I already sent the info to my Mom because this will be so much fun for her as well…

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Pen Pals

Do you ever wish, in this age of click-and-text, that your child could be a little more in touch with pen and paper?

Call me old fashioned, again …

I love letter writing,


Photo courtesy of Collar City Brownstone;

and I want my grandgirls to know the delight of holding an unopened envelope in their little hands (not to mention develop lush letter-writing skills that transcend LOL and BFF).


Vintage photo of girl licking envelope; unknown date;

Of course, computers and social media sites have made it easier than ever to connect with people far and wide, but these instant avenues to acquiring “friends” don’t come without a modicum of risk, especially where our kids are concerned.

(That’s grandmotherly apprehension for you.)

Anyhow, this train of thought led me to lament the fading of a lovely tradition: pen pals.


Enfant écrivant by Henriette Brown, 1860-1880, V&A Museum Londres;

“Having a faraway pen pal is not only a fun way to boost reading and writing skills, but also a window into other cultures, or at least other parts of the country,” writes Teri Cettina of

I couldn’t agree more!

But … where can a blooming Jane find a pen pal these days?

Right here: Amazing Kids.

The Amazing Kids! PenPals Program is a non-profit, literacy-based, traditional letter-writing program that is available to all children ages 5 to 17 worldwide.


(One could get carried away with the exclamation points, couldn’t she?)

Amazing Kids! Founder and President Alyse Rome explains that the program’s mission is to help inspire kids to discover their own unique gifts and to use them in positive and productive ways to make a difference in their lives and in the communities in which they live. “It offers one of the few remaining choices for finding an established, safe, and trusted traditional letter-writing pen pal program for children.”

Now, that’s what I’m talking about (!!!!!!!!!)

Continue reading

  1. Terry Steinmetz says:

    Oh, I love this idea! I had pen pals as a child, and I still do to this day–different ones now. I remember how excited I got to receive some mail.I also had the opportunity to write and share my life with a friend. I write to my grandgirls who live 11 hours away. They love getting mail! As one of my friends said in a letter not too long ago, “It’s good to write and share our lives. It helps keep our friendship alive.” She is so-oi-o right.

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    This is a very wonderful idea to teach your grandchildren! We did a badge in Girl Scouts about international something or another and we each got a pen pal. Mine was from England and we wrote all through grade school and high school. She lived near London and was my eyes and ears about all things Beatles! She went to a concert, sent me photos etc. We were bonded!! It was a wonderful experience to receive mail with different stamps and lots of news and tidbits about life from a young girl the same age as me growing up in a different culture. There is really something special about having a friend that you can exchange fun things like postcards, drawings, and photos. It all makes the world a bit smaller and friendlier!

    Speaking of world, I am off in a few minutes to cross the big pond and start an adventure in Helsinki and Norway!! I have my Farmgirls on the Loose pin attached to my backpack which I use in place of a purse. Certified Farmgirl on her way!

  3. Debbie Fischer says:

    I love writing letters and I have a few farmgirl pen pals, that I enjoy sending letters too. Sometimes though time gets away from me and I forget to write that special pal. But, as fall and winter approach her in the mountains of Colorado, I am taking my early mornings to write my letters while having my first cup of coffee. Oh life is sweet!

  4. Debbie says:

    I couldn’t agree more M.J. I had a pen pal when I was a young girl. Although she only lived one state away, I so enjoyed sending and receiving letters. Our daughter has a friend who only communicates by snail mail. Yes, she is a bit of an oddity among teenagers. She has been home-schooled all of her life and simply prefers writing to modern technology ( at least for now ). This girl is also our next door neighbor at the beach. She and our daughter catch up once or twice a year in person and the letters fill in the long gaps between summer visits. Thank you for sharing this AMAZING site for finding pen pals. How fun!
    hugs, Deb

  5. Love this post! My youngest daughter homeschools and last year her part of her daughters writting curriculum was writing letters. Myself and hubs added some new stationery and fun stamps to our desk areas so we could write back at least twice a month to each. It was fun thinking of something new to write each time and my hubs always drew some sort of cartoon in his note and got all the praise for his letters. I will pass on this info to my daughter, I think she would love to know about it!

  6. Cat says:

    I miss the days of sending and receiving real, touchable mail! I don’t have a pen pal but every Christmas I try to encourage mailing cards to one another. To me, there’s nothing like giving and getting love through the mail.

  7. Denise says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I love pen pals. I had one when I was a child. What I don’t like is there is someone out there charging $10 for the “matching service”. These are kids, supposed to be learning about new people and new places. So what if they don’t match, they figure that out for themselves. Teachers should be encouraging this with their classes. Grade level and gender is all that matters, not whether they have things in common. That’s part of the fun. It shouldn’t cost anything but the price of a stamp, paper and envelope. If you are creative, the paper becomes the envelope. Cheap fun. I don’t have “pen pals” today. I have certain friends that I write too. I also send what I call “Happy Mail”. Little notes/cards to people I know who could use a little smile/hug, instead of a bill. Just my thoughts.

  8. Lisa Holderman says:

    I am SO happy to know that there are still ways for children to connect around the world. When I was six I found my pen pal from a television show called Big Blue Marbel. Kate lived in London. We connected immediately and that friendship continued into adulthood. Oh as we got older and had families and such our letters got to be further and further apart, but still it is fun to hear from her every once in a while. We only communicated once by phone in all of our years of corresponding, which was a HUGE deal for me on my 9th birthday. International calls were so expensive in the 70’s. I am not sure if it was my friendship with Kate that piqued my interests in different cultures or not, but it was certainly a beginning for me. My husband and I have hosted now six high school students from all different countries which resulted in our traveling to their countries to visit. On one of those visits we did a stop over in London and Kate and I were able to meet for the very first time. It was such a high for me that this came to be. I took all over her letters that I had been saving since our first letter exchange and we had such a wonderful time reading through them, laughing at the things that were so “important” in our lives then. Having a pen pal also got me interested in letter writing and I have been writing ever since. Thank you for encouraging our young people today to communicate in letters. It is fast becoming a lost art. In fact communicating in general other than by text or IMing is becoming a lost art. Did you know many schools around the country are not even teaching cursive handwriting anymore? It is so sad! Anyways, thanks for keeping alive such important and needed skills and art.

  9. SunSeeker says:

    As a Children’s Librarian who has facilitated pen pal programs, I know first hand how much kids love the opportunity to connect with other kids through the written word. They just need to have it presented to them as a fun activity and voila–they’re off and running. Adults need to put down their own eletronic devices now and then to be a role model for their children, who are mimics and will naturally want to do what Mommy or Daddy are doing. And if you catch them young enough, kids will experience the intrinsic pleasure of such activities and are likely to carry them into their adult years to inspire their own children to slow down and partake in deeply pleasurable activities. I grew up having pen pals and have never outgrown the satisfaction of connecting with friends and family through cards and letters. And believe me, my 90 year-old mother (who gets a letter from me every week) is especially glad of that! 📬

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  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Lovely busy framed in a summer task!

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