letters from huldufolk house (a giveaway)

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Dear friend,

What it is that makes friendship last? No one would say that we are anything close to who we were back then when we first met, but still we know and love each other now, recognizing that each layer of onion skin, while different from the last, is between you were  (who I know) and who you’ll be (who I hope to know). Even back then when we were at the beginning (me, tiny 13, you worldly 17), I felt that I needed to stick around to see who you’d be. And although we’ve seen each other only a handful of times in the decades since, we’ve somehow managed to meet each other where we are just then.

Remember when you came back out East, and you held Sadie and drew her pictures and built snowman that you’d dreamt of in California? And then I came there, busy and stressed and working, and we snuck into your neighbors’ yards and stole their lemons so I could bring them back in my suitcase? You need snow, I need lemons, you need wildflowers, I need moss. Each visit we trade taking care of each other, and we search out the thing the other wants most of all. Maybe that makes friendship last.

Screenshot 2014-05-20 15.23.09

But the longevity is mostly due to the letters. Because when you graduated and left me there in high school without you, it became your job to remind me that I could live through being fifteen, and that if you could do it, I could do it. So the letters started then, and the art–always art tucked in with them. I’m thankful there was no internet or Facebook then, because it might have given us an excuse not to write real letters. But later, as we both grew and changed and became more of who we’d be, we somehow had the ability to come back in contact just when we needed to. You and Joey started to write, too, and the girls learned to recognize your handwriting on the box because they know there will always be a special Japanese candy or deck of Totoro cards wrapped up for them inside.

I’ve never been a very good letter writer, and even back in high school you patiently made fun of my thin, 1-page haikus and dramatic reports of the day that I’d put in the mail for you. But I hope you know my heart is always in it, and that your words and pictures are always here with me, and that they inspire me every day.



My friend Donovan makes some of my favorite art, and her business, Huldufolk House, is a sponsor of this very site. My kitchen is filled with prints from the shop, and I love them more than I can even express. They tell stories, and there are smiling turnips and mushrooms that I love for the kitchen, but kids especially adore her prints, so they’re great for kids room and nursery walls, too. Donovan is generously giving away 2 prints to one of you. You’ll get Hedgehog Gets a Package (which looks a lot like me getting a care package from Donovan, only way cuter) and one more print of your own choosing. To enter, just hop over to her shop and tell me your favorite in the comments. And of course, if you want to tell a story about letter writing (or write a letter!), I’d love that too. I’ll choose a winner on May 27.





  1. Sara says

    I love the birdy sugar skull! I have letters from friends from pre-social media times that I cherish so much. Now I’m not even sure I have any friends current addresses. :(

  2. says

    These are so sweet! I love the moss and lichen, but also the sugar skulls, and the turnip, and . . .

    I do wish I wrote more letters—sometimes I need a reminder like this. I’ll write one tonight, I think.

  3. Hannah M. says

    I haven’t written a lot of letters recently, though I used to be more in the habit. For a few years I wrote regularly to my grandpa-just rambly letters, about school and the weather and nothing in particular. He never answered them, because by that point he wasn’t really capable of doing so, but he could still read them. He died just a few months ago, and my aunt found that he had saved everything I had written; knowing that made the loss of my best penpal a little easier, in the end.

    I’m looking for new letter-writing buddies, but email is just too easy these days-it took a person who couldn’t figure out how to use a computer to bring me back to pen and paper.

    (also, all of those prints are adorable, but I think I like the squirrel getting a letter best of all)

  4. Liz says

    Aww, I love Squirrel gets a letter and Bye Plane :-)

    My formative letter-writing days were a lot with Joey! Fun to have that friend to trade things like that with.

  5. says

    Looking through the prints of Donovan’s paintings, I imagined, perhaps that the letter squirrel was opening was from hedgehog, thanking her for the parcel (and then I wonder what it was squirrel sent to the hedgehog in that intriguing parcel? A pair of slippers? candied chestnuts? a music box?

    I think my favorite painting is of the mushrooms, titled “Forest Fruit.” Wouldn’t that look lovely in my kitchen! Thank you for the opportunity to possibly win some beautiful artwork and for introducing us to your friend.

    Best wishes,

  6. Glenna says

    Love them all, but Some Days made me laugh. The contrast of the formality of the border with the subject matter was perfect! I was a very devoted letter writer when I lived overseas in Rwanda, but since becoming a mom, it is a struggle to just get birthday cards out to family. Just read The Homemade Pantry and loved the writing and the recipes! Great to find you here!

  7. Rachael says

    I have a Grandma Death like obsession with the mailbox- is there something in there for me today? How about today? As long as I can remember! As a kid there might have been a letter in there from my uncle Mark or my moms friend Jane, but its been years and years since I’ve gotten an actual letter. However if a letter from Jane popped up in the mailbox tomorrow, the oversized printing would be a dead giveaway before I even needed to see the return address. Handwriting is such a funny thing. I got a package from ebay in the mail yesterday (yay! Mail!!) and there was something so familiar and comforting about the handwriting that it struck me right in my gut-I had to throw the box away because I kept staring, trying to figure out what it was, and I wasn’t getting anything else accomplished.
    I have a wine box in the attic filled to the brim with vintage stationary I keep picking up here and there in my travels. Tonight, I’m going to brave the suppressive heat up there and write a real live letter. Maybe to Jane.
    Thanks for the inspiration Alana! (As always! )

    The Blushing turnip! Something about the purple and green.

  8. Sophie says

    They are all drawing a smile across my face, it’s so hard to pick a favorite one but Ribbet is my 3 year old daughter. Piggy tails, nail polish, mud, frog/toad and all. Yup, that’s Bea all right lol It’s quite stunning. That would be my pick.
    I do miss writing and getting real letters. Every now and then, I tell myself I’ll start writing to people just because it’s wonderful but it never happens. I need to make it happen, soon. Thanks for the inspiration once again Alana.

  9. Lynn says

    I can’t decide between the Moss & Lichen and the Blushing Turnip! I still exchange occasional letters and cards with a grade school friend. It’s amazing to me and I wish there were more letters in my life – written and received!

  10. Becky says

    I love Squirrel gets a letter (:

    Letters have always been my favorite form of communication! It makes me sad sometimes in the age of Facebook and texting and email ): there’s nothing like a hand written letter signed with a kiss

  11. Kat says

    Frolicking Fox is adorable! I write a long, long letter to my 94-year-old Papa every month. Sometimes my daughter, his great-granddaughter, includes some art or a short letter of her own. He claims his penmanship isn’t nice enough to write back, but that isn’t the point for me. I live far away and he can’t hear well enough to talk on the phone. This way we can envelop him in our family, sharing all the stories & smiles even if we aren’t close enough to visit very often.

  12. Michelle B says

    I clicked over, very certain that it would be difficult to choose, but it wasn’t: colorgirl. It grabbed me straight away.

  13. Margaret says

    The hedgehog notecards are perfect. When I write letters or send small gifts, I take care to write a note that is thoughtful or consoling or entertaining. But even more important is that mail is a powerful and simple way to show love. You can touch a letter! And it has your name all over it! The same cannot be said for email. I love seeing the hedgehog handle that sweet package with such care.

  14. Brittany B. says

    I wrote letters to my best friend, too! We went to different high schools, then different colleges, and kept it up for about 6 years before life got in the way.

    Now, I’m a military sissy and moving to the other side of the country in less than a week (from Seattle to SC, so at least I’ll still have moss :) so I am definately counting on letter writing to keep me connected. It just means so much more than Skype, you know? And I loved hearing that you get Japanese candy in the mail too.

    My sister’s nickname is hedgehog, for the short, spiky, military hair cut she has now, so she would get “hedgehog gets a package” (in the mail, too, no less!). I would love a copy of “making friends with fireflies” for SC summers or “frolicking fox” to remind me of the beautiful forests in the Pacific NW.

  15. Jaclyn says

    These are so incredibly charming. I love Phosphorescent Moon… feels very much reminiscent of Where The Wild Things Are.

  16. Kelly says

    As the mother of a one year old blonde Birdie, I am partial to that print. But I also love the girl down in the dirt playing with abandon.

  17. Candy says

    Those are all so fabulous. I would pick “Forest Fruit” to add to my amanita collection (my husband would sigh and say “More mushrooms?”). My dad passed away last month, and when I was at his house going through stuff, there was a whole box full of letters from my childhood best friend, Beth, that had been saved but didn’t make the move out west with me. I boxed them all up and sent them home. She was a very faithful letter writer, and I’m sure I was less so : )

  18. Tamar says

    What a wonderful story. I used to exchange letters and cards with a few friends and sadly, we’ve either lost touched or moved on to emails…. This is a good reminder to restart that process!

    I love these prints. My favourites are Blushing Turnip and Hedgehog Gets a Package. What a lovely shop!

  19. says

    Forest fruit! In grad school I collected mushrooms to sell to local chefs, and although the chanterelles of California look very different from the forest fruits I love them.

    I have a friend who wrote amazing letters after college. I think the internet hs made some connection easier but I sure do miss real letters. One friend still sends wonderful postcards, my daughter awaits one from Maine.

    A great post!

  20. Ann says

    I liked the Forest Fruit print. It made me think of the mushroom sequence from Fantansia (to the Chinese tea dance from the Nutcracker), which was always my favorite as a kid.

  21. Meghann says

    I love the Forest Fruit:)

    When I was a kid, I used to go over to my next door neighbor’s house (an older couple – well, I was so young that I thought they were old:), and I used to cook with her. We would make homemade pizza and cookies. They had to move far away years later, and we wrote letters back and forth all the time. She had a Polaroid camera and would send pictures of the snow and her dog. I always kept every letter in a box and was so excited to see another letter in the mail:)

  22. Sruti says

    Thanks for the giveaway!
    I love writing letters and still prefer them over e-mail or whatever other methods people seem to use these days. I used to buy a lot of printed paper like these but don’t do it anymore since it seems cheesy (hallmarkish). But I love these papers because they’re made by someone not a company like Hallmark, and are close to nature, which is a huge part of me as well.
    Love the frolicky fox. But I have to pick one, I would pick the mushrooms – forest fruit.

  23. Bonnie says

    I always wrote letters to my Grandmother before she passed away. Now I carry on the grandmother tradition by writing letters to my husband’s grandmother (and also sending pictures…. how old school is that!). I think I like writing the letters almost as much as receiving.

    As for the prints, so pretty, I love the subjects and the colors. I think either Bye Plane or Summer Wreath are my favorites.

    • says

      Hi Bonnie- I have experienced a reverse gift after years of sending my mother and my mother-in-law photos of my kids. Both of them have died and I have gotten back envelopes of notes and letters and photos that track a set of years where I did not keep good journal notes. These letters are little field notes from a busy time. While you know those elders of yours will enjoy your notes and photos, someday, you may find yourself with them in your hands again for an unplanned treat. xo S

      • Bonnie says

        Thank you for the note. It never occurred to me that I might one day see my letters and pictures again, that truly would be a lovely gift!

  24. says

    I woke up with letters on my mind Alana! What a funny coincidence to read this sweet letter to your friend. Mail is big in our household too- I have quite a few mail art correspondences going. But the plot thickens now as I have one kid away. My mom wrote to me in all the places I ever lived, so I have a legacy of letters trailing my adventures. And it is up to me to carry it on.
    Your friend’s art is so tender! I loved “Making friends with fireflies” because I have a fondness for fireflies and salamanders. And the hedgehog with the package- somewhere in my treasure boxes I have a hedgehog I got as a kid and still carry around.
    Hugs to you today. Rhubard anyone? xoxoox S

  25. says

    The birdy sugar skull is definitely my favorite. Sugar skulls have a special meaning to me, and I’ve never seen one with cute little birdies on it! Adorable, I want to get all of her stuff!

  26. says

    well.. i came over here from donovan’s ig.. being that i am already a big fan.
    (and, i am happy to be introduced to your blog, with all these recipes to investigate)

    her “hide” piece has always been a favourite. but now i’m wondering if “a study of moss and lichen” might be, instead. too hard to choose.

    i miss the days of letter-writing. email has never been the same. i need new pen pals.

  27. Jaclyn Del Vacchio says

    Thanks for sharing your friend’s beautiful work! There is a timelessness and playfulness in her pieces that I love! My favorite print would be “Frolicking Fox”.

    Letter writing is such a wonderful art in itself. I feel one’s writing is the closest you can get to a person since it take’s their heart and mind together to write their thoughts! About eight years ago, I received a letter very unexpectedly from one of my great aunts. I am unsure of what made her write me a letter telling me of her day and several thoughts but I am so great full to have received it as an adult. It gave me a window into her life that I would not of necessarily had. My great aunt is not longer with us but her letter remains something that I will always cherish and through it I feel she lives on.

  28. says

    I would just like to thank everyone who commented here, it has been fun reading about your favorites, but especially about all the snail mail love (~_~)


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