When I got in the office, I logged on my computer and the first thing, of course, was to launch the MS Office Outlook! One of the emails that came in that morning was from our Service Point office.
The letter went like this –
A registered letter has arrived to your attention.
Could you please collect it as soon as possible at the Service Point.
Now, how often do we get registered letters at work? If curiosity could only be measured, I’d scale really high 😀 !
I went down to the Service Point desk and picked up the letter.
Ahhh…. I see.
It was a letter sent by a friend from Kuching. The envelope? It was a brown A4-sized, air bubbled cushion envelope. I got back to my office desk, unsealed the envelope and peeked in, sort of a ‘soft opening’. OK, will do the rest at home, as I sensed ‘beady eyes’ watching over me…
Back at home, I opened the envelope carefully and, hey presto, there was another envelope tucked in the biggie. Hmmmm….. should I or should I not open? What the heck, I haven’t even got to the crux of the matter yet. It was like opening the Matryoshka doll. You know the Russian nesting doll (or the babushka doll) which decreases in size when you separate the top from the bottom?
I opened the second envelope and finally saw some documents nestled neatly in there. It came from my friend, but none of the items were for me 😦 !
Aha! Another envelope! But that one was already opened, so I peeked and saw….right, yet another envelope! You bet, I had a fun day opening envelopes that day. LOL!
Okey-dokey! I got it! Then I remembered my friend telling me about that, but it was way back somewhere towards the end of last year. Yes, last year! Of course, I had completely forgotten about it. She sent me an email then, if I wanted to participate in a school project of a friend of her friend of her friend, or something like that. I said “OK”. November, December, January, February, March…. Zilch! Nada! Zippo! 5 months have passed, and then came that registered letter.
I finally “met” tête-à-tête with my newfound friend, Stanley Lambchop aka Flat Stanley!!
Hi people! Meet Flat Stanley!!!!!
If you don’t already know, Flat Stanley is a children’s book written by Jeff Brown.
Inside one of the envelopes was a printed letter signed by a little girl, called Courtney.
Our class has read the book Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown. In the book, Stanley was flattened by a falling bulletin board. This allowed him to be sent through the mail on many adventures.
Stanley is again going to travel to help my class learn more about geography. Could you please help us by sending a postcard, note, picture, and/or small souvenirs when he gets to your house? Tell us where he is and what places he could visit while in your town. Then please send him, along with these letters, on to a friend in another city, state, or country so that he can send us as many notes as possible before our school year is over.
Please make sure Flat Stanley is mailed back to our school address by the beginning of May 2010 so he has time to unpack before school is out.
There are over 1,000 classes around the world participating in this project. You can visit www.flatstanley.com for more information.
We really appreciate your help! This project cannot be successful without you!
Courtney (9 years old)
I was completely blown away by the letter. Of course, I had to act fast. Remember I only received the registered letter on 29th April and I had to mail Flat Stanley’s adventures back to Courtney by the beginning of May!!! I had only one week… Yikes!!!
I gathered as much information and pictures about Belgium. My friend from Kuching then wrote me – specifically – that I sent Courtney something Belgian as she had taken care of the Malaysian bit while her Aussie friend, the Australian bit. That’s how Flat Stanley travelled, from Moyer Elementary School in Kentucky, USA to Australia to Malaysia to Belgium and back to the US of A!
I sent Courtney some of my first lessons about Belgium…..
The Manneken Pis (Dutch or Flemish for ‘little man urinating’). One of the most known legends tells of a young boy who was awoken by a fire and was able to put out the fire with his urine. The end result was to stop the king’s castle from burning down.
This little bronze fountain statue has become one of the famous landmarks of Brussels. It is seen as a symbol of French and Flemish cohabitation in the city.
“French” Fries. Belgians believe that the term “French” was introduced when British or American soldiers arrived in Belgium during World War I, and consequently tasted Belgian fries. They supposedly called them “French”, as it was the official language of the Belgian Army at that time.
“Les frites” (or “Frieten“) became the national snack and a substantial part of several national dishes in Belgian homes and restaurants.
By the way, Friet or Fries is one half portion of my pseudonym NasiFriet ;-). Have you read my Hello..?
Here’s one of Hergé’s many comic strips of the young Belgian reporter, Tintin (or Kuifje) with his faithful fox terrier, Snowy (or Bobby in Dutch/ Flemish or Milou in French) and his best friend, Captain Haddock.
Belgian Chocolates! Guylian, Godiva, Côte d’Or, Leonidas, Jacques by Callebaut, Neuhaus, Galler, Café-Tasse, Cavalier, Nirvana, Dolfin, Gudrun. Just to name a few!!
Why Belgian chocolates? What’s so famous about Belgian chocolates?
Try googling for an answer and you will get almost exactly the same explanation everywhere: A true Belgian chocolate uses pure or 100% cocoa butter and no vegetable shortening. And most chocolatiers (chocolate makers) in Belgium make their chocolate by hand rather than by using a machine, and take pride in its form and craftsmanship. Belgium produces 172,000 tons of chocolate per year and has more than 2,000 chocolate outlets throughout the country!
I stumbled upon this website http://www.chocolateexpert.co.uk/Belgium-chocolate.html which has an interesting summary of the history of the Belgian chocolates;
And this one: http://www.guylian.be/en/about-guylian/ingredients if you want to know more about Guylian, best known for her seashells form.
Trust me, these are to die for !!!
However, the following write up intrigued me more –
How to Identify a Belgian Chocolate
Because Belgian chocolates are so famous and well loved across the world, there are many poor imitations also available. To ensure you have the best Belgian chocolate in your hand, follow these simple tips:
Even good quality beans will taste bad if they are not processed properly. Check for a gritty texture (caused by the beans not being broken down properly). Skillfully made chocolate will have a smooth, silky texture.
Place the chocolate on your tongue, before slowly moving it around your mouth. The flavour of a well-made chocolate will develop gradually and linger for a while.
Ensure the flavours are well balanced, and that the sweetness, bitterness or sharpness of the chocolate is not overpowering.
The best Belgian chocolate pralines and truffles are still made by hand, often by small chocolatiers in rural villages in Belgium. Belgian chocolates have a unique history of excellence and are loved and respected throughout the world.
Belgium….. The chocolate paradise! Yeah!!!
And of course, the BEERS! There are too many different types, brands and names, but probably you have heard of Stella Artois, Jupiler, Hoegaarden, Leffe, Rodenbach, Duvel, Maredsous, Kriek, Palm, Westmalle, Affligem, Chimay, Rochefort and the list goes on and on and on!!
Check the wiki here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beer_in_Belgium
Welcome to Belgium, the land of chocolates, beers, diamonds and laces!
I actually sent almost similar pictures and notes to little Courtney AND that’s not the end yet! I bought some Belgian chocolates, the real McCoy plus some Belgian cookies, the Speculaas. As a souvenir, I gave Courtney all the denomination of the Euro coins (8 in total, from 1 euro cent to 2 euro) and couriered all these through to Moyer Elementary School.
I kept track of the shipment via the track and trace system and exchanged notes with Courtney’s teacher. I wanted to make sure that the parcel reached Courtney safely and on time.
And I knew right away that I have made a 9 year old end her school year on a high note, and she DID!!!
The teacher sent me a picture of the class with Courtney and her classmates.
Here’s what the proud teacher had to say (exact words, copied and pasted here): “Here is a great class!!!!! Courtney is on the right in the black sweatshirt next to the rocking chair! Great group says many thanks for the treats!!!”
You’re most welcome, Courtney! You’re welcome Mrs. Greene’s class!
I’m glad I have made some kids happy.
By the way, I hope I have made your day, too!
Stay well and take care!