Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Repost || Coffee in Romania || Travel Tuesday


I often meet interesting people while traveling.  I find that if you are friendly, people will open up to you.  They often relish a chance to practice their English.  There was the Chinese girl who was studying abroad in Korea, the Israeli backpackers, the French girl who was flying to Romania to get a divorce… 

She was young, blonde, very beautiful, and spoke perfect English with a British accent.  We shared a row on a small connector flight from London to Bucarest.  I assumed she was British because of her accent.  I asked her why she was flying to Romania.  

“To get divorced,” she replied.  I was surprised at her bluntness.  

I replied that I was sorry to hear it.  

She told me that she had gone to Romania during a long Spring Break, met a charming man, and promptly married him.  They moved back to her native France, only to have him cheat on her.  She told him to quit his shenanigans and they could stay together, but he chose to continue with the cheating, thus prompting her to move to London.  She – luckily - found a job in retail, saved up some money, and was now flying to Romania to make the divorce official.  She told me that the divorce made her sad because she truly loved her in-laws, who were, in fact, meeting her at the airport, driving her three hours to their hometown, and letting her stay in their home while she settled the legal matters… 

"Don't trust Romanian men," she warned me as we descended into Bucarest.  


view from our bus passing a horse and buggy

Romania is an interesting country.  They are still recovering from a long bout of communism... You will often see horse and buggy sharing the road with automobiles.  Tall, pointy hay stacks dot the fields.  The country side is massive, with large fields of sunflowers framed by puffy, white clouds.  Traveling with a ministry choir is a unique experience in that we stayed each night in the homes of Romanian locals.  They were extremely friendly and generous.  My friend, Lauren, and I spent the first night in an apartment with three Romanian girls.  They were in their late twenties, all business women who worked in various offices.  

Their English was quite good, though they took advantage of the opportunity to practice with a native speaker.  We took a taxi to their apartment (“flat”), which was located about five or six stories up a skinny gray building.  The hallways were narrow, dim, and the walls were green.  They insisted we take the elevator (“lift”), even though Lauren and I had to ride up one at a time because we could not fit with our luggage.  It was rickety and most likely contributed to my subconscious fear, and recurring nightmares, of elevators.

a dandelion fountain in Romania

the apartment complex where we stayed our first night in Romania
Lauren and I spent the first night sharing a small futon clearly meant for one.  I am a light sleeper and wake at the slightest sound or movement, even when suffering from jet lag.  Needless to say, I did not get many hours of sleep that night.  We awoke the next morning with plenty of time to shower and prepare ourselves for the day.  Our hosts had laid out a breakfast spread of bread, cheese, deli meat, and raw veggies.  I particularly enjoyed the healthy start to the day.  We were offered coffee and Lauren and I immediately accepted.  We were anticipating two concerts that day and needed as much energy as possible.  Our host served the coffee, laid out the milk and sugar, and left to take her shower.  I am not a fan of the natural flavor of coffee, so I made sure to add plenty of milk and sugar.  So did Lauren. 

where we had our first morning in Romania
I took a sip, but it was still too bitter.  So I added more sugar.  I took another sip.  Still bitter.  I wondered if the taste was affected by the European style of milk.  The milk is so heavily pasteurized that it lasts for months.  They don’t keep it in the refrigerator, either.  I added one more spoonful of sugar, stirred it up, and took another sip.  Lauren looked at me. 

“This coffee is gross,” she said.  I agreed.  It was nasty.  

“What do we do?” she asked.  

“We have to drink it,” I replied.  I was accustomed to home-stay experiences.  It is very important that you accept whatever is given to you, without complaining.  It is rude to insult your hosts who are generously providing food and lodging, especially in a third-world country! 

We each took a few more sips, grimacing.  I set my cup down.  Lauren set her cup down.  I had a feeling she was not going to finish it either.  Our host returned to the kitchen and poured herself a cup of coffee.  She scooped in some sugar and a splash of milk before taking a sip.  

“Oh no!” she exclaimed while coffee spurted from her mouth back into the cup.  “That is disgusting!”  She set her cup down, looking perplexed.  “What in the world?!”  

She looked at us and at our half-full coffee cups.  She looked at the table and slapped her forehead.  

“I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry!” she exclaimed.  “I gave you the salt, not the sugar!”  She was visibly concerned.  “How could you drink that?” she gasped.  

“We didn’t know what to do!” we replied.  Needless to say, no one was offended that we poured out the rest of our coffee…

countryside in Romania

So that was my first experience in Romania...  I'm not very good at ending my stories.  Of course I could go on and on about the continuing events of that trip:  how we randomly found a Chinese church that invited us to sing for their service, how we visited an orphanage and found a stray dog with puppies, how I sang a solo in the Romanian Parliament building (which is the third largest building in the world, behind the Beijing Bird’s Nest and the Pentagon), how we visited a castle that could have inspired Dracula, how we sang for the Franklin Graham crusade, etc… but I think I will save all that for another time. 


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Art Journal || Week 5 || Update - Flower Garland

I can't believe I've already finished 5 weeks of summer vacation!  Where does the time go?!?!?!

This past week I didn't really work in my art journal very much because I was too busy with diy projects.  The one project that I was able to finish was inspired by this post.  I made a small paper garland to hang on my gallery wall.

I used the templates provided by the original post, but I made it uniquely my own by watercoloring each flower (instead of using card stock or construction paper).  The only flowers that are not watercolored are the yellow ones and the leaves.  I probably spent way too much time on this project and paid way too close attention to details that no one will ever notice now that it's on my wall, but I had fun doing it and I'm glad I finished without giving up!  I think I might need to add a couple more leaves and sprigs in there, but so far I'm liking it.

Don't judge my wall, it's not finished yet!!!

This week I am planning on finishing this diy and hanging it above my bed.

Hope you had a great weekend!  What are your 4th of July plans?  I'm going down to Florida to visit family and enjoy some beach time!

P.S. The lettered art work is from this Etsy shop.


Linking up with Anderson + Grant and Craftberrybush

Friday, June 26, 2015

Weekend Browsing || A Few Happy Links

Weekend Browsing || A Few Happy Links

I'm attempting to make this paper garland, but with watercolored flowers instead of card stock.  I'll post pictures when I'm done.

I'm really into garlands these days.  I'd love to make this one to hang over my bed... that is, if I can convince Peter to let me!

Summer break is when I think I'm going to accomplish all sorts of cute and crafty things, but I never find the time.  Meanwhile my DIY Pinterest board is filling up!

I pinned this 2 years ago but now that I finally have an iphone I need to start taking better pictures!

I've wanted one of these bags for ages, but I wasn't convinced they're my style, plus I never had that much money to spend on a purse.  What do you think?

I'm going to give myself a "uniform" for work this year... I'm thinking this top (multiple colors) paired with these pants  (in black) will look professional, yet still be comfortable.  I'm a music and drama teacher, so I have to be able to lift things, climb around the stage, build and paint sets, all while wearing "business casual."

What have you been browsing these days?  Anything interesting?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Healthy Living || Air Purifiers

Healthy Living || Air Purifiers

I'm a firm believer that everyone needs to have at least one air purifier in their home.  We have a large one in our living room and a smaller one in our bedroom.  They're not too expensive and they make such a difference, especially if you have allergies or asthma.

Also- and this is a big one - I hate candles and air "fresheners", so the purifier really helps keep things smelling fresh.

See that up there?  That's the outer filter of our air purifier after about 3 months of use.  It was originally black.  All this grime accumulated before we got a dog.  Pretty gross!  The air purifier kept that from getting in our lungs!

Did I convince you yet?  Run on down to Target and get yourself one!  (Or order from Amazon... here's the kind we use*.)


Other healthy living posts you might be interested in: Lemon Essential Oil, Peppermint Essential Oil, Lemon Detox Water

*Affiliate link/Not sponsored

Monday, June 22, 2015

Do you journal?

The other day I was talking to my sister about journals.  She has a separate journal for everything - daily thoughts, Bible study, lists, etc.  She journals every day.  And I was reminded once again that I love journaling.  Well to be more specific, I love the idea of journaling.  I always start with good intentions - "I'm going to journal every day until this new journal-that-I-just-bought-for-this-specific-purpose-even-though-I-have-a-hundred-other-perfectly-fine-journals-at-home-but-since-they-are-partially-filled-from-the-last-time-I-decided-to-do-this-I-must-buy-a-brand-new-one (because this time will be different) is completely filled up!" - and then flake out part way through the first week.

I think it's because I feel like I don't have anything interesting to say - no wise words, crazy discoveries, or grand epiphanies.  Is it worth it to journal every day just for the sake of it?  Every pedantic thought or regularly-scheduled-and-expected-to-happen things that happen?  I doubt anyone will write a book about me, and I have no plans to write a memoir, so it all seems like just a big waste of time.

On the other hand... I love seeing journals filled with pages of my handwriting.  I love flipping through and remembering random things that happened or random thoughts I had.  There's something so romantic and pleasurable about pages bent and worn by ink.  And I like having one consistent place to keep random thoughts, ideas, doodles, lists, etc.

So maybe it's worth it after all?

I certainly have enough journals to keep me occupied for awhile... Some were gifts, some I bought because they're just so cute, and some I've had for 10 years!  Some have pages torn out of them because I didn't think they were good enough or because I wanted to forget what was written on them.  Some are stashed under my bed and some are stuffed into closets and drawers and I'll probably never see them again...

Guess how many of these are only partially filled... 
Do you keep a daily journal?  If so, how do you stay motivated to write every day?


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Art Journal || Week 4 || Update

As with most challenges I give myself, I'm beginning to run out of steam.  I haven't worked in my art journal every day this week, but I did manage to fill up a few pages.

The plan for the art journal was to treat it more like an actual journal - decorate the pages and then write in them.  But that hasn't seemed to happen.  I find myself using it more for sketching, planning ideas, and painting pictures.

Sometimes I feel like doing art is a privilege and a reward and that I'm wasting time by sitting at my desk and painting, especially when I need to clean the house, plan for next year, practice music, or do something "productive."  On the other hand I know that creativity is important, and having an outlet and hobby is also important.  It's hard to find a balance sometimes.

Inspiration for the flowers, above, came from my evening walks around our neighborhood.

Don't forget to follow me on Instagram and Twitter!


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Travel Tuesday || Repost || Cathedral, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Repost from one of my earliest posts, when I didn't have very many followers. :)

This is from when my husband and I were dating.  My dad and I went to Brazil to meet Peter's family.

Photos from in, around, near the cathedral in Sao Paulo...

It doesn't rival the Cathedrals in Europe, but it is still beautiful, nonetheless.