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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

if music be the food of love

My childhood bedroom was unbelievably small.  My mum and I make jokes that I am the only person on the planet that goes to university and ends up with a bigger room.  True story.  What my boudoir lacked in size, it made up for in coziness.  It had steep angled ceilings, a window that allowed me to climb onto the roof, and some still treasured nooks and crannies.

At night, I really felt like my room was the best in the whole house because it was located directly above our little library.  This similarly small room contained my parents' hefty book collection, organ, a piano, and a guitar.  On nights that I didn't fall asleep to my father's soothing voice as he read to me, I listened to that same voice singing through my floorboards as he played music.  For years, this was a nightly ritual for him.  I began to recognize most of the songs and looked forward to some of my favorites.  To this day I cannot tell you the lyrics to any of them.  The lyrics didn't matter.

One of the things that really helped me fall in love with Mr. F was his love of music.  I always knew he could play a mean guitar but I was never really satisfied until he started playing some of the songs Nonny would play on his own guitar or on the piano.  I will never forget a night drive we took together when he turned on a cd that was laced in my childhood being.  I knew then and there that it would be okay if we got married since we had some similar musical preferences.

Well, Mr. F has been dusting off his guitar lately as he comes home from work.  Last weekend he sat in our "living room" and played for hours while I painted and worked on a few projects.  My favorite though is when he plays while I go to sleep.  He'll strum away and it's like I can hear the music wafting up through the floorboards again.  So grateful for the men in my life and their love of music.  

And how they help me fall asleep.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

sounds like someone has a case of the mondays

Okay, it's not Monday, it's Tuesday, but it feels darkly Mondayish to me.  Today was going to be this fantabulously awesome day.  I take Mr. F to work, go pick up groceries, play at a few local shops that are outside of my walking radius.  It was going to be epic.

Then the fix-it man came..again...and there was massive traffic, and I got lost, and I remembered I needed to go to the doctor and a long list of other ands later happened and I just wanted to burst into tears.

Then the traffic lead me to the post office where there were two packages from the homeland waiting for me.  Paper and junket for me, pudding and sweaters for my tall guy.  And my nice neighbor offered me a frappuccino to help alleviate my dramatic sorrows.  (Didn't have time to take him up on the offer or to explain to him how I don't drink coffee...we'll tackle that conversation later.)  And the list of ands went on to remind me that things were going to be okay.

Even if it did feel like a Monday.

Friday, November 25, 2011

why i love going to fast food places on thanksgiving

{McDonald's drive-thru in Nicosia after gorging on a surprisingly delicious first Thanksgiving meal together.}

Voice on Intercom: something in Greek.

Mr. F: Um, yes, hello!  Just one minute please.

VOI: Huhlo, you want cheeseburger?

Mr. F: No, just give us a sec.

VOI: Two cheeseburgers?

Mr. F: NO! No cheeseburgers.  Just a medium Coke.

{three chicken sandwiches appear on monitor.}

Mr. F:  NO!  No chicken! No cheeseburgers!  Just Coke!

VOI: Uh...please wait.

Second Voice on Intercom:  Hello?  You wanted cheeseburgers?

Mr. F:  No, no we didn't.  We just want a medium Coke and a caramel sundae.

{desired items appear on screen, sandwiches taken off, but a large fry appears.}

2VOI:  Okay, so you want one coke, one sundae, and one fry?

Mr. F: No!  No fry!  Just the Coke and sundae!

{fry disappears but ketchup shows up on screen.}

Mr. F:  No ketchup! 

{ketchup disappears and order looks fine.}

Mr. F: YES!  That's it!

2VOI: Dat will be free euro firty at the first window.

{pull around to first window and pay while laughing relentlessly.  pick up order at next window and amazingly, it's correct.}

Thursday, November 24, 2011

giving thanks

Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving from the Mediterranean!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

busy bee

While everyone is feverishly trying to find the perfect pumpkin pie recipe in the States this week, I have been busy with the festivities surrounding Christmas.  (If I had a pie plate right now, you'd better believe I'd be looking for that pumpkin pie recipe, too!)  For instance, I've been trying to compile a few lovelies for the Christmas Bazaar in a few weeks.  I've been designing Christmas cards and other such things.  Today I completed a Christmas banner to hang on my table as well as in our little apartment when all is said and done.

I really am my mother's daughter because I love designing invitations and finally I can share one with you!  This is the mock up for the poster for the branch Christmas party this year.  I've also been working on the invitations today and they are absolutely darling! 

I hope you find that perfect pie recipe...be sure to save me a slice! 

Monday, November 21, 2011


This is Mr. F.  He's not cold anymore because I found him an awesome sweater and some pajama pants on sale today.

A warm Mr. F is a happy Mr. F and that makes for one happy Engquist.

(and yes, there are two clocks on the wall.  we have a lot of timezones to juggle here people!)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

freakin' weekend baby

This weekend, I...

• bought our Christmas tree!
• signed up to sell my handiwork at a Christmas bazaar.
• discovered that while McDonald's in Cyprus does not serve breakfast, they do serve American sized beverages.
• had a massive tummy ache.  (May or may not be the result of gimungo sized Coke.)
• made myself some sa-weet business cards.
• went to see a movie with Mr. F.  Anonymous was the first cinema experience we've had since Harry Potter in Germany.  It was a lot of fun to spend a Saturday afternoon doing something that felt so normal and that didn't have the air of relocation to it.  No car shopping, groceries, errand running.  None of it.  Just a movie.  
• spoke in Sacrament Meeting and  taught Relief Society.  
• was set apart in my three callings.  
• was informed I'm in charge of the Chrismas party and Christmas day program.
• took a three-hour nap.  (sooooooooooooooooo not normal for me.)
• shared my testimony at least three times.
• heard my husband's testimony at least twice.
• giggled.
• talked endlessly.
• discussed the gospel with a new friend.
• ate hot dogs for dinner.
• canned homemade applesauce.
• gave thanks for being married to such a good man.

Friday, November 18, 2011

tis the season

{source: pinterest}

To anyone living north of the Mason-Dixon line, what I am about to say will sound like pure poppycock; it's getting cold here in Nicosia.  Not freezing or anything, but definitely chilly.  While we're too cheap to turn the heat on in the apartment (that's what the oven and baking are for, not that I can bake without my pans, but we do have frozen pizzas) the little rental car has the kind of heater dreams are made of.  You turn it on and you just feel the warmth surrounding you.  It still hasn't been used a great deal this season, so you can smell the dust heat up and be blown out of the vents.  I love that smell.  It smells like cozy warmth.  But really, it smells like the Christmas season.

Growing up, we had radiator heat.  (That will only make sense to people living in Europe or in a house pre-1950)  You could hear the water gurgling and coming to life in the pipes, promising to offer warm air through the long winter months.  My first experience with the smell of heat was at university, where the heat would kick on about this time every year.  I would sit hunched at my computer writing feverishly about the Vikings or Shakespeare, knowing full well that the burning dust meant I got to go home soon.  Make it through one more paper and another exam, and there was a plane waiting to take me to my family.

This is the first year I'll be away from "home" for Christmas, but that doesn't mean the smell of the heater is less enticing.  As the weeks go by, my plate is covered with more activities indicative of the holiday season.  Yesterday, I think, was the kick off, with a Thanksgiving luncheon with a local club for ex-pat women.  If you have ever lived abroad, you will know how glorious it is to have cranberries, applesauce, and sweet potatoes cover your plate.  These American staples are rarities and I savored every mouthful.

Mr. F and I are cooking the turkey for the church Christmas party (okay, let's be honest, he's doing it.  I have no idea what to do with a turkey.)  Then I'm in charge of the musical program on Christmas Sunday (ahh!!!) with a work party,  the traditional Christmas Eve smogasbord, and a birthday in between.  Plus I need to get some pieces and cards together for a market at a Christmas tea as well.  And our stuff should be coming!!

I'm slightly melancholy as I think about our families gathering this next week for Thanksgiving while we're on the other side of the world, but I am so excited to be starting new traditions with Mr. F.  It's a full docket, but the smell of Christmas still lingers and I am ready for the merriment to begin!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

mail call!

This cute little face was my first piece of mail in Cyprus.  She's also the first photo on my fridge in Cyprus.  Oh, I love this little girl and her momma!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011


Dear Slow Boat to China,

I really hope you aren't in China or en route there, but are rather somewhere in the vicinity of Cyprus.  You see, you have the greater portion of our belongings and while I'm doing okay without our movies, the weather is changing and all of our warmer sweaters are with you.  Well, not all.  I have a few of mine, but poor Mr. F is gettin' cold.  He's thick skinned to be sure, but it's supposed to be snowing up in the mountains today and all he has is one sweatshirt and he can't exactly wear that to work.

That and the rainy season is coming, meaning overcast skies perfect for afghan blankets and piping mugs of tea.  But you have the afghans and the tea kettle.  And the roasting pan and pie pans, and Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away!

Oh, Slow Boat to China, won't you please hurry?  We're getting cold without our blankets.



Sunday, November 13, 2011

why i love my branch

No, I'm not talking about my family tree.  I'm talkin' church.  My congregation blows me away.  With regular attendance of about thirty people there are at least twelve nationalities represented.  Twelve!  That's a lot.   Today though, really made me happy.

Opening prayer said in Greek by a Belgian.  Sacrament prayers said in two different languages.  Greek and English.  We sang hymns all sacrament meeting.  The Chinese girl told us about her favorite "shong," I Am a Child of God.  Got to one hymn that confused the pianist.   She only knew it in Finnish.  Not like that affected her playing, but she likes to sing along as well.  The closing hymn was chosen by a Pakistani, an American conducted the music, and the closing hymn was said in Chinese.  (I think...)  Then we had a potluck.  Chili, Portugese lasagna, and Chinese dumplings were just a few of the options available.

What I am loving the most about this congregation is that I really have to learn to listen to the Spirit.  Sometimes a speaker's accent is so thick, I can't understand the words.  But I get what they are trying to say.  It really shouldn't anymore, but it amazes me how universal the gospel is.  No matter where I go, the gospel is the same.  Same sacrament prayers, same structure to the meetings, same good people, same Spirit.

Friday, November 11, 2011

his and hers

idea of how the apartment should be decorated


idea of how the apartment should be decorated

Thursday, November 10, 2011


I'm having a meh week.  I feel meh.  React meh.  Emit meh.


Nothing horrible has happened.  Well, besides loosing my camera pouch with the extra memory card at the EXACT moment the old memory card fills up.  And the wireless not working.  

Other than that, nothing has happened.  In fact, it's been an awesome week.  Awesome people are helping me brainstorm how to sell my art so we can make some extra money.  (Making extra money is even harder when you can't just go out looking for a retail job...dang work permits...)  I have contacts for a few galleries, and the IT guy from Mr. F's office is tracking down a sa-weet printer/scanner for us so I can make prints and sell them and say, "Take THAT work permits!"  And my nice landlady wants to go out for a coffee (I drink hot chocolate) and my new nice friend gave me acrylic paints to paint my desk with and I got boxes for super cheap at IKEA and I made soup for the first time and I got to go see the farm country surrounding Nicosia and the rain season is coming and my husband opens the door for me and does the dishes and smiles and kisses me even though I've been ornery and irritable and it's not his fault.

I have no reason to be meh.  But meh it is.  I hate meh.

On the upside, I'm pretty sure cupcakes were created as a remedy to meh.   I need to find a cupcake, stat!

Monday, November 07, 2011

project time

Please excuse a few haphazard photos to show off a couple of my recent projects.  The first is an ode to Pinterest, a Thanksgiving banner made of leftover cardboard, a fifty cent spool of ribbon, and watercolor paint.  (I spent the better portion of the morning cutting out shapes for a couple more banners as well.  It was a giant piece of cardboard and I really wanted it gone.)

And this is my latest painting endeavor, a Saturday afternoon project that has left me rather pleased.  It was inspired by the quote within it.  "Some people feel the rain, others just get wet."  I really hope I'm one of the people that feels the rain.

What can I say?  There's been a desperate need for artwork on our walls as we await the arrival of our belongings.  I can only handle bare walls for so long.  Like, twenty-four hours.  No joke.  This has got to be some sort of record for me.

the event which caused several hours of giggles

I triple dog dare you to not giggle for hours after frolicking and swirling in the sea.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

down on the boardwalk

 You see that dashing gentleman on the boardwalk?  The one that's a solid foot taller than any other man on Cyprus and rocking a killer suit on one of the last warm days of the season?

The one confident enough to pose next to a pink Vera Bradley bag and still look suave?

Yeah, he's mine.  All mine.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

turkish delight

A few days ago, I went out wandering with my new friends through the old part of Nicosia.  The circular center is surrounded by massive walls older than I can fathom and divided in half, much like Berlin used to be.  On one side live the Greeks and on the other, the Turks.   We meandered through the checkpoint and visited the Turkish side that day and I was blown away by the beauty of some of the buildings.  

Included in my brief tour was an old inn for travelers with a tiny little mosque in the middle.  What were once guest rooms are now artist studios and little shops.  Further along we saw a gothic cathedral turned into a mosque and an antique store I could get lost in for days.

Friday, November 04, 2011

thunder rolls

Clouds don't happen often in Cyprusland, let alone giant thunderheads at sunset!  I've spent the past hour curled up watching night roll in and lightning strike in the northern mountains.