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Saturday, December 31, 2011

new year

This is definitely a time for thinking about traditions.  I was surprised to learn not long ago that Cypriots open their Christmas gifts on New Year's day, as Santa comes New Year's Eve.  New friends have been asking what we usually do, to which I respond, "Watch football!"  Tournament of Roses Parade, Rose Bowl, and so many other bowl games while eating leftovers.

One tradition I've never really jumped on is that of setting goals for the new year.  It's not that I don't like challenging myself...I just don't enjoy stressing myself out even more over the holiday season.

For some reason, a short list of hopes for the upcoming months has been growing in my head.

- open an etsy shop
- give my heart and soul to my calling as Young Women President
- take a photograph a day
- read through the Book of Mormon
- go to the sea at least once a month
- date my husband
- go to the temple
- challenge myself artistically
- have people over for dinner once a month
- make friends
- go camping in the mountains
- learn how to use the camera sitting in my closet

So it's a simple list, but it's mine!  If 2012 is anything like 2011, it's going to be one wild ride, and I'm really looking forward to it!

the tortoise

Slow and steady wins the race, right?  While we like to claim that we were conforming to the Cypriot culture by opening gifts on New Year's, the truth is we didn't have gifts to open on Christmas day.   And we were just exhausted.  Before the move, our parents had bought and wrapped our gifts and we packed them away on the Slow Boat to China.  With the arrival of these boxes also came Santa.

It was way more than the gifts that we were able to enjoy today.  I was able to cook up a scrumptious breakfast with our new pans (first ever use!) and baked up some frozen Ikea cinnamon rolls in a glass baking dish we have been without.  Then we laid out everything on the snowman platter I bought with Mr. F's mom last year at the Sale to End All Sales.  We ate off of our beautiful Christmas china and patted our mouths with red snowflake napkins.  Until three days ago, we didn't have any of these things.

Plus, it really felt like Christmas.  We went out to a couple local malls yesterday, which were bursting at the seams with last minute Cypriot shoppers.  Seeing this, we decided to open our own parcels this morning.

We woke up leisurely, showered, made breakfast and cocoa and then hunkered down on our tiny little sofa.  Santa filled my stocking with chocolate pretzels and a red tin car while Mr. F got a new puppy, of the stuffed variety.  I wish I had a picture of his reaction.  You would have thought it was a real dog he was so happy!  

It took us two hours to open our little hoard of treasures from home.  I loved feeling like our family was there with us as we unwrapped the gifts they had chosen for us.  We really are two of the luckiest squares out there for being blessed with such wonderful families.

Now we're trying to figure out what to do for New Year's Eve.  Laundry, ice cream, and gyros?  Sounds like a plan to me!

Sending you wishes for a very Happy New Year from one belated Christmas in Cyprus!

Friday, December 30, 2011


This Christmas has marked a large number of firsts for me.  First Christmas married, in my own home, in a foreign land.  It was the first time I hosted a dinner party on my own, planned a large scale Christmas party, or a musical sacrament program.  It is the first time I had a green, warm Christmas.  First time I sold artwork in a public space.  My first Christmas with Mr. F.  First time to be wished a Merry Christmas in four different languages.  Perhaps the hardest has been that this was the first time ever being away from my family on Christmas.  But it was also the first time I got to have people celebrate in my home.  It was the first time I got to have someone take me and my husband out for Christmas Cokes on Christmas Eve.  It was the first time I got to spend Christmas cuddled up with my husband, plotting a week of adventures.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

movin' day

the calm before the storm

causin' traffic

Santa finally made it to Cyprus!

 after hours of unpacking, this about all we want to do.

 The eagle has landed!  And on time!!

We've been unwrapping our stuff today, making it feel simultaneously like Christmas and our wedding.   A fair percentage of the things we had shipped here were gifts received back in March that we haven't been able to use since unwrapping them.  It was awesome!  We have some wonderful friends and family that really took care of us.

Highlights of the unpacking:

Christmas presents!!
a llama rug and another llama.  one llama apparently is not enough
books, books, and more books
the bowl I got in Ireland
the linens I got in Belgium and have been saving until I was married
the bowl my mum would always make hollandaise sauce in
peanut butter and Bisquick.  not together, but we now have both!
more books!
only two things broke, and they were on their way out anyway
our brand new knife set that had never been opened coming devoid of two knives...still trying to figure that one out...
Christmas decorations and ornaments
blue teapot
baking dishes
measuring cups and spoons
sterling silver flatware that was cheaper than our stainless steel wedding flatware
the journal Mr. F gave me on our wedding night
guitar picks

We are now happily through the greater portion of the boxes.  The kitchen is nearly assembled, but needs a little tweaking.  And our one bookshelf is about to burst at the seams.  And the desk is hemorrhaging all the things we have no idea where to put them.  But most of the boxes are empty and I think we're actually going to be able to fit everything in our tiny little home.  And better yet, it's really starting to feel like home with our things here.  Our things..our home...love it!

And we have dishes!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


How was your Christmas?  We had our first ever dinner party on the 24th and r sacrament meeting program prepared by yours truly on Christmas day.  We got home from church that afternoon and have barely left the house since.  Not gonna lie, it's been awesome.  Besides, who can resist the call of a fridge full of delectable leftovers?

Obviously not us.

Today we finally emerged from our hibernation to drop off customs forms for our stuff, which has been waiting at the port for two weeks now.  Getting to this port has been one headache after another, so we were unbelievably nervous about what was going to happen.

And then?  It all went off without a hitch.  Not one.  Sure, it took us a couple of hours, but they were working with us the whole time and we didn't have to pay any customs fees!  To top it off, our "handler" told us that the movers could deliver our boxes the next day, meaning tomorrow!  After two months of waiting, we're just hours away!

To celebrate, we drove through downtown Limassol, which is right on the water.  We walked the promenade and found an itty bitty access point to the sea.  It was bliss.  One small, but very significant, victory for Engquist and Mr. F!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

domestic wishes

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas, from our kitchen to yours!

Friday, December 23, 2011

i go to the hills

When our plan for the day went to pot, we went to McDonald's (for Coke and sustenance) and then got lost in the Cypriot mountain town of Lefkara.  If you want traditional Cypriot lace, this is the place to get it.  For us, it was a place for spectacular panoramas.  The rain and cooler weather have turned this once brown island into a lush, emerald hued paradise.  It helped us remember that we do in fact like Cyprus, we're just ready for things to make a bit more sense.

We're now settling in for Christmas, with a party, three baptisms, a Christmas Sunday full of music, and a whole lot of bonding with the Mediterranean.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

christmas cheer

This week has been hard, but stumbling upon this earlier today somehow made everything more bearable.  It helps to remember the reason for the season.  

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

what a difference a day makes

It's the winter solstice today.  After tonight, the days get longer, offering more sunlight and hours for wandering.  Today is also my parents' wedding anniversary.  We always make jokes that they chose to get married on the shortest day of the year.  Maybe it's because I bought food for Christmas Eve this morning and I'm feeling much better towards the world, but the shortest day of the year is in a way a beacon of hope.  After today, everything gets brighter.  More sunlight, more joy.  More to look forward to.  

Congratulations Kitty and Nonny!  I love you!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

angry eyes

This is how we're feeling about Cyprus today.  And yesterday.  And probably for a few weeks.  Bureaucratic hogwash, cultural clashes, and general nincompoopery have left us downtrodden.  Not exactly how we were expecting the week leading up to Christmas to be.  

We're trying to buy a car, but we can't buy it without insurance.  We can't get insurance until we get a work permit.  We didn't get the last forms for the work permit until last Friday.  Our boxes have arrived from the States but are being held at the port until we can get a form to them.  Which we couldn't do, because we couldn't buy our car.  So we tried renting a car online, paid for it, and then no one showed up at the rental agency.  For three days.  So Mr. F calls the Port to find out what we need to do and they tell us that the moving company usually handles everything and they're very surprised that we are the ones making these calls.

Then today, the car rental moron showed up an hour late and we made our ride to the immigration office late.  We had our photos taken in front of a white screen hanging from a tree behind a scooter in the parking lot.  We waited nearly three hours in a dirty, gross hallway only to be told that we didn't have the right form.  The form we need can only be gotten from the States.  A form we thought we had, but the Cypriot Embassy didn't give us all the details of.  Or the company Mr. F is working for.  Or anyone else.

So we still don't have a work permit, are renting our THIRD car on this island because we can't get insurance so we can't buy the car that would be cheaper than renting all of these other gas guzzlers so we can't get to the port to drop off the forms that will probably be wrong anyway because our moving company for some reason isn't handling it so we probably won't have our stuff until after the new year.

I usually like Cyprus.

Just not this week.  

Sunday, December 18, 2011

mrs. claus takes a break

It's 11:30 on Sunday morning.  I should be at church, but I'm not.  

Last night we had the Branch Christmas Party and oh doggy did we work hard!  I've been fighting a really bad chest cold for the past week, so yesterday was a test of mind over combusting lungs.  Mr. F and I cooked like our lives depended on it all day so that we had a scrumptious meal.

The party was, I am very pleased to say, a huge success!  We had probably double the number of people any of us had imagined would come.  Our little hall was stuffed to capacity with people reveling in the joy of Christmas together.  And the food!  It was soo good!  We made our first ever turkey (which our one friend assured me was the best thing on the table) and a huge pot of mashed potatoes.  There was roasted ham, pork, noodles, meatballs, roasted vegetables, and an insurmountable smorgasbord of desserts.

A highlight was the arrival of Santa, who was ushered in by a quiet hall and the gentle jingle of bells.  The handful on children there weren't very impressed, but our vast congregation of Asians swarmed Santa like he was Justin Bieber.  Santa spent the next half hour taking photos and giving gifts to all the good boys and girls.  Lucky for me, he still had some stamina at the end and I was able to steal a kiss.  I'm very biased towards our Santa.

At the end of the night, we walked home exhaustedly happy with legs and feet aching.  By all accounts we should have crashed into our bed and slept the sleep of the dead, but we didn't.  My chest cold caught up with me and I awoke every hour on the hour hacking miserably.  At about one in the morning, I finally took some nyquil and hoped for the best.  My sweet husband cuddled me the whole night through, rubbing my back and holding me close when the coughing got the most severe.  He never murmured about being awoken for the umpteenth time or that I was shaking the bed horribly.  He just told me he loved me and did all that he could to make me feel better.

Well, now it is Sunday, and neither of us woke up even remotely on time for church.  I am writing this from the comfort of my bed while listening to the BBC Pride and Prejudice and plan on staying here for the duration of the day.  My body made it through so much this week, it only seems fair that it should have a break, too.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

market wrap up

This is me at my first ever market.  Don't I look cute?  Okay, vanity aside, I am very proud of how this adventure went down.  I committed to something, saw it through, produced some really great stuff, cut out a billion cards while hacking up a lung and still managed to get myself dressed and to the event.  This is made even more impressive by the fact that we are currently carless (that's a saga in and of itself) and I had to do some serious ride coordinating.  (To my wonderful friends, THANK YOU!!!)

Aside from that, the market was a letdown.  It was a closed event and the shoppers?  They were not shopping.  Sad day...  I did make some really great contacts though and enjoyed an afternoon of really fun conversation with a few of my fellow vendors.  Okay, so it wasn't a total letdown.  It was pretty fun actually, in a very strange way.

To those who might be interested on any part of the globe, I do have pieces available.  Drop me a line for more details. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

when you're having a rough day, just remember.


So, yesterday Mr. F was telling his sister about his birthday celebrations at work.  They had a nice lunch, chocolate cake, and champagne.  Mr. F was handed the bottle so that he might kick off the festivities.

"I took the bottle and just stared at it," he said.  "I had no idea what to do with it.  It had this weird twisty thing on the neck.  It's not like opening a Coke!  So I handed it back to my boss and told him he could have the honors."

And that's when I fell on the floor in a fit of hysterical laughter for a good ten minutes.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


How do you distract a birthday boy from the fact that he has to go into work early?  Three packages of chocolate pudding and a card from the other side of the world.

Happy Birthday, Mr. F!  I love you!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011

to market, to market

Kind of fitting as my first print to sell at the market, don't you think?  It's taking all sorts of courage to get me to Thursday.  This will be available as a 5x7.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

what I've been up to

and why I'm not gonna be around much this next week.

This is the week.  D-Day, so to speak.  The week to end all weeks.   And it's not even the week of Christmas!  We've got a birthday, a car to buy, the arrival (hopefully!!!!!) of our precious belongings, a Christmas market where I hope to sell some stuff, and the ever so anticipated Christmas party at church.  

Let me tell ya, I feel like Mrs. Claus right now.  

While the elves have been painting all the choo-choo trains, I've been busy wrapping gifts for the party and teaching myself how to use my new scanner to make cards for the market.  Our little apartment looks like a Christmas wasteland right now, but honestly, I don't think I'd have it any other way.