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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

reasons why i love my husband

llamas and puppies.  just as fuzzy and cute as Mr. F.

Monday, January 30, 2012

likening the scriptures

In Sunday School today we were discussing Lehi's family crossing the wilderness from Jerusalem and eventually crossing the ocean to the Americas.  Mr. F and I landed on our own tangent of how they sailed from the Sinai Peninsula.  Did they go around Africa?  I flipped to the maps in the back of my copy of the Bible, locating the reference points I desired and more.

I found the above map and it kind of blew my mind.  Sinai?  Check.  Jerusalem?  Check.  Nile, twelve tribes?  Check and check.  My house?  Check.

Wait, what????  

Sure enough, wedged in the middle of the Great Upper Sea, nestled between the Hittites and Goshen, is Cyprus.  There are days I forget I live in a foreign country.  Today is most definitely not one of those days.  I remember my Sunday School and Seminary teachers trying to bring the scriptures to life for their students.  All it took for me today was one little map and it hit remarkably close to home.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

this is what you get


When the rain breaks for an hour, the sun sets later in the day, I have the car for the day and pick up Mr. F from work, and a functioning camera.  Amazing end to a fantastic day.

Friday, January 27, 2012

reasons why i love my husband: pancakes

{source: Wiilliams Sonoma}

Mr. F:  Star Wars pancakes! May the butter be with you...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

operation: valentine

For those of you who follow me on Facebook, I'm sure you are sick of the reminders, but I just wanted everyone to know there's one week left to order some of my handmade valentines.  I've been printing them out, cutting, and folding all week, and oh golly are they lovely!  I even framed the teacup and hung it on my wall in a lovely shadowbox from IKEA as kitchen art.  They make me so happy!

Cards are $3 plus shipping and handling.  The cards are folded, approximately 4"x6" and come with envelopes.  Email me for further details.  Hurry!  The deadline is next Monday, 31 January!

engquisto {at} gmail {dot} com

campaign season

I like to listen to the radio and news while I work.  It motivates me and keeps me on task.  That and I get to learn a lot as I go.  It's like ├╝ber multi-tasking or something.  Well, this past week as I've been keeping tabs on the news, a few things really rubbed me the wrong way.  Usually I'll save these quandaries for my husband, but I felt it was time to pull my old soapbox as it's been getting a bit dusty.

It began when  I was listening to NPR, who had it's public funding cut this past year and now relies almost entirely on private sponsorship and donations from listeners.  There was a report stating that Palestinian Sesame Street  had lost its funding as well.  From who?  Us.  And by us, I mean the U.S.  Why were we funding public broadcasting longer in the Middle East than at home?  Then it got better.  Israel is still getting funding.

Now, Israel is a totally different subject which I am not even going to remotely tackle right now.  My issue is with the fact that PBS and NPR are barely scraping by, but Israel gets funding for Sesame Street? Not only that, but we don't even have NASA anymore!  I don't get it...

This frustration was only egged on by the results of last Saturday's South Carolina primary.  Newt Gingrich won.  Heavily.

I don't get it.

Here is a man who has served in a high ranking public office and has been chastised mercilessly and incessantly on all fronts for his actions.  Before I even knew I could vote at the age of 18, I knew Newt was up to no good.

I don't get it.  I don't understand how he can get so much of a vote when the public KNOWS what he has done in public office.  How on earth is that going to change when we give him launch codes?

Then I get frustrated with the treatment of Mitt Romney.  In the past week he's lost headway because of his financial statements.  Why?  Has he embezzled funds?  No.  Has he been dishonest about how much he makes?  No.  Has he withheld information?  No, not really.  So, what's the issue?

He makes too much money.

Are you kidding me people?!  He makes too much?  So you take issue with the guy who successfully built up an internationally acclaimed company, was able to invest his money wisely, and retire early?  You take issue with the guy who lives off what he has made and doesn't take from someone else?  Who has served as a governor of a state and never had any drama arise?  Yeah, he standardized health care for Massachusetts, but he did that at the state level.  The STATE level.  Not the national level.  Much, much different.

That said, I will give you points for disliking him for his foreign relations.  He kind of sucks with that.

My fear is that this is going to turn into 2008 all over again, where the GOP is left with a candidate barely worth recognition, let alone support.  What happened to picking the candidate who we think will really do the job wisely?  This is the time to choose, right now in the primary.  And it's just a mess.

All right, I'm done.  I'll get back to happy pictures of art pieces and oatmeal tomorrow, I promise.  In the meantime, go vote.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


A few things that have been wresting heavily on my mind lately...

Are floors incapable of staying clean?  I swear I sweep our little apartment once to twice a day and still the dust bunnies gather and accumulate with a wild vengeance!  How do they do that?

How do human beings not go bald rapidly with the amount of hair they naturally shed on a daily basis?

Why are NyQuil pill packages so confoundedly difficult to open?

Meatballs and rice pudding, how do I make them?

How is it that one day you'll be using an item and the next day it will be lost for all eternity with absolutely no explanation as to where it went?

Where do those lost things go?

Can you ever have enough underwear to stay ahead of the laundry?

How is it possible for me to get a phone call from my brother as I'm waking up and he's driving home on what is, for me, the night before?

Hair cuts really do make a difference.

For seven hours I was in a different year than my family.

You clean and clean and clean, and then there's still a mess.

How is it that my mom can get twelve cards mailed out to me before I've even opened an email?

How is it that my mom was always able to plan things ahead?

How is it that in order to make sense of all of your boxes of things, you have to buy more things?

Hot chocolate.  It's always so satisfying.

Where do all of the hours of the day go?

Why don't women realize how beautiful they are?

Books.  There is a need for them.  And for the time to read them.

How does my oven work?

Why is it that to create order you have to make a hot, smokin' mess?

The Republican Party is ridiculous.

Monday, January 23, 2012

pixel art

I stumbled across this project idea on Wit & Whistle a few weeks ago and started rummaging through my photo stash for something I thought would work.  I loved the monochromatic look of the Wit & Whistle piece, but, as we know, I'm in search of color right now.

So I tried this one.  I really liked the plums, butters, and sage greens that came out in the pixelation.

My piece, well, firstly, I have very little patience.  There's good reason why I typically work in miniature. It's fast, quick, and gets results.  Anything bigger than five square inches and I lose interest.  An entire letter sized paper of squares was something else entirely.

That said, I'm still working on mine and may actually be redoing it.  I haven't been able to get the colors as saturated as the original, and I need saturated colors people!

Secondly, aside from being an incredible study of hue and variation, this really does require some serious focus.  Making sure you mix the colors just right.  Were I to do this again, I might even just go get a bunch of paint swatches, cut them out the necessary size and put them together like a puzzle.  Saturation, regulated size, I can come back to it without worrying about paint drying.  Win, win, win win win.

Right now though, it's still in progress.  Lots and lots of progress.  What sort of projects are you working on?

monday morning rain

It's been raining for three days.  Steady rain, the kind that lures you indoors to your favorite chair with a book and an afghan.  I drank my fair share of cocoa yesterday afternoon as I curled up with Robin McKinley's, Beauty and Mr. F caught up on his important business stuff.

Life has begun to get busy again for us and it felt blissful to hide away for a few hours.  The laundry still hasn't been folded, the daily dust bunnies are gathering en masse, but it didn't matter.

Today is Monday.  Slowly the sun tries to peak out to dry the saturated landscape.  From an obliging orange tree, a bird I am accustomed to hearing only in spring, not January, sings their song.  It is as if they are chasing the rain away.

But the clouds are persistent.  Already the mountains on the horizon begin to hide behind the thick cape of precipitation.  Mr. F is at the office early, eagerly and earnestly tackling his projects.  I should do the same.  Make some tea and work on filling a few orders for my valentines.

A few moments more won't hurt..  I'm so near the end of my book and the bird's song is so enchanting.  A few moments more of calm.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

you can't handle the truth

I get people telling me all the time that they're living vicariously through Mr. F and me as we live abroad.  They bask in the wondrous adventure of life on a Mediterranean island.  While there's a lot to be said for that, there's the other side.  The dark side, so to speak.  And that side is what we're talking about today.  The reality of international living.


Immigration.  It's a bitch.  (I'm sorry to all my sweet friends who never, ever, ever use such language, sometimes, you just got to do it.)  We are three months into this adventure and are still awaiting a work permit.  This was due to some major miscommunication between us and the company and the fact that Cyprus has some really fickle immigration laws.

Because we're still awaiting legality, we cannot travel to the north side of the island or leave the island at all.  Further, we can't buy a car, which would save us an incredible amount of money.  But we can't buy the car without insurance and we can't get insurance without a work permit.  So we're renting.  With the money we have spent on car rentals, we could have bought our car already.

Because of that extra money, our monthly budget has yet to hit "normal."  While everyone has monthly emergency spendings that will make their budgets fluctuate, ours have been constant and costing us thousands (by this point) of euros.  Moving into a new apartment, having to buy all new appliances, a car, immigration paperwork, multiple rental cars, etc, etc.

Unlike the rest of Europe, Cyprus has very poor public transportation and the country operates, much like Detroit, behind the wheel of a car.  If you don't have a car, you really can't get around.  Horrible sidewalks, pretty significant distances between shops, and scooters everywhere make walking around town rough and biking a death wish.

Then there's finances.  Most people move abroad with the promise of a promotion and are more settled in life.  Not us.  We're newlyweds here on an entry-level position.  Mr. F's salary, while decent, is hardly anything to go crazy about.  Even without all of our surprise expenses, our budget is mercilessly tight.  If we were living at home in the States, I would have the liberty of going out and finding and a job and adding to our income.

But I can't.  Why?  Because we don't have that damn work permit.  Even then, it is hard for foreigners to find jobs on this island unless they are brought in by a company.  So that's why I've been painting and producing cards.  Yeah, it's been amazing to reconnect with my inner muse (who, by the way, I'm pretty sure speaks through NPR.  no joke..) but I'm doing this because I really have to.  Right now, it's about the only way for me to make money.

Most days, I can usually ignore a lot of this.  But today  has been one of those days where I wait all morning for the banks to open in the U.S. so I can start making phone calls.  Then I have to coordinate with them on how to make international wire transfers (which aren't cheap) so I can pay bills we still have in the States which can only be paid through U.S. accounts.  I've spent the better portion of the afternoon sorting through this and am absolutely nowhere closer to figuring anything out.  Especially since the banks here close before the ones in the States even consider opening.

And we don't have any Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

So yeah, it's amazing to be surrounded by about four thousand years of history and the Mediterranean, but really?  We're just living life like everyone else.  One paycheck, one electricity bill, and one trip to the grocery store at a time.  So don't envy us.  Empathize with us.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

whale you?

Oh guys, can you handle the cuteness of this fella?  I know I can't.  Even better, he's for sale!  Part of the new, and apparently expanding, Valentine Collection!

All cards are $3 a piece, plus shipping and handling.  Email* me for further details.  Don't miss out on some ridiculously cute valentines!

* engquisto {at} gmail {dot} com

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"f" yeah!!

Project Number 1: completed!

I pulled this together over the weekend and was honestly doing dances around the apartment I was so happy with it.  I found my inspiration here.  With a limited supply of buttons on hand, I had to improvise, so  I just painted the dots into the traced shape while I talked on the phone.  (Is anyone else more productive when they multi-task or is that just me?)  I'm still looking for the right bit of wall for my "F" to hang, but I am so completely and utterly delighted with the results!

Monday, January 16, 2012


So this one Monday morning, I had to go to the gynecologist.  In a foreign country.  The lady doctor is not exactly my favorite place in the world.  In fact, I put it just beneath the dentist.  Some women are fine with the experience but as for me and my body, we say, "Eh-eh." (said like Flipper, just so you know...)

Anyway, with that part of my day taken care of, I realized I needed to do something to eradicate the feeling of icky from me.  After going to the dentist, I always have Taco Bell, but that is about an hour away and decidedly not an option.  So I went for the only other girly option I had left.

I got my hair cut.

Okay, truth be told, I've had this scheduled for a little while to do both on the same day.  With one car between the two of us, I really have to schedule in my Adventures.  As I was getting my hair washed and having my back massaged by the most luxuriant chair I've ever laid in whilst having my hair washed, the striking contrast to the two main events of my day made me laugh.  What better ways to prove you're a girl than to go the lady doctor and then go get your hairs did?

Buying shoes isn't my thing, so hair it was.  

And ee-gads do I love it!  My hair was getting menacingly long.  It was tangly, strangly, and nasty.  Now it has texture, vibrance, and a whole lotta sass.  Sorry for the computer-camera grade photos, but this fun just had to be documented quickly.  You just can't tame happy.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


{1.  2.  3. }

So now that I've pretty much got storage configured in our storageless abode, I'm moving on to the problem I really didn't think would be a problem.  Decorating.  This wall here and this corner there are coming together, but then there are the HUGE gaps in between.

Before we proceed with this investigation, you need to understand two very salient details.  

1.  I am a Swede.  Mixed in with my blue eyes and love of lingonberries is an affinity for white and blue.  It's genetic, I swear.  So, most of the items I have collected over the years are white.  White dishes, white mats for frames.  White furniture.  White. White.  White.

2.  Our apartment is painted in what I would like to call "Waiting Room White."  It's white.  Sterile.  Cold.  And I can't afford the color I want.

These two facts lead to the diagnosis of "Lack of Color Syndrome."  Maybe it's the vibrant-even-in-January Mediterranean sun, or the abundance of lemon and orange trees everywhere, but my surroundings are leaving me with the feeling that at any moment someone will be walking in the door in a lab coat to take my blood pressure.  (And unless it's The Nurse or Dr. Dad, that's just not okay.)

So I'm on The Hunt. Desperate for ways to infuse color, texture and light into my itty bitty dream home.  Nowadays Mr. F not only comes home to a new baked good, but my little studio covered in papers, fabrics, and whatever else I can get my hands on.  Inspiration, luckily, has been striking around every corner and I can't wait to show you how it turns out.

How about you, though?  How have you covered  your home?  Do you have expansive walls and high ceilings or nooks and corners?  I'm loving that our Mediterranean Dream Home seems to have both big walls and itty bitty spaces for all sorts of inventions.  Plenty of scope for the imagination going on in this part of the world.

Friday, January 13, 2012

better than crocker

If you know me, even slightly, you know that I don't cook.  There's a reason I have a deep affinity for MacaD's.  It's called, "I don't cook."  Well, I didn't cook.  Or bake.  Or do anything domestic besides collect absolutely wonderful dishes.

That's all changed with our arrival in the Mediterranean.  Necessity really has become the mother of invention as I discover that foods we are so fond of are either not available or far outside of our budget.  So I've been making things.  A lot of things.  In fact, this is what my kitchen looked like yesterday.  Mr. F came home and our giant island was bombarded with baked goods and a fresh dinner.  I was just as surprised as he was.

A staple in our home is now baked oatmeal, a recipe from Mr. F's mom that is always satisfying.  And freezes beautifully. (Not that I have a huge freezer, but it's big enough for oatmeal, dagnabbit!)    Then I tried making an orange pull apart from Kneady Sweetie.  And if that wasn't enough, I made another batch of my favorite banana cake.  Thank goodness the missionaries came over last night or Mr. F and I would have had way too many delights to eat on our own.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Didn't we just finish Christmas?  It's unbelievable to me that we're already getting ready for Valentine's Day.  I still get a kick thinking about grade school and making our very own mailboxes in class to contain our hoard of cards and candies.

Well, while you decided how to decorate your mailbox, I would like to offer a way to fill up the one you love's.  Handmade cards by yours truly! These are the designs I have available for Valentine's, but can do custom orders.  All images previously seen on this blog are also available.   Be sure to order soon to ensure delivery by 14 February.

For information on pricing and ordering, email me: engquisto {at} gmail {dot} com

NOTE:  all international orders need to be placed by 31 January for delivery.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


I think I ate the Energizer Bunny yesterday, because I didn't stop moving all day long.  My midday hiatus was to sand and paint our desk.  It's the most basic of basic tables from Ikea and while I love natural wood finishes, this desk just needed some loving.  So I took the leftover paint  from refinishing our dresser and breathed new life into my "studio".

I used a roller and did a very thin layer of paint so when you're close, you can still see the woodgrain.  It feels more like a farmhouse table to me now and I couldn't be happier.  What with the desk looking all snazzy, I also painted the inexpensive magazine boxes I got at Ikea.  A little masking tape and some acrylic paint later, I had boxes that look like one of my favorite dresses.  Not intentional, but I love the burst of color, especially against my red potted plant.

While it's still a work in progress, I am loving how it is all coming together.  Even better, I can finally get to my stuff again after being buried in the corner for a week!  Success!  

Saturday, January 07, 2012


Do you have silly things that have a memory tied to them for no apparent reason?  I do.  Lots of things like that.  But in particular, I have this little pouch.  Every time I see it, I remember my mom.  Thing is, I have no physical connection between my mom and this pouch.  It just reminds me of her.

It reminds me of how she always kept her camera in a pouch.  Of all of her many, many pouches.  It reminds me of how much she and  I love Vera Bradley.  Silly phone conversations and emails.  All this in one little, point-and-shoot camera sized pouch.

Up until five days ago, it was lost.  I had not been able to find it and there really are not that many places for things to hide in our house.  When things go missing, I quickly learn that they're gone for good and deal with it.  But thanks to a broken bed and some major dusting, I have my  Kitty-infused memory pouch back again.  And a place to store my camera.  Win. Win. Win win win.


My husband kidnapped me this weekend.  What started as an excursion for tacos turned into a drive to the opposite of the island, about two hours away, so we could sit on the beach and watch the sunset.  Nearly two hours later, we were sitting with a bag full of McDonald's on a bench in Paphos overlooking the Mediterranean.

This was the last of the major cities we needed to see on the Greek side of the island, and it absolutely did not disappoint.  It's the smallest of the four  but has the most exquisite beaches and water access.  We walked a couple of miles along the boardwalk, savoring the western horizon and the fresh breeze of afternoon storms. It still boggles our minds that when we look out, it's the Mediterranean.  Not the Atlantic or Pacific, but the Mediterranean.  Slowly but surely we're beginning to love our little corner of the world.


A little late, but here's this month's calendar.  It's fun to see art changing on my kitchen wall once a month!

Friday, January 06, 2012

dear sundance

I love you.  Can you be more affordable and easy to access in Cyprus?    Do you have a discount for people who honeymooned at your resort?  No?  Dang.  How bout now?  You get back to me on that one.



{images from sundance catalog}

Thursday, January 05, 2012

waiting game

 This is my house today.  Parts of it in order.  Parts in disarray.  Some things coming together.  Most just waiting.  Waiting for drywall.  Waiting for a bedframe to be delivered.  Waiting for artwork to be hung. Waiting for yet another Cypriot repair/deliveryman.  

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

woah is me

I looked cute for approximately 95 minutes today.  Long enough to get dressed, walk to two different banks, pick up the mail, pay rent, and consider walking to the post office before my body remembered it had been awake since three this morning.  At about that same moment, my black stretchy pants caught my eye and I noticed how lonely they looked without me wearing them.  How could I let my black stretchy pants feel so degraded?  So I put them on.  And my sock slippers.  And a llama hat (don't tell Mr. F, he'll expect me to do this regularly!).  Then I made my third cup of tea for the day, popped in Pride and Prejudice for the ninety bajillionth time in my life, grabbed my book, and gave up on life for the rest of the day.

Sadly, Mr. F is in a similar state today, but he has to work.

Moral of the story: taking ice cold showers when your hot water switch is broken and you have no other option for cleanliness leads to head colds and sleepless nights.  And lots of tea drinking.

Monday, January 02, 2012


I think the domestic bug finally bit me.  With things we are accustomed to eating/drinking in the States being in short supply here, I'm learning how to make a lot on my own.  This weekend I felt really ambitious and made egg nog. (Mainly because I was trying to keep myself awake to midnight on New Year's Eve and also because I've searched high and low and can't find it anywhere.)  The recipe I found makes one big ol' heapin' mess of creamy goodness, perfect for parties or for two hermits celebrating the New Year.  What started out as a whim turned into one of the best decisions I made over our break.  I might have to see if I can tag along on Mr. F's gym membership though after drinking so much.  Here's the recipe.

Homemade Egg Nog


12 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon nutmeg (calls for freshly grated, didn't have, used my jar, turned out awesome)

1.  In the biggest saucepan you have, whisk together the eggs, salt, and sugar until blended then gradually add half of the milk (4 cups).  Do this without heat.

2.  Put pan on burner and set for lowest heat.  Stir continually until the mixture thickens into a custard consistency.  (Should coat the back of a wooden spoon.)

3.  Transfer to big ol' bowl and add the rest of the milk, the vanilla, and nutmeg.

4.  Cover and chill for a good long while.  (We waited a few hours, but it was definitely better the next morning.)

To make it more decadent, add some fresh whipped cream.

Tip: strain nog before drinking.  If you're anything like me,  you have no idea how to make a custard, so there will be chunky bits in the nog.  Just strain those out and you're good to go!