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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

a few things

Iced chocolate.  It's basically a frozen hot chocolate.  More importantly, it's the best thing to happen to summer in the history of hot.  So refreshing, so cold, just enough chocolate.  So, so good.  Come visit and we'll go get one together!

Homemade file boxes made from leftover fabric and a random box laying around really make me happy.

I feel a lot like this.  It's been miserably humid the past couple of weeks, making me want to just give up the ghost.

I've been working away, when I'm not sweating or making file boxes, on a project that I'm hoping to be able show you in the next few weeks.  So far it's really wonderful!

Monday, July 30, 2012


Have you ever gone house hunting?  It's a tedious process. Realtors, dirty units, out of the way locations, loud neighbors, and then suddenly, you find a home.  You don't see another apartment, you see where your sofa will be placed and how nicely your bookshelves would look in the room by the windows.  You see floral arrangements and how nice your artwork would look on the walls. We found that today, after searching for a few months now for a new abode.  A two-bedroom apartment with covered parking, extra storage, built in cabinets in the master bedroom, large living space, a patio, quiet neighborhood, and the biggest fridge I've seen in Cyprus.  I instantly started decorating, picking out furniture, placing rugs.  Oh, it was fun.  And I started thinking of all of the things I could stuff in the GIANT (compared to ours..) freezer.  So many options, so many dreams, so much hope that it will actually be ours.  Cross your fingers for us, will ya?  

Friday, July 27, 2012

the great stateside shipping extravaganza

I don't know if I've mentioned this (I totally have..probably more than is healthy...), but we're going home in a few weeks!  Home, the land of root beer, cupcakes, and, most importantly, Target. To celebrate this happy, happy event, I'm offering a rockin' awesome sale to all of my Stateside customers. 

all notecards $2 each (usually $3) 


50% off shipping 

That means you can stock up on cards like this,
or this
for all of those times you need a card at the last minute.

It also means that when you order custom pieces like this
or these
you get them delivered for 50% less than you would normally.

But here's the deal.  You have to order by August 5th.  And live in the U.S.  Any orders placed after August 5th are not eligible and, moreover, unlikely to make it into my suitcase.  So, as a refresher, all notecards are $2 and shipping is 50% off on all U.S. orders placed by August 5th.  So check out all of the fun stuff, email me, and get those orders placed soon!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

cypriot sun

I may or may not be a borderline hermit.  The thing is, I like being home.  When I'm away from it, I miss it.  And with as hot as it has been this summer, I've found myself hunkering down at home more than usual save for trips to the grocery store and the occasional coffee morning (where I discovered iced hot chocolate!) with friends.  But this last week I was stripped from home with a babysitting job.  Since we only have one car, and I'm not so good with buses (I'll explain another day...), I took Mr. F to work every day and then picked him up in the evenings when I was done working.

Those drives were my favorite part of the days.

Mr. F works a little way out of the city, far enough out to breathe in the contented sigh of open space.  I could see the Troodos mountains, the whole valley, and wide, clear skies.  And if Mr. F worked late enough, I got to see the tinge of sunset.  I have probably seen thousands of sunsets and sunrises in my life but they still get me every time.  The world absolutely changes as the sun nears the horizon, especially here.  Here the sun is blistering and stifling during the day.  But as it flirts with the edge of the world, it's a playful chum, a giggling golden muse sprinkling life and joy and color.  It makes Cyprus glow.

I might be a hermit, but after this last week, I am appreciating the merits of getting out of the house more often.  Open space, sunsets, and mountains.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

changing perspective

{shirt: talbots, skirt: target, shoes: old j.crew, necklace: j.crew outlet, earrings: ann taylor, bracelets: gifts, belt: mr. f} 

You know what's awesome that I never thought would be awesome?  95 degrees.  Prior to this summer, 95 was a hotter than hades kind of day.  This summer?  It's sweet, sweet relief to days hovering around the 110-mark.  Plus there have been clouds.  Big, fluffy clouds to diffuse the haze of the blazing sun!  Last summer I was wearing sweaters and scarves while begging for daylight.  This year?  You can't hide me from the sun enough!   The relief from the heat was also well timed with a free day for the two of us.  Mr. F hasn't had a day off in two weeks and we both revelled in a solid day free of commitments and full of books, naps, and whatever else we felt like.  Days like that are too few and far in between for us lately and I'm just so grateful Mr. F had a chance to rest.

pleated poppy

Monday, July 23, 2012

stitchin' sisters

My mother-in-law (hi Mom!!) has this really wonderful group of friends.  While their children were growing up, this group of moms all lived in the same community (for the most part) and experienced a lot together.  These women are pretty much sisters.  Every time I get together with Mr. F's family, he asks about cousins, grandparents, and how the families of these women are doing.  They even threw my bridal shower for me, welcoming me into this wonderful little family.

As the years have passed, these women have moved to different parts of the country but have kept in touch.  And every summer they reunite for quilt camp.  Now, some women might put something similar to this together and end up having a girls' weekend.  Not these ladies.  This is die-hard quilt camp.  They quilt for a week together, working on personal projects as well as preparing items for an annual service project.  I'm gonna be honest here, most of my desire to learn how to sew is so I can be cool enough to go to quilt camp one year.  They produce the most amazing quilts!  I always look forward to the "after" photos, where they display the fruits of their labors.  

Well, as if getting themselves and all their quilt gear to some remote location, quilting all week, a service project, and general tomfoolery weren't enough, they all bring gifts for each other.  Painstakingly selected gifts thought out for the entire year leading up to camp.  This year I was honored enough to do a piece for them.  I was seriously intimidated, knowing the calibre of their own work.  But I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to create for these women who have shown me such love as I entered their family.

I can't sew, but I can paint a quilt.  So here's a big thank you to those women who take care of our family while we're so far away and who have given us even larger family to be a part of.  You really do help us all keep our stitches straight.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

my favorite things

I feel like I'm back in college because I'm starting a summer job this week.  I'll be nannying for a few weeks for a darling, darling baby boy.  The scant hours remaining in the day I'm hoping to spend with the ever busy Mr. F and working on some new pieces.  Ergo, little writing time.  So I thought I'd share a few of my favorite posts and some fun memories with you from days of yore to tide you over for now. 


Tuesday, July 17, 2012


You know that line from The Sound of Music, "I go to the hills, when my heart is lonely."  Well, it's starting to make sense to me.  Not that I've necessarily been lonely, but just needing escape.  Life happens fast sometimes.  A day turns into a week turns into a month and suddenly time has flown past and you're still just focusing on making it through the day.  I've been feeling like that more and more as the days have grown hotter.  Everyday it is a minimum of 100 degrees here and no matter how much I heat proof the apartment, it's just hot and it's still too expensive to turn on the AC.  I used to love going to the beach to cool down but I'm moving in favor of the mountains.  The sun isn't as strong, there's more clouds, the temperature is at least 20 degrees cooler, and there are donkeys.  But really, I think I go there because of the trees.

Have you ever noticed how friendly trees are?  Maybe it's because I'm from the Midwest, but a home doesn't feel like a home without trees.  In the city, I feel so detached from nature.  There's too much cement and the noise of racing motorcycles drowns out the gentle tinkle of leaves as the wind moves between branches.  In the mountains, I get to hear the breeze coming and going.  I hear it move in over the distant ridge then glide through pine needles and skirt along fallen brush.  I feel it dance across my skin and get a chill as it touches the back of my neck.  I get to lay under the trees and trace their shape.  We talk together, trying to learn one another's language so we can share our stories.  We are  so foreign to each other, the trees and I, but so familiar.

I now feel my heart aching for those trees, wishing to smell the pine in the air.  Hopefully when Saturday comes, we'll be together again.  

Monday, July 16, 2012

to market, to market

One of the things I love most about this island is the thing I struggle the most with: grocery shopping.  I think it has been clarified that prior to living here, I had no idea what to do in a kitchen besides make pasta and boxed brownies.  (The latter usually never made it to brownie form because the batter is just too good..)  I was a frozen aisle, pre-made, McDonald's (breakfast) eatin' kind of girl.  All of that came to an abrupt end when we got here.

Very little is frozen.  Next to nothing is pre-made.  And wait for it, McDonald's does not serve breakfast.  Thank goodness for Ikea meatballs or it really would have been ugly our first few weeks here.  Since I had little experience in the kitchen, I had even less experience with fresh food.  Don't get me wrong, I love me a leafy salad, but I don't always know what to do with fresh food.  How do I prepare it?  Better yet, what is it?  

As if this weren't perplexing enough, food here can really rob you blind.  Especially chicken.  You don't want to know how much chicken costs.  You'll cry for weeks.  (I know I do every time I buy it!) And I kind of have a weak sauce stomach that can't handle local fare like lamb, pork, and heavy beef.  (Even though my favorite food is a good ol' cheeseburger, go figure!)  So trying to pick and choose foods that me, my stomach, and my wallet can handle has been quite the experience.

Enter fresh produce.  When it's in season, fresh produce is SO dang cheap here!  When it's not, run away.  No really.  Run!  Right now, watermelon is so affordable.  I got a kahuna of a melon for €2.26, or about $3.00.  We still have some in the freezer for slushies and it's been nearly two weeks.  Grapes are just coming into season right now as well.  What is always in season?  Tomatoes and cucumbers.  And olive oil, but that's a different story.  Whatever market you go to, there will always, always, ALWAYS be tomatoes in at least two varieties.  And cucumbers.  Up the wazoo.  And let me tell you what, those tomatoes are DANG good.  And I don't even like tomatoes.  Like can't even pretend to like them and now live off of caprese salad.

My favorite part of the produce?  How much of it is local.  While this island is tiny (and incredibly hot!), it is very fertile and perfect for growing just about everything you've ever wanted to eat.  Bananas, potatoes, lettuce, oranges, peaches, grapes, and the list goes on.  Heaven bless those Cypriot melons! 

Some day we'll talk about our love affair with Greek cheeses.  It's dangerous. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

why i paint

watermelon / thank you / yellow boat / whale of a birthday

Have I ever shared with you how much I love creating things?  I like seeing the potential in inanimate objects.  I live for the feeling of a pencil in my hand as it glides across a fresh piece of paper.  The joy I get when the product matches my imagination just can't be described.  When we moved to Cyprus, we knew full well that the chances of me being able to find a job were slim to none.  The immigration process is hard enough here without adding a job search on top of it.  So when we got here, once again I had to get creative.  I had to find a way to fill my time while I tried to make friends and if I could make a little extra money, all the better.  The result was the development of this blog and an influx of painting and creating that I haven't had time for since I was very young.

It's been nearly a year and as I look back at the pieces I've created, I can see the evolution of my life as I find myself on this little island.  I can see the comfort I feel here, the friendships made, the growth and strength of my marriage, and a sincere love for where I am in life.

This most recent batch of new additions have been in the works for a few months, inspired by hot summer days and family.  These four cards are now for sale and it makes me sad that I haven't shared them with you already.  Mainly because, were it not for you, I would not still be creating these little notecards that are bringing me so much joy.  Thank you for your continuous support on this crazy journey as I figure out life on the other side of the world.

For information about sizes, pricing, ordering, and everything in between,  click here or email me for further information.

watermelon image also available in a 5x7 or 8x10 print

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

day's end

{shirt: massimo dutti (on sale!!!!), shorts: old, calvin klein via costco, sunnies: faux rayban, sandals: old navy, earrings: gift, bracelets: gifts, necklace: j.crew outlet}

Guys, I know I whine about the weather here a lot, but I'm getting more and more scared about it.  We had this wonderful break while the family was visiting, meaning it was flirting with 100 rather than over 100 the entire time they were here.  Those blissful days are at an end.  But thanks to Mom and the sale at Massimo Dutti, I've got a few new shirts to tide me over.  I'm learning how to feel pretty with sweat dripping down me and coming to terms with the fact that my hair is just always going to be pulled back until the heat subsides.  Sadly, I got the cutest pair of white skinnies at a sale at Zara this week that I can't even bring myself to looking at until the sun goes down at night.

In other news, we go home in a month!  We've been overseas for a year already,  how did that happen?!  And this next month is going to fly all the faster.  I'm trying to finish up a few projects before I leave so I can have them ready for you  this fall.  Also, I'm working on filling orders so I can bring them home with me for...brace yourself...cheaper shipping!  That's right, I plan on bringing home a boatload of cards and prints with me to mail to you for much, much, MUCH more affordable shipping rates.  Here's the deal though, you have to get your orders in soon so I have time to get them in order.  And to sweeten the deal, I have a few new cards coming out tomorrow.  Be excited, be very excited!

pleated poppy

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

huli huli chicken

Not to downplay the sincere regard I have for my friends here in Cyprus, but one of my favorite aspects of this group of women is their creativity, especially in the kitchen.  Every time I see them, at least one friend has a new recipe to share.  For a girl who lived off of McDonald's and microwaved anything before moving overseas, new recipes are gifts from the gods.  Easy recipes that make it look like I've been slaving away all day to make something scrumptious?  Even better!  Well, this Hawaiian chicken came from my friend T and it is just so. darn. good!  You'll lick your fingers and the masses will sing praises to you.  No really.  It's just that good!


T's Huli Huli Chicken

1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 shot of sherry
a dash of Worcestershire sauce
1 clove crushed garlic
1 piece of ginger root crushed, about a 1 inch piece
and 1/2- 1 cup of pineapple juice ( I add to taste to cut the salty of the soy sauce)
1 whole chicken or 4-6 chicken breasts*

Mix marinade and pour about 1/2 a cup into a reserve dish. Put chicken pieces (1 whole chicken cut up) into a zip lock bag and pour remaining marinade over the top. Let it sit and soak up all that yummy, sticky, sweet goodness for a good couple of hours.  (I usually put mine in the fridge first thing in the morning.)

Grill it turning and basting with reserve sauce for about 30-40 min over low heat.  Serve with rice, so you don't miss out on any of that marinade.

*I always use breasts because I don't really like dark meat.

Monday, July 09, 2012

giveaway winner

I took this cute girl to the airport last night and cried most of the way home.  Then I woke up this morning to not only an empty apartment but her empty bed still in the living room.  I think it is safe to say there is a need for some serious cheering up today with a mild dose of distraction.  Luckily for you, that means a winner for the weeks long summer giveaway!

so here we go!

Congratulations Träk and Heather!  Email me at engquist@seewhatiseadesigns.com with your addresses so I can mail you your loot!

the skinny

I've been trying to figure out how to write this post since we received the news I'm about to share with you. The reason I'm so hesitant is it has absolutely everything to do with our faith.  With that, I'm hoping you'll stick with me through this because I am absolutely ACHING to share this news with you!

Before I tell you, you need to understand a few things.  First, Mr. F and I are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more commonly referred to as the mormon church.  We are, as the name of our church implies, Christians.  Unlike many other Christian faiths, we do not have paid clergy.  We all work as volunteers.  I say we because as a member of the LDS church, it is understood that you will also serve.  We all take turns as teachers, preachers, youth leaders, and so many other things it's rather mind boggling!  The thing is, all of these callings, as we refer to them, are essential to the day to day function of the Church and to helping us grow spiritually.  We also believe that these callings come from God through revelation.  We whole heartedly believe that our Father in Heaven still communicates with not only prophets on the earth today but with each of us individually, providing guidance and insight for our day to day lives.

Lastly, you need to understand that we belong to a worldwide church.  It is impeccably organized!  So much so that I knew when we moved here what Sunday School lesson to anticipate since it would be from the same manuals and lesson plans used worldwide.  Congregations are not decided by choice but by location.  Geographic boundaries mark up the borders for wards (a large congregation) or branch (small congregation).  Each of these congregations has their own bishop (for a ward) or branch president (for a branch), callings that are issued to worthy men within our church.  These men will more often than not have full-time jobs outside of these callings, not to mention families, wives, and other responsibilities to beg for their attention.  It is a huge responsibility.

About a month ago now, Mr. F and I got a call asking us to meet with a regional authority of the church. Mr. F spoke with him first while I awaited the news.  When I was invited into the office I learned that my 27 year-old husband had been asked to serve as the branch president of our little congregation.  Guys, I can't reiterate enough how big of a deal this is.  Not because my husband has higher standing in the Church now, which he really doesn't, or that someone other than me thinks he's really special.  No, it's major because our Father has entrusted the care of His children and His work in Nicosia to Mr. F.  The spiritual, physical, emotional care of them all.  Such trust and confidence is rather overwhelming. To put it in other words, he is now the minister of our branch.

Mr. F responded really well to the call, taking it on him and stepping into the role with grace, maturity, and faith.  I really admire him for his.  I have not been as gracious.  I, at first, was scared.  With Mr. F's work schedule, I see him very rarely as it is, compound this with his new responsibilities at church, and I might as well be a widow.  Hence my response in my Thankful Thursday post showing deep, deep gratitude for the friends I have made here in Cyprus.  I shared the news of Mr. F's call with them and they all instantly said, "Come on over!"  There's no chance I'll ever be alone.

Though it has only been a few weeks, I can already see a change in our day to day lives  We are being deeply blessed for the work Mr. F is so faithfully attending to.  Our relationship has strengthened, our finances seem to be stretching a little bit further than they should, and opportunities for me to serve with my husband and to be with other people keep popping out of the woodwork.  It has been a deep testament to me that if we are willing to do the work the Lord asks of us, we will never want for anything.  He asks us to work hard, to do all that we can, and sometimes even a bit more, but when we do it, He makes up the rest and provides where we fall short.  Friends, I am so incredibly grateful for my husband and his willingness to serve.  I honestly don't know if I could do what He is doing so willingly.  He's scared but stepping forth boldly with the confidence that the Lord has asked him to do this.  So he is doing it!

I do ask for your prayers though.  While things are coming together, Mr. F's calling is a huge burden that neither of us can handle without the love, support, and prayers of all of you.