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Thursday, September 27, 2012

holiday 2012

It's very nearly that time of year again!  Annual cards, photos, gifts for neighbors, and lots of egg nog. (Okay, maybe the last one is just on my list...)

I've already had requests for portraits of little ones for gifts for grandparents and designs for stationery for neighbors and it dawned on me how soon December will be here.  Because of this, I sadly have to put a deadline on all custom orders to be delivered in December.  Not only do I need time to produce the wonderful things you've been requesting, but I also need time for shipping.

So, all CUSTOM orders need to be place by November 1st if wanted for December delivery.  This applies to portraits, custom stationery, annual Christmas or holiday cards, and any other fun things you might think of.

All NON-custom orders need to be placed by November 27th.  Ergo, any prints, notecards from the collection, or calendars need to be ordered by this date.  This ensures production and mailing the first week of December.

Please note my schedule is filling up, so if you want custom work done, contact me soon.  Also, new card designs coming for the season after the move!   For further information email me at engquisto@gmail.com

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Coming back to Cyprus was not what I was planning it would be.  I thought I would just come back, pack up our little flat, move into the new one, and carry on with the life we've established here.  But it's not working that way. 

I have been more homesick in this last week than I have been the entire time we've been overseas.  So much more longing for family, familiar things, and company.  Thank GOODNESS for my wonderful friends here.  Not only have they helped us move most of our things, they've met me for chats, gone out running errands, and have just in general been there for me.  They are filling my days and heart with the companionship I had grown so accustomed to during my month at home.

To top it off, life is just coming at us right now.  When I thought about our move, I had planned on increased expenses for setting up utilities (deposits are more substantial when you are not a Cypriot national), furniture (we don't have a bed...), and take out while we transition.  In stead, my financial worries have been focused on endless car repairs, a new passport for Mr. F so we can renew our visas, fines for laws we didn't know about as non-Cypriots, and furniture.  (We still don't have a bed...)

And I'm having a hard time saying goodbye to this apartment.  I really am.  Not only is it our first home in Cyprus, it's our first home.  Before this, Mr. F and I lived with family and some rather gracious friends.  Our itty, bitty flat was the first place to truly be ours.  We keep getting delayed with the final move-in date for the new place.  When I'm there, I am so eager for the next steps we'll take together there.  But then we come back here and it's harder to go away again.

So right now it's just one of those times where I really love living overseas, but I'd be perfectly content having home be a little bit closer.  

Monday, September 24, 2012


Were it not for my tall guy waiting for me on the island, I probably would have put up more of a fuss when I left Michigan.  Remember how I scheduled my time home for one very specific art fair?  As cultured as I pretend to be, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I really came home for the cider mill and more importantly, the cider mill donuts.

Just before I left Michigan, fall was making her annual debut.  This is unabashedly my favorite time of year. The leaves, the sweaters, the chill in the breeze that whispers of winter. I got to see the farmers' markets stuffed with tomatoes and mums.  There's something about mums in the fall that gets me every time...  There was a deplorable lack of cider due to droughts and lack of apples, but the breezes and donuts were available in abundance.

Life has been running on full gear since I've returned.  Amid our move, which is still ongoing, we've both been working, sifting through seven different time zones, dealing with car issues up the ying yang, handling more immigration issues, and juggling more things than I thought we could.  I am so looking forward to a few free Saturdays in October when I can kidnap Mr. F and whisk him away to the Troodos mountains of Cyprus.  We can hide from the boxes which I'm sure will still not be unpacked and escape to the cool mountain air that reminds me so much of home in the autumn.  We'll watch the leaves change and catch some souvlaki.  Not necessarily cider mill donuts, but hey, it's all Greek to me!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

date night

{sweater: target (old), top: ann taylor (old), skinnies: zara, sandals: h&m (old), envelope clutch: vera bradley, pearls: macy's (new!!)}

So, here I am back in Cyprus land and miracle of miracles, it's cooler! (If you couldn't tell by the cardi and pants!)  Jetlag is killing me, reality is staring me straight in the eyes, and for one night, it really didn't matter.  After a month of being apart, Mr. F and I got to have a bonafide, honest to goodness, really truly date.  Did we care that it was a Tuesday?  Nope.  Did I care that I skipped book club?  Nope.  We were exactly where we needed to be and it was just perfect.  We ate dinner and just talked until we felt like leaving the restaurant then walked home to enjoy a night full of giggles.  Endless, marvelous giggles.  Nights like this make the hard nights not only bearable, but difficult to remember.  

I kept thinking through the whole evening, gosh, I hope I remember this.  There was nothing spectacular about the meal or the night in general.  It was just that we got a few hours uninterrupted by life, callings, moving, landlords, work, jetlag, and everything else to just enjoy one another.  Cyprus still seems a little foreign to me after a month of being away, but Mr. F?  He feels more like home than ever.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

grandma w

Every so often someone will ask me to do a piece for them and I really stutter over it.  Can I do justice to what they want me to capture?  Through these commissions I have grown leaps and bounds as an artist and as an individual.  Those seemingly hard projects are the ones I end up enjoying the most.

About a month ago, an old friend asked me to do one of these for her and her husband.  To be honest, I'm still stuttering over it.  My friend asked me to do a portrait of her mother-in-law.  Deep humility washed over me as the honor of the request sunk in.  I knew her mother-in-law and am still touched by her sweet memory.  This wonderful grandmother passed away tragically a few years ago leaving her family and those of us who knew her with a tremendous void.  She was a remarkable woman.

"I'm not good with realism," I told my friend.  "I can try, but I'm just not as good at it."  My insides were shaking over trying to paint Grandma W.  How can I possibly capture all that I know about her?  How can I capture her love, her faith, and her courage?  I just do doodles...

"You have a happy style.  That's how I want to remember Mom.  I don't want a serious portrait, I want a happy one.  That's why I'm asking you."

My mind recently has been filled with thoughts of motherhood as I seriously contemplate when Mr. F and I will start our own family.  As the days go on, my heart aches for a child of my own.  When I first put pencil to paper to sketch out Grandma W, my eyes filled with tears as my mind filled with memories of her.  I saw her playing with her sweet grandsons, the pride and joy in her eyes for her son.  I saw her as a mother and wife.  A gentle figure, always there to comfort and reassure, so full of love.  I saw the kind of mother I hope to be someday.

I don't know if my painting will ever encompass all I wanted it to but I'm so grateful for this opportunity to remember such a wonderful woman and to have her continue to teach me in her quiet way.  Oh W, we miss you.

Friday, September 14, 2012

family is...

I'm heading back to Cyprus today and have spent the past month surrounded by family.  Our parents and siblings have been constant companions for me during my stay.    In my last week in Michigan, I was reminded of how vast my family really is.  It's not just blood.  It goes deeper.

It's my Lebanese aunt and uncle who prepared a feast for me and my parents at nine in the evening because my dad hadn't had dinner yet and they wanted us to stay longer.  It's their two boys who might as well be my cousins for how deeply they've nuzzled their way into my heart.

It's the mother of a high school friend whose face lit up when I got to see her for a few moments.  It's the dad who might as well be mine who smiled as if I was his biological daughter when I picked him up at the airport.  It's an aunt and uncle who don't look a thing like me, but I know they're mine because I chose them.

Family is being there for a friend because his own family is too far away.  It's a comfortable sofa, a warm embrace, a new friendship that feels old.  Sure, we're all born into certain families.  But family is a lot more than that.  It's what we make of it.

I'm sad to be leaving Kitty, Nonny, Mom, and Dad here in the States, but I'm so homesick for my other family on the far side of the world.  The moms who have adopted me, the twins with the cheeks waiting to be pinched...I'm ready to see them all.  But more than that, I'm ready to see my husband, because no matter what family I choose, it just doesn't feel right without him.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

fighting melancholy

{blouse: j. crew outlet, jeans: j.crew outlet, vest: salvation army, shoes: payless}

My mom and I have been constant companions for the past three weeks and this was our last day together.  It was filled with made up last minute errands to distract us from the melancholy.   Cyprus, my friends, is a hell of a long way away.  I can't begin to express how much I loved being home and the time I got to spend with my parents.  Not only do I love them, I like them.  My family members are my favorite people to spend time with.

So me and my Kitty, we decided to fight the melancholy with a friend who kindly took photos for us.  And let us play with her kids.  (Tank of a two year-old boy, wobbling down the stairs just to show you his "Dowa" book.  Yeah, you try not to hang out there, too!) That little family were such a breath of fresh air and a reminder of good things to come.  I've left one mama in the north for another in the south and another round of goodbyes... It's so hard to leave, but as my Kitty said, how blessed we are to have something that makes saying goodbye so very hard.  Man, I love my family!

Monday, September 10, 2012

2013 calendar

Have you ever dreamed of doing something that seemed just outside of the realm of possibility for you?  Like it was something that guy would do, but not you.  I definitely have dreams like that but I am so happy to say that one of those dreams have become a reality.
I have created my very first calendar!  Sure, I paint a new piece every month, but this is different.  This is calendar isn't for me, it's for you.
My inspiration, as I've mentioned before, was largely from fabrics and various textiles.  My grandmother had such a knack at making things that her family needed.  With her sewing machine, she was able to clothe her family and create useful items.  I wanted to do something similar.  Create something, not only functional, but beautiful.
Each month you get to enjoy a new piece of art to do with what you will.  Hang it on the wall, fill up the mantle, nestle it on a bookshelf, or stick it on the fridge between your reminders and favorite photos.
This art calendar fits a 5x7 frame.  It includes one card for every month, a cover and sample page.  The 2013 calendar costs $15, plus shipping and handling.  All calendar orders ship from the U.S.  To order, email me at engquisto@gmail.com.

Friday, September 07, 2012

season's end

The first fruits of my favorite season.  So glad to be home to see autumn starting to make its debut.  It's just not the same without glorious trees changing color all around you...

a few things to get you through the weekend....

really loved this post about one family's journey in a new place.  It echoed many of my feelings about our time in Cyprus.

Wanting to make a planter like this for the new apartment.  It's just so cool!

Anyone else thinking about Christmas decorations yet? (Really love the snowflake...)

Found a guide for homemade mixes.  Do you like doing things from scratch or from the box?  After this last year, I'm a from scratch girl.

Loving absolutely everything about this quilt!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

the faux little black dress

 {tee: nordstrom rack, skirt: costco, belt: stradivarius, shoes: nordstrom rack (for a penny!!!!), necklace: target, bracelets: everywhere.}

My days have been chock full of fun and especially of shopping.  My mom and I have been driving all over creation (or at least Metro Detroit) to stock Mr. F and me up on useful items for our new home and things we just can't find very well in Cyprus,  things like paper cutters, staple guns, and deodorant.  Knowing that I would be returning with so much loot, I very cautiously packed light.  The few clothing items I did bring I limited to my favorites and stuff that could be worn in multiple scenarios.  This meant keeping in mind casual and mildly formal occasions.

Enter the black pencil skirt and the black tee.  The tee I wear more often than I would like to admit (thank goodness for laundry!)  and the skirt has just been flat out useful.  One day I wanted to look a little more put together than my limited wardrobe was starting to make me feel so I paired these two together and cinched them together with my favorite belt and before I knew it I had an on-the-go little black dress.  It made for one crazy comfortable ensemble to get me through church.

Note to future self, however, lower v-neck tees are not conducive to excessive baby cuddling.  As soon as the baby shimmies, so does the shirt, and pretty soon you've got some revealing undergarments that should probably stay hidden.  I'll definitely take that into account next time I get to play with 3 babies at once.

Note to current self, Mr. F (who I haven't seen in over two weeks now...) saw the last picture and called me a fox.  I think I need to wear this outfit more often when he's around....  I'm just sayin'...

pleated poppy

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

at the fair

I may or may not have scheduled my trip to the U.S. around Labor Day.  More importantly around one itty, bitty art fair in a village near my childhood home.  This village has a parade in the morning then everyone flocks over to the park where some really talented artists have their booths set up.  I can't really remember not going to this art fair.  It's just what we did. 

My parents being who they are established relationships with many of these artists and my home was filled with their art.  Pots, prints, metal work.  You name it, we had it.  Their favorite, however, was the tile lady.  Year after year we would go to her booth to see the most beautiful printed tiles.  Each year she had a new line and each year they were happier than the last.  Abstract figures in bold, whimsical colors embracing life.  Her tiles, and even one of her sculptures, fill so many corners of my parents' home, the joie de vivre mirroring much of my memories of the house.  With her my parents formed a very tender relationship, kindled by the kinship of breast cancer but fostered by the love of art.

  It was for the tile lady that I scheduled my trip around Labor Day.We spoke with her and her husband for a few minutes and though they don't know me well, this pair of artists are so a part of my memory of home that I just soaked in the ambiance. Yet again, the tile lady's booth did not disappoint.  Happy fish, beautiful landscapes, merry portraits.  Oh, how I love it...  And to top it off, I am most definitely taking one of these tiles home with me to Cyprus.

I'm so glad I did see her this year as she confided to us that she and her husband, who have been doing the art fair circuit since 1970, are planning to "retire" within the next few years.  This could very well have been the last time I see the tile lady on Labor Day.  And that, my friends, is just a very strange thought indeed.  I am such a creature of habit that forming new traditions and finding new artists to admire just seems overwhelming.  But if I can live in Cyprus I guess I can handle a few new experiences, right?  Right.