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Thursday, November 29, 2012

it's beginning to look a bit like christmas

Is it okay for Thankful Thursday to be entirely devoted to the holiday season?  I hope so, because that's what we're doing today.

This week I am grateful for...

The last week has been stuffed to capacity with holiday awesomeness.  First we had Thanksgiving, which was just wonderful.  I don't think I've told you about it yet, but really, it was great.  Mr. F was home with me all day.  The house smelled divine as we cooked, baked, and then subsequently barely ate anything because all we wanted to do was sleep.  Having my husband around for the whole day was amazing.  I just really, really like him.

Friday we had another Thanksgiving at church.  Our friends did the bulk of the cooking for this meal and I supplemented where I could.  (I finally learned how to make rolls...and they were glorious!)  Saturday was Christmas Craft Day with friends.  You just can't go wrong with something like that especially with this group of women.  Sunday we had a regional conference for church.  People from all over the island came together to worship and learn together for one day.  I really treasure these meetings because I get to see so many people whose faith and testimonies in our Savior strengthen me beyond measure.

Monday was Go Get As Many Pinecones As Possible and Turn Them Into Garland day.  My friends picked me up around eight in the morning and we went straight to a local park where we each stuffed bags full of freshly fallen pinecones.  My husband thinks I'm a crazy cat lady when it comes to pinecones.  I just think they're beautiful!  Then I came home and put those pinecones to good use, filling out inexpensive garlands and truly decking the halls. (Details of this coming soon!)

Christmas Errand Day (part 1 of who knows how many...) came on Tuesday.  It was long, it was stressful, but it was wonderful.  Picking up a few gifts and odds and ends for the season.  Plus a Coke..in a Santa can!!  I'll admit, the decorations available here are not my cup of tea, but I'm loving the new confidence I have with people.  I'm no longer as afraid of not being able to speak Greek and just talk to people in English.  I have met some really lovely Cypriots and even found a few more expats along the way.

Wednesday.  Wednesday may have been my favorite.  It's the day I really felt like Christmas came to our home.  It's everywhere and even better, it's what I had imagined.  And it's beautiful.  Mr. F came home from work and just smiled at the lights, garlands, and general ambience.  We curled up on the sofa together and just watched our Christmas tree twinkle. Such a quiet, wonderful moment.

I love Christmas.  I love how it warms up the home and brings people together.  I love how it celebrates the birth of the Savior of the World.  I love the window shopping, the parties, sending and receiving parcels and cards.  I love the food, the traditions, the willingness of others to bring joy to someone they barely know.

I love this season. And am so grateful for the joy it brings to my heart and the way it sustains me the whole year through.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


I took these photos last week as I was prepping for Thanksgiving.  These were an accident.  I'm still learning how to use my camera so  I snapped these to figure out the settings.  Later when I was editing, I stumbled on these three photos and just stopped.

Wow.  I like my house.

It was such a fun moment for me filled with such contentment and gratitude.  Words cannot describe how much of an upgrade this apartment is for us compared to where we were living over the last year. It's bigger, more affordable, and just...better.  I think it's the feel of it. There's space for memories to be made in and for us to soak into.

It's still a work in progress, especially as I try to figure out Christmas decorations, but I like it that way.  I like that I don't feel a rush to get all the pictures hung or rugs on the floor.  I'm just happy here.  Really, truly, blissfully contentedly happy.

I really like my house.

Monday, November 26, 2012

cyber monday

For today and today ONLY, take 20% off the 2013 calendar.  Orders must be placed by midnight eastern standard time.  Discount not restricted to the United States.

Email me to place order.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

gift guide: art prints

 Because someone just moved and needs something to spruce up their walls.  Or they are at college and need a pick-me-up.  Or just because a new piece of art is happy.  (Or is it just me who gets giddy over art?)

 5x7 prints are $10
8x10 prints are $15*

For more product information, click here, or email me!
For more festive options, check out the yuletide inspired prints to get you through the season.

*only the wreath and prayer prints are available in 8x10 at this time.  I'm working on it!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

give thanks

Thanksgiving has never really been a big deal to me.  Don't get me wrong, I love the holiday, but in my family, we never really went all out for it.  In fact some of my fondest Thanksgiving memories involve hot dogs from 7-Eleven and some really good turkey sandwiches and boxed stuffing on two separate occasions.  In all honesty, I can't remember the last time I was even home for Thanksgiving.  It just doesn't happen. 

Despite the lack of pomp my history has given this holiday, I really love it.  I love the food, the colors.  The way families and friends come together for one day, just one!  It's amazing!  I really love how it kicks off the Christmas season.  As soon as the cider starts warming and the pies are baking, it smells like Christmas.  And I love that.  Really, I love having an excuse to show gratitude.

 Our first Thanksgiving married was last year.  We had just arrived, didn't have a clue what we were doing, didn't even have our stuff!  Mr. F went to work and I cooked all day long just to give myself something to do in this foreign place.  This year I feel like we're celebrating.  A year of marriage.  A year on the island.  A new home, friends, church callings, a wonderful job, healthy family members.  The list goes on and on of things we are celebrating.  For me personally, I feel so much happier this year, like I've accomplished something epic.  I've established a little home for my husband and myself where we are doing really well.  And we're happy!  

It just seems so fitting that Thanksgiving should so closely coincide with our Cypriot anniversary.  This little island has changed our lives for the better and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else right now, even on Thanksgiving.  For the first time I can remember in a very long time, I'm home for the holiday.

My friends, I hope your day is joyful, stuffed to capacity with good food, and filled to the brim with family, friends, love, and hope.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

gift guide: the host

Have about 15 parties to go to in the next month?  Need gifts for hosts, white elephants, and last minute exchanges with neighbors and friends you forgot about?  I can help.
Try a charming five-pack of notecards.  Affordable, easy to wrap, and small enough to keep in your handbag to leave your hands free for that extra plate of cookies you're bound to be carrying.
Or what about a calendar that will freshen up their wall all year round?  Spruce it up with a $3 frame from Wal-Mart like the one above, and you're good to go!

five-pack of notecards are $10, you pick whatever five you want
individual cards are $3 each
calendars fit 5x7 frames.  only $15 and ship from the U.S.

email me to place your order

Monday, November 19, 2012


Brace yourself for an epic photo dump.  No really...it's going to be epic.

Would you believe me if I told you that Kyrenia, the place where are these photos were taken, is just barely a half hour from where we are in Nicosia?  I forget it all the time.  Mainly because it's part of Turkish Cyprus and can be a bit of an ordeal to visit.  But this weekend, Mr. F and I ran as fast as we could before anyone realized they hadn't scheduled us for something and bonded with our Turkish neighbors.

The Kyrenia mountain range is so vastly different from the Troodos.  The latter cover the better portion of the southern Cyprus.  The Kyrenias are the the width of one mountain.  That's it.  On one side of them is Nicosia, on the other, the sea.  Just right there!  Being able to see both mountain ranges inland, it's hard to believe that just beyond the ridge lies the Mediterranean.

We went under the ruse of Christmas present shopping but were easily deterred by Kyrenia Castle, which has been guarding the harbor for nearly a thousand years.  The wind nearly beat us off the roof but it was worth the views.  Facing south, the majestic mountains stood stalwart.  Northward, the Mediterranean was churning more ferociously than I have yet to see it.  Waves crashed over the seawall while the early winter sun tried to break its way through rain clouds.

As if finding the sea so close to our home weren't surprising enough, we found remnants of Richard the Lionheart, the former conqueror of Kyrenia Castle, lurking around the grounds.  (I told you the photo dump was going to be epic!)  

We scarcely have time for things like this anymore and I'm so glad we were able to runaway and get to know this island a little bit better.  And really?  Just have a day.  One day.  Off.  Free to galavant   Saunter.  Lounge.  Wander.  So good...

Friday, November 16, 2012

yuletide prints

Every year for Christmas, my mom would go all out.  Lights, wreaths, an eclectic collection of Santas, nativity sets, stockings, garlands.  The list goes on and on.  One thing she did that I have come to appreciate a great deal as I've grown up is change out the artwork in our home.  Nails remained in the walls, but family photos might be replaced with prints of the nativity or watercolors of freshly fallen snow.  She was always on the hunt for new pieces of art for the Christmas season to cozy up our home even more.

As I've begun decorating our new home, I've found a similar affinity for transient artwork in myself.  I'm hesitant to hang certain pieces until after the Christmas season because a wreath would look really wonderful on that wall or a snowy landscape.  I've also started placing my own work in frames in preparation to scatter throughout the apartment.  Happy trees and merry bulbs are just waiting for the end of Thanksgiving to make their debut.
This year I'm pleased to offer these works to you as well not only in notecard form, but as art pieces for your own home.  They are easy gifts to take to a party, white elephant exchange, or just to keep around.

4"x6" prints- $5
5"x7" prints- $10
8"x10" prints- $15*

To place order, email me.  And remember, December orders need to be placed by November 30th!
Holiday prints available are Joy, Christmas Bulbs, Merry Everything (purple tree), Green Christmas, and Tis the Season.  Please specify print, size, and quantity upon ordering.

*only the "joy" piece is available in 8x10 at this time.  sorry!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

thankful thursday

I swear yesterday was Monday, and here we are at Thursday again!  Thanksgiving is just a WEEK away and Christmas is right around the corner.  Somehow this month has flown by faster than I can keep track of it.  So many wonderful things have happened and even more to look forward to!

This week I am thankful for...

...a head that isn't hurting as badly anymore.  (long story)
...the promise of yummy, familiar foods through the next week.
...being content with where we are in life right now.
...long phone calls with my brother.
...a few nights this week with Mr. F home before 8.
...wonderful outings with friends to kick off the Christmas season.
...Cyprus.  I really do love this little island.
...plants growing in November!  I'm going to have fresh arugula soon!
...the much anticipated arrival of sweater weather...scarves, cocoa, cooking...it's all legit now that the temp has dropped.
...being able to plan for Christmas and Thanksgiving this year with knowledge that I have all of my pans.
...my pans!!
...quiet, blissful moments followed by raucous laughter.
...art galleries.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

the thief of joy

I have really struggled with envy since we moved here.  Living abroad was something Mr. F and I spoke of while we were dating, but it was always more of a pipe dream.  Once we were more settled in life, finished with graduate school, and hopefully had a bit of extra money to travel.  Not once did we expect to be expats at the onset of our marriage.  

It took me several months, but I found a really terrific network of friends here, mostly American expats, and all of them here for different reasons.  I am the youngest of this group, by a fair amount, but that never seems to matter to my lovely friends.  We have the most amazing conversations, play dates, craft days, you name it!  They have truly been blessings to me to fill a great void.  But I often struggle with how differently Mr. F and I live from them.  We can't afford to try out the local tavernas, no matter how good they smell, or travel to Malta, or take cruises, or even take day trips often.  Our finances are extremely tight.

I've mentioned this mental struggle to each of my friends and they just laugh and say, "Stop it.  We've been where you are now.  It's just a phase."  My friends are well established in their careers and families.  They are in the stages of life that Mr. F and I thought we would be when we lived abroad.  But we're not.  We're newlyweds.  So we get to listen to the stories of the fun cruises and make mental notes about the tavernas in case we have some extra money at the end of the month.  And that's okay.  We're at our beginning, where we borrow furniture and scrimp to get to the movies every so often.  My friends are at their middles, sending their children to college, taking advantage of never before dreamed opportunities to work abroad.  It's just...different.  That's all.

My conversations with my friends have taught me that I'm the one with the issue.  They don't care that I can't always go out to dinner with them or that our chairs are a little shabby.  They still come over and help me with leaf garlands and take care of my plants while I'm away.  They recognize that we're at the beginning and are so supportive of it.  I just have to remember it and be content.  Sometimes easier said than done, but as my friends are teaching me, completely worth it.

Monday, November 12, 2012

making my own fall

If the season doesn't come to the island, the island must come to the season.

Friday, November 09, 2012


I never cease to be amazed by the wonders this little island holds.  Living in the city, I very quickly forget that Cyprus has been inhabited for nearly as long as we track human history.  Because of this, there are evidences of ancient life everywhere.

One such site is found in northern Cyprus, in the TRNC, just outside of Famagusta.  What at one time was a bustling port city is now an intricate village of beautifully preserved ruins.  So old is this archaic Salamis it is believed that Christ's apostle Paul landed there when he came to Cyprus.

I fully expected to see a few freestanding arches and a really killer view of the Mediterranean.  I was in no way prepared for what Salamis had to offer.  So much of it is still in tact that you need a solid day to wander.  We only had about an hour and had to make the most of it.  There were roads, columns, an amphitheater, baths, arena, and so much more...and that's just what we were able to see!  Throughout the buildings, the ground was still covered by the most beautiful marble mosaics.  Sinks stood on their pedestals, baths waited for water.  Perhaps my favorite discovery was the gallery of statues.  It was breathtaking and mind-boggling.  How is it that these beautiful pieces of art can withstand thousands of years of Middle Eastern weather and my bedroom wall can't make it through a rainy season?  I just don't get it...

I'm really looking forward to going back at some point as we have yet to visit the temple of the gods!  If ever you make it to Cyprus, I highly recommend Salamis.  

Just ask for directions before you go.  Trust me.  You'll need them.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

thankful thursday

How is it Thursday already?  It's hard to believe I've been back from the States nearly two months already and that Thanksgiving is just a couple of weeks away!  Time is just rushing along!  Before it spirals forward any faster and I miss the opportunity, here's a few of the things I am thankful for this week.

This week I am thankful for...

...being able to surf Pinterest transatlantically with my mom.
...my right to vote in a free and fair election.
...unexpected evenings with Mr. F full of homemade soup and lots of laughing.
...homemade applesauce.
...the Gospel.
...early mornings where the silence is broken only by church bells and songbirds.
...the approaching Holiday season and the excuse it offers to spend time with friends and family.
...the opportunity to teach.
...monkey bread!
...a brother who is on the mend.
...the sweet sound of little ones from the neighborhood as they scoot off to school in the mornings.
...the rich history of Cyprus and the fleeting opportunities we have to go experience it.
...planning for the future.
...the ability to add to our food storage and be prepared for emergencies.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

and the polls are closed

Thank you to everyone who voted yesterday!  I was amazed this morning to read that only a third of the U.S. population voted, and that was down from the last election.  Voting really is important!

Speaking of important things, you probably want to know who won the calendar.  Well, the lucky voter is.....

Congratulations Rebecca & Jeff!  Email me to claim your prize!