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Thursday, January 31, 2013

thankful thursday

I haven't been sleeping well this week.  The onset of a cold and lots of rambling thoughts have made me restless.  This has been my view as I wake up most mornings, the moon beaming in our bedroom window, trying to keep the sun at bay just a little bit longer.  Moments later, night yields to dawn and a new day begins.  When I'm feeling better, those are my favorite hours of the day.  The quiet when the rest of the world is still asleep and the soft, warm, diffused rays of morning trickle into existence.

That said, this week I am especially grateful for light.  Warm, balmy days followed by rainy, drizzly afternoons where the sun struggles to be seen between clouds.  But here in Cyprus, peak through it always does.  I am grateful for the warm, golden hues of dawn and the pink light of sunset in my living room.  I am grateful for candlelight, by which to cuddle to, and sunlight, which dries my laundry.  I'm grateful for the light in the oven, which lets me see how cakes are baking.  I am grateful for the gleam of a bedside lamp that tells me someone is reading with his arm around me.  And I am grateful for moonlight and the magical fairyland it creates for me in my groggy state early in the morning.

Monday, January 28, 2013

my cyprus


When talking to some family members and old friends about our time here in Cyprus, more often than not I hear the phrase, "That must be quite the adventure!"  It is said with envious intrigue, as the inquirer hopes to hear of my escapades in ancient ruins and sailing the Mediterranean.  I almost always respond with, "It sure is," a simple response to the myriad of thoughts I have about our experience.  Most days I feel like my big adventure is getting to the post office before it closes midday and safely navigating the numerous back roads between point A and B.  What I've been told is an adventure I call daily life.

Every day this island feels more like home, especially since our move this last fall.  Suddenly our apartment feels more like a long-term residence rather than a makeshift dorm room.  We have conversations with neighbors, the local markets are easily navigable, and the driving...bearable.  We so seldom have time for what my friends I'm sure term "adventures."  Rather than sailing the waters between the Greek Isles or sneaking in a photo-shoot at the pyramids, I'm finding the cheapest price for lemons and hanging more laundry out to dry.  I'm learning how to cook entirely from scratch and how to be content.  I'm not meandering the Champs-Élysées but clumsily navigating the world of human interaction in a multi-cultural environment.

While I love sharing snapshots of beautiful vistas and old buildings, this my friends, is what my Cyprus looks like.  It's not clean cut or elegant or even awe-inspiring, but it is what my adventure looks like.  I'm on a quest for personal growth in a way that only the Mediterranean breezes can offer.  My Cyprus is my home.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

"winter" wear

{blouse: j.crew outlet, necklace: flea market in Brussels, jeans: zara (on sale!!), bracelets: everywhere and anywhere, shoes: payless}

This is what happens when you don't cut your hair for months one end.  It gets crazy long without you knowing it.  Seriously, when did that happen?  Anyway, this is what my "out of the house" attire has looked like lately.  It's nearly 70-degrees here.  (Don't hate me Utah!)  Last winter was really chilly, but this one keeps coming in waves.  Weeklong waves.  A week ago, sweaters, scarves, thick socks. This week, shorts around the house and stifling in a scarf.  It's throwing off my senses for it to be feeling like spring one day and (what I would term) late fall the next.  I need consistency people!  Apparently the Greek weather gods did not hear my prayer.  That said, I'm loving the sunshine and watching it move from room to room in our apartment.  Coming from the midwest, it still blows my mind that the sun actually shines in the winter.  It's made for some very happy days of book reading and table making.

Oh, and, feel free to ignore the laundry hanging up behind me.  We don't have a dryer, so what must be washed must be hung.  And in this sun, it dries a lot faster!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

ikea hack: coffee table

It has taken me months of dreaming and scheming to figure out a coffee table situation for our living room.  This Ikea hack was actually one of my first ideas, dreamed up over the summer back in the States.  After searching for ready made furniture in our budget, nothing was sufficing.  This island is not secondhand or cost effective friendly.  I wanted something with personality and not very modern.  And less than the 80 to 100 euro I was seeing on everything that I didn't even like.  So, we went back to Plan A, make it myself, using basic tables from Ikea for 4.99 each.
about 45 meters of rope
10-15 meters of twine
more hot glue than you want to admit to
glue gun
lack table
1.grab the top to the lack table, hot glue, gun, and rope.
2. starting on the sides of table, run a line of hot glue and attach rope.
3.  continue process, wrapping around sides of table.
4. carry over to the top following the perimeter of the table..until the 30 meters of rope you got at the hardware store runs out and you have to hurry back to get 25 more before the store closes.
5.  use the rest of the rope from your second trip to the hardware store to finish off the top of the table.  use a thick dollop of glue in the center and secure loose to prevent snags.
6.  with the thinner twine (because yet again, you ran out of rope and don't want to go back to the hardware store...) and the glue, repeat process, wrapping and gluing twine around the legs of the table.
7.  throw everything in a pile and breathe a sigh of relief that you had enough twine.  then follow the manufactured instruction to put the table together.
My plan is to make two of these to be situated side by side.  The amount of rope needed kind of sidetracked this plan.  I needed (no joke here) 45 meters of it for the top alone.  Heavens to Betsy is that a lot of rope!!  I looked at a couple of stores to find a rope and color that I liked and was only able to find something suitable at one for about 60 cents a meter.  While that's pretty cheap, it racks up pretty quickly when you need 45 meters of it.  So..I'm saving up for the other table.  I suggest going to your local hardware store and asking for a discount for buying so much rope at one time.  I would try this, but I don't know Greek.  This is also why I used the twine on the legs.  The whole ball of twine (which I used most of) was 2.99.  

The table took me about a day to do.  (I discovered the show Hart of Dixie and watched/listened to a good seven episodes of it.  Don't judge me...)  It's not hard, just time consuming as everything needs to be wrapped and placed.

It turned out exactly like I had imagined when I sketched it out in my head.  My next plan is to make its mate and find a suitable rug so the room isn't a total wash of white.  I might be Scandinavian, but every so often, even I need something other than neutrals.

Monday, January 21, 2013

cyprus monday: vacancy

Prior to the 1974 invasion and war, Greek and Turkish Cypriots lived side by side.  They were neighbors, friends, and colleagues.  When war broke out, the demographics of the island changed drastically and quickly.  Where once the two cultures lived side by side, they fled to opposite ends of the country.  Turks to the north, Greeks to the right.  Everything happened in haste.  Homes and possessions were left behind as family members scrambled to find one another.  By the time things settled down, a closed border had been put in place and no one could go back.  This was the case until just a few years ago.

Even though the border is now open, the two groups are still constrained to their sides of the island.  The homes they left behind are still vacant.  Shops await their keepers to lift the dusty blinds.  The reason I share this is because these abandoned dwellings are everywhere.  The property rights still belonging to their original owners, so the buildings cannot be sold, repaired, or torn down.  They just sit there collecting memories of lives that inhabited them 40 years ago.

The home pictured is in our neighborhood.  There are at least three more down the street and a few empty businesses.  They were pillaged long ago and now sit dormant.  This house in particular has an olive grove behind it and several fruit trees.  No one touches the trees.  The fruit remains unpicked, uneaten.  Just like the home, it waits for someone to come back.

Is there anything you have been wanting to know about Cyprus?  Let me know and I'll try to figure it out!

Friday, January 18, 2013


{1, 2, 3, 4}

Remember all of those sketches I've been collecting in my journal?  Well, these are a few snippets of what has been inspiring me.  A lot of my inspiration lately has been home-centered.  Wall colors, shelving, rugs, tables.  No joke, I've been losing sleep over this.  It's kind of ridiculous.  Not to mention unnecessary.  However, some of the ideas I have had are awesome.  Shelving for the patio, how to make a big rug for the living room, coffee tables, occasional tables, armoires and painted bookcases.  It's a painted jungle in my head right now!

The other realm of inspiration has been for my own craft.  I have been craving a new project.  Something big.  Not necessarily in size, but maybe.  I don't know.  I don't have that part figured out yet.  What I do know is that this watercolor artist has my fingers itching to hone my own skills.  Her control of the paint is exquisite and still charmingly whimsical.  And she paints for Ralph Lauren..soo..ya know...she has my dream job.  I love her blog of painted sketches from her day to day life.  I'm hoping to challenge myself to do something similar and see what becomes of my own talents.

p.s. I love that bike print.  LOVE it.  Would hang it in every room of my house I love it so much.  But I can't find an actual print of it...  Dear Caitlin McGauley, Will you please make a print of this for me?   Pleeeeeeassseeee?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

thankful thursday

This week I am deeply grateful for...

...Anne Shirley.
...walks in the winter sun.
...discovering beautiful fabric in my own closet.
...new pillows.
...bright red geraniums.
...lemon pound cake.
...deeply silly hypothetical conversations with my husband.
...healthy friends.
...glorious, trickling afternoon sunlight.
...hot chocolate.
...Les Miserables.
...answers to prayer.
...books as dear as friends.
...creative enlightenment.
...chicken fajitas.
...a clean(er) patio.
...the promise of good things to come.
...the comfort of kindred spirits.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

sketching out a home

Maybe it's my recent addiction to the show Sarah's House, but I have had such a hankering to decorate this apartment.  My journal is now being used as a visual catalog of ideas and sketches I conjure up.  What I have been learning about my decorating paralysis is first, I can't commit to anything and second, I don't want to spend money.

The walls of our home are concrete, like most homes here on the island.  Hammering a nail into them is a brutal process that usually leaves chunks of the wall on the floor and you stuck with your decision to hang something there, if only to hide the gaping hole.  I have circumnavigated this as best I can with 3M hooks (praises to their name..) and a few holes.  In a few instances, the 3M hooks fell off the wall and still took a chunk of concrete with them.  I'm trying to convince myself that I'm going to for a loft look until I can repair it all...   So committing to wall art is just a lot more tricky than it has ever been in the past.

Which leads me to me being a tightwad with money.  It's not that I don't want to have beautiful rugs or handcrafted tables, I do, but there is no way I can justify the expenditures right now.  So I have been trying to DIY as much as possible, without some necessary tools that I just still can't bring myself to spending money on either.  Things like a palm sander, paint, stain, and staple guns.  I just wait and put it off.  It is hard to commit to such purchases when we don't know how long we will be living here and where we will be going next.

I am finally feeling, however, that it's time to make progress.  I have stacks of fabric waiting to turn into pillows, a pair of tables to spruce, and some chairs that need to be unified.  It's time to bring the sketches to life and transform this little apartment into an honest to goodness home.

Monday, January 14, 2013

cyprus monday: through the looking glass

Did I ever tell you that Mr. F lived in South America for a couple of years?  No? Well, he did!  He gets very nostalgic sometimes, remembering the people, the buildings, and all the rice and chicken.  Then he starts speaking purely in Spanish and I have no idea what's going on anymore.  Around this time of year, his nostalgia dwells on how strange it was being in the southern hemisphere, where fall is spring and winter, summer.  He never quite got accustomed to the idea of not just a warm but a hot Christmas.
While I have no southern hemisphere tales of my own, living here feels just as topsy turvy as I imagine  Mr. F's experiences in South America to have been.  While my friends and family back in the States begin shoveling their driveways, I am putting out pots of flowers on my patio.  The sun shines, and the whole island turns into the most glorious blanket of green, a far cry from the tufty down of a freshly fallen snow.  Fields of yellow wildflowers mark the distance between villages and lemon trees wilt under the weight of their fruit.  It is my favorite of all the seasons in Cyprus, when Mother Nature beckons you to see what she has created.

thanks to everyone who responded on facebook yesterday!  this post marks the beginning of the Cyprus Monday segment.  tune in on Mondays to catch glimpses of island scenery, how to navigate the grocery store, woes of the post office, and so much more from our time here in Cyprus.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

be mine

I have a few new cards for you this year as well as one entirely new style!

New this year are the I love you., valentine's hearts, and be mine cards.  I loved the way the hearts turned out so much that I decided they needed to be showcased twice.  Aren't they so happy?!  The be mine valentine comes in a folded 4x6 note as well as a flat write-in valentine card.  I have had many a happy day dream of the write-in being taken to a school party or to a casual Valentine's luncheon with friends.

Here's the catch this year.  Orders need to be PLACED by 27 of January.  I know, that takes some pre-planning, but I want to get these cards to you!  Mail to and from the island has been finicky lately, so I want to make sure there's lots of wiggle room for delivery.

4x6 folded note:
whale of a valentine, tea for two.  i love you, valentine hearts, be mine 
$3 each, $2 each with order of 10 or more
come with kraft envelope

4x6 flat write-in:
be mine
pack of 5 for $8
envelopes not included

Remember, orders need to be placed by 27 January.  Email me to place orders or for further information.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

all boxed up

Right before the new year, I was struck with a desperate need to get our little apartment in order.  Not that it was wildly out of control, but after all of the seasonal decorations had come through, excess cookie baking, and an abundance of party prep, I had a sense of how dysfunctional our setup was.  When we first moved in, I thought I had really organized things according to our needs.  Boy, howdy was I wrong.  So, as Mr. F got called into work over the break and then resumed his normal schedule, I began the process of tearing the apartment to pieces to get it situated better.  After a week and change of work,  I at least have everything pretty well sorted.  And this is what I've done so far...


 The studio took me nearly three days to do, and it's an itty bitty room.  It holds all of my art and crafting supplies as well as documents and some other storage.  This room was what inspired me to go crazy with the rest of the apartment.  I knew if I could pare down what was contained in the studio and give everything a designated home, I could do the rest of our flat.
The key to the studio was boxes and pilfering.  I got rid of two garbage bags stuffed to capacity worth of junk that I am ashamed to say I hauled halfway around the world for no good reason.  Old documents, sketches, craft supplies, all of it was sifted through with a fine tooth comb.  After sifting, it was sorted.  I used inexpensive clear boxes from Ikea so that even with the labels, I could see what was inside the box.  I also rearranged where everything was located on the shelves for better workspace flow at my desk.
 Some of my favorite results from this room are the giant laundry basket (seen at beginning of post) to hold all of my ironing, old peanut butter jars used to contain paper clips and rubber bands, and my sewing notions contained in a darling picnic hamper.

I won't shove any more photos of my bathrooms cupboards at you, mainly because that's awkward....But here's the method to the madness:  I tend to buy in bulk when I find things on sale.  Shampoo, soap, toothpaste, etc.  I'd rather buy it all at once and save the money up front then have to go shopping every time we run out.  So, there were a whole lot of "extras" floating around these cupboards just needing a home.  Yet again, I predominantly used the clear bins so I could see what was inside.  

The kitchen was a two-fold mission.  First, contain the laundry/cleaning supply cupboard.  (It was scary...) And second, find a better system for our food storage.  The desire to have a three to six month supply of food and other notions was the real driving force behind this.  I needed to be able to see what we had on hand at all times so that I knew what to make more of or scour the ads for.  After some artful rearranging and use of more clear bins, not only do I have more cupboard space for food storage, I have a much better sense of where we are running low.
In the food cupboards I tried to box up whatever I could to create shelving.  Like items were grouped together with extra and lesser used foodstuffs being placed further back on the shelves.  Thanks to the use of boxes, however, things are much more accessible and visible.  For more finicky items, I used baskets I had on hand.


This organizational melee was part of my goal to get the apartment put together this winter, functionally and aesthetically.  I discovered how much beauty there can be in neatly stacked boxes and color coated paper.  Maybe I suffer from more OCD than my husband teases me about, but it's true.  I loved the journey of finding containers I already had on hand and using them for function and form.  How a charming basket could help tidy up the mess of unsightly laundry, or a jar could give new life to paper clips.  Or how lovely cans of tomatoes looked through the clear glass of a hurricane vase on a shelf.  So simple, so rewarding, and so lovely.