Thursday, February 28, 2008

Please Share

Spring has sprung!!!!! I have to get outside and take some SUNLIT pictures. We haven't seen sunlight much since we arrived last September. To celebrate a warm and sunny future, I've started a new project, sharing my artwork. It's taken me a while to come to the conclusion, that I really need to personally invest in making. I make art. That is what I do, so it is high time I looked at it as something of value, instead of an employment handicap. I've just opened an Etsy shop to feature my work, and hopefully sell. Here is where I need help. I'm not asking my family and friends to buy my work, that isn't really a viable business plan. You've all helped my family immensely at every crossroad and in between. What I need help with is spreading the word about my Etsy shop. Etsy is a wonderful resource, but the best way to market on it is through word of mouth. If you have the chance, please forward a link to my shop to the people in your address book. I've included a link to my shop at the top left of this page. Here it is again I would love to hear what you all think about the shop page & the work on it.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Dobry rano! Wouldn't it be great if we all looked this great first thing in the morning? We need haircuts. When we first arrived in Kamenicky Senov I was overwhelmed by many things, positive and negative. There were times when I wanted to set up our portable dvd player, pop in our Backyardigan's DVD's, and cuddle up to Thomas in bed all day, and not take a step out of our flat. I had no way to communicate with the locals, no phone, no internet, and it was scary. Fortunately we needed to eat & part of me knew that spending the next 10 months trying to keep my son appeased with English cartoons and pretzels wouldn't be a healthy or an optimal way to experience our adventure here. I convinced myself we had to leave the flat and interact with people every single day. I carry a little slovnik or phrase book/dictionary everywhere I go. It even goes with me to take out the trash, I don't know what trash is in Czech, but it doesn't sound like trash. Can you imagine the trouble I might encounter while taking a small bag of trash down a flight of stairs and 1 meter to our trash can outside? The possible misunderstandings are just infinite. Soooo my son needs a haircut. He endured a home cut last month sometime, but it took waaaaay too long in adult years which one must multiply by 4000 to equal toddler years. I'm nervous. My husband did pretty well getting a haircut recently, but he did have to ask the lady to please remove an inch or so from his forehead after she buzz cut everything, except bangs. She gave him MAN BANGS, like maybe it's cool if you're Frankenstein tall, exist on a diet of trendy sarcasm, marlboro lights, & espresso, listen to goth, and have a penchant for black leather pants and short puffy purple vests, BUT that is not my husband. Thank GAWD. Anyway, I'm scared. The other children here all have the same stock buzz cut, almost bald. Thomas can pull off just about any look, pant-less pirate, blue paint forehead special, etc. but I must procure some pictures and do some heavy studying in my slovnick before we embark upon the kadernicky. That said, I'm considering asking for the buzz cut for myself, since the water here has my hair somewhere in between frizzy, limp, dry, oily, and big all at the same time. Don't even get me started on the availability of hair products here that don't cause my scalp to throw up its arms, scream retreat, and leave my head in despair. We'll see. Tomorrow is a new hair day.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Sunny Moravia

We recently stayed in Moravia for a Fulbright Conference where we met new grantees and the Slavic grantees. Wonderful company & accommodations, and I was shocked out of my mole like countenance by the extraordinary amount of sun.

Dad's Night

Two weeks ago my wonderful friend, Julie, suggested that the Daddies take the kids to a carnival & make a night of it. They had a blast, ate yummy treats, returned to Madelaine's flat, made a huge mess (as documented by Thomas's Daddy in these pictures), took a bath, and passed out for the night. Ahem, well at least until Thomas woke up screaming and a midnight 8-9?km uphill hike back to our flat was necessary, but we won't really go into all of that. I was able to begin painting my artwork in the peaceful silence available in our flat until that hour. Thomas and Madelaine make a beautiful pair every time we get together. It's amazing really, as unpredictable as they can be, they always get along.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


In case you're wondering...
neperliva voda=no gas water
perliva voda=gas water

Please try not to snort while suppressing maniacal giggles when your kind Czech server asks you which you prefer, "Vater vit gas or vitout?" My mother was better at this than me. Potty humor never fails.

Celozrnna Mouka=Whole Wheat Flour

Please, when trying to locate whole wheat flour, make sure you ask the shop assistant for moookaa, not moookhhha. They will look at you inquisitively and might consider directing your strange vegetarian-natural-food-freak self out to the dumpster full of vermin because well you're a non-Czech speaking, non-meat loving weirdo asking for a bag of flies.

Yes, there are many wonderful things we have experienced that I could write about, but it's more fun to record how I make an ass of myself.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Arrrr Happy Valentines Day Matey


I can't wait for spring. We really like this dish detergent. We really don't like iceberg lettuce.

Monday, February 11, 2008


This is THE place to visit when you travel in the Czech Republic. It's relatively new, quirky, sincere, and SMOKE FREE!!!!!!! Not to mention child friendly. Thomas's look says it all. Oh, and I helped paint the sign, another reason to check it out. They are working on a website. What are you waiting for? Get your plane tickets, and a train ticket, and a bus ticket to Ceska Kamenice, you can't miss it...

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Freshly or Recently Produced

"Tommy want something new?"
"Tommy want to go someplace new?"
"Tommy want new snack?"

Upon our arrival in Kamenicky Senov after our last trip. So lucky he's cute.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


In the event of fantastic weather or belly-button-lint-picking-season, ignore this post. Actually, I would have appreciated some of this information as we were preparing our budget, packing before moving, and while searching for household goods via public transport in rural Czech Republic.

Things we are glad we brought with us: lots of children's clothing (they can be pricey & darn it, our kid grows),children's books, one set of queen size linens, one towel & washcloth per person, entire medicine cabinet contents (it is possible to get most things here between drogeries & lekarnas, however when you need tums or advil, it's really difficult to demonstrate the patience necessary to locate them until familiar with the town), kitchen tools-garlic press, cheese slicer, potato peeler, scissors, measuring spoons, bottle openers, sharp knives, and a linen dishtowel-thick blue jeans, winter hats, gloves, scarves, computer gear, backpacks, all weather boots, walking shoes, camera gear, electrical converters, and international t-mobile compatible cell phone, and research materials (books), bathing suits (swim diapers), formal wear, vitamins, art supplies, and backpacks. Many of these things are high quality & available here. Unfortunately we have run into really high quality goods for high prices, and really poor quality goods in Asian import stores at affordable prices. Frustrating, when you would rather spend time enjoying the abroad experience & researching rather than consumption.

Things we've purchased here with prices that I recall: teflon frying pan (150Kc, Ikea), teflon spatula, electric teapot (Kauflan 199Kc sale), coffee press, alarm clock (300Kc, Plus), mop & broom & buckets (between 400 & 800Kc average just for the mop!), extra linens & pillows for guests (2000Kc, at OBI & Interspar), faucet water filter (700Kc), several pair of children's shoes for our sprout (average $25-$35 on sale for quality boots & sneakers, full price for leather shoes or good snow boots $50 to $100), and clothes for the sprout (300Kc for lined winter pants, 80Kc for turtleneck shirts), a little potty seat (200Kc), and lamps. I wish we had made a huge Ikea list & made a trip to one of Prague's Ikea's with empty suitcases, since their prices are good for adequate quality.

Things we were sent from loving friends and family we couldn't locate here easily or for a reasonable price: Oven thermometer, pot-holders, red hot pepper flakes, powdered hummus, ground cumin (Rimsky Kmin seeds are found here in natural food stores), contact lens rewetting drops & solution, food mill (in the absence of a blender/food processor), mesh strainer, English picture books for our son (we have many in Czech), ink cartridges for the printer, natural foods, cookbooks, toys, toddler clothes, organic peanut butter, sewing kit, cheese grater, teaspoon sized teaspoons, and much,much more. I will have to update this.


That would be fried cheese at the local smoke filled pub. These are recipes I've come up with, while trying to feed us well through the winter. Fresh fruit & veggies are scarce right now, and some standby ingredients (international/ethnic) are very expensive, so I've adapted these to accommodate availability and budget.

Tomato Lentil Curry

Leek - few slices
Garlic - 3 cloves
Ginger - thumb
Canned Tomatoes - 2
Cumin (Rimsky Kmin)
Lemon Juice
Red & Black Pepper (red pepper flakes, when we can spare them as we rely on our family&friends in the states for those)
Lentils - 1.5 cups to 2
Basil - at least a TBS dry
Carrotts - 2-3 sliced

I boil all of these things until lentils are soft over med to low heat. I add water if it starts to dry out (drier than say a chili).

Spinach Pasta

Frozen Spinach
Red & black pepper
Balsamic Vinegar
Olive Oil

Boil Pasta, saute other ingredients until frozen spinach isn't frozen & mix everything together. We serve with Moravian cheese (like swiss) since we can't get parmesan a lot & it's the only available cheese with flavor that isn't blue. Although, if you're a blue cheese fan, I'm sure that would be a wonderful addition. We serve it alongside a couple of slices of fresh tomato.

Tofu Burger

1 brick of tofu or a can of beans
1 handful of walnuts and/or sunflower seeds
1 egg or handful of cheese (usually use Moravian, gouda or parmesan)
1-2 slices of toasted or stale bread, grated with cheese grater or some whole wheat flour
3-5 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs Balsamic Vinegar or wine
1 Tsp black pepper
1 Tsp basil, thyme, oregano & parsley (dried)
Sauted leek slices (3-4 small pieces, we don't like a lot of onion flavor)
2-3 crushed garlic cloves
leftover veggies (or fresh chopped carrot, peas, broccoli, whatever)
Some tomato sauce if too dry, the mix should be sticky
Olive Oil

I put together all of the wet ingredients in a bowl & add the dry spices & tofu (as if to marinate) but am usually too rushed to let sit for more than a minute or two. Then I saute- if I have time-the garlic, leek, and veggies with the nuts and mix everything together with a fork (don't let the hot stuff hit the egg). Then I heat a pan with a little oil to prevent sticking and either create patties or a big fat scramble if I'm too lazy to mold & flip burgers. I serve the scramble with tomato sauce & pasta, or potatoes.

Tomato Sauce

2 Cans crushed tomatoes
1 TBS or 2 of each dry basil, thyme, balsamic vinegar or wine & olive oil
3-6 cloves crushed garlic

Saute herbs, vinegar, oil, then garlic (don't let it turn brown), add tomato before garlic cooks too long & simmer to hearts delight. If we're feeling extra special, I add chopped mushrooms, but too many other vegetables will require more spices, as they weaken the flavor balance. I use this in Italian cooking, for minestrone broth (with a TBS of tamari and a few cups of water and a bay leaf), and to make it mexican I saute a bay leaf, oregano, cumin, red pepper, parsley, and onion or leek & add the sauce. To make enchilada sauce I make a rue out of butter, olive oil, whole wheat flour, and add the mexican version of this sauce. Sometimes I am too lazy to make enchiladas (what with the stuffing & baking) soooo I just make wet burritos by adding pinto, kidney, or black beans, carrot, potato, and cauliflower to the sauce & spooning it into a tortilla (black beans go really well with potatoes & kidneys go really well with the carrots). We serve with yogurt instead of sour cream. I add some of this sauce to rice with cheese, beans, and broccoli to make fried rice.

Tofu Ruben

Sliced sauted tofu (sometimes I add a tsp of tamari)
saurkraut (we like the hame brand in a jar)
mustard & mayo
tomato slices
optional Moravian cheese

I slap these things together and then put the sandwiches back in the hot pan I used to cook the tofu, flip when toasty & throw a small lid on top (to weigh them down like a panini) & serve

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Supertramp lives on

Heard the last hour or so.

"Tommy want little bit of snack?"
"Tommy want a little bit of Pablo(Backyardigans)story?"
"Tommy want a little bit DVD?"
"Tommy want a little bit hard boiled eggy"
"Tommy need a little bit of pants?"
"Tommy want a little bit chocolate treat?"

Give a "little bit" is the newest bargaining tactic. Always in the third person, and "of" and "a" are optional. My favorite is a request for a little bit of pants. How did this one come about? He is naturally warmer than I am so we are comfortable letting him play in a turtle neck shirt, sweater, big boy underwear, and socks while he learns how to use the nocnik (little potty seat) to pee pee like a big boy without having accidents while trying to navigate the mysteries of elastic waisted pants. Other than pant removal, potty training is going well, thank you to Madelaine. On a recent play-date Julie suggested Thomas could use Madelaine's nocnick if he had to go potty, while Madelaine would use a purple one. He never used hers, but agreed to use a yellow one in our flat. So of course the next day I took the first bus, camped out in front of the baby furniture store until the door was unlocked, and bought a yellow nocnik. Fortunately for the salesperson who tried to sell me one that would play music when pee hit the bottom, and was thus facing incomprehensible stream of consciousness rage in English-they had one yellow potty. We've had a week of big boy pants and successful use of the yellow potty.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Art Appreciation

Figure I should post a few images of Vienna to show how much we have to appreciate while we are living this adventure. Just the tip of the iceberg...