My book companions in 2014

These are my fun friends of the past year:

  1. El amor en los tiempos del cólera by Gabriel García Márquez
  2. The Darling Buds of May by H.E. Bates
  3. Ida by Gertrude Stein
  4. Despre bucurie in Est si in Vest si alte eseuri by Andrei Plesu
  5. The Hacienda: How Not to Run a Club by Peter Hook
  6. Intre Dumnezeu si neamul meu by Petre Tutea
  7. The Disinformer by Peter Ustinov
  8. Valsul de adio by Milan Kundera
  9. The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo
  10. Durabila iubire by Ian McEwan
  11. Monsieur Lambert by Jean-Jacques Sempé
  12. Una boda en Haiti: Historia de una amistad by Julia Alvarez
  13. The Obscene Image: Parisian Hospital Break Room Graffiti by Gilles Tondini
  14. The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
  15. Bride of New France by Suzanne Desrochers
  16. El año en que me enamoré de todas by Use Lahoz
  17. The Leopard by Jo Nesbo
  18. Verdi’s Shakespeare: Men of the Theatre by Gary Willis
  19. The Norfolk Mystery: With 29 Places and 22 Pictures by Ian Sansom
  20. The Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith
  21. Antrenamentul comunicarii sau arta de a ne intelege by Vera F. Birkenbihl
  22. Phantom by Jo Nesbo
  23. The Rainbow by D.H. Lawrence
  24. The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety by Alan W. Watts

And a new obsession, children’s books:

  1. Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty
  2. Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
  3. The Flat Rabit by Bárður Oskarsson
  4. Aspen Roots by Paul Sullivan
  5. I am an artist by Marta Altés
  6. Henri’s Walk to Paris by Leonore Klein
  7. Melvin: The Luckiest Monkey in the World by Claudia Boldt
  8. Advice to Little Girls by Mark Twain

Let 2015 bring more fun readings!

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Thank you 2014

Dear 2014,

You were a odd one. Here are some of your:

Travel highlights:

  • Attended three weddings. Family wedding Florida, adopted-cousins wedding in Sardinia and friend’s wedding in Toronto. All spectacular.
  • Secluded beaches in Sardinia.
  • Family time and delicious seafood in Norfolk, UK.
  • Flooded Piazza San Marco in Venice with funky Manchester crew.
  • Mountain Hike for Canada Day at Mont – Tremblant.
  • Ice Climbing at Beaver Creek near Haliburton.
  • Skying lessons at Blue Mountain.
  • Detroit Institute of Art and Weekend in Detroit.
  • Niagara on the Lake Lunches and Wine Tasting.

Personal highlights:

  • Keeping up the plan to be best Aunt to 2 pair of twins. I think by the end of the year I had 4 kiddies who can pick me in a crowd. Tremendous success.
  • Our Etsy shop has increased sales by 100% that is two sales have made me really giddy, super giddy. They were sales from our neighbour down south and I can attest I do not know these lovely people and I did not guilt trip them into buying them. Also very proud that both prints were Romanian-based.
  • Upgraded my Camera.
  • Read 24 books and 8 children books.
  • Found a Yoga place I/we like.
  • My software development work has extended to include both medical assessment as well as clinical. It is something I wanted for a few years now.
  • Walks in parks even on my own, without Husband pushing me out of the house.
  • Decided on the type of place we want to live in.
  • Had my 15 seconds of fame by ending up on stage in a Romanian play.
  • Stuart, our Norfolk Pine Tree is growing beautifully.

Toronto highlights:

  • Long walks through parks. Worth mentioning again because they are some of the most peaceful moments we have.
  • Friend’s visits from overseas helped us walk around downtown more than usual.
  • A visit to the Royal Ontario Museum.
  • Theatre plays: Some at Passe Murraille Theatre, Book of Mormon, a trip to Stratford and one to Shaw Festival, some Romanian theatre and Australian Opus.
  • Good food: Rose and Sons, Smoked and Cracked, Café Belong brunch, hot chocolate at Soma and NADÈGE and some other regulars.

I call you odd 2014 because it is hard to classify you. You were a year of searches, patience, lots of work, and learning. It is easier to channel your peaceful self when all is fun and games, travel and good times. It is equally important to find the same balance when work takes precedence and things do not move at the speed you want them to. I am lucky to enjoy both my work and my hobbies so balancing it all and myself is achievable with some good nights of sleep. The key to all, as simple as it may sound, is to take it one day at a time. So 2014 you really pushed me to take it one day at a time.

Before we let 2015 take center stage here are a few highlight photos of the year, all based in our lovely Canada. Wishing everyone a peaceful 2015.

Around Toronto.

Around Toronto.

Around Toronto.

Around Toronto.

Around Toronto.

Around Toronto.

Around Toronto.

Around Toronto.

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First Sale

My Etsy shop has been an endeavor close to my heart since its start in 2010. I mentioned before that it was originally a venue for my mother to extend her passion for knitting and tailoring. It was subsequently put on pause for more than a year while we were traveling. This then helped further shape the content where I got a chance to combine my love of traveling, photography and paper.

I created my first prints while in Australia, post our trip to Lady Elliot Island. The process of creating these prints is captivating, and after years of appreciating them in many blogs and websites, sometimes in real life, I decided this is the way I wanted to go forward. I love the steps: take the photo, spend time in front of the computer sorting and choosing the ones that speak louder than others, decide on colours, choose printing papers, find a title, and sign.

My portfolio slowly started growing and with that came long sessions with family and/or friends to sit through viewings and with their help we would decide which ones are good to put in the shop. My first “friendly” sale was  when a friend of mine bought a print for a wedding present. As a milestone, it excited me, scared me, made me proud, made me question myself and it pushed me further. It was an odd mix of feelings but overall the winning  thought that I would connect with someone else through a print and those moments were chained together was exhilarating.

Husband Chris has been a key part of this and he has viewed most of the photos for hours, he has helped select them, drove with me to the printing studio, waited there with me and every other step you can think of. I am a dream talker with him, I day dream and talk about it and I would ask the “what if this happens?” questions. He has kept it simple and shaped my goal to  one point: One sale from someone who does not know you.

That day came Jun 30th 2014 while we were in Mont Tremblant and as mosquitos were eating away at us in a beautiful scenery I was over the moon with excitement. Over the moon. This is the print which made its way to someone’s home:

Danube Delta - Incognito

Thank you very much First Buyer and know the moment I saw 1 in my Orders list, a dream came true.

Now onto to other adventures to be photographed and shared.

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Record cabinet gets a new life

I notice that every other post, I make a note that I am months late in writing it. By now it is safe to assume this always happens. The story of this beautiful cabinet starts summer 2013. We rolled into a content sale after following through a notice on the street in our neighborhood. I have seen garage sales around and I thought it is the same thing. Rookie assumption, this is a different ball game; basically you walk through someone’s home, hoping they just moved and not passed away and everything has a price tag on it. Somehow we ended up in the garage, picking up a pair of badminton rackets, a game of garden croquet and a record cabinet. All together we spent 12 dollars on these items. We proudly put the cabinet in the front seat and drove it home. We still leave with my mom at the moment so she gave us a suspicious look as we confidently declared we are refurbishing it. Let’s just say this is not our area of expertise so her doubts were not unfounded. We slowly started gathering tools to sand it, fix the holes, remove the doors and paint it.

Ingredients

Cabinet 1.

Process
This was our first experience in giving a piece of furniture a makeover so I started with the easiest part, looking where to buy paint. We were very good and tried to buy environmentally friendly and whatever other stuff friendly we could, anything but budget friendly if possible. We waltzed into Homestead House Milk Paint and hoped all is as easy as slapping a new coat of paint on it and that is it. The visit was enlightening and we quickly discovered that in order for the new layer of paint to look as good as the pieces in the shop we needed to strip it down as close as possible to its natural state. We left the shop with colours made from milk protein from New Zealand, of course we bought if it is from New Zealand. Husband Chris still thinks of our trip there as possibly even better than our wedding. Paints check, next step was to go to Lee Valley Tools and spend another 100 dollars if not more on painting and sanding tools as well as a pasta machine since it was on sale. Notice how quickly we turned the 8-dollar cabinet into a fun long-term investment.

With a box full of everything we needed we started the job. Surprise surprise, hand sanding is a hard thing to do. It was an unbalanced effort where Husband Chris did most of it. It was hard work especially since the cabinet had several layers of varnish on. For the top, we would crack one layer and then a second one would pop out. The sides were a bit better. By the time we finished the top and sides we wisely decided the inside looks warmer and better left as is.

The painting part was definitely more fun. It took a bit to get the right balance of water and milk protein for an acceptable consistency. We also did some test runs on the doors of the cabinet, which we removed since we liked the open look. It was a good idea to help us choose which colours we want. I enjoyed painting it on our balcony and I managed to dirty everything around me, including my clothes and hands. During my Watery Painting course I  created a whole line of clothing for myself with the paint I dropped on my clothes.

Cabinet 2.
Cabinet 3.

Lessons Learned
Just because we paid less than 10 dollars for it, that does not make it a bargain. We ended up paying more than 150 for tools and paints. True we could have chosen cheaper options but didn’t hurt to support local businesses.

Painting is fun but messy, even for a little touch, I still managed to dirty lots of things around me. Definitely this needs to be done in an environment where it is ok to get messy and possibly re-use already stained clothes.

Cabinet 4.We loved doing it up and it is something that I want to do again with other stuff in the future.

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Maybe I should valentine more

I have still to embrace Valentine’s, for a few reasons which are a bit too preachy for this post. Actually this post is meant to celebrate a lovely surprise I got the other day when one of my prints was recommended as part of a blog post entitled ‘Make my Heart Sing Toronto’ dedicated to local Toronto shopping for Valentine’s. Over the last few years I have tried to educate myself to become a more informed consumer as well as a better supporter of smaller local businesses. Even more reason to be happy to be mentioned in this context.

The blog where it was featured, Filthy Rebena comes from two lovely ladies, Natalie and Darlene, part of a special sisterhood which works at finding exquisite vintage clothing pieces. They also have an Etsy shop where you can browse their finds.

This is the featured print as well as their generous description:

Roses have come to symbolise love and romance – there’s no question about it. How about a local alternative to the usual bouquet of roses this Valentines? This rose print comes from a curious, traveling photographer named Anca. This limited edition photographic print is inspired from one of her trips to Brisbane, Australia. This print is guaranteed to inject a fusion of colors and lavish shades into your home. 100% beautiful.

Australia - Rose Life

Thank you for the lovely surprise!!

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Thank you 2013

I had a similar post at the beginning of the previous year and it felt like a good idea to recap some of the highlight moments of 2013. We started the year in one part of the world and ended it in another. In between these, here are some of the moments.

Travel highlights:

  • Rainbow Lorekeets coming everyday to collect the nectar from a tree in Husband Chris’ mom and dad’s garden.
  • Lady Elliot Island. I have added to my happy place, the moment when I kept cleaning the back of the green turtle and as she would see me drift away with the current, she would let herseft drift too.
  • Louvre and British Museum, following the stories of Art History from Khan Academy, we went in search of some of the pieces described there.
  • Napoli. Loved every part of this trip and it made my introduction to Italy memorable.
  • Easter in Galipoli and Conversano at a Masseria in Southern Italy.
  • Picking wild garlic in the woods in Romania and walking around Bucharest in spring.
  • Witnessing the passion of the people working at Noma, Copenhagen.
  • First mini trips around North America with Husband Chris, family and friends: Montreal, New Jersey and Brooklyn.

Personal highlights:

  • Started the year with one pair of twins, ended it with a second one. Both my brother and Husband Chris’ brother have a pair of boy and girl twins. All four are spectacular and we are very lucky to have them in our lives.
  • Spent time with all parents during the year. In our case, with them over three continents, it is a highlight.
  • Had our first guests in Toronto, both family and friends.
  • Started my Etsy shop with prints dear to me.
  • Bought an old piece of furniture and restored it into a beautiful record cabinet, more about that in its own post later on.
  • Read 30 books.
  • Sorted through a lot of our packed boxes.

On a personal level, it has been the year when all the big changes we were going through, have started wrapping up. The move to Toronto, Canada finally completed in May. It has been exciting, fun, surprising, scary, hard at times and probably many other things. It is not my first move, not even my second. It gets easier with each one, as I learned to embrace the change in a proactive and curious manner, creating a great adventure out of it. With that being said, we have moments when we miss people, things and places. I think it is important to acknowledge the richness of those emotions as well. They only show we have felt love where we went and it is normal to cherish it even if it is far.

And now onto our new home with some Toronto highlights:

  • We have discovered some nice walking paths and parks around our place.
  • Kayaking on the Humber River. It was a great surprise to see such beauty right here within our reach.
  • Discovering the fun parts of Toronto: CN Tower visit, a couple of theatre plays,  some great food. The impressive multiculturalism of the city translates very well to a multitude of food choices, both for buying and dining. I have documented some on this Pinterest board.
  • We have welcomed Stuart in our lives, a Norfolk Pine tree who I hope will accompany us for many years to come.
  • We enjoyed three seasons here and they were all intense and beautiful. The summer hot and humid at times, a beautifully coloured fall in Toronto and briefly in Montreal and proper winter. We witnessed an ice storm. More importantly, we saw frozen trees for the first times in our lives.
  • A trip to the cottage where we saw a snapping turtle, loons and bears, and the most adorable chipmuk.
  • Husband Chris added a few more, of his specifically: the embracing of local sports and a job search which ended close to Christmas on a high note and embarked him on a new adventure.

Before we let 2014 take center stage here is a video and a few photos to salute the year passed.

Canada.

Canada.

Canada.

Canada.

Canada.

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My book companions in 2013

I used to write small posts for each book in a Book Diary section of the blog but for the moment I have retired it. Each one of these books was a rewarding read and all these companions were sources of joy and learning. The ones in bold are ones that really stood out:

  1. Songlines by Bruce Chatwin
  2. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  3. Lizard by Banana Yoshimoto
  4. The Firm by John Grisham
  5. Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
  6. The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng
  7. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
  8. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  9. The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng
  10. Femei celebre pe divan by Catherine Siguret
  11. Death of Ivan Ilych and Other Stories by Leo Tolstoy
  12. A Lotus Grows in the Mud by Goldie Hawn
  13. Sînt o babă comunistă! by Dan Lungu
  14. Manual del Guerrero de la Luz by Paulo Coehlo
  15. The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak
  16. Amintiri si Povesti mai Deocheate by Neagu Djuvara
  17. Romanul Adolescentului Miop by Mircea Eliade
  18. Veronika Decide Morir by Paulo Coehlo
  19. Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence
  20. Culoarea norocului by Anca Fusariu
  21. Trei zile cu mama by François Weyergans
  22. The Joke by Milan Kundera
  23. El Beso de la Mujer Araña by Manuel Puig
  24. Exista istorie adevarata? by Neagu Djuvara
  25. Amantul by Marguerite Duras
  26. Comedii la Portile Orientului by Andrei Pleșu
  27. Letters of Two Brides by Honoré de Balzac
  28. Baudolino by Umberto Eco
  29. Vipera sugrumara by Hervé Bazin
  30. Maddalena by Mircea Eliade

Let 2014 bring more fun readings!

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Photographic Prints

There is a reason why the headline of this blog is ‘Slowly getting there’. I seem to be like a turtle, slowly treading through various paths until I find my way. This time this concerns photography and the end result. I have been taking photos for a while now, and for the past few years I have been looking for a way to bring them into the physical realm.

Inspired from various blogs and artist’s pages, I grew to love the look and feel of photographic prints. I am finally at the point where I decided on a set of photos/storylines and I printed them on beautiful rough rag paper. As it stands my plan is to make only 10 pieces for each one. These prints are from Lady Elliot Island and they found a home but I plan to make these available on our Etsy shop soon enough, within 6 months or less.

The first print is an aerial view of Lady Elliot Island.

Prints.

The second print is a Loggerhead Hatchling’s first encounter with the ocean.

Prints.

Prints.

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Watery Painting

I have a history of almost doing things. When I applied for university, I almost did Business Management. I ended up doing Computer Science. When we came to Australia I wanted to take a course different from anything I have done before so I chose a Book Binding course. I ended up doing Watery Painting Techniques. My first ‘almost’ has led me to a path I am content with and I feel fate has chosen well for me. My second ‘almost’ seems to keep me happy and relaxed, although I feel like an infant taking her first steps. I did check with our almost three years old niece and nephew and they encourage me to keep going. The course was at Brisbane Institute of Art with the lovely artist, Svetlana Trefilova.

It was a perfect course for me since I had zero experience and I have never painted except maybe when I was a kid with no standout moments to remember. It was two full days of playing around with colors, looking for patterns, learning about various techniques and with no pressure to create particular shapes unless we felt like it. After the course I continued and each day I would relax, tune out for an hour or two and come back with another ruined t-shirt and colored hands.

Here are a few finished results that found a home. One claimed by Chris, and other pieces by parents. There are a combination of acrylic paints, ink and natural pressed flowers collected around Brisbane such as Frangipani and Poinciana. Today I even completed the scariest part of all, putting my name on them.

Painting.

Painting.

Painting.

Painting.

Painting.

Painting.

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Eternal comfort of the spotless kitchen

Lizard and Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto

The Lizard is a collection of short stories, which I picked up similarly to ‘The Firm’ at Lady Elliot during a storm. I don’t read enough short stories and I also don’t read poetry, poetry even less than short stories. I need to rectify that. I enjoyed reading this collection and the one that stood out was ‘Helix’ and the familiarity it brought as I quickly picked the similarities to ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’. I checked the writers of the movie and Banana Yoshimoto is not one of them so it is just one big coincidence.

‘The Kitchen’ is the story of a young woman losing her grandmother and finding comfort in unexpected places. As her life changes, there is one source of continuous peace and that is the kitchen. I really liked this aspect of the book. The idea that either with happiness or sorrow, there is one constant place of peace is beautiful. And when that place is the kitchen it brings back many memories. My grandmother was a brilliant cook and I remember so many things about her around the kitchen. Even the way I used to help her wash dishes is still at times very familiar. My mom is a good cook and now Chris is a good cook so I surround myself with people who love food and find it as an excuse to bring joy and happiness to their lives and mine.

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