Happy Friday

flower

And happy spring! I have welcomed spring with open arms and filled our house with tulips and ranunculus. Happy indeed.

What are you up to this weekend? It’s Portland Dining Month (that’s right, we get a full month), so the husband and I are going to try a new-to-us restaurant tonight and maybe tomorrow as well. Other than that, I have an intensive yoga workshop (eek) and plan to spend as much time as possible in the sunny, 60 degree weather.

In other less happy news, I want to share this article today about elephant riding and the abuse they are put through to become human entertainment. When Jaro and I were in Thailand recently (I promise to share photos and stories of that soon), we knew that would not be one of our activities for the very reasons stated in the article. I only wish we had time to go to the park they mention near Chiang Mai.

As I age, I am becoming a stronger animal activist and believe more and more firmly that wild animals should not be subjected to abuse simply for our enjoyment. While I reveled in my family’s trips to Sea World when I was young, I think we were all naive as to the torture that those animals endure to make a buck. Have you seen the movie Blackfish? And the tiny, dark tanks that the creatures inhabit while training for shows? I don’t care how much the trainers love the “Shamus” out there or what the organizations say in defense of their practices; wild animals should not be in captivity.

Which leads me to another example. Jaro recently had the opportunity to travel to Kenya and go on safari. Maybe he’ll share some photos of that incredible experience here if he finds the time. After seeing lions, elephants, giraffes and all the other members of Simba’s kingdom roaming the plains like nature intended, he (and I!) are now both saddened by the thought of their long lost relatives sitting in penned areas of zoos across the world. While zoos can be wonderfully educating for young people, I don’t know that I’ll want my kids to partake. Fortunately, I have some time to decide that for sure.

Anyway, stay educated, friends. It’s good to be informed and have opinions.

Have a great weekend.

xxx

{iPhone photo from a walk in my neighborhood this week. Spring is here!}

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Happy Friday

Kiev, Ukraine

How is it Friday already? I swear, March hit and suddenly the weekends are sneaking up on me. Do you have any fun plans? We’re having friends over for dinner tonight (gotta show off our new kitchen while it’s still new!) and tomorrow, my sister is coming to visit! I can’t wait to show her around Portland and just hang out with her in real life. We’re so lucky to have technology like Skype and texts to keep us connected, but nothing beats a real hug. I might not let go.

xxx

{photo from happier times in Kiev’s Maidan. thinking about our friends in Ukraine. P.S. It’s not The Ukraine.}

Happy Friday

Hi friends. It’s been a minute. I could fill the page with all my excuses for not writing, but I’ll leave it simply at this: I miss you and I’m back. It’s a new day…

Tower Camping

What are you up to this weekend? Whatever it is, I hope you stay cozy and warm as we finally enter the month of March. (Is it just me or is this winter never-ending?) We are having new kitchen countertops installed and as you other homeowners know, I am just beside myself with glee. I’m even excited for the months of ramen and PBR we’re going to have to suffer through enjoy to pay for them. 😉 Other than that, it’s more house projects (talk about never-ending…) and maybe we’ll sneak out to our favorite neighborhood bar for some non-PBR brews.

Here are two quick links to kick off your weekend:

– Think you know everything about Portland? I was surprised by a number of these. Especially #2!

– Laughed out loud at the Williamsburg of Portland. Agree 100%.

Looking forward to sharing some travel stories with you in the coming weeks. Europe! Kauai! Asia! And that’s just a few. Let’s just say that 2013 went out with a bang.

xxx

{photo from our adventures in lookout tower camping – more on that soon!}

First day in Portland

Hello from the Pacific Northwest! We barely made it to Portland last night. I coughed, sneezed and loudly made my way through two packets of tissue on our flight here, which I’m sure my seat-mates just loved. Really was wishing I had a SARS mask to cover my heinousness. Yet we managed to find a Wendy’s (take that, healthy, organic diet), get to our tiny corporate apartment safely and are almost all unpacked.

As much as I’d love to be out exploring, this flu just won’t quit. Oh, and the rain was coming down sideways for the better part of the morning. So here is my view from my prison cell room:

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We are staying in the Pearl, a charming little patch of the city filled with shops, coffee houses and streetcars, until we buy our home. Despite my health’s (and the ceaseless rain’s) best efforts to keep me in, I think I’m going to see some houses with our agent tomorrow. Until then, it’s bed, tea and reading. Something I actually don’t mind when I’m healthy, but right now it’s torture. hoping to be 100% tomorrow. Or at least 75%. Can’t wait to get out in our new city!

xxx

Happy Holidays

Hi friends. As you know, our expat life came to an abrupt end and we have been busy enjoying this time with our families and friends. Sorry I haven’t posted anything in awhile. I miss it and want to get back on track.

Since we are no longer expats, I have to think about the direction of this blog and the stories I share. We may not be living abroad anymore, but I like to think our life is still pretty interesting. We have a cross country move on the horizon. A house to buy. A life to get on with. New things to do, more places to see. You get what I’m saying.

I’ll be back soon to share some happenings from the past two months. There’s been a lot.

Stay tuned.

In the meantime, I wish you all a truly happy holiday. We have taken much comfort being surrounded by family and friends and have realized, with new and profound perspective, how special these relationships are.

Cherish each other this holiday season and always.

With love,
Julie

Kitty War: It’s over, for now

Muahahaha. This missing cat flyer showed up in our mailbox yesterday. Seems to me that “Bamboo” (the culprit of annoying midnight howling and not one, but two recent break-ins) finally met its untimely deserved end. We had been planning to send the owner a cat soup recipe if it bothered us again, but now it looks like we don’t have to! I wondered why our alley has been quite for the past few days.

I suppose it could still be alive and tormenting other victims. It’s not over til it’s over…

Kitty War: It happened again

Yep. It’s like Revenge of the Cats around here. As you know, we had a cat burglar creep into our bedroom recently, forcing us to utilize our window screens for their intended purpose. Well, this little feline isn’t about to let that stop it from breaking and entering.

The other morning when I was brushing my teeth, I looked over at our washer/dryer and saw dirty paw prints on it. We’re dog-sitting for some friends right now so I asked Jaro if he had brought them into the bathroom (which would have been very bizarre in itself). Nope. So I start investigating a little and find the evidence. Smudged paw prints on this tiny window that we left open:

And wispy white hairs all over my toiletries:

We had another cat invasion. Now is probably a good time to mention that I’m extremely allergic to cats. Like, can’t breathe, blotchy itchy skin, watery eyes, constant sneezing. Just ask my parents (they have two cats… which might be a ploy to keep me out of their house). It’s miserable and I can’t be around them. After checking the tub (pulling back the shower curtain very, very slowly, horror movie style), I realized that the cat had already made its escape. Thankfully, we had kept the bathroom door closed that night, so it snooped around in there and left.

For some reason, cats are always attracted to me…

This brings to mind another cat invasion we experienced that I’d like to share with you. When we were camping in the Sahara Desert this winter, we were ambushed by the camp cat in the middle of the night. It scared me to death. After all, we were in the middle of the Sahara Desert. I thought Algerian bandits were trying to break into our tent! Nope, just your friendly campground cat wanting to snuggle on your bed. The Sahara is really cold at night, you guys. After we got over our initial terror, we did manage to snap this picture of it:

And yes, we stayed in a circus tent. Anyway, this is apparently a theme in our lives. I’m sure this isn’t the end of the cat burglar saga…

xxx

Blog + iPad Update

Hi friends! Real quick, fun tip for ya’ll with iPads that follow me. All one or two of you. You can add us to your homescreen! It’s real easy. If you are looking at the site in Safari, there is a menu item at the top “Add to homescreen”. It turns our blog into it’s own app! And it looks like this…

 

Isn’t it cool?? I think it’s cool.

xxx

Kitty War: It finally happened

This morning.

At around 5:00.

We have joked with all our of visitors about putting screens in the windows here. (Something I guess I have failed to mention on this blog until now.) Why? Well, it’s not for flies, honey. In fact, no one in Amsterdam (all of Europe?) cares about pesky flies anywhere – not your house, the cafe down the street, the upscale restaurant, and certainly not the market.

Well, we have screens. For a very particular reason, which we were warned about upon moving in. We just don’t use them. And last night (like most summer nights here) was pleasant and mild, so our windows were open, letting in a cool breeze…

A loud THUMP woke me up. Startled, I shot my eyes open and what do I see? A cat jumped into our bedroom! We have stairs just outside the bedroom windows that lead to our roof, so the little mangy thing invited itself in!

Cue panicked yelling, Jaro waking up in a frenzy, the cat howling at the top of its lungs and both of us frantically trying to catch it and throw it out the window to its death and back on the stairs. Eventually (after probably 30 agonizing seconds), it was cornered and released.

Going forward, we will be using our screens.