Saturday, May 29, 2010

University of Iowa campus

My trip to the Midwest included a tour of my old college campus. My childhood friend Nando, who just completed his first ebook: Dating Stuff: The Things About Dating You Ought To Know, took a break from his hectic schedule to travel from New York to visit us in Iowa. And since both us attended the University of Iowa, we wanted to see what buildings were affected by the flood of June 2008. Unfortunately, the School of Art and Music were damaged and have been temporarily relocated to various locations around campus. Other than that, what you notice immediately are the tulips decorating the campus.
Behind the tulips is the OC or Old capitol building, located at the heart of the Pentacrest, this former state capitol building was given to the University by state legislators when they moved Iowa’s capital from Iowa City to Des Moines in1857, all this and much more you can learn by visiting it's museum.

We also walked past the bar Airliner where the famous actor, Ashton Kutcher was discovered by a modeling agent. In case you are wondering, Ashton was no longer a student when I enrolled so it didn't have anything to do with my decision to enroll, although it would have been kinda cool to have run into him.

The building where my friendNando spent many of his days and nights writing away. And I'll say that it paid off as he already wrote an e-book and is currently working on publishing his first book!!

My friend German, an amazing photographer with great talent.You can find some of this work here.

During the summer days you will find students on the lawn sun tanning, with their Spanish books left unopened while they observe their surroundings and wonder if they should join their peers for a game of frisbee.
The Colleges of Law, Nursing, Dentistry, Pharmacy, and Public Health are across the Iowa River, along with the U Of I Hospital which I might mention is recognized as one of the best hospitals in the United States and Iowa's only comprehensive academic medical center. Maybe with this tour Beli will be interested in becoming a Hawkeye. Too early to tell? I agree.

So what do you say if we hop on the Cambus (a free University bus system) for our next stop the Java House for conversation, inspiration and relaxation?
Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Crepes with lemon zest

Last night we prepared crepes for our guests who were visiting us from London. Since Hubby is an excellent crepe maker, he doesn't follow a recipe. But don't worry, I took meticulous notes.

"What ingredients do we need to make Croatian crepes?" Good question! Here is the recipe. You will need: 2 eggs, 1 cup of flour, 1/2 teaspoonful of baking soda, 1 teaspoonful sugar, 1 cup of milk and one lemon zest. (this makes about 8-12 depending on the size of pan)

How to Prepare Crepes:

1. Mix milk and eggs, then add the rest of the ingredients. Feel free to improvise: you can add more milk or flour if your batter is too runny or too thick.

2. Pour a little vegetable oil on a folded paper towel, and wipe the pan evenly.

3. Pour in 2 - 3 tbsp. of batter and quickly move pan around, so that batter spreads evenly, covering the whole surface with a thin layer.

4. Let cook for about 1 minute. Then, flip with a metal spatula, and cook other side for about 30 seconds.

5. Repeat the steps until you run out of batter.

Beli was a great assistant.
We normally use orange zest but since we were out of oranges we used lemon zest. In my opinion, they turned out excellent!
Crepes can have any sort of filling (jam, chocolate, fruit, even peanut butter) but in our household, we use the chocolate-hazelnut spread Nutella. You can eat them rolled up like a burrito (my preferred way) or fold them in quarters (fold in half then fold again.) Yum, yum!

What is your favorite topping for crepes?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sunday: a day for celebration

Having an interesting conversation with Abuelita. I think she is asking if she could have a sip of her kava but Baka Nada said, "ne, ne."

Beli's great-grandparents celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary this past Sunday. This bird sang in their honor. (Wonder what type of bird it was.)

Beli con Daddy, Abuelito Ljubo y Bisabuelito Uros. Four generations.
Beli's Bisabuelita Vida working on her garden. She is picking soybeans, the vegetable that's in season, along with green onions.
These are the jalapeno seeds hubby planted. I'm looking forward to having salsa everyday this summer. Poor chickens were running away from Beli.

She is trying to get their attention.

How would you like your potatoes, baked or fried?

These sweet cherries are just about ready.

But it will still be a few weeks for the figs to ripen.
Some of the produce we brought home with us from the garden in Bribir. What are some of your favorite veggies/ fruits to eat during the summer?

Friday, May 21, 2010

One duck, two ducks

Today we drove to Solin, located about 8km north of Split, as the weather was perfect for an outdoor adventure. We ran on the grass and fed the ducks at the pond.

"Pato ven, pato ven," Beli was calling out to the other ducks to come and get some food.

I tried to study my Croatian lessons since I'm one month behind, but I only opened the book to the first page because Beli insisted that I played ball with her and daddy and I couldn't resist joining in the fun.

Looking forward to another beautiful day tomorrow. May you have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Lessons learned: Is moving overseas a Good idea?

Today I found an article titled: Is Moving Overseas a Bad Idea? and as I read the author's eleven reasons of why it was a bad idea, I wondered about the choices I made and was inspired to write this post, to tell you my reasons for disagreeing with what most of the article had to say. (Note: you can click here to read the article in its entirety and to avoid confusion, the first statement is directly from the article and the second is my opinion.)
1. You may stay longer than planned: The longer you stay the more life at home will go on without you. You will miss the small and big family events. Your friends will develop routines that don’t include you. Making time for your phone calls will become more of an effort for them.

I will admit that returning to the Midwest for a family visit after a year of living in Croatia was more difficult to adjust than I thought. I knew my family had busy schedules and routines to follow. I tried to be flexible, yet there were moments when I felt like an inconvenience. For example, having transportation available was a major struggle, maybe because I'm the type of person that has a difficult time asking for help. You might say, "couldn't you rent a car?" I guess I could have, but life is not always that simple or is it? Alright, as you might have guessed, I mainly agree with this first statement, now on to the second one.

2. It is more difficult to raise children without family and friends nearby.

Since my husband's family live in town and are only minutes away, I would have to disagree with this statement. My in-laws are wonderful grandparents and baby-sitters. And if I need additional moral support, my Mom and sisters are only a phone call away!
3. Cultural Isolation: You will not have a shared history with anyone, except your partner if you have one and then only if he or she is from your home country. You won’t understand the in-jokes at dinner parties, you won’t know the good places to go for buying wardrobe basics, or the best grocery stores for the widest selection or the places to avoid at holidays or that shops close for half a day in the middle of the week.

I would argue, "what about the new experiences you are having in your new country, isn't that worth some value, remember my frog incidence and the rooster story?" You see, we can all have in-jokes. So go on, share them with your acquaintances! And about the good places to go shopping, "couldn't you ask your neighbors, co-workers, friends?"

4. Culture Shock: It’s hideous. And it is not just for new expats—even after living somewhere five or 10 years you will still experience culture shock. Everyone gets culture shock. You will not be an exception no matter how open minded you think you are, no matter how much you think you want to live in another country.

Hideous...Really? Scary, maybe but hideous? Repulsive? I would have to disagree and I would be lying if I told you that I haven't experienced culture shock, but that is part of growing up, of being open-minded you either embrace your new country and its culture or you find it repulsive and spend your days counting the minutes until you return home. Life is full of choices. So what will it be? For me, I made the choice to live in a foreign country with hubby and allow Beli the opportunity to know her other side of the family plus I'm enjoying my time as a stay-at-home Mom.
5. Homesickness: This will hit when you’ve just returned from a visit home, or when you’ve had a bad night sleep with a new baby or when you’re sick of the weather, or when you see a family get together and you know your family are getting together without you. Or it will hit when your washing machine breaks down and you have no idea how to navigate the little nuances of repairman culture in the host country. How could that be difficult, you ask? (Here all the seasoned expats have a knowing chuckle…)

Yes there have been times when I'm homesick and wonder why couldn't we live in the same country? But for the most part, I feel blessed and very lucky to have two loving families, even if they are oceans apart. Who would have imagined that one day I would be living overseas. I tell you, life works in mysterious ways.

So I chose to only discuss 5 of the 11 reasons because the other six I felt could apply to any situation in life and not necessary to moving overseas. I'm also interested in what other expats have to say about these statements. Do you agree or disagree? And what about the family and friends left behind, what are your thoughts, "is moving overseas a good or bad idea?"

Monday, May 17, 2010

It's Croatia Time

"Mami quiero chai!"

I woke up confused and wondered what time it was. "Mami, quiero chai," repeated Beli. I called out to my hubby who was in the living room, "Beli wants tea." He walked in and greeted us good morning and as I rubbed my eyes I asked for the time, he replied "it's 12:30 and my parents have invited us for lunch." For clarification purposes I asked, "is that Iowa or Croatia time?" He said, "Croatian time." Wow, I didn't realize how tired I was. This jet-lag is no joke, but then again, I was up for 24 hours straight so I guess that takes a toll on your body. Hint.hint. I'm not getting any younger.

In a way, I feel like the trip to Iowa was a dream. Weird hu? Has this ever happened to you, that you go on vacation and then wonder if it was real? (Note: I'm working on several posts from the trip Beli and I took to the States, but I also wanted to keep you posted on our current day to day activities.) Thanks for being patient.

And it's only been 2 days since we arrived and Beli is ready to travel again! Our next destination? Grandma's house!

For lunch: Mussels in olive oil, fresh parsley and garlic with warm bread from the oven. Delicioso!

And for dessert, a yummy white layered fruit cake. Did I mention what a great cook my mother-in-law is? How did you spend your weekend? By the way is it raining world wide?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Returning to Croatia from the States

Tomorrow Beli and I are flying back to Croatia. It has been a fun, stressful, exhilarating, sad, and happy 30 days. I have many pictures to share with you about our trip but I can't do it all in one post, so as soon as I get over the jet-lag and things are back to 'normal' I will be back to share all the details with you. Here are a few pictures from our various trips around the Midwest and Texas.

Driving over 2,100 miles across Iowa, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma to get to Texas. Somehow I managed to get lost in Dallas. All in all it was a 19 hour trip. Yes, I was exhausted but happy to have visited my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends from high school. On our way back from spending one week in Texas with my Mom's family.

Grandma's garden.
Beli enjoyed playing in the grass and getting her shoes dirty in the mud.

Have a wonderful weekend. By the way, Happy Cinco de Mayo and Mother's day and any other holiday I might have missed. Be back soon!

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