My list for a happier life! Rated “E” for Everyone!

Lately, I have been on a mission to find a way to live my life more fully. I was overwhelmed for sometime after moving to Serbia. Getting my “Sea Legs” has taken more time than usual. I think having a child pull your attention does that.

Now I have found some purpose just looking for one. Ironic right? But I know that won’t last long. I must find something to do here besides the farming bit that I love.

In the mean time, I have found that one must choose to be happy. One must look for the things that will do that. Here are things I have found super helpful to me as an expat but would do for anyone anywhere. Really.

They are in no particular order. Lots of them will work in tandem with another!

Take a walk and enjoy the scenery. This can be difficult in some places. But it can be done if you are dedicated. I do this all the time in my “new” small town. I find gorgeous sites locals don’t even notice. They ask me, “where is that house?” Of course they have passed it a ton of times, but have forgotten the beauty around them. I found the same to be true when i visited the U.S. last winter. We really do become immune to beauty that is all around us.

The walk will clear your mind. New ideas or solutions will come to you. Being outside is good. Get out of the house! You don’t know what or who you will discover.

Make friends with your neighbors if you can. But really. Make friends. It is important to your well-being.

It is important to have good friends. Sometimes that friend is a dog or a cat. That is o.k. Chances are, you will find someone. Be open. and make some friends!

Helping others can do wonders for you. It really makes you feel good to do things to help others. it could be just listening to an old person who is lonely. It could be opening a door for someone. Moving a snail from the sidewalk to the grass. Whatever! just help someone!

Give Giving is like helping. It really does make us feel good. Even if it is just a smile, give your smile to a stranger.

Smile. Even if others don’t smile back. Living in Eastern Europe makes this a bit challenging at times. People don’t smile back. They don’t even wave back at my little girl when she waves. But she keeps on waving. And I keep on smiling. I hope that the smile does something to brighten someone’s day. If not, it gives some sour old coot something to wonder about. “why was that weird lady smiling at me?”

Adopt an animal. Animals bring an immeasurable sense of joy. An animal friend can limit loneliness to nothing. It can ease culture shock to a minimum. I know this from experience.

If you live in a place where you can have an animal and there are street animals. Adopt one of them. Take food with you when you go for a walk and share with your homeless furry friends.

Listen to music! It is medicine for the soul. Find some fun stuff. Upbeat Dance music always does it for me. and Dance it out!

Write! This blog is a huge bit of therapy for me. It is an outlet, a diary, a chronicle of my life that clears my head and gives me purpose. I hope sometimes that it helps others. But there is no doubt, it helps me beyond belief. I am happier because I write.

What makes you happy?

Life hacks… How to make Coconut oil, Coconut Milk, and Coconut Butter!!

You put the lime it the coconut and drink ’em both up. Ah, I love that song, it makes me want to dance. My love for coconut is just as strong… and it doesn’t have to be in a Pina Colada for me to enjoy it! But that is one of my fav ways! 😉

Just yesterday I found a video that will give me an even greater love for this sweet treat! I am seriously giddy and I can not wait to go out and buy a coconut or two!!

What is stopping me you ask? Well, for the third, or maybe the fourth day in a row is raining cats and dogs and I am feeling a bit achy with a sore throat.  Who knows. Maybe I will venture out in just a bit when the rain lets up.

Oil pulling the strong come of an ancient Ayurvedic practice is all the rage right now. I admit I have become a follower. The Hindu people are really savvy, what proof do I have of that? The Kama Sutra is actually a part of their Bible! HELLLOOO!

I have made oil pulling a part of my morning routine for over a month. My teeth are slightly and I mean just slightly whiter. But I continue to do it because it is improving my gum health.  My gums used to bleed every time I brushed. I noticed a few days ago, they hadn’t been bleeding at all for a week or more.

For the last six months or more I have been reading about the benefits of coconut oil on hair and skin, and of course in food! While I was home at Christmas, I bought a large jar of it. It is impossible to find here in Serbia as far as I have heard. It is an hours drive to find coconut milk, and I had never even heard of coconut butter before. But!!! I just found a video on how to make it. I am thrilled.

I can’t wait to buy a coconut and give it a go. Especially since the oil I  have been using is really poor quality. There is no coconut aroma or taste, and I wonder what process it went through to lose all that yumminess. I am sure it wasn’t the healthiest way to go. But it was my first time buying it.

Now, I can do it all myself and I know it will be healthy!

If you can find a coconut you can make the oil or butter or milk! Get to it. No more excuses friends!

Bonus Classic Coconutty Music!

Ah, a slumber party like that would be awesome! Of course a long lie in the next day would be key as well. 😉

 

 

 

 

 

Spicy Thai Pumpkin Soup

I made some yummy soup today. This is the second time and I love it! The only thing that could make it better is Jasmine rice. One of the down falls of shopping small town Serbia.

I am one of those people who uses recipes as a guide line. As an expat, that sort of fluidity is an asset as not all ingredients are at my reach in this town or country!

I found the recipe on Pinterest here, my go to for recipes nowadays.

First, I unthawed the 2+ cups of pumpkin I had gotten from Deda’s garden last fall.  The recipe called for a cup and a half.  For the rest of the ingredients I upped the  amount called for.

The pumpkin or tikva as it is called in Serbian was left over from  last falls garden harvest here in Knjazevac. The first half was used to make this soup the first time and a nice pumpkin bread. Yum! Fresh pumpkin is great for cooking and freezing later. I prefer freshly thawed to freshly cooked. It is smoother less fibrous and needs less blending.

The recipe on pinterest calls for 2 minced cloves of garlic minced. I used four. I like garlic a lot.

It also calls for  1 to 2 teaspoons of grated ginger. I used about two thumbs of fresh ginger/dzumbir and diced before sauteing.

I don’t have sirachi or cayenne pepper. I used two of the tiny super spicy peppers they call mouse poops in Thailand. The proper name is Bird’s eye chili. This made my soup super spicy. Last time I only used one. I felt like living on the wild side today.

No broth to be found here so I used the spice here used in all soups and lots of other dishes. Zacin C or Vegeta will do. It is the same as throwing bouillon cubes into some water to create a nice broth.

I sauteed the minced garlic, The finely diced spicy mini peppers, and the tiny bits of ginger in 2 table spoons of coconut oil with a bit of the coconut flour. Then I added 2 cups of water and the seasoning to the frying pan.

Then added the mix to the rest of the pumpkin and coconut flour in the blender.

That filled the blender to the brim. With the lid tightly attached, I mixed it all up. Then it went into a big pot to simmer on the stove. After 30 minutes, we ate. A couple spoons of rice in a bowl with a few ladles of soup. Bon Appetit or Pijatno as they say here.

While we were gone Part 1

Little Munchkin learned a ton of new words, and how to interact with other kids of all ages. We stayed at my brother’s house. There were five other kids there. Five cousins to cuddle with, tease, yell at, and mostly learn lots of new things from.

But first, I must say she was a stellar travel buddy, All except for the part when she peed on me on the first flight from Belgrade to Frankfurt. 😉

At an airport somewhere in the U.S.

The entire trip was great. The time with family, especially the cousins was Brilliant for her and them. She learned lots of English, and even taught them a little Serbian too!

We did so much!

She lifted weights with the oldest cousin.

Most of the time she asserted herself and said the  that big N-O word with the youngest cousin “R”. But they learned to get along by the end of our trip.

Like I said she learned a lots of new English words. Her new words are: horse, shy, shoes, up, pucky (belly button), baby, knock knock, done- with and an emphasis on the “n”, stuck,  pee and poop. She also says “go” when when she wants to leave or you to go where she wants you. I can’t remember the rest just now. She also learned new names. Most of the cousins. The cat Kay Kay, and even a family friend. But for her Aunt Lissa she just called her “Mom”. Classic!

Her favorite food was Oscar Meyer’s cheese filled hot dogs. I cannot lie they are good! I gained 5 kilos or 10 lbs eating all the good stuff I can’t get here. I don’t regret that a bit!

One of the biggest changes Munchkin made was going from being absolutely opposed to holding hands to loving it! That is making life a bit easier.

The above pic was taken on our way in to the auditorium where a Christmas music presentation was held. My middle niece “K” sang and we all enjoyed it.

We attended a few wrestling matches and got to see two of my nephews on the mats. That was wonderful.

I got to go to my old church and see several old friends. I also reunited with a very good friend from middle school.  🙂

This little road trip had a diamond in the rough awaiting us….

A patriotic fellow sporting the Confederate and national flag via his shirt and a decorative plate bumper for his bicycle.  When I leaned out of the passenger side window to take a pic of the view from the front he let a rebel yell and flashed all three of his teeth. He is quite a catch ladies, but no word on if he is single or not! 😉

More to come.

Dobar dan Y’all!

Let them eat Cake

This is really a yummy apple bread, but in Serbia, Bread isn’t sweet and this IS!

I realized a lot of expats like myself are at a loss when baking abroad, I was! It is always a good bit of trial and error. Even when you use someone’s tried and true recipes, if the ingredients aren’t the same. The end product most certainly will not be either.

I have found that using recipes that I have never tasted before are better for me. I have no expectations. For instance. I could make something that I know and love, only to be disappointed with the outcome of perfectly good tasting cake. But when it doesn’t taste like what I am used to. 😦 I am not happy.

Now, I go to allrecipes.com and find a recipe that uses products I have access to here in Serbia. Or sometimes I use Pinterest. This recipe was on Pinterest, via Eva Bakes blog. She makes it with an extra topping, you can check it all out here. The topping is extra work and lots of extra calories. No thanks! this is yummy enough! I use an extra cup or two of apples. But that is all I have done to modify the recipe.

With out further rambling, here is the recipe that I get loads of compliments on! It makes two 8 inch round cakes.

Apple Bread (Cake)

Preheat your oven to 350 F or 175 C

Lightly grease two 8″ cake pans

~5 or 6 cups Apples I used the ones from our apple grove. I don’t know the name. I peel, core, and chop them. I do this before preheating, greasing pans and such. Or I used some from the freezer. We had a lot of apples!!

~4 eggs no particular size. Whatever the chickens lay, I use!

~1 cup vegetable oil

~2 tsp vanilla

~2 tsp baking soda

~2 tsp salt

~2 tsp cinnamon

~3 cups flour

~2 cups sugar

1 or 2 cups walnuts optional. That would be even more yummy. I must try that next time!! I love a little g

Beat eggs till fluffy, add oil, baking soda, salt, cinnamon,and vanilla.  Beat thoroughly. In increments add the flour and sugar… Stirring adding stirring etc.

Add the apple pieces last and mix thoroughly. Then pour half the batter in one pan, half in the other. and bake for one hour. Probably one at a time, depending on the size of your oven.

Remove it from the oven when it feels firm to touch. It is best to let it cool a few minutes. Don’t wait too long or someone else will eat it all! This screams Autumn! sweet, moist, Nom Nom Nom!!

This is the wonderfully organic and yummy blessing of living here in Serbia!!

Enjoy!!

Dobar dan Y’all!

Foreigner Follies~ Adventures in Baking internationally, Serbian edition * Bonus brownie recipe that works in Serbia

I was reading one of my favorite and funny blogs, Expat Eye on Latvia about her cake making abilities. They turned out to be delicious of course. As I was leaving a comment on her hilarious prose I thought I would share the agony joy of cooking internationally. For me that of course is in Serbia.

The hubby and I had been craving brownies, but no such thing exists here, and I have only ever made them from a box mix. Let the adventure begin. I got the idea to look for a recipe in a peace corp cook book from an ex-peace corp guy.

Thank you Google Search for making that possible! I found one in just a couple of minutes.

That was the easy part.

Next began the mad scientist experiments. You think I kid… nope. You have a recipe, you think will give you a desired product, but what you don’t know is the ingredients are not standard all over the world. Who knew?

I made it once and found that the cocoa is weaker here, and it turned out more like a cake.  😦 SO I reduced it from two eggs to one and changed the 1/4 cup oil or butter to 1/2.

Still not right. With more tweaking I finally got something that we can enjoy, though not 100% like home.  YUM!

One thing that my fellow  gal pal blogger has taught me to do from now on is to cook with wine. I have heard of this concept .

I don’t believe I have ever tried it. Of course I have cooked with whine most recently, toddler at my feet arms up stretched and wanting to be held as I try to create a tasty treat. That is not as fun as you may think.

I try to focus without getting to angry and stare at the recipe  blankly as I think to myself… “Why wasn’t I on birth control?” Yep, just give me the worst mom of the year award or punishment right now.  It is no surprise to me!

With a little wine the little whiner may be less distracting. Then again, maybe not.

The brownie recipe I settled on is below:

I use English measurements…. but here is the untested  metric measurements as well… good luck with that! 😉

American Brownie Recipe

1 cup sugar ~ 250 ML

1 egg… no translation needed!! 🙂

1 teaspoon Baking Soda ~ 5 ml

1/4 cup oil  ~ 50 ml

1/4 butter or margarine 50 ml

2/3 cup flour~ 150 ml

1/4 teaspoon salt~ 1ml

1/2 cup cocoa~ 125 ml

Optional: 1 cup or 250 ml of chopped walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts. or Chocolate bar! YUMMY

1 bottle of wine your choice to drink as you cross your fingers and hope for the best!

Grease a small baking pan 8″x8″ or a small round cake pan. Preheat the oven for 350 F or 175 C. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until not gooey in the middle. They will be soft and yummy if this turned out well.

If they didn’t it is because’
A. You were using British English measurements instead of American English Measurements or European metric instead of Canadian. How is this even possible!! What the French Toast?

B. You drank too much wine and fouled it up.

C. Other ________________________________

Good luck with the Brownies. Enjoy the wine!

Serbian Sightings_Ninja Nuns

Yesterday, I went to the grocery store. Everything was business as usual till two Orthodox nuns came in. I have only seen them at a monastery previously. On a day when the weather could melt any normal human, I was shocked to see this couple out and about in their black, almost burka type dress. They must have been sweltering! OR they must have super human properties that shield them from heat. I would like to believe that later. It is more interesting.

I was taking the pics on the sly…. as a result, they are BLURRY!

I was at the counter when I heard the cashier giggling under her breath remarking about the Ninjas. I didn’t understand what she was saying as she was speaking Serbian at the speed of light, but the word Ninja was repeated and I finally got it.  OMGosh!! the Nuns did look just like Ninjas!!

I must tell you, that these words are very rude in Serbian orthodox culture. I hope this will not be an offensive, but humorous post. I have nothing but respect for these ladies.

Ninja Nuns sounds really cool too! Imagine the series that could be written about that. In my mind I can see a battle that is a mix of old world orthodox traditions mixed with the interworld battles of  Mortal Kombat. I must say, I fancy that idea more than a “Flying Nun”!

My only regret on this post is that I could not share the mental images I have conjured. Maybe this video will do as a substitute.

Ninja Nun video!

In my search for that video, I found that the idea of Ninja nuns is not a new one. There are LOTS of ninja nun videos. But nun are very good.

The only thing that could have made the sighting even better would have been to see those two in this VW hot rod that was sitting outside.

A worthy Nun-mobile if I ever saw one.

It was even sporting a Serbian flag. Now, all it needs is an Orthodox Cross painted on the hood and we are good to go! Oh, that and a Ninja Nun theme song!

On a very serious note:

My hope with this post is not to offend, but to look at nuns in a light that shows the good work they do. They are selfless in their work for God. This demands the respect you would have for a ninja’s training and skill.

I have studied Islam, and I do know the burka well. It is worn by the women for many of the same reasons the nuns wear similar costumes. At the root it is modesty and the desire not to draw attention to themselves. But, when they are out of their natural habitat, so to speak, it does exactly the opposite.

The Lady from Noddy~ Foreigner Funnies?

I am the lady from Noddy. I relish this. probably too much. But I do.  I mean, who wouldn’t want to be from a place called Toyland where the bad guys always lose. Sounds perfect to me.

Last week, I visited a friend who has three little girls. Later the oldest asked her mother when the lady was coming back. She asked what lady and her daughter replied, “The lady from Noddy.”

Children here in my little Serbian town are always interested at first and then later often annoyed at my speaking English. It is new and different. If I am a friend of their parents, they often get frustrated that they cannot understand what we are saying. This is the case even if we are attempting to speak Serbian, as my Serbian is like that of a cow.

They are much more honest about how bad it is as they just tend to ignore my attempts as if I didn’t even say a word. Grown-ups attempt to understand an even humor me by telling me how good my Serbian is… but, I know it is NOT GOOD!

So, I am the Lady from Noddy, speaking English most of the time.

I imagine myself as Tessie the bear.

She is described as clever and kind. I would love for those to be my adjectives! I must admit, at first I fancied myself as Miss Harriet, the pink cat!

Apparently she is fussy and neat. I am fussy, but not neat. Then, I read she speaks with a french accent. Not it! lol

Tessie the bear from Noddy is also a bit naughty… but then frolicking topless is much less of a big deal here in Europe is much less of a big deal in the States! I haven’t indulged in that yet. 🙂 Since I am still nursing, that would be a real milkshake. But I doubt it would bring all the boys to the yard. Na na   na na naa.

In case you didn’t get that reference…

Milkshake http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CIUkmERKA4

The Bear Naked Lady from Noddy wishes you all a Happy Sunday!

 

Walking on a dirt road

I walked home from working with the hubby on clearing a field. There was nothing left for me to do. He and papa had to finish the rest with the tractor. Joyfully, I was able to walk home in silence. I found myself surrounded by so much beauty that I had to stop and take some pics.

A field of sour cherries not long for the picking.

so much color framed with mountains and fruit baring fields.

Wheat and barley fields sway in the wind like waves in the ocean.

 

The dusty path brought my uncle and cousin by. Just another pleasant surprise.

Almost home enjoying the shade in the forest.

Check out the Woodpeckers nesting tree!

A nice long walk is always a good mental break. This fence marks the beginning of the village. And the end of my quiet walk home. Back to the munchkin.

Here is a song for the road… Though I am not a country music girl. this song minus the dumb wrap seems just about perfect.