Easter Monday~ Orthodox Lunch and Colored Eggs

After the family dilemma yesterday, we did finally go for lunch and enjoyed the company of family and the fellow villagers.

Uncle Milosh with the pic that was roasted on a spit the day before Easter.

No time now to post pics of the Easter feast, but will do later this week. For now just a little post on the eggtivities. :0)

Coloring eggs is done here on Good Friday, better known as Big Friday in this part of the world. It is much the same, accept that as it is with almost everything else it takes a lot more time and effort.

Easter egg dye and other paraphernalia.

Back home we start off with white eggs food coloring and vinegar.  Dipping the eggs and coloring them takes a few seconds and you can make one egg a few colors with some careful dipping.

another vender at the market selling Easter decor.

Here they start with Brown eggs ditto on the rest. The dying time is 10 minutes to an hour! Since it is so time intensive, eggs are only one color.!? But darker because the Eggs are brown to begin with. Designs can be created with leaves, or bags. I love that part of the creativity. I certainly appreciate the work put into them!

I can just imaging how shocked my Serbian sister in the U.S. was when we dyed eggs together. The colors were the pastels I am accustomed to. She asked if we could make the colors darker. Now I know why. That is what she was used to seeing. And the difference in color is kind of a let down when you are far from home and want to do something traditional. Definitive Culture Shock! Funny how it pops up at the weirdest moments.

There are no Egg hunts here, but there are serious competitions for egg tapping. The youtube video below shows what I mean. less than a minute in is all you need to watch.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVFWhoDIk30

I have only played this with the husband so far, My egg was the winner. He told me after, pointier eggs are best!

Decorations may be done with the new decals we find in the west, but old fashioned  decorations are my favorite here. This pic is from Wikipedia from the Czech republic… but they use this technique all over Eastern Europe.

Learning new traditions is the really good part of being an expat.

Dobar Dan y’all

 

Happy Birthday Munchkin

this was just the tip of the iceberg!

This is a continuation of the Blog Yesterday that began the epic story of the Birthday party.

No babies drank any alcohol in the making of this photo

There was a ton of food to be had. The men wasted no time beginning to partake. The girls took their time but eventually caved. Thank God, because I wanted to eat and didn’t want to look like the pig I am. No time for that anyway. Little Munchkin duties call way to often for  a real binge to take place.

I can’t get over how cute these little piglet breads are!

I finally made a Ginger Bread Train for the Munchkin to enjoy looking at. She hasn’t got enough teeth yet to munch on the candy. Thank you, Nicole for sending it! It was a hit. Not something you see here in Serbia! Great gift!

The Ginger Bread Train

Just as I was about to snap the picture, the Munchkin reached for the train. She’s a quick one!

The traditional Birthday song was sang with a lit candle. I don’t know it yet, but give me time. Here is a link to the song on youtube.

The party moved from the kitchen to the living room and then to our bedroom. I missed the photo-op, but at one point a bunch of kids were jumping on our bed. I would call the party a success since the kids felt so at home.

The Big Cousin fishing of the bed with a jump rope and Munchkin looking for the fish.

I think everyone had a great time. I am super glad it is over, now I can sit back and relax a bit. Though today is the actual BDay, so I will light the candle again on top of a cupcake and sing Happy Birthday in English this time. And skype with family at home. 🙂

Tomorrow the festivities will be concluded with the last birthday hurrah. We will go to the village for a small family celebration. There is still that roasted piglet Papa wanted to bring to the party that needs to be eaten. I am not a fan, but it will be a good opportunity to get some fun cultural pics! The Munchkin’s first roasted pig will be about the same size as her! LOL

I can’t believe one year ago today I was in the hospital “enjoying” the effects of an epidural as I pushed the Munchkin out. If you are interested in that story you can click on the link below. The U.S. experience is far different from the Serbian one. And for those of you who think you cannot feel the contractions during an epidural, I could. I just didn’t have pain. No brainer there! Thank you Epidural! Hello Munchkin. 🙂 There are no gory pics. and I think it is a rather tame account if you are wondering.

http://lafemmet.blogspot.com/2012/03/millies-labor-and-birth.html

If you are curious what it is like to stay in a Hospital in the U.S. you can check out my blog post about that here:

http://lafemmet.blogspot.com/2012/03/american-hospital-stay.html

Thanks for stopping by.

Dobar Dan

The Munchkin turns One!

Last night, We had a wonderful group of close friends come to celebrate the first year of the munchkin’s life.

Blowing out the candles

Blowing out the candle

All three the January, February, and March 2012 babies got to play together.   They are all walking now, and have less than 10 teeth between them. 😉

Jan, Feb, March girls

Jan, Feb, March girls

 

We still have some more celebrating yet, but this was the big shebang! It is a tradition here to celebrate the First birthday before the actual date. But we chose Saturday, because most people don’t work, not for the sake of tradition.

There are lots of traditions here for the first birthday, mostly revolving around a child being Christened in the church. They baptize the child, and cut locks of hair from the child. Then when you return home from the church there are still more of they traditions to follow. The Kum (pronouned KOOM) or Best man from the wedding has to cut another lock of hair and maybe give a speech.

All the traditions are very nice. But this was stressful enough for me. I am glad we did not have to do all the regularly scheduled Serbian traditions on this day as well.

Trying to plan a birthday party when only one person in the house speaks both languages and the other two women try to understand each other it is a bit more hectic. Throw in some PMS and different cultural ideas and it can turn ugly. It didn’t though. It only got a little harried when The muz (husband) heard his father planned to bring a roasted suckling pig. (That was  a jolt of Culture shock!) This was the day before the party and after all the food prep and planning had been done.

The only little piggies at the party. Yummy bread Piglets. With Pepper seeds for eyes and Rye for the nostrils.

The only little piggies at the party. Yummy bread piglets. With pepper seeds for eyes and Rye for the nostrils.

I will admit I was a bit miffed that mama was making my little one’s first cake. I had planned for the cup cakes I was making to be her cake. But that was lost on the mama and I was too tired of trying to explain. In the end it turned out better that way. The recipe I tried for the frosting was horrid. It was better to use her cake.

I did get lucky with the cup cakes frosting. At the last-minute there was some pudding left over that make a nice topping for the cup cakes.

International baking is much more difficult than one would imagine. The flour around the world is NOT the same. It tastes different so do some of the other ingredients. Making the finish product taste different from it does in your home country.

Our flour comes from our families fields. After the harvest, they take it to a mill where it is ground. It is not processed and bleached like the flour you buy at the store. You can imagine how that can change things.

The Munchkin is awake now. Must go carry on with the day. More about the party tomorrow.

Dobar Dan

 

Sveti Trifun 365-46

I posted yesterday about February 14th holidays. After I wrote the little blog, THE MUSIC BEGAN. I was in the middle of changing and dressing Little Miss when it started. I got so excited to go see what was going on I could wait to be finished with her and to dress myself.

A crowd of people enjoying free wine and rakija

A crowd of people enjoying free wine and rakija

Soon enough, good camera in hand I was on my way… Just outside there was a band playing traditional Serbian music.

A Grandma and he little grandbaby were up on the terrace above looking down on it all.

Grandma and grandbaby

Grandma and grandbaby

Waiters from the Cafe Pariz  were milling about the crowd with trays full of FREE wine and rakija. Almost immediately, I was offered some, after declining once and a brief conversation in Serbian,  he asked in English where I was from. Then offered me a little wine again. The second time was a charm. Wine in hand, I watched the show. Since I was already buzzed off of my Turkish coffee and no breakfast, the wine made me a little but more buzzed.

Traditional band

Traditional band

It was the cafe owner’s Slava. Sveti Trifun, pronounced Teefoon, is the patron saint of wine. There was a gorgeous loaf of bread in the shape of Grapes on a table with the traditional Slava set up.

Grape shaped bread

Grape shaped bread

I believe it got around that I was an American, for when the traditions started a man came over and told me where I should be watching so I could get good pictures. He was very nice, polite, and helpful. I am so glad he cared enough to show me.

First there was the lighting of the candle like we do for out slava. Then the owner went over to the grape vine and  cut a couple pieces off the grape vine.

Cutting the grape vine

Cutting the grape vine

Pouring the wine

Pouring the wine for a prosperous new season

Then the breaking of the bread with a friend.

Breaking the bread

Breaking the bread

I know they do this every year. I remember last time I was here for February 14th I could hear the music, but I was stuck in the apt in a cast. No going to check things out. I am so glad I can get out now.

Stray Dalmatian

Stray Dalmatian

There was a sweet Dalmatian lingering about waiting for some love in the form of food. He was so sweet but malnourished. I threw him some bread twice and saw some others do the same. I wish I could do so much more. I feel so bad for the many sweet strays here. They break my heart.

The gypsy lady caught taking her pic

The gypsy lady caught taking her pic

There was a lone gypsy lady there. I think she, along with many others were feeling good from the wine and rakija. After she saw me taking her picture, she really wanted to talk to me, but my Serbian or lack there of made it impossible for us to understand one another. There again, it could have been something how much she had to drink impairing her speech and my ability to understand. She was very persistent, so much some bystanders helped me to escape, twice!

Kolo Party

Kolo Party

She had a merry time. She danced as I would have liked to have and later joined the Kolo line. I had to get back up to the little one. But I got some pics of the dancing from the window.

The little one got to watch too.

Little Miss at the window

Little Miss at the window

strong coffee and cigarettes 365-40

I went to have coffee the other day. A cappuccino is 60 dinars here. It is about 80 dinars to a dollar, so it is less than a dollar.

Strong coffee and the smoke from cigarettes fills the air

The thing about cappuccino here is, it is more like espresso with a dalup of foam from milk on top. There is no milk inside. Maybe that is why they are cheaper.  I stole some milk from the munchkin’s bottle to make it a real cappuccino. I may have to remember to take a bottle with me every time. 😉

I read, not long ago that Serbia is the number one country in the world. I googled that and found the article from the Washington Post. Sad news there. Very unhealthy. I am lucky to have found a Serbian non-smoker.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2012/10/19/who-smokes-most-a-surprising-map-of-smoking-rates-by-country/

Smoking and drinking coffee go hand in hand. Finding a place to relax without coming home and needing a shower from the smoke lingering in my clothes and hair is impossible. Can’t wait for the alfresco cafes in the warmer months to make drinking coffee outside an inviting possibility.

Getting used to the non-smoking laws that swept the U.S in the last 15 years wasn’t difficult. Its like going back in time here in Serbia.

*For those of you who don’t like reading about what I don’t like. My apologies. Mostly, I write about what I like and the differences. But it just struck me yesterday how strange this is for me. Take the good with the bad. That is what I do.

The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick Maker 365-33

Things here in Serbia are still quite simple. In a good way. I like that there are specialty shops for things. People specialize and make a living doing so.

The Butcher
There are a few butchers shops here in town. Some stores supermarkets here sell bits of meat like markets at home. but the Butchers sell the most.

I walk past to of the biggest butchers shops daily. I really like the looks of Mesara the best.

Mesara

Mesara

The word for meat is Meso. Mesara is like saying meat shop. I think the reason I like this shop the best is because it has a picture of a bull on the side of the building. But not just any bull. The icon for the Chicago Bulls.

SONY DSCThere is a huge dumpster nearby, and as always there are cats scavenging from it. (Like they do in all the dumpsters) I would like to think sometimes they get some scraps from this place.

SONY DSC

I don’t shop at the butchers. Everything is ordered first in Serbian.. not my strong suit. and second in grams or kilos. also not my strong suit. The muz buys all the meat. But mostly we just raise the chickens and pigs ourselves. We even butcher, clean and cook them up too.

The Baker

There are LOTS of bakeries here in town. My favorite is this one.

SONY DSC

The Cyrillic sign at the top says, Pekara, Beli Jorgovan
Or the White Lilac Bakery

I shop this one the most. Daily, fresh bread, kiflitsa, little pizzas, and lots of burek are made. Lots of other stuff too. I just can’t name it all literally.

This pic is from a bakery in Belgrade. They had a lot more stuff than my bakery does.

Bakeries here differ greatly from the few you find in the U.S. Most of the good are breads with cheese or meats. Sweets are not common at all. In fact I haven’t had even one that I recall. Sadly. I do so miss me some fresh glazed donuts!!

Bringing home the daily bread and a sleeping munchkin. (our reflection photo)

The Candlestick Maker

I haven’t really come across a shop that makes candles, but a whole lot of  some bodies must make them. Because they sell them at the pijats all the time. I took this picture today.

Church candles

The candles here are for lighting at the church or at graveyards. There are a bunch of different kinds and sizes. Some are used for slavas as well.

You can buy in bulk too. It will save you a trip.

For saying lots of prayers.

I always imagined that the candle the “candlestick” maker was making were for  lighting after dark. It is very enlightening living here. I love the antiquity here. Old rhymes come to life.

Sveti Sava 365-27

Traditional Bread for Slava

Today, a friend invited me to join her and her little munchkin. We attended a museum celebrating Saint Sava. The place was packed.with people. There were Children’s drawing all over the three rooms that held all the artifacts for celebrating this Orthodox holiday. Breads, decorated with flowers, crosses, leaves and a myriad of Icons with lots of meanings were the biggest attraction. There was a contest for the best one.

This one was the winner.

Lots of work goes into these breads. I haven’t even attempted to make one. I must learn how. My friend M. told me that the children are taught at school how to make them. These breads are entries from the kids in school. But it is obvious these are not made by the kids. They are amazing works of art!

The best bread were all on this table.

The kids drawings were really nice. I was really impressed. One day the little munchkin will be drawing these things too.

Kids drawings of the Saints

There was a priest there that gave a short service in the beginning and the Sveti Sava song was sang by all. Below is a nice version on Youtube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvwUdxizLwY

There was even a table up front with the traditional foods and wine.

The tradional  foods on the table for the Slava

The bread, wheat, and wine were the traditional foods… the cookies were just an added bonus. SO yummy!

My little munchkin slept most of the time. She woke up after we left. Kinda nice to have the quiet time. It was easier to take pictures with the phone while she slept. 🙂

The backyard of the Museum

The weather was great for walking to and from the museum. The grounds for the building are so gorgeous. I must go back with the good camera for pictures in the spring.

 

Deda Means Grandpa part 1 and 2 365-26

Part one

December 8, 2008

Deda means Grandpa

Today I went for a walk to take pictures in Knjazevac. There are still many places I haven’t seen here yet and it still feels like an adventure just to take a walk around town. It wasn’t a long walk, because as I walked I realized I was close to Deda Tole’s house. I really like him and wanted to stop by but wasn’t sure if it was a good idea. I was afraid hey may be busy with something. Deda is known for his hard working character. He is always busy working on something. His super large hands filled with muscles are a witness to that hard work. Small sweet man with very large hands. He is definitely the kind of man you want for a grandpa!

Deda Tole

Deda Tole

As I was walking to his hous,e I saw an old lady dressed in Serbian granny clothes. A sweater, thick stockings, plastic “Maryjane” type shoes (good for anytime of work outside and are used by male and females),and a kerchief tied around her head like in All the old nursery rhyme books. She was adorable!

She had mail in her hand and was looking toward Deda’s house. I asked he in my very limited Serbian if Tole was home and she didn’t think so and was probably going to turn back. I rang his door bell that is actually located on the fence outside of his house. It’s different and cool. When he came outside he looked really happy to see me. He said a few words to the little lady and she gave me his mail and we, Deda and I, go inside his cozy little home.

Words cannot express how warm and loved I feel from Milan’s family. Family is so important here, and I am a novelty family member being from the U.S. Deda Tole loves to tell his friends about his American grand daughter. I can see it in his eyes. Adorable! America is like a mythical place to some of the people here. There are may misconceptions about how wonderful the U.S. is, kinda like a Disney world for life… Brought on by the happy ending movies and television shows as well as the years of hard living in Serbia caused by war, communism, and corruption.

Deda made me coffee and gave me apple and grapes to munch on, as well as a loaf of bread, unsliced old world style, and hard boiled eggs not yet peeled. There is really nice homey feeling there. So casual and friendly. It makes me relax…until I have to struggle to speak in Serbia. Then I get a little frazzled and have to tell myself, slow down and think. I know a lot of words, I just have a hard time remembering them when I need them. And, there are so may basic words used in sentences that I am lacking, I am sure I sound like a toddler when I speak.

He and I talk as much as we can and then needs to do some farm work. I tell him I want to help and he tries to deter me but I insist. I help him mix the pigs food, which consists of small whole apples, grain, hot water, scraps and then we take it out to the shed for the finishing touch. He chops up dry ears of corn into small inch wide pieces. He chops them with an ax and the skill of a chef. when he is finished and much of the corn kernels have flown all over the room he ads the chopped Cob to the. hot pig slop stew.

It has been raining outside for the past few days, there is mud everywhere so he insists I put on a pair of boots that he takes out of a bag. I believe they are his new winter boots and fear I will ruin them before he even gets to wear them. They only get dirty on the bottom while we are tramping around the “farm”.

His house is in the town of Knjazevac. It is not unusual to see houses that have the makings of what we would see only in the country. At his house there are only pigs, chickens, a dog and a cat that I saw. But there is also a large building across the street (4 Stories!) that works as a large storehouse like a barn. On the bottom level Milan told me there is a garage for fixing cars, there is storage for dried corn cobs, Barrels of wheat, grapes layed out to dry, tools, and all kinds of odds and ends. There is also a large clothes line hung up in one of the large rooms for drying clothes, as there are very few clothes driers. They exist, but mostly just in stores.

It is amazing. I had such an education today. I really had a good day.

Part 2

Fast forward 4+ years

I have finally visited Deda Tole again. Yesterday was the first time Millie and I made the short trek to his place. It was much the same as  the first post accept my Serbian has improved and we had a munchkin to entertain.

Deda didn’t disappoint in the entertainment. He danced for Millie, stomping his feet and snapping his fingers. He is the most adorable little man. I wish he could meet my grandpa back home.

Every visit he puts out food. Yesterday as soon as I arrived he threw some small potatoes in the stove and some eggs on to boil. Small crackers he calls cakes were set out for Millie and I immediately.

Boiled eggs, roasted potatoes, cakes, and apples to go with the best beer. 🙂

Tole likes his beer. He always has one when he visits us and insists Milan have one when we visit him. I had some too. It is my favorite kind. Millie had to settle for milk. But did try to share some of my little pivo.

We kept Millie busy while we peeled the hot potatoes and chatted lightly. Regretfully, I still cannot do more than that.

Sadly, this time no cats warmed themselves by the fire. When I inquired about them he said his daughter doesn’t like them. But he misses having them. His only animals now are chickens for laying eggs. And bees for honey out in the country. He butchered the pig about a month ago.

I hope when the weather gets warmer I can drive him out to the country to his bee hives. I always love going there and it makes for a great blog post!

Today after I got home from going to the market, called Piyats, Deda came for a visit. 🙂

SONY DSC

I think he is just too cute. The way he dresses is traditional but it reminds of what I have seen in Ireland.

Grandpa Piggly From the Irish cartoon “Jakers” Link credit http://www.jakers.co.uk/parentsteachers/program/slideshow2.html

Just like this cartoon Grandpa, Deda caters to his little Millie. Today, not only did he come to visit, and do a dance upon entering to room to get her attention, he also brought her a little treat.

A Stark chocolate, the chocolate of choice for Grandparents all over Serbia.

Stark is pronounced Shtark, is a Serbian Chocolate company. They have some tasty candy bars.

Treats from Deda

Treats from Deda

I love the time I get to spend with him.  Hooray for Grandpas all over the world!
To all my readers, Stay warm!

Dobar Dan

Our Daily Bread 365-24

Daily bread here in Serbia, everyone goes to the store daily to buy fresh bread. Bread is the staple of most meals here. It is almost a crime not to have fresh bread on hand.

I got some strange looks yesterday as I went to the local store to buy some bread. But stopped first to snap some cell phone pics to show y’all how it sits on the shelves waiting for customers to come pick it up themselves.

Hleb on the shelf

There are plastic bags sitting beside the shelves. Just grab one and choose your bread. Take it home and eat that sweet yumminess that is fresh-baked bread.

Beli Hleb means white bread. But for me, it means Bread for my Belly!!! BTW, beli and belly are pronounced the same. That is why it’s funny. (to me only)

Prijatno or Bon Apetite!

A birthday party 365-18

My Sweety  and me

My Sweety and me

Almost a week ago now, we went to a birthday party. It was the first of the three little girls in our close net group of friends. (Our turn next.)

An Igraonica, or a play place, was the site of the party. I would say it is much like the ones we have in the U.S. There was a ball pit for playing and a larger fun climbing, sliding, play thing.

Three little angels

Three little angels

The January, February, and March babies were enjoying the ball pit and left some slobber behind. Mine wanted to squeeze and bite balloons more than the balls. But they all remained intact, full of air. and to my joy, nothing popped in anyone’s face.

This was our family’s first Serbian birthday party. I must report, it was much like any you may attend in the States. There was lots of playing. Lots of tots and older kids running around. Later the cake was cut after birthday candles and a song.

The two little birthday girls

The two little birthday girls

Sisters share birthday’s in January. This party was for the two of them.

Singing the B-day song

Singing the B-day song

The birthday song is a little bit more fun in Serbia. It has a different tune and you clap to it. I thought it was really nice. But didn’t  understand much more than Srecan Rodendan i.e. Happy Birthday.

The cakes are different… Our cakes are like a sweet bread. Theirs are  usually some sort of cookie with a cream in layers. This one was divine. White and milk chocolate inside reminded me of some rich Easter candies I had as a child. Super Yummy!

Both of the little birthday girls seemed to have fun. The older one made good use of the facility, climbing all over the place with her friends.

A little Star

A little Star

I wanted to show you the bathrooms here, they are so much different than in the States. Not unlike the U.S. there are big and little sinks to accommodate the big and little people here at the igraonica.

The bathroom

The bathroom

There is no doubt this is a cool kids play place bathroom. Fun rugs on the floor in case the kids get crazy with the sinks. But this is the boys and girls bathroom. The outer office in most restaurants is like this. The sinks are communal. Men and women use the mirrors (if there are any) and wash their hands in the same area. Only the toilet are private. I must say this was really SHOCKING to me the first time I went in.

For us ladies who are known to go to the potty in groups, there is no private place to chat about the guys, and fix our makeup. But it works and it is much more cost-effective. Just different.

I love exploring the differences and learning all the new ways of doing things, even if sometimes it comes as a shock.

I learned that for the first birthday party, some people have the birthday party before the actual date of the first birthday. Just another tradition. Some people have the christening before as well. All sorts of new things to learn about babies and traditions. There is more. But I fear I will get it wrong and all messed up.

We had a great time. I love our friends here. We are lucky to have a great group!

Dobar Dan!

(Good day!)