Brasov, where Doors hide Surprises and Books

One of the things I love about traveling to Brasov is that in the old city, at least, doors and passageways so hide marvelous surprises.

One of the things I love about traveling to Brasov is that in the old city, at least, doors and passageways so hide marvelous surprises.

I took these pictures a few years back, so I do hope that these lovely places survived the Covid-19 global pandemic.

We strolled through the old city of Brasov where houses don’t top three stories high as they are centuries old. But today they are painted in fresh, pastel colors and their intricate, antique decorations still stand out.

Where once horse carriages and tradesmen filled the street now open air cafes and mouth-watering eateries bubble. People watching, souvenir browsing, ice-cream wishing… Yet I couldn’t help glancing through open doors left and right, at the mysterious passages they revealed.

Yes, the passages above lead to tiny pubs and more charming cafes 🙂

I paired two doors for you, as what goes up must come down. Below left, a sports shop; “if you can’t even climb these stairs, you have been warned…” sort of thing… and to the right, some stairs leading downwards to a pub. I guess the railings have been added for the patrons’ benefit 😉

Certainly a cheery passage:

Beware of the dog?

I hope you made it thus far, for although I don’t have an image of the main door of L’Etage Pub in Brasov, I do have plenty of its incredible interior.

Warning!!!

If you are a book lover do not go beyond this point…

Bistrot L'Etage Brasov

I recognized quite a few of these books, literature by Romanian authors:

An original piece of decor below, a trumpet painted on book spines.

I do remember such old radios, and the terracotta stove decor, although it pains my heart to see lampshades made of books. Still, some tomes survived. They seem to wink at us from their shelves, read, have coffee and be merry!

Below, a close-up of the DIY lampshades made of books.

Our bill from L’Etage Brasov came in a murder mystery book – here ‘Culprit No. 1’. My parents still have this aventura, adventure book collection!

thursday doors, 100 words story

Thursday Doors is a blog feature everyone can take part in, hosted by Dan Antion over at No Facilities – where you can discover more doors from around the world.

Poetry, Comedy, and the Modern World — Miscellany Pages

Yes, we need happy poems and comedy in today’s modern world and talented Florence of Miscellany Pages understood the necessity and created an anthology titled ‘Poetry, Comedy & The Modern World’.

Twelve poems and a bonus, Lysandra Furstenberg’s Right to Life.

Do head over and read for joy:

Poetry Comedy Modern World

To experiment with the idea of making poetry more fun, I created an anthology entitled ‘Poetry, Comedy & The Modern World’ for a recent project on my English Literature degree. I thought I would share the twelve poems that made their way into the final anthology here on my blog! I hope you enjoy exploring and, hopefully, having a bit of a laugh along the way…

via Miscellany Pages

BONUS: Right to Life by Lysandra Furstenberg

And last but not least… I appealed for submissions related to poetry & popular culture on this blog before the theme had to be narrowed down to comedy specifically. The lovely Patricia Furstenberg suggested a poem written by her daughter Lysandra. While it deals with more serious themes than those above, it is powerful and worth sharing:

Right to Life

“Think about it…
How many stories in your LIFETIME have you heard,
About someone who has
Committed suicide,
Held captive,
Tortured,
Killed?

How many stories have you heard?
One, two, five stories?
We all have heard about one or another story that follows along these paths,
But have you heard about someone who was captivated emotionally,
Or worse; spiritually?

How many stories have you heard?

In our generation, we have this bad habit of
Concealing,
Forgetting,
Ignoring,
The pain that digs deep inside us and
Tortures,
Breaks,
Scars,
Our hearts, our minds, our souls.
How many stories have you heard?

Do you remember William, or Casper, even George?
No?
Don’t you remember making fun of
Willie, Casper the friendly ghost and Georgie Porgie?
Well, they certainly remember, if they are even still alive right now.
Oh, and if any of you are reading this right now, congratulations.
I applaud the content that you had, to just simply exist, you deserve it more than anyone else, even the favorite one.

And if any of you bullies have suddenly remembered, don’t worry,
You’re still special.
Everyone is,
Even the quiet girl that you never hear a word out of,
Even the guy who’s always dressed in black
And yes, even the girl who never eats, but is as thin as a golden leaf.

Now, this is no story, it’s all true, even though we all keep
Concealing,
Forgetting,
Ignoring,
The facts, the things that
Tortures,
Breaks,
Scars,
Our hearts, our minds, our souls.

But we are all more than these
Rumors,
Stories,
Lies,
We are all so much more.

Have you ever felt simply…
Alive?
In awe?
Amazed?
Have you ever felt that you were
On the top of the world?
That nothing could bring you down?

Well, if you haven’t,
You deserve it,
You deserve to live your life of freedom,
You deserve to follow YOUR dreams, YOUR wishes, YOUR heart.

You deserve to be that person that is
Happy,
Content,
Confident,
Alive,
Because that, my friends, is TRULY living.”

Copyright © Patricia Furstenberg. All Rights Reserved.

Lysandra’s poem received the 2017 Renee Duke Youth Award sponsored by Poets for Human Rights and was included on the Poets for Human Rights subscription list. It is also included in her debut poetry collection which you can buy here:

https://getbook.at/RightLife

How Writing is like Baking Cookies

cookies and baking compared to writing

It was a bet I did with my daughter over a Netflix movie, Designated Survivor, that made me think of how much writing is like baking cookies.

It was one of the heights in the series and I exclaimed ‘oh, no!’ – which I seldom do 🙂 Then the episode was over and it was bedtime for school kids.

… Yes, I could have stayed up and watched further since I am a grownup, but Designated Survivor is something we watch together, so I had to take one for the team… (Parents Guide on IMDB is UK 12+, US is TV-PG, and 15+ on Common Sense Media. I say 12+ and I am strict, ask around)…

My daughter and I were contradicting each other over what will happen next. I had a gut feeling that her prediction will be correct (she’s really good at this), but since I was keen on my forecast too, we decided to have a bet.

The Bet

Whoever looses bakes cookies.

I am sure you will all agree that the boys in our house are the true winners here.

How Writing is like Baking Cookies

How Writing is like Baking Cookies? Read on.

It all starts with an idea.

We were excited right then and there. It didn’t matter who will win the bet anymore, we were going to have freshly baked cookies.

Whenever I get an idea for a new book (and I do, most of the time, wish I could clone myself) I get this tingling feeling, a surge of energy and I am HAPPY thinking about it. What will happen, where will I travel (most of my novels include some traveling), and will there be a dog? As all my books include (at least) one dog.

How do you feel when you think of freshly baked cookies in your kitchen? I feel bouncy. And I get a Christmasy feeling too.

Planning comes next

I think that even writers which are pantsers, who fly by the seat of their pants, do a little bit of planning when they begin work on a new book. I like to plan quite a bit. I have an outline, with plot points and acts, then I have my copy of synopsis where I write all that will happen, all the little details, the clues, the catches – in neat order.

My synopsis usually looks like a painter’s work. I start with the basics then I go over it again and again and again…

Baking cookies requires planning too, even if it happens on the spur of the moment – like our bet did. The least is co-ordinating the recipe with what’s in the pantry, right? And going one step back, any good cook will agree that a few basic things are always to be found in the pantry. I am just a mom of teens 🙂 therefor my pantry will always contain flour, sugar, oil, eggs – the very minimal basics.

How Writing is like Baking Cookies

The anticipation

I find the writing process highly addictive. Whether you write a blog, poetry or a book, the entire ritual of creating from scratch is addictive.

The anticipation is there to fill us up with excitement, with adrenaline and serotonin. Our hearts beat faster, there is more oxygenate blood reaching the brain, helping with the writing process. While the serotonin gives us that well-being and overall happiness.

Who wouldn’t want to feel that again and again?

There is anticipation in baking too. Memories of sweet vanilla and rich cocoa flooding our kitchen and sneaking through the rest of the house always come to mind… Shut doors miraculously opening and people with bright eyes and wide smiles emerging, subdued by the unseen power of the cookie scent… I love that.

Which cook doesn’t?

And there is the anticipation of the baking process itself. Baking is such a hands-on approach. Just like writing. The miracle of mixing powdery stuff with wet stuff still amazes me. Much like stirring words together into a story. How do they just work together?

With magic, my child.

The actual process of baking and writing. And the cleaning.

This might be the part where baking cookies and writing differ.

Everyone will tell you what a solitary job writing is.

It is a “leave me alone while I die” kind of activity. A self-doubting, lone-survivor, one-man kind of show.

Writing is the kind of act that makes a hero, but one no one knows. For to show up each day and do that tedious job of writing for weeks, months on end, with the only premise that one day, one day, you would have told that story that only YOU can and no one else wants to hear of right now, because only YOU know it intimately, love it, yet you are not able to make others fall in love with it until you write it – is the stuff that only heroes are made of. Unsung heroes. Writers.

The baking itself and the waiting is pretty awesome and Physical Science classes should include such experiments, don’t you think?

Mix chemical elements, organic compounds, solids and liquids, increase the temperature and prepare to be amazed.

Cleaning the kitchen is much like editing, I think. I don’t mind cleaning after we baked something, since the first wisps of that heavenly aroma begins rising to keep me company.

Editing fits right with cleaning. I find editing to be one of the most satisfying aspects of writing. Plus you get a few positive comments along the way, so craved, isn’t it? Especially after those emotionally fasting and draining weeks of writing.

How Writing is like Baking Cookies

The opening of the oven and the publishing

Usually our entire family is in the kitchen by now. Is it done yet? What about now? Plates are handed out. Watch out, it will burn. We have to wait five minutes. Ah, noooo. Okay, you can have a bit till it cools down. Yay! Love you, Mommy.

Seeing your book published is, I think, Ladies and Gentlemen, the moment we’ve ALL been waiting for since the idea for the story sparked in our hearts and minds, isn’t it?

And, Voila! Enjoy.

About Designated Survivor

Designated Survivor is a political thriller drama TV show about an obscure cabinet member who finds himself (and his family) thrust into the role of the United States president after a terrorist attack kills the president, vice president and most of Congress. What we like about it is that humanises the president and his immediate political circle. Highly recommended.

One of my favorite episodes was the one when President Kirkman went in a secret mission in Afghanistan, the location of my latest book. It was exhilarating to see him meeting with infamous warlords to determine whom he can trust to hand over territories to the United States – which is part of the political agenda revealed in my Silent Heroes novel (read the opening pages here.

Rich Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 125 g butter or margerine
  • 30 ml castor sugar
  • 125 ml condensed milk (in all honesty we used 100 ml water to avoid dairy)
  • 375 ml (210 g) self- raising flour (or normal flour and add 2,5g baking powder)
  • 80 g chocolate chips (we smashed a slab of chocolate – it was fun!)

Cream butter, sugar, add condensed milk / water and beat well. Stir in flour (if using baking powder, add it in the flour). Last, add the chocolate bits. Try no to eat (too many).

Place teaspoonfuls on a greased baking tray dusted with flour. Flatten slightly with a fork.

Bake in a preheated oven at 160 degrees Celsius for 15 -20 min (we baked for over 30 min).

The recipe says turn onto a wire rack to cool. I say that is impossible. Have a glass of milk ready and dig in 🙂 Careful, it will be hot.

Silent Heroes
My latest book, Silent Heroes, is available through Amazon.

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The Sunshine Blogger Award – Nominated by Author Sally Cronin

the Sunshine Blogger Award

My heartfelt thanks go to lovely author & blogger Sally Cronin for nominating me for the Sunshine Blogger Award. The Sunshine Blogger Award is given out by members of the blogging community in recognition of inspiring, creative, and motivational blogs. YAY!

I am honored to be nominated alongside some really wonderful bloggers I do admire and follow. This is my very first nomination, so I am feeling quite smug 🙂 Having your blogging work appreciated is always a motivation to push for better content, but also to support fellow bloggers. For we are but lonely stars on a dark sky without each other.

During the past year I discovered such a wide range of amazing bloggers. I will use this opportunity to nominate those whom I admire for their kindness and generosity and whose blog posts motivate me.

I know how busy life and blogging can get, so if I nominated you and you don’t have the time to respond with a post, that’s okay 🙂 But I do hope you will take the nomination as a mark of my admiration.

If you choose to accept the Sunshine Blogger Award nomination, there are a few rules:

• Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you and link back to their blog.

• Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.

• List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award in your blog post.

• Nominate 11 new bloggers & their blogs. Do leave a comment on their blog to let them know they received the award and ask your nominees 11 new questions.

Here are the 11 questions set by Sally for her nominees, with my answers:

1.What is the most daring thing you have done?

I moved half way round the world to be with the man I love, my husband.

2.Name one item still on your bucket list.

I don’t have a bucket list, but one thing I’ve been wishing I could do and never been able to (although I’ve been invited once!) is visit Greenway, Agatha Christie’s home.

3.If you had a time machine, would you choose to live in the past or the future?

Definitely in the past. I am such a history fan. And I love research. I love planning too. Am I allowed to research the era before jumping into the time machine? J

4.What is your favorite movie of all time?

I think each decade of my life can be defined by a movie. ‘Gone With the Wind’, ‘The Way We Were’, ‘Love, Actually’. I think this decade it’s ‘A Night at the Museum’. Gosh, the titles speak volumes J

5.What is one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?

Start. Writing. Now.
And do no stop.

6.What is one of your guilty pleasures?

I have only one guilty pleasure, and that is Coffee with a capital C. Coffee is my morning joy, my strengths in the wee, lonely hours, my inspiration and my fuel. I love the rhythmic, musically-drum sound of coffee beans as they sing in their container. I adore the smell of freshly ground coffee. I cherish the taste of a good cup of café latte. I relish at the sight of a frothy cappuccino and can appreciate the velvety, creamy taste of an espresso.  

7.Do you have any pets?

99% of my books include at least a dog 🙂 We have two.

8.Tell us about one thing that really gets your goat.

People who cut in line.

9.Who would you invite to a celebrity dinner. List 5, dead or alive?

Agatha Christie. Kathy Reichs. Ingrid Bergman. Margaret Atwood. My daughter 🙂 – she is my hero for handling her life as a teenager during the 21st century as well as she does.

10.What is your most annoying bad habit?

I can think of two. While awake, I tend to speak softly. While asleep, as I transition to and from REM sleep, I tend to act out my dreams and speak out loud. I am told that no one can reason with me during those seconds.

11.Name your current favorite song playing on your playlist right now.

‘Where Do You Go’ by No Mercy has been (almost) the only song on my playlist during the last six months J

Here are my 11 questions for my nominees:

  1. Share one thing about yourself that would surprise your followers.
  2. Which do you prefer, mountain or sea?
  3. What is the highest / furthest point you traveled to?
  4. You stand on a 1m high brick wall. Would you jump off or climb slowly?
  5. If you would only start your writing career now, where would you begin?
  6. Which animals you feel it represents you best?
  7. Are you an early riser or night owl?
  8. Was writing your first choice as a career? If not, what was it?
  9. What is your comfort food?
  10. Best way to relax and recharge? (either than writing J)
  11. What is your favorite word?

And here are my 11 nominees for the Sunshine Blogger Award

Jessie Cahalin (Books in Handbag) & she replied here. Hooray!
Jo (Tea and Cake for the Soul)
James Cudney IV (This Is My Truth Now)
Brian Langeose (Bonnywood Manor)
Bette A. Stevens (Writers and Readers)
Caz (Invisibility Me)
Katie Kay (Writer, Blogger & Pilot) & she replied here 🙂 YAY!
Barbara Auzou (Lire, Dite Elle)
Annika Perry (Annika Perry)
Mike (M. C. Tuggle)
Pete and Ollie 🙂 (Bettley Pete)

If you are reading this and would like to participate, please do! Answer those questions, nominate the bloggers you admire. And do link back to me; I will make sure to share your post.
Thank you, Pat.

Achieving Calm through all the Chaos

I just gotten used to writing 2019 and, in a flash, it already flew by, taking with it milestones and achievements, forgotten plans and stolen moments with my family. Life is faster, we work harder, have more plans, higher goals, yet we are busier than ever before. I grasp at the meaning of calmness through the chaos that my present day translates to. My heart knows it before my mind, achieving some state of calm through all this chaos is a must. Deep breath now

Some say we are addicted to stress, that our neural pathways thrive on it, on back to back meetings and the adrenaline rushing through our bodies. But is pushing ourselves actually making us more productive?

Is more, always better?

Perhaps spreading us thinner through juggling numerous projects at a time – ours, a co-workers, the kids’ – is not a measure of how much we can achieve. Perhaps doing less, resisting the urge to focus on other’s business, focusing more on our needs, on what really matters, is the true way forward. Being able to say ‘no’.

Asking ourselves: do I really have time for this? Do I need to add this to my schedule? Am I the one that has to do it? – is just as important as the skill needed to solve that extra issue.

achieving calm through chaos

Achieving Calm through all the Chaos in 5 Steps

Prioritize: life before work

Ask yourself, which are the most important people in your life? To me is my family. What manners next? Perhaps work, a hobby. And then? Friends, sport, social life?

These are aspect of your life you need to prioritize at the beginning of each year. Put them in your calendar first: birthdays, anniversaries, school holidays, family gatherings, dates.

Do not worry to leave the leftover time for work – it will still be plenty available!

Create a path through all that clutter

I am not talking about desk clutter, but all the bullet points on your daily ‘to do’ list. For some, an Excel spreadsheet works well, for others, a daily planning stuck on the fridge door will do. Start with that.

There you go, now you know in what order to prioritize your daily tasks. Focus on only one task at a time.

Plan, prioritize, but also make time to breathe – every day.

achieving calm through chaos

Know your personal and your career goals

If you make them clear to yourself at the beginning of each year, you would have reduced most of the clutter from your daily planner. They say, if you know your yes’s, then your no’s are easier.

Keeping your goals in mind makes it easier to prioritize on a day to day basis and it makes your decisions a lot easier.

And family time? Sharing daily, joyful moment with your family keeps you connected, thus making it easier to keep your personal goals in sight.

Face it, head-on

Often, solving the top issues, the most stressful ones, and reshuffling the rest can remove most of the daily stress our minds deal with.

Next assess these issues that seem to be constantly moved from one day to the next and ask yourself: will I feel a sense of accomplishment if I finish them? Are they important? If you think yes, then schedule one a day, prioritize it and finish it. If no, then they were just cluttering your daily schedule.

achieving calm through chaos

Meditate and Sleep

Maybe not for everyone, and I am the first to admit that I have a problem with both – I find them equally time-consuming. But when I do meditate – I realize that my objectives are clearer, what was a conundrum is clarified, I know how to approach a problem and, in conclusion, I feel less stressed.

Sleeping is a whole other issue. Beneficial for all and it does improve the immune system. And, yes, a good night’s sleep does give us a performance-edge and increases our mind’s agility.

It is easy to allow small worries to become big issues, but achieving that sense of calm through all the daily chaos is doable and can be a positive aspect of your 2020. I hope it will!

And read on. Poetry, in particular, calms the mind. Poetry is as good as gold 🙂