2016, October 24

The place to escape from the hustle and bustle of London

I loved it when I stayed a few days at my friend’s place near Finsbury Park, but I noticed that people are just as hurried and stressed in downtown London, as they are here in my city. So, it was nice to have stayed at a hotel in Kingston for the work days of that week and notice for comparison the slower pace of living there.

Come on over to Milliver’s Travels to read my travel article, Kingston Upon Thames: escape the hustle and bustle of London. and see some of the most beautiful sights of the town.

2016, October 21

The “I Am the Reader” book tag

There is a book tag floating around among YouTube channels, called “I Am the Reader” and people get all chatty answering the questions.
I’m not sure who started the tag, and I’m not going to go search for them either, but the questions did sound interesting when I happened upon a vlog this past weekend.


Here are the “I Am the Reader” book tag questions and my answers:

  1. Choose one word that describes being a reader.
    – Magical.
  2. What’s the very first book you fell in love with?
    – For Christmas when I was in second grade my mom gifted me the book called “Me and My Sister Clara”, by Dimitar Inkiow, which is the only book I’ve read as many times as I’ve read the HP series. I recall that I even colored in the drawings in my Hungarian version of the little book.
  3. Hardcover or paperback?
    – I love a good hardcover, but usually I buy paperback books for the simple reason that they’re cheaper. And along those lines, I have a lot of e-books which I either won, found for free or bought when they were on sale.
    As long as the book is good though, it really doesn’t matter what form it comes in. I just want to read.
  4. How has reading shaped your identity?
    – Reading the Harry Potter series and a question from a friend prompted quite an interesting list of what my seven Horcruxes are, because, I now believe we all have horcruxes in real life.
  5. What book do you read when you need to be comforted?
    – Lately I don’t have a go-to book to read when in the need to be comforted so I just pick up a book from my TBR pile. But if I had all of my books living with me instead of in my old room at mom’s, it’d most likely be the HP books.
  6. Who taught you to be a reader? (Or did you do it all on your own?)
    – I read books since I learned how to read, but mostly off the Required Reading Lists for school. I usually didn’t like them.
    The reply to this question coincides more with what I call My Harry Potter Story:
    one of my friends hasn’t shut up for months and made me watch the first Harry Potter movie with her. I loved it and when I got home my first question to my mom was: when can we buy the book?
    This was right before the beginning of the 9th grade when I went to high school, and my new Hungarian literature teacher’s first request was for the class to read the first Harry Potter novel. So the next day, I got the book and read it in a heart beat. For Christmas and birthdays I got the rest of them as presents over the years, and I bought the last four myself.
    I started reading more and more while waiting for which ever happened to be the next book in the HP series to get written/published and haven’t stopped ever since. That is also when I started reading more in English.
  7. Describe your dream reading lounge.
    – One of these chairs in the corner of a quiet room, next to a fireplace, with a warm knitted blanket, an endless supply of Toblerone and tea, and my Pixel kitty purring in my lap.
  8. What book changed the way you act or see the world?
    – I loved the reality  “The Fault in Our Stars”, by John Green, presents. I’ve talked about it before, if you want to have a look.

That completes the tag. If you feel like sharing, go ahead and answer the questions in the comments below. Or if so inclined, write a blog post of your own and let me know where I can find it – I’d love to hear all about your reader’s experiences!

2016, October 14

Creativity Vitamin: Clean the Clutter

Cleaning clutter is one of my favorite things. Just a couple of months ago, I cleaned our closet, the kitchen cabinets and with my boyfriend tackled the balcony as well. We donated about six bags of clothes, some dishes, threw out seven or eight bags of trash overall and took an old, heavy printer to the recycling center.

I’ve talked about clearing the clutter before. So this time around, I’m calling my writer friend Janel Gradowski for backup to talk to us about clearing the clutter from our writing spaces.

Her article, “Creativity Vitamin: Clean the Clutter”, also appeared on FFDO when the #fridayflash community website was still up and running, but since it closed last year, I really wanted to share this article again, with as many people as possible.
Hope you enjoy this as much as I have!


A messy work space leads to a messy mind. You have heard some version of that phrase, haven’t you? Clearing the clutter from my writing space is something I make a point to do on a regular basis. I am really not a neat freak, I can happily ignore stacks of mail on the kitchen table or precariously stacked video game boxes on the entertainment center. The reason I regularly clean up my writing space is simple. I’m more productive. That is good enough for me to spend some quality time doing clutter control on a regular basis. A clean work space leads to a less-cluttered mind.

Don’t believe me? Imagine this scenario.

You are in the middle of writing a scene. You pause for a few seconds to ponder the perfect detail to add to your villain’s appearance. Your gaze wanders from your computer screen to a stack of unopened mail. Yes, most of it is junk mail, but there are bills in the pile that could be overdue. You abandon your writing to sort through mail. Clutter has claimed more victims. You and your WIP.

Have you ever written down notes for a project and then lost them? However, in your search through the mountains of paper on your desk you did discover some notes for another story. Notes that would’ve made that story much better, but it’s too late because it has already been published. Now you’re frustrated about two stories.

Maybe you have a favorite pen that you like to edit hard copies with. What happens if you sit down with a stack of pages to edit and you can’t find the pen? You could grab another one, but there’s also a good chance you’ll waste time searching for the coveted pen. There went a nice chunk of editing time.

So how do you get your writing space clean? If your desk is a huge mess, you can tackle your clean up in stages.

  • Throughout the work day when you need to take a break, clean up a few things.
  • Sort through one pile or area at a time.
  • Set up files to keep necessary items and always have your garbage can nearby.
  • Maybe buy, or make, some nice pen holders or boxes to organize notepads, paperclips, sticky notes, etc.
  • If you tend to keep your space neat anyway, make sure to set aside some time each week to do a clutter control sweep.
  • Don’t view the process as a household chore…think of it as a benefit to your writing life.

Are you ready to start cleaning up your writing space, or do you always keep it clean?


janelMore about the author:

Janel Gradowski lives in a land that looks like a cold weather fashion accessory, the mitten-shaped state of Michigan. She is a wife and mom to two kids and one Golden Retriever. Her journey to becoming an author is littered with odd jobs like renting apartments to college students and programming commercials for an AM radio station. Somewhere along the way she also became a beadwork designer and teacher. She enjoys cooking recipes found in her formidable cookbook and culinary fiction collection. Searching for unique treasures at art fairs, flea markets and thrift stores is also a favorite pastime. Coffee is an essential part of her life. She writes the Culinary Competition Mystery Series, along with The Bartonville Series (women’s fiction) and the 6:1 Series (flash fiction). She has also had many short stories published in both online and print publications.

You can find her via her Website, sign up for her Newsletter, or follow her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and Goodreads.

2016, October 7


Lately, I find that I have less patience for things, situations and people. And I don’t like it, but can’t help it either. And I start feeling semi-depressed and just want to sit in bed and do only the bare minimum, to survive. It’s hard to stop crying. It’s hard to force oneself to get out and go for a run, or walk and not become a hermit. It’s hard to keep from falling apart.

On some days I think too much.
About how people now living abroad come home to visit and don’t have time to get together. How they’d expect a meet-up on a two hour notice. How something always comes up. It takes two months to schedule a meeting with someone. And it takes 18+ back and forth texts to finally meet up on a day and at a time which don’t really suit one of the parties involved, but they can’t bear the thought of putting it off again so they change their whole schedule around. People don’t call/or get back to someone when they say they will. They only reach out if they want something. And even when they want a favor, they make one jump through hoops to be able to help them, making one go out of their way for them. Everyone is way too busy at work, there is not enough time to discuss something as small as how they are doing instead of discussing only work – even during lunch breaks or after hours.
People just don’t have time for each other anymore. Every single plan made gets changed. I feel like I did when I was a little kid and was the last to get picked for things, which is more like stuck with than picked.
Somehow, everything else comes first…

Then on one of the above described days OKAY, by ThePianoGuys, popped into my YouTube feed. And let me tell you, it truly was exactly what I needed to hear that day. I immediately shared it on my social media. And wished the whole World would listen to it and share it, and especially, to think about it. “No matter what you’ve been through, here you are; no matter if you think you’re falling apart, it’s gonna be okay.”
Go ahead have a listen, and make sure to read the story behind the song, in the video’s description box. It’s so worth it!

As closing, I will leave you with the words of ThePianoGuys who summed it up nicely:
As Oscar Hammerstein once said, “It is a modern tragedy that despair has so many spokesmen, and hope so few.” Please share this song with someone you think might need it today. Thank you!

2016, September 30

Review: George HS Singer’s, Ergon


Today’s blog post is a stop on George HS Singer’s Poetry Tour run by Poetic Book Tours, this Autumn. Last month, I received the poetry book, Ergon, for review. At first, even though I do love poetry, I wasn’t sure I’d have the time to finish reading it, but after securing an end-of-the-month date for the blog tour stop, I said “Yes.”

Ergon is a mix of poems about George HS Singer’s life as a monk and in the monastery and about his life after he left to marry and have a family. As he tries to balance his spiritual principles with every day life as a husband and father, these poems utilize nature as a backdrop for his quest.

ERGON_coverPublished by WordTech Editions, who describe this book as: “George Singer’s Ergon is precise, delicate and fierce in its engagement with the world.”, you can find the poetry book, on Amazon and on BookDepository, as well as his other publications which range in a myriad of topics from education & teaching, parenting & social sciences, to medical books.

My copy of the book arrived in the week before I left for holiday, and given it’s 86 pages long, I decided to take it with me. I’ve taken novels on holiday with me before and then after arriving home felt all sorts of bad about not having enough time to read more than a couple of chapters.
Well, Ergon was the perfect holiday read!

The book is composed of four parts: Visiting, Ergon, Our Quotidian and Immensity. They, in George’s own words, cover the themes of:

  1. “The beauty, humor, and difficulty of living as a Zen monk.
  2. Coming to terms with a very mixed childhood and its insistent residue.
  3. My sense of gratitude for having found a soul mate in my wife.
  4. My sense of the unutterable wonder of existence and that there is enough of it that can be taken in and joined with to keep from staying down after inevitably and repeatedly falling down.
    the stars across the axis of the sky,
    light enough to walk without stumbling.”

The poems aren’t too long, they can be read in a fast pace, and as you can see listed above, their themes are varied in complexity. I can honestly say I haven’t read a poetry book quite like this one before. The poems give the vibe of being written with such ease despite the depth and warmth carried through.

My boyfriend read some of the poems as well, we read together; and I highly recommend this book for any couple if they want something truly interesting to read and talk about curled up on the couch together.

Here’s the early praise for the book:

“Singer’s work is wise, vulnerable, empty and full, erotic and spiritual, intimate and lonely, his source of metaphor the keenly-witnessed natural world. Ergon  is a book about abiding love but also illness, lobotomies, and long-held grief; its landscape is one in which the buffaloes with ‘eyes sad as Lincoln’s’ plow through the fence and break into the temple, where the Buddha is ‘poised with one palm open, one touching the trampled ground.’ Go to the forest or the shore and read this book, and while you’re at it, don’t underestimate the ferocity of these deeply adult and nuanced poems.”—Diane Seuss

“With his first book of poems, Ergon, George H. S. Singer takes his place among a rich tradition of California poets for whom the literary sphere is outlined not only in aesthetic terms but in natural, ethical, and spiritual dimensions as well.  This humane poetic runs recently from Hass to Hirshfield, Snyder to Herrera, but traces its origins to the ethos of Aristotle, who defines ‘ergon’ as ‘the core function or purpose of something or someone’; virtue then ‘arises when ergon is realized fully.’  Singer is a maker of contemporary devotions out of the dross and commotion of a daily life—out of false teeth, frayed cords, mouse nests and into the sphere ‘of celestial fire where the souls / of extinct birds are turned into gems.’  It’s not alchemy but faith. It’s not caprice but capability to see the spirited world within the known one, capability to approach in language the ‘eternal silence of these spaces between the stars.’”—David Baker

“With dignity and that slight irreverence that convinces you he’s telling the truth, George Singer creates his rich, lucid poems about the core of our human condition, our Ergon. Moving, surprising, erotic and profound, Singer’s poems take us around the world and through personal history—from the unexpected humor of daily life inside a Buddhist temple to the terrible inverted logic of a sanitarium for the insane, or from a sexual spark in a long marriage, to eons of geological time. Ergon marks the debut of a splendid poet with a sensibility that might make you more observant, and far lighter on your mental feet. A person could get wise reading poems of such warmth and depth.”—Molly Peacock

GeorgeSinger_AuthorPicMore about the author:

George HS Singer is a former Zen Buddhist monk and student of Rev. Master Jiyu Kennett, lives with his wife of forty-two years in Santa Barbara, Calif., where he works as a professor at University of California, Santa Barbara. He was educated at Yale, Southern Oregon University, and the University of Oregon. He wrote poetry in college but took a twenty-year break before taking it up as a regular discipline. He has been a long term student of Molly Peacock and has had the opportunity to work with other marvelous poets through the Frost Place in Franconia, N.H.  He writes about life in and out of a Zen monastery, trying to live mindfully in a busy and troubled world, his love of nature and of his wife. The arts have become more central to his life.  Singer’s poems were published in the Massachusetts Review, Prairie Schooner, and Tar River Poetry.

2016, September 26

If you only have three days in Debrecen

A couple of years ago, I’ve talked about walking with my friends and admiring the flower floats that participated in the St. Stephen’s Day parade in Debrecen.

This week, I have a new travel article up on Milliver’s Travels, about my three days exploring the city of Debrecen. I think that if one only has three days to visit that city, the places I mention are well worth taking a look at.
Stop by to read about them, and see the pretty pictures of the quaint city, its parks and gardens, botanical garden and zoo!

2016, September 23

Six reasons to smile in September

This month, I have signed up for George HS Singer’s Poetry Tour run by Poetic Book Tours, so I am posting this one week early. I know you won’t mind, once you see the pictures I’ll share ;)

Nearly every morning, I get one of these beautiful lattes, prepared by the boyfriend after he wakes me up. I love sitting on the balcony with him while drinking it.
For the birthday of a colleague at work, I decided to get a bit creative and place the money we raised in a jar filled with M&Ms – he loved it!
Pixel was all sorts of cute this past month – like always – and delighted me with a bunch of new poses.

I was walking on Eroilor Street one afternoon and saw an arrows-advertisement for WalkingMonth, which I found interesting. Teams of four people compete against each other to take as many steps as they can during September 12 – October 11, and the funds raised through registration will be donated to the children with neuromotor disabilities cared for by the Malteser Relief Service in Romania.
I would’ve loved to participate, if I hadn’t already (very bravely!) signed up for The Companies Cross, where you can run either as individuals or in teams, in a fun race of 6 km! My colleagues and I have formed teams and have trained for the run in Central Park every week this month, and honestly I can’t wait to see myself crossing that finish line on Sunday. Like my colleague also said, the benefits of doing sports are life changing: helps us clear our minds, makes us more productive, keeps us focused and in good shape. Definitely a nice little nudge to continue my new-found exercise routine! I only wish I could run during winter as well, without having to go to the gym, which I hate the thought of…

One evening when I was visiting my mom, I really felt like turning on the lamp my godfather made when he was young. I just needed a moment of quiet.
And one day after my afternoon run, I came across a really pretty sunflower. Just the one. In the middle of a grass patch. I loved it!

Here are the reasons I smiled in September:


Did you smile a lot this month? What were your reasons? In case you’ve also captured them on camera, I’d love to see!

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