Archive for ‘Questions and Answers’

2017, February 10

A couple of thoughts

Years ago, I mentioned five things that I will not write about on my blog, and I don’t intend to change that any time soon.
Today however, I will ever-so-lightly touch on the subject of politics by expressing a few opinions prompted by the protests taking over the main squares of major Romanian cities, which are categorized as the largest demonstrations nationwide since the fall of communism in 1989.

Smartphones light up the night sky. Image copyright

Smartphones light up the night sky.
Image copyright Dan Mihai Balanescu

This is my favorite moment from the protest. In case you don’t read/haven’t seen it when reading world news stories, this is when on Sunday, people used their smartphone torches to illuminate the night sky. So beautiful!
Now on to my opinions.
The protests are legitimate, I believe, but so many of the people out there have not actually read the law in question or know much about why they’re out there protesting.
We live in the Facebook era when anyone can make a public event and invite people, who invite more people, who invite more people. We live in a time in history when it’s trendy to show up, and even trendier to check in at protest locations on one’s social media profiles. I really believe that is one of the main reasons for the amount of protesters.
In a slightly different form, this law was under consideration in 2013/2014. There were very few people out in the streets protesting back then. Where were all these 250000 protesters from Bucharest then? Let alone the half a million from all over the country?
There was someone on TV the other weekend talking about the children’s demonstration. He said, and I agree, that if the parents explained to the kids why they were there, it was a very good, live lesson in civic engagement, about democracy and wanting to make a difference. If said parents were cautious, I believe that it was a good idea.
However, for the past ten days, so many parents went, and took their kids under 15 with them to the evening protests. Sure, it is their personal choice to stay out there with them until midnight, yet I can not see it as being a wise and safe one.
And kinda lastly, I like the fact that the protesters are not causing any incidents and leave the squares clean.
But I have to wonder why is it that our news channels here make such a big deal out of it? What is fundamentally wrong if this is news worthy? How are Romanians overall perceived in the world, if this is portrayed as such a big surprise?
And why are people not behaving the same way when they gather for a concert, for a football game (several games have been played without supporters in the pews as the threat of incidents was too high, or several games have been stopped because supporters were throwing stuff onto the field), or any other public event, or even when simply living and walking the streets?
The clean and incident-free protests, to me, prove that it could be the same way 90% of the time instead of only now during the protests.
PS: this little blog of mine turned 8 yesterday. What better way to celebrate, than do exactly what I set out to when I first started it, and express my opinion? ;)
2017, January 6

My 2016 in books

In 2016, I challenged myself to read 20 books and made it to 23 instead. I have to admit, that includes both reading for fun and for work, but hey, at least sometimes I’m getting paid to read so I won’t complain!

At the end of 2015, I won an Amazon gift card at work, and promptly ordered a few books for myself, which my dear friend from London was so kind to bring with her when she visited her grandmother so I could make use of Amazon stores “free shipping in the UK” policies. I have to say, I haven’t finished reading half of those titles, but I am very happy to have them close by.

my-year-2016-in-books

I read in several genres, from murder mystery, romance, young adult, to poetry, recipes, instructional books, and even fairy tales and a comic book.

One book that I regret not finishing this year is the DOODLE ART HANDBOOK: The Non-Artist’s Guide in Creative Drawing by Lana Karr, Olga Dee,  especially because I would’ve liked to doodle more, and this book is wonderful for someone just starting out in that department.

The total page count only comes to 3521, with the longest book being The Chicago Manual of Style by University of Chicago Press at 1026 pages.

My favorite reads of 2016 are actually series rather than single books this time around:

  • Banana Muffins & Mayhem, by Janel Gradowski – In June, I took part in Janel Gradowski’s book launch tour, and for this occasion I re-read the novels I finished before, and read the ones I haven’t from her culinary competition mystery book series.
    When I finished reading Banana Muffins & Mayhem, the fifth novel, I came to the conclusion that it was my favorite of the series. As much as I love the main character, Amy, I really loved getting a different POV from her best friend Carla in this novel. Reading the book coincided with a pretty complicated year in my life, and especially some of the advice given to Amy regarding life and family I have taken as my own silver lighting and put my worries aside for now.
  • These Are the Moments, by Jenny Bravo – I have to say, I fell in love with Jenny Bravo’s writing style! She writes with such ease, yet conveys such raw, complicated and powerful emotions through her characters, that I was drawn in from the very first sentence of each book.
    Although I loved every single one of the books, These Are the Moments was my favorite of the series so far. As the book’s description befittingly states, this young adult and new adult fiction novel dares to ask the questions: Do people ever really change? Do two people, who can never make it work, actually make it right? And most importantly, do they even want to?
    I actually read the Those Were the Days: A TATM Short Story (in a heartbeat!) first, which was free on Kindle (Amazon), and immediately bought the novel and also the novella Moments Like These: A TATM novella. I look forward to reading the newest novel in the series which I bought right after it was published in December, That Was the Year, and already can’t wait for the third novel!

Below is a print screen of all the titles I’ve read last year. Take a look, and check out the list itself on Goodreads. Who knows, you might see something you’d also like to read.

2016-in-books

Now, please let me know in the comments below how many books you’ve read this past year? And what are your favorite reads for 2016 (or previous years)? Don’t hold back, I always love a good book recommendation!

Since I would’ve liked to read even more last year but did end up surpassing my goal, I decided to challenge myself to read 25 books in 2017. That was my goal in 2013, too, and just like that year, I totally plan to update this with higher numbers over the course of the year!
I am already ahead of schedule with a book I finished reading on January 2nd ;)

Here’s to a great 2017, filled with lots of reading!

2016, December 30

Six reasons to smile in December

This month, I couldn’t help but notice a trend: Winter weather has definitely settled in to stay in this little corner of the world, ever since mid-October actually when the weather changed drastically, and many of the things which made me smile every day are off of my Cozy List for Sweater Weather. And then there was Christmas, too, and being off from work, getting the chance to finally rest for a bit sure made it easier to smile.

I wonder if I should continue posting these six reasons to smile blog posts next year as well? They were fun to write up and share the pics, yet I’m not sure if I want to continue…

Here are the reasons I smiled in December:

six-reasons-december

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!

2016, December 2

Things I hate and love in mom’s remodeled house

Right off the bat, I need to state that the remodel took place two years ago. I was so disappointed by the outcome, that I never even thought about writing a blog post on the topic.
About a month or so ago though, I read a blog post over at Bloggoneit, and then another one, which got me thinking about the old remodel, and decided to write down all my own thoughts.

We didn’t have too much money to spend on it, which might also have contributed to some things not being done properly. The house itself is very old, it was built about 100 years ago. The layout is not ideal, some rooms are warmer and others keep a steady freezing temperature even during summer. We have a closed patio-type thing and its roof leeks every time it rains, or when snow starts melting. I still have a loan to pay off, because it was the only way we could afford the remodel in the first place. It is basically a money-pit I can’t wait to get rid of!

And I could go on and on, with the old issues, but I am also stealing the idea of making a top likes and dislikes list, because you might just need to set aside a whole day to listen to my complaints otherwise.

Top five things I hate in mom’s remodeled house:

  1. The total cost for quality and time spent. We went over budget, even though we rounded every price up. It’s not the quality I would’ve expected. And it got done in a full four weeks over schedule.
  2. The shower. My mother insisted on getting rid of our (albeit bulky and old) bathtub, and replacing it with a shower pan the workers would build, then install a shower curtain around that.
    Well, what we ended up with is not a shower pan, but a tiny wall built which has a square cut out so the water can flow out of it to reach the drain. Yes. The drain is outside of the ‘pan.’
  3. That we didn’t get more wall sockets. We could’ve, but we didn’t. Now the house is, again, filled with a bunch of extension cords to plug in appliances and electronics.
  4. Unfinished things. We still need doors for a cabinet, covers for seat cushions and an armchair needs reupholstering. Up until last week, we still needed to replace our 30+ year-old fridge. A friend was kind enough to bring over her 3 year-old fridge since she bought a bigger one and would’ve thrown it away otherwise.
  5. Piled-up crap. Everything we owned was boxed up, stored on the patio during the remodel, and for the most part I managed to convince mom to only take back in the stuff we actually need inside.
    Unfortunately though, there’s still a lot of crap (I won’t even try and name it differently, because that’s what it is) that is on the patio, waiting to be thrown out or donated, because my grandparents refuse to let me near the stuff. Come to think of it, we also have a garage full of crap my grandparents don’t let me near because I’d happily throw it all out/donate it…

wall-of-art

Top three things I love in mom’s remodeled house:

  1. The wall of art in the kitchen. I wanted to display my plaster wall hangings for so long, but all the walls were covered by too many pictures/paintings, in odd places because the paint was peeling off or we had holes from previously hung stuff.
  2. The color of my room’s walls. Light blue. Exactly what I wanted when we moved into that house in 1998, and what I didn’t get because someone thought an eleven-year-old won’t know the difference if they paint it pink instead.
  3. The fact that I moved in with my boyfriend while the remodel was ongoing, and he wanted me to stay instead of moving back home once the remodel was done ;)

Have you guys remodeled your houses? Did you regret not selling the place instead? Or did the remodel turn out lovely? I’d love to hear how you survived a remodel, and possibly even kept your sanity! What are your likes and dislikes about it all?

2016, November 25

Six reasons to smile in November

I took part in Positively Present’s 2016 Gratitude Photo Challenge this month. You may recall I took part in the November 2011 one, carried my camera with me for the month of November and it inspired my very own, year-long photo challenge.

Go check out my Instagram or Facebook feed to see all the photos I posted this month. There are still a few days to go, but even so far it is a lot of fun, and it was hard to choose six that I love most. So, one of them is a collage of four as a small bonus.

I am so thankful for being able to take pictures and enjoy my surroundings. I need to be more present in the moment.

Here are the reasons I smiled in November:

six-reasons-november

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!

2016, November 11

5 Quick Ways to Minimize Distractions and Get Writing

Today we have a guest post from Alexis MacDonald for your reading pleasure. Her excitement to write a guest post and the wonderful content she provided have quickly sealed the deal for her guest post on FFDO when the #fridayflash community website was still up and running. Since the website closed last year, I really wanted to share this article again, with as many people as possible.

It’s November, NaNoWriMo is well into its second week, most of my readers here are also writers and let’s face it – we all need to read this advice. Maybe even more than once.

Hope you enjoy this as much as I have, and happy NaNoWriMo writing!

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5 Quick Ways to Minimize Distractions and Get Writing

There are times in our lives that no matter how diligent we are about setting aside private time to write, life insists on getting in the way. Here are a few tips to help writers roll with the metaphorical punches and get some words down!

  1. Self-discipline

Make writing a habit. Write at the same time every day. Write throughout the day. Read a page about writing and then write a paragraph.

  1. Disengagement

As writers, we do not need to be connected to others every minute of the day. We know that in order to focus, we need to disengage ourselves from our social life.

  • Install a door. There are limits to what a door can do. In spite of their best intentions, family members tend to neglect to respect this impediment and will knock and open it anyway. But the door will diminish the recent movie rental or stereo playing in the family room.
  • Telephones. Ring tones and vibrations are extremely distracting. If you have a mobile phone, arrange it so that it does not ring, a light merely flashes. Set it off to one side and in either case, merely glance at the caller ID and unless it is an emergency, ignore it. As long as someone else is at home who can answer it, do not answer the phone at your writing desk.
  • The Social Internet. It should not have to be said that in order to better focus, a writer should be self-disciplined enough to have turned off all their social applications that would vie for attention. There are programs to download that help writer’s monitor their time and block out social sites but why would a disciplined writer resort to using these programs? On the other hand, having the Internet up is important for research.
  1. Nutrition and hydration

It is important to be energetic yet be calm enough to focus. Did you know that the lack of calcium causes mental depression or that iodine is a mental energizer? Besides salt, iodine is found in peppers, kelp, and raw goat milk. Although coffee and alcohol are commonly connected to writers, water, green tea, and organic fruit juices help maintain hydration and energize the mind. There are also over-the-counter eye drops that help moisturize dry, weary eyeballs.

  1. Music

Because writers are creative people, many are also musicians and artists. Some writers cannot work while listening to music with lyrics because they tend to concentrate on the lyrics while others who play instruments cannot listen to music at all. Some need white noise in the background in order to write. Be aware of this and use whatever helps you get the job done. Ear plugs can help but, some people strain to listen to the outside world even more when they use them.

If the above tips failed to help, this next one – while seemingly a detractor, might actually remedy the situation.

  1. Be in a noisy, busy environment

Going to a place like a mall or a coffee shop where there are people and noise all around you can be freeing. There are times when an overly busy environment actually helps one block out individual distractions and concentrate better. Along those lines, being around other writers who are engaged in their writing can really get you cracking on your own project.

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More about the author:

Alexis MacDonald is a stay at home mom, midnight scribbler and a freelance pregnancy writer. She answers questions such as “how do you get pregnant” (hint, it’s more complex than you think – for instance: there’s a fertility calendar…)

2016, October 28

Six reasons to smile in October

At the beginning of the month, my boyfriend and I took a little one day trip to Jibou, where we had the most lovely walk in its Botanical Garden. I never knew it existed until a friend of my mom’s told us about it. The place is really beautiful, and our day together came very close to perfection.

During the enigmatic and spooky team building I took with my firm last week in the mountains at over 1100 meters altitude, we stayed at Hotel Castel Dracula. It was a nice weekend, even nicer for the people who love partying. But the view did bring smiles to my face and I was happy that it stopped raining just enough for a one hour walk to take it all in.

Here are the reasons I smiled in October:

page-six-reasons-october

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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