Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tripping on a Potato Wednesday

  1. autumn colours in the hilly regions of Dolenjska
  2. glass beads with eyes and knobs
  3. feeding ducks by the castle Otočec
Children are having so-called »potato« school holidays (the name comes from the potato harvest which took place weeks ago). Extra animation required! I can't remember ever going for a trip to southeastern Slovenia so I suggest we set wheels towards Novo mesto...

We take the highway (Ljubljana-Zagreb) and enjoy wonderful view of the hilly region which is well-known to wine enthusiasts as it is the home to Cvicek wine, a blend of several different varieties of wine from the local vineyards. On an ordinary working day it is crazy to expect to find a parking space downtown but we take our chances and drive all the way up to the Chapter Church of St. Nicholas and bingo! – park our car. The museum we are heading to is just one street away!

I have been to Dolenjski muzej many years ago and the findings amazed me. I figured Em would find it interesting also to see locally excavated items dating back to the late Stone Age. She has started history this year and expressions, such as “century” and “Age” sound much more familiar than they did a year ago.

The exhibits show the settlements in the Dolenjska region from Stone Age until Middle Ages. We see a rich collection of tools, weapons, jewelry and pottery. The central part of the exhibition presents items from the late Iron Age (8th-4th century BC): colourful glass beads with eyes and knobs, produced in local workshops, complemented with amber jewelry, iron and bronze weapons, bronze vessels and situlae with human figurines. Most of the jewelry pieces were among rich findings from the early Iron Age graves.

Em agrees that the Stone Age tools, glass vessels and jewelry are remarkable while Jay busies herself looking for passages from one room to another. I am glad I was able to fight the common prejudices about children visiting museums once again…!

The castle Otočec, the only castle located on an island (amid the Krka river) in Slovenia, was our next stop.

It dates back to renaissance although its existence was documented already in 13th century. Unfortunately the castle was devastated by the partisans during WWII therefore there are no remains of any spectacular interior glamour other than what has been created decades later when the castle was turned into a 5* hotel, often used as a protocol site for accommodating special guests.

Needless to say we choose not to have our lunch here, but we do feed the ducks with some bread we have left from our morning snacking in the car.

I don’t think the ducks would fancy any of the castle specialties more…!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The recent beautiful...

1. A Saturday walk on the beach in Ankaran, the only place you can count on finding shells any time of the year.

2. Girls' painting nails on a Sunday evening.

 3. Monday dumplings rolled with love by Jay.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Gratefulness on Wednesday!

  1. After a long wait by the side of the road I feel relieved to see my car and a familiar face in the driver’s seat. Then I notice the badly scratched side of the car and my Mom’s pale face. And I am grateful. It could have been so much worse than a minor crash.
  2. The fragrance of freshly baked bread: white bread, corn bread, buckwheat bread with walnuts, buns, croissants. I am one of 10 bakerladies!
  3. Em is eager to brief me on an interview she will be having at school with a writer of children’s stories. I am amazed at how many of his books she has already read and how fearless she is about the whole event.  

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Tuesday of surprises

  1. Just as I extend my leg to make another step a golden maple leaf lands exactly on the ground right in front of me. I step over it. I like Autumn, I really do.
  2. The school gym where we usually have our Tuesday pilates class is being occupied for a school project so we use a wide multi-purpose hall next to the library for our one-hour activity instead. I find it easier to live through the exercises looking at the inspiring pupils’ drawings, paintings and other art projects exhibited all around.
  3. My daughter shares details about an incident from school that give me shivers but I feel relieved when I hear her point of view on the happening.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Hectic Mondays

  1. Em gives me a call as soon as she comes home from school. She is excited to share the wonderful news: a straight A in Slovenian.
  2. I leave the office early to be able to spend some time at the bookstore and still make it on time to pick Jay from daycare. I feel like a superwoman.
  3. I finish reading the book just before midnight and play with the idea of beginning a new challenge.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Good Sunday night

  1. I give a call to a friend inviting her and her family for Sunday afternoon treats and she promises to call back and eventually come but then she doesn't. Night is falling and I feel a little disappointed but then my cousin and her boyfriend show up at our doorstep which is a wonderful surprise. 
  2. Jay coughs in her sleep and I get up to make her thyme tea. It helps calm down her cough and she falls back to sleep peacefully.
  3. I read in the living room when Em comes looking for me. She sits down on the couch next to me, embraces me and then asks me to tuck her in. I am glad I am awake to chase her night fears away. She feels safer and calmer in her bed when someone’s still up in the house.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Autumn Saturday

  1. bees
  2. mint 
  3. hiking
Cold weather is rolling around. But as cloudy and unpleasant as it may be my flowers still attract bees.

Still time to pick mint leaves for drying! And melissa! Jay gives a helping hand.

Em joins us and we decide to go for a walk up the hill at the back of our house. Jay would much rather take her bike but I don't think leaving it by the side of the road is a good idea. I try motivating her by promising she will sign in the book on top of the hill for recording hikers that wish to write their names in. Not only that it works - Jay is the first to reach the top, walking far ahear of us! And also the first to head back home...

She would like us to cook chestnuts.
That is exactly what we are going to do. And a home-made pizza for dinner!

Friday, October 15, 2010

My happy Friday

  1. I got a wonderful gift from the happy honeybee today. What wonderful surprise! I like the bookmark with the Walt Disney's quote most...! 
  2. I have been to a concert with my husband and friends. We hold a yearly tickets to the local theater's music performances which is something to look forward to 5 times a year. It was Slovenian folk pop music night and I enjoyed it.
  3. I've had a long day and felt tired and cold coming home from the concert. I sneak into the bedroom and find my little daughter sleeping tight in the bed bed. I lay very close to her and feel the warmth of her body even without touching.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Another working Tuesday

  1. Sometimes keeping a positive attitude at the office isn't easy. I didn't feel like going out during my break but then I walked to the nearest mall to get something for lunch and back. I felt my physical energy level get higher and my level of tolerance, too.
  2. I took Jay along when I drove around to get some errands done in the afternoon. I didn't turn on the radio which I usually do and realized that was a good thing because we had our little chats about her day at the daycare centre which I could have missed out on. I will keep that in mind. The tunes capture your attention even if you are not aware of it...
  3. I watched them sit in the big bed together, so close to one another. Em was reading a story from the children's magazine and Jay listened with great interest. Time stopped and nothing else mattered.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunny Day!

  1. sun
  2. nuts
  3. happy children's faces
My experience from yesterday was so good I thought I'd make it a weekend habit. Lunch at noon, sharp, and another 2-hour family hike. We chose not to drive any place but to simply stay in the neighbourhood. We descended down to the main road, then we took the first macadam road with no traffic where we were able to move around freely. Finally my older daughter got all my attention so she could summarize the movie she had last seen at the cinema, while her little sister took her time to throw pebbles into the stream we had just crossed with Daddy. We broke the nuts we had picked by the side of the road that obviously nobody wanted to pick because they were lying all over the ground beneath the tree, added a few raisins from our bag and had a sip of tea from the bottles we had taken along, and we felt energized again to walk further down the road and then up the slopes to get back home. What a glorious day!

Kiwi's Blogger Follower Swap

I joined a group on the web called Swap-bot a few months ago. It's a site for swapping postcards, crafts etc. It's always nice to get snail mail from a faraway country. This time it is a swap about becoming a follower of another swapper's blog. Welcome to my blog! I invite you to write your today's three beautiful things in the comments!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Exploring on a Saturday

  1. wooden scuptures
  2. swans
  3. a turtle
Pond Vrbje

I feel it is such a waste when I let a sunny Saturday or Sunday slip away by doing all the laundry and cooking and cleaning up and nagging. Nope, not this Saturday. I had lunch on table at noon, sharp, and we were out of the door before the clock struck 1 p.m. It was just a 15 minute drive and we were out in the fresh air again before Jay was able to start her afternoon nap in the car. Our destination: Pond Vrbje. A huge wooden face greeted - one of many wonderful wooden scultures carved out of twisted roots or trunks that had been set up by the road and by the path around the pond that we took.

"Family", my favorite

The girls thought the Troll was really special for sticking his huge tongue out of his big mouth. Checking for details was inevitable.

the "Forest Troll" and two fairies attacking him

What makes this place especially attractive for people is that it is very close to the urban area, but the fields separate it from the town and villages, and the Savinja river is running very close by so it is like stepping into a world of pure nature where you can get balanced again.

the "Guardian of the Landscape"
with harvested fields of hops
in the background

We saw many ducks and swans and other birds on the pond but with two active girls, one focusing on every detail while taking photos, and the other one looking for every possible opportunity to climb, jump, run or to empty the rucksack we had taken along of every treat she had put in, there was very little chance for any living being to stick around long enough to be in the picture, much less to enable us to name it. That is what I had thought when...

Mrs. Turtle

... I looked down a short path to the pond and saw Mrs. Turtle! I called the girls who had just ran off far ahead to come back and they were just as amazed as I was! Poor creature wasn't particularly happy to have too little hands gently touch her helmet so she kind of glided down the stony path, another half a meter away from the us, but then she apparently couldn't beat her own curiosity and slowly turned her entire body to the right so she could see us. We had a long confrontation there, but then we let her follow her own rhythm of life and left the site. Whether this was her natural environment or somebody left her here out of negligence, that I don't know. The girls were thrilled to have had the experience but still a little worried about her well-being just like me. I think we should check out on her really soon. Jay was wondering whether we were going to go there the next day! It was a really nice 2-hour walk!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Heavy traffic Friday!

  1. the streets of Ljubljana
  2. books
  3. Japanese
I had hectic day at the office but in all that craziness I had something at the back of my mind that kept me going: an afternoon trip to Ljubljana, the capital city. Wandering the streets of the old downtown always fills me with energy and brings back memories of the time when I used to live here and meet with friends at the cafes or the movies. This time - unlike the past - I decided it would not be for meeting any old friends, nor to shop for any particular item or anything - it would be just for me. To pamper myself. And I did! I walked down the Miklosiceva Street and mounted the stairs in front of the Franciscan Church to be able to embrace the whole Preseren's Square and the Three Bridges - and I felt on top of the world! The paved square and the white column fence of the bridges were like glitter in the afternoon sun and I thought to myself: "Aaaa, I have forgotten how beautiful this place was!" Then I checked on a few bookstores. I was scanning books from the same table as some theater director I respect very much whom I found myself standing next to just as I reached for the latest book of poems by my favorite poet. With two books safe (and paid) in my purse I entered the Da Bu Da restaurant. I had a great view of the parliament building through the window and could watch the people passing by. Mommies in a hurry, street fashion protagonists, businessmen in dull suits, you name it... Meantime I was served Japanese and wrote two postcards to friends. I couldn't resist going for another stroll afterwards, passed the City Hall and down to the fairtrade shop and then back to the Preseren's Square with stars lit high above our greatest poet's statue and the church towers. I gently touched the stone fence to relive a memory that holds a special place in my heart - and realized it was time. Time to go home.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Yummy Wednesday!

  1. It's been really miserable weather today and since going for a walk out in the cold with an umbrella didn't seem tempting enough I suggested Jay and I go to the library. Jay had been feeling a little lonely with her big sister being away on a school trip for the whole day and therefore a bit moody. It may be a small local library with not that many new editions but the shelf with children's picture books is still a territory we haven't been able to explore in detail and with a couple of wooden toys to entertain the kids while the parent scan the books are the things that make it a very interesting place for Jay so she was eager to come along. Who says you can't chase the rain away...?
  2. I have followed one of the rules from the first chapter of the Happiness Project book and practically emptied a drawer in my kitchen in a matter of minutes. It had been crammed with pieces of papers and small items that really had nothing to do there except that it had been the easiest thing to just throw them into the drawer to clean up the counter. It was incredibly easy but I guess the hard part is keeping it that way.
  3. I couldn't resist Lindt milk chocolate with whole nuts tonight. And I didn't even feel bad about having ate it. If there is anybody out there who has the mildest idea about what chocolate I am referring to (yup, it is that 150 g big tablet with extra big-big nuts!) then she or he will know it is a must-eat treat that shouldn't be shared with anyone...!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Happy Tuesday!

  1. Just as I thought problems at the office were going to ruin my day it was time to go home. The house was filled of music as Em was playing the piano and the next thing I know she was handing me her notebook with grades from her teacher of Slovene – another “plus” – one of many this school year - for her home assignment! What joy to be so good at a subject you love so much. Slovene is Em’s favorite subject. And the teacher of Slovene is her favorite teacher.
  2. Em got a beautiful postcard from Tallinn, Estonia, through Postcrossing. Towers, churches and other great old buildings behind a city wall. What a view! What a city!
  3. Tuesday evening is my pilates class as of this week. My abdominal muscles had no idea they were going to get a wake-up call! And it wasn’t even the exercise level that we are going for next time…! In the end there was a bonus for all participants: we got to listen to soft sound music in complete darkness lying on the gym floor and feeling really good about ourselves…!

Monday, October 4, 2010

What a Weekend!

  1. On Saturday morning our whole family went for the Dwarf’s Hike organized by our daycare centre. The lady educators prepared a nice performance in the woods about a dwarf who had lost his hat and was looking for it all over the place and meanwhile met many animals who needed help – and the children helped the animals by piling up dead leaves, collecting woods and stones. It was quite a nice hike (my second pre-jogging training this week!) that ended on top of the hill with pencakes, popcorn and roasted potatoes being served to the kids while they were painting scarves and gluing bear’s faces together.
  2. We have been to a house-warming party! This young couple had done lots of manual work themselves and created a very comfortable sanctuary on the top floor of the host’s parents’ house. I loved what the hostess - my cousin - had done with the kitchen wall – she had painted it with old colorful tiles!
  3. And I managed to say “no” to a piece of cake at a birthday party that my girls went to by going out for a walk instead. It was a 1-hour hike all the way to the river with dark clouds spreading across the grey sky and a wild wind in the trees’ tops. I felt energetic! (My third pre-jogging training. Hurray. My first week’s program accomplished.)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Don't you just love Fridays?

  1. my favorite tune on the radio
  2. going to a bookstore
  3. an invitation to a puppets' show
The best thing about this afternoon was going to a bookstore with the girls to pick a birthday present for another little girl! As we were driving to the store I heard one of my favourite tunes "September je" (It's September) by Melodrom on the radio - and it isn't even September anymore...! What a bonus! We picked "Pekarna Mišmaš" (The MouseMice Bakery) by Svetlana Makarovič, a beautiful picture book about the baker MouseMice who would bake the most delicious bread in the whole Mice Village. The envious miller woman was distrustful of how the baker managed to make that much bread with so little flour he bought from her... and spied on him to find out what his secret was... Opposite to envy - the storekeeper was nice to invite us to a puppet show based on Lila Prap's book "Dinasaurs" held at the bookstore next week!