It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Posted by chelsea 3 comments

My favorite homeless man in Athens is getting into the Christmas spirit.

Some of you might remember him from my art show...I had a large b&w portrait of him called The Traveling Belgian.

A Thanksgiving feast fit for a king

Friday, November 23, 2007
Posted by chelsea 1 comments

The past few days have been filled to the brim with preparation for Thanksgiving here at The Artemis. My tasks included making homemade marshmallows to top off the sweet potato pie, baking peanut butter cookies to welcome the students back from Israel, and making pecan pie bars. I also helped Fofi prepare cream of mushroom soup and fried onions to make green bean casserole and peeled chestnuts for the stuffing...and that was only the day before Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving day was just as busy, but luckily there were more people to help out. I mostly spent the day setting up and later doing an innumerable amount of dishes. We had a total of sixty-seven people sharing the meal with us, so The Artemis was packed to the brim.

It was definitely one of the best Thanksgivings I've ever had. Sadly, I have no entertaining stories to tell, so I'll share some photos instead...

My homemade marshmallows...they didn't come out as fluffy as I'd hoped, but they definitely tasted like the real thing.

One of the beautiful turkeys...and sweet potato pie in the background.

DiMy making some last-minute adjustments.

My homemade pecan pie bars.

I hope that all of your Thanksgivings were filled with lots of wonderful food and love!

The Fire is So Delightful

Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Posted by chelsea 4 comments

As much as I loathe how dependent our society has become on the internet for our source of anything from information to entertainment, I'm, admittedly, just as addicted as the next person, if not more.

I do everything from keeping up with my favorite tv shows, learning how to pick locks to researching new cookie recipes to bake for the HUG students when I get bored.

Last night, as I sat draped in a blanket and a snoring Callie the Cat, I realized that the thin fabric and whiskered creature were no longer enough to help me maintain a decent body temperature. I sat for a few moments, shivering from the chill that had crept into my bones, and contemplated what I should do. The HUG students have been in Israel since last Monday, and the heat was turned off until they return, so turning on a radiator wasn't an option.

Should I pile on more blankets, go take a hot shower, make yet another cup of tea?

The answer was obvious...I would build a fire.

There is a lovely fireplace in the dining area, which isn't a very cozy room to begin with, but after I dragged a big comfy chair over and strategically arranged some pillows, I was ready for the fire-building to begin.

Now, I've been on my fair share of rugged camping trips, all involving bathing in rivers and eating trout cooked over an open fire for every meal, but one of the things that apparently didn't ingrain itself within the confines of my brain was how to build a proper fire.

I had what I needed...dry logs, small sticks and newspaper, but try as I might, the newspaper simply burnt to a crisp and the sticks and logs remained untouched by the flames I so desperately needed to warm my freezing body.

I then did what any other internet-reliant person would have done...I Googled it.

Surprisingly enough, I came up with an abundance of fire-building how-to's and set to work after reading no less than five of them to be properly prepared for the task ahead of me.

Doing exactly as I'd been told, I balled up three pieces of newspaper, then I stacked small twigs and sticks in criss-cross formations above the newspaper and finally laid a few logs on top of my architectural masterpiece. Convinced that I'd have a fire going in no time, I held out the lighter and ignited the balls of newspaper.

Slowly but surely, the flames licked through the paper and moved onto the twigs, and then quickly spread along the bottom of the logs I'd so carefully chosen for the job. Success!

Five minutes fire came to an abrupt and disappointing halt as the flames snapped out and left only a few glowing embers below. I spent another ten minutes pushing around the logs and embers, and blowing furiously in hopes of reviving my short-lived fire. When all that was left was a small fleck of red pulsing beneath the ashes, I gave up and hoisted my comfy chair back to it's spot and resigned myself to using Callie the Cat for heat once again.

Not twenty minutes later, a loud pop echoed through the room that sent Callie jolting from my lap. Curious as to what had caused the noise, I cautiously eased up from my chair and walked into the dining area.

There, crackling and popping in all of its flaming glory, was a thriving fire. Thoroughly confused, but incredibly pleased, I chalked it up to the fire gods teaching me a lesson in patience and perseverance, moved my comfy chair back into place, and spent the next hour getting toasty by the fire.

100 Things

Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Posted by chelsea 8 comments

I decided that I should update my blog and saw that Renee and Jim had done this and thought it looked thought-provoking, so here goes...

Here are 100 things you may or may not know about me.

  1. I always keep 2-3 backup toothbrushes on hand.
  2. That has turned out to be incredibly useful at times.
  3. I moved to Greece in August to be an au pair.
  4. I spent at least 75% of my time as an au pair hating my life.
  5. The only reason I didn't quit before they "let me go" is because I was afraid to have to move back to the states and be seen as a failure.
  6. I am and always will be "one of the guys" and "the girl that guys are just friends with."
  7. I wouldn't change that for anything.
  8. I prefer peanut butter over syrup when it comes to pancakes and waffles.
  9. Boysenberry syrup gives me hives.
  10. I've been having insomnia paired with intensely bizarre nightmares lately.
  11. I started writing a novel three times this month.
  12. I realized I'm far better at writing blog-sized blurbs than anything novel-like.
  13. These days, my best friend is Callie the Cat.
  14. I talk to Callie in Greek.
  15. I have no idea why.
  16. I watch more tv shows now than I did when I lived in the states and had cable.
  17. When I was back in the states for my sister's wedding, I almost cried when I thought the pecan pie was all gone because it was the single thing I had craved since moving.
  18. I burnt a batch of cookies last night and it almost ruined my night.
  19. The HUG students ate every last one anyway...and told me they loved them.
  20. I have become incredibly attached to each and every HUG student here.
  21. I'm deathly afraid of spiders.
  22. And giant centipedes.
  23. I didn't like strawberry ice cream when I was a kid.
  24. Now it's one of my favorites.
  25. I used to lie a lot.
  26. It's because I couldn't be honest with myself.
  27. It is now one of the things I loathe most in people.
  28. I hate SUVs and automatic cars.
  29. I would be happy if I only ate Greek cuisine for the rest of my life.
  30. I used to be a fantastic oboe player.
  31. I still pick out the oboe in music played in movies.
  32. Sometimes it brings tears to my eyes when I hear it because I miss playing it so much.
  33. I hate having my photo taken.
  34. I am a photographer.
  35. There is not one day that goes by that I don't doubt every decision I've made leading up to this point in my life.
  36. I don't regret any of them.
  37. The Fourth of July is my favorite holiday.
  38. I only like holidays if I'm spending them with other people's families.
  39. I don't know why.
  40. I refuse to purchase anything from Starbucks in Europe.
  41. I actually really enjoy traveling by myself.
  42. Except when I get stuck next to really disgruntled passengers on a long flight.
  43. I love long road trips by myself.
  44. Those are something I miss from living in the states.
  45. Incorrect spelling is one of my biggest pet peeves.
  46. I get intensely car sick unless I'm in the front seat.
  47. Sometimes people don't believe me and think it's just because I want to ride shotgun.
  48. I have thoroughly researched becoming an expatriate.
  49. I haven't found anything helpful on the subject.
  50. I love kids.
  51. But I don't want to have any.
  52. I'm too afraid they'd turn out like me.
  53. I was horrible as a teenager.
  54. I'm so thankful I can look back on it and grow and change accordingly.
  55. I wish more people could do that about themselves.
  56. I love disco balls.
  57. I used to collect pumpkins as a child.
  58. I would sleep with real live pumpkins.
  59. My mom would take them out of my bed after I fell asleep so they wouldn't fall and crack open.
  60. When I was an au pair, in the mornings when the little girl woke up, I would put her socks on first while she was still in bed.
  61. My mom did that with me when I was little and I didn't remember that until after the girl's mom asked me why I did it.
  62. I absolutely love camping.
  63. The real kind of camping, where you eat rainbow trout that you caught yourself for breakfast, lunch and dinner and you bathe in a frigidly cold river and sleep under the stars.
  64. Sometimes I wish my life were a movie or tv show so there would be a good excuse for all the ridiculous things that happen to me.
  65. I used to be really into cars.
  66. I was a member of a car club and I was voted "Best Car" for my senior superlatives.
  67. I am incredibly proud of my mom.
  68. And my sister.
  69. I didn't used to be, and that makes me sad.
  70. I worked at Baskin Robbins for over two years.
  71. I can make and decorate a mean ice cream cake.
  72. I also consider myself a milkshake and smoothie-making expert.
  73. I was addicted to caffeine in high school.
  74. And in college.
  75. I only have one cup a day now.
  76. I love tangerines.
  77. I hate popcorn in movies.
  78. If I had a superpower, it would be to go back in time just to watch the past...not change it.
  79. I don't talk to my dad.
  80. I used to want people to call me by my middle name.
  81. My middle name is Marie.
  82. I've lived in Greece for exactly three months today.
  83. I've learned more about life from my three months here than I probably have in my entire lifetime.
  84. One of those things is that I'm not immune to loneliness.
  85. Another one of those things is that there is still so much more for me to learn and grow from.
  86. I don't like weddings.
  87. I'm a wedding photographer.
  88. Most of the time, I'd rather photograph a wedding than be in it.
  89. I love cooking elaborate and gourmet dishes.
  90. I really enjoy washing dishes by hand.
  91. I wonder every day about what I'm doing with my life.
  92. Most days I just remind myself that I'm living exactly how I've always dreamed of living life.
  93. I'm a huge procrastinator.
  94. I am obsessed with scarves and fingerless gloves in the winter.
  95. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever settle in any place for more than a year or two.
  96. I don't think it'd be a bad thing if I didn't.
  97. I don't want to get married.
  98. I do want companionship.
  99. I'll probably be a cat lady.
  100. My favorite sound on earth is the sound of tiny pebbles being tossed back and forth over each other by the waves of the ocean.
Well, that was definitely a thought-provoking process. I hope that if you read my blog and have one of your own, you'll consider creating a list of your own.

A Novel Idea

Thursday, November 1, 2007
Posted by chelsea 3 comments

I've often been told that my life should be made into a movie, or that I should write a book about my life. I sometimes enjoy the fleeting thought of who would play me in a movie about my life or which stories I would share if I were to dive into the literary world, but I honestly don't know how any of that would be obtained.

After yet another person urging me to write a book, and a "sign" in the form of a link to the website for the National Novel Writing Month, I've decided to give it a try.

Aside from a published letter to the editor of The Oracle (USF school newspaper) and about 18 columns on the Through The Lens page in The Bison at Harding, I have no formal experience in writing anything deserving of being published. And, as my short list of accomplishments in the literary world shows, I've had no experience in writing anything longer than a column-sized anecdote worthy of a college newspaper.

So, with the that being said, I'm going to dedicate a month of my time to achieving 50,000 words and/or 175 pages of writing that might actually end up being a semi-worthwhile use of my free time as an unemployed bum in Greece.

I wonder if that means I should stop using all my "good" stories for blog material.