In between

Thankful for my dad

Today I’m more thankful than ever. Yesterday morning a terrible accident happened at my dad’s working place. He was working with 2 other people, regreening a formal coal mine. They were preparing to demolish a 164 feet pillar, pillar that was supposed to be taken down with dynamite today…sadly the pillar unexpectedly collapsed. From the 3 workers only one managed to run into the right direction, the other two were caught under the remains.

The drivers who were working on the dump truck and excavator jumped off their machines but weren’t so lucky…they would had had better chances to survive if they remained inside the cars. Their cabins were almost intact. The one who managed to run into the right direction was my father. I cannot even begin to tell how many thanks I give to God !

My dad had a few scratches but had serious breakdown from the shock. Even so he refused to go home and helped the rescue team. A rescue team made out of 40 people dug for the rest of the day, the entire night and until today around noon. They found the two corpses…

My heart breaks for the two men…one was 41 years old, the other one was 31 years old. You know why this tragedy brings shivers on my spine? Because the 31 year old was my husband’s good friend and it was his first day at work. A week ago my father suggested to my husband if he wants to work on the dump truck and he refused. I could have lost my father too. I could have lost both my father and husband!

I pray that their souls rest peacefully .

The good

Birthday ,Super Pink Moon and Easter

Wanted to write a few quick notes because today it is a special day. It is my mom’s birthday and we just arrived back from her place . We had a lovely small family reunion. The weather was perfect, a sunny and warm spring day, so we had lunch out in the garden. I’m sorry that I didn’t got the time to home bake a cake for her birthday as I usually do . Instead I ordered her favorite chocolate cake!

I also bought a pot with pink roses, they are among her favorite flowers. I always buy my mom flowers in a pot, like me, she prefers flowerpots over fresh cut flowers. She prefers planting them in the garden rather than throwing them away afterwards .

Magnolia.

And speaking of her garden ; God, how I missed staying under the sunshine!! Being locked down surely isn’t doing any good for a human being! I sunbathed for hours!

Mirabelle plum.

The mirabelle plum and magnolia tree are in full bloom, as well as all the seasonal flowers!

Husband installing the telescope and checking the star maps.

And speaking of being locked down with all this virus madness; 3 days ago we snuck out and went to my parents and installed our telescope into the garden to watch the Super Pink full moon!

The Super Pink Full Moon of 2020

And what a magical scene it was!

That’s about it for now. I’d like to wish everyone a blessed and Happy Eater to those who celebrates. May your house and life be filled with light and many blessings!! I only get to celebrate Easter next weekend, as I belong on the Christian Orthodox part , but I know that many people celebrate this weekend.

Happy Easter!!
In between

Inside the workshop

Still finding some joy in these dark days. My hobbies help me get my mind of the many questions that runs through my mind. A good portion of my energy goes into my creations and creativity is what keeps me going.

I am not so much worried about the virus, what it is written to happen will happen with or without our approval. This does not mean that I do not follow the protocol or the safety rules. All people should do so for their safety and their loved ones! Worrying is pointless as long as you don’t have the power to fix the things that worry you.

There is , however, something that is bothering and making me feel stressed. Somehow the handmade platform that was hosting my shop decided to suspend my store for whatever reason and without a warning. I’m selling on this platform for 7 years now. The plan was to launch my own store on a paid domain this year , because I find the taxes and fees too high on this platform, they et higher by the year. Dare I say quite abusive! Their new policies and rules are not to die for either.

My new store and branding are in work, so I obviously made some payments upfront here and there . But I am not able to officialy launch it until I meet up with my accountant to do some paperwork . I can’t meet up with my accountant because there is a military order to stay indoors.

Because of the payments that I made upfront I am not able to pay the fees and re-activate my account . I need to transfer from one bank account to the other one that has my PayPal attached to. For that I have to personally go to the bank, but I can’t because of the same reason mentioned above -the banks are temporary closed!

I don’t even know from where do I have to pay almost 200$ fees for the month of February , I didn’t made any sales or new listings or re-listing in February-March. I’m still working on the tons of orders that I got in November, December and January. Probably most of the customers that will notice my ,now invalid, shop will think that I’m a scammer and most definitely I will end up with a few open disputes via PayPal.

To top it , I can’t contact my customers and they can’t contact me through the platform. I tried emailing them but received no reply for almost two weeks now. I tried to contact the help center from the platform but received nothing back. Not the first time when questions remain without an answers and shop owners without a guidance.

Still counting my blessings despite the stones that are being thrown in my way. The troubles might be many , but I often think how lucky I am for having my husband with me! He was able to return back home just in time before the virus situation got worse. I can’t even imagine us being apart in such uncertain times! And I am so glad that his mind is so sharp and managed to learn fast about the craft! Now he is able to help me , and I can take some time to clean the house and cook!

I’m so glad that we decided to get back to our homeland and be next to our parents! Our concern was that they are old and prone to this virus. We are trying to protect them and us as much as we can. We are paying their bills and shop for them for whatever they need.

The rest of the days we are locked in the workshop , designing new items.

In between

Nettle picking and self isolating

It seems like we are living in some dark days lately. Everyone is panicking and hoarding stuff that they will eventually end up throwing away, at least some of the stuff. For the past 15 days or so the circumstances forced us to slow down a bit and take one day at a time. We are so lucky that we are able to still work from home and that for now this virus isn’t affecting our business and life too much.

Sure, we are trying as much as possible to limit our contact with other people and respect all the other norms that the government asks us to do for the sake of everyone’s safety. Most of the days we are indoors, locked up in our workplace anyway .

It is pretty difficult to maintain your sanity lately but I know that it will end soon and things will turn for the better. Humanity has seen and been through worse.

So what better refuge do we have than the mountains? Far away from the packed city and the people that are about to lose their minds and last hope.

We were lucky enough to find a bag full of nettle. I had gloves with me but these nettle are young and quite strong so the gloves were pretty useless. It was a price that I gladly paid and I can’t wait to cook part of them and freeze the rest!

The good

Whatever the future might bring

In the short winter holiday we were able to put together our modest studio! It’s a small room, barely fitting two people and the equipment, but it’s perfect for the beginning. If this will grow we will consider to find a bigger place .

One week already passed, five more to go until we will seriously launch our small family business. All of our energy , love,time and hard work will go into it! In the mean time I’m continuing to work and try to finish as many orders as humanly possible with just two hands.

January is almost at the end and we still have frosty mornings out here. Although winter went much more easier on us compared to last year.

I’m so glad that I’m still able to enjoy snow, even if it snowed for a couple of days only! Four showy days were enough, the snow was maintained by the cold.

Some fresh pine needles that I got from up the mountains. I love drinking tea during the winter! And one of my favorites is the tea made out of pine needles ! I like to add fir needles into the mix too and sometimes I add chaga mushroom powder to my tea.

I cannot forsee what this year is going to bring us. I can only continue to work as hard as ever , but this time do it together, and pray that it will be as good as the old year.

I’m living with the hope that all the hard work is going to pay off and no matter how many or how tough the changes and challenges are going to be we will be able to face them , together, with a smile on our faces .

The good

The beginning of 2020

I hope everyone is having a great start of the year! Make the best of it and may if be filled with health, peace and love ! Material things come and go! As long as you are both physically and mentally stable there is nothing that can stop you from achieving the material part .Be at peace with your inner self and it will be easier to accomplish your goals for the new year!

For me 2019 was a full year of hard work and some achievements. All this hard work will, hopefully, fully pay off starting this year. I can’t really complain about 2019, I can’t really say that I’ve learned anything new either. It was a good year for me personally.

Some big plans for this upcoming year. It will be the year when we will spread our wings and … we’ll see if we manage to fly. I will not lie, the future kind of scares me but I’m very optimistic too. I’m really looking with excitement for 2020!

Unlike last year, this year I enjoyed the winter holidays to the fullest! Nothing fancy, nothing out if the ordinary, quite the contrary – most might find it boring. The New Year found us talking about future plans in each other’s arms, laughing, dreaming, telling stories, remembering, drinking champagne and wine in bed, next to the fire place and Christmas tree. The cozy atmosphere was just too perfect and cherished by the both of us. It felt so warm and peaceful after such a long time!

We didn’t got the chance to go skiing or go to a mini trip as planned, however we did went up in the mountains for an entire day. We did it for the snow and it helped us reconnect and recharge our batteries even more. I wished so much for snow ! And the next morning we had a first snow fall in our little town to!

We continued to look after the stray dog for two more days. Meanwhile we named him Tanase and we managed to find a temporary place for him ,at least until the cold days are over.

In the second day of Christmas I had to take my mom to the emergency room, as she got intoxicated with food . My parents went to a Christmas dinner party and seems like my mom ate something worth of throwing away.

I’m a strong believer that everything happens for a reason! I do not believe in coincidence! At the hospital, while we were waiting for my mom to take her home, a feral orange kitten approached us.

He was so friendly and so cuddly!

He jumped on my husband’s shoulder and wouldn’t go down, intensely purring!

There is one detail that you are not able to clearly see in these pictures; the cat is missing the tail. That following night husband and I could stop thinking about the stray kitten. My heart was heavy and I regretted that we didn’t took the kitten home! We talked, talked and talked for hours! Until we finally agreed to adopt him and maybe even take him with us.

Our biggest fear was that if someone was cruel enough to cut off his tail ,then who knows what might happen on the New Year’s eve with all the drunken people, firecrackers and fireworks.?! So yesterday we went searching at the hospital, asked the guard, the staff but no one knew anything about any orange cat that’s missing a tail.

Last night we couldn’t stop talking about him , hoping that he is somewhere hiding , staying safe! Our hearts were so heavy but we didn’t had in plan to give up! This morning we went again to search for him and it was a success!

He immediately came when he saw us! So we officially have a new addition to the family. My mom agreed to foster him whenever we are not able to take him with us (traveling, vacations).

A few years back I adopted a siamese kitten .She was found in a box, along with her brothers and sisters, by an old couple. So they put an add in the newspaper. My parents got very attached to her , especially my dad. When we moved 3 years ago we didn’t had the heart to break them apart, so we decided to let Arielle stay with my parents.

Dirty paws on the couch and I’m not even mad!

Meanwhile, he is named J.J, James Junior. We took him home, fed him as he was starving, and while we were preparing for the bath he felt asleep on the couch. A new journey awaits for all 3 of us!

In between

An angel with 4 paws for Christmas

I hope everyone is enjoying their Christmas / winter holidays! I hoped for snow till the last minute, but no such luck so far. We are having a black Christmas with lots of rain. It’s only snowing up in North and in the mountains .

This year we’ve decided to skip all festivities and spend a peaceful Eve just the two of us. Earlier in the morning we got the tree up and went out shopping. It was incredibly relaxing to spend the 24th of December just breathing , while other people were panicking about their last minute preparations.

We managed to complete all of our tasks a day before , I never had a free 24th of December until this year. I was always struggling with cooking and all untill the time arrived for dinner and guest were approaching our door. My family has lots of traditions when it comes to Christmas. As much as I love our Christmas traditions – they bring much exhaustion and kill the joy of this holiday. I just felt the need to say “no” to everything this year.

We decided to go to a ski resort for Christmas Eve. We had dinner at our place and then went out for a walk and some fresh air before we drove to the resort. While we were walking a stray dog followed us everywhere – and I mean everywhere!

The poor soul was terrorized by the firecrackers and drunken people. We didn’t had the heart to leave him alone so we decided to spend the rest of the night outside and offer him some comfort.

Like food. But he was so afraid of the loud noises that he barely ate anything. He was looking for shelter and begging not to be left alone. He jumped numerous times in my husband’s arms each time we tried to retreat and let him be.

My heart broke into million pieces because I don’t know what to do with this dog! I cannot even foster him, I don’t have the place or the time ; our visit home is short and work awaits as soon as the holidays are over!

Our four paws angel left as soon as things settled down and the morning arrived. So I guess we will do some skiing over day and return back at night to look after this dog. I’ve been burning my brain thinking of a solution, a place where I can take this dog , at least until all this Christmas/New Years madness ends!

The good

All the fuss

It’s been a hectic few weeks. Lately I’ve been receiving lots of help from my husband and we got so much work done already! I also continued with more medical tests, same diagnosis from different doctors. I had to see a specialist for my eye problems (one morning I woke up with a blurry vision after a stressful night and a panic attack); needles to say that once more I was scolded by a doctor and warned that if I continue with this mindless routine I’ll end up in a grave.

The good news it that nothing serious is happening to my eyes, they are just very, very tired and I just need to use some drops to calm them down. Changing glasses wasn’t even necessary, still using the same ones since 3 years ago and that’s a good sign.

So it is settled; I’ll need some serious help for the following year as this is not a business that can be handled by one person only. I’ve been paving the way for almost two years and it got to a point where I’m no longer able to do everything by myself. It will get even harder from next year. I’m not complaining, I’m in fact VERY grateful for everything! It’s just that I don’t know when to stop or at least slow down and make time to sleep and eat. Again, I don’t know what drives me : passion, madness or is it just excitement?

December is already here and Christmas is in a few days. No snow in sight, though, and it’s making me sad. I was hoping to take lots of wonderful photos during my favorite season…it looks like I’ll have to make a trip somewhere where there is snow. We got lots of frosty mornings and sunny days instead. And if the sun doesn’t show up then it rains the entire day.

Travel with me

Visiting Dracula’s Castle and the REAL fortress of Vlad the Impaler

One of the reasons why I started a blog is because I have so, so many wonderful traveling stories that I want to share! There are so many lovely places that are just waiting to be discovered . Some are famous, some are less famous, and some are completely unknown.

Today I am going to write about our trip at the Bran Castle. I think everyone heard about Vlad the Impaler, also known as Dracula (unless you were living under a rock all these time). We took so many photos that three entire days were needed just to sort them out and decide which ones to post here! Sure, I will not post every single secret and details about what’s inside the castle, a trace of mystery must remain, just to spark your curiosity.

The real Dracula’s Castle

I will not insist with any historical facts or fictions that revolves around the character Dracula and the place. However, I do believe that it is important for everyone to know that the Bran Castle has nothing to do with Vlad Tepes ! The Bran Castle never belonged to Vlad the Impaler! So why is the Bran Castle associated with Dracula? The only reason is because the castle resembles Bram Stoker’s descriptions . And people started to come here in waves from all over the world, so the locals turned the castle into an attraction for the tourists. So where is Vlad’s castle then? Vlad’s only castle is located at about 100 km southwest of Bran, a heavily fortified citadel , called the Poenari Castle. The Poenari Castle is also open for visits but the access is very difficult. One must climb no less than 1.480 stairs . Because of the difficult access and the misinformation, the Poenari Castle is a ruin , as of these days. Sad, isn’t it? But don’t let this piece of truth trick you into believing that Vlad the Impaler’s existence and all of his horrors are fake news too. He was real and cruel, all right.

So, to make myself clear – this post is about Dracula’s Castle, the fictional character , and not about the Castle of the voivod Vlad III Dracula.

The real Queen of the Bran castle

The Bran castle was a gift from the people of Brasov to Queen Marie of Romania, and later her daughter Ileana resided in this castle.

17th August 2019

The Bran Castle is located at about 30 km from Brasov, Romania. I didn’t knew how popular this place was until we got there. At 6 AM the locals were already starting to place their souvenirs and goods on the stands. The August sun was slowly rising but the morning was chill. Surprisingly by 7:30 AM the line was already forming. We drank a coffee at one of the pubs, stroll a bit through the stands, bought a few souvenirs and got in line .By 7 AM the place was already getting crowded.

All kinds of souvenirs : from magnets, postcards, t-shirts and mugs with Dracula to handcrafted pottery, jewelry, carved wooden statues and clothing items. And of course lots of local street food and drinks.

There was also a horror house for your entertainment. We didn’t got in as we were in a hurry to get in line. I think it is worth to mention that there were 3 kinds of tickets available for purchase at the entrance : the basic one (9 euro for adults), The Torture Chamber -where Vlad’s torture instruments are held, plus explanations in details of the instruments and torture methods (2 euros, no kids allowed) and The Time Tunnel ( 5 euros). So you pay 16 euros for the entire deal. The last two were optional but I strongly recommend you to buy all 3 tickets. Worth it.

The line was getting bigger and bigger.

The line in front of us.

And bigger!

The line behind us.

So many people from all over the world! I think I’ve heard all the languages available on this Earth in one day!

After almost 3 hours of waiting in line we were finally inside the castle.

Views from inside the castle

A fountain where people tend to throw in coins and make a wish.

The interior

The music Room and Library of Queen Marie of Romania
The living Room
The Living Room when Queen Marie was the owner of the castle. Before that this room was King Ferdinand I of Romania’s room.
The Armour Room
The Bidermaier Hall
Traditional gown that belonged to Princess Ileana of Romania
Gorgeous white gown that belonged to Princess Ileana of Romania
The Crown and rod of Ferdinand I of Romania

The Torture Chamber

The Torture Chamber all equipped . Vlad’s favorite method and instrument is also included here. Everything is here !! Think Fifty shades of Grey, medieval version.
We got out of the castle 4 hours later and yes, more people were in line, waiting for their turn to enter the castle.

The Time Tunnel

I will not post any photos from the tunnel , I don’t want to spoil things for everyone. But if you have a ticket you get to exit the castle through the Time Tunnel. It is an interactive tunnel with lots of surprises! I recommend you to take that exit….who knows? You might be lucky enough to meet the count himself! And the final stop – from the tunnel you enter the souvenir shop Oculus.

If you don’t have a ticket for the Time Tunnel you can still reach the Oculus gift shop from the back yard.

And yes, more people in line! Crazy, right?
Entrance to Oculus

The village

But , wait! There is more to visit! There is a small village right at the foot of the castle. You can’t really get inside the houses, the doors are locked but the windows were all open so the tourists can take a peek and photos.

Small picturesque houses filled with old rustic traditions and items that belonged to the local farmers.

I sadly I don’t have a clue what this monument is. I’m sure it represents something but there were no signs with information or anyone around that could enlighten us. But it was a blessing to take a break from all the fun and enjoy the warm sun! It is quite cold in the castle.

Stella Maris Chapel

About 1-2 km from the Bran Castle sits this beautiful chapel that was build for Queen Marie in 1929.

The heart of Queen Marie

And our final stop is this place above the hill, not far from the chapel.

In this marble coffin sat the heart of Queen Marie for 27 years after her death.The golden casket is no longer in this marble coffin . Now the heart can be found in the Royal Chapel at the Pelisor Castle.

The souvenirs

These are all the souvenirs I have left. The rest of them I gave them to friends and relatives. A book with all medieval castles and fortifications from Romania (11 euros) and a bat (11 euros) that I got from the inside the gift shop (Oculus). A bat was a must! Post cards and magnets (price range from 1 euro to 3 euros each) are from the outside stands.

I so wanted to get a fancy t-shirt or two , with Dracula, all kind of cool designs, but the prices were crazy! Here is a hint : t-shirt prices varies from 30 euros to 38 in Oculus, 21 euros outside at the stands and – if you’re willing to visit the Rasnov fortress, which is not too far- the exact same shirts , same prints, costs about 10 euros! And, no. I still didn’t got the t-shirt. Instead I drank a Turkish coffee and ate lots of yummies from the stands.

The conclusion

The Bran Castle surely improved a lot since my first visit back in 2001.

The bad

My lately routine

I don’t like to wash my laundry in public, but this is going on for a while… and after all the main reason why I write down is to let it out and maybe get some relief. About 4 months ago we came back home into our rented apartment and one night we woke up because of the horrible noise that was coming from the above apartment – the police and two of the neighbors were breaking down the door. When we first moved in here we were told that the below apartment and the above one are empty (the below one is for sale, and the above one is empty because the lady that lives there works abroad and rarely comes home). We lived in piece and quiet for almost two years, even if for the last year someone moved back in the above apartment – the daughter of the lady that works abroad.

The problem is that this girl (I think she is still underage, maybe 17 years old, or maybe she is a bit over the legal age, maybe she is 18 or 19) keeps bringing… interesting people into her apartment. But we had no real issues with her or them. That night , however, the police was called by the mom because apparently the girl “forgot” to whom she gave the key to the house. I’m not sure what the police was looking for , but they received the order from the mother to bring down the door and see if someone is inside. I was never interested on what the entire story was about…but I do believe that things were a bit serious because there were police men outside too, guarding the windows and making sure that whoever was in the apartment wouldn’t jump and escape from the 3rd floor. All I know is that the apartment was empty at that time. But we also know for sure that someone was in that apartment about 30 minutes before the police arrived, as we heard footsteps and the bathroom being used. The beauty of living in an old unit with thin walls.

Yes, she is a bit of a problematic kid. As far as I know her parents got divorced , her mom comes home once a year, and her dad lives in the next block but he just simply cannot control her. Basically she is free to do whatever she wants in the apartment, without many repercussions. Ever since that wonderful night , our young neighbor keeps blasting music after 11 PM until 1-2 AM or she starts at 1 AM until 3 AM. This has been going on for a while and it got me so exasperated. She has horrible music taste too. I’ve reached that level of stress where just hearing her turning on the portable speaker or hearing her footsteps makes me cringe .

And her and her boyfriend’s impertinence reached a point where last week they blasted that crappy music every night, 5 nights in a row and in the 6th they threw a party until past 5 AM. Which makes me wonder, because in this block there are mostly elders and respectful people , yet no one called the police or knocked at their door. So I called the landlord and complained about the problem. He promised to talk to her father and if things won’t settle down I should consider to call the police. And seems like he is aware that the above apartment is used for …different things when mom is not home. Well, thanks for letting us know….now.

Our landlord happens to be a locally well known political person so I was hoping to solve the problem as he doesn’t like losing money and at this point we are seriously considering to move! Because the only reason why we moved in this apartment in the first place was because we were promised peace and quiet! Well, that didn’t worked as planed. So the next day husband contacted her father via Facebook , who promised to talk to her mom and things will calm down. This week indeed things were quiet..until last night. To top it all, today someone knocked at my door and I saw that there was a girl, which I haven’t seen until today, and two guys. If I’m not mistaken one of them was my neighbor’s boyfriend…I might be wrong though. It’s hard to see clear through a peep whole. What got me off guard was that one of the guys was strategically sitting on the first step,facing my door, with his phone in his hands as he was ready to record me when I open the door. Obviously I did not got out, and yeah, our young neighbor was there too, hiding behind them and only stepped out into the light when she realize that I wasn’t home.

Am I just too paranoid because of the excessive stress? What are the chances to get ambushed , when everyone knows who is the real owner of the apartment? Understandably that they would get into a lot of trouble. They are not too far either. But now I’m living with more stress and fear than ever. Fear to leave the house for too many hours because the apartment might get vandalized . We don’t have much, but what we have are almost brand new and quite valuable. One of the machines that I was writing about in my previous post costs a small fortune…not that they would know the use of it or the real value. Stealing that would make us more harm than stealing our TV,laptop and other appliances.

I’m just fed up and very tired. Every night I’m stressed out of my mind, thinking if I’m able to get some sleep or be awaken up by the music at 1 AM. There. Now I have revealed one of the reason why I’m doing the graveyard shift for almost an entire year. Is it really that hard to respect some basic common sense rules? Why must I be forced to call the police or to try and contact her mother? Cause I’m still not sure if she got the message or not. All I know is that I’m so tired in some days and I’m not able to work and I’m way behind with the orders. I try to get myself back on tracks with my sleeping and eating habits. So far I’m doing OK on some levels….but the stress is the one that’s going to get me killed in the end. We know exactly what we want to achieve for the following year : get out of here and get out own house. Yes, house. I’d rather sleep in the woods in a tent then own an apartment. I don’t need it even if I receive it for free. And I give ourselves one year only to make our wish come true.