Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday at Home, Except Not

This week for "Fridays at Home," I'm away. Pleasantly ironic, isn't it? I'm visiting my relatives in Germany, but I got a picture before I left. And oh dear, I know, it's an awful picture! Promise to make up for it next week.

Anyway, I bought this bag at the market for 10zl (about $3.50), and I've already had to, shall we say, reinforce the stitching at the zipper. But it's perfect for little week-long trips like this!

See you next week!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

This time without fireworks

Tuesday was Independence Day in Poland. They're celebrating 90 years since the founding of the second Polish Republic (at the end of WWI), so it's sort of a big deal. Above is a photo of the flag outside our apartment building.

Brian and I celebrated in the same way as many of our fellow Cracovians--we got on a jam-packed bus (I mean my face was up against someone else's coat for most of the ride), and rode to the zoo!

We weren't actually headed to see the animals, though. The Krakow zoo is surrounded by woods, called Las Wolski, which are full of walking and biking trails. It was our first time out there, and I would definitely return. It helped that we had an absolutely gorgeous day. How many days in mid-November are 55F, sunny and cloudless?

Some of the trails are densely wooded, and some are edged with jagged limestone ridges. Some paths are paved, and some are a bit more rugged. It's a pretty big and diverse area.

The highlight of the trip, and the reason everyone comes out there on independence day, though, is a mound. Ok, a really big mound. Krakow has four of them, each with winding paths leading up to a great viewing point at the top. This one, though, is called Independence Mound, in memory of Josef Pilsudski, the celebrated Polish leader, who took charge as Chief of State of Poland 90 years ago. The mound contains soil from various battlefields, and so it's a pretty important place for an independence day celebration.

Like I said, from the top you can see all of Krakow, which is pretty spectacular. The view's not actually as great as from the Kosciuszko Mound, closer to the center of town, but it's still pretty cool.

Meanwhile, in town, the downtown was pretty crowded, a stage was set up for a sort of pagent and for some reason, small children were on every corner playing instruments. In particular, we saw a few little boys with little accordians... mostly they seemed not very interested in playing. I surreptitiously snapped this shot of an accordian boy against a lamppost on the main square. He would only play a few beats before stopping to gape at the pedestrians or pick his nose. I can't assume it was a very lucrative day for these kids, but who knows?

All in all, a fun and classy Independence Day.

Monday, November 10, 2008

colorful food for fall

So, I'm living in Poland right now--perhaps you've heard me mention that.
We like to eat cheaply, and we do almost all our grocery shopping at the Old Market (Stary Kleparz), which is about five minutes' walk from our place. What this means: we eat a lot of cabbage, onions, bread, barley and button mushrooms. White foods, in other words.

Lately we've been trying to incorporate more color into our culinary lives. It's really a perfect time to do it, too, because fall makes me want to put color everywhere, but especially on my plate! Our number one secret weapon against colorless food has been salad, and I think we've been pretty successful.

Top five colorful ingredients that we can get at the market, while staying frugal:
1. Avocado (definitely our biggest salad-splurge item at approx. $1 a piece)
2. Spinach (about $0.80 for a tremendous bunch, usually takes three meals to get through)
3. Yellow Lentils! (we've taken to soaking and cooking dry lentils rather than using canned, which is cheaper and tastier--the texture really does something for a spinach salad, and, of course, the color compliment is lovely)
4. Red Cabbage (delicious change of pace from white cabbage, slightly more expensive at about $0.50 for a good sized cabbage head)
5. Tomatoes (about $2/kilogram, less for the smaller, sweeter varieties)

And I recently learned to best absorb the lycopene in tomatoes, you should eat them with some fat. That's the best reason for a light oil-based salad dressing that I know of, after the obvious (delicious).

Considering all the pierogi, naleśniki and zapiekanka we eat, the right colorful salad can be positively refreshing, not to mention vital to our health.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Fridays at Home

Today one of my housemates and I got home from class, looked around our funny, useless little room between our kitchen and family room, and decided to clean it up. At the beginning of the year we had arranged this cute little reading nook and set up a sewing table, but the room had since been inundated by empty bottles waiting to be filled with home-brewed beer, drumset parts, hats, gloves, miscellaneous papers, half-completed knitting projects, etc. The works.

In an unplanned cleaning frenzy, we got rid of all of the clutter and unearthed our lovely reading nook. I promptly curled up with a cup of coffee and a scone and caught up on food and design blogs. A nice way to spend a snowy(!) afternoon.

Introducing Fridays at Home

I think the archive of this blog shows that Travel Photo Wednesdays has been a pretty successful idea, and with that in mind, Mallory and I are proud to introduce a new theme day to our blog-weeks.

Fridays at Home, as we'll call it, is pretty much the opposite of our Wednesdays abroad. We'll post photos from our home environments, our daily routines, etc. Things that might otherwise go overlooked.

I'm not incredibly proud of my first contribution to the theme, but I'm not actually at home (I'm at a tiny cafe, an environment that might be fairly considered my second home), and this is what I have.

Roses, especially the smaller breeds, are too pretty to let wilt and drop their petals. I prefer to dry them, and in our apartment, this is the solution I have found for hanging them to dry in perfect form. This particular rose was a birthday gift from a Polish friend (see my earlier post on the Polish flower habit. The drying rose looks admittedly weird for a day and a half hanging on our mini-blinds, but now it lays delicately on the hood above our stove, and brings some small amount of color to our kitchen.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Travel Photo...Thursday?

Now that my homework and other obligations are piling up, and I no longer have fall break to look forward to, I'm getting kind of nostalgic for some things about my semester in Germany. Mostly, how much easier the academics were. But also the numerous wine tastings paid for by IES.

Too bad my current studies don't include paid-for field trips to wineries. Isn't it still an important cultural experience?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

On the main square in Wroclaw, Poland

I took this photo of a small girl with a bicycle in downtown Wrocław, Poland, this past weekend. I love it. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Weekend Getaways

Today is election day. Maybe you've heard? Every blog I read posted something about it.
Here in Poland we won't know the results until 7 or 8 or 9am Wednesday morning -- and I have the mimosas ready and waiting.

Meanwhile, I spent the weekend in Wrocław (with my boyfriend and his father, who is visiting us) and Poznań (with one of my very best friends). It was a really nice getaway for a few days, and I got to see two lovely cities I'd never been to before.

I did what you might expect from me -- went to the cinema to watch a foreign film, drank tea and mulled beer in tiny dim cafes, bought (somewhat) old maps, went to a John Coltrane tribute concert and, oh, yeah, I took some photos!

Here are the main market squares of each town -- you can compare for yourselves.

And Poznań:

And for good measure, here's a snap of the amazing breakfast spread courtesy of my dear friend Asia:

Wonderful! I particularly liked the blood sausage with barley -- I can't help but wonder, though, what my seventeen-year-old self, the vegan, would have to say about that. Not to mention my dear co-blogger, also vegan. Mallory? Thoughts?