My 2011

Commentary

2011 has treated me well. I travelled, I explored the world through the lens of my diana and lx3 and I read plenty (though not as avidly as I would have liked). Here is my year breakdown.

Note: Most of these are in no particular chronological order

1. The most anticipated item of the year: the stache! After much begging and volunteering to start a fund for movember, I was given the privilege of the stache preview in December. I’m happy to announce that this look is now a permanent fixture in all our joint portraits.

2. November brought a new person into our family unit of two: the Bear. He’s still nameless though he’s much of a character. I caught him reading on my wing chair that night, but I’ve even come home to him watching TV and eating cereal and his most recent feat was climbing the Xmas tree á la King Kong style. We don’t know what he’ll do next, but he sure fits in.

3. Lomography featured largely in 2011, mainly because it was my Xmas present to myself last year. This two-shot was quite a good accident. The third shot, of our other partner in crime, George, brings the photographic trio full circle.

4. Reading in Dublin was a pleasure. This was a small park right outside the biggest park ever, that we traversed on a two-seater bicycle (that was fun!). On this trip I had the lovely company of Margatet Atwood and The Year of the Flood, which I miraculously read through, while managing to do quite enough touring.

5. The beauty of the lomo lens: This colorful scene was straight out of Little Miss Sunshine almost, and lucky for me, just outside my home. The large puddles / lakes that form near the area make for the most spectacular reflections.

6. This birdcage has been in the family for about a decade and it used to be white. Living by the beach has turned it into a wonderful rusty peppermint color that I love. It’s  something that’s not coming off of our veranda wall anytime soon.

7. My grandmother had a rough 2011; in July she broke her ischial spine on her pelvis and was bedridden for about 2 months. She is now mostly recovered and able to walk without the help of a cane, but she’s spent quite a few hard months. This photo was taken during a drastic cleanup of her house. Quite unlike my normal photographic habits, I decided to take a self-portrait in my grandmother’s yard during the big mess.

8. Taking it easy with the kids: the cutest niece a person could have. Learning to be patient: the only thing that got me out of 2011 reasonably sane.

9. Discovered gloriously delicious tea from tea pigs, palais des thés bubblegum tea and generally stored up in herbal goodness in 2011.

10. Tried my first, and most likely last, bitter ale at the Guinness Factory. Trying out the 120 format on lomo was fun, but also disappointing: I had a whole 120 color film completely ruined by overexposure, and thus forever a mystery.

11. The year of many notes, by no letters, sadly. Friends across the world (you know who you are), I will make it up to you in 2012!

12. The endless pursuit of great indie coffee/ tea shops continues. I have just added a great one in old Nicosia:  Τα εφτά κλειδιά

13. My lovely, lovely mom. 2011 came along with a new resolution: more portraits. This is as candid as it gets.

14. Taking dark alleys and forgotten routes has always brought out the best exploration photos. If you exclude the rancid smell of urine, that is.

15. I love feet shots and always will. Our other addition to the household is Pingoo, our friendly bed penguin. My friend Gigi, understands my feet addiction and follows suit.

16. Paying closer attention to detail really got me out of 2011. As a perfectionist, I’ve got the bug for getting lost and sidetracked in intricate details that really have no use for the purpose at hand. It’s a problem I am gradually coming to terms with.

17. Back in the middle ages, maps read: There be dragons here. Discovering the wonderful Custard Factory in Birmingham was a resulted of our chat with an art gallery personnel, who ended up drawing a little map of how to get there in my journal. After walking for hours past the commercial junk recommended to us by the air host, we finally got there and it was wonderfully refreshing.

18. My belated Xmas present arrived sometime in January. A new toy and a new perspective. It was quite amusing that we got each other cameras for Xmas. It also made shooting more difficult now with so many choices.

19. Bicycles everywhere in the city of Dublin. Renting some off the bike stations resulted in some near-death experiences, but ultimately great fun. It also led to the sad realization that Cyprus will never be bike friendly, thanks to all the reckless drivers.

20. A quiet vigil at Phoinikoudes, Larnaca after the explosion at Mari. This really shook up the whole island and those days were dark and bleak. I can’t say that that there will be much light on the case, in due time. Disappointment prevails.

21. My bike was a birthday present from 2010, but it really travelled great distances in 2011. On the last day of 2010, I remember riding across timid rain capturing the very last moments of the year. Here, we were riding across the vast expanse that is Oroklini lake, near my apartment. It felt out of this world, but all those mosquito bites put things in a realistic perspective.

22. The year of Catan, surely. The game was a gift by a fellow friend, but was neatly tucked into the closet because its instructions were a goddamn booklet. So after a year of storage, my friend was in Cyprus and he finally showed me how to play in less than half an hour. It soon became an addiction. Midnight Catan sessions that progressed way into the early morning hours, fueled by cookies and hot tea and when hungrier, Indian cuisine. It really left its mark on 2011, and now we’ve got the expansion pack and I’m convinced we’re turning into the Cypriot version of the Big Bang Theory somehow. Who’s Sheldon?

23. One of our most beloved agrotourist locations in Cyprus is 3 Elies. It’s the most authentic little resort smack in the middle of nowhere. There’s fireplace, nature trails, great trout for dinner made my Androulla, and many many cats. This multiple exposure hides two.

24. Met my nieces and nephew in the summertime for the first time. This was a walk on the beach, when my niece was so excited to see the sea. It makes me blush that I take it for granted.

25. 2011 brought with it a lot of new recipes. For Easter I attempted to make candy pops, that tasted OK but didn’t look like the real thing. Luckily no one knew the original idea, so considered my own works of art. The bows and sticks featured were in preparation for the choc pops.

26. The sun sets on Oroklini lake. Discovering the beauty of my area has surely been a highlight of 2011. I have just recently taken up jogging along the beach every morning before work and I’m surprised that I never made the most of the what is available to me here until now.

27. A hurried trip to the city of my heart: Chania, Crete. On the weekend of Monday of Lent, we escaped to Chania to revisit memories, old friends and favorite spots.

28. My failed resolution to pick up rock-climbing as a hobby. Maybe 2012 will be kinder to this resolution. After observing a group of climbers, we headed for Ayios Nicolas for some biking and I almost fainted on those altitudes. It resulted in a half-hour surprise nap by a river, while my other half was having fun taking photos of me passed out from fatigue.

29. Beautiful dusk from my window. Those reflections, those colors — make me remember why I could never leave here.

30. Pimped rides with pegasus, but 2011 was the year I bid my little old car, Dot,  goodbye. Just as I wasn’t looking, I managed to get myself a deal on my car, and ended up with a brand new Toyota Aygo. Its flaming red is more to my taste than the old black. But Dot was my first car, and as such, very dearly missed.

31. Kids will be kids, but grownups need to be kids too sometimes. Relearning life through a 4-year-old’s perspective ain’t easy, but it’s good.

32. Having the sister to myself has been a treat. Here, we went on a great photowalk across town and I snapped this great portrait of her. Hopefully 2012 will bring a collaboration that could result in some monetary fruit, if she ever agrees to listen to my ideas!

33. I’m thankful for having friends who will willingly drop everything for an existential conversation about the meaning of it all. 2011 has taught me that I am definitely a lot more complex than even I ever imagined. I’m slowly learning to accept the most unexpected things about me, and more importantly, to embrace risk and learn from it.

34. 2011 changed the way I saw my life. Taking hard decisions is part of life, and being honest with what you like and don’t like is equally important. You need to be passionate about what you do full time, and if you’re not, you must change something. I’m changing things in 2012, but without 2011’s insight, I would be nowhere.

35. There’s a lot of home, in homemade, and I carry it with me in whatever I do: From jewelry, to writing, to photography to baking. You can’t separate the past from the present and carrying it with you is a good thing, really.

36. This unconventional portrait of my mom makes me think that there’s always a hidden side to us. And we sometimes hide it from ourselves even, but it’s there. I’m trying to reconcile myself with my hidden side, which is full of flaws and misery and pessimism, but hey, I’m not there yet. I’m trying, and that counts, doesn’t it?

Hope you have a great 2012. I await for it eagerly.

Snap it

Commentary

If you think your iPhone app can do pretty much what this little gem can, then the this article is not for you. It’s for unsuspecting photography nerds who like photos more than cameras, but need cameras more than photos. Does it make sense? Then read on.

I’m not the greedy type, to be honest. Sure, I become fixated and obsessed on objects but not if I already have a similar object that gets the job done. That was my take on photography when I first started experimenting with my precious burgundy point-and-shoot Sony T200. It was small enough to fit in my bag on a daily basis, it was simple to use and met all of my needs. Until last year when I stumbled onto lomography entirely by a fortuitous accident. Then into my life, came the Diana.

With its unpredictable grainy view of life I was hooked: flash filters, multiple exposures, redscale films — I was hooked on a life of analogue and curious snapshots. I took photos more liberally and intently that I ever did with my digital camera and the result, no matter how far from my original intention, always surprised and fueled my fervor for film. Around the same time, I was given the Panasonic LX3, a great upgrade from my burgundy treasure and suddenly I was granted with choice — a dangerous thing.

It is around then that I started to appreciate the need for more than one camera: each one tells the story of the capture moment differently. Each camera is a new set of eyes with which to view the world, and I now find myself in the awkward situation of wanting more than my one set of eyes. Fellow photographers get this, everyone else thinks I’ve just wasted my money on another camera (insert condescending eye roll here). But hey, you can’t blame a girl for wanting to see the world in fresh ways, right?

Right.

 

 

 

Just mental

Jewelry

I’m happy to announce: I’m back.

And by back, I mean back to the beading fun. Last night before going to bed I really felt the urge to make a set of earrings, which I shared with you yesterday. They are now available at my shop. The same feeling greeted me in the morning, and I made another set while having my dose of Vitamin C in the sun. The nutrients worked, because look:

Indulging in my girly persona

Indulging in my girly persona

And in general I’ve been on the hyper side of things. Just thinking about all the changes that my apartment will undergo — this major face lift — really makes me lose sleep at night. Not from worry or stress, but excitement. I think about the major changes, and pepper those thoughts with a lot of great accessories I come across on Etsy and interior design blogs and magazines and oh my, I’m in mental heaven! If only mental money could work as well in reality as it does in my head, where budget is a word that is foreign and utterly meaningless. But that’s in my head — and as regards most things in there — pretty useless to the real world.

But I promised a little view of the kitchen plans. In the absence of a scanner, I photographed the catalog. I think it gives you the overall idea:

Be my guests!

Be my guests!

And lastly, all your crossed fingers did the trick! My sister got the job and now it’s time for celebration. Bring out the wine and some food because I’m famished. But before I go, here’s a view from my balcony along with my little friend. Enjoy!

The beach waits for you (and me)

The beach waits for you (and me)

Paris, je t’aime

Musings

When I say Paris…

Think Parisian reunions in royal gardens.

Think too much wine and entirely too much cheese.

Think a hangover or two.

Think 700 steps to the top of the Eiffel Tower (saved us €9)

Think buildings you fall in love with.

Think beautiful sounds you try to emulate.

Think that you’re really set to have a good time.

It was for a brief 2.5 days, but we met with some old friends who travelled halfway across the globe to find us. It was the kind of experience I thought I could only dream about. I even dished out my rusty French and much to my surprise, managed to carry a crippled conversation here and there. Since then, my new goal is to retouch on my French, and once I get my feet together, I’ll give the French Embassy a call and see if I can find myself a conversation partner, s’il vous plait.

Here are a few of my favorites.

Standing Tall: Notre Dame behind the greenery

Standing Tall: Notre Dame behind the greenery

Pretty hungry: Lovely restaurant

Pretty hungry: Lovely restaurant

Stop to smell the flowers: Not your average polytechnic

Stop to smell the flowers: Not your average polytechnic

So plush: The royal gardens

So plush: The royal gardens

A toast: To Paris and our reunion

A toast: To Paris and our reunion

A great idea: The ferris wheel

A great idea: The ferris wheel

View from the top: The Eiffel Tower

View from the top: The Eiffel Tower

View from the top: The Louvre

View from the top: The Louvre

Spotted: Sculpture of a brushstroke by Lichtenstein

Spotted: Sculpture of a brushstroke by Lichtenstein

Drop anchor: That dash of pink really makes all the difference

Drop anchor: That dash of pink really makes all the difference

Pause: How Parisian

Pause: How Parisian

Time ticking: The imposing clock at Musée d'Orsay, which was an old train station

Time ticking: The imposing clock at Musée d'Orsay, which was an old train station

Just a shadow: From Le Chat Noir, shadow theater

Just a shadow: From Le Chat Noir, shadow theater

So close: The Eiffel Tower

So close: The Eiffel Tower

Ich bin ein Berliner

Musings

Sure, Kennedy said he was a donut, and I sympathize because it sounds like the kind of mistake I would make. Donut or no donut, Berlin was a wonderful city. In 2.5 days that we had there, we were in awe of the bicycles, great organization and order, big pavements and no litter on the streets, friendly people and cool shops and bars. Both my boyfriend and I were secretly falling in love with the place, but I was afraid to say anything because I’m generally known for my compulsive impulsiveness and didn’t really want to freak him out with: I want to live here. It was a great relief and a big surprise when he came out and said it first. Woohoo! My mind has been plotting since, but Berlin, is a few years away for now.

First step: learn German. This is in my immediate goal list, but since returning to Cyprus, has been pushed down on the list of priorities due to some other more urgent things. But it’s in there. I swear!

Here’s a sneak peek of Berlin — some of my favorites.

Tachelles: A building taken over by artists full of graffiti inside

Tachelles: A building taken over by artists full of graffiti inside


An oasis in the city: Full of lush parks, a rare find for someone coming from a dry climate

An oasis in the city: Full of lush parks, a rare find for someone coming from a dry climate


Look at me: Graffiti in the city

Look at me: Graffiti in the city


In the distance: Berliner Dome

In the distance: Berliner Dome

Look up: The tower that's visible from anywhere in Berlin

Remember this: Artist installation representing those who died during WW2 at Jewish museum

Remember this: Artist installation representing those who died during WW2 at Jewish museum


Just cool: Wall painting on East Side Gallery, where the remaining wall still stands, full of paintings by artists from all over

Just cool: Wall painting on East Side Gallery, where the remaining wall still stands, full of paintings by artists from all over


In progress: A true masterpiece

In progress: A true masterpiece


Go for it: An act of desperation

Go for it: An act of desperation


All-time classic: Of course we got our black-and-white set of four

All-time classic: Of course we got our black-and-white set of four


Pick one: I'll live anywhere!

Pick one: I'll live anywhere!


By night: An onion ring of moon

By night: An onion ring of moon


Take a break: The best chai ever!

Take a break: The best chai ever!


Hang on: Resting by the river

Hang on: Resting by the river


Take me for a ride: I want a bicycle too!

Take me for a ride: I want a bicycle too!


Picture perfect: I'm moving in tomorrow

Picture perfect: I'm moving in tomorrow

Back and ready to crumble

Musings

It’s been what, a month? Surely it’s felt like longer for you, no? It has for me. Actually in the past month, time took on that surreal sense of going really quickly, but in slow motion too. It gave me enough time to pause and marvel at things I was doing, places I went to, wonderful people I’ve shared precious moments with. And all of this without Internet. Thank you divine idle time — your overabundance kept me quite busy indeed.

To avoid getting myself (and implicating you too, of course) into alarming high word counts, I have decided to break it down into different entries. That should keep all of our sanity intact. So I’ll let you know about the best buyer a world could ask for, show you a splash of Berlin, give you a little bit of that Parisian glamor and then relocate to Crete and its wonderful beaches.

This past month had quite a lot of moving; in fact we packed up our stuff and shipped it over to Cyprus and also emptied our entire apartment into boxes and moved to a temporary little furnished place until my boyfriend completes his thesis. My other half is working very hard as we speak, furrowed brow and all, in an effort to finish his thesis soon. Of that I’m sure.

As for me, I headed to Cyprus to find a nest and get back into the teaching wheel. Incidentally, hello from a new location.

But more of those adventures, as they unravel. For now, click and read. It’s good to have you back.

Math Monday

math monday

Math Monday

If we look past the fact that it’s not really Monday today, we can get right down to the Math of things. Let me break it down in numbers for you:

  • 1 sale to Montreal. Thank you Stella for making my day with your wonderful message. I know that my plain yin and yang are going off to a great person!
  • 1 guest at home (though that number has now increased to two since Monday. It’s a testosterone-dominated home). Our friend George came from Cyprus with a great card that’s currently on our fridge.
The outlines are of myself and my boyfriend. This was taken on the beach next to my apartment in Cyprus.

The outlines are of myself and my boyfriend. This was taken on the beach next to my apartment in Cyprus.

  • 8 people who have shared their enthusiasm for the cycle journal. Spread the word — this will be a cool project and I need more people to make it work!!
  • 22 artists (including myself) taking part on the BIG Greek Summer Giveaway!
  • 2 little upcycled umbrellas. One of them was behind the shadow on the wall in a previous entry. This little cute pair is now available at my shop
Plain Mary Poppins

Plain Mary Poppins

  • 7 hours spent in a long photographic walk. We did stop to eat lunch and then some dessert too.
Fooling around with the camera mounted on the tripod. I'm caught mid-air!

Fooling around with the camera mounted on the tripod. I'm caught mid-air!

  • 5 is the number of days we have left until Berlin (though it would have been 8 if this were posted on Monday).
  • 2 is the number of ultra-cool charcoal illustrations I bought from Sam, of matouenpeluche. In fact, I’m getting 3, with the great sale she has going on in her shop right now. It’s a good thing too, because picking out favorite items is really hard with all those talented drawings she has on display.
One of the drawings I got!

One of the drawings I got!

How was your week in numbers?

Math Monday

math monday

math monday

Yes, we have a new theme day – and that’s today! I haven’t done proper Math since high school, so don’t imagine anything complex — my head wouldn’t take it! Instead, think of it as the day where I sum up the week that’s just finished in numbers.

It’s going to be banana-tastic!

Oh and I started a new photo project that I’m inviting you to join me — cool photos of numbers! I will be peppering Math Monday entries with these, but feel free to share your own through Etsy convo or e-mailing here, and I’ll update the blog entry.

This will be fun! So let’s get started!

4 is the number of green bugs that we found in the house. They stink when you touch them and they make a lot of noise. I’m terrified they’ll fall in my mouth while I sleep.

22 are the number of days left for our vacation! Berlin first and then a little Parisian taste.

7 are the number of cupcakes / muffins I baked this week.

0 is how many muffins are left as I’m writing this.

photo courtesy of my sister

photo courtesy of my sister

89 is the price of my one way-ticket back to Cyprus. I still need to buy it, but I just don’t have the heart to call this the official end of my Cretan life.

0.5 is how much of my book I’ve read. Yes, unacceptable.

24,000 Mbit/s is our supposed Internet rate. We finally got connected on Wednesday but have still to reach such speed (nor will we).

3 are the number of treasuries I’ve made.

a fruity number

a fruity number

41 are the number of pieces I cut my credit cards.

6 is the number of books I borrowed from a friendly bookworm next door.

2 are my new  listings (plain tribal and plain plastic money).

2,091 words published on this blog this past week. Whew! That’s a lot more than I thought!

What numbers made your week?

Plain Bananas Has Friends

Plain Bananas Has Friends

Plain Bananas Has Friends

I thought things were bad but bearable without a phone line (yes, it has been a week but still no tone), but they got exponentially worse when we realized yesterday the internet was also cut. The shred of contact we had with anyone who wasn’t a local, has been severed for an indefinite amount of time. What am I feeling right now? Very definite hate for phone / internet companies and it’s a good thing it’s a Friday and I have friends.

Let me introduce you to Urbandesign, who stumbled on a new hobby and business after joining Etsy! If you haven’t noticed the paradox, let me tell you, things don’t run like that in the Etsy community; you open a shop after you’ve discovered your obsessive hobby. Unless you misread the signs and you’re lucky to unravel a side of you that you never knew existed.

This is urbandesign’s story.

She opened a jewelry shop last year on Etsy, and set to promote it, she started looking for good ways to photograph her creations. And that’s how her new love and absolute obsession was born: Photography. She purchased her real camera last spring and has let her artistic eye take her on a new journey. It wasn’t until February 2009 that she felt comfortable enough to sell her photos online on Etsy, where her shop suddenly became the centre of the focus.

Love Blooms II - 8x8 Fine Art Print

Love Blooms II - 8x8 Fine Art Print

In her brief and creative career as a photographer, she managed to get five photos selected for the set of the upcoming thriller The Roommate (released in 2010), much to her surprise and utter exultation. In her words, “I about had a stroke the day they sent me a [message] through Etsy asking for permission to use them!”

She tries to make time for her photography and often takes her three children along to her photographic adventures.

Thankfully, she had a little time left to tell me a little something about herself. Let me share it with you.

Pool of Bliss - 8x12 Fine Art Print

Pool of Bliss - 8x12 Fine Art Print

My name is…Maleah Matthews.

I make…fine art photography prints.

I’m inspired by…everything in nature. Nothing like being outdoors to get my creative juices flowing!

I cannot live without…my family — I adore my children and I can’t imagine my life without them or my husband.

All Things Beautiful - 8x12 Fine Art Print

All Things Beautiful - 8x12 Fine Art Print

An item I’ve made that was hard to let go…The only thing I’ve ever been sad to sell wasn’t something I made. It was my oldest child’s first Easter dress. I didn’t think it mattered that much to me, but when I packaged it up to mail I started bawling like a baby. Seems kinda silly now!

I create because…it is very relaxing to me. It is one of the only times I feel like I can escape from my crazy busy life.

I wish I…had more hours in the day so that I could  do all the things that I’m always creating in my head!

If I could learn another art it would be…someday I would like to try painting or quilting.

My website is…www.urbandesign.etsy.com

The Sparrow - 8x8 Fine Art Print

The Sparrow - 8x8 Fine Art Print

I blog because…it’s a fun way to connect with other people, artists and bloggers. I’ve met some of the nicest people this way!

One day…I hope to travel more; there are so many beautiful places to photograph!

I started…a Facebook fanpage last month and that has been a really fun way to interact and get feedback on my photos.

I always…enjoy a hike with my kids.

If I were a color I would be…blue — it’s my fave!

Stars In The Sky - 8x12 Fine Art Photograph

Stars In The Sky - 8x12 Fine Art Photograph

My full-time job…I own a salon with a staff of 25 people, and I’m a hairstylist

In a nutshell…I love that I get to create and do what I enjoy!

In a bigger nutshell: I would love for photography business to grow to the point that I could spend more my time doing this and getting paid for it! I’m working towards a photography vacation with my family!

Here’s where you can find urbandesign:

shop: http://www.urbandesign.etsy.com

blog: http://urbandj.blogspot.com/

Or you can become a fan: http://facebook.com/pages/Urban-Design-Photography/86438245904

I leave you with some more of her romantic photos and a note: You have Internet, and I don’t, so enjoy it!

The Old Grove - 8x8 Fine Art Print

The Old Grove - 8x8 Fine Art Print

Town Meeting - 8x12 Fine Art Print

Town Meeting - 8x12 Fine Art Print

Dream Scape - 8x12 Fine Art Print

Dream Scape - 8x12 Fine Art Print

Poppy Enchanted - 8x8 Fine Art Print

Poppy Enchanted - 8x8 Fine Art Print

Swimming to meet you

Musings

It’s hot, there’s no Internet and in my book, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be at the beach, right?

I leave you with some photos, few words and the hope that Internet will be restored soon!

(Oh yeah, this is brought to you from the cutest coffeeshop in Chania!)

Book? Check!

Book? Check!

the beach

the beach

Mojito? Check!

Mojito? Check!

The banana on the beach

The banana on the beach

Spot the banana having fun!

Spot the banana having fun!

There will be a new artist tomorrow, even though there’s no Internet. Ah, yes. Magic, gotta love it.