Sunday, June 28, 2015

Hand Made Rifle Peep Sight Sock

I have been asked to make a rifle peep sight sock. It was quite an unexpected request but I am glad I could help someone who needed it.

FavTreats Hand Made Rifle Sight Sock by AleksandraG

Here is the story.
At first the sight was covered with some bubble wrap provided by the sight maker.

Obviously, both the fragile piece and the rifle need special protection, to prevent them from being broken or scratched. So the plastic wrap was very appreciated but, unfortunately, it was not quite practical considering further usage and storing.

That is why a little sock was needed. I sewed it by hand (used a piece of soft cotton cloth). If I was making it for myself, I would probably used some colorful thread, to make it more decorative. But we do not need such a thing. Besides, I guess what matters most is the sock's practical usefulness, not its decoration.

FavTreats Hand Made Rifle Sight Sock by AleksandraG

If you need such a sight protection, I could make it for you too. ;-)

FavTreats Hand Made Rifle Sight Sock by AleksandraG

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Do You Know Mickey Mouse?

Gdynia Baltic Sea marina Sails

I am always astonished when I happen to hear such questions while being abroad. Meaning outside Poland. I heard the question about Mickey Mouse for the first time when I was visiting Denmark in 1991. It surprised me but it also told me how little the ones who were asking knew about life in Poland.

When I was working as a teacher, my students were part of a pen-pal project: we exchanged letters with schools in other countries. It was all very interesting and, in a way, it helped the kids learn about life and cultures in other parts of the world. The students enjoyed it a lot too. However, they could not understand why their American pals were asking them whether they had television sets at their homes. They were saying 'Miss, why they are asking us such a weird question?'. It was totally incomprehensible to them why should anybody ask about such an obvious and basic thing as television. I told them 'They seem to know very little about life here so simply answer the question and tell the truth - whether you have a TV set at home and how many do you have.' Most of them had more than one.
Texas Hill Country

Not long ago, while in Texas, I was asked by an American lady, a few years older than myself,  how old I had been when I had seen an American cartoon for the first time. I cannot remember - it was ages ago. At the time when I was growing up, American (and other foreign) movies were available on Polish TV and at the cinema. From Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy to more modern TV series, films and also current cinema productions. When VHS recorders appeared, almost everybody who I knew then, had one. And I used to visit a local rental video place a few times a week to get new movies to watch.
Anyway, while talking to the lady, a funny thing - when I said that my favorite cartoon character was Droopy, she did not know who he was.

Sometime later, the same person asked me whether I knew Cinderella. Such questions make me want to answer: 'Is it one of your friends?' But I never say it because, most probably, the person who is asking would take my reply seriously and, possibly, would not get I am joking. Besides, I do not mean to be rude. Well, Cinderella is not an American thing only. Actually, the girl and the story has European roots and obviously is well-known in Europe.

Gdansk Old Twon

Of course, in the past life in Poland was different and, in many ways, more difficult than in Western  Europe or in the USA. Everyday items were not easy to obtain as shops had limited offers. I remember that e.g. oranges and tangerines were available twice a year only: at Easter and at Christmas. It was another reason to look forward to the holidays when I was a kid.

At my teenage years some foreign goods were available at special stores:

1. A kind of pawn shops (called KOMIS) which sold brand-new things only instead of old and used ones. The items were brought to the country by those who were allowed to travel abroad, mostly due to the jobs they were doing. In my region it was sailors who delivered the majority of such items.
On the shelves of a Komis store, you could find anything and everything - limited and accidental offer and rather high prices too.

2. Since in local music stores they rarely had something I would find interesting, I often visited small shops, ran by private owners in which I could get all kind of music cassettes - newest and older bands. The prices were good, so I used to spend almost all my pocket money on those tapes. And had quite a collection. Yes, we did have cassette players and tape recorders :).

Music Cassettes & Computing

Talking about music. The (Polish) radio was also my source of foreign music - the entire albums were presented in some radio programs. From the first to the last track. Without any breaks or commercials in the middle or between them. All sorts of musicians and kinds of modern and older pop and rock music. Although I did not see most of the bands and singers live on TV, I knew their songs and could record them when on the radio too. Later, when I started to work and was making my own money, I could also go for a live concert and see/enjoy a favorite (foreign) band playing live music.

Some of my old records

While talking to the Poles who left the country about thirty years ago, I have noticed that quite a lot  of them tend to see Poland as it was at the time when they left it. As if all the changes which occurred later, and which I experienced myself never happened. Well, Poland is not the same country as it was 20 or 30+ years ago, but they did not have a chance to live through it. That is why (without any offense) I call such persons 'caught in time' - some of them seemed to be quite surprised when I told them I had used to order things at online stores when I lived in Poland. Guess, in the future, I may become 'caught in time' too.

Sopot Poland

Another thing which I find interesting from a language point of view. Some guys (both men and women) who left Poland before the global development of technology, including computers and cell phones, might not be aware of certain Polish terms connected with it. Or maybe they simply find using English words more obvious, and that is a reason why, while speaking Polish, they use English equivalents only. For example, a text/text message is called in Polish 'SMS' (sms=short message)/ instead of saying 'text me', the typical Polish way would be 'send me an SMS'.

Also, the header of an email which is commonly used in Poland in an informal message is different from the ones used in its English version. I used both forms in practice before I moved to the USA, got more familiar with the popular Polish way, though. But it is never included (not known?) in the messages written in Polish, which I get from my Polish-American friends. The reason I mention it is just to give an example of how a language, influenced by current life matters, develops and changes.


Sometime after my arrival in Texas, my husband introduced me to Panna Maria - the first Polish settlement in the State. I had not known about it before, so I was very happy we could go there. Panna Maria appeared to be quite a small place. We visited the local store where we met an elderly lady, a descendant of the first settlers. She also showed us the local museum. It was great talking to her. Finally, I did not have to use English to communicate! However, the language (Polish) we were both speaking was a bit different, and we had slight difficulties with understanding each other. Anyway, I was really pleased with the visit, and I am very  proud and grateful my husband took me there.

Panna Maria, Texas official website

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Stay Fresh Deodorant With Organic Aloe Vera by Yves Rocher

This roll-on deodorant is a good option for those of you who look for an aluminum free product. I like it as it has a fresh scent and works well even on a hot summer day. Besides, it does not stain the clothing and it is very gentle too - does not sting when used straight after shaving.
The deodorant is not only aluminum salts free - it does not contain any parabens/colorant either.

deodorant Yves Rocher
From the label: 
'98.7% of the total ingredients are from natural origin. 105 of the total ingredients are from Organic Farming.'

This product is also part of the Yves Rocher programme '1 product purchased = 1 tree planted'. You can read more about the campaign here.
Regular price=$4.50. Right now it is available with 56% discount. check it out at the Yves Rocher online store.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Easy Salad - A Gift Option For Father's Day

This salad is so easy to make that even a child can prepare it to show his/her father their appreciation. However, a child can work in the kitchen only under the supervision and with the help of an adult.  Especially when using a knife is required.

What you need (for 2 servings):
  • 1 slice of red bell pepper
  • 1 slice of yellow bell pepper
  • 1 slice of orange bell pepper ( if you have one kind of bell pepper only, you can use more slices of that)
  • 2 baby carrots
  • a slice of onion (or 1 green onion)
  • 1/2 bag salad (lettuce) mix
  • some grated cheese
  • about 8 salad croutons
  • your father's favorite salad dressing
  What to do with it all:
  1. Prepare two bowls - one for you and one for your dad.
  2. Put the lettuce mix into a colander, wash it with cold water and drain it. Divide the lettuce mix into two parts. Put each part into a bowl.
  3. Cut bell peppers, carrots and onion/green onion into small pieces. Divide each of the cut ingredients into two and put them in the bowls.
  4. Sprinkle some grated cheese on the salad mix you made.
  5. Place the croutons at the top.
  6. Serve with your father's favorite salad dressing.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

My First Live Hockey Match

I have always enjoyed watching winter sports on TV. In Poland they have frequent live transmissions of ski jumping, slalom and other winter sports competitions on main TV channels. Watching it was a kind of a custom and quite nice entertainment too. From time to time, we also observed hockey matches, especially when the Polish team was taking part in a tournament.
That is why, when we got tickets for a hockey game, I was really happy about it. However, I need to mention that I experienced my first live hockey game not in Poland but here, in TX. Considering how little the hot Texas climate has to do with any winter sport, I find it rather funny.
Anyway, I looked forward to seeing hockey live. At least I knew something about its rules and did not have to learn them to understand the game (as it had been at the ball park). To my surprise, the speed of the real game was much, much faster that it seemed while watching the sport on TV. Actually, it was stunningly fast. We had good seats so we could see the entire ice rink and all the players. They were moving so quickly that I could hardly follow them and see where the puck was. Television cameras usually show only a part of what is really going on the ice. It is obvious of course but you most often do not think about it when you experience a TV transmission. Being able too see it all at once, in real, changed the perspective a lot. In a positive way. It made the game much more involving and really exciting!
What is more, with the information given by a TV commentator you know what is happening, even if you cannot see it or miss something.  While watching the live game, I found it really surprising how very often the new players were joining it. Again and again a new one was entering the rink, due to some changes which happened during the game. And I loved the dynamics of the live game. Much better than seen on TV!
Studying the little booklet provided by the event organizers, I discovered that some of the players came from various European countries, including the north of Europe. Like me! Except the hockey match itself, it also made me feel being part of the spectacle which we were watching. I was not an alien, the only one among the spectators who did not know the sport and the rules of the game. Just the opposite, I was enjoying it because I was finding new things in something I was familiar with too.
It would be fun to watch a live hockey match once more!

Dallas hockey
Stars vs Penguins

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Buckets & Lists

Having lived in the US I also learned about bucket lists. Somehow, I did not hear about them when I  lived in Europe. Why the lists are called in such a way, I do not know. The size of a bucket suggests rather small capacity - quite a few things can be put in it only, if the objects are small. Nevertheless, there is a saying "if you can dream it, you can do it" so no need to limit ourselves while making our bucket list. Dream big and go for it to make your dreams come true!

Our Bucket #1
bucket list Texas

We have been city persons - it would be great if we could move to a small TX town.

Bucket #2 & #3 are all about travel and learning new things.

traveling around USA
We would want to travel around the USA - visit each and every state and see its attractions - meaning history, culture and nature.

Although we have already been to quite a few countries in Europe, we would like to come back to some of them and visit other ones too. Our list includes:
  1. Poland
  2. Ireland
  3. Scotland
  4. England (not necessarily London though)
  5. Scandinavia
  6. Belgium
  7. Hungary
  8. Austria
  9. Switzerland
  10. Southern Germany
  11. Portugal
  12. Czech Republic
  13. Netherlands & Luxemburg
  14. Slovakia
Australia and New Zealand go to Bucket #3  - a totally different part of the world than Europe of course.

Well, the buckets are filled with our wants. The worst thing now would be putting them in a dark corner of a storeroom (of our consciousness) and forgetting about them. You need to see them in your mind, see your goals as if they are already real, feel the joy of making your plans come true! If you think something is impossible - forget about it or better change your attitude. Nothing is impossible unless you find it like that. Do not get discouraged. Focus on positive things not on setbacks. However, mind what you wish for - never wish anybody bad luck or misfortune. What you send is what comes back to you!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Mystery of Floaters

Maybe you have heard about a floater in the river while watching a thriller. Well, this is not the kind of floater I want to write about today. However, the one which I mean can give you a thrill too. When it appears suddenly, totally out of the blue, and when a black frame starts jumping in your eye in each and every direction, spoiling the vision. When it makes your eye so sensitive that you cannot stand the light as it makes you feel pain and you can hardly keep your eye open. No way you could read or look at the computer screen. And because of it all you want to stay in a dark room all of the time or would rather go out in the night only. Darkness brings relief - no pain, no floating sensations, no dark frames in your vision. The thrill is even stronger if some 'flashy lightnings' seem to struck inside your eye before the black frame appears. You get scared if you know what the flash lights may be a sign of.
Scarborough Fair
So you visit a specialist as soon as you can. When you hear 'it is only a floater - it is very common - many people have floaters' you feel a great relief because of the word ONLY.
You think to yourself 'OK. A floater. Never heard about it. Having spent most of my life in Poland, never heard about anybody who had that. Even now, when I tell someone in Poland about it (in Polish and using the Polish name for 'floater'), they ask what it is. Not so common there or what? Is it a matter of the climate difference - the hot and dry air here and cooler and more refreshing weather in the north of Europe (when you need some fresh air being at home there - you just open a window - air condition is hardly ever needed)? Or maybe there are some other reasons - I just rolled my eyes too suddenly or something?'
Hmmmm. The mystery of floaters.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Reading Time: This Perfect Day by Ira Levin

I was given the book by my dear friend many, many years ago - while I was visiting her in Denmark.
And it has been one of my favorite novels since the very first time when I read it.

The story is set in the future and tells about Chip, member of the human Family ruled and totally controlled by the Uni and its omniscient Computer. All the world is Unified - separate countries no longer exist. Chip's real nameber (name number) is Li RM35M4419 which is displayed on the electronic bracelet he wears from the time he was born. It is nothing unusual - all members (who used to be called 'people' in the ancient past) wear such bracelets.  Wherever they go and whatever they do, they show their bracelets to computer scanners (placed everywhere) so Uni knows about everything and everybody.

Thanks to that, each and every member of the Uni Family can feel safe and taken care of.

reading SF book

The society/members' lives are planned and organized by Uni:
  1. Each and every member looks the same - due to genetic engineering (children are created in laboratories). Only old members (around the age of 50/60) look different - they were born in pre-Uni times. However, also some younger members happen to have an ancient trait - lighter skin tone or different eye color/shape than others.
  2. All members get their monthly, obligatory treatment - an injection which helps them stay happy, content and calm. Nobody wants anything, nobody feels anything. Everybody is kind/indifferent to everybody.
  3. Each adult member/a family has weekly meetings with their personal advisers designated by Uni.
  4. If a member shows signs of sickness: wants something particular or questions the rules given by Uni, skips mandatory TV time or tends to use aggressive words, other members help him - they inform their advisers about the sick member. As a result of that, the latter one gets a special extra treatment and is healthy again.
  5. There is no money and there are no stores - members work for the entire Family. If they need something, they claim it - put their bracelets on the computer scanners to inform theUniComp about it. The Computer accepts or denies their claims. Uni knows best.
  6. Love making is leveled to a weekly 10-minute physical activity.
  7. Uni decides on everybody and everything - from telling the members when they have to go to sleep and eat, what their professional careers are, whether they are to reproduce or not, to defining the time when they die.
Influenced by his grandpa (who helped to build the UniComp), Chip gradually evolves from being a usual and obedient member to getting curious how it could be if he got 'sick'. He learns many things not only about himself as a person and a human being, but also about others - other people, Uni and the UniComp.

I am rereading the book again. Although within the years, I have already read it twice, I still find its plot quite intriguing, involving and interesting. Besides, I am rediscovering it too, as I cannot remember all the details described in the story, including its ending (I can recall the final part was quite a turn though).

All in all, thinking why I enjoy reading 'This Perfect Day' and what makes it so special, it is rather uneasy to precise it. The story of a member/members who wake up to being real persons is quite absorbing, also the way it is written matters. Certainly, it can be described as an entertaining novel but to decide whether you like it or not, you need to read the book yourself.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

My First Thanksgiving & Cooking Challenge

When my first Thanksgiving came, I had been in the States for about four months. Holidays in Poland means a lot of cooking and baking at home, so I was willing to make our Thanksgiving feast too. The only problem was, I had no idea what should be on the menu (well, besides turkey). I had never experienced (made /eaten) any Thanksgiving meal - the holiday is not celebrated in Poland.
Luckily, there was the Internet. Two weeks before the big day I started searching the net to find out
  • what a traditional Thanksgiving meal consists of,
and most importantly,
  • what a traditional Southern Thanksgiving meal consists of.
I read quite a lot of recipes. Finally, I decided to choose a few, made a shopping list and started getting myself ready both physically and mentally also. I practiced in my mind all the cooking and  thought through my holiday kitchen work. Since I did not have the faintest idea how most of those dishes should taste, I decided to follow the recipes which I had chosen and was hoping for the best.
A day before Thanksgiving I made a pecan pie (first time in my life too) and baked cornbread for the dressing.

Next day I cooked. I seasoned the turkey and put it into the oven. I found the breast size (as big as a baseball) a bit intimidating, so my husband helped me with checking on it during the baking time. I worked for a few hours not being sure what the result of my challenge would be.

To my surprise, and a great relief, it all worked out so well! The turkey was juicy and tender, and everything tasted really good. My husband was happy and I was happy. If the food had not been tasty, our first Thanksgiving would have been a disaster, considering also all the load which would have been wasted. But it was not - everything was eaten and disappeared from the plates and pots quite quickly!

I have kept all those recipes and have been using them since them. 
God bless all the guys who have shared their wonderful (Southern) recipes on their websites! They saved our first Thanksgiving. :)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Daily Facial Moisturizer by Cetaphil

This moisturizer has been one of our discoveries. It is really great! The cream is light and it is easily absorbed by the face skin. Its moistening effect lasts on my face all day. The moisturizer provides UVA/UVB protection (SPF 15) and it is good as a makeup base. What also matters - and in my case is most important - Daily Facial Moisturizer by Cetaphil neither irritates my skin nor my eyes. No parabens among its ingredients, no painful allergic reactions after applying it to my face. 
I am loving it!
From the label:
  • Smoothes, hydrates and protects
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Lightweight, non-greasy
  • Fragrance free