Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bridal Showers, Czech Cottages, and a few of my favorite things...

My internet has been a thorn in my flesh recently. It seems every time I really want to be able to use it, it goes on the fritz. And while I could easily walk to Bartholomeus and use the internet there, it's just so much nicer to use it from the safety of my own home. Today, I actually drug my computer all the way up to school, because here it is free and there are no distractions and no one smoking. So this post is going to be a bit of a conglomeration. I'd really planned to do several posts this weekend, but now it's all just getting shoved into one. I do apologize.
Last Friday I had the privilege of throwing a bridal shower for my dear roommate Laura. Laura has somehow managed to survive this year away from the man she's going to marry. Very impressive. Really, it's hard to express the emotional roller coaster this has been for both of them. But as I type this, they are currently together in Prague with her family. What joy for them all. She's leaving here a week early in order to have two weeks before her wedding so she can hopefully be over jet lag by then:) Since there won't be a whole lot of time stateside, I got to throw the party for her here.
Having been to a LOT of bridal showers, I was up to the challenge. Laura had, surprisingly never been to any, or possibly only to one, so it was definitely up to me to make sure things went off in true American style. We played the name game, where all the guests had to write as many words as possible using the letters from Laura's new name, we played the toilet paper wedding dress game, and then there was the extra fun quiz where Laura had to try to answer some really random questions about her future husband. It was a lot of fun, and she got some great gifts as well ;)

The next day I was really excited to have my first Czech cottage experience. I'm not sure exactly when I first saw a Czech cottage, but I think it was around my second day here when Tammy took Naomi and me for a walk by the river. There's a nice little collection of tiny cottages nestled down near the water. They all have lovely gardens and seem like children's play houses. I thought they were pretty much the cutest things ever!
Right away it became my dream to visit one of these cottages. But my first year came and went without the opportunity. I never wanted to push the issue, but it remained a sincere desire of mine. This year, when I found out I wouldn't have any of my same students from last year, I had this extra sinking feeling that it would also mean no opportunities to visit a Czech cottage. I mean, after all, no one invited me the first year, so if I had to meet all new people this year, why would it be any different.
Much to my great joy, this fear has come to naught. Last weekend one of my daily students set up a party at her cottage and invited me, as well as other students and teachers. I headed out early to join Anicka in helping set things up at the cottage. I was seriously bubbling with excitement and my first view was not disappointing. I mean, just look at how adorable this place is!

And the weather was absolutely perfect as well! I helped Anicka make the beds in the little upstairs section. This place was so tiny on top. There were stairs that had to be pulled down, and then an area with a slanted roof, the highest part being only about 2 1/2 feet high. There were mattresses spread everywhere on the floor and we put comforters on them all and made it look very comfy. There was yard work to be done and some other cleaning as well.
Slowly people started to come, and the barbecue got started. It was so nice just to sit in the little yard and enjoy the lovely weather and good conversation.

We had a lovely fire that lasted all night, and I ended up talking to people until around 5 AM! There is just such a relaxed atmosphere there. I should probably explain a little bit of why the Czechs have these little cottages. During communism they weren't allowed to travel very much. The cottages allowed them with a place to escape the daily routines. Also, things like vegetables and fruit were really limited, so by having their own little gardens they were able to sustain some variety in life. They still really love their cottages and gardens, and have this fascinating relaxed culture. Can you imagine American young people spending their weekends in a tiny cottage with few amenities, doing garden work? But the Czechs really seem to love it, and these barbecues are really important to them. I was so happy to have the chance to take part in this tradition, and I was able to have some really interesting conversations, like why I don't consume mass quantities of alcohol, and how I believe God is in control of my life and want to please and serve Him. It was all really great.
Now to finish off this post of randomness, I thought I'd throw in some pictures of the pottery I bought in Poland, as well as a few of my other favorite purchases from this year. So I hope you enjoy these little trinkets that make me smile :)
First we have my lovely set of butterfly cups:

Next we have some bowls to match and my little vase:

Here are a couple other things I enjoy, a little candle holder from Prague and a painting I got in Florence:

Then Friday I took a little trip to Germany. I had an extra day off because I'd taught extra lessons for Tammy last week. It was fun to be able to just cruise over to another country for the afternoon. I did some shopping and a little wandering around, but it was too cold to do a whole lot. In the end, I didn't do much but have lunch and look around, but on my way out, I stopped in this little shoe shop and was totally overtaken by a pair of truly amazing shoes. Now I've been living in pretty much two pairs of shoes for the past two years. When I leave Czech, they will not come with me as they will have been worn to absolutely nothing. I'd been thinking it was time to invest in a new pair, but I wasn't sure exactly when it would happen. I thought I'd just look around and see what there was to see, and this lovely pair of Josef Siebel shoes were just more than I could pass up. Not only are they comfortable, durable, and adorable, they were also on a really good sale. So take a gander and enjoy!

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