Work IT

At some point you just have to embrace winter. The other day we found a "work out" area in the park near our apartment (Cismigiu). Dorkiness ensued...

13 going on 31

Above right: This is the cake after I shaved the bottom and flipped it.

I played hostess a few weeks ago and threw a birthday party of Catalin at our apartment. Why our apartment? Well here in Romania if it is your birthday tradition calls for you to pay for everyone's drinks...the *entire night*. This can be a bit pricey if you decide to party at a bar, especially since Romanians know how to throw a few back. An added incentive was that we wanted to welcome/introduce everyone to our new apartment.

To prep for the party Cata and I made a list of booze to buy. Early on I told Cata that I'd bake his birthday cake. Of course I would, this is what we do in America- bake birthday cakes from boxes. Little did I know what lay ahead at the grocery store. Betty Crocker is not an international flyer, I found out. Also, Romanians don't seem to care too much for pre-mixed box cakes. I could not find anything but a chocolate bread mix that was pictured in the shape of a bread loaf. Desperate, I grabbed that and a powder package of "frosting" (no pre-made tubs of frosting available either).

So there I was, a box who's directions Catalin had translated, a gas oven w/o any listed temperatures, no mixer and a funky powdered frosting. I cooked the cake a day in advance to play it safe. Needless to say, I burnt the crap out of the cake. Oven temp was clearly too high, but hey can you blame a girl?! I refused to give up but also refused to bake another darn cake (first round of cursing). Solution? Grabbed a knife and shaved off all the black from the bottom and sides of the cake. I then flipped it over--at which point the darn thing cracked straight down the middle. After letting it cool I made the frosting. Well, I thought I was making frosting but actually it was a cake filling (more cursing ensued). To boot, I ran out of the powdered sugar needed to make the frosting. So the frosting tasted weird, whatever. I slathered it on the cake and whipped up some white icing with which I intended to write "Happy Birthday Catalin!". Since I was short on space, icing and sanity I ended up writing "Happy 31st Cata!". The letters looked like they were written by a 5 year-old but no matter, the cake was done. I slid it in the fridge and plopped myself down on a sofa chair. The whole process took forever. It was somehow frustrating, stressful and exhausting!

I am happy to report that we had a wonderful party though. I decorated the apartment with tons of balloons, streamers and birthday banners. Everyone came over, drank, ate and danced. Catalin, ever a wonderful boyfriend, said he "loved" the cake. Actually, by the time we sang and ate cake it was late enough in the evening that everyone was happily content with my cake. Hosting success, I'd say.

p.s. An extra perk to having everyone over was getting all these beautiful flowers from guests. That has to be one of my favorite Romanian traditions so far.

Pandora alternative

UPDATE: Songza stopped working in Romania (possibly Europe?) but another site works just fine for me, it is called Jango Best of luck!

Unlike a lot of people, I do not have a large music library. Call me lazy, but I just don't feel like having another massive thing to pour money into, backup and maintain. Photography serves that purpose just fine, believe me. This is why I love pandora so much, it does the work for me, is free, and it kind of knows me by now.

Too bad you can't get pandora in europe (technically you can if you use a hack but I've found that to be an unreliable method) Good news is that I've found a comparable alternative- Songza. You can type in an artist and create a station to your liking, just like pandora, but so far I have been enjoying stations made by other people. Stations like: "2011 Grammy Winners", "George Straight", and my favorite by far "90's One Hit Wonders".

In other news:
-With the help of google maps plus a real map I am starting to find my confidence moving about the city. It feels great.
-The weather is starting to suck less. C'mon winter, get over yourself already.
-I am volunteering for an NGO
-I am working toward getting a residence permit.

UPDATE: Songza stopped working in Romania (possibly Europe?) but another site works just fine for me, it is called Jango

On the Radio

A few songs on constant replay. The last one is by a Romanian rapper! Thought some of you might be curious to hear them:

This first and last songs are by Romanian artists. Also, the last video was filmed in Bucharest.

My story:

Girl meets boy.
Love strikes.
Boy moves to Romania,
girl (now engaged) follows suit.

I'll be living abroad for the first time in my life beginning January 11th 2011. Follow this blog if you want to see my adventures.