Sunday, September 30, 2012


I know, I know... hashtags don't work like that. But they do work on Instagram, which is how all of us JVK* ladies were documenting this very special Saturday.

We don't get to do many of these reunions "half-way" between the "Southern", and the "Northern" JV countries, so this was really special. We met up in Vienna, which is about 3 and a half hours from where we all live. A perfect meeting point. And Vienna happens to be such a charming and lovely city, which is a plus.

I'm leaving next year for college, and boy, am I going to miss these lovely ladies. I'm savoring every single "last" this year. So here it is- the last Older JVK girls trip to Vienna.

Get ready for a whole bunch of happy-faced, joy-filled pictures. First's the whole group, and on it goes...

Filming a music video. Hopefully that will get done one day!

My lovely cousin.
High kick competitions. :) Oh yes. In a public park.
We have groups by age in JV...these are the "Ducks" and their camp counselor, Lauree! (minus one person, Nina- we missed you!)
This old couple looked so sweet. Ahh, a taste of the real Vienna.
Amazing Thai food. The Nasch Markt is maybe my favorite place to go to in Vienna- awesome food, local people!
An unexpected huge marathon at 8PM. Seriously moving. (Made me want to run!) Unfortunately, we were stuck on this side of the street, and we were parked on the other side! There were so many runners that we just had to weave our way through speedily--an adrenaline rush for sure!
*Josiah Venture Kids. We are the third culture kids of Josiah Venture!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Girl time

My Dad is gone to Serbia for the weekend at a conference. My brothers and sister-in-law are in Chicago. That leaves Mom and me (and Kaylee) in Czech-- just the two of us again. We are learning how to enjoy these days, despite our family being away. Long walks at sunset definitely count as good girl time, and we loved it.

Refreshing Fall: I'm glad you're here.

That face sure makes me enjoy life more. :)

Enjoy a beautiful fall day when you get the chance to!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Study music

School is fully here, up and running. I am preparing for the biggest exam yet: "Maturita". It's still eight months away, but our teachers prepare us for these exams our entire senior year. It's actually a big deal here in Czech.

You will probably hear a lot about maturita this year, because it's going to take up a big chunk of my time and energy! It feels good to have something to work towards, but I'm figuring out my study methods now, which is not coming easily. helps!

I can get distracted by music reeeeally easily while studying if I'm not careful. I can't have any music that I know, or pretty much any music that has lyrics to it. And we don't have radio channels like they do in the States, not to mention Pandora doesn't even work outside of the U.S.

So here's a little advertisement (personal tip) for my favorite iTunes radio station: CalmRadio. It is amazing.

Just go into your iTunes, click on "radio" on the left. In the classical section, scroll down until you find a whole bunch of channels produced by CALMRADIO.COM. You can listen to anything from Bach, to lovely flutists, to soothing piano solos, to celtic harp music. My personal favorite is solo piano& guitar. Simply beautiful. And it's FREE on iTunes to listen to (with a few ads to purchase their app every now and again in between).

Check it out! I hope it helps you as much as it helps me as you work on whatever it is that you need to work on. Thank you calmradio!

Little tip: This music sounds the best through headphones!

Question of the day:

Do you listen to music while you work? What's your favorite?

I also listened to Taylor Swift's new song today! It's sweet.

Monday, September 24, 2012

I feel so grown up

Here in Czech you can't even start driving school until a couple months before your 18th birthday. Yes, it's very different than in the States!

My 18th birthday is in two weeks (crazy.), and I have my first official driving lessons (mainly just theory classes right now) this Thursday. But I wanted to have a test run of being behind the wheel before I got in the car with an instructor. I wouldn't want to freak out with someone I hardly know!

Dad took me out driving* for the first time the other day. I was still a little sick (have had quite the cough for the past few weeks!), but he leaves this weekend for a conference, and it was beautiful outside, so no way was I going to miss out on driving lessons from him! He taught me how to use the clutch, shift, and all the basics.

It went pretty well! I enjoyed it. felt good to drive... even just to be able to drive around in circles in a little parking lot was fun. At least I have a little experience-- hopefully driver's ed won't be scary now!

*I have to give credit to Uncle Mike- he is the one who took me out driving for the very first time...but that was automatic, and I really didn't do anything except drive straight and turn!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Newly-found recipes

I am always hunting for new recipes. There are so many amazing blogs out there dedicated to cooking healthy, nourishing foods, that are good for sensitive stomachs like mine. I know that a lot of people don't have the time to check into these blogs regularly, and since I enjoy it, I thought I'd share a few of my newly-found sweet recipes that I loved! (Favorite dinner recipes post to come!)

(All these pictures I am about to post are the rights of the original blogger- none of these pictures are  my own. All credit goes to the wonderful cooks and bakers out there creating these recipes.)

Homemade Lunabars

I saved some imported rice crispies from this summer specially for this recipe, and my my, was it worth it! Just as satisfying as a rice crispy treat, without all the processed ingredients from the marshmallows. I used homemade almond butter, and agave, and they turned out great.

Pumpkin Breakfast Smoothie

Pumpkin Spiced Almond Butter

Umm...this was pretty much amazingly delicious. I brought it to school every day for a week with sliced carrots (it was surprisingly a good combo!). It made my day. I mixed this in my VitaMix.

Almond Flour Brownies

I have made almond butter brownies in the past, with agave as the sweetener. But for company last week, I wanted to make some that tasted a bit more like "real" brownies. So I used this recipe that is semi-healthy (almond flour), but also slightly more "normal" (sugar!!). Mom said that these were some of the best brownies I'd ever made. Whoop whoop!

Mocha Buttercream Frosting

I made a miniature cake for my Dad's birthday, and topped it with this frosting. I added a tiny splash of cold coffee for smoothness. I think this recipe is a keeper!

There you go! I hope you feel inspired to go bake now... like I do! Mmm...

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Happy Birthday Dad!

We both have changed a bit...

 ....but you still take care of me just as well as you did when I walked across that field with you and Elmo! I love you so much Dad!

Happy Birthday!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A to Z Challenge Part 3

The final installment of the A to Z project is here. It was a good summer!

A - E - Click here
F - I - Click here
J - M - You are here
N - P - Click here
Q - U - Click here
V - Z - Click here

Ok, I know most people have normal jobs in the summer (working at restaurants, mowing lawns...), but it's hard for an American to get a job (legally) in Czech. The one "job" I had this summer (other than helping at Multicamp) was feeding my friend's guinea pig, Pip for a couple days while her family was on vacation.

Kaylee kept Mom and me entertained 24/7. She brought such life and joy to those three weeks, and she will mark our summer! She went everywhere with us, and was always up for an adventure. The many faces of Kaylee May:
One night there was a storm on the other side of the mountains, but in our yard, it was completely still. We watched the lightning flash in front of our eyes, but there was no rain or coldness. We stood outside for probably 15 minutes just staring, and listening to the thunder. It was pure bliss.

This is really Mom's story, but I got the letter "M", so it's me who gets to share it! "Mleko" means "milk" in Czech. So when we saw the sign for "Mlekarna", we pictured a quaint little milk farm with a stand outside, that sold fresh milk, and as the sign stated, ice cream too. When we finally took a trip out to the mlekarna, we were surprised to find a pub, with an empty room on the side of it, and a sign for ice cream. Inside the room was one little machine and a lady sitting there selling soft-serve ice cream. That was it. Just an ice cream machine inside a pub! The ice cream was good, but tasted different (you could tell it was fresh cream!). Mom tried the vanilla, and said it tasted a bit like eggnog. Maybe it'd be worth it to go back and taste the chocolate version next time?!

So...that's it! Hope you enjoyed the A-Z challenge! I'd love to know which letter was your favorite, from Mom's blog, or from mine!

Thursday, September 13, 2012


"We interrupt our regularly scheduled broadcast, to bring you a special announcement..."

Regularly scheduled broadcast: the last installment of the A-Z challenge

The special announcement: I am officially moving from summer to fall.

Yes. (Ok, maybe not that special of an announcement. Sorry if you were expecting something like that I'd chosen which college to go to...yeah, not quite there yet!)

Fall. Autumn. Rain. Cool weather. Rainboots. Candles. Spices. Ahhh...

I love the summer, for its weather and produce (fresh blueberries??!), but otherwise fall is my favorite. So I welcome it gladly. With a new table runner, and centerpiece. And with fresh apples, and later with some warm apple crisp. Fall: welcome back!

On another note...because of Josiah Venture's fall conference that starts next week, people are coming in from the States early, and (on the same theme of my post title), we are welcoming many very dear people! I am loving having guests over for dinner, and hearing so many of their stories. I can't wait for the day when I have my own house and can host people. That'll be fun. Some day.

P.S. Great recipe I used for a delicious apple crisp. I substituted the flour with an all-purpose gluten-free mix, and halved the amount of flour in the recipe (I like my topping more oat-y and crunchy).

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A to Z Challenge Part 2

The continuation of the A to Z challenge...


We went to multiple summer farmers' markets together-- a first for us! We didn't know that they even had these markets around here, so we were overjoyed to find them.


We had the privilege of having our dear friends the Hartman's over for dinner one night. What a happy evening that was! So glad we did that. It was nice having company...and 4 bubbly (and awesome, I might add) kids to liven things up!


I hadn't seen Hayley almost all summer. I saw her at the wedding, and then we both parted and she didn't return from the States until the end of August. was so good to see her again.


I really wanted to make a point of noticing God's creativity. It's so easy to get caught up in all the fun and excitement of summer, that I sometimes don't even realize how much beauty surrounds me. Although we were just at home for those three weeks, every sunset, every storm, and every green field made me smile. God impressed me with His creation.

For A-E, go HERE.
For N-P, go HERE.
For Q-U, go HERE.

Friday, September 7, 2012

A to Z challenge

It all started when my dad left for the States unexpectedly, to go to the Cleveland Clinic with my brother Caleb. (After months of not being able to figure out what was causing Caleb's stomach pain, they finally saw specialists, and have a diagnosis now. But back to the story...) This also meant, that it was just my mom, me, and Kaylee at home alone for three weeks.

We sat down in the kitchen one morning for coffee, and brainstormed ideas for what we were to do while all our men of the house were gone. An idea came to us-- the A to Z challenge.

What was our quest? To see if we can find things to do that start with each letter of the alphabet (yes, including Q, X, Z!).

Thus, we committed to the challenge. We took pictures just about every day, documenting all the various things that could represent each letter. Some of the things we documented were everyday activities, others were places we wouldn't normally have gone to, things we wouldn't have ordinarily done.

To rephrase Mom's words...

"Now that the summer is over, it's time to roll out the results of our A - Z project on our blogs! I'm posting from A - M, and Mom has N - Z."

Ready to join us on this crazy adventure?

Here are the first few letters...keep posted for the rest of the alphabet!


Not just any applesauce....strawberry rhubarb applesauce with fruits from the market in Poland! So good.

We made a special trip over to Katowice, Poland to celebrate our longtime friend Laura (in the middle, with Iwona's little girl on her lap). What a joy it was to spend an evening celebrating with these lovely ladies!

A summer classic. But you'd be surprised how hard it can be to find good corn here! We did though, and we all enjoyed it...even Kaylee! (Don't worry, we just gave her what was left of ours...she was so excited about it.)

I love to draw. You probably already know that if you read my blog regularly. My mom however, has never been very into drawing. She has appreciated it, but never ventured to do much drawing herself. I promised her I could teach her I did (using a special "tracing" technique)! She did awesome! Mom-- I don't know why you always say you can't draw...your picture turned out great!

Ok, so this one wasn't with Mom. But I did do it! It was a follow-up event after Multicamp (English Camp). Supposedly, it's a very "Czech" thing to do, but I'd never actually cooked eggs in a pot over a fire. Have you?! Actually, the eggs tasted great. They were different than the ones you cook on the stove, but I liked these just as well! Because there were 25+ people at the river with us that day, we had dozens and dozens of eggs. I think I found a new hobby-- cracking eggs. After at least 30, I think I found my groove, and it was quite enjoyable. If you ever need someone to crack lots of eggs, let me know! :)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Think happy

When I was in Jelsa, Croatia, last year, they were celebrating a holiday, and had these beautiful flags hung all over town. It just made my heart happy. I snapped a picture of it then, and have been meaning to draw it for a while, and finally got to it last week. I had so much fun with it, not only because I love using my Copic markers, but also because the colors, the brightness, and the memories make me smile.

Hope you find something happy in your day too, wherever you are!