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Sunday, 4 December 2016

Krakow - MilkBar Tomasza - The Best English Breakfast In Krakow

Dear hearts,

One of the greatest joys in life is the joy of eating something tasty, something that makes you smile and think of good times! No! Don't lie to yourself, you don't have to be a gourmand, a specialist, in order to love food. And don't tell me that at least once in your life you smiled due to eating something you viewed as delicious - tastes here don't matter as everyone is different and our taste buds are unique. Some may enjoy eating cake with pickles, some may like the combination of hot & cold, some may adore spicy food (some lucky people who don't have hemorrhoids!)... you don't account for tastes... but if more than a dozen people say the best English/Irish breakfast in Krakow can be served only at MilkBar Tomasza, well you better believe it!
As I have said, good food can put a smile upon your face and considerably brighten up your day. For me a good breakfast is important - Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! It has to be well done and filled with tasty calories that you get to burn throughout the day. Ever since I was a wee lass I never skipped a breakfast and it would 99.9% of the time have eggs (usually fried, sunny side up) and bacon ( if possible crisp - fried). I always loved the USA breakfast - with some orange juice and maybe pancakes and Mo-Ja Cafe offers a delicious one ;) but the number 1 place goes to the true British breakfast - it has sausages!!! So when I came to Krakow I tried a lot of places and figured out my top places to have breakfast in the Old Town - MilkBar Tomasza is one of them ;) and I'll tell you why!
MilkBar Tomasza is - as the title also states it - a choice that should be considered by everyone, be it breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner ;) milk bars in Poland are quite popular and they are a memory of the communist times in Poland. Here you can get cheap and good food, "made for the masses" aka in very large portions. Food made in huge pots always tastes better, don't you think? It reminds me of the food made in the army or made in the good old cantina for the students.  Never ate better mashed potatoes or soup or anything with gravy... yum! MilkBar, if one visits Poland, are a definite must - they should be part of your #bucketlist and they are as cheap as it can get! The only minus that you might find is that it is self-service (polish: samoobslugowa) - that means you gotta move your arse to get the food! Another minus might be that these places are always crowded with students and locals trying to get some hot, good and cheap meal
MilkBar Tomasza is one of a kind, Quite close to the Old Town main market square but way off the touristy beaten track. As the name locates it, the MilkBar is on the Sw. Tomasza (Saint Thomas street). It comprises of one large room with less than a dozen wooden tables matched with wooden chairs and benches. There is only one toilet both for women and men - it's a payed toilet if you don't consume anything but it's free for the customers. The menu is also listed on large blackboards above the counter and the first sign you see is the one stating that they serve "Irish Breakfast". It is their most reviewed (on TripAdvisor and other platforms) and most recommended by the ones who try it at least once.  They probably serve it around the clock but I am not sure ... I ate it around 1pm and everything was just as it should! It's not for nothing that the British expats come here once in a while especially for it. 
When I asked on the Facebook Krakow Expats group what the true  British expats have to say about the Irish Breakfast at MilkBar Tomasza I got the same answer: the best one in town! Apparently the owner brings the sausages from Ireland even - now that's a different level of dedication for a meal! I tested the Irish breakfast paired up with a few glasses of fresh lemonade with mint leaves. They both tasted delicious! The breakfast was scrumptious and to fell in love with - the toasts were perfectly soft and crunchy and not burned! the butter was enough for the toast, the bacon was crispy, the tomatoe was fresh and juicy, the beans were nicely seasoned, the potatoe chips were crunchy yet soft on the inside, the eggs were soft and fresh and the sausages were fingerliking great! The lemonade was fresh and not very sweet, with delicate mint leaves - made me order the second glass in an instant!
The price:
- amazingly yummy Irish breakfast = 18 zloty (a piece of Heaven if you ask me!)
- a glass of fresh lemonade = 4 zloty

Now I dunno if the magic was complete due to the fact that the radio they had was playing only British music... a lot of U2 that melted my heart! And when I started my meal it started playing "Sunday gloomy Sunday"... awwwww! They touched a soft spot! So if you are in Krakow in the Old Town and you are searching for a good breakfast spot, make sure you reserve a day for MilkBar Tomasza ;) and... for those who have "been there, done that" I would love to hear your opinion :)

Yours sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Breakfast
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Thursday, 1 December 2016

Romania's Great Union Day

Dearest hearts,

Let's face it! Romania is not such a popular country and most probably people that are now 40-50 years old might know more about it than you do! They might have cheered up for the amazing gymnasts that we had, for the fabulously gracious Nadia Comaneci - who scored the perfect 10 at the Olympics in Montreal; your father might even remember Hagi and our football team; you... on the other you might know only Transylvania from the horror novels with Dracula. Fear not, Romania is not our about that and you need not fear about vampires and being with you holy water when you visit. As I said, Romania is by no means a popular country, a popular choice for holidays... everyone knows when The Independence Day for USA is but I bet you did not know that today, in Romania, there is one of the biggest national holidays - a free day for one and all: Great Union Day!
Wikipedia: Great Union Day (Romanian: Ziua Marii Uniri, also called Unification Day) occurring on December 1, is the national holiday of Romania. It commemorates the assembly of the delegates of ethnic Romanians held in Alba Iulia, which declared the Union of Transylvania with Romania. This holiday was set after the Romanian Revolution and it marks the unification of Transylvania, but also of the provinces of Bessarabia (ro: Basarabia) and Bukovina (ro: Bucovina) with the Romanian Kingdom, in 1918. Prior to 1948, the national holiday of Romania was set to be on May 10, which had a double meaning: it was the day on which Carol I set foot on the Romanian soil (in 1866), and it was the day on which the prince ratified the Declaration of Independence (from the Ottoman Empire) in 1877. In Communist Romania, the date of the national holiday was set to August 23 to mark the 1944 overthrow of the pro-fascist government of Marshal Ion Antonescu.
The King and Queen of Romania entering Bucharest
If you wish to see a parade in town, in Romania, especially in the big cities, than this day is the perfect pick. I recommend Alba Iulia and Bucharest for the best ones ;) though Iasi (my homecity) also has decent ones ;) People gather around in the Union Square and they do the traditional "hora" - traditional Romanian dance that is done in a circle, people joining hands. I love this tradition as it brings people together of all ages, status, ideas... for a moment they all have something in common through the rhythm of the music. If ever you are there during this celebration, close your eyes and open up your heart and dance with all the dozen upon dozen of people gathered! Happy 1st of December, Romania!

Yours very much sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug - born and raised in a fine country that once was Romania
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Monday, 28 November 2016

Thoughts about Christmas Shopping

My dear fellow gentleman and gentle women,

Quite soon - under a month! - Christmas time will be here. It's not a surprise and most probably some of you already did some shopping towards that or at least made a list (even a mental one) about what you should get for whom. Christmas becomes more and more a commercial holiday and that saddens me... I must admit I am the kind of person that loves gifts but most of all I love making gifts for others. The smile and joy and surprise on their faces is priceless and it warms me up from the inside. Giving someone a gift makes one feel like a child again and when unwrapping the gift you can see all the personalities possible... from the one that unties the ribbons gently and tidily, placing them on the side and making sure they could be used again, slowly getting the wrap from the box, folding it and then placing it next to the ribbons... to the one that cannot hold himself from ripping the wrapping apart to eagerly get to the present! It's how I can see the child in each person when they feast their eyes upon their presents for the first time... and it actually does not matter the size or the price tag as long as it's truly something that their hearts desire.
Nowdays people started buying generic gifts that don't say anything to the ones who receive it. Or they buy year after year a more and more expensive gift - especially for children. Let's face it, some parents just buy some gifts in order for them to use it as the small ones are to little to even understand them. Trust me, a one year old does not need a PS3; a seven year old does not need the latest model of iPhone and for sure your 14th year old does not need a car! Maybe some parents think that by getting a more expensive gift they show their love more or they make up in that way the time they don't spend with the little ones... this often happens and I think it's rather sad :( I sometimes wish - since the little #ladybugbabygirl was born - that I could make the days longer and somehow use the time more efficient. How can one trade money and gifts for the time spend with the wee ones? It's a conundrum of our days... we need to get to work and stay overtime to make (more) money to spend more wisely on the raising of our children - the best kindergarten/school, the best after hour classes, swimming classes, ballet classes, aikido classes, workshops... you name it! We somehow are never satisfied :( and the sad part is that all we want is to give them what we maybe did not have when we were small. But we never stop and think of what we had when we were little and how happy we were by skinning our knees instead of doing a game on WII.
Christmas is a wonderful time of the year, when one should be with their families, with the ones that they love. We underestimate the power of love, that is a gift in itself.  We did our shopping list and we are eagerly waiting for the discounts but you don't think of the one gift that matters the most: LOVE. Christmas is a time for remembering that our Lord, Jesus, was born - and he gave us our greatest gift: LOVE. We just tend to overlook that and focus on the material things. It's easier to say that Christmas is all about a big fat man dressed in red, brining presents - and by the way, just so you know... Santa was not always dressed in red. His original color of clothing was green, but Coca Cola changed it into a commercial for red and that's how it stayed. Now that's what I call good marketing! Now... let's come back to our topic of ranting: Christmas shopping! Most people do it in the last moment and face the rush and the craziness of all people at once in the shops and of stocks falling and not being able to get what you wish for. Some people like this kind of stress... I don't! I like taking my time and finding something that fits for the ones I love... so November is a good time to shop for Christmas ;) if you really wanna go wild... go! But try to think practically about what the ones you buy presents for really needs. I know this might take a bit more time but the results are way more satisfactory.

Here are a few small tips:
1. If you don't have a Christmas list, make one! Name & idea of what kind of present it should be.
2. Settle a budget limit for every person you need to buy a gift or a grand total budget for all the shopping.
3. Buy the gifts in time - try not to leave them for the very last week (or the very last moment...).
4. Prioritise who comes first when it comes to gifts - family > friends > acquaintances.
5. Don't get drawn into buying useless stuff or pretty stuff that you will never use... or things that have a huge discount but that would not fit anyone you know! Don't think you will use them - you won't!
But most of all... try and be sensible about this whole process... there is no need to overspend and no need to be a Scrooge either ;) don't be a joy kill but try to be joyful in a reasonable manner. And most of all... do it with LOVE!

Yours very sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves ❤
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Friday, 25 November 2016

Krakow - Breakfast At Awiw

Dearest sweethearts,

Did you know that every name and every word in hebrew language has a hidden meaning in itself? When I was young and I started reading the Bible I thought that the best way to do it, the right way to go about it, was to start at the very beginning (a very good place to start, according to Maria from The Sound of Music). So I started with the Old Testament ... but as many before me, I got stuck at the Book of Numbers! When you read it as it is translated it is row after row after row of names (that tell you nothing and make you wonder why you read this...) you might fall asleep...  but Jewish people never get bored as they know it's secrets: every name translates into something else!
Let's take for example the word "Awiw" - it is a male word and it means spring/springtime. Krakow is famous for it Jewish District - Kazimierz - which used to be at the beginning a different city, attached to the city of Krakow. As you take off the tram - tram stop Miodowa - and you walk towards the Old Sinagogue you will see a lovely restaurant with outdoor seating and daily live music playing. That restaurant is typical Jewish and it's one of the many typical Jewish restaurants in the square ;) but it is surely gonna make your stay worthwhile. Especially if you come in the late afternoon when the band plays live ;)
The "Awiw" has seatings both indoor and outdoor, in the square that holds the 3 sinagogues. There is almost always someone to show you in and help you with a seat. We went there early morning and it was quite cold outside but already there were couples - both locals and visitors, foreigners - having their breakfast and coffee. There were 2 lovely young ladies that invited us in and as we got seated they brought us red blankets to warm up - I love when they do that for the outdoor seating, it feels so cozy!
The menu: typical Jewish - Polish menu and it's written both in Polish and in English language ;) not to mention it also has pictures so you can't complain you have absolutely no clue what you are eating. The ingredients are also listed so don't worry if you have an intolerance of any kind ;) in case you have any questions the ladies command of English is perfect so you can ask away. 
The service: both the 2 young ushers and the lady who served us knew English very well and when I tried speaking Polish they were all smiles and curtsy. We were given blankets to warm up and the hot drinks that we requested came first and quite fast - I had an amazing mint tea with fresh mint leaves and my mother had a very nicely shaped cappuccino. The serving of food was quite fast and it was at the right temperature. The only minus with the serving is that we had to wait quite a bit to get the bill. Don't forget to add around 10% tip as it is not included in the printout ;) You need not worry as you can pay both cash or credit card. They also accept different currencies ;)
The food: I had a typical Jewish breakfast - which included 2 soft fried eggs, the typical bread "pita", fresh salad with baby tomatoes and hummus with avocado. My mum had the Jewish - Polish traditional bagel. You can't come to Krakow and not try the traditional "obwarzanek" - round bagel with a whole. Well this bagel was done with soft creamy white cheese and fresh salmon with a side of salad with baby tomatoes as well. We agreed we should share and it was the most perfect breakfast I had in a very long while! The combinations of taste and smell were divine and I would love to have that again. Very much :) Don't forget that here the breakfast is served only until 1 PM.
The prices:
- Fried egg with hummus, avocado and pita bread - 19 zloty
- Bagel wih riccota cheese and smoked salmon - 14 zloty
- Green Tea with mint - 9 zloty
- Cappucino - 12 zloty
The overall experience: Both me and my mother loved it :) it was a nice and peaceful time, not filled with tourists, the weather was crispy and the blankets were warm. We admired even the lovely red flowers on the tables, matching our blankets... the serving was nice, the drinks were warm, the food was delicious and we ate it to the last morsel even though we had a snack when we left home! It was a good experience and for sure I will love to go there again. Maybe even to try something else from their menu - maybe again something traditional Jewish :) this restaurant landed on top of my favourite places in Kazimierz so if you are brave enough to venture to Krakow and its Jewish District, make sure you put "Awiw" on the list ;) even if it's for a brief snack. Maybe I will try again when it's a concert! 

Yours sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Breakfast
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Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Travel Tuesday: Why You Should Travel With Your Half

My dearest traveller friends,

Welcome to yet another #traveltuesday post :) last time I was telling you why you should travel alone at least once in your life and today I have flipped the coin and I mean to tell you why you should travel with your half, or even a dear friend. Travelling is all about experiences and collecting memories so collecting memories with your better half is always the right thing to do. Just think about it, as you get older you will remember the good old days and the fun trips you had together. By that time you will most certainly forget the bad things or see them as a special experience on the learning curve.  So... without any further ado,  let me tell you why I think you should travel with your half/in couples or with a dear friend:
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1. Planning in 2 is way more fun and this way you know you won't forget anything. As long as you keep tabs on whom does what and whom is responsible for one thing or another, you will see that planning a trip is much more easier. One half might be in charge with booking the plane and where to stay and the other will do the planning on what to visit and what to pack. Sharing the responsibility is great!
2. Developing patience and understanding - you might not like the same things and want to go to the same places so this will make you compromise and meet each other half way through. It will strengthen your relationship and test your limits and boundaries. 

3. Get to know each other - you might get out of your comfort zone and pushed into different situations... you will see what each other likes to do in the mornings afternoons and nights... you will see what they eat and how they eat, how they behave in public or in situations one would panic. It's gonna be fun!

4. You won't have to do another selfie - you will have someone constantly with you that can take your photo(s) ;) it might be an issue if you want a photo with the both of you... but you can always ask a passerby or ask your lovely half to carry a tripod! 

5. Travel delays or "dead time" in the airport or waiting for the buses/train/tram will pass in an instant when you have someone to talk about. True: the cell phone, WiFi and a good book will always come in handy but... a human interaction always bests that!

Bonus: In case you forgot something there is a high chance he/she might have it so... as I always say: sharing is caring! Travelling in 2 is always great fun but don't fool yourself, as travelling alone, it does have its pluses and minuses (waiting after someone, handling tantrums, compromising where to go...). How about you? How do you prefer to travel? 

Yours sincerely, 
The Twisted Red LadyBug that loves to travel with her better half (my awesome husband)
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Saturday, 19 November 2016

200 Years of Warsaw University

Dearest hearts,

Today Warsaw University celebrates its 200 anniversary! Of course it's not as grand as the Jagiellonian University that has over 600 years, but I believe one can boast when 3 digit celebrations are involved ;) The Warsaw University was established on the 19th of November 1816 and it is currently the largest university in Poland. But let's listen to our good old friend Wikipedia what it has to say on the topic:
source
It was founded as a Royal University on 19 November 1816, when the Partitions of Poland separated Warsaw from the oldest and most influential Jagiellonian University located in Kraków. Tsar Alexander I granted permission for the establishment of five faculties - law and political science, medicine,philosophy, theology and the humanities. The university expanded rapidly, but was closed during November Uprising in 1830. It was reopened in 1857 under the name Akademia Medyko-Chirurgiczna (Academy of Medicine) based in the nearby Staszic Palace with only medical and pharmaceutical faculties. All Polish-language campuses were closed in 1869 after the failed January Uprising, but the university managed to train 3,000 students, many of whom were important part of the Polish intelligentsia, meanwhile the Main Building was reopened as the Imperial Russian University aimed at training military personnel. Over 70% of students were of Polish nationality, but after the revolution in 1905, the proportion dropped below 10% as a result of the boycott. The university was resurrected during the First World War and the number of students in 1918 was estimated at 4,500. After Poland's independence in 1918 the new government focused on improving the university, and in the early 1930s it became the country's largest. New faculties were established and the curriculum was extended. The university was named after Chief-of-State and Marshal of Poland Józef Piłsudski after his death in 1935. Following the Second World War and the devastation of Warsaw, the University successfully reopened in 1945.

Today, the University of Warsaw consists of 126 buildings and educational complexes with over 18 faculties: biology, chemistry, journalism and political science, philosophy and sociology, physics, geography and regional studies, geology, history, applied linguistics and Slavic philology, economics, philology, pedagogy, Polish language, law and public administration, psychology, appliedsocial sciences, management and mathematics, computer science and mechanics.

The University of Warsaw is one of the top Polish universities. It was ranked by Perspektywy magazine as best Polish university in 2010, 2011 and 2014. International rankings such as ARWU and University Web Ranking rank the university as the best Polish higher level institution. On the list of 100 best European universities compiled by University Web Ranking, the University of Warsaw was placed as 61st. QS World University Rankings positioned the University of Warsaw as the best higher level institution among the world's top 400.
source
To be noted that the great Chopin was an actual student here, and on a slightly more funny/puzzling/inspiring (you choose which one fits best!) note, Czeslaw Milosz was a janitor in the Warsaw University during the Second World War. And he ended up with a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980!

Yours sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves History 
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Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Common Misconceptions About Expats

My dear fellow expats and not only,

This one is dedicated to you and all those crazy people out there who have misconceptions about expats and living abroad. Usually these misconceptions arise from other people's lack of knowledge and/or lack of empathy - the power to put oneself into other people's shoes and understand that not everyone is the same. We all carry in ourselves greatness and infinite options. We dear to dream and some even managed to live their dreams. Don't think for a second though that it's all rainbows and unicorns - take for example being an expat mother having to rely upon your half and yourself vs. having your mother/granny/sister/aunt to give a helping hand... 
  1. When people become expats it is a choice that they make - a choice that should be understood and accepted by their families. The world is such a beautiful big and wondrous place! Each country and each city has something magical and intriguing in itself and... you might fall in love with different cities and leave there a part of your heart. Home is where the heart it and if your heart is in a million places than the entire world is your home. People who never experienced that may think you are eccentric or that your life is a continuous holiday... nothing can be more wrong. All the holidays that you will have you will probably spend back in your homeland with family and friends; hence no actual vacation or travelling.  
  2. Expats know loads of languages - mmm... yes, maybe... it depends from where that expat comes from. Generally people in Europe know at least 2-3 languages if not more. Usually the Latin languages group is easy to handle - for example Romanian people might not have an issue speaking fluently Romanian and English & understanding perfectly and maybe even speaking Italian, Spanish and French. Or the Polish people would understand Czech or Slavic languages. On the other side, people from across the pond, from good old USA might know only English. That is no issue as mainly expats are hired for their mother tongue and/or English. All jobs inside corporations have English... so that's one misconceptions that's total bollocks!
  3. Expats have LOADS of cash, they are impossibly rich! That's why they left their motherland! Partially correct - mostly expats choose a better place where they feel more secure economically, where they feel they can develop their selves, where the paycheck is larger and in more accordance with what they do but... think of the extra expenses! Home you might have stayed with your parents or you would have owned your flat/house and you might have extra help from parents and grandparents when it comes to food or helping with kids. Now you are in a new land and you need to buy/rent a house/flat, think of all expenses on your own, consider holidays that you will actually not have but spend them all back home so you can see your family, taxes, medical coverage... and so on! 
  4. Expats MUST learn the local language or else they are doomed!!! They might as well starve to death or... God knows what! This always cracks me up :) it is partially true as well. If you live in the big cities and if you shop at the supermarket or in the big malls or online (for example Tesco, in Poland, even brings the food to your door!) there is no need for learning. It is nice to do it and the locals will be even nicer and smile more wide but it's not obligatory ;) it might be harder if you live in a village or... some remote and weird location... but if everything else fails there is always sign language ;) been living in Poland for over 5 years now and the first 3 years I was too scared to talk and I still ended up being just fine. It's important not to panic and be positive :) 
Oh, but of course these are not all the misconceptions I have encountered. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Just ask any given expat about expatriate life, what other people think about it and what is the cold hard truth. Everyone is entitled to an opinion but forming an opinion about expats and judging them over how they live and what they do, without having the decency to check the facts and ask some expats themselves how the world truly is... well then that's just bollocks! Ask an expat! 

Yours extremely sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Is An Expat For More Than 5 Years
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Sunday, 13 November 2016

Krakow - Lol and Pop - Lollipop time!

My dear sweethearts,

Today I have a very sweet treat for you: an introduction to the land of sweet lollipops, soft marshmallows and colorful times spent at a workshop while creating your own sweet masterpiece. Everything is possible when you are in "Lol & Pop" Land. I have bumped into this adorable shop as it was in the neighbourhood I live in, and as I walk on with my little LadyBug Baby Girl I am more and more tempted to test all the local goodies. But lo' and behold! This colorful sweet place was not a local shop as I have presumed... it is a concept brought by its owners from Ukraine and this is not their first shop!
Although all the goodies that you will find in their single shop in Krakow, located on ulica General Fieldorfa Nila 11 (a stone throw away from Krowodrza Gorka main station), are produced locally with natural ingredients, the brand is 100% Ukrainian. Lol & Pop also has shops open in Ukraine, Israel and Bulgaria. All products are 100% handmade and you can actually watch them producing the sweets. Lol & Pop does handmade candies since 2013! And they are present on Instagram (#lolandpop), Facebook and they have their own Web page.
The team at Lol & Pop specialises on caramel sweets, marshmallows, jelly, lollipops and hard candy. The products as the interior of the shop are very colorful, but fear not! All the aromas are natural - fruit and vegetables extracts help create these colorful symphonies. As they say on their flyers, in Lol & Pop sweets you will find sugar, glucose, lemon juice and love :) I think love is the most important ingredient of them all!
The shop:
- located in the neighbourhood of Krowodrza Gorka, a few steps away from the tram/bus stop. It's very easy to find and colorful enough not to miss it ;)
- it hosts workshops for kids (and not only) and you can also use its products for catering weddings or business meeting (you should keep always an open mind!)
- there is, as you enter on your left, a large bank where the sweets are produced.  Enjoy the view when they prepare the delicate little things!
- the team that works there speaks English and they are extremely nice and accommodating. Top marks for customer behaviour!!! I went in with the carriage and the lady jumped in to open the door for me and she also helped me on the way out.  I wanted to try the marshmallows and she gave me some to try and that's how I ended up buying a jar with apricot (polish: morela) flavours. They also shared with me the story of the place and the fact that they also host workshops - adorable people!
Tips and tricks: the shop also has a fidelity card with stamps to collect in order to get some free goodies so don't forget to ask for that as well! ;)
The prices:
- small lollipops (different flavours) = 4 zloty per piece
- a jar of flavoured marshmallows of about 150 grams = 8 zloty - the warranty term is about half a year for them but it won't last ya that long ;) The calories for 100 grams = 331 kcal
Overall performance: I loved it and I will visit this adorable place again. I will also tell people about it as the products are good and the service is impeccable. The minus for me was that it was so quiet, no background music :( but in Poland you have to pay for that and they opened the shop in September last year so... I guess there is still time to improve :) but you go test them and let me know your opinions! :)

Yours very sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves To Discover New Sweet Shops
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Thursday, 10 November 2016

Autumn - The Perfect Season To Let Things Go

Dearest hearts,

Is not Autumn the greatests season of all? It's that long deep breath before winter catches us unawares - it always does, each year, doesn't it?! Autumn makes one smile wide and cuddle and dream, it is the perfect time to wrap yourself in a blanket and enjoy a pumpkin spiced latte and a yummy apple pie with cinnamon but it's also the best time of the year to let things go. Autumn is the perfect season to look upon your life, your style, you ideas and your closet and throw away everything that is not good for you. Keeping the unnecessary stuff (just in case we might need it...) only clutters your home and your mind. Let's do an exercise today towards being less materialistic and more minimalistic in our way of living and thinking!
We will start this exercise just as I did a while ago - with the closet of clothes. If you are brave enough, after that you can check the shoes and purses closet (you know, you lovely ladies out there, that we have a habit of hoarding all styles of those items just in case we might need them and they would match a certain object - accessory). Now take a deep breath and play some relaxing music or some kind of music that make you happy/smile/in a good mood. Open the closet and go drawer by drawer, shelf by shelf and take out everything. Here is what you should put in the pile "to go away": 
- something that you have not been wearing for a year or more (let's face it, if you didn't wear it for 365 days for sure you won't be wearing it in the new year ;) be true to yourself!) - I sometimes do the hanger thing: put all the hangers facing one way and as you wear them through the year turn the way they face. By the end of the year you will have hangers facing the same way at the beginning = pile those away!
- items that no longer fit you - stop saying you will get to the gym one day and train hard! When you will do that you can treat yourself to more items but for the time being... put that on the pile!
- items that are too big - nope, those don't suite you and you should not keep them. You are tempting your luck and wanting to make sure you have something to wear in case you put an extra kilo or so. Don't! Keep only things in the size you wear now! 
- items overworn or with defects or that look over washed or that have small stains or wholes - No! No way you should keep that even it they have a certain memory value to yourself... you won't use them or wear them or do anything with them... they take space and you don't need clutter in your life. Collect memories not things!
- items that are no longer your style - the way you are changes throughout life and maybe at one time of your life you would not get out of your jeans and t-shirts.... and now you are more into dresses or black pants with and nice blouse.... well it's time to throw all those jeans and t-shirts away! Declutter!
The typical sign on the front door for clothes pickup 
Now living in Poland I have more options of what to do with that pile of items I have de-cluttered. To tell you the sincere truth I have 2 huge wardrobes filled with loads of dresses and bags and shoes and what not... so I felt the need to minimalise... at least a bit! Once the little LadyBug Baby Girl was born I had a bit more time on my hands to work home at the things I have postponed for quite a while... like cleaning up the closet(s)... I wanted to narrow things down drastically and I must admit I did not crept defeat and I have taken out items my heart broken for... like the lovely blouse I got and wore for my 18th birthday from my mum... but hey! It's not like we will take things to our grave! So... after a week of constant taking things out of the closet and daily thinking and taking another item and another and putting it into the pile, I have summed up to 2 bags filled with shoes and bags and 8 filled to the brim with clothes and scarfs. Now the entire wardrobe can eventually fit into one big closet (not two!) and guess what?! In the end it actually feels rather good and it got me thinking of doing it again!  Maybe more often... as I have not done such a big checkup in years! 
Boxes for letting anytime/anyday the clothes you no longer feel you should keep (hoard)
As I said... in Poland letting things go is easier and more convenient than one would imagine and I wish it would be like that all over the world. Here are some options: 
1. At the beginning of each season (and actually I think even more often!) you will see signs posted at the entrance in your block of flats or in the area that you live in. They usually have the same shape and size: a half of a A4 paper or a A4 sized paper, landscape oriented, usually written with green and red or simple black color. It will have a red stamp with a date - that date (and hour) is the day when the local charities come and collect bags of clothing that you leave at your home door or at the block of flats entrance.  All you have to do is put it all in a large bag and leave it to them to pick it up. It's for charity so do leave only the good looking items not those worn and tear up! Think of the families in need and the people who sort the clothes for them - don't make them waste their time. 
2. If you missed the date on the piece of paper placed at the entrance to your block of flats worry not! In Poland and especially in Krakow you can find in the neighbourhood you live in containers for clothes where you can drop off your pile ;) the are usually green or white and with some children sticker on it. Inconvenience: it might be a few blocks away from you and you need to take the things there are drop them off in the bin. The plus: you can do this at any given time ;) so if you are in a cleaning spree you can always use that... or wait for an announcement at the front door.
3. Selling them or offering them to the ones who wish to pick the items up - if you have the time and patience for it there are many Facebook groups that do monthly swaps or daily postings of what one has to offer.  I think that is quite of a hassle and not quite my thing but it is an option you might consider and you would get cash back from it ;) just don't go spending that on more clothes!
4. Giving the items away for friends and family - if you think someone might benefit from it, if the items are good and your family/friends wear the same size as the things you let go, then the nice thing would be to let them know and see if they would pick it up.  Maybe you might make someone happy with that ;)
5. Taking then and leaving the  at a charity shop - in the good old USA you might do a yard sale and get a buck or two, but in Europe it's not that common so the last thing you could do is just take the items to a second hand store and see what you can get. It's an option, I never done it, but I guess it's worth a shot?!...

Anyway having said all that, I really hope you will consider de cluttering your life, thoughts and closets at least every fall. Do this now and let me know how many bags you pulled out and if you broke my 10 bags record. What did you manage to throw out? And don't look back at the things you pile up - they are just items you can sincerly live without! 

Yours very much sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Autumn (and letting things go...)
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