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Monday, 30 January 2017

Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day

Dearest hearts,

I love to check out from time to time odd celebrations around the world and guess what do we celebrate today? It's the "Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day"! Come to think of it, Bubble Wrap should indeed have a special day in the calendar. Admit it, you are a fan as well! Everyone is ;) Until this day I have not met a single human being that was able to resist the temptation of breaking the bubbles in a wrap, if they were handed one or if one was placed in they vicinity. At least one pop! And it all goes downhill from there... there is the line for the "Pringles" chips: "Once you pop, you can't stop!" - well that applies perfectly to bubble wrap as well ;)
Did you know that Bubble Wrap was actually supposed to be wallpaper? That is how it was marketed and that was it's purpose "in life" but... as all plans in life, it got sidetracked / hijacked :) that happened with the brains of an American engineer and a Swiss inventor, in the 1950s. Did you also knew that each year Bubble Wrap hosts a "Young Inventor" award? The company encourages people to take part in the contest and find creative ways to use the bubble wrap packaging. Inventions from last year's include floating gardens and swings for people with disability. 
P.S. Today is also International Croissant day, so get some bubble wrap, a Croissant and a cappucino and get cracking on some of those bubbles ;))) if you had enough, feel free to let your mind wander upon what can be done out of those small bubbles of joy. Be creative! Maybe next year you can join in the "Young Inventor" challenge ;)

Yours very much sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves To Pop All Those Bubble Wraps
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Friday, 27 January 2017

10 Things Star Wars Taught Me

Dearest sweethearts,

In case you did not notice until now, I am a huge fan of the amazing stories of "a galaxy far far away" aka Star Wars. I can't tell you the exact date I watched Star Wars for the first time but I remember it was in my homeland, in my hometown, Iasi; in a cinema that unfortunately has closed down, located on the Copou Hill. It was "A New Hope" and I was just a wee lass... maybe in the 4th grade or even smaller. It was amazing to see such greatness on the big screen. I was watching Star Trek with my sister every weekend on the TV, and she remained up to this day a Trekkie fan, but for me the adventures of the Skywalker family were much more interesting and maybe more understandable. Not to mention that Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford were (and still are, don't get me wrong!) quite dashing human beings! Needless to say that one would instantaneously develop long lasting crushes on them ;) To be fair, they were/are amazingly talented actors. But... besides the amazing cast, the wonderful story, along time I thought how Star Wars fans are so special.
If you will ever join a Star Wars fan group you will see how kind and how much guidance and advice and support people can offer. At times it seems as if I am part of a larger intergalactic family ;))) that shares and cares. A family that understands the values that the Star Wars expanded universe wants to convey... that's right! It's not all about how pretty the planets look, or the amazing costumes, the funny dialogues, the bravery/heroics... Star Wars is a way of life for some and for some (like me) it is a way to escape the tedious world for a while and believe in the Force and that the world can be balanced and pure again if one chooses to believe that. Now, before I talk more than I should on the subject (and I always do, when Star Wars is involved!) I want to share with you today 10 Things that these beautiful movies taught me:
  1. True Friendship is real, can move mountains and withstands time - take for example Luke, Leia and Han Solo. When you look at them separately they are such different individuals, yet when life throws them together they click! They become, along the way of their adventures, best friends and they are willing to sacrifice/risk their life to make sure the other is alright. Just think of how Han rushed away on that snow blizzard after Luke! 
  2. It's never too late to say you're sorry/to redeem yourself - take advice from Anakin Skywalker/Lord Vader, who finally brings balance to the Force by killing the Emperor. It's true, he does not get to enjoy his "rebirth" for long in flesh... but he does come back as a Force ghost ;) it's true that when you confess your sins and you come back into the Light all your sins would be washed out (including the killing sprees - younglings as well!).
  3. Face your fears, else they will haunt you forever - it is true, the things you are afraid of always find a way to come back to you and drive you nuts... Anakin Skywalker succumbed to his fears and look where it brought him! Instead of verbalising his fears and telling his dreams to the ones he should have trusted (like Obi Wan) he joins the Dark Side :(
  4. Having debts is a no no! Just take a look at Han Solo and Jabba the Hutt... would you like to be owned by someone? Would you like to hang on someone's wall, frozen in carbonite? Didn't think so ;) so you better keep track on your accounts and make sure you have all your payments up to date!
  5. Hope is a must in everyone's life! If all fails you can always have hope. In my country there is even a saying: "Hope always dies last!" - I like that! Don't forget that "Rebellions are built on Hope!" :) when everything else fails, when the world seems dark and gloomy... that's when the ray of Hope comes in!
  6. Pausing from time to time is good for you - remember "The Phantom Menace" when Qui Gon was fighting Darth Maul and the energy doors were closing Qui Gon and Obi Wan from Darth Maul? What did they do? Did they pace up and down like a tiger in a cage? No! They rested, composed themselves, gathered their energies in order to face Darth Maul. How about Chirrut when he was facing the troopers on Jedha? I think you get my drift ;)
  7. Minimalistic way of living is the way to go! Just take a look at Yoda's hut... or Obi Wants home. There are no unnecessary adornments or luxuries, just what they truly need in order to live/survive. There is no need to have clutter in your life and having one type of clothing is very common amongst the great minds, even in real life - just have a look at Steve Jobs ;)
  8. The odds are just odds - they can/will be wrong! Don't listen to people who tell you the odds... C3PO and K2SO were brilliant in pissing everyone off by telling them the odds but guess what? There was not one time when things went terribly-"cannot be fixed"-haywire! Things always sound more frightening than what they truly are ;) so be brave and face your fears!
  9. Being a Princess does not mean you can't be tough and strong and smart and kick arse ;) this one goes to the dearly departed beautiful human being that was Carrie Fisher #carrieon :( I was just a wee lass when I saw her first. I was amazing of how strong and wonderful a female figure could be I'm the world of men! She and Mon Mothma were the only ladies around in the galaxy, in the original trilogy. I am glad we got to see recently more and more #girlpower in the Star Wars movies :)
  10. Death is only the beginning, my friend!... Oh, I love how the story of the Jedi's and the Dark Side has deep roots in how Christianity works. The ideas in the movie are more or less the same ;) just think about it! So having Force ghosts is a wonderful thing that probably the new movies will explore. But until then... please note down that Death is only a pathway;)
How about you? Have you ever watched any of the Star Wars original trilogy, the prequels or the new(ish) sequel The Force Awakens? Or maybe the standalone beauty that is Rogue One? Or maybe you are more into the cartoons - Clone Wars & Rebels? I would love to hear from you - what is your opinion? What has Star Wars taught you, along time? 

Yours very much sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Star Wars Ever Since She Was A Wee Lass
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Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Travel Tuesday: Legends of Iasi - Romania

Dearest sweethearts,

Today Romania celebrates the "Small Union" day - the day when Moldavia united with Wallachia. If you are around do go out and see the manifestations on the streets. There will be military parades and that's always something I find very beautiful to watch. Today it's #traveltuesday again :) and I could not find a more fitted moment to present to you a bit more of my homeland, of my home city, located in the heart of Moldavia. Today I will shortly list you a couple of the well known legends of Iasi!
The statue of Stephen the Great - Palace of Culture in Iasi, Romania 
1. The Statue of Stephen the Great - Palace of Culture - well... you heard me telling you about this one before... it seems that The sculptor Emmanuel Fremiet portrayed Stephen the Great (Stefan cel Mare) rather tall and bearded and with a Catholic crown... and people started to gossip that the statue might not be his and the real one may be in Krakow, Poland.
2. The many hidden tunnels underneath the city - the catacombs - You might think Rome had quite a few but wait and think: Iasi is a mirror of Rome, it is the city built on 7 hills as well ;) and underneath it there are numerous tunnels leading from one Hill to another and some say even further than the city itself.  True, now it's dangerous to go in and most of them are collapsed, but they were built around Stephen the Great time and they were used to run away from the tatars that were constantly charging on Moldavian region. I remember my grandparents showing me some of them near Cotnari region - they were so tall that a man riding it's horse could have went through. Fast/swift and unknown...
The archway students don't like ;)
3. The tunnel/archway that students never pass - located on the Copou Hill, on the way to the main University building, there is a specific archway that (almost) all students avoid walking under... the urban legend says that if you pass under it you will fail your exams. Another story says that people started avoiding it during communist times, when certain interrogations took place there and the screaming was above the regular decibel numbers...
4. The Bucium Hill, where all the cars go uphill without having their motors turned on... well, I ain't no driver si I can't tell you much about this one... but some drivers say there is a portion on Bucium where the cars go uphill with the motor of the car being turned off. Some speculate that may be due to a magnetic field but some rather say it's an optical illusion... they think the road is going up when in fact it's going down.

Have you ever been to Moldavia? That is the region in Romania, not the country Moldavia that's just "next door" from us ;) many people make the mistake of thinking that is one and the same place... if you have been to Moldavia have you ever been to Iasi? Have you ever heard of these legends? Do you believe them to be true?

Yours very much sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Urban Legends
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Saturday, 21 January 2017

Random Motherhood Thoughts...

Dearest hearts,

Here I am again with another post on Motherhood. Please run away as fast as you can if you are not into the topic, and come back in a while - when I will post more about Poland and Romania and life in between. Today is a day for all the Mothers out there that feel my pain ;) Yesterday my little LadyBug Baby Girl turned 5 months old. I still dont know where time flies like that... it seems only like yesterday when I first got to hold her and I was thinking of how small she was and how I cannot wait for her to talk to me. Here I am... fast forward 5 months... with a true Princess. She is like her Daddy and I and she is quite a tall strong for her age. Our pediatrician says she is so nicely built that when she was almost 4 months she looked at least like a half year old baby. It fills me with pride and joy to see her develop well. It is said that children develop well when they are loved and when they are in a good environment. It makes me happy to think that we are able to provide such environment and I thank God daily for it. 
It might seem sound odd but we pass through the day without thinking to thank for the things we take for granted... Shamefully I have not quite thought about it until our Princess came along. It is true what they say... a child does change you, change your life and the way you think and act. It's become quite a ritual for me to pray for her before she falls asleep for the night. We pray by asking most of the times and there are very few cases when we actually thank God for the things we have. We assume that we always had them and we deserve them... in a way... Well I thought about it and recently I believe in giving thanks to every small little thing. I started by giving thanks to the below:
- I thank God that we live in a country where there is Peace, where there is no war and fighting on the streets. I thank God that the right to hold a weapon/gun is not available for everyone.
- I thank God that we live in an economically stable country/environment and for the growing economy that Poland has.
- I thank God that we (both me and my amazing husband) have steady and good jobs that allow us to live a good life.
- I thank God for my family and friends and the fact that they love me and I can love them back and hear from them that they are safe and sound. 
These things for me, even if you find them trivial or if you place them in the "whatever" category are very important for your life and for your sanity of mind. Just think of how different things would be for your child if you would live in a war zone... or if you would lose your job, your means of income, or if you would be all alone. I know that we forget to count the blessings that we have and it's much easier to focus on the negative... but I think we should make this a daily exercise - praying and thinking of the ones we love and the things we should be thankful.  Of course my small LadyBug Baby Girl is one of the first things I am thankful for and in case you did not know, blessing your child daily us something every parent should do ;) I wish to raise my LadyBug to love God and believe that his Love is without boundaries. Our Love should be the same, as Love is the greatest gift that God gave us. What do you wish your baby would believe?

Yours very much sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves God & His Daily Blessings
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Wednesday, 18 January 2017

The Liberation of Krakow by The Red Army

Dearest hearts,
Dear history lovers,

These lines are especially addressed to you, as today - 18th of January - we celebrate the Liberation of Krakow by the Red Army, during the Second World War. During the Second World War this magical city was under German occupation for 5 years and 5 months. It was presided by the General Hans Frank, who chose as his headquarters and living place nothing more or less then the wonderful Wawel Castle. It is said that he was a great lover of art and history and he particularly fell in love with the city. Many of the tour guides will tell you the when the Germans were forced to back out of the Polish cities, the big ones especially, they were razed to the ground. Not one stone was left standing in Warsaw, for example, where everything you see today in the Old Town is an actual replica of the old models. When the Nazis retreated they placed explosives along the way. No bridge was left standing! Now imagine the shock of people coming back to Krakow or people coming to visit friends and family in Krakow, after the Liberation, seeing the whole city - minus 2 or 3 bridges - spit spot with all the magical architecture still standing... it was as if nothing happened... as if no horror ever took place there... well, they could not be more wrong!
Archive picture of the Main Market Square in Krakow during a German parade - Second World War 
Of course you know of the Auschwitz & Birkenau camps not far away but there was another one - where now only a monument resides - in Podgorze. Krakow was supposed to be a German historical city - even a fake science association was built, with the mission to show that Krakow had ancient German roots and it was an Ancient German City. None of the buildings were to be destroyed, the city was supposed to be wiped clean and made ready for the German people. In their fervor to change the city, the only education allowed for the Poles was elementary school - but without history and geography, so no sense of Polish nationality could be instilled upon the younger ones. Systematically the higher education - and it's teachers - were extermined.
Picture taken inside the Schindlers Museum - changing of the name of the Main Market Square during Second World War 
It is said that the Red Army liberated Krakow but in fact, post communist times, research has shown that the Germans had enough time to retreat at their own sweet pace and also take several trains filled with priceless pieces of art. The Germans did not need to defend the city, they had no great necessity to have it for their own, unlike the rather German looking Wroclaw (Breslau) - that to this very day it looks to me more German than Polish! In Wroclaw (Breslau) the German people defended the city for 5 months! That shows where their interest truly resided. They did not blow up any main buildings nor torched them to the ground. Only Gestapo buildings were destroyed and some bridges destroyed so all but one entrance to the city would remain - entrance they used to retreat... so... would you actually call this a Liberation or perfect timing from the Red Army side? :) coincidences coincidences... what do you think?! Should Krakow celebrate this day?

Yours very much sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves History
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Sunday, 15 January 2017

Iasi - Urban Legend: Polish Statue of Stephen The Great

Dearest hearts,

There are more connections than one would think between my homeland Romania and my "adoptive" country Poland. As you may (not) know I live in Krakow, Poland, for more than 5 years now. I come from Iasi, a rather historical center that has been long forgotten. It also was the capital of the country for a while ;) but people tend to forget that and praise Bucharest... nevermind that! I wish to share with you today a story about these two fine countries. There are more than 130 years since Stephen the Great (ro: Stefan cel Mare) had its statue placed in front of the Palace of Culture in Iasi. The statue was done by a renowned French sculpture maker, Emmanuel Fremiet, and ever since it was brought to Iasi it has sparked a lot of intrigues and a certain urban legend that I will share with you ;) 
The Palace of Culture in Iasi and the statue of Stephen the Great (Stefan cel Mare), ruler of Moldavia
This legend states that Stephen would actually not be Stephen the Great but a Polish knight that would have requested a similar statue at the exact same time from the same sculptor. It's also being said that the Stephen the Great statue was brought instead to the Polish knight and that now it resides in Krakow. Truly, in Krakow, there are 2 statues of males riding on horses, statues that resemble the looks of Stephen the Great. But let's come back to the statue that is located in front of the Palace of Culture in Iasi. It is made out of bronze and it's 4,5 meters tall. The male upon the horse has a beard and a Catholic crown resting upon its head. Because back then there was no model for the crown of Moldavia, the sculptor used the model of a Catholic one. This sparked a lot of controversy considering that Moldavia (Romania) was always an Orthodox land ;)
The specialist infirm this rumour and say it was a simple misunderstanding in terms of how Stephen the Great looked vs. how Emmanuel Fremiet portrayed him. Maybe he just had too much wine and fromage and got carried away in the artistic spirit. Looking on the 2 supposed Stephen the Great from Krakow (the one from the Grunwald monument in Plac Jan Matejko & the one from the Wawel Castle) I really don't think it's any of them... but neither the one in front of the Palace of Culture in Iasi does not look like him... What are your thoughts on this? Do you think the statues were misplaced? Or just the sculptor took too much liberty with his piece of art?

Yours very much sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Urban Legends
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Thursday, 12 January 2017

10 Common Sense Things To Do During Winter

Good morning everyone!

It seems indeed Winter came to town! We didn't have a White Christmas (neither in Poland or Romania) even if the temperature was low and it was chilly. True, we had the cold wintery wind and the frost and the occasional bit of snow, but there was not much of the Wintery Fairyland I remember from my childhood... New Year came and then... Poof! After a few days Winter came in with full rights, temperature dropping under -10 degrees Celsius, wind howling and snow falling hard and covering everything. One day it was all muddy and grey and I was thinking of spring and then... in the blink of an eye, everything turned white and magical. Don't you love the first heavy snow that covers everything up and makes you wanna go outside and play? Make angels in the snow, build a snowman or just go sleigh riding! I dunno about you, but when I think of Winter there are a few things that pop into my mind as "common sense", something that I try to do every year.
The National Theater in Iasi, under snow :)
Here is my list:
  1. Ain't no Christmas unless you carol! Caroling has been a family tradition ever since I was a wee lass. Even if I am far away from home I always call my mum, sister and granny and sing carols to them. It might be an indication of Winter approaching when after Halloween I start listening to carols... you know what's coming ;) 
  2. Christmas celebration - festive dinners, Christmas tree decorating, visiting the Christmas Markets around the place you live, going to church and listening to the carols that celebrate Jesus's birth... all are things that I have done since I was small. Somehow it's also celebrating childhood :)
  3. Making snow angels in the fresh snow - there is no greater fun than waking up one morning seeing fields of white, rushing outside all dressed up and jumping in the fresh snow - flapping your arms and legs and laughing while doing snow angels...
  4. Do you wanna build a snowman? All you need is love and snow :) materials you can find outside... a branch for the hands, some rocks for the eyes and mouth... roll up the snow until you get frostbite and make your own Frosty the Snowman :) or an entire family of them!
    Let it snow, let it snow... - Palas Mall, Iasi, Romania
  5. Invest in winter gear - it's either layering up like an onion vs. buying some hard-core insulated clothes. I prefer the second option ;) a good coat gets you the option of wearing even just a t-shirt underneath. Yep, been there, done that! Feels awesome ;)
  6. Get away from the city and head for the mountains - my favourite time of year to get to the mountains  is winter and autumn season. Autumn's changing color of the leafs is magical and only fresh snow in wintertime can top that out. The evergreen under snow makes me think that the world can be pure again...
  7. Sleigh riding - another childhood memory :) you don't need much to have fun... I've seen people using toilet seats in order to slide on the snow, so a sleigh is not absolutely necessary ;) the best ride I had was on a huge banner (the advertising one...) where we did a small "train" of people... it was fun!
  8. Start thinking ahead for the new year - it's a perfect time now to start thinking and planning your next year, your next holidays. You may even buy the plane tickets - they will be way cheaper now! and they might make a great Christmas gift for your other half ;) 
    Palace of Culture, Iasi, Romania 
  9. Enjoy as much time you can with the family - Usually Winter is connected to Christmas and staying home with the ones you love. It means that at least for a short period of time you should try to "shut down" social activities and focus on the ones you love. I say we should do this every day of the year but we are all busy bees, are we not?! Or at least we give the appearance to be as such. We don't think that maybe the next moment the ones you love might not be here... take a moment and close your eyes and think about it. Now whom would you want to have next to you? Whom do you miss? Enjoy the holidays, this wonderful celebration with the ones who truly care!
  10. Celebrate the birth of our Saviour - Catholic Church, Orthodox Church and Protestants alike celebrate in December the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.  Even though I am not sure if Jesus was actually born on the 25th of December... maybe he was born on a different day and the people just matched it with the pagan holiday of Julletide! Either way it is good to have a day to celebrate his birth, even though he deserves more!
How about you? Do you have this kind of list of "common sense" things to do during winter time? What are your "must do" things? Do share until the snow melts and spring comes, so we may try your thoughts as well :) 

Yours very much sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves To Point Out Obvious Things To People Who Don't Understand Normality
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Monday, 9 January 2017

7 Ways Motherhood Changed Throughout Time

Dearest sweethearts,

Motherhood, at first sight, seems like a very easy and straightforward fun and exciting thing to do. Guess what? Nobody will tell you it's "dirty secrets" as if you knew them you might probably think twice before taking the step. In life everything comes with both pros and cons, so does being a mother.  It's not all roses and rainbows and unicorns... it's impossible to imagine that one can love a small human being with such Force and passion yet in the next split second to feel the need to run away from it all as fast as you can... and then they smile and the world of worries just melts again into love... and then the cycle starts again ;)) Well... I was thinking about Motherhood and how many things have changed throughout my little life...
Joy comes from the little things in life, like watching your very own LadyBug Baby Girl grow :)
I turned 30 years old recently and I've been looking at my little LadyBug Baby Girl and how I was raised by my mum but also how my mum was raised by my granny vs. how you granny was raised by my grand granny (which, BTW, I have managed to met and dearly remember the holidays spent at the countryside). Everything changes and the way we see how a child is being raised is different in a way or another, so without any further ado... let me point out some observations:
  • The number of children per family decreased. Both my grandparents had big families with a lot of brothers and sisters - the kind where you need both hands and a bit extra to count them... We - my generation of friends, in general - were 2 sisters. My husband's case is a bit different as he comes from Poland, Catholic country, where anticonceptional methods are not that much "approved" by the church and where people usually stick to the traditional way of living the life in Big, wholesome, friendly families. He has 4 brothers and 2 sisters.  Usually due to lack of time, commitment, financial reasons... people nowdays usually stop at having 2 children max. It's, I think, a way of reassuring oneself the continuity of the species... from 2 people came 2 more! 
  • The age of the person giving birth has increased. The people nowdays want to make sure they take the best chances, they make the best decisions before they take the big step. Having a child is considered a lot of responsibility and people prefer to have fun, travel, live their life, build a career, make sure they have some money in the bank... and so on... before they have a child. There is always this preconception running around that once you have kids you'll be a full time grown up that should not have fun/travel/smile/go out, but focus 110% on your child. Smother him! 
  • The Mothers have their own jobs now, not only Fathers work for the living! A couple of decades ago, not very long, though! the women were supposed to be the ones staying at home - cooking, cleaning, shopping and taking care of the children. Read the old novels and find me one women working outside of the house! Well... now women are allowed to vote and work in positions that were before labeled as "men only". True, they do have maternity leave but only for a short period of time! And guess what? After that they need to be mum + work at the same time! It doesn't get any easier... 
  • Mothers are expected now to spend more and more time with the children. Before, the babies would stay with the grandmothers or in special schools from a very young age. They would also probably have a nanny... Guess what? I had for a while a nanny as well! But that never replaces the sweet time spend with Granny and Mum :) nothing replaces that! And nowdays you will probably be hanged upon the cross if you dare say you wish to leave your small one with a nanny... just a few days ago I was reading in a Facebook mums group a post about a lady with a baby under 1 year that asked for a nanny recommendation... almost everyone jumped on her calling her a bad mum because she needed some time off and she wanted to leave her baby... Some people should learn the fine art of behaving in public, along with patience and understanding! 
  • Views on breastfeeding vs. The bottle ;) oh! This topic sparks like wildfire! Just ask any mum... some would rip heads off! Some would say there us no mother that cannot breastfeed their child: either you will or you won't! Well... I won't express my options here, I want to avoid any quarrel, but just FYI that a couple of decades ago the bottle was the only ladylike option, breastfeeding was not considered decent, it was something that only lower classes would do; and for sure it would not be done in public! The bottle was the way to go. Nowdays it's the other way around. Researchers have proved how beneficial the maternal milk is, especially in the first 6 months! It provides anticorps that the baby cannot get in any other way! 
  • Giving birth naturally was the way to go. Just you and the midwife (and the doctor, if you came from a high ranking family). There were no drugs, no epidural, no clue section. All was natural and painful and sometimes dangerous... some births might jeopardise both child and mother... thankfully nowdays you can tell in time and different decisions can be made to save lifes. It is so true nowdays it's highly recommended to give birth naturally if possible and there are hospitals specialised in that, as there are others specialised in c section. Either way it is a risk operation so... I would rather be in pain during birth then after, when you are in rehab. Then again my hips are wide so I am lucky :) 
  • Having a son was a must, to keep the inheritance in the family! Just take for example the lovely/amazing/funny/dramatic novel "Pride and Prejudice". Poor Mr. Bennett tried to have a son but he ended up with 5 daughters instead... there was no other way to do it... keep on trying until you make it! Nowdays at least laws are a bit more better and girls are considered as equal successors. All hail #womenrights :) 
Yours very much sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves To Discover Motherhood
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Friday, 6 January 2017

Thoughts Upon Star Wars - Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Dearest sweethearts,

**WARNING!!! This post contains opinions on the latest Star Wars movie: Rogue One - A Star Wars Story. It will be an extensive post and it will have pictures as well. This review contains SPOILERS so read it at your own risk ;) please do grab a cup of tea / warm blanket and enjoy!**

In case you did not notice through my occasional rants and posts on my Facebook / Instagram / Twitter ... well... I am a huge Star Wars fan ever since I first layed my eyes upon the Millennium Falcon and R2D2 and that fine man Han Solo. I had a major crush on the Episode 4 Luke Skywalker and I was devastated to see what his accident did to his pretty face :( I always thought Leia was an unusually kick arse Princess that raised the bar and the expectations to the Princesses to come. She was unlike any other... and now, considering her a Disney World Princess is quite tough to place her next to the rest. Maybe Mulan and Merida come a bit closer but they are miles away... Carrie Fisher (May The Force be with her!) was The One for the part and as The Force Awakens line says... General Leia? She will always be Royalty for me! But hey... I'm today going to speak about Rogue One - A Star Wars Story. The movie that is being placed as a stand alone between the prequels and the originals, between Episode 3 and Episode 4. Remember the crawl sequence at the beginning, explaining the Rebellion and how they got the plans for the ultimate weapon of the Empire? Well... Rogue One is that text scroll ;) and before I tell you anything more please consider the SPOILERS ahead.
I'll try to make this easy to get through and use bullet points but I don't promise I won't skip around from one idea to another...
  • Unlike the other 7 Star Wars movies, this particular piece is not an episode, but a story - a stand alone movie - that is part of the Star Wars expanded universe! Don't look for the Skywalkers there - although you will see Darth Vader and Princess Leia. This is a story about the Rebellion and how the plans first the Death Star were taken.
  • It seems that The Force Awakens started a small trend of bringing female leads into action. TFA had Rey as the leading character. Rogue One had Felicity Jones playing the young rebel Jyn Erso. We also get to see female rebel tie fighters - they were in the original trilogy as well but they never made the directors cut! 
  • Sadly it is the only Star Wars movie without an original John Williams soundtrack. Michael Giaccino was the one in charge and he did a great job but if you love music and Star Wars you will notice the difference ;)
  • There is no opening scroll text! I was shocked and grieved but looking back it does make sense... it's a stand alone movie, it's more serious and more dark than any of the other ones. There was no need for any intros... the fans knew what they were up against! On a positive note, it still opened up with a picture taken from space and an Imperial ship coming in ;)
  • Sorry to break it to you... though if you are a hard core Star Wars fan you should have seen the movie by now! It's almost a month (soon) from the release date!... so... there are absolutely no Jedi's in this movie! The only lightsaber you will see is the one that Darth Vader holds. You will see though the moon Jedha, presumably the birth place of the Jedi? 
  • Small / big cameos of characters both from the prequels but also from "A New Hope" (Episode 4). My personal favourite was Bail Organa, Princess Leia's stepfather. Also you will see more references to Episode 4 than you can imagine! Again my favs are the guys from the Cantina and the "blue milk"... mmm I still wonder how that tastes like :) I would not say Darth Vader is a cameo as he is in multiple scenes as is Mon Mothma.  
  • Creepingly good CGI done for Moff Tarkin. Peter Cushing has been dead for a while now... so seeing him again on the big screen was a huge shock. It was so well done that my jaw dropped... on the other hand there was just one scene with Leia and her CGI was not as spot on as Tarkin's :( 
  • Beautiful new challenging characters that die by the end of the movie... they all die and it will break your heart! Starting with the new Imperial reprogrammed droid K2SO, that reminded me so much of Sheldon in Big Bang Theory :) to the amazing power couple Chirrut (blind yet Force sensitive) and Baze (reminding me of The Mountain in Game of Thrones...). 
  • Amazing visual effects when it comes to the Death Star and the destructive force it has. It's true, back when Episode 4 was filmed there was not much one could have done to show what destruction the "moon" would be capable of... but now... it was perfection! When watching A New Hope you don't feel the pain and terror and horror even though they blow up an entire planet! It's a shot of a planet being destroyed... made star dust! But it Rogue One it feels so real and painful and tragic... it made me think of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Death Ray destroying the 2 locations, the earth moving and lifting up to a 360 degrees angle (made me think of Inception as well...) and the horror and terror upon people's faces... now that is something that adds depth into the pain. That is so much more than the single shot of Alderaan exploding! 
  • The fact that there was no beginning roll credits gets us a bonus of the intro about the Erso family. Galen Erso is the genius behind the Death Star (like the atomic bomb) and we get the introduction to the hero of this story, his daughter Jyn. I'm just gonna put it out there that I love Glen's part - even if he gets short time on screen, his presence is significant! The actor playing (you may recognise him as Lecter from the Hannibal series) is simply brilliant! And to be able to be the one man doing an inside job against the Empire.... wow! 
  • Even though our characters survive the Death Star first attack it's pretty obvious they won't be able to make it out of the second one... that's when you start to tear up... I started sniffing when K2SO went down (my second favourite droid now after dear old R2D2). When Chirrut died I wanted to curl into a ball and say "I am one with the Force, the Force is with me. I am one with the Force, the Force is with me..." till my lips went dry... but when I saw the command and knowing that everyone else was dead, unable to command a ship, ships being destroyed... it was all but inevitable: Jyn and Cassian were sacrificed along the way as well :( and it will break your heart when you think about their background and their family issues, trust issues... and when they finally find their "home", as Cassian puts it ;) and when you think there is "hope", that's when the movie comes and kicks you to the ground in anger and rage... it's a tragically well done love story, being told realistically, not even with a single kiss... may the Force be with them!
All this being said, I have watched Rogue One on the big screen, 3D version, and I will watch it again and again. It's brilliant and beautiful and it connects like magic the Episode 3 and 4 of the Star Wars Saga. It has one of the best fighting scenes in space I have ever seen (the one where the rebel ship pushes into a Star Destroyer that fully scrapes another Star Destroyer and they end up taking down the shield is... mind blowing!!!). It also has down to earth relatable characters and a decent story line. I even heard many SW fans saying it was better than The Force Awakens, but I would not risk saying that ;) I can tell you that after seeing it I felt like a child again. And once again I told to myself that our little LadyBug Baby Girl will know about the Force and the intriguing space adventures of the Skywalker family. 
P.S. As a fan of SW since I was a wee lass, I would like to dedicate this post to the lovely, fun and down to earth human being that was Carrie Fisher. She passed away in December after a heart attack. She will be sorely missed. She was the true Princess of this Universe - May The Force be with her, Always! 

Yours very much sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Star Wars
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Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Travel Tuesday: Why You Should Visit Iasi

Dearest sweethearts,

Welcome to 2017! Hope you had a very Merry Christmas and a fabulous New Year next to the ones you truly love and care about. I hope you had time to relax and reflect on the year that passed - both the joys and troubles are part of our life's and they help us grow and develop. I know you probably already setup your New Year Resolutions... but to tell you the truth I have not been so specific this year. All I want is love, being next to the ones I care, good health and the possibility to travel once in a while, especially now that the Little LadyBug Baby Girl is getting bigger ;) and it's a bit easier to move her around without constantly thinking "I might break her!" ;) Anyway... if in your Resolutions you also listed travelling inside Europe, trying out different countries and not necessarily the hyper known locations... maybe you should try Romania! That's right... the land of Dracula! But I ain't saying you need to get to Transylvania... you can always try having a small city break in Iasi ;) (also known as Jassy) - that's my hometown! Here are a few reasons why:
Traditional Romanian Christmas dances
1. Iasi is the most important political, cultural, economical and historical center/city in the Moldavian region. It has been the capital of the country for a while and it has the oldest and the more renowned University in the country. It was historically very important due to its trading routes with Poland, Russia, Hungary and Constantinople.

2. It is considered the center of Moldavian culture since 1408! In Iasi the first Romanian newspaper was published and the first Romanian University was established! Today the city has 5 universities and comparing that to the world it may not be much now, but the students of these uni's are very much searched for by companies worldwide ;) should I mention that in Microsoft the second most used language - the official one! - is Romanian? 
Mitropolitain Church on Stefan cel Mare Street
3. Iasi is a city of churches - Orthodox Churches are very well represented here. As I was saying that in Krakow you can find a church at every corner, the same goes with Iasi.  Probably the most well known one is the Mitropolitain Church located on Stefan cel Mare (Stephen the Great) Street. It boasts of holding the remains of the great saint Parascheva. In October people flock from all over the world to come and pray and touch her (for healing purposes). 

4. When it comes to churches, there is another "must see" beauty on Stefan cel Mare Street: Sfintii Trei Ierarhi (Church of the Three Hierarchs) - constructed 1637-1639. You will be amazed of its stunning decorations: the exterior is covered entirely in delicate and intricate patterns sculpted in stone (over 30 friezes!). The stone work is a mixture of western gothic, Renaissance and Oriental motifs. Legends say that the exterior was covered in hold and silver centuries ago, but when the Ottoman Empire tried to conquer Moldavia the invaders set the church on fire and melted all the gold.
National Theater in Iasi, Romania 
5. The Moldova Filharmonic House has been renovated and looks now as I remember it when I was a small child. It is indeed a lovely place to admire the old style architecture but also go inside and listen to a concert. It has pretty ok acoustics. I need to mention that on January 18th, 1847, that's almost 170 years ago! The famous composer, Franz Liszt played there! Also the National Theater is a "must see", being the very first to have played a play in Romanian language.
Traian Hotel and The LadyBug
6. The Hotel Traian, built in 1879 in neoclassical style. It's not well known buy the engineer that worked on its plans was none other than Mr. G. Eiffel - that's right! The one that designed the worldwide known symbol of Paris/France: the Eiffel Tower. The hotel was also one of the first in Europe to be molded on a metal frame! Talk about innovation! ;)
7. The Hall of Lost Footsteps (Sala Pasilor Pierduti) located at the University Al. I. Cuza, in the Copou campus, building A. Frescoes made by the local artist Sabin Balasa will make you dream and will melt your heart... it's one of the "must see" places. Don't forget to get your camera with you ;) the predominant color is blue and almost all the female characters have fiery red manes :)
8. The most beautiful parks where you can have some fresh air, have a stroll with your loved ones or just enjoy the chirping of the birds while you read a good book. A favourite of the locals in the Copou Park. In 1834 it became the city's first public garden and in 1860 the street lamps were installed here for the first time ;)

9. Romanians first, oldest and largest public botanical garden: Gradina Botanica Iasi - Iasi Botanical Garden. It has one of the prettiest pathways and it's very popular due to its awesome chrysanthemum displays during autumn time. It's very well maintained and totally worth your time ;)
Palace of Culture #nightlights 
10. If all the above fails to attract you... and you are a die hard shopping fan, you can mix that up with a bit of art and architecture and hit the Palas Mall, right next to the good old Palace of Culture (Palatul Culturii), right in the heart of the city.

Yours very much sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves To Discover New Places When Traveling 
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