Wednesday, December 30, 2009

In a nutshell

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out and proclaiming, "Wow, what a ride"!!!! - unknown author

Borrowed from MaisonStGermain - LOVE IT!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Let's just say I am crafty

I really like to make stuff, paint stuff design stuff...
I like pottery and embroidery and painting and drawing and anything artistic. Most of right now I like to FELT! It is something new for me and I am amazed at what you can make with a bunch of sheep's wool. AMAZED! I have just started this craft but I felt when I started as though I should have done this all my life. Not that I am that good at it, but it just feels right!
For Christmas I tried to make most of the gifts we gave away. Since wool is pretty cheap it is nice to take a needle and some wool and come up with a gift that actually looks like what you started out to make. So, I made my grandbaby a little felted play mat with lots of different characters. It was a fun project and I hope she will like it. We don't know yet because the mail between Poland and USA is slllloooooowwww this time of year.

I also made some birds this year for a special young lady, my Helka. I made a bluebird of happiness to remind her that there will be better times and to always hope for good things.
I made a mama bird for her to remember that God always keeps us under His wings like a mama bird keeps her chicks.

Then I made two silly camels for my friends Ania and Katie. It was an inside joke but I hope that they liked the way the camels turned out. Just will remind them of good times we have had together.

I made some things I could not get pictures of but I enjoyed making. There was a black cat, A nativity scene, and several mushrooms which were just sooo cute, and another little bird for my Ola. I think I will just keep plugging away trying to learn this craft. I have been mostly needle felting this year but I also like wet felting. I am moving on to making scarves next. I made a few and they were pretty but I need to perfect my style a bit!
What do you like to make??

Thursday, December 24, 2009

T'was the night before Christmas!

Christmas Eve in Poland!
It is a special day in our house. There are many things that will happen this evening...This is the night that you get your new Christmas jammys and slippers! We will eat a special dinner together, usually crab when we are at home but while we are in Poland we will have some shrimp. We will have friends for dinner. The house is decked out and waiting for that BIG day!

This old house has four stories. It was built in 1908. There is the first floor where one of our coffee shops is located. Then there is a second floor where another family lives. They have two boys and one girl, all of whom are over 18. Then on the third floor is our place. Above us there is another family and the grandmother has lived here in this building since World War 2. She is 96 years old.

Christmas in Poland is a lively affair. It starts on Christmas eve called Vegalia, the celebration of the beginning of Christmas. There will be family dinners all over Poland and afterwards a midnight mass. They do not eat meat on this day but instead there are MANY kinds of fish dishes made for this occassion. One popular fish for this evening is Carp. (REALLY!) I have been told that people take these big fish home live and let them swim in the bathtub until which time someone (NOT ME) whacks the fish upon the head and it is prepared for dinner. eeeewww! shivers....

There are several things which must be done for it to be considered a happy holiday here in Poland. First the cooking is done ahead, maybe the day before. This means all the baking and all the cooking. They make things like Poopy Seed cakes, cookies, pastries, cabbage dishes, fish dishes, etc. THEN, it is a MUST that the house be cleaned before the arrival of company. Also usually done a day ahead. Only after these things are done can there be peace on earth, good will towards men. I like this idea. Everyone helps, and many times family members will arrive early to help good old Mom with these chores.

I think everyone was home last night upstairs. They must have moved every piece of furniture they have TWICE! It went on until late in the night. I am sure they are now fully prepared for whatever guests will be arriving this evening. They must be exhausted!

We will be having Lindy and Katie and Ania for dinner. (Ania is my oldest Polish daughter and Katie and Lindy are volunteers from the states whom we have also adopted as family) We will open stockings and watch our favorite crazy Christmas movie "Mixed Nuts". Then the girls and my sweet hubby are going to serve coffee at a program for the homeless, and possibly a midnight mass. It will be a long, lovely night. (sigh!)

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I LOVE coffee

I just LOVE coffee!
I am sitting all snuggled up on the sofa. It is another grey and rainy/snowy winter day in Poland. (no surprises there, right?) I have on my GIANT red IKEA duvet slippers, and I am wrapped in a warm quilt. The starlights are on in my window, I can see snow on the surrounding rooftops. (The rooftops happen to be amazing since from my window you can see Zamek castle and several historical building with lovely turrets) I take a sip of that lovely latte in my cup and I just have to say it again...I love COFFEE!
I build coffee shops, I design coffee shops and I help manage coffee shops. I work with coffee all day long. Still I made my daughter bring me five lbs of Starbuck's French Roast Whole bean coffee from the USA when she came, for my own personal use! Ha ha.
I am kind of a coffee snob though. I would rather not drink coffee if it is bad. If you send me coffee beans that are not tasty I will not force myself to drink it. No, I will pour those beans into candle holders and light my coffee shops with them! :)
In Poland the taste for coffee is for lighter roasts. This is not the kind of coffee I prefer. A lighter roast does not have that DARK, smokey flavor that I love. I will drink a lighter roast but I love the intense aroma of the darker roasts. I cannot find this is Poland. (I keep thinking maybe we need to roast our own coffee beans.)
But for now I am satisfied that I can sit all warm and cozy on the sofa with my latte. My Ollie dog (Maltese TERROR who loves coffee!) is lying next to me. It is a perfect moment.
I love coffee!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The missing Peace

I have many little "chicks" here in Poland. They are young women who God has placed in my path, who need encouragement and love. Somewhere along the way our paths become so entwined that we become family. They call me "Mama Rhonda". Now, this could potentially make me feel old or outdated. Like the first time that you hear someone call you "Ma'am", or when someone tell you that you look pretty good for your age! Haha! But instead, this has made me feel as though God has created a very special place for me in the lives of my girls. That my age is a way of being able to share some life experience with them.

Today, one of my little "chicks" asked me why I love her. I began to list the reasons why. Soon I realized I could go on for quite some time. God has allowed me to see something SO very special in this young lady and I truly love her with all my heart! I am not sure that I have seen that as clearly as I did today. In many ways she has become part of me and I am part of her. I only wish I had told her sooner...

I've been thinking about Christmas. This year has been difficult for me. I have not really felt a sense of my usual Christmas spirit. I have been so busy readying everything at the coffee shop and hosting parties and taking care of needs around me that I have neglected my own rituals of the holiday. I have stopped choosing the wonder of this season. I stopped reflecting on how


who loved us so much that He sent
a precious gift,
that sweet and innocent baby boy...
That loved ME so much and saw something so very special in me that He would make a sacrifice for me.
He would, in fact, make that same sacrifice it if was ONLY for me!!!

Now, when I think of that and my mind reflects on Helka and Ania and Ola, and Asia I can see where this immeasurable love comes from. It is a gift from the Father! It came at the time I accepted the gift of His son. This love is to be passed on from generation to generation. So instead of feeling outdated or old, I choose to see that I am part of the circle of love.

This love that we are responsible to give is only possible when we step into the shoes of those who have gone before us. Because it is not always easy to love those who have not been loved. They may hurt me or choose to walk away from my love. But one day, maybe my "chicks" will take on their own chicks of their own and will give that immeasurable love to those God places in their paths.

It wasn't meant to be a "one time gift", the gift of the Christ child is meant to endure all of time and it was meant to change the WORLD!

"Behold unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given. Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

Merry Christmas... May you know HIS peace!

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Today my baby girl flies back home to Poland after attending University in the states this semester. She will only be here for three weeks and then will return to school. I am so anxious for her to get here. I miss my girls every single day. They are just too far away.

So we have been preparing for Autumn to arrive. The house is clean and the starlights hung in the windows. (no Christmas tree yet) Her room is waiting and then I look online only to find that dreaded word DELAYED next to her flight number! OH NO!

I hate waiting.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Last Christmas party

Tonight we had our Community Christmas party! There were lots of goodies and Christmas cheer. There was an amazing guitarist, and a vocalist with a piano player who came. We sold some art and a few things for charity and people drank lots of coffee, cider and chocolate. I saw lots of people that I love and there were some great moments.

I like the way the shop sparkles with all the Christmas lights on. I also like that people can see inside the shop when the tram stops just in front of our windows. The passengers stare longingly at the warmth of our place and wish they could be inside.

Tonight a young lady came into the shop all alone. She asked some questions and met several of our people. She is a psychology student who is new to Poznan. I could tell after talking to her that she is lonely. She met my friend Kinga and right away they hit it off. I found her talking with Kinga and Kasia in the wallpaper room this evening like long lost friends. She found the shop because she saw us from the tram and wondered what such a place must be like. Just before she left this young woman told me how happy she was that she had taken the chance and come inside, she didn't think there was another shop like our in all of Poland! She promised to return.

I was tired this evening and I didn't really feel like having a party. If I had not been there I wouldn't have met my new friend. I would never have seen the wonder on her face as she saw the shop for the first time. I hope I never forget that reaction.

Our shop exists for people to see Jesus. You can feel Him when you walk in the door. The spirit of God is even in the walls of the place. I love that!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Today was Helka's birthday party!

Today our Helka turned 23 years old! We had a big party at the coffee shop and all dressed up in silly costumes. Helka was a fairy and so I decided to be "the Fairy's Godmother". Haha! Ola, she came dressed as the devil, Ignacy was a sweet birthday present, Lindy was a human gumball machine, Katie was a kittie, Leo was an angel (not too far a stretch for that sweet little boy) and Renia and Leszek were cowboys! It was great fun just to watch us all enjoy being together. Helka let Leo help her blow out her candles, and I just loved watching her with all her friends and family around. My feet are sore and my hip hurts (some new thing that happens now I am old) but I will go to bed today happy that we celebrated Helka and her sweet spirit.
It was Helka's day and it was a good day! Happy Birthday Helka...Love you!

Surviving Christmas

I am convinced that I MIGHT make it through this busy holiday season. Don't get me wrong. I love the why do I feel like someone let all the air out of my tires? Let me tell you about my morning.

I promised my friend that we would attend an early morning mass at a lovely Dominican church this morning. So, at 5:45 a.m. we rolled out the door to church. 5:45!!!! I am almost certain even God was not awake yet. It was a lovely service filled with candlelight and beautiful music and we were back at the coffee shop by 8. So, we all ate some breakfast together and then said our goodbyes just in time for my morning meetings.

Two of my artist friends came in to deliver inventory for tomorrow nights gift sale. So we chatted and had coffee, looked over the inventory, etc. By 10 a.m. I was hanging inventory in the shop and pricing items for sale. At 12 I headed upstairs to bake some Christmas cookies and prepare some things for the birthday party at the shop this evening.

Now at 1:30 in the afternoon I am exhausted and feel like the day should be coming to a close. Surely we have accomplished enough for one day and it is time to take some rest? No, the cookies must be frosted and there are lemon tarts left to prepare for the sale tomorrow evening!

The good news is that somewhere in all the chaos my dear sweet hubby came through the doors of the shop carrying the largest bouquet of white lilies! Be still my heart...

I just may survive Christmas after all! ;)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Ghost of Thanksgiving past...

I know that everyone has already done the whole Thanksgiving post and has moved on, but because my blog is new I just didn't get a chance. We had such a great time that I wanted to keep in mind the evening and the many special friends who shared it.

We had 14 for dinner that evening and we hosted at our shop. I set a VERY LONG table and it just looked so lovely and warm. We have two volunteers who are working here in Poland with us, Katie and Lindy. When Katie saw the table that evening she almost cried and she said "oh, it just like home!" Then, I almost cried...

Living in Poland, so very far from home, can be a challenge at these times. As an American it feels very strange to celebrate a holiday that for everyone here is just another work day. Many times my husband and I are tempted not to celebrate those "American" holidays and to just stick with those that are celebrated here. However, when we have volunteers we do feel it is important to create a sense of normalcy for them and to celebrate when we can.

We were surprised that some of our Polish friends actually wanted to celebrate with us, and so that evening there we were Polish and American celebrating an opportunity to give thanks. The whole evening was spent as a family, playing and laughing and eating together. In the background you could hear an old football game between BSU and OU. It was just LOVELY and something I will never forget. By the way, we were unable to find a whole turkey and so our was cooked in parts, the breasts and the thighs. No one seemed to notice. :) We had two types of stuffing, mashed poatatoes and cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and so much more.

What am I thankful for that is worth noting? I am most thankful for my husband, my children, and our extended family which includes those from America but also Africa, Bulgaria, Denmark, Norway and Poland. These people have loved us and taken us in, in spite of our cultural differences. Our lives are enriched because of the diversity of our life experiences.

So, as the Ghost of Thanksgiving past dances through my thoughts I feel so blessed. Blessed to have such a rich life. ABUNDANCE INDEED! Isn't our table lovely?

Monday, December 14, 2009

City new blog

I am a City Hen.

I prefer the busy streets of the city and having everything close at hand. I love the flow and rhythm of the life here. I like living in an old building and hearing my neighbors when they come in and go out. (My neighbor upstairs is 96 years old!) I like knowing the people that live around me, and saying "hello" when we meet each other on the cobblestone streets. I like living on the third floor high above the street where I can keep an eye on all that happens down below. (I do NOT like hauling bottled water up three flights of stairs! ;) I like leaving the doors and windows open in the summer because no one can get in when I live so high above the ground!

I have not always been a City Hen. Not long ago we lived in Texas where I lived in a big four bedroom house. There were far too many toilets to clean there and it seemed like our family spread out all over the house. We used the air conditioner year round, and it seemed it was always hot. We drove everywhere we went and we could not just walk to the store to get milk. The suburbs were different. I very rarely saw my neighbors and it was hard to tell what the rhythm of that place was.

I live now in Poznan, Poland. My husband and I have built two coffee shops and are starting on our third. The name of the shops is Sweet Surrender. They are lovely places to spend time with friends and family.

You can take a look at the shops on

We have a shop in Gdansk and a shop in Poznan. We are working on a third location in Krakow. I really like my job with coffee shops. I love to design, decorate and then open these shops and spend time with our customers and clients. We have decorated our shops with vintage items from the Polish Flea Market, a FANTASTIC PLACE!!! I can't wait to show you pictures of our bargains. Ilove thrift shopping and re-purposing items which have been discarded. This old hen has been in the trash bin a few times!

My children live in the United States. I am about to be a grandmother for a second time. My youngest daughter is in University. She visits us regularly but we still miss our kids. So we have adopted the young people who work with us as our family. My beautiful adopted daughter, Helka is the one who helped me with my blog. (Thanks Helka!) I am a mother hen who has many little chicks and I love them each differently. I want to tell you about them.

I want to write about life here, and what it is like to live in the city. I also want to share my family which grows each week, and what it is like to build a business from the ground up. I want to tell you about all of my friends. My life is so different now from what it was. God has truly taken us on an amazing journey. I can't wait to be begin. So back to the beginning...

I am a City Hen!