Category Archives: Foreignly Entertaining

From You Tube to books to movies and any other entertaining tidbits and stories I can come up with, this is where to look.

European Reading List

For some reason I’ve been putting off making my European reading list. But last night I finally got my Global Reads by Region page up and running and I decided I need to get going with my European books as well.

In the past, I have read a number of books written by British authors. Jane Austen is my all time favorite. I read the Night Circus this year by Erin Morgenstern (I definitely recommend it if you are a reader that likes to imagine your books). Of course I’ve read all the Harry Potter novels (who hasn’t), the Lord of the Ring trilogy by Tolkein, and the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, as well as a number of historical fictions on the British monarchies by Philippa Gregory. With all that said, I’ve decided to avoid British writers. Perhaps I’ll give them a section of their own in the future. Instead I’m focusing on books I’ve heard set in Europe but that I’ve never read. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

  • In the Merde for Love by Stephen Clarke (2005), discovering the culture of the French is a specialty of Stephen Clarke. After reading a great blog post about A Year in the Merde, I scoped out the local library for a copy but instead found the second book in his series. Focused on love in FRANCE, this one is bound to have me laughing.
  • The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (1958), set in the 1860s ITALYThe Leopard tells the spellbinding story of a decadent, dying Sicilian aristocracy threatened by the approaching forces of democracy and revolution. I actually read this book in college in Italian but unfortunately it didn’t stick well. I thought I’d give it a try in English.
  • Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren (1945), in a little town in SWEDEN the outrageous red-headed Pippi Longstocking brings adventure to her neighbors. When I was just 4 or 5 my parents took me to the play of Pippi Longstocking but I haven’t read or really heard of her since. This will be a lighthearted and easy read.
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1873), a classic I’ve not read yet, Anna Karenina is one of the great novels of RUSSIA. The sensual, rebellious Anna renounces a respectable marriage for an affair that offers passion.
  • Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis (1946), the tale of a young intellectual in GREECE who ventures to escape his bookish life with the aid of his boisterous friend, Alexis Zorba

Help me add to my list! Have you read any great books by European authors?

Tea with Margaret Thatcher


Although I’ve watched a good number of films lately from around the globe, I haven’t been inspired to blog about any in a while. But this past week I watched the Iron Lady, and actually found myself writing down quotes from the movie (BTW, that is not a regular occurrence). Margaret Thatcher may be a controversial character in Britain’s history, but she definitely said some quotable statements during her tenure in British politics. As a woman with a great deal of responsibility on her shoulders, I think there are some lessons we can all take from her. So with a cup of tea in hand, here is what I have learned from the longest-serving British Prime Minister.

Plan your work for today and every day, then work your plan.

These days without the structure of a full-time job, I think I find this advice from M.T. to be the most practical. At least I’ve made it practical and started making my checklist every morning. It’s made me contemplate my goals and write them down, even the little ones. (Today: learn 30 new words for the GRE.)

I do not know anyone who has got to the top without hard work. That is the recipe. It will not always get you to the top, but it should get you close.

I am on the cusp of being a Millennial, a generation known for their access and ease with technology, but also regularly criticized for its characteristics of entitlement. Margaret’s quote was a good reminder that I cannot rest on the shoulders of others to accomplish my goals. It will take my own hard work and perseverance.

To wear your heart on your sleeve isn’t a very good plan; you should wear it inside, where it functions best.

As an emotional thinker, I can certainly benefit from this lesson.  If I can allow my heart and mind to function in unison, rather that allow my heart to run the show, my decisions and probably my outcomes would all be better.

Thank you, Margaret, for the tea and for the good advice.


Global Reading for Kids

My favorite part of being home in Atlanta is spending time with our nephews and niece. We may be bias, but they are quite possibly the cutest kids ever and we love playing with them. The week has been filled with games, the pool and reading books. With my mom being a kindergarten teacher, reading and storytelling was a part of our daily routine growing up and she has definitely carried on the tradition with her grandkids. She has a pretty great children’s book collection and this year for her birthday we helped internationalize it a bit more. Both Mom and the kids have enjoyed these bite-sized global reads:

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf is an oldie by a goodie. Teaching kids about classic Spanish culture from the perspective of a peaceable bull, this is one you may see on may 1st grade reading lists.

Tickle Tut’s Toes by Julie Appel and Amy Guglielmo – a tangible way for a little one to experience ancient Egypt. My 2-year old niece loves it.

Olivia Goes to Venice by Ian Falconer and Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth are perfect for the 4-7 year old globe-trotter. With real pictures of Venice and good moral stories from Stillwater the panda, both will be enjoyed by kids and adults alike.

The Korean Cinderella by Shirley Climo is one of several cultural make-overs of the classic fairy tale. For your princess-loving kiddos, these are a great way into incorporate other cultures into their reading.

I finished off the gift with a little bit of creative wrapping by printing pictures or patterns that represented each country.

  • The Story of Ferdinand – Spanish Flag
  • Olivia Goes to Venice – picture of a gondolier
  • Korean Cinderella – Korean calligraphy
  • Zen Panda – red polka dots for the Japanese flag
  • Tickle Tut’s Toes – hieroglyphics

Taking Recommendations: Latin American Reading List

Rather than research and make my reading list for Latin America, I thought I would just ask for recommendations. What have you read set in Central or South America that you would read again? Post your recommendation and I’ll add it to the list.

I haven’t read many books set in Latin America, but here is what I’ve read or I’m currently reading:

  • Leaving Tabasco by Carmen Boullosa (currently reading while in Mexico)
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriela Garcia Marquez
  • Love in the Time of Colera by Gabriela Garcia Marquez

I’m excited to read about:

House Hunters International

Fresh off of house hunting in Oklahoma, I thought it might be fun to do a little perusing of the international real estate market. We can all dream, right?!

Perugia, Italy

Bed: 6
Bath: 5
Asking Price: 700,000 Euros
Listing Agent: Zetta Group

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Bed: 2
Bath: 3
Asking Price: $289,000
Listing Agent: Coldwell Banker

Da Lat, Vietnam

Bed: 6
Bath: 6
Asking Price: $350,000
Listing Agent: Move & Buy Vietnam

List, Germany

Bed: 8
Bath: unknown
Asking Price: 2,500,000 Euros
Listing Agent: EREN

Dubai, UAE

Bed: 3
Bath: 2.5
Asking Price: AED 2,100,000
Listing Agent: Better Homes

Patagonia, Argentina

Bed: 6
Asking Price: $3,500,000
Listing Agent: Sotheby’s

Villa Marigot, St. Lucia

Bed: 6
Bath: 7
Asking Price: $1,975,000
Listing Agent: Altman Rela Estate

African Reads

After finishing my first book (The Tapestries…really good, by the way) from my Asian list last night, I thought I needed to continue on with my book list and add books of African settings to my list. Thinking back, I can only think of one book I’ve read that took place in Africa: Monique and the Mango Rains. It just happens to be one of the best books I’ve ever read – I laughed, cried, and learned so much about Mali. Written by Kris Holloway, she recounts her Peace Corps experience in Mali working with a local midwife named Monique. I actually met Kris at a conference in February, but unfortunately my copy is in a storage unit in South Carolina so I couldn’t have her sign it (Boo!), but Kris was great!

In addition to Monique and the Mango Rains, here’s what I’ve found that I’ve added to my list:

  • Refugee Boy by Benjamin Zephaniah (2011)   So this book doesn’t actually take place in Africa, but does depict the story of Elam, a boy from Ethiopia who becomes a refugee in London. Alone in a strange place, Elam has to deal with social services, the Refugee Council, and the transitions of a refugee completely by himself. With my hopes to volunteer with the refugee community in Oklahoma, I thought this would be a good one. (Available on Kindle for $3.32)
  • Broken Glass by Alain Mabanckou and Helen Stevenson (2010)  Centered in a run-down bar in the Congo, a bar regular nicknamed Broken Glass is chosen to record the stories of all patrons. However, everyone wants to rewrite history and buff up their stories along the way. According to the review, Broken Glass speaks regularly of the great books of Africa, which may just be beneficial as I add to my reading list. (Available on Kindle for $9.99)
  • The Last Brother by Nathacha Appanah (2011)  Set on the island of Mauritius in 1944, the novel tells of an unknown aspect of World War II through the journey of two young boys. Since I had no idea that WWII refugees went to Africa, nor exactly where Mauritius is located, I thought this might be beneficial for my African education. (Available on Kindle for $9.99)
  • The Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz (2008)  One of the most read Egyptian authors turns his writing to the stories of Ancient Egypt – love, war, and the pharaohs.  With my love of Egyptian artifacts, I think I’ll definitely enjoy these three. (Available on Kindle as a bundle for $14.99)

Any others I should add to my list?

Patted Down for Peanut Butter

I consider myself a seasoned traveler. Between traveling for a living right out of college, living 3,000 miles from family, and doing the regular long weekend out-of-town, Hubby and I fly a good bit; probably about 8 to 10 times a year at this point. In all my travels abroad and Stateside, I’ve never had anything confiscated or been patted down, that is until yesterday.

With our move to Oklahoma next month, we decided to use the holiday (plus a few extra days) to house hunt. So yesterday morning at 6am, we headed to the San Diego airport for our 8:15am flight. I had meticulously packed and tried to prepare for everything. Knowing we were having dinner with a couple tonight, I thought ahead and bought them a gift from San Diego – PB Peanut Butter. Now let me explain, this is not just any peanut butter. This peanut butter is toffee flavored, handmade in Pacific Beach, CA, and costs a whopping $9 for a small jar. It is amazing…and since this couple has three boys, I thought it would be a fun gift rather than a bottle of wine.

Well, TSA did not agree with my gift giving. Me, the well-seasoned traveler, put the peanut butter in my carry-on since I did not even think it would be considered a cream. I mean, it was chunky peanut butter. So first came the baggage check where they ripped the peanut butter from my beautiful wrapping job, rumpled through all my clothes, and let the entire airport see my bras and undies. When I told the TSA agent that he was ruining my packing job, he told me that it didn’t look like I had much of one to begin with.  Frustration. Next came the pat downs. Yes, plural. They patted me down twice because the first time I set off the alarm.

Feeling thoroughly groped and $9 of peanut butter lighter, I was able to re-pack my bag and head on to the plane where Hubby accidentally spilt coffee all over us. This goes to say that no matter how seasoned we are, disaster cannot always be avoided in travel. Fortunately the experiences we have when we travel make it worth all the while.

This is what started all the trouble

What travel disasters have you experienced? Make me feel better!