Friday, 19 August 2011

Meet the expat: Spirrel Monkey

The lovely Lorna runs her Etsy shop Spirrel Monkey where she sells beautiful cushion covers, purses and fabric buttons amongst other things.

Lorna was kind enough to take the time to tell us a little about herself.

I’m originally from a town called Stevenage which is 30 miles north of London, it was the first New Town built after WW2. Although Stevenage Old Town has been there since the 1100’s. My family have lived there their entire lives as have my husband and I. That was until last year at the age of 28.

We now live in Up State New York near Albany. We got here in the summer when it was unbearably hot. I didn’t mind too much as it was nice to get a feel of having a holiday after the stress of moving. We also happened to experience the worst winter in 25 years! I never knew it could get so cold and snow could get so deep. Yet everyone got on with life, roads were cleared, paths salted, schools open (apart from the days we actually had blizzards). It put the British reaction to snow to shame.

I have a degree in Applied Art with a specialism in Textiles something I have been into since I was a child and I enjoy creating especially when it comes to fabrics. My career though since leaving university has not been in the textiles area, as any job will do when you leave uni. But coming here has given me that chance to finally just go for it and do what I love, being creative!

 My husband works for an American company and had been working in their London office for 4 years, before he got transferred to their New York Office. I am the trailing spouse.

Being away from the family and friends you’ve grown up with your entire life. It was very hard saying goodbye, and I feel like I’m missing out on lots of things such as, weddings, births, funerals and ill grandparents.

I also miss certain foods. I know you can get similar things here but it’s just not the same.  Also there is a language barrier, even though we both speak English. Sometimes I find myself talking to people and I realise I lost them 5 minutes ago because they can’t quite understand some of the words I’m using.

Being different, most people are interested in you as soon as they hear your accent especially here in the US. Everyone asked us what we thought of the royal wedding and had we met the Queen.

We also have the opportunity to explore a vast and diverse country. We have already taken a road trip down to Florida and it’s amazing to see such a difference in climate and culture from just going north to south. This summer we have more travel plans to visit Niagara Falls, Boston, Philadelphia and Montreal.

I think everyone should live in another country at some point in their life. It’s such an experience and you learn so much about another culture, another country and about yourself. I know I will go home one day with a different perspective of the world that I wouldn't have had if I hadn’t lived abroad.

Find Spirrel Monkey online:

Are you a soon-to-be, been-there-done-that or currently an expat? If you sell on Etsy come and join our team.

Post by: Jacqueline Fouche (Tangentine)

Friday, 12 August 2011

Meet the expat: Tialys

The lovely Lynne runs three shops, Tialys, LaMance and Tour de Force on Etsy. Phew! Three shops, that sounds like a lot of work.

When this busy lady finds the time to chat with us she always manages to give me a chuckle with her wry sense of humour.

Lynn took time out of her busy schedule to tell us about herself.

Born in London, I’ve been living in France for the past 6 years with my husband and two daughters who are now 17 and 16. We sold our house in the U.K. because we wanted a change and we thought, whilst looking for a new property, we’d rent. Of course, we rented a big house, expanded into it for 4 years and then couldn’t afford to buy anything of a similar size as U.K. prices had rocketed. We already had a holiday home in France so it seemed the right time to make it permanent.

My husband works in IT in the finance and investment banking sector (yawn!!!) so he commutes to London on a Monday morning, returning Thursday nights and, with the girls at school, I needed to find something with which to occupy myself – apart from the dogs, cats and chickens we seem to have acquired.

I started my handmade shop, Tialys, because I always seemed to be making things and then not quite knowing what to do with them – friends and family already overstocked with my creative outpourings!

I absolutely love rummaging in junk shops and flea markets and, to save my house having to be registered as a shop itself, I decided to start offering some of my finds in La Manche which, I must admit, is now my favourite.

I recently started Tour de Force combining my vintage and handmade passions by making one of a kind cake display stands and jewellery holders but I haven’t really had a lot of time to promote that one yet so it’s a bit of a slow starter.

Biggest challenges living in my part of France

  • The language
  • The school system 
  • The shop opening hours (almost everything still shuts for 2 hours at lunchtime here)
  • French websites (abysmal)
  • No fish and chip shops
  • The language (I know I’ve already said that but it needed saying again!)

Best things about living in France:

  • The wine
  • The weather
  • The peace
  • The mountains
  • The lack of traffic jams (compared to the U.K.)
  • The lack of crowds everywhere (ditto)
  • The health system
  • The fact that my daughters are now bilingual
  • The wine (ooh, have I already said that??) 

Of course, there are more serious challenges about being an expat. My father is unwell at the moment so that’s difficult but, in reality, I can be at their home in England in around 5 hours so it’s not as bad as it could be if we had decided to move further afield.

I have a blog which some of the expats kindly come and read from time to time and I ramble on about everything and nothing on there when I get a minute.

All in all, I’m glad we made the move but I certainly don’t rule out moving again although next time it would definitely be to an English speaking country – any recommendations?

Thank you for taking the time to talk about yourself Lynn! It's nice to get to know you better. Hmmm... no moving recommendations from me at the moment. Give me more time to settle in South Africa before answering that.

Are you a soon-to-be, been-there-done-that or currently an expat? If you sell on Etsy come and join our team.

Post by: Jacqueline Fouche (Tangentine)

Friday, 5 August 2011

Meet the expat: Karen's Loom

Karen is an absolute sweetheart and whenever I talk to her the word lovely just pops into my head.

She runs two beautiful Etsy shops, Karen's Loom where she sells beautiful hand-woven, knitted and felted creations. She opened FeltNatural to sell her gorgeous bridal wear.

Karen was kind enough to take some time to tell my a little about herself.

I am from a small village in East Yorkshire, UK but have been living in Buenos Aires for more than 20 years now. I learnt to knit when I was about 9 years old and although I have an advanced certificate in Education and have taught English for more than 20 years, I spend all my time working with natural fibers. I weave, knit, crochet, do macrame and felt.

Why did you move?
When I was about 18 years old I lived in London and around New Year I met my now husband, an Argentine, who was travelling around Europe with some friends. We kept in touch via letters for around a year and then lost contact for 5 years. We met up again in London and 6 months later I moved to Buenos Aires and have been here ever since.

Biggest challenge in being an expat?
My biggest challenge was the language, I was very shy at that time and totally afraid of speaking the language in case people laughed at my mistakes or pronunciation so I kept quiet for a couple of years (my husband often says he wishes I had never learnt the language) Although I have been here for many years and my Spanish is pretty fluent I still get into problems sometimes due to misunderstandings.

Biggest Joy in being an expat?
It is really hard to choose just one:I love the warmth of Buenos Aires as I found the cold and rain in England very depressing. I believe I am sensitive to the climate and the weather here in BA really suits me!

I also love the food here (I remember eating tinned ravioles).

The Etsy Expat Team is another of my joys, I think we all have a need to fit in and be understood, and this team of incredible ladies gave me that space. It is not easy living in a country that has a different culture and language to yours or living far away from your family and friends and each of us on this team understands that. We can use our experiences to help each other out and give support as we all have experienced many of the same things.

Etsy Shops

Thank you for taking the time to tell us about yourself.

Are you a soon-to-be, been-there-done-that or currently an expat? If you sell on Etsy come and join our team.

Post by: Jacqueline Fouche (Tangentine)

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Meet the expat: Sam´s Shenanigans

Whenever I visit Sam's shops I get this happy feeling. Her Gingerbread Christmas decorations are delightful and I love her inspiring signs. She also makes beautiful homewares - go have a look.

Sam was kind enough to take some time to introduce herself to us.

I´m Sam, I´m 27 and live in Barcelona, Spain. I make anything my hands want to make and I run two shops on Etsy, Sam´s Shenanigans and The Gingerbread Mama.

I started sewing, probably only about 6 or 7 years ago, but I have always been creative and making things since I was small.

I´m originally from a small village called Walkington in East Yorkshire, England. Think fields, trees, tractors and a typical English Village with Village pubs and a pond I grew up playing in corn fields and climbing trees and making “den´s” with my younger brother Matthew and due to this I love nature and really miss it now I´m living in a city. I love the UK countryside and I never realized it until I moved, but I am such a country girl it´s untrue!

When I thought about my creative/artist background I couldn´t really see where it had come from, or if I had been encouraged at a young age, but then I remembered that my Great Grandma made clothes, my Grandma made clothes and even my Mum made clothes so really it´s all in the genes! (Although I haven´t quite got onto clothes yet!) My mum bought me a sewing machine one Christmas, as I thought it was a good idea to learn to do properly and it sat in the loft for two years. Then for no reason at all I decided I needed to get it out and start learning. I went round to my mum´s on Saturday afternoons for sewing lessons and the rest is history! I think even my mum is impressed at how far I have now taken those lessons! Thanks mum!

Why did you move?
I moved to Barcelona, Spain in 2009 and as with all good love stories, it was purely for love. I met my partner Victor on a holiday in Menorca, and just like the famous film dirty dancing – he was on the entertainment staff and I was with my family!

We lived a long distance relationship for a long time and it got to the point where we couldn´t live that way any longer, So one of us had to move. After all this time here now, I am starting to feel like this is home, the home sickness still strikes, but less often and it´s more controllable.

Hardest thing about being an expat?

I found the hardest thing was relying on someone else to help me (not speaking fluent Spanish or Catalan). I'm very independent as a woman and found it really disabling. It still occasionally gets to me now although I am getting much better at accepting things and letting him help…plus my Spanish/Catalan is getting better each day as well. Of course missing my family is hard and at special times, babies, marriages etc it´s harder but I am only a 2 hour plane ride away so it´s not too bad.

Biggest joy being an expat?

The biggest joy of being an expat, (apart from being with Victor – obviously!) is the great friends I have made these past few years, including my Etsy expat friends who without sometimes I don´t know where I would be! I really have been lucky and met some wonderful people and seen some wonderful places. It´s opened my eyes to the world and taught me a lot about myself.

Find Sam online:

Etsy Shops

Thanks for taking the time to tell us about yourself Sam.

Are you a soon-to-be, been-there-done-that or currently an expat? If you sell on Etsy come and join our team.

Post by: Jacqueline Fouche (Tangentine)

Monday, 6 June 2011

Here Comes the Sun - Team Theme Challenge Winners

Here comes the sun, little darlings, and it's here to stay. In some parts of the Northern hemisphere and for a few months, at least! The Etsy Expats have been even more industrious than usual this time, as for the first time the number of entries to the challenge surpassed the number of available spots in the treasury. And as if that weren't a felicitous development in itself, we get to crown as many as three winners this time!

The colors of the Sun seduced the voters in Grain's graphic design banner, Artophile's door topper and fabriquefantastique's summer scarf.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Meet the Etsy Expats: Solohandmade

Kerry runs her lovely shop solohandmade on Etsy. Her designs are gorgeous and she manages to balance function with exquisite workmanship. I love her coasters and she also makes pillow covers, jewellery and bunting.

Kerry was kind of enough to give me some of her time to introduce herself to the rest of the Etsy expats.

I was born and raised in Massachusetts, USA in a coastal area about 12 miles north of Boston. After finishing art school, I moved to Philadelphia with a friend. I got a job working with a non-profit organization which provided support services for children at risk. After work I would head straight to my studio and get busy with my art. I worked in glass and metal (enamelling) for about 10 years, exhibited in numerous galleries, sold in a few local artisan shops, and was part of a wonderful artist co-op gallery.

I've been living in Utrecht, the Netherlands for 9 years now. I am married to Hans, we have a 3.5 year old son named Minh Sao and are currently waiting to complete the adoption of our second baby, a boy. I was unable to take my gigantic enamelling kiln so got a bit more serious with what I had minored in school: bookbinding. I did that for about 5 years and then in 2007 switched gears again and started sewing and have been steady with it since.

I have been a huge Frida Kahlo fan since the age of 15. I have many artists who I admire & am always keeping up with news/shows in the art world, but she's really the be all end all for me ;)

Why did you move?
I took off to travel through the EU for a few months and met a Dutchman in Prague. One year later, I was living in the Netherlands!

Biggest challenge being an expat?
Dutch grammar, missing my family and friends.
Redefining the work I do.

Biggest joy being an expat?
Travelling is a lot easier! Seeing the world from a different perspective and meeting people from all over. While it can be terribly hard at times, having 2 countries to call home is a blessing and something I am thrilled we have to give our children.

Find Kerry online:
Thanks for allowing us to peek into your life Kerry.

Are you a soon-to-be, been-there-done-that or currently an expat? If you sell on Etsy come and join our team.

Post by: Jacqueline Fouche (Tangentine)

Photo credits: All photos by Kerry from solohandmade

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Meet the Expat: Julie

We’re always happy when the lovely Julie pops into our Expat thread on the Etsy forums. Her chats always manage to cheer me up and I find her comments about her belly dancing classes intriguing. She was kind enough to answer some questions and give us a looksie into her life.

Hello my name is Julie. I have 3 etsy shops - Dorsbien for vintage, Frenchfabrics for my handmade and HeadsUpHigh for my new supplies and feathers.

I have always made things - I started sewing and crocheting age 8 at school. My mum taught me how to use the sewing machine and as a teenager I made all my 'special' outfits for the disco.

I didn't go down the art route at school - I chose science. I'm glad of that now because my style is definately my own. I worked with the Camphill Communities for 3 years and learned pottery and basket weaving. I ran the pottery for 2 years with no previous knowledge. I can still remember the noise of broken pottery as we opened the gas kiln for the first time (far too hot - no instruction book or anything!) After that it got much better.

We moved to France from Scotland in 2005 after 10 years of wanting to be there. Finally our circumstances changed and we moved. It is one of the best things we have done. We are well integrated into the local community - both children bi-lingual now, I teach bellydance locally to a wonderful group of English and French ladies. We now do public performances.

Biggest challenge being an expat - the French Bureacracy - it is unreal!

Biggest joy - has to be the weather, peace, tranquility, fresh air, slower lifestyle, bi-lingual children and Vide-greniers!! Through selling on etsy I can stay at home and look after my children - no aunts or grannies here.

I like big old wooden doors with black nails, I like lace and linens, I love rainbow colours. I like being able to go out and see the stars at night, crickets singing. Oh and we have animals - couldn't do that before. We have hens and chicks, sheep and lambs and over the years have had geese, ducks, goats and quail. All have gone to new homes as an exchange for hens usually. Our hens lay blue eggs. Last is the mediaeval festivals held here every year - our nearest is at Chinon and is the first week of August, fantastic.

Vices - I don't drink (shame with all that wine), I don't smoke, no drugs, my vices are chocolate and VERY LOUD MUSIC, which I can play here because we have no close neighbours.

I really like the etsyexpat team because we are all unique in our sisterhood / brotherhood. I think it is a very important part of the etsy lifestyle and work.

Thanks for the glimpse into your life Julie!

Are you a soon-to-be, been-there-done-that or currently an expat? If you sell on Etsy come and join our team.

Post by: Jacqueline Fouche (Tangentine)

Friday, 13 May 2011

Meet the expats: Tangentine

I've been writing posts for the Expat blog the past couple of months to introduce you to the team members and their shops.

This week, I wanted to introduce myself. I'm not usually a vain person, but I would like to talk about living as an expat before moving back home, to South Africa, next week. I think it will be interesting to see how my viewpoint changes after I settle down. I have, after all, lived as a nomad for 9 years.

My name is Jacqueline and I make jewellery that I sell in my Etsy shop Tangentine.

I started making jewellery when I was 16 because I thought I was an unique little snowflake and did not want to wear the same things as everyone else.

After I left school I decided to do a degree in Multimedia – as I've always liked the balance between the technical (computer science) and art (web design). Turns out I'm a really good planner so I spent most of my professional career planning and implementing websites for other people. A job I really love.

There was one need that my day job did not fulfill. The tactile element, being able to point at something and say, 'Hey, I made that!' I took up jewellery making again in 2004. In February 2010 I decided to take it seriously and start selling.

My jewellery are influenced by my interests and roughly falls into 3 styles - ancient history inspired, related to science and the natural world.

Why did you move? 
Throughout history there were always people who wondered what they could find over that hill! river/ sea. There's a certain sense of adventure related to the unknown and the need to explore those places.

I'm pretty much that person. I want to see it with my own eyes and experience how other people live and see the world.

While I'm talking about experiences, I thought I'd include one of the many stupid things I do. I like to think it's because the first time I saw proper snow, but I have to be honest. I do a lot of silly things just because I can. This was a lot of fun and we also got the shot.

Biggest challenge being an expat?
Paperwork and missing my family.

Learning German's been a big one too (even though my language skills are still really poor).

Biggest joy being an expat?
Exploring. We've lived in Dublin, Ireland for 2 and a half years, 5 in London, UK and the past 2 years we've been in Darmstadt which is close to Frankfurt in Germany. Each country has things that I really love and will miss dearly.

Travel. I don't think we'd be able to travel to as many places as we have if we stayed in South Africa. My favourite places were Rome, Tunisia, Istanbul, Crete, the Amazon and Thailand.

We arrived in Dublin with 2 backpacks and a duffel bag. After 9 years in Europe we have 12 boxes, mostly books and some clothes, computers and a few bits of furniture. We've lived the nomad life and we're low on possessions but so rich in experience and friends.

Europe I'll miss being reminded of your history - so apparent in every town and building. South Africa, I'm looking forward to your diversity and biiiiggg skies.

Find me online:

Are you a soon-to-be, been-there-done-that or currently an expat? If you sell on Etsy come and join our team.

Post by: Jacqueline Fouche (Tangentine)

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Easter Is from the East

As people around the world prepare for the most important Christian holiday in the year, the Easter bunny dragged in two winners from the Etsy Expats team theme challenge EASTER IS FROM THE EAST.

Two original items collected most votes: SewFineFashion's Tassel Bowl and Coco the Lop Eared Bunny by PeonyForest

Happy Easter to all and may your egg baskets be bountiful always!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Meet the expats: Fibrous

Whenever I think of Thea's shop, Fibrous, the words - cuteness overload - come to mind. I use the phrase because her pieces always makes me feel warm and fuzzy – they never cease to put a smile on my face.

Her work has a lot of depth and the reason I like them so much is due to her amazing ability of infusing personality and character into them. They each seem to tell their own story. She uses the word 'quirky' to describe her pieces and I have to agree with her.

Thea makes needle felted creatures, jewellery and functional objects - pincushions, houseware and magnets.

Thea was kind enough to answer some questions and a to give bit of background on herself so that we can get to know her better.

I’m originally from America, a Los Angeles native. Everyone thinks it’s super glamorous there, but a friend of mine recently described it, accurately too, as the place where the zombie apocalypse will start.

Since living in Newcastle I’ve lived in Edinburgh, Scotland (my favourite city, ever!) and now I’m living in a small city in Western England called Swindon, which has no bakeries.

I make things out of wool. Little wool animals, pincushions, and felted soaps. I ran a wool shop with my father for a few years before moving to the UK, so I originally had a love of knitting and yarn, but became addicted to needle felting (shaping fluffy wool with barbed needles) because it’s so easy to actually sculpt cute things.

I also love how wool is eco-friendly. The little sheepies get shorn each year, so it’s a renewable and sustainable material.

Why did you move?
My partner wanted to study Paper Conservation and there’s only about six universities in the English speaking world which offers courses in it.

It was a combination of an interesting sounding course, not needing a car, and the weather (yes, we actually went to England because of the weather!) that we decided she would go to a university in Newcastle, UK.

Biggest challenge being an expat?
The biggest challenge for me was actually trying to figure out what people are saying. Newcastle is notorious for having a very hard to understand accent, and there were so many times at first that I just had no idea what someone was telling me. I eventually got used to it though. Mostly. Not being able to go back home for Christmas wasn't very fun either.

Biggest joy being an expat?
The biggest joy was trying out all the amazing candies (especially chocolate bars!) over here! It’s awesome, seriously. I think that’s all I’m going to have in my suitcase when I move back to America (visa runs out soon)

Thanks for taking the time to talk to me Thea.

You can find her online:
Are you a soon-to-be, been-there-done-that or currently an expat? If you sell on Etsy come and join our team.

Post by: Jacqueline Fouche (Tangentine)

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Meet the expat: Fabrique Fantastique

The lovely Jan runs two Etsy shops, Fabrique Fantastique and her gorgeous new shop, Boutique Fantastique.

I love looking at her scarves, they're so pretty. She also sells quilts and sari fabrics amongst other things. Her new shop specializes in vintage clothing and the wedding dresses are exquisite.

I believe, Jan, with her inestimable energy is planning to open a third shop on Etsy in the fall. I can't wait to see it.

Jan likes to call herself the 'dinosaur' of the team and exclaims (on occasion) that she needs technological help. But for a dinosaur her blog looks really awesome!

When I asked her if she's willing to be my subject for our Meet the Expat post this week she was full  of reservations. She thinks she's the oldest person on our team (she'll be 70 next month) and she's lived in Toronto for 45 years. So wasn't sure whether she can validly call herself an expat.

I, of course, disagreed. I believe that's exactly why it's so interesting to talk to her about her experiences as an expat. For some of us, after all, that's our future. To become naturalized citizens in whichever country we reside.

Jan was kind enough to answer my questions and give me a bit of background on her life.

I am an English publicans daughter and always lived 'above the shop'. I was washing glasses by age 14 (that was the legal age to be in licensed premises then).

I went to Canterbury College of Art and worked in London after wards. I have 3 grown children, the eldest reversed the situation by marrying an Englishman and lives with 3 children in Yorkshire.

I pursued my art inclinations, working with textile arts, showing at small galleries and a little teaching.

When my youngest started school I fell into a lovely sales career in the publishing industry here, lots of fun!

Austerity Britain shaped me and I always was an enthusiastic collector of vintage textiles so when my publishing career came to an end I started to deal in this area...still love it, especially the thrill of the chase.

Why did you move? 
I came to Canada for the usual reason...I married a Canadian.

We met in Spain, married in England and came to his home city because, at that time, Canada had a very good standard of living - central heating, supermarkets, washing machines etc - that were not available in England at that time.

We never made a conscious  decision to stay, in fact we are still thinking and talking about living in Britain!

Biggest challenge being an expat?  
Biggest challenge was recognizing that I was living in a different culture. (My husband's mother was Romanian.)

I had assumed because it was English speaking things would be the same. At that time Canada was moving quickly from being a somewhat boring English outpost to the multi-ethnic society it is today.

Biggest joy being an expat?
Biggest joy was that Canada has afforded me many opportunities that I do not think would have come my way had I stayed at home (maybe I'm wrong, for Britain has changed mightily too).

Jan was also kind enough to let us see some of her photos from her cabin in the woods. She thinks this would count as one of the things that she would not be able to have in the UK. I tend to agree with her.

I love the sound of this cabin, it's on a small, 1 acre island on the Georgian Bay of lake Huron. Meaning a two hour drive from Toronto followed by 20 minutes travel by boat. Sounds divine.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to me Jan. We know you've had a hip replacement recently and we're all very happy at your recovery and hope you feel more mobile every day.

You can find Jan online:

Are you a soon-to-be, been-there-done-that or currently an expat? If you sell on Etsy come and join our team.

Post by: Jacqueline Fouche (Tangentine)

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Meet the expats: Artophile

The lovely Shirl from Artophile is a stained glass artist. She always manages to cheer me up with her posts and makes me laugh with her computer gaming conversations. An interest we share.

Shirl is a Scot living in the US, but it's much easier to let her tell the story of how she ended up living there.

Shirl, usually mentions coming out of her basement when she posts. It makes me wish I could see her studio because it sounds like a magical place. I love her panels, celtic pieces and egg art. Go have a look!

Why did you move?

I didn't mean to become an expat, it just kinda happened!

 After studying Tapestry and Stained Glass at  Art College in Edinburgh, Scotland I travelled around Europe and survived by working at whatever I could find.That included cleaning yachts in Spain, working in  a restaurant in Greece and picking grapes in France.

 I loved the Mediterranean lifestyle so much that I settled in Mallorca, Spain for a few years and worked on yachts, doing anything from varnishing the teak to scraping barnacles off their hulls!

 I was then offered a six month job as a chef on a private yacht based in Palm Beach, Florida. That six months stretched into a year during which time I sailed as far  south as the Bahamas and as far north as Cape Cod.

 I met my husband in Florida and after we had our daughters we moved to the mountains of West Virginia to be closer to his family. I've been been here for 17 years now.

Biggest challenge being an expat? 
 The biggest challenge has to be the separation from my family and the uncomfortable knowledge that I will probably never live in Scotland or Europe again. Leaving my girls here while we moved there would be unthinkable, but so would our insisting they come with us. A tricky one, for sure...

Biggest joy being an expat?
 The biggest joy of being an expat is being with my husband and daughters. I had to travel halfway across the world to find them and am overjoyed that we are as close as we are. It certainly makes living here easier and in fact they are the only reason I'm still here and not living near the sea in Europe somewhere.

 If home is where the heart is, then I am at home here, as unlikey as that  sometimes seems...

Thanks for taking the time to talk to me Shirl it's really good to get to know you a bit better.

Are you a soon-to-be, been-there-done-that or currently an expat? If you sell on Etsy come and join our team.

Post by: Jacqueline Fouche (Tangentine)

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Nadal Green with Envy at Fabulous Tennis Racket

The Etsy Expats drew on their impressive resources once again for a team theme challenge "Green with". Lots have entered, but like with any tournament there can only be one winner. Hopeandvanilla won game, set and match with a lovely fresh green vintage tennis racket brooch:

Well played, indeed!

Friday, 11 March 2011

Meet the expats: PeonyForest

Elena runs her beautiful shop PeonyForest on Etsy and makes a variety of cute and slightly geeky items.

She's been making lampshade inserts for herself for years and decided that it would be a nice gift for children. She also makes cute little animal toys and jewelry.

You should really check out the animal toys. As a matter of fact, while I was writing this, I fell in love with one of them and just had to buy it.

Except for the fact that they're really cute it's an excellent design and very clever. Using magnets you can attach it to metal and they have all kinds of features making it into a nice interactive toy.

Elena was born in St. Petersberg and comes from a family of engineers. As one might expect from someone who has a lot of technical people in their family, Elena also did a technical degree, in Computer Engineering.

Elena's been running her Etsy shop full time to give her creative side a chance to play. She's always had an interest in art and especially in merging it with technology. The Etsy shop was opened to 'allow me to tinker with a purpose and I find the process of inventing fascinating'.

Elena and her husband will be moving to Rochester, NY, this summer and will probably have to look for a "normal" job again soon. But I'm sure she'll carry on with inventing and creating because we all know how addictive that process is and it would be a disservice to talent if she stops creating.

Elena was kind enough to answer some questions for me.

Why did you move?
I came to study and ended up working in California, and met a wonderful man, who asked me to start our lives together.

Biggest challenge being an expat?
I find it hard being unable to relate my childhood memories to people around me.

The pop culture they grew up with doesn't include my favorite cartoons, movies or school stuff.

If I say "Hedgehog in the fog" anyone with soviet background immediately knows what I am talking about, but not my husband. If he says "Captain America", I need to hear an explanation on what that was. And it's strange sometimes that we don't have common childhood references.

Having family all over the world is hard. Tickets are expensive and visiting is limited. My brother lives in New York city, Dad and my younger sister live in Aix-en-provence. Mom and grandmas are in several different time zones across Russia. Thank goodness for Skype.

Biggest joy being an expat?
I think having a wider perspective helps me with things going on around me.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to me Elena it's really good to get to know you a bit better.

Are you a soon-to-be, been-there-done-that or currently an expat? If you sell on Etsy come and join our team.

Post by: Jacqueline Fouche (Tangentine)

Friday, 4 March 2011

Meet the expats: Anakit

The lovely Alja, runs her jewelry shop, Anakit on Etsy.

Alja is Slovenian and was born and raised on the sunny side of the Alps. She lives in Brussels, Belgium but just moved to Berlin, Germany for a couple of months to perfect her German.

Alja makes beautiful jewelry in many different styles. Her work style range from glamorous to a hint of ancient culture and I especially love her porcelain pieces.

Why did you move ?
When I was a kid I was either going to be an astronaut or a conference interpreter.  After university NASA didn’t call, but a postgraduate programmer opened up for interpreters with Slovenian as their mother tongue.

Already during my studies it became clear that in order to make it as a beginner in this profession I would have to move to where the demand for interpreters was great and constant.  There is only one place outside their little country where Slovenes can speak their language in an official capacity:  Brussels,  the home of the European Union .

If I had been born a native speaker of one of the languages spoken in the United Nations, it could have been the Big Apple, but this way, the only choice for me was Belgium.

Biggest challenge of being an expat?
I usually adapt well to new situations, so I haven’t had any major worries as an expat, but there is one thing that you have to get used to, namely being away from your family.

When I decided to move my little niece broke down in tears and refused to accept it. We are a closely-knit family and the timing of my decision coincided with some rough times my sister was going through. When my grandmother passed away I was lucky to pay a fortune to go to the funeral  at a short notice, but that wasn’t possible in the case of my aunt. I wanted to be with my family to mourn and console each other, but the kilometers between us were too many.

The challenge I fear most is not being there as my parents get old and frail. Every time I visit for the holidays they seem more aged. Hopefully not for some time yet, but there will come a point when they will need tending to and I don’t know what I will do then. It’s a terrifying thought.

Biggest Joy of being an expat?
The best part of being an expat is that every day feels like a summer camp.  Every day teaches you something new and the next new experience is just around the corner.

Brussels may not be London or Paris, but it lies conveniently in between both. It has great connections to anywhere in Europe or the world and I have been able to go on many exciting travels since I have lived here.

The city itself is a melting pot, where you can hear all sorts of languages just walking down the street. Everybody brings a piece of their culture with them. I have been fortunate to make several friends here that I believe could be friends for life. They are expats as well, some are Slovene as well, and others come from all over Europe.

We work, laugh, play and even travel together. As we all have to live away from our families we nourish and cherish our friendships here so much more. Strong friendships are the foundation of feeling at home away from home.

Find Anakit jewelry online:

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions and allow us to get to know you a bit better.

Are you a soon-to-be, been-there-done-that or currently an expat? If you sell on Etsy come and join our team.

Post by: Jacqueline Fouche (Tangentine)

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Meet the expats: JustOneLook

Linda was born and raised in the South West of England and started sewing in her teens to make herself unique clothes. She's been sewing for years she's only recently started selling her clothes.

Linda runs two shops on Etsy, JustOneLook and SewFineFashions. Be sure to check them out.

Except for her always kindly words, talk of her menagerie at home (she mostly mentions taking care of her chickens) when we chat, I usually think Linda is a hoot. Her slightly absurd sense of humour has cheered me up many a day as I'm sure she has you too.

She was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.

Why did you move?

I became an expat more by accident than design. I have always enjoyed travelling and experiencing other cultures and that's how I met my American husband, we were both travelling around Europe.
I came to the States, we got married and traveled around America for a while but once we started a family and a business, we found a location that worked for us and have been here ever since.

Biggest challenge being an expat?

I have to say that missing family is the hardest part of being an expat. Not just for me but also my children missing out on relationships with their English side of the family and vice versa.
Also they were born and raised in America and although its, more or less the same language, the culture is still different, which sometimes creates a bit of a rift when I see things in a different light from their friends' and their parents.

Biggest joy being an expat?

Definitely the climate.  I am fortunate to live in South Florida where the sun usually shines and where there is so much to enjoy.  Everything is close... beaches, shopping, restaurants, theme parks, the list goes on.
I also enjoy the diversity of the area.  It's as common to hear someone speaking French or Spanish for instance as English.

Linda's shops:

Are you a soon-to-be, been-there-done-that or currently an expat? If you sell on Etsy come and join our team.

Post by: Jacqueline Fouche (Tangentine)

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Meet the expats: Water lily jewels and designs

The lovely Eva from Water lily jewels and designs sells handmade jewelry and vintage items.

I've always admired her jewelry and particularly love the pieces she's given a new lease of life. Combining components from vintage pieces and her own work.

She's an absolute sweetheart who makes the most beautiful treasuries and runs her shop full time.

Eva was born Nottingham, England but raised in the U.S. 4 years after she met her boyfriend she moved to Germany to be with him, in October of 2009.

Eva was kind enough to answer some questions on her experiences as an expat for me.

Why did you move?

My fiance is born and raised here in Germany, and, well... he was here. Plus he has a good job with a company here, whereas the work I do can be done anywhere. So it was logical for me to come here!

Biggest challenge being an expat?

Learning the language, without a doubt. And being able to understand it when native speakers use it! They tend, naturally, to speak so quickly that my brain lags behind on processing it, so it sometimes takes me a minute or two to puzzle out what they said. And that can make a person feel a bit stupid and slow. But bit by bit, it's coming together. In fact, I always get a little sense of triumph when I understand something without feeling like I need to run for a dictionary!

Biggest joy being an expat?

The new culture. Seeing how people do things differently. I firmly think that teenagers, at some point when they become legal adults, should go to another country for a period of time to live and experience something completely different from what they are used to. It is mind-opening!

Find Eva:

Keep your eyes open, I heard a rumour that we'll soon see Eva's other crafting talents in her shop.

Are you a soon-to-be, been-there-done-that or currently an expat? If you sell on Etsy come and join our team.

Post by: Jacqueline Fouche (Tangentine)

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Meet the Expats: The Hope Tree

We all know the lovely Hayley from The Hope Tree. I always admire her new French finds in her vintage shop.

The thing that always strikes me about Hayley is her kindness. Whenever I 'talk' to her online a very thoughtful, kindhearted person comes through.

She also has a habit of posting about being grateful on Twitter. Something that always makes me pause and think about all the things I'm grateful for. Today, it is all the wonderful people I've met through the Etsy Expat team.

I don't think everyone knows this, but Hayley is also a brilliant artist.

She was kind enough to answer my questions.

How do you manage to juggle art, vintage and your family life?

Honestly, in my eyes, I don't! I guess you just have to do what you have to do. My little 2 year old comes first of course. The rest of the time is shared between a part-time job I have and my vintage shop.

Sadly, my art gets left behind. I think that is mainly that I don’t really a place to paint, I paint on our bed when my son is sleeping or at crèche. Luckily  I have the support of my husband and he helps out all the time.

All the things in my life are important to me and I somehow give just enough to each area even though as many do, I wish I had more time.

Why did you move?
My husband is French and so we first moved to France from South Africa straight after our marriage to try it out. During the first year we lived on the French Riviera and it just didn’t work out. So we scooted over to England and all was dandy until our son came along, then it was too expensive.

At this point we could either move back to South Africa (yay!) or move to my husband’s family in the north of France. At this point I had to follow my head and not my heart as France just had a better way of living (schooling, healthcare) for my son. So here we are!

Biggest challenge being an expat?
There are two major areas for me. As most expats will tell you, it’s being away from family.

I didn’t realize I was such a ‘home bird’ until I was living in a different culture. My father passed away a few years ago and that just made my mother, brother and I extremely close. But as they say ‘what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger!’

The other thing that I find truly challenging is how hard it is to relax and be one’s self in a culture which is extremely different to one’s own plus a foreign language. It find it very hard to just relax with others and even when one goes shopping, you are always aware of the difference.

Biggest joy being an expat?
You know, its growing to be a great joy. That is my discovery of the French culture, my way. With my etsy shop I am slowly discovering the French and who they are. Each vintage item I find is like reading another page of the French history and who the French are. It might even become a love affair, who knows.

Find The Hope Tree:

Are you a soon-to-be, been-there-done-that or currently doing that expat? If you sell on Etsy come and join our team.

Post by: Jacqueline Fouche (Tangentine)

Photo credits: The Hope Tree

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Meet the Expats: Flaurena

Lauren from Flaurena is a gem - almost as sweet as her jewellery is pretty.

Flaurena makes beautifully intricate jewellery - fit for a princess. Well, I'm sure that's how you feel when you wear it. She has a penchant for striking, bold designs and blames her Amazonian frame for that. She's rather tall.

She was kind enough to answer some questions on her experiences as an expat.

Why did you move?

The truth is, I’ve always been on the move.

I was born in London, England, but most of my childhood was spent living overseas: I went to school in southern Spain, Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C., and Assisi, Italy.  Additionally, I spent a few months in Miami and Jaipur, India.

Later on, I studied French and Spanish at university in London.  Typically, most B.A. degrees in the U.K. are three years, but when studying languages it’s a four-year degree, because you are required to spend your third year abroad: I spent 7 months in Madrid, followed by 3 months in Paris.  It was there that I met S., an American who would eventually become my husband!

Since then, S. and I have lived in London once, and twice in New York.  We’ve been living in Brooklyn for 5 years now, and it’s the longest I’ve lived in any one place (city AND apartment!) without moving.  I tell you, I’m beginning to get itchy feet!  We’re thinking about leaving the Empire State, but don’t know where to… suggestions/ recommendations welcomed!

Biggest challenge being an expat?

To be honest, both my parents are ex-pats, so in some ways I don’t think of myself as one.

Also, my immediate family is comprised of people who are all different nationalities – British, American, Belgian, Spanish, and Bulgarian – so for me, moving around and being immersed in different cultures feels perfectly normal.

But that’s not to say there aren’t challenges living an ocean away…

Firstly, living so far away from family is hard: it seems that I either have the time or the money to visit them, but never both!  I’d love to be able to pop round for Sunday lunch every week…  On the plus side, the advent of Skype means we can ‘see’ each other when we do speak.

Secondly, paperwork: the day I naturalized and became an American citizen was wonderful for many reasons, not least of all because it signified the end of immigration bureaucracy.

Finally, crossword puzzles, ha ha!  The fact that I didn’t spend a lot of my formative years in the U.S. means I am sometimes at a cultural disadvantage, which means I don’t always know the answers to clues…

Biggest joy being an expat?

It seems that wherever I go, I’m a foreigner: I’m too emotional to be English; too reserved to be Spanish; too eccentric to be American…  Being considered an outsider can be frustrating, but most of the time I enjoy “being different”.  Most people are naturally curious and the fact that I “speak with an accent” (in both English and Spanish) here in the U.S. can be a wonderful icebreaker.

Thinking about this question more, though, I think the biggest joy is the fact that I think of myself as a true world citizen.  My eyes have been opened to the world around me, through being exposed to different cultures, languages, and cuisines.  Moving around as much as I have has made me more culturally sensitive, more independent, and more open-minded.  And though I may have plenty of room for improvement, it’s made me a better artist and, I hope, a better human being.

I love reading these expat stories. Thanks for taking the time to make this post happen Lauren.

Next week I'm featuring a lovely collector and secret artist.

Post by: Jacqueline Fouche (Tangentine)