POETRY & WORDS :: The pirates would like to worship Jesus


The kitchen lights are switched on, the dishes are in the sink, the washing machine is whirring, there’s laundry on the floor, and I’m leaning over a to-do list, panicking over the tickle in my throat and how much I have to do this week. Aveline is in the living room in her pajamas, kneeling down on the brown and grey rug in front of the little stable of twigs and moss that’s held together with nails, kneeling there in front of the baby Jesus.

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She’s singing — not reciting, but singing — words as they come to her. The music is so pure and so real and so full of worship. She runs off, and comes back pulling a pirate ship behind her. “The Lalaloopsy would like to worship Jesus!” she shouts. “The pirates would like to worship!”

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Because that’s how it should be, you know — no, no, that’s how it is. He didn’t come just for the shepherds of ancient yore, to be tucked neatly into a storybook and a creche to decorate our mantles and our church foyers. He didn’t come to live forever safely next to the haloed holy family. He didn’t come for the perfect, for the sinless saints, for the angels in the winter sky. No, he came for all of humanity, all of us, every single one in every corner of the world.

He’s here for the blue-haired Lalaloopsy,

for the circus-performer,

for the sword-wielding pirates,

for the stowaways and the untouchables, hidden in the depth of the ship’s steerage,

for me.

And here I am, like Martha, “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made” [1], in danger of taking this miracle for granted.

So come. Come, everyone one of us. Just as we are — with our baggage and our stress and our burdens and our imperfections — come. Here’s here.

Oh, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

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LIFE IN PHOTOS :: Our Tiny Tree


Our tree is tiny and simple — sparkling silver and white and blue, with an exquisite little porcelain doll my best friend brought back from Russia. The tree’s not huge, or even made of real tree, but it’s tucked away under the blue-light-wrapped windows, on a white woolen rug that looks like snow, and makes Aveline so happy.

To me, that’s perfect.

(Do you remember this feeling as a child?) Oaxacaborn / Gina Munsey blog

Oaxacaborn / Gina Munsey blog
Oaxacaborn / Gina Munsey blog

“Shaggy branches curve / Down to the heads of children / Beads shine richly / Overflowing with lights…” “Гнутся ветви мохнатые / Вниз, к головкам детей / Блещут бусы богатые / Переливом огней…” -Raisa Adamovna Kudasheva

SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS :: Dalahäst, Dala Horse


Ah, dalahästar (that’s the plural of dalahäst…I think).  I love them. Is it cliche? I don’t even care!  : )

Giant OUtdoor Dala
Dala horses in the snow (perhaps at Skansen Park?) via Hasenohr on Flickr

Cross stitch Dala
Cross Stitch Dala via Kitschn Stitchin

Dala Horse print
Dala Horse Print via Red Stuga on Etsy (based in Minneapolis; where else?!)

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“How Swede It Is” Dala Horse and Kanelbullar Magnets via Red Stuga

paper mache dala horses
Papier Mâché Dala Horses via Posh Chicago

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Henning Trollbäck’s Dala Horse Poster via Fine Little Day

Dala Zoo
Dala Zoo (Giraffe and Moose) via Hildas Hem

Chalk Dala
Chalk Drawing of Dala Horse via Dirtsas Studio on Etsy

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Dalahäst-tillverkning (Dala Horse Manufacturer/Factory) Sign Liz Highleyman on Flickr

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Copper Dala Horse via Fischer Fine Arts on Etsy

via Oaxacaborn on Instagram
A Dala horse vignette in my home.

Want to decorate a Dala horse — or maybe introduce your kids to this creature? Here’s a great FREE printable Dala horse template from Make Learning Fun! You might also be interested in this video of how Dala horses are made, or last year’s Dala horse round-up.

God Jul!

CHRISTMAS :: 5 Simple Golden Decorations


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Golden Triangle Banner DIY via Almost Makes Perfect

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Golden pipe-cleaner geometric ornament DIY via Smile and Wave

Spray Painted Golden Pine Cones
Pinecones, spray painted gold via The Sweetest Occasion

Star_GarlandStar Garland via Fleur and Stitch

Golden_Candlesticks
Golden Candlesticks via Emmas Designnblogg

Do you choose a color scheme for Christmas? It can sometimes help the decor from feeling overwhelming and cluttered. This year, we are enjoying silver and blue decorations — but I love gold and white, too!

CHRISTMAS :: 18 gifts that matter for #GivingTuesday (and every day)


#GivingTuesday is a terrific opportunity to look up and away from ourselves. Of course, this outlook shouldn’t be confined to just one day a year, but I can’t argue with a movement that encourages us all to reach out. And so, in celebration of Giving Tuesday, here are eighteen different ways to give a gift that gives. A gift that loves. A gift that matters.

For more information about a particular gift, simply click on that photo.

Image Map Provide EDUCATION IN CHINA Provide for FOSTER FAMILIES IN CHINA Provide ORPHAN CARE IN CHINA Provide MEDICAL CARE IN CHINA PROVIDE REFUGEE RELIEF around the world PREVENT human trafficking and exploitation Provide CLEAN WATER around the world FEED A HUNGRY BABY for a week PROTECT vulnerable women Provide WARM COATS AND SHOES CARE FOR Romanian orphans SUPPORT a crisis pregnancy center in Taiwan Sponsor a baby in a TAIWANESE ORPHANAGE Provide SURGERIES for infants and children in China Provide EVERYDAY NECESSITIES for care centers in China Sponsor the EDUCATION of a child in Ethiopia Build a HIGH SCHOOL in Ethiopia Provide a VOCATION for an adult or care for a child

1. Love Without Boundaries | EDUCATION | Provide education and school access to at-risk children in China ($10+)

2.Love Without Boundaries | FOSTER FAMILIES | Provide a family environment through foster care to orphaned and at-risk children in China ($10+)

3.Love Without Boundaries | ORPHAN CARE | Provide access to care, hope and healing to orphaned and impoverished children in China through LWB’s programs ($10+)

4. Love Without Boundaries | MEDICAL CARE | Provide medical care and surgeries to orphans and infants/children whose parents would not otherwise be able to provide care. ($10+)

5. Samaritan’s Purse | REFUGEE RELIEF | Provide tents, heaters, food and more to displaced people ($125+)

6.Samaritan’s Purse | PREVENT HUMAN TRAFFICKING | Provide education in at-risk locations to empower potential victims to recognize and avoid exploitation and trafficking. ($100+)

7. Samaritan’s Purse | CLEAN WATER | Provide a water filtration system to give 3,500 people access to clean water ($20+)

8. Samaritan’s Purse | PROTECT VULNERABLE WOMEN | Provide literacy classes, maternal/child health education, protection and support for victims of gender-based violence, and more. ($30+)

9. Samaritan’s Purse | ONE WEEK OF FOOD | Provide food for a baby or nursing mother for one week. ($9+)

10. Samaritan’s Purse | CLOTHES & SHOES | Provide warm coats, clothing and footwear to displaced people in refugee camps. ($25+)

11. Anchor of Hope Romania | FOSTER CARE | Provide family-like environments and other vital care for orphans, abandoned babies, and at-risk young people in Romania. (Any amount) To give directly to Christian & Marie Burtt, full-time missionaries serving in Romania with Anchor of Hope, click here.

12. Taiwan Xi En | CRISIS PREGNANCY HOME | Provide nurturing care for infants and expectant mothers at the Taiwan Xi En House of Hope. (Any amount)

13. Taiwan Xi En | SPONSOR A BABY | Provide diapers, formula, clothes, shelter and caring nannies for abandoned and at-risk infants 0-2y at the Taiwan Xi En Orphanage. ($50/mo)

14. Show Hope |  SURGERIES | Provide heart, cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries to orphans and infants/children in China. ($65+)

15. Show Hope | EVERYDAY NECESSITIES | Provide diapers, food, and clean drinking water to the special needs orphans living at the Show Hope care centers in China. ($12+)

16. Adami Tulu + Ziway Project | EDUCATION & FOOD | Provide access to education and nutritious meals for a school-age child in Ethiopia. ($19/mo)

17. Adami Tulu + Ziway Project | HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATION | Provide the resources necessary to build a high school so the Adami Tulu + Ziway students can continue their education. (Any amount) Or, donate in honor of a loved one, and send a card to a friend! ($20+)

18. Lifesong for Orphans | WHERE MOST NEEDED | Provide life-giving care for children, and sustainable micro-business opportunities for adults, in Bolivia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Ethiopia, Liberia, Zambia, Cambodia, India and Ukraine. On #GivingTuesday [2 December 2014] only, your gift to Lifesong for Orphans will be multiplied 4x through a matching grant when you give using this link. (Any amount)


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LIFE IN PHOTOS :: Everyday things


“Everything is fine –

the first bits of sun are on

the yellow flowers behind the low wall.” -Billy Collins
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“Report from the subtropics:

for one thing, there’s no more snow

to watch from an evening window…

no hexagrams of frost to study

on the cold glass pages of the bathroom.

No black sweater to pull over my head

while I wait for the coffee to brew…..

And the birds with those long white necks?

All they do is swivel their heads

keeping an eye on me as I walk along.” -Billy Collins

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“This love for everyday things,

part natural from the wide eye of Infancy,

part a literary calculation” -Billy Collins

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“yes, there would be enough light

to read a book or write a letter at midnight” -Billy Collins

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“the day mirled and clabbered

into the thick, stony light” -Billy Collins

CHRISTMAS :: “Naptime Diaries” Advent + Print Collection


Are you familiar with Naptime Diaries? They have the neatest art! And this year they have a GORGEOUS Advent collection. I mean, it’s really something — prints, calendar, devotional.

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And here are a few of my favorite prints from the latest collection —

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Do not be afraid / I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.”

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The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?

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Sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”

So full of hope and GREAT JOY, isn’t it? View more here.

MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: Decorating with Christmas Tree Branches


Every Christmas tree doesn’t have to be a big, Costco-sized production. Here are some lovely ideas to use small, table-top trees — or even the extra branches you might have leftover after trimming to fit into the tree stand!

My Lovely Things on Oaxacaborn's MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: Decorating with Christmas Tree Branches
Tiny tree in the hallway via Anna Truelsen / My Lovely Things

Nora Lill on Oaxacaborn's MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: Decorating with Christmas Tree Branches
Fir branches in jar of water via Nora Lill

Christmas Tree Branches as Chrismtas Trees via A Barefoot Day on Oaxacaborn's MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: Decorating with Christmas Tree Branches
Evergreen branches in mason jars via A Barefoot Day

waltherogco_dk on Oaxacaborn's MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: Decorating with Christmas Tree Branches
Cut tree in glass vase via Walther & Co

Design Chaser - Tabletop Christmas Tree, wooden, and wire geometric on Oaxacaborn's MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: Decorating with Christmas Tree Branches
Table-top Christmas tree with wooden and wire geometric ornaments via The Design Chaser

Princess Pine in Clay Pot Anna Truelsen on Oaxacaborn's MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: Decorating with Christmas Tree Branches
Princess pin in clay pot via Anna Truelsen / My Lovely Things

Noralill Branch in Jar on Oaxacaborn's MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: Decorating with Christmas Tree Branches
Evergreen branch in jar of water on tin tray via Nora Lill

Fika on Oaxacaborn's MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: Decorating with Christmas Tree Branches
Small tree in Swedish enamel bucket on windowsill via B.I.B. And I spy pour-over coffee! The whole photo series is here, and it’s lovely.


Have a photo of Scandi-inspired Christmas loveliness? Send it to me, and I might feature it on the 4th Annual Scandinavian/Nordic Christmas Series! Click here to find out how.

SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS :: Advent Calendar Ideas


Whether you spell it advent calendar or adventskalender — or even  julkalender  — we’re just two weeks away from December 1.  Time to get this Scandinavian Christmas series underway!

The first advent calendar example comes from Elisabeth Heier in Norway. She made this kalender tree from painted white boards — and then attached the paper bags to the tree using nails and wire. It’s really striking — and the black and white design keeps it from looking too cluttered.

Elisabeth Heier Kalender Tree via SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS Advent Calendar round-up on the Oaxacaborn blog
Advent Calendar Tree / Kalender tre via Elisabeth Heier

This next advent calendar, from The Merry Thought blog, cleverly strings up an evergreen bough and then decorates with tiny plywood-covered matchboxes. The full tutorial can be found here.

The Merry Thought - Evergreen Bough Hanging Advent Calendar via SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS Advent Calendar round-up on the Oaxacaborn blog
Hanging Christmas Tree Branch Advent Calendar via The Merry Thought

Starting with a plain tree, and adding one decoration per day until the tree is filled at Christmas — what a good idea! This filigrantrae is Danish-inspired and comes from Nalle’s House blog. Bonus: her post has a full tutorial if you want to make your own dowel tree, although this ideas would work with any small tree.

Nalle's House DIY Wooden Dowel Tree via SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS Advent Calendar round-up on the Oaxacaborn blog
Danish Wooden Dowel Tree via Nalle’s House

Most of the advent candles I’ve seen in my life are a group of four candles, one for each advent Sundag leading up to Christmas. But I love the idea of a single large candle measuring the days, turning the candle into a daily tradition rather than weekly one. In fact, Tina over at Copenhagen’s Traveling Mama, has observed that’s the norm in Denmark!

Traveling Mama Advent Candle Numbered for Days via SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS Advent Calendar round-up on the Oaxacaborn blog
Advent Candle Numbered for Days via Traveling Mama

If you have an accessible staircase bannister, you could make that the focal point for your advent gifts, like Swedish blog Fröken Knopp did with newsprint and twine. (P.S. How cute is that painted floor?)

Fröken Knopp Advent Calendar on Staircase via SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS Advent Calendar round-up on the Oaxacaborn blog
Staircase, Newsprint and Twine Advent Calendar via Fröken Knopp

I can hardly get over Vibeke Design’s stunning advent calendar shop display. Paper cones, edged in lace, hung from a lichen-covered hardwood branch. Oh, so pretty!

Vibeke Design Christmas Shop Display in Sweden, via SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS Advent Calendar round-up on the Oaxacaborn blog
Advent Calendar Display via Vibeke Design Christmas Shop in Sweden

How are you planning to celebrate and decorate for advent this year? I’d love to hear! And if you need more ideas, here are more advent calendar ideas and even more advent calendar ideas!


Want to contribute to the 4th Annual Scandinavian/Nordic Christmas Series? Click here to find out how!

POETRY & WORDS :: Where I was when the Berlin Wall fell


November 9, 1989 —  I’ll never forget that day 25 years ago — well, I didn’t hear the news until Friday morning, the 10th, over breakfast in West Germany. The night before, East German Communist Party spokesperson Günther Schabowski suggested, without much oomph — almost accidentally, it seemed — that travel between East and West could happen “from now”. [1] Humanity surged toward the barrier, climbing over it, smashing at it with axes and hammers, and waiting in endless lines at the now-open gates, disbelief in the air. It’s emotional for me even now to think about this exodus, the pieces that held up the regime crumbling, the people locked in for years. People died trying to cross that wall.

In a giant cloud of exhaust fumes of two-stroke engines, hundreds of East German cars wait bumper to bumper in front of the West German checkpoint Helmstedt to enter the west, Nov. 11, 1989. In front of the eastern checkpoint, the cars wait in line for a distance of 30-40 kilometers, a West German policeman said. The ride from Berlin to Helmstadt (about 200 kilometers) would last about 11 hours. (AP Photo/Claus Eckert)

In a giant cloud of exhaust fumes of two-stroke engines, hundreds of East German cars wait bumper to bumper in front of the West German checkpoint Helmstedt to enter the west, Nov. 11, 1989. In front of the eastern checkpoint, the cars wait in line for a distance of 30-40 kilometers, a West German policeman said. The ride from Berlin to Helmstadt (about 200 kilometers) would last about 11 hours. (AP Photo/Claus Eckert)

“So it was the other side of the roughcast concrete barrier that mattered, the side that people did not spray with aerosol cans but had risked their lives to climb over. The emotional quality of this liberation can only be captured if you can imagine what it was like to live behind that ‘anti-fascist protection rampart’ (its mendacious official name) for all your life, never setting foot in the western half of your own city, and with the expectation that this would continue for years to come.

Here is the other thing that even the finest historians struggle to recover: the sense of what people at the time did not know. To those who lived behind it, the Berlin Wall had become something almost like the Alps, a seemingly unchangeable fact of physical geography. Even when things began to change so dramatically in Poland and Hungary, most people just did not believe the Alps could crumble. After all, there was a nuclear-armed empire holding them up. ” [2]

People now tell me I couldn’t have understood what was happening, I couldn’t have known the significance of the day. I wasn’t yet six. And in a way they are right. I can never fully understand what it was like to have lived under East German rule. During that time, I lived in the former Yugoslavia — officially, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia — with an American passport. And I was on the Western side of the wall when it fell.

“It is almost impossible to recreate the emotional intensity of the moment of liberation. For that intensity came from having lived for most, if not all, your life with the aching certainty that something like this was, precisely, impossible.” [Read More: The Berlin Wall: What it Meant to Be There]

But I remember. There is no doubt about that.

And there’s something else: I am going to keep remembering, and keep telling this story. Because I don’t want to forget. I don’t ever want any of us to forget.

POETRY & WORDS :: A cure for #firstworldproblems


We all need something to keep our priorities in order. Something to keep us grounded, for lack of a better word, something to prevent us from wallowing in our #firstworldproblems.

Sometimes, all it takes is to stop focusing on ourselves. I’m preaching to myself here. My daily complaints do NOT constitute suffering.

Not when Naghmeh Abedini has to tell us this about her husband, Saeed [Saeed Abedini is an American citizen from Utah, imprisoned in Iran for his faith.]

Not when these sixty-seven people have nothing left.

Not when I have a family to call my own, and this girl (shown below) has none.

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Almost every day, a story about a child lands in my inbox, and every time, I read it. Not because I love sad things. Not because I want to have pity. But because the broken parts of this world will never change if we’re too busy holed up in our comfortable little havens. Because the broken pieces will never be picked up if we’re too busy creating ourselves a safe little bubble.

I want to look up. I want to look outward. I want to make a difference.

Because every child matters.

RESOURCES a.k.a. a partial list of the blogs and newsletters I read.

Gladney Center for Adoption’s Waiting Child (Blog)
Subscribe by Email: Click here and you will see the subscription field in the upper right hand corner of your screen

* Taiwan Xi En (Website) 
Subscribe by Email: Click here; only the red ‘email’ field is required

*Bringing Hope to Children (Facebook)
Subscribe by Email: Click here

* Show Hope (Website)
Subscribe by Email: Click here

* And of course, the Ziway + Adami Tulu Project in partnership with Lifesong for Orphans — the organization through we which we sponsor children.

LIFE IN PHOTOS :: Blanket Fort


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I have to stop and remind myself: I don’t get these moments in the frenzy.

I don’t get moments like this if I’m consumed with the tyranny of the urgent, if I’m lost in the self-made chaos, if I measure my worth against how much I’ve achieved or accomplished in the last twenty-four hours.

We’re to run this race with perseverance, yes, but our strength is in quietness and rest. The heart never stops beating, yes, but the stillness between every heartbeat is essential to staying alive.

And I see that stillness in the the way the sun filters through the smudged glass. The way a horse stands motionless in the cool darkness of the county fair, refusing to fear the racket rattling from the midway outside. The way the living room chairs are pushed together, the blankets are tugged from the beds, and her mischievous face peeks up at me through the ramshackle fort.

These are the moments — and yes, He is the God — I want to choose, seek, and hold.

O Thou who art my quietness, my deep repose,
My rest from strife of tongues, my holy hill,
Fair is Thy pavilion, where I hold me still.
Back let them fall from me, my clamorous foes,
Confusions multiplied;
From crowding things of sense I flee, and in Thee hide.
Until this tyranny be overpast,
Thy hand will hold me fast;
What though the tumult of the storm increase,
Grant to Thy servant strength, O Lord, and bless with peace.
– Amy Carmichael

SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS :: Your Chance to be Featured on the Fourth Annual Blog Series!


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It’s that time again. For the fourth year in a row, Oaxacaborn will soon be transformed into a Scandinavian winter wonderland — and I can’t wait!

Here are a just a few highlights from the last few years.

Of course, none of this would be possible without YOU, my incredible world-wide readers. So, what do you have for us all this year? Email me at oaxacaborn@gmail.com!

(Still need ideas? You can read more about what sort of Scandinavian/Nordic Christmas topics to submit, or click here to see the entire Scandinavian Christmas archive.)

MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: From Sault Ste. Marie to Novi Sad


I haven’t done a Monday’s Pretty Things round-up in a while. In fact, if you’re a new reader you might not even know that Monday’s Pretty Things are, well, a thing! That’s just sad.  I’ve been collecting plenty of inspiration, I just haven’t been sharing it. (I’m sorry. Let’s end that drought now.)

Ten of the Snowiest Places in the World
Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan via Conde Nast Traveler: Ten of the Snowiest Places in the World

I’m shivering just thinking about the fact that I lived in one of the places on this list. Brrrr.

quitokeeto Modern Bamboo Steamer
Modern Bamboo Steamer via Quitokeeto

Utilitarian things like pots and pans and appliances should be attractive as well as functional, don’t you think? These steamers from Hong Kong are so pretty.

Le Dans la Camel and Off White Interiors
via the ever-lovely French blog Le Dans La

A space doesn’t have to have a lot going on to be beautiful. The unified color palette here is so calming.

David Fleck
Peter via David Fleck on Society6

David Fleck’s portfolio is full of gems. I spent a good twenty minutes browsing the other day, and enjoying all the illustrated details.

Novi Sad
Underpass in Novi Sad / Нови Сад

Images from the former Yugoslavia, or anywhere throughout the Balkans, Eastern/Central Europe and the former Soviet states fascinate me. There’s a sadness about so many of them, and yet such a poignant beauty. Like I wrote here, “it makes me very happy and it makes me very sad.” If you have any seemingly-everyday snapshots from those areas, favorite blogs or Instagram accounts, photojournals (like RFE/RL’s Picture This!) or anything else related. send them my way! They don’t all have to be epic — like these images of Communist-era buildings — I love a good peek into everyday life, too.