Sunday, July 26, 2015

New projects


It rained today. Finally. It had been so long that Кит spent 30 minutes staring at the drops invading his balcony, probably trying to remember what they were. Anyway, I love rainy Saturday afternoons- do you? It seems like the best time to pull out those big project dreams and start working. After you assign the dirty dishes to your husband, that is ;)


This spring I left my job, not being exactly sure what was next... only that as this blogger said, "I didn’t want to work hard and make some other company successful. I wanted to work hard and make my own company successful."

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Interview with an American blogger in Ukraine

Chernivtsy, Ukraine.

In Ukraine I worked with all kinds of American teachers. 

Young teachers and old teachers. Trained teachers, newbies, and aspiring teacherpreneurs. Teachers who left their homeland because of politics. Teachers who came to the edge of Europe to look for adventure. Or love. To preach. To drink. Teachers with Ukrainian blood running through their veins and teachers who had randomly picked the country from a job ad. Teachers who... well, you get the point ;) Lots of teachers. 
Out of all of them, Brendan is one of my favorite people- and a kickass writer to boot! He's the wordmaster behind all the travel tales at My Life in Transit. But before you read his stories of life in Italy, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, and Finland, take a few minutes to catch up with the author first...


Brendan, tell us a little about yourself and your life before Ukraine.

First off, thanks for having me, Katherine. It's great to be here! 

In 2007 I studied abroad for the summer in Prague. Absolutely one of the high points of my life. I had never even left the U.S. before that, and this experience ignited something inside of me. That entire summer was like a film, probably directed by Richard Linklater. It was pure magic. I knew then that I would never be able to stop traveling. There's a great word in German for this, "fernweh", which literally means "a longing for the distance." After graduating from college in 2011 I decided to get a TEFL certificate and teach English abroad, as that seemed like the easiest way to live overseas. After spending a bit of time in Berlin, Prague, and Morocco, I made the move to Ukraine.
Chernivtsi University, founded in 1875. Chernivtsi, Ukraine.

What originally brought you to Kharkiv?

The fact that not a single one of my friends had ever been to Ukraine really enticed me. Most all travelers have done the London-Paris-Rome route at some point, and while that's great, I wanted to go somewhere that most people hadn't been. I knew two things about Ukraine before coming here: 1. The Chernobyl Nuclear disaster, and, 2. That Ukraine was rumored to have beautiful women. Were the two events connected? I decided to go and do some firsthand research. Kharkiv itself was entirely unplanned. I actually wanted to work in Kiev or Odessa, but the school I had come to Ukraine for placed me in this far off city near the Eastern border with Russia. That ended up being quite fateful.
Downtown Kharkiv.

Tell us about an average day in The Life of Brendan :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Russian Underground Dinner


If you're a foodie, maybe you've heard of "underground dinners"- an event that turns someone's home into a temporary restaurant. I'd never heard of the idea, but the combination of "Russian + dinner" will lure me anywhere ;) Luckily, Lena from Lena's Kitchen had that exact idea in mind last weekend-


A dozen of us gathered in Lena's backyard- Portland locals, a Hungarian entrepreneur, and several Americans born in Ukraine- for six amazing hours of eating and drinking under a walnut tree. Enjoy : )

Закуски / Starters

Shuba (herring-beet-mayonnaise salad).
Lena (in motion) and her super-sweet mom.
L: the piroshki didn't survive long on the table. R: BEST cheese spread ever.
Olivie salad.

 

The blini (which get their own special section- they were that good!)

Oladi with sour cream, smoked salmon and red caviar!
We had a lot of Instagrammers at the table : )

 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Oregon vs Ukraine: the Farmers Market


Before moving to Ukraine, we spent almost a decade in Alaska. Alaska has a lot of wonderful places to visit, but a farmers market was not one of them during those years.

Then came Ukraine.


Although Kharkiv had everything you could ever want in a supermarket (minus the customer service), the markets... well, they were WAY more fun.


Ancient babushki with scarf-covered heads sold eggs and local honey. Gruff men stood guard over trucks full of potatoes. Georgians extolled the virtue of their homemade adjika and fresh pomegranate juice. Luba at Tsentralny Rynok had the biggest smile and the best inside info on that week's fruits.


The markets always operated in a state of friendly chaos. Sellers waved you over to try their cherries or tvorog, which would be followed by a nuclear-peace-treaty level of negotiation over the price. I am terrible at haggling but D often relished the challenge ;) One time he got us an awesome deal on pomegranates for an entire winter!


I miss the excitement of these markets, and the way they eventually became familiar. Strange new vegetables, a ludicrous amount of dairy products, vendors who would remember your funny accent from the week before- exploring the market was a good way to spend the afternoon... or wind up with a new member of the household.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

4th of July in Portland


The theory of democratic government is not that the will of the people is always right, but rather that normal human beings of average intelligence will, if given a chance, learn the right and best course by bitter experience. -W.E.B. Du Bois



Happy 239th to the United States!!!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Taking stock

Voodoo Doughnut, a cultural landmark and proclaimed by many as a near-religious experience.

Happy Halfway-To-2016!!!

Are you freaking out? Me too. Luckily there are still 188 days to get stuff done. This clock, by the way = most motivating thing ever.

We've been in Portland so long now... long enough to have gone through a lease renewal. I had originally thought we'd be gone by now, on to more exotic ports of call, but no. It's not a bad thing, just somewhat disappointing, and I wonder how much of it is my fault. Could I have gotten up earlier, worked harder, spent less? Written a book instead of blog posts? Studied languages more?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Coastal sunset


This is sunset on the Oregon coast.

It's simple to recreate:

Start at the end of the day, just as campfires begin to blaze


Dress warmly, as summer is often a nice theory rather than an actual event



Head towards the ocean as the last surfers roll in on pink waves and the sunset-watchers dash out to the water's edge