Tuesday, January 6, 2015

9 new things I tried this fall

1. Making blini for the first time in our (now not so) new apartment.

It's official: wherever one goes, whatever the local ingredients available for toppings are, blinis are still the best snack food ever!

2. Getting my brows done.

This summer my friend Lena took me with her for a beauty day. We had our brows done by Sasha at the Roman Danylenko Salon (ул. Красина 6, Харьков) and WOW, it seemed like we walked out of there looking like models! Hoping to recreate that experience, I went to a place here last month. It wasn't quite the same. Steel yourself for this...

Luckily most of that was makeup that washed off. The brow artist was a Russian lady (surprise, surprise!) who first disapproved when I asked her to dye my brows darker, then really got into it and spent 15 minutes excitedly caking powder on after the dye job. One shower later and phew, back to normal. (Those undereye circles, though, yikes. Wish they would wash off too!)

3. Exploring Portland

My feelings for Portland haven't changed much, something along the lines of "it's a nice place to live but I wouldn't want to live there" (just like reality :p ). But we are living here at the moment, so might as well see some of the things that make it a nice place to live in.

4. Drinking vinegar.

Have you heard of this stuff? It's not part of the apple-cider-for-health-benefits bandwagon (although we do that too), this is the booze bandwagon. For example, the Ginger Apple Press: 1.5 oz of dark rum, 1 oz ginger apple pear drinking vinegar, 1/2 tonic water & 1/2 7-Up = autumn cocktail bliss. It can also be mixed with sparkling water for an everyday drink.

I'm guessing drinking vinegar is not hard to find these days, but just in case here's the company I buy it from. Their website has lots of recipe and drink ideas. Sadly our bottle of ginger apple pear drinking vinegar didn't last long enough to make it into any other recipes, though we also got a bottle of the Loganberry beet to try out. Beet martini anyone?

5. Visiting Washington DC

Despite this being a work trip and all of the training taking place inside a windowless building, the 2 hours spent wandering around the city before the flight out... amazing!

6. Meeting up по-русски

I'm determined to keep improving in Russian, surrounding myself in little reminders of this- even if it's just a screensaver. Luckily, there are a few Russian ladies at work who are happy to chat and correct my mistakes. Another big help has been The Portland Metro Russian Language Meetup. This group has frequent meetings around town and it's really easy to find someone to talk to at one of their events. Attendees range from native speakers to the "someday-I-will-start-learning-the-Russian-alphabet" crew, but everyone's really friendly and happy to share their fascination for all things Cyrillic.

7. Buying a Tuna from a Boat on the River

D's relatives came to town the other weekend. Walking down by the river, his brother-in-law spotted this irresistible offer: tuna for $2.50 a pound, available on board. D wanted in on the deal too, so we wound up with a huge slimy carcass thawing in the sink for a few hours. Then D went to work. Having spent an entire summer cutting up fish at a salmon bake in southeast Alaska, the man is a fish-cutting pro.

We've still got about 10 lbs of tuna in the fridge to eat through, let me know if you want some ; )

8. Attending a Tesla Coil Demo

This is what my dad does for fun.

When my brother and I were kids, it was a Halloween hobby. Ours was the house with sparks zapping from the machine in the driveway. Like this:

Now it's a year-round thing: my dad dresses up in a lab coat with mad-scientist goggles and travels around the Pacific Northwest with his army of homemade Tesla coils.

After the show.

This fall I finally got to experience one of his demos. It was fun to witness him in action and see the crowd's reactions, especially when one million volts of electricity is sent racing through an innocent banana (his least favorite fruit).

Ah, now that's the sound of childhood in the air.

9. Switching out chocolate for chocolate tea

It sounded like it might work, substituting a cup of chocolate-infused tea for the less-healthy real thing, but... no.

The taste buds cannot be fooled.

A worthy experiment, nonetheless, since any flimsy excuse for new tea is still a good one. This was the first time I've ever ordered from The Republic of Tea, whose prices are a bit steep but worth the steeping. Everything was luxurious, from the packaging and free samples to the salutation "Dear Citizen of Tea".

If only Red Velvet Chocolate could stand in for an actual piece of cake! Coconut Chocolate (the lone caffeinated tea) is a good treat, though, and the oddly-combined Banana Chocolate is a lot more rewarding than it sounds.

Now that the clock has ticked over to a new year and we can look back on the latter half of 2014, how was your fall? What was the most interesting / risky / delicious / novel thing you tried?


  1. Washington looks as it was in late-70's when my sister and I Greyhounded down from New England for a day trip, the humidity of July really amazed us, nearly as bad as that experienced for two decades in the Middle East!

    1. Hope there was air conditioning on that bus, Rupert! : )