Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Low tide

10 AM, Memorial Day weekend. The tide was out- way out- and we were on the beach.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Things I (don't) miss

I just found a little folder on my computer called Things I won't miss. It must be from a few years ago, just after we moved to Portland. These are 4 things I thought I would never miss about living in Ukraine....
but now, I actually have a soft spot for most of them!

#1. Handwritten signs like this one. Miss!

After years of so-so Russian, somehow my language skills got better after leaving Ukraine. Now I could actually take on the challenge of understanding these words + deciphering that scrawl. (It says "self-serve; clean up after yourself.")

#2. The water truck. Miss!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Penpal mail

Privet! And hooray, penpal mail! We got back in town to find this awesome package* waiting in the mail. I can't wait to show you everything in it!

*Minus the cat, of course :p

D's mom had a great birthday. It was a 'day at sea' on the cruise ship, so we wandered around all afternoon and then had some bday drinks. That evening, six waiters crowded around the table and sang to her. She looked so happy! And there were lots of crew members on board who spoke Russian / Ukrainian.  Several of them came over to the table to say hi. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Lunch in Kazan

This short post will take you back to one of my favorite places: Kazan!

We had lunch in two cool restaurants in Kazan. The first was at Туган Авылым (that's Tatar for Home Village). Туган Авылым is a large complex that takes up an entire block. Inside its walls, you'll find a day's worth of activities. There's a restaurant, a mosque, a blini cafe, a banya, a second cafe, a souvenir workshop, a toy museum, a petting zoo, a kids' rope park, and a hotel.

Inside the restaurant.

Friday, May 12, 2017

A very belated honeymoon post

After we got married, D and I took a cruise and decided it's a gloriously lazy way to relax. In fact, I'm not sure it really counts as travel- does a few hours in port truly count as a visit? But the relaaaaaxing part of cruising is indisputable. You're on a floating buffet and you don't have to work for five whole days. Sweet.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Anniversary getaway

Ninety minutes from Portland is a big garden + forest + wetland called The Oregon Garden. D and I spent a weekend here to celebrate our 2-year wedding anniversary. ♡ We stayed at the Oregon Garden Resort, which has a gate that opens directly into the garden. This lets you wander the garden whenever you want without paying any admission fee.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Murals in Ukraine

A friend just spotted this mural near Kharkiv's Sportivnaya metro stop. What do you think of it? 

Even from afar, I'm still pretty obsessed with Ukrainian street art!!! The entire let's-make-public-art scene seems to be booming there nowadays. Here's proof:
Have you seen any of Ukraine's newer murals? And can we just take one more look at what was Kharkiv's greatest mural ever, haha? Nothing can ever top this-

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Kazan Family Center

Last weekend, we went to a tulip festival. I still see a thousand acres of neon flowers when I close my eyes, so instead of sharing those photos today, here's something totally different.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


Have you heard of The Seasoned Year? It's written by an expat named Madeleine, from her farm in rural Portugal. She writes beautiful pieces about slowing down and connecting with the cycles in nature. This spring, she offered an online course called Revive! Each week, Madeleine presents different ideas about spring- what it means emotionally, physically, Ayurvedically, and energetically.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Kharkov street

So, my friend Jasilyn mentioned there's a street in Ufa, Russia called Kharkov street. Check it out!

Урамы must be either Tatar or Bashkir? Both are common languages in Ufa.

Fun fact of the day: turns out there are lots of Kharkov / Kharkiv streets. You can find one in Minsk, Moscow, Orenburg, Lviv, Tyumen, St. Petersburg, Dnipro, Almaty, Vladivostok... and in at least 18 other cities! Wikipedia actually has a list of all the streets here.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

An uneven start to Spring

This March has been so gloomy and overcast. Gloooooomy. Where's spring?! We grabbed an umbrella and went for a hike last weekend anyway.

Vancouver, Washington.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

San Francisco

I didn't go to San Francisco, but D did. He spent a week there on a (isn't this the coolest sounding word?) командировка, business trip.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Snapshots of Russian summer

Lock bridge, Nizhny Novgorod.
It's been a quiet few weeks around here. The first two months of 2017 flew by in a blur of work and Chinese lessons. Those are pretty boring topics, so now we're trying to plan a few adventures, hoping to save the rest of the year from such boredom.

No pictures from Portland this time. Instead, here are some of my favorite pictures from last summer. Hope you enjoy them! :)

City bus passing a wooden house in Nizhny Novgorod.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Creepy park

Welcome to Kelly Butte, a place guaranteed to give you the creeps.

Why so creepy?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Year Five of The Whale

Кит is going to be 5 years old this spring. Whoa! Here's a picture of him as a 3-month old kitten vs now- what do you think?

I haven't given him a whole post on this blog since he turned one. Most of that post is still true, except that his favorite food is now tied between cantaloupe and corn on the cob. He'll go ballistic if you don't give him a little piece to eat. He also will only drink from a dripping bathtub faucet. If there's no drip, he stands on the rim of the tub and meows obnoxiously. Good thing he's so cute!

In case you don't know much Russian, Кит rhymes with "sweet" and means whale. It holds up in Ukrainian, too- Кіт means cat. In English, people just think we came up with some weird cat name. ;) And he's turned out to be more of a кіт than a кит. I dreamed of an enormously fat cat, but nope. He's like my husband, able to eat anything and never gain weight.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Tall buildings in Ukraine

Happy Valentine's Day!

The stores are filled with cards right now. Romantic cards, funny cards, scornful cards, wholesome cards, and cards described by at least 20 other adjectives.

You know what doesn't exist?  

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Planners! (RU, UKR, ENG)

If you're not a planner person- quick, click away from here!
Try this or this or this instead.

Wait, you are a planner person? Perfect. And welcome. :)

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Winter snapshots

It's been a cozy winter this year, thanks to snow, ice, and the awesomeness of fuzzy pajamas. There have been many weekends at home.

When the weather is good, it's time to get outside. Walk until something interesting appears or rent a car and use Google to explore.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Pechersky Ascension Monastery

Until summer 2016, I think I'd never been inside an Orthodox church. There were tons of beautiful churches in Ukraine, but it always made me nervous to think of going into them. Plus, there was always the added step of finding a headscarf / long skirt, so I just avoided them.

Last summer, it finally happened in Russia. During a weekend in Kazan, we went on a whirlwind tour of mosques + cathedrals, each stop requiring a new headscarf / long skirt. Before that, though, we warmed up to the idea with an afternoon excursion to Nizhny Novgorod's Pechersky Ascension Monastery. This was perhaps the first time I'd ever been in an Orthodox church... and you know what?, it actually went fine.

What makes me the most nervous about these churches are the Orthodox priests.

Seriously, how could you not be intimidated by these guys? They're a terrifying combo of badass + thug.

(Watch this video and this video.)

Once I taught pronunciation to a Catholic priest from Mexico. He would show up for our lessons in jeans and a fleece vest, drove a Jeep Cherokee, drank beer, and was really down to earth. Perhaps I put too much stock in internet memes, but Orthodox priests really, really intimidate me. I could never imagine one showing up for an English lesson in a Patagonia vest. Instead, this is what I see in my head when thinking of them (this meme was floating around during EuroMaidan)-

Thursday, January 12, 2017

A Snowy State of Emergency

So, it started snowing last night.
Really, really snowing (for this city, at least.)

By morning, downtown looked like this-

Train stop.
The city was shut down. Even if you had wanted to get somewhere, it was almost impossible to go there. We passed a hill where 4 city buses were stuck in a row. Drivers sat inside the buses, keeping warm and waiting for help. Your best travel bet = a pair of skis, a bike, or braving the streets on foot.