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.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

10 (rediscovered) links about Ukraine

My computer has turned into a black hole for files, pictures, and bookmarks over the past few years. It's like an archaeological dig- bottom layers are full of Ukrainian odds and ends, covered over by the past few years of life in the US and short trips elsewhere.

Today, I dug down to the bottom and found some old things to share with you. Take this, for example-

These are people's personal garages. If you live in a big apartment block in Ukraine, you might need something like this to save your car from snow / be manly in / store homemade pickles and rusty hammers. These garages were built next to apartment buildings and often painted in bright colors.

Simple enough, right? Except... the garages have a reputation. Here's a cartoon from vk.com- Mom leans out the window, saying, "Don't go to the garages."

I don't know what really happens at the garages. We only lived in one place with garages, and they were always locked up and quiet. But according to Ukrainian photographer Anatoliy Babiychuk, garages are the original Man Caves for Ukrainian guys. From 2007-2014, he photographed The Garages of Chervonograd. He writes, "From the moment the garages were built, they began to be ‘misused’ by their owners/users, who transformed their original function to their own ends." I liked looking through Babiychuk's photos and finally getting to see what's inside these mysterious little squares. Have you ever been inside a Ukrainian garage?

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Peacock Lane

Last year, I made a list of 80 things to try. Um, yeah, that turned out to be a little unrealistic... but this was the last thing I crossed off the list before the year ended.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

A New Year's salad + other dishes

Look at that beauty!! :) This is a salad named «мой генерал» and it comes from this YouTube video. It's like any New Year's salad you would find in Ukraine: mayonnaise, mayonnaise, and mayonnaise. I miss Ukraine the most during the holidays, so I decided to make a few things that are served there this time of year.

The salad is a variation on the popular holiday salad olivie, which D's mom makes every December. (Here's a good recipe for that salad.) I liked the layers and the look of «мой генерал», though. It was SO EASY to make. You simply layer chicken + vegetables, with a nearly-catastrophic layer of mayonnaise in between everything.

The next idea came from a Russian-language pin on Pinterest:

Hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, and (more) mayo.

When my mom saw this plate, she balked. "I know that your husband's mother would not allow that on the table!" (Remember that time we gave his mom a deadly doormat?)