October Self Fried Tofu Apple Picking Weir Farm Matias Tactile Pro
Sunday, October 14, 2018

Apple Picking 2018

Big pumpkins.This year we went apple picking to Blue Jay farms, located a bit less than 9 miles from our new house. Twice!!

Papa, mama and Lina.The first time was on September 16th. The whole family, including Danya’s parents and his sister went. I think it was actually the first time for Lina to go apple picking and she said that it was more fun than anticipated.

Main pickers.September 16 was hot and humid, so we only stayed in the orchard for about an hour. There were 4 varieties of apples available for picking, but we only got to two of them, because the other two were at the other end of this huge orchard and as I mentioned we were exhausted from the heat. The varieties that we picked were McIntosh and Cortland. To me they taste very similar, but I think that we mostly picked Cortlands.

Us.To get to the Cortland patch, we got a ride on one of the farm’s little motocars, which were shuttling people around. The driver told us that there are 8 thousand trees in the orchard, some of them 30+ years old.

Getting apples.We also visited a pumpkin patch and the children picked out two pumpkins. They were pretty huge and expensive (I can get the same sized pumpkin in Aldi for about 1/9 of the price). When we got home we put them on both sides of the front entrance of the house.

Arosha unit.We also visited the farm’s store and bought local honey, apple cider, apple cider donuts and some beef jerky. Everything was really delicious.

Pumpkins.By this past Sunday, October 8th, the tasty apples that we picked were almost gone. I won’t claim that I’m the only one who eats them, but I probably eat about 80% of apples in this household. Plus, a few of the people I know were going apple picking this particular weekend, so I figured that we might as well go again.

Us.This time it was just the four of us. The day was hot and humid again, but this being October, it was good 10 degrees colder. There were more varieties of apples available, but my favorite this time was Mutsu apple, which I bought multiple times in Russian grocery stores in the past under its other name Crispin apple. We picked some other apples too, but I’m not sure what they were.

Aroshka.To tell the truth, I can’t find an apple which I don’t like when picked directly from the tree. Some could be a bit too sweet, but even they are simply irresistible. If I had to name my favorite fruit, it will be apple. I perceive it as a bread of the fruit world. It’s common, not exotic, but I can eat it every single day and not get tired of it. And as with bread, there are a bunch of varieties, with Granny Smith being the rye bread and Golden Delicious the challah.

Anna and a huge apple.This time around Danya has decided to get bigger bags for apple picking. I’m all up for more apples, but next time we probably should stick to the medium sized ones. The big ones were insanely heavy to carry around the huge orchard, plus handles on both of them broke.

Kids.We skipped the pumpkins the second time around, but dutifully got beef jerky, cider and donuts. It was a fun experience, and our fridge is full of wonderful, delicious, fresh apples!

Us.
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Thursday, October 4, 2018

Birthday Gathering

Everyone around the fire.A little over a month ago I’ve had yet another birthday. But what made this year different was a fact that I could actually invite all my friends to our house for a little celebration.

Tables on the porch.And not only could we invite all my friends, but we could also cook for everyone on our grill instead of ordering something. That is exactly what we did. We invited everyone to Ridgefield on the very next Saturday after my birthday.

Conversations around the table.All in all we had 19 people that we had enough place to sit on our porch. The only people who weren’t there were Ignat, Vika and Alisa — but they visited us a week before, and Lenchik.

Kids marshmallowing.One of very pleasant surprises was that even Eldar made it. He actually managed to skip our whole previous apartment altogether. We were really glad to see him. Too bad that he didn’t have much time in New York. Hopefully we will see him sooner next time.

Kids on trampoline.Overall I had all my best friends and their families over — Misha, Natasha and their son David, Ilya, Ulyana and their sons Matvey and Misha, Sasha, Maruk, Alina and their daughter Emma, Eldar and all my family — papa, mama and Lina.

Ilya summoning the fire.Also a day before we had a final piece of our patio furniture delivered, so we could set it all up around a fire-pit on the patio. We also took out our cooler that we bought right after we got our house and filled it up with ice and beer.

Vast collection of wheat bears.Ilya helped with grilling the vegetables, then we grilled a lot of salmon. After lunch-dinner we sat around the fire-pit where kids fried some marshmallows.

Ilya claims fires requires summoning to burn. Arosha claims that it's complete nonsense.It was a really pleasant gathering. I hope everyone enjoyed it, because I certainly did.

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Friday, September 28, 2018

Italy Vacation 2018

Plan MapIt’s been a long time since we’ve had a vacation. This year was very busy with a house purchase, so we had to put our 3 times a year vacation rate on pause. But now that things are settling down we felt that it would be nice for our family to see something and relax.

We’ve been thinking of a place that our kids would find memorable. My initial though was Venice. However full 10 day vacation in Venice would be too much, so we tried to add Florence. And the plane tickets were in the range of $1,000 per person.

Then we tried London and Paris. Great plane tickets, insane hotel prices. Each night was coming out to $500-600. The reason for that is that Anna can no longer fit in a crib, so we need a room with at least 2 beds and a roll-out bed in addition to that.

So we kept looking and looking and looking. Nothing was adding up to a reasonable price. There are a lot of nice places in United States to see, but end of November would be either too cold or too crowded.

We decided to return to our initial location. Plane tickets were still too much. I tried adding Milan in place of Florence and that did it. Good times, good flights. And reasonable hotel prices. So we booked a full trip for Thanksgiving week.

The reason why we like Thanksgiving week is two-fold. First — school has only half day in addition to the holiday itself. And our wedding anniversary fall on this week as well, since we did get married on Thanksgiving day after all.

The plan is simple. We fly out1 from JFK to Milan on November 16th and spend 2 nights2 there. One must see thing is Milan Cathedral. Then we take a train to Florence and spend 3 nights3 there. The plan is to see Duomo and visit Uffizi Gallery. And we finish our trip with a 4 night4 stay in Venice where we will celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary.

Looking towards this vacation and introducing kids to some of very unique places.

  1. Air France with a stop in Paris — $578 per person plus $37 insurance per person. []
  2. Hilton Milan — €199 per night. []
  3. Hilton Florence Metropole — King Junior Family Suite, €462 + 88,000 points total. []
  4. Hilton Molino Stucky Venice — King Family Suite, 368,000 points. []

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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Home Office v0.9

My home office. 27" 5K screens on top of 96" long Mayline desk.This is my first “room” update for our new house. In the past three months we have made a lot of progress on settling in, so to speak.

My home office is the last room we’ve completed, but I’m going to start with it. One reason for that is the fact that I didn’t actually have a chance to have a separate office for a while now.

Closeup of the work space.As the kids arrived we freed up my previous office and turned it into a bedroom for kids. So my workspace lived in a corner of our living room for many years.

I’ll probably make a separate post on the technology part itself in more details later, but in short — the center-piece is a pair of 27″ 5K monitors powered by 2018 MacBook Pro.

A slightly earlier shot, but it depicts the actual color of the furniture better than the shots above.There is a another screen on the desk that is connected to my old Windows 7 PC, but it is a temporary thing that is assisting me in my full migration to macOS.

Monitors are placed on a pair of single monitor arms from UPLIFT. I went through a number of configurations before stopping on this one.

View from the door.The goal was to have better controls of the monitors by being able to angle and raise them as I wanted and move them away from me as far as I wanted. Dual monitor arm that I started with prevented me from pushing them far enough away.

There is a good amount of space between the table and the wall. So the connection point of my monitors is hanging in that space.

And all this is resting on a beautiful gray 96 inch long desk made by a company called Mayline.

Backwall. National park posters and casino chips.Underneath the back side of the desk there is a shelf kind of thing is hiding ALL the horde of the wires of this office. None of them are visible and there is nothing under the desk.

The back wall decoration is an idea that I’ve conceived years ago. I’ve acquired a large format book that had a lot of art done in vintage style depicting all of the national parks of United States. I loved the art and finally I have a place to display it.

Hidden mess of wires sitting on a shelf between the desk and the window.I’ve picked out some of the national parks that we have visited. We’re going to add two more frames to the bottom row in the near feature. On the side I have a place for my small old collection of casino chips.

The chair is Steelcase Gesture. I’m still getting used to it, and still is not sure if it was worth the investment. The sofa folds out into a queen size bed so this office can serve as a guest room. Which makes the computer powering the whole setup being a laptop convenient.

And to finish it all off there is an LED lamp connected to a wall light switch and a pair of simple curtains to cover the black holes of the windows in the later hours of the day.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

BMW 4 Series Coupe

BMW 4 Series Coupe.One of the things that we had to do after moving to suburbia was getting a second car. If one car in Brooklyn was more than enough, life out here is impossible without several. We decided to keep our Mercedes for the time being as it is almost paid out as a family car and lease a second fancy car for my work commute and general driving.

LED headlights.We’ve ended up doing something that we couldn’t really do before — get a coupe — 2 door sports car. My two primary choices were BMW 4 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-class. The problem with C-class ended up it being redesigned and still unreleased and we couldn’t really wait.

Profile.I kept picking Snapper Rocks Blue Metallic color for BMW that I kept building out it being my favorite color. But it costing extra money I was ready to settle for a simple black. Two colors that I really didn’t want was white and silver. Everything else I was OK with.

Apple CarPlay.Another new thing was that we finally could afford to lease the car as the yearly mileage would significantly go down. It made sense to try to find 2018 model. A new 2019 was already out, but there were absolutely no changes made to the car. And since BMW wanted to get rid of 2018 models they had nice incentives going.

Debaged.When I came to the dealership the search revealed that there were only four 2018 cars left in the North East.

19 inch wheels.Two of them were white. No go. One was dark gray, but sadly it lacked some options that I really wanted — like Apple CarPlay and premium sound system. And than the dealer says — the last one is sadly very bright blue. I made a sad face and said that I guess I’ll have to settle down for that, while I was quietly jumping excitedly inside.

19 inch wheels with M logo.The car ended up being equipped with BMW M package, which was also somewhat exciting. It had M suspension, M wheels, M steering wheel and M body parts. It had Heads-Up display and parking assistant which I really didn’t care for and it was lacking a digital cluster which I somewhat wanted, but these weren’t deal breakers.

Interior.It had LED headlight option which was a must. It has all-wheel-drive, which is another must in Ridgefield especially. And it has a full leather interior among other things.

BMW logo.Before going further I have to admit that I had to settle down for a 4 cylinder turbo engine, instead of a 6 cylinder one. It was just too much money having spent so much on everything else related to the house. But to my surprise this is probably one of the most fun cars to drive that I had. I guess little weight of the car combined with a high tech 4 cylinder turbo results in a very exciting package — surprising indeed.

Profile.I think I got a decent deal on the car as well. I pushed it to 15% off MSRP which I’m quite happy about.

Signature angel eyes.Also since we re-registered our Mercedes to Connecticut our combined insurance for both cars ended up being the same as our Mercedes was in Brooklyn. It’s not much of a surprise that it came out lower, knowing that Brooklyn insurance is one of the highest in the country. I just didn’t expect it not to go up at all.

M logo.We had to wait for about a week for the car to get shipped up from Virginia, but I love it. I think it’s the most gorgeous car I have ever owned. And I got SO many compliments on the color already. Now I’m just waiting for iOS 12 the most exciting feature of which was Apple allowing third party maps such as Waze to be available on CarPlay.

Engine.P.S. I had the car debaged by the dealer as I really hate how xDrive (AWD) logo looks. Since that was getting removed I got the rest of the lettering also removed. Makes for a nice clean look.

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Monday, September 3, 2018

Our New Home

Our house. Front yard.We are still in the process of settling down, so it is still hard to find the time and energy to actually sit down, write things up and prepare pictures. Things are changing in the house on the daily basis as we’re making it cozier and homier.

Back yard from the far edge.The house that we ended up buying is located in Ridgefield, not Redding. We are quite happy that it worked out this way in the end.

Back yard. Flat grassy area.The schools are stellar. Ridgefield has a lot of nice benefits for residents, including a decently priced pass for a town lake and all year round access to town pools among other things. It has a great, big, modern library. The schools are simply excellent — from elementary to middle to high. All are rated 9 and higher. Really top notch schools.

From the side. Our garages.A small aside — all the pictures were taken in our first days in the house, so nothing is close to done or orderly. It’s a complete mess. And there are a lot of places for improvement — giving an evil look to the closet. But hopefully future posts will illustrate more and more transformations as we get settled in. It is already looking very different as I write this post since we have put our personal touch on things.

Our driveway.We’re located centrally between the centers of Ridgefield, Redding and Bethel, although I think Redding doesn’t really have much of a downtown of any kind. Town lake and beach is a 2 minute drive from our house. The lake is situated in between the mountains and is very picturesque.

Patio.The house itself has 4 bedrooms — this was one of our requirements. One for us, two for kids and a guest bedroom — so our parents could come and stay as long as they wanted. It also gives us an ability to host people with overnight stays. In addition to that there is a lot extra space for inflatable mattresses and such.

Covered porch.Out all the houses that we have seen this was the only one that actually had both — a covered porch and a nice patio. We’ve been eating a lot on our porch. Not going to get a lot of use during the winter, but during summer month it’s been very pleasant to dine in the open air. And just several days ago we acquired a nice wood-burning fire-pit that kids cooked marshmallows on.

Covered, screened porch.Even though bedroom are on a smaller size it has three large living, family rooms. We decided to use the fireplace room for our main TV watching air. Our bottom living room is going to be a playroom for the kids and will house our Peloton. And we’re not quite sure what to do with the last one yet.

Grill on the uncovered part of the porch.The house has a huge kitchen — at least compared to what we’re used to — with a nice L shaped bar stand that we can eat at as a family. Alёna can be doing stuff in the kitchen and be with us all at the same time — this is a great feature.

Empty family room with a wood-burning fireplace.As I said, our very first purchase for the house was a grill. We opted in for Weber Genesis II propane grill for the easy of use as opposed to coal. In fact in our month and a half here we’ve used up a full tank of propane already and are on our second one now. It has actually been a pleasure to host friends and family for full weekends with sleepovers — something that we never could do before.

Our kitchen with granite counter tops.First major project that we did was replace the whole septic system. It took a week — we had a full crew of people working from 7 to 4 daily. The new system has a life time of 40 years. Full concrete install with leaching field being built right on the edge of the woods.

Bar top kitchen counter and living room.That’s one thing that we won’t have to worry about ever, hopefully. They did dig up pretty much most of our front yard and backyard. Grass seeds were placed after the work was done, so our yards are still recovering, although new grass did come in fairly quickly.

Bottom floor, right after the move.The photos in the post have been taken right after our move, so a lot of stuff is in a complete disarray. But since then we’ve made a lot of progress in settling in a getting things in order. So I have a lot of material for future posts.

Bottom floor living room -- play room for the kids.Also as I mentioned the house has both a patio and a covered porch. There is also an uncovered portion of the porch for the grill, which is a very nice touch — something that we haven’t seen at other houses we looked at. It’s nice to be able to cook and talk to the people at the same time — not being far away with the grill.

Main bathroom.When we originally looked at this property it had a built into concrete basketball ring and it had a trampoline in the back yard with a hole under it. Although trampoline had a rip in it, which I thought might not be fixable. But we still were excited that our kids will get to play with all that.

Our brand new trampoline. Kids love it.The basketball ring is still there, but we discovered right before the closing that the trampoline is gone and a hole is completed filled in.

Front of the house.So soon after our move we ordered a brand new 15″ trampoline1. Although we had to wait for quite a bit for all the septic work to be done. But now it is constructed and kids and their friends enjoy it very much.

Master closet. Original form. Separate post for transformation is coming.Another surprising thing was how all the neighbors started coming over and introducing themselves. We have amassed a collection of wine from all these visits. It was very unusual having come from Brooklyn to experience it. We seem to be surrounded by nice people.

Arosha's room. Original form.So having been here for a month and a half we’re enjoying it very much. I keep saying that we live in “a vacation” kind of deal. Obviously there are more things to deal with as opposed to an apartment, but I think we’re adapting nicely, so far.

Hallway to the bedroom. Fairly ugly staircase light, before we replaced it.

  1. Skywalker 15-feet round trampoline and enclosure with spring pad — $329.99. []
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Sunday, August 12, 2018

American Dream — Part 2

Most of our backyard.In the previous post I stopped at us meeting with our agent, Laura, and seeing 5 houses in Redding and Ridgefield. Three of the houses were in a rather bad condition and needed a lot of work — that is something that we were not prepared to do at all.

Two out of those fives houses were in a pretty nice condition, but one was out of the range of the prices that we wanted to pay and we didn’t really give it a serious look. And the last house that we saw seemed to fit the bill. It looked pretty nice inside with very big bedrooms. We really liked it. So we made a “lowish” offer, the sellers came back and eventually we agreed upon a very decent price.

The next stage was a series of inspections. One thing that I didn’t really realize was the fact that vast majority of towns in America actually don’t get any utility services from the city beside electricity. No water, no sewage, no natural gas. Nothing. I heard that some people had private wells before, but I thought it was a fancy choice of those owners. Turns out it’s because there is no other option. Continue Reading
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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

American Dream

Our Connecticut house.It’s time to finally post an update and a reason for the long silence on the blog. It took us months and months of sweat, stress and hard work, but we have realized a long standing dream of ours — we have bought and moved into our very own house!

Now, in more details. We started seriously thinking about doing this at the end of last summer. We had many reasons why we wanted to change our living situation. We were really running out of space in our smallish junior 41, single bathroom apartment. Continue Reading

  1. A two bedroom apartment where one of the bedroom is very small. []
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