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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Imperial Throne Hall

Imperial Throne Hall on Dromund Kaas.I haven’t posted anything about games in a long time and seeing how our February is really short on posts I decided to put a couple of words in about one of the two games that I play on somewhat of a regular basis — SWTOR — Star Wars: The Old Republic. It’s an MMORPG.

Imperial Throne Hall on Dromund Kaas.I think most people play a Star Wars game that happens to be an MMO. I on the other hand actually play an MMO that happens to be set in Star Wars universe.

Imperial Throne Hall on Dromund Kaas.One of the features of the game is that you have a number of Strongholds which is essentially player housing. You get an empty set of walls and you can design and decorate the place as you wish.

Imperial Throne Hall on Dromund Kaas.All the decoration pieces are limited and some are very hard to find or are extremely expensive via credits and GTN — in game currency and player market, auction house. So I was only able to have one Stronghold decorated as I liked. I never gotten into doing another one since I had only single copies of certain nice and rare items that I would want to have in any Stronghold.

Imperial Throne Hall on Dromund Kaas.But back in November BioWare decided to go through a server merger which had an unexpected pleasant side-effect. All the decorations got merged together from all the servers that you had characters on. And it used to be so that when you would transfer one of your characters to that server all your decorations would copy over as well. I happened to have done that with 5 different servers.

Imperial Throne Hall on Dromund Kaas.So ALL my collected items have gone up in quantity by a factor of five. It’s probably not very fair to the people who actually used to buy multiple decorations, but knowing BioWare it’s not going to be fixed ever and hopefully is impossible to do to begin with.

Imperial Throne Hall on Dromund Kaas.Long story short — I was able to setup a second Stronghold for my characters. My original one was on Nar Shaddaa and this new on is on the Imperial capital world of Dromund Kaas.

Imperial Throne Hall on Dromund Kaas.I’m just posting screenshots of one themed room that I wanted to do for a long time — an Imperial Throne Hall. A judgment of a captive Jedi by an Empress.

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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

New Year 2018

Kids with grandparents.We did not deviate from the regular routine this year and celebrated New Year with family at Daniel’s parents place. There were four of us, Danya’s parents and Lina.

Authentic Erdinger beer glasses. I did not cook anything for the holiday table this year. First of all, after a week of stomach virus traveling from one family member to another, I felt exhausted. Secondly, I was worried that if I cook something, I might inadvertently make my in-laws sick. I was the only one from the four of us who did not throw up by the way, but I’m pretty sure that I had the virus in some milder form.

Us.Anyhow, back to the pleasant stuff. We gathered close to 7 o’clock. Took family photos as usual. Had a nice dinner, with most of the holiday favorites including olivie, holodets, funchoza, “french” meat, fried eggplants, roasted potatoes. Drank some champagne, remembered the good things about 2017.

Arosha with his Instax camera.We let the children open some of their presents ahead of time, because it was really hard for them to wait for midnight. On the topic of gifts. They were plenty!

Anюta with her pink markers.Arosha got a Parrot minidrone, an Instax instant pictures camera with additional film and a photo album, toys, jigsaw puzzles, art supplies, bubble bath, candies and clothes. Anюta got toys, clothes, candies and art supplies, which included pink sparkly glue, beads, markers, paint sets, coloring pad, stamps. One of the things that she asked for was the whole set of pink markers. Amazingly, you can order a pack of such things on Amazon. Too bad that they were all the same shade, but she liked them nonetheless.

Family.Danya got clothes, socks, a set of Erdinger beer glasses and Allen Edmonds boots and gloves, both of which we returned since they did not fit all that well. I got clothes, a new electric kettle by Cuisinart and a meat grinder, which I thought about getting for the longest time.

Some of the Instax photos that Arosha took.Daniel’s dad got clothes and an electric shaver by Braun. Lina got clothes and a bluetooth keyboard by Logitech. Daniel’s mom got a Svarowski figurine, fancy facial cream set and an iPhone 8 Plus.

Siblings.Everyone was happy with their gifts, although I was a little disappointed that Danya’s boots did not fit well. Oh, and we did order the Instagram calendars as we do each year for both us and parents.

Some of the Instax photos that Arosha took.We went home at around 1:30. Anюta has fallen asleep at around 11:30 and did not wake up to greet the New Year and to participate in gift giving. We tried to wake her up, but she was too tired and did not want to get up. Arosha, on the other hand, had no problems staying awake so late this year. He was very excited about the gifts and volunteered to be a “New Year Elf”, a helper of “Father Frost”. In his enthusiasm he was a bit of a hasty helper, so we had to ask him a few times to slow down a bit, so that everybody can see what the others are getting.

Generations.Also, I am not sure if Arosha believes in Santa Claus or Father Frost anymore. He figured out the Tooth Fairy business recently. I guess, I could have kept the illusion longer, but I just did not have the heart to do it. He kept asking me if I was his tooth fairy for over a year already, and I kept saying that even if I am, I will not tell him because tooth faeries are secretive.

Parrot Swing minidrone.And then after his most recent tooth loss he said that if I am the tooth fairy that he’ll exchange the tooth for the money since he knows that I will save his baby teeth, but if it is someone else, then he would prefer to keep his tooth and not get the money. So after he was agonizing about the best course of action for a while, I gave in and told him the truth. I think he was mostly happy with this information, which confirmed his suspicions.

Generations.As for Father Frost, one of his theories is that it is a dressed up building’s superintendent. I guess, he is close enough. He also said that an elderly man flying all over sky with the help of his deer makes no sense whatsoever and is quite ridiculous.

Silly 2018 glasses.Unfortunately, I started to develop a bad headache after midnight and it was intensifying rapidly. I ended up suffering the whole next day as well, but luckily I could just rest. We spent half of January 1st at home, and the other half at Daniel’s parents.

New Year elf. Eyes seemed appropriate, so we left them unfixed.By they way, credit for Arosha’s main gift ideas belongs totally and completely to Daniel. Arosha got very excited about both drone and the camera, and he still uses both, a month later.

Girls.

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Sunday, January 28, 2018

2017 Fitness Summary

Yearly medals.Longest daily streak.Before January turns over to February I wanted to post an update and summary of my fitness activity for the last year. There have been a number of changes with regards as to how things stand since my last update and not all things are as I hope they would be. On the positive side though is the fact that my weight is hovering steadily between 162 and 163 pounds — the lowest it has been in years.

I have decided to end my daily 30 minute, 400 calorie workout streak after 393 days. One of the factors was the fact that after getting Peloton at the end of April all the instructors kept making it clear that rest is as important as exercising. All this was confirmed by the fact that I’ve developed pain in my left calf which would not go away until I’ve started taking rest days.

I also believe that what Apple Watch promotes and rewards — hitting your goals on daily basis — or no medal for you — is ultimately unhealthy. I like the idea of reaching goals and it helps me stay with some exercise regiment, but I think the concentration should be based on daily averages instead of daily numbers. In fact my daily averages are higher than my daily goal even with exercising every other day.

A step in the right direction was an introduction of monthly challenges which are in fact based on averages in the latest Watch OS update. I think that daily race needs to eliminated entirely.

Yearly statistics.Typical Peloton workout.With regards to Peloton itself — the machine makes it much easier for much harder workouts. It actually is very easy to race your heart into zone 4 (out of 5) and it makes it essentially impossible to do very low impact exercises. Not in the sense that you technically can’t do it, but in the sense that it makes it fun to push harder.

However some of these factors and dropping a daily routine makes it hard to make oneself to get back on the bike. So I think towards the end of the year both Alёna’s and my stats have suffered.

So here are the 2017 full stats:
MertricUnitsPer DayPer MonthTotal
Active Energycalories46313,544162,535
Walkingstesps3,983120,8291,449,955
Cyclingmiles8.281481,780
Excerciseminutes3297311,700
Walkingmiles1.8255.08661

I don’t do a lot of walking. I make that up by my time on the bike. Alёna’s walking numbers are a lot higher:
MertricUnitsPer DayPer MonthTotal
Active Energycalories45313,494161,939
Walkingstesps9,599289,5953,475,144
Excerciseminutes351,00812,720
Walkingmiles4.60138.671,664

Pretty impressive numbers if I do say so myself. However if January is any indication 2018 isn’t going to look nearly as good.

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Saturday, January 20, 2018

Montreal in November

Notre Dame de MontrealThe ride from Quebec to Montreal was relatively short. We left Hilton, Quebec on Saturday morning at around 11am and got to Garden Inn in Montreal at around 2pm.

Our room in Montreal.We stayed in this particular hotel in Montreal last spring during our Canadian trip with the children. I remembered the great salt water pool, which I definitely wanted to use. I forgot about their fancy made to order breakfast with daily crepe selection, which is quite unique, so it was a pleasant surprise to rediscover it the next morning.

First dinner in Montreal -- Brasserie 701.Danya researched TripAdvisor for dinner options, and we’ve decided to try Brasserie 701, which was less than a mile walk from the hotel. The GPS brought us right to the Notre-Dame de Montréal, but we could not find the restaurant at first and made a few circles around the block. Brasserie 701 ended up being in the same square as the Cathedral, so we had a nice view during our dinner.

Borg buildings at the center of Montreal.I was excited to see a risotto on the menu, but after we got seated the waiter told us that since it was only 4pm, the dinner menu was not yet available. Danya’s steak was on the lunch menu, but my risotto was not, so I was really disappointed and considered leaving. The waiter went to the kitchen to see if they can make an exception for us, and to my delight, they did. We spend a while trying to figure out the wine menu, and ended up ordering beers instead.

Streets of Montreal.Both of us got Kronenbourg 1664 brand, but Daniel ordered a wheat blanc variety, and I got the regular one. Both beers were really good, but if I were to order again, I’d go with the blanc as well. It turns out that we’ve already tried this beer in Irish bar in Keflavic. Danya says that it’s one of his favorites now, so when he went to stock up on beer before Christmas, he bought it along with some sour blueberry and Erdinger beers. The food was also really delicious.

Streets of Montreal.After we finished dinner, it was already dark and still cold in the city. We walked around the Notre-Dame a little more and then went back to the hotel. The pool was waiting! I felt a little bit sad that the children were not there to enjoy it with us, but at the same time I could fully relax without having to worry about them being safe and happy.

By Notre Dame.We chatted with a French-Canadian couple in the hot tube, which was really nice. The woman told me that my accent was more New Yorkian than Russian, which was somehow pleasant to hear. I know that I have a hard-to-place accent, which is different from Daniel’s. Still don’t know if my speaking Belorussian is the reason for that.

Light dinner at hotel restaurant.We had a light dinner at the hotel’s restaurant — buffalo mozzarella, poutine and Belgian Moon, which is what they call Blue Moon in Canada.

Poutine.Now on the subject of poutine. Apparently, it’s a Quebec specialty, but I only found out about it in Montreal while watching Antony Bourdain’s guide to French Canadian cuisine. Poutine is pretty much french fries with brown gravy and cheese curds. When we dined in Quebec, the waitress offered us to upgrade our french fries, but we politely declined. What a pity! The hotel’s poutine was pretty good, but our waitress hinted that it was far from the best. Note to self — next time we’re in French Canada, we should try this in other places.

Streets of Montreal. From our hotel window.Next day we walked back to Notre-Dame. There is an entrance fee, so we did not go inside the night before, but decided to do it during day time. Next to the entrance we’ve noticed a poster advertising a live organ concert at 2pm. The tickets were relatively inexpensive, and the whole idea was so enticing. Ever since we’ve heard the organist in Washington National Cathedral I dreamed of hearing the great instrument in its natural environment again. Danya was not as excited as me at the prospect, but he did not mind going either, since he was also really impressed in Washington.

Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel.It was still about two hours before the concert, so we went for a walk with plans to return. First we visited the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel, also known as the Sailor’s Church. On the top it has a statue of the Virgin as Star of the Sea, and inside it has models of ships hanging from the ceiling. Very unusual, very distinct place. I am glad that we stopped by.

Jacques Cartier Bridge.Then we walked to the river shore, took some pictures of the Jacques Cartier Bridge, saw an empty ferris wheel and a whole bunch of closed kiosks, which in season sell different food items, accessories and souvenirs. It was chilly and windy, but we were dressed for the weather. There was quite a number of people running and fast walking on the promenade. I guess, they are used to this weather and it does not deter them from excersizing.

Organist at Notre Dame de Montreal.We came back to the cathedral with a small cushion of time before the concert. There was an option to pay extra to sit on top near the organ, and we’ve decided to do it. The administration only accepted cash, but we had no CAD. Luckily, they’ve accepted USD. Of course, they didn’t account for the exchange rate, so we ended up paying a little extra for the convenience of using another country’s money, but at least we had that option.

View from the top.The concert turned out to be a big disappointment. I never thought this possible, but the organ did sound bad. At first, I thought that we made a huge mistake of paying extra and getting to the top and sitting next to the organ player. I kept wondering if the acoustics were better at the bottom, and they probably were, but when we changed seats closer to the end of the concert and went down, I did not hear a significant difference.

Top seats by the organ.The organist was very VERY mediocre. I understand, that playing organ is not easy, but it was the Notre-Dame and not some small village church after all. Danya did not even recognize half the melodies, and he commented that the playing was sloppy and inconsistent.

Organ.And the repertoire was something horrible too. The first and the last songs, which were Zarathustra by Strauss and Toccata and Fugue in D minor by Bach respectively, were great, but majority of the rest was “contemporary music”, which included “Beauty and the Beast” song, “Somewhere over the rainbow”, “New York, New York” and the likes. Call me old fashioned, but I was looking forward to classics, and got bored with organist’s choices.

Streets of Montreal.All this being said, I am still glad that we went. It was a unique experience, and at times I even enjoyed it. More than anything, I realized that even in the acoustics of the church and with the music by greatest composers, the organ sounds only as good as the person who plays it.

Fondue dinner.Our next stop was the Creperie-Fondue place that we visited last time with kids. Since Danya’s stomach is sometimes sensitive to cheeses, we’ve decided to try beef bullion fondue this time around. First time for both of us. We ordered a ratatouille crepe to share as last time as well. The fondue was great!

Tasty broth.The best part about it was actually not the meat or the vegetables, but the broth. Danya said that we should not waste it and that it will go down superbly on such a cold day. I asked for two cups, and got them along with a ladle. Apparently we were not the first people who wanted to drink up the bullion, although the waiter said that not that many people did this. The broth was so rich, filling and spicy. Heaven! I tried to replicate it at home, but fell short. Not sure if I need marrow bones or some special spices for that… Maybe, I’ll crack this one day.

Cross the border. Going back home.We went to the hotel and up to the pool again. Spent almost two hours there. So relaxing again. We ate dinner at the hotel’s restaurant again, but ordered sangria’s instead of beer this time. They were pretty decent.

Inside New York capitol building.Next day was the long drive home. Good thing that we planned a vacation the way we did, because driving from Quebec would have been even more tiring.

Staircase inside New York capitol building.There were not a lot of cars at the border, but the patrol officer really took his time with both cars in front of us (inspecting the cars and talking to the people for 10+ minutes). We went through in probably under a minute. I guess, we look trustworthy.

Famous governor.On our way we stopped in Albany. We’ve been there a few times before, but never got a chance to go inside the capitol. I was surprised to discover a big underground mall that leads from parking to the capitol building. We’ve gotten the stamp for Danya’s NP passport and took a self-guided tour inside.

Hall of Governors.The NY capitol is big, impressive and you can see that the state has a lot of money. The staircase alone is something! I particularly liked a hall of governors, with portraits of all the governor’s of New York. Well, almost all. Spitzer’s portrait was so obviously and shamefully (for him) missing.

New York capitol building.Originally we planned to eat in Albany, but after walking to the restaurant, we changed our minds and decided to eat fast food somewhere along the way to save time. I think it was a right decision, since we got home at around 7 o’clock. There was a little bit of traffic closer to the city, but it was expected. The whole trip came up close to 1,200 miles, which is a lot of driving for a short getaway. It was still very nice and memorable.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Anniversary in Quebec City

Château Frontenac. Old Quebec.This year we had a little bit less time for our anniversary trip than we usually do, so instead of flying somewhere we decided to take a road trip on our own car. We initially thought of going to Montreal, but since we were going without kids we figured we could go a little bit further and add Quebec City to our itinerary.

Vermont capitol building at Montpelier.Plus we’ve been to Montreal only a year and half before and our last and only trip to Quebec City was way back in 2008. At first we were concerned that it’s going to be extremely cold there at the very end of November, but after looking at the map of Europe we saw that we’ve spent our vacations much further north than Quebec and it was fine. That turned out to be not a correct assumption.

Inside the capitol.Another thing of significance of this vacation was the fact that this was the first time that our actual anniversary date fell right on Thanksgiving — just like our actual wedding was. It took 11 years for this cycle to complete. And so our total vacation was 6 days long including the days that we would spend on driving there and back.

From the capitol staircase.Originally we planned to leave on the morning of November 22nd — Wednesday before Thanksgiving. On Tuesday I want to work and learned that we were going to have half a day on Wednesday. It suddenly occurred to me that probably a lot of companies would do the same. I decided to leave a little early from work and asked Alёna to finish packing our bags as soon as possible. I also talked to my mom and she agreed to take the kids a night ahead of schedule.

Entering the province of Quebec.It took me 3(!!!) hours to get home from work. It was maddening. Probably the longest commute I’ve ever had. Even though I was extremely tired I still wanted to leave that night to avoid the same terrible drive the next morning. We ended up leaving at around 10pm and it took us under an hour to pass by my office again. All the traffic was gone by then.

First dinner at hotel restaurant.We decided to start our trip with Quebec City since it was further away than Montreal to make the drive home easier. It was a good decision considering that we managed to leave earlier. Our route ran through Vermont — we wanted to make a stop at Montpelier since we really haven’t seen the capitol during the day time. So we drove for about 4 hours the first night. When we started to get tired we found the closest Hilton chain hotel and were in bed before 2am.

Window view from our hotel.We ended up stopping somewhere in Massachusetts, not far from Vermont border. We drove for about 200 miles out of our total 570 miles and about 140 miles away from Montpelier. The hotel that we picked was Hampton Inn & Suites Greenfield and it ran us around $130 for the night. Nice, clean and pleasant place to spend the night. It was a good decision to leave when we did — we haven’t spend any time in traffic during our overall drive to Quebec at all.

Our hotel in the background.In the morning we set out to finish our journey to Quebec City with a short detour to visit the capital and capitol of Vermont in Montpelier. The capitol turned out to be completely different from what I remembered it to be. I guess I was confusing it with a clock-tower on the main street because last time we drove through this town in the middle of the night. Capitol was completely dark and main street actually had some lights on.

Streets of Quebec City.We walked around inside, looked at some painting, including an official Vermont State House portrait of Howard Dean. And we added another official state capital stamp to our collection — one of the two new ones this trip — another one was for New York at the end of our trip.

Notre Dame de Quebec.Then we ate a small lunch at a restaurant right across from the capitol building and went on to finish our drive to Quebec — about 240 more miles. We got to Montpelier at around 1pm and we left it closer to 3pm. We crossed the US-Canadian border at around 4:30pm and we were in our hotel room at almost 8pm.

Notre Dame de Quebec.LONG drive. I have to say that if before drives like these were fairly easy for me to do it is no longer so. Since Arosha was born our all our trips were cut up in smaller pieces in order not to drive long distances in a single sitting. So I’m no longer used to those.

Our suite. Parliament view.Hilton turned out to be as nice as expected. They upgraded our room to a suite on one of the top floors with a grand view of parliament building from our windows. We also discovered a bottle of champagne on ice in our room and congratulatory note on our wedding anniversary. What a pleasure.

Promenade.The hotel was located only half a mile away from the downtown in the heart of the city. But by the time we got to the hotel we were so tired that we just went downstairs to a hotel restaurant for our dinner. As it sometimes happens with hotel restaurants it ended up being very very mediocre. We ordered several dishes and they were all just off. We haven’t returned to this place again and ate elsewhere. And then we went to sleep to recharge for the next day.

Promenade. On the way to Château Frontenac.The next day was our anniversary day and Thanksgiving at the same time. We didn’t make any plans ahead of time for our special dinner, so we made a little bit of research, read some guides and checked out some videos by Anthony Bourdain about French Canada. And then we set out to Old Quebec — a short walk as I mentioned above.

Château Frontenac.The day was very very cold. We had our late November vacations in much more northern cities of Europe, but I guess Gulf Stream makes a huge difference. All those cities were fairly warm and Quebec City most definitely was not. So one of the first stops we made when we arrived to Old Quebec was at Dale of Norway store and acquiring a new much warmer hat for me. Dale of Norway brought up some recent memories — those stores were all over Norway which we visited only a couple month before.

Rue du Petit Champlain.The we walked along the promenade in front of Château Frontenac — a hotel that was built at the end of 19th century and looks a lot like a huge beautiful castle. Wikipedia says that the hotel is generally recognized as the most photographed hotel in the world.

Rue du Petit Champlain.We made a short walk from there to a nearby Notre Dame de Quebec. I don’t think we’ve been inside before as it did look unfamiliar. It looked quite beautiful inside because of a huge golden structure or sculpture at the head of the cathedral. We noticed a Christmas market being constructed nearby — such a familiar sight from pretty much all of our European vacations. And then a walk back to promenade.

Christmas tree.My memories of Quebec were kind of fuzzy and I actually only remembered two things — one was Château Frontenac and another one was a street of shops and restaurants under some large hill. So as expected it was in the same part of the city, right under the mentioned above promenade. The street is called Rue du Petit Champlain. I also remember that my parents bought Alёna a pair of artsy necklaces as gift for her graduation from college I think.

Restaurant Aux Anciens Canadiens.I thought it would be nice to do the same thing — this being our anniversary and her birthday being only a week ago. So after looking in couple of places we found a nice handmade pendant and a matching pair of earrings. Nice mementos of our trip. We also spotted a nice restaurant with some rabbit stews, but we already had different plans for today.

At anniversary dinner.For our anniversary dinner we picked a place called Aux Anciens Canadiens — the name that popped up in a lot of places during our “research” in the morning. It had nice ratings at TripAdvisor and came with a lot of recommendations. Time-wise, this dinner, just as all our other dinners of this trip, fell somewhere closer to lunch than dinner. But we often happen to do this when we travel.

Wild meat pie.I started with a great lobster bisque soup that felt just right on this cold day and then I had a really really nice wild meat pie with a delicious sauce. Alёna had a split pea soup and then some cheesy-melty dish with a bunch of vegetables. And instead of pairing our meals with wine we went with a pair of glasses of draft beer. It was a nice place and a good dinner.

Parliament from our window.Afterwards we walked back to our hotel for some rest — we were already tired and didn’t really want to do anything for today. Later on we walked over to the executive lounge at our hotel for some light snacks, deserts and drinks. Another huge bonus of us staying at Hilton as Diamond VIPs. And that was the end of our 11th anniversary.

Montmorency Falls.The next day we woke up to a white Quebec. It started snowing during the night and the snow was still falling. Even though the snowstorm seemed heavy not much of the snow have accumulated on the streets — but all the rooftops were dressed in white.

On a trail at Montmorency Falls park.We didn’t really know what to do for the day, so we walked down and asked for some advice at a concierge desk. We got a recommendation to see the country side and visit a waterfall on the outskirts of the city. Why not, we thought. We drove out to Montmorency Falls and a large park that surrounded it. Took us no more than 30 minutes.

View from the top of the falls.We started at the foot of the falls, but everything seemed to be closed. Then we noticed a bridge running over the top with people on it. So we drove around and found the park with a bunch of what turned out to be nice trails. The views from the top were great. It was still snowing and it was making everything special. In fact the whole day was somewhat magical — like a nice fairytale. This piece of nature and the city itself.

At Montmorency Falls park.The only somewhat unpleasant thing that happened was my icy slip and fall. The ground was very icy and in most places covered by light snow, so it was not always obvious. Eventually I slipped and fell down right in sync with some other woman several meters away. Probably looked funny from the side, would’ve made a nice video. I got up and didn’t really hurt anything.

Bridge over the top of the falls.And then we happened upon an icy hill. I crouched down and took a nice speedy ride down. Only the ice quickly turned to ground towards the end which brought me to a quick stop and sent me flying with a nice flip. And again I didn’t hurt anything. Alёna wanted to try too, but she decided to just sit down and slide down. That worked a lot better than my feat.

Ice slide.She liked it so much that she decided to do it again. By then a couple of young people came by and saw her doing this. So one of the guys tells his girlfriend that they should do this. And the girls goes — no, that’s crazy! And the guy goes — they just did it! And she goes — oh, OK then, let’s do this.

Back in Quebec.So the guy sat down, she sat in his lap and they rode down. Then they stop and she picks something up from the snow — wow, somebody lost their keys! I check my pocket and holy crap! My keys! So glad that we decided to stay and watch them take a ride. That could’ve been very unpleasant and would probably ruin the day.

German market.After that we drove around a little bit — noticed that a lot of houses had tents around their driveways, so they wouldn’t have to undig their cars — never saw this kind of setup in New York. Seemed to make a lot of sense. And then we drove back to our hotel and walked over to the old city again.

Snow and a snowy beard.As it usually happens the market has opened. This happened many times to us. We see a market under construction and then while we are still around, it opens. Right at the center of it there was an open air kitchen grilling German sausages. What a smell. But we wanted to have a proper dinner, so we resisted. We bought a couple of little toys for our kids, albeit at a nearby store, not the market and now we were ready for dinner.

Snow covered Rue du Petit Champlain.We decided to go back to Rue du Petit Champlain and eat at a place that had rabbit stews. TripAdvisor had high ratings for that place, but I guess it was popular on its own — the wait time was over an hour. Nope, that doesn’t work. So we turned back to TripAdvisor and found another well rated place nearby — Bistro Sous le Fort.

Dinner at Bistro Sous le Fort.I had some deer sausage and some duck with french fries I think. When we were ordering the fries they said that they could put some gravy on top and some cheese curds. That sounded weird to us, so we declined. And only later we found out that what they were actually offering is called poutine and is actually a french Canada specialty. Doh! We actually only realized this when we were at Montreal as you will see in the next post.

Bistro Sous le Fort.And in fact this is it for Quebec City. We went back to our hotel, visited executive lounge again and off to Montreal we went the next morning. A great first part of our trip.

P.S. All the pictures for this trip have been taken with iPhone X. While it’s not D700 quality and I was slightly worried about the possibility of ruined vacation pictures my back has been really thankful. They are most definitely Web worthy.

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Thursday, January 4, 2018

First Snow Storm of 2018

Today we’re having our first snow storm of 2018 and pretty much the first real deal of the season in Brooklyn.

Snow storm with D700.It’s hard to resist taking some pictures. The first shot above I’ve taken with my Nikon D700 with a remote flash to light up the flakes.

Snow storm with Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic.Second set of two pictures Arosha took with his Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic camera which was his gift form us for New Year.

Snow storm with iPhone X.And the last one is simply taken with iPhone X. And they all feel completely different from each other.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Christmas 2017

Christmas tree.This Christmas we have invited Daniel’s parents and sister and his colleague Ilya with wife and two children. We also invited Misha, as we do every year, but he already made plans to spend it with his girlfriend and her family in California, so he could not join us.

I made a list of all the things that I need to buy on Thursday evening and spent 3 hours Friday morning food shopping. I went to 5 different stores, but at the end the refrigerator was full and I was happy.

Kids a day before Christmas.On Saturday morning we went to a speech therapist with Arosha — he is still working on shortening Russian R and integrating it to speech. Also, his Russian “sh”, “zh” and “ch” need a little correction from time to time, since he tends to substitute them with English versions, which are very similar, but still somewhat different.

We switched therapists a few months ago since the previous one stopped making home visits, was very expensive and kind of stopped being useful altogether. This one is less expensive, but has a lot of work experience back in Russia, so I hope that she’ll be helpful with honing that stubborn sound. Daniel’s dad usually drives us to and from — the ride takes about 7 minutes and I could have done it myself, but I am mortified with parking, which is not so easy to find in that particular neighborhood.

Us a day before Christmas.After speech, we went home, ate lunch, and I spent about an hour prepping meat for my main Christmas course — beef braised in red wine. I also made a huge batch of compote out of apples, frozen black currants, raspberries, and sour cherries.

Then we had tickets for Christmas show “Morozko” in Russian Theater on Brighton. This is the second time that we’re going to the Christmas show there, and I am pretty happy with the quality of production. Both times it was a Moscow troupe touring USA. The children enjoyed the show, which is the most important thing.

Our Christmas tree.After the show Danya picked us up and we went for a nice dinner at local TGIF restaurant. Arosha and Anюta shared a steak.

At home, after children went so sleep, I spend another hour in the kitchen making filling for spanakopita and tiding everything up.

Arosha a day after Christmas.So imagine my disappointment when at 5:30 in the morning we were woken up by Anюta, who told us that Arosha keeps throwing up on his bed and needs our help. To make things even better, Anюta developed a nasty barking cough overnight. There was no way we could have anyone over for at least 3-4 days.

Arosha kept throwing up until 1 pm and then once more before bedtime. I have a stomachache for two days straight, and so does Daniel. I cooked part of the meat and a bit of potatoes yesterday, and chicken soup today. I really hope that no one else will end up throwing up for 8+ hours, because, well, it sucks. I am glad that Arosha feels better today and even managed to eat some soup. This was quite an unglamorous Christmas, but I guess everyone has to have one of those once in a while.

Anюta a day after Christmas.Also, a few weeks ago Daniel and the kids put up a Christmas tree. This is the third year when we use artificial tree instead of a real one, and I have to say I am pretty happy with it — real trees are not cut; set up and clean up is way easier; and we’ll start saving money next year since the price for this artificial one was 3 times the price of the real ones that we would get.

It took Danя about 5 minutes to set the tree up, and then Arosha and Anюta decorated it all by themselves! No, really, I must have put one or two ornaments on the tree, and that’s it. It’s amazing what a good job they’ve done! During the last few weeks Arosha and I kept buying new ornaments and putting them up. We also got a new topper star to replace the old one that just stopped working.
In: Family, Life In General   Tags: , , , , , ,
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O.o teeth mrgreen neutral -) roll twisted evil crycry cry oops razz mad lol cool -? shock eek sad smile grin