Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mom Leaving

Alёna's mom at the airport.Today my mom is flying back to Belarus. She stayed a little over two months this time, and it was so nice to be around her again and just to catch a break with all the work around the house.

It will be tough for me to get back into the routine again (shopping and cooking seem especially challenging for me now), and I will miss her company. I know she will miss us too, especially Anechka and Aroshka. I hope to see her again sooner rather than later. Coming to Belarus is complicated for us, although it will probably be nice. I guess, time will show who will visit whom.

Anechka got sick yesterday. She has a fever and no other symptoms for now. I hope she’ll get well soon, so we would not have to cancel our upcoming trip. I know Anechka will miss her grandma. They had such a nice relationship. Too bad the little one will forget all about it in time. Arosha is upset that she is leaving too. Even though my mom tried to impose some discipline on him, he loves her and accepted her as a member of the family right away. He cried at the airport when she was leaving.

Last security point.Arosha went for his first dentist visit yesterday. We did not go to a specialized pediatric dentist, but to our new doctor, who said that he treats children as well. Arosha did very well. He was calm and was doing exactly what the doctor was asking. Arosha had no cavities, but the doctor recommended to do a light cleaning for some build up which he had (probably from all the tea Arosha is drinking). We will go for another check up in about 6 months.

It is still cold outside. They predicted snow today, but luckily it’s just cold and windy, no snow. It should get warmer by the weekend, and hopefully the temperature will not drop to below zero anymore.

I feel sad. Time just flew by so quickly. I am putting her things, like cup and slippers, away and I can’t stop crying. I keep reminding myself that I’ll talk to her soon and will most likely see her in the future, but it’s still hard. Mom is mom and she will always have that special place in her child’s heart. I love you , mom!
In: Family, Life In General   Tags: , , ,
Time: 17:57   Comments: 1 Comment   Post a Comment  
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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Grand Italian Vacation

One of magical canals in Venice.It’s already been seven days since we returned from our “Grand Italian Vacation” and I’m faced with my usual post-vacation conundrum — how do I do a good job conveying and preserving all the great feelings and experiences that we had, through words and pictures.

I think I will start by saying a couple of general things and will go into more details as I go on. Our Italian vacation — as most of our vacations tend to be — was great. We really liked Italy and all the cultural and historical experiences that it has to offer along with an abundance of famous places to visit.

Having said that I probably should mention that while we enjoyed our trip greatly we weren’t completely swept off our feet the same way we were in Japan. I’m not exactly sure why, but it probably has something to do with the fact that we really wanted to visit Japan for many years and year after year some obstacle would prevent us from going. So when we finally managed to do it — the achievement itself made if feel more special. And then there is the fact that it still is much more exotic of an experience. After all — United States itself, even though quite a bit different — did originate from Europe, while Japan existed and developed on a very different trajectory for thousands of years.

Florence. Climbing the tower.But not to get way too off course — back to Italy. The trip was great and everyone who has a chance should visit Italy. The country has so much history to offer in various forms that 10 days is barely enough to touch upon it — ancient structures, famous locations, familiar to everyone paintings and sculptures, unique cities and a great selection of local cuisines. We spent 10 amazing days in Italy that we will probably remember for the rest of our lives.

So a short summary of our trip would be that we got lucky with the weather, loved our Hilton hotels, used trains with great success to get around and even rented a car for one day. We tried a good number of Italian specialties and had a rather good luck with randomly picking places to dine at. All the cities look and feel quite differently from familiar to us U.S. cities and we loved exploring each and every one of them. But my favorite stop of all would have to be Venice — there is just nothing like it in the world and you feel how special it is when you’re there.

Milan. Main square.One of the things that we were worried a bit about was the time of the year that we were going at and all the floods that happened in Italy a week before our departure. However it turned out that weather was warmer and more pleasant than it was in New York at the time even though the most southern city (Rome) in our itinerary was still closer to the north pole than New York is. There were no signs of recent flooding when we were there, but even more surreal was the fact that the flooding has started again right after we left.

However a bigger advantage of the time of the year that we picked was the fact there were no enormous crowds. There were still tons of tourists everywhere, but we didn’t encounter a single line — no line to Saint Peter Basilica, no line to Vatican Museums, no line to Uffizi Gallery and tons of empty restaurants which were very happy to serve us.

Venice. View from Accademia Bridge over Grand Canal. Basilica of Saint Mary in the background.Speaking of which — the service everywhere was great. I couldn’t tell a difference between the typical great service that you would get at restaurant in U.S. from what we were getting in Italy — fast, courteous and very polite hosts and waiters everywhere. A lot of places put a sitting charge on your bill — ranging from 1 to 4 euros per person, but from what we learned from other Italians that we talked to — this pretty much frees you up from having to leave a tip. Even though we still left tips at certain places we felt very much OK with leaving a small tip or not leaving a tip at all.

But of course the best part of the timing of our trip was the fact that we ended up celebrating our 6th wedding anniversary in possibly the most romantic place on earth — Venice.

And now having all of the above laid out I can jump right into our trip and start from the beginning and get deeper into details.

P.S. Selecting photographs for the introductory post was really hard. I didn’t want to use up photos from the stories about each city, yet this post came out looking really photo-scarce. We’ll probably readjust this when we are done with all the posts.
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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Salads, Movies, Languages

Green bean, squash, kale, zucchini and cantaloupe salad.This is another experiment with green beans. I have to say that I still like the simplest salad the most, but one can get tired of the same thing over and over. I mixed together some green beans, zucchini shaved with vegetable peeler, “massaged” kale, fresh cantaloupe, roasted almonds, garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar, cayenne pepper and some salt. Danya did not care for it, but I enjoyed it — even more, considering how healthy it is!

Aroshka also tried cantaloupe today — it seems that he quite liked it!

And since we normally watch movies while eating, might as well throw it in this post. We’ve finished the 3rd season of The Wire last night. It wasn’t bad, but somewhat depressing — no matter how many hydra’s heads you take off, there are always more popping up to replace them. We started watching 2nd season of the Mad Man today. I enjoy this show quite more, even though it seems like I miss half of the content. Not sure if this is the nature of the show, or if my English is not strong enough. Anyhow, it also makes me sad somewhat, but it’s witty, and I like that!

Oh, and on the subject of languages — good news for those of us who are actively bilingual. Pretty much, it strengthens the mind (not surprisingly) — an article in NY Times outlines the benefits more clearly.

And lastly, a few words about weather — it is hot and humid, and I really hate it! I wish NY summers were more like NY springs. I can only go outside with Arosha either early in the morning, or in the evening before his bedtime. Today we went out at 8 a.m., and in an hour it was so bright and hot, that our poor baby was hiding his head on my chest (I had to take him out of the stroller). We sleep with AC and today we’re actually running it all day. I think it gives Arosha a runny nose, but none of us can tolerate the temperature otherwise.
In: Food & Dining, Life In General   Tags: , , , ,
Time: 16:22   Comments: 8 Comments   Post a Comment  
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Monday, March 21, 2011

BBQ Pork Ribs & Other Good Stuff

BBQ ribs.Last weekend was quite nice!

On Saturday, I’ve decided to try out a super-easy barbecue pork ribs recipe from Allrecipes.com. I thought — it sounds so simple and will be cheaper than going to the restaurant, plus we can invite Maruks over, get some beer, watch KVN and have lots of fun! ) Since it was on such a short notice, Maruks weren’t able to come, but Danya and I decided to proceed with the plan anyway. )

Preparing the ribs.So on Saturday afternoon, while Danya’s mom went for a walk with Aroshka, we went grocery shopping. By the way, our local Pathmark will be out of business in less than a month. We don’t shop there often, but it’s still nice to have an option. I am holding fingers for the Whole Foods, although it is probably not very likely.

I am slightly annoyed by the Pathmark — they declared a store-wide 10%-40% sale, but they canceled all regular sales, so a lot of stuff that we buy comes out more expensive after this discount (for example, they always used to have some bread “on sale” for $2.99, but now they only give you 10% off the full price of $4.49, which brings the price down to $4.04 only).

BBQ ribs with french fires and corn. And beer.When cooking the ribs, I slightly modified the “just rub them in barbecue sauce” recipe. I rubbed them with paprika, onion and garlic powders and used half pork marinade and half barbecue sauce for rubbing. No extra salt was necessary. I marinated the ribs for 1.5 hours only, but baked them an hour longer than the original recipe calls for (3.5 hours total) in 300F oven. For the side, we used half-made stuff, which still comes out less expensive than the restaurant would have been (especially if you consider gas, tax and tip) — frozen french fries, pre-cut coleslaw (I just added some mayo, vinegar and sugar to it) and fresh corn (rubbed it with salt and butter, wrapped in foil and baked in the oven along with the french fries).

It all came out really nice, and was complemented greatly by the Blue Point blueberry ale. ) I drank probably half a bottle, so there was no need to discard any milk due to alcohol consumption. ) And KVN of course was as funny as ever! Too bad they only let 2 teams pass with each round of the 1/8 game.

Blueberry beer.The weather got much colder again, by the way. Truth to be told, I am relieved by this. I like springs and falls in NYC, but summers get really nasty really fast. So thank you, but no thank you — let me enjoy the cooler days for a short while longer. )

On Sunday Danya and I went for a walk with Aroshka — I properly enjoyed it. ) Later in the day we celebrated Sasha’s 30th birthday at his parents. His mom prepared a delicious dinner and made a collage of Sasha’s pictures at different ages (the guests were supposed to guess how old he was on each one). It was a nice, nice celebration. Originally we planned to take Aroshka with us, but he was a bit fussy, so we left him at home with Danya’s mom. I half regret not taking him (since I like showing him off to people, ha-ha), but I realize that I was able to relax much better without a fussy, wiggly infant on my lap. )

Alёna near Sheepshead Bay Canal.And in the evening we got a short visit from Maruks. We just drank some beer and tea (I recently ordered a whole bunch of nice teas from DavidsTea Company), and chatted about little stuff. Just like old times — well, maybe with the exception of some topics like baby poop, baby sleep, traveling with babies, etc. )

And I want to finish my post on an unrelated topic. We are all very sad about what is happening in Japan. As a person who grew up in a country which got about 60% of Chernobyl fall out, I am much more scared of radiation than of earthquakes and tsunamis (although those are very devastating too). ( Please donate if you can (all major consumer sites have donation links) — every little bit counts!

Sheepshead Bay canal.
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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hurricane

Huge tree has fallen over the road. Poor car owner.Yesterday we had some of the craziest weather in a long while. First of all the was a lot of rain. But that wasn’t the bad part. The bad part was an incredibly strong wind.

My mom called me all panicked in the middle of the day. She was home alone and needed help. You see, they have wall mounted AC units. One of those got blown out by wind into the middle of the living room. I know it sounds crazy and speaks volumes of the installation job, but still. I almost killed myself lifting that thing back into its place. Blown out by wind?

Roots of the tree sticking out from the destroyed sidewalk.The waves where incredibly high in the canal along the Emmons avenue. And it’s an enclosed space. What was going on in the open ocean? Many thanks to Misha for picking us up and driving us back home from his own birthday party. And today I took some photos of a fallen tree on the nearby block.
In: Life In General   Tags: , , ,
Time: 19:30   Comments: 3 Comments   Post a Comment  
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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Phoenix Summer

Phoenix SummerWe keep complaining that our summer just will not get here, but it sure got to Phoenix. I still have a page left in my Weather App on the phone since our last trip there, and it amazes me every time I see it.

Now THAT’s summer!
In: Life In General   Tags: , , ,
Time: 17:24   Comments: 2 Comments   Post a Comment  
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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Rain, Rain, Rain

Rain, rain, rain.The start of this summer has been “amazing”. It’s been raining for weeks now and it just keeps going. Next week weather forecast looks even worse. This is really strange and really atypical for New York.
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Time: 16:54   Comments: 1 Comment   Post a Comment  
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Friday, May 9, 2008

Rainy Day

Rainy spring day.Here’s another photograph from my favorite series it seems.

It’s been a rainy day, but unlike usually rainy days this one doesn’t seem too depressing. I guess it’s because all the trees are finally turning green and there is spring in the air after a long gray winter.

The photo is an HDR composed of 3 images. The bright white circles that are visible in some portions of the picture are drops of rain.
In: Photography   Tags: , , ,
Time: 17:53   Comments: 4 Comments   Post a Comment  
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Friday, February 22, 2008

Snowing

Snowing in BrooklynIt decided to really snow for the first time this year. I did see some snowflakes on days before, but nothing really stuck. Now it’s being going at it for a good portion of the night and is still going strong.
In: Life In General, Photography   Tags: , ,
Time: 10:58   Comments: 9 Comments   Post a Comment  
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