Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Happy New Year! + New Video


A very Happy New Year to each and all of you!
It's my most favorite holiday of all. It's something about childhood - in my home country, it is THE holiday which is widely celebrated as the biggest event of the year. Most of our traditions have pretty much the same flair as Christmas here - no big surprise there, our New Year celebration takes roots from both ancient winter celebrations and Christmas. It's the connection with childhood, that's what makes it so special - brightly decorated tree, lights everywhere, special treats and beloved people by our side. And always, always a feeling of magic and dreaming big dreams. I'll probably spend tomorrow preparing a couple of traditional Russian salads - one with salty herring! sounds yucky doesn't it? ;) - nevertheless, it is one of my most favorite treats. I'll probably watch some favorite Russian winter movies. Then I'll dress up, say thanks to 2015 and welcome the New Year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Mannik Recipe

Mannik (манник, pronounced MAHN-nik), a Russian semolina cake, is one of my favorite childhood treats and also a favorite of Anya and Justin. I'll write up my basic recipe first, and offer a few additional ideas to make this simple (yet tasty!) cake even more interesting.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Colorful Coastal Christmas

Merry Christmas, my friends and readers!

This year, we decided to take a mini-break and escape to the beautiful Oregon Coast. On the plus side, at least for us geeks and nerds, it is practically deserted this time of year. If you're a party person, the Oregon Coast is definitely not the place to be right now. On the not-so-plus side, winter on the coast means high winds, heavy rain and the possibility of floods. I'm not used to such strong winds, they almost knocked me off my feet, though locals take their dogs for a walk on the beach just as if it was just another sunny day. We also took walks trying to catch breaks in the weather. In general, I wanted to stay warm and cozy, but still look and feel festive and just a bit glamorous. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

It's a Secret

I guess I am rather an impulse buyer rather than a planner. The idea of finding an unexpected treasure - that's what excites me. Though in this wide open field I from time to time form an attachment to a certain kind of a item I'd like to add to my collection. It's not really a plan, but somewhere on the back of my mind I have a vague dream of what would be nice to find.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Gentle Hues

As many of you these days, we are busy with all sorts of holiday preparations and festive events. Yesterday, Anya had a concert in her school. Justin and I were impressed. Her school has a few choirs, groups, bands and an orchestra - a strong music department with talented teachers who undeniably are on fire to do something really amazing with and for kids. Anya is in two choirs - a girl's choir and a mixed choir of girls and boys of 7th and 8th grade. When I was a kid, we had subjects like art or music only once a week. She has 2 hours of choir every day of school! The kids were fantastic, singing and playing not so trivial pieces in beautiful arrangements, skillfully done, with lots of heart. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Luxuries of Winter


One of the unexpected developments for me this Fall/Winter was finding this faux fur coat and falling in love with it. So I'm from Siberia, right? How much do you think I wore fur coats (genuine fur, like sheepskin or nutria coats, and mink and fox hats) in my life? That's right, much. At some point, you just get tired of the whole thing. I did not have any fur coat ever since I left my homeland, which was almost 14 years back. But somehow I loved this coat so much, and even though I was afraid it would be heavy and bulky like those I used to see when I was a kid, I decided to give it a try. The coat did not disappoint, it is everything I wanted it to be - soft, lightweight, cozy, warm, with pockets, a pure joy to wear! I wear it all the time, with everything - dresses, skirts, pants, denim. I'm often complimented and asked where I got it (see the info at the end of the post if you're interested). It sure is a keeper in my closet. And with it, many luxuries of winter returned to my life as well. I found myself enjoying knit hats and scarves, leather gloves, tall boots - all the things I was so eager to discount once I moved to a much milder climate.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

City of Dreams. Part I

Earlier this Autumn, in September, we made a trip to one of our most favorite destinations around the Sound - Port Townsend. The town is located on the very northeastern tip of the Olympic Peninsula and is surrounded by the waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Admiralty Inlet, by a harbor called Port Townsend Bay. The bay was named by Captain Vancouver, the famous English explorer whose name you can see all over the map both of the US and Canada - we've got Vancouver Island and Vancouver City in Canada, a town in Washington, plus mountains in Alaska and even New Zealand. George Vancouver originally named the bay Port Townshend after his friend Marquis of Townshend. 

Saturday, December 5, 2015


Thank you for your warmest welcoming, my dear friends - I savor every single word. I'm so happy to write again, to share with you again. It is definitely some of the happiest times for me, the time I spend writing. I rarely know what I'll write when I sit down to write. And when I think I know, I am rarely right about it. So mostly I just go with it. There is nothing around me, not a thing, not a noise, not a person exists at this moment. It's only my being tapping into something huge, amazing, wonderful and truly miraculous, and I become a vessel for that magical energy to just run through me. There are very few things in this life that I love more than that. To know that what I have to say and how I say it brings joy to others as well, makes it even more special. So I thank you from all my heart! 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Hello Again!

You knew this day would come, didn't you?
I am so happy to be here again and greet you all, dear friends and readers!
I received so, so many warm, wonderful words from you - please know that I was very touched by your kindness and the interest you expressed in my blog. I must say that it was overwhelming, in the most positive way. Thank you!!
I don't know what happened. For the first few weeks of non-blogging, I felt happy and content with my life. I got really busy with other projects, worked on publishing my books, and of course spent lots of time with my family. Justin and I had our little trips, and since taking photos and writing about our discoveries was a huge part of our life for many years, regardless of blogging, we have never stopped doing it. But I missed sharing little style and shopping stories with you, and lately, literally in the last few days, I started really missing my blog. Maybe I just needed a nice long break to feel refreshed? All I know is this (and Justin really helped me to come to this conclusion). Life is too short to regret our decisions. Ultimately, nothing in life is completely irreversible, we can change our mind about pretty much anything, and if something that helps us feel better is missing from our life, then it's OK to re-decide. I don't know (and I can't know, can I?) where it's all going, but for now, writing my blog makes me feel happy. I am all for feeling happy. I know that you are too. So hello again! :)