Friday, February 26, 2010

guess who's going to Istanbul?

Flat Shirley arrived from California just in time to go with us to Turkey to renew our visas!

Shirley was sent to us by a second grader named Natalie. Our assignment is to take some photos with her and journal about the things we do together. I was worried that she would come while we were gone and I would cause Natalie to miss her deadline for Shirley's return.

We are always eager to help out our friends when we can so if you ever need a Flat Stanley or Shirley to visit us, please know that we have experience entertaining out of town guests and will show them a good time!!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

from where?

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Yesterday we received a notice in our mailbox that a package was waiting for us at the post office. On the line where it tells you what city the package is from was the word:


So of course we had to joke about getting a package from the exotic city of Fra-gee-lay!

It turned out the box was actually a Christmas gift from a friend in New York who mailed it Dec 5th... not too bad. We have had things take longer.

And besides it is never too late or too early for a Christmas gift!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

thought for today

One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love.

Sophocles (496 BC - 406 BC)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Presenting Elenora!

Anya and her husband Sasha invited us over to meet their daughter Elenora. It was fun spending time with them, having tea and looking at photos. We were even treated to video of Elenora's first bath.

I wonder how she will feel about that when she is older!!

Elenora and her mother Anya

Elenora allowed me to hold her too!
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I felt fortunate not just because I got to hold the baby but, because she wet her diaper when her mom took her back. And she was wearing a cloth diaper without plastic pants. She soaked her mom and not me!

Monday, February 22, 2010

the sign says

While riding the marshutka we saw two signs.

The first was said:
Don't slam the door!

The second one said:
Buy yourself a refrigerator and slam that door.

Friday, February 19, 2010

HIV testing time again!

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Each time we renew our visas we have to get tested. I have actually lost count of how many tests we have had!

We went to a place called City Lab on Krasnix Partizan, within walking distance of where we live. It was very clean, efficient and quick. She took care of the three of us in record time. And we were promised results in 4-5 days. We are used to waiting around at the State hospital lab for at least an hour or more for our turn to pay and then wait another hour to take the test!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

today's news...

Are you a Twitter fan? My English class and I have discussed in the past how this type of networking can influence politics here in Russia and abroad.

Here's an article on how Ashton Kutcher plans to use his Twitter account during his visit here to Russia:

Kutcher to Twitter fans during Russian visit

MOSCOW – Hollywood actor and Web-savvy activist Ashton Kutcher says he will "crowd source" questions about the Kremlin's push to develop a Russian Silicon Valley to his 4.5 million Twitter fans.

The actor is part of a U.S. delegation of technology and social media leaders that arrived in Moscow as part of White House efforts to improve ties with Russia.

Kutcher told reporters here Thursday that he will "translate the Russian voice to an American audience" and seek advice on Russia's efforts to build its own high-tech center.

The Kremlin announced recently it would develop its own Silicon Valley to help modernize Russia's economy, which is highly dependent on energy exports.

During the weeklong visit, the delegation will urge the Russian government, businessmen and students to utilize social media and innovative technologies to tackle problems like human trafficking and corruption.

The visit is part of an effort strengthen ties between the United States and Russia after years of strained relations.


Delegation's Twitter page:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

thought for today

Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.

St. Augustine

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

premarital counseling...

We just finished an hour and a half session with a couple who will be getting married in a few months. They had a list of questions they wanted to discuss with Tom. One of which was about birth control.

I think I should get a prize for translating about the different methods in Russian... and oh what a joy it was to explain the withdrawal method.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Percy Jackson

We saw Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightening Thief with a group of friends this past weekend. Not having read the book I asked the 11 year old what the movie was about. She gave me a quick synopsis and I prepared myself to see young Percy Jackson go on an adventure!

It is always fun to see movies in the theater here with a large group of people... even if you don't catch every single word of the Russian you get the point of what is going on. One of the jokes was not lost on us Americans. There is a quip about going Tennessee and the type of music they play there. The loudest laughter came from our row!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cutting Alcohol Consumption by 2020

Here is an article from Russia Today that I found interesting:

New measures to cut Russia’s alcohol consumption by 2020

18 December, 2009, 20:24

Authorities plan to introduce an anti-drinking policy to cut alcohol consumption by three-fold by 2020. The measure is expected to be introduced in two steps within the next 2 years.

The government has suggested banning covert alcohol advertisement, limiting the time of day at which alcohol is sold and improving warning labels as just some of the steps in the process.

If the program succeeds, total consumption of alcohol per person should drop to 8 liters of alcohol per year.

In respect to the level of alcohol consumption, contrary to the stereotype, Russia lags behind European countries such as the UK, Germany, France and the Czech Republic, among others. Nevertheless, President Medvedev has called Russians’ proclivity for drinking, a “national catastrophe.”

Dr. Jeannot Hoareau from the European centre for Psychotherapy believes the reasons behind alcoholism among Russians are the same as in the rest of the world: anxiety, depression and problems people can’t deal with on their own.

“The most important thing is knowledge on that matter,” he says, “You can’t stop alcoholism by just raising prices. Back in the 1980’s Gorbachev did that. And it didn’t work. It was an utter failure.”

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

thought for today

I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much.

Mother Teresa

I know that I used this quote back in November... however, when things get a little crazy here, these words express how I feel about what we are going through. Please keep continue to keep us in your prayers!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


Yesterday was the beginning of Maslenitsa. One of my students brought in blini (Russian pancakes)and explained that this holiday is about saying goodbye to winter and welcoming spring. Pancakes are to symbolize the sun. Hers were quite tasty. She spread a cream cheese mixture inside and rolled them up. Yum!

After this week the Lenten season fast begins here so that is another reason to enjoy pancakes with butter for a full week!

Friday, February 05, 2010

Beignets... inspired by The Princess and the Frog

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If you have seen the movie then you know that in the cafe scene this treat is one of the dishes featured when we see Tiana at work.

The French word Beignet (ben-yay) means 'fried dough'. After researching recipes from New Orleans, reading about the history of the beignet on line, I started experimenting and came up with a recipe that my two trusty taste testers approved of!

Alida's Russian Beignets

1/2 cup water
2 Tbl sugar
1/4 butter
3/4 cup flour
Dash of salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
Powdered Sugar

To make the choux:
Combine water, sugar, butter and salt in saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring while the butter melts. Turn down heat and add flour all at once, stirring until the mixture forms a ball. Turn off heat.

After making the choux: Add vanilla and eggs one at a time, whipping vigorously with wire whisk, until mixture is smooth and shiny. Let sit in fridge for a bit to cool.

Drop by rounded teaspoons into hot oil. Fry a few beignets at a time until they are golden brown. Keep a watch on the temp of the oil so as not to cook too fast or burn the beignets.

Remove them with a slotted spoon and let drain on paper towels. Makes aprox. 2 1/2 dozen.

Tom and Spencer enjoyed this batch the best and we all think they taste like the Russian doughnuts that we love called 'ponchiki'.

Bon Appetite!!!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Aleksandr has big love for Tanya

I found this story on the website Russia Today, enjoy!

Biggest ever “I love you” painted with broom on ice

Published 04 February, 2010, 13:44

What can be more fascinating than fulfilling a dream? Especially if this dream is writing a love message to your own wife, in giant red letters on ice, and possibly getting into the Guinness Book of Records?

Aleksandr Kartashev from the Russian city of Rostov says his 2.5 kilometer-long “Tanya, I love you” is a gift to his wife Tatyana.

“I was going to turn this idea of mine into reality last year but the weather was bad and I had no assistants,” Aleksandr said as quoted by Komsomolskaya Pravda daily. “And this time I was lucky – it was not cold and the ice was about 20 cm thick. And more than 25 volunteers were helping me – I wouldn’t have managed to write the biggest love message in the world by myself. I thanked them with hot tea.”

It took them two kilos of red food dye to paint the message on ice with brooms. The height of the capital “T” letter is 230 meters and the width is 170 meters.

The total length of the lines which form the message is 2.5 kilometers, and the length of the phrase is 830 meters.

Aleksandr’s wife Tatyana said that she is delighted, and is also planning a surprise for him for the forthcoming Valentine’s Day.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

thought for today

Peace and friendship with all mankind is our wisest policy, and I wish we may be permitted to pursue it.

Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

I have what?

Before moving here to Russia I had heard of three types of colds. A cold, chest cold or a head cold. Last week I was out of commission for 4 days with back pain.

I called a medic (think nurse practitioner) who is also a massage therapist. She gave me a back massage and asked me questions about the type, location and duration of the pain I was feeling. After ruling out anything serious the diagnoses I was given was... a back cold.

So that is a new one for my list. Cold, chest cold, head cold and back cold.

Monday, February 01, 2010

it's all about the look

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I was able to snap this with my cell phone while waiting for that #34 van that is approaching!

... her boots are the same color green as her coat. I love a girl who knows how to match her footwear with her fur!