Thursday, December 22, 2011

We are southbound!

On December 25, we are gearing up for a week in... (drum roll!!!).... JAMAICA!

Stay tuned for some updates, review and most definitely - photos! Here's a little preview (and hopefully I'll experience something similar):
Image taken from here


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mmm... Sugar cookies....

Christmas time is THE time of the year when I think it's justified to indulge a little, food-wise (and refer to it later as a little "holiday" weight, he-he). I also think it's the time when the consumption of cookies increases sharply. So to add to that, I made some delicious sugar cookies!

I got this recipe for a mommy friend, who was kind to share it with us. She is a blogger mommy, so rather than re-write her recipe, just click on the link for step-by-step instructions to making these tasty treats: Amber's Sugar Cookie Recipe

Enjoy! And happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A wee bit of holiday cheer!

Those of us (and I would imagine, most of us) who leave Christmas shopping till the month December, are faced with a daunting task of braving the overcrowded malls and other box stores in search for that perfect gift for that special someone. So after a stressful work-day and yet again, a stressful shop-night, it's nice to come home and get something cheerful in the mail. Usually, I get this experience with postcards from people I don't know (no, I don't walk around giving my address to strangers) - I mean those I receive as part of the Postcrossing project. But last night we got an awesome Christmas card from our good friend & neighbour G! Isn't it hilarous?!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Did you know? (Christmas Cards Facts)

I love receiving holiday cards, and to be honest, my family almost never disappoints me when it comes to sending cool greeting cards (I'll post some of the images later). Last night I was browsing the net, for nothing in particular, and I don't even know how I stumbled across some interesting Christmas cards history bits :)

I've collected a few more to share them with you!

* In 1840s - official Christmas card tradition was initiated by Queen Victoria.

* Year 1843 - The custom of sending Christmas cards started in the UK in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole. He commissioned a card featuring the artwork by John Callcott Horsley, which he sent to his grandmother (how nice!?). It later became world's most expensive Christmas card when it was sold for £22,500 ($35,800) in 2001 at an auction.

World's first Christmas card
 * Year 1875 -  Louis Prang, American printer, lithographer and publisher, brought Christmas card production to the US. Some often refer to his as the "father of the American Christmas card". Fast-forward 6 years - he's printing more than 5 million Christmas cards per year!

* Year 1905 - now the world's largest greeting card company, American Greetings, was started from a horse-drawn cart by a polish immigrant in Ohio.

* Year 1910 - the largest greeting cards manufacturer in the US, Hallmark Cards, was founded in Kansas City, Missouri.

* Year 1920 - Canadian greeting cards manufacturer, Carlton Cards, was founded in Toronto, Ontario.

* Year 1949 - world-famous UNICEF launched their charity Christmas Card program. It started after a seven-year old girl in the former Czechoslovakia gave her drawing to UNICEF to say "thank you" for the help she received. Today, UNICEF cards are sold in many countries using designs donated by artists from all over the world. (To buy some UNICEF greeting cards, just click HERE)

UNICEF Christmas card by a Canadian artist Terry Ananny

* Year 2009 - $157.9 million - yup, that's the value of stationery, office supplies, cards, gift wrap and party supplies purchased at large retailers in Canada in December 2009, up 97% from average monthly sales of $80 million for this category in 2009 and up 72% from November (these are the last available numbers).

* Year 2010 - according to Hallmark, about 1.5 billion Christmas cards are sent in the US each year (woah!) - now compare that with Valentine's Day, which sees a measly (compared to Christmas) 144 million cards.

* 600,000 - the number of cards that Santa receives in Finland

* 15% - percentage of cards purchased by men (no surprise here!)

* 54% - percentage of people that prefer "Merry Christmas" on the cards they purchase. "season's Greetings" is liked by 12% and "Happy Holidays" is preferred by 21%

And here's a fragment of the collection of Christmas cards I sent out to my fellow postcrossers this holiday season:

Sources: Wikipedia (, Why Christmas? (, Stats Canada (, UNICEF (, Hallmark (, published works of Terry Ananny (

Friday, December 2, 2011

Let it snow!...

I don't know why, but this year I've been itching to decorate my office for the holidays. Early.
BUT I made myself hold off and kept saying "wait till it at least snows!". Of course, as if on purpose, we enjoyed a warmer than usual autumn, and the average temperature in November was +10 C!!! Anyhow, we got our first real snow on November 23, which is when I busted out the scissors, and the cutting of paper began.

I always loved making snowflakes so I never thought of it as a special skill on anything, but after many oooohs and aaaahs from my coworkers and one suggestion that I should teach a class, I figured that maybe a blog post is in order :)
My office door window
(it's a pretty narrow hallway, so the photo came out a bit crooked)
Here are some of the snowflakes up close:

Now... Are you wondering how to do them? I will show you.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Start a mini revolution!

About a year and a half ago, I wrote a post about my first experience making a chilli. Chilli is one of those things that I always thought about as being complicated and hard to make, and honestly, I never went looking for a recipe... Until I watched a TV show and then bought a recipe book by Jamie Oliver (aka the Naked Chef) called The Food Revolution. For those of you who haven't seen it - it was a reality show with a premise of making over the eating habits of one of the unhealthiest cities in the USA, Huntington, WV. The show was great and his book is just as good.

I have to say that I love this chilli recipe. But more importantly - my very picky husband AND my daughter do as well. This recipe makes quite a bit of quantity, so after eating the chilli for 3 days (that's right, they didn't mind having it for supper 3 days in the row!), we froze the rest :)

Here's how it goes:

You can barely see the rice - cause chilli is SO good! he-he :)

... and that's how much chilli is made from this recipe (something like 8 servings +)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Let's talk nails...

I often think about writing reviews for some of the products I use - the ones that impact me strongly (positively or negatively, either way). But I never get around to actually doing that! ...Well, not true, I've done a few reviews on baby products on my blog :)

This review is about a nail product that I recently discovered... I love my nails; they are long and don't break too often. Usually I cut them relatively short, but that's where the care often ends - being a busy mom, I have absolutely no time waiting for a nail polish to dry! And let's face it, if you want a nice manicure that will stay there for longer than a day before chipping, you have to put on 2 coats. And if the colour is in the dark shades, you want to use a base coat + top coat. So that's 4 coats of polish that have to dry! What mother has got time for that? Not this one!

So the product is Sally Hansen 14-day Nail Shield:

Friday, September 9, 2011

Zucchini Pie

My awesome neighbour and friend G shared a zucchini pie recipe with me today, and now it's my turn to share it with you! Since I still have zucchini left from our garden what a better way to eat it by trying something new?! And I love to try new foods, he-he... :)
So here it goes:
G's zucchini pie, yum!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mug Cozy

So continuing with crafts and "pinteresting"...

Have you ever felt that you just want to curl up on a couch with your favourite book or in front of your favourite TV show, with a mug of hot coffee/tea/chocolate? Sure you have! But usually, you have to be careful with that mug! You can't just grab it with both hands... cause you'll burn yourself!

I found how to do this and thought to myself: why not?!.. it's a cozy for your favourite mug! You can make it in about 1 hour (depending on your crocheting speed) and you don't even need to know any fancy stitches :)

Below is how mine turned out. I'll be making another one, from better (thicker) yarn, but for this one I used what I had laying around :)

 Want to know how I did it? ASK ME HOW! :)))

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Feeling Crafty

When I was a kid, I used to do my own greeting cards for every occasion. I don't even remember when or why I stopped.... But because I've been wasting a lot of time on Pinterest lately, looking at some amazing craft work, I got back in the mood to do something. I've made a few things already!!!

Here's the first one - a birthday card that I'll be sending to a friend's baby girl :)

Do you like it?

Monday, August 22, 2011

100 postcards

Thanks to Postcrossing Project I now have over 100 postcards from around the world! From 24 countries to be exact: Belarus, Belgium, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey, the UK, Ukraine and USA.

Here are some of my favourites (there are lots! so I'm posting one per country):
(click on a card to enlarge)

~ from Belarus
~ from China
~ from Germany

~ from Finland
 ~ from Japan
~ from Netherlands
~ from Portugal
~ from Russia
~ from Taiwan
~ from UK
~ from USA

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Yup, MORE jam!

If you thought that I done jammin' you were wrong! He-he... :)
Zucchinis keep growing, which means I have to keep doing something with them (other than eat them right away, like I said I don't want to eat zucchini-something every day!).

This time I made zucchini jam with................ KIWI! That's right, kiwi! Only this time I photographed a step by step procedure for you so I dare you to try making this jam.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Time for jam!

Okay, so you remember that zucchini. That's right that SAME zucchini!!! There was still some left after making soup and zucchini bread... So I was trying to figure out what else I could do with it, and my mom tipped me off that I could make jam. What she had in mind was zucchini+kiwi. I've never heard of jams being made out of zucchini, but when I started searching online, turns out that there are quite a few recipes out there. And after I made it, I wanted to make more! So I asked my mom for her strawberry jam recipe. And the reason this last one is my favourite is because you get whole berries swimming in jam (it's the second recipe in this post, so read on).
Strawberry and Zucchini & Pineapple jams

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Yummy Zucchini Bread

So... Where were we?... Ah yes, I was telling you about our harvest. One of the veggies we picked last Friday was that giant zucchini (it was hiding from me!). Well, it's great - we got lots of veggies! But what the heck am I going to do with all of it. Of course, easy answer is pickling... Right, but it's tedious (though I AM going to do that). Salads? Sure, but again, how many salads are we going to eat every day (same salads that is). I already made a vegetable soup - there is no recipe for this one, I just threw what I had into the pot, added some cubed beef, cooked it all and called it soup, he-he. It was actually pretty good - and what's even better, my hubby liked it (he's SUCH a picky eater that if he likes something, I know that it must be good!).

So here is a recipe of a Zucchini bread I found online. There were lots of different recipes, but I found this one looked easier to make (which it was). And what's even better, hubby liked it too!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Harvest Update

This year's garden is as generous to us as it was last year. Just yesterday, I picked 20, that's right 20 cucumbers. Plus, another of hot peppers and tomatoes :) Zucchinis, as usual, have been overlooked... So they, naturally, overgrew! The biggest one was almost 5 lbs and 38 cm long.
Check out what we've enjoyed so far :)

Mmm... I love yellow cherry tomatoes!
Our overgrown zucchinis
One evening of picking
Our largest tomato so far :)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Another Hat Post :)

So it's been a few months since I've crocheted anything, BUT I did promise a hat to my sister and another one to a friend of mine's baby girl. Fortunately, there was an ever-so-looming deadline, so I got into high gear. Both hats were finished on the last day of my sister's stay, but nonetheless I think they turned out great, I think :)))

My sister's autumn hat is embellished with a 10-petal flower. I had no time to sew on a pearl bead into its middle, but I think that would add it a little something extra.

My friend's daughter got this pink little number with a "snowball"-flower:
I hope you liked these :)

Friday, July 29, 2011

My sister's BORSCH

My sister stayed with us for 4 weeks, and kept talking about making a borsch pretty much the whole time she was here. Personally, I LOVE borsch soup, only it takes about 1 hour to make it (though actually it is pretty simple). Since we were busy almost every day, we kept putting it off. Finally, this past Thursday (her last day in Canada), she did make it for us!!!

So, here's the promised to you a while ago, the much anticipated recipe of the BORSCH as we make it :))) We'll call it a Belarusian borsch as a Russian recipe usually includes an addition of cabbage.
(Note: wikipedia calls it Borscht)

A dollop of sour cream makes this a perfect lunch meal!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Nursery Closet project 2011

My daughter's room has been finished for a while now; however, there was one thing left - her closet doors. They are quite wide and tall as well = expensive to replace... But they really were an eyesore and totally didn't flow with the rest of the room.

A while back we were at Home Depot I forget for what, but while I was waiting for hubby to get his stuff, I noticed this Martha Stewart raised wallpaper stand. I was intrigued! Turns out all you really need to install them is glue. So... I bought a container of ready-to-use wallpaper glue and a roll of wallpaper.

Many weeks later, I got my sister to help glue them onto the nursery closet doors :)

Our supplies:

Before and after:

The pattern:

Now we just have to decide whether or not to paint it...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Liza's Birthday

My little sister turned 23 years old on July 5th. That's right, 23! I know to some of you it doesn't seem like a lot... Or why it would be a big deal since it's not a round age, or that important milestone that allows you to drive, drink legally at bars, rent a luxury car, etc. But to me it was. Why, you ask? Because last time I was with her for her birthday was in 2005 when she turned 17. That's right, it has been 6 years...

So, we decided to make a cake, rather than buy one! And we did just that... well, sort of. We did do a cream cheese icing from scratch, but our marble cake came from a box (oh, well). The thing is, we did search for an easy recipe - and we did have almost all of the ingredient needed. But every recipe we found called for either milk, or sour cream, and we had neither... So finally, we just turned to the marble cake mix. And what's wrong with that anyways? After some oil + water + eggs, it turned out great (we added  blueberries and shaved coconut for a little twist)!

And we're back!

Wow, I haven't blogged for almost two weeks now! Some of you might wonder why. Others know :)
It is because my little sister Liza (well, she's not so little anymore) has come for a 4-week visit! I'm ecstatic!!! She arrived on the 30th of June and we've been pretty busy - you know, Canada Day (her first here, my 13th!), the weekend, and her birthday on the 5th.

So, Canada Day (for those who don't know, it's on July 1st) - we decided it'll be fun to go downtown during the day since we had the Royal couple Will & Kate visiting our Nation's capital. We were determined to get a glimpse. Of course, people said we were crazy to try and go downtown since they were projecting 600,000 people to be there for the Royals, but we weren't as crazy as some of the people that got to the Parliament at 5:30 am to stake out their spots. Anyways, of course we ended up in a huge crowd of people, but we weren't as far back, could've been worse :) AND we did get a small glimpse of what we came for (my Canon got a more zoomed in glimpse, he-he):

After our "brush" with royalty and a serious sunburn on our shoulders we went home to eat and relax a little bit. Later that evening, we decided to go back for fireworks. I've seen the Canada Day fireworks time and time before and I love them! And since the Royals were in town, I figured they would be even better... They lasted 15 minutes and they were GREAT! Check out this video I shot:

I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did :)

Friday, June 24, 2011

The goodness of romaine...

Finally, the time has come to start tasting the "fruits" of our labour! Of course, this first harvest isn't anything special, it's only lettuce... Nonetheless, it's always great to know where your food comes from, how it's been grown, where it's organic.

So first up is Romaine Lettuce, which turned out great!
As fresh as it gets!

 Last year we didn't plant any, but rather went with other lettuce varieties (still have them this year). However, we wanted to have MORE! (Plus, I forgot that lettuce is usually a one-time thing - once it's ready you gotta pull the whole thing out, roots and everything, and then re-seed.) Of course, Romaine is considered to be a dark-green leafy "green" and apparently is REALLY good for you.

Why? Well, it's a great source of Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper, Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Folate, Iron, Potassium and Manganese. And obviously, it's low in all the bad stuff such as saturated fats, sodium and cholesterol. Finally, as with other dark leafy greens, the antioxidants contained within romaine lettuce are believed to help prevent cancer.

All I have to say is that it's tasting GREAT in my salad right now :)))
In other news, our garden is slowly progressing:

~ tomatoes (cherry) are ready to start reddening
 ~ cucumbers are poking through
~ and so are the zucchinis
~ and finally, our hot peppers are almost ready to be picked

Should be a good harvesting season. Stay tunned!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Quote of the day

"True leaders listen to the voice of their people; dictators jail them for their rightful demands."
~ Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament, on situation in Belarus.

(click here to read more)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Yum for Apple Pie

My friend Eugenia and I were talking about our favourite homemade foods, the ones our moms and grand-moms make. There are a lot of tasty dishes! I mean, A LOT! One of those mouth-watering things is a good old apple pie. This particular recipe that I'm going to share with you is a bit different from the usual North American "crust+filling+cover+make a hole" pie. It also takes a bit more effort than you would expect with an apple pie.

But first, let me tell you where I got this recipe, I don't want to take all the credit.

There is a show on Russian TV, called "Smak" ("Смак") that has been running since 1993. It's sort of a talk + culinary show - a celebrity guest must prepare something in the studio kitchen. It is up to each particular celebrity to choose what the dish will be. In 2001 they published a small recipe book featuring some of those dishes, which my mom sent over to me. This apple pie was made on the show by Georgi Taratorkin, Russian theatre and movie actor.

* NOTE: as you go down the ingredients list, you might think "wow, that's a lot of butter!"; however, all of the recipes I've made so far only contain REAL ingredients - nothing artificial, no preservatives. That's how people cook in many European countries and they are able to maintain their health and lifestyles because of those real foods. 

Here we go!
Mmm, apple pie!... (my hisband described it as "amazing!")

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Quick & Easy: Russian Kotlety

Ever had those days were you don't really know what to do for supper? Or when you're just not in the mood to slave over the stove?..

Here's my variation of the Russian Kotlety (pronounced as "cutlety") recipe that is quick and easy to whip up. It'll take you maybe 10-15 minutes to prepare and mix the ingredients together, and then maybe another 20-30 minutes to cook (depending on your amounts).

Monday, May 30, 2011

My post-baby 5K Run Challenge

This past weekend was the National Race Weekend. For those that don't know - it's an annual event that attracts thousands of visitors to Ottawa to cheer and participate in either a marathon (42 km), half-marathon (21 km), a 10K, 5K or 2K runs. Here's a little history about this event:

"When 146 runners lined up under sunny skies at Carleton University for the first Ottawa Marathon on May 25, 1975, organizers believed they were staging a one-time affair. Few would have thought that almost 30 years later, organizers would be celebrating one of Canada's oldest major marathons boasting not hundreds, but thousands of competitors. Braving cold temperatures (-8°C in 1996) or hot weather (28°C in 1993), the marathon has grown in size and popularity." Read more
The crowd cheering on the runners!

I have previously participated in this event on three separate occasions - running a 5K race in 2000 (with the time of 27:38.2), a 5K race in 2001 (with the time of 29:48.4), and a more recent 10K race in 2009 (with the time of 1:03:09.9).

This year's race was more challenging for me personally. First, I haven't gone running much after the last race (which I was prepared for), have gone through pregnancy and childbirth and getting back in shape at a slow pace. Also, let's face it, I'm not 18 any more!

This year's race ran on different streets and was quite enjoyable. Overall about 7,500 people participated in running the 5K distance.

Even though there were times during the race when I felt like "Okay, now I'm going to slow down and walk", I just couldn't let myself do that. Hundreds of people running around me, hundreds of people cheering on the sidelines - it's such an awesome boost and there is nothing quite like it!

The fastest people on this race are amazing and most of all inspiring - I mean, who finishes a 5-kilometer run in 15 minutes?! That's just insane!!!

Now moving on to my results:
Finishing time - 31 minutes 44.7 seconds
Overall rank - 2,074th out of 7,437 finishers
Rank among females - 739th out of 4,585 women
Rank in my category (Women of 25-29 years of age) - 109th out of 600!

I'm pretty pleased with myself  :))) And here's a picture of my medal:

Finally, to continue my participation, I'm registered in the CIBC Run for the Cure - another 5K race taking place in October. I am raising the money for breast cancer research, in memory of a dear friend and a mother of my classmate, Zoya Baranova, who passed away from breast cancer at the end of April 2011.

If you would like to support me please donate any amount by clicking "Donate Now" button on top of the page or by clicking here: Help Nadia raise funds (now closed).

Thank you! :)