Wednesday, October 17, 2012

North Pole, the New York state's edition :)

So to continue with some more of our trip to Lake Placid, NY... On our way to the Whiteface Mountain we passed a sight pointing to "North Pole". I immediately told hubby that will be our next stop after going up & down the mountain. After a bit of reluctance, he agreed.

(click on images to enlarge)
Welcome to the North Pole!
(one of many around the world)

Only a short ride away, we drove up to the parking lot of Santa's Workshop. I gotta admit, it's a bit weird to  be there surrounded by "elves" wearing Christmas hats when it's +20C outside and you're wearing sandals! :) To be honest, I forget how much our admission was, but our under-2 toddler was free-of-charge (which is funny, considering that most of the things inside are focused on entertaining children).

Friday, October 5, 2012

Our trip to Lake Placid, NY - Whiteface Mountain

There are tons of activities at Lake Placid as this is, afterall, a tourist village. The town itself seems fairly small; it feels like it was built specifically to serve the needs of athletes/tourists and be the Olympic village (who knows, maybe it was, I didn't ask). Actually, let me back up a step...

According to Wikipedia, Lake Placid, NY was founded in the early 19th century to help with operations of iron ore mining. A man by the name of Melvil Dewey founded a social & recreation club there (on Mirror Lake) in 1895, which drew rich & famous to the area. The Lake Placid Club was the headquarters for the International Olympic Committee for the 1932 and the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. Many of the Olympic facilities are still in operation and offer unforgettable experiences for visitors (of course, some activities are rather $$$). There are also a number of sporting events and other festivals that take place every year.

Some people find it a bit weird that the village is called Lake Placid considering it's mostly on Mirror Lake...
But I digressed... First thing's first!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Our trip to Lake Placid, NY - Our Hotel

As promised, I'm going to tell you a little bit about our trip to Lake Placid, NY that we took over the long weekend of Labour Day!

We started out on the high: things were packed in advance and we actually left on, if not before, the time tha we were planning. The drive was smooth until we merged onto the Hwy 417 and stopped... for an hour and a half!... because some dummy rear-ended an OPP cruiser pulled over on the shoulder. Anyways, apparently there were no fatalities and after a long-ish detour we were back on course to the Canada-US border.

We eventually got to our hotel, tired and hungry, at around 5 pm. Let me tell you, the hotel was beautiful!!!

We stayed at Crowne Plaza Resort & Golf Club on top of the hill. Yes, it's pricier than other places in town (there are TONS of places at Lake Placid) - 2 nights here would've paid for 3 nights somewhere else - but we thought it was worth it!

Let me share some photos of this place:

The Great Room

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Cherry Bomb Jello Shot

Past weekend, we finally had an adult party at our house, which to me means LOTS OF BOOZE, he-he :) Of course, there's your usual selection of beer, wine and hard liquor to mix with various juices... BUT I wanted something fun! Like the good old days when parties had jello shots, remember?! Also a kick-ass punch (stay tuned for that one).

I scoured the Internet in search for a perfect recipe... Finally, I came across 2, which I sort of combined (they had different quantities of ingredients, and only one of them had instructions)... Anyways, here is it!

Cherry Bomb Jello Shot

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Russian Meat Pie

Let me start this post by saying that I've never done anything like this from scratch. Come to think of it, I don't remember ever having a truly homemade meat pie before either. Usually it's one of those prepared from frozen meat pies (which we don't often), and those are alright, but I've always found the top crust a bit... tasteless...

Now, I don't know whether this is a truly Russian recipe (it's probably not), but I found and translated this recipe from a Russian-language website. What intrigued me about it was the use of eggs - 6 eggs to be exact! (I know, what???!!!) - also the dough for its crust, which is a basic non-sweet pastry dough. One of the more important outcomes from this was that hubby liked it!!! Oh and did I mention that he does NOT eat eggs?

So, without further ado, here's the Russian Meat Pie recipe.
(as usual, click on the image to enlarge)
Meat pie, complete with delicious moist crust!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mini stay-cation

Last weekend we were camping at Ivy Lea Campground at a Thousand Islands. What a beautiful place it is (not necessarily the campground itself, but rather the area it is in)! On our second day there we decided to be tourists for a day and go on one of those day cruises (well, 5.5 hours actually) and visit the Boldt Castle as well. What I didn’t realize, of course, is that this castle is located in the state of New York! Thankfully, I thought ahead and brought our Canadian passports as everyone getting off the boat at the island is required to go through passport control.

Let me tell you a little bit about our trip…

Monday, August 6, 2012

Fresh Summer Salad

A few people were over having supper with us the other day and I made a simple salad that I think goes well with on a side of anything. It's packed with fresh veggies and herbs, dressed with simple oil and it just delicious. I was asked how to make it and I didn't even think about because it's SO easy! I swear to you that this is probably the easiest salad you'll ever make.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Zucchini Pancakes

For those that know a little bit about my home country of Belarus know that most, if not all of our national dishes are usually made with potatoes. That's right, I come from the potato land (and I love potatoes)! However, this year, once again, I let our first zucchini overgrow in our vegetable garden... to about 4 lbs!

What to do... I love potato pancakes, they are a staple in Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian cuisine. Originally, my plan was to make potato-zucchini pancakes, but since I ran out of potatoes this weekend, it became just Zucchini Pancakes. They are sooooo easy to make and so quick that I didn't feel the need (and frankly, had no time) to make illustrations. I'm sure you'll be able to figure this out, it's that easy :)

Hubby had them with maple syrup. Being true to my Slavic roots, I had mine with sour cream.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Delicious Meatball Soup

Let me tell you - my kid LOVES soup! Sometimes she wakes up and her first food-related request is "I want soup". I admit that up until very recently I've mostly been buying already prepared soups thinking it saves on time and it's relatively inexpensive, even with premium brands.

But a few days ago I've decided that enough is enough! I gotta make my own soups: if I make a big batch, I can always take some as lunch or even freeze it. Frankly, having soup for lunch is a much healthier option than, say, a sandwich because soup fills me up, but I don't feel stuffed and sleepy afterwards. And a regular bowl of soup generally runs at about 200 cals per portion (provided it's not one of those creamy soup variety).

So anyways, my first "by the book" soup (as opposed to something I'd just thrown together). In English, I guess you could call it Meatball Soup, but we call it Soup with Frikadelkas (суп с фрикадельками). Even just hearing the name of this soup instantly reminds me of home, my childhood and of my mom making it because I just LOVE it (especially the meatballs, he-he)! It's light on the stomach & easy of the prep. So, here it is.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Not a spring clean-up, but clean-up nonetheless

Looking back at some of the things I've posted over the years I've come to the conclusion that clean-up is required. I also considered switching blogging platforms... I even checked out a few others such as wordpress, posterous and livejournal. After giving it some thought, I've decided to stick with blogger, at least for now. So over the next little while I'm going to delete some posts, I'm going to stop numbering them, etc.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Yet another 5K run

Remember my post on My post-baby 5K run challenge last year? Yes, I did it again this year! :)

The course was the same (which was nice), but the amount of people was even larger! Imagine this - 42,000 participated in this year's two-day event, with about 8,000 runners/walkers doing the 5K race.

It's crazy to think that people finished this distance in 15:38.9, while I crawled to the finish line in 2345th place overall with a time of 32:17.2. I guess it's not bad considering that I was 135th among 588 females between the ages of 25 and 29 AND I placed 940th out of 4,907 women. :)))

Aside from being proud of myself and all of your encouraging comments, here's the real reason I do this - apart from the obvious health benefits of running, of course ;) - MY FINISHER'S MEDAL!

Oh and props to all of those men and women well into their golden ages who managed to not only participate, but to run and some finishing in less that 40 minutes! You are the real inspiration!!!


Friday, May 18, 2012

On the hunt for "PARABEN-FREE"...

So if you've read my last post, you know that I've decide to part ways with all things containing parabens, at least, to the best of my ability (because, let's be honest, there is no way to go completely paraben free since they put these preservatives in medication and other things...).

What the heck are parabens you ask? According to Wikipedia, parabens are chemicals used as preservatives in cosmetics and pharmaceutical products. Check your bathroom, as parabens are often found in shampoos, moisturizers, shaving gels, spray tanning solutions, makeup and even toothpaste! They are also used as food additives.The main concern with METHYLPARABEN, PROPYLPARABEN, BUTYLPARABEN, ETHYLPARABEN, and ISOBUTYLPARABEN is that these can mimic estrogen and can act as potential hormone (endocrine) disruptors. For me, parabens can cause contact dermatitis :( Apparently, some of these parabens can react with UVB (i.e. when your skin is exposed to sun) and can cause skin aging and DNA damage as well.

But enough of the scary stuff!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Progress Report: #10 on my 101 List

So you've read about my dipping my feet in the Atlantic Ocean. That, of course, was part of our week-long visit to the beautiful (and windy) Nova Scotia. It was lovely there!

As usual, I took so many photographs that picking a few favourites was tough...
Here is one :)


Monday, April 23, 2012

Mom's cabbage salad

My mom makes this easy salad that goes great as a side to any supper (or lunch, or by itself). I love it so much that while my mom is here for a visit, I got her to make this salad 5 times already (that's in 2 weeks!).

Anyways, it's really simple, but my friend Di asked me to write it down, so here it is:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Progress Report: #1 on my 101 List

So here we go! Lets get on with my list!!!

Here it is - thing #1 on my list... It was cold and it was awesome!!! But I have to say, I enjoyed it, he-he. Mainly because despite the water temperature, the sun was shining and the sand was warm, so I even walked around the beach barefoot!

Here's proof:
@ Fisherman's Cove in beautiful Nova Scotia


Saturday, March 31, 2012

The 101 list

No, it's not a joke! I've decided to give it a try - 101 things to do in 1001 days (courtesy of Day Zero Project). The rules are simple, and as many before me, I'm posting them here:

The Challenge:
Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.

The Criteria: 
Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on your part).

Why 1001 Days?
Many people have created lists in the past - frequently simple challenges such as New Year's resolutions or a 'Bucket List'. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organising and timing some tasks such as overseas trips, study semesters, or outdoor activities.

Now, on to the list itself. It was actually hard coming up with 101 things; some came from random ideas, others are sort of along the same lines. I tried to organize them into "topics", well, sort of... Some goals might belong to more than one, but you get the idea :)

1. Dip my feet into the Atlantic Ocean
2. Dip my feet into the Pacific Ocean
3. Go camping
4. Go rockclimbing
5. Go to Las Vegas
6. Take a road trip to USA
7. Visit Boston, MA
8. Visit London, UK
9. Visit New York City, NY
10. Visit the Maritimes

11. Bake a delicious treat for G
12. Build a gingerbread house
13. Go strawberry picking and make jam
14. Learn to make pizza from scratch (including dough)
15. Make a pie on Pi day
16. Make 50 recipes from scratch (0/50)
17. Make homemade lemoncello
18. Make our own wine, share it with friends

19. Go to the ballet
20. Learn a new song on the piano
21. Learn CPR
22. Learn French
23. Learn to change a tire
24. Learn to play golf on a real golf course
25. Learn to say "thank you" in 10 different languages (0/10)
26. Make use of a local library
27. Read "Anna Karenina" (in Russian)
28. Read "Gone With The Wind" (in English)
29. Read "The Hunger Games" trilogy (0/3)
30. Read all of the Harry Potter books (0/7)
31. See 10 classic movies I've never seen (0/10)
32. Take a course at LCBO

33. Complete a baby book for V
34. Get a family picture taken
35. Phone dad at least once a month (0/33)
36. Potty train V
37. Start a family Christmas tradition
38. Start planning for baby #2

39. Go to a spa with a friend
40. Host a board games night
41. Send 10 “just because” cards (0/10)
42. Send an unexpected gift to someone
43. Surprise someone with flowers
44. Write a letter to a childhood penpal

45. Don't buy anything new for a month (excluding groceries and bills)
46. Finalize my will
47. Pay off my credit card
48. Pay off my student loan
49. Save $10 for every completed task
50. Start saving for retirement

51. Don't eat anything after 19:00 for a week (0/7)
52. Don't eat out/take out for a month
53. Give up something for Lent
54. Give up something for Nativity Fast
55. No alcohol for 101 consecutive days
56. Swear off coffee for a month (0/30)
57. Try 33 different types of beer (0/33)

58. Become flexible enough to touch my toes
59. Buy a treadmill/ elliptical
60. Drink at least 1 litre of water daily for a month (make it a habit afterwards) (0/30)
61. Reach my goal weight
62. Run a 5K race in 2012, 2013 and 2014 (0/3)
63. Take a Yoga class

64. Back up and re-organize all digital files
65. Clean out old make-up
66. Convert old school notes to digital format
67. Create a car emergency kit
68. Create an emergency preparedness kit for our home
69. De-clutter our basement (including laundry room)
70. Get rid of 101 things (0/101)
71. Get rid of clothes that does not fit
72. Organize all of our DVDs & Blu-rays
73. Organize contact information (addresses, phone #s, e-mails, birthdays)
74. Organize old photos and convert them to digital format
75. Organize our wedding album
76. Plant a garden
77. Renovate the kitchen

78. Celebrate my 30th birthday with a bang!
79. Don't complain about anything for a week (0/7)
80. Follow through with a New Year's resolution
81. Get a new haircut
82. Get class G driver's license
83. Make a custom recipe book
84. Make a list of 100 things that make me happy (0/100)
85. Motivate someone to make a list of 101 things to do in 1001 days (0/1)
86. Not log into facebook for a whole week (0/7)
87. Release 5 books into the world (
88. Write a letter to myself to open in 10 years (

89. Complete a 365 day photo challenge
90. Get my picture taken with Santa
91. Make a "Year in Pictures" album
92. Make a photobook
93. Use my grandpa's camera

94. Become a qualified Children’s Restraint Technician (with S.E.A.T.S. for Kids)
95. Do some volunteer work
96. Donate $10 for every failed task
97. Donate 1 million grains of rice (0/1,000,000)
98. Donate blood
99. Send 10 shoeboxes for Christmas (0/10)

101 LIST
100. Reflect on this list at end date
101. Write a new list for the next 1001 days

(I'm creating a tab in the menu above to find it easier later. Oh, and I'll be posting updates too, so stay tuned and see how much money I'll be able to save and how much will go to charity!)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Beef and Irish Stout Stew

I'll be honest with you... other than having a great time in an Irish pub when I was younger, I really don't see the significance that St. Patrick's Day brings. Then again, I'm not Irish by any stretch of genealogy, so I have an excuse.  BUT... as I'm doing his genealogy, it turns out, my hubby is 1/32 Irish (his 3rd great grandfather was born in Ireland and immigrated to Canada during the Great Potato Famine).

So this year I figured, why not make some Irish dish for supper. I looked and looked, and there are TONS of recipes out there, many sound delish! However, even though I like to cook, I look for simpler dishes that are still delicious, but will be easy to replicate and don't require any fancy-hard-to-find ingredients. I came across the Beef & Irish Stout Stew and decided to give it a try. It turned out AWESOME! And I'm not just saying that cause I made it, it really was THAT GOOD :) I'm not a huge fan of beef, but this just melts in your mouth with minimal chewing of beef involved (you know, the kind one has to do with a well-done steak).

(click on photos to enlarge)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Lemon Cheesecake goodness

I've been wanting something sweet this weekend, but didn't feel like eating anything store bought cause it's usually that buttercream stuff, which has lost its charms... So since it was Sunday, and I had some time on my hands, I turned to that Special Cookbook Edition of Canadian Living (mentioned a while back when I promised to make recipes from it).

Well... here it is - a recipe for Lemon Cheesecake Bars (well, mine was just a rectangular "cake"). I'll give you the amounts as the recipe lists them, but I will mention that I didn't have the proper bake ware, so I ended up cutting all of the amounts in half and making a smaller version of this delicious dessert. It turned out light and fluffy, unlike your usual "heavy" cheesecakes, and the hint of lemon added that much needed contrast in taste (kind of reminded me of a lemon meringue taste).


Friday, January 13, 2012

It was late... but winter is HERE!

Mother Nature spoiled us this autumn/winter season. Average temperature in November'11 was +10C (which is 5 degrees above seasonal)! And except for a few freezing rain occurrences and a week of freezing temperature, December was fairly mild as well (I missed that week while in Jamaica, ha-ha!).

It started yesterday... Something like 15 cm of snow started to fall and accumulate, and today - another 10 cm! Though it looked pretty blizzard-y out there, it wasn't too too cold, so I took a short "photo" walk at lunch. Although driving in these conditions is... a challenge, it really does look like Winter Wonderland! I hope you enjoy these images :)

...until I write again!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Jamaica - Bob Marley Mausoleum

Alright, moving on to my adventure outside the resort #2... The Bob Marley Mausoleum. To tell you the truth, I'm not a huge fan or anything; I've heard his songs and kind of knew what Bob Marley was about. So why did I go on this excursion, you ask? Well, you know "when is Rome"! :)

Anyways, this was something about local culture, and is a BIG deal for the Jamaican people. I personally liked this one - it costs US$88 and included transportation there and back, the tour itself (local guide, not the one you ride with), and a nice lunch.

WARNING: Die-hard fans might be disappointed in this tour... although you'll learn a bit about Bob, you won't be given his full biography, so the main thing to remember is to go on this excursion with an open mind! :)

Through the hills and valleys, and after about a 2-hour bus ride (air-conditioned, thank God!) we arrived at Nine Mile village in the parish of Saint Ann (post on Jamaican countryside is coming!!!). The people here are welcoming and, as promised by other reviewers of this place, you'll see THE GUY selling THE STUFF... This is what they'll tell you: "You can smoke it there. If you can't smoke it, you can eat it. If you can't eat it, you can drink it. We take care of everybody!"

... that's where they unload the busloads of tourists. I gotta say, some of the people look like they got on the wrong bus! LOL! But then again, you just never know.

This is supposed to be 18+ tour... I don't know, that kid in the corner eating a chocolate cake spiked with weed does not look 18 to me. I hope his dad (who I'm assuming is the guy next to him, also eating) knows what he's doing...
I personally didn't want to spend any money on that, but it's apparent how popular this "vendor" is!

Although you'll be going uphill, it's really not necessary to wear running shoes to this excursion, especially since you'll be taking your shoes off up ahead.

I do recommend going up the stairs while the others are still indulging. You'll be able to take some nice photos and just take in the scenery, it really is beautiful.
Stairs do not have ANY railing, so don't go crazy with all the weed available downstairs!!!

Okay now, I understand that some people get upset/frustrated with the commercialization of this place. Yes, you'll enter through their giftshop (where everything is a very good deal, apparently)... Yes, you'll go up a few more stairs and be faced with T-shirt vendor. You will also be offered a candle for US$1 to light in Bob's crypt. It's not as awful as some people pain it, and all you have to do though is to ignore all of this. Just go ahead of everyone, even a little bit... That's what I did, and I got the opportunity to take photos uncluttered with a crowd and I got to ask our guide a few simple questions one-on-one.
According to our guide, Nine Mile village, like many others in Jamaica, still has no running water in every house. Can you imagine that?! They wait for rain to fall, wait for said water to run down the limestone formation and get collected in the storage tank:

Water collecting "system", with images of the former Emperor of  Ethiopia, Haile Selassie I, who is considered to be a Messaih by the Rastafarians
 You'll learn a little bit about Bob Marley in the small museum-like room, with some of his albums and posters hanging on its walls, in addition to his mother's portrait and her old piano.

What is interesting is that the piano says Witamyer, but when searching for this brand online, I only find Wittmayer pianos, hmmmm......
Next, you'll witness a great performance by a local band. And our guide participated too! His name was Benjamin; he's not Captain Crazy that everyone is raving about (and apparently, he's a Youtube celebrity of sorts now). BUT Benji was great - entertaining, funny, nice, and he spoke clearly and sang quite well too!
This is just about 3 minutes of a longer performance:

TIP #8: if you're bringing a video camera, pack a regular (photo) camera also! past this point, they won't let you videotape, but you can snap away in all places except inside the crypts.

Inside the gate and up the hill we went. It's breathtakingly beautiful, the nature, the flowers, the incline (not done up with stone)...

View from the top

For the Rasta people, Bob lives...

Once you're up there, Benji asked us to take off our shoes, as a sign of respect. Believe it or not, there were people that couldn't understand that part and were trying to argue!!! Some people...

All of the guides joke that you'll get your shoes tomorrow, after they've sorted trough the brand-named ones, LOL. But some people just don't have a sense of humor, I guess.
Bob's house an his eternal resting place
Before we entered either building, Benji described some of the things for us. The house you see on the left is really tiny, two rooms with barely any space for more than a single bed. The single bed that Bob slept on is still inside (though it says "no photography", they allowed us to snap a few shots). The mausoleum right next to the house is where Bob and his half-brother Anthony are resting in peace. Bob is the only one "6 feet up" as they say because he's laying in the top "bunk" of the crypt. The place beneath him was reserved for his mother, Cedella Booker, but when his brother got shot, she decided that the brothers should be together. She passed away in 2008 and is resting in a similar mausoleum next door.

Inside Bob's mausoleum is were you got to light a candle, if you purchased one, walk around his crypt and make a wish before blowing it out and leaving the candle there.

What I found to be a really neat thing about this place is that it puts things in context. Bob's "pillow", his single bed, the scenery he was looking at while writing some of his songs... it's al still there, even if the organizers dressed it up a little.

Marley's single bed and his meditation rock, aka Bob's pillow

Benji making a joke while imagining how Bob laying on his "pillow"
Another awesome thing was this - Benji was talking about references in Marley's songs, and he started to sing:
"I want to love you and treat you right,
 I want to love you every day and every night,
 We'll be together with a roof right over our heads,
 We'll share the shelter of my single bed,
 We'll share the same room, yeah! for Jah provide the bread.
 Is this love, is this love, is this love,
 Is this love that I'm feelin'?"...

With him these children started to sing. They popped out of nowhere, beyond the walls of the mausoleum. It was great hearing them sing!

A small point about children from this village - as I mentioned in the beginning of this post, I've come across reviews of disappointed fans that really did not like it here and were upset at how commercialized this place has become. Look at these kids! This village, by the looks of it, is holding together BECAUSE of this place, BECAUSE they cater to us tourists rather than shunning people away. These children have an opportunity to go to school, build by Marley's mother and named in her honour. Whatever the money this place makes, I'm sure that Marley and his family would be glad that they are able to continue to provide support for their home community.
I encourage you to come to this place and take it all in, you won't be sorry you did!
Oh, and bring some small bills here too, to tip these hard-working people :)

... and that's my review of day spent well!