Archive | November, 2012

Sunshine Blogger Award

30 Nov

sunshine-blog-award

A fellow blogger (and a cat owner!)  Rara at Rarasaur nominated me for a Sunshine Blogger Award.  Thank You!  Your nomination was a pleasant surprise; it means a lot to me.  What a sweet way to end November on such a positive note!

If you haven’t dropped by Rarasaur, I suggest you do and follow this blog. You will find some fun writing and special musings.  These are some of my favourite posts from her blog:

I made this: kitty scratch pad!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Why I Don’t Invite Milla Jovovich To Tea

Free Advice: How To Greet a VIP

Sunshine Blogger Award Rules

  1. Display the award logo on your blog.
  2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
  3. State 5 things about yourself.
  4. Pass the award onto 6 other bloggers and link to one of their specific posts so that they get notified by ping back.

5 Things About Me:

  1. I speak 4 languages  –  Russian, Ukrainian, English and Spanish.
  2. Stargazing Lilies are my favourite flowers.
  3. I love everything with coconut in it.
  4. Fall, especially in Ontario, is my favourite time of year.
  5. I was blown away by Iceland.  Moon-like landscapes, Blue Lagoon, volcanoes, northern lights, and geysers… it’s all so exotic to me.

Now I get to nominate 6 other people.  

They all have commented on my blog and I appreciate them.  Check them out, you won’t be disappointed 🙂

In no specific order:

Esengasvoice –  a poetic soul who shares her great insights with delicate words and stunning images

Adriennein365 – writes about projects she takes on and books she reads.

Urbancurator – brings inspiration and creativity to our daily lives.

Ladyornot – a gorgeous lady with a killer sense of humor.

Arlenshah – one extremely talented and a kind-hearted individual.

Skinnygirlsandmayo – love the name of his blogs,  his recipes, and witty writing.

 

I wish I could nominate more!

 

 

A Pumpkin Deja Vu

29 Nov

 

Not only bright orange mini pumpkins add a splash of much needed colour this time of year, they also taste great in many dishes. I like it roasted, in soups, and in this spicy stew.

Spicy Pumpkin Stew 

2 tablespoons olive oil                                           2 cups pumpkin, diced 

1 medium onion, chopped                                    2 cups zucchini, diced

1 tablespoon minced ginger                                 2 cups of spinach

1 tablespoon minced garlic                                 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

1 can unsweetened coconut milk                      Steamed brown rice

1 1/2 teaspoons curry paste                               Cilantro

1 teaspoon ground chili garlic sauce

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, ginger, and garlic; sauté until soft, about 4 minutes. Add curry paste; cook for 1 minute. Stir in pumpkin and zucchini; cook for about 5 minutes. Add coconut milk and ground chili garlic sauce; simmer for 20 minutes. Add spinach, cilantro and lime juice. Top with more cilantro and serve over rice.

Salsa Dancing Is For Life

27 Nov

Backstage at the Congress

Almost 10 years ago I discovered Salsa dancing and instantly fell in love with it.  It became such a big part of my life that I can’t remember how I managed without it.  It’s fun, challenging, and there is something new to learn!

First few years used to go out Salsa dancing 6 days a week and even that wasn’t enough.  I took lots of classes and eventually enrolled into instructor’s course and became part of the performance team.  I spent 20 hours weekly teaching, training, performing, and social dancing.  I was in the best shape of my life!

These days I am not immersed in it full time but I continue performing, and occasionally, social dance.  Professional dancing takes a lot of dedication and hard work. Our dance team practices insane amount of hours for months before any Salsa Congress, whether it’s a local or an international event.

This is my favourite routine.  We had performed it back in 2011 at the Vancouver International Salsafestival.

People don’t have to be exceptionally good to enjoy it.  It’s a great form of exercise and it helps people to become more confident.  Plus, it’s a lot better to move on the dance floor than to sit on your butt and eat junk food.

Has It Been Another Year Already?

25 Nov

Yet another birthday passed by.

Last Saturday I received so many messages, emails and phone calls and it was truly a special day to remember. My last 2 birthdays were a low-key ones and I wanted a bigger celebration this year.  I thought it would be great to celebrate my birthday at home with friends.

People chatted, told stories, had some tasty eats and drinks from a bar, danced (there is always dancing with the Salsa people!) and the evening was a blast!

Yummy bites

I was reflecting on another 12 months that just had passed.  In the past year, I’ve been through some very great highs and through some dreadful lows.

Even though challenges still present in my life, I have so much to be grateful for and there are some wonderful people in my life offering their strong support.

With friends

 

A Very Special Cat.

20 Nov

My love for cats started when I was 7 years growing up in Ukraine.  I brought home a tiny kitten that I found on the street and begged my parents to let me keep it.  Murka, my first tuxedo cat, was with me for almost 9 years.  After we lost her I’d thought I’d never have another cat again.  She was very special to me and after so many years I still miss her.

During our first Christmas in Canada my daughter wrote a letter to Santa asking for a kitten.  I so badly wanted to make her wish come true as it was a hard time for all of us adjusting in this country. Lucky for me,  a friend of a friend was looking for a good home for kittens after somebody deposited a litter of them in their farm’s backyard.  I claimed one without seeing kittens first.  We instantly fell in love with our tiny 9-months old  tuxedo kitten.  15 years had passed, and the cat, Dina, is still with us.

Crazy Things Dina Does:

  • Dina talks – short meows, long meows, deep meows, soft half-“meh”.  She developed quite a vocabulary!
  • Dina is my personal alarm clock. Every morning she’d be quietly sitting on my bed and staring at me.  As soon as my alarm goes off she becomes vocal until I feed her. Then she’ll go back to sleep.
  • Like a concierge,  Dina is monitoring all comings and goings.  She could be sitting next to me on the sofa, purring; then she abruptly leaves my side and comes to sit by the door.  Next minute I hear my daughter or boyfriend inserting the key in the lock.  Dina somehow hears them coming much in advance.
  • Dina is also a food inspector.  As soon as someone open the fridge she’s right there, staring inside as if she’s deciding on what to eat.  When we eat at the table, she’d be standing tall on her hind legs and  lightly tapping one of us with one paw while supporting herself with other on the chair.
  • She never misses Easter basket inspection.

  • Dina is my protector.  When my marriage went sour and my ex-husband was having heating arguments with me she peed in his running shoes.  Dina was sending her message 😉

She brings us much happiness and love.  I wish I could keep her forever!

Made With Love and Cinnamon

17 Nov

My favourite part of the weekend is to have a pancake breakfast with the one I love.  We have developed our little routine where I mix the batter and he cooks the pancakes.  I had my with blackberries and extra almonds and Oscar had his with raspberries. Everybody who had  tried these pancakes wouldn’t believe that they are a diet food (I have been following a Flat Belly Diet for the last 3 years).  One of my friends commented that they tastes like something served in a very upscale spa. Enjoy!

My birthday breakfast

 

Oscar likes raspberries 🙂

Banana Pancakes with Almonds and Honey

Adapted from the Flat Belly Diet cookbook

Ingredients:

  1. ½ c whole wheat flour
  2. ½ c white flour
  3. 2 tbsp corn meal
  4. 1/3 c sliced almonds
  5. ½ tsp cinnamon
  6. 1 tsp baking power
  7. ½ tsp baking soda
  8. 1 c low-fat buttermilk
  9. ¼ c water
  10. 1 tbsp canola oil
  11. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  12. 1 banana cut into thin slices
  13. ½ c fresh berries

  Combine the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl.  Combine the buttermilk, water, oil, and vanilla extract in a separate bowl.  Whisk it into the pancake mix and stir until smooth.  Fold in the banana. Heat a large nonstick pan over medium heat.  Add the batter in ¼ cupfuls and cook in batches for about 2 minutes per side.  Serve with berries and honey.

Black and White Archive / Чёрно-Белый Архив

16 Nov

Tomorrow is my birthday.  Something about this day makes me both very happy and a little sad.  My parents are no longer with us and I miss them the most  around the holidays and birthdays.

I was feeling nostalgic and ended up pouring over stacks of our family photo albums.  My daughter thinks they are relics of “The Vanished Empire”!  I grew up in the USSR in the 1970s and ’80s.   My daughter was also born in the Soviet Union but she grew up in Canada.  To her, Pravda is the bar in Toronto and New York 🙂

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