Sunday, December 30, 2007

New Year Present (for me)

I just ordered my New Year present!!! Can't wait to get it. I've actually been looking for a red necklace for a while and have seen a few in San Francisco, but did not buy them.

I was sitting on my couch and flipping through the channels and there was a gem show on HSN. That's where I saw a really pretty 10 strand coral necklace, and I just had to buy it.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Not a typical Saturday night for a 28 y.o. girl

I can think of a zillion things I could have done tonight. Instead, I had a craft mania. Right...not a movie, not a date, not a dinner out, not dancing, but a night of crafting. TV. Dinner. A lit candle.

My most elaborate project was a cork board (that I'd most likely just hang in my kitchen) from the wine corks I have been collecting for quite a while now. I am so glad I finally did something pretty with them: I first painted an old picture frame black, then cut each wine cork lengthwise in half and arranged them like a puzzle (that took a long time!) and finally glued the wine corks to the frame. I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.

The second project was painting 3 picture frames black to match all the other black frames on the wall (I realize now that I should have taken before pictures, but you get the after ones). By the way, the pictures are of me and Anna and our parents and grandparents when we must have been 6 years old and younger (taken and developed by our dad).

The final project, and the simplest, was staining a rod that holds up a flower/calendar/collage above my bed (once again, a before picture would have given a bigger effect, so just use your imagination: the wood used to be unfinished).

Special thanks to Anna for suggesting the staining and painting the picture frame project (for years now), to Sarah for driving me to Home Depot so that I could buy the necessary supplies, and to countless people who were more than happy to give up their wine corks. I could not have done it without you.

Breakfast time!

What do you do when you only have one egg?

Good thing, I had other things in my fridge as well.

This morning I sauteed a bit of white onion in olive oil, then added spinach and wilted it a bit. I then mixed the one egg I had with a bit of water and poured the mixture over the onions and spinach. Once the egg mixture was "set", I added chopped smoked salmon and dotted the entire omelet with little "chunks" of cream cheese. I then covered the pan with a lid and let everything get happy for a bit.


Book Quotes

Sometimes when I read a book, I carry a set of post-it notes with me so that I can mark interesting sentences. I then retype those sentences, and even if I never go back to re-read them, I am glad knowing I have them stored in my computer.

Because I now have this blog, I thought I'd just type them up here.

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (Despite all the buzz, or maybe because of it, about this book, I did not love it. In fact, I stayed in bed today in the morning and just made myself finish it. But there were still some gems in the book, and I'm quoting them below)

Om Namah Shivaya: I honor the divinity that resides within me.

...and then my mind decides it might be a good time to start feeling sorry for itself, and loneliness follows promptly. You are, after all, what you think. Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions.

Ham-sa: I am That

I've been a puppet to this and to millions of other small and large signals of pain or pleasure throughout my life. Whenever something happens, I always react. But there I was-disregarding the reflex. I was doing something I'd never done before. A small thing, granted, but how often do I get to say that? And what will I be able to do tomorrow that I cannot yet do today?

Every time a diminishing thought arises, I repeat the vow. I will not harbor unhealthy thoughts anymore.

Half the benefit of prayer is in the asking itself, in the offering of a clearly posed and well-considered intention. If you don't have this, all your pleas and desires are boneless, floppy, inert.

Flexibility is just as essential for divinity as is discipline.

And love is always complicated. But still humans must try to love each other, darling. We must get our hearts broken sometimes. This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something.

It is strange and true that sometimes intense emotion can cause us to respond to cataclysmic news in exactly the opposite manner logic might dictate. This is the absolute value of human emotion--joyful events can sometimes register on the Richter scale as pure trauma; dreadful grief makes us sometimes burst out laughing.

To feel physically comfortable with someone else's body is not a decision you can make. It has very little to do with how two people think or act or talk or even look. The mysterious magnet is either there, buried somewhere deep behind the sternum, or it is not.

...and I wonder if I am capable of being somebody's sun, somebody's everything. Am I centered enough now to be the center of somebody else's life?

Yet what keeps me from dissolving right now into a complete fairy-tale shimmer is this solid truth, a truth which has veritably built my bones over the last few years--I was not rescued by a prince; I was the administrator of my own rescue.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The sweetest affection

I was taking the Metro home tonight and there was a couple sitting across from me. They were probably in their late sixties. The man leaned in and kissed the woman. I could not really tell if they were dating or married for thirty years, but when they left the train, they walked to the escalator holding hands. This is what I want.

Say What???

I realize I'm getting older, but today in the mail I got a free offer for More magazine. For those of you unfamiliar with this magazine, as was I, it's for women 40 and older...wonder how I got on their mailing list....perhaps my eye cream isn't doing its job.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Bibs for Babies

What's better than personalized gifts? Here are a few examples of the bibs I made for one of my favorite people's new son. And it was SO much fun to make! (The actual bibs I bought, and then decorated them with fabric paints)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Dinner: x-mas

I know I don't celebrate Christmas, but it seems like it's everywhere and there is no escaping from it. I decided to make a special dinner to celebrate this holiday that I don't in fact celebrate. Are you confused yet?

The outcome was quite joyous: for the first time ever I cooked pork that turned out amazing! The secret? I bought a pre-marinated pork tenderloin, per Jenny's suggestion, and also per Jenny's advice cut slits into the meat and stuffed the slits with garlic cloves before cooking for 25 minutes at 450. Perfection!

To go along with pork I made roasted red potatoes. How? I cut potatoes into bite size pieces (I left the skins on) and par-boiled the potatoes in salted water for about 5-7 minutes. I then drained the potatoes and returned them to the pan. To the same pan I added feta cheese, olive oil, black olives, a bunch of parsley, pepper and red pepper flakes. After combining all the ingredients, I put the mixture on a preheated cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and baked the mixture for 10-15 minutes.

Side salad was a simple combination of tomatoes, avocado, slightly wilted spinach, cilantro, red wine vinegar, olive oil and salt & pepper.

To drink? I had a glass of Turning Leaf Vintage Riesling Pfalz. Delicious...and might I say I was a bit tipsy?

Dessert? 1/2 of a mini watermelon.


"Christmas" Tree

Growing up in Russia, my family's big winter celebration was New Year. We would always get an evergreen tree, decorate it, and hide presents underneath. We would then cook a lot of food, gather together at 10 pm to say good bye to the old year and to welcome in a new year at midnight. And of course to open presents.

This celebration had nothing to do with Christmas. In fact, we are Jewish. Last year I bought a mini tree and decorated it, and wanted to do the same this year. Unfortunately, the mini rosemary tree (as in an herb) I bought did not survive. Maybe I did not water it enough, but regardless, it's now sitting waiting to be trashed.

I was visiting Cindy today and her girls were horrified that I did not have a Christmas tree at home. On the way to my apartment from Cindy's house I stopped by the grocery store and bought some evergreen branches (that actually reminded me of one winter when Anna, my dad and I went to visit our grandparents in Ukraine and my stayed home. Instead of buying a tree, my mom bought evergreen branches).

So now I sort of have my x-mas tree.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Dinner: Enchiladas Verdes

A few weeks ago I signed up to be a volunteer-recipe-tester for Cooks Illustrated Magazine. My first recipe to try was enchiladas verdes.

This was the first time I cooked with fresh poblanos and tomatillos. Basically you make a filling out of chicken, cilantro and pepper jack cheese. Roll the filling in corn tortillas and lay them on top of the tomatillos/poblanos sauce, top with the same sauce, cheese, and bake.

This was not a difficult recipe to make, but did take quite a bit of time. I think it might be easier to simply buy salsa verde and call it a day :)

The nice twist, however, was serving the enchiladas with radishes in addition to scallions and sour cream: definitely cut down on the heat.

(Pictures: the filling; enchiladas underneath the sauce topped with cheese; enchiladas plated with sour cream, scallions and radishes)

The story of two necklaces

Two of my friends are Jennifers.

One is Jenny and one is Jenn. Perhaps people with the same names think alike? Because for this holiday both gave me really pretty necklaces. The first one if from Jenn, the second one is from Jenny. Thank you, girls.


I know I've written about my mild obsession with shoes. It just got worse :)

I ordered the cutest pair of flats at Aldo and Stacey gave me a spare pair of my favorite red shoes for the holidays....the collection continues to grow.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Season of Giving

You know those 20 cupcakes I made? I brought some to work and the rest to my rueda group. After all my dancing friends had a few cupcakes, I still had eight left and really did not want to take them home***. So after practice I decided to give the leftover cupcakes to homeless people around U Streen and luckily DeM came along for protection :)

To my surprise, we only found one homeless person, and he was more than happy to take two cupcakes.

Then I just asked random people waiting for the bus if they wanted a cupcake. I was actually surprised that most everyone said "yes." I don't think I would have taken unpackaged food from a stranger (might I have some trust issues?). By the time we got on the Metro I had 2 cupcakes left. One of them I gave to a Metro employee and told him to be careful not to get arrested for eating inside the Metro. He thought it was funny and said he'd wait till he gets out of the station before eating the cupcake.

The last cupcake I gave to the desk lady in my apartment building.

It felt so nice to give away all that chocolate!!!

***because that would mean I'll eat them, and I really should not. And plus, I still have cookies left over from the cookie exchange.

Oya or Oy Vey!!!

Stacey and I decided to go out for a holiday lunch this week and thought it'd be fun to choose a swanky new place where neither of us have been before.

After consulting one of our favorite people, Tom Sietsema of Washington Post (okay, yes, obviously we don't know him personally) we settled on Oya. We arrived at Oya shortly after 12:30 and were super impressed by the beauty of the restaurant. White was definitely the dominant color with highlights of silver, red and the warmth of a fire.

After we were seated and decided to get drinks (I had a pomegranate flavored drink, and Stacey a raspberry flavored one), the waiter brought out three delicious cheese puffs still warm from the oven. We were off to a good start!

Oya has a $19 lunch prix fixe menu and that's what Stacey and I decided to have.

My order: Grilled Sirloin with white beans and parsley vinaigrette; Tuna Burger with mirin, avocado, and tomato confit on brioche
Stacey's order: Tuna Tempura roll with scallions and seven pepper sauce; Grilled Beef Sirloin with fingerling confit, glazed mushrooms and beef jus
Dessert: we ordered the same dessert: Chocolate, Chocolate, and Chocolate: chocolate mousse/hazelnut biscuit/strawberries

We should have known something was off when it took more than 15 minutes to get our drinks, but we were happily chatting and snacking on our cheese puffs. The arrival of the drinks (really delicious!) made everything better. We drank, we chatted, we waited for the food to arrive.

...and we waited
...and we waited some more
...and then it was an hour later and no food has come and Stacey had to go back to work because she had a meeting.

So what happened? Stacey left and asked for her food to be made to go. I stayed. Eventually I received my appetizer and it was really good. The meat was cooked perfectly and the white beans with carrots and a bit of celery tasted exactly like the vegetables in my mom's beef soup: perfect! After more waiting and looking around and listening to other people's conversations, I received my tuna burger. It was not what I expected. The bun was huge! (and yes, I have a little mouth) There was just too much tuna and not nearly enough avocado or tomatoes. Also, it came with a salad, which although was pretty good (just some fancy greens in a vinaigrette), wasn't substantial as a side dish. But I was just glad to finally have food in front of me.

I then asked for my dessert to be to go as well, because I had to return to work too (yes, shocker!). But there was still an issue of Stacey's main dish. The manager brought out an appetizer version and had to go back to the kitchen to correct her mistake. Two hours since the lunch started I finally had all the food and was ready to go back...

...but was it really fair of them to expect us to pay? I did not think so. I asked the manager if she really expected us to pay and she said she'll go talk to the manager (excuse me? I thought she was the manager!). The waiter came over and asked if everything was okay and when I told him about the "manager" he said I was free to go. I left the tip, took Stacey's bagged lunch and my dessert and left.

Hopefully the dessert will be really good.
I can't decide if I'll go back to Oya.

Oy Vey.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Triple Chocolate Threat

(I promise this is my last posting today)

Tomorrow my rueda group is going to have a mini holiday party before our practice. I decided to make chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting and a little chocolate chip on top (I LOVE chocolate).

The first five
14 for the party
Stacey, this is yours

(the best part is that I somehow managed not to eat a single one just yet!)

Dinner: egg rolls

I just made one of the best dinners ever! I had leftover pork/cabbage/carrot mixture from last night. To that I added chopped water chestnuts. I then rolled the mixture inside the egg roll wrappers and cooked the egg rolls in a quarter inch of oil in a pan for about 2 min on each side. So unbelievably good!!!! (Now I'll have to decide what else I can put inside the wrappers)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Dinner: Mushroom Caps

This post is dedicated to Angela :)

Yesterday I went to Angela's cookie exchange and she was singing me praises. She was impressed how I can open my refrigerator, see what's inside and invent a meal. Tonight, I did just that.

A few days ago I gave pork another try, and although it wasn't horrible, it wasn't stellar. I decided to put the rest of the cooked pork chops through my food processor's shredding blade. Carrots and cabbage met the same faith.

I then sauteed the pork, cabbage and carrots together in some olive oil, salt, sweet chili sauce, a bit of sesame oil (very little!), soy sauce and hoisin sauce.

The mixture tasted, but I needed a vessel for it. I did not have tortillas or wanton wraps, but I had 4 portobello mushrooms! I removed the stems and black gills from the mushrooms: vessels ready.

I then broiled the mushroom caps drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt for 5 minutes, and then filled them with cabbage, pork, and carrot combo, but still there was something missing: CHEESE! Luckily, I had a chunk of cheddar in the refrigerator!

I really liked the combination of flavors! Tomorrow I might buy some pre-made wanton wrappers and make little wantons with the leftover filling.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

OMG too many SHOES

I was doing laundry tonight and saw an ad for a shoe rack. I decided to check it out and purchased a wooden shoe rack for $5.

While putting my winter shoes on the shoe rack I realized to my horror just how many shoes I have. It's insane! I'm honestly scared to count the number of pairs.

Below are two pictures: the first is of my new shoe rack, the second is a pile of my summer shoes...and I still have more....OMG....

I just counted: sixty two (pairs, not individual shoes..but a lot of them are flip flops...and there are a bunch that I could probably get rid off, but I really don't want to)!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OMG

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Scarf is DONE!!!

Here is the final product.

I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out.

I decided to add 13 tassels on each side to make the scarf look more professional.

As a side note, just because someone is knitting, does not mean they are expecting.


Tomorrow I'm going to my first ever cookie exchange and decided to bring 3 dozen of biscotti!

The recipe is courtesy of Robyn Webb, but of course I had to tweak it a bit. I added orange zest and dried cranberries in addition to almonds and also increased the amount of sugar.

Picture 1) dry ingredients

Picture 2) once baked biscotti cut on a diagonal and about to be put in the oven for the second time

Picture 3) ready to eat! (if you want to indulge, you can dip them in some melted chocolate)

The basic recipe is below (I multiplied the recipe by 1.5 and it made approximately 40 biscotti)


2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon6 ounces whole blanched almonds
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
2. In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon and stir well to mix. Stir in the almonds.
3. In another bowl, whisk the eggs and the vanilla extract. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until a stiff dough is formed.
4. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Roll each half into a cylinder, just a bit shorter than the baking sheet. Place the dough onto the baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Press down gently with the palm of your hand to flatten the logs.
5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until they feel firm to the touch. Place on a rack and let cool.
6. Once the logs have cooled, slice each log into diagonally cut pieces about 1/3 inch thick. Arrange the cantuccini cookies on prepared pans, cut side down.. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes until well toasted (Note: mine took more like 25 minutes). Cool completely.

Hanukkah presents #2, 3, 4, 5, and 6

Here are a few more Hanukkah presents I bought for myself :)

#2 Very Sexy Makeup Gel Liner Duo in Black and Extra Olive: I left my makeup brushes at work, but hopefully this will be the easiest eye liner I've ever had. (The color in the picture below is not the one I bought, I just wanted to post a picture of the package)

#3 and 4 Clinique's Lash Building Primer and High Impact Mascara: ever since Nicole gave me a trial size, I fell in love with this Clinique duo. The friendship did not last, but my love for Clinique mascara did: so I decided to splurge.

#5 A key chain from Hallmark with my initial on it
#6 ROC Retinol Correxion cream: after all, I am getting older

2 more to go ;)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dinner: not my dad's borscht

My dad makes the best borscht. He takes his time to peel, cut, shred and mince the vegetables. He then sautes separately carrots with onions and garlic, and beets. He tastes and adjusts the seasonings, adding tomato sauce, sugar and lemon juice as necessary. It often takes most of the day, but the end result is worth it. Every time Anna and I go back to Seattle, there is a pot of borscht waiting for us in the refrigerator.

Tonight I made borscht using the beets I roasted earlier in the week. I did not have all the necessary additions such as tomato paste or fresh dill or the root of parsley, but it turned out well, and will only get better after sitting in the refrigerator over night.

I'm still looking forward to a bowl of my dad's borscht when I visit in February.

Lunch: beet greens

I'm home with a cold. I've had the cold since last week, but braved going to work (LMAO) and still did all the other things on my calendar. Perhaps it's finally catching up with me, and I stayed home today and might stay home tomorrow and Friday.

What does that mean to you? It means I can post yet another quick lunch.

Last week I bought beets: not in a can or a jar, but fresh beets with green leaves still attached to them. I roasted the beets, and they are currently getting acquainted with the other ingredients in a large pot and will eventually turn into borscht.

I saved the beet greens and used them today to make lunch using Robyn Webb's spinach recipe as an inspiration.

All you need to do is saute garlic and red pepper flakes in some olive oil. Add the greens. Let them cook until the done-ness you like (crunchy or soft, etc) and season with salt and pepper. When the greens are done, add golden raisins and toss in some toasted pine nuts. Enjoy!

** I realize the pictures look a bit flashed, but without a flash they looked sort of dead **


My grandmother knit. My mom knit. My sister and I knit too. Recently I started yet another scarf project and thought I'd post pictures of the different scarves I've made over the years.

This scarf I made from a turtleneck I used to have that shrunk after being washed too many times. Taking my mom's advice (doesn't happen often) I washed the unraveled yarn, then stretched it on the chair and only then started knitting. Love how it turned out. And the pompons are made the same way I used to make pompons when I was in kindergarten.

This is a copy cat of Anna's scarf, but hers is in black. One year we were visiting our parents in Seattle and she put the scarf on a little table, and it looked exactly like our parents' cat Gypsy. (This is the scarf I was wearing when one of the guys at work asked if I used to model :) )

This scarf I made from leftover yarn I think I took from my grandmother. I don't wear it often because the colors are hard to match to my outfits, but I like the two tone look and of course the tassles.

This is just a simple scarf, but very soft and super long.

This is my new project. You simply knit, pearl, knit, pearl all the way across. And then the second row is reversed. It looks almost like a honeycomb and is really easy but for some reason is taking forever. Hopefully I'll finish it with enough time to actually wear it this winter.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


...or at least my name is :)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Chicken Salad

Yesterday was a really busy day and I needed to make something super quick for lunch. I decided to make chicken salad using the chicken leftovers I had from latkes/chicken dinner.

In a bowl mix together the following: 1 cubed chicken breast; 1 peeled and cubed mango, a few tablespoons of chopped red onion, one scallion thinly sliced, some pine nuts and mayonnaise (I'm not saying how much I added)

Add a few dashes of turmeric and season with salt and pepper. Delicious!

You can also use apples, peaches, raisins, dried apricots. Cilantro or parsley would go well with the salad too. Basically just experiment!

Sunday, December 9, 2007


Every year I make snowflakes from tissue paper. Why? Because they are pretty, they decorate my large windows and because it reminds me of my childhood: my mom always made snowflakes from paper and aluminum foil with me and my sister.
I usually make at least 20 small snowflakes, but this year decided to do something slightly different. I made five big snowflakes, one for each window pane, in a geometric/modern design, at least that's what my intention was.

Enjoy :)