Saturday, December 26, 2015

Cabbage and Noodles

When I was living with my grandma she often stopped at this pierogi place and buy a bag of pre-made cabbage and noodles. It was my favorite. Who knew cabbage and noodles could taste so good. I've been struggling to cook here in Russia because I'm not familiar with a lot of the ingredients and they make a lot of stuff from scratch (like I had to make my own evaporate milk once). I've been trying to find recipes with as few ingredients as possible. Russians love their cabbage and pasta, so it's a bonus if I can find recipes including these items. I stumbled across this really simple cabbage and noodle recipe and was so happy with the results. For just a few ingredients it was very flavorful.

This was the second time I attempted this recipe and both times it turned out great (except the first time I added WAY too much pepper. Check and double check the amount you need to add and don't add 3 teaspoons of pepper like I did).

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Lala Tulpan

Ufa, Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia
A lot has been going on lately, and I've been really comfortable where I am at. I really want to start taking my camera with me on a day to day basis and just take random pictures, but I'm still not comfortable yet with my abilities as a photographer to get good "every day" photos. If you follow me on Instagram you'll see I've been eating a lot of sushi and I just saw the Nutcracker. I've also been meeting up with friends. I've made some good friends here, but I was very sad when my friend, Alessia, went back to Italy.

I also have some exciting trips coming up! In less than two weeks I'll be in Madrid and then two days after I come back from Madrid I'm going to St. Petersburg! I'm so excited! I'll definitely be taking pictures, but I can't promise I'll edit them quickly. ;)

December 10, 2015
I met up with some friends for coffee on the 5th and mentioned to my friend Fadwa that I wanted to see Lala Tulpan. It is one of the biggest mosques in Russia, and I think right now it's the biggest one in Bashkortostan. I had visited Victory Park when I first arrived, but we never went to the mosque and I knew at some point I wanted to go back. Fadwa told me it was one of her favorite mosques and promised to take me. We were actually supposed to go on Wednesday, but I had to cover a class for another teacher and so we decided to postpone it a day. I invited my friend Katherine, as well, and it worked out because they actually met each other earlier in the year!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Russian Thanksgiving

Sunday, November 29, 2015

A few months ago Patrick and I decided that we would host a Thanksgiving dinner at our apartment to celebrate the holiday and share it with our new Russian friends. I am so glad we did because I've been very homesick lately. The holidays are my favorite time of year and I just love seeing my family. In the mean time I actually met Katherine, another American, and invited her to our holiday party. She offered to come and help us ahead prepare for the day. We were very thankful for her coming to help us out.

I decided I would make a turkey chili because chili is easy to make, I figured its a pretty American dish, and I didn't trust myself cooking a turkey in our gas oven. I also made apple sauce with the leftover apples from the pie. Patrick made a green bean casserole, apple pie, and mashed potatoes. The day before we went to one of the larger stores and were able to find most things we needed which was a relief! The apple pie actually turned out well too considering it was his first time making it and it was a hassle to get the crust made. I wanted to use more of the Thanksgiving cupcake holders that my mom sent me but it was just easier not to make anything else. Katherine and I ended up just cutting the brownies she bought into little squares and placing them in the holders.

We had a good time hosting everyone. I also have a new appreciation for my grandma's because it was VERY tiring spending all day cooking. We also faced the problem of our sink breaking. We constantly had to shut off our water because the sink would not shut off. It made for a pretty interesting night when people needed to use the bathroom. Also, you never realize how much you use a sink until you can't use it as quickly as you would like.
Although I do prefer the atmosphere of being in America for Thanksgiving I wouldn't trade our Russian Thanksgiving for anything! I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving as well!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Conquering My Fears

Monday, October 12, 2015

I've been busy lately so I haven't been able to edit the rest of the photos from my Three Day Weekend. But it just so happens that today is yet ANOTHER holiday so I have the day off. :) Americans really do work too much. These holidays are great recovery days! Today's holiday is Unity Day, and I got an e-mail from the US embassy in Moscow warning me to stay away from large crowds that may become unruly.

Anyways, I met with my friend, Anton, and he planned to show me around the city. We walked up October Prospect to the Ferris Wheel. The walk took over an hour from my house, but my legs have turned into steel poles since I moved here. I just remember my first few weeks and my legs would hurt so bad from walking short distances. I almost forgot why I liked to walk so much. We ended up at the Ferris wheel, and we walked in like I had never been deathly afraid of Ferris wheels in my life. I don't even know why it didn't hit me as we walked on that I was actually going to ride one. It wasn't until we started to ascend that I started to panic, but I tried to play it cool because I knew if I didn't I would start crying. I literally have never been so terrified in my life. The only comfort was that the cabin was closed on all sides and I was facing outward so I couldn't tell how long it would take to start the descent. I was so stressed during the ride that I had a nightmare that night that I saw the devil and experienced sleep paralysis for the first time. I distracted myself by taking pictures and not looking down. :) I will probably not ride another Ferris wheel again!
After the Ferris wheel we walked to Lenin Square which was right next to it. I got my second selfie with a Lenin statue. My next goal is to get a selfie with his house which is also in Ufa.
When I was satisfied with my selfies we took a bus to Olympic Park. We didn't do much but walk around because it was cold and most things we closed but he did show me the ski lift that had incredible views of the river and countryside. In the park is an awesome rope park that I am determined to try before I leave Ufa. Hopefully I won't panic like I did when I rode the Ferris Wheel. We finished the night by walking to a mall to warm up when it started to snow.
Don't you just love the houses in the countryside? The roofs are so colorful and it's the first thing I saw when I landed in Ufa two months ago. In other news, Duolingo finally came out with their Russian version for English speakers. Finally!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Three Day Weekend

Saturday, October 10, 2015

My last post was about my first holiday in Russia. Well, two weekends ago I had my second. This holiday was the celebration of the Republics independence from the Soviet Union. I didn't do anything Friday night because I had a night class, so, like most Friday nights, I didn't do anything.

On Saturday my friend, Alesya invited me over to her apartment for lunch. It is a Russian custom to bring something to someones house - like a snack or dessert. I brought wine and a cake. Alesya made an amazing lunch with so many fresh vegetables from her parents' garden. We had beef and potatoes, a beet salad, pickles, cheese, and zucchini!

We sat and talked for a couple hours, eating dessert and drinking wine. She is such a great friend and is willing to meet with me even though we don't speak each other's languages fluently. While we were sitting and talking it started snowing and there was a slight white out. I got a few crappy pictures of it on my phone, but the pictures below are of the aftermath.

Alesya had an amazing view from an outdoor balcony in her apartment building and took me to see it so I could take pictures. Isn't that mosque amazing?  Some lady started talking to me while I was taking a picture of the graffiti on the garage. I told her I didn't speak English, and I'm pretty sure she probably thought I was crazy. Oh well.
Sunday, October 11, 2015
On Sunday, Patrick and I met up with our friends Alsu and Diana who were going to show us a thrift store we could look at. Since arrived before them we waited in a McDonalds and had our first Russian fries. They were pretty much the same as American fries, but I think they were made in a different oil because they had a slightly different taste.

Diana met us in the McDonalds then we walked to the mall where we met Alsu. The store was a bust but I did find a shirt with English writing that said, "Maybe Find Life Enjoy." I'm guess someone either used Google translate or they thought they knew English. Afterwards, they took us to a horse track where we saw real horses! The one I took pictures of was going crazy running around his enclosure. I wish I could ride horses! Although he seemed crazy he was so majestic. We walked up to the track as well to take a look but it was too cold so we headed back to the street.
As we were walking it started to snow really hard. We were all covered in snow in a matter of minutes. To get out of the cold we took a bus to another mall to find something to do. This mall was pretty amazing. It had a HUGE kids play area that reminded me of Discovery Zone. I was completely nostalgic for my childhood. We were going to go bowling but decided to get some pizza instead. Before we left we stopped at a book store that had a selection of English books and spent way more time in there than we were expecting. I ended up leaving with a bilingual Mary Poppins book that I still haven't started because I get such bad anxiety when I try to learn Russian. Patrick and I headed back to our apartment afterwards where I attempted to lesson plan with my cousin but ended up drinking too much wine to focus. I have not changed in Russia!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

First Republic Holiday

Thursday, September 24, 2015

One of many positives about living in the Republic of Bashkortostan is that there is a large Muslim population so not only do we celebrate Russian holidays but we also celebrate Muslim holidays. I had the day off of work on September 24 for Kurban Bayram. I met up with my friend, Anya, for the first time. We wanted to rent bikes but there was a wait so we just ended up walking around. It was a beautiful, warm day! I brought my coat but I didn't even need it!

The first place we stopped at was Yakutova Park. I have been to this park before but it is really cute. Plus, there is a little amusement park for kids! I found that people in the area like to put locks on things like the bridge in Paris.
Next, we walked towards Salavat Yulaev Park. We stopped at a store to get some water and ice cream before we headed to the park. There are so many parks in Ufa that I don't even know the other parks I went to after this. Also, most people will say the names in Russian and it's hard for me to follow along with what they are saying. I'm getting better though! I love the tops of the houses here! They are so colorful and fun. It's one of the things I first saw when I landed, but I still love them every time I see them.
We headed down this little pathway in the middle of the street. It was very charming and led to the entrance of another park that opened up to the river.
Finally, we walked down to the river and just sat for some time while the sun went down. I was so relieved to finally rest. I'm way too out of shape to be living here. People love to walk here! I love walking, but I didn't realize how out of shape America made me.
Sorry for those who read my blog. I've been terrible at editing my photos and blogging! Hopefully, my Facebook and Instagram posts keep you up to date enough!
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