Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Let's get to know each other a little better, shall we?

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I finally got to go through pages and pages of e-mails that have been piling up on me... And among lots of junk and some questionable offers (like infesting my blog with online casino advertisements - nada, ain't happening! Don't worry, people. I'm all about saving money, not wasting it :), there were a few pure gems. Those of you who wrote to me, you know who you are, and you are too sweet :)

But one such message that I wished I saw a while ago was from Monique from A Half-Baked Notion who nominated me for a Liebster Reward. Thank you, my friend!

Since it's been so long, I don't want to nominate anybody back. But I would love to answer Monique's questions because some of them really intrigued me and made me think, and I invite you to join me in the comment section.

So here we go:

1. If you had a time machine, what period of history would you visit?

 Hmm, I don't really know. Maybe, France, in the time of Dumas or his Three Musketeers :)

2. Do you play a musical instrument (if not, which would you want to learn)?

No, unfortunately not. But I wish I'd learned to play the piano when I was younger. I did try to break play a guitar as a teenager but never stuck with it. I have to say, I'm quite an expert on playing on people's nerves though:) 
3.Who was your first best friend as a child?

My very first best friend was a neighbor girl named Tanya. We lived in the same apartment building and attended the same class in school (back home, when you start going to school, you stay mostly with the same kids throughout the whole ten years. We did have a separation into Math and Humanitarian classes later, in 9th grade, when we got all mixed up but those friendships lasted forever). Unfortunately, as we got older, we drifted apart because I started taking skating and dance classes, and she ended up with a group of friends that I didn't approve of. And then we moved and we completely lost each other. But last year, after twenty years, we reconnected again on Odnolassniki (same as "Classmates" in the US but free). It was nice to see that she's doing great, she's a mother and seems to be very happy. It was nice to bring back all those childhood memories... 

4. How or why did you decide to start blogging?

I was following many bloggers over the years, way before I started blogging myself. I was inspired by thrifty, frugal, talented people who used their money wisely, worked hard on getting out of debt and learned to thrive and enjoy life with very little. At first, my blog was born to somewhat mirror that but eventually it evolved into more of a journal of our lives, still frugal and grateful for many blessings in our lives (the original name of this blog was "Frugal and Thankful", and I still stand behind this statement) but also including things I'm passionate about like interior design, DIY projects or yummy food. 

5. Where would you visit if cost were no object?

Europe. I would love to take a tour of Italy, Spain, France, Denmark, Switzerland with a separate trip to Scotland where my husband has his roots. I also would love to go back to Finland and Sweden because I fell in love with both of these countries a long time ago.

6. Favorite guilty pleasure?

Oh, chocolate. Lindt dark chocolate truffles or Milka with whole hazelnuts. Mmmm...

7. Are you a big breakfast eater or strictly coffee and toast?

I like me some nice breakfast.  I don't drink tea or coffee but I'm a great fan of a steamy cup of herbal tea, especially in winter (rooibos is my favorite!). I like to accompany it with a fried egg or an omelet and toast with some homemade jam. But in summer I stick to lighter things like yogurt with granola or even just a fruit salad.

8. What is the one thing you "can't live without"?

My laptop :) Not even sure, if it needs any explanation :) I do try to unplug once in a while but the technology became so much more than just Google for me. It's an opportunity to stay in touch with my family and friends, a source of inspiration, and a chance to be heard.

9. You think ___________ should be illegal...

Using a phone and driving. Not just texting, even though it's huge and I hope every state makes it illegal soon. Oh, and also putting on mascara while driving.. That's just pure crazy!!

10. What is your favorite room in the house?

Frankly, the bathroom :) That's where I usually can get a minute for myself :) Otherwise, I might sound mundane but it's definitely the kitchen. I believe in family dinners and we try to do our best to get together every night and discuss our day, our problems, share happy moments and enjoy a delicious meal together.

11. If the story of your life were made into a movie, would it be a drama? comedy? suspense? horror? documentary?

Hmm, that's an interesting one. It really depends! If we look at my cultural background, than it could be a documentary. Otherwise, probably, a drama. Some things that happened in my life or in lives of those I love are not the things I'm ready to discuss here on the blog or anywhere really but I can relate to some stories of pain, death, suffering and abuse...

Not exactly the note I wanted to end on :) But honestly, some things, as dramatic as they were, taught me how to love and to be loved, how to keep faith and to know one's true value, how to serve and how to be happy...

Ok, now it's your turn :) Which questions can you relate to?? Come, share :)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Food waste and a menu, week 4/21-4/27.

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Hello, hello, my friends,

How was your Easter weekend? Ours ended up being quite eventful. First, my BIL was involved in a fender-bender on Saturday where the other guy was threatening him with a knife. He is Ok and the guy was arrested but it was a few long and terrifying minutes for both him and his family. Then later on Saturday night we had a small (only 3.2) but still very real earthquake. It was my first ever and I wouldn't complain if it's the last one... I didn't even get what happened at first. It felt like an airplane flew by too close, or an explosion, or even a huge gust of wind. It really scared my little one and it took us a while to put him down that night... I have to say, it shook me too. This was an unusual  and sobering reminder of what or Who this Easter season is all about...

Luckily, Sunday was quiet and uneventful. We had a great time with the family and got an enjoyable break from a busy life.

And we had some yummy leftovers to start this week with :) I love me some leftovers. It's going to be a crazy week again since we are still working on the garden and weather just doesn't want to cooperate, so simple is again on our menu :)

And I have a confession to make - I do not have any food waste this week but not because I don't have any (in fact, I'm positive that I have a bag of some very unhappy spinach there at the bottom of the produce bin...) but I just never got to organizing our fridge. It's definitely on my to-do list tomorrow. So instead, I'll share with you a picture of these mouthwatering grilled zucchinis (and yes, they taste just as good as they look):

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Even though I still need to organize the fridge, I know approximately what we have. So here's our menu so far:

Mon. - leftovers
Tues. - chicken pasta with broccoli (and, possibly, spinach...)
Wed.- zucchini mini-quiches
Thurs. - salmon, rice, cauliflower in cheesy sauce
Fr. - vegetarian hamburgers, salad
Sat. - sticky drumsticks, mashed potatoes, whatever veggies we have on hand
Sun. - leftovers
And what's on your menu this week?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

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I hope you all have a beautiful and blessed Easter Sunday with your loved ones and friends!!

With love,

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Frugal Fridays.

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Hello, hello!

How was your week? It's time for another Frugal Fridays here :)

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I have to be honest, at first, my week didn't seem very frugal.But after giving it a second look I realized that I was wrong -

  • First, I made my controversial sign using stuff I already had on hand. I was actually surprised at the response this project had received :) It really is interesting to see the cultural differences between many of us, and the diversity that makes life so interesting. Just to answer some of your concerns, I have slippers available for my guests and I rarely point out directly to people to take their shoes off. We do have carpets almost everywhere that keep feet warm but are also  dirt traps. But I hope, the sign will be a polite reminder that that's what we do in our house. And going back to thrifty life, the only thing I had to buy for the sign was a set of stickers :)

  • I made a huge batch of vegetable (not vegetarian) soup that will last us for a few days. Vegetable soup is a great, healthy way to stretch your budget and it can easily be modified to everyone's taste. I actually cooked a piece of meat separately, used some of the broth from it and froze the rest, and now we have the option to use some of that meat in the soup or add it to casseroles or omelets. It will allow us to stretch the piece of meat much further and get a few meals out of it.

  • The gardening season is almost here!!

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I went to my favorite nursery the other day. Unfortunately, I'm way to late to start with our garden this year. I'm ashamed to say but it's still not completely dug up and fertilized (that's why these beautiful plants are still sitting on my kitchen table). Keeping fingers crossed that it doesn't rain tomorrow... But I got some peas for $1/4 (again, not the cheapest price, especially for peas but I'm late to plant them from seeds). I also got cucumbers, including Japanese that are impossible to find at the usual retail stores, kohlrabi that I couldn't buy in seeds and something I'm most happy about - sweet 100 tomato plants! I love them! I bought my first plant three years ago, and my kids eat these tomatoes from the vine. I know, it's a little early for tomatoes but I just couldn't resist. And only 75 c??? Deal! The hardware store charges almost $4 for this tomato, and it's always sold out. I do love my nursery!

  • And the best deal of the week:

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Last Saturday True Value was giving away 1 qt of any color satin paint. I got pure white. I have so many projects that I need it for, so the timing was just perfect. I love me some free :)

So what were your frugal deals and achievements last week? Come, share :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Finally a little project to show you :)

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I have a confession to make... I have a big pet peeve! It annoys me so much when people don't take their shoes off at the door when they come to your house. I guess, it's my upbringing speaking... But seriously, I can tolerate when it's sunny and dry outside, so you barely bring any dust in (even though I still don't know where your shoes have been!) but when it's raining and muddy... Really?? I do have children here. And I myself like to run around bare foot...

When the kids were younger, I obsessively wiped the floors after the guests would leave just because...well, babies crawl and eat everything off the floor! I still sometimes grab the broom... And with my closer friends I gently hint. But what to do with other kinds of acquaintances?

A few months ago I saw a similar to this sign on Pinterest and fell in love with the idea behind it. But since I didn't have $40 to pay for it (incl. shipping), I thought I could make something similar, even if it's less fancy.

I used a board I already had and just stained it with leftover stain. I don't have a fancy vinyl cutting machine of any sort, so I had to turn to simple premade letter stickers:

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(by the way, check out the new rug we got for the "dreaded room"! We kind of slowed down working on it because of all the beautiful weather outside and a desperate need to dig my pitiful garden...But I'm just in love with this rug!)

So I just put the stickers on, painted over the whole thing, carefully removed them and slightly distressed the board. I really don't have any step by step pictures because it's just too easy!

But that's what we have hanging in the hall right now :)

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I tried to take a better picture but our hall is really so dark:

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But here's the finished product.

Now am I too blunt? :) Well, you know me well then :)

Does it bother you when people don't take their shoes off when they come to your house, especially when you barely know them?

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