$$$ It’s all about the money, or is it? $$$


Today’s post is probably not going to be something you usually see on my blog! I am sure by now some of you have the impression that I am a girl who spends all of her paychecks thrifting! And I can see where this can come from! I’ve been posting a lot of hauls and outfits lately! Let’s be honest, I do sometimes get carried away at a thrift store, and I need to watch my budget, but most of the time it really is not that much compared to a grand scheme of things, or let’s say a recent study by InStyle magazine that says – An average woman spends about $15,000 on makeup during her lifetime, and that’s not including skincare!

Before Sam and I got married, I lived on the East Coast nannying for some families. I wasn’t making a lot of money, in fact I was barely making anything (I never thought of myself or my family as rich or poor, I knew I had enough, and I think that attitude helped me a lot in life) through the Cultural Care Au Pair program, but I had my ways! When I moved to New York, I learned about Freecycle.org, and almost all of my clothes, books and health care products came from there! I also went to monthly swap meet ups organized by GrowNYC, where I would bring all the stuff I didn’t want, and go home with something I liked. Sam had a hard time believing I had all that clothes, without spending as much as a couple bucks on the subway ride, but I had my savings account to speak for me!

I was an Au Pair for 2 years, making under $200 a week, this is the time when Sam and I were in a long distant relationship. So even though I didn’t get to see him that often, I spent a lot of money flying to Minnesota almost every other month! But by the time we got engaged I had saved up over $12,000. Then I went to Russia for 10 months, where I was able to work from home and add on to the savings.

Now that we are looking into buying our first house, having saved enough for a downpayment, I reflect on where I came from and can’t express how thankful I am for everything I’ve been given!

I was born in a small town 3 hours east of Moscow. My mother was a civil engineer, my dad was a college drop out. My grandfather was a retired military man, a former KGB agent as I discovered later in life, my grandmother was a pediatrician, and if you ask me, the biggest workaholic I’ve ever known! We never had much! When I was in 6th or 7th grade I wore the same pair of jeans, the same turtleneck and the same sweater my mother knitted for me to school every day! And I couldn’t care less, until one of my friends, who was a year older than me came up and asked why I was wearing the same clothes everyday. To this point I am still grateful for that comment! This is when thrifting and hand-made clothing came into my life! My mom went above and beyond herself knitting and sewing outfits for me! Going to fabric stores was exciting! Going to thrift stores was an adventure!

By the time I was in 9th grade I was getting constant compliments on my outfits from peers and even teachers, even though I had the same pair of jeans as one of the guys in class! But that’s when unisex was in, so I didn’t care! I also never said no to hand-me-downs, and even though I didn’t have older siblings, I had plenty of friends and knew enough Missionaries who always left clothes behind!

College came around, and I made sure I got good grades to get a monthly stipend through the University. Yes, I got paid to go to school! This is probably going to fall into the “Only in Russia…” category. This was also the time when more and more thrift stores popped up all over our town, and they often had great sales, that I couldn’t resist!

Thrifting is what helped me continually save up money for my trips to Europe and the States, and now that I live here, it’s becoming my meal ticket! Finding a great thrift store takes time, so today I am going to share some of my favorite locations here in the Twin Cities, and the best times to shop there!

Salvation Army in the Warehouse district900 N 4th St, Minneapolis, MN  – every day is a 50% off a certain color, so stop by often! Plus they offer 50% off clothing during most major holidays! I am not even going to mention the Target overstock located in the basement – you have to see it for yourselves!

Steeple People on Lyndale and Franklin – 2004 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN – I blogged about it before, and I will do it again – they have great vintage selection, beautiful artwork and prints, great household section, etc., etc. The only downside is – they only take cash or check!

Goodwill in Hopkins1025 Hill St, Hopkins, MN – This was my go-to Goodwill when I used to babysit for a family in St.Louis Park! And I always referred to it as the Hopkins Goodwill, or Goodwill on Excelsior Blvd. Now why this particular Goodwill? – It’s cheaper, it has more vintage and authentic items, it’s been good to me! Generous if you want to put it this way! I can always find something that I like there! Now why am I not mentioning the Goodwill in Minnetonka, or Goodwill in Roseville, you may ask? The Minnetonka Goodwill will always be famous in my book for the Xanax pills I found in a pocket of one of the sweaters bought there! And Goodwill in Roseville is too good for me to be sharing it with you, but now I did, and now you know!

Savers – I am yet to find a Savers that I don’t like! Seriously, they need a Savers in every state and county! They never overprice vintage items, and the only pieces of clothing that can be pricey are the brand new ones, with original tags still attached. And don’t forget to sign up for a Super Savers Club Card, they will send you emails with special promotions and coupons!

So here you have it, the story of my life that revolves around thrifting! And I couldn’t be happier! After all, it’s not all about the money!

Happy Thursday everyone! And don’t forget to stop by tomorrow for a DIY friday fashion and style project and an important BeingZhenya announcement!



PS. Please keep in mind that my husband and I don’t have any student loans to pay off, our monthly expenses are limited down to rent, groceries, gas and car payments, plus the occasional going out and thrifting shopping sprees!

In the next post on money related subject, we’ll talk about freebies and the best websites where you can get them!


Being Zhenya Updates. AGAIN

I know, you are all probably tired of my updates, but so many things have been going on in my life, that I can’t help, but share 🙂

After my very unfortunate incident with a manager from Sanctuary Salon Spa in Minneapolis, I was thrown into the pool of “I have to find a new hairstylist” people. See, I am not really a person who jumps from chair to chair. I like to find a good stylist and stick to them. Fortunately for me one of my friends recommended Ray, and needless to say – he was amazing! He works at Studio 54 which is right on Nicolette and 54th street! So if you are looking for a good stylist – definitely check him out!

Here is what my hair looks like now:

About a week and a half ago we went to Kielbasa Festival at Kramarczuk’s in North East Minneapolis. It’s right across the river next to St. Anthony Main.


I really wanted to see Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapels. We did get to see the show, but unfortunately they ran out of the signature beer mugs. Hopefully I’ll be able to score one in a local thrift store or something 🙂


And an awesome picture of us with a Matryoshka doll:





As some of you already know, I quit my Macy’s job, I don’t work at Clinique anymore. I am now a toddler teacher at the New Horizon Academy. I survived my first week at my new job, and to be honest this week is kind of easier, at least Monday went pretty well, and that’s like 50% of the week, right? 🙂

We also said good-bye to our MINI, a car that was in Sam’s family for the past 10 years. We traded it in for a Toyota Yaris, which is an automatic, while the MINI was a manual, and I can actually drive the new car! In fact, I am now the main driver in the family 🙂 How exciting!


As one of my girlfriends referred to it – it’s a lipstick color car 🙂



I have also discovered a new hang out spot for my lunch breaks – DUNN Brother’s on the corner of 2nd and 3rd, near the Stone Arch Bridge. So if you want to stop by and say hi – I am usually there around 1.30 pm, reading my book 🙂

The sunsets have been gorgeous lately, I wish I could post a hundred pictures of each one, but we’ll keep it simple:


I know I haven’t blogged a whole lot lately, new job, transitioning from retail back to childcare and all that, but I am hoping to jump back on the regular blogging train, so that I can entertain you with more and more exciting stories and DIYs from Minneapolis.

Lots of love,



Motivational/Wish Board 2012

This is one of the IFB projects of the week, and since today is December, 31, and I was determined to blog and work out (well working out has nothing to do with blogging, but I need to work out twice today, cuz I skipped yesterday… anyways done with the blah blah blah, I’ll tell you all about my working out system sometime next week) I decided to work on this! The task is: Create a Motivational Mood Board and share on your blog! I know that a lot of bloggers have been doing recaps on their blog, the best posts of the last year, stats, and all that, I decided not to do that, but to look into the next year instead and create a motivational wish board. Sounds kinda ironic, I know. Here is the deal – wish boards are very popular in Russia, there is even a YouTube video on how to make one, but since most of you probably don’t speak Russian, I am going to share that with you! And to demonstrate everything, I am going to create a collage! It’s going to consist of 9 parts (like a 3 x 3). Your picture goes in the centre! Top left corner is where the money is going to be, or the riches, or anything that you associate with riches! Fame and Success will be right above your picture. Top right corner is a place for family, kids, etc. To the left of your picture you are going to put something that you enjoy, something that calms you down, or makes you happy. To the right of your picture you are going to put a picture of what you want your house to look like. Bottom left corner is travelling, a place where you want to go. Under your picture you are going to put something related to your career, the way you see yourself at work. And bottom right corner is for important people in your life, or people who inspire you! So you should end up with something like this!

Happy 2012! May all your dreams and wishes come true!



Some thoughts on Interpreting

I’ve always wanted to become an interpreter. Growing up at church I was always looking up to some of the girls who got to interpret during the Sunday Services and some conferences. Interpreting was definitely a skill I wanted to acquire. This past year I’ve been trying my hardest to stay away from interpreting jobs as much as I could. The reason? I spent over 2 years in the States, watching other people’s kids. I thought I lost the skill. And then the orphanage trip came up, and I realized I didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to visit the place where I’ve spent so much time during my college years (visiting the kids and building relationships). I figured I’ll be fine interpreting whatever came my way. And in spite of the few “bloopers” like forgetting the russian word for “balance”, I actually did pretty well. And I am not bragging. So today as one of my posts I decided to share some thoughts on Interpreting with you:

1. Translators and Interpreters are different. Translators write, Interpreters speak. But I don’t get offended if I am called either one of those. Or you can just call me Zhenya 🙂 (FYI some people will get offended, so keep that in mind. But translator is so much easier to say!)

2. You don’t need a degree to become a great interpreter. I know people who are engineers, people who are musicians, mathematicians, etc… and they all are great Interpreters. I myself don’t have a degree in interpretation, I was a cultural studies major in college. So there!

3. It’s easier to interpret into your native language. So if you are Russian it’s easier to interpret into Russian. Not the other way around (from Russian into a different language). But here is the catch. If you’ve lived in a foreign country for a while (as long as me, which is not long), it’s easier to interpret into the other language. It’s sad, but it’s true. I find it easier to interpret into English. And, yes, I have to admit, I forget Russian words.

4. The key is listening. I’ve mentioned earlier, that I had role model interpreters to look up to when growing up. So when they interpreted, I listened. I kept my ears open, not only to what the speaker was talking about, but to the way the interpreter was putting it in my native language.

5. Practice, practice, practice. Go on YouTube, find some videos to watch, get on Skype, find friends from all over the world, practice your language skills. Try and get as many interpreting jobs/gigs/opportunities as you can. Sometimes, especially on the early stages, you might even have to do it for free. I was fighting for every opportunity to interpret, I interpreted a lot for free, and I was always so honored if I got a chance to interpret in front of other people.

6. Grammar is important. I also teach ESL and it bothers me so so much when I hear the he say, i must to do, if it will rain,  and all these other lovely mistakes. UGH! For a while I’ve been obsessed with taking all these on-line grammar tests, to make sure my level hasn’t dropped. I still do them now, and being a teacher, I am always making sure that I have gone over tests I give the students myself.

7. You can’t lose the Interpreting gene. Once you have it, it’s there. The gene, the skill, whatever you call it. If being an interpreter is your true gift, your real calling, then you are going to succeed no matter what. It’s like looking at yourself in the mirror and telling yourself you are gorgeous! You will not lose the skill.

8. Don’t be lazy. Interpreting is not English 101, it’s not something you can do after completing 5 year courses. It’s a skill. And the language is alive, it’s changing. No one calls the mirror a looking glass anymore. And there is a difference between velvet and corduroy. If you think you are going to get away with something, you probably won’t. And as harsh as it sounds, you’ll never be a pro. And the language factor is not the only one that matters now. We all are human beings. We get tired, we get headaches, tummy aches, and all other not so fun aches. Sometimes we lack sleep, sometime we are worried, sometimes, just hungry! So if you are interpreting for a series of classes, or for the whole day, make sure you take enough breaks, drink water and if such a need comes up, have someone to sub for you!

9. Public speaking. This is what Interpreting is. And each and every one of us has a fear of that! So here is one important thing to consider – gotta get rid of that fear! You never know who you are going to interpret for. I  have interpreted for mayors, and 4 year old orphans! Feel the difference!

10. Looks. This is a job where your appearance is important, where BO is unacceptable, and outfits matter. They will judge you by your looks. You are a speaker! And you get 50% of the attention, if not more! So take care of yourself, because everyone wants to look at a beautiful, well-groomed person.

I hope I was able to help, and if you are considering this career, well, the best of luck to you!