Where God Guides…

Here is someone I want you to meet. And no it’s not another Etsy maven, or a fashionista from down the street, they are my friends Christiana and Phil Brande, and their Baby B (who is yet to B born 🙂 get it? )

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They are 9 short days away from departing the US and heading over to Prague, to teach at the Christian School there. See, they are raising money for their trip, and believe that God will provide, because they are following his calling!

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They are beautiful people who spent over 10 years living and spreading God’s word and love in Russia (my home country), that’s where Christiana and I met, when I was 14 or 15. I was a part of the group from the Wesleyan church that went to a camp for orphans organized by a team from the States. And she has an absolutely calming peaceful presence, but radiates happiness at the same time! And after talking to them today, I felt so inspired and encouraged, and once again amazed by how Great our God is! And how big our small world is!

I don’t know when I am going to see them again, but I will definitely be following their blog and you should to! And if God puts it on your heart to donate to their ministry then bless your heart!

Xx,

Z

See’s Candies Store Opening at Southdale Mall

 

 

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There are two things that will make me go anywhere after a full 10 hour day of work – FREE and CHOCOLATE! And this is exactly what happened last Thursday at the See’s Candies Store opening at Southdale Mall. It was a Minnesota blogger event, so I got to see some of the old faces and meet some new bloggers as well, and of course Sam was my plus one 😉

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It was candy galore, I mean all sorts and kinds, and as it was mentioned later that night, one candy is a meal indeed!

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See’s Candies was founded in 1921, and has been sticking to the 1920’s design ever since, from the black and white marble floor to the staff outfits!

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An interesting fact about See’s one of the episodes of I Love Lucy was filmed there, check it out:

So we all got a chance to recreate our very own I love Lucy episode and pack a box of candy! Remember when Forrest Gump said – Life is like a box of chocolate? You never know what you get inside? Well I knew exactly what was going into that box! I didn’t know what was inside the chocolates, but that’s secondary 😉 And not to brag or anything, I was able to put 13 pieces of candy inside the box instead of 12!

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And then to my surprise Sam goes for the hair net to pack his own box of candy!

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A couple more interesting facts:

– See’s candies offers free samples all day every day!

– See’s candies also holds the Guinness World Record for the Largest Lollipop!

“The largest lollipop was 3176.5 kg (7,003 lb), and was created by See’s Candies (USA) at See’s Candies Lollypop Factory in Burlingame, California, USA, on 18 July 2012.

The lollipop was chocolate-flavored and had the following measurements: 4 feet 8.75 inches in length, 3 feet 6 inches in width, and 5 feet 11 inches in height. The lollipop also included a stick which was 11 feet 10 inches tall, though the weight of the stick did not count towards the record.”

And a few more photos to make your Monday sweeter!

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 It was great to see you all ladies! Aren’t we a lovely group? Minnesota Bloggers Represent 😉2013-05-30 19.56.28
Thank you so much See’s Candies for organizing this fun event for us! KJ, you were amazing, I loved talking to you! And thank you for all the candy we got to bring home! You were so so generous!
I also want to give a special shout out to the  Southdale Sephora! You ladies topped my night off! Thank you for the wonderful conversation and the compliments on my dress!
Xo,
Z

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

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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!

XO,

Z

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!

 

2013 Resolutions / Новогодние Решения

Happy New Year!

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We survived 2012! Can you believe it? With all the crazy Mayan predictions, elections, wars, floods, The New iPad, iPad Mini…

Back when I was in 10th grade I made a list of resolutions that included something like “Getting no C’s on my report card”, “Reading more books”, “Going to the US”… I clearly new what I wanted even in my teens, and I was so compelled by the whole “Resolutions” concept, that I decided to sign it with blood! Thank God I didn’t get an infection, but I am sure the list itself is buried somewhere in the depths of my closet in Russia! And that small blood stain is probably still on it! Gross, I know!

Now with mushroom soup cooking on the stove, I thought it would be appropriate to share my resolutions with you! And even though those are blog related, they can always be translated into everyday life.

1. Stay Focused: It’s so easy to get distracted nowadays, and the biggest distractions on my list are my phone and social media. I am going to try and limit myself from using those. I even get distracted when I blog. I can be half-way through a post, then get side tracked by Twitter, then check my stats on my Facebook page, and well what do you know, it’s been an hour, and the original post isn’t finished yet!

2. Quality over quantity: Over the past couple of years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve been trying to be a part of “Post a Day” that WordPress challenges it’s writers to do. Well, I think I am done with that now! I’d rather give you one or two great posts a week, with good quality pictures and descriptions, than post 7 times a week about some nonsense that no one is interested in, including myself!

3. Give more: This year I want to share and give. Giving chances, giving gifts, giving a hand… I have been thinking about how blessed I am a lot lately. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve it, and I, by no means, want to jinx it, but I have a lot, and the more I have, the more I want to give. That will include more giveaways for you, more opportunities for you, just more for everyone else, who is not me!

4. Be Bilingual: I really want to work on making this blog a place where you can come and learn something new in Russian, or in English, or something new in general. I got to put all that Russian I know to good use! And maybe it won’t be a word for word translation, it will be something! Something bigger and better for the blog I hope!

And there you have it! Happy New Year! What resolutions are you making this year?

Cheers!

Z

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С Новым Годом! 

Мы выжили 2012 год! Даже не верится! Со всеми этими предсказаниями Майя, выборами, войнами, потопами, Новым iPad, iPad Mini…

Когда я училась в 10 классе, я составила список “Резолюций” в который входило следующее: Закончит 10 класс без Троек, Читать больше книг, Поехать в США… В общем даже в свои 15 лет я знала, чего хочу! И из-за такого большого ажиатажа и торжественности всех этих обещаний я решила, что подписать этот список нужно именно кровью! Слава Богу я не заработала себе никакого заражения! Ну и я уверенна, что этот список до сих пор валяется в глубинах моего шкафа, где-то в России! Ну и кровавое пятно скорее всего еще на нем! Фу! Гадость!

Ну а теперь, пока готовится на плите грибной суп, я подумала, почему бы не поделиться с вами моими резолюциями на этот год! И не смотря на то, что большинство из них касаются этого блога, мы всегда сможем перенести некотрые из них на нашу личную жизнь.

  1. Не отвлекайся: В сегодняшнем мире очень легко сбиться с курса, и больше всего меня сбивают мой телефон и социальные сети. Я постараюсь ограничить их использование. Я отвлекаюсь даже когда пишу в этот блог. Могу написать половину поста, вдруг отвлечься на Твиттер, потом решу проверить статус своей страницы на Фэйсбуке, и О,нет! прошел уже час, а пост так и не дописан!
  2. Качество, а  не количество: За последние пару лет, что я пишу блог на этой платформе, я старалась писать 1 пост в день! У WordPress есть такое понятие как “Один пост в день”, это что-то типа тэга и многие этим увлекаются. Я поняла, что пора с этим завязывать! Лучше я напишу 1-2 хороших поста в неделю, с отличными фотографиями и описанием, чем буду писать о всякой ерунде, о которой никто не захочет читать!
  3. Отдавать: В этом году я хочу делиться и отдавать. Давать шансы, дарить подарки, помогать. В последнее время я все чаще думаю о том, какая чудесная у меня жизнь. Не знаю чем я это заслужила, и не хочу ничего сглазить, но у меня есть очень многое, и чем больше я получаю, тем больше хочу отдавать! Это подразумевает больше конкурсов для вас, больше возможностей, просто больше для других, а не для себя!
  4. На двух языках: Я хочу, чтобы этот блог стал маленьким кусочком Интернета, куда вы можете обратиться, чтобы узнать/выучить что-то новое по-русски или по-английски.Не зря же я знаю русский язык! И скорее всего посты не будут слово в слово одинаковыми на двух языках, лучше так, чем никак вообще! Это будет что-то большее и лучшее для моего блога!

 

Ну вот и все! Поздравляю всех еще раз с 2013 годом! Какие резолюции сделали вы?

 

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10 Things I’m Grateful For

“The more grateful you are, the more good comes!”

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1. My wonderful fiance, I don’t know what I would be doing without him. I have a purpose in life and a goal because of him! Thank you for being who you are, and being a part of my life, Sam! I love you! You are one in a million and I am the luckiest girl in the world to have you!

2. Family, especially my future family, really excited for all the fun times to come, all the holiday celebrations, all the book and art discussions, all the tank models and pictures!

3. My friends, esp. my best friend Kat, who is also going to be my maid of honor. You are my encouragement, my inspiration, my reality check. I trust you, I love you, thank you for being there for me! “I just want to leave already and go to Target!”

4. My job, and the opportunities it gives me – the flexible schedule, the ability to work from home, and to chose who I work with.

5. Grateful for faith, being raised at a church, and then going through some personal transformations, re-evaluating my life and what I want to put my faith in, I am grateful for what I can believe in, and that I know what I put my faith into.

6. I am grateful for the daily inspirations and affirmations that come from everywhere. I am grateful for The Daily Love devotional email. (You can all subscribe to receive a daily email too at www.thedailylove.com) . I am also grateful for the websites that have all the funnies and comics. XKCD (www.xkcd.com) being one of them, also bringing out my nerdy side. It’s all about becoming a new person after all anyways!

7. I am grateful for where I live. My room, everything I have surrounded myself with, the little things here and there, the designs, the DIY projects. It’s comfortable, it’s my sanctuary. I am grateful for the sunlight that comes through the windows. It’s beautiful, it’s inspiring.

8. I am grateful for health, for my physical condition, for everything I can do, for everything I am able to do. It’s so important to be healthy these days, everyone is talking about it! I am grateful I have the will power to limit myself, and to push myself.

9. I am grateful for my education, I want to thank all of my professors, who have invested into me, engaged me, and were patient with me. I am especially grateful for Natalya Belym, who was my English Teacher. I am where I am right now thanks to you.

10. I am grateful for the websites that let me keep up with all my shows! Thank you http://www.free-tv-video-online.me and http://www.fastpasstv.eu/. Keep up the good work. Now if only one of you would post Extreme Couponing! That would make me ecstatic!

PS. The pictures are of the paintings I have done in the past. I thought I’d add them to this post, because I am also grateful for my talents and the talents of all the people in the world, who are not afraid to share their art with us!