Make Tonight a Game Night

When it’s too hot or too cold to go outside (those seem to be the two most common temperatures in Minnesota) – make tonight a Game Night!

Growing up I was obsessed with card games, Uno, Phase Ten, Draw 2, Wild card, I was hooked! I even learned how to do the bridge shuffle – I called it the fancy way!

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There are also some Russian games, like the never-ending game of the Drunk (pyanitsya) or Fool (doorak), I had a lot of fun teaching my husband how to play those, and beating him in those was definitely a boost to my ego 🙂

When I was a teenager I got my first gaming console and even though I enjoyed a game of Sonic here and there, after I beat the games, I quickly lost interest and moved on to something else. Now, after having been married to a gamer for almost 2 years, I can definitely say one thing – I enjoy watching someone else play a video game more, than playing it myself. I am willing to participate in an occasional race or two though!

During my au pair years I got into Monopoly. Have you seen all the available versions of this game nowadays? There is one with fake credit cards! Not to mention the one with Disney or Star Wars characters. We actually own the latter, it was my gift to Sam for Valentines day last year. I am a nerd like that!

11219148Check out this Nightmare Before Christmas edition for the Tim Burton Fan in all of us!

So why not make tonight a game night? Turn away from that TV you’ve been probably watching for the past few hours, and spend some time playing with your loved ones. And if you’ve got kids – you are in luck, because there is always that good old chutes and ladders laying at the bottom of the stack!

And finally don’t forget to check out some on-line gaming opportunities, especially if it’s a single kind of night. There are quite a few websites out there, i.e castlejackpot.com, where you don’t only play the game, but can also place bets and win some $$$. It’s a virtual casino with slot machines, roulette, black jack and so much more! Besides you can also play Monopoly online, Star Trek (for the geek in all of us!), treasure quests, and so much more! Please remember to play responsibly!

So go have fun, enjoy the night, and remember, it’s only a game!

Cheers,

Z

My Kombucha is Square

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As some of you, Instagrammers, have noticed, I started brewing my own kombucha! Wait what? We all thought I hated that stuff!

Back in the day, when I still lived in Russia, I had some American friends over, who had never seen kombucha before! So when they saw it their eyes grew bigger, and bigger, and I think it’s worth mentioning that I didn’t know the English for Kombucha (it was over 10 years ago! give me a break 😉 ) and in Russia we call it Tea Mushroom (чайный гриб). I also have memories of it being nick named the Happiness Mushroom! I guess it’s supposed to bring happiness and good luck to your household! Hey, okay with me 😉

A few years ago when I still nannied for a family in New York City, we were doing kombucha as well, but I hated it. I guess the childhood memories made a deep deep impact! I do remember killing one scoby, but the second one lived 🙂 And I even remember sharing it with someone on freecycle!

What is scoby? SCOBY is an acronym for symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. Other good examples are Ginger beer plant, kefir, mother of vinegar, sourdough – you can read more about it on Wikipedia!

I don’t know what made me try Kombucha a few weeks ago when I was out and about with a friend, I don’t know what made me like it, what made me ask for it on freecycle, what made me drive to Apple Valley after work to get a scoby, but I did all that, and now I have a square kombucha living in my kitchen, if you ask my husband, he’ll tell you that it’s something that should be in a science classroom!

Now everyone brews their kombucha differently, but here is what I do, and I learned that from Jade – the person who shared her scoby with me:

Bring three quarts of filtered water to a boil, and then add a cup of organic sugar and continue to boil for 5 minutes. Then take the pot off the burner and steep four bags of organic tea (2 black & 2 green) for 10 minutes. Then pour the mixture into a gallon size jar and let it cool to 98 degrees (body temp).  Once it reaches that temp add the starter (the liquid that the scoby is in), give a little stir, then add the scoby. Cover it with a white flour sacking cloth, and let it sit for 7-14 days. Metal should never touch the kombucha, so no metal utensils or anything!

I mix green and black tea when I brew my kombucha, it’s no specific brand, just something I pick up at the grocery store, or Marshall’s/TJMaxx – they have great tea variety (sometimes!), I also use regular white sugar, and then it all lives in a square glass jar I bought at Target for $5.99, that’s why it’s actually square! 

Of course we’ve all heard stories about some woman in Iowa, who supposingly died from it, but yet again some people say it helps cure cancer. I know one thing – everyone’s result is going to be different, so give it a shot, and see for yourselves!

Now let’s talk about what I like to put in my kombucha! Let me make it clear though, all the additives go in the glass, not the scoby jar!

Lemon juice has so far been my top choice!

I did try adding spinach/cucumber juice to it, and it tasted okay, but I wasn’t a fan! 

I do like to add cranberry to it though! That is super yummy!

Let me know if you like kombucha, tried it, hate it, whatever your opinion is – please DO tell! 

Happy Monday everyone! 

Xo,

Z

PS. If you are in the Twin Cities area and would like a scoby, let me know!

 

One Lovely SPAM Award ;)

I am really not big into giving blog awards, it reminds me of the whole chain letter system, back when we were little, we used to do it all the time. I guess nowadays we can simply call it SPAM 😉

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But when Thirteenth and Hudson nominated me (thank you ladies!), I thought – why not? It’s a great opportunity to share more facts about me, so you can learn more about me, the person behind this blog!

So, the rules for the award are as follows…

  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Add the “One Lovely Blog” image to your post
  • Share 7 things about you
  • Pass the award to 7 nominees
  • Inform the nominees chosen by posting on their blog

So here are a few things about me…

One – I love thrifting and freecycling for clothes! I will go to weird places to find clothes, but always end up with amazing finds!

Two – Even though I lived in Russia for a long long time, I feel really distant from the Russian community in the US, and I feel like my mentality is more American than Russian.

Three – I have pooped my pants once! The day before my Appendix surgery! That’s a legit reason, right?

Four – Sam and I met at church camp in 2006, I was his counselor! The no purpling rule didn’t apply to us! Needless to say I almost got fired from the same camp in 2007 because of him!

Five – I love my job at daycare, but I would love to work in Social Media or be a full time blogger one day, or…. as you can see I haven’t decided yet!

Six – I really want to be on TV! Hopefully soon 🙂 I was on TV in Russia with my mom when she got a makeover on the What Not To Wear show back in 2006

Seven – I never thought I’ll be in my 20’s and own a house, and be married, and have this amazing life in the US! I am a very happy person, I love waking up in the morning, I love going to work, I love life and I am very very grateful for it! And even though I have been staying away from all shapes and forms of organized religion, I am thankful to God for every second of my life!

Now I would like to nominate these lovelies:

Kate from Clear the Way – she is quirky and fun, and I think her and I would be friends in real life!

Nensi and Natasha from FreeUrCloset – they do a lot of personal style, DIY and plenty of lifestyle posts!

Naturally Stellar – she is a beauty/fashion/style guru! You ask her she’ll probably give you the answer off the top of her head!

Jennifer from Just one Chick

Loren from Lo’s Stylebook 

Nadine from Sage Atelier 

Roselinde of Roselinde

Alright, and here you have it!

Love you all ladies, keep spamming, I mean spreading blog love!

Xo,

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 Can Wait Pledge! Take It With Me!

Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Style Voices program and have been provided with a wireless device and six months of service in exchange for my honest opinions about the product.

The subject of texting/calling/emailing when driving has been on my mind a lot lately. Rememeber the days when it was just texting? Now it’s emailing, facebooking, tweeting, instagramming… the list goes on and on! For people hooked on Social Networks like me, it’s a dangerous territory! And even though you might miss an important tweet, or text, nothing is as important as your life!

It all started with a book I read called Left Neglected by Lisa Genova. The first half of the book was a horror story to me, a horror story I couldn’t put down! I am not going to spoil it for anybody who hasn’t read it, but I think it should be on everyone’s Goodreads ASAP!

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My husband and I carpool to work, and neither one of us are on our phones. The time in the car is almost sacred, that’s when we talk, when we share our plans for the day in the morning, and discuss what happened in the evening! One thing we do before we get into the car though is check the traffic, and unfortunately we often end up seeing car accidents. And every time it breaks my heart.

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Now I am not going to be the goody two shoes and tell you that I’ve never texted while driving, or talked on my phone. I am human and guilty of that too! But the older I get, the more responsible I become, and today I want to share a pledge I have recently taken, called It Can Wait!

But let me show you these facts first:

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So please take this pledge with me today. I would love to know if you did, so don’t forget to comment and remember that TOGETHER WE CAN DRIVE SAFE!!

Xo,

Z

 

You are Diamond!

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Today my husband’s grandparents are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary! How awesome is that? 60 years with the same person! Sam also has his Grandpa’s wedding band, which is more meaningful to us than any words can describe!

So Happy 60th Wedding Anniversary Bob and Betty, and may the 5 o’clock gins continue for many many more years!

We love you,

Sam and Zhenya!

PS. The photo was taken on their wedding day (May 15, 1953), and is a curtesy of my mother in law!

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

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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!

 

Ho-ho-ho Green Giant

Thanks to Product Hoochie, I have recently joined BzzAgent, and unlike other “freebies” websites, this one seems more legit than others. Maybe because I’ve been getting and will be getting a lot of products to try and review, maybe because it’s easier and hassle free?!

Today’s post is dedicated to the Green Giant Veggie Snack Chips, that I got in the mail last week!

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What was in my box?

  • A FREE full-size bag of Green Giant Roasted Veggie Tortilla Chips with Zesty Cheddar
  • A FREE full-size bag of Green Giant Multigrain Sweet Potato Chips with Sea Salt
  • 4 Sample pouches that were immediately utilized by my husband as an addition to his lunch (that I pack every day!)
  • Pass-along coupons

Here is what Green Giant says: 

  • Roasted Veggie Tortilla Chips with Zesty Cheddarare crispy tortilla chips made with real vegetables like carrot, broccoli, and tomato, plus 17g of whole grain
  • Multigrain Sweet Potato Chips with Sea Salt are made with real sweet potatoes and 14g of whole grain, with 40% less fat than regular potato chips*
  • *Green Giant Multigrain Sweet Potato Chips (6g per 28g serving) have 40 percent less fat than regular potato chips (10g per 28g serving).

Here is what I think:

Sweet potato chips taste just like any other sweet potato chips, and are nothing extra ordinary. They are a good snack, and that’s just about it! I am not a huge fan of sweet potatoes to begin with, but I can tolerate it in this shape and form!

Zesty cheddar taste very similar to Doritos, but don’t leave you with orange fingers like the latter, so I guess that’s good! But they aren’t that healthy, as you might think they are in the beginning! I tried them with hummus, and that tasted good, but again, nothing that made my taste buds explode!

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Am I going to buy this product? Maybe, depends on whether or not it’s on sale, and whether or not I can use my coupons on it. Otherwise, it’s really nothing new and different!

Let me know what you think of these, whether you got them for free, or bought at the store!

Cheers,

Z

PS. This product was sent to me for free through BzzAgent

My Adventures in Juicing

Yes, dear readers, I fell a victim to one of the most popular trends that can take place in your kitchen – juicing! Having watched some documentary on Netflix, I think it was called Hungry for Change, I started researching and googling different juicers everywhere I went! I kid you not, I tweeted about juicers, stalked people on Instagram, asking them which one they use, etc etc

And finally I got one! A GE 800 watt Juice Extractor:

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This juicer usually runs for about $50, and is considered a good started juicer. I bought it for $25, at the Salvation Army Target Overstock in the Warehouse District in Minneapolis (let me know if you need directions 😉 )

There were two juicers there at the time, this one, and another, I forget the brand, but it cost $60! Knowing me, and my husband, who didn’t want to spend the extra money, I got the cheaper one, besides it came with the box, which made me trust it more! I also took it all out, including the instructions, read everything 3 times over, including 20+ reviews on the internet (which went from great juicer to this product sucks) and headed for the check out!

Let me be honest with you, so far it’s great! I am not going to say that it’s the best $25 I’ve ever spent, no I don’t think so, but I got myself a pretty good deal, a great juicer, and a healthier diet thanks to it!

Of course when you buy a product like this your first urge is to juice everything in the house, even the foods that don’t go in there! Hold your urge! Talk to friends or read blogs about juicing, then start your process!

Here is what I learned after 1 week of everyday juicing:

– Never ever juice a grapefruit!

– Tomato juice is actually pink, not red!

– One cucumber contains about 12 oz of juice!

– Carrot juice is neon orange and I love it!

– One 8 oz glass of fresh juice will last you up to 5 hours with no food!

– There are way more people who juice on Instagram than I thought!

– Juicing is considered a part of raw foods movement

– Some people recommend to detox using fresh juice 3 days out of the month, every month!

– I have been doing dishes more regularly with the juicer!

– It’s better to juice into a tall glass than a short glass (just because it’s easier to prevent spilling)

– You can use left over pulp for muffins or combine it with cat/dog food!

There is so much to learn about this, and even though I sound sarcastic at times, I am absolutely happy with my new toy! Sam on the other hand isn’t, he says it’s gross! And asks me not to let him smell it 🙂

Now about the juices! I have been trying to document each and every one of them on Instagram last week, to make it easier for me when I was going to blog about it! I think it worked:

Carrot and apple juice (about 2 apples and 4 carrots for 8 oz)

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Orange, carrot and kiwi juice (I can’t remember how much I used of each fruit now, but I know for sure there was only 1 kiwi!)

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Cucumber, celery, tomato (loved this combo, and cucumber juice alone!)

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Pineapple, celery juice

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Have you ever tried juicing? If so, how did you like it?

Have a great day everyone,

Xo,

Z

Oversize Me OOTD

Everyone knows that these days it’s the baggier the better, to a certain extent of course! When I put something oversized on top, I make sure to go skinny on the bottom, and this is how it usually turns out:

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Top – Old Navy size M (it’s HUGE!) but since it was bought on sale for a ridiculously small amount of money, and they didn’t have size S anywhere, I got it. It’s comfy and soft, almost at the point where I want to wear it around the house with a pair of sweats, but am fighting this urge!

Jeans – X2 Denim by Express, thrifted at Savers, $8

Scarf – Christmas gift from a few years ago

Floral necklace – Gofavor.com, that necklace was ordered for about $4 back in the day when I went through – Let’s order as much cheap crap costume jewelry from China as I can. If I could, I would return every single product I ordered there, because… well you see the crossed out word above! The metal is so cheap it fades away after 2 or 3 uses. This necklace has been kind of okay, but I don’t want to jinx it here! So I’ll keep wearing it out and about, and maybe later you’ll see it in one of my DIY projects!

Boots – Christmas gift from Sam 🙂 <3

And of course my Marc Jacobs Watch! I have to wear it, everyday, yes, that’s how much I like that watch!

On the other note, winter isn’t going anywhere here in Minneapolis. After a snow thunderstorm last Thursday I am hopeless, on the verge of depression, someone please help! At least this blog is becoming more bright and colorful, I’ve finally figured out how to create a row of social media icons on my blog, yay me 🙂

In other news, I have a lot of DIY projects coming up for you dear readers, so stay tuned!

Love,

Z

PS. Did you notice I am not wearing any make-up in this picture?