Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The movers are coming, the movers are coming!

Our stuff is here and will be delivered tomorrow at noon.  I can't wait to be reunited with:

1) My dishes.
2) My dutch oven.
3) My crock pot.
4) My sewing machine.
5) My yarn.
6) My guitar.

The flip side, of course, is that we have to find places to put the dozens of boxes (and piano!) that are en route.  Not sure how that is going to work, but we'll keep you posted ...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

More fluffy mail

Pardon me while I discuss cloth diapers for a minute.  These days, it's my favorite subject.  I recently completed a huge online shopping spree to bump up our stash in preparation for #2, and the packages have been trickling in over the last week.  The latest shipment is pictured in the photo.  The three columns of diapers are teeny tiny newborn fitted diapers for #2.  When Natasha was that small, we used prefolds, which are what you think of when you think of cloth diapers: rectangles of cotton that are fastened with a pin or a Snappi.  We are still going to use prefolds, but I have heard that fitteds contain the newborn poop better, so I figured we'd try some out.
The diaper on the left is a new fitted diaper for Natasha, shown for comparison's sake.

Your money's no good here

So on Friday, I rode the metro to a nearby market in pursuit of raspberries.  I had tons of change in my purse, so I decided to use it to pay my fare (52 rubles, or about $1.68, round trip).  The ticket ladies, I've found, tend to be pretty sour people, second only to the women who collect money at the port-a-potties (entry fee: about 65 cents).  I certainly don't begrudge the port-a-potty ladies their attitude, but I digress.

Anyway, I must have really pissed off the ticket lady when I shoved a fistful of change through the slot.  She glared at me, sorted the change, and then passed me back a two-ruble coin (about 6.5 cents).  "People won't take this," she said.  Now, it's common in these parts for stores to refuse badly crumpled, ripped, or otherwise marred bills, but I've never had a coin rejected before.  I countered that it was money all the same, but she wouldn't budge, nor hand over my ticket until I'd replaced the offending token.  In case you are wondering what it looked like, there's a photo.  The bad "penny" is on the bottom.  An acceptable one is on top.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


This is why the house is a mess and there's no food in the fridge ...

Last night Ghana beat the U.S. in the World Cup.  Jeremy didn't know the U.S. was going to get its behind handed to it by Ghana for the second World Cup in a row, otherwise, he says, he would NOT have stayed up until 1 a.m. to watch the game.  Sucked for him, then, that today was his morning to get up with Natasha and that she decided to wake at 6 instead of 7:30.  Not my problem, though, so I rolled over and went back to sleep :)

I woke at 8:15.  Natasha was pretty cranky, so she went down for a nap at 9 a.m.  Since she wasn't going to be up in time for church, I went alone.  I returned at 10:30 and Jeremy went back up for a nap around 11:30.  Natasha and I spent the morning playing.  At about noon, she fell asleep on me.   My water glass was out of reach, the computer was across the room, and I was pretty sure I would have to pee soon, but at least I was lying on the couch, and dammit, I will never wake a sleeping baby!  Plus, she hadn't fallen asleep on me in like five months, and I was enjoying it.

By 2:30 p.m., my bladder was threatening to explode, so I tried to put her down on a blanket on the floor.  To nobody's surprise, she woke up screaming.  I changed her diaper and got her a bottle, then ran into the kitchen to fix myself a plate of bread and cheese (I hadn't eaten since 9).  Natasha freaked out when I left the living room, but Mama (and #2) have to eat!  Once I returned to the couch, she crawled over to the back doors and loudly indicated that she wanted out.  We took a blanket and toys out to sit on the grass until 3:15, when we decided Papa had slept long enough.  We still needed to go grocery shopping and set up Natasha's new crib before dinner.   I had planned to clean the kitchen, but that's clearly not going to happen today ...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fluffy mail!

I have been going a little crazy buying new diapers in anticipation of #2's arrival.  Yesterday was mail day here at post, and we got three packages bearing these diapers.  For those who are into this sort of thing, the zebra one is an all-in-one Goodmama diaper (that means it is waterproof on the outside and doesn't need any covering up).  The aqua one is a Haute Pocket pocket diaper, and the three on the bottom are Grobabies, a "hybrid" diaper, which is a type I've never tried before.  The stack of white things are inserts to go in the Grobaby diapers and the Haute Pocket.

These days, cloth diapers actually excite me more than yarn does.  Who knew that was possible?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

In the kitchen

So, I've been hit with the nesting bug big time, but as most of our stuff is still somewhere on the ocean, I can't sew, or knit anything other than lace (since that's the only yarn I brought on the plane).  Although what I would really like to be doing is sewing baby wipes and burp cloths, I have thrown my domestic energy into culinary endeavors.  Strawberries are really tasty and not too expensive this time of year, so Natasha and I have been riding the metro one stop to the Dorogomilovsky Rinok (rinok=market in Russian) and buying large quantities of them.  The fruit goes bad if you look at it funny, which means that after I've lugged four or five kilos of fruit home, I have to process it immediately.  I wish I had the know-how or equipment for canning (something to think about next summer).  Since I don't, I just freeze all the fruit that isn't bruised or rotting, and make something with the rest.  So far, we've had strawberry turnovers (which I think I've finally figured out) and this disastrous strawberry pie:

This was my entry in the Embassy bake-off yesterday.  I took a few liberties with the recipe - I didn't want to add gelatin, and I didn't have cornstarch, so I figured I'd just toss some flour in and call it good.  I was so excited to make it pretty - I even cut out little leaves from scrap dough and pasted them on the top crust.  I was devastated when it came out of the oven looking like this:

Little did I know that this was only the start of pie-related problems.

The bake-off was held on the green on the upper portion of the compound.  We live on the lower portion.  So I put Natasha into the stroller and loaded the pie into the stroller basket (yes, I should have known that this was a bad idea).  By the time we made it up the ramp and onto the green, strawberry juice had sloshed out of the pie and all over the stroller basket.  It was such a large spill that I had to hose the stroller down at the community garden.

And then it was time for the judging.  After they'd cut into the pies (I should note here that mine was one of only two entered in this category), I was dismayed to see that the cut-out where pie had formerly been, had filled up with strawberry juice.  Needless to say, I was awarded an "honorable mention," while my competitor's non-sloshy apple pie took the blue ribbon.  I guess the pie tasted ok, though, because there was only a tiny piece left when I went back later to retrieve the pie plate.

I've learned my lesson, though, and this morning when I went to the grocery store, I looked for corn starch.  They only had potato starch.  Which I'm going to use in today's cherry pie instead.  Hope it works ...

In other, more successful news, I've also been making pasta sauce out of fresh tomatoes for freezing.  I usually don't have an issue using canned tomatoes, but we go through a LOT, and I haven't been able to find reasonably priced canned tomatoes in the stores yet.   So every week or so, I turn this:

into this:

Friday, June 18, 2010


We went to Auchan (the hypermarket) again a couple weeks ago.  This time, Jeremy took a photo (unfortunately, he missed the roller blader whizzing down the aisles).  Immediately after he snapped it, he was accosted by a security guard (yes, a security guard in Russia's version of Super-Walmart) who told him photos weren't allowed.  A throwback to Soviet times when photos of just about anything were considered a security threat.  Anyway, Jeremy had already gotten the photo, so here you go:

Those are checkout aisles on the right, as far as the eye can see.  This was quite a light day - the first time I went, I spent 30 minutes in line. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


It's "pukh" season here in Russia. Also known as "Stalin's Pukh" and "Stalin's Revenge," pukh (literally "fluff" in Russian) is what Russians call the white pollen of the female poplar trees that the dictator ordered planted all over Moscow in the 1930s. It drifts off the trees in spring, making it appear on particularly windy days that the capital has been engulfed in a blizzard of cotton balls. I have tried to capture this phenomenon on film, but my pictures really don't do it justice. The photo to the left was taken on a particularly pukh-y day. If you look at the black car in the lower left and at the tree in the upper right, you can see some of the pukh.

Poplars are planted in many other cities in the world (I'm assuming), but not all of them have trouble with copious pukh. The problem is that, even in his infinite wisdom, Stalin planted exclusively female poplars. This means that there are no males to pollinate the female trees' seeds. Not knowing what else to do with their seeds, the female poplars release them into the air, raining allergenic white fluff down on the hapless population each year.

There is a metaphor here somewhere. Radical feminism, are you paying attention?

The pukh gets into everything. I have found it is a bit problematic for babies with sticky faces - Natasha has returned home from many outings with bits of pukh stuck to her cheeks. Apparently, it is also highly flammable. We've heard this from several people since we arrived, and I think it's only a matter of time before Jeremy takes a lit match to a pile of pukh just to see what happens. We'll be sure to take photos of that.