Saturday, December 21, 2013

Recipe of the week 4: Apple Sour Cream Coffee Cake

This cake is just really good =) We just finished it, and I bet my husband can't wait for the new portion of this one.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of softened butter (1stick)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large apples (sliced)
  • For the topping
    • 1/2 cup of brown sugar (can use regular one)
    • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
    •  1 cup of chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)

Preheat oven to 340F, Spray 9 inch baking pan.
Prepare the topping: Combine ingredients and mix well. Set aside.
In a bowl, cream together butter,sugar and eggs. Add flour,baking soda,baking powder,salt, sour cream and vanilla;mix well.
Pour half of the batter into the pan. Layer with half of the apple slices,then half of the topping. Pour in the remaining batter,layer with the remaining apples and cover with the rest of the topping.
Bake for one hour then check if ready by inserting a toothpick in the center (should be dry and clean when comes out)

(I added 4 tbsp of cocoa mostly for coloring - you can definitely skip this step and your cake will be lighter in color)

Enjoy!


 Recipe was taken from the Costco cookbook

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Denver trip

This month Dima had a business trip to Denver,CO and well we've never been there before so we decided to go together and expand his 2 day stay to 5 days. Since I've spent my whole life in Moscow and the past few years in the middle of the corn field in Wisconsin, mountains are a big WOW for me))and as soon as we left Denver airport, I took like thousand pics of them:) I am really glad we had the opportunity to visit this beautiful city and explore the tiny bit of an amazing nature of Colorado.
Hopefully it's not the last time.

And before I continue with our pictures, I'd like to write a few words about travelling with a 2 month old. I was super stressed even being a frequent traveler and a pretty relaxed parent didn't make it easier! However, everything went so smooth!We were hiking, taking pictures and driving a LOT, and Sasha was a great baby most of the time. And I can't describe that amazing feeling of sharing the new experience with our baby!She had seen her first ever snow on the Lake Echo and Mt Evans 3200m above the sea level!

With that being said here are some of the memories of our wonderful days in Colorado.






















Monday, November 11, 2013

Recipe of the week 3: Gingerbread cookies

As tasty, christmasy, and traditional as they can be - today I'm going to share with you the perfect recipe of the gingerbread cookies.
For me, everything in this recipe was just perfect. I wouldn't change a thing and the result is great! Now I can't wait for the real Christmas time to cook the whole bunch of those for us and to share with neighbors.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter (115g)
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup of molasses
  • 1/2 cup of honey
Mix together the dry ingredients (except sugar): flour,baking soda, ginger,cinnamon,nutmeg,cloves, and salt.
In another bowl mix butter with sugar until the consistency is even. Add 1 egg and beat for about 1 minute. Add molasses and honey and mix everything.
Divide the batter into 2-3 parts, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Meanwhile preheat the oven for 350F(180C). on a floured surface roll out the dough 1/4 inch thick and cut out the cookies. 
Place them on the baking sheet lined with parchment and freeze for 15 mins.
Cook for 10 min (medium sized cookies. Adjust cooking time depending on the size of your cookies)
Cool them before decorating. 
From this amount of ingredients you'll get 2 full baking sheets of cookies.

Enjoy!



The original recipe was taken from ho-ho-ho-its-gingerbread-time
photos by me.

Friday, November 8, 2013

3 months

Probably it is a perfect time to write this post because my baby is 3 months old today. I still can't believe it though! Our daughter Sasha (Alexandra) was born on Aug 8 2013.
These were the hardest, happiest and the most exciting months of my life for sure!There is no more rewarding thing than being a mom when you see how your little one looking at you and all those smiles and aghoo-ing only because she is just happy to see you. It is amazing that she loves you so much even though there is nothing so special about you and you are probably not the funniest person in the world with all those peekaboo things , but for her you are the one.
Yes it is hard and there were times when I was at the point where I was ready to sit and cry right next to her...but the next day it is all forgotten...
I start missing her as soon as I put her to sleep at night, and check several times if she woke up the first thing in the morning just to see that gummy smile.
Hard to believe it's been A YEAR since I got pregnant with her...How can this be true?How could two tiny cells become this beautiful girl? (even having degree in biology doesn't make it real)
I just love being a mom...love our little family and can't imagine my life without my two favorite people in the world.

And just some random facts about Sasha at 3 months.

  • She is talking A LOT and you can actually easily distinguish if she is satisfied,tired, mad or happy by the tone of her voice.
  • She can roll from her back to the side and from her tummy to the back
  • Enjoys the tummy time mostly if she is lying on me.
  • Her three all time favorite toys are lion attaching to her bouncer, yellow plush pony that her dad won in the claw machine and giraffe from carters
  • She smiles a lot lately although as soon as I take my Iphone to take a picture of her she makes the most serious face. (still couldn't catch a good smile and she's been smiling for over a month now!)
  • LOVES to stand when I hold her under her armpits - much more than laying or sitting.
  • Slept for 6-8 hours through the night most of the time
  • She looks like her dad but has my eyes and toes so I'm fine with that)))
And of course for me she is just perfect...
Sasha at the hospital 1 day old

2 month old

And almost 3 months old looking at her first snow in Rockies mountains



Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Recipe of the week 2: Berry-Apple Crisp

Recipe of the week 2 is an awesome berry pie - perfect for fall season very cozy and pretty easy to do. I liked the results and will repeat it for sure.

So lets start with 
Ingredients:
  • 3 cups of diced apples
  • 1.5 cups of quartered strawberries
  • 1.5 cups of raspberries  (feel free to replace these berries with any other ones such as blueberries or blackberries
  • 1 cup of walnuts (or other nuts)
  • 1.5 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1.5 cup of oats
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 sticks of unsalted sugar (230g)

Preheat the oven to 350F.
In a bowl mix 3 cups diced apples, 0.5 cup of granulated sugar and vanilla extract - let it sit for 25 min.
Stir in 1.5 cup of strawberries and 1.5 cup of raspberries -let it sit for a few more minutes.
At the same time in a second bowl mix 1.5 cup of all-purposed flour, 1.5 cup of oats, 0.5-1 cup of sugar (depends on your preference -I used 0.5 cup) and 2 tsp of cinnamon. After that work in 2 sticks of unsalted butter - cut into little pieces, until clumps form.
Before pouring the fruit mix into a pie dish add 1 cup of nuts to the fruits and stir.
Then pour the mixture into the 9 inch pie dish - use a deep one! Evenly sprinkle on topping. 
Bake until browned on top 40-45 minutes. Serve warm.


Glamour magazine is not an accidental addition to this photo. The original recipe was taken from that issue. Although I made some changes such as adding nuts and reducing the amount of sugar.
Hope you like it!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hospital bag

The first rule for your hospital bag - Start packing it in advance! You'll probably should start at least 3 weeks before your due date simply because you never know when your baby will decide to be born and you don't want to pack the bag and count your contractions at the same time:) Moreover, it turned out to be not the easiest thing to accomplish especially if you are not a planning person (which I am definitely not)) 
So let's start

  • For Yourself
    • Nightgown or Pj's (PJ with buttons will work great for breastfeeding!)
    • Slippers
    • Nursing bras/tops
    • Nursing pads
    • Nice Clothes for discharge
And Explanation - After giving birth hospitals will provide you with their nightgown. Someone might like it- I preferred my own PJ from home (Their breastfeeding nightgown had holes through which you are suppose to breastfeed....well they were located somewhere around my belly button so weird=)) And I am pretty tall.
Nursing bra - You will probably want to wear your bra all the time (at night as well) to avoid leaking or stretch marks. Nursing pads - you'll need if your milk comes soon.You will not need your underwear- Hospitals will provide you with gigandous pads and disposable undies(they might look ugly, but that's what you need))). And you want to look good on your discharge photos,right? So remember - take some nice flattering dress or tunic. You will still have a bump like you're 6 months pregnant, and it is likely that you still won't be able to fit into your prepregnancy jeans so don't take them.
  • If your Husband or Boyfriend will stay with you - take clothes for him considering 2 day stay.
  • Toiletries
    • Hair brush
    • Razor
    • Makeup (Lip Balm!!!!)
    • toothpaste,toothbrush
    • Deodorant
    • Shampoo,conditioner
    • Hairbands (take a couple))
    • Shower gel
Explanation: 
Everything is pretty self-explanatory I assume)) Hospitals may provide you with things like shower gel or shampoo, but I felt comfortable using my own. If you are planning on taking pictures in the hospital (I bet you are) then you'll definitely need makeup so don't forget it. During the contractions, you'll have to breath hard so your lips are going to be very dry, so lip balm is a must have. 

  • General
    • Insurance card
    • Wallet
    • ID
    • Notepad+pen
    • Eyeglasses (If you wear lenses)
    • Camera (check if the card is in it and probably take one extra just in case)+charger
    • Laptop+charger
    • Cell phone+charger
    • Cash 
    • Snacks
    • Hard candies 
Explanation: You'll need your ID and insurance information. It depends on a hospital but it is useful to have cash on you (we had to pay for hubby's food and it was cash only). You'll need a notepad of some kind if you'd like to write down your memories for baby's book. You can become hungry - they are probably won't allow you to eat during contractions and you are going to work hard so it is likely that you will be very hungry after delivery. However, you have to stay in a birth suits for the next 2 hours -still without food, so it will be nice to have some healthy snacks with you (we brought granola bars and they were all gone pretty fast)))

And the most exciting part
  • For the Baby
    • Car seat installed (must have)
    • Cute clothes for going home
    • 2-3 onesies
    • Hat
    • Mittens
    • Socks
    • Receiving blanket
    • Card for footprints
Explanation:
You must have a car seat installed so take care of it in advance. Hospitals will provide you with both diapers and wipes - you don't need to bring those. Hospitals will also provide you with blankets and shirts for the baby. Of course you can use your own clothes from the beginning, but I suggest to give those shirts a try! For us they turned out to be very convenient to use especially at night when you don't want to disturb your baby while changing his diaper. So the first thing I did when I got home - I asked my husband to go to Carters and buy the same shirts. 2 months later I still love them. Mittens were a must have for me because it turned out babies can be born with pretty long nails, and nurses won't trim them in the hospital. Otherwise guess what? that cute face will be all scratched up within hours!
Nurses will take footprints of your little one right after birth for the birth certificate. You can also give them an extra piece of paper or index card and ask for the copy for your baby book.

The pdf version of the hospital bag checklist will be available shortly.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Before-After. Bathroom

I just realized that I never showed you the before-after series I've done with our house remodeling!
First thing first - Bathroom!
We have only 1 bathroom in our house and when we just bought it...it was a horrifying place to be honest. We've spent a long time trying to change it to what it looks like now. It was our first experience in remodeling ever, and we had to do everything with our hands. We hired contractors only for the things that could be dangerous - electrics and plumbing. All the rest - by ourselves.
Amazing experience)

So let's start with BEFORE



and 2 doors on each side - one that leads to the nursery and the other one to the kitchen. THE STUPIDEST POSITIONING EVER!Plus you could touch opposite walls at the same time) 
Carpet on the floor in combination with the wallpaper...oh...Long story short: it's not the place you would wanna be in)
IN PROCESS



Can you imagine how surprised we were when we found THE WINDOW...behind tile,drywall and ugly wooden paneling?

We had to live in the bathroom at this stage for a while due to all the moving in process - not the most pleasant thing,but still much better than before.
 And yes of course we decided to leave that awesome window!Replaced it with a new obscure glass one, and now we have tons of natural light which probably saves us a good $$$ on the electric bill. Even though it was kind of weird to take the shower right in front of the window)(Can't see anything btw, checked several times))
AFTER










The only things that were added in the past year and a half are the tile we brought from our honeymoon in Spain and the towel rack from World Market (It was SO much pain to find a perfect towel rack!!!)

          
       
Well to be honest, It is still hard for us to believe that we did this! It turned up amazing both visually and functionally.