Nika wearing necklaces

Week’s Favorites, 15th of January

Is it just me or you also feel that time goes faster and faster the older you get?

According to the article in Psychology Today the reason is that when we are young we have plenty of first-time experiences. Our brain breaks down these events into many details that we tend to memorize for many years. As soon as we start experiencing similar events, we do not remember them because they don’t make the same impression on us.

There is another theory that makes full sense to me. It’s called a “ratio theory” and basically mean that for a 10-year-old, one year is 10% of their life. For a 50-year-old, however, one year is 2% of their life, which explains why as we get older the time seem to go faster and faster.

What is your opinion on that?

Ok, so let’s start with the favorites. I haven’t been out much and been doing a lot of studying this week, so most of my favorites will be new recipes. But let me start with my baby girl first.

Favorite Aw Moment

One evening while Nika was playing with her granny she became bored of her toys and my mom decided to give her her box with necklaces. Nika, being a real girl (even though her dad wants her to become a tomboy to go fishing, rock climbing, etc with him) figured out what to do with necklaces quite quickly.

She started trying them on but also keeping each one on as she tried a new one.

This is what it she didNika wearing necklaces

Her favorite though was a pearl necklace that she was caring around the whole evening.

Favorite Soup

My mom and dad love trying new recipes but don’t have enough time to search and prepare them. Since I’m here, I decided to let them try my favorite (obviously vegetarian) recipes and my mom made a joke to my brother saying I was trying to make them switch to vegetarianism (or was it a joke?)

This Broccoli Soup is so quick and simply divine.

broccoli soup, healthy soup, weight loss soup

Favorite Breakfast

My dad normally makes us all a breakfast, but one day he made a healthy porridge that I dislike with all of my heart (yes, there are healthy things that I do not eat). I ate a few spoons but couldn’t make myself finish it.

That morning I decided to make my go-to Breakfast Drink that I normally have when I don’t want to cook or don’t have much time.

I usually make it with almond milk, but I haven’t seen it anywhere here in the stores. I don’t really like regular milk so I decided to replace milk with kefir and the result turned out to be great!

I drank Kefir (which made my mom happy because it’s super healthy) and I enjoyed the result as well because it wasn’t as sweet as it tastes to me when I make it with regular milk.

breakfast shake, morning shake, weight loss shake

Favorite Coffee

I haven’t been much of a coffee drinker in my early days but after I became a mom, lack of sleep and long nights made me switch to coffee. I don’t like the bitter taste of it so I usually add some lemon or lemon juice to it (like my mom) and it tastes so much better. This combination actually made me like coffee.

Some people say that lemon adds some weight loss benefits to coffee as well as it detoxifies the body.

Have you tried it? What do you think if you have?

lemon coffee, weight loss coffee

Favorite Relaxation

My family LOVES Banya. Many will probably ask what it is?

Well, Russian banya is a unique cleansing, rejuvenating and relaxing event that happens in a Bath House.

The bath house normally is a separate house from the one you live in.

It has:

  • a lounge where people keep their clothes, drink their herbal tea with berries and just sit and chat,
  • the bath room with a shower, a bucket with ice cold water to pour over yourself after you get out of the heat room, and a bucket with a soaked Venik (a bunch of twigs with leaves and some stems of herbs used for fanning and beating your hot body), and a
  • heat room with hot rocks and a bowl with water that you pour over the hot stones and benches where you lie on and beat yourself or your loved one with a Venik.

Even though I’ve been growing up going to banya almost every weekend, after I moved to the States I stopped doing it.

Now, living in South Africa I don’t have an opportunity to do it either, so every time I come to Russia, I get back to this healthy practice.

I’m a bit disappointed at myself for not going there last week as I didn’t feel too well, but this Saturday I finally made it to the Banya.

Yay to my first Banya Experience in 2017!



Orthodox Russian Christmas Winter Night

Week’s Favorites, 8th of January

Our first week of winter in Russia. It feels so weird to experience it again after 9 years. Sometimes I find myself looking at the snow and feeling so disconnected with the season. I wonder how long it’ll take before I can get into the winter mode.

Favorite Trip

winter road

I had to call a few times to the Emirates office before I could finally go to our Kurumoch airport and pick up my bags.

They called me the morning of January the 3rd and my dad drove us there while mom stayed with Nika.

The road was black and white, the whole scenery was like that actually. The sky was gray and such weather would normally make me a bit depressed, but this time I thought that no matter how miserably gray the sky is, just above it is the bright and beautiful sun.

After the arrival back to the airport it took us no more than 15 minutes to get my suitcase back.

Favorite Outing

winter sky

On January 4th we woke up to a beautiful sky with the sun shining and a “heat wave”. The temperature went up to +2C!

My parents said the weather was perfect for Nika to experience the snow for the first time.

We obviously still needed to layer up regardless of the “heat wave”.

layering up

Grandpa wanted to put her on the sleigh but she wasn’t ready so they just walked around and touched the snow.

first winter snow experience

I don’t know if she was unhappy with the layers, paparazzi, or the snow.

first winter snow experience with grandpafirst winter snow experience with grandpa and grandma

While grandma showed her how the snow covers the pine tree.

first winter snow experience with grandma

Favorite Night

The Orthodox Christmas is coming up. Nika didn’t want to go to bed like she normally would go around 8-9pm and stayed up till midnight.

We welcomed Christmas together.

The night was beautiful and very calm. There is something magical about a winter night. The sky turns dusty pink, it’s very quiet because it’s too cold for the birds to sing, and everything is very still.

Orthodox Russian Christmas Winter Night

Favorite Holiday

Here comes Christmas. We normally celebrate it with our family and go to church in the morning, but because it was pretty cold, my parents went but Nika and I stayed home.

Mom and I were cooking different dishes and setting up “the table”. We made Olivie, which is a number one Russian Potato Salad, I made a South African Potato Bake, mom made meat dishes and sandwiches.

My parents, Nika, brother with his wife and son, my uncle with his wife and son, and I gathered by the family table and celebrated the Holiday together. It’s been a while since I was here for Christmas so it was pretty special.

Russian Orthodox Family Christmas

Favorite Dish

I brought a South African Potato Bake recipe with me and made it for my family. Pardon the picture, everyone loved it and polished it quickly.

South African Potato Bake

Favorite Deed

My family loves salads. We have them with almost every lunch and dinner. We also love adding herbs to our salads. Back in the day I sent my parents a pretty cool 3 tier container for growing herbs but they haven’t used it so we decided to try and home grow our own dill, parsley and spring onion.

growing herbs at home

We shall see how it goes.

Thank you, Lord, for a great holiday week with my family.

New Years Eve

Week’s Favorites, 1st of January 2017

This year flew by so quickly, I can’t even believe it! So much has happened, and now here we are, in Russia with my parents!

But let’s start from the beginning.

December 26th we went to Konrad’s parents for a nice family after christmas

Favorite Salad

I wish I took the photo, but the salad was so good it simply vanished as soon as my skoonma put it on the table.

It’s called an Overnight Salad and it’s made with lettuce, pepper, celery, green peas and mayo.

It was wonderful and I should try and make it here for my parents as well.

Favorite Adventure

My skoonpa took Jen and myself for a plane ride!  This little plane is called microlight and the experience was indescribable!


You sit in the back behind the instructor, you only have a lap belt to protect you from falling, and you can even steer!

The instructor, very cool and friendly guy Roy, explained us everything, how to navigate, how safe it is, etc. Jen was the first one to go but she looked a bit scared because before that Konrad said we would be jumping out of the plane.

When she came back she had such a huge smile that I don’t think I’ve seen before! She really enjoyed it.

As for me, I was stoked! We took off quickly and went up into the sky. South Africa is just so beautiful. You see the land, the hills, the cattle and the gorgeous sky. I had a chance to steer the plane but it was pretty hard because of the wind. I was hoping I wouldn’t do anything wrong so I was very subtle with my steering.

We spent about half an hour in the sky but the rain was approaching and we had to land. The landing part was scarier for me, but it wasn’t any less fun.

I truly enjoyed this trip and if you want a bit of adrenaline rush, or if you want to see once more how beautiful Johannesburg is, book yourself a flight with Roy!

Jen and I tried to finish our puzzle, but it finished us. Empty cups of coffee and nowhere near completing the puzzle. That’s ok, we will do it next time Jenn is here.unfinished puzzle

We got hungry so we went to Wimpy in the Mall of the South for some breakfast. My fries weren’t the best, but the latte was nice and warming.

wimpy vegetarian breakfastwimpy latte

Nika had fun playing with these sugars.

We saw Jen off later that evening. Can’t believe how quickly these two weeks passed.seeing jenn off at or tambo

Favorite Cheesecake

On Friday my skoonma took Nika and I to this new place, that I haven’t been to yet, called Buca. The view from there is breathtaking!

buca restaurant view

They have a really nice and smooth berry cheesecake. So if you have a cheesecake craving, check this place out.buca cheesecake and latte

Most of the week I was packing for our trip to Russia. I needed to think of the toys for Nika to play on the plane but also didn’t want to pack too much because I’d have to carry it around and it’s an extra weight.

toys for the plane

Originally I packed all these three types of toys – stacking cups, wooden puzzle and dress the bear, but then I decided to leave the bear out and didn’t regret the decision.

Saturday came so quickly!

konrad seeing us off

Konrad took us to Mugg and Bean for breakfast and I had a Mango Berry freeze duo. I highly recommend the drink. It’s a combination of sweet and sour tasty and very refreshing!

mango berry freeze, mugg and bean

After that we spent the day at Konrad’s parents, swimming and tanning.

playing by oumafamily feet

My skoonma made her special iced coffee that I love so much, and then we went to the airport. My skoonparents and Kelly and Ali joined us.

We had a dinner at Cappello. Can’t say I love this place. The first time, when we were seeing Jenn off, it took them half an hour to get us a cup of coffee, this time I had a bug in my salad.

It was bitter sweet because Konrad wasn’t coming to Russia with us this time. Our flight was an hour delayed, so we spent an extra hour together.

Finally it was the time to say goodbye. I’m such a cry baby when it comes to goodbyes.

New Years Eve

We wished each other a Happy New Year, kissed and hugged and Nika and I left.

leaving south africa

While we were waiting for our flight, Nika wanted to walk back and forth wishing everyone a Happy New Year in her baby language.

We finally boarded. As a woman (I still can’t get used to calling myself a woman. Oh these 30s) with a child, I had a priority seating, so Nika enjoyed having a seat to herself for like half an hour.

emirates seat to herself

We flew with the Emirates, and Nika got a soft toy/blankie and some washing/cleaning gift from the airline. Ain’t it cute?

emirates washing and toy gift

Awesome Thing

2017 was the first New Years that we celebrated on the plane. It was something totally different and cool. I was expecting to see the fireworks and though I’d have the best seat for it being up in the air, but no fireworks could be seen.

Favorite Airplane Movie

When Nika fell asleep I decided to watch some movies and my favorite was the Mother’s Day. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. It’s pretty sweet and funny.

I was eating my veggie lasagna dinner and the whole New Years in the sky experience was somewhat romantic.

dinner on the emirates plane

Our first flight was delayed, so upon arrival to Dubai we had to run, quickly get on the bus and quickly get on our second flight from Dubai to Moscow.

All Time Favorite Flight

This Dubai to Moscow flight was my top favorite out of all the flights I took.

over dubai on the emirates plane

It was EMPTY, which is something that everyone would love, but apart from that the crew was incredible! They were so friendly, helpful and fun! Nika got two more gifts, another soft toy/blankie and a writing board, they took a polaroid photo of Nika with the Emirates hat on, and just overall were super awesome.

emirates gifts for babies nika loves the emirates giftstight hugs, Nika loves the Emirates gifts

Even though I didn’t get my vegetarian breakfast, they were super helpful and tried to accommodate every way possible. I just took the easiest to separate meat option and they even offered me another one, but my breakfast was quite filling so I thanked them but refused.

lunch on the emirates plane coffee break on the emirates plane

So here we are, approaching the Moscow Domodedovo airport. Flying from the heat of the South African summer into the cold of the Russian winter.

south african sunset, summersouth african sunset, summer The scenery wasn’t very welcoming, but I knew my parents are super excited to see us.

russian winter

I was supposed to get our suitcase in Moscow but it was left behind somewhere in Dubai, so I had to go and fill out the form to pick it up in my hometown. We were short on time, but the lady there in Domodedovo Lost and Found quickly assisted me.

We finally got on our third flight, from Moscow to Kurumoch. We were flying with S7 and it was tiny! I was so grateful it was only an hour and 20 minutes, and that Nika was sleeping on this flight.

Winter Sky Above Russia

We finally arrived to Samara!

samara kurumoch airport

One good thing about getting your suitcase lost is that you don’t have to wait for it and can go directly to the gate. As soon as the door opened I saw my parents standing there, all bundled up with such happy smiles on their faces! Mom ran to hug us, then dad gave us a hug and we started changing Nika into her new warm winter clothes.

She wasn’t too happy as she wasn’t used to having so many layers. Her clothes that she came in, another sweater, warm pants, warm jacket, warm boots, warm hat…

I quickly put on my warm clothes and we went outside. Oh wow, I forgot how cold it can be! The air that I was breathing in made the my nostrils touch. I pulled Nika closer to me, and quickly jumped into my parents car.

It wasn’t even 7pm but it was already dark. We finally made it home, Nika was more than awake. My parents showered her with her new toys, we ate a bit, took a shower and jumped in bed.

Wow, what an incredible New Year!

christmas together, family christmas

Week’s Favorites, 25th of December 2016

This week was filled with family times, fun outings and tasty food. Yes, ’tis the season.

Christmas is coming and we are getting ready, buying the gifts for those we love and planning the celebration.

My bestie from LA, Jenn, is still here and we decided to go out for a cup of coffee and a small lunch after Christmas shopping. I know it’s only a week left and most people already have all the gifts ready and wrapped, but not us. I guess one of my New Year Resolutions will be to do everything well in advance.

So I bought some toys for Nika with my first paycheck money (proud mommy moment) and we decided to check out this Italian Place called Piatto.

Favorite Bread Basket

I ordered an Iced Latte and avocado rolls, and while we were waiting, they brought us some of their amazingly yummy bread! If you are as much of a breadoholic as I am, you will definitely love it!

basket bread, italian restaurant

avocado rolls, japanese cuisine

iced latte, italian restaurant

They also have a coloring booklet for kiddies. Isn’t it cute?

Favorite Bargain

We started decorating our place as well. We bought a cute small Christmas Tree for only R130, some ornaments and Christmas lights that came down to R150 from a China Shop, made some DIY decorations as well, and by Wednesday evening our place looked a lot like Christmas.

christmas tree, china shop, christmas ornaments

christmas tinsel, china shop, christmas lights

Favorite Father Christmas

Jen and I were still on the quest for gifts and we made it to the Glen Shopping Center. While we were browsing and going from one shop to another, we saw Father Christmas set with such an adorable grandpa! We haven’t had Nika’s Christmas photo taken yet, so I thought it was the time.

I put her on Santa’s lap only to hear her crying! She was scared of Father Christmas! They took a couple of photos but Nika’s eyes were red and we decided to come back a bit later.

When we came back, she was still a bit cautious so I decided to sit with her next to Santa Claus. I don’t know why everyone says I’m the one that looks scared on the photo.

christmas, father christmas, santa clause

Favorite Rides

While we were trying to get Nika’s mind of the cutest but apparently scary Santa, we decided to put her on one of those cars on the top floor and she loved it!

fun rides

Favorite Egg Noodles

On a Thursday night Konrad invited us to an asian restaurant Matsuya.

What I love about it is that they cook right in front of your eyes and that they have some nice vegetarian options.

I ordered spring rolls which were quite tasty and egg noodles with veggies. They didn’t disappoint me.

asian spring roll at matsuyaasian noodles with veggies

Favorite Burger with Fries

Here comes Friday, the day of the big show that we’ve been waiting for.

Konrad’s mom took us to Roco Mamas for some burger and fries.

Their veggie mushroom burger that comes with their house mayo is divine, and their famous fries are the best I’ve had!

vegetarian mushroom burger, fries

Favorite Show

On the Friday evening Konrad’s mom picked up Jen and myself and we went to see Moscow Circus.

monte casino, johannesburgTo be honest, I’ve never been a fan of circuses because I’m against keeping animals in captivity and torturing them so that they learn how to ride a bike and jump through the fire rings.

The difference here was that they didn’t have any animals and it was pure acrobatics and unreal performances.

There were clowns that were actually funny, an unbelievably flexible guy, jogglers, motorbike riders, balancers, and much more.

moscow circus, johannesburg

I haven’t had that much fun in ages and I’m so glad I went.

It lasted for about 3 hours but it felt like it went by so quickly. So if you are considering whether to go or not, I’d definitely recommend.

moscow circus, johannesburg

Favorite Nature Time

Saturday morning we decided to go spend some time in nature.

Boskop Dam, the place we were going, was an hour and a half away from our place. We packed some food and a bunch of different clothes, because the weather was pretty unpredictable.

We met our friends on the way there and finally arrived. We were lucky enough to get a full big gazeebo with water and a braai.

We ate, went for a boat ride, Jen even tried to catch some fish! Nika and I took a nap under the tree, played some toys, went for a walk and had some nice summer time in nature.

boskop dam, southern sky, south africaboskop dam, southern sky, south africaboskop dam, friends, south africaboskop dam, family, south africa

Our Big Christmas

We placed the tree in the middle of our living room on Saturday evening, put all the presents and went to bed.

christmas, christmas tree, christmas decor, christmas presents

Christmas came early and Nika was the first one to open her presents. She obviously had the most presents but it seemed like she was more interested in the boxes, rather than presents themselves.

christmas, christmas presents, christmas for babies

Konrad’s parents invited us for a Christmas lunch to a restaurant. Most of the family, the ones that could come, joined us and we had a nice rainy Christmas together.

christmas together, family christmaschristmas together, family christmas

Thank you, Lord, for another beautiful and fun week.

elgro lodge

Week’s Favorites, 18th of December 2016

Wow, this first week since Jen arrived flew by like one day. It’s already Sunday and we are relaxing out in the Elgro Lodge all together.

We left on Saturday, around 1 and arrived there by 3pm. Found our lodge, wetted our feet in the pool and went unpacking. Nika LOVES the water and it was hard to get her out of there once she felt the joy of drops on her legs.

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