Sunday, October 31, 2010

And so it begins....


Okay, this was my first attempt, but the Hubby approves!!

I have been into baking lately, trying out different things on my family and neighbors.  Winners:  apple pie, cherry crumble pie, zucchini bread, strawberry cake (in taste only....the icing was a little droopy), lemon tea cake and now kolaches.  Losers:  let's just say that my attempt at a chocolate lava cake ended up all over my friends kitchen....literally like a volcano.  So yeah, that's off the list.

So here is my first attempt at Kolaches, a traditional Czech dessert/breakfast item that before this were only able to taste in the Great State of Texas.  I found the recipe in Texas Monthly and have been wanting to try it but because of the multiple steps was always afraid I'd screw it up somehow.  But miraculously, I didn't.  I made prune and sausage, my hubby's two favorites.  My next batch included some apricot, cheese, and sausage/jalapeno, which were also good.  I forgot to take pictures the second time, but I got some of my first batch.  There aren't very many here, because we had already dug into them :)

Another Field Trip

At least the place wasn't so spooky or eerie.  My Russian teacher took us on another field trip, this time to the new Russian Orthodox cathedral in the villiage of Troitskoye.  The cathedral was named after national Russian hero Alexander Nevsky, and built to resemble tsars' palaces of the 16th century.  This cathedral is one of the four shrines planned as "border guards" of Russia (one each in the north, south, east and west).  Needless to say, it is a beautiful building. 

 inside the cathedral with the Отец (father)


 inside - notice there are no pews - they stand for the entire service

 view from the bell tower

one guy rings all the bells

yes, it was ears rang for the rest of the day :)

Spooky Field Trip

I thought this post would be a great one to save for Halloween.  My Russian teacher thought it would be fun to take us all to see a cemetery.  I wasn't that keen, as they aren't exactly my thing, but I had no good excuse to get out of it.  It turned out to be quite interesting.  Russians put a photo on the headstones, which is something I have not seen before.  Sometimes it's a small photo, and sometimes you will see large, elaborate carvings or statues of the person.  Also interesting:  Russian Orthodox bury their dead facing west, and they bring gifts, food and vodka on holidays, birthdays and anniversaries.  I took some photos of some of the more interesting plots.

 fake flowers are common, as is bringing food and vodka

 My teacher said that the pictures are often telling....notice he is standing by a car, talking on a cell phone with a beer in his hand....he died at a young age, so it's very possible that it was a car accident

 very large and elaborate statue

 the red stars signify a veteran

You get quite a bit of information from the headstones....this man was a pilot

Happy Halloween!

We actually carved pumpkins this year!  Well, Shane did it, and Adam and I watched.  I did have the job of "gutting" them (and then cooking and freezing the flesh for Thanksgiving pumpkin-pie...yummm).  No, you cannot find pumpkins like these in Sakhalin.  The Russian pumpkin is much smaller (about the size of a cantaloupe).  My friend brought the seeds back from California and her father grew them at his dacha (a Russian summer house).   I think our pumpkins turned out quite nicely....and Adam agrees!

Daddy and Adam showing off their carvings

 posing with his pumpkins

all lit up

my little Space Commander

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fall in Sakhalin

I think Fall is my favorite season in Sakhalin.  It's not too cold, the leaves turn beautiful colors, and the sun is out most of the time.  There are two things that are bad about Fall, though:  the flies, and the fact that it only lasts a few weeks.  We have to soak it in while it's here, because Winter is just around the corner!


 changing leaves

 Family pic with our pumpkins

 Fall in Olympia

the downside of Fall.....flies!

Back to School

First day of school - Primary 2!

Cape Velikan

This was my first Summer in Sakhalin.  Last year, we went to Texas in August, but since we are all going there at Christmastime, we decided to stay in Sakhalin for the Summer.  The weather here in the Summer is fantastic!  I don't think it ever got above 85℉, and the sun was out most of the time.  Definitely not any where near the heat and humidity of Texas Summers.  

Since this may be our last Summer here, we decided to take a trip to Cape Velikan (meaning "giant" in Russian) in August.  It takes about 3 hours by car to get there, and it isn't an easy ride.  About 75% of it is off-road. There is a small beach, a river outlet (which had salmon spawning), and some interesting rock formations just off the coast.  The scenery and weather were beautiful, but the water was COLD!  

Here are some pictures from our day:

how to catch a salmon:  just reach down and grab it!

yes, the water is COLD!  

Shane trying to rock-climb with a certain monkey on his back :)

Adam watching our driver fish for salmon

Cape Velikan in the background

Thailand in March

I figured that our trip to Phuket, Thailand, in March of this year deserved its own post.  We went to Phuket with our friends and one-time Sakhalin neighbors, the Gormans.  Phuket is gorgeous, and we all enjoyed the break from Sakhalin and escape from the horrid thaw season.

Here are some pictures from our trip:

 Fun in the pool

 All the kids before dinner

 having a cocktail at the swim up bar

 sunset show at the resort

 on the beach at sunset

 Phi Phi Island

Monkey beach

Catching up.....

Okay, my new project:  to update this blog.  It's pathetic, really.  I was so good about it for a long time, and then I got lazy.  In my last post, I was on a rant about our internet bill....yes, it's still the same....very expensive is an understatement.  Except now, we are not able to monitor it to see when we need to pay.  It makes things very exciting, which we need around here, I guess.

So what has been going on around here?  Just normal stuff, really....summer break, school starting back, holidays, work, etc.  Here are a few photos from the last several months to catch you up with our goings on.....:)

Getting ready for a school play last Spring

First lost tooth!

 Celebrating International Children's Day in June

 Testing out the bumper cars with Daddy this Summer

Riding the ferris wheel with Mom 

Enjoying the beautiful Sakhalin Summer weather

 In August, we took a quick trip to Korea to visit some Sakhalin friends

All the kids at the Dinosaur Park in Korea