17 December 2013

Lately











1. Ben reading in Russian. 
2. Snowy mornings.
3. Fireworks outside our window. 
4. A tiny Christmas tree and cinnamon candles at the foot of our bed. 
5. A selfie.
6. Panade with Gruyere and Onion-Garlic Confit found here. So good.
7. Krispy Kremes found next to the Kremlin. 

Not Pictured
1. Re-watching Twin Peaks because nothing says creepy winter months than wondering what happened to Laura Palmer...
2. Reading Divergent finally. I know I'm late to the game and I'm sure everyone else has read it, but I really like it so far! If you've never heard of it, it's about a dystopian Chicago world in which society has been divided up into five factions each based on single core beliefs. Our narrator, however, does not seem to belong to any... which makes her... a divergent! But, for real, it's pretty interesting so far and there are definitely some storms brewing for the narrator who is like a half Katniss and a half Bella. Again, I don't feel like I need to explain it because it's a pretty popular book and there's a movie coming out in March, I believe. Have any of you read it? Did you like it? 
3. My grandmother gave me some money for my birthday so I splurged on this Chanel lipgloss. I've never owned such a dark (or expensive!) lipstick, so I'm still figuring out how to pull it off. I really like it though.
4. Ben is making us pancakes and were drinking Bailey's in our coffee. Life is good. 

A Quote for the Nighthawks


I just found that a couple of minutes ago, and I want to share it with as many people as I can. Isn't it so touching? Don't you feel so swallowed up in it? 

I feel like I am deeply in the question years. Any decision I make is hanging free in the air with no clues or hints--just dangling and waiting. I make choices that I do not always believe in, but they are the only choices and sometimes you just have to go with your gut. It is just my life right now and there is nothing I can do about it. I just have to sit and wonder and wait. 

Maybe it's my age, maybe it's my strange living situation, or maybe it's just me. But a few years ago, when I packed up my bags and moved to a small school to study writing, and only writing, and to sit outside with friends and smoke cigarettes and talk about books, and to fall in love with everyone who passed by, and to go to every concert, every movie, every party... those were the times of certainty. I questioned things, but not the way I question them now. And they were different questions, young girl questions. I don't think I realized how firm everything was for me back then. 

It feels good lost, though. Not all the time, but as a whole. Like a spinning, vibrant buzz that fills your ears and drips down your spine. 

Anyway. I used to listen to this album when I felt like I understood the life I was living and it would feel wrong if I didn't share it with you now. It's daydreaming music, but you probably wouldn't be here if you weren't a daydreamer too. 

Let me know what you think, if you like. 



13 December 2013

Watch: Fresh Off the Boat, Blackfish, Lisa Frank


I watched this three-part documentary the other day and, to be honest, I spent a lot of the time saying, "Um, what city are you in? Cuz, my city doesn't really look like that." 

They had to have gone in the four-week window during the summer where Moscow is all green and the pollution is drifting south and the streets are clean. It happened for a hot second. I was there. But it did kind of bug me that they didn't go in the winter to film a movie about Moscow because Russia is winter. It's not a summer country- it's a winter country. I think if you want to see Moscow in the way Moscow really is, you need to come over when there's some snow on the ground. It's just how Moscow is the majority of the time and it just struck me as odd that they picked such a nice-weathered time to go when that's just not the usual for this place. 

Other than that, there was a lot of stuff I really liked in this documentary. I thought it showed Moscow in a really nice light and they went to a lot of cool places around here. I did feel kind of bad that I've lived here for almost a year (what?) and I hadn't been to most of the places Eddie goes in a week. I tried to remind myself that he was a tourist on a mission and I live here and have a soul-sucking job, but I really want to challenge myself to get out there more. Ben and I are still in the works of trying to figure some stuff out so we can enjoy this city more and I'm sorry to be vague, but I don't know who reads this blog so I should really stay mum about it until everything is settled. But we want some changes in our life. 

We were talking last night on our porch about how much fun we had when we first moved here and everything was so new and exciting. I remember going to the grocery store and wandering around like I was in a magical fairy land. Everything was so foreign and exciting. Now it's just my grocery store. I'm sure this is a common feeling for all expats but it is an especially frustrating one when you see a documentary about someone else enjoying the place you live and you take a step back and think, "I really need to get back into that mindset."

Sorry for the little rant. Watch those clips though-they're really great and they do show Moscow's best sides. 


I must have posted this trailer on this blog somewhere before, because I've wanted to see it for ever, but I don't know where it must be. Anyway. Blackfish. Wow. It lived up to the hype. That's for sure. It is shocking and disturbing and... jesus. It's not really a cry-your-eyes-out documentary so much as it is a sinking-heart documentary. Highly recommend. 

What I took away the most from this film is the innocence and love these trainers had in regards to the animals. I never realized that the people who work with these orcas really have no qualifications to do so. They aren't marine biologists or zoologists or have degrees in animal behavior. They're kids who love whales and dolphins and can swim really well. You can really see how this massive, unethical corporation let so much information slip through the cracks and these trainers are the ones caught in the middle, and as you will see in the film, some of them are seriously hurt or killed. 

And speaking of creepy documentaries about twisted places (but this one in a slightly different way), watch this video Urban Outfitters made about the notorious recluse Lisa Frank's factory. 


It came out awhile ago when UO was trying to bank in on Lisa's now vintage stash of goodies, but y'all still need to see it. I forgot about it for the most part until this morning when I was eating cheese in bed and surfing Jezebel and I found this  fascinating article about the fall of Lisa Frank's empire.

And. It. Is. Scandalous

Really, I would never have that it was such a dark place (doesn't that documentary seem so eerie now that you know it's actually a horrific place to work?). Or that Lisa Frank was not the tripped-out hippie loving on girly things I would have thought her to be but... well, you should just read it. It's very well-written and certainly interesting to anyone who owned pieces from her collection when they were young. 

Alright, so those are my recommendations for now. Any of you got any scandalous stories or upsetting documentaries you want to share? Let me know because it's Friday the 13th and it just seems like a day for things like that.

08 December 2013

What I Got for My Birthday

Hey guys! I mentioned yesterday that I would post the pictures of what I got for my birthday and here they are! 


This is a tiny little purse from Zara that I had mentioned needing to Ben off-handily months ago. I have a pretty big Kelly bag from Zara that I love, but it's really inconvenient after like 5 o'clock. I was so excited when I opened this and am planning on filling it with lipgloss and breath mints for tonight.


Ben picked this Zara shirt out on his own and I just love it. I had been saying I really needed some more blouses because I felt like everything I owned was either for work or for going out and I was lacking in the jeans and t-shirt apartment. 


Goodness-this sweater. How darling is this? 
And how sad is it that it is totally made of wool and unbearable to wear? Unfortunately, this little baby is going back to the store, but it is so pretty. 


This dress! How fabulous is this! And Ben picked it out all on his own! I had told him awhile ago I wanted a really silly, sparkly, New Years Eve dress and had been looking around for them for some time now. I thought for sure he was going to get me this cupcake sparkle dress from TopShop I had been eyeballing, but instead he went out on a limb and picked up this glittery, 1920's flapper frock from Zara that I love.


It's so bouncy. I can't wait to wear this in Amsterdam!


Oh. And this. The dress to end all dresses. 
I have been searching for this forever and when I opened it--it was last--I threw off the NYE frock and dove into this. So. Beautiful. 


The details are unreal.



And a very generous gift card to The Body Shop! I am so excited to wiggle over there some time this week and go splurging. I told Ben for awhile I was OK with giftcards (there's kind of a stima attached, yeah?) because I just love to shop, so I was really glad he listened. Was totally not expecting this.


And here are the gifts I got Ben (we get the non-birthday-person gifts as well because opening presents is just about the funnest thing in the world): a red t-shirt from H&M (he's been wanting more t-shirts lately).


And this green corduroy opal button-up from H&M.


My parents also got me the deep pore cleaning Clarisonic Mia (which I literally cannot wait to get), some yummy body wash products, and some cash. And here's just a few photos of us opening gifts (though Ben did take 50, I cut it down considerably).






To be honest--and I'm not just saying this--the best present was this five page hand-written letter from Ben. Ben is talented at many things and writing letters to me is definitely one of them. His words are so beautiful and thoughtful and his letters read like poems, short stories. I love his love so much. I'm such a lucky girl.

So that's it folks! Thanks again for all the birthday love and I hope all of you are getting into the Christmas/Holiday spirit!

07 December 2013

My Birthday

I had such an amazing birthday. I feel so grateful and so loved--Thursday after work Ben and I came home and skyped with my mom and YiaYia (and my mom-in her usual pay-attention-to-all-adorable-details-threw a little party complete with wrapped gifts that she opened on camera and a cupcake with candle) and drank champagne. After we got off skype, we opened all the rest of my gifts (cuz' it was like, after midnight and everything...) and he was so generous. I took pictures of everything and I'll post everything he gave me tomorrow if you're interested, but my goodness. Spoiled. So spoiled. And I loved everything. Everything he got me was so thoughtful and the perfect mix of things I had said I wanted and total surprises that he picked out. 

For my actual birthday, Ben and I woke up kinda hungover from the champagne, so we went to the sushi restaurant across the street and drank milkshakes and ate "hamburgers". When I got to school, I was greeted with songs from my students and cake, which was all very sweet. After work, Ben and I headed out to some restaurant we had found online, but decided it looked creepy, so we found some tiny Italian place and had spaghetti dishes, bruschetta, and veal (oh wait-I didn't have veal-Ben scarfed it before I could even ask for a bite).

I guess all and all it was one of the more low-key birthdays, but I've never been much of a birthday person. I feel like birthdays carry a similar amount of pressure to NYE--this idea that it has to be the best night ever or you did it wrong or something. Good nights happen naturally and I like to just have a nice dinner and good conversations with close friends, which is exactly what I did. 

So thanks for all the birthday love in the previous post/email/facebook, etc. Thank you. And if you're interested to see what I got for my birthday (MOM), check back tomorrow.


















03 December 2013

23 on 23

So, I will be 24-years-old on Friday. Just tipping out of my early twenties, I suppose (or maybe I am out of them, I'm not sure what the official position is on 24).

And 23! Jeez, what a year. I'm sure I'm stealing this from someone else's blog, but I wanted to try and make a list of 23 things I had learned and done this past year, as it was certainly a time of growth. So here we go...

  1. First and foremost, I worked a lot on this blog. And I forgot to mention in my thankful post (I wanted to go back and change it but it'd already been up for a day and that's too late...) that I'm really thankful for this blog. I've met so many great girls through it and I love getting your emails of encouragement and thoughts. Really, it makes me feel so good. Almost everyone on my sidebar is someone I have exchanged great emails with and love reading their content and seeing their beautiful pictures. Blogging has certainly been a great and fun outlet for me. 
  2. I graduated from college! Officially, officially. I did walk in May of 2012, but there was nothing in the diploma I received because I had transfered schools and lost a semester. So I was a supa-senior and finished taking all my classes and had a very unclimactic graduation that consisted of turning in my last papers and getting drunk at the campus bar. But I still did it!
  3. Learned to like some vegetables. Especially broccoli. 
  4. Decided to move to Russia.
  5. Fucking moved to Russia. In the middle of January. With only my L.L. Bean boots and my ski hat to protect me (don't worry, this year I've upgraded to heels with tracks on the bottom and a mink cap).
  6. Learned how to read cyrillic. 
  7. Braved grocery stores, mashrutkas (tiny buses all over the city that are terrifying to ride in), and metros by myself. 
  8.  Learned what I like to call "life words" in Russian. I know how to talk about the weather, my moods, ask for food at restaurants and at the store, count, ask about how much something is, etc. 
  9. Bought some cool new clothes! I guess this one is kinda silly, but I feel like since I started college I've been broke and I had to rely on thrift stores for like, everything. Which is fine and dandy-I love a good deal more than anyone (I have a terrible habit of telling people how much something costs after they compliment it) and used to work at Plato's Closet in high school and loved it, but I still envied everyone who could buy all the new styles. But now that I'm making my own money, I'm really grateful I've been able to indulge here and there--it's been quite refreshing. 
  10. And on that note, Ben and I also saved a significant amount of money and that's something I'm really proud of. It started off small-1000 rubles every paycheck ($33) and then we began to add more and more and now we're killing it. It feels so good to know our self-discipline can now be enjoyed in Amsterdam and we're almost finished paying for plane tickets to Italy! So for #10, I learned how to save money. 
  11. I learned to cook. I never made anything more than Ramen bowls and popcorn, but I have found that I really love to cook. I'd really like to take some cooking classes next time I'm in America, but for now YoutTube has been great. 
  12. Built some seriously strong relationships with my friends and family back home. Going abroad really shows you who you can count on and who your real friends are. 
  13. Realized that Americans are the most sugar-induced people in the universe and nobody eats like we do. For real-bread anywhere else in the world doesn't taste like it does in America. 
  14. On that note, people are surprised when you tell them you're an American and you're not fat. 
  15. Aaaaand on that note, I'd pay an obscene amount of money for a box of my favorite American candies right now.
  16. South Africans have my favorite accent ever. I don't know if that should be on this list, but they say "me-graines" instead of migraines and how can you not love that?
  17. I've learned to be more aware of what's happening in the world. Americans are criticized for being very internal and not studying other countries in school/not having a lot of knowledge about world history or events and I have to say that, unfortunately, for me personally, this is true. Since being an expat and spending time with people all over the world, I feel like I've learned so much. Obviously, I've learned a great deal about Russia, but I've also learned about Canada and the U.K. and South Africa and Ireland and so many other places. It's wonderful to be an expat and get to know people from everywhere. 
  18. This is should not be so far down on this list, but I have gotten so much closer to Ben. Really-our relationship has grown so much since moving abroad. I know that I can trust him with my life because in a lot of ways, I have. He has guided me through this experience and always been encouraging and supportive. He has also filled so many roles in my life while we've been isolated and I know that is not an easy task. I love him so much and am so grateful we have such a happy and healthy relationship.
  19. I remembered how fun it can be to just read a book and get nothing out of it all. Just enjoy it. 
  20. The best way to take a shot of vodka is this:
    1. Fill your stomach up with some bread and water (some)
    2. Pour shot
    3. Make grand toast
    4. Take shot
    5. Smell bread
    6. Eat some salami
  21. On that note, I am done with vodka. But for real this time. 
  22. American themed restaurants are just the best when you're abroad. 
  23. I am bigger than I thought I was. I am stronger than I thought I was. And that is a good thing to learn. 
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