Friday, November 27, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday! Truthfully though we weren't quite sure how it would go. My oldest sister hosted Thanksgiving as she has so many times in the past. Only difference this year was that she cooked the whole meal herself! She usually has it catered or her father - in - law cooks the turkey and ham with the rest of us bringing side dishes and desserts.

The only other time I remember her cooking was about 14 years ago! She really outdid herself and admittedly it was absolutely delicious. I'm really proud of her. Not only that she made it all from scratch...even the fried onions for the green bean casserole!

Jojo and Naynay were the only kids at the kids' table!

It was good to see my sister Monica out and about. She had a complicated surgery a few weeks ago and recovery has been tough. She can only hang out for a few hours at a time and last night she did great even though she was in pain.

I didn't get a group family picture of our little family but we plan on working on the infamous Christmas card picture today or tomorrow. I am extremely thankful for my hard working husband. He has been doing great at his new job. He loves working there but he is swamped and comes home so tired every day. On top of his job it has been a crazy semester for us but he has handled it all so well.

My mom turned 73 this year! We always joke that she will outlive us all!

And my sweet Jojo! He's had a tough year too. He's been working so hard this year after formally being diagnosed with dyslexia. He's been a trooper and has gone along with all the different programs and therapies we are doing!

Monday, November 23, 2015


Natasha was a dear friend I met in Novosibirsk. I actually met her mother first who happened to be our neighbor on the same floor of our apartment building. Natasha is the diminutive of Natalia and as I'm sure you are aware there are many Natalias in Russia. My birth name is actually Natalia so I quickly became known as Natasha also.

Natasha was a real gift to me. She got me out every day to go on a walk and she introduced us to so many different aspects of the Russian culture. She spoke very little English and I spoke very little Russian yet we managed to communicate just fine!

Monday, November 16, 2015


Vanya(on the right) was Josiah's very first Russian friend in Novosibirsk. His mom, Natasha, also became very dear to me. We often met outside in the courtyard so the boys could play together. Vanya and Josiah got along so well. I don't keep in touch with them anymore...but I'm always wondering what Vanya looks like now and what he's up to.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Sub Zero

Last week we ventured to the Sub Zero Ice Cream shop in Simi Valley with our PSP for a field trip. They make ice cream in front of you with liquid nitrogen and since the boys are studying Chemistry and Physics this year it was a great opportunity to see the practicality of Science. 
The owner performed several experiments for us.

After several experiments inside we headed outside.....

where one of our students became a mad scientist.....

where they created a huge cloud of liquid nitrogen.

It was a fun day and the end we all got to eat ice cream. Unfortunately, I failed to get pictures of our ice cream but that's probably because we ate ours too quick.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Lately my cooking has gotten a bit boring so I decided to start checking out some cookbooks from the library. Problem is who has time to sit down and find some decent recipes to try! 

Thankfully, I forced myself to make a little bit of time to go through the cookbook Dinner Solved and I found a few recipes I wanted to try out. This chicken tortilla soup really stuck out to me so last night I gave it a try and it's a definite keeper. Actually this is why I'm blogging it so I can pin it on my Pinterest soup album and make it again.

I did change the recipe around a little bit and it turned out quite delicious and my husband and my boys loved it which is a win win!

So here's the recipe adapted from Dinner Solved by Katie Workman:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons chicken flavor bouillon
6 cups water
black pepper
3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
juice of 1 lime

cheddar cheese
fresh cilantro
tortilla strips

1. Mix water and chicken bouillon. Cook chicken in a large pot in the water and chicken bouillon(SAVE THE CHICKEN BROTH). Take chicken out and let cool down for a little bit and then shred. (The Kitchen Aid does a wonderful shredding the chicken!)
2. Heat olive oil in the large pot and saute onions and garlic until tender and golden. Stir in seasonings and cook until fragrant. Add tomatoes and 6 cups of chicken broth, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer over high heat. Add the shredded chicken. Keep soup over medium low heat and let it gently simmer.
3. Ladle soup into bowls and top with your favorite toppings!

My modifications were mainly a little more crushed tomatoes...I didn't use all 28 oz maybe more like 20 oz...the original recipe called for 14 oz. The original recipe also called for 2 onions but we're not huge onion fans.

Monday, November 2, 2015


Last week we lost a friend. Her battle with cancer ended on October 28. Lena leaves behind her husband and four children and even though she will be missed she is with her Savior.

This day we were at a church picnic and we were all eating barbecued hot dogs. Lena made herself quite a huge hot dog and she thought it was hilarious. This is how I'd like to remember her...happy and enjoying the life our Lord gave her here on earth.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Autumn Stroll

Going on a stroll is an everyday occurrence in Russia. No matter how cold or warm, you've got to get out and go for a little or long stroll. We lived on the edge of a forest in Novosibirsk and this was one of the many walking trails we'd go on. The birch trees line the path and are preparing themselves for the long winter!