Tuesday, August 26, 2014

#dawsonstakerussia: Kaluga

One of my favorite parts about our vacation to Russia was visiting the cities that Brand served in. Our first destination (of the cities Brand served) was Kaluga -his favorite city. We took a two and a half hour train ride from Moscow to Kaluga and it was my first time on a train, do they only have these in Europe anymore?! I loved Kaluga because it was a quiet, relaxed area with loads of big shade trees. 

Before we left on the train Brand got his traditional meats and cheeses - something he said he would do every time he took a train to Moscow. I was so glad that he kept this tradition when we were there.  I'm telling you, it made me all kinds of nostalgic for him, the train, the meats and cheeses, the city. I loved every minute of this day trip!
As soon as we got off the train I could see Brand's face light up. It was one of my most favorite parts about the whole trip.  We caught a marshrutka to the center of town and started walking towards Brand's old apartment.  Walking down the streets of Kaluga got me even more nostalgic for him, thinking about all the times he walked the streets back and forth. We visited the little grocery store where he used to buy his food and drinks -its the place where I bought my first Russian snickers, and yes it's different than American one.

When we got to Brand's old apartment I got all emotional teary-eyed and all -maybe it was the hormones but I couldn't help it. Second story, the entire row on the left side is his. Oh, how I wish I could have gone inside that apartment, just to see it even more. We continued our walking, these back streets of Kaluga were nice and quiet and -dirt. I loved it. We passed the post office where Brand sent home letters and packages. Statues that he remembered, the church building that he went to every Sunday, the mall he used to visit, and all kinds of parks.
One of Brand's favorite Russian meals is a shawarma and of course we had to get one in Kaluga at the rynok.  He ate his shawarma and I found a KFC nearby.  We walked through the meat market and then through the rynok of course I stopped at moooost of the baby clothes shops to look -why are baby clothes the absolute cutest?!

We walked around the city some more, sat around and listened to some local artists, had a Russian guy come up and ask us to light his cigarette -little did he know we didn't have a lighter, and walked back to the train station.
I absolutely loved Kaluga. Everything about the city... well the part we were in. I loved being able to explore it with Brand, be where he was when he served there.

One of my favorite days in Russia by far.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Best frozen food with Bold Chili’s at Home

One of my least favorite questions of all times is "what's for dinner?" 
Maybe it's because I would always hear it when I was coming home from a long day of work, or maybe it's because I really didn't want to go home a cook a whole meal after such a long day.
Either way I've got to say Chili's at Home has changed my thoughts about the whole question. 
Cheesy Chicken Pasta Florentine, Cajun Style Chicken Alfredo, Pepper Jack Mac 'N Cheese 

Bellisio Foods, a leading frozen foods manufacturer, partnered with Chili’s® Grill & Bar earlier this year to introduce a new line of licensed Chili’s®-inspired frozen meals — boldly flavored and deliciously prepared to enjoy at home.

The new line of Chili’s® frozen foods is inspired by some of the restaurant’s most popular and innovative dishes - which makes it perfect for when you don't have the time or money to go out to eat. Chili’s® new line of frozen foods delivers the bold, southwestern flavors and same great taste for which Chili’s® is known, with entrées like Pepper Jack Mac ‘N’ Cheese and Chicken Fajita Rice Bowl.

With the big, bold and tasty flavors of Chili's at Home it's like we had our own little restaurant brought right to our house. These bold frozen food meals are super easy to locate in any frozen food isle -seriously I walked right to them. 
If you are looking for something delicious and easy to prepare, with bold spicy flavors look no further. Chili's at Home will completely change the way you think about the question "what are we having for dinner?"

Visit the Chili's at Home website to check out their wide selection of entrees and family size meals.

Now I'm trying to think, what dessert would go best with these Chili's at Home frozen meals?! Chocolate molten lava cake?!  

Thank you Bellsio Foods for sponsoring this post and keeping my meals tasty and bold! 

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

awkward and awesome, the Russian way

dress: sela (russia), bracelet and shoes: St. Petersburg, Russia watch: Michael Kors (gifted)

Awkward
- Russians don't understand the concept of a line, so if you are "waiting your turn" in Russia we found it best to put your hands on your hips -so your elbows stick out and so no one can cut you. 
- Before we went to Russia I knew how to say "I don't speak Russian" in Russian, and I thought I had it covered.  I'm walking in payless looking at baby shoes and a lady comes up to me and starts speaking to me... in Russian. I freeze, look like an American idiot and say, "oh, sorry I don't speak Russian." So much for all my practice. 
- Walking through the mall -in America and hearing someone say "excuse me" and I'm pretty sure they said it in Russian -or was I hearing things? 
- Sitting on the metro and this lady sitting next to me was literally looking me up and down. It was one of those loooong glare type things. I could see her out of the corner of my eye so when her eyes got to my eyes I looked over at her and smiles as we made eye contact. She smiled back and then turned her head the other way. 
- Metro trains during rush hour. There's just something about being pushed up next to a sweaty-alcohol-smelling-no-deodorant-wearing-guy that makes me wish I didn't have the sense of smell. 

Awesome
- I'm pretty sure everyone thought we were spies because Brand spoke Russian. 
- Everyone thought I was the Russian native and that Brand was from Poland or England -until I spoke. 
- Russian people are so friendly, especially when they find out you are from America and can speak Russian. We were stopped talking with locals for quite a while, and when I say we were talking I meant Brand -although I could understand some of the things that were bring said. 
- Knowing Moscow like the back of your hand. 

linking up: style elixir monday bloomfunday mondayCasual FridayThe Pleated PoppyWatch What I'm Wearing  Living in ColorTucker up


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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Dawson, party of three!

When we came back from Russia it was a Tuesday night and it was late, late at night. Wednesday was a day we left wide open, free of anything to do because we figured we would be sleeping all day.  But, jet lag kicked in and we were wide awake by 7 that morning.  Maybe it was jet lag or maybe it was the excitement for the next day. The day that we would forever remember because we would find out if we were having a boy or a girl. But really, it was the jet lag. 

So, Thursday morning we woke up early -again the jet lag. We got to the doctors office and sat and waited patiently -I've found out that 8 o'clock appointments are my favorite because I can get in and out before all the emergencies come in. The nurse came out, called my name and I got all kinds of anxiety. This was a big deal, a life changer -a moment in time that was about to change our lives forever. As the nurse was scanning looking to see who this little baby was all kinds of things ran through my head, but this gut feeling tells me it's a girl. An intuition sort-of-thing. So the nurse was poking around trying to get the little nut to move their legs - what a modest child I have already. Finally he (the nurse) got the legs to move and tells us that it's for sure a G-I-R-L *he types it on the screen. And again all kinds of things run through my head but the main one I can remember is holy cow we are having a girl?! 

You see, Brand and I have been waiting quite a long time to have a baby yet alone find out what gender our baby was going to be. It has been a long tough road, watching everyone else have babies. We've been blessed that it didn't take as long as it does others though. And we are completely over the moon excited -and my favorite part is how excited Brand is. 
Through the past few years I've debated wither or not to post anything about it on my blog.  I went back and forth between publishing posts that I had written, posts with real passion and longing, but I never published them.  Thankfully I was able to confide in a few friends, those who were going through a similar trial, and having them there really made a difference for me.  I can tell you one thing though -about these posts I didn't publish- they talked about how I've always wanted to be a mom, when I was little that's exactly what I wanted to be, I never thought twice about the whole thing, it was more of an obvious I want to be a mom statement.  I've always had that maternal instinct and I feel so truly blessed to have this baby come into our home. 
So, here's to the little miracles Heavenly Father puts in our life for a time and a reason. He knows what we need, when we need it, and just like through past experiences, my testimony has been strengthened because of this little blessing.  I'm so excited for January!  
"For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him:" 
- 1 Samuel 1:27 

And the song that has been stuck in my head ever since we found out is this one ^^^. Of course it would be an I Love Lucy song. -p.s. Desi Arnaz originally wrote the song for his daughter and I'm looking for that version any ideas where to find it?! 
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Monday, August 11, 2014

#dawsonstakerussia: Moscow

So, first let's talk about how I've been on an month long blogging hiatus. July started with a big move for us, we moved into a house -not our house, we are renting so it's not as glorious as it may seem, still better than an apartment though. After two weeks of being in the house, putting things away, and working, it was time for our trip to Russia. And that 's what took up the rest of our July. 
Our first stop was in Moscow and I immediately fell in love with the city the moment I stepped off the plane. I was immediately immersed in the Russian language and I knew it was only the beginning of asking Brand "What does that say?!" questions. We headed to the train from the airport, to the metro, and from the metro to the hotel. The morning we arrived in Moscow one of the metro trains derailed - a train that was on one of the lines we used every day. And thus began our Moscow metro experience. Seriously though, I wish we had a metro in Glendale, it would be so much easier.

When we got to the hotel our first room came without air conditioning, and we weren't about to suffer through sweaty nights, so we paid the extra $6 a night to sleep comfortably.  I mean really, there was absolutely no way I was going to be able to sleep in a heat box. And Brand says that most Russians don't have air conditioning. How is that possible? It just seems insane. 
It wasn't too long after we got our air conditioned room that we were ready to head out and explore the city. Our first stop was the obvious -Red Square, and the first picture we took? Right in front of my favorite building ever, Saint Basil's. We walked around Red Square, found a bite to eat, walked around the whole Kremlin and over to the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, and then headed home for the night.  By the time we got back to our hotel our feet were killing -I don't think I've ever walked so much and gone up and down so many stairs in my whole life. And they aren't American stairs, they are these short thick stairs, (if you go to the link and watch the video of the metro you will see what kind of stairs I'm talking about).

There were parks with statues, parks with green grass and big trees, bridges with edges you could sit on, and hills with the best kind of sunset views.  We were constantly getting a bite to eat and then finding a nice shady spot of grass to sit on -by the way Moscow has the best kind of people watching ever! 
Our very first day was a success and so were the next seven. We walked around, I tried lots of Russian food, we visited the temples, rode the metro like we were locals -well, we did practically everything like we were locals. I got to know Moscow like it was the back of my hand and I wish I could go back and stay there longer.  We saw Lenin, they've got him in this dark-dark-dark room right in the middle in a glass encased casket so you could see him. You aren't allowed to take pictures or stop and look at him, you have to keep walking or the guards will yell at you -also, no smiling or talking. They take it pretty seriously. 


Up next, our trips to two of the cities that Brand served in and then Saint Petersburg! 

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