Friday, May 22, 2009

Sharing About Ukraine

It's been a little while since our last post, so I thought I would write a few things I've been meaning to write for a while now. David still isn't letting me take pictures of his garden until the peppers start to grow. One peaked out of the soil yesterday, so I'm hoping to have pictures for you next week! But here are other random thoughts and bits of information about us or the culture here that I think you'll enjoy reading about.

Wedding Ring Finger
When we moved here in October, David and I switched our wedding rings from our left hand to our right hand. Our teammates had let us know before we came that was where Russians and Ukrainians wear their wedding bands. Last week our teacher enlightened us more. In Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus married couples wear their wedding bands on their right ring finger. If they wear the wedding band on their left hand it means their spouse is deceased, they are separated from their spouse, or they are divorced. Needless to say, I'm happy we had our rings on the right hand and we'll be keeping them there for the next 5 1/2 years!

Homemade Vanilla

As some of you know, we cannot find liquid vanilla extract/flavoring here in Ukraine. Up to this point our friends have brought it to us or sent it to us. Since we make almost everything from scratch, we go through vanilla fast. About a month ago, our friend from Legacy, Kipi, wrote a blog post about how she was making homemade vanilla. Right now I have four 70oml jars of vanilla in-the-making (it takes 3-6 months to diffuse the vanilla beans into the vodka). Here's a picture of how three of them are turning out. Needless to say, I'm very happy we found this recipe and I can't wait to try it out!
The vanilla on the far left is just starting (Day 1), next to it is vanilla on Day 2, and on the far right is the vanilla after 3 weeks. My first batch will be at the 3 month mark on July 31st. But, I'm hoping I'll be able to let it go 6 months. I'll let you know how it goes!

Shopping in the Outdoor Market
In my post about the items in our kitchen, I mentioned we had been talking to our language teacher about where she buys food. She does not trust the meat or milk products at the supermarkets and prefers produce from the outdoor market as well. Well, a couple weeks ago Denyce and I bought some produce and honey from some people on the street who have stands set up almost every day. It was very good in quality and yesterday we ventured out again, this time to a larger outdoor market to pick up some produce. There were numerous stands of people selling their produce. A lot of it was very fresh, we just had to keep your eye out for the best-looking stuff. They even offer samples, so that is good (although sometimes the sampling looks less than sanitary, so I just buy it, hoping it will be good). Sometimes the produce is washed and sometimes it isn't. If it's washed, it's usually more expensive. But if you don't buy it washed your run the risk of the produce being moldy and bad (the dirt covers a multitude of blemishes). Most of the produce is cheaper in the outdoor market and the things that are in season taste much better. Since summer is here, the produce will only get better as well. Our language teacher is keeping us in the loop of when to buy Ukrainian grown products as many of their imported goods aren't very tasty. Because we went yesterday (not on the weekend), they didn't have the meat out, so I'm planning to go back tomorrow (hopefully with our language teacher so she can show me who to buy meat from) to get that. We'll probably stick to buying our milk products at the grocery store, though.

The Russia
n Keyboard
Here's a picture (click on it to enlarge it) of our keyboard with Russian letter stickers on it. The red letters are Russian, blue are English. Even with the color differences, it's hard to type in Russian, but we're getting better with practice.

A New View
Here are some pictures of what we see out our balcony and windows. The pictures on the left were taken a couple months ago (either February or March) when we were in winter and the pictures on the right were taken today as we're in spring. I chose the prettier pictures of winter (the ones with snow on the ground), but still, we're glad the grey is gone for a while!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Victory Day in Ukraine

Last Saturday was the 64th Victory Day here in Ukraine. Victory Day is the holiday remembering when the Nazi forces surrendered to the Allies in WWII. Because of Russia's role in capturing Berlin, Victory Day is a proud day for them.

We were excited to be a part of the celebration with them this year. We missed their traditional parade of veterans, but were able to experience some of the excitement and fun that evening. We met the Hindmans for dinner, then headed to the main square to see what was going on.

We met Valeriy and another friend Julie at the square and listened to the concert for a little bit. Then we headed into Shevchenko park to walk around. The park is huge and the trees are all very green (such a contrast to what it looks like in the winter!). The park was very crowded with people celebrating the holiday with friends.

After walking in the park, we decided to head home. They had fireworks scheduled for later, but we didn't feel like waiting over an hour to see them from the square. As you can see, we still had a pretty good view from our balcony!

Happy Victory Day... a great memorial because it marked the end of a horrible time in history worldwide, but especially for those in this part of the world. Statistics today say that the Russian federation lost between 23-27 million during WWII. Sixty-four years later, we should still be celebrating the end to such a horrible genocide!