Sunday, May 18, 2014

I moved...

A change in country means a change in blog -- so I will now be posting at 

All my old posts (comments and all) have moved into their new home, but will remain here as well.  I hope you will follow me on this journey.  :)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Five Favorites: Make-Up Edition

This is such a cop-out post, and I know it.  But our instructions for the dossier are supposed to come in the next few days via email, so life is about to get nuts.

So, it won't be a long entry, or a fabulous entry, but maybe it will at least be a fun one?  Or maybe you can just have a good laugh at seeing me at my most materialistic (and also at my laziest or at least my most ingenious when it comes to cheating).  Or at least get a glimpse into the inner workings of a make-up snob's mind.

And yes, I really did pick this theme by figuring out what I could do the fastest.  :P

Number One:
Virtuale Flawless Foundation by Borghese

I love this foundation.  It's creamy, it blends well, it covers redness well, it isn't the most expensive foundation I've tried (plus for that!) and because it comes in a jar instead of a bottle or squeeze tube you can see how much you have left and really use every last drop.

I've tried the Costco knock-off Borghese stuff, but it isn't the same.  I'm one of those people who can't get away with much in the way of drugstore or in expensive make-up, but the botanical/natural stuff tends to upset my skin as well (probably because I'm allergic to aloe).  Either way -- this is the best foundation I've ever found.

Number Two:
LancĂ´me Hypnose Doll Eyes Mascara

Just look at it, in all its glory -- a truly amazing mascara.  I'm a make-up snob, I'll admit it.  But I will also admit that a mascara that doesn't make my eyes water weirdly is a great find.  Not only does this mascara not make me cry, it actually makes my lashes look like they used to when I was about 12 or so, back when I actually had nice lashes without having to do anything to them.  The brush is nice, and the handle is comfortable to hold.  It's also so darn pretty.

If I remember right, I found out about this mascara from Hallie's Five Favorites a while back, so this really is full circle.  I ditched Diorshow for this wonder, and I've never regretted it.
Number Three:
Chanel Eyeshadow Quad in Winter Nights

They don't even make this amazing baby anymore (it was a Spring 2010 exclusive and I bought it to wear for my wedding).  I still savor it, and covet finding a perfect match for the one in the upper left.  All are either too dark, or the wrong color tone.  The real one is amazing -- and of course I'm rottenly picky and prefer Chanel's eyeshadow to all others.  I know some rave about Mac but they have too much pigment for my taste and don't blend well on my skin, personally.  Make-up Forever has a similar issue for me.

So please, Chanel, if you're reading this -- bring back that one shade.  Please.  I beg of you!

Number Four:
Saint and Sinner by Lipstick Queen (Various Shades)
These are my ultimate splurge lipsticks -- and even so they aren't the most expensive lip color out there.  I've used all mine up and not taken then time go dash up to Bloomies and refresh my stash -- maybe I should pick one up for our anniversary dinner on Thursday, especially with that Chanel palette making me feel all nostalgic.

Most of the Lipstick Queen colors come in both Saint and Sinner -- two different formulas with two different feels.  I generally prefer Saint, but your mileage may vary.  Saint Berry is probably my favorite lipstick on the planet.

Saint is in the gold tube -- it's a sheer, easily worn, lower pigment, creamier, glossier, more moisturizing formula.

Sinner is thicker, matte, and more highly pigmented.  It definitely makes more of a statement.

Or heck, just let the creator explain it...

Number Five:
Medieval by Lipstick Queen

Why yes, this is a cheat entry.  Two lipstick bullet points, both from the same company.  And yet -- they are amazing.

This really is the red that works for everyone -- dark skin, pale skin, red lipstick lover, timid make-up newbie.  Doesn't matter -- you can rock this shade.  And the formula feels amazing.   Honest -- it's red lipstick's gateway drug, I promise.

Anyway -- those are my five favorites.  Go check out other posters' favorites over at Moxie Wife -

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Five Favorites: Kyrgyzstan Edition

This week, for Five Favorites, I'd like to share five things that I love about Kyrgyzstan -- about the culture, the natural beauty of the land, things I'm looking forward to seeing, etc.

Number One:
Felt Rugs


Kyrgyzstan is known for BEAUTIFUL felt art, including rugs. 

Here you can see a Kyrgyz Shyrdak rug being made, as well as hear a bit of the history and significance behind them.

Number Two:
Dordoy Bazaar in Bishkek

The bazaar in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, is large and sprawling, with different sections for different kinds of goods. 
In the clothing section, they sell directly out of shipping containers.  When a shopkeeper wants to open up shop for the day, he simply opens the doors to his container.

Number Three:
The Mixture of Russian and Kyrgyz Culture

Central Asia still has a strong Russian influence, including the language.  Which is great for us, because we can use the Russian we're learning.  It's comforting to know that this switch isn't SUCH a huge switch.
Number Four:
Kyrgyzstan's Nomadic Roots

The Kyrgyz people were originally nomads, wandering the steppes of Central Asia alongside their livestock.

Although people live in cities and drive cars, the horse is still an important -- and beautiful -- part of life in Kyrgyzstan today.  The Kyrgyz people are very proud of their nomadic heritage.
Number Five:
The Beautiful Landscape
From Bishkek, you can see the beautiful Tian Shan mountains. 
Here you can see the rather shocking contrast between the Soviet-era apartment blocks and the mountains in the background.
Katie is hosting Five Favorite this week -- you can see all the other bloggers who have shared their favorites on her blog:
If you came from her blog, or Hallie's blog (Moxie Wife) welcome!  Please stay a while!  :)

Monday, May 5, 2014

This Blog Needs a New Name

We've officially switched countries -- to Kyrgyzstan.

So, obviously, this blog needs to be renamed, and soon.  And I'd love some help!

The original title was a tribute to the (wonderful) book Apples are from Kazakhstan.  I've thought about switching the blog name to Storks are from Kyrgyzstan, but I don't know if that's too far removed from the source, so to speak.

These are the ideas I have so far:

-Storks are from Kyrgyzstan

-Silk Road Storks

-A Stork Named Stan

-Some other (even better!) name that one of you will share in the comment section.

Please consider this both an informal poll and an open forum to help me rename the blog. 

Thanks in advance!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Trip to Little Russia

I'm sorry this post has taken so long -- I'm not the biggest tech genius in the world, and I had a heck of a time figuring out where Instagram saves its photos on my phone so I could upload them.  *facepalm*

While we were visiting my parents in Northern California for Easter, we decided to go into the Inner Richmond District in San Francisco, otherwise known as Little Russia. 

My mother had never been to a Russian restaurant before, but she really wanted to try it after all of our rave reviews of Moscow Deli in Costa Mesa and Marivanna in Los Angeles.  My dad kindly drove us all into the city for a lovely outing the day before Easter.

After a quick stop at Gastronom Deli and popping our heads into the Russian Orthodox Cathedral (thankfully I had a chapel veil in my purse) we went out for a lovely dinner at Katia's Tea Room. 

From the moment we walked in and saw the adorable little pieces of dill on the pats of butter, I could tell that they were big on attention to detail -- people after my own heart.

My name is Mama Stork, and I am a tea addict.  Their tea is amazing -- and was served in a beautiful Russian railway-style glass and holder.  They kept my tea well filled, thankfully -- it was a chilly day, and the warm goodness was appreciated.  :)

Our lovely Zakuski (Russian appetizer) platter with (clockwise from top) eggplant caviar (an eggplant spread that doesn't actually contain caviar), pickles made in house, marinated mushrooms, and Vinegret (a type of potato, beet, and carrot salad).  Very yummy!

Borscht.  So, so, delicious.  :)

My mom is vegetarian and had these lovely potato cutlets -- they were a lot like my husband's chicken cutlets but without meat.  Served with veggies and buckwheat kasha.

My husband's chicken cutlets with mushroom sauce.  Served with crispy potatoes and veggies.  The potatoes remind him a lot of the ones he had growing up -- apparently they're something his mom makes as well.

My dad's lamb dish with rice and veggies.

My yummy beef stroganoff with rice and veggies. 

Merengue Pavlova with fruits and kissel.

Their glorious Napoleon, also served with kissel.  Napoleon is one of my dad's favorite desserts and this is one of the best versions of it that I've had. The kissel really does add something amazing to the whole dish.  :)
Katia's Tea Room is a great spot.  The food was wonderful, and even though they were super busy (especially with people picking up large take away orders for Easter the next day) we still had good, friendly service.  Katia even took the time to stop by our table.  A wonderful experience and we will definitely be back.  :)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Five Favorites Vol. 1
For a while now, I've enjoyed the Five Favorites posts at, and this week I've decided to try doing it myself.

Number One:
Vidalia Chop Wizard
This chopper is amazing -- very quick and fairly easy to clean.  It also wasn't terribly expensive.  You can buy it at Bed Bath and Beyond or here.  I used it on Friday to make the recipe below.
Number Two:
Olivye Salad
Easter is here, and we got to eat meat, blessed glorious meat, on Friday due to the Octave of Easter.  I had a church Women's Society book club meeting, and I wanted to bring something meaty and good to the meeting -- yet I needed something that would work well cold, since I was facing about an hour's drive.

What would be better than an Eastern European recipe to share a bit of our future children's culture with the book club?

It was a huge hit with the club, and the leftovers were a huge hit with my hubby later.
Natasha's lovely version of it can be found here.  I also found out about the Chop Wizard on Natasha's blog.  So maybe my favorite should have been Natasha's blog -- but I have to stretch this out to five somehow, right?  #cutthen00bsomeslack
Number Three:
We and Our Children by Mary Reed Newland
Of all the parenting books we've read for our now complete home study (yay!), none of them really addressed the issue of introducing faith based learning to our children.  This book explains it very well.  Now, there is a modified (post Vatican II and new calendar) version of this book called How to Raise Good Catholic children.  I prefer this, the original 1953 edition.  I hope to get Mrs. Newland's The Year and Our Children, which discusses recipes, activities, and crafts for each liturgical season and holiday.
Number Four:
Goong: The Royal Palace
Not adoption, family, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, or in any official way related to this blog whatsoever.  (Unless you count it as something I amuse myself with in between scouring the internet for updates on Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, which is very much what it is, I must admit.) However, I am ADDICTED to this comic book series from Korea.  Usually I read Japanese Manga, so Korean Manhua is new for me.
This series is a romance in an alternate history setting -- the author explores the idea of what Korea would be like today if they had a monarchy.  Against that backdrop, she develops very interesting characters and actually makes an arranged marriage plot seem realistic in today's world.  The art is simply beautiful -- I love that it incorporates both traditional Korean clothing and modern Western clothing -- and in both cases it is so very beautifully drawn.  :)
Number Five:
Pimsleur Russian I
We love the Pimsleur approach for language learning.  It works great, and we do our Russian lessons when we're in the car together, either on the weekends or when we take SuperPup to the dog park.  It's fun to do together, and we are learning more and more Russian, which we use when we go to Russian markets, delis, and restaurants.  :)
It isn't the cheapest thing out there, so I recommend trying their free lesson to see what you think.  I will say, though, that they run frequent discounts, and that their method has worked really well for us.  :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Storks are from Kyrgyzstan?

For about a year now, we've been waiting for Kazakhstan to reopen -- and our agency has been accredited since December of 2012.  So far, there doesn't seem to be very much movement in that direction.  Every once in a while, rumors will start that things will happen soon, sometimes even with a rumored approximate date of reopening.

So far, all those rumors have amounted to not much of anything -- Kazakhstan still isn't taking dossiers from American families/agencies.

So now what?

Kyrgyzstan seems more likely than not as a possibility for us -- they should be accrediting agencies and reopening soon.  I've mentioned this before, but the tone we're getting from our agency seems to indicated that Kyrgyzstan is likely to open before Kazakhstan.

If that happens, we plan to jump on the Kyrgyzstan bandwagon pretty quickly.  I plan to continue blogging no matter which way the wind blows, but I may need to think up a new name for this blog if we do end up switching to Kyrgyzstan.

In other news for us --

We completed our home study visits last Thursday, so we really are in a holding pattern.  I'm still trying to keep busy and keep the wait from really driving me nuts.

We also went on a trip to visit my family, and while we were there we went to the Russian area of San Francisco for dinner.  I have pictures of that and also of some Russian Easter goodies we enjoyed on Monday -- so expect some fun posts in the next few days.