Saint Nicholas and Toys

Ho-ho-ho, my dear little Friends,

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Did you find anything today under your pillow or in your shoes, or somewhere else? So, you were good all last year! Well-done!

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In every country there is their own Santa or Nicholas who comes to children, while they are sleeping, and leave some presents for them.

Hope many of you know that his name is of Greek origin and means “victor of people”. It suits him, right? Perfectly.

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Some of you might still doubt whether he existed.  Nicholas was born in Patara in A.D. 270 and served as Bishop of Myra, both seaport towns off Turkey’s southern coast where he lived all his life (and died in 345).

St. Nicholas’s anonymous gift-giving originated in his hometown of Patara in Turkey.  According to ancient tradition, the young Nicholas secretly threw three bags of gold coins through the window of a widower father and his three daughters on three consecutive nights to help them. His anonymous nocturnal gift-giving has continued in many countries to today, including being translated into Santa’s visits.stock-photo-dalmatian-puppy-ceramic-statue-and-penguin-toy-on-black-background-750861118

My dear little Friends, your dreams and wishes might come true today because you found something what you wanted under your pillow:

   stock-photo-cute-toy-grey-mouse-sleeps-on-red-pillow-on-white-background-valentine-present-love-and-happiness-767678824 However, some of you might not find anything today and can be really disappointed. That happens in life often, you dream, but dreams not always come true as in movies or books. Life is full of surprises and not all of them are pleasant ones. We have to be ready for it and still not loose our hopes and beliefs for the better!

Have a lovely St Nicholas Day!

Hugs stock-photo-yellow-chicken-toy-and-dalmatian-ceramic-puppy-statue-on-white-background-easter-holidays-750864580

P.S. All photos used in my post are available for purchase and download at Ann AnRo’s profile on shutterstock

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Friday 13, What’s Behind?

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As I wrote in my book, Ukrainian superstitions sometimes seem to be weird and illogical. However, not all of them are meaningless. Besides mythical explanation, omens often are of large practical meaning. Let us talk about the origin of the most common ones. Oh, I feel that I am not alone now, some mystical spirits guiding my fingers on the keyboard. Ah!

Friday 13 makes Ukrainian shiver with fear. Popular superstition became widespread due to historical events. On Friday, October 13th, 1307, King Philip IV of France, in league with Pope Clement V ordered all Templars to be rounded up and thrown in prison. The Knights were accused of numerous crimes including heresy and treason. After a short court trial, all of them were burnt on fire. Thereafter this day is considered to be unhappy. Ukrainians (along with other nations) believe that bad news is delivered on Friday 13, and many important deeds remain to be unsuccessful”.

Are you superstitious?

Hope your Friday 13 will be lucky!

Yours Ann

Let’s meet on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/ann.anro/ or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005236967081

What’s Your Name? (Competition)

My name is Ann and yours? This phrase plays an important role in every day’s life. It has a profound effect on everyone. Especially if you have an unusual name, which might be not clear from the first pronounce. It may even lead to some confusion (in case you still don’t remember his/her name) or a smile at someone’s face. Nevertheless, it is a powerful way of successful communication.

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Every name is unique as its owner. In my country it is not so popular to celebrate name days, however, in Europe and other part of the world it is a wide known reason to have a party with some presents. People cannot be satisfied with only one day per year celebration (birthday), so they came to the conclusion that they need an extra one. Surely, I know that the custom originated with the Catholic and Orthodox calendar of saints, where believers, named after a particular saint, would celebrate that saint’s name day.

Cup Collage

There are really name ways to celebrate your nameday and every country competes for the most extravagant. Unfortunately, I heard only about quite typical traditions including exchange of greetings and presents for this day. I believe it could be nice to witness a very bizzare tradition of celebration with some kind of smashing cakes like Americans do for their birthdays, or “bumps” given to kids at their birthdays in UK, or in Jamaica, a person can expect to have his or her special day celebrated by having copious amounts of flour thrown at them from friends, family and occasionally random onlookers alike, or in Hungary (as well Ukraine), where following the opening of the presents all tug on the earlobes of the lucky birthday boy or girls and etc. It can be pretty nice to establish some particular traditions for namedays as well. What do you think, my little Fellows? Any weird ideas? How do you celebrate your nameday or birthday (if celebrate)? And what does your name mean?

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I’d love to hear your stories…please, please! And the most interesting answers will get a reward, one of the postcards presented in this post upon your choice for free! How about it? Aren’t you interested? The winner will be announced next Friday, June 8, in the beginning of my next scheduled post. Your reward will be delivered to you via post on the address provided to me personally (secrecy guaranteed)!

Gentel White

http://www.redbubble.com/people/anrostudio/shop

Happy weekend!

Love you all,

Yours Ann

Ukraine, I Am So Proud Of You (Eurovision 2016)

Dear Friends, you all heard a million times how I love my country and I am very proud of being Ukrainian and not only today! Our Ukrainian singer Jamala won this year Eurovision contest and I would like to share it with you. Her song “1944” was dedicated to her great grandmother who was forced (by Russia) to leave her place of living 75 years ago. In 1944 Crimean Tatars were deported from the Crimean Peninsula as a result of state-organized and forcible action, ordered by then Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. And in 2014 Russian Federation annexed Crimea with a weapon in her hands and stated that Crimea is their territory. You may call that this song is political and, to some extend, it is true. However, this song is a real tragedy which is possible even nowadays and World should know about that. This song is a message for all of us not to forget that somewhere there is war and people die until we sleep peaceful in our beds…there is nothing more important than PEACE in our world wherever we are!

Please listen to this song, I have tears in my eyes when I am listening:

She is perfect as her nation to whom she belongs!

Love you all!

Yours Ann

Magyarorszag Mysteries (Back To History)

Charles Brown, an American detective writer, went through the airport doors and headed to the open taxi’s door. A man in an elegant dark suit was standing next to it and smiling at him. For a second Charles glanced at him and was bewildered with his attractive face of typical national features. He shacked his hand and sat to the car. That was not an easy trip for him, crossing the ocean, but, first of all, he was a real adventurer who was eager to write a new book and he has already found a perfect place for his crime scene- Castle of Diósgyőr located in Miskolc, Hungary.

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The name “Hungary” (or Magyarorszag in Hungarian) may originate from the Medieval Latin Hungary, which is translated as the “Land of Huns”. Another source states that the name is derived from the Turkish words meaning “ten arrows” or “ten people”. I guess, it is pretty fair, as the population of the whole Hungary for today is circa 10 million people. Not much, I agree. Only in Kyiv, as I know, population is more than 5 million, you can compare! Hungary was part of the Celtic world, later the Roman Empire. Hungary is one of the oldest countries in Europe. It was founded in 896 before France and Germany became separate entities. How about that? In the picture above you can see the map dated 1301-1382 and you definitely pay attention that it is very different from nowadays. Hungary was a large country with a seaside and huge territory in the heart of Europe. What about now? Look at the map and compare, perhaps you will be disappointed as well as many Hungarian nationalists who still dream of seeing their country in its full-scale original size. Then they can enjoy lovely Adriatic seaside and many oxygen-rich forests of the Carpathian  mountain ridge.

Hungarian Symbols Of Power

When Charles came out of his car he was impressed with the majesty and beauty of the Castle of Diósgyőr. From the first breath he knew he chose a right place for his next book. He quickly asked his Hungarian assistance to let him in and feel this magnificent place from inside. In his mind he has already sat in his mental writer’s time machine and traveled back in time…

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On the display of his time machine he saw the first number – 1241. This was the date when it was built and firstly destroyed by the Mongol invasion. “How much these walls have seen” he thought about the role of architecture, place and memory in re-constructing the sense of self-identity in a built environment. Charles slightly touched the wall and felt how his hand shivered from some electrical impulse. He felt so joyful as if he has got a taste of History…

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The castle reached the peak of its importance during the reign of King Louis the Great. King Louis was famous for his campaigns in Naples, where with the help and leadership of God regained command of the Kingdom of Sicily, in Rome, where the Roman nobles greeted him with “Long Live the Hungarian King”. When he entered the city, people accompanied him to the stairs of St Peter’s Apostle Church…“What does Louis fell at that moment?” Charles thought again and tried to imagine…

Charles Arthur Brown regarded himself as a real warrior, leader, a strong personality who can conquer this world, digest  and split it out. He was a tough man. In his early thirties he has already seen and felt a lot. He was an orphan without not much information on his family. As he found out his mother died during his birth, she was on drugs, so having a healthy boy was a miracle for this butterfly. As Charles knew somewhere he has a sister, older one, who has been left alone in some other hospital. His grandparents died long before his birth. Chances to get some information on his dad were zero, since his mom’s reputation was “well-known” in certain circles. He can be anyone. He grew up completely alone, a very shy boy with so many complexes. He did not like socializing, instead he was always writing something. His small notebook accompanied him whenever he went. He managed to graduate from school with excellent grades almost at all subjects, but especially he liked literature and history. He entered faculty of History and was a good student until one day he met HER…a mysterious crazy girl who showed him a world from which he was hiding among his notes. He tried everything with her, including drugs…during one of the overdoses they had a car accident and girl died…she was behind the wheel, but Charles felt guilty. He was severely injured, physically and emotionally. He went to a hospital for mentally disabled people…his young student’s years were abruptly over, he had to learn how to be an adult with serious emotional problems. One of his doctors found his notebook and encouraged him to write more as well as to think about publishing a book. This doctor saw a real talent in him, talent for writing very weird stories that you cannot stop reading as they caught your attention to the full. Several years later Charles left hospital as a writer whose first two books became bestsellers…

Castle History

Later this Castle was a wedding gift for the queens of Hungary, which it remained until the Ottoman invasion of Hungary in the 16th century. By the end of the 17th century it was already in ruins. Archaeological excavations started in the 1960s. In 2014 the castle was completely rebuilt, the reconstructed rooms are furnished with Medieval-style furniture.

Castle in Photos

“Mr Brown, hey…Mr Brown!” a young Hungarian assistant was desperately trying to bring Charles back from his traveling in the past. He even touched his elbow lightly. Charles slowly turned his head and blinked twice.

“What?” he said angrily.

“I am sorry, sir, but here is your personal guide as you asked – Ms Lokietek”, his assistant shyly replied  and showed towards a young lady who was standing a bit further. Charles again turned his head, this time in the other direction, and saw HER…and at this magical instant of time he gasped for air…

King and Qeen

Hungarian King Charles had already buried two young wives, so it was not surprising that he wanted to forget it and find new love. A lot of fight tournaments and parades were held in the royal court of Timisoara. He was having a frivolous life and started to think about having a family again. Thus, he met Elizabeth Lokietek who was the daughter of Polish King Wladislaw the Short of Elbow-High. Because of his short height he was nicknamed ‘Łokietek’, a diminutive of the word ‘łokieć’. It translates as “ell” or “elbow”, a medieval measure of length, as in “elbow-high”. Elizabeth gave a birth to five children. From the five, Andrew became the heir to the Naples throne, and Louis later became Hungarian King.

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“Mr Brown, please follow me, I will show you their bedroom,” said a very attractive lady wearing a specific medieval dress of that times at whom Charles was frankly staring. He does not for how long he was not able to say a word or even move as if he was struck by lightening. He almost does not feel anything except pure admiration of the natural woman’s beauty. He knew many woman, but he has never seen these big black as coal eyes who were looking at him so innocently and smiling. Yes, exactly “smiling eyes”!

“Their bedroom?” Charles asked abruptly. Ms Lokietek quickly turned her head and looked at him quizzically.

“Yes, sir, royal bedroom…” she replied and blinked with her long thick eyelashes.

It was quite odd for Charles to happen to be in the bedroom with a woman almost at once after several minutes after they met. It has never been so quick before. “What are you thinking about now?” thought Charles and tried to change his completely lost look to much serious one. He decided to leave his inappropriate feelings and thoughts for later. It was strictly unprofessional to do like that in a foreign country where he came for work.

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Many Hungarian kings and queens slept in this bedroom. I believe you paid attention to the size of the bed, isn’t it too small? You are right, it is indeed. However, the most weird is that people who slept in it never do it in their full height, I mean they never stretch there fully according to their size. Usually they slept in a bended position, since sleeping straight was a bed sign associated with dead. It was accepted that only dead sleep straight in their tombs. Wow, what a logic?

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At that times there was no usual bathroom. As I found out these things showed above were replaced to their room where king and queen took so-called bath. The question is whether they did it separately or not? Who knows, let each of your imagination decide!

Clothes always play an important role in our lives and it is still. Every epoch dictated its own trends. It is very pity that you cannot try on these fabulous dresses. I am certain we, dear dames, would look pretty in them!

Royal Wardrobe

And you too, dear cavaliers. Would not you like to try on one of these heavy things? I bet you would look so powerful and strong like real knights in armors who is ready for a battle. On Guard!

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Charles listened to his guide very attentively. He regain control over his unexpected emotions and took everything with his writer’s curiosity and professionalism. He even started to made notes while walking with this young dame. She talked with passion about this castle, Charles admired her gestures and voice. Her delicate voice sounded like crystal. Moreover, her English was so well that it almost amazed Charles. She spoke clearly, slowly, but with a hidden delight that was visible only for him, who caught her every word, her every comma…

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“Ms Lokietek, will you excuse my brevity, I have one question?” Charles stopped her with a little gesture. He came to her closer almost took her by her hand. They were standing on the top of the castle and looking at the beautiful, almost breathtaking view, of the surrounding city Miskolc.

“Certainly, Mr Brown,” she shyly whispered and looked aside.

“What is your name?”

“Beth…Elizabeth!” she proudly pronounced and looked right at him. Her gaze was silently deep.

“Are you kidding me, you are Elizabeth Lokietek, and you work in this Castle as a guide, the castle where so many years ago lived another Elizabeth Lokietek, Hungarian Queen…Oh my, I came to the right place!” he loudly claimed and started to laugh. Elizabeth also smiled and caught his laughing tone.

“Yes, Sir, you really came to the right place, King Charles, your Majesty, if you excuse me!”she playfully admitted and joined laughing. Her playful tone immediately brought back all his sweet feelings and images in his head. His heart jumped wildly and he felt happy. As happy as a lark…

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To be continued!

Greetings From Hungary

Dear little Friends, I attached this greeting card specially for you!

Designed by Ann!

Looking forward to your thoughts, ideas, remarks, comments!

Hope yor Queen or King is with you! If not, then I wish you to meet him/her as soon as possible! How about today?

Yours Ann

You Won’t Drink More Than a Bucket of Horilka

There is a good Ukrainian proverb that “man is not a cow, he won’t drink more than a bucket of horilka“. Isn’t it funny! Can you drink a bucket of horilka? I bet, you won’t be… otherwise you will be walking out of my kitchen horizontally, or will be staying there till tomorrow as minimum, but in the morning during breakfast you might receive a new glass of horilka to help you deal with hangover and then everything repeats. So, be careful it is a tricky alcoholic beverage.

Horilka With Cucumber

As you may recognize the talk is today about traditional Ukrainian beverage- horilka (vodka in Ukrainian language). In my country, since we speak Ukrainian, we differentiate between vodka and horilka, let’s not mix them. It can be explosive!

I chose such a topic for my post, because many of you expressed a wish to hear about it. And you know that I cannot turn down your requests. Moreover, I thought that it might be pretty interesting to find out more about this well-known beverage. That’s why I prepare two glasses of horilka for you and waiting you to join me in this fascinating alcoholic trip.

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 Cheers (“Bud’mo” in Ukrainian), but I will probably say after something like “guys, how can you drink it? It’s awful?”. I should confess that I almost don’t drink any alcoholic beverage. I just don’t understand its taste. Sorry, folks, can’t do much. However, as a person who likes discovering this world I would like to find out where does horilka come from and what is behind…

Ancient

 The word ‘alcohol’ comes from the Arabic ‘al-kuhl’. Arabs borrowed the technology and carried it to western Europe. In western Europe, distilling alcohol from wine was practiced in Italy in the 11th century, but generally this was done secretly by alchemists. Distilled alcohol reached Poland probably from Germany in the 15th century and it is recorded that the term ‘wodka’ was known from at least 1534.  It is believed that distilled alcohol spread from Poland via Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine, and only then to Russia. So, see, my dear polish Friends, we should thank you for having horilka as one of our beloved spirits. Who is our Big Brother now! Niech Zyje, Polska! Na zdrowie!

Nalej Zdrowje

Our chronicle mentions that mead was brewed for the funeral wake which Princess Olga held for her husband. With the introduction of distillation flavored horilka appeared. In the 19th century a ‘nalyvka’ was made by steeping fruit in 25% horilka, while a ‘nastojanka’ (‘nastojka’) was made by steeping herbs and spices in a similar strength horilka. Later, when it became easier, sugar was added for sweetness. The term ‘nalyvka’ was also used for a type of sweet fruit wine made by fermenting fruit and berries without added water, but with sufficient sugar to provide a residual sweetness. This was naturally weakly alcoholic, and to increase the strength, horilka was added. A stronger variant, was called ‘spotykach’, the name derived from the Ukrainian verb ‘to tumble’. Who is the tumbler? Wow, I got to know so much new, friends. Even I feel a bit drunk from all this information and you? How about one more glass? Na zdorowja! (“for good health” in Ukrainian).

Two Glasses

You can be more surprised to hear that Ukrainians are very good at cooking homemade horilka, which is called “samogon”. I am sure you never heard this word before and have never tried samogon before. It can have a more tricky effect on you, since samogon can be even stronger. At once, I had a funny experience. I was much younger, at university yet. I went to a trip to Mountains for summer holidays. I had an infection spot in my mouth and it was painful. During celebration of Ukrainian Independence Day our company had horilka and since I usually don’t drink, they decided to seduce me in other way. They offered me not to drink it, but take a sip of horilka and keep it in my mouth to cure my infection. I followed their advice…don’t you guess what was the result? You are right, Ann felt drunk, eyes are funny, and I wanted to sing…la-la-la-la!

Candy and Glass

If you do not smile yet, then another story for you. Did you know that alcohol content in our horilka is measure with the help of nose? Nope, you are not mistaken. A usual human nose. Are you confused? It is pretty simple. There are three stages. First one – after drinking a sip of freshly brewed samohon your nose has not changed its color, at all, it means that samohon is not ready yet, it is too close to beer, concentration is too low. Second –  brewing longer and gain tasting, the tip of your nose gets pink just a bit similar to rosy cheeks of a young lady who is blushing. Third – after one more sip your nose is already red like a red-rip tomato, which means that alcohol concentration is almost the maximum. Samohon is ready to be served. Who is ready to taste?

Collage of Bottles

One more glass of horilka? Cheers…Nazdravlje! Skål! Proost! Kippis! Santé! Prost! Egészségedre! Salute! Na zdrowie! Saúde! Noroc! Salud! Будьмо! I have no idea I am a polyglot, after several glasses of horilka I started to speak so many languages. It is a magical liquid!!!

Apple Glasses Art

See you after one more glass! Happy Weekend!

Truly yours,

Ann

Life Is So Endlessly Delicious

Hey, lads, is anybody hungry here? You are welcome to have some delicious minutes with me. But be aware there is no “taste” button here, you are unlikely to be able to taste anything. Don’t even think!

Fellows, I would like to steal your precious couple of minutes and introduce you some of our Ukrainian traditional food dishes. I promise not to talk too much or too long (although you know me, I hardly can keep this rule), but share with you something interesting about our typical cuisine!

Today in our menu is Vareniki (don’t look at me like that!), sweet Friends, I know that is a very odd word, which has no translation, don’t be in a hurry to your dictionary shelf, you won’t find this word anywhere, since this is a pure transliteration (a very professional term) of the Ukrainian so-called dumplings. Let’s get closer.

In Ukraine, it is said that no vareniki, no holiday! And the truth is it’s hard to imagine a Ukrainian who has never tried these wonderful stuffed dumplings. They were prepared by our grandmothers and are now one of the most beloved and popular dishes in the Ukrainian cuisine. A little history – vareniki are not only a tasty dish but they have a special meaning in Ukrainian culture. They are given to young people on the second day of their wedding (Ukrainian weddings last for 2 days) as a symbol of prosperity for the new family. And when new babies are born again friends and family hand vareniki to young mothers with the words – so that your belly is always full. It’s no wonder why we have so many fatty Ukrainians, they cannot imagine their life without vareniki. Stuffing can be different, typically meat, mushrooms, potatoes and cottage cheese. Almost anything you want. In the picture they are with cheese. Enjoy your meal (but there are only five vareniki and ask for more is not allowed)!

Vareniki

 And how about potatoes friend with onion? Huh! Personally I do not like friend onion, most probably I will take my magical shovel and start the digging. I may be lucky to find a lot of things, which I will put into somebody’s else plate. How smart! Changing the subject, Ukrainians (including me) do like eating potatoes, they adore potatoes and even can eat potatoes with potatoes. We are crazy about it. And you? Yeah, it’s not so healthy. As far as I know potatoes are about 80% of water, in fact, it is even good for our body, as we should drink more. That’s why I don’t see any serious reason not to eat it. I will, you cannot persuade me. Good news for fans of mash: humans can apparently survive on a diet of just potatoes, and milk or butter, which contain Vitamin A and D, the only vitamins missing from the humble spud. Getting back to history I remember that there is some argue about who and when brought potatoes to Europe. The most interesting is that many Europeans did not know what potatoes are, they were using its flower as decoration for their outfits. Can you believe? They were not so smart to check that under flower, somewhere deep, there is a vegetable that is eatable! Ancient folks! Do you like potatoes?

Potatoes

 Now it is salad’s turn. What do you think about salads? I do like them, especially fresh vegetable salads. It is a winter period here, and you almost cannot find fresh (not artificial) vegetables in our shops. If you are lucky, then they will cost a fortune. Many of us have to survive with some tins. Do you prepare tins for winter? No, lazy bones! I suppose Olivier salad should be known for you, but might not for all of you. I have some contradictory feelings towards it. This salad was very popular 25 years ago in USSR times (and I hate this time), but its taste is quite interesting. Olivier salad was discovered in 1860s by a Frenchman Lucien Olivier. He was the co-owner of one of the biggest Russian restaurants. As I heard he kept the receipt in secret and took it to his grave. Anyway, one of smart chef-cooks was able to find some information and create its approximate receipt. n different modern recipes, it is usually made with diced boiled potatoes, carrots, dill pickles, green peas, eggs, celeriac, onions, diced boiled chicken (or sometimes ham or bologna sausage), tart apples, with salt, pepper, and mustard added to enhance flavor, dressed with mayonnaise. Again not so healthy, I agree.

Salad

 At last, I found a good healthy salad for you. Guess, which one? Exactly, exotic salad with sea products. You will fall in love with it. It has a nice spicy taste. It contains different sea products and ginger. Taste is gorgeous, it’s finger-licking good! And the price is awfully uninviting. As soon as I bought it I quickly took the label with price off and threw it out not to cause a kind of heart attack. Unfortunately, in my country sea products are pretty high, Ukrainians almost forget the taste of usual calamaris. So, friends, if you have some extra sea products, don’t forget to share with us, we will appreciate it so much!

Exotic Salad

 Sushi, sushi, you can easily attract my tongue, and usually it’s difficult. Who wants sushi? I should tell in advance that in Ukraine we don’t have original sushi, I mean which should be made of raw fish. The only raw fish is salmon or trout. All other specific type of sea products and so on, are commonly fried or boiled. A typical Ukrainian won’t dare to put into his/her mouth anything which is moving yet. Believe me, it’s impossible. For many of us such exotic cuisine is still very strange. Though Ukrainians did get used to our own sushi and enjoy them with pleasure. Surely, it’s not cheap type food, but on special occasions we can let themselves!

Sushi

It’s all for today, but we will come back to Ukrainian cuisine and taste preferences. Our national cuisine is very rich in natural ingredients. Ukrainians do like food and prefer cooking at home. They are capricious and demanding. I hardly call them gourmets, but they do enjoy table party traditions. And you didn’t hear yet anything about our vodka…hm, be patient!

See you next time!

Yours Chef-Cook Ann

From Kyiv With Love (Episode 3)

Green Kyiv

 Every city has two faces. Kyiv is no exception. The first face is a rather happy and smiling one. There are places to visit and nature to enjoy. I do not visit city center often, but I recommend to have a walk at Mariinski Park situated on the hills along the Dnipro River, revealing splendid views on the left bank of Kiev. You should walk through this bridge and make a wish. Couples lock their love locks on the bridge together and took pictures here. How about you?

Park

This is an imperial park, founded in 1874 by Alexander II. I have no wish to go back to its history, since it has Russian roots (they are wild nomads who destroy everything on their way, in particular Kyiv Rus), Russians took us by force and raped not only our land, but our history as well: very brutally and cruelly.

City Park

 So far we cannot banish them from our sight as well as their language that stuck to our tongue as scotch. Do not blame me for not loving Russians and everything related with them. I am just not able to respect people who do not respect others. Who is ready to destroy anything and control everything? And I do not mean politicians, I exactly talk about usual people…not all of them…but too many to turn our lives into a nightmare! Although they are not worth of being mentioned even. Now we should gain our balance and let ourselves fall in love with its nature…

Face in Park

 Beautiful, isn’t it? That is not the only park. There are many of them, I am afraid to take too much of your time.

More attention I would like to pay today to its historical face. Since Kyiv is a very old city and center of Ukrainian culture and traditions. However, it changed a lot under the influence of high-tech and money-depended world. I confess I get used to modern city, however, my grandparents and great-grandparents had another picture in their mind. Honestly, a very different one.

We are looking right now at  Dynamo Stadium named after Valeriy Lobanovsky, famous Ukrainian football player, who leaved his mark in Ukrainian football history. We are proud of such talented people. His portrait is shown in one of the columns.

Stadium.jpg

Two years ago Stadium was set on fire during our Revolution of Dignity! As you may see from the picture above Stadium has gone restoration. Now it looks like new money…but I have another feeling, somehow this place is not the same for me…I cannot walk here!

Among Kyiv’s best-known public monuments is the statue of Bohdan Khmelnytsky. It is situated on Sophiivska Square in front of St. Sophia Cathedral. He was a historical person who changed Ukrainian history. He was a Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Noble and leader of the Zaporozhian Cossack Hetmanate, Hetman of Ukraine. Bohdan Khmelnytsky was noted for his revolt against Poland (1648 – 1654) and the Treaty of Pereyaslav which eventually led to the annexation of Ukraine by the Russian Empire. On one hand, he was a hero who wanted to fight against Polish landlords and, on the other hand, he signed his famous Treaty with Moscow which enabled Russians to settle comfortably down on Ukrainian terrain. I guess it is a kind of Ukrainian karma, we cannot be independent, we always need somebody who can  solve our problems, show us some way and lead us. Don’t you see the analogy? 21st century – current leaders of our country would like to keep up everywhere, they look at West and East, and could not find out which way money wind blows! In plain English, they probably slept away all lessons of History, since money question should not be as important as our independence and possibility to change our country drastically as well as break old corruption system. Take my word for it, it is not that difficult to do and everybody even knows how! The point is whether they are interested in it or not?

Bogdan Monument.jpg

 To make a long story short, let’s ask Bernard Show what does he think of it…and here what he says”we learn from history that man can never learn anything from history“. Perfectly said, bravo, Mr Show!

Kyiv is Eastern Orthodox religious center. In this city you can see many cathedrals and churches. All of them are historical monuments of Christianity. I am afraid to make my post too long and boring… As it is said “In this world there is always danger for those who are afraid of it“. I will try to share with you only some unique and interesting facts about our main cathedrals and churches, ok!

A masterpiece of the art and architecture of Ukraine and Europe is St. Sophia Cathedral.

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The cathedral was founded by Grand Prince Yaroslav the Wise and built between 1037 and 1044 (some suggest 1017–37). The interior of the temple is being preserved since 11-th century. On the bell tower of 76 meters there is the biggest bell in Ukraine of 13 tones. It is allowed to go upstairs this tower and have a breathtaking view of the city. Anyway, it’s only for tourists who are in good physical condition! This cathedral is more than 1000 years old, can you believe it? Square in front of it is very popular among tourists and Ukrainians as well. Every time I am here, I always meet people who ask me to borrow them some money or anything else. I wonder whether it is some kind of a special place where you should donate something or help somebody. You have to come here and share with me your story, deal?

St. Michael’s Cathedral, with its fabulously shining domes, is one of the most beautiful and important Orthodox temples in Ukraine. Built in the 90s.

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 It is named in honor of St. Michael – the protector of Kyiv. Its nickname, the Golden-Domed Cathedral, comes from the fact that it was the first and only church with such extravagant domes in ancient Rus.  The reconstruction of the Saint Michael’s Church began on 24 May 1997.  It has been fully restored and now it looks really great. This Cathedral played his role during our Revolution of dignity. After the horrible night of November 29-30th, when young students were attacked by special police, poor students found their shelter here. They were injured and scared to death, local monks helped them to hide and closed the gates for any officials. Later St. Micheal’s bells sounded the alarm…it was just the beginning of Great Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity (November 2013 – February 2014). I come here quite often and not only for religious holidays, but just a put a candle and pray. When you go inside, you feel some magical warmth that gives you hope and faith. Cathedral is really huge and has some power on you.

Monument to Cyrill, Methodius, St. Andrew and Princess Olga is located in St. Michael’s Square, opposite St Michael Cathedral.

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 At the heart of this sculpture is a statue of the composition of Grand Duchess Olga is the first and only woman – the head of state in the history of Ukraine. By the right side of it are educators of the Slavic peoples Cyril and Methodius, and left sitting Apostle Andrew, he points to the “holy mountain of Kiev.” Olga was the first who adopted Christianity in Rus. Grand Duchess Olga was always next to her husband Ihor and even after his death she reigned and helped to defend Kyiv while growing her son Volodymyr. She’s known to be a tough lady who could do everything from driving in a nail to entering a burning house or stopping a stampeding horse.  As Coco Chanel said “Women must tell men always that they are the strong ones. They are the big, the strong, the wonderful. In truth, women are the strong ones. It is just my opinion, I am not a professor“.

St. Andrew Church has an unusual location and architecture.

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This Church was built on an artificial hill and it uses terrace of a two-story building – stylobate, where long cast-iron staircase leads to its foundation.This is the only monument of architecture, history and painting of the 18th century in Ukraine, created in style of imperial baroque according to the project of Italian architect Rastrelli. Out of all sacral monuments of this outstanding architect, where interiors were saved partially and initial decoration either was not preserved at all, or remained in small fragments, St. Andrew`s Church has preserved the most authentic look till present time. Unfortunately, Kyiv was severely destroyed during World War IInd, later Communists have taken it to pieces. Tell me what should we have done with Communists, any suggestions? I have only one and, trust me, it must not be said aloud due to censorship…

Every big city has an old part which is a favorite destination for walks and creative zone for craftsmen and artists. In other words, Kyiv has its own Montmartre – Andriyivsky Uzviz.

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Andriyivsky Uzviz was one of the main streets in the times of Kyiv Rus. Back then, it connected the upper and the lower part of the town (Podol) and was so narrow, that only pedestrians and those on horseback were able to go down it. Only in the 18th century was the street widened, enabling carriages and loaded carts to pass through it. The descent got its current name after St. Andrew’s Church built at the top. Nowadays, it serves as a market for typical Ukrainians souvenirs for tourists. Prices are also only for tourists! Officially this street is closed for cars, but as you recolonize from the pictures, some very cool ones are able to get there. This is a common and incurable disease – disobey rules. Ukrainians caught it and would not like to take right medicine against it. Or there is no right medicine yet. I hardly can understand Ukrainians, more often  I would like to force their minds think differently, however, I am useless. Ukrainians even do not read my posts… why would they?

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 In this street you can find many pubs and restaurants in Ukrainian style.

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 You will be impressed with our menu offerings, there is always a wide choice. For some of you it can be exotic, since you may not be familiar with such extravagant dish as borsch (beetroot soup) or meat in jelly (not a dessert), which are frequently cooked in Ukraine. Whereas I strongly advice you to taste our vareniky (similar to ravioli) or stuffed cabbage (meat-and-rice balls covered with cabbage leaf), you will not regret. One  friend’s advice – do not take a great on Ukrainian vodka, otherwise you take a risk to have the same fate as this cat… (somebody can make a picture of you and not in your best state)

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This is not my last post devoted to Kyiv, since there are too many places yet to share with you and tease you as well. This city takes a lot of your time and attention. You have to try to feel it and comprehend what you saw. Now I give you some minutes to think and answer my question: “What did you see in the picture below?”…

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I kindly ask you to finish this post instead of me. I am going behind the curtain, you have the final word, my dear Friends! I need to hear your thoughts and ideas, please be so kind!

To be continued!

Yours Ann

P.S. Looking forward to your final word! As an encouragement I promise to start my next post about Kyiv with citation of your comments! 

 

From Kyiv With Love (Episode 1)

Maidan

I guess writing about my Kyiv is the most difficult…the mixture of feelings is overwhelming. They are quite opposite. Pain and joy. How can I find right words to describe this city – charming city where I was born and where I spent most of my life, and where I saw too many things I wish I could not see. I feel nervous actually, I am not enough good for it. Maybe I am not even enough smart for this special mission, however, I have to give it a try. So we are in Kyiv  today and I would like to start our journey from its heart…Maidan, Independence Square or Place Where Hearts Go On…

In the photo above you can see our famous city center where in the 2000s the biggest political protests in Ukraine, such as the Ukraine without Kuchma (our second President after becoming an independent country) campaign and the Orange Revolution took place. In the center of picture there is a monument – a woman who symbolizes freedom for which Ukrainians fighting for….freedom bought with blood.

Stella
This monument symbolizes for me a strong Ukrainian woman and a mother who protects our Motherland from invaders. During our last Revolution of Dignity first blood was shed at this place. Students who showed their peaceful protests were sleeping on the stairs of this monument at the late November night when military met attacked them and started to use severe physical power by beating them with resin batons. I have not been there personally, but every time I am near this place I feel this desperate sorrow for being a witness of inhuman cruelty. These poor students were unarmed while military men were in full ammunition. Have you ever seen more cruel scenes? Among these students were young girls…it happened 2 years ago!

I draw for you a pretty sad picture, however, today sun shines brightly here, people walk around this monument and make pictures.  They believe that better future without war is waiting for their children when they grow up.

Historical House of Trade Unions

A historical building which survived or not exactly survived a real fire during the Revolution of Dignity salutes us. This is House of Trade Unions located on the city’s main Khreshchatyk Street, its facade faces the central Independence square and contains the city’s main clock tower. Approximate year of its “birth” is 1974, but it was renovated hundred of times. This building was mostly used as offices rented by Trade Union Federation. During Revolutions it served as press center, kitchen, and even area for sleeping or relax. Ukrainians gathered there to hide from winter cold, since most of our Revolutions were exactly at winter, its most cold months. What can I tell you – Ukrainians are not afraid of being frozen to death when it is about their freedom. One of the strongest and hard-working nation in the whole world, and not because I am one of them, no, believe me this is just what I see and know.  You have to excuse me now – I have big doubts whether anyone is ready to sleep in a usual tent almost on asphalt at the temperature not higher than -10 or even – 20 C…Ukrainians did and their clothes did not contain specific fur…I am not kidding…I saw it personally! I have no intention to idolize Ukrainians and put them on some pedestal, surely not, we are the same sinful people, just sometimes we can demonstrate magical will power that  impresses!

St Michael

If you turn almost 180 degrees you will see this statue with wings on the so-called gates. I will tell you what this is –  Saint Michael Archangel.   According to legend, when God divided the earth into countries and the angels chose one to patronize,  St. Michael became the protector of the Kyivan Rus (current Kyiv). This statue stands on Lyadski gates, which are supposed to be on the same place as in ancient times – gates to Kyiv. Let us go through them and look around. Take a deep breath and inhale the atmosphere. Maybe air is not so fresh, there are too many factories and cars in this megalopolis. Nevertheless, it has its own style. A preconceived opinion may be thrown at me – I do use too many compliments while describing Kyiv. Still I cannot agree. Kyiv is seemed to be not the most beautiful capital city, however, I could not stop loving it. 

City Center Side View

I have been abroad not once. I visited many capital cities and all of them I found very beautiful and nice. All of them have their own style, smells and sounds. I have no right even to tell that one city is more beautiful than the other.  Honestly I would like to see another Kyiv, not so crowded and modern. I prefer its ancient look, which is hardly remained due to skyscrapers and multiple shopping centers.

Kyiv Bridge View

Still it looks very nice. Especially when it tries an autumn outfit on. It looks so colorful and vulnerable at the same time. Sun makes a good light and I capture some positive signs, in fact, Kyiv needs changes for the better. It has to be reconstructed and saved in its original form. Kyiv can be a very attractive for tourists as well as L’viv. There are fantastic hotels here, beautiful nature parks, old churches and hospitable people. I think I will be right to tell that Kyiv is not similar to any other European city, it is too different and contrasting. One glance – modern shopping centers, expensive cars, high traffic, brand boutiques, skyscrapers, slim girls on high-heel shoes, whereas the other – homeless people, old people who like homeless, soldiers, sad faces, and despair…Yeah, again I draw a sad picture, I imagine your face now! I may draw another picture – happier and brighter, it actually is true. People smile here, people are born here, live, fall in love and etc. Thus Kyiv is too contrasting, black and white are crossing each other. As a person who cannot be indifferent I simply crave for warmer colors. Kyiv deserved to be visited, felt and “touched”. It deserved to be one of the most attractive and desired. That’s why I am here and I will show you this city from inside, you will hear the truth without any prejudice or advertisement. It is a special and very honorable mission and I will not disappoint you! 

To be continued!

From Kyiv with Love…

Yours Ann