Snow in Kyiv

Dear Friends,

You know how much I love my city, but even more I love Kyiv under snow.  But instead of words I better share my short film with you :

“Well, I know now. I know a little more how much a simple thing like a snowfall can mean to a person” ― Sylvia Plath

Snowfall in my city is the adventure bonded with childhood happiness. I open you my snoworld and let you dance with me! Are you ready for some fun?

Let me know what makes you happy?

Looking forward for many comments and visits at my gallery : https://www.pictorem.com/profile/Ann.Romanenko

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Love you all,

Yours A

 

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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

Late Evening At The River Dnipro

August Evening

Hours of tedious effort are required to awaken and exercise that talent, to write that riveting “one true sentence” that seemed so damn simple when read. That simplicity is deceptive. It does not happen by accident. Now it is a skill easily acquired. Writing is demanding, solitary, backbreaking work. A writer mined the tunnels of his/her brain using words for a pickaxe. A week’s effort might yield only one nugget that is worth keeping and you can weep with pathetic gratitude over that.”

Kyiv Evening in Lights

Friends, isn’t it perfectly said? I found this wisdom thought in the book I am reading now and it set deep in my soul. Writing arises controversial feelings in me. I do love putting words into nicely-structured phrases with some meaning, in the other moment I hate looking for words to create that perfect sentence which should look simple to be read easily. Very often I have images in my head and lack of appropriate words to transform them to paper. And I even do not mention the use of “beautifully tailored metaphors, similes and other stylistics tools”, which are essential decorators of every text. Writing is a mixture of hard work and a pleasure. Just not many of us are able to write. I am not sure whether I belong to that group of lucky beggars, though I feel very good when I write. Sounds banal, but it is true. Every story is the chance to dive into the unknown world, explore the unknown feeling, and even do something I am not dare to in real life. It is an enormous pool of unlimited possibilities. I am so tempted and you?

Bridge Lights

10 pm at my watch. It was a late evening in Kyiv. A sultry summer day gave away to coolness. At last I could breathe and felt relaxed. I was walking along the Dnipro River. A light breeze ruffled my hair. There were no thoughts in my head. Only my eyes were wondering among people chatting on the stairs to the river. I saw mostly their heads and heard their emotional voices. Some of them were in silence. There were loud music and car traffic not so far. Somehow it was not a usual evening. With my friends we decided to cross the bridge and enjoy the beach island. I have never been at that place before. The views from the bridge made me stop several times to click some photos. Sometimes my friends even did not notice my absence. Each of us was lost in some inner thoughts, words came out rarely. A trio was sharing a wordless talk. Soon the lights from cafes and night lanterns winked on the beach horizon. The beach was occupied with local lovers of romantic atmosphere. We took off our shoes and went barefoot sinking our toes in the sand. Underneath my feet warm sand was ticking me. The next instant my feet stepped to the water. Dnipro was lapping my feet. The bridge lights were performing a blue-yellow dance. One more click. There were lots of couples at the beach. I caught myself on being a witness of first unsure touches, passionate glances and sighs. They were yet not sure of each others feelings, they still go on playing flirting games. They did not know each other well, and they were so afraid to break that sweet moment. First dates, first touches, first kisses. A very peaceful scene at the beach in the capital city at the Ukrainian map. And somewhere away at the East there was a dead silence in the expectation of night firing. The picture is different. Instead of beaches were dirty trenches, instead of romantic lights were night vision glasses, instead of gentle river was a field with enemies coming close. Loads of cigarettes, constant jokes not to be afraid, weapons day and night, and danger at almost every move. Similar are mostly young faces only wearied by war. They also dream of love, kisses and sighs. However, the most intimate relationships they have are with their reliable automates. Kisses sometimes may be burning though. Two pictures described do not intercross, and yet are linked. Without the second cannot be the first. Without a death cannot be a new life…

Blue and Yellow Dance

Without being read I cannot write!

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

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.

Bottle

 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

Blue in Yellow

Blue and Yellow

Devoted to the Revolution of Dignity took place in Kyiv, February, 2014:

It’s hard to find the perfect rhyme

That could revive their stolen life

The “Heavenly Hundred” heroes

And so many left millions of zeroes 

With money soul without any fears

How much you want? How much you care?

I am afraid Ukraine is in monopoly-oligarchs fever

Two years past and no results

More thousands lost heroes

I wish I could, I wish I should

Bring back the light

And make this blue in yellow feel alive…