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Once we had Andre, Vitaliy started doing documents. Before this, he hated it so much, he didn’t do stuff. But with a third child, it became “worth” the work.

So we get baby money from the government here– with each child, the govt pays the family some money and the sum grows from the first 3 children– after the 3rd, the sum stays the same.

Also, with 3 children, the family has the legal status of “many-children family.” And if you do the paperwork, you can get lots of discounts and free stuff. Like the kids can travel free on trains and buses, all the house utilities are cut by half or something.

So Vitaliy did all the paperwork, and voila– it’s a lot cheaper to do ministry in our village house. He’s a good steward with money.

Today he had to stop at a govt office, and here’s what it looks like:

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And here’s a thing I love about Ukraine– out of the building come 2 women who apparently work there, and they head to the fruit tree with a bowl, shake down some fruit, then head back inside :) <3

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Vitaliy is great about doing outside stuff with the kids. I’m so glad … it is so not me.

Today he took them kayaking down a little river, the Teteriv– I’m astonished to find it on Wikipedia! It runs near our village. Vitaliy swam and fished in it as a kid. I’ll clarify, that V was in his little kayak and the girls in this air boat.

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Which got a big leak, so they stopped early and swam while I came to pick them up in the van. Drove through some new nearby villages where I’d never been before!

 

yesterday was a record day– we got back to our village at 4pm! It’s usually closer to 9 or 10pm. But we had no meetings, the apt we were going to look at was taken the night before, and the bridal shower I learned was at 3pm, I skipped so the guys wouldn’t all have to wait around for me. that was sad to miss :(

So we went right to Ashan (huge, super-Walmart-type store here), did our shopping and came home. V took the kids out on a bike ride while I slept, and when I awoke, I had the energy to try lazy vareniki.

Lazy vareniki are just dough made with tvorog (soft type of cheese), no filling like usual vareniki have. Here’s A helping me stir. I didn’t get a photo of the finished product yet, though. I made some last night–just boil the dough/tvorog pieces. The rest of the dough is in the fridge, probably for tonight.

oh, how he loves to be involved.

oh, how he loves to be involved.

I have a love/hate reaction to A being in the kitchen with me. Sometimes I love it, it's so fun and cute and messy. Other times, it makes me batty.

I have a love/hate reaction to A being in the kitchen with me. Sometimes I love it, it’s so fun and cute and messy. Other times, it makes me batty.

Today, I braved making pelmeni–kind of like vareniki, but the dough is thinner and it’s a meat filling.

Make up the dough, let it sit for an hour:

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make up the filling: ground meat on the bottom, then I blended an onion and when I read that fat makes it more tasty, I blended up some of the leftover pieces of salo V bought yesterday. And salt and pepper, then mixed it all up.

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roll dough thin, cut circles– I started with the bottom of my vareniki maker, but the circles were too big, so I went to a cup. Put meat mixture in center.

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Folded up the edges

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Bring sides down and pinch ends’ dough together

raw pelmeni

so cute! easy to do!

Everyone got involved :)

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We made 69! I have dough leftover, but the meat ended.

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Plopped in the boiling water, stirred several times so they don’t stick, and when they started floating, they boiled 10 minutes.

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eat hearty

eat hearty

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V said that they are awesome, though we both saw that some of them had too much dough … but that comes from Little Helpers,  and it’s OK :) Freezing the ones I didn’t boil. They freeze well.

It is S.O. H.O.T. that I have a popsicle factory going from a batch of cherry compote/syrup. I fished up every type of popsicle form I have collected over the years. I want to hide and eat them all, but I’m sharing with the kids b/c they love them, too :)

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the stick part on these broke, so I'm improvising

the stick part on these broke, so I’m improvising

Cherry compote

Cherry compote

My SIL gave me these awesome push-up popsicle, things and I love them! I just stand them up in tall cups and they freeze great :)

My SIL gave me these awesome push-up popsicle, things and I love them! I just stand them up in tall cups and they freeze great :)

Two sweet things:

Wildflowers the girls bring me– Andre usually follows with about 2 crushed up little flowers to give me, too <3

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Learning to write is awesome <3

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Once outside of Kiev (which usually takes an hour– to get outside of Kiev), our village is a little over 70 km away (43 miles). So here are some shots from today’s drive there and back.

hauling a load of sheep

hauling a load of sheep

I splurged on this cup in Earth Fare (in the States), and I'm so glad! It's like a French press on wheels-- has the circular filter on a plunger and a car-friendly top. Great for taking fresh coffee or leaf tea on the road :)

I splurged on this cup in Earth Fare (in the States), and I’m so glad! It’s like a French press on wheels– has the circular filter on a plunger and a car-friendly top. Great for taking fresh coffee or leaf tea on the road :)

a market we pass driving through one village

a market we pass driving through one village

that's quite a load of hay there

that’s quite a load of hay there

bottom of tree trunks painted white--I think to protect them from bugs?

bottom of tree trunks painted white–I think to protect them from bugs?

When entering the village limits, the name is on a sign like this

When entering the village limits, the name is on a sign like this

when leaving village limits, the sign is the same, with the name crossed out

when leaving village limits, the sign is the same, with the name crossed out

These signs help you know the speed limit, which is not posted on signs usually. You just know–in a village, speed limit is 60km, outside village is 80 or 100 (I’m not sure myself ;) ). We drive through about 10-15 villages. Most of the road looks something like a variation of this theme:

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Here, we’re nearing Ivankov, the main village near our smaller village– Vitaliy was born in Ivankov and his mom lives here. We lived here our first year of marriage <3

This is people who've picked berries or mushrooms in the forest-- so plentiful in this region-- and they sell them on the side of the road. V's mom's been doing this a lot this summer.

This is people who’ve picked berries or mushrooms in the forest– so plentiful in this region– and they sell them on the side of the road. V’s mom’s been doing this a lot this summer.

As we drove by today, we saw a police car with two officers coming out– not sure if they were checking people or what …

Ivankiv is a regional center (Ivankivski Region) so it has a big sign

Ivankiv is a regional center (Ivankivski Region) so it has a big sign

Today we drove around Ivankov (instead of driving through it) to get to our village

bad photo, but that white egg seen through the window is a Chernobyl time capsule to be opened a few years from now

bad photo, but that white egg seen through the window is a Chernobyl time capsule to be opened a hundred years from the explosion date

the egg is in the middle of this traffic circle

the egg is in the middle of this traffic circle

pulling into our driveway:

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white well on the right--V put in a pump this summer and we use well water--great rains this year and saves money. Small shed is the summer kitchen which we use for rehab storage.

white well on the right–V put in a pump this summer and we use well water–great rains this year and saves money. Small shed is the summer kitchen which we use for rehab storage.

Some day soon, I want to take you on a photographic tour of our little house :)

a stork

I was waiting for Vitaliy today and noticed this stork, so I got some close-ups. They have the funniest legs!

toothpick legs and knobby knees

toothpick legs and knobby knees

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More cooking

Sour cherry compote/syrup: boiling water on R with sugar, bring to a boil, add cherries, bring to boil again, turn off burner and let sit until cool. Made great ice cubes and popsicles!

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My favorite Ukrainian dish is golubtsi– Vitaliy’s mom makes it for me sometimes. So after this successful cooking streak, I finally decided to try it. And it was awesome!

Rice, ground meat, fried carrot and onion wrapped up in a boiled cabbage leaf, then simmered about an hour

Rice, ground meat, fried carrot and onion wrapped up in a boiled cabbage leaf, then simmered about an hour

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Andre liked them

Andre liked them

Vitaliy really liked them, Vika likes them if she can donate the cabbage leaf to someone else and just eat the inside.

Vitaliy really liked them, Vika likes them if she can donate the cabbage leaf to someone else and just eat the inside.

So, end of my great cooking week, and I was running out of ideas–still looking for more– but then I thought to do soup with frickadelkami (meatballs?). Only four ingredients– potatoes, fried carrot/onion, and meatballs.

The recipe had me drop raw meatballs into the soup to boil for 20 min, but we didn't like the taste of that, so I took them out and fried them later, and next time, I want to try frying them first.

The recipe had me drop raw meatballs into the soup to boil for 20 min, but we didn’t like the taste of that, so I took them out and fried them later, and next time, I want to try frying them first.

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A year or two ago, when we were living in the village house before leaving for the States, we studied Jewish traditions, and I learned to make challah (an eggy, yeast bread). I love it. So I did a loaf, and Vika did a small loaf, too. It was my first time to do a six-strand braid! Really neat-o :)

ingredients-- and I love that big, bamboo-looking bowl on the left-- my friend from Japan just left me :)

ingredients– and I love that big, bamboo-looking bowl on the left– my friend from Japan just left me :)

Kneading our pieces--Andre ate his pretty quickly, but Vika and I held out :)

Kneading our pieces–Andre ate his pretty quickly, but Vika and I held out :)

six-strand braid! surprisingly simple to do and so beautiful! Wish I could try it on hair now :)

six-strand braid! surprisingly simple to do and so beautiful! Wish I could try it on hair now :)

Vika's little loaf she kneaded, braided, & baked

Vika’s little loaf she kneaded, braided, & baked

Gorgeous. We devoured a lot of it right away, warm with butter.

Gorgeous. We devoured a lot of it right away, warm with butter.

Vika saved her loaf to take in the car today to Kiev, to share with Skyla, who we picked up after a week in the Carpathian Mtns.

Vika saved her loaf to take in the car today to Kiev, to share with Skyla, who we picked up after a week in the Carpathian Mtns.

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I think I will plan to make blini (crepes) almost daily. Everyone loves them so :) But I’m looking around for more cooking ideas, now that I have a basic repertoire. I saw grated cheese salad with garlic and mayo today– May try that, and look up some other salads…. Vitaliy suggested I make lazy vareniki– vareniki dough mixed with tvarog and fried in small, poofy circles. Next week :D

 

Our center has 6 guys there now, including our two leaders. Vitaliy’s been instituting new rules and structure from ideas he took in America.

Also, a businessman from a neighboring village came and asked the center to provide some cowherds for his business. He’s tired of working with alcoholics– it’s just too unstable the way they come and go. It doesn’t pay much, but it will help to cover the operating costs of the center. So two guys go to work there now daily. Igor, one of the leaders, always goes as a worker, to make sure the other guys stay out of trouble/away from bad influences.

A friend from another village came to help chainsaw/chop a bunch of wood for winter heating. V took some photos of them all working:

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bringing the wood home in a wagon

bringing the wood home in a wagon

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