For the Love of Dresses

I bought this dress four years ago (if not earlier) in Helsinki. It was a new fashion back then, and as it always happens with the trendy European clothing, you can’t be sure whether they will ever become fashionable in the US.


This one never did, which made it timeless, and now I can’t even tell why I didn’t wear it for the past three years. At some point, it felt too short, or that there is no proper occasion… I don’t even know! I wore it last Monday when I was taking my friend to Vlad’s bar, and I was like: OMG, I love this dress so much, it’s a perfect fit!


Here for me to remember to wear it more often 🙂

Home Movies from the 1970s, Part 2

Here is the second movie from the 1970s. It starts in the summer of 1971 and ends in February 1972. 

As I’ve mentioned earlier, good mothers were expected to rent a summer home somewhere “on the fresh air.” Like many other leninradians, my relatives from my father’s side were renting summer houses, or more often, a couple of rooms in a home in Estonia. Saint – Petersburg (back then – Leningrad) is situated very close to the border with Estonia, and from 1940 to 1992, Estonia was a part of the Soviet Union. The Estonian city of Narva was just across the border, and there was a resort Narva-Joesuu, which was renting out almost each and single home during summer. 

We rented a room and a veranda, which served as a kitchen. My great aunt Fania would stay there pretty much all the summer. My aunt Kima, my cousin, and my Mom were there periodically; my uncle Misha and his wife Nadia were renting one more room at the same house. 

  • This movie starts with us going on a tour somewhere nearby, I do not remember where exactly. 
  • Then there is me in a costume of the Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley, I read something about here that year. I was so fascinated with her story that I wanted to impersonate her. Most of the costume is assembled from different pieces of adult clothes and jewelry. The wooden sword was made by the younger brother of my cousin’s best friend. I know that it sounds too distant, but they both were around quite often and felt like family members. 
  • The big black dog is a Newfoundland owned by the friends of the family. He was not a purebred and was given away for free. His name was Neron, and I loved him and used each opportunity to stop by the house where he lived and play with him. 
  • “A Musketeer” episode. Traditionally in Russia, both adults and kids would dress up for Sviatki – the time between Christmas and New Year, culminating at the New Year masquerade. Since all religious holidays were forbidden in Russia, the tradition reduced to the New Year masquerades. This costume was constructed for my school New Year’s party, and I wore it at home for the actual New Year celebration. I was eight years old (almost nine) and was at the peak of my musketeers’ fascination. Everybody pitched in for this costume. My great aunt sacrificed her dark blue pure silk dress, the top was used for the jacket, and the skirt made the cloak. One of my great aunt friends lent a dark-blue velvet hat, another friend – some real antique lace collar and cuffs (all to be returned after the holidays :)). Not Brabant, but most likely old Vologda :). The baldric was made of dark blue bookbinding material (acquired by my aunt who worked in the publishing house) and decorated with the pieces of colored foil collected from the chocolate candies consumption:). The feathers on the hat came from two sources: the black one was a real ostrich feather my great aunt owned, and the white one was made of paper by my aunt – that’s when I learned how to make them, and I still can do it on the spot. I think that covers pretty much the whole costume.
  • The figure skating competition. The caption reads: getting ready for the White Olympics 1980. But that time (February 1972) I was nine, and I was taking the figure skating classes for three winters. We rarely got a chance to train inside, so it was always “weather permits.” I loved figure skating (and I still do :)). Our coach arranged for us to have a very close-to-real competition with the obligatory figures to be performed and with your own freestyle program. The competition was graded by three judges. My great aunt hand made the figure-skating dress for me. It was made of dark red wool with the giant grey snowflake on the chest and beautiful patterns on the skirt – and that’s what I wore during this competition.

Enjoy 🙂

My historical posts are being published in random order. Please refer to the page Hettie’s timeline to find where exactly each post belongs, and what was before and after.

A Busy Life, but I am Thankful!

I am still insanely busy. There are several big projects at work, and I know that I need to put a lot of effort into planning and design before any work can even start. I know exactly, what needs to be done, but there is not enough time and not enough of me :). 

Also, there are still huge parts of training for the conference, which I didn’t prepare yet. 

When I first suggested I will do this training, I knew that I would need to spend tons of time vetting the examples, removing the company-specific parts, and also checking all the execution times and plans. And I knew it would take time. And it does! So for the past three weekends, it was mostly work. Not volunteering, not even doing stuff around the house, but plain work. Although the conference is in the first week of December, I need to finish everything this week, because I am doing a dry run in the office for my co-workers. I am immensely thankful to Boris for doing lots of dull work with this training, like formatting and re-formatting slides, getting pictures, in addition to the actual course development. 

Also, I have to give a talk at the same conference, on day two, and I need to find another four to six hours to bring it to where I want it to be. 

That’s about work and professional development. But I absolutely can’t skip the fact that Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming, and I can’t miss on that! I have a feeling that I need a third brain to keep all the holiday things under control 🙂 And the fourth brain to keep all the processes smooth, and my mood calm, and overall experience being enjoyable. 

Christmas cards, cookies, Secret Santa, and “adopted families.” And a German Market in the CIty. And most importantly – my loved ones. 

The Worlds Largest Pumpkin Festival

I just can’t NOT reblog that! With all my love to pumpkins:)

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Anyone who knows me, knows I have an immense love for all things fall. This includes, but is not limited to: colored leaves, cold crisp mornings, sunshine on the skyline and frost on the grass, apples, halloween, and of course PUMPKINS! The moment I see pumpkins I turn into a 6 yr old child seeing Santa at the mall.

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All that said, I didn’t expect to see many fall themed activities in Germany. The locals here don’t really celebrate Halloween, they don’t really have pumpkin patches like we do in the states, and corn mazes? Forget it. Then I heard about a pumpkin festival north of me in Ludwigsburg, that claimed to be the largest pumpkin festivalin the world!

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This festival has a theme each year, and this years theme was fairy tales. There are creations made out of pumpkins…

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Holiday Post: Christmas Cards, Christmas Cookies, Christmas Wishes

Since this year I am on WP more than on other platforms, I think it will be a good idea to extend my “Christmas Cookies for All” campaign to this blog. Here is how it goes every year:

  • I love sending and receiving Christmas cards from all over the world. If you want to exchange Christmas greetings with me, please send me your postal address in the contact form. Will be happy to send a card to any place in the world:)
  • I am baking tons of Christmas cookies and sending them also pretty much all over the world, although sometimes I have to put a limit on the total number of parcels sent. If you are interested – let me know 🙂

Just to give you an idea – that’s how my house looks before Christmas – 

Home Movies from 1970s, Part 1

In 1971 my Mom bought a movie camera and started making home movies. We both enjoyed the process a lot. She soon acquired a magnetic board with letters, and we began to add captions to the films.

I do not remember what happened to the movie projector, but it disappeared a long time ago, and I was wondering whether I will ever be able to watch these movies again. Fortunately, nowadays, many companies can digitize your old movies, and several years ago, I sent the first two reels to convert them to mp4. I liked the result, and now that Mom brought several more back, I finally sent them to the same company, and I liked the results even more. 

Today, I am posting the first reel, which covers the time from early spring early summer 1971.

Apparently, if I spent enough time, I should be able to add captions to this movie, but I do not have time neither now, nor in the next several years, so let me just briefly mention what it is about.

The title says “Lialia’s school break.” Lialia was my nickname, and a break was a spring break in the first grade.  Everything was filmed in Saint-Petersburg (back then – Leningrad) and near suburbs.

By episode:

  1. I play with a big doll, which could “walk,” when you hold her by the hand. Her name was Walking Nina.
  2. I am walking around in the city center, close to the Church on Blood, not restored yet back then.
  3. In the Zoo
  4. In the courtyard of my home, playing “classes” on the asphalt.
  5. A canary named Solka. That was an amazing story – one cold November night, he flew inside our apartment when my aunt opened a window leaf for a minute. We tried to find out whether he was a runaway but didn’t succeed. Then we had to buy a cage and some books about canary care:).
  6. Waking at the Strelka – the edge of Vassilievski Island, then on the roof of the Peter-and-Paul Fortress, and then inside the fortress. Then I take a camera and record Mom.
  7. At Strelna, a near suburb. We are there with Mom and Grandpa Fedia, and it’s hilarious how he is trying to help me to climb on a tree, and then helps me to get off, and this all happens three times in a row.
  8. Walking along the Neva River, and then taking a trip on a small boat
  9. In the Alexandrovskiy Park, close to the St. Isaac Cathedral, and by the river again.
  10. Later in spring. Since we see balloons, it should be May 1 or May 2 – we didn’t have balloons on regular days, only for big holidays, and May Day was one of the occasions when kids got balloons. Mom is filming, and I am there together with Mom’s friend Alla and her twin daughters Sveta and Lera. They were three or four years older than me. As a prank, we attach our balloons to the teeth of one of the Griffons on the Neva embankment. 
  11. All of us are back to my house, and we play with a collie puppy in the courtyard (he is not my dog, somebody else’s).
  12. Later in spring, probably mid – May. Mom and I are in Central Recreational Park. First, everybody is casing a squirrel – they are unseen in the city. 
  13. Then – intensive rope-jumping:)
  14. We are visiting an exhibit, which is called “Made in Poland.”

My historical posts are being published in random order. Please refer to the page Hettie’s timeline to find where exactly each post belongs, and what was before and after.

I feel Proud of Myself Today:)

Recently most of my days are very intense, and I continuously feel that I am completing only about half of the tasks I need to complete. But today, it was even worse. 

I worked from home (which I do not like that much these days) because I had myl physical in the afternoon. I’ve started my workday earlier, at 7-30, hoping to be mostly done by 2-15, when I had to leave for the doctor. I had a long work to-do list, not mentioning my still-in-progress training. 

And I ended up doing zero in course of these seven hours. Absolutely nothing productive. OK, I’ve reviewed two commits. I’ve dialed in three meetings, but just about 20 minutes total of them were somewhat productive. 

Several people were reaching out with the questions, which took harder to get resolved from home. And when you have twenty minutes in between things, it’s nothing you can do. 

I was mad. And I thought that nothing could make me feel better. And guess what I did then. “Then” – after I went to the doctor, went to my Mom, and finally got home. 

There was one thing which was on my to-do list for several weeks, and I was keeping postponing it and avoiding it. There were several forms which I needed to download from the Russian consulate website and help Anna and Vlad to fill them in. I was saying for weeks that I didn’t have time, but in reality, I was pushing this activity back. 

So when I came home, under the motto that I am late with everything anyway – I did it! And I felt soooo good about doing it, that suddenly the whole day didn’t feel like wasted!

Midwest Change of Seasons

One of the items with deadlines for the past weekend (when I was six hours short) was cleaning the back porch from the rest of the fallen leaves and putting away the rest of the flowerpots (I managed to put away the garden furniture and to fold and cover the umbrella the weekend before that). I knew I had to do it over the weekend, because on Monday we had tons of snow, and today we have an arctic cold wave.

Yesterday’s morning
Today’s morning

Six Hours Short

Last weekend, I measured exactly how much time I needed to complete all the tasks on my list. I was six hours short. And it’s not anything “nice to have,” which could be postponed for the next weekend. All those were the tasks with deadlines; there were reasons why they should have been completed before today. Unfortunately, I am also 100% booked during the workday today, and I am entertaining important guests of the Postres community after work. Thereby, I do not even have my usual extra two to three “grace” hours on Monday to complete unfinished weekend tasks.


That’s what you get for taking too much on you:). And if I even had any slack time past weekend, it would be no more than an hour. And I do not include in these six hours a couple of my family history post I planned to write.

Just too much of life is going on 🙂

Health Updates

Most of my friends are aware that out of my multiple vision-related issues, the most annoying is my double vision. I went for years without any treatment until about five years ago, I got special prism-only glasses to address to issue. I can’t wear these glasses all the time, but I use them for driving and while in the movies or other shows. It helps a lot.

Recently, however, it became worse, and at my annual checkup, I’ve
complained to my eye doctor. She gave me a referral to the specialist, who is primarily dealing with that particular problem. That other doctor examined me and told me that she can work with my double vision, but first, I need to have my cataracts operated. That was news for me; I didn’t know I have cataracts, but that explained a lot about how I felt recently.

Continue reading “Health Updates”