Hettie’s Reflections – Blog Posts

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Welcome to Hettie’s Reflections!

Hello! My name is Hettie, I was born and raised in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and I emigrated to the United States in October 1996. I live in Palatine, IL and work in Chicago.

I’ve been very active in the Russian blogosphere, and my American friends keep asking me when I am going to tell my story in English. Well, the time has come.

I am going to write my story for my granddaughter Nadia, and for all my American friends, who has been so supportive through all these years, and hope that my children, Igor, Vlad and Anna will help me through this journey.

My Russian blog used to have “a lot of everything”, because first, I just like to write a little something every day, reflecting on everything happening in the world around me, and second – because I believe that people trust me more knowing me as a person. Everything I’ve done in my life so far, and everything I am doing every day, made me – and still making me the person I am.

This being said, although this blog is intended mostly to record our family history, there will be still “a lot of everything” here. However, for those who is interested in the history solely, I will paste all the links to the Hettie’s Timeline page, which will hopefully allow to read all these entries in a chronological order.

The links to my interviews and videos (mostly professional) will be pasted on this page, and also for those who is interested what I am doing in my professional life, feel free to check out my blog The World of Data.

My blog Hettie’s Cooking is hardly a cooking blog, at least I do not update it often. However, some of my legendary recipes, like “Mom’s soup”, can be found there.

Enjoy 🙂

Spring Mood

A week ago, I could not imagine seeing the snow disappearing in earlier than three weeks. But the amazing warmth and sun did their job. Soon, I will stop being jealous of my friends posting the first spring blooms 🙂
The only thing I can post at the moment is the melting ice, but still…

I am in such a spring mood now! There were several big decisions I had to make, and although none of them materialized in actions yet, I know what I want, and I know which way to go. And I can tell that that’s really what I want to do because I smile when I think about it and because I am calm and content. I even attended a yoga class online yesterday, something I didn’t do for months :). 

The Book Is About to Go Into Print

Yesterday, I approved a cover proof of our book:). Our editor told us that it will go in production on March 8 and will be available on May 7, which is very exciting.

Also, our technical reviewer published a blog post about the NORM methodology, and it raises a lot of interest (as I can tell by the number of people hitting my GItHub repo. I know that my friends in tech follow me on LInkedIn, but still I will post the link here as well:

https://www.enterprisedb.com/blog/how-no-object-relational-mapping-norm-improves-application-performance-postgresql

The Art Institute Is Open Again!

The Art Institute reopened two weeks ago, but it was only today that i got a chance to visit it.

I can’t even describe how happy I was to stroll through my most favorite rooms!

Also, I knew that there was one more new exhibit open, and I wanted to check it out.

It was a Bisa Butler exhibit. I never heard about her, and I was stunned when i entered the exhibit. The Art Institute website says:

Although Butler’s finished works are exclusively fabric, her methods remain interdisciplinary: photographs inform her compositions and figural choices, she layers fabrics as a painter might layer glazes, and she uses thread to draw, adding detail and texture.

Continue reading “The Art Institute Is Open Again!”

Sausage and Apple Breakfast Bake

I made this breakfast bake when Anna and her family visited last week. I rarely try something new when I have guests, but I had fate in this recipe. And I didn’t regret – everybody loved it!

Simply Made Kitchen and Crafts

This one our most flavorful breakfast casseroles. The mixture of apples and breakfast sausage, teamed up with a light batter and homemade maple syrup make this a winner in our household.

Sausage and Apple Breakfast Bake

1 or 2 pounds bulk pork sausage
2 cups biscuit/baking mix
1-1/3 cups skim milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon butter extract
2 large eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
2 medium apples, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13×9” baking pan; set aside. In a large skillet, cook and crumble breakfast sausage until no longer pink; drain. In a medium mixing bowl, combine biscuit mix, milk, extracts, eggs and oil until blended; stir in cooked sausage. In a small bowl, mix together cinnamon and sugar. Transfer biscuit mixture to a greased 13×9” baking dish. Evenly top with apples; sprinkle with…

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Masks During Workouts

This morning, I went to the gym for the first time in a while. I stopped going due to a number of reasons: first, the cases were up, then I was traveling, then there was too cold and/or too much snow. Then Anna and her family were visiting.   

There were quite a bit of people even at 5-30 AM, and once again, there were people without masks (masks in the gyms are mandated only in the city). Previously, I would leave the gym in such a situation, but today, since there were more masked people than unmasked, I thought that rather than they make me uncomfortable, I would make them uncomfortable 🙂 And I succeeded, at least partially. 

I saw on their Instagram that they are planning a Member’s Appreciation Day on Saturday. I do not get how in the world they came up with this idea! Prizes! Free food! Free haircuts! Free workouts from 9 AM to 3 PM!

I will stop now and will paste here the text from today’s Tribune – see below (I know that sometimes Tribune does not show the content to non-subscribers).

From Chicago Tribune:

Continue reading “Masks During Workouts”

House Repairs

It was supposed to be very cold in Palatine the week I was away (and it was!) So, I left all faucets dripping to prevent the pipes from freezing. Two weeks before that, I examined all the sinks in the house, and I thought that I fixed everything leaking.

That is, until Wednesday morning when my cleaning lady came and texted me: Hettie, you have water on the floor! Both upstairs sins are leaking. It was not the end of the world but still, very unpleasant news.

When I returned, I realized that not two, but all three of the sinks, had water under them. I shrugged and decided that I am not trying to fix things by myself anymore :).

It was Friday, and I didn’t start searching for plumbers till Monday morning. When I went to the NextDoor, I found that the plumbers I used a long time ago are still in business and have good reviews. Very soon, however, I remembered why I stopped using them. Even though they did good work, they often didn’t respond to the calls and didn’t call back. After they didn’t show up at the scheduled time, didn’t call, and didn’t respond to calls and voicemails for three hours, I decided to go with another contractor I found on the NextDoor, who responded right away.

They suggested replacing pretty much everything, and I didn’t argue because I didn’t replace pipes and faucets since I moved in (except for a couple of small repairs). It was a pricy job, but everything is finally in place now. Since there are high chances I will be moving later this year, I asked them to pick the simplest faucets, just to have them there. And I decided not to fix the cabinets.

Because I wasted time waiting for the first contractors, the new one didn’t come till late on Wednesday, and then, I had to postpone everything till the girls leave. That was the right decision because they had to turn the water off for 1.5 hours, and the total time the contractor spent in my house was about six hours. When he was finished, I asked him which was the most difficult, and he said – the one on the first floor, because everything is too close to the wall, and the place is small. Now I feel much better because if a professional had trouble with this one, no wonder it was difficult for me as well!

Lots Of Happy News

I just learned that the staff and clients of the Night Ministry are vaccinated as a part of phase 1B, and many of them have received their first dose already. The volunteer coordinator emailed us that we should expect the update soon. I hope that this means that we won’t have to wait till the end of March to resume in-person volunteering. I can’t wait to make “Mama’s soup” in the ODS:).

For the past week, I was jealously looking at my Europen friends’ Instagram posts with the first early spring flowers emerging, with the first patches of green grass and lots of sunshine.

It looks like finally, we see the end of winter here, in Illinois. It was 46F today and lots of sunshine.
On top of this happy news, the Lakefront space will be open soon, almost a year after it was closed. The playgrounds and indoor swimming are also starting to reopen.

Next week, I am planning to go to the rt Institute first time after the last closure in the fall, and also, I am going to do escorting for the first time in a while. That’s mostly because I do not tolerate the cold weather well enough to escort during the freezing temperature, not because of any restrictions.

Overall, it really feels like a new beginning:)

Here I Am In My Childhood Apartment in 1965

My greataunt used to say that we had four different heating systems in that apartment. The only one who was working at the time of my childhood was the central radiator heating, where warm water from various industrial cooling systems was recycled for heating purposes. We didn’t control when the heating is turned on or off and what was the desired temperature.

The non-functioning heating systems were two masonry heaters; one of them looked almost exactly like the one on the picture, and another one rectangular-shaped and covered with tiles.

There was a huge fireplace in the largest room, and sometimes, when my cousin had a gathering with his friends, they would start the fire in the fireplace, and everything worked as expected:). Lastly, some heating system inside the walls was using hot water running through and heating the spaces. My greataunt called it the Amos heating, but I can’t find any references for this name anywhere.

We had only cold running water. In the bathroom, we used a small gas water heater. Each time you needed warm water, you had to lift the level, start the pilot with the match. Then, you would turn the water on, and this would turn on the heating.

There was another, even smaller gas water heater in the kitchen, but it was seldom used for some reason.
Bit overall, the kitchen was a fascinating place, with many objects to explore. I remember an iron nade of cast iron and brass mortar and pestle and a non-electrical coffee percolator.

And I remember the morning sun in the kitchen window and a thin water jet running from the small brass kitchen faucet, and me standing on the large rectangular wooden stool by the kitchen sink washing my hands in the morning.

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.