Friday, July 19, 2013

On Peculiarities of Vegas

During my 2 years living in Vegas, I have stumbled upon a couple of amusing, peculiar and sometimes disturbing sights

Friday, early morning. A sofa in the middle of a parking lot. Trust me, it was NOT there last night! 

OK, you might not see very clearly, but THAT black thing in the center is a BOOT on a metal stick. It's been there for 4 days. And it does not seem to be going anywhere 

Send me some of peculiarities YOU have noticed!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Cookie MASTER, not a Cookie Monster

I have decide that this specific post deserves to be in 2 languages, English and Russian due to the effort I had put into making the actual reason for the post and the tastiness of the outcome. 

Ramadan is at the door (actually, it has already started in most countries) and I could not help cooking the most traditional Moroccan cookie - Shebakia. It's a sesame cookie, coated in honey, crunchy, chewy and very exotic! In two words - it's quite one of a kind. Here I must warn you in case you are rushing Google for the recipe (which by the way are ample out there) - it's NOT an easy and quick thing to make. Above all, it requires crafty hands and patience. 

Honestly, I have NO idea how I had managed the task successfully, given my natural lack of both mentioned virtues. But this is the good news for you - you CAN do it, too!

I will not bore you with a very detailed  step-by-step cooking process, so, I skip the dough mixing stage and jump straight to the fun part. 

This is what I started with (well, almost):
This is the minimum requirement, easily achievable: 

This is how you begin shaping the Shebakia:

Don't ask me to explain how exactly the cookie gains its lovely flower shape, but this is the result you are striving for:

And then again, and again, and many more times over again: 
A close-up: 

Then you fry the to-be cookies in oil: 

When they become lovely deep golden color - dip them in hot honey (yes, I know, A LOT of honey and A LOT of oil - but trust me - TOTALLY worth it!): 

Taram! Please welcome - Shebakia, 
the ultimate Moroccan sesame cookie! 

P.S. Recipes: the wonderful and WORKING (I tried) recipes are here: 
(yields about 35 cookies)
and here: - please mind the amounts as this recipe yield about 4 pounds of cookies!   

Saturday, July 6, 2013

On Palm Trees in Vegas (a promise to a dear friend)

It might sound surprising, but there are people who have never seen palm trees. I mean real, naturally growing or man-planted and carefully looked after. Personally I  don't even consider palm trees as real trees. But I have promised my old friend to share the wander I was given to observe day after day, without giving proper credit.
So here I am, sharing Las Vegas palm trees and cacti with the World.

This is my favorite park. Actually, it is the ONLY place I can call park here: )

Those stings seem to be its flowers or fruit. As you see, I am not much a flora knower 

I like these pineapple looking palm trees!  

These appear during the vegetation, attractive but hardly eatable.

Now, don't ask, just enjoy the looks!  

Friday, July 5, 2013

An Inspirational Quote

For the past week I have been fighting - quite unsuccessfully, needless to say - my own laziness and the "block". With a lot on my mind, plans and projects buzzing in my head, I created and re-created day plans and weekly time sheets to pursue to help me become the me that I would be satisfied with and that I could be proud of.   
Now, here are pieces of mind that gave me that final push to stop dreaming and start doing:    

and this one: 

"Success is peace of mind 

which is a direct result of self-satisfaction 

in knowing you did your best 

to become the best you are capable of becoming."

John R. Wooden

Keeping my fingers crossed for all of us starting something - it will inevitably work out just perfectly if we do not stop going for it! 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

On Spring and Flowers in Vegas

When I just came to Las Vegas, I was horrified by many things. First of all, the heat. I am pretty sure that Vegas can boast of the driest and most heating heat possible in a populated city. And you better pray there is no wind! Otherwise, you are baked - or roasted, whichever you prefer - alive by the Sun and the burning wind. 
   Then came another unpleasant realization: there are no "real" trees here. Only cacti and palm trees. And a variety of coniferous trees, too. But they don't really count as trees in my perception! 
   And when I was told that Spring is a lovely time in Vegas - I had serious doubts. Now that I have lived through two Springs in Vegas, I can actually confirm - Spring IS lovely here in Vegas! 
Oleander is everywhere and blooms throughout spring and summer - evening air is delicious here! 

Surprised as I was, there are real roses in Las Vegas! The wonderful China roses are my favorite - they bring up childhood memories, when my grandma used to treat me to a teaspoon of China roses jam when I had a sore throat. It was the best treat on Earth! And quite possibly - still is.  

A Mimosa tree - Quite a lot of it, actually. One just  below my balcony.  I am so grateful to it every time I get the chance to breathe in it's distinguished sweetness!  

Pink Acacia tree. Can you imagine?! I could not believe my eyes when I saw it! My home town is flooded with blooming acacia in spring and it certainly was nice to kinda, connect to that, in a way. 

This is my favorite Vegas tree so far. It has dark red leafage from spring to fall,  it turns bright fairy-tale red in fall  and it blooms pink in spring!! What more can I wish from a tree! 

Sorry for the blurry pics - I'll make better ones 
and post them a bit later! 

Finding these along a high-way (and all roads here are like high-ways) was like finding a well with cool clear water to a thirsty stranger! Lovely, lovely real field flowers in the midst of a city in the desert.   

These are common representatives of the so-called desert landscape around here. They come in a variety of colors - orange, violet and white. I prefer orange ones :) 

And these are huge leafy trees with adorable and unusually tropical flowers. I guess I should do a bit of research to provide the names for the plants that give me so much pleasure! 

Monday, June 10, 2013

On pools. Swimming pools.

I have always been drawn to swimming pools. My girlish fantasy home was a mermaid 's palace, still with a pool! My Dream Home has a blue deep swimming pool in my back yard,  naturally.
   I have swam  in all but the Arctic Ocean! 
But recently I had a totally mind-boggling experience! 

I walked on the bottom of a huge empty pool. Felt like the bottom of the Ocean! Or a grave?... 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Author's Block, is it?

Whether you ARE an author or just making it through life, we have all experienced a so-called Author's Block - when you have thoughts, ideas, desires, interests, projects that excite you, books you want to read, languages you do not give yourself the chance to study properly and many other such like things that make your life richer, healthier, happier, fuller and generally worth living, but you don't have the inner strength to share them or even worse - indulge in them. And you go on for days living in this state of hibernation, growing more dissatisfied with yourself, more irritable and intolerant to the ones you actually love. Some call a deeper stage of the Block "depression" and for whatever the reason, find it easier to give in to the Block, instead of pulling the butt up and spend time you otherwise would have just wasted in feeling sorry and angry with yourself, doing ONE thing that you have been wanting to do for weeks! 
   I suggest get a dog!! No other pet would do for the purposes of this conversation. 
You have to walk a dog 2-3 times a day, buy - or better cook! -  for it regularly.  This should help keep you in tone - which is a start! While walking the dog, you will see people, eventually will start saying Hello to them, you will pass by shop windows which could call your attention, or you can even read while your dog is enjoying itself in the park!
  So, get a dog!! And just to make it clear, by "get a dog" I mean "adopt" one. 
  Keep it up! As soon as you start, you will actually realize that the proverb is right - First step is half the battle!