Sunday, November 30, 2008


I like Thanksgiving better than Christmas.

  • It kicks the holidays off rather than ends it.
  • It is a distinctly American holiday, and it comes from an old Indian tradition passed on to the new settlers.
  • It is even more symbolic for our family as we celebrate it together with our American host family: we are the new settlers, and they are the "Indians" that taught us to cook turkey.
  • Main colors of Thanksgiving are fall harvest colors - yellow, orange, red. Orange is one of my favorite colors. (Guess what I am considering to be one of the wedding colors?)
A note for my Belorussian and Russian readers

I bet you already knew everything I mentioned about Thanksgiving. But, I am pretty sure you didn't know one more American tradition of modern days. It comes the Friday after Thanksgiving, called Black Friday.

On Black Friday many consumer products stores open really early - 4 or 5 o'clock in the morning, and determined shoppers pour into the stores in hopes to catch that plasma TV set for 80% off. The line to enter the store forms the night before, I guess the first people in line eat their turkey dinner and leave to get in front.
The catch is - there are only 10 or 20 TVs available for that whole crowd. If you are lucky enough to grab one of those you'd need to rush back immediately to the check out line, or you can be stuck there forever. Elbows and bodyweight are used widely during the store maneuvering, and the politeness is not present during Black Friday.

When I first learned about this tradition, I tried to participate: studied the promotions printed in the local newspaper the night before, planned out my stores visits, and headed out as early as I could - 7 am!!! :) ... It was already too late, the only sign of the great deals was the tail of the check out line. :( ...:) Never again!

When I saw Black Friday in action, one thing came to mind: if our older Russian speaking population here is nostalgic about Soviet times, I'd encourage them to participate in Black Friday - never ending lines are completely real, and it should bring back the memories. Besides, there are years of line standing experience they could've put to use - a clear advantage increasing the chances to actually be the lucky owner of that 80% off TV set.
This Thanksgiving my fiance, my family, my host family, my friends (near and far) made me feel whole. Thank you so much for being ingredients of my happiness. I've recharged. I am now again ready to create, share, inspire, get inspired, learn and teach, care and be cared for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Our Miami Trip (+ some tips for first time Miami visit)

That Thursday was a very rainy, gray and wet. Any visitors to my work desk, however, were startled to see me grinning from one ear to another ear. :) <-- Just like that. My coworkers, though, understood: they knew I was flying to sunny and summery Orlando that evening. And, what was even better - driving to Miami the next day. I really could not keep the grin off my face any time I turned around to look out the window. I saw drizzle, but I was seeing palm trees.
From Miami, Florida - November 2008

And turquoise water....

From Miami, Florida - November 2008

This was our first time in Miami, and frankly, I didn't expect Miami to be a city. Like New York City, but on the ocean. Miami is a mix of city - clubs, restaurants, well dressed people, shopping and the sun bleached beach. The combination I never saw before, and it kept confusing me.

So, for those traveling to Miami for the first time, here are 4 tips for your trip planning:
1) Bring dressy clothes. Dressy, but beachy. Girls - stilettos will find their occasion easily.
2) To be in the center of action, stay at one of the boutique hotels in South Beach. (See the map below - we noted a few). If you want a quieter atmosphere, North Miami Beach will be your fit.
3) Staying north or south - make a trip to the Ocean Drive at night and enjoy the never ending party.
4) Go to Miami in a company of friends, as mentioned above - it is a party kind of place.

Below are some mapped tips

View Larger Map

I arrived to Orlando to meet my fiance that spent the whole week at a conference there. After a brief tour of a small part of the place (Rosen Shingle Creek) I mentally marked my calendar for next year - it was decided I will travel to this conference as well. 5 pools! Sunshine, palm trees! :)
From Miami, Florida - November 2008

When we drove closer to our hotel in North Miami Beach, condos rose on each side of the road and along the coast.
From Miami, Florida - November 2008

From Miami, Florida - November 2008

This is my favorite:
From Miami, Florida - November 2008
I was armed with an almost professional camera, so Andrey had no choice, but to become my model for this trip.
From Miami, Florida - November 2008

From Miami, Florida - November 2008

See a complete slide show of our trip with comments to the photos here:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Good Morning Thought

While I am preparing a complete report on our fabulous Miami trip, I wanted to share a beautiful new thought I discovered reading "Atlas Shrugged" , an Ayn Rand novel:

"No matter what night preceded it, she had never known a morning when she did not feel the rise of a quiet excitement that became a tightening energy in her body and a hunger for action in her mind - because this was the beginning of the day and it was the day of her life."

I actually feel like that every morning too! Every once in a while my reasons are a bit shallower then simple gratitude for living my own life, though. :) Sometimes I am in a good mood because of a yummy breakfast ahead, sometimes because of the rays of sunshine, or, perhaps cozy rain outside, and sometimes, because it is Friday - the end of the week (tomorrow!!). But the fact is - I never wake up in a bad mood. ... There is one exception, now that I declared that: I used to get very much upset when my parents woke me up against my intention to sleep in on Saturdays. We used to live in a 1 bedroom apartment in Minsk and they intentionally made too much noise in the kitchen. Luckily my fiance knows I should not be disturbed in the morning against my will. :)

Happy coming Friday!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Miami!!! Florida!!! Summer is back!

This is just a quick note to say that we (the bride and the groom to be) have eloped to summer for a couple of days. Yes, the USA is THAT wonderful of a country where at one end of it we have winter and on the other - summer. And summer is in Miami!! Today is November 14 and the weather here is in the 90s! (= = 25-30 c). It was hard for me to believe that the weather that is measured in 90 degrees exists now, in November, when I was packing, so along with two bathing suites I decided to include a jacket. Silly me - it is summer here, real NY or Belarussian summer weather!

I didn't study Miami over the internet and came here with only pictures of palm trees, topless girls on the beach (apparently it is the only place it is allowed in the USA, but this is not a confirmed fact) and salsa dancing in my mind - this is how I though Miami should be.

Well, what I found caught me totally off guard - skyscaping condos, not so neat and clean sidewalks and girls in pencil black skirts and stilettos or whimsical cocktail dresses walking the streets! My knee long jeans and a fancier than usual top with city style sandals are not enough for Miami! I will now know, and will be prepared for tomorrow. :)
Tomorrow we will also see what is the proper beach attire in this fashion demanding city.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Talents of California

I do not need any more proof that the land in California must be magical, as it grows talents left and right.

Every time this commercial is on TV you'd find me glued to the screen with a grim on my face nodding to the "governator" when he warns I will be back to California. I will be! (As soon as I return from my first visit :)). On a serious note, as a marketer I am always jumping up and down when I see my fellow marketers to just nail it!

And my answer to the following one is - "Tomorrow!" The play on words in this commercial I put right next on the shelf with Carrie Bradshaw's famous masterpieces.

If this weren't enough, how about Jasmine Star? I still can't decide what does she do better - writes or photographs? The way she writes makes me "watch" her posts, not read them. Jasmine, you are my inspiration in becoming a better writer! Here is my new favorite of her recent posts.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Orange Season

While my fiance sees his second dream, fighting the cold he brought from his trip to Belarus, I decided to vier off to the blog word.

This whole week I wanted to share my feelings towards the "orange season", as I call it, that happens right now in America. I guess this whole week will be devoted to my American life, rather than the progress on our wedding planing. But that topic is coming up and will be on the agenda again and again very shortly - promise!

I call it the "orange season", as this is the color dominating decorations in people homes and stores all over. It starts in the beginning of October, peaks on Halloween and stays through November up to Thanksgiving. Orange is one of my favorite colors to decorate and wear in the fall and winter, as it reminds me of sun and energy and compensates for the grayness and darkness of winter. It is sort of a "sun concentrate".

When I first came to the USA, it was right at Halloween time, and I could not believe how orange are the pumpkins here - we never ever had them so orange in Belarus!

This is why it was so much fun to take my grandmas to a pumpkin patch couple of weeks ago. One of my grandmas is an experienced gardener, and she was very impressed. Here is a small slide show from that sunny, orangy day.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Today I voted for the president of the USA!

Just seating on the couch, watching CNN, tears in my eyes every three seconds - people who are speaking and being interviewed are just so emotional tonight! (Disclaimer: I am tearful even just listening to the radio driving to work in the morning, if I happen to catch especially touching story on NPR). I have never participated in an election of an American president before, so this feels a little like my evening too.

We have elected Barack Obama!

.... Several tears again - John McCain spoke to congratulate the future president. Very good speech. He had the harder one of the speeches tonight and did it with so much respect and dignity!

Back in the voting booth I fought myself not to take a picture of the poling machine, with all its cute little handles and red arrows. You'd think that with everything computerized in this country the machines will look a bit more sophisticated - but no, they could belong to 1962, just as fine, yet are still used - must be very good ones! While I was absorbed by the process of turning handles, a line formed outside the booth waiting for their turn to turn - apparently I was taking too much time!

.... Tears again - Barack Obama is speaking. Barack Obama, caught my attention at first because he branded himself, created a slogan, and carried them both well through his campaign. This historic night shows - Marketing is important. :)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Ring (not the horror movie)

May be I am not like many brides, but I still can not get used to the fact that I am getting married - it is so new to me! So, the ring that appeared on my finger last Thursday, that was whimsically crafted by Northfield Designer Goldsmiths, helps! Now even the cashiers in the supermarket smile at me differently. :0)

### An official promise to give my ring a photo shoot as soon as I get my camera, and to insert a photo of it right in place of this little note###

There are a few choices we had to make while deciding on the ring. First of all, I just loved that my fiance opted to pick out the ring together, because it turned out our ideas of the rings were very different - I wanted white gold and he wanted yellow! By the way, I learned that yellow gold is classic, and white gold is just the fashion that comes and goes. Well, I am for fashion! While there was no hesitation on the color, I was torn between a classic "tiffany" style ring (which is a round bend with a 4 or 6-prong support of the stone) and something a little less classic. We went with a little less classic - the ring from a private jeweler, wonderful Gudmund Jos Olsson originally from Sweden. Not only I liked the way the ring looks, but, it also hugs the finger very comfortably.

So, when the rings are chosen, here are things to consider:
1) White or yellow gold? ... Or, platinum?
2) Classic style? You will need to know the terms like "solitaire" (which means just single standing stone), or may be you are for very traditional, royal high settings that have details on the sides as well as top?
3) There will be a wedding band going together with your ring when "I do"s are said, how will the whole piece look and feel on the finger together?
This part of wedding preparation can be gaily checked complete. It was very fun and romantic. :)
Now I need advice on how to keep the ring on my finger at all times and not leave it in some restaurant's or grocery store bathroom. (Which I've done). Any tips?