Thursday, July 19, 2012

instagrams from france

i'm not sure
there's anyone left reading this lonely blog
after my 3 months of neglect.
and i'm not sure if or when i'll be back
to documenting our lives so vigilantly.
i really should, but for now i don't have it in me.

in the meantime,
if you aren't already on instagram,
you should be.
my big camera is in the shop
and i'm posting plenty of pics from france
from my phone.

you can find me under the username "jenbanner"--
either instagram on your phone,
or on webstagram on your computer,
and we can stay connected.

hooray for summer!
(even though it's rainy)

Monday, April 9, 2012

happy easter
 to one and all.

as you can see i am not much of a blogger these days.

the only hint of any sort of a spring
we've had around here
is one day of temperatures
finally out of the thirties.
still snow, rain, mud, and gray skies.
we are oh so anxious.

but easter week was a breath of fresh air for us
i've tried to fill my house
with living things,
in one form or another--
flowers and eggs and grass. . .
and all the festivities
were a nice distraction
from what has been going on outside
and allowed us to feel
if nothing else, the spirit of spring.

hopefully the heavens will shine down on us soon.

Monday, March 19, 2012

london highlights

 it was exactly three years ago
that i spent my first week in london--
finding myself in awe at big ben, westminster abbey
and the tate modern.
though i was newly pregnant on that trip
and remember literally having to drag myself around
the exhaustion and the nausea
were just beginning to set in.

but this trip
was not tainted by such trial
and instead i had the energy and the freedom
of a bird,
with crisp, early spring weather
to breathe new life into my veins.

of course the number one delight
was reuniting with dear friends
and spending time with them
catching up, reminiscing and scheming future rendezvous,
but a few other highlights include:

-concert at st. martin in the fields
-the national gallery
-paul (the cafe, not your husband, linds)

-boat ride on the thames
-borough market (the comte!)
-dinner in the oxo tower
-seeing pitmen painters at the duchess theatre
(so good!)

-the geffrye musuem of interiors
-shopping at zara with pounds, not rubles!
-the french patisseries

-the blossoms, oh those magnolias!!!

-english bookstores
-the parks, the trees, the rowhouses!
-indian food
-and on my last night i miraculously scored a ticket
to an intimate soprano/harpsichord concert
in the handel house--
in the very room he himself composed in.

and back in moscow
my family held themselves together
without me, believe it or not.  
they gave me the warmest welcome
with balloons, cake, cards and a homemade dinner--
it almost felt like my birthday.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


we just had 3 days
of holiday.
international women's day
means days off--
off work, off school!
and so we were off to the country.
the girls broke in their new pairs
of cross-country skis,
the sun was shining,
and the air crisp.

and tomorrow
i find myself on a plane to london
to catch up with several of my lovely and favorite girl friends.
and so my days off
are just getting warmed up!
(london's 50 degrees is sounding quite warm to me).

you can find me on instagram
at jenbanner
if a postcard or two from london
would brighten your day.

and we'll see you next week!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

ceramic cups

my efforts to de-plasticize my house
probably began with my children's dinnerware.

it's definitely tough
to find something as practical as plastic, for sure.
for something that gets banged, thrown, dropped. . .

i love the bunny enamelware--
but when they get dropped, they chip, then they rust,
and their days are done.
the plate has lasted for us,
but both the bowl and the cute cup are goners.

but when i saw this post
about those cute la fermiere yogurt cups--
i started a little collection.
and one day realized
they are the perfect little cups for him.
the perfect size for his little hands,
ceramic, cute,
and come with delicious french yogurt inside.
and if one ever breaks
(which hasn't happened yet)
we'll just grab another one.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

reading russian

one thing about russian--
as hard a language as it is,
learning to read it
is really quite simple.

milla learned to read english first,
because we happened to be in america
for a couple months,
and my mother took it on.
she caught on very fast
and after that, russian came
without any effort.

now avi is about that age
and is learning how to read--
though russian, not english.
and even though it's not her favorite thing to do,
she does quite well.

i remember being so annoyed
when i was first learning russian
and i would ask somebody how to spell something,
and they would just say the word more slowly,
instead of spelling out the letters.
because every letter sounds the same
every time you meet it.
when i asked alex if they have
a "spelling" subject in school,
he laughed and said of course not.
if you can say the word, you know how to spell it.

and so i still have that daunting english
to teach her how to read--
which she's not going to get in school.
full of those:
"now this letter can sound like 
this, or like this, or like this,
or sometimes you don't hear him at all. . ."

i think i'll keep putting it off.

Friday, March 2, 2012

doctors & ice cream

it's sort of become a given now,
that treat that accompanies
a trip to the doctor.

milla happens to be
our worrier and our drama queen,
and so the impending trip to the doctor
is something that could keep her up at night.
she's so deathly scared of shots
(she swears she will never bear children
because of it--
even avi was saying today
that she wants to marry a man that already has children).
it's just a bit of pink eye,
and we've been to the eye doctor plenty of times,
so she didn't have too much to worry about,
though maybe it didn't help
when i joked that the doctor
was just going to take her eye out and paint it white again. . .

but we certainly made it through,
despite the old brute of a soviet doctor
who doesn't want to explain a thing--
you have to sit and pry information out of her
and she makes you feel like you are
really bothering her and wasting her time. . .
(never mind that she put her novel away
when you knocked on her door).
we came out with a prescription for some eye drops
and headed straight for the ice cream freezer.

and when i finished mine in a couple of minutes
i realized the book store wasn't going to let us in
with any dripping cones,
and so we had to stand on the street
for 15 more minutes
while milla licked away.
of course i asked her if she couldn't take a bite or two
to speed things up a bit,
but she kindly reminded me
that she couldn't--
she lost her top two front teeth last week.
and so we stood there a bit longer.
i let her enjoy it--
since she was about to go home
to scream bloody murder
about getting the drops put in her eyes.

it's tough to be seven.
and have pink eye.
and have to go to a soviet doctor.
and lose your two front teeth.
and have to get eye drops put in. . .

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

christmas treasures

yes i realize
that christmas was already 2 months ago,
but i never did get a chance
to write about ours.
and when i stumbled upon
that gift from the girls
from the bottom of their big little hearts,
i had to etch it into the
"things mom will never forget" book.

i still remember the night when they thought
to go about their secret business.
we still haven't made much of an effort
to include them in the gift-giving business
at christmas time.
all the gifts just end up being from us.
and so as i was busy in my room
going about my secret business
with the scotch tape and the ribbons,
they also wanted to participate.
and they asked for a little cloth gift bag
that i had among my boxes--
and then they disappeared into their room,
only to emerge ever-so-proudly
twenty minutes later
with a bulging gift bag,
with a gift tag lovingly addressed
to "mom and dad" from "milla and avi."
and my anticipation on christmas morning
may have been as great as theirs
to open that sweet little gift
they had prepared.
and the contents:
-a clay heart on a broken toothpick
made at kindergarten by avi
-a wooden folk doll painstakingly painted by avi
at the craft festival last fall
-a pair of wings from united airlines
they got years ago
-a clay pyramid made by milla at school
-a little porcelain doll given to them by grandma--
well justified my anticipation,
that little bag was so full of love
of the tenderest kind.
even though they told me
they still would like to be able
to play with one of the items,
if they ever wanted to. . .

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


the girls' favorite momento
they put into their suitcases in israel
were these mini mosaics.
after all the different mosaics we saw,
the loaves and the fishes at tabgha,
the ruins at masada,
the church of all nations at gethsemane. . .
it was a fitting piece of israel
for them to take home.

avi chose the menora
and milla the pomegranate.
and they spent hours
placing all those little stones in just the right spot,
then cementing them all in,
and washing them clean.

and anytime they were not looking,
i found myself placing some little tiles
because i couldn't help it.
i regretted not getting bringing one home myself.
a big one.

if it fit in with my decor a little better
i'd put a few in my home.
why is it such a lost art?

Monday, February 20, 2012


friday night found us
at a masquerade ball at the ritz-carlton--
a charity fundraiser
for the international women's club.

although the girls
were most disappointed
when i came home with my dress for the ball
and they didn't find any petticoats, bows,
lace, sequins or hoop-skirts,
and of course also asked
if perhaps they would be able to go next year?
(they do have the petticoats. . .!)

we had the most enjoyable company
of alex's parents
who happen to be very accomplished dancers
who certainly showed us up,
though quite humbly.
alex and i did make a bit of an attempt,
amidst recommitting ourselves again
to those dance lessons.

but the mimes, the music,
the artists, the ballet dancers,
the canapes, the soloists,
the atmosphere. . .
i almost felt myself back in the 18th century!

Friday, February 17, 2012

ilana's granola bars

how many hundred years has it been
since i posted a recipe?

this is what i haven't been able
to keep my hands out of lately.

ilana's granola bars
(taken straight from ilana, alex's relative
who lives on a kibbutz in israel)

2 cups oats
3/4 cups sugar
1 cup flour
2 T honey
2/3 cup butter
1/2 t soda

melt butter and honey together
then combine with remaining ingredients.
spread in glass baking dish
and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 min until browned.
cut while still warm.

we did ending up adding one egg
for the right consistency--
which will probably depend on your oats
and your butter choice.
but they were delicious either way--
and super easy.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

mid-week date

i know not everyone
gets into valentines day,
but i love any excuse
for alex to take me out
right in the middle of the week.
even if it means he couldn't get off soon enough
and there was the notorious v-day traffic
which nearly shuts down the city
and i had to stand and wait for him in the cold
when we met by arbat.
and because of that
we had to go to the concert a bit hungry
and save our dining for afterwards.

he took me to see the puppini sisters
at the estrada theatre on the river--
those sassy retro british girls
who dance, play violins & accordians
and sing with lovely voices.

and after that
we walked through the snowy night
down the river a bit
to the strelka bar
and met dasha & misha for a late dinner
with virgin mojitos and the pecan maple tart for dessert--
all well worth the growling stomach
during the concert.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

v day

happy happy
st. valentine's day!

i stayed up late on sunday
to pull together a little something
for my girls
which i have been meaning to do for a long time
but needed a deadline for,
if you know what i mean.
they loved finding the little necklaces
and valentines with their names on them
at the breakfast table this morning.
and i loved that school was finally cancelled
for milla because of the cold--
in fact she was home sick yesterday anyway
and we have been laying low at home,
reminiscing about the days
we were all home together all the time!
we turned up zaz
to accompany our lazy breakfast
and then spent time crafting, playing games,
music, reading books together etc.

and tonight,
alex promises a lineup of festivities--
and in fact he just called
and i'm off to get dressed!