lovely day

Hello 70 degree weather! It was a beautiful weekend, filled with sunshine + friends, + some awesome food!  I totally appreciate warmth so much more after such a brutal and cold winter.  My friend and soul sister Kristina was in NYC visiting and took the bus to NJ for the night.  We had some dinner with everyone after church then took a nice walk to our ice cream shop! We stayed up catching up late into the evening after the babe and husband fell asleep.

^^^^This girl is just filled with awesomeness.  So glad we got to enjoy her company.  The next morning we had some extra time to spare before dropping her off at the airport so we explored the hipster streets of Williamsburg.


^^^^The husband found the most amazing roaster called Toby’s Estate and it was so cool. They even had their own espresso lab. Talk about coffee snobs.;)



^^^^We went to this quaint cafe called Fabiane’s and I had the most amazing salmon filled salad with capers, pickles, onions, and balsamic dressing! It was so perfect and exactly what I was craving! Most assuredly going back to that place!

teetherbaby^^^^Baby girl exploring in daddy’s arms. We went to Harry’s Burrito’s near Columbus circle for some Mexican way later on and it was so delicious.  I ordered the Shrimp Chimichunga and it was phenomenal.   It was an excellent day!  Good food + good company = recipe to the best kind of day!
^^^^Later on Roman and I walked through Central park and did some summer baby shopping for our princess after dropping off Kristina at the airport. This is how excited she was to get a pair of new shoes. “Mama’s girl” ;)  We hurried back home because I had a night class and lo’ and behold I get to class on time and it is cancelled.

Today it is lightly sprinkling outside and I’m really expectant and excited for my brother’s visit tomorrow.  He is coming to visit for the next 10 days.  Bought some bacon for the guy, geesh I’ve missed him and excited to catch up with my little brother!

5 years ago…

5 years ago, the husband and I met..well we had met once before, but this time we ‘officially’ met.”Have we met? You look familiar”…you know how that goes. ;)

I digress

It was my cousin Alena’s birthday, and she celebrated at BJ’s restaurant. He came with his brother, and I with my sister. We sat across from one another, and never looked back. lol After BJ’s we went to my cousin’s house for dessert/tea, where we continued to chat it up and then he made his brother eventually ask me for my number because he was too nervous. Oy! ;)

I was showing Andrey’s German cousins our wedding photos last night, and they said that we both changed so much. I never really thought so, but looking back at old photos has me wanting to ask myself why the heck I thought that being orange was so cute, and why all the makeup? Au natural is the way to go. ;)…at least natural looking makeup.

We don’t really celebrate ALL the dates, but I just so happened to remember the significance of this lovely day today, and wanted to share it with you all. How are we celebrating you ask? Coffee ice cream, and a cooking show. We are so wild! ;)

Anywho, I’ll leave you with two photos from that wonderful night, 5 years ago.

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Thank you for the best 5 years of my life Mr. Ivanov. <3

P.S. Happy Birthday Alenka! Thank you for sharing this special day with us!


Corn casserole


I rarely post recipes just because I always forget to take pictures when making something.   I’ve had a couple people ask me for this recipe so I thought I’d share it! I halved the amount of butter that the original recipe calls for.  The first time I tried the corn casserole was when my husband prepared it for me back in our dating days.  Not only that he somehow found out that I love shrimp and salmon and made some amazing dinner to accompany this dish after picking me up from the airport.  Shrimp and corn casserole are the way to my  I just recently added shrimp into my grits for breakfast and oh my! This post is not about shrimp, but about this goodness of a casserole. This is our go-to dessert when we wanna reminisce our  good ole’ dating days.

just mix


1 can whole kernel yellow corn, undrained

1 can cream syle yellow corn

1/2 (16 oz) carton of sour cream

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 stick of butter

1 box of Jiffy corn muffin mix

THE MOST SIMPLE STEPS EVER: Mix all together in a lightly oiled casserole dish and cook for 55-60 minutes at 350F. Ta da!

* you can also substitute cream cheese if you don’t have sour cream

* If you want thicker pieces use a 9X9 pan; if it’s a larger group use 9X13 and it will be ready in 50 minutes.

9 months




Standing all by her wobbly self. I can’t take it!


teether Fiona got her first two teeth this past week! She loves paper, green beens, and cucumbers.  I felt her bite me for the first time and low and behold a tooth was coming up.   Loving our new cozy place.   Babygirl and I take a little walk in our backyard everyday(minus rainy days)  and notice all the new roots, new greens and blooms opening up.  God is such a beautiful Creator.  One of the most beautiful seasons is that of growth whether it is spiritual or physical.  God allows us to see this everyday in the little things: the new daffodils popping up to tell of more sunny days to come and to the beautiful firsts of a child.  Life is just so beautiful!




Love, Natalie

Tuesday Things: Sweet things edition

Woah, 3 posts in 1 week, who am I? ;)

I had a bunch of photos of sweet treats on my phone, so I decided to compile another themed Tuesday things. Here we go!

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amanda's shower


a. French toast from Tower Cafe is SO delicous!

b. Pinkberry frozen yogurt after playing volleyball at the park all day nights are upon us. :) volleyball is optional, yogurt is not. :)

c. We tried a ‘cronut’ or a ‘doissant’ as it was called at Sweet Dozen donut shop near our house a few weeks ago. It was good, but I imagine the actual cronut to be even better. The texture of this one was a bit more donut-y than croissant-y.

d. I’m not allowed to buy any more candles until I use up some of the embarrassingly large collection I have <–self imposed rule…but I already know which candle I will buy once that glorious candle buying day comes. Tarjay, you are so good.

e. Gap kids shirt I spotted the other day. So cute!

f. Rasberry lemonade with cute straw. <3

g. Red velvet rosette cake and my MIL’s famous kooha (tvorog) cake from a few weeks ago.

h. and finally my two favorite sentences I read while grading some 2nd grade spelling tests on Friday.

“Some people liek to eat one cupcake, and some a lot of cupcakes.” & “I like to eat one cupcake a week”. You know what they say….”A cupcake a day…

i. More cake pops, and sweet treats at Amanda’s bridal shower a few weeks ago.

j. In other news, happy birthday to my brother Alex, my grandma, and my cousin Katie! I’m sure there will be cake/cupcakes involved. ;)

Hope your week is full of sweet things…candles count. :)


Wedding x2 weekend

It’s been quite the weekend. We went to a wedding on Friday night, and again on Saturday morning…busy, busy! Andrey worked until 5 on Friday so we missed Amanda’s & Nathan’s ceremony, but we made it on time for the reception. It was SO lovely. One of my favorite weddings. Super relaxed and full of Jesus. Amanda looked like a princess, and Nathan looked enamored by his gorgeous bride. <3 So happy for them.IMG_5647 IMG_5642 IMG_5638


Representing MGC :)

IMG_7763  IMG_7737I got this beautiful flower arrangement to take home for making some cake pops. I think I got the better end of the deal. ;)

Gosh, I love weddings so much! They always remind me of my wedding (almost) 4! years ago, and the wonderful journey it’s been…Also, in full transparency, I’m often reminded of how I can be a better wife. ;)

On Saturday, Andrey & I totally overslept and had like 30 minutes to get ready for his cousin’s wedding. ;/ I thought about wearing the same outfit, but threw another dress on. However, there was no time for crazy ironing so Andrey sported the same outfit…we’re simple people. :)


Beautiful Inna & her mama


Andrey & his handsome brothers.


Inna’s wedding was totally different from Amanda’s, but wonderful in its own ways. The decor was very bedazzled. Andrey reminded me of the time where I hot glued diamonds to my license plate rim a few years ago..#notmyproudestmoment. lol The Russian food was delicous..and kept coming. :) A bunch of Andrey’s relatives came from all over the states, and even Germany, so it was cool to see and talk to them. The German’s have the coolest accents…oh and they each have like 2 espresso machines in their homes…We need to visit. ;)

*Please excuse the blurry photos. Not sure what happened, but I really need to learn how to use my camera one of these days.

Congrats to the two beautiful couples! <3


Baby Update: Weeks 11-13


Unfortunately this picture will have to suffice for the past 3 weeks. Definitely haven’t been keeping up with the ‘brick wall’ photos. :)

Has it really been 3 weeks since I did a baby update? Crazy! Time’s a flyin’ around these parts. April is upon us, and I so looking forward to the lovely Spring weather it will bring.

How far along: 14 weeks (tomorrow)

Baby size: Lemon

Weight gain: Not sure about the numbers but my clothes are definitely fitting a little different. Today I put on a skirt, and realized that it was just not happening…I’d like to keep my circulation goin’ throughout church thankyouverymuch! Still unable to find a good pair of maternity pants, but looking forward to the day I do. Rubber band trick will have to work for now. ;)

Cravings: Still pretty similar to week 10. Anything citrusy, vinegary, or tart is extra delicious lately. Sea salt & Vinegar chips have been a weekly staple…whoops! I’ve also been craving (and giving in) pepperoni pizza…especially cold, which is weird because I’ve never cared for it before. I try to balance out my weird (unhealthy) cravings balsamic vinegar vinegar dressings! Oh and another favorite has been fresh lemon squeezed into my water.

Aversions: My fridge smells fine now :) lol but my car has an amazing ability to make me feel not-so-hot lately…nothing a few open windows can’t fix.;) I’ve also been unplugging my B&BW wall plug-ins lately…they are too strong. Meat is a hit and miss. Not my favorite, but I’m still trying to eat it. Coffee is also just ‘meh’ lately. I’ll have a few sips and call it good.

Exercise: Still trying to workout a few days a week. I’m writing my workouts into my planner this week in hope of actually making myself go more. Still nothing crazy with the workouts. Walking, elliptical, light weights. I know people do crazy crossfit workouts while pregnant, but I decided to take it easy throughout my pregnancy.

Sleep: Oh my goodness. I just cannot get enough sleep. The sleeping bug has finally bit me! We visited family a few nights this past week, and once 10 o’ clock hit, my eyes were shutting on me. I wanted to stay up, but man, once your body is done, it’s done. ;)

Looking forward to: Finding out the sex of our baby! Just a few more weeks! I heard you can find out at 16 weeks (or at 20), I’m hoping for the former. :) I’m also looking forward to more walks outside. It’s been raining lately (which we need…badly), but I am ready for the sun. :)

Non-baby related I’m looking forward summer break (from work), in 2 months, our church’s kids camp, and our Mexico vacation! <–Much needed!

Favorite moments: Again, people have been so kind! The mom of some kids that I babysit gave me the sweetest card and an adorable stuffed bear that just made my night. She also lent me this book, which I’ve loved diving into. I feel like a bunch of the information is things I’ve read online, but it’s nice to have it all in one place. Another amazing moment was hearing our baby’s heartbeat. I cried…I’ve been such a cry baby lately. #embarrassingandfunnyatthesametime

After our first ultrasound appointment, Andrey & I went out and enjoyed some Dos Coyotes, and the lovely sunshine. <3

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That’s all I have for ya tonight, thanks for stopping by!


Goodbye Winter!

hello springThe first day of spring was yesterday my friends!!! Hooray! Now if only it would actually feel spring-ish.  If there was any ounce of flower or greenery to be seen I would’ve taken a pic for you all to see but nada.  My mom just recently told me that the tulips are blooming in her yard.  oh California where the sunshine doth shine.  These flats will have to do for me! Aren’t they so cute and from none other than forever 21!  I saw this pic on @lovelyblondecloset and couldn’t resist sharing!  I am so ready to say adios to this weather!

photo 1

^^^^My dear old comrade Inna from Dallas, TX came to visit me in the beginning of the month. And well we just had a lot on our hearts and lots of good ole fellowship.  #talkedfordays

photo 2

^^^^ Some snaps that Inna captured of the scenery in Central Park.  It was brutally cold.


^^^ Went to a Jenny & Tyler concert with Roman’s sweet cousin Julie in PA.


^^^ Midterms are over and what other way to celebrate then to go shopping!  Baby Fiona is exploring everything these days! She has been crawling for days and loves all things made out of  Just recently she spilled ground coffee beans all over herself.  It was hilarious.  Her personality is coming out more so these days and it’s so amazing just watching her grow up! She will be 9 months in a couple weeks and I just can’t believe it’s flown so fast. Can’t wait for Fiona’s little cousin to be born ;)) So happy for my sister and Andrey!! Lovin her pregnancy posts!!


^^ Typical days have been either school night, church night, or busy moving and boxing up little things.  We’re renting a little quaint home in Milltown.  We’re finishing painting this week and should be all moved in by next weekend!  Never realized what an awesome workout painting was.  Who needs a gym membership?! lol But seriously can’t wait to go jogging outside, and enjoy barbecues and start gardening this spring!

^^^ I’ve had a couple skype and phone dates with my cali friends and so excited for all the next round of babies to come this year, my sister included! Ahhh so much happiness!  I can’t wait to see all my pregnant momma friends and congrats to you all! I miss you darlings!!!!

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^^^And lastly, I was inspired to be firmer in my ways with reading the word.  The Bible is so jam packed with goodness.  My friend Inna when she visited me in the beginning of the month was the one who planted in me a deeper desire to study more and not just read the word of God.  Something I used to do more of.   My sister told me about awhile back and I love checking in with some of their studies.  It is an awesome gathering of women that focuses on reading the word.  I love how they urge you to memorize scripture.  This was the scripture for last week!

And the Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.”
Isaiah 58:11, ESV

^^^ Two prayer requests: Please pray for Ukraine!!  I am scared to think of what might happen there.  Shout out to Iryna and Yulia in Kiev! Hope you guys are okay and miss you! Praying for you!!!  My other prayer request is for my grandmother Lesya. She is very sick so please lift her up in your prayers. Thank you!

All done with my sporadic and unflowy like blog post.  Hope you have a great weekend friends!!  :D

1st Trimester:10 week update

Hi all, first off I’d like to thank you for all your sweet pregnancy wishes. I feel SO loved. Seriously, last week I was driving home and thanking the Lord for blessing me with such supportive, and kind people in my life.

10 weeks photo

Um yeah, I’m not quite sure how people get their belly photos to look cute, but no matter how many times we tried, it was just not happening today. lol

I decided to do a separate baby page for those of you inclined to ‘follow’ me on my journey. :) I know that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and I didn’t want to bombard anyone’s feed with baby related things. Buuut I do want to update the rest of you on how these past few weeks have been. Before I got pregnant, some of my favorite posts to read from other bloggers were pregnancy updates. I’m not really sure why, but I would love reading about how different everyone’s beautiful journey was. I know some people do weekly updates, but knowing me and my commitment level, I think maybe I’ll try to group them into every few weeks/trimesters… I guess we’ll see as the weeks go by.

*Edited to add: Oops, I’m still trying to figure out how to post my pregnancy posts to the Baby Ivanov page. Thanks for your patience. Hopefully, I’ll figure it out soon. :)

How far along?:  week 10. woah, It seems like a big number…double digits and all. :) I still don’t really ‘feel’ pregnant, but I’m sure that will change soon enough.

Baby size: Prune

Weight gain/loss: I’m certain that I didn’t lose any way because (thankfully) Ive been able to keep my food down. I’m actually not planning on weighing myself during my pregnancy. Numbers have never been my friend, and I don’t want to get wrapped up in gaining a certain number. Of course my doctor will still be weighing me, and I’ll just ask her to tell me if I’m making healthy progress.

In the photo above, you could kind of see a belly protruding. I’ve always had the  incredible (<–ha!) ability to make myself look 4 months pregnant (especially after a big meal), so I think that my belly will ‘pop’ aka start showing pretty soon. :)

*this is just a personal preference based on my past battle with my weight. I don’t think that you’re a bad person if you weigh yourself. :) Whatever helps you on your health journey.

Cravings: I’m really weird with cravings. I’m a visual person, so most of my cravings have come from me seeing people post food/recipes online…but then again, those cravings were there even before the pregnancy so who knows. :) I do crave fresh fruit (especially citrus), and smoothies seems to be the only way I’ve been able to get my veggie intake lately. In the first few weeks I remember craving hamburgers (iron deficiency?), but those cravings have disappeared (possibly thanks to prenatal vitamins?). One last craving I’ve been having is for salt. Chips, pretzels, saltines. The more salt the better.

Aversions: Smells. Ha! Going back to food for a minute…Sometimes I’ll smell food, and it’ll make my stomach church, but then I’ll eat it and be fine. I always feel like my fridge stinks, no matter how much I clean it. Sometimes kids at school don’t smell too ‘fresh’, and I have to lean back a little when talking to them. ;0 Oh, and coffee stinks to me now? Oh the horror! :) I actually think it’s a good thing, because I probably shouldn’t be drinking it anyway. I have like 1 cup every week or so, but it’s a hit/miss.

Exercise: In the first few weeks I was pretty good about going to the gym/taking a walk outside, 3-4 times a week. Last week I kind of slowed down, but I’m hoping to get some good walks in this week. I don’t do any crazy workouts because I don’t want my heart rate going up too high. It’s funny for me to see how my previous ‘easy’ levels on machines are becoming my regular pace. As long as I’m still moving, I’m okay with that.

Sleep: Pretty good actually. I haven’t hit the ‘crazy tired’ phase yet. Maybe because I try to nap everyday? lol

Looking forward to: Our first prenatal appointment next week. I’m hoping to hear the baby’s heartbeat, and get an ultrasound. I’ve heard that pregnancy starts to sink in after hearing the heartbeat. <3 I’m also looking forward to buying pregnancy pants. Not gonna lie, mine are a bit tight around the belly area…and we all know how much I like to be comfortable. :)


*Random tidbit of info: The white brick wall above is located near our house and every time I used to drive past it (for the past 3.5 years), I would always tell Andrey how much I loved that wall, and that when I would be pregnant I would make him take photos of me by it. Today, I finally made him do it, and we felt so funny standing in front of a random I really feel weird taking photos of myself(maybe because I didn’t grow up in the #selfie generation), but I really want to remember my growing body/baby, so I sacrificed my pride. :)

*Another tangent: See pink shirt above? It’s actually from Target’s maternity line, and I have a few other colors that I have been sporting since last year. I really dislike my t-shirts riding up, and when my cousin Erica clued me in to her ‘buy pregnancy shirts because they’re longer’ secret last year, I was sold.


A weekend to remember

Hi all, I hope your Monday was fabulous! I headed back to work today (after a week off), and the students were all falling asleep on me, as they got used to staying up late during break. It’s okay though because I was half asleep myself. Tomorrow should be easier. :)

I wanted to share a little bit about our wonderful weekend. As you all already know, from my incessant posts, the recipe for a wonderful weekend is pretty simple around these parts…family, and good food. Amen? Yes.

On Sunday we had both families over. Gosh, I love them so. We invited them to watch the opening ceremony of the Olympics <–How Russian are we?!.

Before diving into the food we took some pictures…because we all know that once the eating starts, taking pictures is the last thing on our minds.

We set the camera on self-timer, and had it take a few pictures in a row…you know…so that at least one would work out…

Well actually we had a few favorites, so I decided to post ‘em all!


Not really sure why Andrey is ‘holding me in place’…please excuse our awkward pose.



Shocked silence, and gaping mouths…A zoom-in is necessary.


<3 I will cherish this moment forever.

And THAT my friends is how we shared the most exciting news of 2014 with our beloved families…and now with you!

We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of our little one in late September…29th to be exact…but we all know how exact those dates are. ;) I’m feeling good so far…slight nausea at moments, but definitely nothing to complain about. I actually prayed asking the Lord to take away any morning sickness when I found out that I was pregnant. I don’t do well when I’m sick, and I wanted to give the kiddos at work my love and attention for the last 13 weeks of school.*I hope this doesn’t come off as unsensitive to all you mommas out there who were sick…not my intent at all. I know I’m not in the clear zone yet, but I’m thanking the Lord nonetheless.

I terrible at keeping secrets, and always knew that this type of secret would be the hardest to keep. I’m only 9 weeks, and 1 day…but who’s counting? ;) I really would appreciate your prayers for a healthy baby, (and momma), as I know that pregnancies can get complicated. I know that I told you guys that I don’t make resolutions, but this year a word tugging on my heart has been fearless(ness). This new season (as all new seasons of life), brings about many uncertainties and anxieties, and my countless (unnecessary) hours of researching online haven’t been helping that much. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that the reason I’m sharing my news with you all is that I want to learn how to be fearless throughout this journey (and forever after)..completely trusting in the Lord…sharing my joys, and hiccups along the way with you all. This isn’t going to turn into a baby blog, but I hope to update with baby related things occasionally, as it is the season I’m currently in.

If you read this far, you get an award!

As always, thanks for coming back and reading our rambles.


Sonoma shop in 2009. <3