Dental Care in Kyiv

Always one to be proactive and on top of going to the dentist every six months, I started inquiring early on about dental care here in Kyiv. I was assured by the doctor on site and another EFM that good quality standard cleaning and dental work is something I can get done here. More than one person recommended a particular dental clinic, so a couple of weeks ago I made an appointment for my husband and myself to get a cleaning.

Walking in to the clinic, I was very surprised at the level of cleanliness. We were given booties to put over our shoes. The dental hygenist and dental assistant wore masks, gloves, and hairnets. They even had my husband and I wear them while in the dental chair. My husband had his cleaning first, then was seen by the dentist. Right away she identified that he had a crack in his tooth (which my husband was aware of prior to the visit), and they went to another room for an X-Ray.

I stayed in the dental room while the assistant sanitized everything, from the tools used down to spraying and wiping the dental chair. It was my turn. Boy, my gums did feel sore afterwards, but my teeth felt very clean. The dentist came in to check my teeth and confirmed that I have no new cavities and no other issues with my teeth.

My husband and I were both given brochures with tips of daily home dental care (brushing, flossing, mouthwash, etc.). The total cost for the both of us for this visit, including X-Rays, was $200 USD, which for us not electing to get dental insurance through my husband’s employer this year, was fine with us. I had dental insurance through my previous employer and we both went to the dentist for cleanings in April.

We are waiting on the dental clinic to call us regarding a follow up on the care needed for my husband’s cracked tooth. However, he and I both feel very comfortable getting whatever further dental work that needs to be done here in Ukraine.

Hosting My First EFM Coffee

There are certain rights of passage for EFMs, and one of them is hosting events, teas, and/or dinners with other EFMs and coworkers of your spouse. So when the email came a few months ago from CLO that they needed people to host the monthly EFM coffee, I signed up for the month of October. I had been prepared by my mother-in-law and the CLO office that up to twenty-something people could attend. I figured it would give me enough time to unpack, organize, and decorate the apartment, observe what other EFM coffees were like for reference, and to come up with some recipes to impress.

EFM coffees are an opportunity to meet and socialize with other Embassy spouses and to commiserate on everyday life and challenges of living abroad. You get advice, someone to talk to who understands what you are going through, and in general just have a good time.

The EFM coffees I had attended since June had an attendance of anywhere from four to twenty four people, so I did not know how many people to expect. My wonderful mother-in-law sent recipes, and I scoured the internet for fall brunch ideas, and settled on a menu. I also ordered fall decorations to make our apartment festive for the event, and for fall in general.

On the menu was:

Egg muffins with bacon and cheddar cheese

Egg muffins with broccoli and cheddar cheese

Pioneer Woman baked French toast

Pumpkin Bread French Toast (gluten free)

Apple Strudel Muffins

Fruit salad

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Rice Krispie Treats

Brownies

An assortment of beverages such as coffee, tea, juice, wine, sangria, and champagne

I must add that there was a bake sale going on the following day at the Embassy, so I made plenty for my husband to bring in the next day for coworkers and the bake sale.

The day before, I was given a headcount of RSVPs from CLO. Needless to say, I was relieved because there were fewer people than I had anticipated. A fun fact about me is that I have anxiety about people coming to my house. I hosted a bridal shower and a Halloween Party for a good amount of people before, but those events were stressful for me. The apartment needs to be perfectly clean, there needs to be enough food and drink, and I am usually worn out from cleaning and cooking for hours that I usually don’t relax enough to enjoy myself.

The days leading up to the event I prepped as much as possible. Two days prior I baked pumpkin muffins for the pumpkin bread pudding, made cookie dough, and my husband and I made a trip to Le Silpo for food and drinks for the event. The day before I prepped the overnight baked French toast and pumpkin bread pudding, the Rice Krispie treats, and sangria.

I woke up at 5AM the day of the event to get most of the baking done- cookies, brownies, and the apple muffins. I also put together the fruit salad. We recently hired a part time (5 hours a week) housekeeper, and she came in that morning to come to do last minute cleaning. I could not have have done it without her!! One hour prior to the event I put the overnight French toast and pumpkin bread pudding in the oven, started the coffee, put all the plates, silverware, glasses, etc. out, got ready, and put the egg muffins in the oven right as event was about to start.

Although I received great feedback on the food, it took a lot out of me. I don’t know how people host parties and make it seem so effortless- but I think I pulled it off!! I am lucky that I have been able to witness and help in the preparation of my in-laws hosting large family gatherings of about twenty four people for Christmas for about 8 years now, so I have learned a little along the way. It sure helped but maybe next time I’ll host a lunch instead to give myself more time to prepare!!

National Museum of Folk Architecture and Life of Ukraine

One of the places that had been on my “must see” list while here in Ukraine was the National Museum of Folk Architecture and Life of Ukraine. My friend’s visit last weekend was the perfect excuse to see something new and to be outside in the glorious sunny 70 degree weather we had that day.

Learning from our parking fiasco the previous day at the Mezhyhirya Residence, we immediately parked about 700 meters from the entrance on the side of the road and walked to the entrance. We paid our fee of about $2 USD each and we were on our way!!

A reconstruction of traditional Ukrainian villages, the National Museum of Folk Architecture and Life of Ukraine was quite expansive, showing architecture of the different regions of Ukraine. There were buildings we could tour of an old school, a church, several houses, and so on. It was interesting to see the old kitchens, living rooms, workshops.

In addition to traditional buildings on the grounds, there were food and craft vendors and performers. All in all, it was a wonderful day filled with good food, music, and a glimpse into traditional Ukrainian life!! I want to visit again in the early summer to see the field of sunflowers in full bloom!!

Mezhyhirya Residence

This past weekend a college friend of mine came to visit, so of course we showed her all around town. We went to a mix of places my husband and I have been before, and new places to all of us. We took her to St. Sophia’s Cathedral, the Maidan, and Khreschatyk Street the first day, along with a traditional Ukrainian Restaurant, Pervak. Pervak was very touristy, but the food was good and the flight of infused vodka shots was the perfect way to start off my friend’s stay here in Ukraine.

One of my husband’s coworkers had recommended the Mezhyhirya Residence as a top place to show visitors, so we decided to go there on her second day visiting us. At first I was cursing my husband’s coworker because the line of cars to get to the Mezhyhirya Residence was backed up for over a kilometer. It took us nearly 45 minutes to get a spot on the side of the road, and then we walked about 10 minutes or so to walk to the entrance. In retrospect, it would have been easier and much faster to park at the end of where the cars were parked on the side of the road and walk.

My initial annoyance was curbed shortly after we paid our entrance fee of approximately $6 USD per person and saw the beautiful grounds. Mezhyhirya was a monastery for many years before it became the summer house for former Ukrainian presidents. In 2014 it became a national park open to the public. There was a tennis court, golf course, ponds, a lake, a zoo, a few cafes, classic cars, and many more things to see on the property. It was a picture perfect fall day, so we enjoyed a few hours strolling the grounds. The residence was so stunning that I saw some brides and grooms having their wedding photos taken there!!

Old Car Land

This past weekend the hubby wanted to go to what he said was a classic car show called Old Car Land. Admittedly, cars are not really my “thing,” but I wanted to take advantage of being outside on a crisp beautiful fall weekend day, so I went along for the ride.

As with everything in Ukraine, this “car” show was completely unexpected and totally cool!! What I thought would be an exhibition of a bunch of old cars ended up being an event with old planes, helicopters, motorcycles, military paraphernalia, and new and old cars, some brands of which I have never heard of.

One of the highlights for me was they had vendors selling different flavors of mulled wine, which I zeroed in on shortly after arriving. It was a crisp, cool autumn day, and it was greatly appreciated!! I was impressed by how nicely refurbished the interiors of some of the cars were. One car even had a map on the window of all the places that car went during a road trip this past summer. It went to quite a few countries all over Eastern Europe!!

The cost ended up being around $20 for the day- around $12 USD admission to Old Car Land for the both of us and $8 USD total for popcorn, a cup of mulled wine for me, and whiskey for the hubs, which made for an affordable and nice weekend day date for us.

Old car land also had a lot of food vendors selling popcorn, cotton candy, grilled meats and veggies (one vendor grilled hotdogs in the hood of a car), and as stated above, my favorite, mulled wine.

It’s Fall, Y’all!!!

Fall is my favorite time of year!! I fell in love with the season when I lived in New England for eight years. Let me just say, New England knows how to make a person fall in love with fall. I went apple picking (which also meant that I enjoyed fresh apple cider and cider donuts), I experienced Salem, Massachusetts during the month of October, I ate my fair share of Dunkin pumpkin muffins and pumpkin donuts, I watched Patriots football, I wore all the cute fall clothes, enjoyed the cooler weather, watched trees turn yellow, red and orange, and when I walked outside, the sound of leaves crunching under my feet made me so happy. It was glorious.

Now that I am living in a place that has four seasons again, I am fully taking advantage of the things fall has to offer here. Our apartment is decorated for fall (thank you Amazon and Walmart!). The leaves are changing color. The weather is cooler so I have been breaking out the lightweight jackets, scarves and boots that I have been longing to wear for years (not much use for them in Florida where fall weather is 90 degrees with 80 percent humidity). I am loving hearing the sound of the crunch of leaves under my shoes. Pumpkin and butternut squash are in season and for sale at the grocery stores, along with wonderfully juicy apples.

Although fall has been great so far, I can’t help but to reminisce about some of the things that I took for granted living in the United States that make fall “fall” for me. Apple picking, cider donuts, canned pumpkin, Dunkin Donuts pumpkin muffins and pumpkin donuts, Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, and fall scented candles. And unfortunately there is a big time difference, so the first football game of the day starts around eight o’clock at night, which is nearly bedtime for me (yes, I go to sleep ridiculously early).

Alas, that is how things are when you choose to move overseas. The only option is to make the best of it, put on your creative hat, and try to substitute when you are able to. I was able to order pumpkin muffin mix. They sell cider at the Le Silpo grocery store, so I will attempt to make homemade cider donuts. As for candles, I am going to look for some at Epicentr this weekend. Wish me luck!! As for football, I will attempt to record a game that we can watch on Monday night instead of Sunday.

So, I will leave you with a few pictures that capture this fall for me thus far..enjoy!!