Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Animal rights march in Lviv

Here are a few clips from the animal rights march that we attended in Lviv a couple months back. It was great to see so many other people there! :)

Monday, December 11, 2017

Snowy day update

Apologies for not uploading in a while. We've been super busy lately, but, then again, we're always super busy. ...So I guess that means we just needed a "break" from making videos.
Anyway, this vlog should catch you up on some of the things that have been going on here. We used a new video editor for this one. Hopefully it turned out well!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Building our greenhouse: Behind the scenes

Some footage of the actual building process of our greenhouse. As always, we wish we could share more, but at least we filmed this much! Late summer is always such a busy time!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Why do cars drive around Ukraine with their alarms going off?

If you've ever been to Ukraine (especially the countryside) you may have seen and heard cars driving around constantly sounding their horns or broadcasting something through a megaphone. Why do they do that? Watch our video and learn more!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The big project for this summer--our greenhouse

It feels like there's always some sort of big project happening. Right now that project is the greenhouse. It's slow work, but at least we're moving forward day by day!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Eco-Halych: Wildlife Rehab Реабілітація дикої природи

On our way home from Ivano Frankivsk we stopped by Eco Halych Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. They care for wild animals who have been injured. You can tour their property and see the animals there.

So happy we found them! Here is a link to their website: http://eco-halych.webnode.com.ua/

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Our trip to Ivano Frankivsk, Ukraine [Vlog]

We took a short little trip to Ivano Frankivsk for Yulia's birthday this year. We've only passed through this city in the past, but since it's so close to where we live, we thought we should finally venture out and see it a little more thoroughly.

It turns out that Ivano Frankivsk is beautiful, and we're so glad we came! It's a nice place to visit, and it's probably a nice place to live!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Evergreens and their special place in our heart

In this video we show you around our garden, but--more specifically--talk about all the evergreens we planted. The locals around here say that you shouldn't plant fir trees near your house because, when the trees surpasses you in height, you will DIE. Honestly, this seems like a hyper local superstition. We see evergreens planted near many people's houses in rural Ukraine. Is this something you've heard from people where you live?? Tell us about it!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Driving safety in Ukraine

Honestly, driving in Ukraine seems worse and more dangerous as a passenger. I was surprised when I got behind the wheel that it wasn't as challenging as I thought.

Still, there's a small percentage of "bad apples" out there, and you should be aware of them. One of the most common and most dangerous problems is when people pass in situations when they shouldn't. It creates the possibility of head on collisions, which are obviously one of the worst kinds of accidents. In this video, I talk about some of the defensive driving techniques I use to stay safe.

Of course, there's a lot more to talk about when it comes to driving in Ukraine (police, importing vehicles, bad roads, etc), but this video's main focus is driving safety (Please stay on topic in the comments section!). We may discuss some of those other aspects about driving in Ukraine in future posts.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Our Ukrainian-American identities

Considering that we are from different continents and have each spent significant time living abroad, you might say that we have trouble identifying exclusively with one culture. Yulia was born in Ukraine, immigrated to the US, and now lives back in Ukraine. Michael was born in the US, but spoke Ukrainian as a first language with his grandparents, who were immigrants. He's been living in Ukraine for the past 6 years.
We feel like our identities are stretched between the US and Ukraine, and neither of us nicely fits into a simple category. In this video we talk about our Ukrainian-American identities.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Lots of church holidays in Ukraine! [+Nature Vlog]

In this video, Michael discusses the abundance of small church holidays in Ukraine, which are especially important to people in the countryside.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Prosperity is not the same thing as technological progress (A perspective from an expat in Ukraine)

In this video, I talk about a somewhat complicated issue--the idea that technology and progress are not the same thing. I got the idea for the topic from a conversation that Yulia and I had about older generations in the West who experienced a simultaneous and coincidental rise in technology and progress in their lifetimes. Although people have learned to equate the two, I would argue that they are not always related to each other, which might explain why technology is currently getting better while people's quality of life is not keeping up. It's hard for young adults to find jobs and a place to live. lt seems that the average lifespan is actually declining. People are obligated to work hard for little money. Etc.

I turn to the example of Ukraine and the Soviet Union, and point out that, in the past, our village was much more prosperous. People of all ages were living here. There was a school and kindergarten. There was a medical clinic. People had jobs. The infrastructure was much better.

But if you come here now, you will notice that most houses are abandoned and that there are few people under retirement age. The infrastructure and buildings have decayed, and there are few functioning institutions left.

Despite this, there is more access to goods and services than ever before. For instance, there are more building materials than in this past. There are a wider variety of foods available at the store. We have 3g and high speed internet. Although there is more access to things that might theoretically enhance people's lives, technology hasn't necessarily lead to concrete improvements in people's lives.

While it is easy to see here, it might be harder for people living in wealthier countries. However, I think there are signs which point in this direction, and we should be aware of them.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Our marriage: One big adventure

Ever since we got married, we've either been traveling to new places or doing new things together--like completely renovating an old house and creating a huge garden and orchard without any experience!

In this video, we talk about our travels to places like Chicago, Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico, New England, and Ukraine.

Thursday, May 18, 2017


It usually happens around this time of the year--exhaustion. Work in the garden really ramps up. Building projects take off. May's one of the busiest months of the year for us.

In this video, Michael talks about what we do that makes us so tired. After years of near constant daily work on the house and in the garden, we're ready to make our home a place of relaxation...

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Spring in rural Ukraine: An update from our garden

It's spring time, which means that lots of our plants are growing, flowering, and fruiting! Since we have many young plants, it's always exciting for us to see what will produce next. This is the first year that we will have white mulberries, for example. We've only tried dried white mulberries in the past (very tasty), so we're wondering what they taste like fresh off the tree. We also show off our gooseberries, baby oak, poppies, cherry plums, cedars (stone pines), and more. At the end of the video we crack open a bottle of last year's elder flower champagne, which was bubbly, crisp, and delicious!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Unexpected things we've learned about

When we first envisioned living in the Ukrainian countryside and building/renovating a house, we expected and thought about a few things. What would it take to install running water in the house? How would we plant our garden and orchard? How would we collect rain water? What kind of paint would we use on the walls? Etc.

But it turns out there were a string of other things that we had never thought about and never heard about. Yesterday, our neighbor was welding next door, and, as a result our lights were flickering and our voltage stabilizer was turning the power on and off as needed to protect our appliances. Quite honestly, this was an issue that we had never thought about.

We're happy to learn about new things, and sometimes life has a way of forcing you to learn. In this video, Michael not only discusses voltage stabilizers, but also talks about ventilation for sewage pipes, inverters, uninterruptable power supplies, flashing, ...even how we learned to make videos on YouTube!

Are you doing something similar where you live? What unexpected things have you learned about that have proven to be very useful?

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The streets of Lviv, a new vegetarian restaurant, and moonlight dancing!

When the weather's cold and damp, and we can't do anything outside at our place, we go to Lviv for a bite to eat. In this vlog, we walk around downtown. If you are interested in seeing what it looks like to actually be there, this video's for you. We not only show you the historic city center, but the neighborhood by Lviv airport as well. We always like to see what average life is like in other places, so we figure we should do the same with Ukraine!

We go out to eat to Dreamers Place (https://www.facebook.com/DreamersPlac...), a coffee shop and vegetarian restaurant. The design of the restaurant is beautiful, and the food was great! Yuila had a quinoa salad and Michael had a spicy chickpea dish.

We also show you a bakery called Veronika (https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserR...). All the sweets look delicious, but we went there for their sourdough bread. They sure do know what they're doing!

Finally, don't forget to watch the video to the end because we make fools of ourselves! We think our neighbors in the village were having a wedding reception because someone was blasting that kind of music. It was loud enough to dance to, so that's what we did! Our dog, Toma, seemed eager to join, so Michael helped her onto her hind legs for some boisterous couples dancing! She's such a social dog!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Exhaust fan over wood stove, hardy kiwis, and more

We are publishing this video in April, but we made it back in December. This is a vlog style video where we show you how we installed an exhaust fan near our wood stove. In the winter the living room (the room with the wood stove) is the warmest and driest room, whereas the rest of the house stays cool and moist. We wanted to "spread the love" around the house by putting in a fan right over the wood stove in order to send the warmth and dry air to the neighboring room.

Yulia also shows you her smoothie, how she protected our hardy kiwis in the garden, an old traditional Ukrainian rug, and her art supplies.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Living in Ukraine: An isolated backwater?

In this video Michael reads what he thinks is an excellent passage from Robert Kaplan's book, "In Europe's Shadow." It's excellent because it perfectly sums up how we feel about life in Ukraine.

Western Ukraine shares a border with many countries: Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Moldova. In a way, this area is a crossroads for many different countries and cultures, and we share a common history with many people just across the border. Yet at the same time, the border feels like a hard barrier. Travel back and forth can be difficult, for example. It also creates a separation between Ukrainians and their neighbors, and this, in turn, fuels many negative stereotypes about our country.

Michael discusses how Ukrainian life and culture is both connected to, yet separate from the rest of Europe.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

It's April and Europe is being buried under snow!

In case you haven't heard about it, many parts of Europe experienced quite the cold spell this week. Many countries (including Ukraine) got significant snow.

Here where we live (near Lviv) we only got flurries, but it's been cold and windy all week. It's getting old, to be honest. We're looking forward to the warmer weather coming next week (We see 20 degrees in the forecast!).

Do you live in Europe? If so, what's the weather been like near you? It's the spring time and lots of plants are flowering and/or vulnerable. Have you noticed any damage on things like fruit trees?

PS -  No comments from the United States, please. We see that it's nice there--no need to rub it in our faces! ;)

The Euro News article mentioned in the video: http://www.euronews.com/2017/04/19/central-europe-shivers-as-snow-covers-spring-blossoms

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Easter weekend video

Here are some pics and clips from our Easter weekend. On Easter Sunday, Yulia and I went to her grandparents' house to celebrate. We took a walk after our meal and explored the local park and beautiful Dnister River. On Monday, we walked around downtown Lviv and saw the Spring fair. We didn't buy anything there--just went for the ambiance. It was a beautiful day and a nice break from the hustle of our daily lives!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Why are all the trees in Ukraine painted white?

Have you ever wondered why the trunks of so many trees in Ukraine are painted white?? We have. It's apparently an ongoing national debate in the country. Many people say it helps protect trees from bugs, and many say it's pointless and ugly--a habit from Soviet times. Kyiv recently banned the painting of curbs and tree trunks white, so it seems like things may be changing.

What are your thoughts? Do you like seeing freshly painted trees in the spring? Have you ever seen painted trees in other countries? Lastly, do you know why people do it? Let us know!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A lost Christmas Eve episode from the archives

We were looking through some old files of ours and realized we had forgotten to upload this video from Christmas Eve. Things were so different back in January! It was SO SO cold and snowy! And Michael's beard was much bushier! :) Ha! That's why we like documenting our journey. It's always interesting to look back and see what daily life was like for us!

Updates on our many building projects!

It's been a while since we've updated you on the goings on at our home, so here's a peek into what we've been up to!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Years Bonfire

Every New Years Eve we make a bonfire and think about the past year. In this video we bring you along with us to the bonfire and talk about some memories from 2016.