Five Things That Are Bringing Me Joy

Yesterday we had our first snow πŸ‘πŸ‘. A lot of it melted off, but still, tis the season! I love the first snow. It’s always so pretty and magical. Come February I’m more than ready to never see snow again as long as I live, but December snows are always welcome.

While I’m cozy here in my village house that I love so much, I thought I’d share some things that are bringing me joy this snowy December. Because, why not?

1. Yummy scented candles. I love love love a good candle. Candles bring me an obscene amount of joy, but in the past I could never find nice scented candle here in Ukraine. Until now. Yay! A local company here in Zhytomyr makes wonderful candles and they are making me so happy! I bought a few and burn them every morning and every evening. They smell like Christmas and forests and baked goods and all the best scents of the season. Hurray!

2. Freshly baked bread. A while back I was inspired to make some bread. I make dinner rolls pretty often, but have never been much for making just a basic loaf for slicing. I’m not sure why. πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ Anyway, the basic bread we get at the store here is never very tasty, so I decided maybe I should just start making our own. My requirements for the recipe were basically that it would be cheap to make (ie- uses basic white flour, no milk, and no butter) and would make at least two big loaves. I found the easiest, tastiest recipe and am so happy making our own bread! It takes a while, but that’s mostly just rising time. The hands-on time is maybe like 10 minutes total. I’ve been baking it every couple of days and it’s seriously so easy! Here’s the recipe: (FYI, I use oil instead of butter because it’s cheaper…πŸ˜†)

3. An electronic library. We are a family of readers. I think ever person in our family (except Evie, Bmo, and Vlad) goes to bed with a book at night. We mostly read from Kindles because we have no English library here and reading in Ukrainian is not necessarily relaxing. πŸ˜‚ In the past we’ve had different subscriptions to meet our reading needs. We’ve tried Kindle Unlimited and Scribd and they were fine, but expensive and even then we couldn’t find many of the books we wanted to read. We also electronically check out books from our library back in Oregon, but the hold times are so loooooooooong. It just felt like it was always so hard to keep the kids on a steady diet of books without spending tons of money or trying to figure out how to send them with people who would come to visit (heavy!) But then, we were introduced to this amazing online library and oh the joy it is bringing to us all!!!! We just donate $5 every month and we can download tons and tons of books to our Kindles with zero hold times! It’s a serious Christmas miracle. A definite lifesaver for this book-crazy family who’s been without a library for 8 years!

4. My Teenagers. I’m telling you what: mothering teenagers is Why did no one ever tell me that?? Right now we have 2 3/4 teens in the house. Addie is 17, Ezra is 16, and Hava will be 13 this month. They are just so wonderful and they bring me a huge amount of joy. They are funny and fun to be around. They each have their own quirks and opinions. They are growing into wonderful people and I just love living with them. I treasure our evenings when we the littles (and Bmo) are in bed and we can sit (with our amazing candles) and just chat or watch stupid SNL videos, or The Office together. I know our time together is growing shorter and shorter so I have this feeling of wanting to steal as much time with them as I can. They make me happy.

5. Π”Π°Ρ…Π°Π‘Ρ€Π°Ρ…Π° (DakhaBrakha). DakhaBrakha is a Ukrainian folk band that I love. ❀️ They sing in the style of traditional Ukrainian music, but with a modern, creative twist. They are so funky and fun and we love them. This past week they did a concert in Zhytomyr and you better believe we were there! They were amazing in concert- so talented. You should give their music a try! You can see a video of them performing in Oregon here.

What’s bringing you joy these days?


  1. Patti Fisher · December 3, 2021

    Good morning Kimberly (well, it’s morning here in Oregon. Another good source (and free) is the “Oregon Digital Library Consortium”. You down load the “OverDrive” app and use it to store and read (or listen to) your books like you would the Kindle App. All you need is a current library card (from anywhere) and sounds like you have one. Use your current library card to register and start downloading. Some popular books you have to sign up on the waiting list for, but there are thousands of books. They have digital E-books as well as audio books. I love the Audio books for driving.

    Just thought I would pass this along.

    Love reading your reports and hearing about your life. Your family always amazes me. I keep you all in my prayers.

    Patti Fisher

    • kimnjed · December 9, 2021

      We do use that site- but I forgot they have audiobooks! Thank you for that reminder because we were missing an audiobook source!

  2. Cindy Johnson · December 3, 2021

    Kim, YOU bring me joy! Not what you do, but the you that is you. Finding joy in the simple things in your present moments is a gift that leads to contentment. You are a treasure to my heart.
    I love you, Cindy

    • kimnjed · December 9, 2021

      Awwww shucks. Love you too!

  3. Teresa Moyer · December 3, 2021

    On the eBooks…do you keep the books, or do you return them like a library? And the band you shared reminded me of the B-52’s LOL Fun to hear them. Thanks for sharing both the music and the eBook site.

    • kimnjed · December 9, 2021

      You can keep the books!

  4. Phyllis Hunsucker · December 4, 2021

    Whoa. Are you and I the same person? Well, on three out of five, at least.

    I have been living on a Ukrainian version of that library site (, not sure if my conscience should be bothering me or not. Honestly, I didn’t want to look into whether the books were pirated or not.

    And teens: ours are 18, 16, 14–so close to yours–and the joy of my life.

    DakhaBrakha: my family has loved them for a while. Will and the girls traveled to a concert a few years ago, but I didn’t go. Then this spring they were here. Will and our friend in a wheelchair ended up with VIP seats right up under the stage. The kids and I were way out in the crowd. Jamala was actually the big name at the concert, but the fan response from my family when DakhaBrakha came out first had everyone around us staring. And I really enjoyed hearing them.

    As to your other two points, I zoomed in on the candle pic and found their site. Already thinking of ordering. But I don’t make bread.

    And snow… I love it! Today it’s falling thick and fast. Not sticking. The roads are absolute mush, but I am getting tons of joy out of sitting in my quiet (wow!!!) house and watching through the windows.

    • kimnjed · December 9, 2021

      Ha! Your comment made me laugh. I guess we do have a lot in common! Hey, if you ever do another Velvet Ashes Group let me know! I think it would be fun to be in a group together. One more thing we can have in common. πŸ˜†

  5. Ardelis Matthews · December 4, 2021

    Thank you for sharing your joys!!! It was so refreshing to see especially in light of the every day news here! My season in Russia is cherished with fond memories of the friends I made, wonderful experiences and times I spent in an orphanage teaching the kids how to make simple Christmas gifts which gave opportunity to share about Jesus. Have a blessed Christmas. 😊

    • kimnjed · December 9, 2021

      I’m so happy to hear from you! Merry Christmas. ❀️

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