Category Archives: Food

We like food.

About time

We’re home!

Like a month ago.

But still. It’s nice to be back. I’m sitting on a verrrry comfortable bed, eating raspberries (thanks, Anne!), with carpet surrounding me. Wow. So cool.

Pete and I got back on May 8th. We had a pretty eventful journey getting home. We flew from Tallinn, Estonia on May 6th to Riga, Latvia (which is where Pete’s brother, Tyler, will be serving his mission!). We spent an evening in the center of the old town at a fairly sketchy (but cheap) hostel. We were in a room with 6-8 other people (never really got around to counting). While we were sitting on our beds, some policemen came in, looking for a guy who came into the hostel. Luckily, he didn’t steal anything. Riga was a great town–bigger than Tallinn. The old town was really nice, but I’m partial to Tallinn’s old town (of course). The people were friendly! People in Tallinn had warned us that “you know when you leave Estonia and enter Latvia ’cause it’s crazy.” I didn’t find this at all. I thought that it was clean, modern, and easy to navigate.

The next day, we flew to Paris. I was excited to go to Paris again (mainly because I wanted to go to a store called Springfield’s to get some of my favorite perfume). We got a super affordable airport hotel that was only 2 stops by metro from the airport. It didn’t work out as planned, though. First, we had forgotten how expensive Paris is 7 Euro per person for a ride on the metro for 2 stops!? And then we got on the wrong train–it didn’t stop at any of the smaller stops, it just kept going till it got to the center region of Paris proper. I had a mini freakout. Whenever I hypothetically think about all the things that could go wrong when travelling, I always tell myself that I’d be super calm and collected. But then disaster happens and I fall apart. Luckily, Pete is calm and collected, so he handles all of the disasters. I’m still getting over my uptight personality that has plagued me since I was a kid.

Anyway, we finally made it to our hotel (it took us nearly 4 hours to get there, when it should have taken 30 minutes). The hotel was perfect! Warm shower, comfortable bed, and it smelled clean. Because we didn’t want to go on the metro to get dinner, we wandered around the area. The area we were in was basically full of offices. It took awhile (it was a beautiful evening, so I didn’t mind the walking–Estonia was still pretty cold in comparison), but we finally found…. Ikea! So we went to Ikea and got some food there. Later that evening, we walked back to the same area near Ikea and got a later dinner at McDonald’s. We hadn’t eaten at McDonald’s at all in Tallinn (and only a few times in Hungary) so it was weird to eat there, of all places. But our choices were slim. And the nice guy gave us 5 packets of ketchup for free!

The next day, we made it back to the airport without any troubles. We checked in and went over to the terminal. I was sad that I couldn’t get my perfume, so I checked out the Duty Free perfume shop. Yeah, too expensive for me. We had standby tickets, so about 20 minutes before boarding, we found out that we both made the flight! (Relief!) We got business class. Seriously, I don’t know if I could ever do a 10.5 hour flight in economy anymore; we’ve been so spoiled this last trip with standby going to and from Paris. The flight was uneventful, pretty comfortable, with food that was too fancy (can I just have whatever they’re having in economy?–a question I didn’t dare ask). People in business class are so chic.

We returned home to see our awesome families. I got a haircut the next day. The next morning, we also woke up at 3:30 am, ready for the day. We got a lot done before 9 am–watching Shrek and other important things.

A week and a half later, I started my job back at Mamabargains.com–such a good decision/opportunity to go back there!

Pete’s still in the market for a job. Meanwhile, he’s keeping busy learning the ins and outs of networking. He’s also finishing up the last few requirements for his classes for this semester.

So, we’re home! And it’s good! We do love America. Sometimes, you have to leave your home country to realize how great it is to be from America.

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Pärnu, Estonia

Pete and I went to Pärnu today! It’s a tiny resort town in Western Estonia. We loved the city and we ate some delicious pizza at a restaurant recommended by the missionaries (and we had the friendliest waitress we’ve ever experienced in all of Europe. She even humored Pete while he spoke Estonian to her–I think he did a great job and he was able to do everything in Estonian!).

The thing about Estonia is that the country has amazingly sandy and beautiful beaches! Unfortunately, we came here right at the tail end of the summer and are leaving before spring is in full swing, so we haven’t been able to take full advantage of the great beaches. Alas.

Anyway, we loved the city–enjoy the pictures!

On the bus to Pärnu! I love the Estonian countryside.

Tallinn… what’s the deal? Pärnu and Tartu have pedestrian shopping streets!

Watch out, this post has a million architecture because I loved the architecture in this city!

Pete had been craving apple struedel, but the shopping center we go to hasn’t had it. He was so happy when this little bakery had it! And he couldn’t remember the word for “fork” so that’s the hand symbol he did to ask for it.

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Lately

I’ve been taking lots of random pictures on my phone and I figured I’d share them–seeing how I haven’t blogged for a bit! You can click on an image to make it bigger.

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At the Supermarket

Shopping is easy in Tallinn. But sometimes it’s a little eventful.

While on my way home from work last night (Friday night), passing through the old town, I remembered that we needed bread. We go through a loaf every two days. We love bread (and it’s cheap). So, I went into our local supermarket, Rimi. Pete has a little Rimi card to give us additional discounts, but I didn’t have his card with me, so I walked up to the little table with the forms and started filling out the form. Thank goodness it had Russian below the Estonian; without the Russian translation, I would have had no idea how to fill it out. While filling out the form, a cart smashed into me–hard! I could see a little old lady in my peripheral vision, and so I decided to pretend like nothing happened. Whenever anything awkward happens, it’s always better to pretend like nothing happened.

So, I finally started shopping. Nothing too exciting until I saw that our favorite drink, Valga Klaar was on sale for 69 cents instead of a euro!

Once I was ready to check out, I went to find the youngest cashier I could (usually I don’t care, but I wanted a younger cashier who could likely speak English to let me know if I filled out the form correctly), but an older lady was free (that never happens–lines are usually so long!) so I went over to her, gave her my paper, and started unloading my stuff. I had to put my basket at the end of the conveyor belt thing, so I said “excuse me” in English two the two young girls who were in line behind me. I know that “vabandust” is “excuse me/sorry” in Estonian, but the word still sounds so weird to me, so I still don’t believe that that word actually means what it’s supposed to. Kind of like when you learn that “aitähmeans “thank you”. You say it, but then you follow it by a real “thank you” in English, just to ensure yourself that you’ve done a true thanking. I don’t know if I’m alone in this world with that concept, but it takes a while for me to believe that foreign languages are actually understood by the person who is being spoken to.

Tangent. Shoot. I gave my form to the lady and she got out a card and asked me if I needed a new card “uus kardi” or something like that. “Jah” was the reply I gave (or is it spelled “ja”? One means “yes” and the other means “and”. Luckily it sounds the same). Then the lady started telling me all of this stuff, pointing at the back of the card and those were my 4 numbers and something about document something and basically she talked to me the entire time she checked out my things. The girls behind me were kind of laughing because they knew that I didn’t know Estonian. I smiled and shrugged my shoulders as they smiled back. We had a moment. Anywho, I guess it worked because I got the 5% or 10% discount or whatever. And then I threw all of my purchases into my bag (along with one little flimsy–but more importantly, free–bag) and went home. We drank the whole Valge Klaar that evening while watching “Chonicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” on Pete’s computer. We tend to have pretty epic-ally eventful Friday evenings like that all.the.time.

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We ate chicken kiev for our Thanksgiving

My goodness, it has been nearly two months since I’ve last posted. I didn’t expect to be such a slacker, but really, I don’t feel like we even have much to update or say!

Maybe I can share some random Estonian-isms that I’ve discovered while here? Is that ok? Ok, yeah, here you go:

  • People wear little “reflectors” on their coats or purses. They are little reflector buttons to make sure that you are more visible at night. Pete and I each have one and I sure feel like a local at night!
  • Speaking of night–it’s getting light later and later and dark earlier and earlier. Apparently, in December, it gets dark as early as 2 pm.
  • Tallinn Old Town is getting ready for Christmas; they are setting up the cutest little wooden market and there is a giant Christmas tree in the middle. According to Wikipedia, the Old Town in Tallinn was the location of the first Christmas tree! I love Christmas decorations, so I can’t wait for the market to open.
  • I walk home through the Old Town nearly every day, just because I can. It has such a great personality, even at night. I love the architecture, cobble-stone roads, and town center.
  • Pete got called as the branch mission leader at church, so he’s pretty involved with the missionaries and whatnot. He likes it a lot and he’s working on his Estonian so he can understand the meetings he goes to at church.
  • We may or may not have watched several seasons of The Amazing Race in our evenings (after lonnnng days at work, I generally prefer to relax at home, watching tv or something else that doesn’t cost money).
  • I like the classes I teach and am sad that a few of them are ending just before Christmas (although I can’t wait for the 2 week Christmas break!).
  • Teaching articles (a/an/the) is not as simple as you would think! I am working on a chart of all of the different ways we use articles, and it is quite intense! It has been fun putting it together, though.

Anyway, that’s all I can think of! And it turned it more of an update than Estonian-isms–oh well! On this Thanksgiving day (or evening, as it is now), Pete and I are grateful for a comfortable apartment, an income, family, and a lovely (pre-cooked from the grocery store) chicken kiev dinner! Happy Thanksgiving!

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When there’s good weather, go outside.

Rainy days and clouds (and the occasional rainbow) are pretty standard for the fall, so when we’ve had good weather, Pete and I have tried to take advantage by going out. One day, we went back to the city park but went to different parts of the park. It is a beautiful park!

Wooden houses and apartment buildings are super common here in Tallinn. It makes me feel like we really are pretty far north (Tallinn is at the same latitude as southern Alaska!)

And sometimes, you come across moments like this:

Ok, so this couple is classically Russian, to me. The all-white ensemble, the white leather (pointy) shoes, random plastic bag to hold extra stuff, the mini suitcase, and of course, the Russia track suit. Hehe, this was too funny in person!

On another warm day (for some reason, these nice days have been on weekends, which is awesome), we went to the Estonian Outdoor Museum. It was so great to see the “authentic” buildings. And the forest was incredible!

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Birthday Abroad!

This was my first birthday abroad–and it was my golden birthday (turning 26 on the 26th) so obviously I was excited for the day! The day started out at school, no big deal. School was normal and the day went on as usual. I wasn’t sure if the teachers remembered it was my birthday, so I didn’t want to say anything about it and I was ready to pretend that it wasn’t my birthday. Anywho, at the 3:00 snack, before we gave the kids the snack, Sam, the school director, came out with the tin can birthday cake with candles lit. Fun! So the kids and teachers sang “Happy Birthday” and then the Hungarian birthday song “Boldog Szuli Napot” and then they sang another “How Old Are You Now?” song (to the tune of “Happy Birthday”). I told them I was 7 (because counting up to 26 would have taken much too long). Ha. Whenever a teacher has a birthday at the kindergarten, they can choose a wrapped present that comes with some sort of cute title regarding the contents (wake up, beauty, etc). I chose the one titled “travel” (duh) and opened it up…. it was a dinner river cruise for me and Pete! Sam had called and talked to Pete to make sure that we didn’t have any plans and got it all arranged! How awesome is that! I was so surprised to find out, and once I had opened it, Sam said that I needed to go now to go home and get ready. What a surprise!

I headed home and got ready. Pete came home early, as well, and we headed off to the meeting point to be shown where to go for the dinner cruise. Once it was time to leave, we walked about 5 minutes to the boat and got seated. The cruise was beautiful! Pete and I have never been on the river, so it was awesome to see the skyline from the river. And the food was amazing! The whole night was wonderful, and I don’t think I’ve ever had such a nice birthday!

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Random Thoughts

So lately I’ve been thinking about what I could post on this blog, and I keep coming up with random thoughts rather than an actual blog post… so here are some random things going on in my head these days:

  • Traffic here is hilarious to observe. Case in point: I take bus 149 to get home after work. The bus left at the regular time, made a tight right turn, and had to stop short because another bus 149 was broken down. The two buses were stuck in a very narrow road with opposite traffic going through the other lane. Impatient drivers behind the bus decided to go around the buses, only to realize that they were nose to nose with another car trying to leave the narrow road! One car finally decided to go a different way, but the other car backed up a little bit, and (somehow) managed to get around the bus. Finally my bus was able to get around the broken bus by going into the opposite lane of traffic (a bus going the opposite direction stopped the rest of the traffic to allow space). The best part of this? I was the only one watching what was going on; everyone else on the bus kept on reading their book or minding their own business.
  • Ketchup: My students love ketchup and will put it on anything! Pizza, pasta, chips, popcorn, white rice. I get pretty grossed out by where ketchup ends up… I’m sticking to ketchup on my fries.
  • AFN (Armed Forces Network) commercials are terrible. They all are produced by the military. There are commercials reminding people to turn off light switches, clean up their yards, be a considerate roommate, and keep your records in one location. And they make these commercials with different themes (crazy wedding planner lady, Sherlock Holmes scene, dirty sock puppet).
  • Muesli and yogurt for breakfast… It has made me, um, regular, which is, um, a first for me. And it tastes yummy.
  • Metro rides are like free entertainment. The other day, I was standing to the side of a man who was sitting down, and next to him were two women who were chatting. The woman closest to the man blew her nose and somehow she missed the tissue and all of it ended up on the guy’s pants. It looked like fresh bird poop. Gross. The guy pointed it out to her, and she and her friend each pulled out tissues and started to clean up his pants. He wasn’t very happy. The ladies didn’t seem too fazed by the situation, though.
  • We are moving on Sunday to an apartment right by the embassy. This is awesome because Pete will now have a 5 minute commute (most of which involves the elevator) and my commute will be cut down by 20 minutes. And we get to live with two cats. We will also be right downtown so we can go out more in the evenings. I will, however, miss the pretty green area of where we are living now.
So yeah, that’s what’s been on my mind. There’s more, but I can’t remember right now.

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Life in Budapest

Well, we’ve been here in Budapest for about a month. We leave in two months. Time goes by so quickly!

Pete still enjoys working at the embassy. He’s been doing a lot of research about getting into the foreign service. It’s not easy, that’s for sure!

Pete also found out that he got a scholarship from Tallinn University! The scholarship provides a 300 Euro per month stipend. We’re hoping to spend about that for a small apartment, so the stipend will be incredibly helpful.

I’ve been having a lot of fun teaching. The first two weeks were spent getting to know the kids and helping make their “fashion show costumes.” It was hilarious to hear what the kids wanted to be! I made several princess dresses, a ballerina dress, snowman outfit, pyramid costume, fairy wings, and lots of other little details for the costumes. The kids were really involved in making the costumes, so I got to work with most of the kids one on one while working on the costumes. The kids are hilarious!

The past two weeks have been spent with the mornings at a swimming pool. We would take the kids on a mini bus to a pool about 10 minutes away from the school. Then we’d help them get dressed in their “swimming costumes” as the English teachers call them. While the kids were at the swimming lesson, the teachers would take a break at a little cafe. It was a wonderful time for me to get to know the teachers a little better (it’s hard to get to know teachers when there are a bunch of kids screaming and playing).

 

 

The kids did a lot with little rusty cans. Mostly diving down to pick them up, but this time, they had to balance the can on their swimming board. They took it so seriously.

 

The teachers at the school are fantastic. We went to a cafe one night to celebrate the end of the year (summer camp starts on Monday!). They thought it was funny that I don’t drink alcohol or coffee, but it wasn’t a big deal. It was fun to hang out with them outside of the classroom. Sam, the school director (Samantha is her full name), gave us lottery cards as our bonus. I won 500 Forint! (like $3).

The other day, we went to a free concert at the park near us. The first band was a Hungarian reggae band. They were fun to listen to. There were lots of dred-locked people there. Always fun to observe!

The other band was a Polish reggae/rock band. They were a ton of fun to watch! I didn’t get any good pictures of the other band because it was getting dark. But, it was such a nice summer night and a great way to spend the evening.

Pete and I also celebrated our one year anniversary on the 24th! This year went by so quickly and it’s hard to believe that in this one year, we’ve been to 15 countries! To celebrate, we went to this Mexican restaurant called Arribas (recommended by one of the teachers). It was delicious! Mexican food is hard to live without.

I got an amazing quesadilla and Pete got taquitos. We also shared some cinnamon crisps with ice cream. My goodness, I love cinnamon!

Yesterday, we did a day trip to a city called Szeged. A post on that coming soon!

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Budapest

We’ve been in Budapest since May 20th, and can I tell you how wonderful it is to feel like a resident of a city? I have a home! For longer than 3 nights! I love beginning to feel like I know where I am, how things work, etc. I even led a Moroccan guy to the right metro stop to get to the airport (luckily my map had that info, because I wouldn’t have known otherwise. But still.).

We live in the greatest little house on the Buda side of the city. The house is a guesthouse of one of the diplomats at the US Embassy.

We have a washer AND a dryer! Heaven!

Our staircase is tiny!

I love this little office area at the top of the stairs. The carpet is super soft, as well.

And we’ve done some touristy things, as well! I’m loving this city and we are so lucky to get to go around and get to know the area.

We ate some incredible langos (huge scone). Mine had cinnamon on it (amazing!) and Pete had the more traditional with garlic and cheese.

Visiting Pete’s old mission stomping grounds. The apartment behind him is where he lived while living in Budapest.

The metros in Budapest are very convenient. The yellow line is the first metro line in Europe. It almost feels like a museum the whole time you’re on it!

And finally, our work outfits! Pete is interning at the US Embassy. He’s been there for 2 weeks and he’s already working on some awesome projects. He loves it there. It’s especially nice that it’s inside and air conditioned–Hungary is hot!

My work is a little bit different–teaching at an international pre-school/kindergarten. This week was my first week, and I am exhausted! It is a lot of fun work and the kids are hilarious. I wasn’t supposed to start until June 14th for the summer camp, but they let me start a little earlier (thank goodness, because I was getting bored while Pete was at work). I get to wear a lovely white t-shirt and european shoes.

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