Why Studio Living is Ideal (For Us, that is)

While I’m not much of a goal person, while in high school and college, there were some things that I thought would be “cool” to do at some point in my life–like living in the Avenues, riding the bus rather than having a car, and living in a studio apartment. So far, Pete and I have been able to fulfill some of these “goals”. But I never thought that we would really live in a studio apartment. The first time that we lived in a studio was in Estonia. It was a 300 sq ft apartment in the center of the city. It came furnished and was very well designed. It was this experience where Pete and I learned that having less is incredibly fulfilling (and enlightening).

When we came back to the States, we moved into a mainly college crowd apartment complex downtown. The floor plan and storage were lacking, so once our contract was over, we moved into a new construction loft apartment on South Temple. The aesthetic and design were fantastic, but it was honestly too much space for us. We found that having all of these separate rooms and spaces were unnecessary. Oh, and the rent was pricey, so it was a great excuse for us to downsize (can you really downsize when you’re 28 with no kids? Pete and I think so!).

And here we are. In a 500 sq ft studio.

Now for a list of why I like studio living:

– when all living spaces are combined (aside from a door separating the bathroom and closet), there are no walls that get in our way. As Pete says, it’s the ultimate open floor plan. We love not wasting space to make room for walls and separate rooms.

– we didn’t think that all of our furniture would fit, but it all has! I did have to get a bit creative with some of it, but in the end, I like the intimate space that is our little apartment.

– less space to clean!

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Adventures in SLC!

The weather was great yesterday! So we walked over 4 miles in the city with the Zolster. That little pup can sure walk long distances, even with his shorty legs! We went to Bruges and ate outside in the sun!

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Then we went to the dog park at Pioneer Park and let Zoli run off leash. He sure knew what to do: RUN!

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Once we got home, he crashed. He slept under the couch for over an hour. We have no idea why he loves the couch so much.

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Oh, and Pete taught him “bang”. This trick might be a bit misleading because we’re not fans of guns, but hey, it’s a pretty great trick.

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Spring Fever

I don’t know about you, but I sure have spring fever! The sandals in my closet are calling my name, and my leggings aren’t as comfortable as I remember them being back in the fall. Pete and I were feeling cooped up with the Salt Lake inversion (seriously friends, let’s all ride public transportation for the winter months–it’s cheaper and not nearly as scary as people think!), so we went to Park City for a Saturday afternoon (Pete’s parents were nice enough to let us borrow their car for a bit!). The trip was very refreshing. And we want to move to Park City. Someday.

Zoli came along with us, and aside from barking at one dog that he saw from a distance, the little pup was quite the trooper! We ran into a few other dogs and he was much better behaved then. And it sure doesn’t hurt to walk around a cute main street with a darling little puppy; people sure do sigh and oooh or awe when they see him. (Which who can blame them, right?)

Also, a little update in my life–I started a new job! I started working at Babinksi’s Baby (a baby store on Foothill–and a new store in Sandy) about a month ago! I really like the job; it’s a ton of fun meeting moms and dads who are so excited about their new baby (or baby they’re expecting). I’ve already picked out the crib, stroller, and car seat that I want to get when we decide to have kids (which seems miles away, but it can’t hurt to plan ahead, right?). The stores are great and the people who work there are awesome. It’s fantastic to go to work and then head home without needing to worry about work when I’m not there. I love all of the things I’m learning about the products that I’m not as familiar with, as well! Oh, and I’m getting to be a gift-wrapping pro! If you’re ever near Foothill Village (1300 S Foothill) or 9000 S State St, drop by, because I might be working!

Anywho, here are a few pictures from our outing to Park City.

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We brought some food for Zoli to enjoy while we ate our burgers outside. It wasn’t too cold in Park City (compared to SLC)

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This dog is a frequent visitor of the cafe we ate at. He’s a 90 lb Chinese Retriever. He didn’t eat the jerky I gave him, but he did like the fries. Zoli was cautious, but not scared of him because he was so chill to be around.

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Doting new puppy parents

Because Pete and I don’t have a baby or kids to brag about, we have to become obsessed with our puppy, Zoli. We have plenty of videos of him doing nothing, along with blurry pictures that I don’t have the heart to delete. True signs of overly involved puppy parents.

We are now entering the stage known as “puppy is comfortable at home but when we leave, the invisible leash is in effect”. I have a feeling that we will miss this stage when it’s gone, but for now, it sure is fun having a tiny puppy follow you along with all the trust he’s got. When he’s not following us around, he’s in one of two modes: ultimate spastic energy or zombie sleepy dog. Both are equally entertaining. Lucky for us, Zoli sleeps through the night. The first few nights were rough, but we’ve got a great night time system now. But he still does freak out when we have to leave him in his kennel when we leave the apartment. He’ll catch on, we hope.

And now, some ridiculous pictures of our new favorite little resident.

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Year 2012 in Review

2012 has been a good year for us! Maybe not as exciting as 2011, but we’ve had a lot of fun! Rather than send out a holiday card, I think it’s easier to blog about our year!

Pete and Kimmy’s best moments of 2012:

January: This was a pretty chill month for us. Pete finished up his internship at the embassy and I went back to teaching after a Christmas break. At work, I did a week long course for teaching business to ESL learners. I gave a pretty sweet presentation on the large number of Mercedes in Albania. (3 out of 5 cars in Albania are Mercedes!)

February-March: Lots of work and school for both of us! Pete hung out with the missionaries a lot, and we had a blast hanging out with friends we made.

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April: This was a busy month for us. We were getting ready to head home. In the meantime, Pete went to Malta (while I froze in Estonia, teaching). We also went on a winter adventure with a family in our branch! We also were able to visit Tartu and Pärnu.

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May: Pete finished his first year of grad school! Now time to buckle down and work on that thesis. Also, we made it back to America! Coming home to America is the best, whether you’ve been gone for a few months or a bit longer. We were sure happy to be in a home that made sense to us.

An eventful Bird summer: Katie and Kevin visited when Ali and Austen got married and Tyler left for his mission in Riga, Latvia.

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September: A proud daughter. My parents went to Italy while I told everyone around me how brave they were to rent a car, ride trains, and more! While they were abroad, we got to hang out with my little sister, Carly.

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October: We moved back downtown. We love the city, trax, and overall feel of downtown, so it’s sure nice to be back. We live a 5 minute walk away from Trader Joe’s which is our new favorite place to shop.

November: A new niece was born! Little Evvie is precious and it’s fantastic getting to know Hadley.

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December: We watched the whole season of Arrested Development. Again. Might be round 3 or 4. But more importantly, we got a puppy! His name is Zoltán. It’s a Hungarian name. We call him Zoli for short. He is half mini Schnauzer and half Brussels Griffon (another terrier type dog). We are working on potty training, crate training, and sleeping at night. So far, it’s going well, considering that he’s only 8 weeks old!

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Parents Abroad

Pete and I have been back for nearly 4 full months! We’ve had plenty going on in these last four months, however, I haven’t seemed to be as interested in blogging.

The biggest news around here is that Pete found a job a few weeks ago. He’s working at a digital marketing company called White Label Marketing. It’s just minutes (walking) from where we used to live in Salt Lake City! It’s a great location, one I’m jealous of. There’s just something great about downtown. Pete is a copywriter there. The two other copywriters are either leaving soon or have already left, so as of this Friday, he’ll be their only copywriter. He likes that it keeps him busy, and that it’s a challenge. It’s writing with a plan; so there is more to it than simply writing something interesting. From what he’s said, he gets along with the rest of the employees there; overall, they’re around the same age as Pete, which is nice. It is so great to have Pete working again. The time with him working freelance was great, but I think the structure of a job is good for him.

On another note, my parents left for Italy yesterday morning! We were so happy to see them off, and I couldn’t be a prouder daughter. After my many trips abroad, they have finally taken the plunge and will be in Italy for two and a half weeks! They flew into Rome, and then are driving from Rome to Florence, the Cinque Terra, and Venice. They are going to see it all! I’m a bit terrified for them, simply because I remember all too well how stressful travelling can be, but I think that the two and a half weeks will be perfect for them. My mom has done an amazing job at planning the entire trip, and I think they will be forever changed. Once the travel bug bites, it’s sure hard to stifle! Pete and I reminded them that this is not a vacation, it’s an adventure. Don’t plan on being relaxed–that’s not likely.

Usually I’m the one leaving! It was weird going to the airport, early in the morning, and then being the one driving back home.

In the meantime, Pete and I are hanging out with Carly and Ellie (my little 12 year old sister and our dog). It’s a blast to hang out with Carly! She and I haven’t spent much time in the same house–I moved out when she was 3 and have only spent one summer living here since. She is a hoot. We can’t wait to make her branch out with eating. So far, we’ve already got her to eat beefalo burgers. Which she loved!

And, I’ve been in charge of cleaning out my stuff that’s in the basement. I found a million pictures of me during my travels in Russia and Ukraine (before I had a digital camera) and have been scanning them into the computer. It’s been years since I’ve seen a lot of the pictures (and luckily, I put post it notes on the backs of pictures with students’ names. I had no idea what some of their names were). What good memories.

A few of the girls from my Russia 2004 group

Girls in my oldest group who I taught at an all-girls’ school in Boyarka, Ukraine. 2006

My bathroom in the apartment I shared with another teacher who was Ukrainian. 2006

Amazing cafe in L’viv, Ukraine. 2006

A few of my younger students. Voronezh, Russia, 2004.

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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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Tartu, Estonia

Pete and I went to Tartu on Saturday. It was my first time leaving the Tallinn area, so I was happy to see a new city! It almost felt like we were backpacking again; the weather was similar, and Tartu didn’t feel like Tallinn at all. We felt like we had left the country.

We left Saturday morning and arrived in the afternoon (the bus ride was just over 2 hours). The bus to Tartu was really nice; leather seats and WiFi.

We arrived and found that Tartu was super small. The weather was great! Pete and I love showing up at new cities with no plans. We always seem to have a great time, and Tartu didn’t disappoint! Only in the evening did I need to put on my coat. Other than that, my long sleeved shirt was fine. We had a fantastic time wandering around the city. There is a large university in the city, so there were lots of young students (and tons of hipsters). The city also had a pedestrian street, which I have missed having in Tallinn! We enjoyed delicious food, got a few souvenirs, and even ran into the missionaries (we knew one of them because he had served in Tallinn previously). Enjoy the pictures!

Pedestrian streets. One of my favorite aspects of most European cities.

Tartu University’s main building. It’s a bit grander than Pete’s university (understatement).

I wasn’t going to post this picture. But we thought it was hilarious. Man and Baby. And Pete.

Russian Orthodox church. It felt very lived in; not touristy at all.

An old Lutheran church–very simple inside.

The beautiful terracotta decorations were replicas, unfortunately.

I wanted a picture with this cool sewer thing, and for some reason, Pete forced me to lay on the ground. I think he just wanted to see what he could get me to do in public.

We happened upon a beautiful botanical garden. I can only imagine how great it is during the summer.

This building is tilted!

We got amazing (but a bit expensive) crepes at a little French restaurant. We had an hour before we needed to get back to the bus station and it was cold outside, so this place was the perfect place to hang out. We even got a table with two plush armchairs.

One of the few places I wanted to go to in Tartu was this old Catholic church. It was such a cool place! Pete liked climbing on the walls while I worried about getting yelled at.

Tartu had a lot of awesome bridges!

This band was great; they played “I’m a Barbie Girl” and the James Bond Theme song.

It was a great trip! We’re heading to Parnu on Tuesday, so we’ll be posting again then!

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An outing in North Tallinn! (At least I think that’s where we were)

Pete and I were invited by a family in our branch to hang out with them for a Saturday. We had a blast! They picked us up and we went for a beautiful drive out near the sea. They brought along their hilarious 3 boys which meant that Pete finally got the snowball fight he’d been hoping for all winter. It was Easter weekend, but it didn’t feel like spring at all–it was snowing pretty hard most of the time. The snow and wind didn’t get in the way of our fun, though (there’s a quote here in Estonia: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing). Luckily, we were dressed plenty warm.

After exploring the nature, we went back to the family’s house for a delicious Mexican dinner and egg dyeing. Instead of the standard egg dyeing procedures, we wrapped the eggs in dried onion skins, then wrapped a paper towel around them. They then boiled for about 20 minutes and turned out amazing! We didn’t get a picture of the final product, unfortunately, but I’d say that it is one of the coolest ways to decorate an egg that I’ve ever seen!

Enjoy the pictures!

I refused to get closer to the edge because Pete had already pretend thrown me over the edge once. He cannot be trusted.

This was supposed to be an awesome jumping picture, but instead Pete decided to pick me up while I was jumping and it scared the heck out of me. Again, he cannot be trusted.

The waterfall behind us has a ton of iron in it. The color in this picture doesn't do it justice. This is also an energy source for Estonia.

The family we went with!

This is Pete's heaven. If only I had known that I would soon become the enemy.

Love the little boy's face in this one. He totally got caught right before attacking me. Pete's blaming him... but we all know it was Pete's idea.

Anyway, it’s pretty funny looking back at these pictures because it was only a few weeks’ ago… spring is (finally) in full swing here! An amazing 14 degrees today!

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