At home

Declutter your life 

They say you need to let go of something old to welcome something new. Sometimes I feel like in my case, getting rid of the old will just allow the other things I have to breathe comfortably. Now, I can’t say I’ve successfully dealt with everything I didn’t need but I’ve made some progress! Once I’d finally taken out the paper and plastic I’ve collected over months to recycle, my kitchen seemed to grow some extra square meters. Donating old clothes did wonders for my closet and balcony. The overflowing bookshelf is going to be my final target – and then, I can’t even imagine how spacious the apartment would feel! – CZ.

Bake a fresh berry crumble

When I came up with this point, I didn’t really think it through. Can you imagine how much effort and patience goes into deseeding cherries, for instance? Well, neither could I, so I eventually settled on frozen berries instead of fresh. Plus, they are cheaper and supposedly have all the vitamins – maybe even more. What I can now imagine, though, is the luxury of breakfasting on a freshly baked crumble on a Wednesday morning. And to think that it took barely 10 minutes to prepare (+ a 20-ish-minute bake)! It can be so easy to treat yourself – I will definitely do it more often from now on. – CZ.

Make beaded jewelry 

Maybe it’s a 2023 trend, but there’s a bunch of people on the streets wearing beaded rings, necklaces, and bracelets. And I love how it adds a summer mood to any outfit! As I was checking on prices, I concluded that the best option was a good old DIY. An opposite of handy, I planned to start with something simple, and, to my luck, came across this YouTube tutorial. Now, I’m making necklaces in different colors for my friends. Turns out, beading is quite a relaxing activity. – ES.

Photos courtesy of the authors

Photos courtesy of the authors

Send letters to friends

My friends and I have a long-standing tradition of writing each other postcards from all the different places we visit. This time, however, I am hoping to start a new tradition. I decided to write a letter to my younger sister, who lives in my hometown and is about to start sixth grade at school. A fellow Potterhead, she knows what it’s like not to receive a letter from Hogwarts, but hopefully some cheering words and little gifts from a big sister can come second best? – CZ.

Build a pillow fort

It might have been the easiest item on my list, and yet I still haven’t done it! Surprisingly, it requires a lot of planning: you wouldn’t do it when it’s sunny or after an exhausting day at work. Also, I feel like it calls for some special snacks, home-made or delivered, and maybe even a movie, which already makes it all quite a ceremony. But it’s been ages since I last built a fort as a child, and I am not ashamed to say that I am excited about the prospect! – CZ.

In the city

Visit a water amusement park

Surprisingly, going down water slides requires a lot of nerve when you’re an adult – I had to convince myself it’s safe every time I climbed the high steps before another plunge. Talk about facing your fears! In the end, it was worth it: the hours spent at the amusement park amounted to a full-scale vacation. I particularly enjoyed not having my phone around, splashing in the water, and reconnecting with my inner child. A huge serving of froyo afterward sealed the deal. – CZ.

Photos courtesy of the authors

Photos courtesy of the authors

Become a film extra

I’ve lost count of the film crews I’ve seen in St. Petersburg; there’s always a movie in the making. Having swarmed half of the street with their caravans, they bustle like a big hive. That’s why I always wonder how it all looks from the inside, even the corniest TV series. Fortunately, there’s always a demand for background actors, so you can easily join, play some passerby, and earn some pocket money. – ES.

Go to a concert 

For me, summer is the only legit season to enjoy music outdoors. All I wanted was to go see a good band and spend a lovely evening shaking my head in the crowd. And so it happened. My friend and I went to Hadn Dadn. Since I didn’t know much about their songs, it was a pleasure to discover them live. On top of that, the concert was held at Union Bar, which owns the coziest courtyard in the city center. – ES.

Out of town

Go to the beach 

Luckily, it’s very easy to do in St. Petersburg: you just catch a suburban train to any of the resort towns on the Gulf of Finland. As per my little tradition, I went to Zelenogorsk. It was on one of the windiest days of June, but it was still warm and sunny enough for our little party of three to imagine ourselves on a tropical vacation. Last year, a totally different version of me enjoyed a summer day in Zelenogorsk – it felt nice to see how I’ve grown. – CZ.

Cycle 100km in one day

A friend once told me that literally everyone can complete a 100 km bike ride in a day, so I was curious if I’m that everyone, too. And just like that, one July weekend I joined my cycling pals on a ride to Kronstadt and back. Now I believe it’s a horrible route for your first serious ride – half the time, you’re surrounded by the Gulf of Finland, and, therefore, blown about by the wind. At the end of the day, it didn't matter. Not only did I successfully test my skills, but I also did it in great company. Two things I’ve learned from our trip, coming home with a red face and a scratched knee: don’t forget to reapply sunscreen and always bring a first-aid kit. – ES.

Photos courtesy of the authors

Photos courtesy of the authors

Visit Yagodnoe

After years of translating texts about the mysterious Yagodnoe, I finally got the chance to see it with my own eyes as part of our work outing. Somehow, it ticked all the boxes: a pine tree forest with its unmistakable aroma – check; a beautiful lake spreading as far as the eye can see – check; the total serenity and peace of a summer getaway – check. I can’t even begin to describe the amount of gratitude I felt for being there as part of a team of such great people. Also, how cool is it to say that I’ve chilled in a hammock on a work day? What a blissful trip it was! – CZ.

I’ve been to Yagodnoe before, but, to my shame, never in summer. It wasn’t until our office trip that I realized how much I’d missed! Even looking at the pines and the calm water gave me peace of mind. And I particularly appreciate our team being around. Besides, our trip goes in line with another item on my bucket list, which is to explore the nature of the Leningrad Region. – ES.

Volunteer in a restoration project

When I used to binge-watch TikTok, my guilty pleasure was videos of people cleaning or restoring all kinds of stuff, from carpets to gravestones. At some point I grew fond of real-life restoration projects. There are plenty of them in St. Petersburg: some save tiles or mosaics, others – whole buildings. On my 2023 list is Tom Sawyer Fest in Pribytkovo, where volunteers work on a pre-revolutionary wooden mansion. You, too, can go there to help and immerse yourself in the Russian dacha experience. – ES.

Random act of kindness: donate food/money & volunteer at an animal shelter

This was a two-fold goal, and the most important part is still to be completed. With my banking app, it’s possible to forward any cashback I’ve earned over a month to a charity. For some reason, I’d been postponing it, but now I’ve finally set it up – so I will be donating a small amount on a regular basis. However, volunteering at an animal shelter proved to be harder to organize than I thought, so for August I am planning to reach out to my network in the hopes of finding the right opportunity. – CZ.