Profile photo of Vitaliy, Jen, and Ivy
Vitaliy, Jen, and Ivy Gnezdilov
White Bear Lake, MN
Fujifilm X100V

A personal diary of photos taken with the Fujifilm X100V camera.

June 10, 2023

Mother’s Day 💕

It’s been a while since we’ve posted!

We have been doing a lot of fun stuff now that the weather around here is nicer. We have a lot to catch up on but we’ll start with Mother’s Day.

We decided to take a day trip out to Nelson, Wisconsin to do a hike and go to a pizza farm. Contrary to what I’ve been asked the pizza does not grow on trees but I’m fairly certain the ingredients are local and farm fresh!

We had every intention of going on our hike as well but the sightseeing and backroads we drove through made our trip take longer than we wanted. Just another excuse to go back.

If you haven’t driven through Southwest Wisconsin and you’re local, I’d highly recommend! It was just beautiful with bodies of water, bluffs and so much greenery. We loved snapping some pictures here- the place was just picturesque! Ivy had a blast with endless space to roam.

We hope you enjoy!

❤️ Jen & V

March 28, 2023

Papa’s Wild Ride 🏎️

Prior to booking our trip to San Diego, I have been scoping out the digs on Turo (an AirBnb for cars).

Aside from booking a luxury SUV for the family for the price of a Fiesta, I wanted to see what else was out there for fun and landed on a 2014 Porsche Boxster. I was lucky enough to find one with a manual transmission…for research purposes, of course. I have been looking at the first generation Boxster for a while. While not ready to make a purchase yet, this experiment with a 3rd generation certainly complicated things—the opposite effect of the one I was seeking.

I took the car out for a couple of hours to the top of the Palomar mountains and found myself an 11-mile twister of a road. Being a mid-engine car (the engine located right behind the two seats, yet in front of the rear axle), with a near perfect weight distribution, the Boxster handled every turn exceptionally well, diving into each bend with confidence.

Despite it being a Base model with none of the popular factory add-ons, it provided a purist’s experience that’s actually preferred by a minority of enthusiasts. Needless to say, I fell in love with the top-down experience and the roar of the inline 6.

After getting back home, I have been overwhelmed with picking just the right optioned car—a Base vs the S models, ones with PSE (Porsche Sports Exhaust), PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management), SC (Sports Chrono), or PTV (Porsche Torque Vectoring, essentially an Limited Slip Differential)—the list goes on.

The car I rented had none of those things, and I didn’t feel like it needed them either.

Here is what my research shows:

  • Base vs S:  The S is faster but has really tall gears, which means you don’t get to work the gearbox as much on the street and backroads (denying you of a great pleasure). The Base felt like it had plenty power throughout the RPM band.
  • Porsche Sports Exhaust (PSE):  Sounds awesome with a tasteful amount of crackles and pops. However the PSE can be installed aftermarket, if you can find one. If you can’t, there are other throatier options from Soul or others.
  • Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM):  Lowers the car slightly and electronically adapts suspension to your driving. Sounds cool, but by no means did I feel like it was missing in the twists and turns, and I was giving it the beans. This feature being electronic, I see it as another thing that’s just going to break eventually. If I want to stiffen the ride, I would get the X73 sports suspension from the 987 (previous gen) Spyder (or a Bilstein equivalent). This provides similar (arguably better) effects, but without any electronic components, giving the upgrade a longer life.
  • Sports Chrono:  Loved by many, one of the most notable features of the Sports Chrono is the rev match capability. Rev match blips the throttle automatically as you downshift, bringing your RPMs to just the perfect number so you can continue to GO without missing a millisecond. While this might shave a second or two off your lap time, one of the things I’ve always loved about a manual gearbox is being able to heel toe between the gas and the break pedals—it provides such a visceral feeling of squeezing the most out of your ride (what else is it for?). The 981’s pedal placement, granted, made it super tricky to heel toe effectively (at least I haven’t been able to figure it out in the two days with the car), there are aftermarket accessories that address this issue. Additionally, the Sports Chrono adds launch control to the car—the feature I doubt I would ever use. Lastly, and the feature I would actually miss a little, is a classy clock chronometer mounted on the dash. Oh well. And lastly,
  • Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV): An option that intelligently brakes rear wheels independently to allow for tighter cornering. I appreciate the tech, but not a must have.

There are a lot of conflicting opinions on the forums about each of these options. The only thing these countless debates reinforce is that you can’t go wrong.

Relating more to the purists, I have my nationwide search set to the 2.7 Base with a manual transmission in Guards Red (the same exterior color of the rental)—as for everything else: come as it may. But, plainer, the better, given the so many aftermarket options available if you get FOMO and aligning with my philosophy: less $#*& to break.

The 981 generation (3rd gen) of the Porsche Boxster ironed out a lot of the quirks of the original 986 (1st gen, being the one I had my eye on), from mechanical to aesthetic, this was an incredibly fun ride. It also differs from the latest generation (4th gen) 718, which, unless going for the Spyder or the GT4, has a 4 cylinder turbocharged engine, and misses the primal roar of the inline 6 that the 981 produces.

Given this, it’s no debate—the 981 is going to be the coveted generation of the Porsche Boxster in the inevitable all-electric world.

❤️ Jen & V

March 26, 2023

How did San Diego get its name?

Some guy was walking along the beach and dropped his frozen waffle 🧇

We recently took a little family trip to San Diego. Except it was during the coldest spell Southern California had experienced in decades…bad timing but still warmer than Minnesota.

We got to see some friends, eat some delicious food, take Ivy to the Wild Animal Park, and V got a little treat for himself (more on this in a bit).

The first day we were there we met up with a few of our friends and went to La Jolla beach for a nice little walk. The day ended up to be fairly warm (65 and sunny for us Minnesotans is warm, alright?). There’s something special and easy going about a San Diego beach.

A day or two later we took Ivy to the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park. It’s an extension of the San Diego Zoo but more of a wildlife exhibit. We took a tram and saw some animals in their natural habitat. Of course, it wouldn’t be an adventure with a toddler without a meltdown, would it? I’m sure most parents experience this at an outing, so you’ll feel our pain. By the way, did you know that the San Diego Zoo Wild Animal Park has the only two platypuses outside of Australia? Since they prefer darkness and were in hiding (same), we did not get to see them.

There’s just one small regret—not taking enough photos with friends, which we will soon remedy in September over Labor Day weekend in Los Angeles. If you’ll be around, let us know!

❤️ Jen & V

February 4, 2023

Ivy’s first day of school, a quest for a juicy lucy, and our new favorite restaurant.

These past couple of weeks we’ve been cozying up at home waiting for this winter to blow over. We have gotten out a few times, but nothing that would warrant its own post. However a couple of interesting things have happened so we’ll post them here:

  1. First thing’s first, our little girl started school. In essence, it’s day care, but actually, it’s a lot more than that. She is attending a Montessori School where she’s learning to be more independent (as if she needs any more help with that). She is potty training, and her favorite activities include the paint easel, the toolbox, and the hand washing station (to noone’s surprise). It’s a great school and we’re very lucky to have made it in.

  2. I (Vitaliy) had my first Juicy Lucy. Blue Door Pub in Saint Paul was our choice. It was between that or The Nook. A Juicy Lucy is a special kind of Midwest novelty burger where the cheese goes inside of the meat. The difference compared to the traditional variant is negligible, but maybe it was just the burger. Perhaps next time we’ll try The Nook or Matt’s Bar, where Barack Obama famously notched his burger belt. Have a favorite juicy luicy spot? Reply to this email and let us know!

  3. Aside from polishing our Durak skills at the dinner table when Jen and I get a couple of hours of peace every Friday night (sans baby), we like to rate each restaurant we visit on a 1–5 star rating. I have this opinion that there can only be one 5 (or a 10) when rating something—it’s has to be the best of the best. While we have a handful of greats and a couple of near perfects, I am shocked to say that we actually found a 5! A Southeast Asian restaurant that scored perfect on every aspect of the experience—the service, the ambiance, the food. What’s the place, you ask? Khâluna. The word originates from Laos, and comes from a Buddhist teaching, which means “compassion.” If you have not been, make a reservation, it’s an absolute must. Check out the blog post to see the artful plating (and don’t if you’re hungry).

❤️ Jen & V

January 2, 2023

Snow Day & Our Own Big Little Christmas

Growing up when there was any possibility of a snow day, we had to get up early to watch the news and see all of the names of schools go by to see if ours showed up. 

If you missed it on the marquee, you had to wait for all of them to come across the screen again. 

Now, everyone gets an automated phone call to let them know. There’s something kind of fun about the anticipation, and it was rare that our school showed up. 

Even though Ivy is not yet in school, we treated her to our own snow day. We rode around in the sled, built a snowman, and chucked a few snowballs at our window.

It was the perfect transition into Christmas. 

It’ll be so fun the bigger Ivy gets to see the excitement she gets when opening up presents.

She’s going to a Montessori School soon, so they start potty training there. Naturally, she got her first toilet, which she’s taken out for a few spins already, along with her new trike. Spring can’t come soon enough for her to roll that bad boy down the block (the bike).

We had my immediate family over Christmas Day, and my sister in law made a charcuterie-tree (a “charcutertree” ?). How cool is that? The little ones had a blast, and there were even some moments of silence—the ultimate present a child can gift (even though V doesn’t remember this).

We hope everyone had a happy and healthy holiday!

❤️ Jen & V

January 2, 2023

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

We used to get together with my dads side of the family growing up, and just as people got older we stopped.

But now that we have Ivy, Andy (my brother) and his wife have two boys, and my cousin Rachel has a little girl, it’s so much fun to get together for the kids. 

We went to my aunt and uncles house and just had the best time. It’s so cool to see all of the kids playing in the same house we all grew up playing in. My aunt had the best playroom. If I was 2 years old, I’d be in heaven. 

We were in charge of desserts, so we brought a tray of a few of our favorite cookies—my mom makes homemade caramels with her brother every year, and we decided to make Spritz cookies (V’s favorite). My mom and Grandma always made them growing up, but had trouble with the cookie gun. I decided to find a new one and give it a go. Vitaliy proved to be the best man for the job with his meticulous skills and attention to detail. 

They tasted just as good as they looked.

❤️ Jen & V

January 2, 2023

“Back her in if you want to see tears,” they said.

For those who don’t know, I (Jen) grew up in White Bear Lake, Minnesota.

I moved to California in my 20’s where after living there for about 5 years, I met Vitaliy.

Just as life did for everyone else, COVID brought on some changes for us. 

One day, we had to make a change in our living situation, so we decided: “why not move to Minnesota?” I was hesitant of the winters, but Vitaliy grew up in Latvia where the climate was similar. 

This Christmas, I was eager to show him a lot of the memories I had growing up, especially now that we have a little one. Anyone who is familiar with Downtown White Bear Lake knows about its charm, small town feel, and just how 4th Street in wintertime resembles a Hallmark movie. 

What better place to have Ivy meet Santa? 

We didn’t know what to expect, but we had been talking the guy up for weeks. She knew just who he was when she saw him, but upon their meeting, she just stared at him. We were fully expecting the classic cry when meeting Santa face. Maybe next year. 

Vitaliy and I also went on our Friday date night. My mom watches Ivy every Friday night while we try a new restaurant. 

This was the first time we tried a restaurant for a second time—Estelle in St. Paul. It has a small, intimate, modern atmosphere, and pretty great food. It’s hard to make a spaghetti out of this world, but they did a pretty good job.

If you’ve ever gotten to know Vitaliy, you know he will teach you a Russian card game called Durak, and you’ll be hooked. So we bring our deck of cards along and play a few games, have a few laughs and enjoy our dinner. Best part of the week!

❤️ Jen & V

January 2, 2023

Hello World

This was the first time Vitaliy took the Fujifilm X100V out for a spin. This was an impromptu walk around our neighborhood like many of them are. If you have a child in winter weather, you know that it can be tough keeping them occupied indoors.

Ivy loves walks. Just like us, I think it helps her wind down, relax, clear her head, and get some fresh air. This was right before our big cold spell around Christmas, so we had to get out there and soak it all up.

Walking is something we do year round. This time of the year it's a little less lush, however its so fun to see the beautiful Christmas lights, glistening snow on trees, and shiny icicles, plus, this one guy we always pass who tells us how “cute our little guy is” 🤣. As you can see, she has a pink hat on with flowers on both, her blanket and snowsuit, but it always gives us a laugh. 

Ivy was so small last winter and we didn’t get out as much then, so its fun to realize that she’s experiencing some of these things, and see them for the first time through her eyes.

❤️ Jen & V