Sunday, June 29, 2014

Helsinki by Sea

My last day in Helsinki was Midsummer's Eve. This is a BIG holiday in the Scandinavian countries where they essentially celebrate the sun over the longest day of the year. And when I say big, I mean HUGE. Everyone heads out to the country to celebrate for the whole weekend. Of course, that means almost everything in the city was closed. And I mean literally everything. McDonald's was closed guys. In fact, McDonald's was closed for three days.

So, what do you do when the whole city shuts down? You leave. While I couldn't go frolic in the Finnish countryside, I decided to hop on a boat. I had wanted to see the Sueomelinna Fortress since I had first realized I was headed to Helsinki, and it did not disappoint.

You can see the Lutheran Cathedral in the background, then the blue building is city hall right on the water.
On the way to the island, we passed a bunch of smaller islands with one or two small buildings each.
I fell absolutely in love with these idyllic little red shacks on a small outcropping of rocks in the harbor.
 The fortress is out on an island, and has been around since the 1700s. While not all of the buildings were that old, they had an absolutely beautiful weathered look from the salty spray of the sea wind.

These geese were VERY mean.
While people do actually still live on the small island, much of the original fortress is still in tact, if not worn down and a bit overrun with vegetation.

This was probably my favorite thing about Helsinki (besides the food). If you ever make it to the city, don't miss it!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wandering Around a Foreign City

I am the kind of person who most definitely enjoys my alone time. When traveling for work, I count the minutes down to the time I can get back to a silent, empty hotel room. Even at home, I'll slip off to just sit by myself. And Layne makes fun of the fact that I have, in the past, taken myself to the movies instead of inviting a friend. So when it came time to strike out into Helsinki alone, I was ready and even slightly looking forward to it.

The first day (Sunday), I stuck to the city itself and just ambled about. Most everything was closed, so it was a great chance to just explore and enjoy. Getting lost was easy - I mean, look at that language. I've no idea what kind of shop this is... and is that a lobster in a hot dog bun? But after a day or so I had pretty much figured my way around.

Helsinki is a city absolutely full of churches. The most famous is the Lutheran Cathedral.
This photo shows some of the amazingly beautiful detail of the cathedral, while the picture below really shows the scale.

I apologize for the slightly odd coloring of this picture. I took this picture from the ferris wheel, and as you can see below, they brilliantly shaded the windows blue. It ruined all my pictures, but whatever. I did my best, but even Photoshop has its limitations (or at least my Photoshop skills do!)

Jerk, blue ferris wheel!


This church was my favorite. The oxidized copper with the brick and the gold details were just too much against a bright blue sky.

Helsinki is right on the sea, which really makes it amazing. A lot of the local decor and almost all of the local cuisine is determined by the sea. I had fish for almost every meal, except for when I had reindeer. (When in Helsinki, right?) 
Next post - my adventures on the sea!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Out of Town

I didn't abandon the blog again - I've just been out of town! I'll have more on my trip to Helsinki later this week, but for now I just wanted to share a few things that caught my eye this week...

This BuzzFeed article. Layne sent this to me while I was in Helsinki, and it made me remember how awesome America is. I love traveling overseas and would love to even live abroad at some point, but I really do freaking love the U.S. of A.

These Americana cupcakes - yum. I guess I'm just getting all amped up for the 4th of July! (And can we talk about how she has country music playing on her page? Talk about 'Mercan!)

The most amazing apartment tour in Glasgow. So cozy and soft and welcoming. I have decided I basically need to get rid of everything I own and just replicate this apartment.

Last week, I was here.

It's called the Kamppi Chapel of Silence and is a multidenominational place of worship right in the city center of Helsinki. The idea is for people to have a quiet place to pause in the middle of their hectic days and connect with each other and their faith. I was not quite adventurous enough to go try to find a service on my own, so this was a wonderful chapel to spend a few moments of my time. Every city should have a location like this.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Helsinki - Hell Yeah!

Last week I was in Helsinki for a work conference. I'll give you a moment to be awed at my status as an international woman of business, traveling abroad on a whim and such. (Actually, I only ever go to Detroit. This trip was just a lucky fluke. But Detroit is the Paris of the West, right? RIGHT?!)

While Helsinki may not make my list for Top 10 Places to Visit Worldwide Overseas Europe, I was elated be asked to attend this conference. Sure, I'd just be standing at a booth in an exhibit hall all day, but that booth was in Europe, the continent my heart simply swoons for. (I think we should work out how to take America, my first love, and join it with Europe. Who's with me?!)

Monday-Thursday were pretty much booked solid with work stuff. It is my job to be just like the kiosk people at the mall who pester you with their product, but I am selling Detroit to swanky, accented men from all over Europe when they could attend a very similar conference next year in Bordeaux- Hands down beats Helsinki and Detroit, huh? Now, I happen to feel that my conference in Detroit will be 1000Xs better than the next one in Bordeaux, but my confidence does not convince everyone. The conference itself was, I believe, a very successful venture. Go ITS!

I'll post more about my trip sometime this week, but if you are wondering what I'm doing at these conferences, watch this video.

No joke- it gives me chills! Fair warning, if you watch it you may just feel inspired to join me in Detroit this September!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Friendless in the Big City

Well, there goes the last of them! When Layne and I first moved here, we made a number of friends pretty quickly, as it seemed like a number of young, married couples had all moved into our area at the same time and met each other at church. Since then, they have mostly moved away, one by one. My friend Amy was the single hold out with me.

As I was growing up, we moved around a lot. (A lot is an understatement. We moved annually). My mom would always remind me that when it comes to friends, you only need one. Well, I had my one and things were going splendidly until her husband got an internship in Chicago for the summer. The long, hot days of summer stretch out ahead of me and they have never seemed so lonely. I will, luckily, be really busy with work this summer and she will only be gone 3 months, but still. Three months is a long time with no true friends.

Saying good-bye right - shoving our faces full of ice cream.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Waiting For Life to Happen

When I was a teenager, all I did was wait. Wait for school to be over, wait for the years to pass by, wait in a sleepy, little Utah town, wait for my escape. College and the world thereafter was the shiny trophy at the end of this long wait, and I bided my time with my eyes continually on the prize.

Eventually, that waiting was over.  I moved (a whole 30 minutes) away for college, but it was enough of an escape for me. From there, I could just glimpse a future ahead of me, sure to be far different than what I had seen up to that point. New people and new experiences were everywhere, and I woke up for the first time in years.

Jump ahead a marriage and a cross-country move, and the world has expanded around me. D.C. is a far cry from the laid back, relaxed atmosphere of my various homes out west. The energy (or anxiety) of this city is fast-paced, motivated. This drive has led me to encounter places and situations that a shy, skinny 18-year-old never could have dreamed of. I have loved every minute, the good and the bad, for better or worse. Through this period in my life, I have grown so much faster and further than at any other time. And now I’m looking for that next step. The problem is, for once in my life, I’m not certain what that is.

You go to school, K-12, then you graduate. For me, college was always bound to come next. We moved to D.C. for an internship to finish my degree, and had both wanted to live here together, so we naturally stayed on. Now… my roadmap ends. I have vague ideas of what we want in the future – a house, kids, a career, an MBA for Layne – but how and where and when are mere fragments of a plan at this point, and some of the answers to those questions we have no control over.

I have to admit, we do have some of the details more solidly worked out than I am alluding, but I can’t help but focus on the unknown rather than the known. My life has come full circle and is once again a waiting game. But this time, I’m not looking for an escape. Just my path forward.

Friday, June 6, 2014


You are probably as sick of my apologies for abandoning my blog as I am of making them. So, with that in mind, we'll just skip straight into the good stuff.

Trying to get into swimsuit mode over here, I made these Greek Turkey burgers earlier this week and, overall, they were a big hit with us. We ate them with pita instead of hamburger buns and will definitely be making this recipe again.

I also made this curry recipe... eh. Not so much. I was in the mood after making this really successful chicken tikka masala recipe a few weeks ago, but while the first recipe was so flavorful, the curry recipe this week fell flat.

Source (found on Pinterest)

I tried this absolutely insane Drop 10 Workout. You're supposed to do it daily for two weeks and lose 10 lbs... I did it once and lost all desire to lose 10 lbs.

TORTURE! But, probably really effective. Not necessarily for losing weight, but you could definitely tone yourself up. If you give it a try, let me know how it goes!

Lastly, here is my "Room of the Week." Not really a room, but I love the white with the black window casing and black roof and have officially decided that if I ever build a home this is the combo that I want. It's classic, and I love the contrast.

Bonus this week is that this cute little row house is somewhere in Georgetown! Maybe I'll spy it next time I'm in the neighborhood.

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