November 23, 2011

My Winter Strategy

So, no joke, the sun is currently setting at 3:30 pm. And with a full coverage of clouds all day long, it has been a dreary end to November. I'm so weirded out by how early it gets dark here. We would complain in Texas when it started to get dark around 5:30pm or 6:00pm, but this is a whole 'nother ball game. And we are still a month away from the winter solstice! Sheesh, think I should just go into hibernation now??

Maybe I could build a nest out of blankets and pillows, hmmm... (source)
Actually, I have come up with a sneaky little plan to get the most out of these 'short' days. I'm calling it my "Maximize Winter Days" strategy. Here's how it works. Wake up with the sun, currently around 8:00am, and do everything you need to do in those 'daylight' hours. Daylight is in quotes because it has been mostly gray. Then, around sunset (did I mention this is at 3:30pm!), take a quick little nap. Once you wake up, it will be dark, but the night time will feel so long, it will be like you get two full days in one. So by strategically napping, I feel like I get twice as much time. One full day, and one really long night.

Genius, or detrimental to my health?? Who cares. I'm probably throwing off my inner clock so badly, but oh well. And no, I really don't nap everyday. I can't do that, I've never been a napper. But it's fun to try.

That looks familiar, except no snow, suckers!! (source)

Hope everyone is enjoying the beginning of the Thanksgiving week! At least those of you in the U.S. We are having a Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday after the home game. I am the only American here again, but pretty much make all the imports celebrate it whether they want to or not. Really, though, who can resist turkey and gravy!?!

I've posted a quick, but really neat, video over at Nobody Need Wait, my other neglected blog. It's a cool story about a guy finding a roll of camera film in Central Park and hunting down its owners. Very well done, and I think you will like it.

Have a great holiday (and eat lots of pumpkin pie for me, the one thing I can't get here), or for those non-Thanksgivingers, have a good rest of the week!

November 18, 2011

Because there aren't enough instances to use 'Capricious'

 Settle in for some random thoughts.

I guess Riga is close enough to Russia for Babushka Dolls (also known as Russian Nesting Dolls, or  Matryoshka Dolls) to be a popular souvenir. Booths lining the streets displayed mass amounts of the wooden keepsakes in every possible shape, size and decor. The hubs thought I was really weird because I was fascinated with the Michael Jackson dolls. Among other random celebrities, like Madonna, Lionel Messi, Bono and The Beatles, MJ's face was quite popular on many of the figurines. Not that I am a huge fan of his or anything, but I just couldn't believe that people would buy this crap.

I wouldn't kid around with something as serious as this. For reals. (source)
Although, I was curious to open one up. I have a theory that the smallest, most inner doll was a tiny little boy. OH! That is so wrong. I went there, I sure did.

Sticking with the cheestastic theme in Riga, the hubs and I went to the corniest/awesomist (a word) Burlesque show in the history of Burlesque shows. Now, I can assure you that this venue, which was more 'cabaret' style than anything, was completely PG. There were dancing girls, some of which were most likely trannies. A magician whose tricks kept going wrong. And not on purpose. A creepster singer, male, who kept eyeing the hubs. I was dying. And this guy, the host for the evening, was by far the most enthusiastic person in the entire Baltic States that evening.

I'm not going to lie, it was one of the more fun nights we've had in a long time. Talk about having the giggles throughout the entire show! If ever in Riga, and down for a different night out, I suggest you check out the newly opened Burlesque. Even if just for a good laugh.

On another note, are 40 year old women serious when they say they can't wait for the new Twilight movie to come out? Is anyone serious when they say this?? Gulp, just felt my followers box get a tad lighter. HA! I ALREADY LOST A TWIHARD TODAY, hahaha. Sorry guys, it's true, I don't get what anyone sees in these movies or books. Sure, Robert Pattinson is a good looking guy, but George Clooney is also a sex symbol, and by no means would I be excited to see the oh-so-horrible Batman and Robin again. Different strokes for different folks, right?! But even if you are a TwiHard, please do yourself a favor and try to refrain from what this granny did to herself. You are not going to believe the picture below.

I really like how the cellulite accents Edwards bone structure. WHO DOES THIS! (source)

And just remembered I had mentioned something about Storytellers this weekend....but I guess that's not going to happen. Next weekend will be crazy with the holiday, so why not say the first weekend in December!? I promise this time!

Last, but certainly not least, is one of my all time favorite videos. My goal in life is to wake every morning and feel half as good as this guy. I cannot get enough of this, and it is so worth the quick one minute watch.

If your Friday didn't start off great, I don't see how you are feeling down after that video!

November 15, 2011

Lovin' Life in Latvia

Riga was ah-mah-zing (or should I go back to my 'amazeballs'  craze?!). A breathtaking city, with a long and complicated history and beautiful and friendly people.

But, it was pretty dang chilly there. Like cold enough for us to think that it was 'warm' when we got back to Finland. Hmmm, there is something that I never thought I would say. Warm(er) Finland ;)

Summer is probably the ideal time to visit the city of nearly one million residents, but cold weather just means that there are more chances for hot chocolate, dessert and red wine breaks. All of which are highly necessary when the weather is below freezing.

To be honest, we didn't know squat about Latvia before we got there. But in a way, I think that is by far the best way to go into a vacation. Know next to nothing about the city, let a tour guide or locals show you the way, and somehow get the most out of the 48 hours you are there. No itinerary to get in the way, no set plans that must be met. By doing so, we stumble into some of the neatest places, bars and restaurants in the city without previous knowledge that they even existed.

Well, I actually knew a little about the city. I knew that Riga is known for it's wild bachelor party scene and strip clubs. But, surprisingly enough, that was not going to be the highlight of our trip. Strip joints are sketchy enough in the U.S., and no way am I walking into one in a former Soviet state!

For the short weekend we were there for, we actually got to see most of the Old Town, the surrounding industrial areas and the newer commercial centers. Because of heavy bombing and destruction during various wars throughout the last 200 years, many of the buildings are restorations of the originals. They are gorgeous and you could spend hours just looking around at all the different structures.

One of the best things in town was the Museum of Latvian Occupation. Ok, yes, I know the name is deceivingly boring, but this museum was so interesting and so well done, especially for a place that was free of charge (a donation is appreciated).

I had no idea what the Latvians had been through in just the last 100 years. I'll give you a very short run down, so you can appreciate their perseverance as well. Latvia declared itself an independent country 1918, just after the end of WWI. They earned a few years of freedom, but the USSR made a move into the country at the beginnings of actions leading up to WWII and the people became powerless under the Soviet regime. The Latvians resisted for some time, but when the possibility of German forces crossing their borders became a real threat, they 'welcomed' the Soviet occupation, hoping that it would help their chances against the Germans. Not the case. This began the "Year of Horror". Many high ranking officers and public officials, along with their families, were deported to harsh Gulag camps. Most of them did not return.

After enduring what they thought was the worst of their trials, the Latvians openly welcomed Nazi soldiers into their country, hoping that they would bring some relief to the previous horrible year. Things seemed to get better at first, until the Nazi regime started targeting Jewish citizens, minorities and mentally handicapped people. Over 200,000 Latvians died in WWII, which for a country as small as theirs, is a huge percentage. Over 75,000 of those were Jews murdered by the Nazis.

Following WWII, Soviet forces reentered Latvia and took control of the government and its citizens once again. Talk about not catching any kind of break. History was repeating itself as high ranking patriots who did not seek refuge in other countries were forced to work in gulags. At first, over 43,000 higher society citizens were sent to Russia for manual labor. And then another wave of over 100,000 were packed up and imprisoned, repressed or sent to Soviet concentration camps. As you can imagine, many of the families never returned to Latvia.

Harsh times under soviet rule lasted until 1991. 1991, just 20 years ago. Although it was declared an independent country for over 70 years prior, it wasn't until the 90s that Latvia got to control itself.

I was amazed at their history, I honestly had no idea. It just goes to show the spirit and perseverance of the human race in times of hardship and oppression.

Anyways, you needed a history lesson for the day, so there you have it. I do highly recommend Riga. It was so gorgeous. And a very safe, clean and fun place to visit. But maybe go when it's warm, brrrr!

There is so much more funny things to tell about our trip, but, come on, I have to space it out so it at least lasts me more than one blog post ;)

November 9, 2011

Love November Breaks!

Have you ever heard of this show called Knitty Gritty. No, that's not a joke, it is for real.
And apparently the number one show here in Finland. I get up in the morning and like to have my coffee with the TV on, and this random ass program from the DIY Network back at home is always on.

I get it that you like to knit, Finland, I do from time to time as well. But seriously, how many close ups on the "Knitty Cam" (no joke, that is the name) of a slip stitch or cast off can I freakin' watch?!

 I don't know what it is about your face, but I just wanna deliver one of these right in your suck hole. ....anyone, anyone? (source)

Plus I love to hate the host of the show, pictured on the cover of all-time best seller above! She is the smuggest knitter of all time. All time. And that's hard to do.

I'm so mean today! Ya'll really care, right?!

But you might care about this...

The league is on one of their many national team breaks and the hubs has the entire weekend free from games and practices. So, we are taking advantage of the break and are headed to Riga, Latvia!! Eeee, I know, I'm excited! And bonus if you can correctly point it out on a unlabeled map, haha.

So pretty! I can't wait to see it all (source)

I don't really know jack about the country or the city, but we can learn together, right!? I've heard only good things about the place (like cheap beer, great bars and clubs and beautiful women, all of which are on my priority list....?). Know anything about Riga you'd like to share??

So I will at least have something of value to report on next week. I mean, of course, other than annoying knitting shows.

Also, I think we are due for a Storytellers Blog Hop. Maybe next weekend?? I'll see if I can at least keep up with blogging until then :)

November 3, 2011

11 burning questions and a mind-blowing bonus

In the last couple of posts, ya'll have left some amazing comments. Not only are you guys always upbeat and nice and thoughtful, but you raised some great questions too. And with these, I am hoping to break my bloggyland writers block. So you new readers to the blog, I think you will enjoy this little peek into my world. And for all you old, been-around-for-random-post-after-random-post readers, well, you might just learn a little something new too ;)

Most asked question number 1) Soooo, what do you do all day?

Ha. Any 'hockey wife' or anyone traveling the world for their partner's job will know that this question comes at ya quite frequently. Well, a typical day consists of lounging on the couch, watching Finnish Soap Operas in a lavish, plush robe while eating only the best quality bon-bons. But don't think I am just some bimbo, I can multitask too. For example, I also have to schedule my weekly facial and massage when there is a commercial break. Le sigh.

If only I were as cool as Peggy Bundy! (source)

Ha, oooorrrrrr not. Our day to day life in any country is pretty typical of that for most people back in North the 9-5 job. We get up, the hubs goes to practice and I get to doing a little work online. The internet is amazing, did ya'll know that?! I am able to write and do work for people all over the world all the while still in my PJs. Before I started really getting into freelancing this year, I learned German the first years and then taught English last year. My parents didn't spend oodles of money to send me to a great college for me to just sit around on my bee-hind! :) In the afternoon, I head to the gym, the grocery store and whatever other errand needs to be run. Pretty boring and just as monotonous as anything back at home, really.

2) How is the team doing?

Ya'll are really sweet for asking. I don't usually like to talk about the team much on here. After all, this is MY blog not the hubs' ;) Plus, I've had some intense fans stalk the blog a little too close my comfort in past years. I don't mind if they read, just don't read into my posts and try to guess what my husband is thinking. So let's just put it this way: We love it here, he loves the team, and no matter what, there could always be more wins in a season!


3) Is it dark there all day?

Yes, and there are zombies too.

Brains! And reindeer bratwurst... (source)

What!?! NO! (not yet). Actually, Europe already 'fell-back' this past weekend. The sun is up earlier, but this mega-early sun setting thing already has me feeling wacky. For example, I was sooo confused the other day when I ran to the grocery store. It was pitch dark outside and there were tons of people milling around, walking their dogs and running around the lake. What were they doing there in the middle of the night?! Until I realized it was only 5pm. Really, really weird to me! I guess you do what you normally do, only in the winter you do it in the dark.

4) How much has it snowed there??

Muhahaha! That was my evil laugh if you weren't aware. The weather here has been nothing short of awesome. Well, that may take some explaining. See, when I first got here I kept saying that I was going to die come the cold and dark December. The Finns thought they were soooo funny by telling me I didn't even have to wait that long until winter...think more October. But they were wrong. October was gorgeous here. And the first days of November thus far have been extremely mild. I'm talking high 50s, low 60s. So all you New Englanders and Coloradians (is that right?!) that have been getting dumped on this past week, just know that several latitudes north of you haven't been hit once.

Am I tempting the winter gods by writing this?!

Soon to be picture of our front driveway (source)

5) What do you do all day?

Um, we went over this already. I do what you do, just in a different country. And attend a hockey game from time to time.

6) How long are you allowed to stay?

Guess who is legal to live, WORK AND GO TO SCHOOL (really? Did they forget I don't know Finnish?) in Finland?! Quit guessing. 'Cause it's me! We just got our passports complete with shiny new visas and completely unflattering photos in them. Who's idea was it not to smile in pictures?? That's right, we are good to stay until the end of the season. And the whole allowed to work thing was a very nice surprise! Who knew. Hmmm, you know, I could use a break from the computer now and again!


7) What is the town like?

The town is so nice. It is the perfect size (about 60,000) and we are less than an hour away from two major cities. All of the hubs' games are very close by (no more 12 hour trips on the bus!) and there is lots to see and do around in the area. We live within walking distance of most everything and yes, we realize how lucky we are. I will share more pictures of the town as the season trudges on.

And there is a castle, a lake and ducks.
8) What does your husband do for his 'real' job?

While none of my awesome readers asked this job, it is not an unheard of question. News flash nerds, this is his real job. He makes real money, not Monopoly-like paper money only to be redeemed at the rink's snack stands and gift shop. Sure, h doesn't hold regular hours and he isn't 'employed' in the summer, but there is never down time in hockey. If you are in season, you are working out and preparing for the next. If you aren't at the rink, you are at home, resting and saving your energy for the next game.

9) Do you have a car?

Yes because they better not expect this Texas butt to be hiking anywhere once the snow falls. I don't play that game. One of the big advantages of coming over to Europe is the fact that they (usually) arrange and pay for an apartment, a car, health insurance and travel costs. That leaves us to cover very little living expenses while abroad. Hockey is never certain, you never know what is right around the corner. So anytime you can save money for the future, you take that opportunity!

10) What do you do all day?

Really? Again? Nothing. I stare at the wall and watch the wallpaper peel....which it is actually doing here right now. Ha.

11) Are you going to show us a picture of your funky hair/Was there Halloween?

So last posts I mentioned that I got funkified at the salon. I didn't ask for it, I am totally not that trendy. Of course you are your own worse critic when things don't go right at the hair dressers. But before I got it somewhat fixed, I had a super bright YELLOW patch on my head about the size of two quarters from bleach leaking out of the foils. Fun times.

It was freezing outside and I am still refusing to wear warm clothes.

So here is a picture of it fixed, and me as an ever-boring masquerade gal. And I was still more in costume than 80% of the people at the bar. It's just not big here.

BONUS: Anything else you'd like to share about Finland??
Why yes there is! Thank you for asking ;) You ready for the most random answer possible?? Of course you are.

DID YOU KNOW that there are NO skunks in Europe?! Like none at all. Ok, maybe in a zoo somewhere, but not in the wild. The stinky creatures are native to North America and have populations in South America and Indonesia. So I guess I never have to worry about skunks here, a perpetual problem at home. Seriously, my parents set traps every night and catch at least one a week. No, we don't have skunk skin hats or black and white fur lined coats.

That leaves me with two burning questions. 1) What do Europeans say when beer goes bad?? I am guessing they certainly don't say it is skunky. (everyone says that, right??)

And the second question. Are you ready, this is going to blow your mind.

If there are no skunks this side of the Atlantic, was Pepe Le Pew French Canadian??

Think about it :)