Monday, March 18, 2013

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Finland Part 2

Part two came a little sooner than expected! (Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Sophie ;)

Did I make your mouth water with the pancakes yesterday? Mine was! Back to the dorm food for Abby. 

So where was I... Oh yes, we were leaving for the summer house. 

The drive took a little over an hour. We stopped at the last store before we hit the (the direct translation from Finnish is cottage, but I thought little cabin was more fitting) cabin. We bought all kinds of Finnish stuff for the night. 
My favorite part of the drive was when we turned onto the once gravel, but now snow packed road because the view was amazing. There was snow all around you, then huge green trees. Pretty, pretty--now only if the sun would have shown a bit more! 

We got to the cabin and just kind of sat down and planned our night. Then the first thing we did was have a tour of course! 

This is the cute little smoke house. 

These are pictures from inside the smoke house. Those are reindeer furs. 

 The cute cabin! 

The cute outhouse, but maybe not so cute if we had to use it? Most people don't have toilets in their cabins. They are lucky ones!! (and that means Sophie and I were too!! ;) 

A further away view of the cabin. If you look carefully on the right side you can see a red car. Then behind that you can see the outhouse and behind that you can see the smokehouse. 

And last but not least is the Sauna house. 

And the lake!!!! 

So, Sophie saw the snow mobile and had never been on one and really wanted to go. It was too warm out like 1 C out. Which is above the temp of water freezing, and so there was a little bit of water on top of the lake and snow mobiles will get stuck. So we went on a little ride just on the roads around the cabin (all gravel (i think?) but snow packed nonetheless). I found that it was quite hard to steer. Then when Sophie tried to I think it was the most I had laughed all trip. We were stuck in the middle of the road for 4 1/2 minutes just her trying to turn around!!!! Hahahaha, people from the South I tell ya what ;)

When we got back it was nice to go inside and get warm by the fire. Every time I went into the house I had to eat a cracker...or two. They are really salty so they are addicting. Ville missed these while he was gone, so it was obviously something I needed to try. 

I put butter on the crackers, and I think I would enjoy it with cheese or something as well. This is a beer that we tried. It was good. Better than a lot of beers that I have had in England! 

After we were warmed up just sitting around it was getting darker. We had one more thing planned for the night. For lack of better word or phrase I'll refer to it as ice jumping. Ville's father went out to the lake right by their dock and scooped the snow on top of the lake. Then he took his chainsaw and cut through the ice to make a square that was big enough for us to fit in. Although we were nervous we knew we had to do this while we were in Finland!! So Ville had started a fire in the Sauna after our snow mobile adventures. We sat in the sauna until we were going to pass out (or was that just me?? haha) and *very important step of putting on grandma knitted woolen socks* and ran outside to the ....dun dun dun.... little square out of the big lake. 

Now, I know what you might be thinking. If you jump in what if you can't find the hole, what if your body goes into shock, what if you can't lift yourself up from the water because the ice is slippery, what if something in the lake grabs you and pulls you down only to find out there are actually mermaids in Finland. These were the thoughts running through my head before I totally agreed to do this. Then when I expressed my fears/thoughts Ville kindly explained that we  would be able to touch. 

WELL, that solved just about every problem except the shock one--eh we will take our chances ;)

So with our wool socks we ran out to the lake and Ville was first (of course, like I was about to get in there) and he jumped in, dipped down, and got the *heck* out. I think Sophie was next, (remember this girl is from ALABAMA) she was like and got out. 

Remind me, why am I doing this again? 


Fine. I jump in. Holy s**t that's cold. Ok get out--run back to sauna, in there for about 2.3 seconds when I about die from suffocation--run back outside into the winter air soaking wet with ice cold water, and----- relief. I had to stand out there quite sometime before I could go into the sauna. Maybe this is what I am made for??? 


Go back into sauna. Plan our next activity. Rolling in the snow. 

Now if you were to guess which would be colder... jumping in a lake? or rolling over in the snow once which would you guess? 

Ville was the first in the snow and he was back in the sauna before we even were started. That seemed promising. Sophie and I went at the same time. Knees, belly, arms, and roll. I shot up out of that so fast and into the sauna. My goodness. I wouldn't have thought that it would have been different than the water, but yes, yes, yes it was. So much colder. 

Sauna once more. Sophie wants to go in snow again--I was skeptical. She went in bum first this time, and she was half way there so I yelled to do a snow angel. Then I was thought what a good picture this would be---hold it there soph!! I'm going to get your camera!! "Uh ok, hurry!!" 

Abby!!!! You are going in the wrong room!! Oh my gosh this is cold!! 
Where is it at in this room??!?!
In my pocket!! Hurry!!!!!!!!!!!! 
Found it, now hold still.... say cheese..... oops one more... ok. 

I am not quite sure how she did it. Maybe it was for all those back home and her will power to prove that she could? Well she sure beat me. I had no interest in laying in that snow again (and my first time was 4 seconds long compared to her at least 30 or more). 

And you guessed it..... back to the sauna. We had one last thing we wanted to do. We wanted to do a round two in the lake, but get some evidence. 

I know this is a bad picture below, but I had to share this. Sophie wanted to prove herself once more. 
**Fun fact you lose 90% of your body heat from your head. 
What did she do? She went completely under!! (which none of us had done, but it's sort of dangerous and wayyyyyyyy too cold). 
She did it. Way to go soph!! ....and she lived to tell about it... even better!!!!!!!! ;) 
Take that Finland! From an Alabama girl. 
(Made that quote up. She didn't actually say that, but it pretty much was said with actions.)

Welp, lets put on some real clothes and eat some supper--yep. 
Back to the cabin where we would put some sausages (like brats) over the fire and eating some Finnish pies (pastry with meat in the middle) and, of course, I had to try their chips. They were still potato chips with grease and salt, so of course I loved them. I even ate the rest of the jar of pickles. (Ville, don't tell your dad it was me. I'm sorry, but then again not, because they were so great.) 

We ended the night by watching an episode of Muumi and even though we couldn't understand anything I loved it. Ville translated a bit, and if you just use visual cues you can get enough information! ;) 

It had been a long day with sooooo much food and awesome activities. Time for bed. 

The next day, we packed up our things and had to say goodbye. It was pretty sad leaving the cabin. It felt like we had been there the whole weekend or at least more than 24 hours (which we didn't even spend a full 24 hours there). We headed back to Ville's mother's house and had one last Finnish meal. 
Meat balls, mashed potatoes, and a sauce to cover all. I could have eaten, and eaten, and eaten it.  It was delightful. Not only that, but she made a homemade pie with the rest of the fresh blueberries from the morning before. AND his sister had made muffins (that were like dense cupcakes) MMmmmmm. Everything was amazing. 

Then, you wouldn't have guessed it!!! We graduated from Finland High School!

These are what their graduation hats look like, and they always hold a bouquet in their pictures as well. So we joined in. :)

After a minor worry session of me forgetting to look/write/ or actually KNOW when our plane was leaving we figured it out after twenty minutes or so ;) silly me. 

We said our goodbyes and how grateful we were to have been able to stay there or be there with them!!!! Such an amazing amazing trip. 

We left his hometown. We drove to where he goes to college and he showed us around. It was really nice. Then back to the airport for the 5th time in 3 days. Our flight was delayed 25 minutes. Not a big deal. But it was a big deal when we had a connecting flight to get to in now 15 minutes. We landed 5 minutes before we were supposed to board our next flight. We just took off. Starting sprinting. Had the whole airport looking at us. Ok whatever.... asked the guy at customs how far our gate... oh... well it's not that far.... 
Yeah in what world is at the clear end of the building that far. We took off sprinting once again then had people yelling at us... can you not run in airports? I didn't know because I didn't speak German! (Where is Hunter when I need him?) Then something we did know... ma'am ma'am... Sophie turns around... my coat fell out of my bag! Well my goodness, thank you sir. :) 

Made it to the gate panting and we got on... just in time!!! One of the more hurried moments. But hey, we didn't have to stay in Germany for the night... couldn't decide if that was a punishment or reward anyways.... 

We made it back to Birmingham!!! Obviously :) 

I'm proud of myself for getting this one up so soon! hehe self pride. My next will be about Oxford/Food :) I'm pretty excited even though I have so much more English food to try! 

Have a good week :) 
Feed Wags :) 

Monday, March 4, 2013


As we get further into the academic year, my blogging has slowed due to the realization of deadlines coming up. My Finland trip was amazing, and i've been slow to get it posted--so here it is! 

We landed in Finland after having an amazing day in Sweden. We had two hours to drive after 4 hours of sleep, two plane rides, and a packed day. I thought that I would be dead, but being in a car is a weird feeling--so that alone probably could have kept me up. We were all fine (at least I thought) on the way home with weird conversations (that happened a lot). 

We arrived at Ville's mother's house. She was so kind and greeted us right away! (Again, how fortunate we are to have people learn our language--wow) Their house was beautiful (and I am ashamed that I didn't think to take any pictures--oops!), Sophie and I even got to have beds and share a room. We had had such a long day of traveling that we went to bed right away, after a short tour of the house. 

The  next morning after we had showered, breakfast was served! 
As you can probably see there was breads, yogurts, fresh blueberries, hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, cheese, butter, cream cheese, rolls, juice, milk, coffee, more fresh fruit, and karjalan piirakka which I will explain in a couple pictures down. (which to use would mean karelien pie) which is like a rice pudding in middle then the dough on top is some kind of rye dough. 

Ok, karjalan piirakka (which to use would mean karelien pie) which is like a rice pudding in middle then the dough on top is some kind of rye dough on the left side. Then for the topping on the right side it is egg butter that you put on top. It was like hard boiled eggs with butter all mashed up (as you can see). This is traditional for Finnish breakfast. So, of course I ate it, and it was great! I would definitely enjoy more for breakfast (or snack!) 

This bread (above and below) is rye bread. It is different than any bread I have tasted. When Ville was in the US, Linda said they tried to find this bread all over Omaha and KC! 
It is really thin as you can see in the picture above. It was also pretty dry, but from what I could tell was used frequently with butter, cheese, slice of meat, and maybe cucumbers or tomatoes. 
I had one of these before we left for the airport the day before, and I had to eat another when we were at Ville's mom's for breakfast. I did like it, but I always had to have something to drink otherwise it went down chokingly slow for me. 

I tried pretty much everything on the table for breakfast karjalan piirakka, rye bread with stuff on top, yogurt with fresh fruit and honey (oh my goodness their honey is so good. it is different than our in a little squeeze bottle or jar. i think it may be taken out of the hive sooner than the honey we buy (but hopefully we have this stuff and i've just never seen it before??) but if you look at the table picture you will see an orange with green bottle and you squeeze the honey out of there. How awesome and non messy is that? Great! (except i would probably squeeze it into my mouth too often. :)

After breakfast and my photo shoot with food... I ate a chocolate. Just a little wrapped chocolate and when I bit into it mint spilled into my mouth. Oh yes. It was like an Andes Mint but chocolate with liquid creamy mint inside. Yeah. Just think about that. 

So, after we are stuffed Ville takes us on a car ride around his town.  It was a dangerous combination. It was like giving a baby a bottle and taking them in the car so they can fall asleep within 5 minutes (that was me, but with some will power my eyes stayed open). His town was like Logans! (Ah, good to be home ;) 
I thought it was a little more spread out, but when you are new to a place you think every turn is taking you somewhere different. It was lower population and everyone knows each other--sounds familiar. They had more schools than Logan though. I guess not everyone can get by with preschool through 12th grade in one building. haha. 

Then one of the greatest parts of the trip happened.... dun dun dun....

He took us to his grandparents house (and bless their hearts neither of them spoke English!), but oh what a great time it was. We were happily greeted and instantly taken to the kitchen to sit for (more food!! breakfast was only an hour ago... big girl pants Abby... taken quite literally) tea or coffee? I've almost always taken tea being in England or even Finland in this case. I drank a red tea that was from Egypt, it was delish. Still not the best part.. 

His grandpa went right to the stove. He had his pancake batter made, and as soon as we sat he started his magic. Sophie was the first. Thin pancake landed on Sophie's plate within minutes. Not knowing what to do Ville graciously coached her through it. 
First, you put the freshly whipped cream on your pancake. 
Second, you sprinkle some sugar on the cream that is on your pancake. 
Last but not least, you choose your jam. Homemade raspberry jam or homemade strawberry? 

Take your pick. How you pick I don't know. But she went with the raspberry. 

Before Sophie was done dressing her pancake----bam!!! 
My first pancake had landed on my plate. At the time I didn't know that it was literally one of the best things that I would have ever put in my mouth. 

Cream, sugar, and raspberry jam it was for me. 


That is all I have to say. I have never tasted heaven before, but I would assume this was the closest thing I have ever eaten to it. 

I probably don't have to mention that since the pancakes were so fresh right out of the skillet the cream and jam started melting and yeah. I have nothing else to say. I am going to cry if I don't get to taste these again. 

In the picture above you can see how we weren't just eating pancakes! We had boxes of chocolates, biscuits, more chocolate, (not shown but were their--because I once again tried everything) were buns that had vanilla pudding and apple jam type things in them, and homemade sour dough bread. 

Can you say spoiled? 

We didn't just stop at one after Ville's grandpa served Sophie, I, Ville, and Toojya (Ville's mom) then he went back to Sophie, me, Ville, Toojya... and Ville warned us that if we didn't tell him when we couldn't eat anymore that we would just keep receiving. I wanted to try other things on the table, so after my second I told him that I was done. (One of the worst decisions of my life--what was I thinking!?!?) 
But after we were done eating (at least one of everything!! haha) we sat and talked. Ville would translate some. His grandpa would show us books and his grandma showed us some of her knitting. 

It made me miss my gram. 

Turns out grandma and Ville's grandma had a ton in common! Not only the exact same age, but baking and sewing were top on their list of hobbies. I told his grandma that they would definitely be friends. :) 

After an eventful afternoon (and probably a little crazy with two people only speaking English, two speaking only Finnish, and two that are bilingual with both!) we had to say goodbye. His grandma gave us a Finnish chocolate bar and a hand towel with Muumi on it. Muumi is a really popular cartoon in Finland that has been on for over 20 years. At first I wasn't too sure about Muumi, but I have fallen into a deep love with him. I don't know why but as we were leaving the airport I went into every store and didn't want to leave him! 

Below is a Muumi drink. 

Muumi statue awwww

And below is the towel I got with the chocolate bar. The girl on the towel is another character from Muumi. The bowl with chocolates on the top left is that gift that Toojya gave us. 

We were SO spoiled. And we are so happy to have had them let us stay at their home. 

After our tea time with his grandparents we took off to the summer house. I will have to wait and continue this post soon (whenever I can get the photos from Sophie, because those will be important to the next post!) So, you will have to wait just a weeeee bit longer. In the mean time, I may post about a few other things that have happened or that I have tried. But my Finland post isn't complete and you can bet your bottom dollar that it will be!! The last post is quite exciting. 

Until my next post, feed my wolf---Wags. She likes steak and howls at the moon. A certain someone said they were unsure about my pet.... hmmm... what do you guys think about my new pet?