Monday, August 29, 2011

See you later checkbook!

Anyone who has lived in the U.S knows how you still have to (mostly) pay your bills with paper checks. At first it's super exciting to have your own checkbook; you can choose the patters (i.e Mickey Mouse or Hello Kitty hehee) and can buy a lovely pink leather checkbook covers. The first two months you might be slightly nervous, maybe even excited to write a check. After the honeymoon period, writing checks just becomes boring and sometimes even annoying :) You write the same checks every month for rent etc. You might even get paid with a check and have to deposit it at the bank or by mail. Luckily the place where I worked had direct deposit, so the money went straight into my account. I also had online bill pay, but for example our landlord and the gas company required paper checks. Some people still pay with a check at the grocery store and obviously it's always someone ahead of you when you're in a horrible rush :) You have to wait and watch them write their checks and with some people it takes ages (you have to spell out each number on the check).

Anyways, my bank, Wells Fargo, emailed me the other week that they will start charging $7 a month for my checking account. Since I'm not currently in the U.S I figured it was pointless to start paying for the account. So I bid farewell to Wells Fargo and to my trusty old checkbook. Can't say I will miss you :)

Details have been deleted to protect the innocent :)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Finnish summer, how I will miss thee!

I'm done with the two exams I had and I think I passed them both! Now I can focus on what's important again - blogging :)

The other weekend was the Uiva - outdoor boat show in Helsinki. It was a really nice weekend, the sun was shining and it was pleasantly warm. I'm trying to enjoy every last day of summer, since I know the fall is just behind the corner. In fact, I just checked the weather forecast for next week and it's rain,rain and more rain :( Here are a couple of sunny photos from the boat show. Our lil man really loved it!

This weekend was pretty good sunny as well, we briefly visited the Art night in Helsinki (it was crowded) and did some more wedding planning. I'm really excited about the idea of a silver wedding dress :)

Hope everyone is having a lovely Sunday! <3 br="br">

Monday, August 22, 2011

Exams, bleh

I have two exams this week so I'll have to skip blogging until I'm done with them.

In the mean time, here are a couple of photos from Helsinki, taken last Friday. We were celebrating our friend's birthday in the Observatory Park (Tahtitorninmaki).

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I heart weddings!

Yesterday we got an invite for a wedding and it made me soooo happy! One of my best friends from high school is getting married next month! I'm so happy that she found someone wonderful. They got engaged this spring after five or so years together.

I love weddings and receiving an invite always makes me happy :) If given the choice, I'd prefer being a guest rather than the bride, since the guests get to enjoy the beautiful occasion without having a nervous breakdown haha. I have to say I was pretty nervous about my own wedding earlier this summer, but planning our second wedding is much more fun! Of course this time I'm getting off easy; my mother-in-law and sister-in-law are doing most of the work. The wedding will be in a very small town (pop. 50!) near my husband's hometown in the Midwest, so we won't be able to contribute much beforehand from Finland.

Our first wedding had a spring-y green apple theme, which I absolutely loved. Our second wedding will have a Christmas-y winter-wonderland theme and I think it'll be so cool to have these two very different themes. I've looked at some photos in order to get some idea what I would like. Here's an example of the wedding cake from I'd like:
I think we'll add some red Christmas ornaments in order to make it more Christmas-y. The cake topper will be more Christmas-y too. But I love the icicles!

Also, I'm planning on having a light silver wedding dress, like this Maggie Sottero

I already wore an ivory dress at my first wedding, so I think a light silver will do fine for the winter wonderland theme. My wedding dress will be a bit different from this, but I don't want my husband to see it quite yet :)

Here is a pic from our first wedding, I think the green apple theme turned out great!

<3 edit. Here's what our wedding turned out to be like: Our Christmas - Winter Wonderland Wedding :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Missing the Midwest, pt I

Last week went by so fast and I feel like we're approaching fall way too fast! Today is another gray day in Finland, but yesterday we still had lots of sunshine. Days are getting shorter though, last night we even turned the living room lamp on. I don't think we've done that all summer!

I have to say I'm not a big fan of Finnish fall. I haven't experienced one in years and I'm kinda dreading it. I'm definitely a spring/summer person, I don't really like the darkness, the rain or the cold. I do like sunny winter days though! Surprisingly enough I find myself missing living in the Midwest where the summers are long and the falls mild. I miss the sunny winters, but I don't miss being stuck in my house for days because of the snowstorms :) Also I don't miss the tornado season, and the fact that weather can change in a heartbeat in the Midwest. Finland is way more predictable.

My husband's hometown in Nebraska, November 2010

So last week my husband started working and lil man and I had to start getting used to surviving without him (my husband is a real hands-on dad, he changes diapers like a champ) :) I'll admit it was pretty a tough start; lil man got horrible side effects from a vaccination and was feverish and pukey for four days. My mom stopped by on Wednesday and Thursday so I could go to my appointments (I confess, I had my teeth whitened haha). By Friday the lil man was feeling a bit better and we went grocery shopping with him. And on Saturday he was feeling a lot better, so we went to Ikea to have lunch and did some more shopping. I have to say, Ikea has really delicious cakes for a very affordable price! This time I managed to escape Ikea without a massive loss of money haha. We only bought a hamper, drawing paper for the lil man and batteries for his train set. He got the train set in February, so it was about time we got it running :) I also got him some crayons from the grocery store, since I'd rather like to see him drawing things than watching tv.

On Sunday we had some friends over. One of my amazing bridesmaids organized a "favors for the bride and groom" game at our wedding. A few randomly selected guests were assigned a monthly favor for us. The first one for July was to buy the bride and groom ice cream, so yesterday our friends brought us some Aino chocolate ice cream and it was delicious! Next in line is a babysitting favor :)

Hope everyone is having an amazing week!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Crockpottin' on a rainy day

Today is a gray and rainy day. It is in fact raining so hard, we won't be able to go out today :( I'm going to outsource grocery shopping to my husband :) To make this day a bit worse, our lil man is very feverish. He is also quite sleepy, so I've been able to do a bunch of stuff. I managed to do some bootcamp pilates (thank you dvd fairy) and I made some delicious veggie chili with my trusty companion the crock pot.

For some reason crock pots are not very popular in Finland. I used them a lot while living in the U.S and when we moved to Finland I ordered one through (they have free shipping to Finland on orders over £25). I later discovered they are available in Finland (, but the price is quite shocking! Crock pots are super useful and easy to use, especially if you don't have a whole lot of time to cook. You just pour the stuff in the pot and leave it. Couldn't be easier :)

Finding crock pot recipes in Finnish hasn't been that easy. I've basically found one blog: Antaa Hautua and the page. If anyone has any other other suggestions, please let me know :)

So, I've looked for recipes from American blogs and I've found some pretty good ones too. Here's my favorite, it's the I love my crockpot - vegetarian chili from The Lazy Vegetarian blog. I've changed it to Finnish measurements and changed it a bit otherwise to fit the selection of the average Finnish grocery store:

1 large onion, chopped
1/2 bell pepper (color of choice), chopped. I've used a whole red bell pepper.
2 garlic cloves, minced (or from a jar). I've used 3+ cloves, but then again we love garlic :)

Pour a little bit olive oil in the bottom of the crock pot.
Place cut veggies, from above, and the following in your crock-pot:

One can each black beans and brown beans. Two cans of kidney beans.
Two to three cans crushed tomatoes (I use the one with chili flavor).
One small can tomato paste
Chili powder, as desired
2 dl water (you can add more later if it seems too thick)
fresh ground pepper to taste

Stir. Cook for 6 - 8 hours.

Enjoy :)

Yummy chili in the making :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

An eventful Monday - work, passports, hairstyle :)

So today was a day full of exciting things. First, my husband had his first day at work. Then, the lil man and I headed to the police station to apply for new passports and then, I had my hair styled :-) Lil man and I also went to the mall and got some fresh fruits to make a yummy smoothies (peach-nectarines, bananas, green apples and avocado).

The most exciting news were without a doubt my husbands first day at work. I'm happy to say he loved it. The work seems exactly what he wanted and his co-workers seemed nice. He also has some nice benefits and they pay isn't half-bad. Now he just has to do well during his probationary period and he has a permanent position :) The only suck-y thing about this job is that we're not 100% sure if we can have our second wedding in December in the U.S. It depends on whether my husband gets unpaid leave or not and it's way too soon to be asking that kind of favors at work.

While the hubby was hard at work, lil man and I went to apply for the new passports. When we got married, we decided it was better for all of us to have the same last name. I wasn't really all that attached to mine and my husband had family reasons in keeping his, so we chose his last name. The only thing I was worried about was that my name no longer sounds Finnish at all. I have such an international first name, that you can't tell from my name I'm Finnish. I know it sounds silly, but I feel like a part of me being Finnish is gone. I'm often told I don't sound very Finnish (whatever that means), but I'm really proud to be a Finn! Well, I still accidentally use my old last name all the time, but I'm slowly getting use to the new 'Merican last name. It's not that bad ;)

What is bad is how much passports and especially passport photos cost :D Couldn't exactly go to the photo booth with the lil man, so we had to go to a store to take our. And it was 19 euros per person! Holy crap! All together these passports cost us 144 euros. We still have to go to the U.S embassy and get the lil man a new U.S passport, and that'll be even more expensive. U.S sized photos 29e and then U.S passport for a minor 78.75e. And that was only for the passports, then there's driver's licenses etc. Name change don't come cheap!

Last, but not least: a new hairstyle. I've been a blonde for most of my life and I can't say I'm very particular about how my hair looks. I like it long/shoulder length and I curl it sometimes, but that's about it. I just usually let my hairdresser decide whatever he thinks is best. This time he decided to add dark highlights and I have to say my hair looks drastically different! I'm not yet sure what I think about it, it looks fine I guess. It'll probably take some time to get used to, but a change is a good thing :)

I don't have any approriate photos to add to this entry, so I'm going to just attach two photos that our lil man took of himself :) Hope everyone is having a wonderful week!

Quite the little artist, eh? ;)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Finnish supersummer :)

I think most people who read my blog are either in Finland or Finns living abroad. Either way, most of you probably are aware of the amazing summer we've been having in Finland! It's been super warm, it's been sunny, not a whole lot of bugs - it's been all around wonderful! I haven't spent a whole lot of time in Finland in the past few years, but it seems like the last time I was here for the summer it was cold and rainy and I think we even had some snow in May. When my husband came here to visit last summer, I told him to pack up warm clothes etc. cause it might not be so warm. Turned out it was the hottest two weeks I've ever witnessed in Finland, my husband accused me of lying. Same thing this summer, when my mother-in-law came to Finland for our wedding. She asked if the hotel she was staying had a/c and I told she probably won't need it, since the wedding was in early June, it won't be that hot. Well, what do you know, it was a super warm week. Our wedding was one hot affair and once again my husband said I had lied :D (btw the hotel did have a/c, thank goodness).

Today was another beautiful day and since my husband starts working on Monday, we figured we should do something special. We decided to go to the local pool with our friend and her children and had the most amazing day! It wasn't too hot, but warm enough. The water was clear and refreshing and even our lil man enjoyed it. What a great day!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Woot Woot - Happy Days!

The most amazing thing happened today, my husband got his first job offer in Finland, super yay! He had applied to about a 100 places, but hadn't had any luck so far. Out of those hundred places only four replied and two of the companies invited him for an interview. We had almost given up hope, and were already planning a move back to the good old America. I mean my husband didn't go to college just to hang out at home with us and being unemployed really wasn't ideal when he has to start paying back his college loans :) But if everything works out, he'll start on Monday at the new place! I have to say I'm probably equally excited about this job opportunity as he is! Out of those two places he interviewed for only this one had anything to do with his studies, so it's perfect for him!

When we lived in the US I had no trouble finding a job. Actually on my second day in the Midwest I walked into the place I wanted to work at and they hired me right away :) I was probably really lucky, jobs in the field of History are not so easy to come by. My husband on the other hand had no such luck in Finland. The job seeking culture here is a bit different, it's all about the applications and resumes, less about the casual drop ins. But when you get the job, it's yours to keep. In the US you can basically be given a two week's notice any time for any reason, there's often no written job contracts and people just leave and never go back to their work place. That was a bit too black and white, but hopefully you got my point. I think the application process in Finland is very formal, probably like applying to government jobs in the U.S.

I think the biggest problem for my husband was that he has only very basic Finnish skills and that's probably why he wasn't called to be interviewed. They told him flat out at the Employment Agency that he has to first study Finnish to find work, and they were probably right. I think my husband got lucky that he found a job where Finnish was not required. There probably are thousands of IT jobs that are as flexible. Other areas of employment usually require Finnish skills.

Anyways, I'm superhappy my husband got offered the job, and not only because of financial reasons ;) I'm so glad he has the chance to show what he knows, increase his knowledge of the field and start building a career. He deserves all that. I might be bit biased when I say that company couldn't have gotten a better employee!

Time to celebrate :)

edit. I just noticed this related article on yle: Study: Language and support key to immigrant employment and I quote "Foreigners are on average able to find work in Finland just as well -- or even better -- than native Finns, according to a study published by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy (MEE) on Tuesday." Well, maybe it just takes the 100 applications to find a job;)