Wednesday, April 25, 2012


After posting what I miss about the Midwest and my favorite books I thought of something else that I miss in the U.S, the bookstores! There's nothing wrong with the Finnish bookstores, except most of them are way too expensive for my taste and somewhat limited in selection. I love browsing books and finding bargain books. I also buy a lot of my books used to save money and absolutely love libraries :-) Nowadays I don't have as much time to hang out at bookstores or libraries, so I buy most of my books online.

Books purchased used in various conditions :)

My favorite major bookstore in the U.S is Barnes & Noble. Their selection is excellent and they have in-store Starbucks, yay! The B&N's that I've been to have had huge comfy chairs and some of them have a massive selection of $1 used books: a heaven for a bookworm like me :) They also have a pretty good website with an even bigger selection of new and used books. Their 25$ a year membership pays itself back quite fast if you purchase a lot of books, since you get 10-40% of off your purchases and free shipping on any item. B&N does ship internationally, but they do charge quite a bit for it. Besides B&N I also bought a lot of books from Borders, but I hear they've gone bankrupt? In Nebraska I also went to Hastings bookstore, which reminded me of Borders a bit.

My favorite online bookstores are Amazon and Better World Books. Amazon needs no introduction, it's not just a bookstore, it sells everything and more :) Their free Super Saver shipping is awesome and their prices are unbeatable most of the time. Whereas I have purchased a lot of fiction from B&N, I have bought most of my academic literature from Amazon. does ship internationally for a price, but for example ships free to Finland, if you spend over £25. Better World Books has free shipping worldwide and purchases fund literacy projects, which makes it a great place to shop. Amazon still often has better prices when it comes to new books, but Better World Books has pretty good prices for used books. They also have a lot of academic books, which has helped this poor student save a lot of money :)

Where do you buy your books? Any good online bookstores (especially those that ship to Finland:) you've found and would like to share?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Random Tuesdays 04/24/2012

Spring in Grapevine, Texas in 2010. I love spring, seeing flowers grow after a long, dark winter gives me hope. Summer should hurry up and get here already! :)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Me, myself and my books

I have long term love affair with books. It started before I even went to school. I never went to daycare and my Mom taught me to read before I went to kindergarten. I don't recall my very first years, but I bet I was reading board books back then :) I wasn't allowed to watch television before I went to school (we had a tv, but parents had principles), so I had plenty of time to read. I remember starting first grade and being super-bored when everyone was learning how to read. My teacher let me go sit in the back of the class and read my own books occasionally. 

I loved homework, since I got to read more and there were these fun assignments to do. When I was four I started asking for activities books for my birthday. I even made some myself and I made several for my grandpa to do too haha. My love for books made elementary school very easy for me and I often did all the assignments in the chapter in advance, that's how much I loved homework :) I think I was in second grade when one of my fellow students ratted me out to the teacher, telling her I had done all the assignments in our book. My teacher called my Mom, Mom smiled and bought me more activities books to fill. I never stopped loving school, that's probably why I'm still studying ;)

My Ex libris

I own hundreds of books. Some are at my parents' home, some are in Nebraska and some are here at our home. Nowadays I don't get to read as much as I'd like, since little man takes up my time. But if I have any extra time, I pick up a book. I'm usually reading several books at a time; a couple of novels and several academic books. For light reading I like murder mysteries, some romantic fiction, young adult fiction and whatever I get my hands on :) My favorite authors include Jane Austen, Lilian Jackson Braun, Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, P.D James, Anne Perry, Elizabeth Peters, Kathy Reichs, Dorothy L. Sayers, Andrew Taylor and many many more. If I had to choose a favorite book, it would have to be Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, I never get tired of it!

Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Winsey is one my all time favorite literary characters :) I really like early to mid-1900s detective fiction. Hercule Poirot is just amazing and I also like the earlier investigators like Sherlock Holmes. I suppose I have a thing for "British gentleman detectives" :D

I also read young adult fiction and confessed somewhere earlier in this blog that I really liked the Twilight series :) I didn't like the movies as much, and the first two books were definitely more interesting than the two last. I wrote an academic paper on the books about how they portrayed the Native American characters.

Some more books from our bookshelf :) The Keith Richards-book is my husband's, he likes to read autobiographic books, especially those written by musicians. Comanche Empire is an academic book written by a Finn, Professor Pekka Hämäläinen, and Hippie is a book I read for a class. As for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, I absolutely love the book :) I'm not a big fan of science fiction in the literary form, although I do like to watch some Sci-Fi movies and series. 

Some of the academic books related to my studies. My bachelor's thesis was about paleopathology, my new master's thesis is related to legal history. This is my second attempt at a master's thesis, the first one was supposed to be about archaeological law, but someone else published a similar research paper first, so I had to give up on mine.

What I'm currently reading, in addition to the several academic books of course :) I've never read a Mrs. Jeffries-book before, but I do like Victorian murder mysteries and this one seems okay so far. I just saw it on the discount pile at the bookstore and bought it. If it turns out to be a good one, I might read some more Mrs. Jeffries :) As for The Hunger Games, I went to see the movie and found myself liking it, so I thought I'd give the trilogy a try. So far I'm liking it, a lot.

What do you think of these books? Who are your favorite authors? Any reading suggestions/recommendations you'd like to share? I'm always open to new authors :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Missing the Midwest, pt II

Since my previous post was slightly negative about living in the U.S here's some positive things in photographic form:)

Things that I miss about living in Nebraska and U.S in general:

* My friends
Some of my friends graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2009

* Cheap living, our old house and my roommates
Our door at the all-girl house

* Shopping, Walmart,
Lost in Grand Island Wallyworld in 2011

* The fairs and parades
Nebraska State Fair in 2009.

* Open roads
Freedom somewhere in Nebraska in 2009

* Country living
Husband's hometown in North-central Nebraska in 2011

* Horses
My friend's uncle's quarter horse, Breezy

* Country music and linedancing
Pla Mor Ballroom in Lincoln

* Nature, warmer climate
Pioneer's Park in 2010

* Traveling/roadtripping to nearby states
In Chicago with one of my dearest friends in 2008

* Coldstone Creamery, Culver's, Sonic's, Dairy Queen and other ice cream places
Sonic's Pumpkin Pie shake, superdelish!

...and what I don't miss, the tornado season, which is currently on...
Long Pine Drive-In Theatre, destroyed by a tornado few years back

Long (photo) story short, I do miss Nebraska :)
Driving somewhere in North-eastern Nebraska :)

Random Tuesdays 04/17/2012

Stockman Bar in Walden, Colorado in 2009. A bit different from the Finnish Stockmann :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Why we left the United States and moved to Finland

Here's a question I've heard many times; "why did you move back to Finland?" and I'm sure husband has been asked why he moved to Finland way more times :) I obviously have never had to explain to my family and friends why we moved to Finland, but husband's family is another story and I'm not really sure if they still understand why it's better for us to live in Finland at least for now. Either way, the question "why" has been raised by both the Finns and the Americans a like.

Gorgeous Omaha Botanical Garden

Before I got pregnant I used to love living in the U.S. College is a lot of fun, people are friendly, living is cheap. It was so easy to make friends and there was so much to do too, so many places to see. Life was pretty easygoing, no real worries in sight :) I was lucky enough to get a scholarship so I didn't even have to pay for college. I had a low paying (minimum wage), but interesting and fun job, which funded my other expenses and would look great in my resume. I was in no real hurry to return to Finland, which in my book had depressing weather, expensive living and wasn't as much fun. None of the jobs I had had in Finland had been "fun", mostly due to grumpy bosses or coworkers. And just to be sure not all my bosses or coworkers were grumpy, I had some pretty amazing ones too! But they were still not as interesting or fun as the job I had in the U.S as an archivist. I was entertaining the idea of staying in the U.S and only returning to Finland for vacations and such :)

Beautiful college campus in Nebraska

Then I got pregnant and I realized that I was in fact a foreign person in a foreign country. Never before in my life had I felt foreign in the U.S, all my friends always treated me equally. After it was obvious I was expecting, some of my religious acquaintances (not friends) stopped talking to me, since I was not married when I got pregnant. So much for all the Christian love they had, ha. Anyways, when I got pregnant I had to start dealing with state government officials (health care, visa issues etc). In the end I lost both my insurance and my visa, and basically realized that the law was there only to protect citizens. As a foreign person and as a woman, I was on the bottom of every ladder. The local politics started to disgust me. I realized what hypocrites the Republicans really are and how in the Republican government's eyes I'd always have these two faults: I was foreign born and I was a woman. I realized that I'd never be equal in the U.S and will not hide the fact that after my experiences I greatly despise the Republican state government.

At least President Obama welcomed our lil man :)

Now, all of these somewhat dramatic feelings aside :) here's one really obvious reason to move to Finland: my visa extension got denied. This was partly due to a mistake the U.S Embassy in Finland made when writing my last visa. I tried to correct the mistake right after I got the visa, but the Embassy refused to correct it and told me I can apply for correction later. I did, but got denied. It was becoming fairly obvious to me that I was not welcome in the U.S. I know it's nothing personal, I was just another foreign person unwanted in their country. If I had married my husband right there and then I would've been able to stay in the U.S, but I wanted to get married when we planned and not when we were forced to. So we moved to Finland, where my husband (then boyfriend) was welcomed and given a residence permit almost right away. Applying for his permit was so easy and cheap, everything went really well.

Beach near my parents house in Finland

The second reason was purely financial. My husband was just graduating, so he was only working part time and I turned into a stay-at-home Mom after our lil man was born. I could have returned to work after six weeks of unpaid maternity leave, but the daycare at the university (where I worked) cost more than I got paid! So I had to tell my amazing boss I wasn't coming back :( And I didn't even want to, I could not have put my 6 week old baby to daycare! I wanted to be with him and see him grow, so I stayed at home. As a Finnish citizen and permanent resident, I was granted maternity allowance from Finland, so I had some sort of income too. I have to say that Finnish social security system was extremely lenient in my case, I didn't expect to get the Finnish maternity allowance, since I wasn't living there, but since I was moving back to Finland they granted me it. Since husband's chances of employment after graduation were about the same in Finland than in the U.S, we decided Finland - with it's amazing social security system, that allowed me to stay home with our precious baby - was the way to go.

Lake Bodom in Espoo

The third and perhaps one of the most important one for me was that I'd finally get to spend as much time as I want with my Finnish family and friends! I had not lived in Finland for over 5 years and was so happy to be home :) If we had stayed in the U.S, it would have been impossible for me to continue my studies, but here in Finland my mom helps me a lot by baby sitting our lil man, so I can go to classes and write my thesis. Also the university day care in Finland is really cheap! I'm so much freer in Finland to do what I want thanks to my family's babysitting help :)

With some of my amazing friends :)

All in all, I admit that I'm bitter towards the state government and the immigration officials. But I love and miss my friends in the U.S dearly :( I get so sad when I get another wedding invitation and realize I can't be there for their big day. I miss the cheap living and I miss the warmer climate. But I know I'm better off living in Finland right now, and big part of it is the social security system. I also love that my husband gets more paid time off from work and gets to be with us. Husband says he would like to return to U.S eventually and that isn't something that I'm automatically opposed to, depending on the visa situation and of course at what age our lil man is (I have reservations when it comes to U.S elementary school system). United States can be great country to live, but only if you have a comfortable amount of money. Right now I'm enjoying my life in the wonderful Finland! :)

Summerhouse in Eastern Finland

Hope everyone is having an amazing week!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Random Tuesdays 04/10/2012

Turku, Finland in 2007. I've always liked Turku, although I've never lived there. It's gorgeous during the summer and so very Christmas-y during the holiday season. And there's lots of water, since it's by the Baltic Sea and The Aura River (pictured) is just beautiful!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Happy Easter!

In Finland we have a paid Easter break from work, so my husband gets to spend a four day weekend with us, yay! Here's some Easter-y photos:

Easter Egg hunt in Nebraska 2010

Spring flowers in Nebraska 2010

My roommate's sizable (2 pounds!) chocolate bunny that he won in a rifle competition, compared to our 8-weeks-old lil man, Nebraska 2010

Chocolate Mignon egg, Finland 2011

Spring flowers in southern Finland, 2011

Happy Easter everyone!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Random Tuesdays 04/03/2012

Covered bridge in Southern Vermont, 2006. I love the old covered bridges, there's something romantic about them :)

Monday, April 2, 2012

P*ssed off country chick music

Last night was the 47th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, did you guys watch it?
It might or might not come as a surprise that I kinda love country music :) I might not want to be associated with the political agendas of some country musicians, but I still love the tunes! I'm especially fond of the "p*ssed off country chick music" as I heard someone put it :) I enjoy listening to the likes of Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood. Here are some of my favorites:

Miranda Lambert: White Liar

Miranda Lambert: Baggage Claim

Miranda Lambert: Gunpowder and Lead

Carrie Underwood: Before He Cheats

Carrie Underwood: Cowboy Casanova

The JaneDear Girls: Wildflower

Besides country, I love classic rock and actually all sorts of other genres. I'm a huge metalhead too; I'm super excited to go to Tuska Open Air Metal Festival in Helsinki this summer! Tuska has been on my summer to-do list for ages and I've gone almost every summer I've been in Finland.

What do you guys think of the tunes I posted? Anyone else going to Tuska? :)