December 27, 2014


Sam and I arrived home on Christmas night and picked up Raylan the following morning.  We are now unpacked, and have the house clean and ready for our guests that arrive tomorrow!  Sam has a game tonight, so we are really just jumping right back into normal life here in Lappeenrata after our wonderful vacation.  We went to both London and Amsterdam, I will show you a few of my favorite things from our three days in London. 

We left very early on Saturday which allowed us to get to London before nine AM.  Although it was a bit tiring leaving so early, it was so wonderful to have that extra time in London!  Sam and I both loved London.  The food was unreal, we ate A LOT.  We also drank A LOT... of Starbucks, seriously like two a day.  

London was beautiful everywhere we looked. The old buildings combined with Christmas lights and beautiful items for sale were so kind to the eyes.

While in London we did just about everything that we possibly could.  I am a bit of a minute to minute planner and had our itinerary ready weeks ago.  We stopped nearly every time we saw a macaron (remember when I tried to make my own?).  

 - Shopping: so beautiful there, Regent Street (love), Harrods (obsessed), Fortnom and Mason (beautiful, and best macarons EVER), Liberty (adorable), and how about that four story Burberry?! 

Sights: Tower Bridge (London Bridge), The Tower of London, The London Eye, St. Paul's Cathedral, heard Big Ben, Elizabeth Tower, Palace of Westminster, Buckingham Palace (Changing of the guards and gardens), & Hyde Park.

Musems - Tate Modern (Picasso), and the British Museum (the Rosetta Stone).

Markets: The Borough Market (might be my favorite part of London, such an amazing big market with something for everyone! Nutritious and fresh too!),  Southbank Centre Christmas Market, and Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland (similar to a Christmas Market). 

- With a category of its very own (drum roll) Platform Nine and Three Quarters, and yes we got a wand.  

Resturants of note: Chipotle, Burger and Lobster (AMAZING, those are the only two things on the menu), Giraffe (American style, great for lunch or dinner, we did both), The Wellington (old pub = atmosphere), PRET A MANGER (these are everywhere, affordable, and label everything from gluten to sulfates, can't beat the taste! Wish so much we had something like this.), and last but not least Starbucks (literally on every street, how convenient!).  

Sorry those are a little difficult to read!  It is hard to fit all of London into just one post!  I just received a text from my mother telling me that her and my sister are in London now for a day!  I wish I could go back again and be with them!  Now that I have seen the sights, there would be more time for shopping & eating & relaxing.

St. Paul's Cathedral behind me.
When in London. 
Making a call.
The Tower Bridge

Just a tiny part of the Borough Market.
He might kill me for this one... 

Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park.

Southbank Christmas Market & The London Eye.
We LOVED Harrods.
so much. 
Buckingham Palace
Elizabeth Tower

Drinking a Pret A Manger coffee in Trafalgar Square

Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben) at night.

For dinner the last night we were fortunate enough to get to meet up with some teammates and friends from last season!  It was so nice to see the Saviano's again!  Last year we traveled to Berlin and Prague with them over Christmas break. Hopefully the pattern continues next season! 

I highly recommend London to everyone!  It was very visitor friendly and easy to get around.  As long as you are staying in the right areas,  it also felt very safe!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!

xoxo Cacilie

December 20, 2014

Puppy Christmas

Raylan will not be joining her mom and dad in London and Amsterdam.  Since we leave today, she had to go to the boarder yesterday.  That meant that she had to celebrated Christmas Thurday night.  

There were a series of events that took place for puppy Christmas.  I cooked her a Christmas dinner of beef, sweet potatoes, and spinach.  She had a puppy treat for desert.  Then she opened her presents.  There were treats, wiffle balls (her favorite toy), rope puppy toys, and she even opened up one of Sam's gifts.  Following the gift opening we went to the dog park for play time!  Raylan was so happy, it was so nice to see her having so much fun!  

I know, we are ridiculous with our puppy... we can't help it! 

December 19, 2014

Ornamon Design Joulumyyjäiset

A couple of weeks ago when we went to Helsinki (link to that post here), I mentioned that we found something fun to do!  It was Finland's independence day so most things were closed.  We went to the Ornamon Design Joulumyyjäiset, basically a HUGE art show/market with over 200 hundred booths!  It was also all indoors, & it was freezing cold, windy, and rainy so that made it an even better experience.  

It took so long to get through all of the booths (two levels) that we had to get a snack.  Luckily for us there was an all natural, organic coffee booth! They also had raw bars, a lingonberry flavor, and a sea buckthorn flavor.  If any of you haven't tried sea buckthorn, it is amazing and sour and sweet at the same time.  

Naturally, being a girl I found lots of pretty things that I wanted.  I choose a simple silver ring, and they didn't have enough in stock so I had to wait for her to make a new one and ship it.  It finally came yesterday!  Salla of NAPA & PAJA was so sweet to write me a handwritten note with my little package.  That is what I love about small businesses and designers, they are so sweet and the products they make come from the heart.  

I spy a puppy nose!
Sweet and simple, trying to take a picture with my left hand was very difficult! 
Any other shows like this I should know about in Finland?  I can't seem to get enough! 

xo Cacilie

December 16, 2014

Lappeenranta Christmas Market

This weekend Lappeenranta had a Christmas market up at the Fortress of Lappeenranta.  Sunday afternoon we walked there and around looking at all of the cute little booths.  Something I love about Christmas markets are that they are never the same.  They vary so much country to country, they are such a clear reflection of traditions and cultural norms.  &&& flavors (good and bad).  

Many of the booths had circular cakes, glogg, fermenting fish, a variety of Christmas wreaths, mustards, and jams.  There were also children's toys, knit items, random home-made trinkets, and candy.  I think our favorite thing we saw was dogs pulling sleighs and carts!  We really hope Raylan can get a chance to go dog sledding someday!

Stunk like no other.. well not as bad as Surströmming.
Just trying to stay warm!
All of Lappeenranta was there!
Wreath balls! Wish I had a place to hang one of these!
Dog pulling cart!

Can't wait to see the Christmas markets in London and Amsterdam soon! 

December 11, 2014

Puisto Koira

This picture is deceiving, it was actually quite dark out!
I figured it was about time for another dog park post!  Lately we have been going to the dog park after dark, so that would be anytime after about three in the afternoon.  We are approximately at about a 2% chance of actually seeing another dog at the dog park (what is up with that?) so we get the whole place to ourselves!  This particular dog park that we go to often, is very long.  Sam and I go to opposite ends and Raylan just runs as quickly as she possibly can between us as we hide behind trees and call her name.  It really tires her out, but I think she would enjoy playing with other dogs a bit more!  Sometimes for our own entertainment, Sam will throw snowballs for Raylan to try to get, she gets so frustrated when they disappear once they hit the ground.  However this does not faze her and she tries time and time again!

This past week Sam's hockey team lost in the third round of the Champions Hockey League tournament.  Previously I wrote a little about the tournament here -> Link.  They beat Geneva in the second round and advanced onto the third and played very well, but just not quite good enough to advance on.  

This week I am preparing for our Christmas trip to London and Amsterdam.  We leave the twentieth and couldn't be more excited.  I FINALLY got my visa last week, so it would be an understatement to say I was a 'little' worried about not being able to go to the UK.  We are so looking forward to the trip and Raylan will be about twenty minutes outside of town at a boarder with a big yard and lots of puppy friends.  

Just three days after we get back from our Christmas trip, my mother and sister will be joining us here in Finland.  We are busy trying to plan some fun excursions around the boys busy game schedule. Many fun weeks ahead! 

Sam is at the far end, and Raylan is running full speed back to me. 
Almost time for another haircut!

Eyes on the snowball so it doesn't disappear again.
Catching a snowball.
xoxo Cacilie 

December 7, 2014

Helsinki in December

After Thursdays win (ohhh yeah) we were given a surprise two day weekend! Friday and Saturday off (ohhh yeah).  Friday morning I decided that I was getting out of Lappeenranta and taking my little family with me.  After a short discussion with Sam (mostly him telling me to decide what I wanted to do and that he would be happy with anything, aww marriage is great!) I had booked a hotel in Helsinki and off we went!

Me, super happy even though it was raining.  Notice: Christmas lights
The sixth of December is Finland's Independence Day, celebrating Finland's declaration of independence from the Russian Republic.   Finland is just 97 years old, I thought the USA was young and we have had our independence for 238 years! Being a national holiday we were told basically NOTHING would be open on Saturday but we took that chance.  

When we arrived at our hotel, Raylan was treated like a the princess she is!  They had special towels for the dogs, bowls (we had our own) and a selection of different 'dog treats' to make her stay more comfortable (Nice job Glo Hotel!).  Hotels here are just so accommodating to dogs and so few of them have weight and size limits, it make traveling with our big fur baby so much easier!  Once Raylan was comfortable, we left to go to Starbucks go see Helsinki and do a little Christmas shopping!

First stop was Starbucks, naturally.  Second stop was a huge Macaron.  Third stop Stockmann, then we just kind of stopped there for the rest of the evening.  It was wonderful.  Fantastic.  Really much needed.  I ended up finding so many great things, for myself, but nothing for Sam.   I know that is not the 'proper' way to go Christmas shopping, but at least Sam knows I will really like my gifts.   Still trying to come up with ideas on what to get him... help? 

HUGE Pistachio Macaron

Stockmann all dressed up in it's Christmas best!
Well that was exhausting so we recharged on some Tex-Mex, it was out of this world. Honestly when isn't a hot mountain of crispy chips covered in stuff that looks like cheese, covered in tomatoes & jalapeños & onions, topped with grilled grilled chicken not good?  I can assure you, it is always out of this world.  Ok, lets move on.  Back to the hotel for a nice city walk with Raylan.  

Independence day in Finland meant that the hotel breakfast had a later start and finish, score. Yay for sleeping in.  I'll let you know what we found to do in Helsinki that day later this week or next.  I'm waiting for something to come in the mail for that post!

Hope everyone is enjoying their holiday weekend here in Finland, and their ordinary weekend back home! 

xoxo Cacilie

November 27, 2014

Was today Thanksgiving?

Yes, I am well aware that today is Thanksgiving.  How could I not be with all of the Facebook, Instagram, Snap Chat, Twitter, and text reminders.  It seems everyone I know is getting together with friends and family wherever they are to celebrate life and to give thanks.  Thanksgiving is a holiday that always seems to bring people together.

Initially I was planning on making my Thanksgiving day blog post about how Thanksgiving came to be, and what we are celebrating.  I will VERY quickly summarize what I was planning on creating a whole post about: President Lincon proclaimed a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens".  That is just a very short summary of a much longer answer that I found on Wikipedia, (Much more information can be found on THIS LINK).  There you have it, that is why we celebrate Thanksgiving. 

Thanksgiving this year was absolutely ordinary for me.  By ordinary I mean, an absolute ordinary day, a ordinary 'the boys are on a road-trip' day.  Yes, I spend the majority of the day alone (with Raylan) and I am ok with it.  We are planning on celebrating with some other teammates this weekend, when it fits into our hockey life schedule.  The boys have been gone since monday morning and won't get back until the wee hours of tomorrow morning.  In 'this hockey life' you get used to being alone, you get used to rearranging the dates of 'holidays', you get used to missing everything going on at home, and everyone that is far away.  All of that might get to some people, and yeah sometimes it get the best of me, but today I am thankful. I am so thankful for 'this hockey life' and everything that comes along with it.  Instead of listing specific things, I created a thankful circle of some things that mean a lot to me. 

Today I stumbled upon an article written by a nurse in a hospital here in Lappeenranta.  The article talks about how so many patients are fans of SaiPa hockey and they watch from the hospital rooms when they are unable to make it to the games.  She also talks about the great joy going to the hockey games brings to so many people.  She emphasizes how much the SaiPa hockey team means to so many people here and how it is such a big part of their lives.  In the article she says that even when SaiPa is playing an away game, they are not alone because so many are watching from their TV's and cheering from home.  This article meant a lot to me, because without the fans, there would be no SaiPa, the fans are what make it all possible.  I am so grateful for the SaiPa hockey fans and the love that they show towards the boys whether they win or loose, home or away.  It is so nice to know that it is more than just 'hockey' and that it makes people so happy and gives them something to look forward to and be excited about.  

Thanksgiving isn't always about big things, but instead all of the little things that we might not think about every day.  Year after year, on Thanksgiving I find myself beyond grateful for my health, and love.  It really doesn't matter if I am here in Lappeenrata by myself, or back home with all my family and friends, I am so thankful for all of the wonderful parts of my life this Thanksgiving. 

Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving. 
- W. T. Purkiser

November 25, 2014

Bandy Rink

The other day we noticed that the outdoor bandy rink by Sam's arena was all ready for the winter!  My first thought was that we had to go skating ASAP!  In Oskarshamn, Sweden we used to go skating on the outdoor bandy rink a couple of times a season and it was always so fun!  The ice for a bandy rink is HUGE, and it is perfectly smooth and well 'groomed'?  I clearly do not know the correct terminology for hockey rinks.  

Bandy is a very popular sport over here in Scandinavia.  The ice is much bigger than a hockey rink, so it can really only be played outside (unless there is a huge indoor arena).  The ice is supposed to be the size of a soccer field/football pitch.  They also sometimes play a variation of the game on a hockey rink sized ice, but then it is called rink bandy.  The players wear hockey skates, and limited padding.  They have sticks, but they are much shorter than hockey sticks and have little plastic bottoms.  The point of the games is to put a ball (not a puck) into the opposing teams goal to score.  There are eleven players on the ice at a time, and the game is broken into two 45 minute halves.  It is a little bit like hockey, football, floorball, and field hockey.  The players may not intentionally touch the ball with their heads, hands, or arms.  

In 2006 the women's World Champioship for bandy was held in Minnesota! It is currently in the process of being include in the Olympic games, but is currently not one of the 'official sports'.  

Here is a link to a video of a World Championship game between Sweden and Russia. 

We went skating with some friends at the next possible opportunity!  Bandy rinks make very good hockey rinks! After we took these pictures the zamboni resurfaced the ice, and it was so smooth!  I didn't realize how much faster I would be a able to go on freshly resurfaced ice! 

Playing keep-away, you can probably guess how long that lasted.. 
Hope everyone is enjoying all of the snow and finding fun things to do outdoors, even when hot chocolate by the fireplace sounds like the only way to stay warm.