Cowgirl Head

A Need for an Answer

I have just realised that I have lived here for a tidge more than six months. Six months….*letting that sink in*….half a year…wowzers does time fly.

Am I anywhere closer to speaking the language or at the least understanding what I’m buying at the supermarket? Last week’s pork/beef mince disaster would say no. In all my time here there have been many many many interesting and utterly bizarre cultural differences that I’ve noticed. I shall leave most of them to further postings. This time I wanna focus on one one, because It’s a biggun.


A question.

For most of you when you are presented with the same question an immediate and acute answer will pop out of your mouths without so much as a glimpse of a thought. For me…well….I….end….up….uh…..stammering….because, as I have noticed during my stay here, this is one of the most difficult questions I have to answer.

Sadly, I get asked it at least once a week.

The question:

“Where are you from?”

Here’s how a more-normal-than-I individual would handle the situation;

Curious Native:  Where are you from?

Normalish-Expat: Insert quick one or two-worded country or U.S. state of origin.

Curious Native:  Oh yes! I’ve heard about your (insert commonly-known stereotype that barely hangs on the safe side of offensive).

Normalish-Expat: *nervous chuckle* Yes well…we do that

Curious Native:  So what would you like to order?

Not me. No sir. I seem to be stuck with two options….I either have to realise that I’m going to have to lie to this person I’ve just met and hope that I don’t meet them further along in my life thus proving that I am a liar or I’m going to have to bear an awkwardly long stretched-out version of small talk which is obvious during execution that neither party wishes to continue participation.

Maybe a little background is necessary before I continue on…maybe. Good heavens I just hope that this ramble makes sense, though most essays written at 1am whilst suffering with a cough a la elderly Lucille Ball tend not to. Oh well. My blog. My ramble.

I was born and spent the first 19 years of my life near Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. I have American citizenship. I have American parents. I have an American older brother who loves his camo and going shootin’. I have a sister who cannot get enough of mall shopping and speaks with a bit of a Valley Girl accent. Every autumn my father decks himself out in his University of Utah gear to cheer on his alma mater’s football team and my mum thinks Olive Garden is the best restaurant ever to grace this earth.

Parade Queens

I grew up in a 7-bedroom, double garage home with a spacious back yard. I celebrated every 4th of July with fireworks, spent weeks planning the perfect non-scary Halloween costume, ate copious amounts of food every thanksgiving and spoke with an accent that sounded more like Sarah Palin than I’m comfortable admitting.

Good heavens I even attended high school and can testify to the non-Yanks among you that sadly yes…high school is just like the movies. Cheerleaders, chess club and lunchroom clique segregation doth abound.

But then something happened just at the moment when I was on the cusp of becoming an independent adult: I moved to England.


Here’s where I was able to indulge myself in literally hundreds of tours around historical churches/abbeys/manor houses. I was able to dispel the reputation of British food. I finally was in a culture where no one noticed my crooked teeth, where everyone questioned why I didn’t want a cup of tea and slowly and due to no conscious effort of my own I developed an accent that somehow garnered a lot more respect when travelling.


Nine years of only being an adult in a culture that somehow seemed to fit me better than I ever fit one before and culturally I began to identify myself with the English. Don’t get me wrong, I love America…and I sure as hell won’t let someone take the mick if they’re around me but sooner than I had expected I had….oh what’s a good word here?….hmmm…..assimilated into the culture so much so that I remember on the last journey back from a trip to the U.S.A. I was actually anxious to be “home”. For crying out loud I can literally name all the Kings and Queens of England all the way back to the year 1066. U.S. Presidents: it gets fuzzy after Carter.

Now back to that earlier conversation. Even with my quazi-accent the English knew straight up that I wasn’t one of them though there were the occasional assumptions that my roots were in depths of uncivilised Dorset or Ireland. The conversation usually resulted in me telling them that I was from America…and it was true. I came directly from America.

Fate then threw a spanner into the works in the form of this chap:


Herra Finlandia: my new hubster and honest-to-goodness love of my life. Now I could have happily lived the rest of my life in England and I probably would have if it were not for him. Whilst we were dating we both knew that he needed to be in Finland. It was almost as if the cosmos insisted that he had to be here. Over time I’m sure God will make it evident as to why but it didn’t make my decision to move any easier. Once again I had to leave behind my bevy of friends, my familiar culture even my language behind to set off into the land that most of us know tremendously little about.

So here I am. Six months down the line and every week faced with that damnable question: “Where are you from?”.  In the beginning I answered it thusly:

Curious Native:  Where are you from?

Me the Abnormal-Expat: Uh….well….um…..America

Curious Native:  Oh yes! Were you happy Obama won the election? Did you vote for him? What do you think of his policy to (insert hottest issue in American politics here)?

Me the Abnormal-Expat: Uh….well….no….I didn’t vote because the consulate had my passport…and as per that issue…I’ve really very little…

Curious Native:  Wait. Why do you have a British accent?

Me the Abnormal-Expat: Well…I’ve come from Britain

Curious Native:  I thought you said you were American

Me the Abnormal-Expat: *getting anxious* I am an American. I’ve lived in England for the past nine years…

Conversation then lulls into a pathetically long explanation as to how and why I moved there in the first place and why I was now living here and truthfully there is not enough time passing the halls during church or having our waiter take our order to make that conversation worthwhile.

So that leaves me with option number two. To lie…..well not explicitly: I mean I have come directly from England and even though I feel a tremendous kinship to that culture I will never be able to legitimately call myself English. Sad as it may seem I’m uncomfortable with spouting untruth….especially knowing that over time it may come back to haunt me.

So – What do I do? How do I answer the question without perjuring myself or making small-talk an oxymoron?

Furthermore this makes me want to grab the next sociology student desperate for a thesis topic to delve deeper into why we as humans base such a large portion of an individual’s identity onto where that person just so happened to be born?

Am I forever bound to call myself only an American when I find myself feeling like a tourist every time I visit the good ole U.S. of A.?

Hopefully (and I do believe that this shall happen) over time I will assimilate into the Finnish culture. In a few ways it’s already begun. For example: did you know that modest clothing is trendy here during the winter!? How amazing is that? Or that bread has never tasted as amazing as it does here? Maybe once I get a grip on this monster of a language I will be able to find a happy balance between the three places I’ve decided to share my life with and finally have a short concise answer to that annoying question.

I hope so.

Toodles Sweets – Ariane

Cowgirl Head

Frolic in Hurdy Gurdy Land

I always knew that starting a new life in Finland was never going to be easy and well….it isn’t. That’s not to say I’m not coping alright but there are days when studying the Yoda-esque language or the mercury hitting in the double minus figures gives me such a headache I need a break.

Thankfully I married this man:


When we were discussing Christmas gift ideas I told him (truthfully) that I wanted an experience over a tangible object. When you downsize the contents of a 4-bedroom house into 11 boxes like I did this summer you realise just how much you don’t need all that crap…and that most of it is crap, though that’s another post for another day. What my chappy bought me was a two-day cruise to Stockholm!

S-Q-U-E-E and ARGH! For only the week before I happened to fall prey to a nasty cold. There was another bonus to this sightseeing new experience. My good friend (from ancient times back in Utah) lives in Stockholm so a day out with her is always welcome. Read about her adventures and see some beyond beautiful photos on her blog here.

On a cold and super frosty night we boarded the biggest ship I have been on and left Helsinki:


Honestly it was COLD proof with the water below! So cold that most people wouldn’t go outside…SCORE! More picture-taking space for me then.


Ville splurged and got us a cabin with a window, which was greatly appreciated and awesome by the time we woke up the next morning we were drifting through an archipelago with picturesque Nordic winter views. Did I take my camera with me so I could show you those? Of course not….duuuurrrr. There was a moment when my camera would have never been left behind. Of course that was the time when I managed to blog just about every day….dangit. Where has my willpower gone?

Anyhew what I can show you is what greeted us at the ferry port-of-entry. This gem of a woman and the one responsible to taking such fantastic wedding photos:


With only a few hours to mingle we had a wander throughout the old town:


She even let me have a go with one of her uber fancy-schmancy camera lenses:

Collapse )

Stockholm was beautiful…and my hubster actually managed to get a few shots of me that I didn’t hate…rare indeed.


This was without a doubt the best Christmas prezzie I have ever received! Thanks babe. Can we go back now? This weekend?  Or next? Please?

Toodles Sweets - Ariane

Cowgirl Head

Reacting to the Splash of Cold Water

Talking to my long-lost cousin today gave me motivation to get off my bottom and start posting. Thanks Michelle (dunky dunky)…I can’t really dish out advice without following it myself. Goodness me, I had my camera glued to my side over Christmas basking in all the bizarreness that is a Finnish Christmas and did I share it? Nooooooooo…..why? Because Ladies and Jellyspoons I am…..*breathe out* a professional procrastionator….

pumba shame

Now I realise that there are quite a few many people that say “me too” but alas I fear that you are more adept with harnessing your willpower than I am.

Let me give you an example….look at this pretty photo I took:


Just begging for a description isn't it?

One would be good.

I have more! Looky here:




Seriously these are farrrrr to old not to post onto my version of a journal but every day I sit infront of my magic clicky box looking at hilarious cat photos, or researching the history of Bhutan because I don’t know anything about it, or lusting after yet another of one of Buddy’s cakes that youtube doth show me.

Now here comes the guilt. I did find one blog that gave advice on how to keep a house decent without too little effort and the first rule was “No Marathons”. So with that I have devised a little rota for myself with one small cleaning task per day so as not to be overwhelmed….fingers crossed that I will keep it up!

Here’s to hoping that I can get over my insatiable desire to say “I’ll do it tomorrow” and to more productivity.

As proof: a photo with a description:


Best Christmas gift: a winter cruise from Helsinki to Stockholm!....but more on that later...(I hope)

Now off to wednesday's little chore: the bathroom *dun duuun duuuunnnnnn*

Toodles Sweets, Ariane

Cowgirl Head

Are we There Yet?


Every year….every….single…year…I feel as if Christmas has snuck up on me. I started preparations rather early this year and found some great deals for gifts in November. Only sad thing is that the in-laws’ presents won’t be here in time. Dangit. I ordered them in the beginning of December from England. Thankfully Ville’s family is very understanding but still…grrr….it would have been awesome to have them open them on time.

So with the following I suppose it’s more for posterity sake than entertainment but here’s what our nuttiness has created so far:

The fuzz-bottom chocolate-stealing (she’s ok now) punk has to rock out some rather nifty shoes due to the cold.


Collapse )


Now all that is left is to pack up and head even further north for my first Finnish family Christmas.

Toodles Sweets – Ariane

Cowgirl Head

Land of the Tulips, Wooden Shoes and uh….White Dudes in Blackface?


Mr. Finlandia and I managed to squeeze in a few days of touring during our visit for one of his best mate’s wedding. I was delaying in writing this post as I expected a plethora of awesome words or captions to flood from my fingers onto here….but yeah that didn’t happen so thusly I present a snapshot of sorts to our little adventure in complete random order. Here’s to hoping I don’t bore you mercilessly.

The good:

Our journey as it were started out in Delft,


Home of gorgeous old buildings that for a moment made me feel as if I were back in England and this blue ceramic delftware which I am sure was preposterously overpriced for tourists but kitschy so much so that I actually bought something….for myself. Ladies and jellyspoons this is rare.


In the same square as the fantabulous building for the wedding stood this church:


and sad to say I was feeling adventurous. See that bit just below the spire but still above the black part…yeah you can walk all the way up there. All 376 narrow medieval death stares that the Dutch are so fond of (example of said narrowness in a typical house here)


Thinking that I was in much better shape than I really am we climbed…..and climbed….and climbed….and cursed medieval architects. Once I made it more than halfway I was determined to continue. I’m still not sure if that decision was wise or not. In fact I was so bushed that by the time I got up there I looked like this:

Collapse )

Cowgirl Head

Lots and Lots of Good News

If you haven’t already read from the facebook account the fuzzbutt is feeling like her old self again! Your prayers and good vibes worked! Thank you ever so much. She is still on pills and spends most of the day being lazy and her eye does appear to be nowhere near as swollen as it was before….so here’s to hoping that it was just an infection that caused her swelling.

I had the most surreal moment last week. I had one of those defining moments where I took a mental inventory of my life and thought “wowzers”. I was sitting in a room in this building in Delft, Netherlands…


…(I know! So gorgeous) watching two beautiful people get married and I thought back to my teenaged self, who longed to travel but had not a penny to do so.

Here I was, with an English accent, married to a Finn watching another Finn get married to a Dutchie.

I had always loved Europe. Loved. Loved. Loved.  My father was a seasoned traveller and I would adore listening to his stories of his travels throughout the continent. I assumed that maybe one day when I was middle-aged I would have a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Never would I have dreamed that I would live in two european countries and have the chance to visit many more.

Amusing how life works out sometimes n’est pas?

We also bought a proper grown-up camera and with that I was able to take this wedding porn.

IMG_1087 - Copy
IMG_1111 - Copy
IMG_1167 - Copy

Collapse )And we had time to tour but more about that later!

Next up: ridiculously cheesy travel log.

Toodles Sweets - Ariane

Cowgirl Head

Doggie Drama

This week has been an interesting one…full of worry, disgust and more ewwww that I thought possible.

My little poppet has become uber poorly for the first time ever. For the past week this is what she has looked like:


Why didn’t anyone tell me how panicky a poorly furbaby would make me? After four days of farts that could make a dung beetle wish to plug it’s nose, diarrhoea that eventually turned bloody and scared the hell out of me and the occasional vomit we finally managed to get her into a vet’s appointment.

We had been giving her medicine over the weekend to combat the tummy troubles but something more sinister crept up…I wonder in time if I will consider it or blessing or not.

She didn’t like the taste of the tummy medicine so I was forced to prop her mouth open to shove the pill down her throat. I’ve done this with her lots of times before but this time she let out a yelp more high-pitched and pitiful that I have ever heard from her that I gave up that idea and started grinding her pills into yogurt.

Over the next few days, while most attention was paid to her stomach we noticed that she would yelp in pain at random moments. I kept checking her body and felt nothing. It wasn’t until this morning that I worked out she was yelping whenever she yawned.

Damn stupid internet panicked me into thinking she may have a degeneration of the muscles around the jaw and so we packed her up and headed off to the vet.

When we got there we found out our appointment was with the neurologist.

Panic much.

Most of her checked out ok but the neurologist ended up having to sedate her in order to pull her mouth completely open giving her a sad little souvenir bandage:


He then told us we have two options: try to treat what looks like an infection in her mouth with antibiotics and hope that that is what is causing her eye to bulge slightly and her lymph node on the right side of her face to swell, or for nearly €1000 we could give her an MRI scan to check that it isn’t a tumour.

I’m sure you can guess which option we choose to try first:


That’s over €100 spent and a month’s supply of two antiobiotics and painkillers….for something less than half a metre long.

Of course I had a freak-out moment and started imagining every worst possible scenario. I’m calmer now but still *sigh*it’s not been a good day.

That little doggie has been with me through the roughest times of my life and is great source of companionship.

With all that said wouldst thou be so kind as to spare a few breaths in your prayers for my munckin’s recovery? I know it’s just a dog but she’s OUR dog….our little furry baby.

Let’s hope the next few weeks go smoothly and I have a much more entertaining entry next.

In your debt Sweets,


Cowgirl Head


What’s new? That much? You must be so proud. Why me? Oh….not much is different. I moved to Finland and married the man of my dreams so yeah….just life y’know?


I’ve been wondering how to blog this for a long time and each time the gargantuan task frightened me into putting it off for another day….or another week….let it never be said I skirt difficult tasks.


So that’s it in a nutshell. I’ve left my beloved Engurrrland and have moved to the (Fin) land of mutant squirrels, more blood-based sausage and a language whose structure would make Master Yoda very proud indeed.


Wedding plans had encapsulated the length of each and every day up until the final execution. You see I got this ridiculous idea that I would DIY just about everything. I made the bridesmaid gowns, all of the flowers, decorations, my veil and headpiece and even my wedding dress which took six hours to hand-sew a few beads onto ( I am sooo looking forward to a trash the dress session with that monstrosity).  However it did provide a whole whelp of awesomeness in the photos that I can now (with all the work behind me) safely say how happy I am that I put that effort into. Wanna see some?


Our photographer was wonderful. Advice to all those in high school. BE NICE TO THE ARTISTIC ONE! Become friends. Stay in contact on facebook. You will not regret it. Our astounding photographers were Shannon and Witold from Shannon Angel Photography. Shannon and I went to middle and high school together in Utah. I moved to England. She moved to Ireland. I decide to move to Finland and she and her hubster decide to move to Sweden. I got the hint that the cosmos wanted us to be friends and over a typical “what you up to?” conversation she offered to be my photographer!


I could not contain my inner squee. Can you blame me? Just look at this beautifulness…


Collapse )