How to find you, dear Reader {Schreibzeit #2}

I missed last years short stories over at Bines blog and I really wanted to be part of this years Schreibzeit. When I read February’s topic I wasn’t too happy, nothing inspiring – but then thinking about it a bit I decided I will share my ramblings on “How to get more readers“. Maybe some thoughts help you but at least they gonna help me :-)And it’s never a bad thing to think, right?

Being a communications manager at day I should have totally figured this thing out, right?! Knowing my readers, knowing what they are interested in, anticipating where they are and what they need.

Too be honest: I don’t know, I don’t care and don’t want to put effort into it when I do.

who are my readers

Ok now let’s break up this statement.

I don’t know

Hello reader, why are you here? I would love an answer. What posts interest you, what do you gain by coming by.
Google analytics tells me, my (not so) weekly happiness reviews are quite popular. But that’s just random silliness. It also tells me my mood boards and my German potato bread are an evergreen. But what about the rest. And where do you actually come from?! I mean how and where do you read this blog?! I know I’ve got 26 followers on bloglovin but I also know there are more of you coming by. How do you follow me? What feed reader do you use? And does it even matter?
From a professional view I would advice: make a survey to figure out your audience. Ask questions and write posts out of your comfort zone to see what the reactions are.
Me as a private person thinks: what if I take a survey and people want to read things I am not interested in writing or that don’t fit with this blog space of mine. Wouldn’t it be weird asking and the not delivering?! So not doing it safes me heartaches.

I don’t care

And with this last thought we are right at I don’t care. Just because everyone is doing it this or that way doesn’t mean it’s right for me. It’s still my space. I admit sometimes I get carried away and might even be a bit envious when seeing blogs who started later than mine and have a gazillion number of followers. Then I feel like I “need” to do something about it. I usually take a step back, take a deep breath and get back in time remembering why I have started. I wanted to be more creative, I wanted to safe my ideas and achievements somewhere but overall I wanted to be happier. Knowing that all creative process will do that, was the reason to get started. And that’s the question I will answer: will it make me happy, is it fun to do or is it because other people do it and you don’t want to be left out?

Not worth the effort

I know I would gain lots more of traffic when setting up a Facebook account. Or an Instagram profile. I consciously decided against Facebook. I don’t want to. Too much hassle – it would just be a task and I fun would be lost. Don’t get me wrong, I do have a private account I love but for the blog, naaaay.
And Instagram?! Well this is intriguing. Right now it’s self protection not having one. I know I would spend hours there and I only have 24 hours a day. But I fear it will change soon.
However I do have Twitter and I am quite active there. I love being part of Twitter chats it’s a great and easy way to get in contact with fellow bloggers. If they stop by at my blog?! Don’t know but I realize some new twitter followers when I just twittered about my latest blog post. Meaning twittering about blogposts can enhance your reader ship. However I don’t think the Twitter peeps are not much into commenting on the blog…

So to sum it up I could probably say: I choose slow growth. I might know how to speed things up but it doesn’t feel right. I want to engage with the people who are here. I try to reply to every comment on this blog (and I hope I haven’t missed any). It’s my personal philosophy. I try to visit every commenters blog at least once and if I find something speaking to me I leave a comment.

For now I am happy with my choice. Doesn’t mean it won’t change, doesn’t mean I mind new faces here and doesn’t mean I won’t do any cooperations or link parties and such.

Now leave a comment if you agree or disagree. Let’s have a chat! Looking forward,

Tobia

Oh and in case you are not following me yet hit those buttons and do so: Twitter * Pinterest * Bloglovin * Google+

 

Cocooning in winter time :: BIWYFI #1

Every since I started this blog I tried to improve my photography skills and go on little photo excursions to do so. I decide that I will pick one photo challenge a year and try to stick with it. In my first blogging year it was “Color me Happy” and I managed to submit my humble post every month. Last year I desperately failed with the 12tel Blick Challange or lets say I was not so inspired with my choice of challenge.

So this year I am trying to commit to Nic’s renewed Beauty is where you find it Challenge. I believe for me it’s easier to have a topic I can think of and come up with ideas on how I want to convert it into a photo.

So when I heard January’s topic was cocooning this picture popped up in my head:

Cocooning BIWYFI #1

For me cocooning is always about blankets and wool socks, preferably a fire cracking somewhere or being in a sauna or something like that.

Cocooning BIWYFI #1

Maybe sipping a hot chocolate or some hot apple cider.

Cocooning BIWYFI #1

What is your association when thinking of cocooning?

Happy snuggles,

Tobia

PS: Thank you to Mr. ♥ for being my foot model.

Honeymoon at the Arctic Circle with huskies and reindeers {winter wedding special}

Welcome back! Today I take you along our honeymoon. I know I am nice. So get some hot beverage, put on some socks because we are going to the Arctic Circle!honeymoon at arctic circle

When we were planning our wedding we realized a week prior to the big day we didn’t have any idea what to do after. Usually people go on a honeymoon. We always wanted to do lodge hopping in Canada for our honeymoon but that was just out of the picture financially. So we figured a few days somewhere to relax. But we couldn’t decided and time past…
Good thing a text came in telling us to save ten days after our wedding. So end of looking and off to a surprise.

And a surprise it was. Due to the lack of snow at our winter wedding my parents figured: send them where the snow is.

downtown levi

Yes we were sent to the most nordic town in Finland with huskies, reindeers, ice hotels and winter wonderland. But let’s go one day at a time.

Arriving in our hotel, discovering our room with a build-in sauna, a funny metal box – later figuring out it’s a heated closet to dry your stuff, reindeers grasing in front of our window. We were in honeymoon heaven. We took a short walk to get a lay of the land and fed the reindeers at the hotel.

walk around levi finlandThen we had dinner and went to bed because next morning was already scheduled.

Breakfast was strange. I let a picture speak because I really can’t describe:

finnish breakfast

After we got in our skiing gear and went to do our introduction to snow shoeing and snowmobiling. Later that day we just wandered the town and enjoyed the snow and came across a reindeer – in the middle of town! We also hit the tourist info and booked us a reindeer sledge ride and a husky sledge driving class.

Our day with the huskies

First thing to know: I am scared of dogs! Mr. ♥ loves huskies and wants one. So going on a husky farm took a lot of willpower but I am glad I did. We went to Huskysafari Levi. First we got a little introduction to sledge riding – like never step of the sledge, Huskies will run no matter what, to go slower you push the break, they eat snow to cool of, Huskies can actually die from over-heating…
Once we knew all this we got the dogs ready and my were they ready. Got a few pics:

jumping huskies

First it was my turn to stir the sledge and even though it was nice to try I was totally worn out (I was still really sick and the antibiotics took a toll on me too). So I was glad when we switched and I was able to enjoy the country side being chauffeured through by hubby. Again dusk was setting in early so pictures are a bit dark but that’s just the way it is up there.

landscape husky ride

When being back in the camp we had hot cranberry juice, coffee and traditional sausage.

husky

Our day with the reindeers

Our day at Wolverine Fell Wilderness and Nature started by getting a taxi and then being quite anxious if we will ever arrive. Seriously there was no way to drive on, all was white, the driver wasn’t quite sure where to go. Than we passed a ensemble of three cottages and a women (trying) to push a stroller through the snow. Soon after we arrived at the gate and so did the lady. She was our tour guide Petra and brought her 3 month old with her. Her husband was busy feeding reindeers and preparing the sledge. And we were the only ones. It was a wonderful quite and very informative afternoon we spend with them. As she kept mentioning reindeers are semi wild animals. You can not train them like horses. They “work” for you because you provide food. They are herd animals and it might happen that they decide to go another way – and all animals will follow. We went for a 1 mile sledge ride which took quite a while. The surroundings were amazing. Snowy trees, snow sunken fences and a reindeers butt.

reindeer butt

We stopped at a little cabin at Levi lake were we had hot cranberry juice and coffee.

panorama levi lakeWe heard stories about crossing the frozen lake and breaking through. We looked at animal pictures and listened to hunters stories. And throughout the time we felt like visiting friends, listening about their every day life struggles and joys.

our sledge reindeer

And one of their reindeers (the white one) was actually a star in a Christmas movie – unfortunately I forgot which one. So if you are ever in Kitillä you need to take a ride with them.

Our day at the glass igloo

Our last two days in Lapland we didn’t spent in our sauna hotel. We went to the glass igloos for one night.

inside glass iglooHonestly I think this was our highlight. Unfortunately due to the warm weather (only -3-6° C instead of -30° C that would have been normal around this time of year) it was very cloudy which turned the landscape in a winter wonderland but also covered up all the aurora borealis we were gonna watch.
But the snowy trees were worth the trip. Just have a look:

snowy trees

Since there wasn’t anything to do up there we went to the traditional finish hut and just hang out by the fire before we headed to our igloo and heated up dinner which you have to bring yourself.

finnish hutWe then spend the night reading and looking out of the window. Being entertained by crazy Asians running around in hello kitty pj’s and big cooking pots…
Next morning we ate breakfast that was in the fridge.

breakfast at glass igloo

Then we headed out for another photo tour in daylight and before the bus picked us up.

snowy landscape at glass iglooWe spend the day wandering the town, taking a cable car up to the mountains and enjoying the view until our trip to the next hotel.

Our day in a ice hotel

Now this was something we really looked forward too but were also a bit scared of. The brochure mentioned “cozy -5 degree”. When we drove to the ice hotel with our taxi we were a bit surprised because everything was dark. After going back and forth and looking into some windows a nice lady opened saying they were waiting for us and saying we would be their only guests tonight. What that really meant took us a while to set in… First she wanted to serve us dinner unfortunately we ate because we figured there is nothing up there. So she took us on a tour through the ice hotel. The hotel is build every year by cutting ice cubes out of the river and shooting snow on a big air dome which is later removed. Art students come in and carve pictures and figures and decorate.

ice hotelThe hotel has a little chapel (were you can also get married), an ice bar (mainly for groups and events) and 15 rooms incl. one suite with a heatable water bed – we didn’t have that room…

ice hotel chapel
We went back to accompanying restaurant and invited our waitress to have a drink with us. So we spend the time getting to know each other, exchanging life stories and cultural differences learning words in each other’s language and enjoying time together until it was time to get to bed.

We were provided with a sleeping bag, fleece inlays and lots of reindeer furs. We bought matching cross country skiing hats to not freeze our brains of and then off we went into the glacier. Before undressing and getting ready for bed we took a photo and video tour of the hotel, looked into every corner and behind every reindeer hide hanging somewhere. It was dead silent, chilly and a weirded atmosphere. Imagine sitting under a glacier or having a tiny cave in an avalanche. It didn’t help much that Rittaa (our waitress/hotel lady) mentioned that the dome steadily sags and that Mr. ♥ vividly described how a murder with lots of blood splatter would look like…

ice hotel sleeping

Anyway once we got into a our sleeping bags and finding somewhat comfort on the ice cube that was our bed it was great. I didn’t freeze at all, it was a bit chilly but it felt great. Breathing was a whole new experience in this crisp air and I felt totally healthy waking up.

Unfortunately waking up also brought our departure day. Getting to the airport was fun. Exactly three flights were managed that day – 2 arrival and one departure.

airport kitilläAnd while we very hanging around the airport we realized one not thing: the Fins are bad ass. The runway was covered in snow and ice… And yes it was fully operating.

kittalä airport with plane

Well so much for our little adventure. So what you think honeymoon in the Caribbean or at the Arctic Circle?!

For all the ones interested in going to Lapland here are a few hard facts

Read more

What to do with your bridal bouquet?!

Wedding preparations are so fun and exhilarating but I am pretty sure you don’t plan what to do afterwards besides maybe go on a honeymoon or paying bills.

So pretty soon you’ll wonder: what am I gonna do with my bridal bouquet. Well look no further I’ve got the perfect way to preserve it.

What to do with your bridal bouquet?

The story behind

You will carry all those memories with you – in shape of a fancy necklace. I do for sure. In my wedding planning I know quite early how my bridal bouquet was gonna look like. It was either calla lilies or white peonies. When I decided on the peonies I just had to find the perfect little flower shop in a city I didn’t know and that is a bit too traditional for my taste when it comes to flower arrangement. But somehow I found Mrs John and when walking back to the train station looking for another shop but saw some candles in tiny dark alley which were so inviting that I decided I want to go in and get a feel. Just entering I knew that gone be it. She is doing my flowers.
So when I told her I wanted peonies she tried to move mountains to get me some. Unfortunately they did not deliver and 3 days prior to the wedding I had no idea how my bridal bouquet should look like or what to do because we had to take what she bought already. If someone told me I would marry in carnations I would have yelled: never! You must know I hate carnations because I think of them as communist flowers – but mainly the red ones. And I found this really cool idea of a carnation snowball. And that’s what I ended up. Nothing I would change only maybe a bit of color at the edge of the bouquet because than you actually see it in front of the dress.

carnation bridal boquet

But anyways, you wanted to hear about the tutorial. Well I am a bit into jewelry making and so it was pretty clear to me what I’ll do with my bouquet afterwards.

Step 1 – preparation

bridal boquet to beads preparation

You can either do this with fresh flowers or with your dried bouquet – opens whole new possibilities doesn’t it?! I wanted to do mine with fresh but was sent on a surprise honeymoon.

Pick all the flower petals from your bouquet leaving a skeleton of the greens. This can be quite a meditative task.

Step 2 – cook

Yep throw them all in a big pot and add destilled water until covered.

bridal boquet to necklace

Step 3 – blend and filter

Now through the whole gooey thing into a blender and go crazy. Once that is done take a fine mesh cotton clothes and filter out the water. The flower dough should be really dry with a consistency of cookie dough.

bridal boquet coooking

Step 4 – making beads

Now comes the fun part. Form little beads and stick them on your tooth pick. They really shrink! About 50%. I didn’t believe but it’s true. Let them dry. Best for several days (or in my case weeks). Unfortunately I forget to take a picture of the fresh beads.

beads of bridal boquet

Step 5 – get creative

I read that all flowers kinda turn some shade of brown when you cook them. Specially white ones have no color on their own to bring in. So I knew I was going to paint mine. But I still wanted to see the real bouquet. So I dip dyed my beads. Since they are not waterproof I also coated them with transparent paint. After that I made jewelry.

necklace out of bridal boquet

I like what I have turned my bridal bouquet into. Now it’s you turn!

Here is what you need:
– flowers
– destilled water
– tooth picks
– paint (optional)
– clear varnish

You can also read up more on this topic here.

Please share, I would love to collect other bridal bouquet turned jewelry.

Happy bead cooking,

Tobia

 

PS: This post has been entered to the RUMS linkup party.

Kermakakku – Finnish Sour Cream Cake

Today we celebrate!
Mr. ♥ and I are celebrating our first wedding anniversary today. Oh what a great day we had a year ago. Curious? Read more here.

And for every celebration you need a cake! A Kermakakku!

Kermakakku - Fisnish Sour Cream Cake

Now you might wonder why I baked a very unspectacular cake?! It’s a Finnish cake. So what, you might wonder…
A year ago we were surprised with a really great and amazing gift: a surprise honeymoon to Finland. To the arctic circle with ice hotel and glass igloo and reindeers and huskies! It was a great trip. And today we start a tiny trip to Finland by having cake.

Kermakakku - Fisnish Sour Cream Cake

Ingredients:

2 eggs
2 cup(s) sugar
470g sour cream or clotted cream (1 pint)
2 3/4 cup(s) flour
1/2 Tsp cardamom
1 Tsp cinnamon
1/2 Tbs baking soda
1/2 Tsp salt
2-3 drops almond flavor, alt. 3 Tbs amaretto

Kermakakku - Fisnish Sour Cream Cake

Directions:

1. Cream the eggs, sugar, sour cream, almond, and ground cardamom.

2. Sift together the flour, salt, soda, cinnamon and mix with egg mixture.

3. Butter a tube or Bundt pan and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

4. Pour batter into pan.

5. Bake at 350° for 1hour or until toothpick comes out clean.

6. Cool before removing from pan.

7. Sprinkle turned out cake with powdered sugar.

Kermakakku - Fisnish Sour Cream Cake

Now make this cake and come back next Saturday and I take you on a trip through Finland’s north.

Happy baking,

Tobia