Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Giving Thanks

This year, I have the pleasure of hosting Thanksgiving at home, with both my family and Nick's in attendance. This will be the first Thanksgiving in three years that either of us have had at home, and the first Thanksgiving (or really, any holiday) in three years that we have gotten to spend with our families. So today, I am spending this precious time enjoying family moments and celebrations. However, I wanted to also take some time to reflect on these past six months!

A few days ago, I posted about various things that I miss about living in Europe. While there are certainly aspects of living in Europe that I miss, there are many parts about being back home that I love! In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am going to take some time to reflect on all of the things I am thankful to have been able to be a part of over these last 6 months back in the U.S.!

Historic Grainbelt sign in Minneapolis, Minnesota
This year, I am thankful to have been able to spend many weekends in my hometown of Minneapolis. Most of my family and friends still live in Minneapolis, and it is so great to be able to have a homeless in this beautiful city!

Family at the Color Run Minneapolis!
I'm thankful for all of the time that I have been spending with family this summer and fall. We've done tons of fun events, such as the Color Run, in addition to our usual family dinners and nights out!

Anniversary Celebrations with my love in Coeur D'Alene
I'm thankful for my husband and the amazing 2+ years we have had as a married couple. Thank you for being my partner in everything that this life has to offer, and for always going the extra mile with me! I'm thankful for his patience, his support, and the love he gives me.

Wedding celebrations with my best friend!
I'm thankful that being home this year means I have been physically here for my friends. I was able to attend several weddings this fall that I would not have been able to if I was in Sweden. I'm also very excited that my best friend just got engaged and I will be able to celebrate her engagement with her in just a few days over this holiday weekend!

Stillwater Harvest Fest - or Pumpkin Fest - with my family!
Each year for the last 6 or 7 years, my Dad has grown giant pumpkins and entered them in a contest in October in Minnesota. This year, I was able to attend the contest and enjoy some great family time with my family!

Lily bulldog!
I'm thankful that this year I have had plenty of time to snuggle with Lily, our adorable English bulldog. Prior to this summer, I knew that she liked any food, beer, and whiskey- it was only recently that I learned how much she wanted to try champagne! Check out the tongue on that girl!

My Mom visiting me in Des Moines!
Just a couple of weeks ago, my Mom had some extra vacation time and used it to come visit me in Des Moines. I know it wasn't quite as exciting as the last few years when she has visited in Sweden and we have traveled throughout Europe, but it is always great to see her. Mom, your unwavering support and love means more than you know, and I'm so thankful for your friendship!

Hiking while in Hermosa Beach, California
Another thing that I am thankful for this year is all of the new and different travel experiences I have had. Perhaps I may no longer be traveling and exploring Europe, but there are still plenty of terrific places to explore right here in the U.S. I visited a friend in Los Angeles this summer, toured and tasted my way through Napa Valley, and relaxed while in Coeur D'Alene, in addition to spending time in Minnesota and Wisconsin. And this is all just in the last six months, not to mention two amazing weeks in the Dominican Republic!

All in all, I certainly have a lot to be thankful for this year. It might not be where I had expected I would be, but often the unexpected parts of life turn out to be the best! Here is to wishing each and every one of you a happy and memorable Thanksgiving, wherever you will be celebrating!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

What I Miss About Living in Europe

It's been almost six months to the day since Nick and I decided we were officially not going back to Europe to live (and work!) for another year. Now that I have some distance from it, I figure it is a great time to examine all of the things I miss about living in Europe!

1. Cheap travel. Oh, was travel ever cheap. Routinely I was able to find flights to anywhere in Europe for less than $100, and on my time schedule!

2. The history and culture. It seems like everywhere you turn in Europe, you are learning a new and interesting piece of history. Living in Europe was like being transported back in time and learning from my history books all over again... and the culture!

3. Friends that became family. Because I was so far from family, the friends I made while in Europe truly became family. We celebrated holidays and birthdays together, and made it through tough times together. All said and done, when you are living in another country your relationships deepen and you really learn who your friends are.

4. Visiting new and exciting destinations, constantly. Germany, Norway, Sweden, Czech Republic, Latvia...when you combine a laid-back pace of life with the amazingly cheap travel, I was constantly on the go and exploring a new cultural destination. Each one was different, and each one was amazing.

5. Learning a new language. I'm not fluent in Swedish, and chances are I never will be. However, I loved the daily interactions I would have in Swedish, and trying to deepen my understanding of the language. Back in the U.S., it just isn't as easy to continue learning- although, I am trying!

6. Kebabs. I have a love for kebabs, specifically the kycklingtallrik from Michel's in Karlskrona. This is by far one of my favorite foods in the world, and I cannot wait to get back one day and have it again!

7. Christmas markets. One of the best parts about the holidays in Europe are most certainly the Christmas markets. Personally, my favorite Christmas markets were in Germany...but from my experiences and living vicariously through other's experiences, the Christmas markets everywhere are awesome and have so much to offer!

8. Beautiful architecture. Each and every city that I explored had so many beautiful buildings and architectural details. CONTINUE WITH THIS

9. Basement pubs. I've said it before and I'll say it again, one of my favorite aspects of living in Sweden close to Stockholm was visiting the hole-in-the-wall basement pubs that have existed for hundreds and hundreds of years. To me, there was just something so cool about embracing the atmosphere and feeling the history of these pubs. It just can't be replicated here!

10. The laid-back atmosphere. In Europe, the pace of life just seemed a little bit slower and more relaxed. There was no pressure to move at a million miles an hour, and it was nice to take things a bit slower.

11. Cafes & fika. To go with the laid-back atmosphere, Europe (and Sweden specifically!) has amazing little cafes. In Sweden, we went for "fika" almost daily, and just relaxed over a nice cup of coffee or tea and chatted about life. Fika was such a great mid-day break and way to get out of the house, and I truly miss it!

Being back home in the U.S. has certainly been so wonderful, and I am loving the proximity to friends and family. It is different from my last two years though, and I'll be honest- quite an adjustment. It's part of the reason that things around here have been fairly quiet lately, and it's hard to put into words. But, now that I'm fully adjusted to life back here in the good old U.S., I promise to be around here more! For anyone else that has made the move over to Europe and then back again, what do you miss the most about your European lifestyle?

Monday, November 16, 2015

Hiking & An Afternoon Picnic in CDA

A piece of my heart is in CDA!
I never thought that visiting Idaho would be at the top of my bucket list, but I am so glad it was a trip I made and I know I'll be returning! By now, it has been a few months since Nick and I visited Coeur D'Alene, Idaho. The trip overall was so great, but my absolute favorite activity while staying in CDA was hiking Tubb's Hill. Of course, there are so many other great things to do- think kayaking, canoeing, and strolling the beautiful streets of the town. No matter the activity, hiking was my absolute favorite, and I've been so excited to share some beautiful pictures with you!

view from Tubb's Hill in Coeur D'Alene
I was able to go on several different hikes while visiting, and hiking Tubb's Hill was absolutely the best hike in Idaho! I hiked it at least once a day, each time with different routes...and each time determining that the current visit was better than the last! My first hike was just a quick solo hike for about 45 minutes while Nick got some work done- so I was just strolling looking for future opportunities. Tuesday, Nick and I went on a beautiful hike and had a picnic in the middle of the woods. Wednesday, I had around two hours by myself and barely made it halfway through the hike, there were so many great photo opportunities! Let's take a look at all of the beautiful sights hiking in CDA has...

checking out the scenery while on a solo hike
Saw some turkeys while hiking up the hill!

Nick and I had decided that the perfect afternoon for our anniversary would be hiking up Tubb's hill and stopping for a picnic along the way. Once we got tired of hiking, we paused to take a break and have some snacks! Of course, I had packed some champagne...

Because really, what anniversary is really an anniversary without some celebratory champagne? After our picnic, it was time to keep moving along the trail.

"The Kick" inspired by Fredrik Eklund
At the top of Tubb's Hill, I wanted to take a break from hiking and attempt "The Kick". For those of you who haven't seen Fredrik Eklund on Million Dollar Listing, you might not know what I'm talking about. Long story short, Fredrik Eklund is a Swedish entrepreneur who moved to the U.S., began a real estate business, and since then is one of the most successful real estate salesmen in the world. He wrote an incredible book, "The Sell", that I highly recommend to everybody and anybody! Eklund is also famous for his high kick, which I had to try duplicate.

After about a million high kick attempts and fails, I was quite warm so stripped off my sweater and was shaking my hair out when Nick snapped the above picture... #HairGoals!

playing while hiking in CDA!
Looking out over Lake Coeur D'Alene

As with many travel opportunities in life, the pictures here really don't do Coeur D'Alene justice. My best advice would be to book a trip for yourself so you can see the beauty live in person!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on my blog! I truly appreciate and will take the time to respond to each of your comments. Please, do not post links unassociated with my content as they will be deleted.