velessa: (Honeymoon - us glacier)
I've now uploaded my pictures from our honeymoon in Alaska as well. Check them out here!

The main gallery page where you can see all the pictures on our Picasa account is:

And the links to other people's galleries are here:

In other news, we have an official move-in date for the townhouse we're moving to, September 21st. So the last two weekends of September will be spent moving and clearing out/cleaning up our current apartment. Volunteers welcome! =)
velessa: (Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne - Maron)
My brother graduates from college today. Congrats, Ryan! ^_^

Garrod girls, for the new horses: Pablo is Spencer from last year, Gambler is Poe from last year, and Tonto is Tonto from two years ago. The rest are new to me.

Also today, I'm leaving with Josh to go to Connecticut for a week and meet his family for the first time. O_O Wish me luck!
velessa: (Prince of Tennis - Eiji genki)
Jennie had to get an early start, and Cindra, Erin, and I all got up at 6am to go with her to the salon in Helsinki where she'd be getting her hair and makeup done. We ended up being too early and the place wasn't even open yet, so we went to the supermarket across the street and had pastries for breakfast. Finland has wonderful food, by the way.

Jennie's appointment was for 9am, so that's when we went to the salon. She had her hair done up in intricate loops and twists, and had little white roses stuck in the openings. This took about an hour and a half to do. Then she had her makeup done, which looked very nice, and she was done by 11am. Next it was Jani's turn (he showed up at about 5 after 11) to get his hair done and some makeup put on. This took maybe 15 minutes altogether, whereas Jennie had taken two hours. Jani wasn't too happy about wearing makeup, but he had to since some skin had been burned off his nose when he and Jennie went to get facials, and he'd been at the hands of a student.

After the salon we took the subway back to the train station. We were going to take a taxi but there weren't any big enough for all of us, and we had to get Jennie out of the wind quickly. It was a very windy day, by the way. But we did take a taxi from the train station in Helsinki back to the hotel. When we got there Jani's relatives had delivered about 12 pizzas for lunch. I tried the tuna and shrimp pizza but it was awful, so I switched to the barbecue chicken one instead.

After lunch it was time to get Jennie dressed for the first photo session, which was to take place before the wedding. So everyone in the wedding party had to get in their tuxedos etc., and Jennie had to get in her wedding dress (really gorgeous, pictures later!). After a while Jani arrived (he had to change at his apartment), then the photographer (really cool lady), and we drove over to the church for photos outside next to it. Cindra, Erin, and I went along to help out Jennie with maneuvering her dress and whatever else. Windy, windy, windy! At least it wasn't raining. Lots and lots of photos were taken, then it was back to the hotel for even more photos, which I will try to post in a reasonable amount of time. At the hotel it did start sprinkling a bit, but thankfully it didn't last long and they were able to finish up the picture taking.

Following all that photography, it was finally time for the wedding ceremony itself. We turned out to be a rather forgetful entourage. Cindra and Erin were with Jennie at the church while I was at the room with Jani picking up the wedding programs and Jennie's purse. I brought those over to the church, and Erin came running out yelling that they'd forgotten Jennie's lipstick and she needed a reapplication. So Jani's cousin quickly drove me back to the hotel, I ran to their room and got it, and then we drove back. Then they told me that the veil had also been forgotten! Jani's cousin drove me back again, I ran in and got the veil, then ran back out and we drove back to the church, hoping that was the last of it. As it turned out Cindra's scripture reading in English had also been forgotten, but now there was no time to get it, so Jani's brother Toni ended up doing the reading in Finnish instead. Oops. ^^;

The ceremony was very nice, although I think it ended up being a little longer than it was supposed to. Pretty much everything was done in both English and Finnish, including the singing. At the end of the ceremony soap bubbles were handed out and blown for the exit of the bride and groom from the church. There was a lot of confusion as to where exactly they were giong to exit from, though, because the church has three different exits and we were told to go to the wrong one at first. They did wait until they were at the right one to come out, though.

Following the wedding was the reception at the hotel. Everyone lined up to congratulate bride and groom, then sat down at the tables for foodness. I was at one of the head tables with Cindra, Erin, Jennie's brother Waylen, and his girlfriend Stephanie. For some reason I was sent to retrieve yet another thing from the room; this time it was the bible Jennie and Jani had been given at the ceremony. I still don't know why they needed it. Coordinator Margaret was dismissing tables one at a time to go to the buffet, but she forgot to let ours go when I wasn't there. ;_; But we waited paitently like good school children until she noticed us.

The first course was all cold things, and the food served was very Finnish; lots and lots of fish (eww). I did find some good flat bread and bell peppers. Next came the hot dishes; I had lamb and it was yummy. Following the food was the cutting of the five-tier cake, which was white sponge cake with mango cream filling and an outer covering of white chocolate; pretty good stuff. I did something very strange at this reception. I drank a glass of champagne and two cups of coffee! I don't like either of those things and I don't know what possessed me to drink them, but surprisingly they actually tasted pretty good.

After the food the dancing started. First song was Jennie and Jani alone, the next song they were joined by their parents, then whoever else felt like it. After a few of these Jennie was hauled off to change dresses. Apparently the Chinese tradition is to change outfits as many times as possible during your wedding; the more costume changes you have the wealthier it means you are. For this they decided to compromise and do one change into a dress that was Western style but made of Chinese material. She says she'll be doing a lot more dress changes at the San Jose reception.

Well anyway, the photographer came along for the dress change because she hadn't been there when Jennie was getting into the first dress earlier in the day. So Jennie came back out in her pretty red and gold dress, and she danced with Jani some more. But near the end of the dance she was "kidnapped," and Jani had to win her back by making up a poem with five words she had given earlier. I don't remember what the words were, other than "pickle" and "Aksu" (Jani's cat), but I have videos of the poems he made up. *g* He read the first one to her over a cell phone, but the "bride" they brought out was a bald guy wrapped in white towels. *l* He had to come up with a second poem, and this time he got Jennie back (even though the first poem was better than the second =P).

There was some more dancing and then the traditional bouquet and garter tosses, which were caught by two Finnish people I didn't know. Lots more dancing, including Jennie rocking out by herself and then being caught completely by surprise by the videographer who'd been filming her the entire time. *l* Finns really like to party...they got kind of mad when the dj started finishing up around 11:30pm, which was already half an hour later than he should have stopped. They finally managed to get everyone out the door by about 12:30.

So that was the end of the day! Congratulations, Jennie and Jani! ^_^
velessa: (Gravitation - Eiri & Shuuichi)
I didn't have access to a computer for the last few days, so this is going to get looooong. I'll split it up by day.

This day started off slowly. I stayed at the apartment all morning while Jennie went to have her nails done and Jani went with his mother to Helsinki. When Jennie came back she had very nice French tips with a butterfly on the ring finger nail, and we ate gigantic Finnish cinnamon buns for breakfast/lunch.

Around noon Jani came back and we drove over to pick up the flowers for the wedding. There seemed to be some confusion about it as the flower lady didn't have the bridesmaid bouquets or the corsages done, so all we got was Jennie's bouquet and the flowers for her hair. Jani would have to go pick up the rest of them the next day.

Next came the wedding rehearsal. The flowers were dropped off and stored in the hotel fridge, then we walked down the road to the church by the lake. The church is very old but quite pretty inside, especially the chandaliers. Margaret ran the rehearsal, and then after that there was some free time before we needed to start shuttling people to the train station to go to Helsinki for dinner. Cindra, Erin, and I watched some Finnish tv in their room for a while (strange stuff; a cooking show on MTV?), then Jani drove our group to the train station.

When we got there I realized I still hadn't tried the pear ice cream yet (Jani's favorite), and I wanted to before I left. There are little ice cream stands all over the place, and I knew one of them was next to the train station, and since we had a bit of time before the train came...well I guess I got everyone in the mood for ice cream, because Jennie's whole family followed along and tried a bunch of different flavors. I can see why Jani likes the pear one so much, it is delicious! I wish we had it here.

The train came not too much later and everyone went to Helsinki; I think we got there around 6pm and dinner was at 7:30. People who needed to exchange money did so in the train station, which was pretty much everyone except us girls. We arranged to meet them back there at 6:40, then went off on our own to pick up the dry cleaning from the department store across the street. That done, we snooped around the bakery and got ourselves a pre-dinner snack before going back and joining the others.

A lot of the group decided to walk to the restaurant (I guess so they could see more of the city on the way there), but the girls and Jani chose to take the subway there (easier and made use of the transit card Jennie had just loaded up with money because she had expected everyone to take the subway). When we got to the restaurant there was some confusion about where people would be sitting. Jennie had reserved two private rooms, one seating ten and the other seating twenty, but the rooms weren't really near each other. Jennie's mom didn't like that and wanted us to sit in some tables next to the big room. The staff hadn't set them but said they could do it...however, that was in the main section of the restaurant, where smoking is allowed. Smoke really agitates Jennie and Cindra (and me somewhat), and Jennie finally convinced her mom to let us go take the other room (diplomatically leaving out the fact that additionally she also just wanted to get away from her for a while). So the small room ended up belonging to Jennie, Jani, me, Cindra, Erin, and Jani's parents, aunt, and uncle.

I should mention what this restaurant looked like. Um...14th century hunting lodge? Brick building, old fashioned looking, right on the waterfront. The waiters are dressed like pages or something, they look like they should be at a Renaissance fair. The entire place is covered in dead, stuffed animals. Bears, birds, rabbits, deer, etc. Any typical forest creature you can think of either had its skin, head, or whole body there in the restaurant. Kind of freaky actually; I had an owl staring at me the entire time during dinner.

Dinner was very good - soup, entree, and dessert. The soup turned out to be my favorite part; it was cream of asparagus with bell pepper froth on top. That may not sound very appetizing, but it was sooooooo yummy! For the main course I tried the reindeer because really, when would I get another chance for that? Poor Rudolph. And Dasher, and Dancer, and Donner, and Blitzen...reindeer was a popular choice that night. ;) It was decent, although I'm not really much of a meat eater. The outside was too peppery for me, and it was a bit more charred on top than I would have liked, but the inside was good, if a little underdone in some places. It tasted kind of like beef but not. Dessert was chocolate cheesecake, but it didn't really look or taste like any chocolate cheesecake I'd ever had. It was okay, not great.

I don't think we got out of the restaurant until 10:30 or 11. It's hard to tell it's getting late since in Finland right now it doesn't really get dark until 11:30pm or so. This time everyone took the subway back to the train station, and then it was back to the hotel for some rest before the big day.
velessa: (Prince of Tennis - Eiji sleeping)
Thursday morning Jennie and Jani had to go pick up the car they're renting to haul people around in for the next few days. The rental place described it as a "bus," but it's barely bigger than a minivan and only seats 9, including the driver.

Anyway after they came back with the car we headed out to Helsinki (by train) for some bowling action. There's a new bowling alley Jani wanted to go to on the 5th floor of a mall, so we went to try it out. I like that you rent the lane by the hour, not pay per game per person, so you can bowl as many games as you want to within an hour if you're fast enough. There were just the three of us, so we managed to get in two games. Obviously I didn't bring my bowling stuff with me to Finland, so I had to make do with a house ball and shoes. I hate house balls because if the span fits, then the finger holes are waaaay to big and I can barely hold on to the ball. Such was the case with the 13 pound ball I chose, but by the second I did sort of figure out how to bowl somewhat normally even though I had to hang on for dear life.

The first game was terrible. I got an 84, Jani had 96, and I think Jennie had 65 or something like that. There was one funny moment where Jennie slipped or skidded or something during her approach and she swung around hopping doing a little dance; it's a good thing she didn't let go of the ball! The next game was better, although the machine screwed up a couple of times; we didn't bother with wasting time to fix scores, though. It gave Jennie a spare when she hit 9 and Jani a strike when he only hit 7. It never gave me anything! =P But I did a lot better that time around and even had a double! My final score was 139, which is not bad at all for me considering my average is 120. I think Jani and Jennie had something like 100 and 81.

Next was lunch. On our way down to the food court I wanted to swing by the pet store and see if they had any intersting Finnish animals, but there wasn't much there. They had the usual assortment of aquarium fish and some lizards/snakes/frogs/turtles. I want an aquarium again. What is nice about pet stores here is because so many people ride horses, they all have riding clothes and equipment in them; you don't have to find a specialty store or make a trip to a really big PetSmart to find horse stuff like you would at home.

Anyway for lunch we ate Turkish fast food at a place called Chilli where they serve kebab. What kind of meat is kebab? We think it's lamb. It's sliced meat served with lettuce and tomato and ranch dressing and hot sauce (that isn't hot) and chili peppers (I left those out!). It's pretty good, although I thought it was kind of unusual tasting.

By this time it was time to head back to Järvenpää to get the car and head off to the airport to pick up Jennie's herd family and Cindra ([ profile] cinderfox) and Erin ([ profile] mommyofbuddy). There were loooots of people, but thankfully most of them were shuttled to the hotel by their tour bus (a lot of Jennie's family is doing a tour of Europe after the wedding), so the only people who went to the hotel with us in our "bus" were Cindra, Erin, and one aunt and uncle.

At the hotel it took some time to get Jennie's family settled in. She had to check all the tuxedos to see if anything needed pressing. Most of them looked fine, there were just a few things that had gotten wrinkled, so we set off for Helsinki again to take them to the dry cleaner there. Cindra and Erin came with us to see a bit of the city, and after dropping off the clothes the five of us had dinner there at Rosso, the restaurant I first had lunch at when I got here (although it had been a different one back in Järvenpää). The food was yummy, although the bread at this Helsinki one wasn't as good as the bread I'd had at the first one.

By then it was pretty late (around 10pm) and we headed back from Helsinki to the hotel in Järvenpää. Cindra and Erin went to their room to get some sleep, while Jennie and Jani (and me, since I have to go where they go!) met with Jennie's cousin Margaret, the wedding coordinator, to go over the details of the next two days. Now, I don't know anything about weddings, and I think I learned more about planning them last night than I ever really cared to know. Reviewing the schedules for two days took something like two hours! It was 12:30am before they were done and we could go back home; all I can say is YIKES. And I'm sure that's just the tip of the iceberg.
velessa: (Horses - Kiss)
Nothing terribly exciting to report, Tuesday and Wednesday were spent with more bumming around Helsinki.

Tuesday Jani was busy with work all day, so Jennie and I ventured into the city on our own. First I took some pictures of the big nice buildings they have, mainly the gigantic church and some university buildings. Then we spent some time shopping in the very touristy marketplace area right next to the pier where the big cruise ships dock. After about an hour or so of that we boarded the boat that would take us on a short trip across the bay to the island where the zoo was.

Most of the rest of the day was spent exploring the zoo. The zoo covers this whole little island and is fairly spread out. Unfortunately they seemed to be undergoing a lot of renovation, so many of the enclosures were under construction or empty, but there were still quite a few intersting animals to see. No penguins though, sorry Josh. =( On the other hand, there were plenty of other bizarre of the exhibits had these weird looking birds called ruffs. I don't know if it's mating season for them or what, but they were all puffed up and dancing around and generally acting crazy. There were also some entertaining guanacos that had a bit of a stand-off, and one of them spat at the other. There were also some cute Przewalski horses, including a foal. There were lots of other animals and I took tons of pictures of them; I have yet to see if any of them came out well.

In the evening Jennie and Jani brought home pizza and rented a movie to watch, The Family Stone. It was kind of dull and I fell asleep about halfway through, so I don't know if it turned out to be any good or not. Based on what I saw of it, I'd say not. =p

Wednesday morning I first went with Jennie and Jani to pick up their newly engraved rings and cake set from the jeweler, and to the supermarket to get snacks for Jennie's incoming family when they get here tomorrow afternoon. After that we set off for Helsinki again. We did more exploring of the local shops and had lunch at a cafe. I found this beautiful black stuffed horse I decided I had to have, so I got it. I'll figure out how to get it home later!

I think I started to suffer from a bit of dehydration around then, feeling a little dizzy and headachey. This makes sense since we have been doing a LOT of walking these last few days, and I haven't been drinking nearly as much water as I normally would, which was stupid of me. I'm working on correcting that now. But we were on our way to see a movie, so I would have the chance to sit and rest for a few hours.

On the way to the movie we made a detour through a shopping mall, and I spotted a giant penguin on the escalator there! I really wanted to get a picture of this penguin for Josh (penguins are his favorite animal), and I sort of got one as it was going up the escalator. Then we went up about five floors to the new bowling alley Jani wanted to check out which we'll be going to tomorrow. The penguin had stopped on the floor just below us! I wanted to go over and see if I could get a picture with it, so we did. The penguin was a tall girl in a penguin costume, and was apparently the mascot for some Scandinavian cruise line that was doing some advertising there. Anyway she was very friendly and cheerfully agreed to take a picture with me (she even spoke English and asked where I was from), so we did. Jani seemed to have some trouble with my digital camera, but between him and Jennie and my two cameras I think I got at least one good picture of me with a giant penguin. ^_~

Then it was off to see V for Vendetta. I had no idea what it was or what it was about, but I've wanted to see it ever since I heard Hugo Weaving played the main character. I LOVE his voice. They show movies here in their original langauge with Finnish and Swedish subtitles, so I was able to listen to Hugo Weaving for the entire length of the movie. ^_____^ Wonderful. The movie itself was...well, interesting I suppose, but not really my kind of thing. Well whatever, Hugo Weaving is enough for me.

PS - emailed to family
velessa: (Yakitate!! Japan - Pierrot smile normal)
So far Finland has been a lot of fun to visit! Maybe that's because I'm getting to hang out with friends all the time, and I have my own Finnish tour guide, but it's still a cool country. *g* The weather has been beautiful, clear and warm and sunny (mostly; it's been a tad cooler today and I wish I had worn something with longer sleeves). The country itself is also beautiful with plenty of trees and water and flowers and birds everywhere. Those darn birds don't want to sit still to have their picture taken, however; the flowers are much more cooperative.

Anyway, I arrived in Finland bright and early Saturday morning. The plane left New York a little late, so we got here about 9:20am instead of 8:50am. Let me just say the JFK airport in New York SUCKS. It's all convoluted and under construction, so in order to get to my gate I had to leave the airport, go up a construction ramp, and then go back through security and everything in order to end up right next door to the terminal I had been in in the first place! So stupid. Well anyway, the flight to Finland was long, and the movies they showed were awful (Match Point, which I watched and hated, and some cowboy thing that I didn't even bother watching). I listened to my mp3 player most of the time and didn't get any sleep.

The Helsinki airport seemed to be fairly small and almost completely deserted. I went to wait for my baggage...and waited...and waited...and waited. I wanted to call Jennie and Jani and let them know I was there and just waiting for my bag, but I couldn't find a phone anywhere. Finally someone told us that the luggage had accidently been driven to the wrong side of the airport and would be coming soon. I think I eventually made it out of the airport at least 45 minutes after we'd landed.

Jennie and Jani were there waiting for me, and they picked me up and drove us to the town where Jani lives, Järvenpää, where I'm staying in their apartment here. They have a nice cat named Oksu (sp?) who's about the same size and color as Jerry, except he gets into these crazy mood swings where he goes tearing around up and down the hall here. We spent the first part of the day exploring around Järvenpää a bit and having lunch at this place with really good pizza and bread. Jennie tried to find a place that would do her nails for the wedding. We also took the train to Helsinki so I could exchange my money there at the big station, and I did some souvenir shopping at the big department store there.

On Sunday we went to Helsinki's amusement park, Linnanmäki. It was very sunny and warm, well in the 70s, perfect for a day out. This amusement park is what I would describe as very cute. It's not very big, (with a few exceptions) the rides are all quite tame and short, and it wasn't crowded at all, so there were no long waits for rides. We started off with the silly haunted house and fun house, either of which I thought were very fun, except for the big slide at the end of the fun house. For roller coasters they have something similar to Space Mountain, an indoor dark outer-space theme roller coaster, a big wooden coaster, another coaster that's something akin to Psycho Mouse at Great America, and a very evil short coaster with a giant splash at the end that got me soaking wet!! I hate water rides, but I went on it for the roller coaster part, thinking it couldn't be all that bad (haha), and I ended up drenched. Jennie likes water rides; she and Jani went on the rafting one twice and complained that she still didn't get wet, so we went on the roller coaster one even though she can't stand roller coasters. Stupidly, I decided to go with them. =P

Well then it was Jennie's turn to suffer because we convinced her to go on this kiddie train-coaster ride, which was almost completely flat and quite slow...but apparently it was still too much for her, and it went around three times nonstop while we were on it (they were waiting for more people to line up for it I guess). Hehe, I think she closed her eyes the whole time. ;) But I didn't get away unscathed, either. I went on this super psycho ride with Jani where you're in a seat that spins every which way, tossing you upside down much of the time. That one left me with my head spinning and unable to walk in a straight ine; it felt like my insides had been put in a blender! I don't think I can handle a ride like that very often. I much prefered their version of Drop Zone, except on this one you start at the bottom and are shot up to the top, then you fall down again. That one was very pleasant. We also went on the big ferris wheel where I took a lot of pictures of Helsinki from the top, and the Viking ship that we had to wait a while to go on because someone had gotten sick on it and they had to clean it up; obviously we avoided that row!

We did make a mistake in that the park has a Sea Life exhibit, but by the time we got around to checking it out, they had already closed. Oops. Everything in Finland has very unusual hours; for instance the park was open from 1pm - 8pm, but the aquarium part was open from something like 10am - 5pm. Most stores seem to close somewhere between 6 and 9pm. Anyway we missed the sea life exhibit, but our wristbands were good for two days, so we were able to go back on Monday (today). The only annoyance with that was we had to wear the stupid paper wristbands for two days! Anyway at the end of the day we had dinner at Jani's old workplace, Carrol's, which is a European version or spin-off of McDonald's. I still like McDonald's better.

So today, since I'm still not entirely adjusted to the time and because I had fallen asleep so early, I woke up about 6am. After Jennie and Jani got up an hour or so later, we took the train and the subway to Helsinki for Jennie to have a trial run of her wedding hairdoo. This was supposedly going to take an hour and a half, so while she was doing that Jani took me to a marketplace for more souvenir shopping. It was quite a surprise when Jennie called maybe half an hour later saying she was done since the hairdresser had just done a quickie version of how her hair would be. Jani and I headed back to get her, and then we had lunch at McDonald's so I could see how it compared to the ones back home (surprisingly, they're about the same; in England and Japan they're totally different). After that we went off to the amusement park again to see the Sea Life section. It's a farily typical aquarium divided into different types of aquatic habitats with fish and animals to match. They do have a pretty large tank with sharks in it that you can walk through. There's one spot in it where there's a clear shelf over your head, and these two huge sharks like to rest on it right on top of you, which is pretty neat. We went through the whole exhibit and then left Helsinki. Right now I'm back at the apartment in Järvenpää while Jani is doing some sort of genealogy research and Jennie is meeting with the florist. I think I'll take a nap or read after I finish on the computer.

So that's been Finland for me so far. More to come when I have more to tell about. Also, I'll have lots and lots of pictures to share when I get back. =)

PS - Josh, I'm going to email this to my family, so you won't have to keep relaying to them on what's been going on with me. I miss you!
velessa: (Prince of Tennis - Ryouma & Momo sleep)
Hi all! I'm here in Finland on [ profile] hurtta's computer attempting to type on the funky super-symbolfied keyboard. Anyway, just wanted to post a quick update that I got here safely. The flight from SF to NY was boring, I actually managed to sleep through most of it. I couldn't sleep on the flight from NY to Helsinki, so now I need to do my best to stay awake for the rest of the day. It's 10:40am Saturday morning here, but it's only just past midnight for me. We're off to brunch/lunch now.
velessa: (Prince of Tennis - Eiji genki)
Tomorrow morning I get to wake up about 4am to leave for my trip to Finland! Have I mentioned this before? My friends [ profile] sipdeek and [ profile] hurtta are getting married there next Saturday, so I'm going to hang out and have fun there for the week before the wedding. Poor Josh will be getting up with me so he can take me to the airport in San Francisco. Except for the traveling part (15 hours there and 16.5 hours coming back!), it's going to be a lot of fun. ^_^

I haven't even been out of the country since I went to Japan in 2001, but at least I didn't have to renew my passport for this trip (although I'd like to, I hate the picture on it!). The only other foreign country I've been to is England, and this will be my first time going to a country where I don't know the first thing about the native language. Luckily lots of people speak English there, and I'll have personal tour guides anyway. ;) I'll be back with lots of pictures and some serious jet lag late the night of the 14th; everyone have a good ten days!

PS - [ profile] merryshannon, thank you soooo much for the DVDs!! *hugs* I got them yesterday and can't wait to watch them when I get back! *.* You're the sweetest!


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