Meet Samantha + A $75 Tour Radar Giveaway!

I love meeting fellow expats living awesome adventures abroad, and if you do to I have a treat for you today!

Meet Samantha, a fellow American living in Sweden with her husband where they are tearing it up on the ice with their hockey teams (how cool is that!). When she isn’t at the hockey rink she is studying for her MBA (I know she is one busy lady!) or traveling around the world and sharing her pretty pictures with us all on her blog. As if she didn’t sound awesome enough this gal is even in the US hockey hall of fame!

But enough from me, lets here from Samantha!

Samantha Angell Intro

1. Why did you start blogging?

I began my blog in June 2013 when my husband and I made the decision to move to Sweden. At the time, I knew nothing about blogging and wanted to use it as a way to connect with friends and family back home. The more I have learned about blogging, the more I have loved the community and connected with other people. I can’t imagine life pre-blogging anymore!

2. What does your average day in Sweden look like?

On an average day, I usually wake up around 8-9 and then spend an hour or so catching up on my favorite blogs and perhaps beginning to write a new post. After this, I will take 1-2 hours to work on some of my coursework for my MBA. By the time I have done these tasks, it is usually around lunch time, so I throw something in the oven for lunch and hop in the shower while that is getting ready. My husband will get home around 1 or so and we have lunch while chatting about our days and watching a TV show. Then, it is time for more homework and blogging. Whenever I need a break from homework or blogging, I love to browse travel websites and plan upcoming vacations! Most evenings I either have hockey practice, or my husband has a game, so almost every night is spent at the hockey rink. Once I am home from the rink it is time for a late dinner and then off to bed to do it all over again!

Sammy and Nicky

3. Being an expat is a roller coaster of a lifestyle. What do you enjoy the most about being an expat and what is the most difficult?

The best part about being an expat is being exposed to new and different experiences, peoples, cultures, and just daily life. You really learn so much about yourself and the world when you are immersed in a new culture. On the flip side, the most difficult part about being an expat is missing out on the important milestones of friends and family back home. I have missed out on engagements, weddings, babies being born, job promotions, and so many other things. However, while it is tough not being present for these things, it makes me value each of my friends and family that much more. Our time together when I am around them is so valuable now, and I wouldn’t trade their presence in my life for anything!

Family in BergenMunich Family visitHer family looks pretty awesome to me!

4. What is your favorite destination and what is your least favorite destination?

My favorite place that I have ever visited is definitely Thailand for my honeymoon. We were able to do so much on our trip there, and have a lot of time as a couple to relax and hang out.

Honeymoon in ThailandHowever, if I select a destination I love going to and frequent, it would either be Las Vegas or Stockholm. I don’t think I have ever really had a least favorite destination really, as each new place offers different things!

Stockholm SwedenI wish I could visit the charming Stockholm frequently, so pretty!

5. Where is on your travel bucket list?

Anywhere and everywhere! I love exploring the world, and can’t imagine life without traveling. Most of my upcoming travels are throughout the U.S. and Europe, as that is where I am based- but I definitely have an eye out for Australia, New Zealand, China, Korea, oh just name any country and I want to go!

Paris Samantha Angell

6. What is your favorite post you have written recently?

I think my favorite recent post would be a tie between Welcome to Sweden: Just Like Real Life for Expats and 10 Best Travel Tips for Couples. The first post talks about the similarities between the TV show Welcome to Sweden (which you will see me on in season two!) and expat life, which is definitely a very personal thing that myself and most expats relate to. Of course, my post on travel tips for couples is personal as well, but I was excited to generate a lot of good feedback on the post. I always love hearing from people who read my blog, so it was great to get tons of feedback!

Riga Latvia

7. Anything exciting coming up soon you want to share with us?

Truthfully, this post comes at a super exciting time for me. My hockey team starts our playoffs today (February 28) and it is also the last regular season game of my husband’s team, so playoffs start in just a few days for him! Spring is always an exciting time of year for us, between the playoffs and then eventually heading home. Last year after the playoffs we finally had the opportunity to take our honeymoon and spend a terrific month in Thailand. This year we will be headed to the Dominican Republic for two weeks, and I absolutely can’t wait!

Bonus! Samantha has an awesome giveaway for you all. A $75 giftcard to use with Tour Radar , perfect for all my fellow travel lovers! Enter for your chance to win below and head over to Samantha’s blog to say hi!

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Friday Lovin’

Hip hip hurray its Friday!

A snowy, cold Friday that is, Spring where are you???

Reykajvik in the Snow

This week has been LONG, and it isn’t over yet with a work event awaiting me all day tomorrow. Sunday though, that is going to be a great day, one that will require me to not have to get out of my pajamas or leave my house. Lazy Sundays are just the best.

So one of my goals for this blog of mine was to be better about writing my post on the weekends, at least the drafts, so that my week will be a bit easier.

And how is this working out so far??

Well, I have been setting aside time on the weekends just for blogging, so that is a step in the right direction. However, I tend to leave that “blogging time” with half a post or two written, 20 new recipes pinned, a game of Candy Crush conquered, A Friend’s episode watched on Netflix, a few dozen pictures scattered all over my desktop to be edited, and sometimes, if I am really productive, I will fit a snack or two in there.

So clearly I am making progress, just not quite at my goal yet.

And that brings me to today’s post, which I am now putting together last minute, and I have end of the week brain, which means I am exhausted and can’t write proper sentences. So instead I am going to keep it fun and happy over here and share my favorite things from this past week. Thanks to the lovely Amanda from Rhyme and Ribbons for the idea, it is always good to end the week on a happy note right?

Pink Champagne

1. Champagne with cotton candy, thank you Pinterest for this idea! I have been wanting to try this drink for so long and was happy that my work party last weekend was the perfect time to bring out the pink bubbly drink. It was my contribution to the party (I bring the important ideas clearly) and the pink “mystery cocktail” as our guest called it, was a big hit, and pretty too.

Pink Champagne

2. Back to this work party. It was a murder mystery party theme, and can I just say, best party theme ever! Everyone was totally into their characters and the night felt like I was in a live version of Clue, minus someone actually dying.

Let me introduce you to my two favorite characters of the night, Miss Vanity Affair and MC Award.

Oscar Party

3. I think this may be the top highlight of the week you guys. I found sour jelly beans at the store! Hello sour candies, oh how I have missed you. That bag didn’t even last a night. I am keeping my fingers crossed those beauties will still be on the shelf when we go shopping this weekend.

4. The other week my sister told me to check out the new show Empire, and I am hooked! I love all the songs on the show, I go from watching Nashville and all its pretty country tunes to Empire and its rap tracks, variety is good though. But really, check the show out, and Nashville while you are at it, both are my current favorites.

5. Once a month there is an English pub quiz downtown that is always a blast. I don’t get to make it very often but this week when quiz night arrived my plans changed last minute and I could actually go to the quiz.. Going to these pub quizzes is like going to a mini reunion with all the foreigners in Reykjavik. I am always amazed at how many people I know in the room, such a small expat community here and I love getting to see all my friends in one night.

Iceland Pub Quiz

6. Newsy emails from back home. My Dad and I like to send each other what we call “newsy” emails during the week full of maybe not news worthy things, but all those little daily happenings that are going on with everyone back home. I love getting these messages, they are always a highlight of my week.

7. I haven’t been reading very much this month but this week I made an extra effort to head to bed early so I could read. Yeah, Maybe was one of the books I read this week, and finished in like two days! It is a young adult book that took me right back to my high school days! The author is a fellow blogger which makes me love this book even more. But really it is a great, easy read, perfect for all these cold days inside.

8. For the past couple weeks I have been waking up a few minutes early each day, easing myself into it, and now I am finally waking up bright and early with ease. I love my quiet mornings, it makes such a difference having at least an hour to myself to just sit on the couch, drink my coffee, and relax before the busy workday begins.

I have been using this app, Sleep Time zZz, which tells you the ideal time to wake up in your lightest sleep state. I have never used something to track my sleep before but I will say it actually does make a difference waking up at the times it tells me!

9. Fluffy snow. That is my favorite kind. Not the slushy wet snow, now the blizzard type snow, just the light fluffy snow that falls like mini clouds from the sky. We have had stormy days all week but a few of these days have brought fluffy snow that makes everything look so beautiful. I love the trees by my work when they are covered in this fluffy snow, it is my idea of a winter wonderland.

A photo posted by Kaelene Spence (@kkiki10) on

10. All my sponsors! I was so nervous (still am!) to take the dive into the world of sponsorship but so far it has been a great experience and I am really enjoying connecting with the lovely ladies on my sidebar. Be sure to stop by this weekend to learn more about Samantha, an American expat living in Sweden!

Have a great weekend everyone. I am hoping to get an outdoor adventure in, cabin fever is starting to set back in, I am just dreaming of sunshine and fresh air!

Question of the Day?
What was one of your favorite moments from this week? Are you a fan of sour candies?

Grocery Shopping in Iceland – The Blooper Reel

Grocery shopping is something I use to take for granted. Walking down the aisles, knowing where everything was located, and not even needing to glance twice at the labels, those where the good days.

I am here to tell you future expats (and you current expats know what I am talking about!) that once you move abroad grocery shopping is a whole other ballgame. Every time I step into the store it feels like I am on a mini mission and I have to overcome the challenges to succeed, like a game show, just not as fun.

It took some time but I feel like I finally have gotten the hang of grocery shopping in Iceland. So to celebrate my accomplishment of mastering grocery shopping abroad (trust me this needs celebrating) lets take a look back at a few of my not so finest moments in the grocery store.

American in Iceland

The Baker’s Yeast Mission

One morning, during the early days of my expat life, I finally had convinced myself to leave the house (aka my safety zone) and venture to the grocery store. I was feeling annoyed by the fact that I had to ask H for help with every last thing and I was determined to go to the store and find what I needed all on my own.

First thing on the list, baker’s yeast.

I headed down aisle after aisle until I discovered what looked like the baking section. There had to have been ten different types of packages that could have been yeast, awesome.

And to add to my difficulty they were labeled in not just Icelandic, but German, Danish, Swedish, basically all languages but English.

My solution to this problem was of course not asking someone who worked at the store, oh no, my solution was to buy three different kinds and test it out.

post-30941-that-is-genius-gif-Rita-Wilson-yUSYvia

I went home and got to work on making my bread, proud of myself for my grocery store success. My plan of attack was to chose a package, add it to the dough and go from there.

Well, I ended up using all three types of “baker’s yeast” I had bought, and finally on my third attempt the dough rised.

I didn’t say anything to H at first about my three attempts at making dough with three different types of “baking yeast”. That is until we were eating my freshly baked bread and I started busting out laughing and had to admit what I had done, and show him the other things I had bought.

Since H is super fancy and speaks Swedish and a bit of German (and here I am trying to master one language!) he checked out what I had bought. Turns out my other two attempts of making dough had been done with a powder for making juice and some type of gelatin, no wonder my dough wasn’t rising.

Oops-Real-Housewives-Of-Beverly-Hills-GIFvia

The Soy Milk Mission
This was one of my first Icelandic bloopers and I am reminded of it every time I buy soy milk.

One morning I went to make my coffee when I realized I had used the last of my almond milk. This was a requirement for my coffee so I told H I was going to walk quickly to the store to get some. I shooed away his offer to come along, I could figure it out myself, how hard can it be.

Hard.

I headed towards the dairy aisle and easily found almond milk thanks to the clear packaging that didn’t require much translation. But when I saw the price I almost dropped the carton on the ground. So I made a new mission, find a cheaper option.

The first thing that came to my mind was soy milk. I started looking around the aisle and saw a carton that said súrmjólk, which to me looked pretty close to soy milk. So in my cart it went and I gave myself a little pat on the back.

Neil-Patrick-Harris-as-Barney-Stinson-in-How-I-Met-Your-Mother-self-five-GIFvia

When I got home I proudly held up my súrmjólk to show H how successful I was on my own. H fought a laugh as best he could while he informed me that my first attempt to purchase something on my own had resulted in me buying sour milk, a sour yogurt type product, which was very much not soy milk. I got an A for effort at least.

tumblr_inline_nh9bo7VQsg1r2c05tvia

The Canned Tomatoes Mission
This happened just a few weeks ago, so I guess I don’t have grocery shopping completely mastered.

I had just returned from the store with all the ingredients I needed to make chili. These were all items I had purchased before so it so was an easy shopping trip where I actually knew where everything was.

As I was making the chili I opened the first can of diced tomatoes, one that was a brand I had used before. No problem. Then I opened the second can, which was a new to me brand of diced tomatoes since the store was out of the kind I usually buy, and poured it in.

Wait, was that a chunk in there… What just came out of that can?!

dsfgvia

With further investigation I realized that whole tomatoes where in the new brand of diced tomatoes I had purchased, umm I didn’t even know this was a thing!

I did let out a sigh of relief though when I realized it was still a tomato. I mean when some large chunk falls out of your canned goods it is a bit worrisome. I will be sticking with my normal brand of diced tomatoes from now on.

The Baking Soda Mission
Last Christmas I had been in Iceland about a month and wanted to make some cookies. Having just moved in with H, who had a pantry lacking any baking ingredients, a trip to the grocery store was necessary.

Our grocery store trip was going just fine and I easily was able to find all the items on my list. That is until we came to baking soda.

Me to H: Okay the last thing I need is baking soda, what is that called in Icelandic?

H: Baking soda, what is that?

K: You know, it is the white powder you put into things when you are baking.

H: Oh like powdered sugar

K: No, it isn’t sweet, it is something that makes baked goods rise.

H: So like flour?

K: We are never going to find it are we

I mean have you ever tried to describe baking soda to someone? Let me just say it is really difficult!

Long story short, this conversation continued for some time, we wandered up and down the baking aisle for far to long, I finally made H call his mom to describe it to her, and one minute after that we found matarsódi (baking soda) and finally ended our baking soda mission!

anigif_enhanced-12518-1400781584-10via

Oh expat life, you are one big blooper reel. If you couldn’t tell already by my first Icelandic blooper reel post, Icelandic totally frazzles me, even when I am shopping!

Question of the Day?
Have you ever gone shopping in a foreign country? What products have you accidentally bought?

16th Month in Iceland By The Numbers

Sticking with this little tradition I started 16 months ago (wow time has flown by!) it is time for another by the numbers recap of my past month.

Month number 16, you were cold, dark, and well cold, but I made sure to make the best of you! So what do you do when your hiding out inside from the cold and trying to fend off the winter blues? You redecorate, have game nights with friends, and enjoy every minute outside that you can, and that is exactly what I did this past month.

So let’s say goodbye to month 16, and start this recap off with one of the most magical moments from my 16th month in Iceland!

One item crossed off my Icelandic bucket list

Northern Lights, IcelandNorthern Lights, IcelandIt doesn’t matter how many times I see the Northern Lights I am going to be in awe every time! And thanks to my new camera I finally was able to capture a bit of the magic of the Northern Lights on film and cross an item off my bucket list.

Two exhibits visited during the Reykjavik Light Festival

Reykjavik Light FestivalReykjavik Light FestivalReykjavik Light FestivalWhat is a city to do when they are in the middle of a long dark winter? Throw neon lights on everything that is what! I wish Hallgrimskirkja was lit up with dancing neon lights every night!

Three hours hiking around Helgafell

Helgafell, IcelandHelgafell, IcelandHelgafell, IcelandHelgafell, IcelandIt may have been a bit icy at times but it was so worth it to get outside and hike around this beautiful area! I can’t wait for more hiking adventures once it warms up a bit. Iceland is packed full of beautiful places to hike and I am ready to get out there and explore!

One weekend spent painting our bedroom

Weekend in IcelandWeekend in IcelandWeekend in IcelandIt is amazing what a little bit of paint can do for a room. My bedroom went from a very white room with a hospital vibe happening to a colorful cozy room I love spending time in. Added bonus, we got a new mattress, it is like sleeping on a cloud, oh how I am loving my room now.

Ten snowballs thrown in a mini snowball fight

Snow in Reykajvik H and I let out our inner kids and spent one Sunday morning having a mini snowball fight in our street. That is until the kids on our street came outside to play and we booked it, there was no way we were getting in the middle of their “real” snowball fight ha.

Fourteen waffles made for Galentine’s Day

Galentines DayFor February’s Girl Gone International event we hosted a Galentine’s themed evening. It was so fun making waffles for all the ladies and I loved all the Parks and Recreation references throughout the night, I don’t think I stopped laughing other than when I was shoveling waffles into my mouth. If you haven’t yet already, look up a GGI in your area, such a wonderful group to be apart of and I am loving being one of the Reykjavik host.

Two sunny days!

Walk by the sea, ReykjavikWalk by the sea, ReykjavikSunny winter days in IcelandOkay it is a bit depressing writing down two sunny days but after such a long winter those two days need to be celebrated! As soon as I see the sun shinning I layer up and head outside, I need to soak up every minute of Vitamin D that I can!

Sixteen hours of my life documented for the blog

A Day in the LifeA day in the lifeA day in the life This was such a fun post to write! I felt like I was being followed with a camera crew all day, other than the fact that my camera crew consisted of only me. Days just fly by but having to document everything I was doing made me really think about the little things I get up to each day. I hope you all enjoyed reading it because it is a post that will show up on the blog again I am sure:)

Fifth Valentine’s Day celebrated with H

Valentine's DayValentine's DayValentine's DayValentine's DayValentine's DayH and I kept out Valentine’s day celebrations pretty low key this year, and it was wonderful. We gave each other DIY gifts, which are my favorite kind, had a lunch date with some tasty burgers, and spent our evening in our pjs drinking red wine, eating a cake shaped like a rose and watching Parks and Recreation, my kind of day.

And lets back up to the DIY gifts we made. I am the least crafty person I know but I am so proud of myself with the gift I made! After browsing Pinterest I got the idea to create a date book full of date ideas for each month of the year. I filled my date book with date ideas for each month, plus a few extra date ideas, and added a few cards with little things I love about H. Awe, so sweet I know. As someone who avoids crafts I really enjoyed making this one and H loved it. Bonus, now we have a full year of date ideas which is perfect for an indecisive person like me :)

Three days studying for my Icelandic test

A Day in the LifeIcelandic testLast week was full of studying for an Icelandic test, which H quickly became my tutor in, and wow am I glad it is over. That test was so hard but I think I learned a bit more Icelandic, just a bit.

First month of sponsorships!

AdvertisingAfter several weeks of debating I finally decided to open up sponsorships on my blog. It is exciting and nerve racking at the same time! So far I am really enjoying it and all the lovely bloggers I have made connections with (check them out on my sidebar!). And if your looking for a new blog to sponsor I will just throw in a little self marketing here and recommend you check out my advertising page. I will work my tail-feather off for you and your blog, just sayin :)

On to month 17th! The days are getting longer, Easter break is just over a month away, and the hope of spring is in the air. We have lots of fun things on the calendar this coming month, in fact every weekend is now booked with something until sometime in mid April, yikes. It is going to be a busy, but fun, month number 17!

Previous by the numbers month recaps:
First Month in Iceland by the Numbers
Second Month in Iceland by the Numbers
Third Month in Iceland by the Numbers
Fourth Month in Iceland by the Numbers
Fifth Month in Iceland by the Numbers
Sixth Month in Iceland by the Numbers
Seventh Month in Iceland by the Numbers
8th Month in Iceland by the Numbers
9th Month in Iceland by the Numbers
10th Month in Iceland by the Numbers
11th Month in Iceland by the Numbers
12th Month in Iceland by the Numbers
13th Month in Iceland By The Numbers
14th Month in Iceland By The Numbers
15th Month in Iceland By The Numbers