tough cookies
Sauna towel

I'm back from my wonderful week in Finland and I feel refreshed and ready to tackle what I think is going to be a very busy (and exciting) March. But, before we leap into the future and all the many goals and plans I have to share with you, I'd first like to welcome the new readers who found the English Muffin Blog via this very useful Etsy link. I received so many nice and thoughtful comments on this Small Business, Small Steps post, and am really excited to keep moving forward with that series. So welcome everyone, or as we say in Finnish, Tervetuloa!

In addition to the regular weekly features on the blog, I thought I would share a few photos from our trip to Finland with you this week. We had an amazing time and got to experience some brand new things.

Brand New Thing #1: Ice Swimming
Last Saturday, only four short hours after we stepped off the plane in Helsinki, we found ourselves stepping (or more like hobbling) into the frozen Baltic Sea. That's right - the f.r.o.z.e.n. sea! My family took us to a public sauna and bathing area about 10 minutes from their home in Turku and we earned our very first Finnish badges (there would be more to come as the week progressed!). We all sat in the hot sauna for 10 - 15 minutes and then scampered down the icy dock, then down an even icier ladder and into the water. Believe it or not I repeated this scenario three times. Big Chuck and my cousin were a little braver and went for a fourth round. I'm not sure how to describe it, the whole thing was pretty surreal. It was about minus 20 outside, a dark and windy night, and there we were running from sauna to sea, sauna to sea, with steam coming off our bodies. At the end of it all I felt like I had just run a marathon: exhausted, hungry, thirsty and ready for bed. It wasn't the easiest of activities to photograph, but here are a few that I think capture the spirit of ice swimming.

Ice swimming
1. Some images of fellow ice swimmers
2. Big Chuck emerges from the sea, this was his fourth swim
3. I tried to capture the lovely lobster-red hue of my skin in the changing room
4. More swimmers; the man in the foreground was coming back from a jog in the snow

Stay tuned for Music Monday later on today.

(images: Bess Callard)