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Slikkepotten kakbutikk Buildout
Katrine and I had our work cut out for us once we took over the chocolate shop and began turning it into Slikkepotten kakebutikk. We had less than 3 weeks from getting the keys to our Grand Opening! The place was pretty dirty and needed a few new coats of paint. So we put the word out to all our friends in the area that we needed help and boy do we have amazing friends!
Since I knew I wouldn’t have the time to blog about this for a while, I took the time later that night to write down my thoughts about the day. I thought I’d share them now:
 
Tonight my heart is so incredibly full. I feel so unbelievably blessed and happy. What I thought was going to be a very stressful and exaughsting end to a very stressful and exhausting week turned out to be a day full of friendship and fun and an outpouring of the spirit.
This week was an extremely stressful week. I had 3 major cakes due before Wednesday, my first-ever cake decorating class to teach on Thursday, and five cakes due at the end of the week, on top of trying to get Slikkepotten up and running and launched. I averaged about 4 hours of sleep each night if I was lucky and felt in a constant state of panic.
Our new location was in desperate need of a scouring. It was awful and filthy and needed lots of paint and scrubbing. We knew there was no way we could do it all ourselves and still be able to make our grand opening deadline, so we created a Vennerdugnad (Norwegian for group service gathering thing) event to invite our friends to help out. We expected around 11 based on the response on Facebook and we were thrilled! We had a huge list drawn up and we figured with 11 people we’d be able to get most of it done. Yay!
This morning I had cakes to finish, so I showed up for the cleaning a little late. When I finally made it, I found the place PACKED. My friends and Katrine’s friends were already tackling the grime at an incredible rate! They would finish their jobs and beg for more! I was completely blown away! More filtered in throughout the day and I think when all was said and done we had at least 25 people who had come to help. We blew through the painting and the place was soon actually clean! Everyone was so cheerful and so willing to help us get even the worst tasks done without the slightest hesitation. A few ladies from church (Stephanie and Carrie) cleaned nasty closets, on top of pipes, and in the disgusting floor drains (places Katrine and I were afraid to touch) and wouldn’t let us tell them they didn’t have to clean there.Two of my Young Women beehives stayed and cleaned and painted and worked so hard for 7 full hours, and afterwards all they could talk about was how much fun they had getting the chance to serve. We laughed and all had a blast! They made friends with each other and the Norwegians helped the Americans with their Norsk and all everyone said was how much fun they were having. I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole day!
We quickly finished everything on the list Katrine and I had made (and hoped we MIGHT be able to finish) and still people were wanting to help so we started scrambling to find tasks for them to do that we couldn’t dream we’d actually be able to accomplish before opening, or even in the first year. The place looks absolutely incredible!
At one point all 8 of the missionaries showed up to help and they stayed until the last possible moment. They (and all the other ward members who came) brought such a wonderful spirit with them that people noticed. One of Katrine’s friends, while painting alongside the elders, began asking questions about the church because she “could see a glow about them”. Over half of the people that showed up were members from the ward and they defintiely made their presence known in the best possible way.
I can’t even express how utterly overwhelmed I feel right now by such an outpouring of friendship and support (I’m actually bawling a little bit as I’m writing this). Having so many people show up who were so supportive and excited about our little cake venture was awesome in the truest sense of the word. They all believed so much in what we are doing and were so excited for us that they were willing to give up an entire Saturday to get down and dirty to help us out. I often feel so stressed out and disheartened by this whole thing, so you all have no idea how much this meant to me. I often feel so inadequate and terrified of failing. But to see so many people who believed in us and supported what we are doing was more uplifting than you could ever imagine. It reminded me again of what a presence our Heavenly Father has in my life and how he blesses me in small ways that turn out to be huge ways. To you it might have just been a day of cleaning, but to me…I haven’t felt such an outpouring of love and service and freindship like this in a very long time. What I thought would be just a typical dugnad turned out to be a day I will treasure forever. I’m grateful I will be reminded of it everytime I walk into work and see the lovely paint job and know that we can start our cake shop fresh and clean. My heart is so full and I thank you all from the very bottom of my heart! I hope to be as good of a friend as all of you were to us today.

My favorite picture. All of our “helping hands”!
Of course we had to have cupcakes for all of our hard workers!
The day our signs went up! Chelsea’s Cool Cakes never got a sign, so I felt pretty legit!
Katrine pulling up the floor protection after all the painting was finally done.
Check out the difference in the tile grout after giving it a good scour! Eww!
Chris, the amazing husband that he is, pulling late hours to help us assemble all the tables and chairs that needed to go into the shop.
The shop slowly starting to take form!
The kitchen/cake decorating area coming together.

 

We worked and worked and worked, but we finally made it just in time for our Grand Opening! We seriously could NOT have done it without all of the amazing support of our family, friends, customers, and collegues who banded together to help in whatever way they could. We are eternally grateful to each and every one of you for all of your selfless acts of kindness and encouragement!

A Very Thankful New Years

One of the perks of Chris working for NATO is the annual opportunity we have to order real Butterball turkeys for Thanksgiving every year. The only thing is, we have to order them a few months in advance and you can only order in a size range (e.g. 10-15 lb or 16-20 lb, etc) so it’s kind of a crap shoot how much turkey you will actually get. Chris and I had talked about having a bunch of friends over for Thanksgiving, so we played it safe and ordered one in the 16-20 lb category back in September. And, since Chris REALLY likes leftover turkey, he played it extra safe and ordered an additional 10-15 lb turkey thinking we could have a smaller one just for leftovers.

 

Then as the months progressed, Chris’ little brother decided to get married around Thanksgiving so we bought plane tickets home instead of planning Thanksgiving dinner in Norway. Then the turkey shipment came in and we were given a 19lb turkey and a 14lb turkey! So we spent the holiday in the US with the Hills with two giant turkeys waiting for us back home. Yikes.

 

We had to do SOMETHING with the turkeys because as much as Chris loves Thanksgiving turkey leftovers, 33 pounds of turkey is a bit more than even he can handle. Since Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated in Norway anyway, we decided we could celebrate our own Thanksgiving whenever we wanted to! So we picked New Year’s Day and had a bunch of our friends join us for a Thankful New Year’s feast!

We were lucky to be able to book the NATO boat house for the night, since we were still table-less and couch-less at our apartment. Eating Thanksgiving on the floor with 20 people just seemed like a bad idea…
I’m still on my quest to make the PERFECT Thanksgiving turkey. You know, like the ones on the cover of Martha Stewart Magazine with the perfectly even brown skin and juicy insides. I got pretty close this year! It looks a little charred in the photos, but in person it wasn’t far off. I think next year might just be the year I finally get it!
The group shot
Chris photobombing his own photo.
We spent the evening enjoying good food, fun games, and fantastic company! We couldn’t have asked for a better start to 2014!

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The Acropolis 2.0

Not much beats getting to see the Parthenon for the first time, but I think our second time seeing it will always be my favorite.


Walking up the now-familiar slick, foot-worn hill, I was struck with a sense of awe about how truly blessed we were to be back at the Acropolis barely one year after our first visit. We thought at the time that it would be a once-in-a-lifetime chance but the Lord saw fit to bless us with the opportunity to experience it again together, along with more great friends.

It still looked pretty much the same, scaffolding and cranes and all:

but the feeling was different. Rather than feeling the rush of newness and the pressure to see every tiny detail, I felt a great sense of peace and immense gratitude.
I'm grateful I have this memory to remind me of the thankful feeling that day and to encourage me to be more mindful of all the daily blessings (both big and small) we receive from our Father in Heaven. We are truly, truly blessed in so many ways!
And speaking of blessings, check out these awesome friends of ours:
They sure produce cute babies!
And of course, the best blessing both in Greece and everywhere else in the universe:
This amazing fellow I call my husband :)
DiscoboChris and the Venus de Chelsea
Whoops….wrong historical monument ;)

 

Athens, Greece
Our Greek island-hopping adventure was short-lived (in the typical scheme of island-hopping adventures) but awesome. We finished our trip back in Athens with two days left to run around and sightsee in the city.

We were in Athens for a few hours on our cruise last year, but this time around we got a whole new perspective. We actually had time to wander and get lost in the ancient streets without having to worry about the cruise ship leaving without us.


Athens still isn’t our favorite city in the world, but it was still fun to get a second chance to explore it further! I guess it does have it’s own type of charm :)

Where we stayed:
SOHO Hotel – It was definitely not a bad hotel for what it was (barely a step up from a hostel) and it was way affordable. It was in a SUPER shady part of town though. You definitely got a sense that you reeeally didn’t want to be out alone after dark. And if you stay there, be prepared with a stash of snacks. There aren’t any convenient food shops nearby and when it’s 10pm and you’re ravenously hungry it’s a long and lonely walk to the nearest market! Did I mention it was a great price though?

 

Category: Adventures, Travel  Tags: , ,  2 Comments
Oia, Santorini, Greece

Next up on on our island-hopping adventure was Santorini! You can't really visit the Greek islands without going to Santorini. From what we've seen it's second only to the Acroplis as far as defining landmarks go. It's EXACTLY what you picture Greece to be too. Bright white buildings clinging to cliffs with their cerulean blue roofs, windmills blowing in the sea breeze, and fresh seafood restaurants everywhere you turn. Only with more tourists than locals.

The ferry ride from Naxos was almost 3 hours, so we arrived just in time to find our hotel and start exploring before sunset. All the guidebooks (and tourist posters EVERYWHERE) said the town of Oia was the best place to watch the sunset, so that's where we headed for the evening.

 

 
“Explosion to your mouth!”
 

Oia is built right on the sheer cliffs overlooking the big sunken volcano that created Santorini. It was much more posh and ritzy than Naxos, definitely catering to the upper class tourists. It was also much more crowded, particularly right before sunset. Looks like everyone else read the same guidebooks we did. Go figure.

The town was spectacular though. It looked just like all the postcards you see from Greece! And despite the crowds, it was a pretty cool place to watch the sunset!

 
Glamour shots

We also found the best gyro pitas and baklava of the whole trip in Oia. The gyro place was right next to the main bus station and you could order GIANT gyros if you wanted. There we discovered that the best gyro pitas are the ones where the tzaziki sauce is put on the bottom before the meat. That way you get the perfect mix of meat and sauce and veggies as you are eating. I'm kicking myself for not writing down the name of the pastry shop we bought the baklava from, but it was seriously the best we found the entire time we were in Greece, and we ate a LOT of baklava. It was crispy and chewy at the same time and literally oozing with honey (great… here comes the drool again). Ah…so yummy :)