A look back on 2014

In the beginning of January 2014 I read a list of questions about the passing year to which a friend of mine is answering to every year around New Year’s Eve. – You can read her 2014 answers here, in Swedish (or use Google translate).

I am not sure who started the list. Neither am I sure if it is fully relevant. But as I am not so good at creative writing and answering questions certainly feels simpler, I decided to pick up her list and use it to look back on my 2013.

I wrote the answers down, but 2014 started in full speed and the blog post just never came to happen. This year I decided to make sure I also post the answers. And I included the ones from last year.

Image of Rufus and me by Caroline Ghetes. Paris, July 2014. www.carolineghetes.com
Image of Rufus and me by Caroline Ghetes. Paris, July 2014. www.carolineghetes.com

1. Did you do anything this year that you have not done before ?

2014: I traveled to South America. I ate cooked zucchini flowers in Rome. I visited a mosque (Blue Mosque in Istanbul). I went to a football game – actually twice: once in Rio de Janeiro and once in Helsinki. I saw Mont Blanc. I photographed a wedding in Sicily.

2013: I traveled to Africa. I saw Mount Kilimanjaro. I tasted Durian fruit in Thailand. I spent Midsummer in Ostrobothnia.

2. Did you keep any of your New Year’s resolutions ?

2014: Not so many. My 2014 goals were: learn Swedish. graduate. visit Shanghai again. spend more time with my siblings. I’ll mostly need to move those goals to my next year’s list, but I did spend a week in Rome with my sister!

2013: I don’t remember my New Year’s resolutions. I probably kept some, but not all.

3. Did someone you know get children ?

2014: Yes! Welcome baby Matheo and baby William.

2013: Yes. My dear friend Iulia got her second child, Alexandru.

4. Did someone close to you die ?

2014: Andrei, the younger brother and son of some of my dearest friends.

2013: Actually yes. The husband of my family’s cook. It pains me to know she is now alone. She has taken care of us growing up and has covered many of my mischiefs.

5. What countries did you visit ?

2014: Brazil, France, Romania, Turkey, Italy (Sicily), Belgium, Sweden, France, Italy, France, France, Romania, France, Germany.

2013: Tanzania and Zanzibar, France, UK, Romania, Portugal, Spain, and Thailand.

I post images from my travels mostly on Instagram https://instagram.com/mariahedengren/

But you can also view some of the 2014 blog posts here:
// Brazil, wedding in Rio de Janeiro and a session on Ilha Grande.
// France: Lyon, Carcassonne, Nice.
// Turkey, honeymoon in Istanbul.
// Belgium, engagement session.
// Italy, wedding and honeymoon session.

And 2013 travel blog posts here:
// Tanzania.
// Zanzibar.
// France: travels, wedding in Paris and an engagement session in Lyon.
// Romania.
// UK.
// Portugal.

6. Is there anything you lacked in 2014 that you want in 2015 ?

I can’t think of anything. I feel so overwhelmingly blessed now as I look back on 2014 and I can’t come up with anything I lacked.

Is there anything you lacked in 2013 that you want in 2014 ?

A new sofa and bookshelf for the living room. We’ve been talking about getting a new sofa for almost two years. In the summer I keep busy with documenting weddings, in the winter we travel. I have got to find time for sofa shopping this year!

7. What date will you always remember ?

2014: The morning in early June when, just before I was about to leave the house for a newborn session, I found out I was pregnant. Apart from being some 15 minutes late, I was also in a state of shock throughout the whole shoot. I was overwhelmed by the mix of feeling happy and excited and at the same time terrified.

2013: Snorkeling close to Mnemba island in Zanzibar. (images here)

8. What is the best thing that happened to you during the past year ?

2014: Preparing for the baby to come.

2013: Elton, our white rabbit.

9. What was your biggest mistake ?

2014: I’m having a hard time coming up with an answer on this, not because I haven’t done any mistakes during the last year, but because I  learned a lot from every one of them.

2013: I did not have a clear set of goals for 2013.

10. What was your best buy ?

2014: All those fruit salads I’ve been getting in the airports before flights! And, the new sofa!

2013: I am not sure if this qualifies, but this year I decided to start using an online gallery for storing my images. I was skeptical in the beginning, but it is simply awesome to be able to access my images anywhere I go.

11. What did you spend most money on?

2014: Travel and Books.

2013: Travel.

12. What made ​​you really happy ?

2014: This is a sad answer. As much as I think of it, I can not remember being happier than the week spent in Rome with my sister and our husbands, and the anticipation that both of us were expecting a baby in early 2015. But it was joy quickly shattered..

2013: Discovering Zanzibar with Rufus. Indescribable feeling.

13. Have you been sick or hurt ?

2014: I had a cold that dragged out a bit too long in the autumn. But nothing else. Plus, I’ve been really active and well throughout the pregnancy.

2013: I managed to irritate one of my eyes in November. I had to wear glasses for a whole month which felt like being punished. I responded with buying a new pair.

14. What songs or artists will make you think about 2013 ?

2014: Aaron Keyes.

2013: Bethel Loft Sessions.

15. Felt better or worse this year than you did in the previous year ?

2014: Maybe somewhat the same. 2014 was a really good year (!!), but also with many challenges.

2013: Better. I managed to be more organized, more efficient.

16. Is there something you wish you spent more time on ?

2014: Praying.

2013: Reading. I feel I have neglected that this year.

17. Is there something you wish you spent less time on ?

2014: Watching Grey’s Anatomy.

2013: Facebook?

18. How was your Christmas ?

2014: Perfect! We spent Christmas in Germany with good friends. Their kids gathered around grandpa playing guitar and singing Christmas carols.

2013: Odd. We spent Christmas in Thailand, eating seafood and drinking cocos juice.

19. Were you in love ?

2014: Yes!! More than before!
Rufus and I celebrated 7 years of marriage this August, it feels like a very long time to me. Yet I’ve been thinking of this a few times this autumn – I love him more than ever before.

2013: Yes.

Image of Rufus and me by Caroline Ghetes. Paris, July 2014. www.carolineghetes.com
Image of Rufus and me by Caroline Ghetes. Paris, July 2014. www.carolineghetes.com

20. Which program has been the best thing on TV ?

2014: Game of Thrones. A Young Doctor’s Notebook. House of Cards season 2.

2013: We don’t have TV.
But I do watch a lot of TV series, this year – House of Cards, Mad Men season 6, Downton Abbey, Sherlock, and as always, Friends.

21. Do you hate someone that you did not hate before?

No! What is up with this question!?! I need to change this question into something else. Perhaps..

What was the best movie you saw this year ?

How to Train Your Dragon 2.
A Most Wanted Man.
X Men: Days of Future Past.

12 Years a Slave.
Blue Jasmine.


22. What was the best book you read this year ?

2014: Pregnancy in His Presence.

2013: A Song of Ice and Fire. All of them.

23. What was the best food experience ?

2014: Savoca, Sicily, Gelsonero – I had dinner here with Alexandra and Greg. I tasted caponata, a mouth watering Sicilian appetizer with cooked vegetables and octopus. (image here)

Moneglia, Assirto – Word simply can’t describe how fantastic the food was. And probably one of the best dinning atmosphere experiences so far for me and Rufus.

Nice, Le Bistrot Des Viviers. Just before catching my flight back after a shoot in Nice, I stopped here for lunch. Octopus salad with cucumber and celery. (image here)

2013: Stone Town Sambusa Two Tables – a family run restaurant with literally only two tables where we tasted the most delicious Zanzibari food in most authentic setting. An experience hard to forget.
The octopus I ate in Portugal. (image here)

Terre Adelice, ice-cream tasting in Lyon. (image)

24. Did you wish for something you got ?

2014: Yes.
To shoot more destination weddings in France and Italy. (image)
To sky glide. I saw Rio de Janeiro from above. (image)
To get a new sofa and bookshelves.

2013: Yes.
To travel to Africa.
To document a French wedding in Paris. (view it here)
To win a photography award. – I won three.
To shoot a destination Honeymoon session- I was blessed with two: Portugal (view it here) and Thailand (view it here).

25. Did you wish for something that you did NOT get ?

2014: Since I had 3 consecutive weddings booked in France this summer, I made plans for staying there for a few weeks in June-July. I dreamed of a relaxing time in France with good food, wine tasting, and French cheese. Two weeks before leaving to France I found out I was pregnant. I had to say no to all the French cheeses (!!) and the wine tasting.

Also, I planned to start my master’s thesis in the autumn (and graduate!), an urban planning project in Tanzania. That needed to be put on hold. Pregnancy and malaria pills don’t mix well.

2013: I wished for a hedgehog. Rufus got me a white rabbit instead. I was slightly disappointed at the start. But now he’s my favorite. He has a cool personality, I missed him terribly while in Thailand.

26. The family you most appreciated this year.

2014: This year makes me think most of my sister’s family.

2013: I think this year I mostly appreciated Toffe and Eva’s family.

27. What did you do on your birthday ?

2014: I went to a Romania – Finland football game in Helsinki. Romania won 2-0.

2013: Oh, that is a secret.

28. Who were the best people that you met ?

2014: Dragos and Laura who spent a week with us, photographing a wedding in Helsinki then spending some time at our summer cottage.

2013: Mma Khadija I met in Dar es Salaam. She was the leader of Federation of the Urban Poor I collaborated with during my planning project there. She reminds me of Mma Ramotswe, from The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.

29. How would you describe your fashion style ?

2014: I’d like to think I’m spending my pregnancy with style.

2013: Edgy cut. (update: actually called ‘modern minimalist fashion’)

30. What made you feel good ?

2014: Friends. Awesome clients. Knowing that the timing for expecting a child could not have been better.

2013: Travel. The urban planning project in Dar es Salaam.

31. What celebrity did you most fancy?

2014: I guess I have not been paying attention to celebrities this year.

2013: Jennifer Lawrence. This girl is talented!

32. Who did you miss ?

2014: My sister. We met 3 times this year, which is more than 2013 I think. Still, I miss her the most.

Georgina. How is it that we did not meet at all this year?!

2013: Adina, Adi, Jonathan, Theodora, Yvonne and Celine – one of the most beautiful families I know. Rufus and I spent two Christmases with them in Germany, and I so many New Year’s Eve parties with Adina when we were young.. It hurts that we did not meet this year.

Saara, who has been close but whom I did not meet as much as I wished.

Helen. We spent a week in Paris together during the summer, yet still I miss you.

33. What was your best month ?

2014: August. Dragos and Laura visited us and we spent a few days together at the summer cottage, sailing and exploring the forest. Rufus came second shooting with me during most of my August weddings as my assistant was sick and we had some awesome times together.

2013: May. Documenting a wedding in Paris, tasting ice-creams with Lidia in Lyon, spending a week with Helen, visiting beautiful villages of France with my brother.

34. Is there anything you could have done better ?

2014: Cooked more often.

2013: I did not send any Christmas presents or Christmas cards this year and I feel strangely guilty about it.

35. How will next year be different from this ?

2014: We’re expecting a child in mid February. I think having a kid will pretty much make 2015 different than any year before. It will be a year with lots of new experiences.

2013: I think 2014 will be a year of being closer as a family, new adventures, and making plans for the future.

Image of Rufus and me by Caroline Ghetes. Paris, July 2014. www.carolineghetes.com


This post is so personal, I’d appreciate to hear from you (preferably here). Don’t feel shy to leave a comment, maybe answer one of the questions  you liked from your perspective – I’d love to know how your 2014 has been.



Wow Maria! You’ve had an incredible year, I had no idea you were into urban planning, expecting a baby, so much more than photography had been to some of the same places I’ve travelled. I enjoyed the post. crazy to get little look into the life of a stranger. :)

Oh I loved reading this Maria!!! :-) Thanks for sharing.

Love this post Maria, what a great and exciting year! Love and happiness to your little family <3

1. You eat a lot of octopus :)
2. Glad you got that sofa! Now, a baby bed :)
3. Edgy cut? Can’t quite picture that, but sounds very cool :)
4. LOVE the X-men series!
5. You need to watch Suits next.
6. Travel and books. Best things to spend money on.
7. Can’t wait to meet you and the new little wonder!

Diana, –
1. octopus is the best!
2. that sofa turns into a bed, and is waiting for you.
3. I think it’s better called modern minimalist. But if you Google image that you’ll get cat-walk designs which are a bit too much. Maybe search for “cos dress” to get a better picture.

Maria, ce postare frumoasa! M-am bucurat mult sa citesc si sa aflu ce mai e nou in viata ta si la acest nivel atat de personal! Ma bucur pentru copilasul pe care il astepti. Iti doresc multa sanatate si sa gasesti incantare maxima in etapa asta noua a vietii! Sper ca o sa postezi si poze cu ” minunea”!

Hmmm…. nici un cuvant despre mine?! Nu inteleg de ce ;) Take care! V.

I enjoyed reading this post, it is lovely to get to know you better and congrats on the new soon to be arrival! :) xx

Hey, Maria! Congratulation!! I had no idea you are pregnant.
It was nice reading this post and getting to know you better :)
May this new year be full of happiness and laughter and may you always be surrounded by interesting people and the loved ones!

Lots and lots of love and smooth, uneventful last weeks before the baby is born. Blessings dear friend :-*

Thanks, Nonna! Much appreciated! Have fun with the Turku wedding event!

Happy new year! I didn’t know you were having a baby, so congratulations! I loved reading all your answers. I missed out on a lot of traveling last year due to some injuries, and that’s something I can’t wait to do more of in 2015. I loved seeing your list of all the wonderful places you visited!

This is such a great blog post. Sounds like you’ve had an amazing couples of years and next year will be another crazy adventure! :)

This post is so fun!! (and addicting lol!)

Hey, what a great idea for a blog post, love it.

Yup, definitely gotta do this at some point. Great job :)

Great post Maria! All the best for February!! xx

That was beautiful. Such a personal and honest post – I love it. Thank you for sharing :)

Congratulations, I also hope you have a smooth and uneventful time before the baby comes. Happy times! Expecting our second one early April.

Waw,Maria! Congratulations and God bless your family!

Congratulations Maria <3 I'm so happy for you!

Wonderful news, Maria! Congratulations! I’m so happy for you! <3


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