Thursday, 20 December 2012

No, it's not Santa ...

It's the aerial Snowman! 
 You can't be afraid of heights if you want to save lives, and this job is actually life saving. The past two years someone in Helsinki has died from falling snow and ice. Even though the buildings in Helsinki aren't very high, the snow comes down with such speed and weight, there's very little time to get out of the way. It makes you a tad paranoid walking outside. When it gets bad, half the sidewalks are sealed off because of potential snowslides. You try to keep one eye on the roof above your head, and one eye on the ice underneath your feet.
 I did get myself downtown though, and sat in my old uni's new library café and worked on this terms last assignment. I like the open and bright space. Too bad it wasn't finished before I graduated.
 I then met up with Hanna and had another cup of tea, and a Christmas star! I usually make these myself during Christmas, but this year around there hasn't been time. They're a nuisance to eat really, they crumble all over and it's easy to burn your tongue on the hot plum jam. But they're good!
Now I'm going to open a box of chocolates. Yes, I am.

Cheers!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

I'm in Finland!

Just a little hi from Helsinki. I arrived late last evening, thanks to a delayed flight, and have spent the day settling in. First things first, some Christmas flowers and the traditional lights. I think they're a Nordic thing, haven't seen them in other countries?
I also had a Christmas planning session with my Gran to make sure we're still on the same page on how we're celebrating the holiday. All good!
In a few hours I'm off too watch a friend's ballet performance. She's in a cool dance group that takes amateur ballet for grown ups to a whole new level. If I didn't live in the wrong country, I would definitely try and weasel myself into the group, even though free spots are hard to come by.

What else? Still have an uni assignment I should submit some time before January 2, but I keep telling myself it's currently being shaped in my subconscious and I need to let parts of it "rest" before I give it the final push. Yeah, that's the excuse I'm going for ...

Have a great evening!
Cheers

Monday, 17 December 2012

Important things first

Packing for tomorrow's flight home ...
I don't really need clothes do I? I can just walk around in discarded wrapping paper. It's not like Finland is a cold country or anything ...

Hope you're having a good day!
Cheers

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Reality Check

We all have moments when life doesn't feel so great. Some times we battle serious issues, but often it's quite trivial things that have grown out of proportion. We loose sight of how lucky we really are.

Coming home from the cinema, I realised a man was sleeping in the small roof-covered space in front of our main door. He'd made himself a bed of thick cardboard and an old sleeping bag. I got a bit startled, not knowing what to do. He must have noticed me because he slowly sat up and asked politely;
"Do you need to get in, Miss?
"Yes, sorry, I do."
"Sorry, Miss."
"Oh. No worries."
"Just let me ..."
"Thank you."
He backed further away from the door so I could reach the lock, trying not to step on his home. He didn't scare me, and I felt really bad letting myself in and closing the door, knowing he would probably lie back down on the ground, while I went up to our warm and comfortable flat. But again, I didn't know what else to do.
I do know that all the stress I might have felt in the last few days now seems like a luxury, and I couldn't be more grateful for everything I have. I just wish the man downstairs could have it too ...

Cheers


Saturday, 15 December 2012

Not for the faint-footed

Morning!

I just wanted to show you my latest project. I made these for a friend's birthday. I call them crazy socks. Everyone should have a pair when it's cold and dark outside. 
It was the first time I made a pair of socks for someone else, so I was a bit nervous about the fit. I measured them on a flatmate with a similar sized foot, and then hoped for the best. I think i worked. At least the birthday girl got them on. 

I'm soon off to the Christmas market at Stoke Newington Town Hall. I have a few friends who are selling their products there and I admire these people. I love making things, but I don't think I could do it as a profession. 

Have a lovely weekend!
Cheers


Friday, 14 December 2012

Tradition meets creativity

It's not as bad as it looks, the dough was just a bit cold and hard by the time we were going to bake. So heater to the rescue!
 This is what we were working with. Couldn't find the traditional man and woman cookie cutters but we definitely did our best with these ...
 Maybe not the most Christmasy gingerbread cookie but definitely an A for effort!
And there was plenty more to come. As usual I had made way too much dough and half of it ended up back in the freezer. Should be perfect as a bowling ball or murder weapon ...
 I must say, my friends should open up their own wacky cookie shop. There was emo-angel, Taco Bell, Moustache bell, Super raindeer, Sexy raindeer, Mexican sculls and obviously a Menorah.
 All in all, a successful baking session. It almost feels cruel to eat our new gingerbread friends ... We'll get over that moral issue soon enough though. Yum.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Lucia

Good morning!

It's a bright morning here in London, but back home in Finland we are celebrating Saint Lucia's day. A day when Lucia brings light to the winter darkness and takes us one step closer to Christmas. It is mainly a Nordic tradition (starting out in Sweden), but is observed in a few other countries as well. Lucia is celebrated in kindergartens, schools and workplaces and many young girls and maybe some boys as well, dream of being Lucia in a procession one day. You can read more here


This is what one procession looked and sounded like in Sweden 2010. 


There are hundreds of Lucias and processions during the 13th of December, but we also choose a "national" Lucia each year who travels around the country and brings light and music to places like hospitals and old peoples homes. This years Lucia in Finland is Julia Hanhikoski. It's important that Lucia know how to sing, or at least has a good choir with her because a lot of the atmosphere is created by the traditional songs that are sung on this day. 

So, have a lovely Lucia's day! I'm celebrating by hopefully baking gingerbread cookies. It all depends on how the homemade dough turned out ...

Cheers!




Sunday, 9 December 2012

Christmas tree inventory

As some of you know, I love Christmas. And I love Christmas trees. This is the first year I won't have my own tree, but we do have a funky communal one in the living room, keeping watch over a growing mountain of gifts.
One of the upsides of a blog is that you can go back in time and revisit previous years. I went back to Christmas past and had a look at the trees.

2009 - Christmas tree at mum's
I had just come back home from Australia and loved every bit of the icy cold Finnish weather. (Despite the high ceiling, the tree hardly fit.)


2010 - The first tree in my own flat
Having lost the biggest Christmas fan in our family, I was determined to step into her shoes and get my first own tree. A tad smaller than usual, but twinkly in all the right places! (You can see the massive snowfall outside the window.)

2011 - It grew!
Right, so apparently my living room didn't change much in a year, but the size of the tree certainly did. It was so big, the man who sold it to me, had to help me carry it home. A true gentleman!
I'm going to Finland on the 18th to celebrate the Holidays there but will be back in London for New Year's. Then there's hopefully going to be another exciting year!

Have a great week!
Cheers

Sunday, 2 December 2012

My first Thanksgiving

Living in a multicultural flat is great. There are so many more holidays to celebrate!

Yesterday we had Thanksgiving in Flat B. Yes, a few days after the US, but still with all the trimmings.  Our brilliant American chef made a whole turkey, her own cranberry sauce, baked mashed potato with cheese and mashed sweet potato with nuts and marshmallows. (It sounds crazy but is really good.) For dessert, there was apple pie and pilgrim hats.

Well timed bastings and ...
Ta daa! A brilliant turkey. Being a vegetarian I didn't have a taste, but the meat did look very good.  
I love broccoli, it's one of my favourite veg.  
Even our weirdly green bath ducks were celebrating!

Films for the day were The Patriot and Inglorious Basterds. My flatmates have quickly learned how squeamish I am about blood and guts, especially when there are knives and swords involved, and kindly warned be before anything too graphic. Inglorious Basterds I had already seen, in a cinema in Sydney with four Germans, so I knew when to shut my eyes and put a couple of fingers in my ears.
All in all, a brilliant day in Flat B.

Hope you've also had a good weekend!
Cheers

Sunday, 25 November 2012

WInds of change

Hurrah! It's my "I survived another year" day. And it's been a good year, I can't complain.

It's been a calm Sunday since I already had my little birthday get together Friday evening. I'm still munching on leftovers (I alway get too much of everything) and have to say a big thank you to all my flatmates who helped out in one way or another. Flatmates who make you cupcakes with the Finnish flag on are keepers!
 I was also given my very own blingtastic birthday glass which matched my outfit perfectly. From now on, I'll always drink from it on this special day.
Today I then decided to sleep in before pretending to be a cultured grown up and visit the Tate Modern which I hadn't been to before. I got off the bus at St Paul's Cathedral and then walked over the bridge to the not too attractive but interesting arts museum.
The view of "City of London" from the Museum. It's been a very windy day so the first thing I had to do after walking over the bridge was to find a toilet and untangle my hair. 
A piece of Finland in the Museum shop. 
it was fun to realise that "Shakespear's Globe" is just next to the Tate Modern. The theatre is a new build based on what historians think the original globe looked like in the 16th century when Shakespeare worked there. Today, the theatre does high quality versions of Shakespeare's plays and it has a limited season because the shows are put on in the circular space in the middle of the building, which is mainly outdoors. You can choose to buy a seat underneath a roof or stand under the bare sky, rain or shine. 
A friend told me that she'd met a wise man in Vietnam when she was my age, and he'd told her that women of 28 make a big decision to either stay put or take a very important direction in their future. I feel I've already taken a few important steps, but hope this year will help me move even further in the direction I want to go. This is going to be a good year!

Cheers!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

London - Where it rains indoors

Hello!
Plenty of fun stuff happening at the moment. Here's some of it and the rest you'll get tomorrow.
Today I went with a couple of friends (new and "old") to the Rain Room at the Barbican. The artist had basically created an indoor space where it rains constantly. Now why would anyone in London want to go and see rain when it's already pouring down outside? Well because when you walk into the space, the rain doesn't hit you. It stops raining in the exact spot where you are.
At least that's the theory. Nobody told us but you're apparently supposed to walk fairly slow and if you want to make sure you don't get wet, stay in a group. I walked towards the edge of the rain and suddenly realised it was dripping where I stood. Obeying my instinct to flee, I hurried to my friend, but that only made it so much worse because the censors or whatever makes it stop raining, didn't have time to register me so it just started to pour. Brilliant.
Look, my camera works in the rain!
So does their ...

It's a free event so it's definitely worth a visit. Just make sure you have enough time because you might end up queuing for two hours. But bring a few happy people and the wait won't seem so long!

 Hope you're having a great weekend!

Cheers!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Scenes from a toilet

Sorry, it's not as sensational as it sounds. I just saw these toilets at the Bush Theatre yesterday and thought they were cool. The booths were wallpapered with scenes from different plays, and so should all loos be in the future!
Yes, it did feel a bit weird taking photos inside the booth. I tried to make sure nobody else was around, or they might have gotten some strange ideas. And I didn't use a noisy flash.

Right, I'm soon off to do some serious shopping. Hope you all have a great day!

Cheers!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

One of those Sundays

Another Sunday and I really can't complain. I slept in, did a bit of writing and then shot off to meet Lotta for lunch. Pea and Mint soup this time around. With a wholemeal scone. Perfect for a sunny but slightly cold day.
 Suitably warmed up we then decided to walk back towards my area of town, and found ourselves in a partly enchanted, partly smelly park. The ideal place for a Sunday stroll, or hiding a murder victim.
 A Finnish friend commented on an earlier entry that we still have leaves on our trees. And true, we do. Or did, before they fell down all pretty and red.
It's always nice to find a little piece of London where there is almost nobody else and you can suddenly hear yourself breathing again. After that, you're prepared to push yourself into a crowded café and fight for you coffee. 

All the best for next week!

Cheers

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Just a few more

Just in case I never graduate, here are a couple more pics of me and my fellow paraders in our graduation gowns last week. Thanks to Lindsey Baker for the photos.
 Greeting the new Lord Mayor at Mansion House.

I'm soon off to a play which I'm looking forward to. I just wish it wasn't dark outside already. You sort of want to go straight to bed. My crazy dreams beat most play plots ... 

Have a good Saturday Evening!
Cheers

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Lousy paparazzi

Last night;
"You're heavier than Andy, but lighter than Neil."
Right. Heartwarming. Although a fairly accurate estimation I would think. (Still, note to self, don't let guys lift you off the ground.)

It didn't stop me from visiting The Arts Theater's little tea room while waiting for today's play, All That Fall by Samuel Beckett. And I learned something while I was sitting there, sipping my green tea. I would be a lousy paparazza.
Only a table away from mine sat one of the show's "stars", Sir Michael Gambon, reading the papers.  Now someone with the "instinct" would have snapped a photo of him, not caring if it was an intrusion. I, on the other hand, took a photo of my glittering cupcake.
Massive paparazzi fail.
Another job I don't think I could manage, is the professional autograph hunter. You don't really see them in Finland, but here, every time you go to a play with some more prominent names in it, there's at least a couple of people waiting by the stage door simply to get something signed. They didn't see the show, they just stand by doors waiting, hoping for someone famous to step out. I guess they then sell the autographs? Or collect them?
Either way, they're usually quite easy to spot amongst the real fans who just want a glimpse of the stars off stage. They have the "moves". They know how to get in front of everyone else and are alway prepared with several items to sign and the perfect signing pens. I'm not sure the actors really appreciate them, but they're usually civil. The actors do however seem happy to give autographs to real theatre goers.

Anywho, my observations for the evening. Now to bed.
See you later!
Cheers

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

As long as it does the job

Not too much excitement today, so I thought I'd do a little friendly comparison between my two home cities. So far I've found the public transport adequate in both places. I haven't had any severe problems, despite everybody's love for hating the buses and the trains and the underground and the trams. Nothing is ever quite enough ...

Anywho, this is the London underground service; the Tube. Rather useful once you've deciphered it.

Here is the tube in Helsinki, or the Metro as we call it.
You can go either East or West along this line. Same line both ways. But be careful so you don't end up in Vuosaari when you wanted to go to Mellunmäki or vice versa.

There are plans to extend Finland's only subway network, but it might take a while before it has caught of with London's.

Hope you're having a good week!
Cheers

Monday, 12 November 2012

And then there were two

Today I'm sporting my very own wrist warmers. I finally finished the second one. To be honest, they look like they should be warming a different piece anatomy, one I don't even have. And few people have two.
Still, once they're on and "stretched", they're very warm and cosy. You can see one in action here. Next up is a pair of socks. Heel, I will master you one day!

Cheers

Sunday, 11 November 2012

A day to remember

Today was Remembrance Day here in the UK, a day observed since the end of World War One to remember those in the armed forces who have died in the line of duty. My local council had their own parade which passed by my house and then an outdoor service at the green close by.  
The Mayor of Islington, Councillor Jilani Chowdhury
I especially like the big drum because my brother used to play it. 
There was a 2-minute silence nation wide at 11am and amazingly it did become almost entirely quiet in the middle of this vibrant area. No buses, lorries or cars. Only a few barking dogs and a baby crying. 
I have now sung God Save the Queen with the locals. I wasn't entirely sure about the lyrics, but luckily they were in the program. Had a sneak peak now and then.

Afterwards I went to one of my favourite cafés for lunch and a bit of work. They had Swedish pea soup on the menu! I had to try it and although it was very thick, it almost tasted like home (don't really know what the difference is between Swedish and Finnish pea soup ... This one didn't have meat in it.)
 The café has a very flamboyant decor which is perfect when you need some creative inspiration.
A very good Sunday all in all. New experiences and plenty of relaxation. Next week will be full on so I'm taking a deep breath and look forward to it.

Cheers!