Thursday, 26 September 2013

I am the cookie monster!

I guess the 4pm cake breaks in Devon brainwashed me a little. I had the ingredients for chocolate chip/marshmallow cookies and decided to make some. I haven't baked in ages so it was fun!

Into the oven they go ...
 And out they came!

They didn't turn out half bad, but they're so sweet you can only have one or two. Or maybe I'm just extra sensitive since I've been trying to cut down on sugar lately. Either way, if you want a cookie, feel free to drop by!

Cheers!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Seven things to jog your brain


Hello, greetings from London. I'm back from the writer's retreat, missing my green hills and donkeys. I got a fair amount of writing done, which has now given me a kick to continue working at home.

But of course, the writer's retreat wasn't all type type type. Any writer will tell you you need breaks to rest and regroup. There are also moments when you just can't see a way to continue your story and you have to do something else for a while to get the juices flowing.

Here are a few things we did, when sitting at the computer felt just a little bit too painful:

1. Cake Break! At 4 pm every day we were served lovely cakes, coffee and tea to then keep us going until dinner. All adults should have Cake Break, it makes you happy.

 2. Walks in the woods. Some of the public paths were a little bit creepy so good Ninja skills were necessary.

3. Play a game! We had a rustic Games Barn where there were pool tables and table tennis and all sorts. Lotta and I had some real mafia mojo going, and obviously we were great at playing ...
Uh Oh, that wasn't supposed to go there ...

4. Faux artsy photography. During the day when everyone else was working, it was good to take quiet breaks outside. Camera ready, we pretended to be great photographers. 

5. Bother the wildlife.  Petting donkeys, feeding goats and having deep conversations with cats all went towards keeping sane.
A hen on a mission.
6. Find your inner child. The swings in the yard were in heavy use. The going back and forth seemed to shake things into place. It didn't matter what age you are ... 


7. Get to it! Yeah, yeah. Never rely on inspiration. Just sit down and write. Even if it's early morning and you look a bit shaken and stirred. Who cares, we were all in the same writing boat. Woolly writing socks obligatory.

Well, that' what we did anyway and several words were written. Hope it helps!

Cheers

Sunday, 22 September 2013

A bonkers love story

 There once was a donkey called Duke ...

Duke and I met in a field in Devon. We stopped for a chat and talked a good old while. He liked carrots and I like carrots. He liked people who scratch his back and so do I. We both felt we had a connection and wondered what would happen next. Was there space in my flat for just one more?

Then came the deal breaker; Duke preferred blondes.

I couldn't compromise, and neither could he. We decided to go our separate ways.


The End.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Where Inspiration goes to live

Morning!

It's 6 am and the rooster is wishing anyone without ear plugs good morning. I'm at Stickwick farm in Devon on a writer's retreat and it's absolutely lovely. Lotta and I arrived yesterday evening to a beautiful room, great surroundings and very nice people.
Our room! 
 My bed!
 The view from our bedroom window.
 Parts of the house.
Running with the donkeys!
A woodland walk close to the house, all wonderfully quiet.
 A stream ... Duh.

As you can see, I'm saving my writing powers for today's marathon writing session. The plan is to push out as many words as possible, for as many hours as possible. Luckily our host takes good care of us and makes sure we're well fed on food and cake. 

We'll be here all weekend and part of Monday, and I'll keep you posted!

Cheers!

Monday, 9 September 2013

The 2 Pound Diet

No-No
I am a self-professed sugar addict. I CRAVE sugar. I sometimes catch myself talking about it the way other people might talk about alcohol or drugs. When I start eating sweets, there is no stopping me. (A lot of it happens in secret.) I will eat until there is nothing left. I don't care if I feel nauseous, my hand still goes to the bag. I'm like a child.

No-No
So, I've decided to cut out excess sugar, this means sweets, soft drinks and anything else that is mainly sugar based. The rules are especially strict on me buying myself anything sweet, and I'm not allowed to bring anything home, that's where the binging happens. If I meet a friend for coffee, I might get something small, or if I'm at someone's house and they're offering, but even then I should stay moderate.
No-No (But they're my favourites!)
NOW! What is hopefully going to keep me motivated is money. Every day I don't buy myself anything unhealthy, I put 2 pounds in a jar. (About the same amount I might otherwise spend on crap.) At the end of the month, if I've been good, there should be 60 pounds waiting for me. With these 60 pounds I am allowed to buy anything I like (except sweets) and since I do enjoy shopping, it's a good motivator. Especially now that I should also be saving money.
Yesterday I made my own summer veg soup instead of buying some ready made. It actually turned out rather well!
Will it work? I don't know, but so far I'm feeling positive. I know there's plenty of sugars in savory foods as well, especially pre-made stuff, but I'm starting out like this. My plan is to begin cooking more as well (to take care of me and my budget) and that should help.

Three days in and my body is very cross with my decision. How dare I? It wants its fix, now! But I'm hoping it will get easier further on ... Any tips and tricks and recipes to help me out are highly appreciated! (And feel free to join me in this "adventure".)

Cheers!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Smurfs and border controllers

I'm back in London. They let me through border control once more. (It's good to have a Finnish passport, they don't care much about a boring and well behaved country like Finland.)
I snapped this photo almost exactly a year ago when I made the move to London. Being a EU citizen I had every right to go, but I was still a bit nervous about telling the controller I wasn't just visiting. 
One day, I'm going to write a little book about border controls. In countries like the US and the UK the controllers like to have a chat. Maybe it's to see if you're a foreign spy or illegal immigrant, or maybe they're just bored. Either way, going through border control can be a bit nerve-wracking, (what if I say the wrong thing, what if they don't let me in?). You have to suppress the sudden urge to make inappropriate jokes about drugs and bombs.  
Final day in my Helsinki flat, furniture moved, bags all packed. 
People say border controllers are grumpy, but I've mostly had nice experiences, especially coming and going in the UK.

1. Leaving London for a week in Finland, I gave my passport to a grumpy (!) looking lady. Oh oh, better not mess about, I thought. She looked at the passport, she looked at me. She looked at the passport again and then back up at me. She suddenly gave me a large, friendly smile;

‘Happy belated birthday!’ 

I was shocked. It was already three days after my 27th birthday and the fact that she had noticed, and cared, made my day. It really is the small things.


 2. When I flew to San Diego to work at Nerd HQ during Comic Con, the border control queues were painstakingly slow. I soon realised why, the controller had so much fun talking about the convention. When it was my turn we chatted about super hero costumes, screenings, and the latest games. By the end of the chat he looked at me, concerned, and my heart leaped. Was there something wrong after all?

‘Don't walk on your own after dark, okay? Stay safe.’ 

I felt very touched that a person I didn't know, and to whom I was just another tourist trying to get into the country, cared about my wellbeing.
During Comic con you can easily get attacked by a giant deflated Smurf.

2.5. Also, on my way to San Diego the controller at Heathrow looked at my boarding pass once and cried out; You too? 
I could only apologize for the sudden invasion of nerds and he wished me a happy flight. 

3. Finally yesterday I  pulled out my ID at the control ready to show my (very grumpy indeed) passport photo. The young guy didn't say anything, only reached for my passport, and I thought, right so I finally got one of the rude ones. He looked at me, looked at my passport, then looked at me again. This time, it wasn't my birthday. He scanned the document and gave it back. He finally decided to open his mouth:

‘You look very young.’
‘Oh, yeah, I know. It's a curse. Well actually it's not. It's good.’  
 ‘Yeah, it's good. Thank you.’

And then I was in. Would he have turned me away if I'd been old looking? Was it something he just had to get off his chest? Sometimes these things are very random. But I did feel a tad bit flattered.

Now I don't know if there's any real reason for this entry, except maybe some sentimental reminiscing. I would however like to make one point; most of the time people treat you the way you treat them, so if you approach someone in a friendly manner they will usually be kind to you back. There are of course exceptions. And cultural differences. Most of the time it's not personal. But yeah, try to be nice to people and they will give you the benefit of the doubt. Even in border controls. 

Have a great weekend!!

Cheers

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Pensive

When I left London, summer was still blazing, it was hot and dusty, but here in Helsinki you can already feel the autumn chill and it's okay to wear a coat. I've always liked coats, they make me less self-conscious.
Photo by Hanna, Estholmen
Autumn is my favourite time of year, I feel it's the start of something new, the way other people might feel about New Year's Eve. This autumn however, I can't help being overwhelmed. Last September my "only" goal was to move to London and begin my MA. There was a clear road map for what I had to do, fly over, get a bank account, find a flat, register with my uni. Study.

This year, everything is jumbled up, colliding, canceling each other out. I need to find a job. I need (get!) to write a full length play. I'm trying to schedule trips, job interviews, volunteering, creative projects and work as a film extra, all things I really want to do, while keeping some peace of mind. The fear of disappointing people is looming. The fear of disappointing myself.

But really, I should be happy, my life is busy and exciting. I've just always been comforted by routines and this September isn't lending itself to that. In my head I see my schedule as a puzzle, every piece falling neatly into  place, but right now pieces are missing making me question the position of all the rest. Have you seen a missing piece? Was it eaten by your hoover?

I guess this is what happens when you allow a Finn to spend time in the archipelago, one with nature. We are a melancholy people, but we're also hard working and strong willed and that's why I still believe I'll find my winter routine, even if it sometimes must give way to crazy. Because at the end of the day, you do need a bit of crazy.

Happy autumn everyone!
Cheers


Sunday, 1 September 2013

Because growing older is a good thing

Turning 30 can be traumatic, time seems to pick up pace. But celebrating your 30th birthday can be pleasant and here's a step by step guide how to do it if you happen to be in Finland.  

1. Grab a boat and head for the archipelago. Finland has some beautiful islands. We spent the weekend on Estholmen which belongs to Finlands Svenska Publicistförbund (an association for Swedish speaking journalists in Finland).  
2. Pick an idyllic island with views of the water in most directions. "Our" island had a main house, several cottages and a sauna.
 3. Find a boat house! Sure, you could have the birthday feast outdoors or in in a house, but really, a rustic "where did all this random stuff come from, there could be a dead body beneath the floor boards" boat house is the only right place to dine. The birthday girl setting up the venue!
 Did I mention the need for a crazy princess bed and scary fish bone art? (Add that to your list people!)
 Oh, and one end of the house needs to face the water and display a small red cottage on a large otherwise deserted island. Very Finnish.
 4. Main house from the 30s! Cooking in the boat house might be a tad difficult so do find yourself an old summer villa where you can prepare food and relax. It's also the perfect place for brunch the morning after. If the house has black and white photos of dead journalists smoking cigars, all the better.
 More random fish bone art giving the birthday girl's sister a random fish bone mustache.
 5. Starry Birthday cupcakes! You might be getting old, but you're never too old for cupcakes with stars sprinkled on them! I didn't make these, but I did put the frosting on them and do all the heavy sprinkling.
 6. Order some sunshine and cliffs! Having made all these preparations you do want to wander down to the sea and soak up some sun. So go ahead, have a break. A small white cottage might cost extra but it's worth it.
 Make sure someone takes a photo of you while sitting on the cliffs, staring out over the water looking thoughtful.
 And again, I can't stress it enough, small red cottage with white corners on otherwise deserted island. Get it!
 7. Great food, no photos. This is when the final guests have arrived (in our case about 20) and everyone sits down to dinner. Very few people look intelligent while chewing, so best not to post any pics of people eating.

 8. Contingency plan. Sure, the sea view is lovely but when the sun sets and the wind blows straight into the boat house, you might want to have some doors at hand. Just a thought.
 9. Candles! Because suddenly it gets dark and you need a little light when everyone returns for the quizz.
 10. QUIZZ! There will be fights and squabbles but no party is perfect unless there's a quizz, preferably themed "the birthday girl".
 11. Late night deepness. And once all the official bits are over and done with, wander out into the night, sit down on a random cliff and have deep conversations by candle light. Electricity is so overrated.
 12. The day after.  Hurrah! You survived! You're 30 and nothing has shrivelled or fallen off. Do take a stroll down to the water and look at yourself in the blank surface. Panic over! You're still gorgeous!

(Terms and conditions apply.)

Cheers!