Tuesday, 30 September 2014

DAY 43: Three things I'd like to learn

Instruments, languages, handicraft - I've been learning all my life. It's something I really enjoy even though I'm a bit impatient with myself and expect brilliant results immediately.

This autumn I'm not going back to school or uni and I haven't picked up any new hobbies. But there are still plenty of things I'd like to learn, ranging from the superficial to the more existential, and here are three of them:

1. Hair dos - When I see someone with intricate hair I'm fascinated. I know you have to practice, but I feel like I'm missing a significant gene. My mum had a "live and let live" approach to her hair and I think it transferred to me. I watch Youtube videos and they make it look so easy, but all I end up with is achy arms and the need for a second shower. Can I learn? Help!
The leftovers after a film job. Even after they'd taken out the actual do, my hair looked better than when I try to do it myself. 
2. Ballroom/latin dancing - No, not just because Strictly is on again. I love dancing and last year I did find a class but didn't want to go without a partner. Of course you don't always need to bring your own, they can pair you up, but how many times have you been to a dance class where there's a whole bunch of "spare" men? I'd end up dancing with a broom.
Dancing at an abandoned jumble sale - as you do. 
3. Meditation - I have an overactive mind. It's a great asset when writing; plots, conversations and "what ifs" whizz around in my head. But in real life it's not as helpful. Being "mindful" or "in the moment" can prove difficult. Past and future (real and alternative) fight for attention. Sometimes, if only for a moment, I'd love to just turn it all off. Any meditation gurus out there?
This. This!
So, three things I'd like to get better at. And what's stopping me, really? In a few months time you could see me perfectly coiffed, all spaced out and waltzing happily with a handsome broom.

Any new skills on your list?


Monday, 29 September 2014

DAY 42: Mad's buns

Another bun post, I know. But there has to be at least one during my 100-day-challenge or I'd be misrepresenting the contents of this blog! Besides, these are COMPLETELY (krhm) different since I laced them with carrot and cranberries. Mmm.
I wanted some music while baking and entered "baking" into Spotify. Two playlists! One had the theme music to The Great British Bake Off. I tried to listen to it, being a fan of the show, but it made me too nervous! I expected Paul Hollywood to pop his head in and give me a sceptical look. I'm sure Spotify has a playlist for just about anything these days. Even if you looked for something like ... I don't know ... taxidermy?

Anywho, they turned out quite nice. I might have another one ...

Hope your week has started off well!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

DAY 41: Extrovert for a day

Today I manned my friends' pop up shop in Camden and had a fun time doing so. It's good that I occasionally remind my introvert self that I can actually be quite chatty and do the whole sales pitch thing. And since Camden is packed with tourists and Londonders alike, I even got to do it in Finnish and Swedish! (The Nordic countries are invading.)
A fuzzy photo of my Finnish rye bread sandwich.
At one point my brain did get a bit frazzled and told a customer that the t-shirts were free range ... urgh, I mean fair trade. No harm done though. He thought it might be a brilliant idea to branch out with chickens, and he bought a t-shirt. Hurrah!

In the quieter moments I made some friends. Literally. Mr Cup and Cup Jr. Mr Cup always looked a bit worried because he thought Cup Jr spent too much time with Mr Big Bottle. By the end of the day, they decided to relocate. (No, it wasn't the bin! It was a pretty farm for old cups.)
Oh the drama!
I hope you've had a great weekend and look forward to the week ahead!


Saturday, 27 September 2014

DAY 40: Three small delightful things

(I'm almost halfway!)

Today I'm presenting you with three things that gave me a little burst of delight in the past 24 hours. It's not a winning lottery ticket or a diamond ring or even a call from NASA asking me to go to space, but a few everyday things that perked me right up.

1. Painted nails - It's silly really how covering your nails with some foul smelling toxic liquid can brighten up the day, but it does! (Actually painting your nails can be a massive pain thought ...)
Okay so not the tidiest work this close up, but how often do I stick my hand in your face?
2. Cat Square - Close to my house there's a square where you always find a bunch of chillaxing cats. I'm not prepared to become a crazy cat lady just yet (although one or two would be nice) so having a place to go when you want say a feline hello is great.
This one is giving me a little smile. 
This one not so much ...
3. Graham Norton - He's back! I do love me some Graham Norton Show so I'm delighted he's returned with another series on the BBC.  Bring on the Friday evenings! (Or BBC iPlayer.)
I don't have a photo of dear old Graham so I'll just put another cat photo here instead ... You're welcome. 
I don't know what craziness you're up to tonight but I'm having an evening in since I'm working tomorrow. I'm not saying I'm watching Strictly Come Dancing, but someone did turn the TV on (BBC 1) and there are plenty of SPARKLES.


Friday, 26 September 2014

DAY 39: Tears in public

Today I wolfed down my sandwich so I could then spend the rest of my lunch break in a coffee shop reading. These short moments really do make a difference! 
Sometimes, you end up drinking your coffee (and spilling it) before you take a photo. 
This time however, I reached a passage in my book that really resonated with me and I felt my eyes well up. There was no point telling myself not to be silly. Not to cry in public. That just made it worse! And I really wanted to keep on reading. That's what good literature does; it grips you, it makes you feel. It makes you look like a blubbering fool surrounded by dark suits and students. 

Luckily, I've learnt an important lesson by now: I can keep on reading, and shed a few tears, because this is London and even if I stood up on the table, mascara running down my cheeks, and recited a paragraph or two out loud, nobody would really make a fuss. Maybe someone would tut or avert their eyes in embarrassment, but at the end of the day, I'm just another eccentric in a city of eccentrics. 

They've always seen worse. (Hurrah!)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

DAY 38: A waterproof Jedi

Yesterday's trip to Collective 159 reminded me how much I enjoy sewing and how I actually brought over one of my novice creations when I returned from Finland a couple of weeks ago. It's perverse really, how it took me two years in the land of rain before I managed to prioritise my homemade raincoat!
We should all have a halo inducing skylight above our heads.
With the ridiculously massive hood up, the raincoat makes me feel like a Jedi. Or Red Riding Hood, gone purple. I also get a Gandalfian vibe, even though Gandalf actually wears a hat!
I call my camera hand The Claw.
Anywho, for a second I considered how much fun it would be to make things and sell. Then I remembered how long it usually takes me to knit for example a pair of socks. I would have to charge a gazillion pounds an item to make any money.

Oh well, with the days getting darker and wetter, at least I'll get my chance to roam the London streets as a dry plum coloured Jedi.


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

DAY 37: Everyone should go to Camden!

... And check out my friends Lotta and Gerry's pop up shop at Collective 159 on Camden High Street.
I went after work today to say hi to Lotta who was manning the Plane Clothing stall. We had a good natter (combining business with pleasure) and I also had time to admire some of the new designs. 
It's so cool to watch the brand grow! I now quite regularly spot their artwork and clothes around London and every time I see a random guy in a Plane Clothing t-shirt I want to run up to him and say "My friend made that!" But that might seem a bit childish and weird, so I try not to.
Anywho, if you're in the Camden area of London this week or next, why not go and say hi too? Both Lotta and Gerry are very friendly.


Tuesday, 23 September 2014

DAY 36: From bad to good

My day didn't start brilliantly. I didn't so much get up on the wrong side of the bed as slice open my left hand's middle finger with multiple razor blades. This wasn't voluntary self mutilation (that's never good) but me stupidly digging around in my make up bag forgetting that the razor was in there too.
Not the finest first aid work, I agree. 
Oh well, off to work with a plastered finger. (It's surprisingly hard to type with a plaster, even now I'm struggling.) And I decided that my day could only get better after this nauseating mishap. (It was the thought rather than the pain that made me full-body shudder.) And it did! After all the packing and painting and stressing, I had suddenly landed myself with new tenants. Hurrah!
And suddenly I'm promoting both a coffee shop and an art gallery. I really should get paid.
Instead of pulling out the champagne or high-fiving everyone in the office, I went for a mid-workday coffee to celebrate. Very sensible. But later tonight I'm off to a rave. (Okay, fine, that might not be true, but sometimes I feel like this blog lacks in street cred.)

Anywho! My day improved, and unless I've now jinxed the rest of it by writing this post, it turned out to be a pretty good one!


Monday, 22 September 2014

DAY 35. Soup!

Something that becomes increasingly appealing to me in autumn, a bit like the candles, is soup. All kinds of soup. When I moved to London in September 2012 I was fascinated by all the butternut squash, something we rarely use in Finland (unless there's been a butternut squash craze since I moved).
I decided to make a carrot and potato soup with a splash of apple. I made enough for a few office lunches when the weather turns too grim to have a sandwich in the park. I was afraid it might be a bit too garlicy for the office but I think I'll get away with it. There's no such thing as too much garlic anyway, right?
Anywho, I hope your week has started off well!


Sunday, 21 September 2014

DAY 34. Death on the Thames


What better way to start your Sunday than listen to a talk about the myths and mysteries of the Thames, as part of the Totally Thames event. At least Lotta and I thought it would be a good idea and got on the HMS President at Victoria Embankment.

A few things I learnt during the two talks by Robert Stephenson and Scott Wood:

  1. The bottom of the Thames is littered with skulls. Disembodied skulls. There are theories about these skulls but nobody really knows what they are doing there. 
  2. 30 to 50 bodies are found in the Thames every year. 
  3. The London sewers used to be very busy. "Toshers" spent their days down there looking for treasure, anything valuable that had been flushed or swept down the drains. In addition, there are stories about lots of pigs roaming the underworld.
  4. People have tried to whip up new river myths, like the Angel of the Thames, for marketing purposes, but our experts were less than impressed. (Lotta and I did not have the honour of spotting this "angel".)
After the talk, two slightly nauseous Finns climbed back up on deck and onto the street and strolled to the Barbican for lunch. I had a sudden urge for fish and chips which turned out to be a good choice. I just hope my cod hadn't been fraternising with all those skulls ...

I hope you've had a good weekend so far!


Saturday, 20 September 2014

DAY 33. Coco, black beans ... What?

I woke up today bitten by the baking bug and decided to try something new. I found this recipe for a chocolate, raspberry and black bean loaf on eatori.com who has a lot of recipes for different diets.

This loaf is gluten free as the beans replace all flour. It's also dairy free and since I had some leftover Natvia from another bake, I decided to use that instead of regular caster sugar. It does however contain a few eggs.
I'm not sure it turned out quite right. It took much much longer in the oven than planned. My British Bake Off dream would definitely have ended ... And the taste isn't very strong. But with more berries, or maybe ice cream or cream, it's still pleasant. You would not know there's 400 grams of beans in there. And the shot of coffee gives it a bit of a kick. I still prefer my sweet potato brownies though. (But other people seem to have made it a success so why not give it a try?)

Oh well, it was fun to bake again and you learn new things every day!

Have a great evening!


Friday, 19 September 2014

DAY 32. A week in pictures


I'm struggling to write about anything specific today. Not because it was a bad day, it was just uneventful from a blogging perspective. Instead I decided to do a random photo cavalcade from the past 7 days. Imagine it's the 1980's and I'm boring aunt Edna who just figured out how to make a slide show. (No snoring in the back, please.)
The shadow of a lamp against a wall. (Okay so I was bored and had access to my phone. Things happen.)
A nice day to have your lunch break in the park. 
A Helsinki beach in September. The giant seagull on the pole isn't real. 
Why not pick some mushrooms while on a walk through the park?
A victim of sloppy painting. For some reason it reminds me of space. 
Finnish liquorice ice ream! (Need I say more?)

And finally a random dinner, because we all know blogging is all about the food photos. Anyone still awake? If so, Aunt Edna thanks you. And the photo scraps from my phone, who didn't make the first cut, also appreciate it very much. 
Hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

DAY 31. The Abbreviation of Doom

Show me a person who enjoys writing CVs and I shall buy him/her a coffee!

I don't. The words Curriculum Vitae makes me break out in a cold sweat. But after days of procrastination I finally managed to get my writer’s CV up to date and looking decent. (That’s the happy bit of this entry.) I need it for a submission so I had no choice but to bite the bullet and list my achievements.
This should be enough, right?
The thing is, when it comes to my “normal” CV I’m pretty happy. I’ve had several jobs with responsibility and challenges. My writing resume however isn’t as impressive. I’ve written plenty in my life, but apart from my novel most of it has been non-fiction: news, human interest, magazine articles and press materials. There are 19-year-olds with more playwriting and screenwriting achievements than me. 
Then again, I only just started. My feet have barely left the starting blocks and I’m stumbling towards the first hurdles. I can’t expect myself to have a long list of awards, publications and productions already. And there's a catch-22. If you don’t send something off because you're embarrassed by your pitiful CV, you forfeit the chance of getting another notch on your belt, and without that notch the CV will remain as pitiful. Ergo; swallow your pride.

In the end, my CV doesn’t look that terrible. It could definitely do with more padding, but for now, it will do!

Again, if you love CV writing, good for you! Why not help me out over that cup of coffee?


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

DAY 30. It smells like ...

Scented candles! You know autumn is here when I go all gooey eyed (nosed?) for chunky candles in large glass jars. I spent a good part of my lunch break today sniffing wax, trying to decide which smell was my favourite and imagining chilly candle lit evenings.
I sniffed these months ago and remember loving one of them. Now I can't remember which one! Ro maybe? (Funnily enough it means both tranquility and "to row" in Swedish. Come to think of it, I have felt quite tranquil rowing on peaceful lakes.  Photo borrowed from: www.skandinavisk.com
 To be honest, the idea of a scented candle makes me more excited than most candles themselves. A lot of them become overbearing in a small room. Everything suddenly smells of Apple Blossom and you wake up with a headache.
This Apple Blossom did smell lovely today ... Photo borrowed from: www.truegrace.co.uk
But there are nice ones as well. (Very nice.) It's just too bad that the good candles can be painfully expensive. There are plenty of other things I could spend twenty odd (or more!) pounds on. Sensible things. … Boring things. Sigh.
If you need me, I’ll be in the candle section.
Hope you’re having a great week!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014


This evening I attended the opening of my friend Andrea's degree show in Fine Art. It was great. So many different styles and techniques. They'd all worked really hard to express their own ideas in a unique way.
As writers we're always told to engage with other art forms. We might not be painters or dancers or musicians, but it's all storytelling and we can always be inspired. It's amazing how other people's creative work, however remote it might seem from our own, can make us think in new ways, re-energise a tired brain.
My Gran. Artist's age unknown.
I've never been very good at drawing. I love working with colours, but making something look the way it's "supposed" to look has never come easy to me. But then skills rarely come easy, I've just spent my time on other things instead, like music and writing. When I was in Helsinki my grandmother gave me an album full of things she'd saved over the years. Articles and letters I'd written, articles and reviews written about me and my work, and drawings I'd made her as a child. I'm glad she kept them, even though I'm pretty sure she never had blue hair or arms coming out of her cheeks, but they're one way I told stories even before I could write. And she's always been very supportive of that.

Well done to everyone who showed their work today! Thank you for sharing.


Monday, 15 September 2014

DAY 28. Touchdown!

Today I'm again grateful for having landed and arrived home safely. I didn't even lose my cool when I had to stand all the way from Heathrow to Kings Cross and then change tube lines with my massive suitcase in classic London rush hour. Yay me! (I probably accidentally managed to piss someone else off though, so sorry about that.)
I swear I haven't been paid to show this photo. It's just what my bag looked like when leaving Helsinki. Now if a certain bread company did insist on sending me a lifetime supply of bread I might not necessarily refuse ...
I'm glad I finally got my large rucksack over. It's been on a few adventures and hopefully there will be more to come!

But right now, I just want a shower and a cup of tea,

Sunday, 14 September 2014

DAY 27. Things you find in cupboards

Holes! How did I not notice these before? I only lived here for years and years. I used this built in cupboard everyday for my outerwear. Seriously. It looks like the mafia, violin cases and all, got in, closed the door and had a massive shootout!
They must have been made way before I moved in and I have no idea what they were for. Looking for pipes or wires? Testing the thickness of the wall? If you have any clue, please do tell! As much as I enjoy the thought of a pocket sized Godfather shooting his way through my coats and gloves, I have a feeling there must be a more reasonable explanation.

I hope you've had a great weekend!


Saturday, 13 September 2014

Day 26. Cirque du Soleil DIY

Okay, so it doesn't look like I'm very high up, but I was. I was like really really high up, on a stepladder. Promise. I still wasn't quite tall enough though so my brother (who failed to get the stepladder in the photo) had to do the top bit. Big thank you to my brother for once again helping out!
How are you really supposed to hold a paint brush?
 If my daring balancing act was a bit disappointing, at least my outfit fit the theme. Checkered pyjama bottoms, reminding me of a melancholy clown ... (Why is it you can't paint anything without making a mess?)
My hand! My hand! (You should see the soles of my feet.)
I once had a tenant who liked green. I'd sort of grown attached to this green radiator but decided future tenants might want it more neutral, or pick their own colour.
It wasn't quite this green in real life. I'm not sure what happened here really, it suddenly looks all tie-dyed. A rainbow radiator!

Since my flat now is empty I thought I'd finally get away with a home improvement weekend that didn't involve a trip to IKEA, but HAH! ...  HAH! To IKEA we went to buy the cheapest possible light fixtures since I'd already taken my own down and you can't really do viewings in the dark.
This could seriously be anywhere in the world. ANYWHERE.
All in all it was a smooth day of DIY. Having done a fair bit of this in our 20-something lives, together and apart, my brother and I work as a good double act by now, trapeze or no trapeze.
Some double action.
Hope your weekend is going swimmingly!


Friday, 12 September 2014

DAY 25. Grand Designs has nothing on me


It's days like these I'm glad I grew up with a dad who is a self thought DIY king. We call him MacGyver because he always finds a solution to the trickiest of home improvement problems.
Nothing a bit of sandpaper can't fix ...
Okay, so I'm no expert, it's a good thing I don't work as a plasterer because then most clients would be involuntary owners of textured walls, but at least I'm not afraid of trying. Bring on the paint!

By the time we're done here, my Helsinki flat should have received a little facelift and hopefully be appreciated by new tenants.

Unti then, have a great weekend!


Thursday, 11 September 2014

DAY 24. Up North

Today I'm grateful for landing safely in a very foggy Helsinki and now sitting in my almost empty (thank goodness!) flat. There's not much more I can do today so I'll just present to you a still life of the Finnish basics I picked up in the airport shop.
 It's going to be a busy few days again but hopefully everything will go well and I can return to London confident that my flat is in good hands.

I hope you've had a good day!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

DAY 23. Finland meets the Democratic Republic of Congo

Imagine my delight when I woke up this morning, turned on BBC Breakfast on my TV and was flooded with the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius’ “Finlandia”, one of my favourite pieces of classical music. It got even better when I discovered it was played by the Kinshasa Symphony Orchestra, performing soon here in London.
The Sibelius monument in the Sibelius park near my flat in Helsinki. 
The orchestra is an inspiration, it shows how important music is to human beings; it doesn’t matter where in the world you are or under what circumstances you live. And I love how music, and maybe especially classical music, can be interpreted in so many different ways and mean very different things to different musicians/listeners.

“They (The orchestra) were formed in one of the world's poorest cities and in a country torn apart by war. However, these talented, self-taught musicians and their conductor, Armand Diangienda, carry a message of peace and hope.” – Southbank Centre

I would have loved to see them perform live, but unfortunately their concert is this Sunday at the Southbank Centre and I'll still be in Finland (ironic?). The concert is part of the Africa Utopia event at Southbank, and the orchestra will be joined by members of the BBC Concert Orchestra, National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and HallĂ© Youth Choir. The evening’s programme includes Finlandia and much more.

If you happen to be in London, why no pop in?