Saturday, April 19, 2014

Sunny Easter Eve

Today was Holy Saturday, the Easter Eve and in accordance with Polish tradition we went to bless our Easter basket with food. The blessing used to be performed every year in the Saint Henry's Cathedral in Helsinki. There was + 12 'C in the city, the first really spring warm day this year. Usually we walk with the Easter basket in the snow (look here post from 2012)
Helsinki today looked already ready for the summer season with the parterres of flowers in the streets, blooming daffodiles and crocuses. Aleksis Kivi statue got its own daffodiles as you can see in the picture below. Have a joyful, sunny Easter!

Friday, March 28, 2014

spring revival

According to astronomical calendar spring season began this year on March 20.
Next Sunday clocks go forward one hour and the Summer Time begins officially.
It begins also in the fashion, gardening, cooking and house decorating magazines. 
Here's few examples of the various magazines' titles: (usually written in green or yellow:-)
'The best decorative/gardening/party/craft ... spring ideas'
'Creative ideas for your terrace/balcony/patio'
'Amazing ideas for starting a spring garden'
'Inspiring table spring decoration ideas'
'How to add a seasonal warmth to your home'
'Decorate your home with a springtime style!'
'Make your spring to-do list with us'
'How to give your home a quick spring makeover' ...  etc. etc.
All in the spirit of the upcoming revival of everything around.
They incourage to renovate, redecorate, refresh, rebuild, refurbish, repurpose etc.
You like it or not, the time of the spring revival has come.
I have impression that Finns wait for the spring more than elsewhere. That's understable in place where summer lasts just few months and weather is unsure.
Even so, each year we get with the post a biggish bunch of the free cataloges offering the outdoor furnitures. The assortment is impressing and each year I think, for how many days an average Finn can use these furnitures during summer? I would call it 'selling dreams'. According to the Finnish Meteorological Institute thermal summer begins in southern Finland on average in late May and lasts until mid-September. In the northern parts of Finland summer usually starts about a month later and ends about months earlier. 
After ten summers spent in Finland I can say, they last around two months. They can surprise with hot temperatures ... sometimes :-) 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

salmiakki :-)

From Wikipedia: Salty liquorice, also known as salmiakki or salmiak, is a variety of liquorice flavoured with ammonium chloride. ... people not familiar with ammonium chloride might find the taste physically overwhelming and unlikeable'.
I tried many versions of salmiakki candies and I am familiar with their taste but I still find it physically overwhelming. Maybe I would like them if I was familiar with them as a child? But how even children can stand the hot ones? they are extremely spacy.
I brought salmiakki candies to Poland to my family and friends as an example of the Finnish delicacy. The reactions were expected (yuck, yuck), but one of my uncles liked them! One in few tens of people :-)
 He surprised us all as to him it was tasty.
Salmiakki are very popular in the Nordic countries. 
In Finland you can see salmiakki candies in all grocery stores, kiosks etc., tens of different versions. My sons and husband love salmiakki candies, ice-creams, chewing gums, pastilles, lollipops and all 'sweets' of that taste. 
I like the packet (only the packet!) in the first photo. 
I don't get it, how one can like salmiakki, I don't get it at all!:-) 
Check out this blog about salmiakki I've just found :-) :

Saturday, January 18, 2014

winter excursion to the Sipoonkorpi National Park

There is still minus 15'C outside but there is also sunny and free day today, so we took children for a winter excursion to the Sipoonkorpi National Park. 
It appeared to be great idea. The maps and other information in English about this place you can find from here: Sipoonkorpi National Park and here's link to Directions and Maps.
The whole area of Sipoo is very beautiful all year round
I share some pics:



Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Darkness, imprisoning me!

These Metallica's ONE's lirycs are in my mind recently everytime I look through the window.
There's no as bad as in the song: 'Darkness imprisoning me, All that I see absolute horror,
I cannot live, I cannot die, Trapped in myself, Body my holding cell ...'

But it's hard to believe how much lack of light can influence body and mind.
It has been raining for over three weeks almost constantly. Dark, thick, heavy clouds are over our heads all the time. Electric light is on long 'days'. Today at 9am there was still dark like during night. And we live in the very South of Finland. It's funny to me, when my husband's family from Oulu asks: 'How is it going in the South?' I have no idea how they cope there in much darker North. There's no snow there neigher. I never thought I would miss snow. Ridiculous :-) but snow gives much of light and light gives evergy. Sorry to complain AGAIN about weather. I was writing already about the light and snow (eg.the weather forecast and More light please!) but believe me I did not pay any attention to weather before I moved to Finland. Here the weather determines life largely.
We were sitting home for the loooong Christmas holiday. The Christmas break in school and kindergarten lasted 17 days. For my kids it was 17 days of waiting for snow.  
There was one day with a bit of snow on 6.12, later just rain. 
They predict frost and snow for next week, let's see.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year to All!

After rainy Christmas we had rainy New Year's Eve and now rainy New Year's Day. 
Snowy, frosty winter is not expected in the coming days at all. 
As a consolation days are becoming a bit longer but during such rainy, cloudy days it is hard to force body and mind to be awake.
I wish a very Happy New Year 2014 when there would be no other problems than a rainy weather!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas everyone!

So there is my another Christmas in Finland but this time there is no snow AT ALL! I would call it 'the green Christmas'. According to our neighbour Christmas without snow in Finland is called 'the black Christmas'.
Sounds scary but it's about darkness, the shortest days in year are really dark without snow. I enclose two photos taken in our yard: two from today and one from the last year Christmas Eve. The difference is apparent:-) Have a Merry Christmas no matter white or green or black.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Independence Day vs. Santa Claus

Today, on December 6 Finland celebrates the Independence Day. In the evening as each year this time ca.2000 invited guests take part in the Presidential Independence Day reception (so called Linnan juhlat). It is broadcast live on the national television and is one of the most watched programs on the Finnish television. The event used to be held at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki but this year for the first time in Tampere at Tampere Hall.
So have a good Independence Day Finns! Enjoy watching the presidential ball! 
6 December is widely celebrated in Poland as well but on another occasion. It is feast of Saint Nicholas, who died on 6 December 343. Saint Nicholas (Nikolaos) was bishop of Myra.
His hometown Demre nowadays belongs to Turkey. Saint Nicholas is a patron saint of children and is celebrated by giving gifts to children. In Poland and some other European countries it happens on 6 December. In many countries Santa Claus comes on Christmas, in Poland he comes twice:-)
Polish children cannot see Santa Claus as he comes in the night when they sleep, and hides gifts under their pillows or in their shoes. So parents must be very careful while doing the Santa's job.
I remember well these magic mornings ... and today I just forgot the whole thing!
Fortunately there was no problem with my children. We live in Finland and my sons don't know this tradition as I don't keep it alive. I realize how much their national and cultural identity depends on me. They are half Finnish, half Polish and keeping in them this 'Polish part' is my responsibility.
In Poland forgetting this day would be impossible but we live here. I uphold many Polish traditions but this one I somehow missed.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Autumn photos from Myllyjärvi in Espoo

Myllyjärvi is a small lake in Espoo's Röylä district, north of Lake Bodom. We went with kids for a trip to 'some forest' and found it accidentally last week. We walked it around, it's really beautiful, peaceful place and it looks like it is worth visiting during summer. The lake and its surroundings are nature reserve.
There is a small beach and jetty at the shore. 
Take a look:

Saturday, October 12, 2013

snow all year round

There was interesting article by Reetta Paavilainen in Helsinki edition of Metro newspaper on 10th October.
The last four winters were very snowy in Finland and there is still much of unmelted snow piled in some places. The attached photo shows huge amounts of the last winter snow in a snow dump in Maununneva (neighborhood of Helsinki). This snow will not have possibility to melt by itself before the new snow comes. There are plans to fence this area for security reasons. Snow can be melted in different ways, eg. by district heating, by using waste heat of the district cooling, or using waste heat of the power plant. 
Snow from the Helsinki region is dumped in numerous places but these places are not enough. There are plans to create the new places.
Part of snow is dumped into the sea, but snow from the city is mixed with stones and littered.
About the second photo - I took it from the train window at the Pasila railway station. I would not be surprised by such view somewhere in Lapland, but there were piles of snow in the middle of May in the very centre of Helsinki. We'll see what brings the upcoming winter ...

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Finns - the cell phone makers

I got this link by Facebook from one friend: Le mappe degli stereotipi europei
I have seen already similar, more or less serious maps of the European stereotipes,
but this time I noticed something new.
Five of the twelve mentioned countries associate Finland with the mobile phones. 
In the wake of recent events concerning Nokia this looks really sad. One month ago Nokia's mobile phone business unit was sold to Microsoft. Since late 1990's until last year Nokia was the largest in the world mobile phone supplier. Nokia is to Finns much more than just a company:
YLE UUTISET (Finnish News) 4.9.2013: 'As well as making a huge economic impact, Nokia has had a remarkable psychological significance for Finnish people. The company has, according to some experts, greatly impacted Finns’ self-confidence.' ... 'After the recession, Nokia became a part of Finnishness. The company’s fortunes have had an impact on Finns’ morale, and self-confidence increased as the company's fortunes rose.' Markku Kuisma, a professor of Finnish and Nordic history at Helsinki University says: 'People don’t generally have an emotional connection to companies, but Nokia has aroused very strong feelings, both positive and negative, because its significance to national identity has been so powerful.'
Link to the whole article in English HERE.
Nokia began in 1865 from the pulp production of cables and rubber, i.o. rubber boots .. so the below picture is a truly bitter joke: (from Comedy Corner)

Friday, August 30, 2013

the sharecropper's wife - visiting church in Karkkila

Last month I made one day trip to Karkkila - small city ca.70 km north from Helsinki. While waiting for the bus home I decided to check out the nicely looking church at the main square.
The church appeared to be relatively old, it was built in 1781.
I found out, that Christianity arrived in this area (western Uusimaa) already in XII century.
There is old cemetery in the yard around the church. I was surprised seeying such inscription on the gravestone: 'Here rests (name, last name) the sharecropper's wife', or information that sb was a master of the house, and information who was married to whom, altogehter with their children names. If interested, I would get quite clear picture of 'who was who' in this place in the XVIII and XIX century. 
I noticed that the most popular name there was the royal Swedish name 'Kustaa' (Gustaf).
About the church: I share some photos as I found it charming. I would like to mention note intended for parishioners on the parish board: 'During holly masses in the Karkkila church we offer the gluten-free communion wafers. Non-alcoholic wine available on request'. 
That's so mindful indeed!
Summing up I would say, Karkkila and neighborhood is peaceful, quiet and beautiful. An ideal place to visit for nature-loving people. Photo below: stained glass in Karkkila Church: 'Birth of Christ'.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

foreigner forever

I hope to see more of Finland in the future so I could share impressions also in this blog. My friend just came from the most northern parts of Finland. I must go there one day (with a good camera). Amazing sceneries. Anyhow I got some new impressions without distant travels.
I have been living in Finland for about 9years now and I realized I would always be foreigner here. Knowing the language helps a lot but I will never get rid of a strange accent and imperfect pronunciation. Grammar mistakes happen as well. (about learning Finnish I wrote in post: Finnish IS difficult.) But this is not only about language - this is about character, personality, culture, my past, my almost 30years of  living in a different reality. 
I have already accepted my position as the eternal foreigner and I am sure I am not the only one who moved to another country with such feeling. This is not complaining. That's the situation to cope with and I share my thoughts on this subject. Sometimes I face funny situations and sometimes I need to have thick skin. Pardon my foreignity:-) I respect Finnish way of life, culture etc. but I see no reason to attempt to transform into a Finn. It would be ridiculous anyway.
I was buying Finnish gifts for my family, and the nice saleswoman offered me very colourful wrapping paper and ribbon. She explained me, that presumably I would not be pleased with the typical Finnish white, blue or grey tints, cause as she said I seemed not to be Finnish. Nice, talkative young woman, and very attentive:-)
When I talk to a strange Finn, I hear the question: 'Where are you from?' almost always.
I do not feel offended nor hurt. They notice I'm not from here and they ask. It's understandable
Immigration to Finland is relatively fresh phenomenon and it rose tremendously in recent years. There were not many foreigners here 20 years ago. Look at the picture I got from Wikipedia: (Allophones, i.e. residents with another native language than Finnish, Swedish or Sami, in Finland, 1980-2011, according to Statistics Finland)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

blueberries versus pickled cucumbers

When we visited north of Finland I noticed many people collecting blueberries (mustikka). In the Finnish woods there are also cloudberries (lakka) and of course raspberries (vadelma) and the wood berries (metsä mansikka). Later comes sesason for the lingonberries (puolukka) and the northern cranberries (karpalo).
In Poland most people pick up berries for pleasure in the free time but many Finns take it seriously as the summer thing to do.
They are not happy with few baskets but they preserve berries for the winter in the fridges. The berries can be eaten just sweetened eg. with a  porridge or pancakes. They can be used to make a cake, jam, juice, soup, compote or some syrup.
In Poland we used to prepare the pickled cucumbers (ogórki kiszone). Totally different taste than in Finland:-)
Of course Poles make also jams, compots etc. from the berries and fruits, but the pickled cucumbers seem to be the most common preserve for the winter. Today we made the pickles, and the blueberries are in the fridge as well. Two cultures in one home.
Preserves what we made today contain cucumbers, garlic, dill, roots of the horseradish and the oak leaves, all in the salty water. In the 1st picture Antoni at work, cleaning up the blueberries.

Monday, July 22, 2013

St. Mary Magdalene's feast day - 'Kristus ja Mataleena' by A.Edelfelt

Hi to everyone after few weeks of the holiday brake. We travelled a bit here and there, I will share some photos later, but today is my nameday, so I will write about Saint Mary Magdalene - with the Finnish references of course. I wrote about my favourite Finnish painter Albert Edelfelt in this post: Amazing Albert Edelfelt, but today I want to remind his great painting from 1890 'Kristus ja Mataleena' (Christ and Mary Magdalene).
Edelfelt set the biblical scene of Mary Magdalena meeting resurrected Jesus Christ in the Finnish landscape. Inspiration came from Elias Lönnrot's 'Kanteletar' collection of folk poetry.
Sad expression on the Magdalene's face had the real, tragic reason. Magdalene's model was Edelfet's servant. Her fiancé deceased shortly before. Edelfelt was working on this painting long months.He prepared a lot of sketches to finally gain the scene looking as he imagined. Mary Magdalene looks scared and surprised with eyes full of tears.  
Model for the Jesus Christ was painter Magnus Enckell. He chose him for a model to give Jesus' face more esprit.
The painting is in the Ateneum Art Museum in Helsinki. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Midsummer at Kaunissaari. Juhannus Kaunissaaressa

Kaunissaari (Fagerö) is island in Sipoo about 1 hour by boat from Vuosaari in Helsinki. The name of the island means 'the beautiful island' and the island is beautiful indeed. Updated information about the island you find here. I will put just pictures from our 'Juhannus trip' last weekend. We set up our tent by the sea. The Moon looked exceptionally big but my camera didn't see it, so it looks normal in the photo. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Have a nice Midsummer! Hyvää Juhannusta!

I have just came back from holiday in Poland. After more or less 10years spent in Finland I do not feel so much like being home there ... neither here. I guess many people that moved to the other country as an adult person share this strange feeling. I was thinking about voting - do I have actually right to decide about Polish issues when I do not live there myself? But I do not want to start heavy subjects right now, I would like to share photo I took from the plane yesterday evening while landing in Vantaa - SO GREEN Finland, so beautiful view.  No wonder why Finns celebrate so much these days - I wish a great Midsummer to everyone!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Moomins

I don't know why I haven't written about Moomins so far. I was reading all the books about them already as a child, and now my sons love the Moomins as well.  
The Moomins are characters of a series of nine books and a comic strip created by Tove Jansson within years 1945-1970. Tove Marika Jansson (1914 – 2001) was a Swedish-Finn novelist, painter, illustrator and a comic strip author. She has also illustrated the Moomin books.
m1.gifThe Moomins resembles white hippopotamuses. The main characters are Moominpappa, Moominmamma, Moomintroll,
the Snork Maiden.
The non-Moomin characters of the series are a.i. Little My,  Sniff, Snufkin, Stinky, Hemulens, the Groke and the Hattifatteners. Each of the characters has its own character and sees the world in its own way. The Moomins and other characters live in Moominvalley somewhere in Finland and have many amazing adventures.
The stories were written for children but I know many adults enjoying reading them. The Moomin World charms with its unique atmosphere. The stories include admirable insights for life, friendship, understanding, feelings, dreams, courage and pondering what really matters. 
All the Moomins books became very successful and have been translated into over thirty languages. The Moomins got also their movie, TV series, theatre, radio, opera and comic strip versions. There is amusement park based on the Moomin books - "Moomin World" in Naantali near Turku, and the Moomin museum in Tampere. 
Below are some of my favourite quotes from the Moomin stories:
"You can't ever be really free if you admire somebody too much."  
"I like stars more than anything else.I watch them as I fall asleep and wonder who lives on them and how to get there. The night sky looks so friendly with all those little twinkling eyes."
"Moomintroll closed his eyes and surmised: How different we all are, really."
"When one’s dead, one’s dead… This squirrel will become earth all in his time. And still later on, there’ll grow new trees from him, with new squirrels skipping about in them. Do you think that’s so very sad?"

(photo nr 1 from photo nr 2 from the book: 'Muumilaakson tarinoita')

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Angry Birds .. they are everywhere

In December 2009 Finnish company Rovio from Espoo (nowadays Rovio Entertainment Ltd.) released a video game for the iPhone called Angry Birds (AB). The success of this game is enormous. It has since been downloaded so far over 1 billion times worldwide. There were created many versions and special editions of the game, but the birds became successfull not only as a game. The characters are extremely popular and used for the TV shows and animations. There is "Angry Birds land" in Särkänniemi amusement park in Tampere and "Angry Birds Activity Parks" arranged by Holiday Club).
The AB character playing hockey was the official mascot of the 2012 Ice Hockey World Championships. The Angry Birds brand market has grown like crazy over just few years and it looks like spreading the brand image still goes ahead.
I will list here only the products I have come across in Finland: there are Angry Birds board games, books, puzzles, playing cards, various kinds of toys (plush, plastic, rubber), clothes, rucksacks, bags, school accessories, belts, caps, bedclothes, towels, mugs, plates, shampoos, soaps, table-cloths, serviettes, party costumes and masks, helmets, sledges, sweets: candies, chocolates, chewing gum, lollipops (link to Fazer's AB offer) ... and Angry Birds advent calendars.
Angry Birds-branded soda drinks (offered in four flavours) got in Finland more consumers than Cola and Pepsi last year. Helsinki OP Bank has in offer credit cards with pictures of the Angry Birds characters. Finland’s leading coffee company Paulig has introduced the Angry Birds coffees (Early Bird and Explosive Espresso).
I decided to write about the Angry Birds' phenomenon after seeying the Angry Birds doughnuts in the corner grocery store ... 
(Here's link to a web page with the Angry Birds Inspired products)