Saturday, 28 May 2016

a Balcony Flowerpot Garden

Summer is here! Can you believe that? Yesterday was quite coldish and today I was biking wearing shorts and a t-shirt. I have been out the whole day doing gardening, first at the work party raking our common yard and then at my own balcony. Now I finally dared to buy the summer flowers as there is no fear that they would freeze at night. This year my theme with flowers was cyclamen red and orange. I picked different shades of red and mixed with orange. These pictures are straight after planting so it takes time that these will set to their places better. My budget with flowers was 20€ which was enough as I already had green plants from inside and some roses. Flags are made of coated tablecloth fabric and they have served for 3-4 years even though I use to have these through the summer in every weather. Red seventies table is from a flea market, plastic carpets from a sale. All the items have been bought couple of years ago but still in good shape and working well.

It is one of the luxuries of life to sit on a balcony drinking coffee and reading a good interiors magazine. Tomorrow on Sunday morning I can wake up admiring these flowers and listening to birds song. What a perfect way to start a day :)

When I haven´t been gardening I have been painting and removing paint. Soon I will have three projects to show you. In the meantime, enjoy the summer!


Wednesday, 25 May 2016

the New Classy Cabbage

Cabbage and carrots, what could be a better symbol for slightly boring everyday food. At least in Finland these traditional ingredients have been a little bit unpopular for the past few years when new exiting kitchens have been introduced to us. Nowadays when people have become more and more interested in organic and/or near the home produced food homey and traditional recipes are enjoying a new renaissance. It is a huge trend to cook pure and honest home food. We are relearning our traditional recipes. High quality products offer a good base for cooking healthy food  and nothing keeps us from adding a little twist to the good old granny recipes.

Cabbage stew is quite traditional in Finland. Usually it is done by mixing white cabbage, carrots, onion, water, syrup and some spices like salt, pepper and marjoram. Most people also add some minced meat. This kind of stew is a mix of sweet (sweetness comes from the cabbage and syrup) and savory and fills your stomach well.

When I went to Chinese restaurant I had a taste of cooked Chinese cabbage. When I was young we had raw Chinese cabbage with pineapple chunks as a salad at school restaurant and I never kind of grew into like C. cabbage. Now I found this ingredient again, when it was cooked it had a completely different taste! This is were I got the idea of mixing white cabbage and Chinese cabbage. I also wanted the texture be a bit different from traditional Finnish cabbage stew and cut everything to thin slices. The little extra to the taste comes from lemon peel and juice. Here it comes: the New Classy Cabbage!

the New Classy Cabbage


1/2 white cabbage
1/2 Chinese cabbage
2 dl vegetable bouillon
1 onion
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 red paprika
3 small carrots
1 lemon (peel plus 1/2 of the juice)
soy sauce
brown syrup
black pepper

1. Cut all vegetables to thin slices. 

2. Heat the oil in the casserole and add the onion. Let the onion get a golden color. Add some syrup and soy sauce.

3. Add the vegetable bouillon (if you are using a bouillon cube add the cube and 2 dl water). Let the mix boil and add the white cabbage.

4. When the white cabbage gets a bit softer add carrots and paprika.

5. Add Chinese cabbage and lemon peel and let the mix stew on a mild temperature. When all the vegetables are a bit al dente, spice with lemon juice, salt and black pepper. 

Ready to serve! If you make a big casserole this dish can be put to the freezer and it becomes a savior for a busy day.

What are your favorite traditional recipes? Have you noticed that once unfashionable recipes have become a new trend?


Friday, 20 May 2016

DIY: Color for the Kitchen

Kitchen dreams
Living on a rent dreaming of a self designed fully functioning kitchen, but in the meanwhile trying to manage with what is given. Does that sound familiar? What comes to living space we have lots of dreams and wishes. Blogs and magazines are good source on inspiration but sometimes make us feel unsatisfied with the reality. I have had often this kind of feelings. The house is full of materials and solutions I would never pick if I would be given the the keys to design my own home. After several years of living on a rent I have changed my attitude. Instead of limitations I have started to see all the possibilities to change my home into a space that represents my personality and lifestyle.

Food is one of our basic needs. Kitchen is the place where we can enjoy food: cook, bake, eat and share a common table with our family and friends. It would be sad not to enjoy your kitchen just because the cupboards are wrong color or the space itself is too small. I spend a lot of time in my small kitchen space (it is not an actual room with a door, that is why I say space). I love trying new recipes, taking care of my plants (kitchen is the best place for that because it situates near the balcony), reading on a kitchen table and of course eating. I often listen to music in the kitchen to get into that right mood for cooking; When I am dealing with colorful veggies and spices I like to dance  and when baking a cake silent classical music is the best. Taking all these activities that take place in the kitchen it is only natural that there is always something in progress.  It is the color of life that the homes are designed for. So don´t feel anxious about a messy kitchen (or any other corner of your home) it only tells that your home is a place for living.

Now a few simple projects to add some concrete color to your kitchen. Pick a color you like and start making. 

After I tried hand knitted cotton dishrags I have not needed those sold in the supermarkets. You can wash these dishrags in 60 Celsius degrees. 

How to make these dishrags?
Create 40 or 50 loops depending on how thin the yarn is. Then just knit until you have a square. Then change the color and take a crocheting hook: 1st round: Crochet with simple crochets around the square. 2nd round: *4 simple crochets, every fifth loop crochet "one simple crochet, chain 5, one slip stitch, chain 5, one slip stitch, chain 5, one slip stitch (=flower)"*    *-* repeat. To the last corner make a hanger: chain 15, a slip stitch to the following 2 loops. Turn and make simple crochets around the ring until it is covered. One slip stitch next to the beginning of the ring. 

Did you know that you can remove brown stains from the stove with a little sugar cube? Dip a corner of the cube to water and rub off the stains.

How to make these potholders?
Take a big crochet hook and colorful carpet rag. Chain 16 and make simple crochets beginning from the second from the hook. Always when you turn to go to the next round chain one. Make about 18 rounds using simple crochets to form a square. Then change the color of the yarn and crochet simple crochets around the square, to the last corner make a hanger by chaining 11 and crocheting one simple crochet to the next loop.

My small recycling center
Recycling is one of the challenges in a small kitchen. There is always too little space for all the buckets. I have removed the garbage cart to get one extra bucket to the cabin. Modern recycling requirements do not meet with the nineties kitchen design. I am recycling bio waste, energy waste, glass, metals, cardboard waste, bottles and papers. Anything else goes to either non recyclable waste or special waste. Planning is needed to have this all organized. But the best thing is that I have to take the garbage just about once in a week! Plus I could not deal with the bad conscious that follows if I don´t recycle... I warmly recommend to take this recycling matter seriously. I know that every land/ town has it´s own recycling guidelines so take the time and read more how the recycling is done at your area.

Dye old white curtains 
You might remember these old white curtains. Well now I got these dyed with washing machine color.  I really like the result and how simple it was to use washing machine color.

These were my ideas how to add some color to the kitchen. Don´t forget the lampshade DIY project that I made a few weeks ago!
What kind of solutions have you made in your kitchen? What kind of colors do you prefer in the kitchen?

Wishing you all a good and relaxed weekend!


Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Summer Colors 2016: Pink and Silver + a DIY Chair Makeover

I think my summer colors 2016 will be pale pink and silver with lots of green coming from the plants and flowers. I thought few weeks ago that the candle season will be over for a while but now I have been lighting candles actually more often than during the winter season. Transparent glass and silver plus some flowers make the look so fresh and festive.

Romantic pastels are the keywords to this chair makeover too. This might become my new blogging chair. At least this is very comfortable chair to sit.

One more reason to why I painted the chair was that I found another 50´s cabinet (at the picture) and it begun to feel that I have too much unpainted wood in my home. To avoid the thrift shop look (as much as I love thrift shops :) I choose to transform this one piece with a classy and quite neutral color.

Before pictures. I found the chair two years ago from the garbage. It has been in my home ever since and I have liked it just the way it was. Now it was just the right time and mood for a little makeover.

This was the first time I painted with chalk paint. The good thing with chalk paint is that it does not require sanding or primer. I just cleaned the chair and painted it 4 times to cover off the dark brown color.

After painting I choose the right fabric to match with the paint. This velvet is from the Ottobre fabric shop.

I used the former cover fabric as a model when I cut a new cover. Inside pillow is made using shell cushion technique.  Here is a link to my former post where you can see a shell cushion. I used the wooden piece to measure the inside pillow and added 5-7 cm to every measure. The basic idea is to sew a huge pillow and then divide it to "pipes" that you fill with the wadding (when filling the cushion it will shrink to its wanted size). Idea in this technique is that the wadding won´t go to uneven lumps. 

With these flowers I wist you all a very good and inspiring week!

ps. What are your colors for this summer? What kind of decorations are you making for the coming summer season?

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Mixed beans and barley stew with fresh green lentil salad

Mixed beans and barley stew

You will need:

vegetarian oil
one onion
4 garlic cloves
500 g cherry tomatoes
400 g mixed beans in water (pinto, cannelini, kidney)
1 dl barley
lemon juice
salt and black pepper

1. Chop the onion to four pieces. Peel the garlic cloves. Was the cherry tomatoes. Heat the vegetarian oil in a frying pan. Add the onions, garlic and cherry tomatoes. Let the tomatoes and onions give their juice and soften.

2. Add the basil and mix it to the juice. Pour off the water from the mixed beans and add the beans to the pan. Let the food stew for some minutes. 

3. Add the barley. When the barley is cooked spice the food: Put some salt, black pepper, lemon juice and olives. Mix properly.

Fresh green lentil salad

You will need:

400 g Green lentils in water
2 dl parsley
8 cherry tomatoes
one red onion
lemon juice
salt and black pepper

1. Chop tomatoes. Mince the red onion and parsley.
2. Pour of the water from the lentils. Mix all ingredients together.
3. Spice the salad with lemon juice, salt and black pepper.

I also made simple guacamole with white bread by mixing 2 avocados, minced red onion, salt, black pepper and lemon juice.

I have been so into cooking lately. Must be the early summer days that encourage to try new recipes and spend time in the kitchen experimenting with fresh vegetables and herbs. 

I believe that the simple the better. With salt, black pepper, onion and lemon juice plus some herbs you cannot go wrong. Beans/lentils are both tasty and nutritional food and are easy to prepare if you choose to use canned versions. 

Feel free to experiment in your kitchen and do not feel pressure to make your food to look as it is in the recipe. By accident you might find your own version and next favorite food (this has happened to me many times..)

Greetings from the kitchen