Saturday, 24 June 2017

Prepare a Finnish Style Breakfast


Hope you are enjoying the best Midsummer weekend! I tend to spend holiday weekends at home: I keep no shopping days, do crafts that need more concentrating and relaxed mind, read, watch DVDs and prepare good food. Yesterday I sew all day listening to top 100 Finnish favorites from the radio. These kind of slow floating days are perfect for mind. After a day or two practicing silent no fuss life I feel I have gathered so much energy and inspiration. Sometimes there can be too many activities and ideas. Slow days that give space for thoughts are essential for creativity and development of ideas. 

To celebrate long weekends and slow, yet creative, lifestyle I have gathered a luxurious breakfast table with the most simple ingredients and easy recipes. My inspiration comes from everyday Finnish breakfast but instead of just grabbing the most important meal of the day straight from the fridge I have put effort on display and preparing the dishes with care. There is a difference between microwaved and long cooked kettle porridge, you see. Tasty Finnish berries in a soup, oatmeal porridge and rye bread are classics. And as every luxurious breakfast this one too ends up with strong black coffee and sweet rhubarb pie. What a better way to start a good day!




Oatmeal porridge with Berry Soup

For the porridge

2 dl Oatmeal
2 tbsp Wheat bran
1/2 L Water
Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower..)

Put together oatmeal, whet bran, water and pressed seeds to a kettle. Cook until it starts to boil, stir properly. When boiling turn to milder temperature and let cook properly. The longer you cook on mild temperature the better the result. 

For the Berry Soup

1 L Water
400 g Berries (I used raspberry, strawberry, 
blackcurrant and redcurrant mix plus one rhubarb)
3 tbsp Potato flour
Sugar
Vanilla sugar 

Put water and berries to a kettle and cook. Mix together cold water and potato flour. When berries and water are boiling take the kettle off and pour in the potato flour mix and stir properly. You don´t have to use all potato flour in case the soup begins to look thick with less. You can also add more potato flour if needed. Be sure to mix in the flour when the soup is still hot. Mix in sugar and vanilla sugar according to taste.



Bread selection

Rye bread is very Finnish and one of the things most Finns miss when they are abroad. I also put crisp rye bread to the table as I love it and I always have it in my kitchen cabinets. For the white bread I chose oat bread rolls.

Because I don´t eat meat except fish and seafood, I chose vegetarian substitute for cold cuts and sausage. Other quite typical fillings for breakfast sandwich are cheese, cucumber, paprika, tomato and butter. I also boiled eggs that can be sliced to a bread or eat separately.

For drink I have got blueberry juice that is made of Finnish blueberries. What is special about Finnish berries is that when sun shines through the midsummer nights they grow in a relatively short time gaining exceptionally good and strong taste .


Then it is time for strong black coffee and rhubarb pie. Blueberry, lingonberry, strawberry and rhubarb pies are traditional in Finland. What is best is that they are super easy to make and you can vary the fillings according to the seasons. 


Rhubarb Pie

~5 Rhubarbs
150 g Butter
1 1/2 dl Sugar
3 1/2 dl Wheat flour
1 tsp Vanilla sugar
1 tsp Baking powder
1/2 dl Milk (you can use oatmilk)
1 Egg

Peel and chop the rhubarbs. Put rhubarbs and little bit of sugar to a bowl and cook in microwave oven for few minutes until the rhubarbs are a bit softer. Melt the butter.  Mix together sugar, flour, baking powder and vanilla sugar. Pour in the melted butter and mix properly. Separate about 1 1/2 dl of the pastry. To the rest of the pastry add milk and egg. Mix properly. Butter a pie mold and press the pastry to the bottom. Then spread the rhubarbs evenly on the top of the pastry. Sprinkle the separated pastry on top (makes nice crispy texture). Bake in preheated oven 180 Celsius degrees until the pie has gotten a bit of a golden brown color. Serve with cream, ice cream or vanilla sauce. 


Happy Saturday and Midsummer everyone! There is a little bit sunshine outdoors so I am heading for a walk :)


Sannu

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Midsummer DIY: Boho Dreamcatcher


Happy summer solstice! Midsummer is here and it is the best time to pick flowers and wander in the fresh green nature. Midsummer is one of the biggest annual festivals in Finland and quite many people prepare festive food from seasons ingredients, spend time as near the nature as possible and just relax.  In my childhood Midsummer was also time to make midsummer magic. One traditional magic is to pick 7 flowers from different species and put them under a pillow at Midsummer night. That way you can see your future fiancé in your dream.  Believe if you like :D In my mind Midsummer's theme color is white paired with green. This is why I want to share this delicate bohemian style dreamcatcher DIY with you. Make one for gift or decorate your garden with a few dreamcatchers hanging from the trees. Perfect project to make on a rainy day when you are wearing woolen socks and listening to radio. 



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Boho Dreamcatcher

Metal ring
Lace cloth
Garden twine
Small branches
Ribbon

Japanese saw
Drilling machine
Drill 3mm
Needle
Scissors

Note: Lace cloth and metal ring should be about same size so that it is easy to attach to the ring.


Here I have got material for two dreamcatchers, small and medium.


Step 1. Take 5 small branches. Saw off the uneven end from one side of the branch. Drill 3mm hole to the same end near the cut (see picture).


 These branches are ready to use in the project.


Step 2. Usually it is easy to see the corners of the lace cloth and attach the cloth from every corner to the ring. If your cloth is perfect round attach evenly the cloth for example from every 3rd loop. Take a piece of garden twine and using needle thread the twine from the loop.


Make a knot around the ring. Do other corners / loops similarly.



Step 3. All corners done. Cut off the extra long twines to have nice even tassels.


Step 4. Attach the branches to the one side of the ring so that they hang beautifully under the ring.


Step 5. Then it is time to finish the dream catcher with ribbon leftovers. Tie the ribbons near the branches.

***


It was so relaxing to make these catchers. I think these are beautiful bohemian style decorations for Midsummer garden party. Add some nature flowers and the look is complete. These are also pretty indoor for example in bedroom ceiling or windows.  This is a fun way to use old lace cloths that are easy to find from thrift shops. Some decades ago crocheting lace was very popular. Quite often I see skilled lace cloths that must have taken hours to make. There is a limit how many cloths I need to use on table so making dreamcathers everyone can admire is a honorable way to use these skilled crafts.

Wishing The best Midsummer Weekend to You All!

Sannu

Friday, 9 June 2017

Finnish Cuisine: Herring fillets with new potatoes


To celebrate the weekend and that I finally got my recipe page organized I share this simple and tasty summer dish. On my updated recipe page I have divided the recipes in two categories: Finnish cuisine and Global cuisine. In global cuisine I have listed all recipes from tortilla to barlotto and amaranth chickpea patties. Under the Finnish cuisine I have recipes that are traditional Finnish recipes or use ingredients that are typically Finnish. I have long wanted to extend the list of Finnish cuisine recipes on my blog and what could be better time to start this project than summer when the best veggies and berries are available. Finnish recipes are usually relatively simple, use just few ingredients per dish and follow the seasons to achieve the best quality.  Recipe that I am sharing today is real fast food! Beautiful herring fillets are prepared in few minutes and new potatoes need just a little bit of butter and spring onion to make a luxurious side dish.  


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Herring Fillets


Herring fillets
Egg
Breadcrumbs
Vegetarian oil
Salt
Dill
Lemon juice


Break the egg in to a bowl and whisk. Put breadcrumbs in to the second bowl. Dip a fillet to the egg bowl so that it is covered properly. Then roll the fillet in the breadcrumbs. Prepare the rest of the fillets similarly. 


Fry the fillets on a hot pan with vegetarian oil from both sides until golden brown. Sprinkle a little bit of salt on top. Serve with fresh lemon and dill.


New Potatoes in Butter


Potatoes
Spring onion
Butter

Wash potatoes thoroughly and cook. Pour off the water. Add butter and chopped spring onion when potatoes are still warm. Serve when butter has melted.

***


Friday luxury at it's best. Pure, tasty food from season's ingredients. It was wonderful to carry the plates to the balcony and enjoy good food on a sunny summer day. And you know, the leftover fillets are excellent on rye bread with a bit of butter on it.




Happy Weekend to you all!

Sannu

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Notes Behind a Huge Book Pile

How many of you have ever set up a goal to read more? There are so many excellent books that one lifetime will never be enough to read through all great ones that would definitely be worth reading. Still it would feel sad to give up and not even try. Most often people refer to the lack of time when it comes to reading more. Then there are extremely busy people who seem to complete many books per month despite all their other duties. What are they doing differently?



When I track my time consumption I always come up with the result that I could plan my time better plus leave out some not so beneficial habits. Number one bad habit I usually list is watching television. I have had many projects to get rid of the TV, but as often I have sneaked it in to my life some way. I don´t see no point why not to watch great series, movies, documentary, concerts etc. What I hate is that I consume my precious time surfing from program to program when there is actually nothing on TV. My solution for now has been to keep the traditional TV (machine) closed and watch programs I really want to see on player. I also try to narrow the series I am following because it seems that there are so many great ones that I could spend my whole life following other people's imagined life´s on screen, laugh!

Quite often it is challenging to get focused. I didn't use to have this problem but I have noticed that nowadays the lack of focus is one of my main challenges what ever I do. Different activities yell to various directions so that it is difficult to soak in to the current task, enjoy making and get finished. Luckily I have been able to train myself with fast results. I started a bullet journal about a month ago and it has helped a lot. I have used to do lists before but somehow I always booked too many activities for one day. As a result activities that would have been great for training concentration, like reading, long walks, drawing, were usually left out and forgotten. Before I started keeping BuJo I listed things that I would like to do more in my life, but that were at some point left on the background.  When I evaluated my goals in life with the current situation I noticed that two major themes were lacking attention. I have always valued reading and being curious about world around us. Also I would like to spend more time outdoors, do sports, eat healthy and live a well balanced life.

After this notion I decided to book time for planning, writing and drawing BuJo every evening. I made a tracker where I listed all these activities and booked time for them in the calendar. Instead of just listing reading, I put a goal to read 100 pages per day. I knew that 100 pages is not much if I get hooked on reading, I have read full books in one day. I thought 100 pages would work best because it gives time to go in to reading mode instead of just browsing the book and rushing to other activities. With this pace it would also be possible to finish books in a motivating schedule.

Mostly I read before going to bed. First it was difficult but then I noticed that some evenings I had read more than 100 pages because the story took in. My imagination began to work better and I lived through the books seeing pictures and hearing the sounds. More often the TV stayed closed when I wanted to know how the book ends.  Also not watching screens before bedtime made me sleep better even though we are heading towards the midnight sun and it is broad daylight 24 hours. I began the reading project at the same time with BuJo, 17.5., and I read 5 books in May!

On May I read

Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid's Tale. I wanted to read this novel from 1985 because it is now a series in Hulu (haven't seen the series) and I thought is must hold some current themes. This is quite brutal dystopia and pictures a world where women and men have strict roles in the society. Especially women have little if any power to their lives and it is told how the evolution from the world we know to this not so bright future has gone. This story gives lot to think about and makes you pay attention how to sustain equality. Still I wonder which one would make us work harder for better future, scary dystopia we want to avoid or inspiring utopia?

Amélie Nothomb: Tokyo Fiancée (orig. Ni d'Eve, ni d'Adam). Hilarious notions about cultural differences between Europe and Japan. Amélie has spent her childhood in Japan and now comes back as young adult. She begins to teach French to learn Japan herself. Little incidents she describes intelligently were interesting to read.

A S Byatt: Possession: A Romance. Two academics find a lost correspondence between Victorian era poets and begin to find out the tale of these two people no-one had known to combine together. This book was not an easy read because it had so many elements like letters, poems and diaries. The structure made me feel like I would be making a research with the documents so that in the end it was rewarding when all elements were bound together and the picture of the two poets was complete.

Emma Cline: The Girls. Excellent, modern and smart novel about how it is to be a girl. Evie Boyd has been left alone by her best fried and has whole summer ahead. She notices a group of girls and gets drawn into a cult similar to the Charles Manson's. When I read this J. D. Salinger´s The Catcher in the Rye came in to my mind, same kind of excellence in capturing the movements of young mind and restless life situation without judging.

Zadie Smith: Swing Time. Smith pictures multicultural London in the 80s and 90s and two girls who share the common interest for dance. With different backgrounds both girls head to the future through same dance classes and become friends. Their lives are bound in adulthood even though they go in to different directions. Main character makes a career as a personal assistant for famous singer, job that takes her to Africa and USA.

( I read all books in Finnish but I put names in English so that it would be easier for you to find same books in case you are interested.)

Now that I have created a huge reading appetite I spend hours just searching new books to read. There are many good sites to browse book reviews and get recommendations. I follow for example Modern Mrs Darcy, which is my favorite blog about books and reading. I also enjoy browsing Goodreads when ever I want to know more about some book and read reviews.  Goodreads makes it easier for me to decide what would fit to the current reading mood. The New Yorker Page-Turner has interesting articles about books, authors and current societal topics. When I like to ad some notable modern classics to my must read list I usually browse Pulitzer Fiction winners, Nobel Prizes in literature and The Man Booker Prize for Fiction. Also one should never forget to talk about books and ask for recommendations. I told on Instagram about my reading plans and got in to great discussion with @making.house.a.home.blog (Making a House a Home), who gave me excellent book recommendations, thanks again (I already read one of A. Nothomb's books on May:)!



My list of must reads grows every day and I had to come with a solution that would fix the challenge of reading them all. There is no way to put books on the list in order so that the most essential to read would be first and I could start reading books as on the list. Great books have been written through the centuries and many excellent ones have been published just this year.

Inspired by the book challenges (see example the results on Pinterest) with categories I made a list for June that has nine categories: long book, classic, new 2017, Finnish book (because I am Finnish), current, scifi/fantasy, historical, nonfiction and not originally English. I think this might be the best way to learn more and get that book pile a little bit shorter from each category. This method gives a chance to choose what ever books feel the most interesting at the time. So I don´t have to force myself to read a classic that doesn´t feel appealing at the time just because I have a list of must read classics. It might be that I can not get through all the categories in one month but I can continue in July and when I have finished start the categories from the beginning in case this method works.

Happy Thursday to you all from me behind the book pile!

Sannu

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Garden Chair Makeover with Sporty Colors + Retro Bunting



Summer and outdoor space to decorate, what a great opportunity to play with colors you would not usually mix in your indoor decor. The minute I saw my red retro table on thrift shop I was in love. Color was bright and glossy like a hot summer day. Ever since it has been accompanied by two basic plain white chairs. This spring the chairs looked like they have been one winter too many in the cold and rain. Paint was dripping and metal parts were rusty. Poor old chairs yelled color. I chose intense colors that would match for the table. 

As I wrote on my last post about mosaic pots, my balcony theme of the year is colorful camping. This very broad theme allows me to use as many colors as I want to and put together a fun collection of kitschy items. Chairs and table form a nice 60s / 70s inspired entity that connects stylishness with unprejudiced approach towards color combinations. When I got the chairs finished Sean Connery 007 in Goldfinger came to my mind. You know that scene when he comes to the pool wearing light blue playsuit? These chairs would fit to that scene perfectly. To make the chairs work as a pair and to highlight the sporty colors I swapped two boards with each other. This way the chairs got personalized and more interesting look.



To the chair makeover you will need:

Two old chairs
Spray paint in three colors
Tool to scratch off the old dripping paint
Sanding paper (+machine)
Safety glasses, mask and gloves


Step 1. Scratch off the dripping paint. Chairs that I was working with were mostly worn out from the sitting part. Back pieces were in good shape so I didn't force the paint off.


Step 2. Sand the wooden parts. I let the paint that was stack to be and just sanded it a little bit.


Step 3. Screw off the wooden parts.


Step 4. Spray paint the metal parts with white. For wooden parts use blue spray paint for one chair and yellow to the other. Let dry properly.

Step 5. Swap similar, but different colored, wooden boards to get a fun stripe to the back. Attach the wooden parts.



I also made a fun retro bunting from old 50s-70s pennants. I found the pennants from a thrift shop and wondered if they would cope outdoor in different weathers. Well, I bought transparent plastic fabric (3€/meter) and sew the pennants inside the bunting flags. If you don´t want to use pennants you can use fabric scraps or choose a plastic fabric that is not transparent.



To the retro bunting you will need:

Pennants or fabric triangles
Transparent plastic fabric
Sewing yarn
String


Step 1. Fold one side of the fabric so that the pennants fit in. Draw 1 cm sewing allowance around the pennant. Leave a 1,5 cm space to the fold for the string.


Step 2. Sew around following the pennant's lines.


Step 3. Thread the string to the fold. Put tape around the string to make the threading easier. Make rest of the flags similarly. 




Yesterday I was bold enough to buy few flowers. Weather forecasts promise real summer at the end of the next week! The minute the thermometer hits +20 C I am outside with sunglasses and cold lemonade. After all, summer consist of little drops of sun to cherish and large piles of cold and rain to deny when it happens.



Now it is just to wait for the summer weathers! Have a wonderful and relaxing weekend!

Sannu