Lately

Bakery went to make sand cakes
Bakery went to make sand cakes

Somehow recently I have had other things in mind than posting here.

Coffee and hand-made raw treats in Johan&Nyström
Coffee and hand-made raw treats in Johan&Nyström

I visited Helsinki and spent some quality time with some quality friends

Essence of summer and Finnish design
Essence of summer and Finnish design

Besides Helsinki, I went to Kuopio and to our summer cottage, visited relatives and celebrated my cousin’s confirmation. Other than that, I’ve been pretty happily occupied with sweets.

Raw protein bars with and without chocolate frosting, banana chocolate cake and other raw treats
Raw protein bars with and without chocolate frosting, banana chocolate cake and other raw treats

Succeeding in “baking” and making people smile when they taste my creations is incredibly rewarding! Recently I have also enjoyed exercising (kettlebell, wohoo!) and berry picking. I keep on finding new spots with raspberries, yay! Still no blueberries in the freezer for the winter, though…

In the near future I will be in Helsinki, working in Flow Festival. After that, my future is pretty blank. There is an itch to move, but I am not sure about the destination. Any suggestions?

Smart cider
Smart cider
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Mökki party

There are roughly half million summer cottages in Finland; I suppose we just can’t get enough of our nearly 200,000 lakes, plus we need some more space and privacy, and some time off from our neighbors. I am still learning how to love the cottage life in our family summer house near Kuopio, but sunny, warm weather and parties like the one last weekend certainly make it easier to go to the woods and listen to the mosquitos.

The "White House"
The “White House”

Vaajasalo, our cottage, hosted a summer party of 63 people: we even had a military tent in the yard to accommodate the residents, since the guests occupied all the indoor space! I didn’t know pretty much any of the guests (most of who were over 50), but it was still fun!

Muurinpohjalettu, flipping pancakes from a bucket
Muurinpohjalettu, flipping pancakes from a bucket

We had food including traditional summer dessert, “muurinpohjalettu” pancakes, followed by sauna and swimming in the lake…

 

Partying in sweatpants, cottage-style!
Partying in sweatpants, cottage-style!

3 sets from a 5 person band playing in our front porch, followed by a rave with popping champagne…

Who needs festivals when you can have your own
Who needs festivals when you can have your own?

All in all, not your typical a) weekend or b) summer party.

By the way, in case you are ever in Kuopio or in the near-by area: there’s a winery in the same island as our cottage (Vaajasalo). They have a smelly, huge pig, some peacocks and an ostrich. He (she?) Was a weird-looking fella.

Weird neck and bigger eyes than brains
Weird neck and bigger eyes than brains

Ostriches are the fastest 2-legged species. The kick of an ostrich can kill (not surprised). Usually they live in Africa. I wonder, if the one in Alahovi winery goes to Africa for winter holiday…

 

 

Last day of summer (and few days after that)

Time to say goodbye to the family before leaving for the unknown, for unknown period of time.

I left to Kuopio, and to our summer house in Vaajasalo, on the last day of August, which is also the last day of summer.

Pittoresque summer house porch

The summer is over, since syyskuu (September) means fall month. I was wearing 3 layers of clothes and, well, it was not too hot.

Chillin' by the fireplace, lookin' hot!
Chillin’ by the fireplace, lookin’ smokin’ hot!

On Saturday I went blueberry picking and had baked a pie before 10 am. In the evening we had a crayfish party, which is an annual fall time fest specially popular among the Swedish Finnish people and in the west coast of Finland. My cousin works in one of the fanciest restaurants in Finland, where the price per crayfish is 12€. My brother ate probably 40 crayfish alone – thank God our food came from local (cray)fishermen!

Whole family together for the first time since…can’t even remember how long!

Sunday was rainy and too much like the crappy fall that I am running away from to Japan. I went to my grandparents’ place, and the plan was to go berry picking on Monday. Due to constant rain, the plans changed to baking and munching comfort food and the berries my grandparents had already picked.

Comfort food to Japan, if I can’t restrain myself!

If I had more self-discipline, I probably could take some of our bakings with me to Japan. Knowing myself, there will be nothing left by next weekend. At least I’ll have memories!

Ps. I also “dropped my winter fur” (swam for the first time this year) on the first day of fall this year! The combination of sauna and icy lake is something special, for sure. At first I was being a sissy, but then the sisu took over.

Summer in Finland

There are certain things that make Finnish summer outstanding. Those memories of the warm, sweet summer days give us strength to endure the brutal winter and the months of darkness. My Finnish summers are completed with the following:

Tampere view: Laukontori, M-real and Tako factory, Sokos hotel Ilves in the right
Kuopio: Puijo ski jump hills and Puijo tower
Being happy by the water
Being happy by the water
Bright, calm days
Bright, calm nights

Family, food, what else is there to do?

The past two weeks have mostly been about eating, celebrating and seeing family & friends. My brother’s graduation, moving from my apartment to my mother’s place until I leave to New York, organizing the graduation parties (plural, since there was a version 2.0 in our summer cottage in Kuopio this weekend) have kept me busy – not much time to get used to the idea that I’ll be gone before I realize it – in 5 days, to be precise.

 

Peaceful sunset in Vaajasalo, a sight I will miss
True summer: Strawberries in the ferry, going to Vaajasalo island to the summer cottage (notice our retro Volvo)

 

After celebrating my brother with my mother’s side of the family and friends a week ago, I went to Kuopio to see my grandparents, and have another round of cake and champagne (well okay, it was sparkling wine) with my dad’s family in the summer cottage. Some might think having “two families” is a disadvantage, but at least it means twice the cake!

Midnight snacks and leftovers for brunch – notice the traditional “sandwich cake” on the lower shelf

In the summer cottage edition of the party, we had two types traditional Finnish party food called sandwich cake. It is basically bread loaves layered with mayo/cream cheese, fish/meat and then coated and decorated with fish/meat, fruit, vegetables etc. Very 80’s style food, I don’t thin anyone does it anymore, except for old fashioned confirmation parties and such.
In the evening we had a barbecue with fries and false morel sauce (I open-fire roasted few perch caught in the fish trap, needless to say it was my brother who gutted them).

 

The Graduate (who is very fond of his hat) taming the bonfire flames

 

I was supposed to go on another trip before the Big Apple, to Helsinki, but I cancelled that. Now I still have 5 days left in Tampere, and my feelings are mixed. Life will certainly be different in a weeks’ time!

Sophie taking it easy and chilling, as usual