Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Christmas is coming

It's been a long time again. I think these time gaps are to be expected... hah.

Anyhow, it's coming to Christmas time and the shops have started selling Christmassy things! There's lots of Christmas seasonal food here in Finland, so I'll post some.

Glögi. I really like this stuff! We don't have anything like it in South Africa so I don't know if there's any english equivalent. It's a type of drink with cinnamon and some other stuff in it, I don't know. It just tastes like liquid Christmas, that's the best description. I especially like the cheap Marli brand. Omnom.

It's said that it's best to have almonds in your Glögi, and they have special Glögi mugs and spoons for it too. I couldn't find a picture. But the mugs are glass with some kind of metal cuff around it with a handle to hold on to, and the spoon is like a metal straw with a scoop attached, so you can use it to sip or to fish out those almonds.

Another Christmas thing I like is Perunalaatikko... Literally translated to "Potato Box". Sounds retarded. It's a special kind of sweet potato mash that is so soft and delicious and also somehow Christmassy... There's also a Porkkanalaatikko, Carrot Box, that's good too! They literally come in boxes in the stores, but home made versions, in ceramic dishes, are best!

There are some other things I'm sure. Maybe I'll update when I remember them or learn about them. Probably in a new post, just so this blog appears to be more full, haha.

Though a general thing here is that they have proper Christmas on the 24th and get presents in the night before bed, and in SA (at least in regard to my family and friends) we all celebrate on the 25th and we open presents in the morning. It's quite different. Oh and of course there's often snow here, so it's the whole white christmas thing which is very cool, especially when people light their pretty lanterns outside :3

OH and I'm going back to SA for Christmas! Can't wait!!! :D Expecting lots of biltong for christmas! Haha.

Tata for now~

Friday, September 16, 2011

Ah, time has passed again

Blogging slipped my mind for a while once again. It's been a bit of a busy time after all.
Well... Not anymore it hasn't. The past week I've been Captain Bed Potato (we don't have a couch to be potato-ing on you see). I'll explain that soon.

So firstly, we have our new adorable Siberian kitten, Ponyo!

These beautiful photo's are courtesy of my wonderful friend Sonja Ruokonen!

Ponyo is such a sweet little thing, it's amazing! I've never met such a sociable cat! She's incredibly fearless and a sweetheart to anyone she meets. She's so gentle and never bites us purposefully, even if you try giving her a little wrestle with your hand, she only licks you and always holds her claws back, it's unbelievably cute <3

I'm looking forward to this winter to see if she will grow a thicker coat, and especially to see how full Totoro's coat will grow! Totoro is my gorgeous 1 and a half year old Siberian boy

Introducing Ponyo to him was a bit tough for the first day or two, but since then they've become such great buddies and it makes me so happy! Just look at them...

Absolutely heart-melting! My two beautiful fluff balls! <3

A few days after we got Ponyo, we moved into our new apartment. Hence the lack of a couch mentioned in the beginning (we threw out our old one, it was tiny, ugly, and we picked it up off the street.... That's a Finnish street mind you, so it was in good condition for a tiny ugly granny couch) The move was a pretty stressful ordeal in terms of kitty moving and temporary living with family-in-law and also ridiculous ex-landlord issues, but the new place is worth it in the end. It's much bigger than our last one, which is great especially for the kitties, and getting some peace and quiet while they go on a play rampage, but also not so great since we don't have enough furniture to fill the place, and so we still have boxes lying around after almost 2 weeks of living here... There's good cupboard space, but nothing to put stuff on, like shelves for dvd's and books and ornaments and all those sorts of things. We'll have to scout some of the good second hand shops (Finland is FULL of really good second hand shops by the way!) around here for some furniture when we have some spare cash. The decor is also pretty ew so I'd really love to renovate the place, which we will in time, slowly, when the money comes trickling in, whenever that may be. But other than that it really is nice here, especially since we have our own private sauna! How Finnish :D

Just this past Wednesday I started a new Finnish course at the local Iltalukio (=Evening school) and I'm hoping the employment office will be satisfied enough with that and not try to send me to that far away Middle-School-like Finnish school again...

Also, a new big change coming up; I've "almost" decided that I'll go to study at a music academy here! ("Almost" because plans would probably change if an amazing job decides to fling itself my way) I'm really excited about it, but I can only start next year. In the mean time I'll continue study Finnish, and once my income support has finally sorted out, I'll hire a flute and possibly also a harp from the school to practice with, as well as attend some theory classes to get myself back up to scratch. Exciting stuff! Learning music in Finland.... I have a few friends who might kill for such an opportunity! I really hope it comes together soon.

That seems to be all for now. Not much Finnishy stuff shared here, just my general life in Finland at the moment. I was hoping to go on a mushroom hunting trip with my friend but unfortunately missed it, though it turned out she ended up not doing the trip after all, so now I'm hoping another chance will come up soon before the winter comes. The range of mushroom species in Finland is huge by the way, and it would be something fun and Finnish to share on this blog :D So if that comes to pass, I shall make a post on that.

Tata for now ~

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Lohikeitto - Salmon Soup

Today we will have Salmon Soup for supper! :D

It's a very common dish in Finland, but that's probably because of the wide availability of Salmon in the Nordic countries. It's so wonnnnderfully affordable here!
And yet the sushi prices here are beyond the affordability of any mortal human such as myself. I'll never understand it. But that's why I make sushi at home from time to time when our pockets allow us to buy fresh Salmon!

Salmon soup is a very simple recipe!
All you need is some salmon, potatoes, carrots(optional) onions, cream, black pepper and dill. Just put the salmon, cream (adding extra milk is optional) and dill in towards the end of the potatoes' cooking time and tadaa! Oh and also add in a big glomp of butter when it's finished 8) That's right, no need for specific amounts in my recipe's ;P
Here's a more precise recipe if you wish:

Oh! And it's best with rye bread, but I don't think South African's know what real rye bread is until you taste Finnish rye bread 8) It's SO good. The Rye Bread in SA was always really bad...

Anyhoo, will start supper now! Tata~


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Finnish food - Suomalainen ruoka

[Just edited this post to include more foods!]

Firstly, because I made it today:

Omenapiirakka = Apple Pie

In South Africa, I HATE apple pie. That horrid pie that's crammed full of squishy warm saucy old apples. Grosses me out...

This ^ I do not like.

So when I was offered Apple Pie in Finland, at first I was reluctant, until I realized they make it completely differently.

THIS is omenapiirakka ja jäätelö (Apple pie and ice-cream)

And it is fucking delicioussss! Cannot get enough of it.

I just made some this afternoon, it was so good, and I am sad that it's gone :(

Some South Africans may find it slightly curious that the ice cream brick is very square. This is because here in Finland, a lot of ice-cream comes in cardboard boxes, which you unwrap and then you have this perfect square brick of ice cream to cut a piece from. We don't get this in South Africa :D

(This was the best picture I could find for now, but I'll take a photo of our half eaten box from the freezer later maybe)

And while we're on the topic of ice-cream; A very common flavour of ice-cream here is liquorice. Which is practically unheard of in SA! I personally really don't like liquorice, and most liquorice here tastes weirder than the liquorice I'm used to because it's more similar to "Salmiakki", a very Finnish type of liquorice that tastes of ammonia (and contains some mixed form of it) and is very salty.

But, for the first time yesterday I tasted Pingviini's (Penguin heehee) liquorice ice-cream and it was actually very good!

This is a liquorice nation for sure. There is just about liquorice flavoured EVERYthing here.

Another unusual thing I just have to bring up:

Verilätyt.... Blood pancakes!!!

Their main ingredient of note is blood... I haven't tried any yet, but I haven't had the opportunity to...
However, I have tasted Pinaattiletut, or something like that. Basically, they are spinach pancakes... And they are GREEN
I've only had store brand ones, and I didn't like them... But apparently home made ones are supposed to be better. I'll try those some day.

Another interesting thing is Karjalanpiirakka "Karjala's pie" (Karjala is a place) and they have a"bready" pie covering with a mushy kind of rice filling. You have them with butter and whatever you want on them. I personally like ham and cheese on mine. I can only eat one or 2 though, coz they're so...starchy and give me a lump in my throat.

Next up:

Lihapiirakka - The meat pie.

When Vesku first told me online that he was eating a "meat pie", I asked "Well, what kind of meat pie?", because in SA we have all kinds of pies with meat fillings. Steak pie, steak and kidney pie, chicken pie, sausage pie, cornish pie, lamb pie and so on.
Here, a meat pie is one thing. And I wouldn't have called it a pie myself. It's a kind of sweet bread, almost like doughnut bread, with a meat patty inside... Unusual, but very tastey with ketchup. And also very unhealthy... But cheap and available everywhere.

Well that's all I could think of for now. I'll surely post more some time!

La ~

An Introduction

Why hello, and welcome!

So, a quick introduction: I’ve been living in Finland since January 2010, and for the very most part, it’s been pretty damn cool.

I’m originally from Cape Town, South Africa, which is rather far away from my new home here in Finland.

A not so quick introduction:
You may wonder what on earth I'm doing all the way here. Well, quite simply, I’m married to a Finnish man. And how did we meet? About 5 and a half years ago, online, completely by random chance when I was bored and picked some hotmail account off of an anime fan site, just to have someone to chat to in msn about how cool I thought Naruto was. Lo and behold, I met the love of my life!

Back then, I still thought of Finland as one of those random countries I knew nothing about. I’d never given much thought to Scandinavia. I was too busy obsessing over Japan, wanting to move there to become an English teacher like hundreds of others. Though these days it seems more like millions.

Anyhow, my curiosity about Finland rapidly grew. This bizarre language from a land where people swatted each other with “bushes” (Birch branches) in the sauna, and forests stretched mile upon mile, where it’s considered completely normal for your average-Joe family to own (at least partly) a family cabin on some island somewhere. I almost couldn’t believe the unusual…ness of it all…

Although, come to think of it, any passers by on this blog who don’t know much about South Africa might imagine my home town to be equally unusual, but the place where I’m from, and also my family in general, is all quite Western in culture. No wacky rituals to share, though I do know a bit about a few other cultures in the country that can be very unusual, you’ll find that the average white British-decent South African family in SA is pretty neutral and boring. I’ll probably point out some notably different things between SA and Finland in the future, but this is a blog about living in Finland, not South Africa.

Oooo K. So I’ve lived here for over a year now, and you might imagine, being a metal fan and all, that I’ve been to countless metal festivals and gigs and adventured above the arctic circle and all that awesome stuff. But sadly no, it’s not as easy as you might think. I lived here without any permission to work for about a year… I’d scraped together a small fortune before venturing to the north, so I did alright, but it most certainly was not a luxurious time. Living in a house with your very Finnish future mother-in-law, who hardly speaks English, in a very tiny town in the middle of nowhere, ends up in one doing a hell of a lot of nothing. Other than desperately and hopelessly searching for creative work that would accept a foreigner who can barely speak a word of Finnish. It was a torturous and absolutely wonderful time, all at the same time. I couldn’t bare not being allowed to work. And the more rejections I had, the less motivated I became, and the more the nothingness ensued… I was away from my home and my family, my language, my comfort zone and far away from anyone talkative. My husband is a wonderful man, but he really isn’t the most conversational. And I can be a bit of a jabber-mouth… Though it was hard, I woke up in a cute wooden Finnish house every morning with a forest for a backyard and no neighbours to be seen. It was beautiful and serene, while my mind was in utter chaos.

Well, eventually things moved on, we couldn’t wait any longer for me to find work that would give me permission to live there permanently. I was running out of visa time. So we decided to get married. We’d been in a relationship for 4 years and wanted to get married anyway, so we went ahead with a small court marriage, and me being true to myself, I wore a black dress, to my mother-in-law’s dislike and my own mother’s sigh of relinquishment on the other end of the phone.

We were and still are happy to be married. We celebrated our 1 year anniversary last month and everything is great between us. We also have a beautiful Siberian cat who is a significant part of my family life nowaday’s and we’re soon going to welcome a new little Siberian girl! A great thing about living in the icey north is the availability of these beautiful naturally long-haired cats. They’re huge-little beasts that puff up in winter and look like mythical creatures, while shedding minimally and at the same time not causing any allergies.

Oh, I’ve gone off about my kitties again… This will happen a lot.

Well, my husband and I moved to a small “city” called Uusikaupunki (Translated to “New City” though it was hardly a city) for a short while where my husband worked at a boat petrol station where locals went, as well as the odd rich holiday goers who went to fill up their shiney yachts with piles of cash.

Then we decided we needed to move to a bigger city to up my chances of finding work as an English-speaker, and also hopefully find somewhere that I could learn Finnish. And so we finally came to Turku. My husband, who I will now call by his nickname “Vesku”, was accepted into an art academy to study film here and he’s now about to start his second year. Meanwhile, the past 6 months I spent my time in an internship where I was paid by the government support to train at a freelance studio of sorts, where we did animation for adverts and I learned to use After Effects. I was told several times that I’d be hired there, but in the last moment the company pulled out of the agreement because of financial reasons, without giving me any warning signs that this was likely to happen.

And after all this, I've only had one super beginners course in Finnish, so I’m practically nowhere nearer to having the language advantage than when I started out. And bloody hell I’m telling you, Finnish is a HARD language to learn. I might be forced to attend a Finnish school again, where I was once invited to see, with Highschool-like curfew and filled with immigrants and refugees who were all so completely different to me and often only spoke their own home languages and hung out in little groups of their own culture. Nowhere was there a black-clad english-speaking tomboy-ish person like me, sitting there playing Pokémon Soul Silver on my new DS that I’d saved up for. And did I mention it was like Highschool? Starting at 8 in the fucking morning with an hour bus trip to get there. And man am I one terribly anti-morning person. I’ve suffered too much time being forced awake at 5 every morning in SA because of my car-driving brother’s obsessively early habits.

Well I'm now trying to get my things together and advertise myself for freelance work while trying to get a new internship, this time hopefully at a games studio! I've started a small animation project for an intro to my new show reel, and just haven't found the motivation to finish it... I figured maybe I'll let myself off until we move into our new apartment at the end of the month, with our new kitty cat to accompany both me and my other demanding kitty all day. Hopefully the fresh place will give me new motivation to get things going.

Anyhoo, I guess that’s the just of my life in Finland for now. In future posts I’ll speak more about the interesting things in Finland. Fun stuff that makes it unique, or just things that make it very different from what I’m used to. Also the odd update about my life. And also some pictures!

You can certainly expect a post next week indefinitely. That’s when our new KITTY arrives! Happy days!

Well, bye for now~

P.S. In my background photo on the left is my very good Finnish friend Sonja with the cigarette and I’m the one on the left showing the horns \m/