Tag Archives: Finland

Moomin Advent Calendar 2012

22 Oct

Obviously not supposed to be talking about Christmas yet, but I just came across this Moomin Advent Calendar that is very difficult to resist for us Moomin fans! With 24 doors to open and various Moomin figures to discover, this is definitely a better option to any chocolate calendars. And why 24 doors? Christmas is celebrated on the 24th of December in Finland!


The Moomin advent calendar is available from the Iceland based Suomi PRKL shop, and probably from other retailers too.

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Fiskars Village

19 Oct

On our trip to Finland last Summer, we visited the lovely little Fiskars village in the southern Finland. This is the place where the first pair of those orange handle Fiskars scissors were made! These days there are lots of little artists living and working here and nearby there are also summer cottages.


The village is pretty and there are little shops, museums, antique stalls and obviously Iittala outlet that is very Fiskars scissors orientated. A lovely river also runs through the village. This year also the village takes part in the Helsinki Design capital year with exhibitions. I’ll let the touristic photos speak for themselves and as for shopping destinations, Koppar and Iittala shops are not to be missed!

 

We ate at the Kuparipaja restaurant from a buffet table – in typical Finnish style kids pay according to their age and therefore our 2-yo’s lunch was in the region of €2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fiskars village is best visited by car – there is a big free car park – but there is public transport from Helsinki too. There are lovely little b&b’s in the area such as the lovely b&b Villiruusu (=Wildrose).

Finnish Plasto

11 Jul

I’ve been tractor shopping today for MiniMoose’s 2nd birthday. This is not an easy task as I’m a complete beginner when it comes to ‘vehicles’. Anyway, Finnish Plasto makes excellent plastic kids’ vehicles that are even pleasing to my eye! I can also remember Plasto’s toys from my childhood so therefore it’s even easier to shop these for MiniMoose.

Tractor with trencher and showel

Since MiniMoose has already got a ‘shoveldozer’ and a ‘truck’ (and we are struggling to fly with all this vehicle fleet) I decided to get a yellow ‘tractor with trencher and shovel’ as this wouldn’t be as massive as the ‘large tipper truck’ combined with a Digger that I originally planned.

Digger

Large Tipper Truck

All Plasto toys are made in Finland which is quite rare in my opinion as all the plastic toys seem to come from China these days. In addition to an extensive selection of vehicles and machines Plasto also makes beach toys or toys for sandbox play, kitchen toys and large sit on toys.

Pedal tractor with tipper

Sit On Digger

Dinner for 4

Set with Water Wheel

Set of sand moulds

Plasto toys (to some extent) are also available on Amazon.

Nordic 80s Children’s Literature

13 Jun

I’ve been back to the flea market and got some children’s books today. I’m clearly addicted to Swedish Astrid Lindgren’s production. Today I got her ‘Pekka Peukaloinen’ (Nils Karsson-Pyssling) to add to my collection! To my surprise this little book contains not just the story about Pekka but 9 other lovely short stories about little people.

I was also more than pleased that I found an old ‘Mikko Mallikas’ (Alfons Aberg) book by Gunilla Bergstrom from the 80’s.  I love Mikko Mallikas stories – Mikko lives alone with his dad and does all sort of little mischief. The illustration is quite basic 80’s style but features real images too!

Both Mikko Mallikas and Astrid Lindgren’s books were my childhood favorites and I cannot wait that I get to read these for MiniMoose.  I’ve already got various books of  ‘Melukylan lapset’ (Swedish, Bullerbyn), Vaahteramaen Eemeli (Swedish, Emil i Lonneberga) and Peppi Pitkatossu (Swedish, Pippi Longstrump/Longstocking), together with Mikko Mallikas (Swedish, Alfons Aberg), Pekka Topohanta (Swedish, Pelle Svanslos/Peter-No-Tail by Gosta Knutsson), Minttu (Finnish, by Maikki Harjanne) and Moomins (Finnish/Swedish, by Tove Jansson) waiting for MiniMoose to be able to sit still for more than 30 seconds.

As you can see from the list, many traditional Finnish children’s books are translated from Swedish. I’ve decided to take Pekka Peukaloinen and Pippi Longstocking to my summer reading list! I keep my eye out for more of these treasures at the flea markets, since many of them are out of print these days.

Moomins and Astrid Lindgren’s production (at least) are also available in English and can be found on eBay or Amazon for instance. I do hope that they have kept the original illustrations by Bjorn Berg, Eva Billow, Ingrid Vang-Nyman and Ilon Wiklund etc. in the Astrid Lindgren’s books, but it seems that at least the covers have been ‘localised’ and changed in some of the English editions, which I personally don’t like.

Peppi illustration by Ingrid Vang-Nyman

Do you remember these books from your childhood too?

Aino & Reino

28 May

This post is totally inappropriate for this hot weather… But we Finns absolutely adore these slippers! Worn by grannies (Aino) and grandpas (Reino) in our childhood these traditional Finnish slippers have seen a new coming in the past few years and are now more popular than ever before – and they are not exclusive to the seniors anymore! First Ainos were made in 1930 and Reinos followed two years later and their names are traditional old proper Finnish names.

Aino Slippers €39.90

These slippers are comfy and warm and most importantly happy! There are new colours available these days and sizes for children too.  It looks like my favorite red Aino is currently unavailable – most likely sold out.

Reino Slippers €29.90

Baby Reino in Pink €39.90

Baby Reino €39.90

Happiness starts from warm feet! Reinokauppa.fi also delivers abroad, contact them for prices. Reino blog can be found here

Cinnamon Buns

25 Apr

Enough said in the title –  todayI dug out my old cooking book from the school I decided to bake some good old Scandi cinnamon buns.

Apologies the recipe uses deciliters – a usual baking measurement in Finland – according to my book one dl is approximately 65 grams of flour or 100 ml of milk.

Dough (generally for Pulla):

 2 dl milk

25 g yeast (I used 1 sachet of dried yeast)

1 egg

3/4 teaspoons salt

3/4 dl sugar

1-2 teaspoons of ground cardamom

5-6 dl flour

75 g of margarine or 1/2 oil

If using cardamom pods like me, split them and crush the seeds inside. Without any fancy equipment, I just used the rolling pin to do this task

1. Add yeast to warm milk OR if using dried yeast add the yeast to flour

2. Mix (by wooden spoon) the egg,  half of the flour, salt, sugar, cardamom with the warm milk. Mix vigorously. Add the rest of the flour and mix by hand.

3. Add soft margarine OR oil

4. Knead the dough until it doesn’t stick to your hands anymore (add flour if necessary).

5. Leave the dough to rest and double its size in a warm place (confession: my dough wasn’t doubled when I used it…)

Cinnamon buns:

In addition to the dough you will need

30 g butter

~1/2 dl sugar

1-2 tbls cinnamon

1 egg needed to brush onto the buns

6. With a rolling pin roll out the dough to a square (the dough approx. 0.5 cm thick)

7. Soften the butter (I did that between my fingers). Spread the butter on to the dough and sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top of that

8. Roll the dough and cut into pieces (in zig zag style).

9. With both of your little fingers press down the dough on the thinnest part of the dough

9. Brush the buns with a (mixed) egg and sprinkle sugar on top (no sugar here though)

10. Bake in 225 C (~ gas 8) for about 10 minutes until golden brown.

Finnish Classic Bike: JoPo

31 Mar

Last Summer in Finland I had a flash back from the 80’s. The very basic JoPo from the 80’s seemed to be either parked at every corner or someone was just riding a JoPo past me.

Green JoPo Finnish Design Shop

I remember JoPo bikes from the 80’s. My mum had a blue JoPo and I got lifts on JoPo too.  JoPos were very basic back in those days and nothing special – at least in my opinion. With no gears and 24″ wheels there was nothing exciting about them. At some point, unfortunately, our blue JoPo was stolen and I forgot about them. Until last Summer when I saw upgraded funky JoPos everywhere and started to want and most importantly need one too. There are JoPos for children too!

Yellow JoPo, Urban Bike Store

JoPos manufacturer, Finnish company Helkama relaunched “EveryMan’s” bikes aka “Jokamiehen Pyora” in 2000 again and they have been hugely popular. With easily adjustable seat and handlebar every man and woman can ride a JoPo. Available in many funky colours the JoPos have certain retro look and appeal and trendy young Finns love to be seen with their JoPos out and about.

Children's JoPo

JoPos have been even given as wedding presents, and when an old friend of mine moved to Geneva few years ago, his wife started her own mumpreneur shop, Urban Bike Store, importing and selling JoPos to the Swiss!

EveryMan's Bike, JoPo, Urban Bike Store

Unfortunately there are no JoPo shops in the UK at the moment but Finnish Design Shop sells them for €419. And obviously there is Riikka’s online shop in Geneva too!

Finnish Wooden Toys: Jukka & Hantverkar Lyan

16 Mar

When expecting MiniMoose I almost swore that we would have exclusively wooden toys in our house. The reality, however, has shown that a mixture of both wooden and plastic toys works the best for us. My favourties though are the wooden toys. We’ve got mainly wooden toys by Swedish Brio, Ikea, and Finnish Hantverkar Lyan. Hantverkar Lyan is new to me and I’ve only got to know it now with MiniMoose, Jukka toys, however, I remember from my childhood, especially the rocking horse, rolling seat and fortuna board game!

Jukka ABC blocks with numbers

Jukka Merry Go Round

 

 

Jukka toys are made in Finland of Finnish birch tree. Jukka toys is a family run company that was founded in 1923. They are known for high quality and safe materials. Jukka toys range from baby toys to toddlers’ furniture and board games. One of our wedding presents was their DIY Summer cottage in lieu of a real Finnish Summer cottage!

Jukka DIY Summer Cottage

Jukka Rocking Horse

Jukka Rolling Stool

 

 

Finnish Hantverkar Lyan was founded in 1991. As for Jukka toys, safe, high quality wooden toys are the key for Hantverkar Lyan. Their range consists of very funky vehicle toys that roll like a dream in MiniMoose’s testing. In addition the toys are designed so that they are ideal for small hands! I’ve been toying with the idea of getting these for Hei Moose!

 

Hant Verkarlyan T-Ford

Hantverkar Lyan Airplane

Hantverkar Lyan T-Ford Truck

 

Finnish Maternity Box

7 Mar

In Finland, mums receive a massive box filled with baby clothes and other baby goods for each baby. There is a cash alternative for €140 which some families take if they already have had the box. The cash however is quite far away from the real value of the pack.

Maternity Box Contents 2011

Finnish mums living abroad, like myself, can purchase this box for €274 + postage, which I was thinking about when expecting MiniMoose. I chose not to, since I decided to use the money for clothes which I really wanted.

Body Vest and Dungarees

The challenges with the maternity box are finding prints and colours that everyone would like. Therefore the colours and prints tend to be unisex – which is good, but a bit pale for my liking. For a free box of clothes though, you can’t really complain!

Lime Green Dungarees

The box is renewed annually and they are still handing out the box from 2011 – this apparently lasts till September, when the box for 2012 is finally rolled out.

Baby Beauty Care

The products and clothes in the box are manufactured in Finland, in order to support Finnish economy and employment which makes sense. The box is one of its kind worldwide and is safe from all cuts and austerity measures the government comes up with!

Sleeping bag/Duvet

KELA (Finnish National Insurance) who is responsible for the pack collects information about the popular items that usually are the body vests, overall for outdoors, and sleeping bag/duvet. With the annual renewals the pack is being developed and from 2000 the pack has included reusable nappies for instance.

For Outdoors

The box itself can be used as a baby bed and instead of fancy moses baskets etc. many Finns, myself included, have started their life by sleeping in this box, that is sturdy enough and comes with a suitable mattress!

The Box, also suitable for sleeping!

What do you think of this maternity box? See the whole list of products with pictures here.

Finnish February Traditions

16 Feb

I’ve always liked February! In Finland this month is a proper Winter month with temperatures below freezing. I remember from school that February was filled with little treats.

Obviously, there is Valentine’s day, which in Finland, is Friendship day and therefore not just for lovers. When Valentine’s day came to Finland in the 80’s Finnish Red Cross suggested that it should include everyone, not just people in relationships. Hence, 14th of Feb has been a day to remember friends and family.

Then there is Laskiainen, the celebration 7 weeks before Easter which also used to mean the start of lent for the religious. The tradition goes that you go sliding down snow covered hills or sledging in a circle (napakelkka) and afterwards eat pea-soup with ham (the last bit of the Christmas ham according to an urban legend) and a bun filled with cream and jam.

Napakelkka

For me, the cream filled bun is the best bit of Laskiainen! These buns are very easy to make, they are normal buns that are then cut in half and filled with cream and jam (after the buns are cooled down).

Laskiaspulla

On 5th of February there is also Runeberg’s Day that celebrates Finnish National poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg. For me, again, the best part of this celebration is the Runebergin Torttu (=Runeberg tart) that is very unique and very delish! I’ve never attempted to make them, but I really miss them in February. Luckily my mum buys them for me in Finland and freezes them so I can have them when visiting! There is a recipe in English here.

Runebergin Torttu (pic from Kotiliesi)

Other nice February things in Finland are school holidays and the few days before the holidays, as the eldest students  in the 6th form leave the school and drive around towns in trucks and throw sweets to the kids. The day after, the new ‘oldest’ class has a prom after which the school winter holidays starts!

'Abit' celebrating the last day of School (pic hs.fi)

Prom

So no wonder February is a fab time to be in Finland!