Saturday, October 26

California Dreaming

So I'm sick, again, and unable to sleep.

Watching Awkward on Netflix and thinking about Christmas.

I have no idea where I'm gonna be this Christmas yet. But I can't help going back to last Christmas. I can't believe it's almost a year ago already.

I got so nostalgic I had to turn on our playlist and go through all of the old photos.

I left my heart in San Francisco.

Ok, I'm sorry about the lame clichés, but bare with me. Last Christmas we spent two weeks in California, visiting the places we lived from '99 to '02. This was the second time back since then. The first time, however, was in '04, so almost ten years ago. A decade since I'd last seen old homes, schools and best of all, friends.

This is gonna be long and image heavy.

Carmel beach.

Joel considers a new girl friend...

Somewhere along the 17 Mile Drive.

A slightly awkwardly cute picture of us.

Sea lions!

Monterey Bay, where I wanna grow old.

Jellyfish are my favorite. From Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Moon shining on Monterey Bay.

Dat food. I think I came back about 59 lbs heavier.
 Also where are all my In'N'Out pics?!

Redwoods are HUGE. And people are small. At least my sisters are.

And these are just trees. Think about the universe.

Some more trees for you. You just don't get this in Finland.

How I dressed up for NYE. 
Dress from, shoes from Bianco, necklace from PacSun.

This is how we celebrated Finland turning in to the new year.

And this is how we celebrated at midnight in the Pacific Time Zone.

So before I retire in Monterey, I wouldn't mind living in this house in SF, for example.

View of San Francisco from the ferry to Alcatraz.

Yup. San Francisco is definitely my favorite city in the world.

Thursday, October 17

What I Carry Around

Inspired by Saara/Nipsulintu's post, I decided to go for that post as well, and show you guys what I carry around in my bag on a normal day. This happened to be a Wednesday, before work, the day before an exam. No further explanations needed, I'll just move on to the pictures.

First of all, the bag itself. ois bag bought this fall from Aleksi13. For the longest time I've basically only used canvas totes or my pink back pack, but unfortunately pink does not go with everything, and I can never find my keys or my wallet or my phone from among books and papers and my laptop, and totes just don't last that long. This bag has some nice compartments, including a separate laptop pocket perfect for my MacBook. So much better.

And on to the contents! My brand new pencil case from (I only recently out of necessity got rid of my trusty old pencil case that I've probably had since middle school and all through high school, it had too many holes, I was losing all my pens), make up bag, university planner, and my wallet.

My laptop case, charger with a label so my sisters (or anyone else) don't steal it, Sodastream bottle.

Same gender studies book as from a few posts back, hand outs for the same course, my home keys (and keys to a bunch of other places), work keys that I handed in yesterday.

Two headbands, Volt phone charger, breath mints, painkillers in a tin, and sunglasses.

What you did not need to see but will anyway: trash. Two random flyers, old receipts and old tissues. My bag is normally a mess.

I'm one of  those people who can never just bring a tiny little bag, I always carry everything with me. Maybe that's why my bag, that's only a couple months old, is starting to show some signs of wear, mainly in the strap department.... Oops.

Wednesday, October 16

Lend a helping hand

Finland is known for snow, saunas and introverts. The stereotypical Finnish person is quiet, gloomy and very private. You're not allowed to be a burden to anyone else, it's not normal to look a stranger in the eyes, let alone smile, when you pass each other on the street. You keep your nose out of my business, and I'll leave you to yours. Going to school abroad, I was normally greeted with "What's wrong?" instead of "What's up?", because I didn't walk around with a big enough grin on my face. "Nothing, I'm just Finnish..."

The thing I find maybe most oppressing in Finland is the way you need to act like other people don't exist even when you're on an overflowing bus (and by Finnish terms, overflowing means that when you stretch out your arms, you might reach another person). I guess we're so used to privacy and loneliness that acknowledging another person's presence in public is almost face threatening. And I think that this is the essence of a huge problem.

This post on a Finnish blog about an incident on a bus started this social media campaign about helping people. 

"Are you OK?" / Pic from the campaign

The aim is to raise awareness and to activate people to lend a helping hand when they see others in need or in trouble. It's not impolite or shameful to help another person when they fall down, drop their shopping, when their car breaks down or gets stuck in snow. It's the exact opposite of that. 

I've noticed one slight exception to the rule here, especially in the past few years. A shared experience of harsh, dark winters seems to somehow unite Finns, and most help I've received from strangers has happened during those times. Being always late as I am, I never realized to buy a shovel for my car until it was too late, and I was left with the scraps. A ridiculous pink plastic shovel that's about as long as my arm. I've gotten stuck in snow with my car twice, and digging out a car from a pile of frozen, rock solid snow with a plastic piece of garbage is not easy. Both times multiple people have stopped, whether they were on a walk or in their car, to help me dig out my car with their hands and feet and pushed until I managed to break free. How nice is that?

It might be a little embarrassing to have a stranger help you pick up your change and books and gym clothes when your bag decides to explode on a bus, but it's less embarrassing than doing that on your own with a bus full of people just staring. Because staring in silence sometimes seems to be the norm here. Let's change that norm, shall we? The next time you see someone struggling with baby strollers or their shopping, just stop to ask if they're OK, regardless of the time of year, whether you're Finnish or not.

I leave you with Finland at it's finest.

Tuesday, October 15


The past week and a half have gone by so fast. I've only had a couple days off from work, otherwise I've been working mostly early mornings that leave me dead tired afterwards, or long full days that leave no time before or after, really.

Tomorrow's my last day though, and next week is fall break at school, too. It's funny though. I only have two courses at the moment and no permanent job, and I feel like I've gotten nothing done. I have way too many absences from Chinese, and I'm so behind on the reading for gender studies that I have my doubts about passing the course... Oops. Last year with three times the amount of courses and a job on top I feel like I had no problems getting things done!

I was so cold at work all day yesterday that I still felt like I'd been deep frozen when I got home. I dug out and finished up a pair of socks that I started most likely last year and had just almost finished. But now they're doing their job perfectly.

I really should start studying. This isn't even the required reading for the course, but a suggested book that I find a lot more interesting and easier to read than the pile of articles we were given... Maybe it'll help? Anyone interested in gender studies and able to fathom the Finnish language, read this. It set me back around 25e at Akateeminen Kirjakauppa.

Standing at our bus stop, you're under a constant shower of leaves. Leaves are better than snow, though.

Oh & meatless month... I haven't had much time to cook at all, I mostly just eat whatever they have at work. We did make a banging spinach lasagna though, and soy macaroni casserole yesterday. 

Tuesday, October 8

Short insta-flavored update

Oolong tea and my orchid.

I was at work from 6am to 12pm yesterday. I took my break at 9am to go sign up for two marketing courses that I was supposed to take. Slightly surprised when I was unable to sign up for the other one, I hadn't realized my rights for that course ran out in December. I signed up through the open university, but there's only 5 spaces through that, and I'm currently 7th in line. 

Getting ready before last week's party. My dress is from Brandy&Melville, my shoes from Nelly.

Oh well, I have Chinese and that other marketing course anyway. Oh wait, they overlap. Two courses for an entire period, and they overlap. The marketing lectures are 4 hours long, so they only partly overlap, but I'm hoping it's not like a 2 hour lecture followed by a 2 hour group exercise or something, because the second half of each lecture I should be in Chinese class.

Going to work at 5.46am.

Well, having lectures only twice a week in the afternoon means I have plenty of time to work! Except I still haven't found a more permanent job. This job is only for a week and a half. And it means a week and a half of skipping lectures...

Meatless month continues: Garden Party pizza with artichoke, tomato, goat cheese, rucola.

I signed up for a Justin Timberlake fan club in order to be able to buy presale tickets. Well apparently presale doesn't include the floor, and you can only buy up to 4 tickets with the code. Oh, and those tickets need to be in different sections of the arena. Makes sense? :D Maybe I just got there too late.

Friday, October 4

Meatless Month

Ha. Ha. From:

A lot of my friends are taking part in a meatless October challenge on Facebook (meatless October = lihaton lokakuu, it alliterates nicely in Finnish!) that started off as a challenge on a TV show. I obviously saw the event trending and decided to join in as well, to some extent at least. I've been wanting to cut back on meat anyway. I don't eat huge amounts of meat, but the "vegetarian" meals I consume are normally just pasta and tomato sauce or different kinds of soups. I used to be quite picky as a kid, but I've mostly grown out of it. Nowadays the only thing I really stay away from is mushrooms. I've tried, but I can't. The taste, the consistency... No.

Anyway, I was thinking I would take on this challenge, just quite light heartedly. I'm not gonna demand that people make vegetarian food just for me if I'm over at their house, for example. And then some things happened. For one I found out that Syö! started today. For about 2 weeks, a bunch of restaurants in Helsinki (and other parts of Finland!) have offers for 10e. And that's cheap for eating out in Finland.

So my basis for my "meatless month" isn't gonna be shunning meat entirely, but to cut back and most of all get adventurous and experimental with my own cooking. I'm not gonna cook meat, and I'm gonna try new sorts of vegetarian foods at home. I want to get used to eating vegetarian food that isn't just pasta and soup. I created an entire vegetarian food board on Pinterest to help me stay inspired!

Tofu + cauliflower curry.

So on Tuesday, October 1st I decided to make a tofu and cauliflower curry that both looked and sounded delicious. We make a coconut milk based curry with chicken all the time, so mostly I just took this as inspiration for what to replace the chicken with. Well I have to say, it was not delicious at all. And a pretty bad start to an already sort of poorly timed meatless month :D Not very inspirational.

Cheesy cauliflower soup, grilled cheese.

Last night I opted for something more familiar, a soup... Not very adventurous. I hadn't made a cauliflower soup before, but I've always wanted to. Just never got around to it, but since we had a bunch of leftover cauliflower from the curry, I decided to go for it :) And this was delicious. So mild and smooth and nicely cheesy. Not necessarily the healthiest, but perfect for the cold weather.

And finally, Joel and I decided to go out for dinner in honor of the 10e menus tonight. We chose Morrison's , because in the past years it's definitely turned out to be one of our favorites during these weeks. I don't think we've ever gone there unless it's been Syö!, even though the burgers are really good. We just don't eat a lot of burgers I guess... I surprised even myself by actually really sticking to my promise of being more adventurous and went for a veggie burger and halloumi, which turned out to be surprisingly delicious! I'm quite proud of myself.

So yeah, any tips and vegetarian recipes are greatly appreciated! How the heck do you cook good tofu?!