Snow. Sun. Long open roads. Sauna.
Additional bonus words: no reindeer, not enough coffee, Sunday drivers, not enough snow, domestic tourists, sauna!!!

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Remember to keep a safe distance!

We’re driving back from Lapland, the weather is foul, the news has been full of warnings and now came a report of the third pile-up…

Road trip! Next stop is… Lapland 🙂

Posted on the go! From my Nokia Lumia 🙂

Back to basics.

Or catching up with the first 4 days of the zero to hero challenge.

Regular visitors here may have noticed my blogging action has been very thin on the ground lately. My mojo fizzled out and no matter how much I tried, it just wasn’t to be found. (You should the drafts folder – full of discarded posts!) Not only that, I wasn’t even visiting my favourite blogs often enough. Then this challenge arrived in my inbox last week and that little spark was lit. One of my other blogs has been very troublesome for me, so I decided to start over there. The first post was quickly followed by a couple of changes and another post and just like that it all feels normal. So without further fuss and carry on here are challenges 1, 2 and 3 all rolled into one!

Day 1: Who am I and why am I here?

I’ve read some really great who am I posts in the last few days. In the context of this blog, I’m a Tasmanian who has been living in Finland for the last 13 or so years. I’m also a small business owner, a mum, a volunteer. If you ask my son (Mr. 14) I’m a tyrant who always says no (not true). If you ask my husband (The Engineer) he might tell you I’m a great cook although my housekeeping skills leave a bit to be desired. If you ask my friends, they’ll tell you I haven’t changed a bit and am way too generous for my own good. If Perry (our dog) could talk he’d say I’m the mean one that showers him but I also let him run off the leash whenever possible. I try to blog on the curiosity that is living in Finland. My first few years were spent getting the hang of it all. Sometimes it was easy, sometimes downright frustrating. Now I just want to share my life in Finland with you. Sometimes I get a bit serious, although for the most part my style is pretty relaxed and laid back.

DAY 2: WHAT’S YOUR NAME?

My URL is Tasmanialainen which is the Finnish way to say ‘someone from Tasmania’, while the word “Taswegian” in the title is what we Tasmanians call ourselves. I’m not going to change the title – it says exactly who I am. However the tag will be tweaked from “10 years on…my life in Suomi – the land of sauna, salmiakki and sinappi” to say “There’s more to living in Finland than Angry Birds, Marimekko and Nokia…” Check out the “In a nutshell” and you’ll see a very brief summary of what this blog is all about.

DAY 3: WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND?

My first post is here and it’s funny reading it again after all this time. It says absolutely nothing about who I am or what I was hoping to gain from being a blogger. So two years and 148 posts later I’m happy to say that overall the blogging sphere has been pretty good. Even though I didn’t state my goals early in the piece, I’ve built a nice following. I try and interact with everyone that drops by, even if it’s just to pop over, have a look and say hello. Hopefully the next two years will continue along the same lines.

DAY 4: EXPLORE THE NEIGHBOURHOOD

Over the past two years I’ve added blogs to my reader, deleted them, changed the publishing status from daily to instant to weekly to never, and then back again. My reader list currently has 104 blogs. It’s probably time to go through the list again! My blog roll over on the left also needs some work. If you click on one of the links and it doesn’t work please let me know! I do have to share this blog though: Identity. Last year a lively lass from the US who was living in Sweden liked my blog. I waved back and started following her blog. All I can say is that Regan’s life quickly turned topsy-turvy. At some point it became obvious that Regan wasn’t who she said she was and her life was as much fiction as fact. Still the faithful followers kept commenting all the way to the climatic end. What an ending it was. Today came the first episode of a new series, a real cliff-hanger and already the fans are lining up. Come along and join us!

Now I’m all caught up! See you tomorrow for day 5 🙂

Mämmi: The Final Rite of Passage

Mämmi. Pronounced in the same manner as cat. It’s the traditional dish for Easter in Finland. It’s also one of those dishes that people either love or hate. I fall into the former camp. I tasted mämmi on my first visit to Finland and definitely took seconds. It doesn’t look extraordinary or even like it would inspire such extreme emotions. At a recent book-club gathering I heard the best description yet: dehydrated Guinness.  Black or dark brown sludge if we are being really honest. The texture to eat is slightly grainy and the flavour is rye, sweetened a little.

So last Monday I was sitting in my Finnish class and we were discussing Easter and how it is celebrated in Finland. Mämmi and Pasha (dairy dessert from Russia) were discussed at great length. Naturally our teacher was interested to know who had tried mämmi and who hadn’t, who liked and who didn’t. Not so many had tried it, although there were a few hands that stayed up to admit actually liking mämmi! The teacher didn’t ask if anyone had tried to make it, so I went hunting for a recipe. The first one I found in English was here, the time didn’t seem too long and the ingredients would be easy to find. I called anoppi-M and offered to bring mämmi as our Easter contribution.

When I arrived home that night I dug out my faithful Ruokatorstai recipe book. Of course there was a whole section just for Easter and mämmi recipe to boot. So Thursday I gathered my ingredients and started prepping the mämmi:

Mämmi ingredients: Salt, molasses, malted rye flour, rye flour and powdered orange peel.

First mix all the dry ingredients together and boil one litre of water. Place the kettle into a basin filled with warm water. Whisk in five decilitres of dry ingredients, one at a time. By the time the fifth scoop of powder had gone in the mixture was very heavy. The whisk wasn’t going to last, so I switched to an electric hand whisk.

Three litres later...Mämmi mixing
Three litres later…Mämmi mixing

Sprinkle with two more decilitres to form a ‘crust’, cover with the lid and then bath towels on top to keep the warmth in. Leave for an hour. Repeat.

Keeping the heat in - mämmi under cover
Keeping the heat in – mämmi under cover

In fact repeat until all the water has been boiled and all the dry ingredients whisked into the ‘porridge’. THIS is where I got into a little bit of trouble. My biggest saucepan is only 5 litres… So I decided to use my bread mixing bowl. Then the mixture came to the very top… and no room for further boiling as per the recipe.

Mämmi mixed... and nowhere to go
Mämmi mixed… and nowhere to go

The hour was also getting late and there was still some boiling to be done BEFORE heading into the oven.

Mämmi boiling... just enough space
Mämmi boiling… just enough space

So, a quick dish-wash later and the mämmi was returned to the stove and returned to the boil for 15 minutes. Stirring all the while to discourage sticking. Unfortunately there was sticking although, luckily no burning 🙂 There was some colour change, although not so much yet. The smell as quite thick, although not unpleasant. Then the mixture was moved to the baking tray(s) for cooling and resting. I thought one tray would be enough, sadly this was not the case and so I had to improvise.

Mämmi resting in an oven tray
Mämmi resting in an oven tray

The next stage involved waiting for the mixture to cool enough to pour the thinned molasses over.

Mämmi covered with molasses
Mämmi covered with molasses

It was really late by this stage. Far too late! So into the oven the mämmi went and on went my timer. Three hours at 150 degrees C. Unfortunately I slept through the timer and woke in a panic an hour later. It wasn’t looking very good:

Mämmi out of the oven and looking very dark...
Mämmi out of the oven and looking very dark…

I touched the top and texture just felt wrong. The shop bought versions are always sticky and fingers sink. It did appear to be a crust, so I hoped that underneath the texture was as it should be.

The car was loaded up, mämmi and all and we headed to Rauma. Good Friday dinner was crowned with the mämmi for dessert:

Mämmi with raspberries
Mämmi with raspberries and whipped cream. YUM!

Due to the large amount prepared, mämmi featured for the rest of the weekend and there is some in the freezer for guests later in the year.

Again... Mämmi with apricots this time
Again… Mämmi with apricots this time

What I did learn is that not many people actually make their own mämmi any more. After seeing the effort involved, I can understand why. Both The Engineer’s mother and grandmother had never made it, it’s far too easy to buy any of the many brands that fill the freezer section these days. Will I make it again? Probably, although only if there are lots of people to cater for and if my timing is better organised!

Six Word Saturday: 20.10.2012

Autumn in Finland. You NEED gumboots.

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20121020-135542.jpg

These are my gumboots. Even though I’m living in the city, these are put to frequent use this time of the year. I could not survive autumn without them 🙂

(This pair are called Hai, made by Nokia and they even have their own site)

Pink Floyd for Mother’s Day

Pink Floyd   It’s not what you think it is 🙂

Because I live in GMT +2 and she lives in GMT +9.

Because she live at 40 degrees south and I live at 60 degrees north.

Because here it is spring and there it is autumn.

Because she’s my mum. ♥

We are hunting lions!

The 2012 IIHF World Championships start today and continue until May 20th. I must confess I’m not a big ice hockey fan. Let’s take that one step further, I’m not a big sports fan! Anyway, I do feel it is a little wrong when I live in a country where I’m sure children can skate before they walk, as well as enjoying ice-skating as a school sport. Ice rinks pop up all over the country at the first hint of chilly weather and the fences don’t come down again until it is well and truly spring.

2011 was the year that Finland won the world cup after many years of being in so close. 2012 we get to host the world championships in conjunction with Sweden. Now because I know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about ice hockey I’m going to direct you to the IIHF page and you can read all about the upcoming championships there.

One of the stars of last years team was a young man by the name of Mikael Granlund, believe it or not, I know his name without resorting to running Google search! He leapt to fame after ‘shooting’ this amazing goal. To make matters sweeter it was against Russia.

Fast forward to this years Championships.  Every time there is a major sporting even that both Finland and Australia are competing in I have this terrible conflict. Which country to I put my heart and soul behind? Formula 1 is the most difficult: on one hand we have the rugged Mark Webber representing Australia and then there is the taciturn, yet looking like a ‘little boy lost’ Kimi Räikkönen,  back flying the flag for Finland after dabbling in rally. Oh, the conflict!

It doesn’t appear that Australia is fielding a team in the championships this year, they lost to Romania. Due to the large amount of advertising everywhere in the last few weeks Lion-fever is building, even for this confirmed non-hockey fan. Here is this years championship logo and mascot, courtesy of Leijonat.fi.

If the bird seems familiar, it’s because you’ve been playing Angry Birds too much! Yes ‘HockeyBird’ has escaped from the Rovio nest. Here is some background information if you are interested.

On a final note, because I have to put in some music here is an advertisement being run by one of the local cable channels. High on patriotic fervour I would say!

Onnea Leijonat! Good luck Lions!

Ironically enough…

… today we officially commenced summer time and as many pointed out so gleefully earlier this week: it’s spring! Forgive me if I don’t share your enthusiasm at this point.

20120325-093755.jpg
Helsinki Spring 2012

The above was the view at 0930 this morning. The lovely thing about spring snow is that it covers the emerging piles of dog-doo and other debris that has been buried for three months or more. The not-so-lovely part of spring snow here in the south of Finland is that it is often short-lived and melts to dirty slush in a matter of hours.

So, of course here we go with Alanis Morissette and Ironic. I’d totally forgotten how this clip looked. Now, is that ironic or what?!

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