Saturday, April 16, 2011

Helsinki designs me

Helsinki, 8 degrees

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Spring has now officially hit this town! Helsinki is just overflowing with that special spring feeling! The air smells like flowers and birds are singing. Spring is noticeable everywhere! People are happy, and finally walking around with sunglasses, sneakers, leather jackets or trench coats.

Source: mARTynax

But even more important: people are acting different! It's like they are finally acknowledging each other again - checking each other out. Cars pass by and honk. Shop assistants are smiling and even happy when they are at work! One could even say that the Helsinkian people have finally awakened from their hibernated state! A woman at a coffee shop yesterday put it perfectly into words when she said "we have finally made it through winter!" Nobody can exceed the happiness of Finns when winter's over!

On this beautiful sunny Saturday mid day I decided to check out one of my favorite repeating events in the city; the Design Market at the culture factory Korjaamo. The market always manages to surprise me with its ability to introduce new and interesting designers in Helsinki. Since it's a market, the items sold there do not represent the whole production lines of the designers', but the designers tend to choose to show the products that are best adapted to the market setting: products of reasonable cost and small size. Basically that means everything from interior design items to accessories.

Source: Designmyyjäiset

This spring I saw some new exciting design items but also a lot of well known ones. Finnish design has for some time now focused on recycling, something very apparent also at this weekend's market. When I say recycling, I mean recycling in all forms. A great example is Makee Design that reuses candy paper in a humorous way.

Natural materials are also highly appreciated, an example Pisama Design.

Usually every season gets its own characteristic figure or pattern. For some time now owls and birds have decorated clothing but also been visible in jewellery. Today I saw a lot of matryoshka figures.

Source: Peikonpoika

Source: Peikonpoika

Source: Koruharakka

But for you who know me well, you can guess which figure caught my eye. Sometimes, if I'm lucky enough, I eye through all the tables to find a dragonfly. Today, I was definately lucky! I got the last of the stunning brass dragonfly earrings!

It was sold by the design shop called Naked. Apparently it has only been open for a month or so, so I was fortunate to notice it. And the seller only had one earring left when I found it at her table. The idea is to only wear one dragonfly earring. Ingenious! It really is a beauty! What do you think?

I'm happy dragonflies don't appear too often. The problem with a specific figure becoming more common is that there is always the fear of it becoming too common and then its attractiveness fades away.

I also liked the jewellery of AnniElina korut. Especially this hand drawn moth necklace. The designers introduced many new figures: scissors, frogs, spoons, roses. I welcome them!

Source: AnniElinakorut

Well set design wise, we (me and my sister) decided to hit a second hand shop located close by to Korjaamo. There I found another bargain!

For some time now, I have been looking for some shoes that would go with the latest mannish fashion trend and today I finally found them! Now I only have to wait for the new military styled jacket I've bought and my spring style will be completed! Isn't spring simply the best time for going treasure hunting? What have you found so far?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Finland, the country of cosy people

Helsinki, 2 degrees

As the saying goes, sometimes one needs distance to see close. This time, as our one year anniversary was around the corner, my biggest request was a weekend out in the Finnish woods, away from everything that reminded us of our everyday life. I wanted to relax in the best company. And I must say that for once, I was right. The weekend was exactly what I needed. Two days of time together, without disturbing factors. Coming back to Helsinki on Sunday afternoon, I felt calm and even more in love (if that's possible?).

Finland is a country of cosy people where people get excited over the smallest things. One could claim that that is due to the fact that little happens in a small country like Finland, but I believe it has to do with the core of the people. People are just genuinly kind in Finland. It was almost too easy for us to get a cottage for the weekend and the people who owned turned out to be super down to earth, very chatty and kind.

The cottage was perfect with two bedrooms, a kitchen, a sauna inside, and a fireplace in the living room. A lot of people might think it to be ironic that a city girl like me would go to the forest for peace, but in the right company it was exactly what I needed.

Even though the weekend was a success, I soon fell ill again once back home. Spring is a misleading time. One would like to dress in a springlike way but then it's not always such a good idea. There is always a devious wind in Helsinki. Yesterday I spent my whole free day fighting against this flu, let's hope it was worth it.

Well, I spent most of my day. I actually had the energy to do one important thing: vote in the parliament election we have right now. This was during the pre-voting period so I could do it in the post office. Finland is such a cute country when it comes to national issues. The people at the post office seemed very serious, since the election is considered crutial in so many ways. In many ways, the outcome of this election will decide Finland's next four political years and what they will include. Anyway, the Finnish people are cute because they feel important playing a part in a tradition as old as Finland herself. I thought the post office was very efficient, it didn't take long to put the number on the piece of paper and then seal it in an envelope. Now, I can't wait for the actual voting day, this week's Sunday. Let's see if my little vote made any difference :)

Source: Lintukoto
Monday, April 4, 2011

One Piece

Helsinki, 4 degrees

On a rainy & grey Monday morning like this one, what would be better than to look around for new fashion trends. For some time now, I have been hearing about one pieces. I thought today would be a great day to explore this trend. Have you heard about it yet? Apparently it's a huge trend in our neighboring countries.


Basically a one piece is a college outfit, a jumpsuit, made out of cotton. The story behind it is comfort. The Swedish company OnePiece makes advertisment saying that you'll love the outfit even more than your own mother thanks to its comfort. The outfit represents the attitude "Who cares?" The company's utopian vision is to create the most innovative and premium leisurewear.

A funny detail is that the looser the outfit it, the better! As the advertisment says: if it's loose enough, you might even fit two people in it.

Seemingly in Sweden they use them even as party dresses with high heels. That sounds fun at least according to me. I'm not sure if Finnish guys though would ever dare to use outfits like these, but I'm sure every girl can find her own favorite.


The outfit isn't cheap though, as far as I've seen it's about 150€-250€. So one should think of it as a piece of design clothing. Have you found your favorite yet?

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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Eastern Uusimaa's treats

The whole day long tour didn't end at Rutum manor, but continued to a completely different surrounding, a place called Seikkailulaakso (direct translation: the adventure valley). I must add though that I highly recommend the Rutum manor for any kind of event. The hosting couple was excellent; friendly and welcoming, but also very efficient and professional.

Seikkailulaakso, as the name tells you, is specialized on the other hand on adventures for groups. We only had a few hours time to get to know the place, located in the city of Porvoo. Still, we got to try four different activities there.

The first activity was axe throwing. We had to throw axes towards a wooden wall where there was a stubble attached to the wall. It was as it sounds; dangerous. For a small girl like me it was difficult, even though axe throwing does not ask for a lot of force but actually only the right swing. It got easier once one tried it several times.


Can you guess the second activity?

Yes, snow shoe walking. It was a lot of fun! It was actually my first time ever trying them out, even though I'm a Finn! We even have them in Helsinki! But here in Helsinki the winter season is coming to its end so by now it might be close to impossible to find some anywhere...but I still recommend them for everybody. I stumbled upon an upexpected problem-my feet for too small for the shoes, hehe! I had some difficulties in keeping the snow shoes on me, but at least I got to try it and enjoyed it very much. Next time, I might take shoes more equipped for this activity. Have you tried snow shoe walking yet?


The third activity was paintballing. Even though it might sound harmless, in Seikkailulaakso they took it seriously. I don't like any kinds of weapons, so I found that this was not the activity suited for me, but I'm sure it's a lot of fun for those who like it.


I enjoyed maybe the most the last activity we did, we drove with some bug cars! They were fast and fun!


After seing one castle, one manor and doing all those activites, we were ready to hit the road back home, but on the way we still had one stop: Haikko manor. The fact that we were supposed to have some chocolate tasting made us think that it was an excellent way to end the eventful day. And so it was. The manor is very beautiful, even though I prefer the villa close by to the waterfront.


In the manor, like I mentioned, we had some chocolate tasting. That meant we compared chocolate types with different kinds of wine. What can be better than that?!?? We got to try chocolate treats from a chocolate factory working in Porvoo called the Small Chocolate Factory. It specializes in truffles, brownies and chocolate glazed cakes. Heaven!


The chocolate factory has a fascinating story about its creation:
"In 1809, at the Porvoo Diet, Tsar Alexander fell in love with Miss Ulla Möllersvärd. Later the Tsar visited Porvoo several times in this building in the Old Town, where the Little Chocolate Factory is now located, and where Ulla´s half brothers, captain Johan Adolf and Gustaf Reinhold Möllersvärd lived. The Tsar and Ulla would sit in a candlelight room and taste the chocolate delicacies that the captains had brought from their military expeditions."

As we sat and enjoyed the wine combined with chocolate, we also got to hear some history concerning chocolate in general. All this, inside the walls of a manor. I had to pinch myself so that I would know I wasn't dreaming...

Like I mentioned earlier, I preferred believe it or not, the villa of Haikko over the manor. It looked like the ideal place for a So romantic. It had the waterfront just outside of it. The hostess even told us that one could arrange fireworks right outside the villa. Aaaw.



After a long day getting to know Eastern Uusimaa, it was time to return home to Helsinki with a lot of gatherned knowledge. Now when visitors ask me what to see in the countryside outside Helsinki, I sure have a better answer than before.

Finnish castles and manors

Helsinki, 2 degrees

As I'm spring cleaning our apartment, and need to let the floors dry since I just washed them, I thought it would be a great idea to sit down and write some lines for you. Although one can not really say that spring has started in Helsinki, we seem to have hit a period of greylike days with drizzle. Oh well, I guess this period is needed to melt down the tons of snow we have on the Helsinkian streets.

At work, spring stands for the period when new exciting tourism products are being planned and designed. I have had the privilege to make acquaintance with some of them. A week ago or so I had the chance to get to know some places outside Helsinki, in Eastern Uusimaa, the Eastern parts of the Finnish region Helsinki finds itself in. I visited Loviisa, Porvoo and Haikko. The adventurous day was organized by Porvoo Tours, led by the wonderful Birgitta Palmqvist who I first met last summer when we were on morning TV together.

Source: Netcar

The day started by getting to know the Bonga castle, the inspiring gallery of the professor and artist Riitta Nelimarkka, in Loviisa. If you're interested you can see a video about it.

Source: Bonga castle

I found myself confused after seeing the castle. The castle itself was beautiful, nobody can deny that. I even liked the colorful artwork of the artist having her gallery in it. I don't necessarly think they matched each other that well though.

And there was a lot of dried flowers in the house which I am personally afraid of. I have always thought dried flowers inside a house as a bad sign of something. Almost like an omen.

She had also put up some taxidermy around the house, another thing that scares me. It reminded me of the mounted baby elefant we had in my junior high school that I always was a afraid was watching me during our biology classes back in those days. Funny little detail.

Our second stop during the day was the beautiful manor of Rutum, built back in the 18th century. The manor is used for groups for weddings, meetings and other kind of events.

Source: Rutum manor

Once we arrived at the manor, we were welcomed by the couple who ownes the manor. The welcoming happened in an out of ordinary way. The lady of the house played a small drama show for us where she actually was playing the historical role of the first lady of the house. It was fun to watch and listen to the story. Afterwards she returned, dressed in a more modern way, and we got to hear the full story of the stunning manor. I have always associated France with different kinds of manors, but I was happy to see that we have a lot of manor even here in Finland, we just don't know about them enough.

I think the different colored rooms in the house are so beautiful that they deserve to be shown here in my blog. Which is your favorite?

The red room
Source: Rutum manor

The green room
Source: Rutum manor

The blue room
Source: Rutum manor

One of my absolute favorites was the master bedroom with its handpainted wallpaper. How about that?