Tag Archives: Helsinki

Weekend “project”

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You know what? I’m not going to start this post with the question about your weekend! I actually started writing it and then got a thought that it might be that almost each of my post starts with a similar question. I even checked and… there it was, always the same question! So, though I would love to know how you are doing and you are more than welcome to share your thoughts and experiences in the Comments (as always!), this time – no questions.

This weekend I decided that it’s finally time to put some flowers into out beautifully spacious but otherwise quite shabby balcony. We moved into this apartment only last August, and there really was no point in planting any flowers in the balcony, as the “winter season” here in Finland usually starts around the middle of August ๐Ÿ˜€ Well, ok, it doesn’t really start that early, only the school year starts and all the public transport changes into “winter timetables” and generally everyone gets out of the holiday mode and into the working one. But it’s really not worth getting busy with flowers so late in the summer because even in the beginning of September the temperatures outside (especially at night) might get quite low and the poor flowers would wilt anyhow. So though I was delighted at the prospect of having a huge balcony (it’s almost 10 square meters – or around 100 square feet for those, who live in another metric system – I’ve just measures it for the sake of this post!) and being able to spend time in it having breakfast, sunbathing or having a drink with my husband on a sunny evening (don’t laugh, the evenings are sunny here at summertime: on Midsummer Day sun in Helsinki sets just before 11 p.m.), but I left all these things for the “next year” and the balcony became a place to store all the things that don’t really belong at home but have to be here (like kids’ trycicles and scooters, outdoor toys and such).

So, to come back to this weekend after the long preface – I decided that it’s finally time to put some flowers into our balcony and start preparing it for all the nice things we will be doing there when the weather gets really warm (I know, I know, I said it’s already nearly summer here… but summer at this point means temperatures of some +20 C – and much less in the evenings). After a few trips to the stores – to buy flower boxes and the hooks to hang them, to buy soil (this was my husband’s job – I’m not a heavy-weight lifter myself ๐Ÿ™‚ ) and to buy flowers (I made this one together with the kids – couldn’t have taken such a pleasure away from them, could I?) – and a lot of mess on Saturday evening while planting everything (the kids were included into this process as well… I guess I’d better not start describing that, because those who have kids will know very well what it looks like when you let a 5- and 2-year old “help” plant flowers; and those who don’t have kids won’t imagine it anyway ๐Ÿ˜€ ), here’s the result:

I fell in love with the pastel colored little buckets the moment I saw them! Aren’t they cute?! But the flower boxes were a dreary dark grey color – and in my mind this color is definitely not “summary”! – so I additionally bought some bright light blue adhesive tape and decorated the boxes with kind of “blue skies” backdrop against a “gray grass” (and – in the case of the hanging flower-pot – its “glue grass against the gray skies” ๐Ÿ™‚ ). It took just maybe an hour to do this but I think now the flower boxes look much nicer. What do you think?

So, this is the start of my “balcony makeover”. It still needs a lot of other things like a few colorful rugs and some set of furniture. And, of course, I have a million sewing projects (like colorful floor cushions) in my head. But… one step at a time.

Have a nice start of the week all of you!

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Free time: Sewing

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Hi! Today I’ll just jump straight into the topic: wanna know what my free time looks like recently? ๐Ÿ™‚ Like this picture!

Yep, I’m all in the sewing activities – and I love it! Since I finally got my new toy – the sewing machine – I’m immersed into everything that’s thread, fabric, seems, cutting, measuring and sewing. Though I’m not doing much of actual sewing yet, because I decided that I’d like to learn how to sew properly. So – being a definite Type A and all in all a person in-love with books – I started from reading ๐Ÿ˜€ My bookshelf is now filled with books titled “Sewing Machine Basics”, “The Sewing Machine Classroom” and “Dressmaker’s Guide” that the Helsinki library kindly provided (they have such wonderful libraries and the whole library system here in Finland!!! I can’t even express how happy I am about that!). Apparently, there are so many things I didn’t even realise I didn’t know! ๐Ÿ˜€ Like different threads for different projects and what needle and stitch length and width to choose for what fabric, not to mention the different foots for a sewing machine and thread tension and… Well, you get the idea ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s really not that I’m starting from a complete scratch – in my teenage years I even made a few clothes (like skirts and a blouse with straps and even a dress) and I actually wore them (so they weren’t really bad ๐Ÿ™‚ ). But then I was sewing just from my own understanding and – really – just relying on luck: I made mistakes and I didn’t care much that the final garment didn’t look professional. But I made it! That was the most important.

Now the fact of making something myself is as important, but I’m older and I don’t really want to wear something that screams from a kilometer away: “Look, I made it myself! So what if it doesn’t look like much!” That’s why all the books and learning ๐Ÿ™‚

But I’m not only reading, mind you, and I’m not writing this time to share with you the titles of my “study books”, but, rather, my first project ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s extremelysimple, but it fulfills the main objectives for this moment: it let me try out my machine, it was simple enough to make in a very short time (time is something I would be glad to buy in bulk these days, but, I guess, most of us feel the same way, right?) and it brought a bit of color and spring into our home (about time!). So, here it is: just the pillowcases for our living room sofa pillows ๐Ÿ˜€

…and “after”

Sofa “before”…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, I would not necessarily say that the new pillow cases generally look better on our sofa, but they do look better as an accent of spring. Right? What do you think?

Of course, now there is a whole row of projects already lined in my mind ๐Ÿ™‚ And I will, of course, share them all with you in due time. But today I saved you a couple of pretty pretty pictures for the final – my birthday gift from a dear friend here in Helsinki.

Look at this bag! Can you imagine the patience that goes into making something like this? To sew all those “flower-buttons” on, and the embroidery and everything… Oh my… This woman is a real crafter ๐Ÿ™‚

And that’s it for my colorful post today. See you next time!

Apparently, I’m human!

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Hi! How was your weekend? Did you do anything fun? Did you spend some time outdoors, enjoying the coming summer? We certainly did! Finally – finally – it really seems that there will be summer even here in Helsinki. At some point! ๐Ÿ˜€ During the weekend we still needed warm sweaters to be outside, but it was sunny and really warm at least in the sun, – and they say we’ll see temperatures up to +20! this week (for us it’s still unbelievable, though it’s already the end of May, can you imagine?!), – so I begin this week full of joyful hope ๐Ÿ™‚

Now, as promised, about a book: I finished reading Dan Ariely’s “Predictably Irrational” last week. It was such an enjoyable – and useful! – read! I’d truly recommend it to anyone who has anything to do with sales or marketing; and anyone at all, actually. There were so many ideas that really seem kind of evident when you think about them and compare them to how people actually behave, but when looked at from the rational perspective – they’re completely insane ๐Ÿ˜€

The topic here is behavioral economics.ย I’m sure one of the reasons why I found it so interesting is the fact that I myself have graduated from the university with a psychology major. And so I may be a bit biased here ๐Ÿ™‚ But my husband read this same book and found it very interesting as well, – and he’s definitely not a psychologist! Therefore I hope the things the both of us found interesting will be interesting to the wider circle of people as well…

…and what follows in this post is just an account of absolutely random bits and pieces of what I read and found both interesting and entertaining. It won’t be anything like a book review, – or a complete picture of what you can find in the book, – but I hope to give you some ideas and urge you to read it. It’s really worth the time!

Here it is:

  • Have you ever noticed that usually, given the choice between three things, – two of which are somehow similar, while the third is different, – we will choose the better one of the two and completely disregard the third? As in: if we were choosing a date partner and were presented with three candidates, two of which are about the same hight, build and hair colour, but one of them with a slightly better complexion or more perfect features, – and the third candidate was completely different, – we would choose the more “perfect” one of the two similar, and not even think about the third! Why? Because we would not have anyone to compare him to! The same, apparently, works for buying houses or cars or home appliances, or basically choosing anything at all. We have to have similar alternatives to be able to choose. (Here you can find a great advise: if you’re looking for a partner, try going to bars and clubs and all other “potential hunting grounds” with a friend who looks a lot like you but is a bit… hmm, let’s say, not that attractive ๐Ÿ™‚ You’ll increase your chances by a lot. Just don’t tell the friend why you’re inviting particularly him/her!)
  • How do we define the “normal” price for any goods or services or anything in life, really? When we moved to Finland, the first apartment we rented was actually a bit “out of our league” price-wise but it was in a wonderful place and it was only for one year, so we took it. Last year, when we had to move, we were not looking for cheaper apartments in different places – as was our original plan – but instead the rent we were paying for that one year became our “anchor” in evaluating all new apartments – we didn’t want anything cheaper! And the price that seemed high at the start looked normal after that one year of paying it and we didn’t want to “downgrade”. Apparently, all people behave like that! Soo, from this: if you are considering to start your own business selling something that is still quite new to the market – don’t under-price your goods! because the first price the buyers will see will become the “anchor” for them for all future comparison ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Probably the most interesting thing for me was the comparison between social norms and market norms. Apparently, we are very happy to help people just out of friendship, and its ok if we are rewarded with some small gift of gratitude for our help in, lat’s say, moving a sofa. But if we are offered money… that’s it, all thoughts of friendship are gone and we start evaluating our efforts in monetary terms. And that is mostly permanent! The next time the same person asks us for help, we automatically start thinking how much we should get paid! Here, probably, you really don’t need me to spell the implications, right?
  • You know why your kids are the smartest, your house – the most beautiful, and your ideas – the best? Because you own them! Because they are yours ๐Ÿ™‚ Apparently, whenever something starts belonging to us (even if that “belonging” comes from imagining yourself as an owner of, let’s say, some particular car), that same thing instantly gets “better” in our eyes than the exact same thing when it belongs to someone else ๐Ÿ™‚ We are soooo biased, that it’s scary sometimes!
  • And one more thing – our expectations shape our experience! It should be the other way around – our actual experience should shape our opinions about the things we experience, but experiments show that actually what we think about something and what we expect usually determines our experience. So let’s all be optimistic and expect only great things from the world around us, ok? ๐Ÿ™‚ (If you’re interested in the role of expectations, you might also find Tali Sharot’s talk at a TED conference about the optimism bias interesting. I know I did :)).

Of course, there are many many more thing in the book , that were extremely interesting but I cannot recount everything here (and probably now you already know why I said this post is only about bits and pieces… it looks incomplete even to me, but I really don’t intend to rewrite chapters of the book here ๐Ÿ™‚ ). And, by the way, everything is based on real experiments, not just some outsider observations! The book itself is written very lightly, it’s really fun to read.; and it provides great insights into most human thought and decision-making processes. So I really highly recommend it!

And returning to the topic of this post: there’s Dan Ariely’s blog and lots of cool things in it. I took a test to evaluate my irrationality here – and even after reading the book I was only “human” (therefore, far from rational) in all of my decisions and evaluations! Imagine that! ๐Ÿ˜€ There are also cool apps for iPhone, like Oranges2Apples – this one presents you with all the alternatives you could get for, let’s say, those 60 bucks you’re planning to spend on a new sweatshirt. Do you really really want this thing, huh? (should be a great tool for all the shopaholics ๐Ÿ˜€ ) – or At a Boy!, where you just get compliments ๐Ÿ™‚ Just like that – for being alive ๐Ÿ˜€ (I’d definitely get this… Please make it for Android as well!!! )

So, if you’re interested – check the link, read the book and let’s hope we’ll be more rational in making really important decisions and take greater pleasure from letting ourselves be irrational in all the small everyday details. We are all human, after all! ๐Ÿ™‚

Have a great day!

Kierrรคtystehdas: Workshops, and my (for now) little joy

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Ok, first of all: a BIG thank you to all my friends, acquaintances and their friends and acquaintances and everyone who visited – and will return to visit – my blog after I first “unveiled” it on Facebook (and special thanks to the girls who commented and encouraged on Facebook – you give me more courage!). That was a big step for me (we are all afraid – or at least anxious – about all possible criticism, right?) and a great commitment. I hope to be able to keep your interest and to provide fun reads with some information now and then. Also, if you have any suggestions, please leave comments – they make me very happy ๐Ÿ™‚

Now let’s get back for a very short while to Kierrรคtystehdas (aka Recycling Factory) because I still didn’t tell you anything about the workshops – and they were really most interesting!

There was a Sewing Club, where everyone could go find some interesting discarded clothes and remake them for themselves or any other purpose. There were sewing machines ready for the participants and professional instructors from Defender, who helped to make visions come true. By the way, check out Defender Redesign pageย  where they’re now showing their latest collection made from repurposed/upcycled clothes. The designs are great!

There was also a woodwork workshop where participants created birdhouses and flower boxes, and bicycle workshop where anyone could get advise and help with fixing their bike and getting it ready for the summer season (you might not be aware, but it’s a real challenge to get into any bicycle service here in Helsinki! They’re booked right up to the end of June!). Then there was a UFF workshop where participants could learn about the UNโ€™s Millennium Development Goals and print texts on recycled t-shirts related to those objectives; and rag flowers workshop; and Vinteco workshop, where everyone could see and learn how to renovate furniture, especially with different coverage techniques; and crafts workshop were you could learn to braid empty coffee packages into purses, for example, or something else. And the best part of all this was that all the activities were completely free (well, except for the sewing club, but there the fee was only 5 euros for using the discarded clothes so you wouldn’t need to bring any)! There was no registration, no fees and no other obstacles to join any workshop at anytime and just try whatever caught your fancy!

Now two most interesting things for me were Art Book Workshop and Mosaic workshop. I didn’t have time to create an art book myself, but the idea itself is amazing! You take any old unwanted book and just use it as an album, for example, for your art. Maybe some word in a page caught your attention and you got an idea for an illustration or design, maybe you use only the cover of the book, or you use the pages to frame something… The possibilities are endless! Here are some pictures I took of the sample books that were there on display. How lovely is the “earth” book?.. And those violets! I’d love to try this sometime.

And last (but not least, as they say) – the Mosaic Workshop. This I got to try myself! ๐Ÿ™‚ And it was great great fun! The organizers provided all participants with small wooden boards, ceramic-tile-glue and pieces of glass (I wonder, where could they fave found so many broken things like cups and glasses and plates and teapots?), and all who wanted could make their own mosaic. I once again found that I love to see colourful, “busy” designs but when its time for me to do something on my own, I’m a real minimalist! Just look at the difference between what my friend created (you can see her mosaic beside the glue bucket) and my own “masterpiece” ๐Ÿ˜€ But all in all it was a really fun experience and I’m very happy I had a chance to participate.

And this concludes my account of the Recycling Factory. Have you found any ideas you’d like to try at home? Please share in the comments, I’d love to hear them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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And now for my little joy: I got a sewing machine! I was obsessing about it for several months now, so with my birthday coming – and having finally chosen what I really want (and what I want inside the price range we can actually afford… more or less) – yesterday we agreed with my wonderful husband that I go and buy it. He was a bit unhappy that the present won’t be a surprise (he likes preparing surprises for me. And he’s real good at them! ๐Ÿ™‚ ), but as I wanted the machine soooo much, what else was there to do? On the other hand, this freed him from having to come up with some awesome present for me because it’s not an “ordinary” birthday – I’m turning 30! (OMG… Ok, let’s not think about that for a week more…) So I guess he was at least a bit happy and relieved as well.ย  And my happiness will be extended, because my great machine is now hidden from me and I’m not allowed to touch it until my actual birthday. Then I will be excited and happy all over again! But for now I can line up the myriad projects I’d “really like to make” ๐Ÿ˜€ You can look at the amazing assembly of online tutorials I’ve gathered on my Pinterest Crafts board anticipating “the time when I have a sewing machine”. The time has nearly come! Do you have any cool tutorials you’d share? I’d be very glad to add them to my line.

Kierrรคtystehdas, or Recycling Factory, 2012

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As I’ve already mentioned in my last post, Sunday was a delightful day for me mainly for the reason of having visited the Recycling Factory event for the first time.

A lovely display by Florencia

So here’s the report about some of my moments there, as promised ๐Ÿ™‚

Kierrรคtystehdas, or Recycling Factory, here in Helsinki is the largest sustainable lifestyle event of Finland. This year it was organized for the fifth time and I had the pleasure to visit it – together with some 10 000 other people. My friend and I spent the most part of our time in the Sales market – the part of Recycling Factory that united craftspeople, who use mainly recycled materials for the products they produce and sell. But there were also other parts of the event that we just didn’t have enough time to visit (us both having slipped away from our families for just a few hours): the Ilmaistori (or “Free of Charge” market) where visitors could bring items they didn’t need anymore and take whatever they needed, the panel discussions, runway shows and quite a few workshops (I brought home my “masterpiece” from a mosaic workshop ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

EcoDesign: Oskari Nukarinen’s bedside table

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the first time this year there was an EcoDesign competition. Unfortunately, I somehow didn’t stumble upon the winner design while I was there, but just look at this ingenious bedside table designed byย Oskari Nukarinen for OplusMonG Design Ltd! It is very simple and minimalist but really so great. No more bedside lamps falling off bedside tables, right?

Pencil-clock by Design Airo

 

 

 

 

Ok, but here’s what I did stumble upon that really made my eyebrows arch and would have made me whistle if I knew how to do that: the pencil-clock by Design Airo…

Organizing board by a crafty girl from Seinรคjoki University of Applied Sciences

 

 

 

 

…and this amazing organizing board presented by a crafty girl from Seinรคjoki University of Applied Sciences. You know how you never can find pens or rulers when you really need them? Well, no more! And this would be useful for so many more things! You could even hang it in the kitchen and use it to store tableware. Should look fun!

Colorful lamp from Mum’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the Recycling factory we met the warm and friendly women from Mum’s. We started talking as I asked permission to take a picture of the colorful lamp. They told us about their project: Mum’s products are designed in Finland and manufactured in South Africa, thus providing work for people there. It’s a really socially responsible idea, don’t you think? And their designs are real cute too ๐Ÿ™‚

Bag by Globe Hope

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continuing about good designs and sustainable products: what do you think about this bag by Globe Hope? Guess what it’s made of. I myself would never have even dreamed: it’s made of the hood that protected the Olympic Stadium’s tower during its renovation! This thing has such great history!

Soap dish by Think Today

Wristlets by Think Today

 

 

 

More recycling? Here are the wonderful little things made by Think Today out of left-over flooring materials. I fell in love with the soap dish.

It’s such a great design: you can open the snaps and the whole dish becomes completely flat, thus it’s very easy to store or to send to someone as a gift, for example ๐Ÿ™‚ And the colours of this particular one!

Chalkboard-frames by Kimara Crafts

Postcards by Kimara Crafts

Magnets by Kimara Crafts

 

 

 

 

 

 

I really liked magnets by Kimara Crafts. The words on them are in Finnish and mean “remember” or “from the shop” or “when you have time” ๐Ÿ™‚ There were also the beautiful and handy chalkboard-frames and these cute postcards in their stand. And lots of other great stuff (here’s their homepage).

Spoon necklaces by AddDrama!

Engraved spoon necklace by AddDrama!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now for the real sophisticated things: what do you think about these spoon necklaces by AddDrama!, huh? I loved them. Especially the ones with embedded crystals and the most delicate engravings. Who could have thought that spoons can be so charmingly beautiful!

Delicate little aluminium plates and spoons by Latimeria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And just look at the designs by Latimeria! Those delicate little plates with tiny spoons – they’re made from aluminium! And the bigger spoon is from steel. I don’t know if you’re able to see that not only one part of it has this beautiful purple colour to it but there’s also a soft light blue strip on the handle as well (argh, I so need to learn to use my cumbersome but real good camera!..). The lady at the Latimeria stand told us these wonderful colours appear when processing steel with different temperatures. Interesting!

Steel teespoon by Latimeria

And, of course, all this are only teeny-tiny grains of all the things that we saw – and didn’t have time to see – at the Recycling Factory. But I’ve already loaded you with more photos than is reasonable, havent’ I? So… enjoy them for now, explore the homepages of the crafty companies and people to find even more great designs. And I’ll be back next time with a short post on the workshops that took place at the Recycling Factory.

Have a great day/night (depending on what part of the world you’re in ๐Ÿ™‚ )!

May Day and Birthday

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Happy May Day everyone!!! Oh, I hope you are all having a great time ๐Ÿ™‚ We’re enjoying today enormously: the weather is wonderful, everyone’s in a good mood, there are throngs of people everywhere and everyone’s celebrating. We spent the first half of the day walking in the central spot of all Helsinki’s celebrations – Kaivopuisto, and enjoying the atmosphere. And I thought it would be great to share it with all of you. So, while the rest of my family is sleeping off the effects of lots of fresh air, lots of walking and lots of impressions, I’m bringing you a few May Day photos.

First: it’s unbelievable how many people participate in the celebrations. In Kaivopuisto, which is considered to be the central spot for the May Day gathering, there are throngs of people. But what’s most interesting – everyone’s content with it: people are weaving around one another and the many baby buggies, those that are having picnics sit close beside each other with no problems – someone’s barbecuing, someone’s just drinking, other eat cakes, listen to music etc. It’s a great sight!

Of course, there are lots of stands with colorful and fun treats for big and small – and all kids (and most adults ๐Ÿ™‚ ) carry around helium balloons. Our little one got the soother-candies that he happily crunched on the way home, and our daughter chose a huge heart-shaped lollipop (and was overjoyed to find out the word written on it in sugar is “Love” ๐Ÿ˜€ ).

All in all, it was a perfect morning!

… And a nice continuation of the last weekend, when we celebrated our daughters birthday ๐Ÿ™‚ She’s already 5! (I really can’t believe it… I’m so young! how can I have a five-year-old daughter?! ๐Ÿ˜€ )

Our home is a rental flat so there’s nothing very fancy in it: all walls are off-white, all cupboards in the kitchen – as well, the floors are grey and the only colour is our dark furniture and orange-and-brown sofas in the living room, and red IKEA accents on the kids’ furniture (we’ve been living here for 9 months already, but I still can’t figure out how I would like to decorate… oh well, I still hope to assemble the perfect decor accents little by little). So to somehow bring more colour and create a festive atmosphere, I decided to decorate for the birthday with colourful crepe paper. It was very basic and very simple, but perfect for our small family celebration. Here’s what came out ๐Ÿ™‚

The beribboned “lamp shade” is still up on our lamp. It seemed great for the May Day as well, – but to be completely sincere: I just can’t bring myself to take it off ๐Ÿ˜€ It’s so much more fun to be in the kitchen now! Let’s see how long I can pretend we have something to celebrate ๐Ÿ˜€ (well, there’s my birthday coming up in less than three weeks… Would that be a good enough reason? ๐Ÿ˜€ )

So that’s about all the celebrations recently. How have you been celebrating May Day?