Finland

Oh Rauma is!

So, this video appeared on my Facebook Timeline today – a video filmed in Rauma, Finland, and it’s apparently “Oh, Rauma is so lovely” (to the tune of “When the Saints Go Marching In, if I’m not mistaken).  You can see a little of the town I live in:

Copied from the About section of the video:

Published on Feb 13, 2013

“Oh, Rauma is!” (2013) vowel: Tired-E: Ol niingon gotonas, Rauma snootaan / and known to all roads will take to Rome. / If you wanna learn opeks, but does not find a home here / is too close to the Turkuu or Poria. / Hollywood-campus minimetropolissa / Myllymäen spirit must pers moderate. to prove. / Siks ainoona I survived many lopettamissodista :/ ROKLii not be destroyed – I should reproduce it. / student is a physical entity / and some degree of social and psychological. / Can not Imagine Rauma without Semppuu, / I do not cook without Kulista, sleep without Sumppuu. / KELA decline in 70 months I cracked, / Opekkaalle badly, “Talvipäivii oottasin!” /tyrväätä solkkasin and all morkkasin / servaamatta longer I guess Whip and Molkkari. / Mise Mato: Oh, Rauma is. (Oh, Rauma is!)Oh, Rauma is. (Oh, Rauma is!) Oh, Rauma is so lovely. Semppu It is we, Fool, and Irma. Oi Rauma is so wonderful! Leesse MC Oh, man, Rauma is a wonderful gyl. / Have you no harm here timmi or obese. / all from the same line here left / , reserving some to rise to stardom. / Irma illegal already sumpit pihiseen. / I think I’ll sijottaa one euro still lihikseen, / when I only had time to Kulikseen / and supper he should go viel Jack’s gas sulikseen. / this feeling to you for so little :/ herd animal halikoulun corridor . / In the morning demo – today a few :/ today darraa little loiventavalle. / Again interim death univelta liver / and every time keltaset on the pull I have the energy. / Thanks Semppu, Irma and the Fool. / Thank you Rauma, thanks to Finland. / Juice Mato aka Front Side Olli Oh Rauma is. (Oh, Rauma is!) Oh, Rauma is. (Oh, Rauma is!) Oh, Rauma is so lovely.Semppu It is we, Fool, and Irma. Oi Rauma is so wonderful!PRODUCTION: Woody & DJ Junk directing, cinematography & EDITING: T.Thorström & E.Kortelahti THANK YOU: Jare Kilmister, Nea, Irma, Jack the Wave, Johnny Molcers, TimTim, Roman Candles, Ball Sempun 12-13, Kuppila, Jester Pub, ROKL, Kulinarium & 7MB © Handirap Vammala RY, 2013

I’m not sure if this is an automatic translation or not – I’m thinking yes, because there are still a lot of Finnish words that haven’t been translated.  And, of course, I’m not sure I completely understand it…

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Shrove Sunday Fun

Shrove Tuesday here in Finland is the same thing as Mardi Gras is in the States…at least, in the religious aspect, in that it’s the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.  Here in Finland, according to wikipedia, the day is “generally celebrated by eating green pea soup and a pastry called laskiaispulla (sweet bread filled with whipped cream and jam or almond paste).”  So, yeah, not quite the same party that Mardi Gras is!

This past Sunday, the Sunday preceding Shrove Tuesday, was, fittingly enough, Shrove Sunday.  It’s apparently the day to go out and enjoy winter sports, sledding in particular.  I hadn’t realized it was Shrove Sunday until a friend made a comment on Facebook about it…then I immediately panicked, wondering if the grocery store would be open.

I had already planned on going for a walk to the nearby sports complex, because there was a snow judo competition that I felt I simply had to check out.  So I ventured out into the falling snow (while Stephen worked) and walked to the sports complex.  There was more going on than snow judo, though – skiing and skating and sledding, oh my!  They even had a horse and buggy ride for kids.

Ice skating

Ice skating

Sledding

Sledding

Sledding hill behind the skating rink

Sledding hill behind the skating rink

Snow Judo

Snow Judo

Snow Judo...or, just rolling around in the snow!

Snow Judo…or, just rolling around in the snow!

Horse and carriage ride

Horse and carriage ride

I stopped at the store on the way home (open, thank goodness) and decided to pick up some laskiaispulla, but they were completely sold out.  So, yeah, it’s kind of a big deal.  😉  I did go to the store today and pick some up, though, and Stephen and I enjoyed our little Shrove Tuesday treat.

Las

Laskiaispulla

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What I didn’t know a year ago

Hard to believe we’ve been in Finland for a full year now!  We’ve experienced winter, spring, summer, and fall.  We’ve survived through the short daylight hours of winter and the long daylight hours of summer.  We’ve enjoyed new surroundings, new friends, and new experiences.  And I’ve learned a few things this year.

  1. I’ve learned what -25°C feels like.
  2. I’ve learned to think of temperature in degrees Celsius.
  3. I’ve learned that I’d rather it be -2°than +2°
  4. I’ve learned that using centimeters is a lot easier than inches when sewing hems.
  5. I’ve learned how to sew.
  6. I’ve learned how to make pancakes and biscuits and bread from scratch.
  7. I’ve learned that the Finnish language is beyond me.
  8. I’ve learned to live without a clothes dryer, a dishwasher, or a garbage disposal.
  9. I’ve learned that finding washcloths is nearly impossible in Finland – apparently they don’t use them here.  Ikea’s kid section to the rescue – those are the only ones I’ve found!
  10. I’ve learned that not tipping is hard to do.
  11. I’ve learned how to play Mölkky.
  12. I’ve learned how much I love the opportunity to live in Finland.

I’ve learned much more than that, of course, but that’s a pretty good list.  I look forward to the next year, the experiences that still await us.  We’re planning trips to Latvia, Italy, and Germany (for Oktoberfest), and I also hope to go to Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Sweden.  Until then, some highlights from the last year:

Highlights from our first six months.

Our trip to Ireland.

Attempting to learn Finnish.

A trip home and to Mexico.

Thanks for reading – I love being able to share our lives with you!!

IMG_4718

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Finnish Winter Wonderland

We got more snow last night, and today was a bright, sunshiny day, so I decided to take a little walk.  Over the summer, I discovered a community garden nearby, full of flowers and vegetables and berry shrubs.  I’ve been wanting to see it in the winter, so today was the perfect day.

Snowy trail

Snowy trail

The garden -

The garden –

-not much going on this time of year!

-not much going on this time of year!

 

Pinecone

Snow Flower

Snow Flower

And, just for comparison, here’s a photo from the same garden in the summer:

Community garden in the summer

Community garden in the summer

 

 

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Locks of Love

Love padlocks have become somewhat of a thing in the last few years – Seoul, Paris, Prague, Serbiathe list goes on and on.  Way back in March (yeah, it’s been a while), Stephen and I took a day trip to Tampere, 2 hours away, and happened to stumble upon some love padlocks over the Tammerkoski Rapids.  I love the idea, and I love the different locks people choose to use.  Some are utilitarian, some are quite fancy, some are written on, and some have other things attached to the locks.  I could have easily spent an hour there, studying each of the locks, imagining who these couples were and what happened to them.

Love Padlocks, Tampere Finland

Love Padlocks, Tampere Finland

Lock 1Lock 3

Lock 2

See more love padlocks around the world here, here, and here.

Have you seen love padlocks on your travels?  I would love for you to comment with a link to your photos!

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Illumination (a wordpress photo challenge)

Our apartment faces due west, so we enjoy watching the course of the sunset through the year – right now it’s to the very far left; in June it will be to the very far right.  Last week, I was sitting in the home office and happened to glance out the window, which faces north.  This side of the building doesn’t get any direct sunlight right now, because the sun sits so low on the southern horizon, but this day, for maybe five minutes, the sun hit the tops of these two pine trees and illuminated them to a bright autumn orange.

Golden Glow

Soon, the sun will be shining on this part of Finland for 20 hours a day, but for now, this made my day!

(This post is in response to the wordpress weekly photo challenge for January 11, 2013.  See more photo posts of illumination here.)

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Christmas wasn’t quite right

Christmas

Once, 9 or 10 years ago, I spent Christmas alone.  I was alone in a new town, 1500 miles away from my family and friends, and couldn’t get time off from my new job.   I figured it would be no big deal, it was just another day.   Boy, was I wrong.  I swore I would never spend Christmas alone again.  Of course, I wasn’t planning on moving to a foreign country…

Luckily, we went home earlier this month, and we had an early Christmas with our families.   It was nice to see everyone and open gifts, and see genuine joy when someone opened a gift I had picked out just for them.  But at that time, I hadn’t really gotten into the “Christmas spirit,” so it wasn’t quite right.

We didn’t do any decorating for Christmas in the apartment – we didn’t bring any decorations, and I didn’t want to buy anything just for our time here.  It seemed kind of a waste.  The town put up a couple of big trees, and the streets were lit with lights, but not many homes had visible decorations – no driving around and looking at Christmas lights this year!

Christmas decoration in Old Town Rauma

Christmas decoration in Old Town Rauma

Most of our friends were traveling for the holidays, but there were three of us American couples still here.  We decided to have a big Christmas Eve dinner.  There’s a tradition in Finland to light candles in the cemetery and put them by the headstones, so before dinner we took a walk to the local cemetery to check it out.  It was very beautiful and peaceful, all the candles lit and illuminating those who are gone.

Lit candles by a headstone

Lit candles by a headstone

 

Cemetery illuminated by candlelight

Cemetery illuminated by candlelight


Christmas morning, Stephen had some gifts to unwrap, but I had gotten my gifts when we were with family earlier this month, so I didn’t have anything.  That didn’t bother me though – what truly bothered me was not seeing loved one’s faces light up on Christmas morning as they opened a gift that made me think specifically of them.  Sure, I had seen that earlier this month, but it didn’t coincide with Christmas Day.  It’s silly that that little thing makes a difference, but it does.

I think I’ll go ahead and do some shopping now for Christmas next year, so I can decorate.  Maybe that will make it feel more festive.  And next year, we need to skype while our families open gifts, so I can see the joy on their faces.

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An American Thanksgiving in Finland

The holiday season is here, which makes being an ex-pat a little more difficult.  Without family and friends nearby to celebrate with, Thanksgiving and Christmas can be a bit sad.  So the best thing to do is plan a big party!

There are quite a few ex-pats here in town, working for The Company, so I checked around to see if anyone would be interested in having a big American Thanksgiving and renting out a place to do it.  The response was overwhelming.  We ended up having about 50 people, including a lot of the American ex-pats and some people of other nationalities who got to experience our traditions.  We had a ton of food, including 4 turkeys, and the location we rented was lovely.  It all went off without a hitch, and everyone was glad to have the chance to get together and celebrate.  There’s already talk of renting the space out again next year for a Fourth of July party, when we’ll be able to take advantage of the good weather and abundance of sunshine to enjoy the large yard included in the rental!

Did I mention yet how much food there was?  We kept having to add tables and move the dessert table down (then add a table to that) because there was so much food!  We had pretty much all the standard fare – besides the turkeys, there was mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, stuffing, pumpkin pie, deviled eggs…the list goes on and on.

It was great to get together with new friends and celebrate Thanksgiving in a big, traditional, ex-pat way!

Only a portion of the buffet table(s)!

Only a portion of the buffet table(s)!

Our decorative turkey, put together by a Brit!

Our decorative turkey, put together by a Brit!

Enjoying the meal

A portion of the dessert table!

A portion of the dessert table!

I’ll be blogging about the Thanksgiving Kitchen Challenge soon, so stay tuned!

Categories: Finland, Food | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Hey, it’s November, give me a break

It’s been how long since I posted?  Shame, shame.  In my defense, it is November, which of course means National Novel Writing Month.  And, although I may not have been posting, I have been drafting blog posts.  Now to edit and post…yeah, I’ll get right on that.

I’m trucking along on the book.  27,000 words.  I shaved off a bit of length on my goal, so now I’m trying to hit 75,000 words instead of 90k.  Because, really, for the type of book it is, it shouldn’t be 90k.  So, 75k.  I’m almost halfway through my plot now, though, and I already know I’m going to have to beef up some scenes.  I’m saving that for after I finish, though.  Hopefully that will still be done in November, but we’ll see.  I’ll still hit the 50,000 NaNo goal, I’m just not sure I’ll hit my personal goal.  (You can follow along with my word count if you look to the top right of this page – see it?)

I’ve also been working on organizing a big American Thanksgiving here in Rauma, with a bunch of people from The Company.  I had to find a rental space, which didn’t end up being as difficult as I was afraid it was going to be.  I wasn’t sure how I would go about it in Finnish, and I didn’t really want to make any phone calls (because the whole answering the phone in Finnish and me saying “Hi do you speak English” and them saying something back in Finnish and it just being a huge cluster).  But I was able to take care of it through email (barely) and reserved a lovely hall with a large yard.  We’re going to have around 40-45 people, including some non-Americans who are excited to see what this whole Thanksgiving thing is about.  It’ll be potluck style, 4 turkeys, and all the regular fixings, plus some irregular ones (which is perfectly fine and dandy with me!).  We’re going to attempt to record the Thanksgiving Dallas Cowboys game and have that playing during the day, to make it feel right.  Since Thursday isn’t a holiday here, we’re having it on the following Saturday.  I’m going to be cooking one of the turkeys (the second turkey in my life), and I’m curious to see how it’s going to work with the small European oven.  I think I’m going to spatchcock the turkey, but then I’m not sure if I’m going to roast it or attempt to grill it.  Grilling seems interesting, a little something different, but I’m not sure if anyone we know has a big enough grill….

I’ve been working on a couple of sewing projects, I should have those done in the next few weeks.  I’ll post photos if they turn out well!

I took a couple of weeks off on the cooking challenge, after I was unable to find certain ingredients for something I was working on.  I figure my next cooking challenge will be the Thanksgiving Feast, so I’ll get back to the regular program after that.  I do have a bit of a backlog on the challenges, though (I started it a few weeks before actually posting anything), so I’ll post some to fill the gaps.  🙂

Let’s see, what else has been going on…

It’s getting darker here.  It’s not really “daylight,” where I can open the blinds and not have the lights on, until around 9am, and by around 3pm I have to turn the lights on again.  Of course, that’s on a normal, sunny day – today was so overcast it seemed to be dusk all day.  It’s good and dark by about 4:30pm most days – and we’ve got about a month left of dwindling daylight.  But then, guess what, it’ll start getting brighter again, and we’ll have 22 hours of daylight again before you know it!

In the meantime, we’re looking forward to a trip back home soon, where we get to see the family and some friends and do some shopping.  Then we’re going to MEXICO, where it will be sunny and warm and we can go swimming in the ocean and lay on the beach and drink fruity alcoholic beverages and Ican’tfreakingwait.

In other news, my permit for living in Finland is due to expire in a couple of months, and I filed the paperwork yesterday to have it renewed.  Hopefully I’ll have it before I need it, unlike my friend Pam, whose permit took four months and a lot of shouting from The Company.  She ended up getting detained in Germany, nearly missed her flight to the States,  and couldn’t come back to Finland until her permit arrived.

Oh, and the elections are over!  Yay!  It was hard enough to get through here, I don’t know how crazy we would have been if we were back home!  We were saved from the plenitude of political ads, the robocalls, the 24hour news cycle for the weeks leading up to the election.  We both voted absentee without a problem, and I woke up Wednesday morning, checked the news, and knew who won.  Can’t get much better than that!  Although, we still had to deal with the sometimes nasty diatribes on Facebook…

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First Snow

We’ve had our first snowfall here in Rauma, and man did it snow.

It started on Friday with these cute little snow pellets – they looked like little pieces of styrofoam.  Pea-sized hail, except it wasn’t hail, it was snow.  Some research revealed this to be graupel.  So there’s my something new learned for the day.  It melted fairly quickly, but we got some more overnight.

Snow covered roofs of Rauma, Friday morning.

Then on Friday, it snowed off and on all day.  When it snowed, it snowed, like a heavy downpour.  The streets were soon covered, and I could see several cars slipping and sliding and struggling to get up the hill.  I started to worry about Stephen driving home, since we haven’t put the winter tires on yet.  We have an appointment on Monday – not soon enough, evidently.

I took a walk in one of the heavier downpours, excited to try out my new boots:

When I got back there were some guys out playing soccer across the street, and from the sounds of it they were having a grand time, whooping at every goal scored.  It was highly entertaining watching them slipping and falling on the snow, and they were enjoying it, too – I swear I saw one making a snow angel after he fell.  It was especially funny when they ended up against the boards, three of them kicking and struggling to get control of the ball.  I was suddenly watching hockey!!

Snow soccer

The leaves on the trees suddenly realized they were late, and immediately corrected the situation:

“Oh crap! Fall, fall!!”

As I looked out from our apartment at the white blanket on the city, I realized that this is what my view will be for the next six months or so.  In a few months, I won’t even notice the snow, but for now, I’m an American from the South, and snow is still a novelty!

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