Our summer in pictures

Oh yes, let’s start with this one! It was the first of May. Vappu. When everyone goes out to have a picnic or start the barbecue season but this year our backyard looked like this. The spring was unbelievably cold and this was the crown of it all. As they say, summers in Finland are cold and have only little snow.

In May we had some nice visits to the Helsinki center, underground electrical station and to see presidential funeral among other things. The underground electrical station was so much fun and such a special opportunity but when my son was asked afterwards about the best part of that day he replied it was getting in to that digger you can see there. 😀

I also got out with friends a couple of times and had some dates with the husband. I ate some nice lunches and dinners and had an opportunity to drink my coffee hot for a change.

In June it was finally warm enough to go swimming outside and have some ice cream (like everyday :D). We bought new furniture to our terrace and used them regularly. I love eating outside. Everything seems to taste better there!

The boy got a new sandbox to our backyard and was extremely happy about it. 😊

The next picture was the story of my life this summer. I made this meme early June and sent it to the husband like every day. It says: all kids are sleeping … were sleeping. Since as soon as I got every one asleep and brewed a coup of coffee and was ready to sit down and take a sip, someone was already awake. Like every time.

I didn’t have time to do much in the garden this year. All the weeds were growing wild and free but I try not to worry about it. This is Midsummer rose and the photo is taken on Midsummer when it was blooming beautifully.

The summer was not only sunshine and happiness. First of all it was quite cold and rainy but we also had to take our babies to the hospital a couple of times since they were not feeling well but it was luckily nothing serious. I also took them to cafés and restaurants so that they would get used to it from early on.

Looking back this summer is actually quite emotional. The babies were so little. We did not do as much different activities that I had hoped for but we invited lots of visitors to our home which was nice. I learnt that you don’t have to be always going to places and taking trips and visits as I have done previously. Staying at home with friends and family members is also very nice. Actually we had a good summer. Very good one.

Here was our May and June! This one got so long already that I’ll continue with July and August later.

Have a lovely week!

Mannamaria

Let’s Become Vegetarian

Being ill was not only bad! I had an idea while resting! I’ve told you I’d like to be vegetarian but I’ve had all these excuses: I don’t know how to prepare enough vegetarian meals, I’ve been tired with the twins and haven’t had the strength to look for new recipes and everyday meals.

I’ve been a master in inventing new excuses.

A week ago I watched the documentary ‘What the Health’. I’d watched Cowspiracy earlier. They are not entirely applicable to an EU country and they are not the only reason why I’d like to be vegetarian. But that documentary reminded me of this dream or goal of becoming vegetarian I’ve had for a long time. My family hasn’t eaten lots of meat but I’d like to leave it all.

So I decided. Enough with excuses. Now is as good time as any to try this out!

Since October is ‘meat free month’ I decided to take part and started this challenge already a week ago. I’ll try to be vegetarian until the end of October and then see how it went and how I want to continue.

Rules that I’ve set for myself:

  • Buy and prepare only vegetarian food at home. At this point eggs and dairy are ok. I’ll try leaving them later.
  • Vegetarian food only at home. My son and husband can eat whatever they want at daycare and work but I will only eat vegetarian dishes and prepare them at  home. They won’t eat meat at home either.
  • Seafood is ok occasionally. Just make sure that it’s msc certified.
  • I’ll continue until the end of October and then see how it went, and decide whether I want to continue.

What I have prepared during this first week:

  • Lentil soup
  • Tomato pasta with pulled oats
  • Vegetarian hamburgers
  • Spinach and feta cheese pie
  • Tomato and chevre pie
  • Pesto pasta

In a restaurant I’ve had

  • Sushi
  • Pan-fried noodles with tofu (this one was the only hard one! I almost chose beef and broke my challenge already but luckily went with tofu after all.)
  • Smoothie (a big, lunchy one)

My son hasn’t noticed anything different in my cooking and that’s also my goal. That the meals are so tasty he wouldn’t notice anything. This first week has been surprisingly easy. Now I’m trying to invent new ideas for the next week.

Please share your favorite vegetarian recipes! I really need all tips I can get.

And join me to this challenge if you want!

Mannamaria

When Stay at Home Mom Is Ill

So I’ve been ill. Really ill. The disease knocked me down to bed over a week ago. If it was influenza season I’d say I had an influenza but since it’s not, I don’t know what it was. I thought it was just a cold so I didn’t go to the doctor right away. I waited for it to go away too many days. It got so bad I couldn’t get up from bed at all. I couldn’t even think about going to the doctor’s office for many days. Eventually I went to the doctor’s, got the antibiotics and started to get better.

What’s my problem then? Just get some rest mmmkay? Well if you have three small children to take care of it’s not that easy.

This all week I have been thinking about this. How are we supposed to handle these situations? It felt literally impossible for me to be ill. For days I used all willpower I had to continue taking care of children and doing the chores. I couldn’t think about being ill. Who’d take care of the children and everything if I’m ill?

But eventually it got me.

In our case the grandparents live far away and couldn’t help us while husband was at work. My friends work and those who are at home are there because they have children and obviously they couldn’t help us. We didn’t have any place were we could have taken the kids so that I could have rested. When someone told me “you really have to take care of yourself” I felt like punching her.

We are lucky that my husband’s employer let him stay at home to take care of the babies for couple of days. Not all employers allow that. We also had a nanny helping for two days and this way we got through this. Maybe everyone has some back up plan? We didn’t. We made one as we went on.

Even if we found a way to get through this I felt horrible when my husband had to stay at home so that I could rest.  I felt like a loser. I had one job, to take care of the children, and I couldn’t even do that.

But had my husband been ill he could have taken sickness leave and stayed at home and rested without further discussion. It’s just us moms who can’t be sick.

I don’t know if I had a great point with this text. I just wanted to point out this issue so that everyone would have a plan in case they get ill. Since it’s not easy for a SAHM to get that rest. Had we had a proper plan beforehand maybe I wouldn’t have felt so bad to stay in bed for a couple of days?

Anyways, now I’m back in business again and ready to take care of any family member in case they get ill. 🙂

Have a lovely week!

Mannamaria


Someone is already waiting for winter. 😊


Everyday meal ideas

It often seems that all blogs and cook books are full of ideas of what to eat during the weekend, or when friends come over or you’re having a party. In my opinion cooking is easy during the weekend when you have more time.

I’m always struggling with the everyday meals. I feel like I’m making the same dishes week after week. I don’t seem to find new ideas for dishes that wouldn’t take more that 30 minutes of my time preparing. With two babies that really is the maximum time I can spend on cooking in the evening.

My criteria for a good everyday meal are:

  • Shouldn’t take more that 30 minutes to make. Some days I can only use 10-15 minutes.
  • Preferably a big dish that we can eat two days in a row. Soups are always a good idea!
  • As healthy as possible.
  • Vegetarian dish is always a good idea. I’d be vegetarian if I knew how to cook more vegetarian dishes.

Yesterday I made Janssonin kiusaus or Jansson’s frästelse or Janssons Temptation. It’s one of those dishes I always forget that exists, then I make many of them in a short period of time and then I forget it again.

It is not healthy or vegetarian but it only takes about 5 minutes to put together and tastes delicious. My son loves it. The instructions are at the bottom of this post. Traditionally it’s served with beet root but since it’s quite heavy meal itself I like to make a green salad with it. Sometimes I don’t have time to put the salad together so I just chop some vegetables to the side.

What is your favorite everyday dinner? I welcome all ideas!

Mannamaria

 

I used a large lasagna pan for this one.

 

When I’m making this during the week I buy the ready made potato&onion mix from the freezer. During the week end, with more time, I peel and chop the potatoes to sticks myself.

Here are the instruction if you want to try. You can also check allrecipes.com though their recipe is a little different.

Jansson’s Temptation

You’ll need

1,2 kg potatoes and 2 yellow onions OR

1,5 kg peeled and chopped to sticks potatoes and onion mix from the freezer.

2 cans of sprat/ European anchovy fillets (2x125g/80g)

2 dl double cream

2 dl whole milk

Directions 

  • Preheat the oven to around 200C/400F/Gas 6
  • Layer 500 g of potato and onion mix in the bottom of the ovenproof dish. Then top with the first can of anchovy, the next layer is 500 g potato and onion mix again and then the second can of anchovy fillets. Top with the last 500 g of potatoes and onions.
  • Mix cream, milk and the sprat juice from one of the anchovy cans and pour it over the dish.
  • Bake for about an hour. After one hour the dish is cooked but it’s not mushy as I like it. I like to keep it in the oven for 2 or even 3 hours but turn off the oven at some point. If I’m busy and I usually am… I take the dish out after one hour, give everyone a portion and then put it back to oven.

Sauna at the Heart of Family Life – My Article

I have some exciting news! This summer I was contacted by Sutchitra Parker from phdmama. She asked me to be a guest writer in their new global and multicultural parenting magazine, the Parent Voice,.

I was excited about this opportunity and decided to write my first article about Finnish family sauna since it’s such an integral part of our culture.

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I have shown you photos of our sauna building and it has raised many questions previously.

In the article I write about my childhood memories and what traditions I want to transfer to my children. I have also included some fun facts there. Like, did you know that there are more saunas than cars in Finland?

You can find the full article here.

Have a nice week end!

Mannamaria

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Hey Moomins! – Visiting the Moominworld

As a child my generation watched the Moomins. The Japanese style (anime) version of the Finnish Moomin cartoons was seen on TV once a week if I remember it right. Everyone had their favorite character. I think most people liked little My. A fierce and impassioned little girl who was very adventurous and loved catastrophes.

My favorite character was the Snork Maiden. She was a sensitive lady who liked nice clothes and jewellery. She was also a little moody and could change her mind in an instant.

There she is!

My son hasn’t watched the Moomins. We tried it for a couple of times but they were surprisingly scary for a three year old. We do have couple of books that we have read and they are suitable for a small child. The Moomins are, in my opinion, an essential part of Finnish children’s culture and I think it’s a shame that they are distant to my son.

Well, theme parks are always good fun anyway, so we decided to head to the Moominworld this summer. We were supposed to go there earlier this summer but had to delay. Last weekend, when we finally got there, was the last one it was open this year. (Winter is coming!)

Moomin world is a small island. They sell one or two days tickets and before I didn’t understand why anyone would pay for two days. It’s such a small place that there cannot be enough to see for two days.

But boy have they built it brilliantly! There is not much to see but there is so much to do! They have really understood what kids love. Activities! We attended Little My’s birthday party (twice since my son loved it) and went to another play.

The character’s were there to be hugged and photographed all the time and they also had a little performance going on so we could just sit and watch them do stuff for a long time. We visited the characters’ homes and there would have been activities as well but we didn’t have time to attend! We should have taken two days tickets.

Next time we go, we have to stay for two days. It was lovely!

Do you know the Moomins and who’s your favorite character?

Have a nice day!

Mannamaria


A moment in my twinlife – crispy morning 

Crispy morning. The air is clear and cool. I breath in and out. It smells like autumn. I’ve put the babies in their stroller for their first nap. 

I have a cup of hot coffee in my hand. With the other hand I push and rock the stroller back and forth. Back and forth.

In a distance I hear the highway humming. People are rushing to work. But my backyard is calm and quiet. It’s so early that the birds must still be sleeping. No wait. They’re up. Singing loudly now that I’m listening. Maybe it’s not that early.

Some children pass by. They’re going to school. They are carrying their too big backpacks and have messy, too long, hair under their caps. They’re looking down and kicking rocks. They seem sad. I wonder if everything is ok with them.

I push the stroller. Back and forth. Back and forth.

I take a sip of my coffee. It’s not that hot anymore. Some days this is the only moment when I can drink my coffee in peace. I try to enjoy it slowly. 

I wish I had dressed up already so I could go for a walk. But I’m still wearing my pajamas. I had slept 4 or 5 hours the night before. It’s too early for me  to be up but the babies have already been awake for about an hour and a half. I’m tired but the fresh air helps me wake up.

The morning is cold so I have put my woolen shawl on for the first time this year. My toes are getting cold in my slippers.

The babies fall asleep. I finish my coffee. I go in and start the day.

Mannamaria