Sinusitis is a nasty lurgy. I’ve solid experience of this strange disease now, as it has been my (too) faithful friend for more than 2 weeks. It started as a “normal” flu, which then got stuck in the sinus.

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Looks funny, eh? Acupuncture socks – a true ex tempore purchase from the Danish shop “Tiger”, which sells miscellanous stuff you didn’t think you’d need, now in Helsinki too. Anyway, maybe I’ll return these ones, as I fell ill with a flu despite the pressuring treatment offered by my boyfriend.

Then, the dear doctor prescribed me antibiotics and antihistamine, which I took scrupulously for 10 days – for nothing, it seems! Last Sunday the pills ran out and I was still feeling really tired and run-down… Especially at the office: the smallest task seemed like the most complicated project of the year.

Luckily I was mature enough to go and visit the doctor again this morning – and the simple (and so difficult) truth of this life was confirmed once more: if you’re feeling ill it’s because you’re ill.

To my own surprise, I even had a light fever in the morning! And sinusitis is still there, going strong. No surprise. So the doctor prescribed me even stronger antibiotics and antihistamine. As stupid as a feverish person can be, I then biked to the office as I’m “absolutely irreplaceable”, hehe… Anyway, my colleagues were wiser and told me to go home early.

So at 4pm I was already lying on the sofa with woolen socks on, drinking tea and watching stupid daytime TV. A program called “Swedish Millionaire Mothers” just finished, and now there is Finnish Top Model going on. But I’m ill and allowed to do and watch anything I want! I’m only not allowed to get up from this sofa. And the boyfriend is entitled to pamper me – luckily he’s good at it (and I think/hope he likes it too…)

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This is the autumn view from our sofa – not a bad one, at all! Luckily, because the last weeks I’ve spent more time on this sofa than in many months before…

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Baana – the newish bicycle route combining the centre of Helsinki with Ruoholahti. A great invention! Even if it looks very grey these days – like everything here.

However, last Sunday – the last day of taking antibiotics – I tried to convince myself that now I’m perfectly fine and healthy! Little did I know. The sun was shining, so I took my camera and went for a short walk alone – noticing that it’s not normal to sneeze every 5 minutes… Anyway, mentally this was a good thing for me, as I had been mostly inside the flat for the whole week.

We live in the centre, Southern Helsinki, very close to the sea… So I decided to say walk there and say hello to my beloved friend.

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Amazing! I had never noticed these stairs near our flat. It’s so important to walk slowly and look around every once in a while.

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Everyday beauty.

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Jätkäsaari Harbour

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Friends! It’ll be my birthday in the end of October… And this beauty is being sold. Just an idea. 😉

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Jätkäsaari Harbour – this ferry goes to San Petersburg.

IThe sea… Why do so many people love it? We really do, as the BBC article People really do like to be beside the seaside, study says explains.

“Why do we love the sea? It is because it has some potent power to make us think things we like to think.
Robert Henri

I agree! And primitively speaking, it makes us people to feel safe to contemplate the horizon – and know that no enemies are approaching that way.

Anyway, I continued my walk towards Kaivopuisto and noticed – to my big joy – that another “Baana”, bicycle route has been opened here, also on old railway tracks. Great job, City of Helsinki!

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Kaivopuisto – finally at the sea. This view is curious – the water in the front is actually an artificial bond.

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Cafe Ursula – a recommendable place by the sea in Kaivopuisto.

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Sinusitis is a nasty friend but Helsinki can be pretty – even in October

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We want local food – but what is it?

Where do you come from, broiler?

Local food is a big thing in Finland these days. It’s truly in fashion, at least the trendy people of Helsinki constantly talk about how they want their food local.

New (expensive) stores selling local products pop-up all around the city. Like this one, Anton&Anton in Töölö.

Of course, the elder generations know better and have been consuming local food all their lives – without making a fuss about it. Still, I think this one is a good trend – as long as it doesn’t make the prices go up too much. And there is another major problem: nobody really knows what actually is local food?

This weekend I’m visiting my parents in Tampere and yesterday the local newspaper Aamulehti published an opinion about local food, which will surely provoke debate.

A guy called Visa Merikoski, the director of MTK Pirkanma, the local division of Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners, claimed that soon even broiler from Brazil will be considered as local product, if the current trend continues.

He says that yes, local food interests the consumers a lot, and this is way so many supermarket chains are now thinking hard how to take the advantage of the trend. They sell images and when it comes to local food, the tendency is to lie – just a little bit.

Why? Because “at its worst” Polish wheat, Danish pork or Brazilian chicken might end up being local food as in most supermarkets one can already find products, whose origins are not announced correctly.

As consumers prefer local food, it seems logical that the main reason for hiding the origins is that they are not from near here… not even from Finland. In the end, the consumer believes he/she’s buying something he isn’t. This could be called cheating, or at least hiding the truth.

The thing is that everyone has the right to define local food from their own point of view. The consumers think that only small-scale production means local and they hate the idea of industrial production. Some connect local food to organic food.

The food production industry thinks that what counts is where the food is made, not from where the ingredients come from.

Then there are the farmers, who want ingredients that arrive from as near as possible – at least from inside Finland.

And the food production workers think that domestic work is very important.

One might guess that all these different ideas cause a mess when it comes to marketing local food.

(Finnish?) rye bread

For example, Mr. Visa tells that in one local supermarket they don’t tell the origins of a pork product, whose name refers to something 100% local (the product in this case was Tapolan ylikypsä kinkku). Probably it had been made right here in Tampere, but not telling it makes one suspicious… naturally.

So why don’t the producers tell the facts, when the information would attract more consumers??

One might also find bread – on the shelf reserved for local food – whose wheat has travelled a long way. The bakers tend to explain that domestic wheat is not always available, so they cannot commit to using it. This is not true: one can always get domestic wheat, it just might not be as cheap as the foreign ones.

In brief, every Finn has encountered products that carry a Finnish flag or other symbol referring to it being national, even if the product might be something totally different.

Does this mean it’s Finnish – really?

If we don’t talk about this openly, the same tendency will continue – and someday we won’t have any means to know from where our bread, salad, fruit, meat, fish or chocolate comes from. No thanks, we have the right to know – and to be able to choose.

Everyone (the politicians, media and food producers) know well what’s going on – so please do something about it!

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Occupy Your Age – Old People Are Not a Problem!

A mini demonstration & singing by some brave old people this morning at Lasipalatsi, Helsinki.

Today I met some wonderful old people, who have started a national campaign here in Finland – called Occupy Your Own Age, Valtaa vanhuus.

I attended the press conference of this campaign, launched by 8 big national associations for elder people. They published 5 thesis, composed together, which emphasize the basic rights old people should have. These thesis were especially aimed at local politicians, as we’ll have local elections in Finland in October.

These associations want a total change in Finnish people’s attitudes. In the media, politics and general discussions old people are much too often considered as a problem or a burden to the society, as people who don’t produce anything but fill the hospitals and waste lots of taxpayers’ money with their endless illnesses… Enough!, these elders claim.

In addition, they ask to be respected as individuals. Finland is fast getting old – we already have 1 million people older than 65 years, which means every fifth person. So, typical stereotypes of old people are not valid – despite the age everyone is his or hers own, unique person.

Also one cannot claim that a group of this size is something marginal or can merely been seen in terms of social and health issues. No way. Most old people are just fine. They don’t lie in hospitals waiting to die but have time (and in many cases resources too) to spend on culture, arts, travelling, hobbies… Old people are very active in charity and voluntary work, too.

When planning what old people want, for example in local politics, it’s a good idea to ask the old people themselves. They should not be seen as passive objects but as active members of the society. In brief, mixing generations, both young and old , is very positive – and essential for mutual learning and further development of our society.

We are as old as we feel… Images of Valtaa vanhuus campaign.

Despite all this, old people have to face stupid stereotypes and attitudes – when you get retired, you suddenly convert into something invisible and insignificant in they eyes of society.

One of the elders I met today was Jarmo, ex Executive Director, who explained how horrible it felt that one day he was doing business with millions of euros and the next day he was told to go home and rest. For what?! Suddenly nobody cares about you. “I don’t want to rest. I want to continue doing the same things that I’ve always liked, being active”, he claims.

Another amazing lady I met was Vappu, a feminist and retired child psychiatric, who told that especially old women seem to be the target for stereotypes and criticism – and their sexuality is still a tabu. Younger people add to the negative discourse by saying things like “this is not appropriate to your age.” Nobody should have the right to say so, as we should be free (well, relatively) to live our lives as we want to. Among old people – as among all people – there are clever and stupid ones, nice and unpleasant ones, healthy and sicker ones. And that’s just fine.

The Occupy Your Age campaign will culminate on September 15 in Senaatintori, where they expect more than 2000 supporters, younger and older, from around Finland. The main artist will be Jukka Poika, singing about solidarity between ages. Everyone is very welcome – despite the age. I’ll definitely try to go and add to the good cause. In the end, each one of us will be old one day – if we are lucky…

Post-vacation Blues – What to Do?!

One part of my nice and long (but not long enough!) summer vacation I spent in Spain… visiting old friends and enjoying the easy life. More about this great trip shall follow a little later in the blog… This photo is from my friend’s flat – what a view to live with!

Freedom is a dangerous thing, at least for us office workers. When you get to taste a bit of it, (or maybe not even that little as I was free for most of the summer, almost 6 weeks…anyway) going back to the office is tough and the routine seems totally absurd: running from one meeting to another, receiving and answering random emails and eating lunch fast always at the same time and with the same people.

Worst of all is to sit the typical 8 hours 5 days a week inside the office – these hours seem like an eternity… Why, oh why, as during the vacation I was able to fit so many (nice) things in just one day – AND sleep late, if I felt like that!

been there…

The positive thing is that human being is a flexible creature and gets used to almost anything – amazingly fast. After 2 weeks in the office I have already almost forgotten the wonderful empty days and my freedom. Without complaining (too much) I wake up early from Monday till Friday and spend the whole day sitting on a chair in front of a computer inside the office, even if the sun is shining outside. Well, my colleagues tell me that the third week will be better. Let’s see…

However, I also notice that something curious is happening to me these days. Before the vacation I was quite ready to start looking for a new job. I felt frustrated with processes that become too big and messy and never result in anything concrete and frustrated with of my job description composed of 1001 miscellaneous things…

But most of all I got tired of the routine (as they say, the routine kills): having to spend 8 hours a day doing something that I wasn’t that convinced about. Why?!? In brief, my feeling was that I was wasting my days while the potential fun and interesting  life and all kinds of cool opportunities were drifting away from me – oh, if I only was brave enough to go and catch them!

However now, after summer vacation, I feel somehow more peaceful and positive. Perhaps the glimpse of freedom made me realize that in the end nothing in this life is permanent and that I CAN change my life whenever I want to.

So, instead of starting to look for another job, I now try to concentrate on the positive aspects, do my work as well as I can and try to develop personally, enjoy my colleagues and just ignore the negative things. Amazingly it really works! Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that tonight, surfing the Internet, I found this article:

If Your Job Sucks, It Might Be Your Fault; Let’s Fix That

And so it is! Before or later all the jobs start to suck:

“It’s inevitable. After enough time at any job, you have a day that really sucks. Then, eventually, maybe another. And another. Suddenly the job you loved starts to feel like, well, work. And bad work at that. It doesn’t have to be that way.”

But before leaving, there are many tricks and ways to try to make it all better… I would say that in many many cases these tricks truly work. And if they don’t, well, then it probably really is time to go. I’ll hang on – for some time now, at least – and with a smile! 🙂 Knowing that the day I honestly get enough, I’m free to move on…

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Visiting old friends in Turku – yes, we’re getting somewhere!

Last weekend I continued my small road trip through Finland and visited my “old” university friends in Turku. It’s always a big pleasure, as we used to be very close while studying and nowadays we meet too rarely. However, the positive thing is that we’ve remained so close that the conversation continues from where it was left the last time. That’s a sign of a good friendship.

As to City of Turku, everything looks the same. There are some improvements, though, as the city seems a bit more lively now. Friday night there was an event in the old Brinkkala quarters were local psychedelic bands were playing – not exactly my kind of music, but the idea is great!

We also visited Naantali, a little town near Turku – where they say the sun is always shining. And it was also this time! To me, Naantali is one of the prettiest towns in Finland, it has a special maritime atmosphere in the summer. No wonder that the summer house of our president is situated there. And Moomin World, Muumimaailma, a big amusement park built around these sympathetic fictional characters.

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Aura River – the heart of Turku, the old capital of Finland. Now with some huge ducks (plastic ones).

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Turku public transport offers you many choices!

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“Luckily everything is fine.” A writing in the bathroom of one of our favorite bars, Kuka.

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Visiting the old quarters of Naantali is like going back in time. This street is called “Cat’s Tail”.

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The Church of Naantali. Especially I liked the sandglasses – maybe for controlling that the priest didn’t talk for too long? 😉

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And old time picnic in the park of Naantali. So pretty!

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While men take photos of themselves with expensive cars, I wanted to be photographed with Moomin train in Naantali.

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Lunch in Naantali in one of the restaurants by the sea.

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In the night, we visited a wonderful birthday party in an old school building converted into flat. The photo could be named “Mosquito”. (And not the only one…)

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Dancing the summer night away…

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The first blueberries of the summer found at my friend’s backyard. Superfood for free!

However, the most interesting thing in Turku is to follow where all my friends are heading in their lives. During the student years nobody really knew what we wanted to do with our lives, where to work, whether to have children or not and all the typical choices. So we spent many many long evenings in cafes and bars thinking and talking… like we still do!

This weekend, while sitting in Cosmic Comic Cafe, where we always end up, we started to think whether we’ll ever feel like adults and mature persons? And if that’s a good thing anyway… Someone suggested that maybe it’ll happen when (and if) we ever have kids. I doubt it.

On the contrary, I think that we have already matured a lot, we just don’t notice it. In the end we have come far from the university days, we have chosen to follow some paths and closed some doors on the way, too.

Some friends have got married – and even divorced – some have got children, some are still single but have got a permanent job and an own flat. Some are still doing their thesis or working on whatever they find. One friend is going to Nepal to do voluntary work.

Old friends serve as a mirror to my own life. They know me from many years ago and in many cases they have great suggestions about what I should and shouldn’t do. The best thing was that, while sitting in a bar having a beer and talking of this and that, one friend suddenly said to me that, even if I’m not very happy with my job etc., I look very good and seem a lot more happier now than during our student days. That was a nice thing to hear – and I guess it’s true.

So it’s completely OK to become older and wiser – as long as your friends are getting older with you. 😉

PS: Sorry for the varying quality of the photos: I had iPhone and my boyfriend a real camera…

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A summer house where living is easy…

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Yesterday we visited the summer house of my godparents. It’s a pretty old wooden house, where all their four children with their kids, husbands and wives fit well. In the old days, the sister of my grandfather used to live alone in this big house – till’ she got 100 years old and died. An amazing, strong lady!

So we are very happy that the house stays in the family, as everyone has good memories of the place. It’s about one hour trip away from Tampere, so it’s easy to take the car and spend a day or two there.

This time I went with my mom. The moment I stepped in I remember how much I love old wooden houses, their smell and sounds. It’s always been my dream to live in one. The atmosphere is special, especially in this house were I remember most of the objects from my childhood and I know that elder generations have been living years in these same rooms, painting the walls, having sauna and planting all the flowers and trees.

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However, at the same time I start to feel very nostalgic about how fast time passes and dear old people die. Just two days ago I heard that the husband of the sister of my grandfather died at the age of 97. They had been married more than 60 years, so it’s a big shock to her – she’s also 95 years old. The couple has always been living a very healthy life, but even if their life has been happy and full, it breaks my heart to hear that it’s now over.

But that’s life, and everyone shall die someday – maybe tomorrow, maybe in 50 years. You never know, so the only option is to live your life as full as possible and spend a lot of moments with your loved ones.

Anyway, not to get too melancholic, back to the summer house! The best thing was to hear about my relatives daily routine there. They are now retired, so they spend most part of the summers in this house or with their children in Helsinki or in their other house in Northern Finland – they are free as birds to change address whenever they feel like!

While in the summer house, they wake up early and start working in the house or in the garden – in an old house there are always so many things to do. And they love this kind of simple physical work and look so healthy and happy. They work all day, then in the evenings they eat something simple and nice, home-made food made from local ingredients bought from a market place or a small eat factory nearby. Then they go to sauna (every evening), chat and read a bit and go to sleep. No TV and a mimimun of Internet. No running water. Total peace and simple life.

Oh, how I envy them these days as my daily routine consists of office work: filling reports, sitting in the office and attending more or less boring meetings and processes that don’t have an end. I talked about my discontent also with my godparents. They agreed and truly supported me in looking for other alternatives… I’m so happy I have such a supportive family!

Well, for now I’m on holiday and have more time to think about my future and what I really want from life. Don’t know if leaving the city life behind and going to live in the countryside would be an option for me, but everyday I understand better people who make this choice, too.

All photos: Helsinkimylove

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Mänttä – a little Finnish town full of contemporary art (and naked men)

Yesterday we visited Mänttä, a little town 1,5 hours from Tampere (by car). It was a nice excursion, which we repeat almost every summer with my parents. “The dying industrial town” Mänttä has been able to do something admirable – it has converted into a lively centre of contemporary art! And now Mänttä is a bit stronger, as it was merged with the municipality of nearby Vilppula in 2009.

Mänttä Art Festival (Mäntän kuvataideviikot) is an event of contemporary art that represents mostly new Finnish visual work. There are some established names in the exhibitions, but the festival is also known as a show of experimental and daring art. The artists are invited every year by a different curator. The main venue is Pekilo, a converted factory now filled with art.

And then the verdict. For me, this year’s exhibition was OK, however I didn’t enjoy the it as much as last year – probably because of this year’s curator… for me, the exhibition could have been a lot more daring and focusing on one, interesting theme.

Anyway, there’s a lot more to see in Mänttä, as interesting exhibitions are held also in The Honkahovi Art Centre and in the two Serlachius museums: Gösta Joenniemi’s villa and Gustaf Serlachius Museum, which mostly tells about the centre of Mänttä life in old times – the Serlachius factory.

Here it all began – Serlachius paper factory in Mänttä.

The town has an important industrial past – it’s the former residence of industry magnate R. Erik Serlachius, who practically governed the town with his huge paper factory. The famous Finnish toilet paper Serla was born here. These big guys were luckily interested in arts and culture, too. The factory owner G.A. Serlachius and industry magnates Gösta, R. Erik and Gustaf Serlachius have all contributed to Mänttä becoming a flourishing art town. Now their great collection of famous artworks can be enjoyed by everyone in their museums.

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Pekilo – factory building converted into art museum. Quite ugly outside, full of contemporary art inside.

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Images from this year’s Mänttä Contemporary Art Festival main exhibition at Pekilo.

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This piece was composed by miscellaneous stuff found near the venue.

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At Honkahovi we enjoyed lunch (champignon soup) while admiring the peaceful lake scenery. The villa has also what was once the biggest one-piece window glass in the Nordic countries.

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Sculptures in the garden of Honkahovi by the lake.

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Joenniemi villa. Inside you can find some wonderful artwork from the Serlachius family collection.

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A typical old Finnish wooden house next to Joenniemi villa – inside there is a nice cafe-restaurant.

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We also passed by the centre of Mänttä – and saw some naked guys on the street. I would say this was the most daring performance I saw at the Contemporary Art Festival this year!

Credit of all these photos: Helsinkimylove

Finland – a nation in love with milk

Yesterday I arrived to my parents’ place in Tampere, ready to spend some days without doing anything. Well, anything I don’t feel like doing.

Anyway, being at the parents’ place means that the fridge is always full of good stuff. When I open the door, which I do here a lot, it’s a very different experience than at home as to the variety and quality – my mom is an excellent cook and when the daughter is home so they make sure there’s everything I could ever desire. And I sure enjoy it!

Last evening I accompanied them to do the shopping for the weekend in a huge supermarket called Citymarket. Normally me and my boyfriend do our shopping in a small Alepa or K-supermarket next to our home, so it’s an eye-opening experience to go to these huge places and realize the choice they have – of everything. And in Finland the variety is still quite limited compared to many other countries. Especially in US I always get overwhelmed by the selection of all the products from cheese to sweets. It makes me immediately think do we really need all this stuff? Of course we don’t.

Anyway, this time I focused on the  variety of milk products – Finns love milk and consume a lot of yogurt, “piimä” (kind of sour milk) and “rahka” (kind of quark). Milk is a typical drink for anything: breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner, salty, sweet… The speciality of Tampere is a creative combination of “mustamakkara” (blood sausage) with lingonberry jam and a glass of milk. Quite a surprise to my Spanish boyfriend! All in all, I would say milk is our national drink, though younger generations are not so much into it.

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Mustamakkara, the typical dish in Tampere, with lingonberry jam and milk. Here’s also the dessert – a doughnut.

Another thing is that there are as many tastes as there are kinds of milk. Today my parents’ fridge contains 5 different milk packs – all three of us have our milk + some extras. And this is nothing if you think of all the milks you can find in a normal Finnish supermarket.

Moreover, there’s a huge number of Finns who can’t intake milk lactose – for example myself. There’s even a joke that you know when you’ve lived too long in Finland when you become lactose-intolerant. So now they have all the milk products also with little (“hyla” or no lactose (“laktoositon”) And so the variety grows.

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My mom likes her milk semi-skimmed and “hyla” – with only little lactose, as she is a bit lactose-intolerant.

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My boyfriend wants his milk semi-skimmed and normal – as he’s Spanish, no lactose-intolerance involved.

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Today I like soy milk the best even if I drink skimmed low-lactose milk too. Depends of the moment…

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My father drinks normal skimmed milk – he’s not lactose-intolerant but on a diet.

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My brother wants to have his coffee with normal full-fat milk.

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Extras: sour milk – another speciality that is very good and healthy containing a lot of good bacteria.

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My favourite yoghurt – I like it simple, without any artificial taste.

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… and this is the yoghurt of my boyfriend. Danone Strawberry with lots of sugar and stuff.

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Quark – another milk product. I love the sour taste and the fact that it contains so much protein.

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My mom’s favourite. “Viili” is a type of yogurt (a mesophilic fermented milk) that originated in the Nordic countries”, Wikipedia tells.

Actually last year the milk consumption of the Finns went a bit down, as every Finn drank about 129 litres of milk in a year. Still it seems a lot, as not everyone drinks milk at all. Also ice cream was eaten a bit less last year – and Finland is the nation which most ice cream enjoyes in the world! Even if you wouldn’t believe it, as we have are surrounded by ice and snow most of the time  and eating something cold on top of that might not seem wise.

Yoghurt consumption is on the rise, too. Last year every Finn ate 24 kilos of yoghurt. Personally I love natural yoghurt and eat it every morning for breakfast with fruit and seeds.

Anyway, as there’s a very strong low-carb fashion in Finland right now, we consume more and more fat milk and butter (instead of margarine). Also cheese and quark are getting more popular. So I guess we’ll continue heavy consumers of all the white material coming out of a cow – and it’s derivations full of calcium and protein. Not that bad a habit, I guess, even if my vegan friends think it’s crazy to eat “cow’s food”. But even they love soy milk, rice milk, oat milk or coconut milk…

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Don’t get too busy this summer!

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Yesterday was my last day at the office before summer vacation, and because I had either done all the things written on my vague To Do list; happily forgotten what I should have done before the holiday – or too lazy too start anything new, I spent the day having light chats with my colleagues, a long lunch break in the park and surfing the Internet.

Luckily there was some interesting content offered by my dear friends – mostly on all the great things you can do in the summer. One friend got more serious moment and linked Tim Kreider important article The “Busy” Trap on Facebook. I couldn’t agree more with him!

Tim writes about being busy – and says life is too short for it. In America – like in Finland and in most industrialised countries – people tell you all the time how busy they are. It’s the most common answer to the question “How are you?” among my friends too.

What’s worse, more or less subconsciously we encourage people for being busy: “Well, at least you have a job, you’re always so energetic and active etc.”

What Tim is claiming is that our busyness is self-imposed and chosen, not an inevitable condition. People fill their calendars – and unfortunately of their children, too, with activities, hobbies, meetings – whatever to keep them busy.

Tim says we’re addicted to busyness and dread what we’d might have to face in its absence.

“Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.”

Most of my friends are busy, even when they’re on holiday. They feel anxious when they aren’t doing something “meaningful” and taking advantage of their time, whatever that means.

Even children are (too) busy. Like Tim, when I was small my most common complaint was “I’m so bored, what can I do?!” My parents then offered some ideas but in the end we kids created something to do – and mostly had lots of fun! We learnt not to be afraid of the empty moments but understood them as a good starting point for creativity, games or learning something new – like to fly from the kitchen table to the floor (I was convinced this was possible! 🙂 We didn’t even have a TV at home – and nobody talked about kids’ ADHD those days…

“Those free hours became the model for how I wanted to live the rest of my life”, Tim writes. So they did for me. My dream is to be free, spend a lot of time with my loved ones – and get bored once in a while!

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One important reason for our business is the modern working life:

“More and more people in this country no longer make or do anything tangible; if your job wasn’t performed by a cat or a boa constrictor in a Richard Scarry book I’m not sure I believe it’s necessary. I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter.”

So true again! For this it’s so hard to tell the elder relatives what I do for work (communications). They are used to jobs where you do something concrete and achieve tangible goals. Nowadays most jobs contain too many complicated processes, abstract planning and innovating. It’s hard to answer the simple question “What did I really achieve at work today?”

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Tim claims that he’s not busy – not anymore, but also he has had busy moments: “every morning my in-box was full of e-mails asking me to do things I did not want to do or presenting me with problems that I now had to solve.”

The solution: Tim moved to a undisclosed location from which he’s writing about busyness. Why?

“Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done… Great ideas only come when you have time for nothing – and enough of that!”

Thank you Tim, I’ll try to follow your advice this summer – luckily I’ve learned something of life, as for once I haven’t booked my vacation full of activities. In one hour I’ll catch a bus to my parents’ place in Tampere, I’ll not answer the phone if I don’t feel like it and I don’t have any planned activities for the next xx days. Welcome, wonderful idle days!

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Working from home – or park, bar, beach or…

The last days at work before summer vacation tend to be a bit frustrating. At least at my office – just like in all the offices where I’ve worked before. As Björk sings,  it’s oh sooo quiet. After juhannus, the Finnish Midsummer I talked about in my earlier post, Helsinki becomes a desert city. The little email you receive consists of out of office notifications – or emails from abroad. No wonder, as 38% of Finns take their holidays in July.

I’m an exception as this year I’ll start my holiday later. So also next week I’ll sit almost alone in the office while the sun (so rare in Finland) is nicely shining outside and my Facebook newsfeed is filled with status updates describing all the wonderful things you can do on your vacation.

Anyway, I’m not bitter as my holiday will start soon enough. But as these days I’ve practically nothing to do and too much time to think, I’ve been wondering how much work capacity is being lost during these lazy and unproductive weeks before holidays? Either the employees’ mind is somewhere far away or they just don’t have nothing to do – except of trying to make the time go fast.

Of course many people like it that way, as you can do things you wouldn’t have time to do otherwise; archiving, reading work-related articles, thinking etc. For me this doesn’t really work. First, I should have drafted a To Do list earlier – now I’ve forgotten all that stuff I said I would do “when I’d have time”.

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” — Dorothy Parker. Credit: Brightlivelihoods.com.

Yesterday I met some friends who are in a very similar situation: still at work but not really doing anything. Those who can, decide not to spend the last days before holidays at the office but “working” from home, cafe, bar, park, beach… It sounds like fun but I guess it’s just about making the time a bit more tolerable. If I have to sit 8 hours in the office surfing the Internet, staring at the wall or reading random reports one can’t avoid thinking why, if I’m able to complete all the tasks in 2-3 hours?

The thing is that me and my friends really want to do something – if in any case we have to work. Most of my friends are talented and ambitious young people who have the capacity and urge to achieve things and stay active – otherwise you just get frustrated. At least I notice a clear correlation between my work motivation and things to do – less things to do = less motivation and efficiency.

Work can – and should – be fun and done in a nice environment. What bad can that possibly do to your performance?!

Luckily we found a kind of a solution with my friends. Instead of spending the days alone and frustrated it’s better to join forces and create synergies!  So we agreed to meet up in a cafe or a park, depending on the weather, and work together. This way we can enjoy the summer, help each other with our tasks (as we mostly work in similar fields), share experiences – and have fun while working! I’m convinced it’ll be as efficient a day as any – even more so.

All in all, my opinion is that in any creative workplace the employees should be given the freedom to work wherever they want to and feel comfortable in -when it’s possible. Why? I totally agree with Jason Fried on TedTalks asking “Why work Doesn’t Happen at Work?” These ideas should be considered in every office…

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