We Are Sailing

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A funny thing happened earlier in the year. Dad visited a boat fair in Helsinki, fell in love with a little sailing boat and put in a very low offer thinking it would never be accepted. Of course a week later he got a phone call saying the offer was accepted. And so we all became part owners of a small Windmill sailing boat.

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What makes it funny is that none of us of course knows how to sail. Talk about impulse purchasing!

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So we had to call in the big guns, my uncle who has been sailing all his life. He came over to give us a first introduction to sailing.

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Ok so it was definitively less “Gant-catalog” than what I had envisioned (I blame the bicycle helmet), but my goosh it was a lot of fun!

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As an adult with not many hobbies (I don’t think watching Netflix, reading blogs or pinning on Pinterest count as hobbies) and two babies to take care of you don’t often get to try out new things or learn new skills.

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So I absolutely loved our little sailing school. It wasn’t scary, it didn’t seem too difficult (of course we had the master captain to take care of everything) and the fact that you can make this little boat move really fast without any engine or petrol is simply fantastic!

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I already see the boys in ten year’s time, in their pre-teens perhaps complaining about having to spend yet another summer at the summer house but being lured there with the help of the sailing boat. “Come on boys, you can take the boat out for the whole day.”

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So turns out that Dad’s accidental purchase turned out to be a good one. I’m sure we will be all enjoy our little boat in the years to come.

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First Birthday

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How time flies! It feels like only yesterday when our little chaps came along and changed our world forever. They were these helpless little mice who didn’t know us and we didn’t know them. We would stand in front of their hospital bed (they couldn’t fit into a baby crib so they were put into a big hospital bed together), hold hands and stare at them going “Hang on a minute, what just happened?” Suddenly we were a family.

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And then 365 days of feeds and nappy changes and baths and buggy walks and all of sudden they are these funny little guys with distinctive personalities and life has divided into two eras: Before and After the Boys Were There.

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It was a hot sunny day in London when they were born and it was a hot, sunny day in Finland this year (the only hot day this year?).

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Dadda had come from London to see us and we (parents) had a glass of bubbly to celebrate the fact that we had, well survived the first year.

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True to form we didn’t want to make a too big fuss over the birthday, poor chaps didn’t even get a present from us and they only had one guest, their “big sister”/ cousin A.

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I did make a cake which was a big hit.

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Boys got to taste whipped cream and the rest of us had some champagne and cake.

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After cake we tried out my uncle’s boat. A. did not like the boat at all at first, but a quick change of parent later, he got some courage to carry on.

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So Happy Birthday my darling boys of July, let this post be your present from mummy to you!

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Summery Strawberry Cake

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This week we celebrated our boys’ first birthday! Everybody loved the cake and it’s super easy to make, so I thought I would share the recipe here.

Cake base

  • 125 g butter
  • 1 dl sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1,5 dl flour
  • 2 ts baking powder
  • 1 dl milk

Whip butter and sugar, add egg yolks, flour and baking powder (mixed together) and milk. Place on an oven tray and bake in a pre-heated oven (180 degrees) for 10 minutes.

Meringue 

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1,5 dl sugar
  • 1 ts vanilla sugar

Whisk egg whites and add the sugar. Take out the cake base from the oven and pour the meringue on top of the base and put it back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes.

On top and between

  • 2dl whipped cream
  • Strawberries
  • A couple of mint leaves

Assemble the cake with layers of base topped with whipped cream and strawberries. Done!

 

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Midsummer Magic

This is the first time in ten years that I’ve been able to spend the whole summer in Finland thanks to my maternity leave. Of course the summer turned out to be the coldest in 100 years. Isn’t that ironic?

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But bad weather is somewhat mandatory for midsummer. I can’t remember any midsummer from my childhood or youth with good weather. Cold temperature, rain and a cloudy sky only add to the magic of midsummer. The nature is green and fresh and incredibly beautiful.

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Although the name suggests that it is middle of summer, us Finns consider the summer to start from midsummer.

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When living abroad midsummer is the time of year that I miss home the most. So this year I was really going to enjoy this holiday. Bring on the rain, thunder and stormy weather, who cares!

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So what is it exactly that happens at midsummer? Well not much. As with all Finnish holidays, it usually involves alcohol in some shape or form. For us it meant cooking some lovely summer food with new potatoes and fish, having a drink of champagne and celebrating the nightless night.

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We went for a walk and picked some wild flowers. For the boys it was of course their first midsummer and probably the only one spent in Finland for a long time.

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We looked back on the year we’ve had and felt really grateful. Little chaps are almost one year old. A friend of ours said that with little kids you feel that the days are very long but the years are short, how very true!

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And then what happened next?

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Before &After: Hallway & Stairs

Next room to be presented with Before and After pictures is the hallway and stairs up to the loft.

Before

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There was a cupboard in the hallway that housed the hot water tank and some linen. When we did the loft, we changed the whole heating system and installed a new bigger boiler up in the eaves and got rid of the old one in the kitchen and the hot water tank in this cupboard.

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It was great that we could build the new stairs in this “wasted” space and didn’t have to cut into any of the bedrooms.

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Like this.

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And after plastering the walls and under the stairs and painting all the walls and the ceiling and the stairs and about a zillion man hours later (we did all decorating ourselves), it looked like this.

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The white wooden stairs were beautiful but not very practical, especially with babies in the house as they can be slippery and they get dirty very quickly. So we decided to install a runner. I’m not a big fan of carpet (as a Scandinavian person I just don’t understand the point!) but runners are beautiful. I could have gone with something a bit colourful like this but you can’t install a patterned runner if your stairs “turn” in other words are not straight. So we went with a jute runner in their lightest shade.

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We used a company called Urbane Living and they were brilliant. The beautiful jute runner was installed in a day and looked great.

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After

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We have downlights in most of the rooms but since the bottom of the stairs in curvy we couldn’t install any there, so we got a wall lamp from Bestlite instead. All in all we have been super happy with our new stairs and to make it look like one big staircase we re-decorated the existing stairs (at the entrance) with the same style, more of that in a separate post.

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An Evening Walk

Suddenly spring arrived.

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And the boys got their first pair of shoes. Practicality won over cuteness, the only type of shoe we could get on their chubby little feet was a sandal. And as it was still a little bit cold, they had to be worn with socks. Perhaps not appropriate for little British gentlemen but you gotta start somewhere.

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As you need shoes to venture out to the park for the first time. So we packed our buckets and spades and off we went!

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J was fearless and got right in. The sand was interesting to touch and tasted delicious.

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But A had to build up some courage on mum’s lap first, but as he saw that brother tried and was ok with it he decided to give it a go.

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Afterwards we went for a little evening walk in our neighborhood. I’ve lived here for years but this was the first year to really enjoy the beauty of the spring with blooming trees everywhere. It’s a little crazy but I didn’t really it notice it before. It doesn’t last long and when you are working you only get to enjoy the blooming spring beside the motorway and no, it’s not quite the same.

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“I’d say I had spring fever” 

Around the Table At Easter

Happy Easter Folks!

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Finally a few days off from work for S. and an easier couple of days with the boys for the “caring team”, i.e. me and mum as also grandpa flew in from Finland and hence the number of people taking care of the dynamic duo went from two to four, hurrah!

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And as an extra bonus, my brother and his fiancee have recently relocated to London from Munich and also they came over, double hurrah! On Good Friday we set the table for a little lunch.

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The boys were loving all the attention and the “Shaun the Sheep” headpiece that Uncle M. brought around. Very appropriate for Easter, especially as we were having lamb.

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Our Finnish-New-Zealandish-German-family explored a very British tradition: the Egg Hunt. The boys were napping and didn’t take part, but the rest of rest had some fun. Never take yourself too seriously.

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Then the day turned into an evening and we sat down around the table again and had dinner shared some family stories and memories.

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And later on that night an Easter miracle happened. A. slept through the night for the first time ever. Was it the new pillow? Was it the cooler air in the bedroom? Was it the teething gel? Was it the happiness and attention that he got during the day?
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The next morning we had breakfast in good spirits, “Think how our lives will change now!”, “No more tiredness, he is finally sleeping well”, “Let’s celebrate with some chocolate eggs for breakfast!”. Of course the following night A was back to “normal”, waking up about 10 times a night.

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So Easter didn’t bring a solution to A’s sleeping problem, but they were a great help in the kitchen.

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Mother’s Day

This year I got to celebrate my first Mother’s Day. So what did I get?

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J is my firstborn. People say he looks more like my family, big cheeks, big blue eyes and a round face. He is the kindest, happiest little chap in the world. He has got his father’s temperament and kind nature. He loves eating and sleeps through the night. He is very social and loves his family, including his brother. He is always happy and eager to do new things and go to new places. He is chilled and can fall asleep anywhere. He loves kisses and cuddles and loves his mum.

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A is one minute younger than his big brother. Some say he looks exactly like his dad, some say he looks like me when I was little but he definitively has my temperament and character. He is quick and sharp but gets bored easily. He is interested in everything and flies across the room but he doesn’t care for sleeping. He adores his father and tolerates his brother. It makes me smile when he gets a rage attack and becomes hysterical because I can see myself in him 100%.

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In the restaurant the boys behaved typically to their individual characters.

J was calm, interested, played with his toys, and enjoyed some bread and kisses from grandma.

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A stayed in his high chair for about 5 minutes, then demanded to be picked up, threw all his toys on the floor and wanted to be glued to his dad.

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As somebody said, I got everything.

Little Boys Room

Apologies for radio silence! It’s been a bit manic lately, visitors from Finland almost every weekend, boys have been teething and started moving around so the nights have been restless and this mama is pretty tired. What gives me energy is working on little projects around the house. This time it was switching the boys’s room and the guest room so that my almost toddlers could get a bit more space for playing (and hopefully start playing in their own room instead of the living room). I know, wishful thinking!

Welcome to A’s & J’s room!

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I didn’t want to put a big wardrobe in the room because I wanted to maximize the space for playing. I thought it could be cute to hang a couple of shelves on the wall and keep the boys’s clothes there. I always try to keep the number of their clothes to kind of a minimum as they grow out of them so quickly and this way I can always see what we have and never forget to use something. Notice the little praying porcelain angel on the top shelf. It was used as a minister when me and my sister were playing Barbie weddings and now it is protecting over the boys. 

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At the moment only one of the lads has “graduated” into sleeping in their own room as he sleeps through pretty much every night. Twin B on the other hand still wakes up once an hour and in an effort to stay somehow sane we keep his cot in our bedroom where it is easier to get up in the night in search of the lost dummy.

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All the toys are organised in this old Ikea bookshelf. The boys love standing against the shelf and pull down all the toys. Mr Miffy is dimly lit during the night time and protects the little sleeper (and helps mum and dad to find dummies).

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And books are portrayed on the wall on picture ledges from Ikea. I got this idea from Amber’s lovely blog. Btw, she is one of my style gurus and makes me dream about living the Californian lifestyle.

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So they grow, mommy’s little wonders, experiencing new things, some good and some bad, like a little “pipi” on the finger (Finnish expression for a little bruise) and getting your very first plaster on the finger…

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Before & After: Kitchen

I thought it might be nice to introduce our house with before & after pictures. When I moved in five years ago the first thing I said to S. was “We are going to have to do some work around here”. He didn’t think anything needed changing, five years later…? We have changed every single surface. Let’s start with the kitchen.

Before 

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The kitchen had bright red walls, birch cabinets, white appliances, PVC window, boiler in the middle of one wall on its own, brown and cream wall tiles…do I need to go on? But the biggest problem was that it was a separate room from the living room. That meant that if we had a dinner party, the one who was cooking was completely cut off from the party, not very practical or fun at all.

After 

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The most important thing was that we took out the wall between the kitchen and the living room and this way created one big space, a kind of family room for cooking, eating, sitting by the fire, listening to music and so on….and the bonus? The 46″ monster of a TV relocated into the TV room, happy days!

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What else happened? The boiler was moved upstairs, one window was covered, the other window was made bigger and changed into a double glazed timber sash window, the plastic flooring (do you call that lino?) was changed into hardwood flooring, the same as in the living room which made it feel like one big space and we got integrated appliances. Our kitchen supplier? Good old Ikea, assembled by us.

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