Tuesday 27 December 2011

Merry Christmas

This is the last Advent Calendar post. Thank you for following me through the 24 days of December until Christmas Eve.

Mr. K. brought this tiny tree from our back yard, as I only wanted a tree to place on a table. We decorated it last night, and then I opened the gifts brought by mail. Thank you sweet friends, you know who you are! The gifts warmed my heart. I will be on a holiday break for now but try to find some computer time too.

I wish all my readers a lovely Christmas time and a Happy New Year! Thank you for your visits and comments; let's make nice things together in the coming year.

EDIT Dec. 27th: The above post was supposed to come out on Saturday morning at 8. I'm sorry I didn't notice it as I have been on a break and also having power cuts and no internet at all yesterday.

Friday 23 December 2011

Sorry I'm late ...

... but I have been baking:

Can you smell cinnamon, ginger, allspice and cloves? Not yet?

Now? I added raisins, melted butter and sour milk. I baked two cakes. My sister P will take one along tomorrow when she drives to spend Christmas Eve with our mother.
It has been a very busy day, and I hope it will make tomorrow more peaceful. Don't rush, sit down for a moment and take some time for yourself. I'll be back tomorrow to wish you all a Merry Christmas!

Thursday 22 December 2011

Snow and mittens

Yesterday it finally snowed again.

Just a thin veil to lighten up the landscape.

On the train on Monday I knitted these tiny mittens for my niece's one-year-old son. I hope I guessed the size right, I tried to make them rather too big than too small. The pattern is borrowed from my mother who understood the needs of mothers when she made the children something to wear.

The long wrist parts help to keep the mittens on, either under the jumpsuit sleeves or, as they are wide, drawn over them.

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Girly time with daughter

On Monday I had a lovely time visiting my DD Kaija in her new home town for the first time.

As you can see, they have had some snow but the rains have taken it away. Luckily, it was not bone breaking slippery!

Kaija met me at the railway station and we had some mid-morning tea after my 3 hour train trip. Then she showed me the window display of the Craft Museum of Finland, as the Museum itself was closed on a Monday.

About 20 doll making artists had put together this scene from the President's Independence Day Reception. Imaginary, as they show a doll of our late President Kekkonen too, or maybe it is his ghost! The dolls were about 15" tall.

The cakes looked delicious:

There was a knitted graffiti on the door handle; a nice touch as long as it is not wet.

After spending some time at her home and seeing all her beautiful match boxes and other things, and exchanging Christmas presents, we went out for lunch and some shopping. Lucky girl, she has several second-hand bookstores (I bought just one book) within reach, more than one fabric shop (yes, I bought 4 metres of new fabric) and many other interesting places (yes, I bought some yarn too, and a lipstick).

Then it was time for me to thank Kaija for a lovely day and leave after a last cup of tea and gingerbread.

I hope you will have a chance to spend some time with all your loved ones at Christmas time.

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Christobel the elf girl

Christobel the elf girl has found a perfect place on the round window. Melanie sent her last year for me as a Christmas present, and her place was on top of our fireplace. The problem was that it was a bit too warm for her, and she is such a nosey little girl who wants to see and know everything. From her old place she could only see the back yard, and not even the bird feeder, so there really was not much to see. Here she sits next to our front door, and can see who is coming and who is going in the street, and she can see the sun rise and birds in the apple trees (if she turns her head just a little). Christobel can see the Finnish elves sneaking around behind windows and making notes of the behaviour of the children, and most important of all, she can see when Santa brings his gifts behind our door so we can go and take them in. Santa is so busy that he will not stop at houses where there are no small children, so we will not get a real visit from him.

Monday 19 December 2011

Rudolf and Celeste

Many years ago I used to buy an Australian magazine called Handmade. This little angel Celeste and her friend Rudolf are made with a patterns from that magazine.

They used to sit on our steps, but now found a new place on the old cupboard I cleaned last summer.

Sunday 18 December 2011

Every day I add something to make our home feel like Christmas.

Glass ornaments from my childhood, carefully placed in a big glass jar.

Saturday 17 December 2011

Feed the Birds

At this time of the year, there is hardly any colour in the nature. The red and grey chested bullfinches whistle softly to make me see they are trying to cheer up the view. They are regular visitors on our feeder, but also find something to eat in the birch. This picture was taken from our doorstep, about 30 m from the birds, as I didn't want to scare them away.

Friday 16 December 2011

Place for cards

This is where I put the Christmas cards from friends and relatives. I used to collect them in a bowl, but I really like this mail bag I made many years ago for my parents. It came back to me last summer.

A simple tree with red candles, cross stitch in wool.

Thursday 15 December 2011

Christmas Flowers

Christmas flowers all over at the Florist's. I get to watch these every time I sit in "my cafe". What is your favourite Christmas flower? I love the scent of Hyacinths and the handsome look of Amaryllis.

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Christmas Cards

Yesterday I spent the entire afternoon at the kitchen table crafting. I used three kinds of scissors, lots of glue, rubber stamps and many different papers.

Finally I had the Christmas cards we need. Today I will sign them and take them to the post office. Usually we send self-made cards, but sometimes we buy them from Unicef or the Red Cross, or the children's school fund raising. I think people like home-made cards, and they like making them. In November I was even asked to show a group of young mothers how to make nice cards. It was a fun afternoon, but I didn't get any cards made for myself then as I was busily helping the ladies.

Have you ever made your Christmas cards?

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Christmas ornaments

These traditional Finnish Christmas ornaments have always belonged to my Christmases. This set was made by my parents for us in 1990. They remind for the old times, when there was not much of anything.

Monday 12 December 2011


I have been crocheting some potholders for Christmas for someone who doesn't read my blog so I can finally show something I have done. The super soft cotton is a Christmas gift from Stephanie last year. The brown striped one will be for me.

This morning there were hardly any clouds left, and I saw the almost full moon through the naked trees behind our woodshed.

Sunday 11 December 2011

Third Advent

Wintery weather continues. We have rain, frost, snow, and a glimpse of sun on the best days.

Saturday 10 December 2011

Cafe makeover

"My" cafe at the mall was closed for six weeks in the Autumn, but when it was reopened, I liked it even better.

There are sofas with cushions, and lightly upholstered chairs instead of the wooden ones they used to have. Much more tables, more light, more customers and more staff. I have learnt to avoid the tables on the left, as they are close to the revolving doors, and my bones don't like the draft. On the right, out of the picture, is the original part of the cafe with the view at the florist's, my favourite place. Today we will go there before grocery shopping and have a special cake to celebrate our engagement anniversary.

If you like Advent Calendars with a lovely surprise for each day, you might like to follow my dear daughter's daily matchbox postings until December 24th here.

Friday 9 December 2011

Christmas baking

Yesterday I baked the first Christmas baking of the year, traditional star shaped tarts filled with plum marmalade. Traditionally, I bake them using ready made puff pastry and ready made plum marmalade, so they are the easiest ever. I cut the stars this way so the points will not be too long and burn easily.

After baking, I sprinkled them with icing sugar, packed in a tin and took them to the sewing class. We always bring something for the last class before Christmas, and I brought the pastries this time.

We had some hot glögi, gingerbread and chocolates too, and a little less sewing.

Thursday 8 December 2011

Winter Sun

Yesterday at 10.50 from our doorstep. The sun doesn't get very high!

It was the coldest morning this winter, -8 C or 18 F, but last night we had rain all night and the temperature is above freezing point again.

Wednesday 7 December 2011

Flowers in December

To my big surprise, my orchids have grown new stems this Autumn and now the first flowers are opening. This one has some buds on another stem too, and my other white orchid is also growing a flower stem. I received them in Summer 2010, and this is the first time they make new flowers after that. Sorry about the dark photo, but I had to turn off the lights because they were reflected from the window and the flower could not be seen.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Independence Day

Today is the Finnish Independence Day. Traditionally we light two candles on every window at six o'clock in the evening for two hours. I remember how exciting it was to be in charge of the candles at our school, our own classroom probably and maybe another. The electric lights were off, just the candles lit the dark December evening, and the school was quiet, with just the candle watches on each floor. They must have used electric candles for ages now, but no accidents ever happened while I was young.

Last night we finally had the first snow. It had been raining a little during the day, but in the afternoon the pavements were suddenly icy as the temperature dropped below freezing point. And then came the snow, amazingly big snowflakes. In an hour it was over, but the snow has remained on the ground. It is like someone turned the lights back on again. The ground is no longer black, sucking all the light from the headlights and street lamps, but white and reflecting the light back. Winter, you are welcome!

Monday 5 December 2011

Finishing school

A week ago I took this picture of a cygnet spreading his wings. It was the last I saw of our swan family this year. They really stayed as long as they could, practicing their flight and filling up their energy storage for the big migration to warmer conditions. This pond lies next to the School Centre and is thus called the School Pond, so it is a perfect place to learn to swim and take off, fly, and make a smooth landing in water again. You can see how icy cold the water looked on that cloudy day. A few days later it was frozen over, but the ice melted away again because the temperatures keep above the freezing point for most of the time.

Sunday 4 December 2011

Christmas Stalls

Small stalls like this were opened a week ago in the pedestrian area in Järvenpää. Little gifts are for sale, handmade candles, jewelry, ornaments, doll's clothes. Some have home made jams and jellies, mustard, and closer to Christmas there will be traditional Christmas dishes too.

Saturday 3 December 2011

Third day

There is still no snow, just some frost in the night. This is moss in our yard. There is beauty in small details if you look at them closely.

Friday 2 December 2011

Stash Use Report of November

This is the second picture of my Advent calendar, from last Saturday's Christmas parade. The tonttu elves were from a gymnastics and sports club I think, and they were showing the audience some tonttu warm-up moves while I was warming up with a cinnamon latte. The Piggy is still my favourite!

Another month has ended and I added up my fabric statistics. I have been good, again, and not bought any fabric. The use has been very moderate, too, even when it includes 10 pairs of undies, two pairs of long trousers, several dresses and tops and skirts. With some secret projects, my fabric use adds up to 1.5 m for the whole month of November, because the clothes were all this size only:

I hope to finish several projects during the weekend so I could mail them on Monday. I always seem to start later than others and work better under slight pressure, but I refuse to take any stress because it is not good for me or anyone. I can face it if I don't get something done. So should you. Take it easy!

Thursday 1 December 2011

December 1st

Two years ago I made an Advent calendar on my blog, posting at least a picture for every day until December 24th. This year I'm trying to do it again, with new pictures.

Here is the big Christmas tree in Järvenpää, photo taken yesterday at 4 in the afternoon when it was dark enough for the lights to show. They lit the lights on it last Saturday when the parade reached this square. The sun is working office hours at this time of the year, rising about at nine and setting at half past three in the afternoon.

Sunday 27 November 2011

Christmas Parade

Yesterday I went to see the Christmas parade in town, as I had never been there before. There were elves, naturally, in their red suits.

There was an angel, or Lucia, or a snow queen, I couldn't tell which, but she was wearing white.

Animals were invited to march too, and so there was an alpaca, favourite of many children.

Next came many dogs walking with their owners, some very small ones came first

and some really big ones followed:

More tonttu elves, and a pig looking very satisfied as she was not going to end up on a Christmas dinner table. We traditionally eat ham at Christmas.

And finally there was the clipiti clop of horse shoes and ringing of bells as the most important person, Joulupukki, arrived

sitting in his sleigh with his Mrs Santa. They had put wheels under the sleigh as we still have no snow here in the Southern Finland. Santa was waving to children on the other side, so I didn't get his face on the picture. Anyway, he is the original Father Christmas, living at Korvatunturi near the Arctic Circle.

I had to take this picture of Santa's sleigh when he went to talk with the children. This is a very old Finnish ryijy rug, all worn out (the blue spots) by hard use. Rugs like this were originally used for warmth in sleighs and as bed covers with the furry side facing the sleeper. The wool yarn has been dyed with plants, and some colours have been harder on the wool than the brown and the pink. In this link you can read more about this traditional textile.

They lit the lights in the big Christmas tree at the square, but I will show it later when I can take a picture when it is dark.

Today I thought I should start my Christmas crafting, so I made this wreath for our door. By the time I was making the last quarter, I was getting the idea how it should be done. Next time I'll try to make a round base ring.

All sewing has bee so secret that I don't have anything to show you this time. Enjoy the Advent time and remember to take time to notice the nice smells of baking, the favourite songs you hear and the beautiful flowers and decorations starting to show up everywhere.

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Stash Use Report for October, and Unicef Doll Show

I had totally forgotten to write my stash use report for October, because there was so little going on. I bought nothing, which is very good. On the other hand, I can only think I used 2.5 m for the Unicef dolls I made:

I always sew on the marked lines and cut after that, so the seams will not draw and the fabric stays nicely in place. The faces are painted with textile paints before sewing and stuffing so the paints don't spread. The clothes were made mostly in November so I will count the fabrics for them in this month's statistics. These two girls are going to Germany with my sister tomorrow, for her friend's little granddaughters. I guessed right, the girls love pink and red dresses.

My other sister wanted dolls for her own granddaughters, and as I was busy with making the other dolls, I promised to make them on one condition: She will paint the faces and sew the hair on the four of them. Look at her magic touch:

Here are all the new dolls in a group photo before going to their new owners near and far:

The dolls are made like traditional rag dolls, using recycled materials and leftover bits of fabric. Each doll has the Unicef logo sewn on their leg seam, and an identity card from Unicef, filled with the doll's name and details by me. The dolls can not be "bought" but "adopted", and each of them represents a real child who is helped to a better start in life with the immunsation against deadly childhood diseases which Unicef provides for them with the adoption fee of 20 € or more. The idea and the original pattern of the dolls came from Italy, and they are made by volunteers in France, Czech Republic and Finland as well. The other half of the identity card is a postcard, where the maker of the doll can add her name and address. The doll's new family can fill in the form with information of the doll's whereabouts and family, and send the postcard to the "birth mother". Usually the dolls are adopted at Unicef events or in their shops where school classes or handicraft clubs have delivered the dolls they have made together. The makers have no knowledge of the destiny of them and so the postcard is a nice thankyou for the maker. Inventing personalities and finding suitable names for the dolls is one of my favourite parts of creating a doll for Unicef. I keep a list of my dolls and try not to give the same name twice.

On my walk last week I saw floating rocks?

No, the swan family has returned after six weeks' absence. I think the parents have been taking the young ones around and showing them possible places to stay next year when they are on their own.

You can still see how the young swans are grey and their bills are not bright yellow like the adults. This morning we had frost for the second time, but the ponds are not likely to freeze over before it gets much colder.