Sushi and bugs

Yesterday evening we had a small party to celebrate my birthday that was a few days back. We had a few friends over and prepared some food.

I love planning food for parties, and even though it’s usually a bit stressful to prepare everything in time, I pretty much love the preparation part too. For parties you get to plan food that you would not make for a normal day, food that maybe takes a bit more time or looks more interesting. And most of all, you get to bake! I love baking and trying out new recipes and ideas for baking, but I don’t want to be the one eating all of it, so parties are great for this.

birthday party

Yesterday we planned for light finger-foods;

  • Vegan sushi in a few different variations, filled with marinated tofu, cucumber, avocado and mango
  • “Ladybug”-crackers based on an idea R found on the mighty world wide web (with cream cheese and parsley, the ladybugs made out of cherry tomatoes, black olives and chives)
  • Carrot, cucumber and celery sticks with a vegan sour cream dip

Ladybug crackers

And of course there was cake! This time I made a chocolate cake based on my favorite brownie recipe, with a filling of vegan white chocolate mousse.

vegan chocolate cake

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One person’s trash…

…another person’s treasures.

trash

You’d be amazed by what kind of things people throw away in this country. Perfectly usable things, often without a single scratch or easily repaired. The things in the picture above are some of what we have found standing in the recycling-area in our block lately. We found two identical small shelves that needed some re-painting, but now serve as our night-tables. The cute heart-shaped bowls are perfectly fine, and the glass one just has some minor scratches. Except the things in the picture we have found small storage boxes, a bag, a big vase etc. Not to mention all the things we’ve seen but not taken, since we just don’t have space, or use, for them.

All of this just lying around in the recycle area, considered trash by someone else. I love finding these things – even though I don’t dig around in containers looking for them – but I also feel sad about how much useful stuff people throw away. Stuff that someone else could use and love, so why not give it away? To a friend, a family member, or if you don’t know anyone who wants it, to a second-hand store. Here in Helsinki there are many second-hand stores that accept donations, bigger things like furniture they will even come and get from your home for free, and sometimes they fix things that are not in tip-top shape. Still people keep on throwing away things.

Are we just lazy? Or don’t we care? Do we have so much material things that they have totally lost their value?

December update

This month has been packed with different events and happenings, so the blog has had to take a step back for, well… life. Now Christmas is almost here and for the first year ever me and R are celebrating it together, without any of our family members present. So it will be different, but also interesting. Kind of a chance to start creating our own Christmas traditions.

winter wonderland

I had almost given up the thought of a white Christmas this year, since the past month has been so rainy and dark, but over the past few days the scenery outside has turned from gloomy and depressing into a winter wonderland. Even though I’m not generally a winter person, the change is quite amazing and truly makes me happy.

Ever since I became vegetarian, planning and preparing the food for Christmas has been a special thing for me, something I love to do. It’s a day when I feel it’s ok to spend a little extra, both money and time, on the food. It’s also fun to find new dishes and to make vegan versions of the typical Finnish Christmas dishes. So I’ve spent this day preparing some of the dishes we will have for our Christmas table tomorrow (a post about these is coming up in a few days).

gingerbread house

This year we made our very first gingerbread house from scratch, which was not the easiest thing we have ever done, but in the end it turned out quite nice.

Merry Christmas to all of you!

Winter is coming

You could almost say that winter has arrived in Helsinki today. When I looked outside our bedroom window this morning, some parts of the ground were covered in a thin layer of snow.

winter

Somehow winter comes as a shock to me every year, it always seems like it gets too cold and too dark, way too early. Needless to say, I’m not a winter person and if I could I would escape the country in November every year and come back in May. I admit it looks beautiful a cold, mid-winter day when all nature is covered with snow, but I just can’t stand the cold.

Anyways, with many layers of clothes, some extra blankets and a lot of hot chocolate I guess I will survive winter this year as well.

Perspective

Sometimes when you forget to value life and all it offers you, it will come back around and hit you in the face.

Yesterday was such a day. Around mid-day I had a bad moment where I really forgot about all the good things in my life and focused on all the bad ones; all my mistakes, everything that is not going that well, everything I haven’t achieved. Then I got some bad news that suddenly just put me into the right place, changed my perspective.

I just want to remind you to value everything you have, even if it doesn’t seem like much at the time. Life is fragile, and you never know when everything you have will just be ripped from underneath your feet and you’ll be lying naked on the ground, wondering what on earth happened. In those moments you will wish you would have valued what you had when you had it, because all you want to do is go back to the time when you had those things.

In moments like this there is nothing else to do than pray and hope for the best.

Speaking in front of people

For a long time I have wanted to be able to speak in front of people, to get up on a stage and talk. Those who know me know how crazy it sounds – there’s few people around me that are as shy as me – but even if I have tried to push the feeling – the desire – away, it just keeps coming back.

I know that I’m good with words. If I can write them down. When I stand face to face with people all the words get stuck somewhere halfway out of my mouth, even in ordinary conversations with someone I don’t know that well. I get nervous if someone will ask me to say something even in a small group of people and I haven’t had the time to prepare myself beforehand. Just the thought of me up on a stage trying to convey a message to a crowd of people makes my heart beat fast, but still I want to do it. Somehow I get the feeling that I’m supposed to do it.

Where do you start to make such a far-away dream reality?

We need to talk about depression

For many years I was severely depressed. Starting in my early teens with feelings of not being good enough or loved, I went into a downward spiral, getting more and more depressed as the years went on. I became self-destructive in different ways, and in the end I just didn’t feel anything – there was only emptiness, a black hole where all my feelings used to be. The depression became my personality, I didn’t know who I would be without it, which made the spiral even harder to break.

I used to be ashamed of my depression, about my feelings, about the scars on my body that still witness of what I’ve been through. I didn’t want anyone to see and judge me. But I’m not ashamed anymore. Yes, I used to hurt myself, I used to be in a very bad place, I used to be depressed, but that is nothing I should have to feel ashamed about. I got out, I’m better now – of course it has lefts its scars, physically as well as emotionally – but I made it through and I have to say I’m proud I did. It was an incredibly hard fight that could have ended up very differently if I wouldn’t have gotten the help that I did, at that specific point in time when I did.

I’m incredibly saddened by how it still today is taboo to talk about mental illness, even such a common thing as depression. It’s bad enough to feel depressed, it’s even worse when you don’t dare to ask for help because you are afraid what other people might think of you. It’s something that needs to change, and it’s never going to if we don’t talk about it. So I’ve decided to talk about it. Not just in this post, but also in real life.

I’m not ashamed. In many ways my depression made me the one I am today, and why should I be ashamed of who I am? So when someone asks about it and I feel that they really want to know, that they are not judging me, I will tell them. If someone has the wrong idea of what depression is, I will tell them my view and my story. Prejudice exists mainly because of lack of understanding, and we can’t reach understanding if we don’t answer questions and explain. We can’t get rid of taboos and judgement if we don’t talk about the things that feel uncomfortable, even though it might feel a little bit too personal.