Nov 26, 2015

Sotka by Arabia

The story below proves it once again: it is not always necessary to go farther than the sea to fish.

We have been short of espresso cups. The other day when Minna needed to find a box to send some Christmas presents she unpacked one of the final moving boxes (from three years ago). And what did she find? A set of 14 Arabia Sotka coffee cups and saucers!

Sotka cups and saucers

The forgotten tableware used to belong to Minna's grandparents and then to her mother. She kindly gave them to Minna, who packed the Sotka set securely to survive the move. Since then, she had wondered where these beautiful pieces disappeared. Clearly, the underground storage room has some black hole -like features.

Perfect for espresso

Arabia's Sotka tableware was designed by Göran Bäck and decorated by Raija Uosikkinen in 1968-69, and it was in production in 1970 - 1974. Sotka cup is quite small (diameter and height about 6 cm), just perfect for an espresso shot. The simple decoration is hand painted with deep cobalt blue colour.

So finally, we will be able to serve our guests also a visually pleasant espresso!

Nov 18, 2015

Four seasons by Lemon Deco

What a great find for our soon-to-be-ready guest room! These lime green / yellow pillows by Minna's friend Make from Lemon Deco will move in as soon as the guest room floor is seamed and sanded. After all, there needs to be at least one green room in our home!

Lime green pillows

The pillows are actually part of Lemon Deco's very first and very recent collection of home textiles. The collection includes also the "Four Seasons" bed linens. The colourful duvet covers and pillow cases are decorated with photographs by Make - fantastic snapshots illustrating some beautiful details of Finnish nature. Simply impossible to choose just one season, but perhaps Spring for our bedroom and Autumn for the guest room...





So, if you are in Helsinki before the end of November, you should seize the opportunity and meet Make at Kotosalla exhibition in Lasipalatsi (November 17-29) and enjoy the new collection. Such a refreshing burst of colours in the midst of grey November!

Nov 10, 2015

Happy Birthday, Urho!

He is five years old today. Not the bravest musketeer or the sharpest pencil in the box, but has an ego great enough to fill a football stadium and a killer character to charm everyone he meets. A true dachshund to the bone. Let us continue securing warm blankets and delicious treats for you for years to come. Happy birthday, Urho!

"It's raining on my parade..."

Oct 31, 2015

DIY bamboo blanket

A few weeks before Eino was born, Minna was visiting a yarn store with her mother. Maybe it was the hormones or just the years spent with Pekka the craftsman, but then and there, inspired by a ball of bamboo yarn, the idea of crocheting suddenly sounded fantastic to her. As the most ambitious piece so far she had crocheted in grade school was a small pot holder, an obvious choice was to hit the other extreme in the form of a 135 x 155 cm blanket. Given Minna's limited experience the pattern needed to be something really simple, and that something was found from a blog called Prinsessajuttu (in Finnish) - thank you, Mira!

Blanket made of bamboo yarn and Franco Albini ottoman

The yarn was actually a birthday present from Minna's mother. She also witnessed the very start of the project and rightfully wondered about the completion time - would a year be sufficient? But lo and behold! Seven months later the prestigious blanket was finished.

Miracles do happen

The bamboo yarn (Blend bamboo from HjerteGarn from Denmark) feels really nice and soft. Eino loved it right away, and while we were taking the pictures he continuously kept trying to reach the blanket and stuff it in his mouth. As he was not allowed he quickly found comfort with the two middle fingers instead.

Testing haptic features

Knowing how Urho loves to hide under a pile of blankets and destroy them in doing so there is a foreseeable risk emerging if Minna's "masterpiece" is left unsupervised for example on the living room sofa. We have learned not to trust this innocent looking creature. In many occasions, Urho has proven to be much, much more devious than suggested by his innocent looks. So ruling out the sofa and the bed the final "Urho-proof" location remains to be decided...

If you'd only know what I'm thinking

Oct 28, 2015

One slate at a time

We have had one mission this fall: to lay down all the terrace slates before the temperature drops below freezing point. The intention is not to fully finish the terrace but to allow the slates to settle and to be pressed as tight as possible to the ground over the winter. Seaming and application of a protective coat are on a to-do list for next spring. The aim is to be 100% ready for Sofi's birthday in June, as she has already started telling everyone this is where the party will take place.

Fortunately, the last few months have been quite dry and sunny. As the weeknights are a non-option due to darkness, work needs to be done over the weekends. So this is what we have been doing every single weekend during the past months. Actually, it is almost ironic that all those countless days are now condensed to the following five photos, but so be it. Let us at least make it fast on paper!

Terrace team

So one by one, Pekka has first chosen the slates and optimised the fit for each one. Sometimes he'd get away with minor modifications, but most of the times the slates needed something a bit more substantial. He also wanted to keep the seam as narrow as possible. Next, the slates were set on top of wet stone dust and hammered in place at the same time ensuring correct levelling. To make it easier to ensure the incline was correct, Pekka used smaller slates to mark the reference blocks he had installed before.

Reference blocks marked by slates

The farther he got the more difficult it become to find nicely fitting slates. Some of the stone pieces broke when hammered, and some of them were just too thin or funny shaped. It was also difficult to estimate if we had enough of them or not. Fortunately the company was helpful and interested in making big sand castles.

Assistant mixing stone dust

Even if it was a painfully slow puzzle, it was also very rewarding. The progress was evident - each slate took us one step closer to the goal, every day there was a bit more surface covered. And as the leaves started turning yellow, we were getting close.

Another Sunday afternoon

When all slates had finally found their place, a lot of water was ran on top of them in order to get the slates to settle as tightly as possible to the stone dust. Now we hand it over to winter - let's see the possible effect of ground frost and fix any damages before seaming the slates next spring.

Can you spot the missing pieces?

So the terrace is dirty, not seamed and missing a protective coating, but after all this effort we are unbelievably happy to see it will eventually look great. Sticking only with the facts, however, Sofi's first comment was not perhaps the most constructive one: "Dad, but it is not ready, there are a few pieces of slate missing!" Honesty of a three year old can sometimes be brutal.

Oct 20, 2015

Little red chairs

Painting of these two little children's chairs has been on Minna's to do list for a quite some time. The chairs were originally made by Minna's father years ago when Minna was a child. They work perfectly in Sofi's room with a small round table, which was a flea market found by Pekka. Only the colour is not quite right, yet.

Of course, Sofi wanted to help. But you can perhaps imagine the patience of a three year old - anything that lasts more than two minutes is too long. So quite soon after the picture below was taken Minna lost her assistant and switched to a cordless sander to speed up the process.

Sanding team

The recently painted guest room served as a perfect painting studio, as the slate floor was still protected. And of course Urho wanted to be in the center of all action. Where else? The more on someone's way the better! 


After the first layer of red

One would have thought that after spending hours applying five layers of white paint on top of the "persistent" green of the entrance hall coat rack just because we did not use a primer, we would have learned that lesson. But apparently no. A five second discussion resulting in a decision to not apply a primer on the chairs either lead once again, quite a few hours of extra work in the form of five layers of red paint. Great. 

Satisfied chair owner

But now the chairs are ready and they are red! We like them, and most importantly Sofi likes them. For the picture she insisted her best buddy Sammakko ("the Frog") to have a seat also. And as you can see, he seems to be smiling as well!

Oct 16, 2015

Upcycling 1970's bed sheet

The other day Pekka's mother Merja came for a visit and kindly asked if there was anything she could do to help. Recognizing where Pekka has inherited his skill of craft, Minna had a perfect project in mind. As little Eino is now moving more and more in his crib, the sides of the crib need something to prevent Eino's legs and arms getting jammed between the bars.

Crib cushions in the making

So, the plan was simply to turn an old sheet from Pekka's childhood into fun crib cushions for Eino. The crazy green fabric took us flying back to the seventies. If you are a Finn, you may recognise the "Nukkumatti" ("Sandman") character. Based on a quick google search, the Nukkumatti fabric still seems to be commercially available, so if you fancy a design which in addition to a sandman hosts a cow's behind (What on earth was the designer thinking?), check it out here at least in brown and blue!

Sandman and a cow from 1970's

Not only was the fabric old, but so are Minna's sewing equipment, a sewing box and sewing machine. The wooden box was a birthday gift from Pekka, who naturally found it from some auction. The sewing machine, Husqvarna Automatic 21, used to belong to Minna's great aunt. Apparently dating back to 1960's there is not too much information about it available online, but via Spinning a Yarn blog by Jessicah one can find a scanned copy of the original user manual. Quite a cool read, thank you Jessicah for sharing! Despite it's mature age, the machine works like a charm and sews beautifully!

Husqvarna Automatic 21 and a sewing box

To make a long story short, two hours later we were really pleased with the ready cushions. They fitted perfectly to Eino's crib, which also is old - it has been in the family for about 50 years. Somewhere along the way the bed has just been given a bit fresher look by replacing the ends with some Airio Art graphics.

Eino's cushioned crib

The last piece of the Sandman fabric was just big enough to make a small bed sheet for a baby duvet. Perfect!

End user approved

So the risk of stuck arm or leg in between the bars has now been greatly reduced, and old bed sheet with a great sentimental value has been given a new life. Thank you Merja so much for driving the most effective and fun sewing session! Eino seems quite happy with the improvements as well, at least he has been sleeping better than never before. Knocking on wood, the slightly sleep deprived parents cross their fingers for this to be a permanent change...