Dec 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Hello everyone,
It is Christmas. They thought it was a great idea to take this picture, but I'm not fully convinced. I do love the warm scarf but those red hearts...perhaps a bit too feminine for my taste.

But oh well, whatever buys me a treat. I can be flexible.

Urho's Christmas pose (photo by Alice Pittacolo & Nani Annette)

Don't know what is it with these people. They just keep coming up with new projects, and fail to capture the essence of easy life. They should learn from us dachshunds. Sleep in, stay warm and position yourself as close to food. Procrastination is an art.

But other than that they are pretty harmless. And they have their moments - for example now when the Ibérico Bellota arrived. I think I've almost broke them. They will soon get careless. Pieces of meet will eventually start falling. At that very moment, I will be there.

So I mind as well stick around for another year. This team needs someone with a sparkling intelligence and solid leadership skills. They need someone to revolve around, me.

But hey, now it is time to take it even easier and enjoy even better treats than usually. Therefore, may your Christmas be very relaxing and filled with delicious surprises. Let's enjoy the art of doing nothing.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Dec 23, 2015

Concrete steps, part 2

So the mold was ready and it was time to mix the mud. Pekka borrowed a concrete mixer from his friend Stenkka, whose tools and knowledge have been invaluable during these 3.5 years of renovation. Once again, thank you!

Concrete mixer

Mixing and pouring concrete to the mold is an iterative process. You start from the bottom of the stairs and work your way up. Every now and then you need to get a rid of bubbles inside the mix. In case of a small mold like this one, this was simply done by hammering the mold from various directions.

One down, seven to go

We knew it would be a bit of a gamble with the weather. Thus, Pekka worked the entire day to get the job done at once before the temperature would drop. Luckily, the weather stayed warm enough through the process.

Concrete man

These were quite intense moments. Step by step Pekka worked his way up the mold, but even if he had 3D-modelled the structure in order to estimate the amount of concrete needed, he wasn't quite sure how close he was, would there be enough concrete.

Fresh-out-of-oven concrete stairs

Finally, just before the darkness fell the all the steps were ready. It also seemed the mold was holding well and out of the 37 sacks of concrete, he had used 34. Perfect!

Daughter & Father team

Sofi of course helped. For a three year old, what could be more exiting that making mud and playing with it with her father. She is such a great apprentice, and truly interested in everything renovation related. One of her most frequently asked questions at the moment is: "How has this been made?"

Wrapped in a zillion layers

Apparently it requires approximately 400 C / hours for concrete to harden. At the moment the temperature in Southern Finland varies between 0 - 10C, Pekka wanted to minimise the risks. Therefore, he first wrapped his precious mold with a felt, then covered it with a tarpaulin to prevent contact with water. He also set a 110W light bulb to create heat underneath the cover and monitored the temperature carefully by adding a thermometer. Nearly as in a scientific experiment, the end result was stable 8C.

Sound a bit extensive? Yes, we would need to agree.

And what is revealed underneath?

One week is a long time when all you can do is wait. Would it settle? Would the rhythm of the stairs be convenient to walk?

Brand new stairs

In the end, everything went as planned. Yes, the concrete has some visible bubbles, but is not a problem. Next spring Pekka will cover the steps with the same slates we used downstairs and at the terrace. So exciting! It will be the first summer with a yard, instead of a muddy mess!

Dec 22, 2015

Concrete steps, part 1

For a moment the backyard looked okay. Slate terrace nicely laid, ready for winter to be completed next spring. But then the construction bug bit again, Pekka started playing with his 3D-modeling software and suddenly he was out there again, building stairs.

Earth moving manually 

After digging a big enough hole, Pekka started with some 50 mm Finnfoam thermal insulation to minimise the impact of ground frost. Next, in the spirit of recycling and minimising the amount of concrete needed, he piled the rest of the concrete blocks which used to be our old terrace on top of insulation.

First two stairs

The first two stairs were fine. Approaching the third, Pekka found something we had completely forgotten: a big stump, a remain of a big pine tree which was cut down right after we moved in. Right on the way of the third step. Of the two options, either moving the stairs or getting rid of the stump he chose the latter.

Half cut tree stump

The way was clear again. One step at the time Pekka continued all the way up.

Reinforcing steel wire

Next, he build a steel wire to support the concrete structure.

Building a mold

And finally, a mold for the concrete.


And a few weeks after the bug bite, the stairs were ready for concrete. Even if wishing for a white Christmas, we now crossed fingers for the weather to stay warm as the concrete requires +10C to settle and harden...

Will it hold?

Dec 9, 2015

Handmade stars

So it is December.

Unfortunately at the moment, the chances of having a white Christmas look a bit slim.

To beat the greyness of the weather, we have started decorating our home for the Holidays. Sofi is already old enough to get thrilled about everything Christmas related, including decorations. How many years we will be able to avoid the pastel coloured glittering ornaments is another story, but for now warm, earthly tones are still accepted by her.

A while back Minna ran across some beautiful wooden stars on a local online flea market. She soon found out the stars were handmade by Kalle, an 86 year old gentleman who lives in Kivijärvi, Central Finland. First, Kalle has cut down the birch trees, then dried the wood, cut the wood chips and finally shaped the delicate strings to form stars. A process which requires skill and patience.

Many times we have discussed how important it is to create our own Christmas traditions. We already have a few. A Christmas poem reflecting a bit of the year passed. Watching the Snowman movie and Declaration of Christmas Peace. And now these beautiful, timeless stars in the kitchen window.

Oh, almost forgot. Besides the wooden stars, there is another tradition to be launched this year: Ibérico Bellota. Proposed by Pekka, and eagerly supported by Sofi and Urho. Difficult to say which one of those three will be drooling the most when the delivery arrives.

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...

Sep 28, 2015

Josh White

You may have noticed the new Olive Green banner? Quite cool, isn't it?

So here is a little story.

Josh White, who is a graphic designer from Boulder Colorado contacted us some time ago kindly asking for a permission to use some of our photos in his study project, Aleksander Nielsen Paint Collection. We said yes, of course.

Paints (photo by Josh White)

Brushes (photo by Josh White)

Ideabook (photo by Josh White)

Browsing through Josh's portfolio, we found we really liked his style - instantly he seemed like a guy with an eye for MCM (you can check out some of Josh's work here). So we asked if he would be interested in helping us with the blog graphics. To our delight, he was.

After exchanging some ideas we agreed Josh would draft us a couple of concepts to get started. He sent them with a note that we could pick, choose and mix elements. But we didn't need to do any of that - this creative genius nailed the design at the first time. We were ecstatic.

So far, sounds very simple and straightforward, doesn't it?

The only thing missing was the blog tag line. In the draft it said "Olive Green - an interior design blog". Yes - but no, too obvious. This is when it started getting complicated. We just couldn't come up anything intelligent. Days passed (distracted perhaps by work). Then weeks (work and kids). And finally months (work, kids, dachshund, renovation). Nothing.

Finally we reached the breaking point. We had this cool new graphic ready to go live, so how difficult could it really be to come up with something? After all, one of us works as a marketeer and another one is a creative professional. Yet we were lacking the big idea.

So we sat down (something we should have done months ago), took a blank piece of paper and started making a very traditional mind map. And funnily enough, after five minutes, we had locked "MAD for MCM". Yes, only in five minutes. One could turn it around and say for each letter, we took about a month of consideration. Crazy.

Then, back to Josh. It wouldn't have been surprising if he would have completely forgotten us after all this time. But no. Josh, who seems to be the most easy-going and flexible personality on earth, sends the updated material with his compliments on the tag line in his reply the next day.

So, thank you Josh, you are the best! We are really happy that our paths crossed and we had an opportunity to work with you! And needless to even mention - if you ever need a recommendation, you know who to ask.

Meet Josh White (photo by Gabrielle White)

"I'm a graphic designer who grew up in the plains and recently fled for the mountains. I share a cozy apartment with my significant other—Gaby, also a designer. Together we enjoy DIY, the outdoors, and the dream of starting a design studio."

Aug 23, 2015

Slate Terrace, Part 1

For about two years a pile of slates on the back of our backyard has been patiently waiting for this weekend. For a bit more than two years, we have been dreaming of a slate terrace. The time has finally come to turn a dream into reality, a random moss-collecting slate pile into a beautiful terrace.

Grey river rock from Argentina

Well, not so fast. Remember our past challenges with the terrace project? Continuing on the same note, a couple of days ago we learned how a "small" error in volume estimate can turn into several hours of extra work. The delivery of stone dust (the final layer under the slate) went fantastically - excluding one small detail. There was way too much of it. Nearly twice the amount needed. Great.

The deliver of stone dust

However, such happens. And then you just deal with it and accept the delay. Quite soon neighbours and friends have came up some projects where stone dust would be needed. 

Too much of a good thing

The point of reference for the correct level was is by a concrete step by the back door.

Point of reference

A friend gave us an invaluable guidance on how to achieve a correct level and inclination across the terrace area. The trick is to set several references across the entire area, and mark them with wooden blocks. Such a simple, but a perfect method. Thank you Stenkka!

Reference blocks in position

Miraculously, next morning it was done. Or to be precise, half of it. But at this point, Pekka couldn't resist the temptation to start laying the first slates. Besides, variety is the spice of life (and terrace work).

Waiting for the first slate

Two years is plenty of time to forget how much heavier the thicker and often times bigger slates are vs. the ones used inside the apartment. No need (or time) for gym during this project. The first slates are now laid, and once again, we are convinced that good things are worth the wait. It is going to look quite fantastic when finished!

Pekka's puzzle

And guess who is enjoying the stone dust? Yes, it is great to dig holes when His Sausageness wants to find a hiding place for a bone. Or it serves pretty well as a very large "Dachsroom" when the nature calls. Or, it presents a fantastic opportunity to refine the skill of being able to position oneself dangerously. Whatever it is, you can always count on Urho.

"Certainly it is going to be electrically heated, isn't it?"