What a day!

Where to start?

January 12, 2015

January 12, 2015

Well, last night, I carefully printed out my bus route to get to class…

…and missed my stop (by a few), and got totally turned around. Couldn’t get the map to pull up or the bus schedule, so had to call the hubby to get directions. Was late to class, but was actually able to apologize for being late in Finnish. Win? And it seemed that this first class was pretty laid back, and I wasn’t the only late one, so there is that.

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Can’t express how happy I am that I took that short class earlier, or else I would have been even more lost than I was today. Hopefully, it will come over time, but we’ll see. And at least I’ll be getting paid for taking this class. That’s a bonus.

I have the second (third?) class starting tomorrow, so once more I have printed out my bus route, and this time I have notes as to the landmarks to look for. I have to go from my first class directly to the second one, so I can’t screw this up.

Nailed my 12,500 step goal today by going out in a freakin’ snowstorm to walk Shiva (“light snow”, my Aunt Fannie). That is love and dedication, of course.:)

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One neat thing is that going out at the dark of night (see there, 11:15pm), is that you can feel perfectly safe (other than the breaking of the neck on ice). I wouldn’t dream of going out at that hour back home. Mainly because it is pitch black, but here, as you can see, everything is well-lit, and crime is amazingly low. I just feel safe walking around at any hour, and that is a really nice feeling.

Yucky day!

Today was one of those days that I was warned about. It was cold, wet and sleeting, and to top it all off, the wind was blowing. Taking the Shiva-dog out for a walk this morning was not a pleasant activity.

January 8, 2015

January 8, 2015

It snowed later on this afternoon, then sleeted some more. Dreary. I stayed inside and did a bit of baking and cleaning. Okay, more cleaning than baking, because that’s not my thing.

I made this, though:

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Screwed it up by twisting some of the pieces around the wrong way, but it wouldn’t be an AntiCook masterpiece if I didn’t do something wrong! And at least it tastes good!

Made a vet appointment for the Shiva Dog for next Friday, for her to get checked out and stuff. Just to get her on record here with a vet. Hung some lights up outside to fight the gloom.

Laughed at this:

Because. Love.

Because. Love.

That’s all folks. Not much in the way of words of wisdom. Maybe next week. Moi moi!

A fruitless search.

Or should I say ‘cupless’?

The day dawned rather dreary and wet, but the temperature was a balmy 48°, so just a turtleneck and windbreaker would do. And I use the term ‘dawn’ rather loosely, as I didn’t actually get up until after 8:30am, and by the time breakfast was done and we’d piddled about the apartment some, it was nearly 11am. I am getting rather spoiled about my mornings!

In any case, I decided that today I would make the trek to Itäkeskus, catch the (free) IKEA bus to IKEA, and purchase a set of measuring cups, so that my new-found baking hobby wouldn’t have me running from computer to kitchen doing measurement conversions. Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong. I decided to be efficient, and pack up all the garbage and recycling to take out with me, as well. So I get my backpack ready, get the bags and boxes all gathered at the front door, put on my windbreaker and shoes, and gather the IKEA cart, and head into the hallway, nudging the door shut with my hands full.

Remember in my earlier post, talking about how the outer doors are constructed without exterior door handles? Makes it hard to grab when you suddenly realize that you’ve not checked to make sure you have your key with you and the apartment locks when the door is shut. Yup. Locked myself out of the apartment. I verified this when I went ahead to go take out the garbage and realized that I needed that same key to get into the rubbish bins. Fortunately, a neighbor came by and opened that up for me, and I was able to at least dispense with those items.

Then, I called Wellu, informed him of my rather bonehead move, and set out to go to the Kumpulan kampus stop to meet him to get the extra key. By then, we were nearing on 1pm, but he tells me I can take the bus to Sörneinen and then take the Metro to Itäakeskus, and catch the 2pm IKEA bus. I get to Sörneinen, then decide that surely the Lidl store would have measuring cups. Nope. I’d already checked the local S Market to no avail. I figure, aw screw it, I’ll go tomorrow, and head to the bus.

On the way back, I realize that I am coming to the Arabia Shopping Center, and surely the Tarjoustalo store (‘Bargain Store’) will have a cheap set of measuring cups. They are located on the upper floor, so as long as I am on the ground floor, I go ahead and check out the markets (S and K, respectively), but no luck. So up I go. I scour every inch of this bargain store, and while they certainly do have lots of stuff (candles, hockey sticks, clothing, candy, food, hygiene, cookware, linens, yarn, toys, sauna supplies, and more), they do not have any measuring cups.

What? Are measuring cups disallowed in this country? Heck, I think nearly every dollar store, gas station and grocery store back home carried at least one set to choose from. I can add these to index cards, on the ‘nearly impossible to find items that should be everywhere’ list.

To clarify, that’s not to say I could not find ANY measuring items. I could find plenty of the first item, but none of the second item pictured:

measuring bowl measuring cups

If I want to measure just a quarter cup (or the metric equivalent) of something, using a huge mixing bowl is rather…inaccurate, to say the least. And especially when I need the bowl to mix in, and then also need to measure wet and dry items for the same recipe. Not saying that it can’t be done, just that it’s a royal pain for someone who isn’t all that enamored of cooking in the first place!

But, I am returning to the States in November, and from there I will have a set of civilized measuring cups and spoons, with both metric and imperial measurements on them, waiting for me. So I’m not completely despondent over the issue. Just perplexed. 🙂

So, all in all, the day was mostly a bust, although I did get the laundry washed and hung up. Sheets are still drying out on the balcony, where they will likely stay until morning.

I did add another picture to the Changing Seasons page, which shows my main tree becoming more and more bare. It’s happening so fast, I’m glad I went to taking a picture at least every other day. I think it’s really going to look impressive by next spring!

Let’s Talk Construction

With winter approaching (“Winter is coming!”™), I thought I’d do a blurb about the construction here in Finland, or at least in Helsinki and the apartments I’ve seen.

First off, there ain’t no winter getting inside! The windows are TRIPLE-pane glass, and very well sealed all the way around. You never hear the wind whistling through the cracks.

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Secondly, look at this picture of an apartment building under construction. The walls are concrete, then solid foam insulation, then concrete again. If it weren’t for the windows, you’d think they were building a bomb shelter! The one problem this presents, however, is interior decorating. With concrete walls, it’s a bit difficult to hang pictures and the like. I’ve been using a variety of resources, such as that ‘sticky gum’ to hang posters, and Command Strips for other things. I have like two interior walls of plaster and all the others are concrete!

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Doors close solidly, and there are two doors at the entrance. Not sure why, but most doors don’t have exterior doorknobs. I guess it cuts down on break-ins.

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Windows seal shut like they are vacuum packed. You crank a handle to open them, and they swing open, then when you close them, you crank the handle to seal the closure.

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This is how the place is heated. There’s one in the bedroom (pictured), one in the kitchen, and one in the living room. With how solid everything is, I can’t imagine we’ll be using these too much. Heck, it’s October and I am sleeping with the window open!

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But the best thing of all, which I can’t show you in pictures, is that the tiles in the bathroom floor are heated. Yes! No cold tiles to walk on first thing in the morning. It also keeps the bathroom toasty warm, along with the heated towel racks. I feel so pampered. Depending on how cold it gets, I might not leave the bathroom. 🙂 But seriously, this apartment is built so solidly, especially compared to the one I left behind. I was awakened at night by the wind howling through the cracks in the window frame!

All in all, I am very impressed with the construction. I don’t know if it is typical of everywhere in Finland, although it does seem that most homes are this well built at a minimum. Still, somehow I end up with dust bunnies! And when Shiva gets here…oh, the Shiva hair!

It was a damp day

Today started off with a drizzle, had some actual rain in the middle of the day (ironically when I was going to lunch), and then let off towards the evening, although the rain is supposed to continue throughout the week. I’ve started taking pictures each day, as the leaves are changing ever faster.Although, this picture is just one of the sunrise. You get the full spread of pictures on Tuesday. 🙂

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Last night, we went out to a very nice restaurant with some of Wellu’s collegues for a farewell dinner for the Hungarian researcher that had been visiting for the past few months. We had some fabulous food, and my dinner was especially good: I ordered the wild elk, with the garlic potatoes and creamed cep mushrooms. The meat was garnished with lingonberry sauce, and I devoured the whole thing!

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Earlier in the day, I made my trek to IKEA, which I had not visited in some time (at least a week!). I managed to get in the ‘card only’ line, but didn’t realize it, but fortunately, I had my new debit card with me! It works like a dream!

Today was relatively quiet. I met Wellu and the rest of the astronomy department at the Chinese food restaurant at the Arabia mall, and listened to Petra spin tall tales about Finland to the Italian researcher across the table. Then amazingly enough, I heard an ‘unaccented’ voice at the end of the table. Apparently there is a visiting (?) researcher here from Minnesota. He said he’s been here six weeks and picked up none of the language. Join the club!

Afterwards, I hung out at the mall for a bit, then headed home to do some organizing and cooking. I was going to make some Mexican stew, but we ended up with steak and fries, instead. Oh well, there is always tomorrow!

For record’s sake, I took the 73 to the Kumpulan Kampus stop, and then took the 70T back to the Meripikahtie stop. Tomorrow, I will take the 73 to the Sörnäinen stop, then get off and walk to Moniheli. Coming back, the walk is a bit more, as the return bus stop is not just right across the street, but a few blocks away, as well. But I’ll take the same bus (73) back home.