December 2018 Recap

After Hours, Ahem Ahem!

Now that I’m back to blogging, here’s the December 2018 recap.

Honeycomb Candle

Unusually, the first snow of the winter fell before Thanksgiving. It didn’t quite melt by the end of November, but for the most part the ground was bare and the weather warm for December.

We put my Christmas ornament projects to use. This year we decided on a rainbow-colored tree.

2018 Rainbow Tree Collage

During our break we cooked, ate well and rested, of course…

Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns

…not forgetting to go outside either.

January Sunset

I really scored at my local public library this Christmas: ALL of the Downton Abbey seasons and ALL of the (so-far released) seasons of Call the Midwife were on the shelf!

Xmas Binge Watching DVDs

Woot! 🙂 And we had a lovely, lovely period-drama-filled break.

Unfortunately, 2018 was a complicated year in terms of health. I won’t go into detail, but the situation is serious enough to have changed doctors, made my first visit to the ER and been introduced to the CT, EEG and MRI procedures. In addition, due to some baffling complications I haven’t been fully perky and/or upright for nine months. (Gosh, such a long time!)

I had hoped that continuing my treatment regimen AND enjoying a thoroughly guilt-free, restful Christmas would enable me to show these complications the door and wish them good riddance, but sadly that hasn’t yet happened. So, I’m going to have to continue with a lighter creative work load while taking care of myself.

What are you wishing most from 2019?

Finnish Prune Pinwheel Tartlets for Christmas

Food & Drink

I’ve talked about Finnish foods a bit before, for instance sour cream pie, liver sausage and blueberry soup. I don’t think I’ve done more than mention the joulutorttu, though, the baked Christmas dessert filled with plum jam.

Joulutorttu

Back in the day when you had to make the puff pastry from scratch they must’ve taken a good while to produce. These days, with store-bought puff pastry, they really are a cinch to make:

  • cut thawed puff pastry sheets into 9 evenly-sized squares
  • separately for each square, cut every corner in half as if you’re cutting a line diagonally from each corner to the center BUT leave about 1” in the center intact
  • fill centers with about a teaspoon of plum jam
  • make a pinwheel shapes by bringing every other half-corner together in the center
  • if desired, brush beaten egg on exposed puff pastry surfaces
  • bake about 10 minutes in a preheated oven (400 degrees F / 200 C or according to package) or until golden brown
  • let cool and dust with confectioners sugar

(These instructions fit U.S pastry sheets and measurements.)

Since I haven’t found plum jam in stores here, I’ve developed a super-duper easy way: I soak prunes in hot water until soft (approx. as long as the pastry takes to thaw) and use them to fill the tartlet, one prune per square. I also use toothpicks to skewer through both the pinwheel corners and prune in the center so that the tartlet won’t open while baking (the tips will burn easily if they do). And since I’m not terribly fond of confectioners sugar, I usually skip it.

While flipping through a back issue of Country Living magazine, I spotted the very same pastries except with a summery filling: jam and cream cheese.

Country Living 7-8-2016 Jam Pinwheels

Country Living July/August 2016, p. 20.

Country Living magazine gives credit for these jam and cream cheese versions to Kayley McCabe; visit the post at Handmade Charlotte for her writeup and tips.

They sound absolutely delicious – I’ll have to try some time!

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

 

Shop to Go on Vacation Mode until January 2019

Ahem Ahem!

There’s still time to get the last of your shopping done! I will close my Etsy shop for the season tonight, Monday December 10th, at 9 p.m. EST.

PGH Etsy Screencap Oct 2018

The last orders for this year will ship tomorrow, Tuesday 11th, 2018. I will re-open Playfully Grownup Home on Etsy on Monday, January 7th, 2019.

In the meantime, I will be working on various backend tasks. I will also continue posting here, on Tumblr, Twitter and Flickr for another week before the end of the year.

Ribbon Ornaments from Leftover Crafts Supplies

Arts & Crafts, Colors, DIY, Fabrics & Materials

I have a problem: as long as they are in good shape, I’m unable to throw away pieces of ribbon, however short. As long as there aren’t that many, though, they’re easy to store. But when you’ve been sitting on a stash for a while, suddenly (err– nope, not so suddenly, he hee) they’re EVERYWHERE.

This year has become the latter. So, I did some crafts! Ribbon ends that are too short for anything else, combined with other bits and bobs, make wonderful small ornaments. Since I had a variety ribbons etc. in various lenghts and amounts, I tried a few different types.

First, I adapted the ribbon hair bow tutorial by Camille Gabel at Growing up Gabel into bow decorations. For a test piece, I combined fuchsia, burgundy red, pale pink and white, plus a random peach-colored remnant.

Ribbon Ornament Test Piece Finished

That worked really nicely! I didn’t have enough of ribbons in more colors, though, so I cheated and added a few short pieces of fabric.

Ribbon Ornament Project More Colors Cut

Ribbon Ornaments Finished

The fabric edges do ravel, which might be a problem when hanging the ornaments on the tree or taking them off. I tried snipping the ravelled threads off as well as I could. We’ll just have to see how they fare long term.

I also tried making a tree-shaped ornament out of short green bits of ribbon and a stick (like this one made by Melissa Lennig). When I started, though, it was raining buckets and I didn’t at all feel like popping into the woods to pick up a stick and wait for it to dry. Instead, I decided to try a q-tip with one end snipped off. How bad can it be, I thought.

Mini Tree Ornament Collage

For the record, a q-tip is way too small for this project. It was too short and slippery and difficult to handle or try to tie the ribbons on. Phew! I only had the patience for one. The basic idea is neat, though, and works just fine, so I might make more with actual sticks at some point.

Mini Tree Ornament Finished

While rooting around in my cabinet for supplies, I came across a pile of ornaments I started some years ago but never finished. I filled clean silvery candy wrappers with rolled-up paper, glued them shut and added a hanging loop out of cotton yarn. Here they are almost finished:

Candy Wrapper Ornaments Assembled

Finally, I made a minimalist, tiny white-on-white wreath with a gold-embellished bow.

White Mini Wreath on Mirror

You’ll never guess what it’s made out of – used plastic packaging strapping! I glued two lengths into a circle, then glued the circles together and added a bow. The bow came pre-tied; I saved it from a store-bought gift packaging and merely added a gold-colored twist tie at the back.

White Mini Wreath Collage

White Mini Wreath Finished

It was really satisfying to take a bunch of waste material or remnants and turn them into something useful. In fact, we used them all in our Christmas decor this year: the mini wreath hangs on the front hall mirror and all of the ornaments in our little tree.

2018 Rainbow Tree Collage

With the rainbow-colored paper chains I made years ago, our tree is very colorful indeed!

What are your favorite Christmas projects that involve recycling or upcycling?

End of the Year Promotion 2018: Free US Shipping on Qualifying Orders

Ahem Ahem!

For a limited time, get free shipping on qualifying orders at Playfully Grownup Home on Etsy! This sale is a part of Etsy’s end of the year holiday sale drive.

PGH Etsy Screencap Oct 2018

The fine print: Get free shipping on orders of $25 or more simply by being your fantastic self – no codes or coupons. Sorry, U.S. addresses only.

This offer applies now through Monday December 10th, ending at 9 p.m. EST (when I close the shop for the season).

Visit Etsy for more fantastic deals from other Etsy sellers!

Shop Holiday Schedule for 2018

Ahem Ahem!

Here’s the 2018 holiday schedule for Playfully Grownup Home on Etsy.

Last recommended orders for Hanukkah should be placed by Monday November 5th, but no later than Monday 19th as I cannot guarantee USPS shipping speeds.

The very last orders of the year should preferably be placed by Monday December 3rd, but no later than Monday the 10th.

2018 Jan PGH Collage

I will close my shop for the season on Monday December 10th at 9 p.m. EST, and the last shipments will leave on Tuesday December 11th. That should leave enough time for the post office to deliver packages, even accounting for delays due to seasonal volume.

Shop to Go on Vacation Mode until January 2018

Ahem Ahem!

I will close my Etsy shop for the season tonight, Monday December 11, at 9 p.m. EST. There’s still time to get your last shopping done – and remember to use the discount code SOCIALMEDIABONUS2017 for 10% off your order!

2017 End of Year Collage

The last orders for this year will ship tomorrow, Tuesday 12, 2017. I will re-open Playfully Grownup Home on Etsy on Monday, January 08, 2018.

In the meantime, I will be working on various backend projects. I will also continue posting here, on Tumblr, Twitter and Flickr for a while before I start my end-of-year vacation in earnest.

My Finland

My Spaces, This Is Important

Today, my native country Finland turns 100 years. I speak of Finland on this blog now and then because it’s a huge part of my identity.

My Finland Summer Flags Naantali

Sadas itsenaisyyspaiva joulukuun 6 2017

Here, to celebrate our first centennial, are a few aspects of my Finland. All photos by me unless otherwise mentioned.

 

My Finland is woods and access to nature

Finland is among the most forested countries in the world, and people inhabiting the area have lived off of its forests for millenia. I really love woods. I would feel exposed without woods around me.

My Finland Central Finland Woods

My Finland Nuuksio Natl Park

In Finland, nature is incorporated into even the largest cities, and not only as manicured lawns or shrubberies. In addition to national parks, we have relatively untouched areas of nature almost within a stone’s throw from anywhere. And lakes – thousands of lakes.

 

My Finland invests in infrastructure and future-conscious planning

Multiple modes of transportation are an inseparable part of modern community planning. I’ve been biking to get myself from A to B as long as I can remember, and LOVE the bicycle paths. There’s even wintertime maintenance on them! I also love Finland’s clean, safe, up-to-date public transit. To wit: the metro system in the greater Helsinki region was just extended.

My Finland Bike Path

Flickr JElliott Moving in Helsinki

J.Elliott on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

 

My Finland is multilingual and international

For centuries, Finland was stuck in between and fought over by two larger powers. We were first a part of the Swedish realm, then Russia took over. There’s no denying that Finland is a small country, population-wise, and a small market. That doesn’t stop us from connecting; on the contrary.

Finland is officially bilingual (Finnish and Swedish), and the Sami languages, Karelian, Romani and Finnish sign language have been legally recognized as minority languages. Apart from the newer minority languages, there are also older communities speaking Russian and Tatar, for example. Today, pupils learn the basics of a minimum of three languages besides their native one before they leave elementary school.

My Finland Turku Railway Sta Newspapers

I also happen to LOVE the Finnish language. It’s an agglutinative one, which means we can build massive words like mustaviinimarjamehutiivistepullonkorkissanikin (‘also in the cap of my bottle of black currant juice concentrate’), typically spelled as one despite the length. Finnish also employs vowel harmony, which means that for instance the back vowel a cannot appear in the same word as the front vowel ä – but because of agglutination, we can build a compound where both do appear. For example, there’s a (theoretical) word with only one consonant and seven vowels: hääyöaie (‘intention on wedding night’ – can’t really see anyone ever using that in everyday life).

 

My Finland Reads

Finns love reading, whether it’s newsprint, websites or physical books. Or Donald Duck!

My Finland Kirjasto in Helsinki

Finnish Reading March 2017

Several Finnish authors have achieved international fame.

Moomin Butt from Complete Comic Strip #1

 

My Finland designs beautiful things

Modern Finnish design has made a name for itself. Brands like Marimekko or Iittala and names like Alvar Aalto and Eero Saarinen are known internationally. I’m partial to jugend (art nouveau / national romanticism) and wood.

My Finland Natl Romantic Architecture

 

My Finland is playful

Finns don’t do just high design, we also allow our humor to blossom – check out, for instance, the huge Posankka statue in Turku that is a hybrid between a marzipan pig and a rubber duck.

My Finland Posankka

We also love games and playing. Recent Finnish game franchise hits include Max Payne and Angry Birds. I sometimes wonder if the speculative genre Finnish weird might have arisen from our tendency to play around with ideas and color outside the lines. Not to mention to innovate!

 

My Finland invests in technology

Almost as long as there’s been an administrative unit called Finland, it’s been poor. Only after the World Wars did we really start trying to improve our lot, and by and large have succeeded. From Fiskars (which started as a forge in 1649) to Nokia and Linux, to mention but a few examples, for a tiny country we’re doing darn well.

Legendary Pinking Shears

Flickr Museovirasto JOKALS4Vaa01-3 Leipomo vuonna 1998

The ruisleipä line in a bakery in Kotka from 1998. Photo by Lauri Sorvoja / JOKA via Museovirasto (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

 

My Finland is unabashedly geeky and nerdy

Since reading is a big pasttime in Finland and since we love our technology, it’s probably no surprise that we have an active SF/F / larp / anime community. Thanks to the efforts of the Finnish fan community plus supporters all around the world, we hosted Worldcon 75 in Helsinki this past August.

Eppu at Worldcon 75 in Helsinki Aug 2017

 

My Finland Loves Music

From traditional to tango, from classical to heavy metal – even the combination of the two! – music is everywhere in Finland. I’m not a terribly big fan of classical music, but Jean Sibelius is special. Here’s a version of his Finlandia Hymn by Cantus Vocal Emsemble, with lyrics (I believe) from a Unitarian Universalist hymn book:

The Finlandia Hymn by cantussings

The Eurovision Song Contest is popular, and various folk styles are making a comeback.

Pernilla Karlsson – “När Jag Blundar” (Finland) via escDjpo2012

Ulla Pirttijärvi is one of my favorite Sami vocalists. I’ve also grown to like the combination of traditional yoiks and contemporary music quite a lot.

Ulla Pirttijärvi ~ Lullaby via FamilyOfLightMember

 

My Finland sauna bathes

Sauna is the only truly wide-spread Finnish word. We have sauna often, sometimes multiple times a week, and many people still make their own sauna whisks.

Sauna Whisks for Sale

 

My Finland cares

Finland is not perfect, but by and large we take care of each other. Finland’s women gained the right to vote first in Europe, in 1906. In the first elections where women were allowed to vote they were also allowed ro run for office; we elected 19 female members of parliament that year. We’ve already had one female President. (High time for another!)

My Finland Bunnies

This year we legalized same-sex marriage and are experimenting with universal basic income. There’s still plenty to do, for instance abolishing the mandatory sterilization of trans people, reversing the trend of cutting from the care of the disabled and the old, trying to reduce domestic abuse and making sure the social security nets already in place hold.

My Finland in the Sky

In my Finland, there’s space to be who you are.