Nude Finnish Girls

Happy New Year! For Helsinki it has meant low temperatures and lots of snow, which means more light, good moods and fun ways to commute.

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Sharing a sled

WordPress sent me some stats on Hey Helsinki’s year in review – here’s a quick look at some of my most popular posts in 2015:

#1 – Helsinki Underground

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This surprised me but as someone said, ‘When you arrive in a city the first thing you want to know is how to get around.” I hope this post has been useful  – & that people found reassurance in the fact that it would be very difficult to get lost on the subway in Helsinki.

#2 – How to make the best korvapuustit

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This post went nuts thanks to my sister-in-law Ilona and her baking tips on how to make three Finnish sweets with one dough.

#3 – 101 Reasons to visit Helsinki

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Linnanmaäki Amusement Park

This post grew from a project at work where I was looking through all my photos from the previous year.  I could have come up with more reasons but, like dalmatians, 101 is a pretty good start.

#4 – Finland’s oldest public pool, swimsuits optional

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Yrjoönkatu uimihalli Photo credit: Cafe Yrjo

I can see on my stats page the search terms entered into google that lead people to Hey Helsinki. Time and again the most common thing people are looking for is ‘nude Finnish girls’ which seems to then lead them to this post where I went skinny dipping in Finland’s oldest public pool. Popular with the general public it was also a hit in the German nudist community.

#5 – How to dress a child for Finnish winter

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With temperatures as low as -26 celcius lately (-15 F), this post has resurfaced as people search for help with one of life’s major challenges. As we are outside everyday, it’s essential to dress properly which means multiple layers and accessories, such as neck warmers (imagine a turtle-neck sweater but with no sleeves or torso) as kids don’t generally wear scarves. As someone at work said recently, ‘Every time you dress a child for Finnish winter, a little part of you dies’.

And where do you come from?

Well Finns or people in Finland overwhelmingly make up the largest group of readers. I guess people who’ve moved here are looking for tips and for the locals, well we all like to know what others might think of us. Thanks also to friends and family at home in NZ & Australia for following along.

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I’m going to take a little break from writing this blog as we prepare to make our first trip home in nearly two years. I’ll be in Asia for work and then have a month in New Zealand. I can’t wait! You can follow along on Facebook or Instagram for updates.

I’m also working with Laura Iisalo of Creating Helsinki on a book about the people who make Helsinki the city it is.  It features tips from locals on their favourite places & things to do, with recipes you can try at home of Nordic classics made with a contemporary twist.

It will be released by Cozy Publishing in May 2016 & I’ll keep you posted about the launch. In the meantime, thanks so much for reading and for all your comments over the last year.

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Me signing our publishing contract. Photo: Laura Iisalo

And for those who accidentally got here while searching for ‘nude Finnish girls’, here’s a picture of me in my underwear today.

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I told you it was cold!

 

 

 

Dancing in the Shadows – at Annantalo

I’ve walked past Annantalo so many times and never stopped to wonder what it is. Turns out – it’s great is what it is!

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Annantalo is an arts centre for children and young people, housed in a beautiful old school that was built in 1886. Miko and I recently visited with friends on a rainy afternoon after daycare.

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On the ground floor is the large Kirja Kahvila (book cafe) with loads of space for families and smaller tables set up with paper and colouring pencils. There’s also shelves full of childrens’ books, printed in Finnish and Swedish.

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The cafe is also home to Tutti-tukaani (Pacifier Toucan) who sits atop a large bottle where children put their pacifiers when the time comes to give them up. The idea is based loosely on similar traditions in Finland and was dreamed up by the Office Manager.

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The cafe is run by a lovely woman called Krista, who told me she loves all the handmade touches around Annantalo.

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This includes the warm korvapuustit (cinammon buns) and the woollen covers on the tea glasses.

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Upstairs in the building, there are art classes, as well as dance and theatre for young people. Miko’s daycare has visited in the past to watch a puppet show, which he still talks about.

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There are also exhibitions for children, which are really creative and interactive. Miko loved going inside a big teepee and looking at tiny worlds inside boxes with a torch during the last one.

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Although the cafe is family focussed it can be very quiet at times and there’s lots of space to spread out if you need to work. With wheelchair access it’s a great place for anyone to visit, young and old alike.

Annantalo – events and courses

Annankatu 30, Helsinki

Due to a bad dose of the flu there were no Vappu celebrations for me this year. The spring carnival on May Day is one of the biggest events on the Finnish calendar. You can read my post from last year here

A slap in the ear? That will be €2

Finns love their coffee and with it they seem to love nothing more than a good korvapuusti. Known elsewhere as cinnamon rolls, the Finnish version is fairly unique in its look, ingredients and name. They are also reported to be the biggest, which for some people would make them the best.

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Made with butter and cinnamon and topped with pearl sugar, these buns smell delicious as they come out of the oven and you will find them at any self-respecting cafe or supermarket.

Sometimes cardamom is added which lends an exotic spiciness to the mix. As someone (me) commented earlier this week, ‘Mmm, they taste like Christmas.’

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Cafe Regatta do a wonderful korvapuusti and I’ve heard they can also be made with suklaa (chocolate). I’d like to have a lesson in making them as I’ve heard it’s not too difficult and I think they’d be a hit in New Zealand.

Korvapussti in English means a slap in the ear and there are a few theories as to how these buns got this name although no one seems too sure.

As a New Zealander though it’s fairly clear to me – a few too many slaps to the the ear and they will look like a doughy bun – a fact to which any All Black front rower can attest.

Keven Mealamu – All Black Hooker, cauliflower ears

Korvapuusti