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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

Well, the title pretty much says it all. A year ago, my Finnish language course took us on a field trip to the local medieval church. A bit of cultural edification for the foreigners, I suppose. It was actually a nice little tour, though keeping up the with guide’s spoken Finnish was still...

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.


We seem to be on a role with all things wild and Finnish, so here’s a little video of something else that I found in our garden in early September last year. It was very early in the morning and I had been forced out of bed to make a bottle for a fussy toddler, so I was a bit surprised to...

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.


Now we come to the adventuring part of this year’s mushroom hunting posts. As mentioned in my previous post, I’m getting pretty good at locating and picking the “beginner mushrooms” local to our area. This means that I’ve been turning my eye to other prospects,...

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

Because c’mon, the only people who are really reading this already know that juggling toddlers and various other aspects of adult life are not entirely compatible with keeping a regular writing schedule. But you know what was actually on schedule this year? Mushroom season!

Yeah, great...

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.


A good friend and fellow plant enthusiast took us orchid hunting yesterday in some nearby woods. There are a few species that grow wild in our area and she knew how much I love wildflowers — the notion of seeing an orchid in situ was very exciting! Southern Finland doesn’t have as ma...

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

I just finished up a 7 day photography challenge over on Facebook — the husband tagged me to do 7 nature pictures and I ended up narrowing it down further for myself by deciding to do only flowers in the blue-purple spectrum that arrived on our property without my aid. I had so much fun...

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.


Even though this year’s midsummer was mostly spent inside due to it raining all day, I had a chance to nip out in the morning and snap some pictures for my mid-season garden tour. This was the year that I was FINALLY able to get some major work done in my vegetable ...

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

Oh dear. I hate to sound like an unique American snowflake in the great socialist North, but here goes. I have been sent links to Tim Walker’s “Bad American Habits” listicle by a couple of people now. The first time, I just laughed at it and explained to the forwarder (non-American, non-Finnish, thought quite rightly that any writings by any Americans might amuse me) that while it was representative of some Americans living in this country, we came from countless different backgrounds and I happened to be from one that did not readily relate to all his points. Then I …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

Because nothing says spring like a fresh blanket of snow. Yay for freakish Finnish weather! Sadly, it will probably only stay on the ground for about an hour after it stops, since the temps are already above 0°C and it was supposed to rain today. But this is so much more entertaining!

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

No, this is totally not one of those posts where I weigh the pros and cons of childhood vaccinations. Because really, if you don’t know by now, I’m very squarely in the “yay, science and medicine!” camp. No question about it. Rather, this is the post where I share what I’ve learned about the differences in vaccination schedules between what my kids will be getting in Finland versus what they would have gotten if they were born in the US. Also, how that differs from what I got as a kid born in Taiwan. And then I show you guys …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle Kitchen and Garden. Please leave any comments there.

And here's the other half of my summer garden pictures, dealing with various flowers encountered during our first summer in the new house. The previous owner was an avid gardener, so there were plenty of flower beds already established and filled with random little surprises. Also, a few wildflowers that I'm hoping my ever-knowledgeable Finnish readers will be able to help me identify.

I started putting out flower boxes on the front porch.
Little blue flowers next to the well.
Volunteer violets in the veggie patch.

Purple wildflower I have yet to identify.
Some late double narcissus under the lupines.
Creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens).

The perennial bed outside the computer room. I’m slowly going to redo this.
Can’t remember what these are, either.
They look like some sort of Tagetes?

Primulas hiding in the borders around the gazebo.
Stand of irises near the pond.
Another Anemone species in the perennial bed.

Row of hostas down the walkway to the gazebo.
I forget what these were, but they were colorful!
The lupines are crazy hard to get rid of and pop up EVERYWHERE.

I mean, they’re very pretty when in flower, but then you need to deal with all those damn seedpods.
Rose bush. Only hard climber varieties seem to survive up here.
Bearded iris in flower.

Dutch iris, I think?
Daylilies! Lots of them! They’re edible, y’know.
Random daisies near the water barrel.

White climbing rose that blooms around midsummer.
Gorgeous wildflower that I would like to identify.
Another wildflower I’d like to identify.


pierydys: (anime)

Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle Kitchen and Garden. Please leave any comments there.

One of the things I love most about spring in the north is the bonanza of flowering bulbs that burst out nonstop the minute the snows recede. I spent several years back in Cali trying to coax reluctant daffodils and hyacinths into bloom through rigorous refrigerator chilling regimens before finally giving in to the fact that I would only ever have them as cut flowers. Tulips and snowdrops never had a fighting chance. In our Finnish house, though, it's a completely different story. I am already plotting elaborate flower beds and making wish lists from internet bulb suppliers, even though planting time isn't until this fall.

Last May, some friends took me to a family property that was pretty much covered in these flowers, all naturalized after decades of letting them grow where they wanted. Seriously, huge tulips that just kept coming back, year after year. My mind boggled. I brought back a huge bouquet with me and want to create a similar effect in our borders, though it will probably take a long time to look as established as that old cottage garden did. I regret not having taken photos of that garden now, but here are the flowers at least.





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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

Apologies to anybody who was having issues with using the comments system these past few days — there was a glitch involving a naughty plug-in that I just got around to figuring out last night. Everything should work just fine now. Yeah, I take pictures of random food-related things when the mood strikes me. These are pretty obviously for the peeps back in the States, since I’m sure this stuff looks pretty unremarkable to anybody on this side of the Atlantic.  

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

This is mämmi. It’s traditionally served in Finland and Sweden during the Easter holiday, hence why I’m posting about it now. We had some this past weekend along with dessert – a big dollop served with cream and sugar. It isn’t the most attractive-looking holiday dish on its own, no. Taste-wise, it’s balanced between bittersweet and nutty — pretty much what you’d expect of a paste made from rye flour and malt. Mämmi also happens to be one of those regional dishes that locals like to make you try in the hopes that you’ll make a funny face. Which doesn’t …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

The husband (!!!) got me a new camera for my birthday, so I’ve been testing all the settings on random stuff around the house lately. One of these subjects happened to be the birdfeeder on our balcony, which I put out a few weeks ago for this year’s fall/winter feeding season. The birdfeeder only gets put out after all the plants growing on the balcony are pretty much dead, so that frequent diners won’t start helping themselves to a side of green salad along with their birdseed. My motivation for feeding our avian neighbors is far from selfless — the …

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle Kitchen and Garden. Please leave any comments there.

Did some much needed work on the plants in the apartment this past week. The two backyard gardens thrive on benign neglect, since they have access to plenty of sun and rain, but the ones here need a bit more attention to be at their best.

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

Apologies for the silence this last month — have been in the midst of wedding planning madness. I took a brief pause yesterday afternoon, however, to wander the forests with a friend and take advantage of the bounteous harvest this year’s warm, wet summer has brought. My first batch of hand-picked wild Finnish bilberries! They were exceptionally plump and less than a ten minute walk from our apartment! Will definitely be going back in the coming weeks to get more for immediate baking and freezer storage. I’ve always been an opportunistic forager so finding a place to do it so …

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pierydys: (Default)

Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle Kitchen and Garden. Please leave any comments there.

Apologies for the silence this last month — have been in the midst of wedding planning madness. I took a brief pause yesterday afternoon, however, to wander the forests with a friend and take advantage of the bounteous harvest this year’s warm, wet summer has brought.

My first batch of hand-picked wild Finnish bilberries! They were exceptionally plump and less than a ten minute walk from our apartment! Will definitely be going back in the coming weeks to get more for immediate baking and freezer storage. I’ve always been an opportunistic forager so finding a place to do it so close to home is very exciting. We also came across some nice patches of mushrooms, but I’ve never been a big fungi fan, so gladly let my friend take those all back with her.

Lessons I learned from yesterday?

1. My poor knees are obviously not used to extensive exercise — they are still a bit sore from all the crouching involved. This will happily fix itself with repeated use, however.

2. Mosquitos can still get you through thick tights. Will have to switch to jeggings next time and hope that they break their beaks on denim.

3. You can never use too much bug spray, especially when it’s warm and humid and you’re sweating buckets.

Hope everybody out there is enjoying their July as well!

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle Kitchen and Garden. Please leave any comments there.

Anybody who has been around me for the past several months has probably heard me bemoan at some point or another the scarcity of shellfish in our vicinity. There’s nothing fresh and alive, most certainly — which has made it difficult to continue with my “Food That Moves” column for the foreseeable future. However, more frozen options have been appearing over the past few years, so we’re not entirely high and dry. The frozen mussels are pretty decent, frozen squid is readily available for calamari-makers, and lately there have been beautiful raw frozen tiger shrimp showing up that have made me very happy. And in fall of last year, I even started seeing these guys popping up:

Wee frozen cooked lobsters from Canada! Given, they are what I call “buffet sized” — meaning they’re the sort that you typically find at seafood buffets that advertise lobster. You know, the ones where they give you a ticket and everybody’s only allowed to claim one lobster dish, which is comprised of a teeny tiny tail and loads of sauce? Still, it’s an improvement over no lobster! At 8€ ($11.64, currently) a pop for 10.6oz. of lobster, it’s not something that we’ll probably get on a regular basis. Remember the live 7-pounder I got at the Asian store for about $30? Oh, Cali. For a special treat, however, it’s perfectly adequate.

Popping the bug out of the bag to defrost in the sink. It looks so sad, all bricked up in ice like something found on an archaeological dig.

Mr. Lobster, defrosted and rinsed. I’ve had jumbo prawns bigger than this little baby, back at home. I didn’t even need any heavy tools to open him up. Just bare hands, a fork, and a pair of kitchen scissors.

Wee bits of meat —  tail and two claws only, since the legs were too tiny to get in. Heated them up with a bit of butter, then chopped up the pieces and put them into a sushi roll with some avocado. There was just enough meat to make one fat roll, sliced thinly to serve two. Pictures next time, when my rolls don’t look quite as messy :-) The meat actually held up very well! It tasted sweet and lobstery, didn’t really suffer from the trip over at all. Good freezing technology on fishing boats these days!

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Originally published at The Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

Well, not really. More like I took a bunch of photos during the holiday season and forgot to share them until now. Better late than never? Besides, looking at snowy pictures is much nicer when it’s warm and sunny outside :-)

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