Thursday, April 30, 2009

VAPPU/ VALBORGS / MAY DAY CELEBRATION

May Day festivities, or Vappu as it is called in Finnish (Valborg in Swedish) is a huge celebration welcoming the spring. Finns start celebrating it already day before May, the last day in April, by consuming large amounts of alcohol, sima (mead), tippaleipa (Finnish funnel cake) and doughnuts.
People gather around town in parks and squares, come rain, sleet or snow, and drink it up. Not a pretty sight always, because by drinking, I mean getting hammered. All these photos are from Helsinki.
Then the first day of May, once again come rain, sleet or snow, Finns celebrate more in more sophisticated style by enjoying picnics in the parks.
Sweet mead, or sima, is still prepared at home with old recipes that have been well tested through the years.It is flavored with flesh and rind of lemon and fermented.
Sima is usually enjoyed with either donuts or tippaleipä.This is a fun tradition that I plan to carry on when I have kids, now I'm just too lazy to go through all the baking and preparations just for the 2 of us. 
Hauskaa Vappua! Happy May Day!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

SAVE THE PIGS, SAVE THE WORLD


Physicians committee for responsible medicine asks your help to save pigs from future trauma training courses in North Dakota State University. Unfortunately, earlier this week, four pigs were unnecessarily killed in the course. But do not lose hope. We can ensure that no more animals are killed for this purpose.

 Please call, e-mail, or write a letter to North Dakota State University (NDSU) provost and vice president R. Craig Schnell, Ph.D. Ask Dr. Schnell to do what the school’s president would not, and end the use of animals in all future Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) courses. Then forward this message to your friends who care about animals. Being polite is the most effective way to help these animals. Send an automatic e-mail.

 Ok, now that I've taken care of our cute friends it's time to move back to our regular scheduled programming. David Wolfe's Superfoods book was released finally yesterday and I can't wait to get it in my hands. I preordered it while back from Amazon and it should be hitting my mailbox any day now. In the meanwhile I've been reading these interesting articles on Sunfoods (David is the founder of this company).
 Today was normal spring day, the heat wave has passed us and it was comfortable outside. I love the colors I wore today; white, mustard orange, brown and grey with white pearls. Nice change for the black that I've been sporting all winter. Sometimes I just get stuck with black, it's such an easy color to wear and it goes from office to after work fun. 
 

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

THE DAY IN PICTURES



I feel better today and will be going to work tomorrow again. I spent the day reading, cleaning, gardening and preparing myself for a job interview. I also look forward to going to the gym. Seems like forever since I was there last time. Well, it almost has been a week. I went there last Thursday before the event at Asia De Cuba. Friday they were closed because some new equipment was coming in.
Weather should also cool down a bit and that's ok, it's been really hot. I'm glad i was off and was able to enjoy it and not running around Manhattan sweating my butt off in my black suit and the worst; going down to the subway stations that are known to be like saunas in the summer time.
Shopping for shorts and some other beach vacation gear at Macy's. Yes, we're going, I will let you know soon where. But it's gorgeous out there! So excited!

Monday, April 27, 2009

APRIL HEAT WAVE

 
I got the sniffles big time and the funny thing is that I was fine on Saturday before I started reading the news. Once I read few articles about the swine flu it started with the first sneeze. Then another one. Third. Fourth.  Then I stopped counting. It was almost nonstop between the hours of 5pm-10pm, until I fell asleep. Psychosomatic? Maybe. My body and brain work seamlessly together. Anyway, it's really hot and my nose doesn't stop running and I don't feel good overall. I'm off today and tomorrow and want to get so many things done around the house and yard, but my energy drains out fast. I also think that I need to ask our landscapers to do the weeding as well on top of the other things they are doing. I looked at the flower benches today and I'm overwhelmed.
I'm also worried about my cat Moses (he is big) is getting heat stroke from these temperatures. I will give him bath tomorrow and make sure he will play with water when ever he wants to play with something. He likes trying to catch water dripping from faucets.
Tomorrow's plan is lots of liquids (just water and white tea with organic honey), fresh fruits (I have kiwis, mangos and red grapefruits) noodle soup and with some fresh garlic (garlic has anti-viral and immune enhancing properties). I should be able to be in office condition by Wed.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

THERE SHALL BE ETERNAL SUMMER IN THE GRATEFUL HEART

 
Sorry, no time for many words. You see from these photos what I'm doing and how lovely it is outside, so I'm not planning on spending too much time in front of the computer. Enjoy the beautiful day!

Friday, April 24, 2009

CONCIERGE PARTY AT ASIA DE CUBA

 
One of the props working in the hotel is that you get invited to these happy hours and openings by restaurants that want to maintain or create customer relations with local hotels. When you have fun evening with them you are more likely to send your guests over and recommend the restaurant with sincerity.
China Grill Management has quite a few restaurants in NYC, so it's good to have your name on their invite list; China Grill, Kobe, Center Cut, Empire Rooftop, Ono, Hudson Cafeteria and of course, star of the night, Asia De Cuba.
 
This bi-level stunner serves Asian and Cuban fusion, just like you might guess from the name of the place. At this event we had the chance to sample all their delicious appetizers and fun cocktails. My favorites were the lemongrass skewered chicken, coconut rice balls with some amazing dip sauce and the black bean flat bread thingy. Appetizers in this place are over $20, so if you are going to have a full dinner, prepare to pay big bucks.
 
It was great to meet all these colorful and fun industry people. Cool crowd.
The first cocktail I tried was called Mambo King and it had vodka, champagne and grenadine in it with brown sugar rim. That was a bit scary combo for me, because I don't like mixing my drinks so for the rest of the evening I kept it with Mojitos, Caipirinhas and Caipiroskas.
 
It was fun evening of laughs, good food, cocktails and networking.
During decent spring evenings it's fun to take a walk down to the trains, sum up the evening and get some fresh New York City air. And do what we do the best; take photos. Documenting your life is just so much fun. Looking at these photos after a year brings the evening back so lively.
Today was a good day. All I have to say now is; when is the next party?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

HOW TO RECOGNIZE ME

I was challenged by my fellow expatriate Donna and the challenge asks me to describe the things in me that make you recognize me. I have to admit that I had to think about this one for a little while. I used to be so unique looking with my dreadlocks, nose piercing and all those colorful Indian dresses and shirts I used to wear not to mention my pet rat Rebel Yaska that used to sit on my shoulder. I've lost the flavor I used to have and I'm trying to fit in to the corporate mass wearing black, dark brown and grey most of the time, keeping my hair in a boring pony tail or bun and I look just like any other working woman in Manhattan. It's a shame. I did manage to come up with few things about myself that could describe me and my style.
1. Big earrings. I love earrings and I never leave the house without them (even if I'm just going to the local supermarket wearing sweatpants and no make up with a messy hair). I have tons of them and I love buying new ones. For work I had to tone it down a little bit, but the ones I really love are long and dangly, accenting my collar bone.
2. Bracelets. I got to have lots of bracelets on me because I want my wrists to be covered for some reason. I have thick bangles, multi row bracelets, watches and at the gym I wear arm bands. At work I love wearing pearls, white or pink.
3. Smile. I smile very easily in right and wrong situations. I smile when I'm happy, I smile when I'm sad, I smile when I'm excited, I smile when i'm extremely stressed out (must be all that customer service experience), I smile when I'm serious and I smile when I'm confused :). When I was traveling with the holy men in India one of them said I had the same serene, quarter-smile as Buddha. Now I have Americanized it a bit and tend to spread out the all American Pepsodent smile. :D
4. Hair-undo. I have problem with my hair. I don't like it. It's too fine, goes flat very easily and I don't know how to styleit. It hardly ever looks good on ponytails and buns that I wear most of the times. Curling it helps, but I have no energy doing it daily. I work with lot of guys and I hear about my hair every day, like "Heyyy... What's up with the hair today...?" or "Hmmm... Your hair... Were you in a hurry this morning?". I admit I need help, but can't afford my personal hair stylist. But once I get rich that's the first thing I'm going to hire, personal hair stylist that will style me daily. Gotta get that lottery going.
 5. Sunglasses. Great for hiding from people, great for covering make up-less eyes and great for my light-sensitive eyes. Great for making people in Manhattan think you are somebody :). I buy designer glasses at Daffy's, Filene's Basement and Century21 type of places. No Chinatown for me, thank you.

6. Big purse. I carry my whole life in my purse. I got to have extra underwear just in case I end up in the gym after work. Luckily my gym provides everything else I need like shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, hair gel, lotion and so on. I'm also trying to learn to drink enough water, so I carry bottle of water with me at all times.  Of course I must have my camera with me, because you never know who you'll bump into or where you'll end up at the end of the day. I also carry little make up bag with essentials and a small snack pack of almonds with me just in case I get hungry. IPod Touch. Cellphone. Notebook and pen.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

JUICE FASTS AND CLEANSES



I tried the juice fast when I was 16 years old, but started slipping already at day two. It was horrible to feel so hungry and unable to think anything else but food and eating. Oh, and how weak I got. So day three I gave up. I would not do the juice fast now, but a cleanse that let’s you eat unlimited organic fruits and vegetables. I think I could survive that. Especially now that the weather is getting warmer and I don’t need so much comfort food. My friend did suggest that I would schedule my weekend for the 2nd and 3rd day of the program, because those days you're most tired and weak. After the 3rd day it gets a bit easier.
These are the proven benefits of all-natural cleanse: 
* Increased Energy and Vitality 
* More Efficient Digestion 
* Greater Stamina 
* Increased Clarity of Mind (Hallelujah!) 
* Overall Feeling of Improved Health 
* More Radiant Complexion and Fewer Blemishes (this would be very welcome. My skin got so bad all of a sudden. I'm sure it had nothing to do with that big box of Godiva chocolates my boss gave me and loosing my self-control...)
I love pizza (my all time favorite junk food! Although don't tell my Italian brother-in-law that I called it junk food, he will get upset) and in Manhattan it is hard to walk one block without smelling that delicious aroma of the basil, fresh plum tomatoes, mozzarella and all that grease. That’s going to be my greatest temptation. Another one is chocolate. I already gave up eating chocolate 2 weeks ago because it’s not good at all for my skin. But when at work, the vending machine keeps calling me… And it’s right next to my office too. I gotta stay strong. And note to self; please go to Whole Foods today and buy some of that famous sacred dark chocolate and goji-berries for snacking at work. Panda licorice too! I love licorice. Many Finns do, but can't say I've met lot of Americans who would. It's all natural, fat free, preservative free, vegan etc. Good stuff! Licorice was also listed in Top 10 best snack choices at Women's Health Magazine. Check it out here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

SUNNY BUNNY DAYS

I'm not from religious family and christian holidays for me equal Santa Claus and Easter bunnies. My husband in the other hand is catholic and so is his family, so they do say their graces before eating and celebrate holidays for their original reasons. This Easter seven of us just went to have casual brunch. 
ln Finland we have few funny Easter traditions that I also participated for the fun of it when I was a kid. In Finland the week before Easter Sunday, on a Palm Sunday, you may see quaint little characters walking around the streets. Children with painted faces and scarves or witch hats tied round their heads, go begging carrying broomsticks, coffee pots and bunches of decorated pussy willow twigs. They go from door to door in tradition of blessing people by whisking them with twigs. This is called virpominen. 
Well before Easter, children plant rye-grass seeds in little pots called Rairuoho. Green grass is a sure sign of spring, even if it only grows on the windowsill. In my house we used to put tiny chocolate eggs and little easter chicks among the grass. Nowadays I buy kitty grass for my kitties that looks just like rye-grass, but i think it's wheat grass. It also makes beautiful decorative object and I'm planning on starting to grow it myself.
The oldest traditional Finnish dish is mämmi, a dark brown porridge made of water and sweetened rye malt. It is baked in a slow oven in cardboard boxes made to look like birch bark baskets. Mämmi is normally served with cream and sugar. It's been few years since I last had it and I was never a huge fan, but now all of a sudden this year I have craving for it.
We got tons of tulips and daffodils growing in our yard, thanks to the previous owners that were avid gardeners. I don't have to buy any plants or flowers as long as we live here. I went and cut some from the yard to beautify the house for the holidays.
I haven't kept up any Finnish traditions since I moved here and I regret it. But it's not too late. I guess I'm just waiting to have kids in this house and that way I'd be more motivated sharing my culture and our unique traditions.