Doing life right, at home and away

Month: December 2014

Dry stone wall in Thurso

Of Thurso: sea-sides and small-town boys

Thurso is a fascinating little town.

W is from Thurso – the Northernmost town of mainland Scotland. I actually challenge you to check on Google Maps where it is. Nah, nevermind, I’ll just add a link here.

Caithness coastline

I cannot get enough of these views, their majestic rawness, their almost inexplicable beauty. Brace yourselves – there will be plenty of adjectives in this post. There is something to the smell of the sea in the air, the distant yet distinguishable Orkney silhouette in the horizon, the wild grey sea and the overarching grey sky.

Drystone wall with lichens

Every time I walk out to the street from our friend’s place and get a view to the sea, I feel a sense of relief. I could live for these landscapes – maybe that’s why people stay here, or come back. Quite a few of W’s friends who left to big cities for university, eventually came back. Quite genuinely – I can understand why. How do you get used to not seeing this every day? Do you not feel completely suffocated in a land lock city?

Thurso beach

When we go for a walk closer to the shore, where the river meets the sea, it’s hard to tell exactly where the sky begins and the water ends.

I’m not gonna lie to you, there isn’t much to do or see in the traditional sense of touristic activities. But that’s sort of the beauty of it: you walk at the beach, you stare in the distance and breathe in the salty air, you have a pint or ten in the pub. You go home. Rinse and repeat. You can go to the movies though. And to the only night club in town. (they’ve got a wikkid  website, too) There are also quite a few standing stones you can visit.

I have a sense for rugged aesthetics. I choose a winter holiday in northern Scotland over a beach holiday in Southeast-Asia any day. At face value, Thurso is this grey, grim looking windy town made of  sandstone. But somehow, there is just so much more to it. Probably the best people I know come from Thurso. I often wonder, if the nature and our surroundings shape our characters.

So what should you do once in Thurso?

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Inverness near the castle

Of taking trains north (to Inverness)

We left Portsmouth with a Southwest train heading to London King’s Cross, with Inverness as our final destination.

We had gotten a fabulous deal with an early booking and travelled first class from London to Inverness. Though it’s perfectly okay travel in the standard class with a dog, we thought that investing in both our and other passenger’s comfort was well worth the extra 20 quid and it turned out to be an excellent decision when travelling with a woofer.

It also turned out to be generally the best and the smartest thing ever, as Network Rail had been working on the tracks over Christmas (when the railway is closed) but had not gotten it done on time. All trains from London to Scotland were cancelled on the 27th, meaning that nobody who had to go north that day was able to go north that day.

These rail work delays were actually anticipated beforehand, so for two days we stalked some wonderfully, painstakingly detailed train discussion forums to get some insight on whether we should even bother going to London. I mean, if there was a chance that our reservation wouldn’t be valid due to the cancellation.

seat reservation ticket

Well, everything turned out just fine, reservations were valid and all – though even first class was fully booked. I don’t want to know how it would have been in the standard class with a dog. Someone probably would’ve punched us in the face.

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truffle shavings

Of cooking with a truffle

As you might remember, I have transported a jar of rice (with a truffle in it) from Strasbourg to Karlsruhe to Portsmouth with me. W’s dad is so into cooking it has actually been a little hard to push for a meal WE can cook!

fresh truffle shavings

Today though, we managed to negotiate for a lunch spot, so it was obvious that we were going to finally use the truffle. I had spent a good deal of time figuring out what would be the best way to use it. I wanted something easy and simple, yet hearty as it was to feed five people. I also wanted it to be sort-of foolproof, without too many bells or whistles – as truffle on its own is already rather exotic – ideally something that doesn’t require acquired tastebuds. Compared to other truffle types, such as Black truffles (French Périgord) and White truffles (Italian Piémontese), which practically need to be consumed raw, Meuse truffle puts up well with heat and cooking. However, I wanted to rather enjoy the raw taste of the product.

I decided to go with a truffle risotto – by just topping the delicious risotto with thin shavings of raw truffle. Risotto is such a basic, beautiful thing, filling and hearty, yet serves as base for a variety of other complex flavours.

I was still a little worried about having stored the truffle in rice, but upon taking it out from the rice jar, the truffle seemed to be in perfect condition and was still strongly scented and very aromatic when I shaved off a sliver to taste it.

A simpler than simple risotto for showcasing the flavour/aroma of a Meuse truffle:

You need:

  • Risotto rice
  • Olive oil
  • Salty butter (50-70g)
  • Vermouth (preferably) or white wine
  • Finely diced onion (shallots or normal ones, 2-3 according to taste)
  • Finely chopped garlic (to taste)
  • Finely chopped celery (which we didn’t have as we forgot to buy some – but it belongs to the perfect basic risotto recipe)
  • Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 liter stock, approximately (chicken or vegetable, for example – though I would definitely recommend home made stock but sometimes you have to rely on stock cubes – like we did here)
  • Parmesan or other flavoursome hard cheese, plenty of it
  • Truffle (obviously)
  • Parsley to garnish

1. Heat the stock in a pot. In another pan, heat the olive oil and butter, add the onions, garlic and celery, and stir them until soft, careful to not let them brown or burn. Turn up the heat and add the rice.

2. This is when you can’t leave the stove for even a few seconds. Keep stirring the rice, so it doesn’t get any colour on it. Pretty soon the rice will start to look slightly translucent. This is your cue to throw in the vermouth or the white wine – all the while keeping the rice moving at all times. The rice will suck up the wine quite quickly – keep the rice moving and breathe in the wonderful aromas.

3. Once the rice has sucked up the liquid, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. The secret of good risotto is to keep it slowly simmering, so the rice cooks evenly throughout. If kept boiling on too much heat, the risotto will cook way too much from the outside, but the grains will have a hard core. So: turn down the heat to a simmer and keep slowly adding ladlefuls of stock. Stir and turn thoroughly, and allow all the liquid to be absorbed in the rice body before the next. After 15-20 minutes, check if the rice is cooked and if the seasoning is balanced. If not, keep adding the stock in the similar manner. When ready, the rice should be soft and lovely, but with a bite – we’re not trying to make porridge! Taste the rice — is it cooked? Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, add some boiling water.

4. Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter and parmesan (or equivalent). Allow the risotto to sit under a lid for a couple of minutes. This will let all the liquid and flavours to really set and results in a wonderfully creamy, perfect risotto.

5. Eat.

For this truffle risotto and serving – we just shaved some thin truffle slices, chopped parsley and a pinch of black pepper on top of the risotto. Ta-daa!

It was delicious.

I also generally try to be economic in my cooking: as little leftovers as possible and maximise repurposing – be it boiling bones and vegetable cut offs for stocks, or making truffle oil with the leftover truffle! We chopped – extremely finely – the end of the truffle we could no longer use for the risotto and put it in a jar with extra virgin olive oil. It needs from a few days to a week to properly infuse it.  Works great with pasta and salads. Another possibility is making truffle salt: also chopping it fine and mixing it with rough sea salt, himalayan salt, etc. Seal it in a jar for some days so the truffle bits emit their remaining aromas in the salt. Enjoy with everything.

(A tip from a friend: for super fancy margaritas, use truffle salt to salt the rim of your margarita glass. I hear it’s insanely good.)

Of gingerbread, gingerbread

In Finland, it’s quite common to make your own gingerbread every Christmas, young and old alike. Somehow I’ve gotten the impression it’s not such a popular tradition elsewhere. That does not mean that it should not be endorsed, however.

gingerbread ingredients

I don’t like the readymade gingerbread cookies sold in shops. They are almost always sickly sweet and hardly taste of anything else than sugar. So, if you are like me but don’t know how to go about making your own gingerbread cookies, I can assure you my recipe is great, tried and tested!

I would point out that this recipe requires some knowledge of spices – the ingredient spreads are indicative. Apart from citrus zest and cinnamon and maybe black pepper, I think the spices should be of equal amounts so they don’t overpower each other. I would also be quite careful with the black pepper – while some like spicier cookies, the pepper should complement the treacle and the sweetness, not taste strong and hot. If you are unfamiliar with mixing the spices in question, I would recommend sticking to smaller amounts. If ,however, you are into some spicier gingerbread, they can quite well be adjusted to taste.


It’s not the world’s simplest recipe, but every step is very straightforward. The dough is mixed from four parts which are first assembled separately: the butter-sugar mix, the treacle-spices mix, the sour cream-bicarbonate mix and the egg-sugar mix.

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pickled herring from above

Of pickled herring

It had never occurred to me that pickled herring was somewhat of a thing of “an acquired taste” – until I well, met other people for the first time.

My family is very, very fond of pickled herring and I love them more than it is sane. It’s something about all the tastes meeting the right way: it’s always wonderfully salty but also sweet, it’s vinegary and tangy but smooth.

So anyway, pickled herring is also a Finnish Christmas classic. Some of my friends have eaten my herrings before and I know that at least a couple have grown equally fond of them. Without further ado, may I present: glassblower Tefke’s herring  – for my foreign friends!

Glassblower Tefke’s pickled herring

May I start by saying that when it comes to pickled herring – anticipation is a virtue. Gold. I almost never remember/bother to make the herrings properly in time. They are always all good and swell and tasty, but the leftovers eaten a couple of weeks after Christmas, are always the real-er deal, the way the herring is really, truly supposed to taste. So consider entertaining the idea of anticipation. Maybe YOU have got what it takes to make the herrings early enough? Maybe YOU won’t find excuses and procrastinate when it comes to pickling your herring? When the push comes to shove, can YOU grab the bull by its horns, and pickle your herring early?

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A view back to Brighton from the beach

Of ferry travel and Brighton beach

I’ve always wanted to visit Brighton – ever since I was 12 and laid my eyes on the glossy EF language course brochures for the first time, longingly flipping through the pages of smiling, laughing intercultural teenagers having the time of their lives in Great Britain. (My mother never let me go.) 

Your Practicalities author on Brighton beach

Through some series of unfortunate events – which now seem rather fortunate, I inadvertently got a chance to finally visit some Brighton. I did some research on the city quickly at the hotel: apparently some say Brighton is “a London suburb”, but others say it’s just really gay. Because there is a significantly present and visible gay culture and community and it’s Britain’s LGBT capital. Which sounds great.

So, it started as we took the infamous ferry to Newhaven from Dieppe: boy what a mess it was! This is kind of the first recollection of the many, many troubles we had when traveling.

While we’re very appreciative that DSDF carries pets over the canal, we got such uncoordinated customer service – even more so when coming back. Both DSDF website and customer service person over the phone told us to bring our own crate, which we did.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had to travel with a crate for medium size dog? Albeit foldable, I can assure you it is big, bulky, rather heavy and overall annoying. But you know, you do what you gotta do.

We were told we need to be there strictly two hours beforehand and everything seemed somehow extremely complicated, like we would be denied boarding for the smallest of petty reasons.

We got to the port 1,5h beforehand – and I was stressing out that we were so late! – and turned out that we were there way, way too early. There was hardly even any staff to talk to, so we just put Musti in the crate, expecting for someone to arrive shortly and take the dog away to be loaded on board. When somebody finally came, we were told that the dog is actually loaded on board exactly the same time as we, people passengers, are. Oh and by the way, you needn’t bring your own crate, either! There’s a big one for doggies right here!

Internet said that there is wifi on board – which there of course wasn’t. Otherwise, I was quite impressed by the ferry itself, very big and fancy. The weather and the sea however, was outrageous – the trip took way longer than it was supposed to. I got very sea sick and threw up twice and it was horrible.

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Waking up in a hotel room

Of waking up in hotels

a tanka poem;

this morning, perfect

fresh sheets, entertaining feed

food network, great coffee

chinese leftover breakfast

the highlife, sweet sweet highlife, yes


Waking up in Brighton Ibis hotel

P.S. There’s a guide to Brighton beyond our hotel room too!

Cute old houses in France

Of Karlsruhe-Paris-Rouen-Dieppe

As you might know, I do not enjoy air travel. Never mind the environmental things, the actual process of flying is just utterly terrible!

So whenever I have the chance to take trains I jump at the opportunity. Luckily as new dog owners, the dog offers the perfect chaperone/security blanket/something so people don’t think we are completely insane.

While I could never call myself a “train enthusiast”, I do enjoy trains as machines, the whole history of the transport, their particular qualities.

We are spending Christmas in the UK with W’s family and decided also to go to Scotland to his hometown for the Hogamanay (that’s Gaelic for NYE). We decided to go by train. Soon emerged that also ferry is obligatory, as EuroStar doesn’t take pets.

Neither does almost anyone else and boy did we have trouble finding out who will. Our whole lofty plan almost got cancelled because it’s so damn hard to cross that petty little canal with a pet.

The train from Karlsruhe to Paris was simple as always: comfortable, quick and hassle-free. Amazingly enough, when crossing the border over to France, you do not need a dog ticket (???).

We arrived in Paris perfectly for breakfast time, and though there had been some showers earlier in the morning, the sun was shining like a bright, blinding spotlight. We walked all the way from Gare de l’Est to Gare d’Austerlitz and stopped in the middle for a sweet, French breakfast. While I do not miss Paris that much as a city – it has good sides and too many bad sides – visiting briefly and seeing some aspects of the culture that I miss so much in Germany (and actually, in most places), it made my heart ache a little.

From Paris we got on another train, with a stop-over in Rouen. Rouen was a picturesque, small northern town with a fantastic christmas market!

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Of storing truffles

I bought a Meuse truffle (also called Lorraine truffle, Mésentérique Truffle, or Bagnoli Truffle) from Strasbourg Christmas market. The Christmas market is so big, it has been spread across the city and the one in Place des meuniers is built around local products and delicacies. Oui.

So, I’m generally not the one to buy expensive or extravagant food items but when visiting a truffle region, it’s easy access and still (relatively, sort of) affordable. Also, even small amounts of truffle go a long way, so you don’t need to bust your budget to try it out.

I have only really eaten truffle once before and it was years ago. I think it was a Périgord style black truffle. I recall it being very tasty. So, I was quite intrigued by this Meuse truffle.

It has wonderfully strong though quite bizarre and peculiar smell: it’s intriguing and intoxicating, the kind you want to keep sniffing to figure it out and still can’t pinpoint exactly what it smells like. (I googled it though and it’s supposed to smell like “bitter almonds or apricot kernels”.)

A fresh, black truffle

Fresh truffles store for approximately one month if properly conserved in a cool environment. There are other ways to conserve them for longer, but they are the kind of special sorcery not featured here. However, storing truffles is a wonderful process to follow through in itself: the eggs, rice or salt used for conserving are flavoured by the truffle during the process and carry the rich aroma with them.

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Gourmet food at Chez Yvonne, Strasbourg

Of eating in Strasbourg

While there is a rather limited amount of things I miss from my time in Paris, there is the food. If you are interested in Strasbourg overall, you should also read my other post. 

But, overall, eating in France is great.

It was actually Paris (and France) that shaped my attitude towards food and cooking so significantly. Don’t get me wrong, my mother is an amazing chef and taught me well, but in France, such culinary wonders are right at your fingertips and the choices are so endless that it will change you forever. Of course rather ironically, when living in Paris, cooking was practically impossible because of the inexistent kitchens.

Alsace is an interesting region due to their complicated history, being kind of the buffer zone of whatever happened between France & Germany. If you actually look at the timeline of Alsatian rule, it’s been ping-ponged by nations and empires probably a dozen times! (actually more, but I got bored of counting)  

So while Alsace is arguably not French in the traditional sense of the word (or neither is it German – my friends from the region tend to say, smirking, that they are Alsatian, which in the historical context makes a lot of sense),  whenever I cross the border – the change in attitude towards food culture is immediate.

Alsatian food is relatively different to the rest of France, due to the German influence. Pork is more widely used and Choucroute – the local version of Sauerkraut – is a regional speciality, alongside some more German-style sausages.

One of the most famous local specialities is a tarte flambée (or a flammkuechen in German) – which apparently originates from some Allemanic German speaking farmers in the region, who would  use a thin sheet of dough to test the heat of their wood fired ovens.

Tarte Flambe in Alsace

An other – a personal favourite – is the Baeckeoffe, or “backer’s oven”  by the local dialect. It’s the epitome of what to make in an Alsatian clay pot in the midst of the winter. It might even be the reason I have Alsatian clay pots! It’s a multi-meat stew (traditionally mutton, beef and pork), seasoned with Alsatian white wine and juniper berries and a selection of root vegetables bringing it together. Other things, such as leek, thyme, parsley, garlic, carrot and marjoram (or oregano) are used to give extra flavour.

The legend tells, that the Baekeoffe is actually inspired by a traditional Jewish dish of Shabbat, the Hamin (also called Cholent). The original dish was developed over centuries to conform to the prohibition of using fire from Friday night until Saturday night. The trick was to prepare it on Friday afternoon, then give it to the baker, who would keep it warm (and kinda cook it) in his cooling oven until Saturday noon.  A super cool trick from the baker:  apparently, he would take a long piece of dough, kind of a “rope”, and line the rim of the pot, then get the lid seal extremely tightly and keep all the moisture in.

By now, I’m sure you are wondering about the alcohol situation. Well let me tell you.

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making a clay pot

Of clay pots and curing them

Today, we are going to learn about clay pots and curing one! (And I’ve also compiled a list of my dream pots and how I’d cure those.) As you may know, I’m extremely fond of clay pots and I recently got a new one from my favourite shop in Strasbourg. (I would highly recommend for you to read that post first!)

Clay pot cooking has a long and storied history, with many different traditions around the world. I find it fascinating that clay pot cooking is apparently so intuitive that it has been separately invented and practised in so many different cultures.

Interestingly, there seem to be as many ways to cure and season pots as there are to cook in them, featuring a multitude of ingredients ranging from spinach to buttermilk to mustard oil. Some curing rituals seem a little on the superstitious side, but there’s also plenty of “science” in there. The general purpose of curing and seasoning is three-fold: to strengthen the clay against thermal shock, help store moisture in the  porous material, as well as helping to enhance the flavours.

Overall, why would you pick clay? Well, it retains heat but doesn’t transfer heat well, meaning that your delicious foods won’t burn. The inside is essentially cooked with steam as the lid seals tightly – you don’t lose any moisture and everything comes out tender and flavourful. The heat radiating from the sides also cooks the food in a different way and slower than in a cast iron pot.

Some pots have a shinier finish, meaning they have been burnished to reduce the porosity of the final product. They do not require to be soaked each time before use – just once when they are cured the first time. Some pots have a recognisable matte-finish and require soaked for about 15–45 minutes in water, every time, before use (such as the German Römertopf).

So, before I can start cooking with my new toy, it needs a little fixing up. As the pot I got is an Alsatian “Baeckehof”, it shall be seasoned as one.

Let’s get to it!


  1. Fill the pot with full fat milk. No exceptions – full fat! The whole point of curing is that the fat in the milk will go in the pores of the pot.
  2. Put the pot in a cold oven. Turn on the oven and let the milk reach its boiling point. It’s important that the pot & the milk heat up with the oven to avoid any abrupt changes in temperature.
  3. Take the pot out, but be careful where you put it: ceramic pots are sensitive to thermic shocks. You don’t want the pot to crack before you even get to use it! Let the pot rest and cool down for a few minutes.
  4. Take off the lid (carefully! if the milk has boiled a lot, the lid may be a bit stuck) and brush the milk around the lid and the parts that are not covered with milk. Now, I’ve never really found out how long you are supposed to do this. I usually do it for 5-10 minutes, depending on how quickly I get bored.
  5. Let the pot cool down quite a bit, so you can comfortably handle it. Throw out the milk and gently wash the pot with lukewarm water. Don’t use a brush or anything abrasive and don’t use soap: only your hands or a sponge will do.
  6. Dry with a soft tea towel, or let air dry.
  7. Your pot is ready to be used!


There is nothing like a roast or a stew – or anything, for that matter – made in a clay pot. I’m generally a fond roaster and most of my signature dishes are now made in clay pots.

What fascinates me about clay pot cooking is that it’s almost as old as cooking itself: ever since pottery making was invented in the Upper-Paleolithic period, humans have put foods in clay pots and placed them on hot coals or above fires.

Unfortunately, clay pots are big and heavy and my slightly nomadic life style combined with small studios, shared apartments and inexistent kitchens has prevented me from acquiring more of them. So far. If I had all the room in the world, here are a few examples from around the world that might secure some space in my kitchen:

1. La Chamba (Colombia)

La Chamba is a traditional Colombian pot, especially for cooking beans but also many other foods. To cure, in the traditional way, immerse your pot in water and soak it for 2 hours. Rub the pot with a clove of cut garlic and fill it 3/4 full with water. Place the pot in the oven and turn it on to 225 degrees. Bring the pot up to temperature and leave it in the oven for 2 to 3 hours. Turn the oven off and leave the pot in the oven until its cool. Your pot is now ready to use.

2. Römertopf (Germany)

Always begin with soaking the pot in cool water for 10 to 15 minutes. Bake at high temperatures (200+C) to turn all of that moisture into steam.

If you cook fish or any other strong-flavoured ingredients, you may need to give your pot an extra soaking afterwards because the flavours will be absorbed into unfinished, the porous clay. For a serious cleaning of the Romertopf, put the lid upside down in the bottom or the bottom upside down in the lid – depending on the size – and fill bottom and lid with water and a cup of white vinegar. Put them in the oven for about an hour at 180°F to clear out the pores. The water will turn brown and your Romertopf will be cleansed!

3. Tagine (Morocco)


How long have a longed and dreamt of owning my own tagine. It’s a pot and a delicious Moroccan stew, made especially delicious by the smooth and even distribution of tagine heat. Meats melt, sauces cling and coat, and vegetables remain shapely and nutritious. A few traditional combinations include chicken with preserved lemons and olives, meat with dried fruit, and mixed many vege variations.

4. Sand pot, shāguo, bàozai (China)

The most popular sand pot dishes in Cantonese cuisine revolve around rice: clay pots cook slowly and gently, allowing liquids to gradually evaporate and infuse into the rice. Those delicious juices have nowhere to escape. The pots are made with a clay with a high sand content and have a slightly rough exterior and a hard glazed interior.  The pot exterior is almost always the natural unglazed off white colour with a blackish or brown glazed interior. Sometimes, there’s one long handle and sometimes two short.

To cure, traditionally, you would soak the whole pot and lid in water overnight, then leave to air dry. Next, it up with water and boil for half hour on medium heat. Cool, empty, dry.

5. Donabe (Japan)

Donabe can be used to cook a variety of hot pot dishes on the dining room tabletop with family and/or friends. It’s equally useful for stewing or braising. Because Iga clay has a higher heat-resistance, you can even cook with it over gas range or in the oven. Yes, you can’t do that with most earthenware or stoneware – thanks, 4-million-year-old clay layers which used to be the bottom of Lake Biwa! They’re special pots and they, of course, have their own special curing technique.

Pour water to about 2/3 of the donabe, and add some cooked rice. Not too much, not too little – perhaps 1/3 of the water. Stir the water and rice thoroughly. Cover the pot and bring to a simmer on the stove (approximately after 20-30 minutes for a medium-size donabe), uncover and keep the heat low (the mixture should never boil). Continue to cook until the mixture becomes a paste. Stir occasionally to make sure the bottom doesn’t stick. Turn off the heat and let it cool. Remove the rice mixture from the donabe, rinse and leave to dry completely.

Whichever pot you choose and whichever way you choose to cure it, I hope you enjoy your adventure into the world of cooking in clay.

Poterie d'Alsace shop window

Of my favourite shop in Strasbourg

There are many things to write about when writing about Strasbourg, but this post is exclusively dedicated to a topic dear to me, as well as my favourite shop: Poterie d’Alsace – Alsatian Pottery.

It’s right in the centre of the Old Town, at 3 rue des Frères, right behind the big cathedral. If you want to know more about things in general, check out my post about the city and eating in Strasbourg.

A friend of mine, Iris, told me about this shop a year ago when I was first visiting Strasbourg. I’ve been getting into clay pot cooking ever since I moved to Karlsruhe and was looking for my first “proper” clay pot. I was mesmerised by the shop and its ceramics – from the floor to the ceiling, all bright colours, the beautifully simple and delicate decorations and everything covered in the smooth, glossy glaze.

Alsace has a thousand year long tradition in pottery and a large portion of the area has specialised in pottery making. In 1850, thirty villages in the Lower-Rhein area were in the business of making pottery – however nowadays, only two most important nodes remain: Betschdorf and Soufflenheim. Around twenty family run artisanal potteries still exist in these towns. I have been dreaming of taking a pottery tour in Soufflenheim, but so far I’ve had to settle for visiting this little shop.

I also quite like the “story” behind the pottery region: back in 1165, Emperor Frederick Barbarossa of France granted the villages the right – or privilege – to extract clay from the surrounding forests. And this right is exercised by the pottery villages still today!

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vintage christmas tree candle holders

Of cheap & chic christmas decor

I love throwing parties, but am often hung up with the issue of decoration: most party decoration is really expensive for what it is, but even more importantly, it has this aura of slightly redundant clutter, only usable a couple of times a year and even more so – a lot of it just usually ends up in trash.

So for our “five-fold” party, I wanted to go in a different direction. Such a grand festivity called for some grand decor, yet I wanted to spend as little money as possible, as little resources and reduce wastefulness to the minimum. The items that I’d have to buy should be reusable and have a long life.

So what did I do?

1. DIY snow globes

These jam jars have  a long shelf life! I got a 20-pack of wintery plastic spruces meant for building miniature landscapes, hot glued them on the lids of empty glass jars and poured in an appropriate amount of salt/sugar/flour. You could also construct the spruces from actual spruce branches or fold them from paper. It won’t be as realistic, but it’ll surely still be a lovely snowglobe!

Homemade salt snowglobes

They are quirky, reusable, adaptable and most importantly – simply adorable. One could take it a tad further and paint/cover the rim of the lid with a tape or a ribbon.

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Five fold party

Of five fold festivities

We had a party with heaps of Christmas decor and it was five-fold:

  1. I turned 28.
  2. I graduated.
  3. It’s Christmas.
  4. We got a dog.
  5. It’s Finland’s Independence Day.

It was nice, I roasted multiple things and enjoyed friendly company. Merci. Vielen Dank. Kiitos.

Relaxed party people

Party invitation

Orkney ferry dog

Of Sarajevo souvenirs

Beside enjoying really long train journeys and exploring balkan food culture, there was a real reason for my recent visit in Sarajevo…

This guy:

(We have a dog now!)

We’re calling him Musti. That’s Finland’s most classic dog name.

A pile of cats

(I still nap with the cats, though.)

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