The magic of Christmas is felt in the first snowflakes‘
The carousel is going around in circles to the tunes of christmas music, people are exchanging gifts and the market square smells of fresh pine trees and vanilla fudge, while the snow flakes are beginning to drop more heavily. Evidently, it’s beginning to look a lot more like Christmas in town, where you see Christmas spirit around every corner. My friend and I went to the Christmas market a few days ago, drank some hot glögi that pleasantly warmed our fingers, looked through the little stools and enjoyed the snowy atmosphere. It snowed heavily that evening, so the following morning, there was a gentle coating of snow everywhere.
‘Home made Christmas decorations & warm winter drinks’
There is nothing more delicious than warming apple glögi (a type of mulled wine, but without alcohol drank during Christmas time) when spray painting pine cones in the coldness outside. The glögi is wonderfully aromatic from all the winter spices that has brewed into a festive comforting drink.
Pine cones have long been used as autumn and winter decor, so this year I decided to spray paint some in festive colours. I’ve been slowly collected different types of pine cones since November; tiny ones with stems, traditional long ones and smaller circle type that have dried for many weeks.
Recently, I picked up a variety of spray paints in metallic shades of silver, gold, copper and white. I layered the colours for different effects when spray painting the pine cones, some more dense and others more softer. For instance, I lightly layered some white on top of the metallic hues for a snow effect and mixed silver and gold together for a warmer effect. The copper paint almost looked like rose gold, which I loved and together with silver, the shade was quite beautiful. Delicately using just white spray gives an antique minimalistic look, that really reflects a nordic style of decor.
If you wish to do the same, all you need is spray paint, dry pine cones, newspaper to lay the pine cones on and disposable gloves. Spray paint the pine cones outside and leave them there to dry before lifting them inside, as the fumes are quite intense. To hang them on the Christmas tree, just wrap some floral wire at the top end of the pine cone and make a little hook on the end where its easy to hang it from.
These pine cones look pretty in glass vases with candles, incorporated into gifts, table settings or wreaths.
Homemade Pale Apple Glögi
1/2-1 L freshly squeezed apple juice
1 Clementine sliced
1/2 tablespoon cardamom
2 cinnamon sticks
4 bay leaves
2 tablespoons Brown sugar/honey (optional)
1 star anise & a few cloves
Add all the ingredients into a saucepan and gently heat for 30minutes. For extra sweetness add some sugar or honey, even though I personally think it does not need it. Sieving the glögi is also optional and to spike it, add some white wine just before serving.
Beetroot is a great winter root that makes great festive dishes with its vibrant purple colour and earthy sweet flavour. This tartar is such an easy appetizer full of gorgeous texture from the feta, garlic and pistachio. This starter looks pretty & if you wish to add some protein, it suits a slice of roast beef or gravlax.
4 Boiled Beetroot (peeled & chopped)
1/2 cup rich feta cheese
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon strong dijon
1 teaspoon horseradish paste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1-2 garlic cloves grated (alter the strength with the amount)
Pinch of salt/pepper
1/2 cup pistachios chopped
Garnish: Black pepper, chopped pistachio, chili flakes, parsley
In a bowl, add the mayonnaise, dijon, lemon juice, olive oil, grated garlic and feta cheese. Mix well into a paste. Chop the cooled, peeled and boiled beets into small pieces and place into a bowl as well. Mix together, add a pinch of salt and black pepper, cover with cling film and refrigerate for about an hour to marinate all the flavours.
Ready to plate: After an hour take out with bowl from the refrigerator and mix in the chopped parsley and pistachio. With the help of a tartar mold press some beetroot into it, to get a little tower. Garnish with more pistachio, chili flakes and chopped parsley.
I really love this time of year when everyone are getting into the holiday spirit, decorations are being put up and preparations for Christmas are well under way. Along with the decked out trees comes the preparation for flower styling. I love a somewhat effortless look to the flowers, clusters of soft evergreens and neutrals on branching stems, homemade wreaths made from lingonberry twigs and spruce branches along with eucalyptus. Wonderfully fragrant cypress pine, mistletoe and pine cones are Christmas staples and sometimes a little holly with tiny grouped berries are quite beautiful. Here prevailing white color and washed out hues with simple and minimalist elements create a calming stress free setting. I’m not the biggest fan of red poinsettia (christmas star flower), a scatter of white ones are stunning but in this case, there needs to be a lot of them, just like in all the Christmas Baileys commercials, if you know what I’m talking about.
Also, there is no Christmas without hyacinths, scattered in little groups around the house. I picked white ones this year (what a surprise) and placed them in all kinds of glass vases, cracked antique pots/tin, some covered with moss and others with a bit of hay. I picked the moss from the forest while we fetched the tree as I love incorporating natures goods together with purchased ones. Hyacinths are at their most beautiful when still a small bud and I think their understated beauty suits all styles of Christmas, whether extravagant or minimalistic. They merge well with other floral arrangements, just like with these little tiny trees, calocephalus or any silver foliage for that matter.
It’s morning here and I’m drinking the most fragrant rose tea that I picked up from the spice market in Dubai and listening to calming christmas songs. Just how pretty are these dried rose buds? By the way, dried tea leaves makes an elegant gift idea that can be packaged quite beautifully. All in all, Christmas florals should reflect your personal style, you don’t need much to create a warm festive setting, it’s all about making the best with what you have.
Finland is celebrating its 101th birthday today and in honour of our Independence, the tree gets embellished! Decking out the Christmas tree is the highlight of my Christmas preparations as it brings so much magic and peace to the house. I just love the way the tree smells and the soft twinkle lights woven loosely through the branches sparkle through the night. This year the bauble colour scheme is a bit warmer than usual as I incorporated some soft rusty gold hues to the mix. I used colours from cream to muted pink, goldish, silver, clear and everything in between, from soft fuzzy tones to shiny metal. The juxtaposition of materials in a softened palette adds that texture and interest without overdoing it. Our tree is carefully picked from the forest, so it has less branches than the “perfect shaped” ones sold in stores, so the finished look is more delicate as it is less dense in style. Decorating the tree has a lot of meaning to me as together we have made it into a tradition to go hunt one down making an entire outing of it.
We brought back some Arabic almost Moroccan style baubles from Dubai, so the tree has a slight Middle Eastern touch to it this year. This little bird ornament is from Dubai as well, picked out by my husband, that will get center stage in our household during Christmas time. The birds outfit really reminds of D&G’s 2018 fall collection with its gold jacket and top-hat, that is ultra chic. This arabic coffee pot and gold cups also came back with us from holiday and lately I’ve been enjoying all kinds of tea infusions with cardamom or cinnamon, just as they served in Dubai. We brought back lots of spices and dried tea (jasmine, lavender, rose etc) from the souk and at the moment I’m really feeling the middle eastern inspiration. While decorating the tree, I made myself a golden latte with ground ginger, turmeric and milk. Both fresh spices are so strong and intense in flavour and I already know that the ginger will be getting a lot of use during December.
I love the silver feathered ornaments along with the crystal ones that are just timeless and just as elegant, year after year. I purchased some glass balls that look a little antique style that are perhaps not the most practical but sure are pretty. Lastly, our little turtle doves are put up in the tree just like in Home Alone to symbolize togetherness. Hopefully everyone is having a Merry December so far, stress free and getting the most out of pre-Christmas fun!
Traditionally, we went to pick out our tree from my parents countryside house and today I’ve been decorating it all evening. I gathered a lot of inspiration from our Dubai trip, so I thought I would make a date bread on our tree hunt, as I bought beautiful Majdool dates from the market in Abu Dhabi. We drank cinnamon milk and ate the juicy bread while I gathered lots of twigs, moss and branches to take bake home, hubby was cutting down the tree. Even thought there is not much snow so far, the tree adds a wonderful scent and much Christmas spirit around the house.
Gently simmer all ingredients for about 20 minutes
1 cup water
1 cup dates
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups flour
1tsp baking powder
1/2 cup dried fruit/nuts
1/2 cup hot water
In a sauce pan, bring 1 cup of water to boil. Once boiling add the dates, butter and soda and let it gently simmer (about 15 minutes) until the dates become soft. Mush the dates with a fork and leave to cool. Once dates have cooled, stir in the beaten egg and hot water.
Mix together the flour, baking powder and dried fruit/nuts in a bowl. Then combine the date mixture to the dry ingredients until batter forms. Pour the mixture into a greased (and lined with parchment paper) bread tin and sprinkle a few nuts/dried fruit on top. Brush these with melted butter.
To me the smell of fresh coffee is one the great inventions of the world, but to drink it in the wilderness is an entirely new experience…
It’s one of those mornings, where the magical snow-dusted countryside shows what Finland or being finnish is all about. I’ve let my worries melt away in the sauna and allowed the comforting calmness of the nature to do its wonders. Getting away from the city allows me to connect with the natural world and the less I get off this, the more dimmer I feel. Our early morning began with a beautiful frothy cappuccino on the frosty lake with an arctic green smoothie bowl full of berries. With the low temperature, the berries almost tasted like candy as they cooled down and become a bit harder. Not a bad way to start the day, I would say!
Nature reminds us that we are part of a large world that is charged with mystery, hidden beauty and wonders to be discovered. I love the crisp dry air that is crackling with energy, the life that you find hidden if you look closely and the actual feeling you get that cannot match with any manmade creation. A person who spends time in nature can vouch for the effects it has on the mind, body and soul. It’s called freedom.
Apparently people living in the Nordic countries belong to one of the happiest in the world because of their close relationship to nature that has given them an appreciation for a healthy ecological lifestyle. The Nordic way of life has an understanding for authenticity and seeing the beauty around us that correlates to a happier healthier lifestyle.
There is so much magic to these snow coated trees. The intensity to the whiteness almost gives you slight blindness, but makes you appreciate the brightness so much more because of the darker season amongst us. This moment with my hubby on the lake with my cozy sweater, hot mug and fur hat in absolute silence is what the countryside is all about.
Through photography, I’ve learned to become for mindful. Many can say, it’s such a cliché word that often gets thrown around too easily. But practicing mindfulness has heightened my awareness as I wait for the perfect moment to be captured. This allows me to be present and aware of the moment without distractions. Practicing to do so, has given me the art of discovering a whole new world and taking in the surroundings, the real surroundings. My mind is purely focused on what I see and not thinking about my responsibilities and this gives a great sense of peace and a respect towards nature.
Green smoothie bowls and makeup free days in the pollutionless air is the key to healthy skin and a positive mind!
Arctic Green Smoothie ( blend all ingredients together)
A few days ago my friend and I woke up at our country house to a magical winter wonderland scenery. The absolute whiteness gives the nature a fairytale-like misty vibe, while the snow coated trees create that heaviness in the air. It’s silent in the midst of the woods, all I can hear is the snow creaking from under my sorrels and as I stop, I can see the steam from my breath against the dry cold air. It’s -23 celsius, the sun is glistening off the powder snow and the crisp air brings your lashes and hair tips to an instant freeze. Our countryside is breathtaking this time of year giving your mind an instant calming retreat. Here life revolves around the wintery nature where days are filled with refreshing walks, slow cooking and relaxing by the fireplace with a glass of wine after a calming sauna.
When the house smells of gingerbread cookies, it’s a sign that Christmas is only a few sleeps away! Baking gingerbread cookies is a tradition in many households as it brings the family together and creates a sensation of calmness. It’s a moment to de-stress from the holiday planning and make the excuse to eat cookies in the middle of the night. This time around, I baked in the morning with my pj’s on, sipping on an oversized cappuccino. The tree was sparkling in the background and after the second batch was out of the oven, my hubby was woken up from the sweet smell in the air.
I’ve loved the Christmas season ever since I was a little girl and it’s something to look forward to during the dark autumn days. I have the fondest childhood memories, decorating the tree, my parents cooking up an amazing feast, getting dressed up in our finest and my brother and I waiting for Santa from his bay window from his bedroom. As for kids it’s all about the presents, but as we get older, it becomes a whole lot more. I absolutely love the feeling in the air that lingers over December, people feeling festive because of the decorations and sparkly lights everywhere. The weather gets cooler, the food gets better and the music and movies get sweeter. Christmas is a to feel blessed and hopeful and come together with people you love.