Independence day with my family

Sometimes family time is hard to find. Work, school, home stuff.. Short time of day light to spend outside. Days go by really fast especially around Christmas. We try to find at least some short breaks to spend just with our family. Last Thursday was a national holiday in Finland because it was the 101st independence day of our country. So we all went for a walk in a near by forest, I, my husband, our son and our dog. IMG_2106

The day was clear and sun was trying to peak through the clouds. Temperature was on minus degrees and the ground was covered with a thin layer of snow. We walked to the shore of a little lake which was already frozen with ice thick enough to carry us. I never go walking on a lake before there´s a lots and lots of ice. But at the shore it felt safe. We passed an old beavers nest which isn’t used anymore. It was silent and peaceful.

We jumped over a little stream which wasn’t frozen yet and walked to a wetland. I love frozen wetlands. They are like at sleep during winter, all the beautiful yellow and brown colours hidden under the white frost. And this little visit was even more lovely because we saw an golden eagle, twice. It´s just so magnificent bird, that you don’t come across every day. We live next to large areas without houses so we see the golden eagles every now and then and there´s also a couple nesting in a nature conservation area nearby. It is no doubt one of my favorite birds, the big silent wing movement makes its’ flying seem so effortless.

Our little walk ended little sooner than we had planned because boys will be boys. My son was fooling around at the part where water has frozen into an ice track, where the wetland was ending towards the stream and after a while he jumped to a part which wasn’t frozen and got his shoes wet. So we headed back to the car. But these little family moments are the ones that makes your everyday life seem more precious. I hope every one of you will have a lot of those moment during Christmas time!

Saana fell illumination

It´s been a year from our trip to Saana and  it´s Finland´s Independence day again! It was a once in a lifetime kind of trip and we got some great memories. Not just the illumination but the snow, frost and the northern lights, perfect Independence day! So I just have to post it gain. Hyvää Suomen itsenäisyyspäivää! Have a good Finland´s Independence day!So here we go again:

Hello! We just got back from a six day speed trip to the north, targeting the village of Kilpisjärvi, where on the honour of our country 100 birthday , they illuminated the fell Saana. It was one of the biggest art work like that in the world ( 2,5 million square meters ). The day time in the north is really limited this time of year and since I didn’t bring my camera stand and have not practised taking photos in the dark, I hope you can excuse me if my pictures aren’t that good. But I hope you can get the idea of the amazing colours that the north has this time of year, when it is cold and not so bright.



We drove our caravan car through Bothnia area towards north. We left in the afternoon when my kid got out from school, so most of our time we were driving in the dark. We stopped for the first night in Liminka which is a famous bird watching site in summer (blog text published earlier this year) . Now the sea was already frozen and quite chilly breeze didn’t tempt us to spend much time outside. In the morning we kept driving to the north and the more north we got, the more the amount of the snow increased.



We had to stop for a break by Tornio river because it was just so pretty outside. Frozen trees, only a little sun left for that day and snow of course. That combination makes everything so pretty in pastel shade.



We drove that day to village of Äkäslompolo by the Ylläs fell, where we could cross-country ski our first real kilometers this year. The temperature had fell down to minus twelve celcius when we got there. But it was so great to get on the skies again after a long break and weather was nice and slippery for skiing.



We spent the night in Äkäslompolo and in the morning, after a little playing time in snow with my son, we headed to Kilpisjärvi. The face of a kid is worth all the driving when he gets to ski, slide and run in the snow.



The road to Kilpisjärvi is narrow especially on the winter time so you have to drive really carefully. The truck traffic to Norwegian side is vivid as well as the tourist traffick so it is good to have enough time. But as long as the sun was up it was just so beautiful to drive through the snow, just like in a Christmas card scenery.





When we reached Kilpisjärvi it was nearly dark already and for a nice surprise they had already lighten the Saana lights even thought it was meant to start the next day. They were test running it for the whole night and turned the lights off in the next morning. Kilpisjärvi is really small village with around 130 inhabitants. The amount of turists expected to come to see the light show were quite many times over the population.



I have been to Lapland in kaamos time ( the time that sun doesnt rise above the horizon) but never this much north. You hear stories about how dark it is all the time but I really don’t think that’s true. Where we live in the south it is darker because the snow comes and goes, it is grey and foggy all time and it rains. In the north the snow reflects the light and when the sky is clear it is brighter than we have at home. Also this time it was a full moon so even in the evening you could walk in the forest without a flashlight.



When temperature reached -15 it felt really cold at first since we haven’t got the chance in the south to get used to those numbers yet. But pretty soon we got use to the cold. Next day there was more and more people arriving. We visited the nature center and walked around the village. Since we had already enjoyed the lights all night and that morning, we left the Saana when it got darker again and when most of the tourist for that day had arrived. We could admire the lights for a long way back from the car window since the fell can be seen well from a distance.





It was around four o’clock when we headed back so we still had the time to drive to the village of Hetta, the center of Enontekiö. We have visited there many times on past winters and we wanted to go skiing there. It was about -18 degrees celcius when we got our skies ready but we didn’t mind since we have no idea when we will have enough snow for skiing back home. Now the skies were not sliding so easily anymore since the colder weather takes a lot away from the slide. But it was perfect skiing trip for my taste. No one else on the track, full moon and northern lights.



During the night we also got to enjoy the northern lights, it was hard to finally go to sleep when the beautiful colours where dancing in the sky. But after spending a lot of time watching the sky in -18 degrees celsius you are a bit more eager to go back in. This was the first real test for our caravan car in the winter. But it stayed warm really nice and engine started well in the morning.



Next day we had to head back to south again but we decides to drive throuh Levi and Rovaniemi instead of the shortest road which we used on way north. The temperature got even colder in Muonio with -22 before warming up again. In Rovaniemi it was already as warm as -13. Trust me, when you get used to – 20,  minus ten doesn’t feel like anything anymore.



On the Muonio-Levi road we stopped to take some pictures at a sight that shows a beautiful view to Pallas fells but otherwise we drove quite directly to Rovaniemi.



And to the Santa Claus village that was already in a Christmas costume. There were really many tourist busses in Rovaniemi, almost all of them from abroad. Many people want to come to meet Santa on their winter holiday. We couldn’t either leave the place without some Christmas gifts to take home with us…



We spent the last night south from Ranua and next day we drove through Finland to south. That was kind of nice way to spent our 100th independence day, watching hundreds of kilometres of our country from the window.




When will the winter come?

We have been writing now many times how our autumn and start of the winter has  been really warm. Warmer than for the last 60 years. No big change to that yet!

I guess it is safe to say that climate change is to blame for this warmer weather. Lack of snow is causing a lot of problems to the business relaying on tourism. Most of the products rely on the snow this time of the year. It´s the time when loads of British tourists come to Lapland for one or two days Christmas holiday. British newspapers have even called Lapland a crapland lately, because of the lack of snow.  I personally don´t understand why anyone would want to come here from so far for only one day. Besides Lapland is so much more than snow to me. However, if the winters continue to be warm like this, the companies will have to develop different products; different also from the tourists’ current expectations.

I thought that the pictures of the Kemi snow castle would go well with this post. It´s one of those travelling sites at north that rely on the cold weather. It has been about ten years since my visit there but they still built it every year next to the sea near Kemi city center. I made few days trip to Rovaniemi and Kemi with my friend from Germany, and visited the Santa Claus Village and the snowcastle.

The snow castle has a bar, church and also a hotel. I think it would be a different kind of experience to stay a night there, but it wasn´t really on our student budget..

I hope our winters will stay winters like we know it and not turn completely to this dark and rainy weather! At the moment the temperature is back to minus degrees and there is some snow on the ground, just enough to see it.. Still keeping my fingers crossed for white christmas!



Last weekend we made our annual trip to Ruka Nordic world cup.  I, my sister and couple of my closest friends. First time ever there was no snow in Kuusamo, or at our home place either during the week of the competitions. Thankfully they had preserved snow from last winter and were also able to make some snow during the few days before the event. The snow situation hasn’t been like this in last 60 years. All Lapland is suffering from the lack of snow. But on the first  night we spent there, a thin  layer of snow covered everything and had a giant change at the view and the amount of light. We had also some time go out to the nature and enjoy the outdoors on Sunday and it finally started to feel like winter! Temperature was getting colder and the view was white and frosty. If you want to read more about the Ruka Nordic you can check out our older story about it from the archives.

We wanted to go hiking close to the Ruka center so we didn´t have to use the car. We found a 7 kilometer circle path called Pyhän Jyssäys which started about one kilometre from the center. Even thought Ruka area is filled with cabins and lodges there are still nice places where you can spend time in the nature. Temperature was getting colder and you could feel it on your nose but otherwise it was mostly hot! I was planning to go to the stadium to watch the sport events for the whole day and I was dressed up for standing still in the cold, wearing most of my winter clothes and  this little break was a last-minute idea. (Editors note: it took some time to convince her to skip the skiing competition…) So I didn’t change my clothes.. Well it was good exercise for me..

The path went mostly in the forest typical to the area but also higher on the hill couple of times. The first peak was in beautiful sunlight but the sun was already getting ready to go down again. The change of the light and the colours are the best things in winter days. It can be everything from clear light to the dark blue colours which changes every minute when the sun moves and the temperature gets colder.

When we reached the highest point of our little walk, trees had a lovely frosting instead the thin layer of snow and they were even more beautiful. At the top there was a hut with a fireplace for hikers and skiers. We didn´t make a fire since I wanted to see some more sports so we just walked the path quite briskly.  The view from the hill top was beautiful.

When we started walking back down little freezing wind really made you remember that it is winter now. On the way back the view was to Ruka center side and we could hear the noises from the stadion. Sun was setting down and changed the colours again. We were back to Ruka center just the right time before it got dark.

Me and my sister stayed at Ruka one day longer than the rest of our friends so we still had time to test the new gondol lift which connects the two parts of Ruka fell together. The lift goes over the Ruka fell from center to the other side to east Ruka stopping also at the top. The lift is not only for skiers but for walkers and bikers also so we decided to make a little ride up there. When we woke up in the morning the temperature was -15 celsius and even thought it had come up few degrees the little wind on the top made your cheeks to freeze pretty quickly. But the view was nice and it felt even more like winter because of the snow they had made to the hills.

Our car ride home went pretty nicely too since it started to snow but the sun was still shining, we were kind of driving on the edge of the snow cloud getting both the snow and the sun. And the whole Finland had got a little snow cover during the day so we didn’t had to let the white view go away at all.

Karelian pasty

karelianpastryTemperature has finally cooled down and we have minus degrees again. No snow yet but this is still better than the rain and fog.  This morning the thermometer showed -13 degrees Celsius, so it was perfect time to make Karelian pies or pasties, one of our national foods. When I say it´s a good weather to bake them I mean that we always make a big pile of them and we have to use the oven in high temperature for long time so my little house warms up a lot. This time my sister came to make them with me so we had kind of a pie factory here. But here´s a recipe for a little smaller amount of pies.


3 dl water

2 dl porrige rise

6 dl milk

3/4 teaspoon salt


1 dl cold water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 rye flour

1 dl wheat flour

1 tablespoon of oil or melted butter


3/4 dl of milk

25 grams of butter


Porridge for filling:

Boil the rice in the water for ten minutes. Add milk and stir until it starts to boil. Lower the temperature down, and let it simmer for around 30 minutes. Stir every once in a while. Add the salt and let it cool down.

Making the pasty:

Mix the cold water, salt, flour and oil. Knead until the dough is well mixed and smooth. Roll the dough thin and take out 10-15 cm wide round pieces. You can use small lid or jar as a mold or you can take small pieces of dough and roll every pie individually.

Add the filling in the center of each piece and pinch the sides with your fingers to create oval shaped pies.

Bake the pies in 250 degrees Celsius in the middle level of the oven about 15-20 minutes. Pies are ready when they get little colour.

Dip the baked pies in hot milk and butter mix and let them soften under a towel or baking paper. Serve them warm with butter or egg butter.

Karelian pie with egg butter

Too warm November

So far this November has been awful! It´s significatly  warmer than normally this time of the year, so that means no snow and lot of rain! It has been really grey and dark outside the whole month. Besides the necessary walk with the dog, you don´t really feel like spending time outside that much. Or taking photos either since the pictures tend to look somehow depressing. These are the only not-all-grey photos I have at the moment.

Even Lapland is missing snow except the most northern parts. Next weekend they are supposed to have the Levi Alpine Skiing world cup competition and because of the preserved snow from last winter they will be able to do so. Otherwise the weather won´t be very impressive. Levi fell is 530 meters high and there´s 43 slopes where to ski. Levi is one of the biggest skiing centers in Finland and it has grown a lot in last fifteen years. I lived there for few months during my school training period in a company organizing guided snowshoes tours to the fells. It has changed a lot since then.

Last June I, my son and my dad visited Levi and took a gondolier ride to the top where the competition slope starts. Even the elevators  are named after the competitors. The weather  wasn´t the best, cloudy and a promise of rain in the air. From the elevator you can see this little cottage on the hill-side, they used it in a movie called Christmas Story, which tells the story of Santa Claus from a little boy to an adult. These pictures are bad ,I know, but can not help the elevators plex windows.

Since the last time I have visited the top, they had made a little trail over the top part. We walked around it despite the chilly weather. The view was surprisingly clear considering the weather and the Pallas fells were showing at the horizon. Levi is not the greatest place to spend peaceful time in the nature but there lot´s of other things to do even in the summer, like a summer sledge ride and a great just renovated spa. IMG_0146Im really hoping that the weather will take a turn for colder soon. At least in the north. Shortly it will be the time of our annual trip to Ruka to see the world cup in cross-country skiing, nordic combined and ski jumping. Even though they will be also able to organize the competions it wont be the same without the real snow and the winter wonderland scenery.


Autumn holiday part 3

So my Autumn story was extended to three stories.. But I just have to write about this place we visited a day before leaving back home. It’s called Särkifell and located in Muonio municipality. My parents went skiing there durind last winter and we have been planning to stop there many times. The starting point is right next to the road from Sirkka to Muonio, less than 20 kilometers before Muonio center. From the parking lot you can see a beautiful view to Pallas fells and the view just gets better when you walk uphill.

The route is short,well-marked and easy to walk. That and the great view from up there makes it also a really popular route, on that day there where also lots of people. We started our walk kind of early so on our way up we only saw few people but coming down was a different thing. Little after the half way up there´s a hut where you can make a fire and so did we. We had driven there from Ylläs and my son and his grandfather where already hungry. Aren’t men always hungry?  So we cooked early lunch there. We  hardly had made the fire when the first Siberian Jay flew to check us up. Siberian Jays are really tame in Lapland and they search for food near the camping sites. In southern Finland this same bird is really shy and you hardly ever see them.

But these ones were really used to people. And there were close to ten birds at the same time. I always have some dry bread in my pocket when we make day hikes in Lapland for these little fellows. These birds were brave enough to come to eat from my hand. Siberian Jay is about 30 centimers so it’s not  a tiny bird  but not a big one either. And I think they are so cute! I could have been feeding them all day, but don’t worry, I didn’t. Not too much treats at once!

When we had eaten and I said good-by to the birds we continued our way to the top. Särkifell is 492 meters high and from that point the path was more uphill. Soon we got good look at the beautiful silhouet of Pallas fell. That view is also selected one of Finlands national landscapes. Little cloud of mist was surrounding its lower hills. The view was lot different than last year at the same time when we walked there in knee deep snow.

From the top you should see all direction nicely but  the south side was really cloudy this time. But we had enough to see in other directions. We had to go the same way back again so on our way I just had to give the Siberian Jays the rest of the bread I had. We returned to Ylläs to get ready to leave in the early morning. But I just had to go for a walk once more before returning to the south. I ended up walking ten kilometres on the paths surrounding the fell Ylläs. Sun was setting down, the reindeer where walking with me in the forest and I had to walk high enough to see the silhouette of the surrounding fells. I don’t know if I can return this north before next summer so I tried to absorb all that in to my head as memories which will stay with me until my next trip to Lapland.IMG_1953

Autumn holiday part. 2

We have turned our clocks to the winter time and the weather is just right for it. The thermometer was showing -13 degrees Celsius and tiny snowflakes were flying in the air. We don’t have any snow on the ground yet but some parts of Finland, also in the south already had some snow. But unfortunately this type of weather is not long lasting since the weather forecast shows rain and plenty of plus degrees.

Our last story was about our Autumn holiday couple of weeks ago in Lapland and this is the second part of it . The last photo of that post was from lake Inari. From there we drove a little bit south to spend a lovely sunny day at Nattaset in Sompio nature reserve. But on the way we stopped at Saariselkä. There we drove up to fell Kiilopää, just to watch the scenery. The view from up there to every direction is amazing and even thought I have been there probably hundreds of times I can’t get tired of it. I could just sit there and stare at the scenery. On our way to north the view was a lot different, just foggy!

So after our quick visit there (long enough for my father to have a cup of coffee of course, since if there´s a break it is also a coffee break for him) we drove further to the village of Vuotso where Nattaset are located. It’s really popular place to visit so we weren’t surprised to see the little parking lot full of cars. We managed to get ours there too, even thought some people had proven they can’t park a little car without taking the space of tree cars. Our camper van took lot less space. The first part of the route goes in the forest slowly rising to the fell. The duckboards were frozen and really slippery but luckily there was not a lot of them. When we reached the tree line we were able to see to the artificial lake of Lokka, used for creating hydropower. Or actually we couldn’t see it, since it was the first cold day of our trip, so the water was still warmer than air and the lake area was covered in fog.

Since our little groups age difference is big, my son was tired of waiting for the rest of us from time to time, but he knows already how to handle it. He carries snacks in his pockets and so he can have a break where ever. And if we reach him while he is still sitting on some cliff or a rock he tells us to keep on going and in a while he will run past us. When so high on the fell the evergreen trees are not growing anymore, the part with fell birches looks really bare when there´s no leafs anymore. But it is part of the attraction and one of the reasons why we want to come also this time of year to Lapland when it’s not really a tourist season. It is different. You can check our older post from Nattaset to see the difference to summer time.

On the top, there were many people already and the little hut was full, so we ate our snacks outside which wasn’t a bad option. We just had to find a place  away from the little but freezing wind which was blowing on the fell. My son decided that we could not go back until we had climbed on top of tree different cliffs of rocks or how to call them. Nattaset is formed of rocks called red granite and the ice age have shaped them on the top in a unique way. We have been there few times before but never climbed to all these rocks, but my son saw this nature programme of people on the top of every one of them so he didn’t leave me alone until we had climed to all of them. Okay, one of them I skipped but that was not for me, I’m not 13 anymore like my son! But I climed to two biggest and well, easiest one..

After our walking trip we had to drive south to Sodankylä where we turned our car back to north but to the west of Lapland, towards the skiing center of Ylläs. We had planned to spent the next few days in a cabin there. And it really felt great to go to sauna after all the climbing. If you ever visit Finland there is one thing you just have to do and that´s going to real Finnish sauna. Spend a day outside, the colder the better and then go to Sauna. Then you understand me! Next morning we decided to stay nearby the cabin and go for easier walk somewhere in the Ylläs area. So we went to the Ylläs nature center where many of the paths starts but it was so crowded we decided to choose some other route. And of course my son wanted to go up again so we ended up driving to the other side of fell Ylläs where there is a few kilometre path straight to the top. Day wasn’t sunny but not very cloudy either so the whole fell was showing.

But when we walked up, clouds started to gather on the top of the fell. The path went on a little road they probably also use for service purposes so it was  easy to walk. And by easy I mean the surface not actually walking since the path started to go deep uphill soon and it was really good exercise..if you are in better shape than me, or any of us. For us it was more like one step towards and one back. But after a lot of breaks we made it to the top, although the view disappeared half way up and all we really good see was clouds. On top there is a restaurant (only open in winter season) where is a space where hikers can take a break indoors. Which was a great thing because on the top there was a really strong wind. The wind stopped again on the way down. Ylläs is 718 meters above sea level and lot higher than the fells around it so the wind gets to blow quite free at the top.

Our easy day wasn’t so easy after all… so you can easily guess what we did next?! Sauna of course!

I will write a third part to our Autumn story since there´s still one more great new place we visited on our trip. Now I just got to go out and enjoy this beautiful day.

Autumn holiday part. 1

I, my son and my parents spent the kids autumn holiday week in Lapland. We travelled by my dad´s campervan. We spent the first few days on the eastern side of Saariselkä and Inari and then drove west to Ylläs. The weather was everything from foggy and rainy to minus degrees and sun but no snow this year. Which wasn’t a surprise since it has been the warmest October ever in Finland. So this time there will be no snowy photos like last year from Pallas ( you can check those from earlier stories). But we had fun anyway, walking and biking and just relaxing.

I have divided the story in two parts so there will be another text coming up later. We drove the fastest way up north in western Finland through the Botnia area straight to Rovaniemi where we spent the first night and drove next day to Saariselkä.

After a lot of driving we wanted to go out walking. The weather was really foggy, we had to slow down the speed because of the fog on our way. We drove to the Urho Kekkonen national park in Tankavaara where there´s a nature center which was closed for the autumn. We chose only a three kilometer circle path because it wasn’t so long to darkness and we also wanted to make a fire and eat some sausages.

The forest was really foggy but in a way it was really beautiful and kind of mystique. It felt like we were more in the middle of nowhere than we actually were since the road to Inari wasn’t that far. Our barbecue place was almost at the end of the circle. There was a little hut where we were able to sit and enjoy the warmth of the fire. Air was really warm for the time of year but it was really humid. It was almost dark when we arrived to our car but we stayed for a while since my son wanted to test his new bike on the empty parking lot. We were also the only ones walking on the path,  wonderful silence! We stayed nearby for the night and  continued our way in the morning.

Our target for the next day was the homestead of Raja-Jooseppi. The homestead is located  right on the frontier zone line to Russia, 55 kilometers from the town of Ivalo. Actually earlier people had to report themselves to the border station before entering the area. Now the frontier zone line has been moved so you can visit the homestead without notification.  In the morning it was raining a bit but it stopped when we arrived there.

It’s a short walk of few hundred meters from the parking lot to the area in the beautiful north Lapland forest. The borderline goes right next to the path. A man called Joosef Sallila, who used to live close to our home, moved to this location with his life partner Matilda in early 1900.  The area includes about ten little huts and domestic objects like an oven in the ground where they use to bake their bread. The life there must have been really isolated since the nearest roads of that time were really far. They fished, hunted, kept reindeers and some domestic animals to survive there. They also digged gold and catched pearls from the river.  It really makes you think how easy our modern-day life is now.

After we drove back, we took a break next to the road on the shore of Lutto river. Sun started to shine and the clouds were disappearing. It kind of bugged me since all my photos from Raja-Jooseppi were a bit dark. The place was so great from my opinion it would have been nicer to show more sunny sites. We still drove a little bit north to Inari and stayed the night by Inari lake side. The air was bright and getting colder, it was the first night on our trip when the temperature went to minus degrees. We chose a nice open spot in case the northern lights would appear and they did but they weren’t really bright that night, more like little blury. So I didn’t snap any photos. The lower picture is from the next morning when the sun was slowly getting up and there was some mist on the water surface. Perfect view for waking up!IMG_1812

Longer nights

Autumn nights are getting dark earlier and earlier. I love it because now I can lit candles everywhere inside and outside the house. But at the same time, now you have to remember the shorter days when planning outdoor activities in the evening.

Few weeks ago we went grocery shopping in the town of Parkano, they have some more shops there than in our home town, so we go there every once in a while. This time we suddenly had an idea to walk through a little nature path in the Parkano forest museum area. It´s a small place where it’s shown how they used to timber the forests and stuff like that. We had to be kind of fast since the dusk was all ready showing. (and excuse me for the not so good pictures, I only had my phone camera)

The museum area is located few kilometers north from Parkano and the main buildings are open only during summer so it was quiet there. The few kilometer path goes first in a forest and then along a lake. Little after the start there was a little swamp where I could have stayed the whole time. There were lot of cranberries! Unfortunately I didn’t bring any cup or anything to collect them so I just had to eat all I could and be on my way. Or eat the ones I could get to before my dog. She loves them too and since it’s hard for her to get them from the grass and the moss , she just follows me and tries to eat from exactly the same place where I’m picking them.

When  we reached the lake the sun was setting down and the lake was calm. There´s a little forest church or something like that on the little cliff at the shore on a very pretty place. The water level was really low so we could easily walk on the shore cliffs that are often covered in water. At the shore before returning to the museum area there’s a lean-to and a fireplace which you can also reach with a wheelchair.

When we walk back to our car the darkness had surrounded us so we had exactly enough time to spend on the path. I love these little trips we can make in the middle of the week without planning, it gives me energy and some change for everyday routines. We have been making these trips to some wetlands during this autumn to find cranberries but this ain’t good year for any berries , due the dry summer.

Happy Autumn and waiting for the winter to come!