Apple pie

Autumn is time for apples. All the apple trees flowers got frozen in my garden in the spring so we don’t have any apples of our own but luckily we got some from our relatives. I used most of them to make applejam which I will use in the winter for appleloaf. But some I had to save for my favorite apple pie. Here´s the recipe for it. Usually I make my own vanilla sauce but now I was lazy and used a ready one for the store. IMG_0904

Apple pie

2 1/2 dl flour

1 1/2 dl sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon soda

2 dl buttermilk or sour cream

75 g butter

1 egg

on the surface:

4-5 small apples

cinnamon  and sugar Apple pie before baking

Heat the oven 225 degrees celsius.

Melt the butter. Cut the apples in slices. Measure all dry ingredients together. Add buttermilk, butter and egg. Spread the mix into a buttered dish and line up the apples on the top. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on the top. Bake in the middle of the oven for 25-30 minutes. Serve with vanilla sauce or ice cream.

Autumn = home time

Autumn is home time! After travelling around all summer, it is time to calm down and spend some time at home. Harvesting the last vegetables and herbs from the garden and making everything ready  for winter. This summer was really different because of the heat, for the first time I even got watermelons from my own greenhouse.

 

 

 

I´ve been without a car for few weeks now so I been driving around with bicycle. It has been good excercise after the lazy summer! And I think the Finnish country side is at its best during autumn. Twenty kilometer bike ride to my grandmothers doesn’t feel much when you got nice views to look at. Or listening to the flocks of cranes yelling in the sky. That makes me a little bit melancholic since they are leaving soon, but the feeling in the spring when first of them return to north is  then even better. Those are just the signs of seasons changing which I love.

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Autumn is also the season to go collect mushrooms. At first it was looking bad this year because everything was so dry but now some rainy days have made the mushroom situation much better. Last weekend I, my sister and my niece went to pick up some chanterels, those are the best kind of mushrooms. For me at least!  Found some, not much but some and we had nice time in the forest. If you don’t count the numerous deer flies trying to crawl to your hair and clothes.

 

 

 

This season also means morning dews which bring every spider web to sight, beautiful sunsets and dark evenings making it lovely to light the first candles. I wish you all beautiful autumn where ever you are! Enjoy it! I know I do.

 

 

 

Autumn feelings and some changes

First autumn rains after the long, dry summer! I never could have imagined how much I was missing that. The fresh air after the rain or the feeling of misty rain on your face. When the real autumn rains come I may feel differently but now it is just so refreshing. And autumn season has so many other good things that I hardly ever miss the summer anyway.

The dry summer has had effects which I haven’t seen in the ten years I have lived in our house. The little river that flows on our  back yard has never been this dry.  I took a walk along the bottom of the river and somehow it was fun and sad at the same time. I mean there were beautiful rocks which the stream had shaped to new forms, curly roots growing from the trees standing on the river bank and beautiful moss growing on the bottom which can never be seen normally.

Then the bad part was the fact that many of the normal water plants had died and in some places you could smell the rotten fish. There aren’t lots of fish in the river but some and now they had died in these little ponds where was some water left. I also collected some garbage from the bottom, plastic mostly.  The topic of the climate change was on my mind all the time walking there. I felt kind of guilty of enjoying the beautiful day and the nature around me.

But to not get too dark.. It’s not everyday you can make a walk in a river! And hopefully it will  start to fill up when the season changes. Also while talking about changes; we are about to make some renovations to our blog. The name stays the same but if we don’t manage to do the changes within this same site please look us up with the same name! We are going to continue writing about our country, travelling in Finland and our lives here just with a new layout. Hope all of you still like to follow us here!

 

Otsamo

The signs of autumn are already here althought the days are still pretty hot. The nights are getting darker, first yellow leaves are appearing and the schools are starting. My son also started school last week and the house is quiet. So I thought I will write about a place where we visited for the first time this summer and of which my son really liked.

After spending midsummer eve in southern Lapland we headed to the north. We had driven quit a lot in the last few days so I was looking for a place from the map for us to hike a little for a change. Next to the village of Inari, there´s a fell called Otsamo. I have checked out the routes to there many times but for some reason we never visited. So that was our new target. The day was really hot so for once we remembered to take some water and snacks with us.

Route to the starting point was in a really bad shape but we managed to zigzag our  way to the parking lot. You can also start the route from the village of Inari but it is a lot longer path from there. After we had closed all the curtains, to prevent the temperature from rising too high in our van, we started our little hike up. The path from the parking lot of  Rovajärvi to the top of Otsamo is about 3 kilometers one way.

First the path runs through a typical Inari forest, lots of rocks and pine trees, some of which curvy dead standing trees. The hike begins on flat area but slowly it starts to rise and the end is really deep. The pine trees change to downy birches as you climb higher and the top is clean from the trees. The climb was really sweaty but the heat got easier when the trees area ended and the wind started. And by the time we made it to the highest point it got so windy I had to hold on to my hat.

But the view was really amazing. We were the only ones up there and it was so amazing. It’s so unbelievable how the view changes when you climb few hundred meters up. On the other direction you see the view towards Inari lake, another view shows the valley of river Juutua towards Lemmenjoki area and the view to the north aint any worse. On the top there´s a little hut, before used as a forest fire guards place. Now it is open for the hikers to use and we also ate our snacks there since the wind was so strong.

We spent quite a lot of time up there enjoying the day. This is a place where we will most definitely visit again. The path back down was a lot easier, just down the deep hill. It was one of the best days of our vacation and a beautiful memory of some family quality time.

Elimyssalo

We are back from over three weeks  holiday in Lapland and East Finland.  We circled around with our camper van and had great family time.  We started our journey few days before mid summer weekend and drove north through the east border.

 

We had decided before the trip that we would travel without any timetable and go to see everything that looked interesting. One place we had always just looked on the map but never visited, because of the remote location, was Elimyssalo nature reserve. It’s located in the municipality of Kuhmo next to the Russian border. It is part of the Friendship park which co-operates with the park on the Russian side of the border. The main purpose of these Friendship parks is the protection of the wild forest reindeer and its habitats. It was hunted to extinction from Finland in early 1900 and Élimyssalo was the first place it returned in the 1950s from the population at Russian side. Now the wild forest reindeer is doing very well in the park and small population of it has also been planted back in few other of its original habitats in Finland. It’s hard to separate wild forest reindeer by looks from a normal reindeer but the forest reindeer is a bit bigger and got longer legs than the normal one.

 

The day we drove to Elimyssalo was sunny and warm. We only had planned to walk a little while but ended up making a 15 kilometers hike, as usual… And as usual we only took some light snacks with us since we were not planning to be there for long.. So typical for us and not the only time we did that in our holiday either!

Elimyssalo is a mix of wetlands and forest. It’s a good size area but not really big enough for wilderness area; nevertheless it still it has this very strong “wilderness like ” feel to it.

 

As I have written before our dog is really afraid of horse flies so having a break on a sunny place wasn’t an option and in the shadows the mosquitos attack. While walking the bugs didn’t bother at all but stopping was a different thing. So we had to walk about to the half way of our trip to  the shore of a little lake where there was enough wind to keep most of the bugs away. It was also a really pretty site with a fireplace. When we left from that site we noticed that the path from this side was much more worn out that the one we walked, so apparently the southern side of the nature park is more popular than the northern side where we came from. And when we read more about the area we realized why. On the southern side there are also more paths but also two wilderness farms on one of which they keep sheep in the summer time. So maybe on our next visit we check that out too.

 

But we were really pleased with our choice of route; we didn’t meet any people, only the singing of the birds kept us company on our way. We didn’t see any wild forest reindeer this time but lots of signs that they lived there.  Hair and footprints and faeces. We had seen this beautiful animal in the nature before on another place closer to our home where they have planted the forest reindeer in the 70s.

 

Elimyssalo also had a lot of other species that like living in the peace of the remote area, like the flying squirrel which is an endangered species. We also saw two beavers nests and they had made a lot of timber work in the area. On one wetland they had raised the water level so the duckboards where just above the surface of the wet swamp. We had to convince our dog that it was safe to walk on the floating and  wiggling duckboard, but when I went before her she thought that if mom does it I can. It wasn’t easy to change our walking order on a narrow duckboard, since I had to pass our doggy and my husband.  But I managed to do it without a swimming trip to the swamp.

 

I also saw for the first time an osprey fishing on the lake. We stopped for a long time to watch it working, even our dog calmed down to follow the flying of the osprey. Also different kinds of woodpeckers love that place, we saw lots of them flying in the old forests. They had made a lot of they funny art on the trees by hiding the pinecones for food supply.

 

I think this is a place I will visit again, I really liked it. It really didn’t have any main attraction in that side of the park but the peaceful and wilderness like atmosphere really got to me. We also had the perfect start to our holiday there!

Photos from the summer start trip in Lapland

Do you ever have the problem that you are so used to just using your phone to everything that you forget to bring your actual camera? I have that problem all the time! And that is a problem, especially since my phone’s camera is so crappy. Last time I wrote that we made another trip to Lapland in the beginning of June so I collected few pictures from my phone from the trip here, taken when I had forgotten my camera in car.

I know many people buy a phone with better camera but I don’t like to use so much money on my phone. I know I will break it anyway, I’m so clumsy! So here are some of the better pics I found from my phone. I have written a text to every picture where it is from. The one that say Simo, are taken somewhere in Simo municipality but I’m not sure where. I forgot to write what the place was. It was a natura area that had an old nature path which was partially torn down. My son liked it more than normal since it was hard to stay on the broken duck boars which went on the swamp area just next to the lake. I think he wished that mom would go for a swim..

On the fells of Saariselkä there was still some snow left and my son just had to go sliding. Of course we didn’t have any equipment with us so he used his jacket to do it. Works!

On the Simo path there were also a lot of common lizards on the duck boards. They are so funny creatures, allthought I often got scared for thinking they were snakes! Hope you can find it my photo!

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Rovaniemi giant’s kettles

Summer holidays are here and althought it is time to relax it seems the time flies faster than ever. My sister is roaming around Lapland again but here is a story of her last trip from the beginning of the holiday season. T.

This year we had our first summer trip to Lapland in the beginning of June. I, my son and my dad spent a week in the north again. The weather was everything between sunny and snowy. But summer was so much further at the north now than same time last year. The rowan was already blossoming on the Arctic Circle and last year there weren’t even leafs in the trees. We also visited our neighbours side on Norway for a day. One of our stops was south from Rovaniemi. There´s a place with few giant’s kettles (glacial potholes) in a forest.

 

Giant´s kettles were drilled in solid rock during ice age by streams of water and gravel. Thought it was summer already, some of the kettles still had ice inside them, bedrock is a good insulator against the sun. The area is easy to reach, right next to the road from Tervola to Rovaniemi. A little path runs around the kettles. It is a good little place to stop during a long drive to north. And my son liked to climb around the rocky area.

Aulanko

In last few weeks I have written a lot in our Facebook site and here about our spring and summer that came super fast. Trees became fully green in just few days and all the flowers are weeks ahead of their normal time. So to compare a bit, I thought I will write a piece of our little trip to Hämeenlinna and Aulanko  4th of May. That was about the last day cold and cloudy day, after that it’s just been sun and heat. (Until the last couple of days – it took some days before I could publish this) I’m really sorry about the bad quality pictures, I forgot to bring my camera and these are taken with my cellphone. And the grey day didn’t make it any easier. So try to imagine all this on sunshine..

For few years now my friend and I have made a deal that we don’t buy each other any birthday or Christmas presents. Instead we will use that money to make a little trip somewhere. This year it was one of our favorite artists concert in Helsinki and on our way we stopped in Hämeenlinna for a walk in the park of Aulanko.

Aulanko is a park area next to the city of Hämeenlinna and it is also a nature conservation area. As a park it was built by a colonel Hugo Standertskjölt in late 1880 but it has a longer history too. Aulanko hill-top was one of the first peaks that was showing after the ice age. It has been an inspiration to many of our former artists and it´s been said that the area of Aulanko would have been the inspiration for Jean Sibelius composition Finlandia.

The most popular attraction of Aulanko is the tower. It is located on a hill-top and made entirely of stone,mostly from granite. On the top you  can see the area of lake Vanajavesi. It is one of our national landscapes. You have to be prepared for lots of steps climbing to the top. But since the weather was cold it was a good warm up, especially since the stone walls made the inside of the tower even more freezing. The tower is built-in 1907 and it is 33 meters high.

Under the tower there´s a coffee place that looked really pretty but we didn’t visit it this time. On the other side of the tower there are steps going down from the hill. We wanted to a have a little walk after sitting so much in the car and chose that route to go back. There´s 322 steps to take to get on the bottom where is a statue of bears in nice site next to high cliff.

Beside the park area, the Aulanko forest area is in natural state. The paths were still wet after the melting snow but we manage to find a way with dcry shoes. We also walked to one of the two artificial lakes on the area, where there was a beautiful gazebo. This part of the park used to be wetland.

That´s all we had time to see on this trip but you can get a good look of the area even by driving throught it.

Next to the park there´s hotel Aulanko and a golf course. Hope you can imagine how beautiful this place looks in the summer and sun! These town parks are really rare in Finland, unlike in the central Europe.  We had really nice day and a good concert. From my opinion this is much nicer “present” than any material stuff. M.

Here is some summertime photos from my last visit. T.

Nellim

Summer is here again and it came faster than ever! Some of our garden plants have never been blossoming this early and leafs on the trees appeared in few days. Sun has been shining here throughout May without a drop of water and there seems to be no change for the next ten days according to the weather forecast. Days are long already, only less than three hours of darkness during the night. I have still lot of stories to tell from last summer thought and this is one of them. On our trip to Lapland we visited the little village of Nellim. The village is located next to lake Inari and river Paatsjoki which runs to the Russian side.

I, my son and husband had already spent a week in Lapland when my parents joined  us in Inari. We decided to drive to see Nellim. Nellim is about 40 km away from Inari right on the border of Finland and Russia. Our first visiting site was Nellim Orthodox church at the village. It was small but really pretty and the atmosphere was really calm. Outside the church was a really small cemetary. Nellim was one of the village where Sami people, called Koltat, settled when they had to leave their homes after Finland lost the area to Russia in the Second World War. They were mostly orthodox and lived on the Petsamo area. There´s a memory stone outside the church for those people who were killed in Petsamo during the war.

The pictures above are from the river Paatsjoki which we drove to see. It only streams slowly on the finnish side before going to Russia. It is really wide and calm river at that point anyway. It’s the main channel for lake Inari to unleash its waters to the Arctic Ocean.

The main reason to our visit there was the Nellim log flume. It’s a wooden channel which helps to transfer logs from one lake to another. My husband and I had visited Nellim before but we didn’t see this place. There´s a short path to the site from a parking lot that´s right next to the border line marks. The log flume was in use between 1929 and 1932 and it was restored by the Finnish Heritage Agency in 1994-95. It is 304 meters long and transfers logs from the above lakes to lake Nellim and all the way to Inari if needed. The hight differense between the starting point and the end is 16,8 meters.  There are fireplaces at the site and information about the timber rafting.

On our way we stopped in a place next to the road called Matkamiehen risti (travellers cross) in the village of Petsamo where many Skolt Sami people had to move from an area where they had this same kind of cross. They wanted to erect it there as a reminder of their home and everyone whom was left behind. It’s a place for travellers to stop in the busy world for a moment to calm.  And although it is right next to the road, I think the cross is situated perfectly in the roughly beautiful northern forest right next to a little lake.

Kuusamon suurpetokeskus

It is starting to feel like summer! Although the leafs on the trees are still small and  the scenery is getting greener. But the temperature has been over the +20 for days. It has been a lot warmer than normally this time of the year. Summer is coming slowly to the north too. Yesterday I read from the news that in Kuusamo Suurpetokeskus the newborn bear twins had come out for the first time couple of weeks ago. So cute! Last summer we finally visited that place, my husband has wanted to go there for years since the best know bear there is his namesake. Suurpeto means the big carnivores (bear, wolf, lynx and wolverine in Finland) and keskus is a center.  Suurpetokeskus was founded by a man who got a orphan bear cub to take care of and who raised it and many other bear cubs after that.  He doesn’t work at the center anymore but he still owns it and he is a great friend with the bears.

The center is not big, there´s six adult bears, lynx, foxes and wolf dogs. You can walk around there with a guide who tells you about the animals and how they got there. The eldest bear was born in 1992.  The eldest bears are “adopted” from the time that it was still legal to shoot bears in there nest, so you couldn’t know if they had cubs. But fortunately that is illegal now.

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The biggest bear at the center is a male called Juuso, they say it’s the biggest bear in Finland. It´s also the father of the new twins. When the founder Sulo Karjalainen still worked there you could see them walking together everywhere.

The center is not very modern or “zoo like” but you can get really close to these great animals and it shows that they really care about them. They all have names and the keepers seem to know them very well.  It’s really popular place in the summer and it can be crowded during holiday season. There´s also a coffee place where you can have a break and buy souvenirs.