Friday, October 28, 2016

The Sauna

The sauna culture is big in Finland. When I first brought my American boyfriend to our summer cabin in Finland (way back when), he found out my parents had three different types of saunas at the cabin, and one outhouse. Yes. You read that correctly.

They now have, in addition to the three saunas and one outhouse, two indoor bathrooms.

So, naturally, I needed to write one blog post of our Finland summer, devoted to the sauna, alone.

The one in the picture above, is my favorite sauna in the whole world. It was built by grandfather. It now belongs to my older sister's family, and we warmed it up almost every single day while we were in Finland. Since this was my grandparents' sauna, my parents have one attached to their cabin as well. Later they built one with a bedroom closer to the shore, and they also added an electric one to their new cabin next door.

This sauna is a wood burning sauna, so you need to start by getting enough wood to heat up the stove, and the hot water barrel.

You can pump water for washing (there are showers at the other cabins, but we prefer the old way of washing from basins in the sauna) either from the lake, or from the well. We usually used well water. One person would pump the water by the hand pump, and one person would make sure the water at the other end of the hose would make it to the hot water barrel and the cold water bucket.

My sister and I would take turns at the "job" of heating up the sauna. Usually the other person would keep an eye on the seven kids, so you can see how we had to take turns. You needed to build and feed the fire under the stove, as well as under the hot water barrel.

And then you'd wait. Sometimes in blissful quietness. Sometimes, not.

In the very first photo of this blog post my dad is making vihtas, and in this photo Mei Mei is in the sauna holding one. I persuaded her to smell the vihta, made from birch branches, but she wasn't a fan of whacking herself with it, which is what we native Finns do. Why? It feels good!

And don't forget to throw water on the stove to make the sauna all hot and steamy. No dry saunas for the Finns! Some people prefer the temps hot, like around 250F, but I personally like it when it's around 150F, then it's the best for throwing water on the stove.

When you get too hot, you go for a dip in the lake, and/or sit outside, typically sipping a beer (I'm a rare Finn, and don't like the taste of it, my choice was a can of grapefruit cider). And repeat. And repeat. And stop reluctantly once you absolutely have to go put your little ones to bed.

(The towel around Mei Mei is purely for the photo's sake, I knew I wanted to blog about the sauna eventually.)

While my youngest little Chinese girl enjoyed sitting in the sauna, she definitely enjoyed bathing outside the sauna in a tub, much better. All the littles love it. And for the bigs, there is now a wooden barrel, a 'hot tub', too! Heated by wood, of course. You can see a glimpse of it in the very first photo.

After the sauna, you feel so relaxed, warm and clean. It is a big part of being in Finland, and being a Finn.

I already miss it.


Halusin kirjoittaa ja kuvata suomalaista saunakulttuuria, mutta taidan jättää tämän postauksen vain englanniksi. Eiköhän me suomalaiset ymmärretä saunomista, ilman, että käännän tekstin suomeksi.
Ja kyllä, me tarvitsemme ehdottomasti saunan Mainen mökillemme. Rakas mieheni rakennutti saunan New Hampshiren kotiimme, eli eiköhän se saada Maineenkin joku päivä. Floridassa saunaa ei kaipaa ihan samalla lailla:)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Summer in Finland, Part 2/Suomi, osa 2

I've had these photos here weeks now, waiting for the text, which does not seem to appear on their own. So. I decided to let the pictures speak for themselves, and hit publish, so I can keep going on our summer posts.

Most of our Finland trip we spent at my parents' cabin where I spent all my childhood summers. It is so sweet to see my girls doing so many of the special things I did with my siblings and cousins. And my little girls got spend this time with their cousins, too. This place is precious!

Seven of our parents' youngest grandchildren all in the same frame - documentary style! The sand pile was a favorite hangout spot!

I took one half day trip to my parents' house in Seinäjoki to run some errands. I just love seeing my littlest sitting in my parents' retro kitchen chairs - same ones my mom sat when her water broke - with me.

I have one or two more picture posts from Finland, then we'll move onto Maine:)


Suomikuvia vielä, tämänkin jälkeen on tulossa yksi tai kaksi postausta, ennen kuin jatkamme Mainen puolelta. Yksi kuvista on Seinäjoelta, kävin äidin ja Mei Mein kanssa siellä pyörähtämässä yhtenä päivänä, kaikki muut kuvat ovat mökiltä - samalta paikalta missä itse olen kesäni viettänyt sisarusten ja serkkujen kanssa, ja nyt nämä ihanat kiinalaiset pikkutyttöni saivat olla samassa paikassa omien serkkujensa kanssa. Mansikkapaikka!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Blueberry Picking in Finland/Mustikassa Suomessa

We were in Finland just as blueberries started to ripen. Yum! Mumma headed to the woods with some of the grandchildren to gather enough berries for a blueberry pie.

The forests in Finland are so beautiful.

Mei Mei learned to love blueberries in Finland.

I don't think Mei Mei saved any berries for pie, but fortunately there were other pickers, too.

The wild Finnish blueberry grows low, and not in bunches like in Maine fields.

Ummm, maybe the pie berries all were picked up by Mumma, and not by the helpers....

Yes, yes it was. Delicious. (We did find that the Finnish honey tasted stronger, so next time we'll use a little less than this recipe calls for.)


Tottahan sitä piti mustikassa käydä Suomessa ollessa! Kaunis on suomalainen metsä, ja suloisia pikkupoimijoita meillä oli mukana:) Piirakkakin maistui herkulliselta, tosin kävi ilmi, että suomalainen hunaja on voimakkaamman makuista, joten ensi kerralla sitä vähemmän kuin tässä reseptissä.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Finland, Part I/Suomi, osa 1

Little Miss, Mei Mei and I went to Finland this summer to see family. My younger sister, who lives in the US also, had already arrived with her five children (nine and under), so when we came, our parents' summer cabin was full of life - the cousins' ages are 10, 9, 8, 6, 3, 3 and 1.

We lived as total hermits (with our army of small people) almost the entire time. Our only outings were to the grocery store, a half a day trip to Seinäjoki (where our parents' home is), and one funeral which I attended with my mom.

There was one big trip while we were in Finland, but more on that later:)

While in Finland, we celebrated Mei Mei's first Gotcha Day!

We really had a crazy, wonderful visit! It is hard to live so far away, but we do treasure these times together with family. While we were in Finland, the Captain and our teens spent time in Maine, New Hampshire and Colorado.

I will let the photos speak for themselves, and will post a few more in another post.


Heinäkuun alussa lensin Suomeen Pikkuneidin ja Mei Mein kanssa noin kuukaudeksi. Kapteeni ja teinit jäivät Maineen, kävivät New Hampshiressä, ja teineillä oli kahden viikon leiri Coloradossa.

Me suuntasimme saman tien vanhempieni mökille, jossa odotti myös siskoni Usasta viiden lapsensa kanssa. Meillä oli siis tätä pikkuväkeä mökillä seitsemän, eli pieni armeija! Pikkuneiti on 10, siskoni pojat 9 ja 8, siskontyttö 6, meillä molemmilla on 3-vuotiaat, ja pikkuisin vasta 1 1/2 vuotias siskontyttö. Vilinää riitti! Ja ääntä! Eikä koskaan käynyt aika pitkäksi... (Ainakaan meiltä aikuisilta, heh heh.)

Mökillä me olimmekin ihan miltei koko ajan. Yksi iso reissu oli, siitä lisää toisessa postauksessa. Seinäjoelle teimme puolen päivän reissun pienellä porukalla, kuin myös hautajaisiin Virroille äidin kanssa lähdin kahdestaan.

Ihanaa oli olla rakkaiden luona, rakkaassa paikassa. Vaikeaa on asua näin kaukana, mutta kovin kiitollisia olemme näistä yhteisistä ajoista.

Lisää seuraavassa postauksessa:)