22 July, 2012

A Little Taste of Summer

Blueberry Muffins.

Need I say more?

Well, okay - Here's the recipe.

I've had it over 30 years and I probably took it from The Oregonian's Food Day insert.

Blueberry Yogurt Muffins.

1 3/4 cup Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 Cup Sugar
2 tsp. Baking Powder
2 Eggs
1/4 cup melted Butter
3/4 cup Plain Yogurt
1 1/2 cup Blueberries.

Mix just until moistened, adding blueberries at the last.
Bake 375' in muffin tin for 20 - 25 minutes.
Makes at least 12 muffins.

19 July, 2012

Tallinn, Estonia

Fat Margaret

Instead of Savonlinna and the opera, we traveled to Tallinn.
Savonlinna is an old castle in eastern Finland that hosts operas on it's grounds in the summertime. Outside.
The Magic Flute and Aida were playing about the time we would be in Finland. We decided back in May to leave it open and not commit to getting tickets (tres expensive!). Instead, our plan was go see the castle and then see if any no-show tickets were available.
Once we arrived in Helsinki, we looked up the train tables and found the journey to be over 4 hours away, necessitating an overnight stay, only to find all the hotels booked.

We changed plans and went to Tallinn instead on the hydroplane boat.

The  regular ferry covers the 50 miles between Helsinki and Tallinn in about 4 hours. The hydroplane boat - about 1.5 hours - or so they say. Ours took just over 2 hours due to a bit of rough sea.
In fact, our return ferry was cancelled due to ?.   No explanation really. When we tried to call, the signal was busy. When we arrived back at the ferry office, four clerks manned the counter in a surly russian way giving out no explanation other than to catch the next ferry and obviously not answering any phones. We speculated there were not enough passengers taking that particular ferry back and they arbitrarily cancelled it so as to not waste high-priced fuel.

Tourist Shop Mainstays. Russian Nesting Dolls.

The part of Tallinn that we saw was the touristy old medieval walled city. It was a wonderful walking tour. I followed Rick Steve's walking tour which takes about 3 -4 hours and is just about the right amount of time to spend on evil cobblestones.

My lunch: Smoked Chicken Salad

Oompa Loompas occupied Tallinn

I love this view up the street with St. Nicholas Church in the background.
Estonia joined the European Union back in 2004 and has done quite a bit of cobblestone straightening out.

One of our guidebooks made a joke about the  Russian buildings made of Micro Cement: 60 % cement, 40% microphones.

We did go into several of the shops only to find uniform touristy merchandising. Every shop stocked the same goods.  All of the 'linen' or 'handicraft' shops stocked machine-embroidered cloths, some with goofy cows. I can only speculate that the embroidery machine software came with the basic goofy cow.

This was a great addition to our trip to Sweden & Finland and I can highly recommend Tallinn as a destination and also Rick Steve's Walking Tour.

Below is a slideshow of more photos. I am trying this picassa album out to see if everyone can see it, view it, without overwhelming the blog platform. Let me know if it's great or downright un-viewable.

Looks like the link broke. I stumbled my way into re-doing it at end of post. :-)

**The pharmacy in the town square which is the oldest continuously operating pharmacy in the world? Since before 1422 anyway. You can buy aspirin here as well as suntan lotion or just view the pharmacy museum.
**Do NOT take photos inside the churches. How do I know this? Do you really need to ask how I know? (twice!)
**The dragons.
** Our lunch was fairly inexpensive - about 5 euro each plus 1.60 euro for water!
**My host mom's friend recommended a linen shop at K.A. Hermanni Street. It's just a bit outside the medieval area but we didn't find time to go. Supposed to offer authentic Estonian craft.
Tallinn, Estonia

17 July, 2012

Home Sweet Home

I came home to this; Blueberries and pea pods and the first tomato out of my garden.

It is so nice to sit down at the laptop to type. No Scandinavian or Samsung keyboard on the smarty pants phone deciding to change words. No tiny screen to squint at.
I can correct my posts easier on the laptop too. Not so easy on the phone.
Just the usual Blogger and its terribly usual idiosyncrasies.

Attempting to radically change time zones here today. We arrived at PDX late last night and ended up taking son back to Corvallis because he had to be at work today at 8am. Which meant, we arrived home in the wee hours of the morning.
We only slept a few hours when the morning light woke us. Now we are attempting to stay up until almost our usual bedtime. I don't know which is more difficult - going to or coming home -- dealing with jetlag.

I have to go back to work tomorrow so I am trying to organize vacation photos. I will probably put together a slide show to post this weekend and then get back to the regularly scheduled summer events around here.

What did I like best about Sweden & Finland?
1. 30 years since I was an exchange student to Finland went by fast. Seeing my host families and friends again was awesome.
2. Internet. To stay in touch but it also made this trip amazing.
3. Trains 'on time'. It takes less than a minute to load and unload passengers at stops, then the train goes. The train waits for no man. Seriously. In America, we spend more than 30 minutes trying to get people on & off the train -at one stop! No wonder no one rides them here.
4. The sheer number of airplanes in Sweden.
5. Castles. yadayadayada. Eight foot thick stone walls always make great photos.
6. Friendly people - everywhere we went.
7. The summer weather - so like the Willamette valley here in Oregon. That small touch of coastal humidity. To make my hair curl.
8. Having friends to stay with some of the time instead of hotels. My auto-immune thanks them.

9. Discovering six second cousins of my husbands in Mariehamn.
10. I might have become addicted to the afternoon coffee time in Sweden.

16 July, 2012


The best fabric store in Finland.
There was still room in one of my bags so I filled it up neatly with some fabric.

for my sister in Minnesota . . .

For me.
Two knits for shirts (red stripe & blue colorwash), red & black laminated fabric for a make-up bag, rotary telephone fabric because it was very graphic and cool.
Ani made me buy the Angry Bird fabric.
My nephews put the game on my smarty pants phone. I am hopeless at getting past level two.
It turns out the game originated in Finland.

Helsinki Airport

Back to Wifi at Helsinki Airport. We are early so I am slapping a couple of posts together.

There is a Finnish Flying Museum quite near the airport. --Within a 15 minute walk from the terminal. We spent an enjoyable hour here with Ani & Konsta, my friends kids.

DeHaviland Beaver


14 July, 2012

Two Weeks Without My Pillow

Yesterday, we travelled by hydroplane boat to Talinn (Estonia). 50 miles from Helsinki across the Baltic Sea.
Estonia joined the EU (European Union) in 2004. Only a short while since Soviet Union were opened to the rest of the world. Estonia, Latvia, & Lithuania.

The ferry, Linda Lines, disembarks near the old medieval town, making cobblestones your new enemy.

I took photos with my digital camera because I had not planned Talinn and I did not want to be tempted to use my smarty pants phone.
We encountered a small problem in Åland with At&t questioning it's nationality.
I did not clear Estonia with At&t. Which means you won't get Talinn (amazing) photos until I get home.
Instead, here is the Sibelius Monument in Helsinki.
Sibelius is a very famous composer, a national treasure.
I know him because I play piano. There is also a classic cartoon where the sheepdog and Wiley Coyote clock in to do their respective jobs with the sheep flock. The background music is from Jean Sibelius.
The monument is designed "to play" when the wind blows.

13 July, 2012

Short Post -- Helsinki

Their is no Wifi where we are staying in Helsinki. :(
Too busy anyway to duck into MacDonalds to take advantage of the free Wifi hotspot.

Taking a day trip tomorrow to Tallinn, Estonia.

Rest assured that I have found 70% of the fabric stores and secondhand stores.

10 July, 2012

Pommern Tall Ship

Moored in the Mariehamn harbor since 1937, The Pommern was one of the last tall ships.
This ship would haul Australian wheat back to Europe.
It's now a floating museum.

Captain's quarters.

Posted from Smarty Pants phone in July 2012.
Links Added 16 August, 2012.
More on the Pommern.

A little more about the ship.

And some Wiki.

My New Bag Pattern

This looks easy to make.

09 July, 2012

New Kitchen Curtains

Today we walked into the town center of Mariehamn. We take the 12:35 bus to Föglö to meet my Finnish-American society contact. Ingemar lives near Stockholm but his summer cottage is in the Föglö area of Åland.
Ingemar is hubby's cousin 14 times remove (?!).
We had time to spare to wander in &out of the stores. My unerring instincts found the fabric store.

Åland flag pillowcases for the patio swing.

Embroidered yellow flowers.

08 July, 2012

Random Interiors

We ran around the island yesterday with cousin Eila, seeing the sights. Lots of family photos that I prefer not to share here.
I can clean up my photo cache though. Here are some random interiors.