Friday, 29 July 2011

Things I've learned about how we live

I've been reading a lot of books about organizing and storage lately and also about small apartments. Our apartment is clearly not small, but why does it feel that way? There is only 2 people living in almost 100 square meters/ 1050 square feet. That is heck of an area per person.

My favourite books so far have been by Terence Conran. Especially the book called Storage - Get Organized. I read that book many months ago, but no book after it has managed to make me think as much. Since that book and few other books, I've started to create a list of the qualities we, me and A, need from an apartment or house.

So, if we would ever buy a new home or do a major renovation to the existing one, these qualities should be met:
  • Open kitchen plan, with only one dining table, the second table we now have in the livingroom is totally useless
  • Separate TV-room, with soundproofing if possible. I hate listening someone else watching television or playing an Xbox game, it drives me nuts
  • Additional to the TV-room there should be a livingroom, dedicated for listening to music and for entertaining, this room can be very small, but preferably with large windows
  • The bedroom can contain of just a bed, especially if there is a walk-in closet nearby
  • Home office is not needed, we use laptops and we are never ever in the office, we do need somewhere to store the taxpapers and such, so perhaps an office cabinet would be more appropriate
  • Storage room is essential
  • Laundry room is essential, I'm amazed that most of the apartments built nowdays have no laudry room
  • Bathroom can be small
  • Kitchen does not need to be big
  • Two toilets are needed
  • Guest room is not needed, the guest bed can be hidden somewhere, we really don't have overnight guests that often
  • The entrance does not need to be big, but it needs to have plenty of storage space

And here are a few nice to haves
  • A table for crafting would be nice
  • Garden would be nice
  • Cellar for garden produce
  • Patio to store not hardy plants for the winter
  • Wood craft area would be so cool
  • Greenhouse would be nice
  • Large terrace
Some of the qualities mentioned here we allready have, which is good, but in some parts we have way too much room and in some things not enough. There are clearly some under utilized areas in our home. That is why it must feel so small. Bad thing is that I feel that we have to do something major to make use of the room we have in a more efficient way

    Wednesday, 27 July 2011

    Pot decluttering

    I'm writing this wednesday post much later than normally, I usually write and go through photos on the evening before posting and then schedule the post to next morning. That way I can still read the post once again with fresh eyes and make quick corrections to spelling or grammar. But yesterday I got an extempore invitation to a friends birthday party and had no time to write. That's why this is unusually late.

    Like I told before I got huge amount of pots from my now ex neighbour. Also I had lots of pots even before. I store most my pots in a trunk on the terrace. It was allready quite full. Now that I got nice new pots I was able to get rid of some of the pots I had but did not like.

    I took all pots out from the trunk and cleaned inside the trunk. In general I'd like to get rid of as much stuff as I possibly can, I would like to simplify alot, but in some cases I'm having lot of trouble with it. Like these pots, I don't have use for all of them, but I like to have alternatives. So when it comes to pots simplifying is very difficult. But I will show you what I did keep. I did take lot of pots and stuff to the goodwill too, so atleast some progress got made.

    These pots I had before and am going to keep. The pots in the following picture I allready showed you earlier, those I'm keeping too.

    Can you see a pattern here? I only kept pots that were white, terracotta or metal and lots of light plastic pots for seedlings.

    Then all those went back into the cleaned trunk. I store them upside down so the pots wont fill up with water or dirt, since the trunk is outdoors and has plenty of gaps on the top and sides.

    Monday, 25 July 2011

    Update on tomatos

    There's been some general lazyness here. Good thing my plants are active even when I'm not. My tomatos are making lot's of fruit.

    Some of them are even turning slightly red. Can't wait to taste the first own grown tomato!

    Friday, 22 July 2011

    I'm drowning in pots but my plants are not

    My neighbour moved away which is sad because she is a nice lady. We had common interest in gardening. She loved her yard, but found that she was getting too old to live alone in a big apartment and now she moved to an apartment building not too far away. Since she moved to a much smaller apartment she needed to downsize considerably and invited me to check if there would be any gardening stuff and tools that I would like to have. And ofcourse there were.

    All those things in the photo are stuff that she donated to me. Also she gave some tools that are not shown in the picture. She was in bit of a rush with the moving and said that what I will not take will go to trash, so I took actually everything that was not junk. Most of the pots will be donated further, I will only keep these pots shown in the below picture.

    I took all that she wanted to give away because I did not like the idea of usefull stuff going to the trash. I have a heavy load to take to the goodwill. I did have lots of other pots before too so I need to go through those and deside what I'm going to keep all in all. Now I'm actually drowning in pots.

    Few of the pots I got did not have a draining hole on the bottom, which I think is pretty necessary at least for outside plants. I thought that I could drill a hole to the pots, I was slightly afraid that the pots will break but then desided to go for it anyway, atleast I'm not loosing anything if they would break. I taped both sides of the bottom of the pot and used a support piece underneath. Not sure those things were actually needed, but I tried to avoid the chipping. (The following three pictures I had to take with my cell since A has took our camera to his sailing trip, so sorry about the quality)

    First I used a drill bit that can be used for drilling sheet metal, but it made the most horrible sound, you know that sound that a chalk can make on chalkboard, but much louder. Ouch! Then I changed to a wood drill bit, it also made a sound but nothing as bad as the first. It drilled fine and made hole to the pots.

    The white pot I drilled from the inside. The egdes of the holes chipped mildly from the other side, but I think it's ok, it can not be seen anyway when there are plants on the pots. If I would need to drill a tile or something I'd be way more particular about this.

    There they are, the holes, now my plants won't drown in their pots.

    Wednesday, 20 July 2011

    I went to blueberry

    There is a small curiosity in Finnish language. I think it's quite hilarious when it's translated straight to English. When you go picking blueberries you say that you go to blueberry. You can also go to lingonberry, but if you want to pick rasberries you say that you go to pick rasberries. Also you can go to fish, but you cannot go to crayfish. Got it? I didn't, but that's how it goes.

    Well I went to blueberry. I'm not much of a picker, I've never found a good spot where blueberries would bear lotta fruit. Also I'm slow. Usually it's the old women and Thai people who pick all their buckets full of berries and the rest, we don't even know where to look from. And so you know, if you've found a good spot you don't tell a soul about that, you keep it to yourself to the grave. That's how it goes here.

    None the less it's nice to wander around in the forest and to pick atleast some blueberries to accompany the afternoon coffee and icecream.

    Monday, 18 July 2011

    Danish souvenir

    Are you interested in what I brought from Denmark? Hope you are 'cos that's what I'm going to write about.

    I've hardly ever been interested in the stuff they sell in all souvenir shops all over the world. I mean there can be some cool things, but I'm afraid those are usually just useless crap. But I do like to get something from the places I visit. After many years I still remember where I've got my souvenirs and I think I do have some pretty good things, and ofcourse also useless things.

    This time from Denmark I got shels, those are from the long beach on the west shore of the country. I have no idea what I'm going to do with those. But I'm thinking that I could sand them till they seem pearly. I have no clue if that will work, that's why I took so many that I can test on few. There is also one white shell which I took mainly because it had both of it's halves attached.

    The tictacs I bought because of the container they are in. There are tictacs in Finland too, but those are sold in smaller containers. I love all types of containers.

    I bumbed into a small ceramic vase on a department store and thought it was cute and I had needed a small vase for some time, so I bought that. I liked how there seems to be small holes on the side but really there is not. The vase is made by Anne Black, a Danish ceramic artist.

    Then I also bought a tealight holder by Muuto. I thought the vent on the side was genious and fun. I'm not totally sure it's Danish though since the company seems to have designers from all over the Scandinavia.

    Then last I bought the Hoptimist, it made me laugh. I took it to work and now it makes me happy there. I wanted to buy the wooden one, it moved better compared to the plastic one, but the wooden one was really expensive. I thought the plastic one was very expensive too, but got it anyway. Here is my own video on how it laughs, the quality is not the best, but you'll get the picture. It's so cute and totally useless, I love it!


     EDIT: I don't know if you see the video, I could see it on my home computer, but not with the work computer. I need to look into this, the video part is quite new to me.

    Friday, 15 July 2011

    Update on laundry line

    I promised to let you know how I'm going to attach the other end of the laundry line to the other when ever I don't want the laundry line to be spread over the terrace. I usually do keep the lines open, but the old laundry line got broken because snow dropped from the roof on top of them. I want to avoid that this time.

    If I do unattach the other end that in the above picture will happen and that is just not cool. I had some nylon band left from the sun sail project and then I bought snap fasteners to make a strap that is easily opened and closed. I tested how long strap I need and then cut two bands.

    Nylon or any plastic band or rope is the easiest to tie off by melting the ends. It will easily burn so you need to be careful with it. Also if it starts to burn the edges will turn yellow or brown and that's not nice on a white rope.

    Then I sewed on the fasteners. That was perhaps the most time consuming part of the whole project.

    Once the straps were finished I removed the wall end of the laundry lines and stapled the straps on the back of the wood.

    Then I rescrewed the wood end to the wall. This is how it looks when the laundry lines are rolled to the other end.

    Sorry about that one loop from the rope, it just wouldn't stay put, I didn't roll it very well I guess. Then here is how it looks open. The loose straps seem a bit odd, but I'll get used to them.

    Wednesday, 13 July 2011

    Greetings from Denmark

    Suprise! I just came from Denmark. I told you I will have a post about the clothes lines, but you'll have to wait for that since I didn't get it finished before we left to our trip. We bought flight tickets in very short notice and just left. We booked a hotel room for three first nights and then we had no plan what we will do.

    We stayed in Copenhagen for the first three days. We toured around the city with a hop on hop off bus, a big mistake! We should have rented a bike. All the locals used bikes all the time and there were very good biking routes every where in the city. The bus was slow and old and the time table was not good. Well we did see the city anyhow. We visited all the basic sights, like the little mermaid statue and Christiania and Kastellet island, but the best part of Copenhagen is the people and atmosphere of the city.

    We also visited Tivoli, a very old amusement park in Copenhagen. It was not the biggest amusement park in the world but it had old charm which is good because I don't like the rides anyway.

    After three days we rented a car to drive to the west of Denmark. We started out by going north along the cost and visited Helsingør, which had a nice castle and small old alleys. It also had a pretty good view to Sweden.

    Then we continued to Roskilde and spent the night in a hotel in Sorø. Next morning we drove over the bridge towards Odense. 

    We tried to avoid highways and drove in the countryside, there was lot of scenic routes with beautiful houses with thatch roofs and amazing gardens. Also there were plenty farm animals and fields with poppins on the sides.

    Like I said we had not booked any hotels for the rest of the trip and I was bit afraid of what kind of hotels can we get. But we never got a bad hotel and actually I think we got very individual ones and perhaps even cheaper hotel rooms than we could have got with booking in advance.

    On the third day we came to the west shore of Denmark. There are beaches and dynes along the shore for hundreds of kilometers. The wind was quite high so we didn't have a swim in the North sea. But since it's a windy country it had a lot of wind farms.

    On the fourth day we had to drive with the highways since our flight was leaving that evening, but luckily Denmark is not a big country so we were in no huge hurry. So that was our trip. What I think I remember best from the land is the amazing wind farms and the countryside and all the flowers. It was definately worth a visit.

    Monday, 11 July 2011


    In Finland it is a habit to play in summer cottages and parks the game 'Mölkky'. It's a game where you have to tip a skittle to get points, the one which reaches 50 points first is the winner.

    I don't like to play many games but Mölkky is one of the few games I actually like. It's never serious and it's usually played as an entertainment not as an actual game. We have bought the Mölkky game from a store, but it can easily be made from chopped down wood and making the numbers with a marker. You can read the rules here. If you are looking for some passtime for your summer vacation perhaps Mölkky is the thing to try.

    Friday, 8 July 2011

    Laundry lines

    When I read a blog post about laundry lines in Italy by Small Notebook a few days back I desided it's finally time to put together again the laundry lines we removed because of the painting of the pergola. The previous laundry lines we had there had seen better days. The metallic holder that holds the piece of wood holding the lines was all rusty and ugly and the wood on the ends of the lines were worn and other one had broke from the middle and we had just used a cable tie to hold it together.

    The lines themselves were cracked and dirty looking and they were hard to wipe clean. So all in all it was not a pretty sight.

    I bought new laundry line and two pieces of wood. I also bought paint for the metallic holders. I tried to find a new metallic holder to replace the rusty one, but there wasn't any in stores. I could have bought an angle iron and then bend it to form, but I thought it would be easier just to clean the old one and then paint it.

    A and I got a Dremel as a Christmas present few years back, first I thought it to be totally useless but it's proven guite handy in many situations. Only it's not stored in a very convenient place and it allways takes me a year to get it out of the cabinet and then put it together. We would really need more storage space for our tools. Anyway... I sanded the rust out from the holders with the Dremel and then cleaned the metallic holders with purified gasoline.

    Then I painted everything. I used some grill sticks so I could paint all sides of the metallic holders. The drying time of the metal paint was three hours and I did not feel like waiting all that time to only paint the other side. 

    I painted the wood where the laundry lines would be attacthed to too. After those had dried I drilled holes in them where the line can run through. I think I should have drilled the holes there before painting, that way the paint would have covered some of the egdes of the holes too and maybe the wood would be more weather tolerant, but this is how I did it this time.

    I prewired the laundry lines and then attached the pieces of wood to the wall and pergola. Then I tightened the lines.

    The other end of the lines can be removed from the holders. If I do need to remove the other end it ofcourse falls to the ground, I've been thinking that I can roll the lines over the wood beam and then attach it somehow to the other beam. I have an idea how I'm going to realize this, I think I'll post something about it on wednesday.

    Wednesday, 6 July 2011

    A hot day's coffee

    I enjoy a cup or two of coffee every day, but on hot day drinking hot coffee just does not seem so tempting.

    When I lived alone I found it difficult to make just one cup of coffee, so I always had some coffee left. After allways having trouble throwing away the excess coffee I tried freezing it and it turned out to be a real good idea. What I do is that I make espresso, you could also make very strong regular coffee, and then I pour it into an icecube tray.

    I put the icecube tray containing the coffee in the freezer and wait for a few hours or longer. Once it's frozen I pour a glass almost full of milk and then I add few coffee ice cubes in.

    When the coffee cubes start to melt the coffee stays on the top part of the milk glass and when you drink it in a good pace you will allways have a good amount of coffee with your milk. I don't use any sugar with my ice coffee, I think the milk itself is sweet enough, but you could, or if you have some flavoured syrup you could use that.


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