Tea, Books & Thoughts

All I need in life is a good book and a warm cup of tea



A Christmas Rich in Needles

And so another Christmas has passed, with all its stress and joy.  I ran around the city centre with bags of presents weighing me down. I lit candles and wrapped and wrapped and wrapped. I ate deliciously rich and heavy food with my family. And now I feel contentedly lazy. Continue reading “A Christmas Rich in Needles”


Christmas Wish List: some 2014 books I hope Santa might bring me…

With Christmas less than two weeks away it is high time to start dreaming about all those presents under the tree. And like any true bibliomaniac I am hoping most of the packages are hard and shaped like rectangles. All year I have been reading about the many amazing books being published, and while I have read some of them, most have stayed out of my reach. So, I can always hope that before the year ends a couple of them have found me after all. Continue reading “Christmas Wish List: some 2014 books I hope Santa might bring me…”

Lumi is Finnish for Snow

Brussels,  March 2013 - Better late than never
Brussels, March 2013 – Better late than never

In Helsinki two thirds of Christmases are white. In Belgium there have been 11 white Christmases since 1900, most recently in 1986, 2009 and 2010. And judging by the weather forecasts this year will be a typical grey and dreary holiday in Belgium. Continue reading “Lumi is Finnish for Snow”

I miss winter

I miss winter.

I miss the silence of my steps on a snow covered pavement. I miss the hard lumps of snow on my mittens, and the way they turn into pearls of water on the radiator. I miss the biting chill on my cheeks and the hurried steps through the cold. I miss the warmth of reaching home.

Here I latch on to the smallest indications of winter; a spreading darkness, the falling leaves, my breath white in the still morning air. A cold clear day, when the wind blows from the north-east and brings the scent of snow from inland, with images of evergreens coated in white and the sound of fresh snow under my feet.

I despise the wet excuse for a winter here. The endless drizzle that penetrates all my defenses. The moist shivery cold that makes my teeth clatter. The all-encompassing grayness of the world. My pathetic squeals of delight when some sleet descends mercifully from the sky, to give the world some magic for an hour or two before melting into grayness.

I wish I was in Helsinki, with electric candelabras in every window and the anticipation of Christmas tangible in the air. We would sit down for some tea and maybe a Christmas pastry or a pipakarkku. My hair floating with static electricity as I pull off my woolen cap and my fingers aching as they close around the heat of the tea mug. My sister’s cheeks red from the cold and her face shining with pleasure as she bites into a ginger snap.

And I miss my mother. I miss the simple things, like coming home in the evening after Christmas shopping, making tea in the coffee percolator while mother smokes on the balcony. I miss the smell of her cooking and her humming as she does the dishes. More than anything I wish that I was back home and that she was there.

I tend to get exited about winter. But there is always some falseness to the expectation. I cover up the fact that nothing is as it should be. There is no real winter, no snow, no proper Christmas. My mother is not here and without her there is an emptiness that cannot be filled, even if I have all the other things I wish for.

Loki’s first Christmas

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And so another Christmas has passed and we move on to one of the best parts of the Christmas holidays. The post-Christmas lazy days when we recuperate from the hectic pre-Christmas weeks and eat lots of chocolate and leftovers. One of my colleagues is utterly perplexed at the thought that I would want to take a whole three weeks off work around Christmas and not go anywhere. No, I’m not planning to travel to Asia or Latin America. I will not learn how to rock climb, scooba-dive or sail a boat. I will just stay at home with my boyfriend and my puppy. It is not that I do not like travelling, but what I need in the middle of winter is a good long rest. And that will give me a bit of time to write on my blog. Continue reading “Loki’s first Christmas”

Shopping for presents… not as fun as it used to be

If you follow my blog regularly you might have noticed that I have improved the rate at which I post after a recent slump (explained here). The reason is that I am finally enjoying some rest in the form of Christmas holidays. Although, I have to admit I was hoping for a somewhat more restful experience than what I have been given until now. My puppy shares only a little of the blame for the hectic nature of the past week, the main culprit is Christmas – of course! Continue reading “Shopping for presents… not as fun as it used to be”

Christmas essentials: Food

One of the most important parts of the Christmas celebration is food. The candles, tree and presents are great, but in essence Christmas is a festive family dinner. In this post I will write a little about the Finnish Christmas dinner table, but since I have never cooked the food myself I decided to link to recipes rather than include them in the post. Stealing recipes and posting them here just seems dishonest. Continue reading “Christmas essentials: Food”

Christmas essentials: The tree

Soon it is time to buy a Christmas tree again. Not to assemble one that I find in a box in the garage. However sad I feel about those little baby trees that never make it to adulthood but are destined to die in my living room, I will always buy a real tree. The scent of the tree is one of the things that most evokes the  Christmas feeling in me. This is why I tend to prefer trees with a stronger scent, such as the Epicea, to trees such as the Nordman, which hold on to their needles better but have a weaker scent. I always place my tree in a Christmas tree foot with water, as is the habit in Finland, rather than using the wooden cross which is commonly used in Belgium, so my tree keeps its needles quite well. Continue reading “Christmas essentials: The tree”

Christmas essentials: Family

When my parents separated I was glad. Even at the age of 10 I was aware that the divorce meant less arguments, throwing of objects and sulking in my life. But despite the fact that I knew my parents were not a very successful combination, I always wanted us all to spend Christmas together. Because Christmas is a family holiday. I could not imagine sitting down at Christmas dinner with only my  sister and one of my parents. For one thing 3 felt like too small a number of people for a proper celebration, and I could not imagine leaving one of my parents to celebrate alone. Until I was 15 my family did come together at Christmas, although not without fights. I remember celebrating Christmas at my father’s place and walking half an hour in the rain to get my mother from her apartment, because she was angry and refusing to come. But even on Christmas Eve having my mother there was worth the long miserable rainy walk. Continue reading “Christmas essentials: Family”

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