December Favourites

The last time I wrote a favourites post was way back in November. There definitely have been many highlights since then.

First, let’s start with a November fave from the end of the month. My daughter and I went to see the opening of the Christmas street in Helsinki. I’d say it was a favourite because I got to spend time with my daughter in a Christmassy environment and that we saw the Christmas lights being turned on! The parade that went with the event was just as awful as the last time I saw it. I did hear later that it’s mainly put together by volunteers, so I guess that explains the homemade-feel of it (versus a professional parade).

Christmas in Helsinki’s city center

The month started wonderfully with a trip to London with my son. We had such a great time! I will write more about it soon. The highlights of the trip were hanging out with my son for four days, meeting friends living in London and seeing the Book of Mormon musical. It was amazing. We went for the daytime show, so the tickets were cheap too. All in all, just being in London was the best, it’s one of my favourite cities. It was my son’s first time there and he loved it too.

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Oh and let’s not forget eating Nasi Lemak at C&R in Chinatown – I’ve been craving it for years.

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Nasi Lemak – love the ikan bilis

In December I’ve seen Ragnar Kjartansson’s The Visitors at the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki *twice*. I’ve been raving about it on Instagram and to anyone who will listen. It’s an immersive experience of music and video which takes one hour. It’s so melancholic and I think it really resonates well with us Nordics (Kjartansson is Icelandic), although I have heard of people around the world who love it and have even cried whilst watching it. I think The Visitors is best experienced alone, as then you can really get into the mood without having to think if your companion likes it or not. The Guardian voted it as the Best Visual Art of the 21st Century, so I’m not alone in my love for it.

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Kjartan Sveinsson from Sigur Rós is in The Visitors

On Independence day (6th Dec) my mom and I went to the Espoo Arena to attend Espoo’s (free!) Independence Day concert. After, my daughter and her boyfriend invited us to their apartment to celebrate. It is wonderful to have a child so old (not that old, LOL – 23 to be exact), that THEY can invite YOU over and you can enjoy being a guest. My mom and brother-in-law were invited as well. We watched a bit of the Finnish Independence Day festivities from the Presidential Palace on tv and voted on which of the women’s dresses we liked most. Yes, you read right, we watched other people party on tv – this is what almost everyone in Finland does on Independence Day, bizarre as it is. I loved this dress below the most, it’s stunning.

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I received a free ticket to my former workplace’s Christmas concert at the Mikael Agricola Church. It’s tradition to invite old colleagues (on the year that they have left the NGO) to the concert – quite a lovely tradition I must admit, a rite of passage of sorts. The church is beautiful and an excellent venue for concerts.

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I was pleased to see all my old colleagues, they are a lovely group of people. I had just seen my old teammates for a dinner at Taqueria el Rey in November, so it didn’t matter so much that there wasn’t really time for a proper catch-up. The concert was shown on tv during Christmas, which meant that we had to do silly stuff like clap over and over again when the director told us to!

Cactus tacos – my favourites from Taqueria el Rey!

A day trip to Porvoo with a dear friend was one of the best days of the month. You can read about it here.

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We have a great museum complex in Espoo called WeeGee Exhibition Center. I visited one day when I was off work and there were quite a few exhibits that interested me. One was a pop-up exhibit of 80s toys. I had both this Barbie and Ken when I was small as seen below. Also, I visited the Michael Jackson: On the Wall exhibit, which was excellent. I was apprehensive about it first, as I’d just seen Leaving Neverland. But the exhibit doesn’t idolize MJ in any way, instead through the art you can get an insight into the phenomenon and what consequences that kind of fan culture/etc. had/can have.

This year the Helsinki Christmas Market was amazing. It has never felt as cosy as this year, I think the changes to the layout did it – cheers to whoever was in charge of that! I went twice. On the first visit I had some salmon soup, as they’d run out of rice porridge. On the second time I was luckier with the porridge and got a bowl. The market sells divine karjalanpiirakka, so it was worth visiting just for that. Sadly it closed on the 23rd, quite early for a Christmas Market I’d say.

On the last day of work before the holidays, two of my coworkers and I went for a celebratory glass of wine to Café Talo. The restaurant had managed to capture the Christmas feel brilliantly with sparkling lights and Christmas trees hanging from the roof. It’s difficult to describe but I will definitely remember it next year for Christmassy wines.

Christmas was all about family and good food. On the 23rd my mom and I went to two different cemeteries to take candles to the graves of my mother-in-law and my father. On Christmas Eve we had a huge dinner with the family and some presents for the under 30 years olds. Christmas Eve is the main day here in Finland. Christmas Day was about board games and lazing around at home. Lovely all in all!

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After Christmas I saw Frozen 2 with my goddaughter. Are you a Frozen fan? I thought it was good but the ending was surprisingly kind of blah. We went to see the Finnish version and I found it quite annoying that the mouths of Elsa, etc. moved totally out of sync compared to the words. I don’t think I’ve really noticed that before. Olaf was just as lovable as before.

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My favourite show lately has been the third season of The Crown. Are you a fan of The Crown (who isn’t??)? At first it took some time to get used to the new actors but in a few episodes they felt just right. The best episode IMHO was Dangling Man. I’m now in a bit of a tv slump as there really isn’t any show that can match The Crown. Other Crown fans out there, help me out – what are you watching now?

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I have read 54 books so far this year. At first my goal was 30 books, but when I passed that easily, I changed my goal to 40 books and upped that as well. I don’t think I’ve read so many books ever in my adult life! Some of the books were quite bad but some were brilliant. One of the reasons I’ve managed so many books is audiobooks. I get to “read” so much more when I can listen to a book on a walk or in the car. I can’t believe I didn’t get into audio properly sooner.

The Stockmann Christmas window

One of the best books I read was Bolla by Patjim Statovci which won a Finlandia Prize this year. The author is only 29 and he has written three books! The book tells a story of two men, an Albanian and a Serb who fall in love at the wrong time and are soon torn their separate ways by war. Right now the book is only in Finnish but it is being translated into English, Swedish, Norwegian, German, Italian, Dutch… so you have a chance to read it soon! It’s not an easy read but the language is beautiful. If  you are looking for a (much) lighter read with a bit of suspense, then go for The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell.

Have you had a great holiday season?

Happy New Year to you all and hope to see you in 2020!

xx


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