29 Apr 2012

Recycled literature

I love the fact that you can take whatever, and make it into something totally else.
We made this particular piece of literature some time ago, it is made out of a book that we found in a second hand market in Helsinki.

I thought it would be a cool idea to present to the Muymolon.com monthly challenge, this month is about recycling books.

I hope they like it!

The book is written in Finnish, I don't even understand the tittle, but I liked so much the cover with the golden owl that I had to buy it. Now is holding nicely our keys at home.

The instructions are very easy, just keep all the pages together with 4 screws and attach a couple of hungers. Perfect for a last minute present!

25 Apr 2012

Stuff I'm so gonna miss from Italy

I'm at Paris airport waiting for my flight connection. In a few hours I will be back to Helsinki.

Now it's time to start getting used to the idea that my stay in Italy has arrived to an end.
For some reason I talked in Italian to a french waiter at the airport cafe and I almost cried when he said madame, je ne comprends pas... I guess at this point I must accept that I am not in Italy anymore.

It is going to take a while to get back to reality. It has been 7 months full of nice people, long working hours, gelato, good coffee and shitty showers.

I thought it will be a nice therapy to make a list of all the things that have made me happy during these months and that I am so gonna miss back in Finland.

There it goes:

  • The morning cappuccino at Caffè Matisse and the fact that you don't even have to tell the barista what do you want. He will remember it from the last time you were there.

  • Italian men holding the door open for you.
  • Going to the food market Saturday morning to buy fresh veggies.
  • The sound of "buongiorno Alba!" when I arrive to the office in the morning (I'm so gonna miss that!)
  • Being able to walk back home after going out on a Saturday night, which is much nicer than taking a bus full of drunk teenagers from Helsinki city centrer to Konala.

  • My work colleagues, specially the "Weather Team", I would like to fit them all in my suitcase and take them to Finland.
  • Lebanese food from Al-Madina 

  • Being able to travel everywhere by train without dying in the attempt. Italian train chairs are 97% more comfy than the Spanish ones. 

  • The taste of a real tomato, which will be sadly missed in any salad I eat from now on.

  • A glass of white wine at Bar Mocambo.

  • Gelato, my best friend.

  • Speaking my own dialect of Italian, based on my own italianization of many words coming from the Spanish and Catalan.

  • Seeing young couples in love walking along holding hands.

        • Our neighbors having long couple fights at night - together with the fact that the walls of our apartment were made out of paper - Much more entertaining than any soap opera on TV.

        • My very own Italian private driver, who got me home safely many evenings after work and got angry every time I told him that I could walk.

        • The joy of being spontaneous.

        • Talking with the hands, Italian gestures will deserve a post of its own. 

        I could probably be able to add much more things to this list, but it is time to catch my plane.

        Thanks Italy, it has been a pleasure.

        See you in Helsinki!!

        21 Apr 2012

        What happens when your postman is in love

        My family sent me a birthday present to Italy.
        It never reached its destination.

        I was supposed to get a package in the beginning of February but it seems that my postman didn't feel like working for a while. And not only the package was missing, I didn't receive any post at all, not even a sad take-away pizza flyer.... no bills, no junk mail, no love letters, no nothing!

        I went a couple of times to the Italian post office to ask about the missing package.
        The first time I was there, I waited in a line for half an hour just to discover that I was in the wrong post office, they were only dealing with letters in there.
        A week after I headed to the "packages post office" and asked about my lost birthday present. The lady at the desk was not able to track the package (what a surprise), she said that probably it has been returned to Spain.

        Why on earth the package got lost? The woman said that I had to go to another office if I wanted to find out the reason. Which sounded like a joke, but it was not.
        Even if it was tempting to see a third kind of Italian post office - the one dedicated to give explanations -  I did not have the time nor the energy to play the private detective.

        I like to think that the postman may have forgotten (once again) to buy something to his girlfriend's  birthday and, in a desperate act to win his girl back, he gave my little present to her.
        In the end I felt quite good thinking that I might have contributed to the happy ending of a love story. After I convinced myself about that, I kind of forgot about the whole thing.

        However, two weeks ago I went to Spain for the Easter holidays.
        And there it was, a little package with my name which contained my birthday present:
        A cute brooch made by Veronica de Arriba from Depeapa.
        They really did return the present to Spain as they told me so.I immediately started feeling a bit sad because in the end the postman's girlfriend did not get any present. But then my sister told me that she also sent a greeting card, which of course never arrived to me - I'm glad to know that at least the poor girl got something-.

        I finally got my present but I did not manage to solve the mystery. If the package was not stolen by a postman in love, why the hell they did send it back to Spain?

        This week, I was able to find out another possible explanation to the enigma.
        The thing is that I'm leaving Italy in a few days, and I needed to send a big package to Helsinki (I have bought so many shoes that cannot fit everything in the suitcase anymore, oops!).

        I booked an appointment for the delivery guy to come and pick up the package.
        We were waiting for him the whole afternoon, but no one showed up.
        Later that day I called to the shipping company. The Customer Service people told me that the guy who came to pick up the package did not dear to ring my door bell because it did not have my name written on it.
        There are only 3 floors in my building and I clearly said to them that it I live in the 3rd floor. However the guy was too shy to try to ring one of the 3 doorbells and simply continued to the next delivery, without even calling me (probably he was also to shy to do so) .

        I wish I was called Simonetti Simone and this would be my doorbell.
        Here goes my theory: All my problems with the post are probably just because I have a shy postman. There is nothing I can do about that so don't send anything to me because it will never arrive.

        Now that the enigma is solved, I still have to figure out how to send the package to Finland. Hopefully my good friend/private chauffeur Lorenzo will give me a ride to the shipping company. I could also put a piece of tape with my name on top of the doorbell, but that is not as fun as running around the city with a 20Kg package.

        17 Apr 2012

        The weekend before my last weekend in Italy

        ...was raining like hell.

        But the rain did not stop us from having a great weekend.
        Fortunately, my good friend Laura came for a visit. Her cheerful personality brightens up even the darkest day!

        We took our neon umbrellas and went to Florence on Saturday.
        After few hours of sightseeing, walking under the rain was not so fun anymore.
        We were wet and hungry. The three of us became so focused on improving our puddle-jumping technique that we did'nt realize that all restaurants in Florence seems to close before 15:00.

        However, we were super lucky to find Il Santino (after a little bit more of walking).
        It is a little wine bar were we had a nice selection of Tuscan cheeses and a couple of glasses of Chianti. Highly recommended!
        Address: Via S.Spirito, 60/R

        If you don't follow Spanish meal times, which means having lunch before 14:30, you might want to try another place nearby called Vivanda. We have been there once and the food was wonderful.
        They also have a bio-wine selection to die for.

        From here

        12 Apr 2012

        There is no place like home

        We are back to Italy after spending a wonderful week in Spain.
        I have been working too much lately so it was great to have a small break.

        All I did was to sleep a lot, eat (and drink) well and relax.

        My hometown, Blanes, is beautiful in winter.
        The beach is empty, the scent of coconut oil is gone - so you can actually smell the sea breeze - and there is no sight of sun-burned tourists.

        We also did a couple of one-day trips.
        First to Barcelona to do some slow shopping and then to one of my favorite places in the world: Sant Aniol.

        Looking at these pictures again, I understand why I'm still recovering from the post-vacation depression...

        Anyway, there is nothing that a picture of my Spanish cat cannot cure.

        Have a nice day!

        10 Apr 2012

        If I cannot have a cat, I want a beagle!

        I saw today a beagle puppy. What a catastrophe.
        Now I cannot stop thinking about how cool it would be to have one.  
        It was so cute that I think it would be a good replacement for the cat I will never have

        From Wikipedia
        It will be a great companion for the winter evenings in Finland and a perfect excuse to get out of the house even when it's - 20ºC outside.
        I always wanted to have a dog with a real name (in Spanish, since it always sounds funnier). I think it gives them more personality. So he will probably be called something like Rodrigo, Pedro or Santiago - or what about Camilo? Camilo the beagle... sounds fancy, eh? 

        With that dream in mind I have been gathering some cool DIY projects that I'm so gonna do if I some day have a dog called Camilo the beagle.

        For example, check out this dog bed that Adrian from Fried Okra made out of an old TV! The beagle inside looks pretty proud of himself for having such an awesome bed.
        You can find the step-by-step tutorial in her blog.

        From Fried Okra
        Or what about this adorable pet pouch made by Amy from The B-line?
        From all the methods I have seen to store plastic bags, this seems by far the most handy (and cute).
        With this little pet pocket you'll always be well prepared when you take your dog for a walk.
        Check out the instructions here.

        Lola with her little pouch, from The B-line
        And last, but not least, here you have super cute pet bowl stand that Kate from Centsational Girl made for Coco-Nut, her lovely kitten.
        I'm sure I will be able to make the beagle version of it by following her step-by-step tutorial.

        From Centsational Girl

        8 Apr 2012

        Slow shopping in Barcelona: Gràcia district

        I used to be a big fan of shopping malls when I was a teenager.
        I would go there with my girlfriends and spend the whole day buying cheap, cute clothes that usually fell apart after the first wash.

        I'm so glad I got over it!
        I cannot tolerate anymore the perfume-poisoned air, the loud music, the cheap clothes made in China by exploited children. Not to mention the 16-year-old salesgirls (no offense) who couldn't care less about you.

        If you feel identified, welcome to the Slow Shopping movement!
        I encourage you to walk away from the mall with your perfume-induced headache, and support small business.

        To make it easy for you, I am going to share all those crafty markets, tiny lovely stores and boutiques - where you will be greeted and given personal attention.
        I will start with one of Barcelona's nicest neighborhoods: Gràcia.
        Gràcia is full with one-of-a-kind stores. There you will find young entrepreneurs who actually pay attention to their clients, and selects their products with great care and love.

        Some of my favorite ones:

        Penedès, 11 (Barcelona)

        Trendy craft shop full of nice things made with love.
        The owner is a very sweet girl who always receives every customer with a big smile.

        From Kebonikö
        From Kebonikö
        There are so many cute little things that I always end up buying something. Like this reversible fox necklace I got the last time I was there. I love it!

        From Kebonikö, made by LadyDesidia
        To get there, check out the map.
        Or if you live far away from Barcelona, do not miss their on-line store.

        Ramón y Cajal, 11 (Barcelona)

        Full of good ideas for you and your home.
        This cool store has everything from furniture to designer clothes, including ceramics, pillows, prints, wallpaper... and lots of other carefully selected objects and accessories.

        To get there, check out the map.

        From here
        I specially like their adorable collection of Donna Wilson stuff:

        From Verdejade, made by Donna Wilson

        Verdi, 6 (Barcelona)

        A very good selection of clothes and accessories made by catalan and spanish designers.
        Worth a visit if you are in Barcelona.

        To get there, check out the map.

        From Suite

        If you want to know more, check out this map with all the best stores (and a bagel shop) in Gràcia.
        Or follow the "Slow Shop a Gràcia" group in Facebook.

        Shopping makes you hungry??
        Check out the Ultimate Barcelona Food Guide!

        4 Apr 2012

        Barcelona is beautiful even when it rains

        We are in Spain for a well-deserved week of holidays.
        I'm happy to be back home for a few days and finally be able to catch up on sleep, eat my mom's food, take a real shower (because I'll not call this a shower) and get some fresh sea air. 

        Yesterday we went to Barcelona. 
        It was a raining like hell, but I kind of enjoy a rainy day in the city every now and then.

        I like Barcelona when it rains because the city is not so packed with tourists.
        The streets are (almost) empty and the sound of the rain covers up the noise from the traffic.
        It even smells better.

        I love walking the streets of Gràcia under the umbrella (my favorite district in Barcelona). There you can enter every single crafty store and discuss with the owner about how awful the weather is.

        And when the shops close for afternoon siesta, go and get a plate of sushi.
        That's the best way to wrap up a rainy morning in Barcelona.