Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Upcycling related observations from the summer

The leaves are turning yellow so it must be autumn and I think it is safe to write about our summer as it seems to be over. Not that the weather is any different, anyone who has been reading my blog knows that this summer it has been raining most of the time. I have been "complaining" about it so I looked for some facts so you can see it isn't only my imagination:


67mm rain altogether, days that it rained 18, not pure rain every day but cloudy and expected rain on those days for sure


109mm rain altogether, days that it rained 20

So... not just my imagination I can say. And what is "fun" is that the weather station is about 20min drive from us and our little village is higher from the sea level so it rains here more and more often than it does on lower grounds.

It's hard to imagine from this point of view that there are countries that really struggle with having enough water. Here is plenty in thousands of lake and of course it also rains more as the climate is cooler. The water that is used is always cleaned properly and used again. Though of course weather like this isn't normal, it is supposed to be warm in summer, cold in winter so it is more or less caused by the climate getting warmer overall.

Anyway, to our summer. We visited our little summer cottage in my home village, picture here, fished, barbecued, had sauna etc. The cottage is as completely off the grid as anything can be. No electricity, no running water (unless you run with the bucket filled with water - hah). Little gas stove, composting toilet, small solar panel to produce enough electricity for the lights and charging the phones. Internet though is everywhere nowadays. While visiting my home village they had the summer event they have every year and for that summer event someone had decided to make art out of plastic chairs:

And one of my relatives had re-used some of the doilies her mum had made:

Great use if you don't need the doilies - or like her case, have too many of them and don't quite need them all. Pretty like this too.

My other relative had invented great temporary serving table for summer party:

Talk about re-using things! The couch is in the kitchen also on other times but for the party an old table top was put on it. It was solid, big enough and not on your way when you don't need it, perfect!

On a sunny day we went for swimming on my uncle's house and I found these wild raspberries:

They were huge! And so perfect. Our kids ate all of them I think, I just managed to steal these to take a picture - and then they ate those too. Who can resist wild raspberries?

We also visited other cottage in East Finland, located next to Saimaa, one of the biggest lakes in Finland. Also, another off the grid cottage in middle of a forest, next to a lake - everything that a Finn can ask for their summer cottage! I think that it sounds quite crazy when I say that yes, we like to go to a place where there is no running water, no tv, wc (only composting toilet outside) and the electricity the solar panel produces is just enough for the lights and charging the phones, and call that a dream holiday? But it is! Simple life, simple pleasures such as fishing, barbecuing, fishing, sauna, barbecue and some more fishing and sauna. Maybe picking up some wild mushrooms sometimes, go swimming, picking up wild berries and go to sauna. The news you read seem to come from far, far away from where you are standing. Oh, and no people other than your family. It isn't a place where someone would just walk by and if you see someone, they are usually in a boat far enough not to disturb you. If you want to meat people, you have to jump in your car and drive to a village close by.

Solar panel placed on a stone in lake to catch as much light as possible:

The toilet:

The summer cottage is also ideal place to eat real near food, so fresh that it can't get any fresher and you definitely know where it came from. Last year we got some very big perches, I think the biggest perch was something like 400g. This year we didn't see anything that big but some descent size (100-200g) and some smaller ones that we decided to eat too:

Perch filet dipped in rye flour and salt mix, cooked on a pan with lots of butter. Not bad, especially when the sauce was made out of fresh chanterelle:

Too bad I didn't take a picture of the plate. With the perch, the sauce and new potatoes from relatives' own vegetable patch it would have been a real example of a whole near food meal! So no luxuries, just 5 star dish...?

With the perch also these animals live in the lake of Saimaa:

I believe it is called Saimaa ringed seal in English (Pusa hispida saimensis), subspecies of ringed seal and lives only in Saimaa. The seal was left in the lake after ice age as its route to the sea was cut when the land rose enough. After that it adjusted to live in a lake instead of a sea and Saimaa is only lake where they live so it is very endangered nowadays. Of course there is protection and I think the seals' situation now isn't as catastrophic as it was some years back. At 1980 there were only about 150 seals and last year 320 so the way is up but it only needs one epidemic and they are gone. If you are wondering the grass, our kids wanted to give the statue something to eat...

On a place like this you really are in the nature and can see the effects of our actions quite easily. You also think more what you are throwing away as the trash bin isn't just in front of your house and realize the meaning of a clean drinking water as you have to carry it from somewhere where there is plumbing. It would be very environment friendly way to live if it wasn't for...

Plastic cups. Plastic cutlery. Paper plates. The paper plates aren't that bad, the forest that is used to make them grows back (and produced quite a lot of oxygen while growing) and they can be burned. But the plastic dishes you use only once and you throw them away. The plastic doesn't melt away, disappear in the air or compost. It just breaks into smaller and smaller pieces until the tiny particles are everywhere. Luckily they have started to burn our trashes so that means easily less plastic in the nature! Anyway, the simple life without plumbing and electricity means - no dishwasher! No one is fond of doing the dishes, I'm not an exception, especially with everything else and two kids you "need" a short cut if you want to actually relax and the plastic dishes really offer you that. We were on the cottage with my in-laws so it was quite a group and that means plenty of dishes. Of course we did the dishes on turns but had I suggested that we should only use the real cutlery and cups, I might have been doing the dishes more or less alone... 

To the point. If you can't recycle, then at least reduce and re-use! I wrote our names to the plastic cups, it really is silly to throw away that environment violation just because you drank water from it once. With the names we could at least re-use the cups easily saving easily tens of cups altogether.

Then of course everything that can be composted, is composted. The less you have to carry away from the cottage, the better. But... do you know the feeling that when you take something for granted and then you talk to someone and realize they don't think the same way? At the cottage I realized there were two plastic bags in trash bins - one for the real trash, other for compost! There was plastic bag for the compost so that the bin wouldn't need washing! The bag was emptied in the compost and the bag itself was thrown to the trash bin. Seriously? 

We were lucky, the whole week was sunny and warm, kids were able to swim, I even went swimming couple times, first time this summer! Back at home it was back to the usual raining. Our kids can invent their own plays easily so the rainy days aren't as catastrophic as I know they are in some families, kids climbing on the walls and things like that. Ours have been playing with legos, legos and legos! If I hate plastic overall, especially when it is used only once, I adore legos. They are great to build your imagination, learn to follow guides (when building with a guide) and to see what you build, how everything goes together, what works etc. And the play is always new! The plastic in these cubes is certainly on right place and they last almost forever. Our kids have a box of my old legos, about 30 years old and couple pieces that were my mothers! Daughter is especially good at building with them as she the older one and once she made a phone:

They got couple new packages during the summer as on one rainy day we went to toy store with their saved money and they could choose a package for each, something they could afford. Our daughter chose Lego friends Supermarket and the sign on the phone is from the shop, first the supermarket was built as it was supposed to but then she decided to turn it into something else.

I also had a birthday and I invited some relatives to visit. It is good to have a birthday between summer and autumn, very easy to bake something. I baked brita cake (cake, meringue, whipped cream and raspberries) and chanderelle pie. So delicious, easy and cheap at this time of the year. Appeals to my frugal nature...

Then couple funny shots without any other point:

Some strong spider web! It looks like the web is keeping the lantern from falling down.

Hails. I had to run and save the basil on a table outside,they don't very much like the cold and even less when hit by hails...

Overall, funny summer and thanks for reading all this rambling! So what's next? So many ideas! I just finished a smallish project and usually I get a feeling "what's next" when I finish something that I have been doing every now and then for days. It is a feeling of being slightly lost. Did I have something in my mind and what was it? After a short moment I start to remember all the ideas I have and then it is just a matter of choosing but it is just that short moment that I feel a bit weird when something is actually complete and I don't have any other projects going on. As for the blog I have planned a post about our trash and recycling system here in Finland and I have a collection of pictures about our this year's harvest. Then I also have taken pictures for new tutorial but that will have to wait a bit.

The summer was full of travelling though, hundreds and hundreds of kilometers. I have to say that preparing for the car trips with these was a good idea:

Travel tray

Dry erase book

Toy bag

What would you like to see here next? Is it too boring to read about things like this or about recycling or harvesting? Which one(s) gets the thumbs up from you or should I just stick to the usual crafting and tutorials?


  1. Sounds like the perfect place to get away from the rat race, unwind and really enjoy the simple pleasures in life. And environmentally friendly to top it off.

    1. That pretty much describes it all in a nutshell. :D