Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Blue Marimekko Napkins

In the previous post, I mentioned that I use Marimekko paper napkins. Here are the ones I currently have. Don't you love 'em? :-) The napkin holder is Asian, I forget from which country. So yes, we have a very Asian theme in our house. Well Scandinavian-Asian...


The title of today's blog was obviously inpired by Homer Simpson. The photo, however, was inspired by the movie Frida, about the life of Frida Kahlo. I saw it again recently on TV and was reminded again how much I love the bright colours of the Carribean and of Latin America! They are so vivid, so full of life. Finns tend to use very light, neutral colours in their home. Mine is no exception, but I am trying to add at least touches of colour here and there. Bright blue in the living/dining room, fuchsia in the study, pink and blue in one bathroom and muted green in another.

As I mentioned before, I adore olives. I live to eat olives!! The ones shown in the photo are not the ones I really love, the big, marinated, gourmet olives. The ones in the photo are the normal ones from a jar. But they're still OK! In the immortal words of Brigitte Bardot: "Sex is like food; when it's good, it's real good. When it's bad - it's still pretty good!". ;-)

However, note how I serve my olives: the beautiful, oval olive dish is from Stockholm. I now regret not having bought the whole set - there were bigger ones too and I only got the small one. If I ever find the others, I'll surely buy them. Actually, I am going to Stockholm next week.....hmmmmm....

And note also the handy olive spoon that lets out the extra brine or oil (as the case may be). So cute!

The tablecloth is Indian, from a Swedish store called Indiska - that sell Indian stuff. The place mats (as mentioned before) are Vietnamese, from Ikea.

I love to set the table with nice stuff. I recently even bought all white 100% linen napkins (they're quite reasonable in Tallinn). They are a pain to wash and iron, but I find that it's worth it for a special occasion. Otherwise I use paper ones from Marimekko. They have great designs.

Today, we had fondue for dinner - yum! And a lovely vinho verde that tasted almost like sparkling wine. Yes, I do live to eat! But to me it's just one of life's esthetic pleasures. I want "beauty" for all the senses. I heard that Italians say "Que bello!" also about food, i.e. they call it beautiful. Why not? Music can be beautiful eventhough we hear it, so why can't food? I recently read a fun novel called The Food of Love by Anthony Capella. It's quite a mouth-watering little book. It's about a man who is in love with his best friend's girlfriend. He cannot show his love in any other way except through his cooking. A somewhat similar theme can be found in the absolutely lovely, lovely book (and film) Como Agua Para Chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate) by Laura Esquivel. Now there's a book I'd like to re-read. Magical! It's also one of those very rare cases where the movie is as good as the book it is based on. I highly recommend both.

In short, the pleasures for all the senses: good food and wine for the palate, music and good conversation for the ears, beautiful colours for the eyes, perfumes for the nose - and good books for the mind - this is what happiness is composed of!

Take Care!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

On Calligraphy and Goal Setting

Dearest Bloggers,

The photo shows my calligraphy set - so far unused! I got it on a trip to Florence, Italy. They had the most amazing gift shops there. My handwriting is really terrible (luckily you can't tell in this blog...) and I'm hoping to improve it and to eventually learn calligraphy. I've already checked, so I know where calligraphy classes are available. But I haven't registered yet.

So what I'm basically saying is that I'm a procrastinator. Not all the time, not with everything, but too often. However, that's not the whole story. I've already said that I'm interested in so many things that it's impossible to do them all.

So it's also about prioritizing. I find that I prioritize much better at work than in my personal life. Because at work, I (usually!) have clearer goals than I do in my personal life.

I've been reading a lot about goal setting lately. The theory is that you can't get what you want until you know what you want. It's quite a simple statement, it even seems stupid at first. Let's take a story to elucidate: this story is from the Lewis Carroll book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Alice asks the Chesire Cat which road she should take. The cat asks: "Well, where do you want to go?". Alice answers: "I don't really know where I'm going." The cat answers: "In that case, any road will take you!"

It's a funny story for children...or is it? Aren't we all kind of like little Alice? We expect to get to something we think of as "a good situation in life", when we've never actually sat down and written down what it is that we want out of our lives.

I can't remember the exact figure, but only something like 1-3% of people have goals written down. The rest of us just think that if we kind of have a vague idea of what we want, that's enough. But is it? Think about how large corporations operate. Do they just vaguely set goals to "do better next year"? ;-) Who's more likely to achieve their goals (or dreams) - those who know what they are, or those who don't? ;-)

I've recently written down my goals. However, they are still not detailed enough, since they don't give any dates by when I want to achieve the things I've written down. Goals need to be specific. You start with the end in mind, create a tangible vision of where you want to be and by when, and you then start breaking it down into smaller pieces. Those of you familiar with the principles of project management will recognize this process. Except than in project management we usually skip the initial visualization part - what will the world look like when we are "done"?

I'm not going to reveal all of my goals since it's perhaps a bit too personal. But I will give you an idea. Here is one of my main goals in life:

To realize my full potential - and to find balance.

I did not think of this myself, I read it somewhere. But it's something that really stuck with me. I've been listening to a set of CDs called "The Dynamic Living Seminar" by Skip Ross. He asks: "What would your life be like and what would you do if you started to believe in your full potential as a human being?". Think about it. We use so very little of our potential. They say that even Albert Einstein used something like only 10% of his brain capacity. I wonder how much the rest of us use?

I've studied a total of 13 languages. This does not mean that I speak 13 languages, it just means that I've studied that many. I've studied some as little as one semester in night school. But even that little bit helps me to manage a bit better when I travel to a country where that language is spoken.

Most people are amazed when I tell them this. Why? Do they think that our brain capacity will somehow run out? That our brains will be overloaded? That does not happen. If we work too hard (and I unfortunately have plenty of experience of that), we can certainly become exhausted, even burnt out. But is the cause really that our brains are over-loaded? I don't think so. I think that it is our bodies that break down. Our bodies need rest. But think about what we do when we sleep - do our brains rest? No! We dream, so our brains are working as hard as they are when we are working - or even harder, since we are being highly creative when we make up those dreams.

I believe that what makes our work exhausting is our lack of motivation. I find that I can read a fascinating book for very long periods without really getting tired (apart form my body becoming cramped, or getting a headache because I forget to drink, etc.). But put me in a boring meeting and I'm "tired" after half an hour. Our work is mostly exhausting because it's not challenging enough!!

The same applies to reading. I'm very interested in learning to speed-read. It's amazing how fast humans can read if they take the time to learn. I just read recently that the reason we get bored in meetings is that our brains listen much faster than most people can speak, so our brains have too much spare time on their hands to think about other things - so our minds wander. The same applies to reading. If we learn to read faster, we can actually remember more of what we read than if we read slowly! Amazing! I really must look into a speed-reading course. I have so many books I want to read that it would really pay off...

So the moral of my story today is this: the same principle that applies to our muscles applies to our brains: "Use them or lose them". And we can make our brains "grow" just like we can make our muscles grow bigger and stronger.

We used to believe that IQ is something that you are born with, something that cannot be improved. However, there are people who make it a hobby to take IQ tests. They practice and keep improving their thinking technique - and the score does go up. However, what's the point? What good does that higher IQ score do them in life? (OK, OK, I'm just bitter 'cause I didn't pass the Mensa test! ;-)).

What's a much more important determinant of succcess in life is Emotional Intelligence. I won't go into the details here, but it's basically about how you get along with people - and with yourself.

Of course, if one is lucky enough to meet a person with both a high IQ and very high emotional intelligence - wow!!! Unfortunately, I haven't met many people like that. But I am grateful that I've at least met some. :-)

Nighty-night dearies!


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Salt n' Pepa


In the 80's, there was a band called Salt-n-Pepa. They were in fact the first ever all female hip hop band. Their song Push It, was a big hit back in the day.

This photo of my salt and pepper mill is one of my favourites: I just love the play of light and shadow in this photo. Over the years, I have developed a "photographer's eye". Sometimes the light just looks really amazing and then I have to grab my camera. This was one of those days. The late afternoon light just hit our dining table perfectly.

The place mat is from Ikea (made in Vietnam), the salt mill (the smaller one) is from Stockmann's (the biggest department store in Helsinki, Finland) and the pepper mill is from Rome, Italy. I found the pepper mill right after I had sprained my ankle! I was in Rome with a friend and we were eating take-away muesli from bowls and walking down the street at the same time - and I was wearing high heels. Well, you can guess what happened...

Very soon after that incident, we ran into a store that sold really good quality gifts etc. The pepper mill cost something like 50 euros, but it was exactly what I wanted. And I use it almost every day. I am addicted to large quantities of freshly grated black pepper. Other food stuffs I am addicted to:

- Olives (especially the big ones, marinated in garlic)
- Feta cheese
- Parmesan cheese (this cheese is just sheer heaven, that's all I can say!)
- Good wine
- Good champagne (I mean the real kind, the best I can afford. Sometimes I buy Veuve Cliquot or Moet & Chandon for a special occasion)
- White chocolate
- Mozzarella cheese (the really good kind, made from buffalo milk)
- Greek yoghurt with honey (for breakfast, or anytime)
- Sparkling mineral water (Pellegrino is my fave, but I rarely find it in this country)
- Olive oil & balsamic vinegar (for dipping good bread in or on salads)
- Tapas
- Meze
- Freshly squeezed orange juice
- Croissants (but you can only get the really good kind in France!)
- Fresh strawberries and rasberries
- Fresh pineapple
- Prociutto di parma (the food of the Gods! - with melone, of course)
- The really, really good (and expensive) goose liver paté (I can very rarely afford this but you can't beat it with champagne!)

As you can see, I unfortunately have somewhat expensive tastes! I do also eat hamburgers all the time, but the stuff listed above is what I really like to eat.

This reminds me of a story. Several years ago, I was talking to a bunch of colleagues over lunch/coffee/whatever and one colleague told us about something she had seen on TV: a housewife was so obsessed with watching figure skating on TV, that she actually forgot to take care of her kids when she began to watch.

My colleague said "Imagine being that obsessed about something! That passionate! I'm not passionate about anything." This statement absolutely shocked me!!! I could not believe my ears. Is it really possible that someone is not obsessed with anything??!!!!??????? What a way to live? Or not live, rather. How can anyone not be obsessed/passionate? I don't understand. And this was not some depressed person, she was someone I had always thought of as a happy person - perhaps even happier than myself, because my moods are pretty much up and down all the time. I guess we really, really are different, us humans.

If I started to list the things I'm passionate about, I would literally never finish. I could start with the fact that I'm passionate about taking showers. I love and adore everything about it: the feel of the hot water (I am always cold), the scent of the products I use, etc. I am passionate about clean sheets!! There's nothing better!! And don't get me started on clothes, shoes, accessories, perfume, cosmetics, travel, art, design, movies, books, music, dancing, talking....well you get the picture. See my profile if you want to know more. And even my profile probably lists like less than 1% of the things I'm passionate about.

I really wonder how people without passions actually get through life? Is everything just nice and steady for them? I can't imagine it. I wrote that I consider myself a renaissance woman - it's more like I'm all over the place all the time. How can one limit oneself? People are strange - and yet I'm really and truly passionate about them as well!!! The passions just never end!

Passion is the spice of life (pun very much intended).

Pink & Very, Very Passionate - and still always a Lady

Pink Elephant

Hello again,

My mother had bought this teapot for me at the fleamarket. Somehow, it looks exactly like a pink elephant to me. It's made in Italy and in perfect condition.

This photo was taken at Easter time, so a pink Easter Bunny is also in the photo.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Pink Baby

Hey There,

I got this photo from my Mom recently. It's Pink Lady as a Pink Baby.

Pretty cute, huh? ;-)

Pink Lady

Sunday, May 21, 2006

I Blog, Therefore I am

OK girls, those of you hoping to read about the latest addition to my purse collection will be sorely disappointed today. For today, I have every possible intention of writing some "serious" stuff. Hope you’ll excuse me. I did warn you, dear readers, in a previous post, that - in spite of appearances - I am actually not a superficial and materialistic kind of gal.

So moving on. Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of very “inspirational” CDs. I don’t mean music CDs, but inspiration lectures about personal growth, about becoming all that you can be, etc. Now this may sound very sappy indeed. However, I find that it’s starting to have an effect on me. It’s starting to change my life. How?

I’m starting to have different conversations with people. At parties, I find myself asking my friends what they want out of their lives. What their dreams are. What they would like to change about their lives. I’m starting to ask colleagues if they are happy with the work they do. I find that my subconscious is starting to move at a different realm.

I’m no longer thinking: what shall I wear today? Or what shall I buy today? Instead, I’m thinking: whom shall I inspire today? But this is also a scary thing. Prodding into people’s insides reveals fears. I know because I too feel them. I have met people lately that have truly amazed me. People who really LIVE with a capital L. People who are not afraid. People who use their full potential – or at least try to.

When confronted with such people, I feel that the tree of my personal growth is but a stump. I used to read and think about things like this all the time. But somewhere along the way, I just stopped. I guess I thought that I had “come far enough already” and did not need to learn about personal growth anymore. Or was it perhaps because I felt that I was moving to a level that was beyond the level of the people I associate with? Was I afraid of leaving them behind?

They say that when the pupil is ready, the teacher shall appear. I feel that I have met several teachers lately. They have given me a vision of what my life could be. But that is a scary thing. It means that I must admit to myself that, up until now, I have not lived my life to the fullest and it is shameful to admit that to oneself. Meeting people like this also raises other fears. One starts to think about what kind of people one wants to associate with – and also what kind of peole one would wish not to associate with. Do I want to spend time with people who complain all the time? With people who are negative, or who do not believe in my potential? Or in their own potential? Who do not believe that I/they/we can succeed in whatever it is I/they/we want out of life?

I tend to have a lot of “extra-curricular” activities, both at work and outside work. At work, I tend to be the person that people always want to be part of every committee when we are putting together team events etc. I don’t volunteer for these things, I get asked to join. And I’m happy to do that. Why is it that some people don’t get asked? What kind of person are you in this regard? Are you happy with who you are in this regard, or would you perhaps like to be different? What could you do to change the way people think about you in this regard?

I also attend a lot of seminars and training courses and I read all the time. A friend once said that she would never have the energy to develop herself so much in addition to working. My answer to her was that I would not have the energy to get up in the morning if I did not do this. I’m not sure if she understood my answer. This is something that each of us must decide for ourselves: what gives us energy and what robs us of our energy? And do we choose to be energetic people who give other people energy – or do we drain our friends, family and acquaintances of their energy? Do we choose happiness? This is a choice each one of us makes every morning – or perhaps every second.

If we decide, like I have, that “whatever happens, my life will be absolutely wonderful”, what kind of effect will that decision have on the choices we make? It is these choices that largely determine what our life will be. I’m NOT saying that I am perfect. What I am saying is simply this: “I’m trying”. Every day, I am trying. Can you say the same? Would you like to be able to say the same? If you would, what would you do differently?

A friend also asked me recently if writing a blog was not very time-consuming. How do you find the energy to do it, she asked? Well, to me – and I am sure that this applies to almost every writer/artist – writing is like eating. We can go for a little while without doing it, but if we wait too long, we starve. And I hope that everyone has something like this in their lives. In one song, Jimi Hendrix sings that his girlfriend left him but “Oh well, at least I still have my guitar!” Do you have your “guitar”?

I have been writing a journal every since I was 7 years old. I don’t write every day, I just write when I feel like it. To me, writing is therapy. Writing a blog is somewhat different to writing a private journal. One must censor the writing a bit, for example. I don’t like to name names; I like to protect the privacy of the innocent (or the guilty, as the case may be! ;-)). But I also find that when writing for the general public, the writing may – if we are very, very lucky - reach a level of “common human experience” and may thereby actually touch someone’s life. I certainly feel this when I read other people’s blogs. Not all the time, of course, but sometimes. When you dig deep enough, we are in fact all the same. We reach a level of common humanity.

Lots o’ Love,
Pink Lady

P.S. A friend I hadn’t seen in a while was surprised to see me wearing pink. He said that he couldn’t have imagined that I would ever wear such a colour. I asked him what colour I used to wear. He said that I always used to wear black! What does this say about my mental state, I wonder? ;-)

Pink Lady Loves Lordi !!!!

Well boys and girls,

We never thought that we would see this day. Finland has won the Eurovision song contest! Some British journalist once wrote that hell would freeze over and intelligent life would be found on Mars before this would happen.

Could anyone have guessed that our Monster-Heavy-Band Lordi would actually win the sappiest possible song contest of them all??!!!?? We were just reading some articles in the net and one other British journalist wrote that Lordi would win "if there is a God". ;-)

Eurovision will never be the same....what are the odds that there will be a dozen metal bands in the contest next year? Hah! Next year - when Finland will host the contest, probably in the Hartwall Arena.

We are here drinking sparkling wine (left over from our big party last night) and listening to Lordi - and we occasionally hear sounds of faint screaming from the outside. Eventhoug it's 2:30 AM. This may be as big for Finland as was winning the Hockey World Championship in 1995 - or maybe even bigger!

We no longer need to feel ashamed of having "zero points" (that's French, i.e. "puäñts") in the Eurovision song contest. It was all about 7, 8, 10 or 12 puäñts this time around. Europe, bow down to your Over-Lordi!!!


Hard Rock Hallelujah!!! 4-eva!!!

This is Pink Lady, singing off, from the land of the Monster Men: Yes, I would love a Monster Man!!!!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

How Now Sauna?

Dear Bloggers and Bloggees,

Did you know that in Finland, nearly every home has a sauna? Apartment buildings have a shared one where you rent an hour a week! Finns almost feel dirty unless they've been to the sauna at least once a week. We use ours more often, probably twice a week on average. When we first moved to this house, we used it every day! But it does dry the skin, so us ladies must be careful!

My partner and I heat the sauna every Saturday night, as is the tradition in Finland. For me - as for many other Finnish ladies - going to the sauna includes a lot of beauty routines. I use an exfoliant on my entire body: there's a separate product for the face, for the body and even for the feet! I use a deep-cleansing shampoo and put on a moisturizing facial mask and deep conditioner for the duration of the sauna. After the sauna, I remove body hair with an epilator. No girls, I'm not afraid of pain! The last step is of course to moisturize the entire body with a rich cream - sheer heaven!

For men, going to the sauna is a bit different - it's more about sweating and drinking beer. Although my partner is actually a very atypical Finnish male in that he doesn't care so much for beer. He may have one when we go to the sauna, but quite often we just drink diet soda. Sometimes we have ice-cream after the sauna - it seems appropriate somehow. And this is also a tradition that comes from my partner's childhood home. His parents always have ice-cream after their weekly sauna.

The thing that most non-Finns find surprising is that the Finnish sauna is a place where one invites guests. Whenever we have any kind of party or get-together, we advise guests to bring their own bottle of wine - and their own towel (BYOT!). Yes, we actually go to the sauna butt-naked with our guests and nobody gives it a second thought. That's why we are highly amused by the way e.g. North-Americans are so uptight about nudity.

The men usually go first and it's a very rowdy, noisy affair and they have contests about who can stay in the longest when they throw water on the hot stones again and again. It's some kind of test of manhood or something. Then they parade around the house with nothing on but their towels.

Then it's the turn of the ladies who do their beauty routines, relax, and talk quietly - usually. ;-)

For the Finns, the sauna is a sacred thing. It's difficult to explain to someone who is not from this culture. However, many foreigners grow to love the routine of the sauna once they get used to it. Considering the weather we have at these latitudes, it's not suprising that anyone living here craves the heat of the sauna. The temperature today is +14 C! This morning when I left for work it was +8 C!! Brrr....! :-(


Pink Lady (from all the heat in the sauna)