Thursday, 31 January 2008

As sweet as it comes

As sweet as it comes

Sucralose is a non-caloric sweetener.

It is an approved food additive and is also called E 955 and it is also available as a tabletop sweetener under the brand name SPLENDA. Sucralose is used in diet sodas, yoghurts

It is the only non-caloric sweetener made from sugar, yet it is 600 times sweeter than sucrose which is ordinary sugar. Sucralose tastes like sugar and it has a clean, sweet taste that does not leave an unpleasant aftertaste compared to other artificial sweeteners and it passes rapidly through the body virtually unchanged and it is proven non-toxic to humans in the amounts it is used in food products.

Well, I have enjoyed my occasional use of low-calorie sweeteners as they have tasted artificial which goes well together with the junk food it has been accompanied with but the new Coca Cola being too sweet for my taste as it now contains Sucralose and this little secret pleasure of mine has come to an end but out of a completely different reason.

Sucralose as sweetener may sound good for dieters, but there seems to be a down side to it as 85% of the Sucralose we take in comes out as it was ingested, most of it remains as it was when swallowed and it is neither converted into something else in our digestive tract. So where does it go then?

According to recent Swedish research the Sucralose passes out of us down the toilet ending up in the nature as the today used wastewater treatment processes the have little effect on Sucralose removal rates and the breaking down of the Sucralose molecule is very slow in the nature and there is no knowledge whether the discharge of it into nature has any eco-toxical effects or not.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Just passed by

An asteroid today passed by the planet earth at close range.

There was never any danger of an impact of the 250 meters wide asteroid called TU 24 and it was closest to planet earth at a distance of 534.000 kms at 10.34 AM Finnish time, way past and outside the moons’ orbit. So we were never in any danger of facing Armageddon this time. What is close in astronomy seems far away for the non initiate layman.

Armageddon today and next the one is not expected until in the year of 2027.

But then you can never be sure, things happen and it is hard to predict anything really and almost hand in hand with astronomy is astrology that is read from the planets surrounding us in space. They even say you can predict things by it.

In Finland, as in many other countries, you are often asked about what star sign you are born in, with the questioner then seeming a bit wiser, nodding the head and saying “Oh, you’re an Aries”. We all tend to know what sign we were born in, and at least I do, we do read our horoscope in the newspapers, and make a joke about the accuracy of them.

There more inaugurated persons have their personal birth- and year horoscopes made by a professional but seem no wiser for it. At least it did not tell me anything I was not already aware of having mine done but no one ever confesses being addicted to reading their horoscope every day, and surely there must be horoscope addicts as well as any other addicts in addition to my long ago deceased great grandmother who could not even leave the house before checking her stars.

Anyway, me being her true descendant I was surprised as nothing of special importance was predicted to take place today on any of the horoscope sites I checked this morning. Why is no attention paid to asteroids in this so accurate calculative way to divine the future that, as in this case, pass by us at a close range, and accordingly should be able to affect us more from closer?

I wonder if any cults had plans for the day about being p0icked up by aliens in a space ship that we will not divine until later on like when the comet Hale-Bopp passed by more than a decade ago.

Honestly, I was hoping that my 365th posting would have made more sense than this on now does, but I guess it must be the fever talking in me. Imagine, now you can read a new posting every day of the year with more to come all the time!

Monday, 28 January 2008

Cat naps

That people living in the northern hemisphere, way up north as here in the Nordic countries are deficient of vitamin D, but not until just recently it was in research discovered how badly deficient we are. Sunlight being the main source of this vitamin D, or to be more accurate being in the sunlight makes our skin synthesize more vitamin D, and with a one week vacation to the sun cures the deficiency temporarily for about three months time.

Vitamin D is also in the food we eat, and most of us probably know that we get if from fish, especially fat fish like salmon eel, mackerel and sardines as well as vitamin fortified dairy products but to my surprise I found out that a good source are these tube formed chanterelles and the picking of them this fall have been blogging about earlier

They have now discovered that the official intake recommendations of vitamin D have been way too low, as the functions of the vitamin D is more complex than was believed earlier and it actually more works more like a steroid hormone. The research indicated that vitamin D deficiency has a role in causing many varieties of cancer as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and muscle weakness. It is also clear that the presence of vitamin A in food supplements might inhibit our ability to digest the additional vitamin D, so now I have one more reason to stay out in the sun when it is shining, and to take more keep in mind what we eat to and if taking any food supplements read the label more carefully in order to get enough vitamin D.

Today the sky is overcast so there is no use going out for that reason, and besides I have caught a bad cold I have to cure first. I’ll be hard on the best cure at hand, staying in bed all bad with lots of steaming hot chamomile tea with a couple of tablespoons with honey in it.

And nothing had happened during the weekend we were away, so the offspring must’ve behaved well, both cats were safe and sane. Well, it still is a question mark concerning to little gremlin-kitten, but she has occasionally shown some tendencies to behave like a little cat and we do not receive as many bite marks any longer as she can take a nap on my chest for a while. And this is a very good heater for sore bronchial tubes when coming down with a cold.

Finally something she has a natural born talent for, taking a nap on a sore, feverish chest.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Leaving them home alone

It seems to be gathering up to one of the traditional traffic chaos’s here in Finland as the snow is pouring down.

I am lucky to be done with the acquirements of provisions and necessities, if you know what I mean, for the weekend, as just the two of us, dear spouse and me, will be leaving the city for the deep neck of woods. A good time for us to be just the two of us, instead of always being mummy and daddy as when the offspring is present.

We also will be leaving the offspring home alone with a deal of no modern gadgets with us. If anything happens there is no mummy or daddy to turn to, the offspring will have to deal with the situation.

There is to be no PC for me to blog on, both our mobiles are to be switched off the whole weekend until Sunday afternoon when we are to return back home. No clocks and no time to bother about just a cosy cabin with an open fire, a sauna which of course is one of the Finnish necessities, no electricity but still running water indoors. Thank god there is no need to lift the water from the well in the yard by hand or by a pump outdoors. Being without electricity also meant some planning food wise for me as there is no fridge to stuff with the produce, but is still is clod as a fridge outdoors which makes it a bit easier with the food. Even the more private facilities are ecological and the two types to be separated in order to get out the most benefit of the product. I still am in doubt about taking a dip in the lake or a roll naked in the snow that is said to be very invigorating, even with a steaming hot sauna to return back to afterwards.

My main concern us adults being away for the weekend is our little baby girl, the one more like a naughty gremlin at times, if she still will be with us or if she fallen off the balcony from the 5th floor. Actually this is a bit misleading, us living on the 5th floor. Here in Finland you count the ground floor as the 1st floor, so it really means that we are just 4 floors up in the building according to common sense in other countries. This does of course not mean that the Finns are wrong; it is just another way of counting the floors in a multi-storey building.

Anyway, as our baby girl is as fast as she so far has been with everything, running around the place when she is switched on that she need some looking after, our older gentleman will be okay as he is old enough to know what the balcony is about. And the offspring is old enough to cope with cooking and everything else, that I have no doubts about what so ever, but will they cope with little, tiny but ever so stubborn and fast miss little gremlin?

This also means that I won’t be able to blog about anything, even if I wanted to, until Sunday late afternoon, possibly not until Monday.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Money on the loose

With the EU things are supposed to be better and easier with things between the member countries.

Mobile phone roaming prices are to be cut in February and money transfers to be quicker according to EU directives. The transfers between foreign banks are meant to take as long as national bank transfers which currently is three banking days, at least here in Finland. I have now been waiting for the money that was to be transferred to my account from abroad for almost a week and still no money in sight at this hour, just half an hour past midnight.

The account the money was transferred from has been debited the right amount money, the bank abroad have transferred the money in question but the receiving bank still claims they have not received the right amount in question, thus I have not been credited the money that rightfully is mine and I have been expecting.

Minor glitch maybe, but sometimes it can be ever so annoying to not have the money you are supposed to in the promised time causing my bank card to be debited more than I have on my account. Maybe this now has something to do with the stock markets currently having had some downslides in their indexes around the world? The banks trying to take more advantage of the interest they can get by stalling the money transfers just for one or two extra days?

At least there is an existing receipt of the money so in time they will arrive, but until then no more shopping for me.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Used lingerie

Second hand shops, vintage clothing shops and flea markets have been booming during the time I have been living here in Finland and more and more of them keep popping up, which I think is a good idea, make the your old discarded things available to use for someone else. There are even some recycling centres where you leave the stuff you want to get rid of and take others in return if you find something you like and recycling is an idea I am in favour of, but some of these flea markets really just are full of junk and no use items which I consider garbage but maybe someone still can find use to them.

The prices in some of the flea markets are pretty high for what they are offering so if you are looking for a particular bargain you will need to frequently spend time walking around in order to find it.

Most of the flea markets are in no comparison to their likes abroad with bargain antiques to find, that there are the antique shops and it seems there is a lack of them in comparison to the amount of flea markets and second hand shops. There is even a Saturday morning TV show called “Kirppari” which means flea market. In the program the host walks around this one particular flea market with some collector that has specialized in some item like stamps, hat or vintage clothing giving hints about what to look for to make a bargain. A celebrity is also interviewed just about anything showing one item of special importance to them and donating another to be auctioned in the end of the season for charity. It has been odd seeing people giving away fishing knives, dresses, boots, paintings and even lingerie to mention some. And people want to but someone’s stained, old bra or nightie.

I prefer my lingerie fresh from the shop, unused and for me to wear the first time after having washed it.

Monday, 21 January 2008

German protests

The Finnish mobile phone manufacturer Nokia has decided to close down their plant in Bochum, Germany.

Now the Germans public is protesting against the closing down and they are calling for people to stop buying and using Nokia phones. What does the closing down of one single technology manufacturer do for Germany and their unemployment? How can a number of 2.300 employees loosing their jobs make such a big issue of it for the even the German chancellor get upset about it and demanding a clarification form Nokia’s directors.

I think there obviously must be something here I have not quite understood, something the media has left out reporting about the news or I have just not been observant enough to see.

Anyway, another cake day today, which means I have to bake one of my annual anniversary cakes and I can not get out of it. The weather having been so depressing lately and now with some snow having fallen from the sky the scenery looks absolutely delicious to eat and I have been longing to go out and take some pictures of it, as you’ll never know it is the last time there is snow here this winter as the weather forecast tells there is warmer weather to expect and it will not stay for long before it melts into water again.

Maybe I could nip out for just a couple of hours…

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Stormy weather

Today a storm has been making trees fall over power lines causing power cuts in Southern Finland as well as much of the fast ferry traffic between the Finnish capital Helsinki and the Estonian capital Tallinn have been cancelled.

The distance between the two capitals is just a three hours voyage by ordinary boat, and as far as I know their traffic has not been disrupted. The fast ferries reduce the trip into an hour and a half and many Estonians work in Helsinki commuting by boat as well as many Finns do business in the southern neighbouring capital over the day.

Guess this is some change with the crossing of the Finnish Gulf from earlier decades when hardly anyone could get across the Gulf as Estonia was a part of the Soviet Union. Even I have had the opportunity to visit Estonia a couple of times and a new trip is in the planning in the near future.

I am not a great fan of watching winter sports but as it happens I did see the bad fall of the American skier Macartney’s in Hahnenkamm slope in Kitzbühel earlier today. Must have been awful for the family and relatives to see something like that on TV and as there have been several fatal accidents in this particular slope over the decades it seems especially this slope is quite a dangerous one. Guess it does not do you any good with having a helmet is it comes off, nor do the nets surrounding the slopes do much when falling inside the track instead of been thrust off it.

I am glad the offspring is not into alpine skiing, at least not serious enough for entering any competitions.

Friday, 18 January 2008

More animals discovered

1500 new animal species were discovered in Finland between the years 2003 and 2007.

Most of the animals that have been discovered have been here forever and have not migrated into the Finnish fauna from elsewhere but have just not been noticed earlier. This now means that there current number of animal species is up to 44.000.

Fridays always seems to be the most stressful day of the week as the family is in such a rush to come home and begin their two days off. Everybody rushes to get home early and to get ready for the weekend, the shower is occupied and clothes are sought to suit the occasion of they day, Friday night out in town.

Saturdays, and then especially the mornings are a bit on the slow side, getting up late at noon, if not sometimes even in the afternoon for the days hobbies and activities and the rush of to get out on Saturdays does not begin as early as the night before first has to be slept off. I am so happy I do not have to be in the dating game anymore, having to try and impress men. It is easier to stick with what you have got; it is familiar and sometimes even a bit too well known without too much excitement.

But I am not complaining, there is two persons in every relationship and both have to do some work with it.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

End of arctic night

Today the sun was above the horizon for the first time since November in Utsjoki, the northern most city in Finland.

The sun was up for almost an hour breaking the arctic winter night that had been going on there for over two months time. The length of the day in southern Finland is just a little bit short of 7 hours getting longer all the time as the spring is returning but with this murky weather it does not seem like spring is closing in on us. The wet weather just seeps all the light into itself making the countryside look blurred and grey, not the time for any walks with the camera either as some wet snow also has been falling from the sky.

Hot cocoa could have done the trick, making me not feel as blue as I do, but sometimes you just get too blue to remember even the most basic things, hot cocoa. Chocolate is good for you when you are feeling low.

A sauna is not a bad thing either so I guess I will be heating it up a bit later in order to get this cold out of my system.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Domestic difficulties

Some things the Finns have very good reason to do in the winter when it is cold, and that is apart from all winter sport activities.

The Finns have learned to take advantage of the subzero temperatures making use of it in their household chores, which is one thing I have wisely taken after them into practice. When it is cold enough it is good to leave your bed ware like pillows and blankets hanging out in the cold to freeze so you get rid of some of the bugs that otherwise might gather in them and you do not necessarily have to wash them as often. Also your rugs, mats and carpets will get refreshed by having a tumble in the snow for a while, which is not as easy to do when living in an urban area, leave them in the snow for a while, shake off the snow and they are ready to be carried inside again.

The smell is just fantastic, light and refreshing like linen that has been dried outside in the sun!

Mind you, this rug trick has to be performed when really cold and crisp so the carpets don’t get all wet and soggy, which would ruin the benefit of the dry coldness. If it's not a dry coldness you're better off washing them instead.

One thing I forgot to do last year, when there were these extremely cold temperatures, almost -30 degrees Celsius even here in southern Finland was defrosting the freezer. The cold kept on for about two months, if I remember it correctly and the cold snap was just for a fortnight but it still was not long enough for me to remember defrosting the freezer.

This winter I have been thinking about my problem, as the freezer slowly is getting fuller and fuller with this on-use excessive ice gathering on the edges, the sides and the top so I have access to less storage for frozen food. Now I am waiting for it to get cold enough for me to have to time to defrost the freezer, as chucking deep frozen food into room temperature is not a good choice, neither are the couple of plus degrees it is outside which both would result in the produce melting with water dripping around and with my luck I bet the cold snap comes when I am away and am not able to take advantage of this magnificent opportunity.

One thing that is good with the mild winter up here in the northern hemisphere and the global warming is that the sailing time to China has been halved to 20 days instead sailing through the Arctic Sea and passing by the northern Russian territories. It takes 40 days it takes to sail around Western Europe, through to the Mediterranean passing by the Suez Canal and further through the Indian Ocean to China. Guess the Suez Canal already made a change in sailing times to China at the time.

The arctic ice melting is just a bit shame as some species of animals, and many more than just the currently always mentioned polar bears will disappear, as it is too warm for them to live.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Helsinki expanding

The metropolitan area in the Finnish capital region is a centre of expansion and some cities in the area grow faster than others by claiming land from others.

The endlessly ongoing debate about whether the municipality of Helsinki is allowed to extend itself by annexing the south western parts of the neighbouring municipality of Sipoo will still go on despite a court ruling made Today by the highest administrative court. The court decided that Helsinki’s claim to extend towards Sipoo by annexing the disputed parts by beginning of the year 2009, same property of land the city of Helsinki apparently so far has been renting from Sipoo, is lawful and right.

As the court ruled against the result in the municipal elections held last year where 94% of the inhabitants in Sipoo were against the annexation, the ruling in the case will be appealed to the European court as this is said to be against the principals of democracy, intruding against the municipal rights to rule. The disputed property is 30 square kms, and Helsinki will right away begin their planning of the disputed land beginning with public transports and they will also begin negotiations for the sales price of the property as soon as possible with Sipoo municipality.

Anyway, the weather has not been the best lately; too warm for it to be winter so it seems we are having an extended version of autumn this winter with some days of snow in between. This is normally the coldest time of the year here in Finland. With the sky being overcast, it being all wet with the snow melting away you do not see much light either so no wonder hard to get anything done and one feels a bit depressed.

Not even the thought of it soon turning into spring makes it any better at this time…

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Money for the poor

After the recent water crisis in the town of Nokia where thousands became ill The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is requiring all municipalities in Finland to thoroughly check their water treatment systems’ plumbing by march in order to avoid such disasters in the future. The town’s sewage water got mixed into the cleaned tap water by a vault that was not even thought to exist between the clean drinking water pipes and the waste water.

The cleaning up of the Nokia’s water system is still going on and many citizens have now claimed compensation from the town. A couple of deaths occurring at the time of the water contamination are to be scrutinized just to be on the safe side to check whether the sewage water might have caused the deaths or not.

There is said to be 130.000 poor families in Finland and I have wondered what that really means, who is counting it and how it is done. Does that mean that you are living on social welfare as you are below the existential minimum of means for daily survival or how is it decided? Sounds like an awful lot, to me at least, in a country that is proud to call itself a welfare state.

Anyway, as there is a charity fund raising every Xmas and it ends on Xmas Eve I have been wondering how the money will get to the needing in time to celebrate the holidays as it is said, or is a part saved from the previous year to the next year? The money apparently goes to the needing families as gift vouchers which I think is good, at least then you know it goes to what is was designated for, food and not booze from the liquor store.

Which is the main reason I never give away money to beggars, I could buy a Big Mac or something similar instead but those offers have so far always been turned down, and quite in a rude way as well.

The amount of beggars, and here I mean foreign and not the usual winos and homeless, has increased in Finland and there are talks about abolishing begging in the capital region. Well, as I have already noticed, begging is not very successful in this country to the great disappointment of many foreign beggars standing around in corners but why only prohibit begging in the capital region, shy not in the whole country when you’re at it? Makes it easily comprehensive, one general rule for the whole country.

Friday, 11 January 2008

Drinks around

Beer is apparently now cheaper to buy in the supermarkets than in Alko, even though the prices on alcohol were said to be going up with the New Year.

And that the prices have done, not by much, but anyway.

The supermarkets can sell the same beer for less this apparently being a direct cause of the supermarket chain’s more effective distribution system, even with the prices going up it will still be cheaper than at Alko.

Finland is a country of beer drinkers, as of sausages like the Germans. The Finns enjoy their beer with their saunas on Saturdays, and sausages are commonly joked about being a vegetable comparable to a carrot. So the price of beer seems to be essential to many Finns, at least it might determine where you go shopping.

Well, so much for beer, it is one or two bottles of beer a year that is consumed by me and one of them has become a tradition, a late night snack, a ham sandwich with a thick slice of home made Xmas ham, my grandma’s traditional Xmas bread with some hot mustard made after a recipe that has been in the family for five generations and a beer on the night to Boxing Day.

Anyway, now I must confess to you one of my great fears, to go by train and that I had to do the other day visiting a friend of mine. I have no idea where this insensible fear of mine origins from, as I have problems with taking the commuter train to get into town or go by metro, but somehow long-distance trains are a scare and this was the tenth time I have been on a long distance train. This might also be the reason I never went Inter-railing as so many of me friends did in their younger days, and it might also have had something to do that my mum would probably not have let me do that, but then I do not know the answer to that question as it was never asked back then.

Anyway, the train was right on time, even a bit early at the station; it also stopped so I could get in. It being so late when I was getting back home I had not been able to buy myself a fare in advance, and as I did not know what time I might be getting back, wining and dining with my friend as the nights sometimes can get a bit late or early might be the right word but as I had to be back early the next morning and was not able to spend the night I had no choice but take the train in the evening to get home in time. The train was not even half full with lots of empty seats I sat down by the window and turned my MP3 player on waiting for the guard to arrive to my compartment to sell me a ticket and just in no time I had company by an admiring male person.

What is there about me and men seeking my company, of little demure me who only would like to left alone and just be? Why do these men who have had too much to drink always hit on me when I am not in the mood for being chatted up, and they never take a polite no for an answer?

Unfortunately as I did not have a book with me I could dive into and look preoccupied with I had no other alternative than to politely try to avoid having a conversation with him, trying to evade his questions and only answering elusively.

I still wonder what kind of invisible drunkard magnet am I carrying with me as I am always being hit on in the bus , on an airplane or the train where I have no chance of getting away by someone who has had “a bit too much” to drink?!? I have nothing against being chatted up, or being hit on for that matter when in the right mood. A flirt does not mean anything more than a pastime for me as there is nothing that comes out of it. I have great many male friends with whom I have had good flirtatious conversations over the decades we have known each other, and we do not mean anything more than having fun, spending a good time together making jokes at each other and about each other.

Thank God this already in advance dreaded train trip was not a long one and I could get off at the next station, securing myself against any further attempts the same night of being hit at on the bus by other as thirsty candidates by taking a taxi home from the station.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Paternal leave

After a legislative change by the beginning of 2007 more fathers here in Finland are encouraged to stay home when children are born into families.

In Finland there apparently is a four month maternal leave followed by parental leave that can be used either by the mother of the child or the father, or it can even be shared by both. Still not many men take advantage of this great opportunity with this paternal leave to spend time with their new born children, many claiming it being a matter of money and missed career opportunities and only one in ten fathers make use of this unique opportunity, which I think is really sad.

Well, outcome in hand, I can now say that my father was very keen on his career when we were young, my sister and I, at least we had the opportunity of out mother staying home with us so we had at least one parent at home when small. When we grew older and both in out time began school our mother returned to the working life first as part time, to still be able to be there for us when needed. But we never saw our father, he was busy making a career, and my, so he did!

My sister and I grew up, got married and had children of our won and our parents divorced our father getting remarried not too long after having new children with his new, much younger wife. This means I have sisters and brothers who actually are younger than my offspring. My offspring has aunts and uncles that are younger than they are. This also means I am older than my father’s new wife as well.

My father now has told me regrets the time he lost when we were children my sister and I, that he was never there for us then and that he will try to better this time, but as they say, it is hard to teach old dogs any tricks. They have already got their own peculiar ways and one thing you can sadly enough never get back is time, nor lost chances.

They are gone for ever, and never to come back!

So if anyone listens to me, take the paternity leave if given the chance and spend it with your offspring, it is way too late when they get their driver’s licenses and ask to borrow your new car!

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Bearings right

Finally, we have got some snow here in southern Finland as well, and the falling snow of course once again surprised all drivers as is the custom.

Strange thinking that Finland usually has cold winters with snow during the winter and every year it takes the motorists by surprise, and 70 fender benders were reported by the police yesterday. The snow has continued falling on and off but according to the last weather report I was listening to the temperature is expected to rise again by the end of the week. This might mean we just had a quick visit by the winter snow.

Things are always relative, when they say it will be colder and one expects for it to become real cold, subzero temperatures but they are just talking about a few degrees. It all depends on who you are, what you are used to and where you are. When it is to cool down a bit the temperature drop can be anything between an average 15 and a couple of degrees at least according to the weather report.

Another thing I now know where it is is mid-Finland.

it was not until quite recently that I found out where it really is and it was puzzling and sometimes even annoying when the meteorologist on TV referred to what I considered as mid-Finland around the height of Vaasa-Kuopio-Lieksa being referred to as northern Finland. Now bearing in mind that Lapland begins just around Oulu, and that is also divided into southern and northern parts it suddenly came clear to me.

Finland is divided into two halves, Finland and Lapland and both have southern and northern parts of course!

It is like comparing it to the United Kingdom, if you are talking about England then you are not actually referring to neither Scotland, Wales nor Northern Ireland, just the one small portion of Britain. Like when people are talking about going to England when they visit Scotland or Wales as well.

So at least I now have got my bearing right!

Monday, 7 January 2008

Guidelines for restaurant food

As the Finns of today's modern society on average dine out in restaurants more than once a week suggestions on nutritional content on restaurant food are now considered in Finland.

Master of Health Sciences Enni Mertanen has done a research in a dozen à la Carte restaurants and found out that steak meals meet nutritional guidelines the best and that that are considered to be light suppers were surprisingly heavy alternatives even though the courses left much to be desired concerning their nutritional values. Well why not fixed prices on courses, menus and why not make it a law when you’re at it?!?

Cheaper prices in restaurants with good nutritional meals and more expensive in junk food chains not to mention any names. Then do the same thing with food prices in supermarkets, the better and healthier for you the less expensive, the more unhealthy the food the more expensive.

Hello big brother!

When will we get the food police to check up in each home to see if we eat according to nutritional guidelines? Quit smoking and drinking alcohol, exercise more, or quit coffee for that matter?

Maybe we should have cameras installed in our homes so big brother can check up on us when he wants to see if we exercise as much as we need and be good boys and girls ought to so Santa will bring us some presents next Xmas.

Is Big Brother maybe Santa Claus?

By the way, dear spouse’s quitting coffee drinking has been much easier than we first feared. He has been out on extensive long walks, kept quietly to himself and not been bad at all. It is only I who has badly missed my daily one cup of coffee we always have at the time when he gets home in the weeks. It is always dear husband of mine who turns the percolator on and makes the coffee, as mine of horrible most of the time so there is a good reason for it, or then it is flooding all over the kitchen tops pouring down the sides to the floor.

I only know how to cook, not how to make coffee.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Lighting a fire

The Mormon Church in Tampere was set ablaze and burned to the ground this weekend and it seems to have been arson but it is not the single on, there seems to have been more of them lately. The Pentecostal Fellowship church in Viitasaari burned in May 2006 and was tried to light again four months later in September. The church in Lappenranta was tried to lit up in spring 2006 and the of Porvoo 15th century church was burnt to the ground with two more contemporary Lutheran churches and the Jehovah’s witnesses church in Vantaa in the same year.

I always wonder what it means, just a spur of the moment thing, lighting a match seeing if it catches or something against the religion, or something personal against that particular church or congregation.

Anyway, the variation in TV programmes by the end of the year can sometimes be very tedious, list of music from the previous year, various flashbacks looking back at the year gone, “How the Eurovision were made 2007” and so on, might be nice for the ones interested but some programs that have become traditions are just the utter waste of time, like the Victoria’s secret annual fashion show.

It is said to be the greatest honour to be chosen as an under wear model of Victoria’s, only the best of supermodels get there, and men are said to be the greatest fans of Victoria’s, more than women the under wear is designed for to use daily. I must confess I am a sucker for lingerie, the less of it, the better. The more luxurious silk and see-through laces the better. I enjoy feeling sexy underneath as it is my own secret that no one knows about.

I do not advertise about it as I do not dress for the joy of my husband but for my own pleasure, but I must admit it is an advantage if he enjoys my lingerie as much as I do, lighting my fire, if you know what I mean.

So getting to the point here soon, I wonder how many men really are interested in seeing this Victoria’s secret fashion show that is aid to be one of the annual highlights of the fashion world, at least according to the media. My problem here is that I do not know one single man that is addicted to seeing it, neither is anyone thrilled about the catalogue being released. Does this mean that the men I know are mature enough to not fall for as frivolous things or do they just not dare to confess it publicly? Or is it just a thing, like the Chippendales for women, a lot of talk but not much action really? Which by the way I still have missed the opportunity to see so far even though they were in Finland not so long ago.

Or maybe Victoria’s secret means, being secretly addicted to it without ever admitting it to yourself?

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Soap bubbles

Probably we all are aware of what soap is, that you use it for washing but hoe many of us do know what soap is made of and how it is made?

Fortunately I do have a curious friend who likes to try everything out and is actually following a family tradition in making their own soap, her great grandmother used to make their own during the wars so I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to see oils and fat combined with lye turn into soap under my eyes. Did you know that soap actually is the salt of the fats and oils?

Depending on the properties of the fats and oils combined in the soap it turns out differently. One oil for big luscious bubbles of the lather, another for it to turn into a hard bar, a third for it to lather even in salt water a fourth one to made the soap more emollient to the skin and so on. The soap can be tailor made to each person’s skin condition with the oils and fats used and also with additives, some to cleanse the skin, others to pamper the skin, revitalize mature skin and so on not forgetting the scenting of your soap bars.

But the soap is not ready when you have mixed the soap mixture with your additives you have to pour it into moulds to cure for at least 3 weeks before all the lye has been neutralized and it is ready for safe use on the skin.

Anyway, I think making your own soap is a good idea, now you can be sure what has been used in it no strange unknown ingredients and even if it is hard work getting husbands, children and pets out of the way as a safety precaution, getting all things needed lined up and ready to go, the tedious cleaning up afterwards, you still can brag about having made your own luxurious soap. And what can me more environmentally friendly than making as much as you need without any excessive waste of anything? You really get what you see here.

So now I have to wait for three weeks to find out how the soap she made turned out, at least the scent was absolutely fantastic even at this early stage.

Friday, 4 January 2008

No more coffee!

Sulphite is a commonly known migraine trigger together with cheeses, nuts and onion.

I know dear spouse of mine gets his from sulphites, the reason he has never been very keen on red wine as they more commonly contain sulphites. Last time he had migraine was during Xmas as he had eaten chocolates containing apricots.

Apricots you might ask, how come you get a migraine from them? Well, they are commonly treated with sulphites to preserve their lovely orange colour. This was actually referred to on the chocolate box, but as I did not read it through, as I normally do with most of the edible stuff entering this house it was left unnoticed and the search for the migraines trigger began.

Funny those, as there are several persons suffering from migraine headaches in our family, we all have different things that set it off. Mine is a bit more irregular, I can never tell what set it off and the warning signs have disappeared with age so I can never take any medication in advance, which is a shame but I have to cope with. Last time it was triggered by my chiropractor, the headache I had when entering his surgery shifted places and turned out as s full blooming migraine. So what to do, take a pill go back home by bus and leave the car standing in order to collect some parking tickets, take a pill and drive under the influence back home, or drive home straight away not taking any medication before entering home, which still would be like driving under the influence this time not some medical substance risking an accident? I mean you might just be alright and nothing happens, but what is something happens?!?

Anyway, dear spouse of mine has finally been to the doctor, an appointment we, the rest of the family, have been on him about for more than a year now, but men, they take more than they should, if sane, sometimes resulting a bit too drastic measures, like this time. He just happily phoned me telling me our family doctor was a bit busy at this time, but that he has to quit rye bread, all raw vegetables and coffee to find out what 's wrong.

Well I can understand why in order to be able to determine what in his diet it is that has been causing the trouble; the rest of us gasping in despair for some fresh air, if you know what I mean, but quitting his coffee! Well, this is the day the really sh** hits the fan. It might not be migraines he will be having, and here we are just facing the weekend when he will be home and not shouting at work at somebody else but us suffering from bad headaches.

I must now seriously consider in which order I have to visit all my friends, right this weekend as of this moment before the gets back home. And of course we will be celebrating some, drinking wine and I will have to stay overnight. And this I expect to be worse, and last for longer, than when he quit smoking a year ago.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Happy New Year!

The New Year 2008 brings with it many changes in legislation and regulations here in Finland, as well as the normal prices annual increases.

Outdoor advertising of alcoholic drinks such like "happy hour" will be prohibited, and bulk discounts on alcoholic beverages is to disappear as well as TV commercials for alcohol are now banned between 7.00 am and 8.00 pm, and alcohol commercials won’t be allowed in cinemas when the film is allowed for under 18 olds.

There will also be a legislative reform in order to reduce the number of part time work contracts for employments longer than one month. The employees must now be informed of the basis for their part time contracts, receive annual vacation and a notice period that is consistent with the duration of their work contract.

Also a reform governing the protection of children will take place for better protection of the minor’s interests and to ensure that both children and their families have access to necessary support, to improve cooperation with officials and enable timely interventions if needed.

A raise is awaited in the price of petrol by 5 cents per litre, and diesel by 5,5 cents and Bus tickets will to rise by 5.2 percent and long-distance train tickets costing an average of 3% more. The postage is also going up and stamps will cost 7 percent unless for letters weighing less than 50 grams.

And to the joy of anyone with a mortgage, the interest rates are also set to go up.