Welcome to my blog. I write about fitting in, sticking out, and missing the motherland as a serial foreigner.

Where we live now (house tour, downstairs)

Where we live now (house tour, downstairs)

In August, we traded in our two-bedroom apartment on the edge of downtown for a three-bedroom townhome in a neighborhood a few kilometers down the road. I took these pictures in September but not much has changed, though we did hang up one picture by the kitchen table!

(This will become very obvious once you see the photos, but I'd like to remind you that I am not a decorator. There are a couple of organizational things that I did here that I am proud of, but I know it doesn't look like much!)


The front door and entryway. Decoration theme: SHOES. Also: FUNCTION. My heart sighed with joy when I saw all those shoe shelves (our apartment only had two), but guess what: it is still not enough. So these are the ones in regular rotation, anyway. Now that it's wintertime, there are lots and lots of boots here. You can't quite see from this photo, but there are hooks all over the walls in this room, including ones out of the reach of small children (perfect for work keys!).


As you continue to walk in the front door, all this is on your right. I know the mirror is too small; I'm working on it. The drawers are my favorite: everyone has their own and they can store their mittens/hats/scarves there. In our old house, we only had space for a common bin and it could get pretty savage in the mornings, looking for a missing glove. Plus charging station (left), plus catch-all bin (center), plus weekly whiteboard calendar. Organization!


Now looking back toward the entry at what I wasn't a huge fan of when we first moved in, but which I wrested into something that really works. So, it's an open coat closet. In our old house, we had a big, closed, mirrored coat closet. I didn't like the idea of having all our stuff out in the open without a door to close and tidy it all up.

But it turns out that not having to open and close a sliding door, plus hooks instead of hangers, makes kids 5000% more likely to actually hang up their coats! It's amazing! I've given up a little bit of a cleaner look, but the trade-off of having the coats actually hung up is worth it.

The bottom drawers in this closet are actually an IKEA 4x1 KALLAX shelf unit on its side. I like the flat surface for sitting and putting on boots, or setting down a purse or backpack. And the drawers are hassle-free catch-alls for swimming gear, sunscreen, bug spray, rain pants, whatever.

That closed door is the downstairs bathroom.


The kitchen! This space grew on me as well. Yes, I wish there were sleeker drawer pulls, and I don't love the stove, but I find it works quite well as...a kitchen.


Dining area, looking toward the living room. As a non-design-y person, I felt nervous turning the bookshelf like this, but after some googling, it seemed like enough people do this that it's a thing, or close enough to it. I really like it - it's a nice space separator and it frees up wall space for the piano and craft cabinet.


Speaking of! This craft cabinet was a huge concession on my part toward my children. I don't care for crafts and was hesitant to give them their own piece of furniture. But with a designated storage and work space (this is a secretary cabinet, so that middle compartment folds out into a desk), I find that other areas of the house actually stay clear of craft flotsam. Plus, if it looks untidy, I can just close it up and I don't have to think about what's behind those doors.

Piano is piano.


The other side of the living room (ahhhhh, to have a house big enough to have an "other side"!). We have a TV now, which goes against that wall. Otherwise it's the same. I love sitting on this couch and looking into the forest in my backyard.


That lamp on the right side of the piano is a sun lamp. I mentioned sun lamps in the US this summer and everyone looked at me weird. This is not a SAD therapy lamp (which everyone in Oregon would NOT have given me side-eye for), but a sunrise-simulating lamp for the morning. It's on a 7am-ish gentle sunrise schedule and it is nice to not have to turn on a light myself (like some kind of barbarian!) downstairs first thing on these dark winter mornings.


Finally: our staircase. The staircase gets its own picture because it is such a staple of Finnish homes (or so my own experiences as well as watching Nordic TV shows have informed me). This style of staircase looks so treacherous and spare to my American self, used as I am to carpeted, sturdy wedges. Sterling was afraid to go up or down it by himself for the first two weeks - he had grown soft in two years in Finland, considering he cut his stairclimbing teeth on two stretches of solid marble staircase with sandpapery treads in the UAE. But we've all gotten used to it and I can definitely see the charm!

So that's the (downstairs) house.

Finnish presidential elections

Finnish presidential elections

January 5th, outsourced