Author Archives: Elizabeth Kiikka

About Elizabeth Kiikka

20 something in Helsinki

5 Things To Do For Free

The day to day drone of media marketing can be a daunting maze of ‘buy me’, ‘sale now’, ‘discount here!’ It seems like advertisements are constantly bombarding to get you to buy anything, at any time of day.

It is good to take time to remind yourself, that everything you are, and everything you have is ok. It is also good to remember your dollar is a vote towards the life you want to live, and the community which you want to live in, so by not spending, that shows you value your bottom line. Happiness doesn’t always have to be inspired by a purchase, and a purchase definitely should have any control over the way you live.

With this in mind, I have collected 5 things to do without spending a dime. Leave the wallet at home, no need to grab any spare change, everything on my list is for you to do on your own, no transaction necessary!IMG_5298.jpg

First up is to shop your wardrobe. We have all heard the phrase about retail therapy. And while you might be saving up for the special something in the store, you do not need to fill your weekends with endless shopping trips for random objects. One of my favorite things to do is dive into my wardrobe and start mixing and matching. The hours pass brilliantly as you try on old favorites, play with different combinations, and have some fun dressing up.

 

The second task on the list is to take a book. I suggest a proper book, so no online screens where any submissive adverts can slip through. Just you doing you with some analog entertainment. I keep my reading material on constant rotation by frequenting my local library.

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Third to do is the ever classic, exercise! So many times I fall into the trap of wishing I had the trendy gym membership or browsing athletic equipment for the newest props, but actually, all of that is just bogus! You can get your workout without any props required. Plus, we all know that endorphins make you happy!

IMG_5366.jpgNext up, and one of my favorites, is to go on a photo mission. Originally I heard about this kind of activity through watching Youtube and people vlogging about ‘Instagram Missions’, but whether you post the picture to share or keep it for yourself, it is a great activity. Take the opportunity as an excuse to get outside and explore your neighborhood. No matter if you are using your phone, a DSLR, point and shoot, or just nostalgic for some film photographs, this is a classic activity. Enjoy your life while searching for those moments of joy to capture forever in a photograph.

 

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Similar to the previous tip, the fourth is on the creative side of life. Take a journal and draw something, or make a list if you’re like me and that gives you thrills. Even if the list is for groceries or next seasons wishlist for your closet, taking the time to be conscious about what you consume can help alleviate some of the anxieties from spending.

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Last on the list of freebies is to take a walk with a friend. Spending quality time with someone is one of those faithful and true activities that money can’t compete with. When life feels daunting with external messages and advertising trying to influence your every move, some one on one time could be just the trick to escape that toxic environment.

IMG_5474.jpgAs I created this list and then lived it on a Saturday afternoon, I spend the day listening to a new, and favorite, album by Troye Sivan. So a bonus tip for all of you reading is to make a playlist. Explore new music, or dig deep into the archives to pull out some of the old favorites. Incorporate this tip with any of the previously listed activies.

However, you chose to spend your time, keep in mind it doesn’t require you to spend any money at all! So maybe you spent a little too much money on vacation last month, and you’re trying to save this month. Maybe you want to incorporate this routine into your weekly schedule, say a ‘Spend-less Sunday, that is perfect too. The point of the matter is money can buy things like shelter and nutrition, but you have the power to create your own entertainment and happiness.

Mifu Stir-Fry Dinner

IMG_5221.jpgAs an avid vegetarian and vegan enthusiast, I am always hunting the grocery stores for the latest and greatest ways to cook delicious meals. This recipe came across my Pinterest and I was immediately obsessed. Originally the recipe calls for tofu, but I substituted with Mifu and made other own adjustments accordingly. If you love Asian fusion cuisine keep reading for a yummy dish and easy recipe!

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I tried this Mifu product a while back at a promotional event in town. It has been years since and I am finally getting around to making something with it. This is long overdue too because it is delicious! After trying Beyond Meat in Iceland earlier this year, I am eager to try more vegetarian alternatives to protein sources local to me in Finland.

IMG_5252.jpgSo the recipe itself is relatively simple. Once you fix up the sauce the rest is just warming up the produce and Mifu.  To start, add all the sauce ingredients to a blender and combine well. A good blender will also aerate the mixture giving it a little more color. I love this sauce so much because it can be used for any sort of Asian fusion dish.

After the sauce is prepared, marinate the Mifu and set it aside. Somewhere between 15-30 minutes should be sufficient. While that is happening, prep your produce! My husband had the idea to add one bell pepper and it made for a nice pop of color and an additional source of vitamin-c. Size matters, so finely chop the bell pepper and leave the carrots to be thinner semi circles. I am all about meal presentation and the ever important mouthfeel.

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On a skillet over medium to high heat, add all the ingredients until cooked through. The beauty of being an entirely vegan dish is that there is no worry for undercooking. Depending on how you like your food, you can cook to your heart’s desire!

Once complete, plate the dish with a side of rice and garnish with a lime and sesame seeds. It’s the perfect indulgent meal for any night of the week. Let me know if you make it and if you use any personal adjustments to the recipe!

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Pelago

When my husband decides he is ready to buy something, he does his research, and roughly 6-18 months later, he decides to buy. With this kind of decision making, it can be assured that the product is worth the investment, and the patience. So when he told me about getting a Pelago, I was astonished by his proactive interest.

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To set the record straight, I am a bike enthusiast. I do not consider myself an expert, but I do get all the butterfly feelings when there is a little grease on my hands after a long ride, checking out other bikes in the streets, and like this day, when my husband and I were standing in the Pelago store as owners of our very own Pelago bicycle. Never before had I been so excited to hold an owners manual.

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For anyone interested in bikes, or Nordic design, the Pelago flagship store is a wonderful must see. Located on Kalevankatu, there you can find their sweet little set up with retail merchandise and bikes, and around back are the maintenance and mechanics. The building is classic, historic and compliments the detail and effort put into each and every product.

Now we just need to find the perfect rustic old crate to attach to the front. Once we do, running errands around town will never be the same. They say you shouldn’t conform to others standards, but when the standard is this gorgeous design blended with adding elegance to an otherwise mundane commute, why not jump on the bandwagon? I do not see myself ever driving a car again, so adding a traditional ride like this to our little family collection feels like the perfect way to cruise around on a Sunday.

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By the way, we named her Ruska, which is the Finnish word for autumn foliage. 🍂

Sushi Date Night

Today while my husband and I scrambled through the internet hunting for dinner recipes to inspire our weekly meal planning, I finally decided to give up and call for a date night!

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Located in one of the more beautiful buildings in the neighborhood, Sushibar + Wine is my favorite spot to go enjoy a meal. While they do have multiple locations throughout the city, I am biased, and adore the Punavuori location.

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The inside is something between a pop-up gallery, local design shop, and Scandi interior heaven. Before you even get a bite to eat there is already something to gaze upon to feast your eyes.

For dinner, we had the three rolls from the Maki menu, Spicy Tuna, Shitaki Thai, and the new Cold Smoked Shake Maki roll. I have never had mushrooms in a sushi roll before but I was beyond impressed. No surprise though since I have been digging ‘shroom recipes for about a year now.

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Visits to Sushibar + Wine are far and few between, but every time I leave it is always with 100% satisfaction.  The vibe is perfect inside, even for a Monday night date. I hope to convince my husband of more dates in lieu of grocery shopping. Even if it is only for the summer, it is nice to enjoy the neighborhood and soak up all the fun.

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Galaxy Pod Reykjavík

To conclude my solo journey around Reykjavík, I finished my days at the Galaxy Pod Hostel. After I packed all my things, I left Three Sisters Guest House, said farewell to my host and friend Thor, and began the 2.5-kilometer walk towards my newest accommodation. An easy trek considering luck was on my side and all I had to do was walk down the same street for 30 minutes. Through the tourist attractions and “gift shop district” of the old town, I slowly made my way. Passing the city to my right and to my left, through each intersection, the breathtaking views of the Icelandic geography.

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The hostel was easy to find since it is in a large developed area and my directions involved little to no complications. There I dropped off my bags and went out to do some more exploring before my 2pm check-in. Fortunately, this was one of the better days to be outside weather-wise, and I was also doing well with my budget, so I treated myself to a lunch at a restaurant and passed the time writing in my journal. After picking up a couple snacks from a grocery across the road, I returned to the hostel to check-in.

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Prior to this moment, I had no idea what to expect from hostel life, but after a little coaching from a well-traveled friend and seasoned hostel hopper, I felt mentally prepared for what to expect. Fortunately I got incredibly lucky at Galaxy Pod. As far as first experiences go, this one takes the cake! The staff was exceptionally kind and helpful. They offered discounted breakfasts and dinners all while there was a fully equipped kitchen to host any other meal planning needs you may have. With a fully stocked bar and a movie playing almost every night in the common room, I started to feel like I was in college again.

For the Zenon fans, this is what I imagined living on the main space station would be like in the year 2049. My personal pod was in a room of 24, but for others interested in trying, there are a variety of room options to choose from varying in sizes and privacy.

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In moments of needed solitude or travelers exhaustion, it is nice to go into the pod, with no windows and really absorb the moment of rest. While the world keeps turning, it feels like the human version of recharging. While the pods are not soundproof, it is still quite cozy to take off your outerwear, tuck into the pod, close the door and get a good nap, or just watch a movie on Netflix. Whichever your version might be of recharging, this little space makes you feel like once you are ready to emerge, you will have arrived in a future universe.

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I really enjoyed taking a few hours to myself in the pod during the days to rest or wait out bad weather only to arise at 10pm just in time to catch sunset pictures! At the end of the day, it was nice to enjoy the common area as well, take advantage of the happy hour special, and just watch the clouds pass through the mountains. Galaxy Pod is a special place, and I am forever a fan of this efficient accommodation service. Since returning from my trip, I have since seen pod style hostels and hotels from all around the world. So even if your plans are not taking you to Iceland this summer, be sure to check out if there will be a pod in your destination of interest. And if you are going to Reykjavík don’t forget to look for my tag on the community wall at Galaxy Pod!

 

Three Sisters Guesthouse Reykjavík

Located near the Old Harbor district in Reykjavik Iceland, the quaint space of Three Sisters Guesthouse offers a homely accommodation for any weary traveler. As I made my way to the city center from the airport, still flooded with adrenaline after arriving in 33mph winds, I am anxious to meet my host and see where my journey abroad will begin. My connection with Three Sisters came on a whim, but I was eager to know more about the guesthouse as the opportunity grew closer.

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My husband, just over 2,000 miles away, is in Helsinki, and I am on my own traveling solo for the first time since we got married in 2015. My emotional levels ranging from a sense of vulnerability to a peaking awareness of independence. After getting from the plane to the bus, to the van, to the front door of Three Sisters Guesthouse, I am greeted by the kindest face a tired traveler can see! Thor, the owner of the facility, greeted me as family and escorted me to my room on the third floor. Although I have never been there before, somehow space felt familiar. As if walking into your Grandparents home only to sleep in what once in time was your own parents’ bedroom.

 

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In the entryway was the coat rack and bathroom and just passed that in the corner was a kitchen and opposite to that was a small coffee bar. Past the bed, on the opposite side of the room, two wing back chairs framed the coziest view of the neighboring corner store. Thor sat down with me on the wingback chairs and we talked about my travels, his company, and our spouses. As if visiting a relative I havent seen in a long time, it was comforting and easy to talk.

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Then all at once, I was alone, abroad, and amazed at the situation I found myself in. Gazing out the window of the overcast neighborhood, I wondered what the week ahead would have in store. First and foremost a meal was in my near future, since I was traveling on a budget groceries were needed. The following few days would be filled with window gazing and neighborhood wandering.

What started out as a spontaneous journey to the island of Iceland, turned into a surpriginly comfortable journey to a place of framiliarity. Three Sisters Guesthouse made traveling easy when every nightless night I could sit in the window ledge watching the moon and occasional pedestrian pass in the dusk light. Waiting for the streetlights to come on became an evening ritual as it would be well after midnight before the flicker of electricity would grow into a luminous light. Just enough to glow into the shadows in the sidewalk.

For anyone looking to have a cozy home away from home expereince, please consider this darling space. It truly is pleasure to stay here, and easy when all that you need is easily available in the various studio apartments to chose from at Three Sisters Guesthouse. Best of all, Thor will be your first friend in Iceland.

This post has been in collaboration with Three Sisters Guesthouse.

 

Travel Essentials

This week I am abroad on a solo journey around Reykjavík Iceland. So while I will share more detail about the city and my journey later with you on here, for now, I want to focus on my packing essentials. This trip is a seven-day expedition and without getting too cocky I feel this is my best packing job to date! When I arrived on Tuesday, the winds and rain were unlike anything I have ever experienced whilst living in the Nordic region. Much to my astonishment, I planned perfectly with exactly the right apparel to defend myself against the climate.


Some of my favorites with me on this trip include my Rains jacket for protection against wind and water. I also have my Lululemon jacket and merino wool sweater. These two together make just about any cold to freezing temperature a pleasurable experience. Also, in the essence of keeping things light, I only brought two journals and book for some paperback entertainment.


I am halfway through my trip and I could not be more pleased with how well things are going. As far as preparation is concerned, I did very little just to be sure spontaneity could be an option along the way. My best tip to share with you would be one, check the weather and prepare! And two, be honest with yourself. I am not the type to do a massive amount of wardrobe changes. So I know that I am going to wear a variation of the same outfit every day to keep mornings easy, packing light, and personal management simple. So if you’re traveling soon or planning to come to the great country of Iceland, I hope this has helped.
-xx