tiistai 30. joulukuuta 2008

Be Guided

Last week I was able to grab a few copies of the Winter 2008-2009 Helsinki b-guided map, which our Villipuutarha cafe is mentioned in. Guess who's picture was put on the front cover?

I guess it can be something to brag about when I'm an old lady ;)

keskiviikko 24. joulukuuta 2008


For Xmas Katja gave me one of the gorgeous wreaths she's made. It's decorated with two extremely delicate porcelain doll arms, found from the rummages of WWII by an antique collector. I love it!I won't reveal what I've gotten for Katja just yet, as she'll still have to wait until next week to get it!

A good friend Henni and her boyfriend Jukka also got creative for the festive season and they baked Jolly Dragon ginger bread cookies! I have no idea how they managed to bake such a detailed cookie, but I love it!! Although it felt a pity to eat such a creation.... I couldn't help myself! So I captured it forever on camera and then bit off a piece of the tail. It was delicious!

Merry Xmas!

maanantai 22. joulukuuta 2008

I think I quite like working at our cafe!

I woke up Saturday morning dead tired and nervous: facing me that day was a 9 hour first day of work at the cafe! I woke up almost an hour before my alarm clock was due to ring but as I woke my mind filled with thoughts running left and right, up and down - what was there still left to do before opening the cafe at noon? would I learn to use the cash register? could I really manage to carry a cup of steaming hot coffee to the table without spilling it?

What if it all goes wrong?

I quickly got up and hurried to the café at 8:20 on a Saturday morning. Pity I never manage to get myself up that early when I'd have time to visit the fleamarket.

I was joined by Katja and Sari sometime later and we kept busy, running around like headless chickens and somehow by noon we had everything ready. Katja gave us a quick tutorial on the basics of running a café and soon after the first customers arrived she had to leave us on our own...

The day was great! I was so excited to talk to our customers, answer their questions, to serve them and to hear their reactions and thoughts. Also it was heart warming and so encouraging to have so many friends visit me during the day, thanks for that!

Some friends sit comfortably around the table and me standing awkwardly in this picture taken by Janne Hillervo. Yayz.

During our "Christmas Charm" days some of you took part in our Christmas Flower charity project. It was a great success and we would like to extend an extremely warm thank you to all of you who contributed! So, thank you!!! :)

Katja has already gone to the middle of nowhere somewhere and I will head North tomorrow after work, so the café will be occupied by our little helpers for the next week and from then on we'll work to get everything ready for the new year.. next time we open I will be at the café full-time! Be sure to visit then!

Good night, sleep tight... :)

perjantai 19. joulukuuta 2008

On the first day of Christmas...

Here are some pictures from last night, our first evening café night! In just a few minutes I will head to the café for another eve and of course to prepare for Saturday!

Here's Vincent, a friend I met via Jolly Dragon,...and myself, looking a bit occupied. Behind us is our closet of treasures!

This is Sari, lounging on the bed and wearing one of the PuroPuro hats we have for sale. They're made of 100% recycled materials and can be turned inside out..so really it's like having two hats in one. Nifty ;) They've been cut into a great shape and I really need to pick one out for myself before they're all gone. There are some adorable children's hats as well.

Katja and a customer exploring the goodies. Well, I'd better start heading over to the café now, see you! :)

ps. The glögi (mulled wine) we had yesterday was superb... reminded me of a spicy version of hot apple cider, which I believe is a traditional xmas drink in Canada?

torstai 18. joulukuuta 2008

Christmas Charm

Last night I went to the cafe after work and helped Katja prepare our Christmas shop until sometime past my bedtime. Katja's husband Arttu spent last night creating some cards for us, which I cannot wait to see later tonight! We have been busy..

This evening, as well as tomorrow evening the cafe & shop will be open from 5pm until 9pm and this Saturday we will be open from noon until 9pm. Therefore, this Saturday will be my first full-day spent at the cafe when it's open to customers! I'm happy and I hope that all of you who have been unable to visit us because of our limited opening hours are happy too :)

We want to offer everyone a chance to sit down and relax amidst this last-minute Xmas shopping frenzy. We will be serving Christmas brew, porridge and little treats. Below are a few pictures of some of the items in our shop.

(pictures by Arttu)

The flowers and some of the wreaths are adorned with antique porcelain doll pieces found from the rummages of WWII. The proceeds will be donated to children's charities, so this really is a goodwill present for yourself or a friend.

See you! :)

torstai 11. joulukuuta 2008

The Mother-in-Law is in Town

Today my mother-in-law did something nice. She visited our cafe for the first time and after sitting down she gave me an excited call (I was sitting at my desk at the office at the time, read "How's the cafe?" for info) :

"it's beautiful here! I love the colours..and the moss-green wall, who decided on the colours? I ordered a piece blueberry pie with vanilla creme and a milk coffee! I have a nice seat here by the window! There are several other customers here too... I really hope this will become a trend place..! I have a friend whose daughter lives close by, will have to tell her to come by, and also I will...... "

and she kept talking, as mothers do.

It was nice to get a "front seat" experience of hearing a customer's thoughts live from the cafe.

15 office work days left.

keskiviikko 10. joulukuuta 2008

C h o c o l a t e

The other weekend Katja, Arttu, Heidi and I jumped in a car and drove to the extermely atmospheric Bastvik mansion and cafe for a chocolate tasting. These weren't just any chocolates that we were tasting. These were exquisite, hand-made chocolate truffles and pralines made by one of two Finnish concetioners ever to be have been invited to the internationaly acclaimed Chocolate Ambassador's Club. These chocolates also happen to be for sale at our little cafe shop. So naturally we were tasting these divine treats for work and training purposes only ;)

The man behind the chocolate, Petri Sirén of Chocolatier Petri's, has been passionate about chocolate for over two decades and is constantly perfecting his chocolate truffles and pralines, never willing to compromise for second best and always looking for better ingredients.

We were charmed and wooed with numerous different pralines and chocolate truffles as well as thin pieces of chocolate that the final product was made of. The confection that really surprised us was one flavoured with mint. It tasted nothing like the typical mint chocolates we had tasted before. Petri uses fresh mint leaves in his recipe..he boils them with the cream filling.. aah.. mouth watering! :P It was a wonderful evening!

I recommend to try the chocolates yourself. You will not be disappointed. Just drop by the cafe and ask Katja to bring forth our selection (which includes some of these flavours: lavendar & corriander, citrus, raspberry, ginger bread, vanilla, mint...all made with the real stuff, no articial flavours :)
(picture source)

To finish off, I'd like to share with you a little "verbal treat", which a close friend of mine, Dan, wrote sometime back. He was given the challenge to write about chocolate in 120 words or less. I think he did extremely well, what do you think?

Chocolate – The Essence of Life

Darkness and light. Solid and liquid. A source of energy. A romantic gift. A heartfelt apology. A bringer of comfort. An exquisite taste of luxury. A functional fuel on the go. A profusion of textures. A possibly potent aphrodisiac. An evocation of memories.

From the cocoa tree seed. Tropical currency. Millennium thrice old. Hot drink or cold? A chemical release - serotonin is one. Health giving properties - antioxidants full-on. Cherry, chili, cranberry, coconut, coffee… A combination I chose. From the taste on the tongue to the smell up the nose.

It's an Easter egg treat. Christmas coins to eat. Valentine heart to keep. A liquor, deep heat. A hot drink to sleep. Bitter or sweet. Chocolate.

maanantai 8. joulukuuta 2008

How's the café?

I don't know.

I started a café with Katja. The café has now been open for three weeks, yet I have not worked there during official opening hours even for a minute since its opening. Not only is that a little odd, it's also driving me nuts! I work at a HR consultancy company and my contract ends in 20 working days. I have a little post-it next to my screen where I've been counting down the weeks since week number 33 when I had a total of 21 weeks left. It's a Monday morning highlight of mine to cross over a week from the countdown list.

The closer I get to ending my contract here and going full-time to the cafe, the more intense the wait feels. Thankfully there's Xmas, and new years in between to help make the time go by quicker! Until then I have to settle for spending my free time there and finding ways to keep my mind busy and amused during office hours for the next 20 work days (which is all good with nice co-workers and a variety of tasks and projects :)).

This years advent calendar perks me up every morning when I come to the office. The bank downstairs was serving mulled wine (is it still called mulled wine even if it's alcohol free? mulled juice?) and giving away advent calendars last week. I've never been a fan of the picture calendars, until now. It's much more fun to see how someones art work unfolds day by day rather than eat the same not-so-tasty bit of chocolate every day.

All of the windows reveal a new aspect to the final picture. I especially love the little fox in the corner and how the moon looks like a banana!

The two plants in the picture substitute my garden for the time being. The pink one has a very strong scent and the purple one is recovering nicely from a few weeks back when I was watering it far too frequently, almost drowning the poor thing.

Soon I'll be at my own garden café..! Until then I'll have to settle for calling Katja at the end of each day to ask the same questions "how did the day go? what kind of customers did we have? what did they say? then what did they say? tell me everything!"

maanantai 1. joulukuuta 2008

"Has anyone seen the screwdriver?"

It's been a few days since I wrote our first post but it feels like it'll take a few posts before I begin to get the hang of this. Right now it feels like I have so many ideas on what to write about that it's difficult to decide where to begin. Do I write about the (seemingly?) never-ending renovation we went through to get the café open? Or is it enough that I mention that our renovation project(s) seemed never-ending? [Note: here is where I decided to just keep writing about the renovation -T] They went on for months and months.. we had a few private events, including our own garden party (another topic I'll definitely have to cover!) and even though they were great events they also managed to slow down the seemingly never-ending process of actually opening a café.

Katja was receiving text messages, people were peeking through our windows, knocking on our doors..and whenever we were either carrying furniture in or out..or in again and out again... people would stop us to ask when we were going to open. After a few months of patience, people began to state "you're still not open?"..thi
s was the time I stopped bringing up the café as a topic of conversation with friends... a month or so more and people were begging us to open soon. We really had to remind ourselves what the point of all of this renovation and building was: to open the most wonderful café in Helsinki...and Helsinki had waited long enough! So with several sleepless nights and with an enormous amount of help from friends, we were able to open on Tuesday 18.11.2008 for the first time.

we had some champagne to celebrate the opening of the café and S's birthday

The café has been open now for eight days (yay!!!). So the never-ending renovation project reached a point where we were able to s
tart to serve our wonderful customers - mind you, that does not mean that it has ended. The restroom ceiling structures still need to be built, there's still some paint work to be done, lighting has to be set up above the windows...etc etc etc. All of that will come with time though, now we are directing all of our focus on you! By "you" I'm of course referring to our customers :)

I'm noticing a similar pattern with this blog (though in a microscopic scale!)... I have yet to tell anyone about finally writing the first posts because I want there to be some content here for when the first readers arrive.. but maybe by the next post I'll be brave enough to start passing the link around. Maybe.

I hope to find and share pictures of the renovation process with you. I have none on this computer now, so I'll just have to add them later... I don't need to ask you to be patient, since you're not here yet. Hopefully they'll be up by the time you visit for the first time ;)