Advent calendar, week 3

For more Advent calendar treats, see week 1 and week 2!

December 24th

Here’s a little teaser, of sorts. Merry Christmas, Sweethearts!

Blogiin Noir

© Café de Abejas 2015

December 21st

It’s cocktail time! Or rather, it’s a time to make a few more delicious syrups, and see what to mix them with.

The red hibiscus is the national plant of Jamaica, and Agua de Jamaica, sometimes referred to as Hibiscus Tea, is a traditional Christmas drink. Agua de Jamaica mixes together hibiscus, ginger and possibly rum, but we’ll make a syrup without the ginger this time.

We’ll also make allspice syrup, a surprisingly Christmasy syrup that can be used, among other things, in Holiday season grogs and toddies.

The hibiscus syrup has a beautiful bright red color, and a slightly berrylike, tangy taste, reminiscent of cranberries or cassis. The allspice syrup is like condensed Christmas with notes of cinnamon and cloves, and works well in either hot or cold drinks.

Along with the recipes, then.

For the hibiscus syrup, you’ll need:

5 dl water
2 dl of white sugar
1 dl of brown sugar
1 dl of dried hibiscus flowers
1 tbsp of crushed juniper berries
The peel of one whole lemon, in strips, without the pith!

For the allspice syrup, you’ll need:

5dl of water
2dl white sugar
1dl of brown sugar
3 tbsp of crushed allspice berries
2-3 tbsp of crushed bay leaves

The actual preparation method is same for the two. In a sauce pan, bring the sugar and water to boil, and let boil for a minute or two. When the sugar is completely dissolved, turn the heat down, add the other ingredients, and let simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat, cover the pan and let steep for 20 minutes.

With the hibiscus you want to be careful, it tends to become quite bitter when boiled, so let the sugar-water mixture cool down a bit before adding the hibiscus, lemon and juniper. You might also want to let the allspice steep longer than the 20 minutes, to taste.

Once the syrups have cooled, run them through a fine sieve and store in your choice container – I use bottles, since pouring syrups out of jars is a pain. Both yield about 3-4 dl of syrup, depending on how long you let the sugar-water mixture boil before removing from heat.

Here’s a few ideas for cold cocktails made using these syrups:

15 ml hibiscus syrup
15 ml red grapefruit juice
15 ml Pisco
35 ml Lillet Blanc

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass. Beautiful, bright and just sligthly sour delicacy to work up appetite for those Holiday goodies!

15 ml allspice syrup
15 ml dry gin
50 ml Dubonnet

Rolling or tossing this one is a good idea. Strain in to a chilled coupé glass. An amalgam of the classic Dubonnet Cocktail and our very own Pear’n’Pepper Zaza.


December 20th

Decadence. You know we’re dedicated to it – after all, that’s what it says on our tote bags, and it simply would not do to deny the testimony of a tote bag. Decadence – excuse me, I do believe I need a glass of Amontillado to write about this subject. Now, where were we? – That’s quite all right, dear, just leave the cask. Thank you.

Handle with care. This is strong stuff.

Ah yes, we have put together this absolutely delightful little Pinterest board that’s quite simply bursting with decadence. None of our more deplorable habits this time, nothing too personal – no, this time it’s about the real bad boys, the Decadent Movement (I love letting Wikipedia do my work) and the happy tormented souls associated with their circle.

I have to warn you though – every time I open this Pinterest board, I immediately reach for an Opium pipe and a drink too strong for mortals to handle. Paintings, illustrations, quotes, poets, Muses, skeletons, erotica, Surrealism, Aestheticism, Mysticism, Expressionism, Death and Beauty, this board has it all. Go see it and despair. Merry Christmas.

– Laura

December 19th

On December 19th 1915, exactly 100 years ago, Édith Giovanna Gassion, better known as Édith Piaf, was born!

Bon Anniversaire, La Môme!


December 17th

We made tote bags. Laura made a pattern based on a few of our favourite bags, and wasted away half a kilometer of thread on her Husqvarna Viking 3600. Saara then initiated us to the esoteric art of screen printing. We also had some wine.


December 16th

We love comics. From silly manga to Moebius, Batman to Blacksad, Neil Gaiman to Alan Moore, Don Rosa to Art Spiegelman, most everything goes. The wonderful thing about comics is that the medium works as well on paper as on the dispalys of various handheld devices. Webcomics have been around almost as long as the web, and we’ve followed some webcomics for more than 10 years. Here’s a handful that we really, really like and hope that you’ll enjoy reading, too.

The newest acquintance of ours, Wondermark, treats first world problems and every day obstacles as the absurd, silly and often meaningless constructs that they are. All in Victorian woodcuts.

wondermark link image



Dresden Codak‘s Caveman Science Fiction is probably the single most hilarious comic strip we’ve ever read. His other stuff is equally good.

dresden codak link image








Atomic Robo is an action packed comic starring Atomic Robo, a sentient robot built by Nicola Tesla in the 1920s, a reluctant superhero in the vein of Hellboy, investigating strange occurences around the world and fighting everything from Pyramids turned war machines to sea monsters to aliens. A lot of webcomics become popular and are either collected as print editions at certain intervals, or transition to print media altogether. Atomic Robo went the other way, and was first published as a regular comic, and starting from January 2015 became readable as a webcomic in it’s entirety. That’s more than 1000 pages made available to read for free. Kudos for that.

atomic robo link image







Zen Pencils is a wonderful collection of  ‘cartoon quotes from inspirational folks’ by Gavin Aung Than, a former graphic designer who quit his corporate job to pursue his dream – drawing cartoons. There’s really no way to explain the absolute beauty of Gavin’s work, so take a look yourself.

zen pencils link image






Christopher Baldwin‘s Spacetrawlers is a story about an intergalactic activist group that abducts – or rather kidnaps – a handful of humans to act as pawns in a game of initergalactic politics. The story is heavily influenced by The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and the TV-series Red Dwarf, but is somewhat less flippant and suprisingly dark at times.

spacetrawler link image







And then there’s Oglaf. It is definetly NSFW, and if you find yourself easily offended by explicit images, skip this one. Oglaf’s humor is hard to resist, though, and the absurd adventures of Kronar, The Son of Man or the antics of the Dwarven smiths are internet memes in their own right. So prepare to blush and giggle like a six-year old and step boldly in to the mystical fantasy universe of Oglaf.

oglaf link image








December 15th

We thought we’d start this week by sharing with you music made by friends.

First off, here’s a song called Dirty Diamond by Phenomenal Creature. They’re a wonderful band, and this is one of our favourite tracks from them. Incidentally our Saara plays in Phenomenal Creature too, and Ilari is a founding member.


Then there’s Käsityökerho. It’s an extension of Mäkelä & Markus, a guitar/banjo duo Joona Mäkelä and Markus Leminen who make absolutely wonderful Finnish rock songs, and whom we absolutely adore. Käsityökerho has recently published the first track from their upcoming album, and it sounds just amazing!


We have had the pleasure of knowing Helena Haaparanta for a long while. She’s a good friend, an exceptional singer, a wonderful teacher and a true professional. She’s also in to playing a 15-string kantele, as you can see from this video by Helo, a duo formed by Helena together with the violinist-singer Lotta Ahlbeck.


Pit is a trio formed in Helsinki in 2014. Which is funny, because we could have sworn they were a band from 1990s Seattle. Pit’s grunge is dirty, crunchy, harmonic and catchy, just like the stuff we grew up to in the 90s. And so are the players – and they’re some of the best people to hang out with, too!


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