Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmases in Estonia

What is Christmas like in Estonia? This blog is your answer! First of all Christmas is a three day holiday (24-26) and in the Estonian language is always in plural (jõulud).  The main day of celebration is the 24th and they have an awesome Estonian feast.  Here is an update of our Estonian Christmases this year!

 We tried to do a little holiday cooking this year, inspired by my sister Jill's top 9 Christmas treats blog post

Our first attempt was caramels.  We had to use some dark syrup that the store had, it said it was used for breads.  At first there was a funny black bread after taste, but after being in the fridge for a day it went away.  The problem is that they never got hard.  I'm not sure if I didn't cook them long enough but they stayed runny even after being in the fridge for a few days.  They tasted great though!


 The next batch was a great success, peanut butter Hershey kiss cookies.  We didn't have Hershey's kisses but we did have Fazer chocolate which worked just as good.

We didn't have the time or ingredients for all 9 of the treats but our last treat from the list was coconut bon bons, they were great!

 We decided to open up our presents early on the 21st because our car is small and it is a bit awkward opening up all our presents in someone else's place.  It was really great to see the excitement of a child opening up presents.  Child number one got a large box of Legos. 

 Child number two got her US citizenship and passport! We hope she likes it, if not she'll have to wait until she is 18 and pay over 2,300 to take it back.

 It wouldn't be Christmas without a Reese's Christmas tree

 For the real Christmas festivities we went down south to Tõrva.  A big feast is the most important part.  This dish is raw salted Herring with sour cream and onion on top. 

 While most think that the national beverage would be beer or vodka, what Estonians actually drink the most is morss.  A tangy-sweet syrup based beverage, think watered down berry flavored tang. This stuff is mandatory at every large gathering.

 The most famous dish of course is blood sausage.  It is quite tasty.

 Sourkraut is another must.

Potato salad is another classic at all major gatherings and events.

 This is sült which is best described as meat jello. I've been in Estonia for at least 7 Christmases but I have never had the courage to try it.  Next year I'm really going to do it. I'm told it is pretty good.

The feast was mostly done by Merle, suur tänu sulle!

 It has been a very warm December, no snow in Estonia.  We are very glad, when it gets too cold the doors on our Polo freeze shut.  We are also not excited about the ice that builds on the sidewalks in the winter time.

 This is a classic Estonian Christmas decoration that is in most people's window.  The last Estonian tradition is what's on TV.  Every year for Christmas they show Home Alone and Die Hard.  Everyone is sick of them but they end up watching them anyway.  This year I saw advertisements for home alone 4 and 5! Who knew they even made a fifth home alone. 

We hope all your Christmases were merry!









Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas!

The darkest time of the year was yesterday, and in Estonia that means short days and long nights.  Take time to let the light in this Christmas.





Merry Christmas!


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Before I dropped my new camera...

Yes, I dropped my new camera, well, bough used, but still. It is being repaired at the moment.
 I wanted to share some of my favorites that I have taken lately. If you are OK with things like praying for lost car keys and stuff then please pray for my camera to survive!

This is taken on the beach 15 minutes away from where we live. A few days before this there was a bigger storm and the beach was a mess.



Here is one of the most awesome cloud formations I have ever seen, same beach:


This is Keila-Joa waterfalls in December, very close by:


My favorite beach again. The water is very high this time of year. Usually these rocks are not in the water.


I basically missed the sunset here. The glow was just very humble and disappeared fast. This is the beach in  Laulasmaa - Ann and Monte stayed in the hotel there this summer.


Lake Klooga, very close by (I mean, I cannot drive far with two little kids, BUT it makes me appreciate things close by much more:). It is one of my favorite sunset photos so far.



Paldiski (Pakri) cliff at sunset. It was stormy that day and it felt like I will be blown off the cliff. So I stayed close and down on the viewing platform.  Look at the layers!


One of the colder days last week. It has been super warm here. I kind of like it because when it is cold it means we mat not be able to open the doors of our little 1999 Volkswagen Polo. So... warm is cool. :D


This is taken in October and I love it! It is Southern Estonia, a very foggy day. It is Taagepera, a place where my grandmother used to live.


I like the mood of this one:


And the last one, sunset in Klooga. 



I post most of my photos here, if you are interested: 500px.com/mariscrandall

Thank you, Kadi!

Thank you, Kadi, for giving us this awesome little gift! We ate all the Raffaellos, of course, half of the ginger bread cookies and put the little ornaments up on our tiny Christmas tree. They barely fit. The pine tree branch in there was real! I had to bite it to settle the discussion about if it is real or not. 

Thank you so much, Kadi, and Tommaso too, of course!





Thursday, December 10, 2015

NATO

This week I went to visit NATO headquarters in Brussels on a study trip with 17 of our IR students.  It was a great trip and a lot of fun.  The NATO speakers did a nice job briefing us on many of NATO's activities.Camera's were not allowed in NATO and it was a very short trip, so I didn't get any pictures.  Below is a tweet from the Estonian delegation to NATO.