Thursday, December 31, 2009

Fresh pig.

These are färsk gris, which loosely translates to "fresh pig". No one knows why...but they are delicious. Basically it's a jelly doughnut, but better.

Cross-country skiing.

Today was the day to try another Nordic tradition: cross-country skiing. Kristina was going to show me the ropes. Here is my first lesson:

This was about 5 min. later when I tried to exit the driveway and get on the trail.

Here is a closeup. You may can tell that, at this point, I am not thinking, "Maybe I'll take up cross-country skiing as a lifetime hobby!" No, I was not thinking that...

Here are the broken ski pole, wet bluejeans, and a bruised ego.

We did make a run at it though. This was between fall #1 and #2. It was pretty fun though, and I appreciate my teacher bearing with my frustrations!

More food (believe it or not)...

Two nights ago Sara made a fresh batch of Julstjärna (Christmas stars), which are sweetened puff-pastry formed into stars with a plum filling. They are delicious!

As you can see, they didn't last long!

This morning she made Mannagrynsgröt, which is like grits (but not grits - it's a wheat kernel - still tastes like grits) with strawberry, raspberry, blueberry sauce (? - it was hot and good) on top. Yum.


This is one of the main streets in Jakobstad showing off the famous symbols: Faith (cross), Hope (anchor), and Love (heart - waaaay in the back). These three symbols are on EVERYTHING in Jakobstad, and are quite neat. One tradition is to hang hand-made paper lights of the symbols in your window during the Advent and Christmas seasons.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

One last picture from Julafton...

Here's a great shot of the whole gang (including Martin's arm) in the Sundström's living room:

Boys Night, Part II

Getting ready to snöskoter! The main event arrives!

He's ready to lead his men into battle, American flag helmet in tow...

Joppi and Paul get ready to move out.

Seven men and six snöskotar!

Here we are just before we leave. The ride was indescribable in words or pictures. We drove through the archipelago on the ice...that was intense. Getting stuck in the middle of the lake is not very fun. I think we all had a great time, and I really appreciate the guys making an effort to show me a good time.

In the next day or so, I will have a picture of the national dish of Finland!

Boys Night, Part I

We got to the rink and it was covered with snow, but thankfully the tractor was there clearing it off. After quickly mastering the art of skating, I decide to get out on the ice and check out the equipment. Stick looks good:

And it's right to the action!

Time for trick shots? Oh yeah!

All kidding aside, the boys made me look like a fool! They are all amazing a skating and very impressive when handling the puck. Here is a great shot of Paul stopping a shot.

Actually, I was so bad that Patten didn't even want to be on the same ice as me. Just kidding.

Preparing for boys night...

The boys of the family (Dani, Tossi, Joppi, Paul, Martin, and Patten) have been planning a "boys night out" for us. On the schedule was hockey (which simply meant "skating" for me), snowmobiles, and pizza. As I had no skates, I had to do a little testing. Here I am the morning of boys night trying to decide which pair were best:

"Yes, these are clearly the best!"

With that, I'm ready to take on the world (or a small ice rink in rural Finland).

Next I had to get all of the proper gear. Here I am looking into the future, a future that holds NHL aspirations? Maybe. You should know that "maybe" is Swedish for "absolutely not".

Boy do I look authentic. Although, don't they say something about looks being deceiving?

Pics to follow of the events!

Breakfast of Champions!

Following is the process for making Karelian pirogues.

Step 1. Obtain pirogues. These are essentially thin wheat bread stuffed with a type of rice pudding.

Step 2. Boil one egg per pirogue, squash and mix with butter (not fake butter).

Step 3. I am an American and like to mix things up. I put a little pepper, and some cheese on top. Traditionalists among us (I'll not name names) only put the egg.

Step 4. Top the pirogue with the egg mixture and enjoy! They are trés delicious!

Step 5 (Optional). If this does not sound up your alley, you may have an "American" muffin from Boström's bakery down the street. They are pretty good too!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Patrik (Tossi), Martina, and Nadja

Last night, Kristina's brother Patrik and his wife Martina invited us for a visit and for me to see their home. The home was lovely (Patrik built most of it himself), and their daughter Nadja entertained us by playing dress-up:

The Cabin, II.

The other night, Tage and Sara went to the cabin for a romantic getaway. We all met them there the next day for lunch. This time, we were able to get out and take a couple of pictures:

This looks nice!

Church in Finland

This is where Kristina and I have gone to church a couple of times. It's ok to be a little jealous...

The sun was just coming up on Christmas morning as we left church.

One more from Christmas Eve.

Kristina and I took Aron and Ivar out at night to light sparklers:

Aron looks excited!

Ivar reflects on the year's ups and downs, and contemplates what 2010 holds...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Processional music chosen...

BWV 1054 Concerto in D Major, First Movement (untitled)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Children, children everywhere, and not a second to think.






A few more Julafton pictures.

Sofie, Dani, and Hannes look over a new gift:

Here is one of the gifties I got from my wife:
Smoked moose meat! I also got smoked reindeer meat, a bottle of white truffle oil, and a great book! Thanks dearheart!

Kristina's OTHER sister, Kea (Mikaela), her husband, Patten (Patrik), and one of their 18,000 children, Joas:

Elis is Grandpa's boy:

Julafton (Christmas Eve)

Christmas Eve is celebrated in Finland like Christmas day is celebrated in the U.S. In case my mom was worrying, they did feed me well:

We had a special glazed ham, roast, mashed potatoes, paté, two kinds of homemade bread, pickles, beet salad, rutabega casserole, some carrot dish that was good, potato salad, smoked salmon, fruit salad and other things...

Here is the fruit salad. It had boiled egg yolks on top!

Then something terrifying happened:

The Christmas Eve tradition is that some dress up as Tomten (Santa Claus) and go around and hand out your presents to everyone. This is all well and good, but the way that they let you know that they're there is to walk up to the window (in the pitch black) and know on the window! I reached for my gun, but didn't have it.


The kids seemed to enjoy it though, and it was pretty neat; I just was not prepared mentally or militarily.

After everyone picked themselves up off the floor from laughing at me, they made up for it with coffee and a good spread of dessert!