Doing life right, at home and away

Tag: christmas

Of having yourself a very merry Christmas time

I love Christmas – and yes, what a wonderful time it is. I’m not in my core this positive, optimistic person but, during Christmas, for a brief moment, I become one.


Our house was full for the whole holidays – of both people and joy, but also Christmas music, singing, chatter, several languages, laughter and animals running around in circles, like crazy.

I don’t get to see my family all that often and, of course, the same goes for W. We’ve been alternating holidays every year: last year, in the UK with his family and, this year, my family came to Leipzig.


Our Christmas menu was faithful to the Finnish traditions. I had prepared the pickled herrings almost a week earlier and my family brought the gravlax with them from Finland. Heaps of waxy potatoes were boiled. Spirits were bright CLEAR. (That’s the tradition – vodkas or equivalent with the fish starters.)

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Of gingerbread, gingerbread

In Finland, it’s quite common to make your own gingerbread every Christmas, young and old alike. Somehow I’ve gotten the impression it’s not such a popular tradition elsewhere. That does not mean that it should not be endorsed, however.

gingerbread ingredients

I don’t like the readymade gingerbread cookies sold in shops. They are almost always sickly sweet and hardly taste of anything else than sugar. So, if you are like me but don’t know how to go about making your own gingerbread cookies, I can assure you my recipe is great, tried and tested!

I would point out that this recipe requires some knowledge of spices – the ingredient spreads are indicative. Apart from citrus zest and cinnamon and maybe black pepper, I think the spices should be of equal amounts so they don’t overpower each other. I would also be quite careful with the black pepper – while some like spicier cookies, the pepper should complement the treacle and the sweetness, not taste strong and hot. If you are unfamiliar with mixing the spices in question, I would recommend sticking to smaller amounts. If ,however, you are into some spicier gingerbread, they can quite well be adjusted to taste.


It’s not the world’s simplest recipe, but every step is very straightforward. The dough is mixed from four parts which are first assembled separately: the butter-sugar mix, the treacle-spices mix, the sour cream-bicarbonate mix and the egg-sugar mix.

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pickled herring from above

Of pickled herring

It had never occurred to me that pickled herring was somewhat of a thing of “an acquired taste” – until I well, met other people for the first time.

My family is very, very fond of pickled herring and I love them more than it is sane. It’s something about all the tastes meeting the right way: it’s always wonderfully salty but also sweet, it’s vinegary and tangy but smooth.

So anyway, pickled herring is also a Finnish Christmas classic. Some of my friends have eaten my herrings before and I know that at least a couple have grown equally fond of them. Without further ado, may I present: glassblower Tefke’s herring  – for my foreign friends!

Glassblower Tefke’s pickled herring

May I start by saying that when it comes to pickled herring – anticipation is a virtue. Gold. I almost never remember/bother to make the herrings properly in time. They are always all good and swell and tasty, but the leftovers eaten a couple of weeks after Christmas, are always the real-er deal, the way the herring is really, truly supposed to taste. So consider entertaining the idea of anticipation. Maybe YOU have got what it takes to make the herrings early enough? Maybe YOU won’t find excuses and procrastinate when it comes to pickling your herring? When the push comes to shove, can YOU grab the bull by its horns, and pickle your herring early?

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vintage christmas tree candle holders

Of cheap & chic christmas decor

I love throwing parties, but am often hung up with the issue of decoration: most party decoration is really expensive for what it is, but even more importantly, it has this aura of slightly redundant clutter, only usable a couple of times a year and even more so – a lot of it just usually ends up in trash.

So for our “five-fold” party, I wanted to go in a different direction. Such a grand festivity called for some grand decor, yet I wanted to spend as little money as possible, as little resources and reduce wastefulness to the minimum. The items that I’d have to buy should be reusable and have a long life.

So what did I do?

1. DIY snow globes

These jam jars have  a long shelf life! I got a 20-pack of wintery plastic spruces meant for building miniature landscapes, hot glued them on the lids of empty glass jars and poured in an appropriate amount of salt/sugar/flour. You could also construct the spruces from actual spruce branches or fold them from paper. It won’t be as realistic, but it’ll surely still be a lovely snowglobe!

Homemade salt snowglobes

They are quirky, reusable, adaptable and most importantly – simply adorable. One could take it a tad further and paint/cover the rim of the lid with a tape or a ribbon.

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