Saturday, December 26, 2009

globetrotting adventures - finland ii - christmas star pastries

one of the most traditional foods during the christmas holidays in finland is the "tähti torttu", or star pastry. the husband and i have always called them christmas stars. it is basically what an american would call a danish, with jam (plum) in the center of a puff pastry. with ready made ingredients, this is a very simple and delicious treat that finns enjoy during coffee time between christmas eve and boxing day.

to make these tasty treats, all you need is ready made puff pastry from your freezer section and some plum jam (and an egg for an egg wash). plum jam is something i have never come across in the u.s., but many other jams would make an appropriate filling, such as apricot, blackberry or raspberry. in finland, this pastry is so common that you can buy the puff pastry in pre-cut sheets with instructions on how to make the pastry on the box.

Friday, December 25, 2009

merry christmas

merry christmas from finland! hyvää joulua suomesta!
photo taken in tuusula, finland

Monday, December 21, 2009

globetrotting adventures - finland i - christmas markets

since the husband and i do a fair bit of traveling, i thought it might be fun to write blogs on some of our globe trotting adventures. this series will be about our current trip to finland. i say "series" because i am hopeful that i will write a few entries during our stay, but this could just be a case of me being overly ambitious (again).

anyway, seeing as i am an etsy shop owner, it is almost needless to say that i really enjoy visiting crafts markets. and in another life, when the husband and were living in finland, i was able to visit different craft markets with some frequency, as they were/are pretty abundant.

two of my favorite markets in finland occur during christmas time, and they are the tuomaan markkinat (st. thomas' market) and wanhan joulu markkinat (old student house christmas market), both located in downtown helsinki with a couple of blocks of each other. i was really happy that we were able to arrange our finnish winter holiday to include time for these markets (and yes, we actually chose an earlier departure date just to ensure i wouldn't miss out on them).

at st. thomas' market, each vendor has their own cute little red "house", lined up together in two neat rows facing each other, down this mini park strip in the middle of downtown helsinki, known as the "esplanade". the middle part of the market spreads out in to a circle and then slims back down into the rows. the vendors sell all kind of things, ranging from ready to eat hot food, jams and honey, baked goods, salted and pickled herring, wet-felted goods, needle-felted goods, hand-made soaps, lotions, christmas ornaments/decor, clothes etc. i really enjoy tramping up and down the esplanade peering at everyone's goods, although it's difficult to be thorough when it's 10.4F (-12C) outside.

below: my one purchase at this market, a jar of sea-buckthorn berry jam. this berry is only found in parts of europe and asia. alone, the berry is supposed to be extremely tart, but as a juice or jam (meaning with lots of sugar) it is DELICIOUS.
the old student house christmas market is held in an building that is owned by the university of helsinki student body, and used to be the student union. the administration has since moved to a different building, but they still use this one for various events, such as this annual christmas market. i personally prefer this market over the st.thomas' one, partially because it's indoors, but also because the goods are a little more design oriented. there are a lot of metalsmiths, felters (finns do love their felting), knitters, sewers, and many other kinds of artisans. LOOK at all the different vendors!

i purchased a christmas ornament, a "christmas fairy". i already have one from my brother-in-law and his girlfriend from a couple years ago from this series. the artists does something new with the series every year.

this was an impulse purchase, but my most prized one yet- a wrist pin cushion, by their website is pretty empty at the moment, but they were super kind and added a bow on my pincushion's head at my request, and also named her for me. her name is gunhild the grey. i know this sounds ridiculous, but i LOVE this pincushion. she is SO CUTE.

i fear that in the next two weeks i will shop so much that i will single handedly be responsible for a spurt in the finnish economy. good for them, not so good for my wallet. i have a tendency to go a little shopping crazy while i'm in this country. must be something in the water...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

felt christmas stockings tutorial

in recent years i've taken up the habit of making some of my inlaws' christmas gifts. last year we sent everyone my "extra shopping bags" (as seen in my shop). this year we thought it would be fun for me to make everyone stockings, since no one in the husband's family has them- stockings are not a finnish tradition. it was an enjoyable diversion from my normal sewing- and the most challenging part was simply the design.

the materials i used for 5 stockings:
1/2 yard 72" red felt (easily made 3 stockings with leftover scraps)
1/2 yard 72" charcoal felt
matching thread

the materials i used for the stocking decor:
scraps of white, red, and charcoal felt
grosgrain ribbon
one giant red button

Sunday, December 6, 2009

modern kids

yesterday i had the pleasure of meeting another etsian, the owner of modern kids, a super talented lady who also lives in the houston area. she makes absolutely stunning little girls clothes with gorgeous japanese fabrics.

just so there isn't any confusion, let me mention now that i do not have any children. admittedly, i've never even been that interested in having them, so i've never given a whole lot of thought regarding gender preferences. but if given a choice now, i'd want a little girl, just so i could dress her up in these pretty dresses. i'm really not joking.
this one is my favorite:

and this one is super cute too:

her dresses are even more beautiful in real life, super soft, and lined. lined! the craftmanship is really outstanding (can't you tell how in love i am with these clothes?). if you happen to have a little girl, i strongly suggest you visit modern kids. all her clothes are custom made to order. just think how cute your daughter/niece/granddaughter would look in one of these dresses!


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