joulu!

wishing everyone a happy holidays!
we are in the midst of our christmas celebrations. last night with my folks, tonight at home, tomorrow with dear hubby’s family. so far santa has been very impressed with the kids and they have received lots of wonderful new toys and books and things!

here are a few pictures from our jouluaatto with my parents. it is tradition in finland to celebrate x-mas on the 24th, so we always enjoy a beautiful meal prepared by my mom. after dinner santa comes and while i was growing up he actually came into our living room and i would sing or dance for him. he then passed out our gifts. for our boys, we always seem to just miss joulupukki, he knocks on the door or window, but by the time we get there he’s gone. luckily however, he has left gifts under the tree for us!

tonight we are all heading to bed early, so that we can celebrate lots tomorrow!
g’night!

xo, mama lola

joulu!

wishing everyone a happy holidays!
we are in the midst of our christmas celebrations. last night with my folks, tonight at home, tomorrow with dear hubby’s family. so far santa has been very impressed with the kids and they have received lots of wonderful new toys and books and things!

here are a few pictures from our jouluaatto with my parents. it is tradition in finland to celebrate x-mas on the 24th, so we always enjoy a beautiful meal prepared by my mom. after dinner santa comes and while i was growing up he actually came into our living room and i would sing or dance for him. he then passed out our gifts. for our boys, we always seem to just miss joulupukki, he knocks on the door or window, but by the time we get there he’s gone. luckily however, he has left gifts under the tree for us!



tonight we are all heading to bed early, so that we can celebrate lots tomorrow!
g’night!

xo, mama lola

ho! ho! holiday traditions!

i am desperately trying to incorporate finnish christmas traditions into our canadian holiday season. i find food is an easy and fun way to do that..

on the weekend i made some joulupuuro, translated as christmas porridge, which i think is basically rice pudding for all you english speakers. i also made some kiisseli to go with it. it’s like a thick fruit soup and you can use any ol’ fruit (fresh or dried), but for this time of year i use dried plums, apples, apricots and raisins. (in the warmer months i sometimes make rhubarb soup and my mom makes a wicked blueberry soup.)

for iltapala (bedtime snack) we each enjoyed a bowl of warm joulupuuro with a big heaping of kiisseli on top. the cinnamon smells wafted through the house adding to the holiday magic at our house.

the instructions are in metric as that’s what the finns use. easy enough to convert if you need to thanks to google!


this is where i got the recipe and directions from.

kiisseli.


200 g dried plums
1 l water
3/4 dl sugar

place plums (and other fruit), water and sugar into a large pot. let it simmer on a low heat for 20-30 minutes* or until fruit is soft. add water if needed.


1/2 dl water
21/2 tblsp potato flour/ potato starch
mix water and potatoflour/ potato starch in a bowl. add slowly to pot with steaming fruits and let it simmer for a few minutes.


the amounts are a starting point i find. i didn’t measure my dried fruits, but just grabbed a handful of each and threw them in. i also increased my water and potato flour amounts slightly. the potatoflour is a thickening agent, if you want the soup to be thicker add more potato flour. i also threw in a cinnamon stick and a sprinkle of nutmeg.

* this time may vary depending on how hard your fruit is.

also, we made some more reindeer cookies using chocolate chip ready-made cookie dough. they tasted delish and looked adorable!

time to go and wrap gifts. we haven’t done any yet! yikes!
also, just wanted to mention that i am loving the sirius radio and the all day x-mas music we get to listen to! fun! fun! fun!

xo, mama lola

the exquisite house of ginger.

dear hubby may not be a carpenter who can build me my dream home, but he sure is smart in the kitchen with his gingerbread house building skills. he’s a master of the gingerbread house, like no one else i know. each year he closely follows the recipe from the joy of cooking and voila, a house forms from the mess of ingredients. real holiday magic!

this year he had two lovely helpers. yesterday they got the dough done. today they measured and cut the structure, baked ’em, put them together and then i get to join in the best part, the decorating! bear has been waiting for a long, long time for this day. check out helper fraulein.
*****
GINGERBREAD HOUSE OR COOKIE   (from the joy of cooking p. 781)
recipe and instructions:


in a medium (2 quart) saucepan, melt
1 cup or two sticks of butter
add and strir over low heatuntil sugar is disolved and the mixture no longer feels gritty: 
1 cup sugar
1 cup unsulphurred molasses
remove from the heat and set aside to cool to lukewarm. in a large bowl, whisk together:
41/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tblsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon 
1 tsp grated or ground nutmeg
make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, pour in the lukewarm butter mixture, and beat to blend everything together. work in
1/2 cup all purpose flour
beating until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl:
remove the dough from the bowl and knead 3-4 times on the counter, until smooth and pliable. wrap well and refrigerate until the dough is thoroughly cook. (the dough can be prepared several days in advance.) 
after refrigerating, if the dough feels too soft to roll out, work in a tiny bit of flour.
*****

to create her own holiday magic, mother nature let it snow those big ol’ fluffy flakes all morning. while lion snored away dear hubby and bear headed to the park to romp around for a bit. dear hubby also got our sirius radio set up so we’ve got a new variety of holiday music to dance and sing too! woot-woo!

after the sun had set and our sushi dinner devoured, we headed to a local park to see a colourful display of holiday lights. with cookies in hand, dressed in our holiday jammies we drove through the park ohh:ing and aah:ing at the fabulous light show. bear was in awe. 


ho! ho! ho! holiday magic!



xo, mama lola

holiday magic.

i am a real fan of christmas. i have such lovely memories from my own childhood of holidays spent with my family back in finland. my mom would cook an amazing dinner for us to enjoy on christmas eve. we never had turkey, like they serve here, but instead we had a multiple course meal which included glazed ham, fresh fish, possibly some smoked reindeer meat, various vegetables cooked in a variety of ways and of course ample desserts and treats to be nibbled on.  as an adult today, i recognize the efforts she made each year trying to create some holiday magic at our house. and not just with food either; my mom was into making our own decorations and collecting natural treasures, and still is. (*note: i was speaking with a friend who fondly remembers last year’s holiday magic at my parents’ house, so it’s not just me).

joulutonttu, or the christmas elf left some chocolates for the kids in the advent calendar. it was messy and joyful. bear waited years before we gave him chocolate, lion is so lucky to be the second born!

i want my kids to feel the magic of the holidays too. it’s hard though, because my kids are still particularly little and their enthusiasm is very limited. but, still i plough on forward.

today bear and i made these cookies.

i’ve always been terrified of the ready-made doughs you can buy at the grocery store, but when i saw this recipe and saw how cute the cookies were i made an executive decision to ignore my fears and bake on. the simplicity and ease was shocking, but the chemicals still kinda freak me out. that being said, i think we created some holiday magic with this easy baking recipe, no clean up, all around hassle free.

this is the original recipe via pillsbury.
all you need is the cookie dough, they recommend the gingerbread one, but my local store didn’t have any so we used the albino sugar cookie stuff instead. various candies depending on the look you’re going for. we used various M&M colours for eyes and noses etc. the original recipe calls for chocolate chips for eyes, but we like colour in our cookies! also, make sure you get small pretzels. bear was so pleased in the end!

tomorrow i’m taking the kids to see the muppets! can’t wait!
i feel nostalgic already!

xo, mama lola

docs & tumour update.

not much to report from my big appointment the other day. i will continue to be monitored closely, as in, i will see my neurologist and endocrinologist again,  in about 6 months time. i wll have to get another MRI done and the usual round of blood work. there are no obvious concerns; in fact things look great, but because i was pregnant when all of this went down, they don’t really know what my normal hormone levels are. it’s both re-assuring and worrisome to have to go back so soon.


i just want to be done, ya know? i am ready to move on and not have to think about my tumour anymore. i want to start planning things and setting goals, especially now that i am feeling better and am headache free. plus, the kids are getting bigger so it’s a great time to start putting our family adventures into full swing. 

i don’t want to sound ungrateful, because i am very grateful to be where i am now and where we are as a family. we have had the wind knocked out of us, but we are finally on solid ground again. i am especially to eager to start preparing for the holidays, now that we are mostly healthy from that wicked flu we had. it’s going to be a busy few weeks preparing everything, but now that there is a little snow sprinkled out there it is certainly beginning to feel like christmas.

the advent calendar is a huge hit! i explained to the kids that a joulutonttu (x-mas elf) comes at night and leaves the surprise for them to discover in the morning. it was so worth it!



sweet dreams merry elves!



xo, mama lola

coming full circle.

today is finland’s independence day. we lit our two white candles, listened to the national anthem and i shed a few tears for my motherland. man, i miss that place so much.

tomorrow i have a very important date with my tumour team in the big city. it’s my annual check up: that’s right, it’s been a year since my surgery. the anniversary passed quietly on november 12th, with only a quick mention to dear hubby and some quiet thoughts on my own. it’s been a wonderful year without the debilitating migraines and the handfuls of T3’s i would eat almost daily. 
it’ll be two years ago on december 18th that my family doctor phoned me at home and told me i had a tumour in my head and had to get to an opthamologist immediately. two years ago that my life changed in a way that i never could have predicted. december 21st will be two years since my first meeting with my neurosurgeon. we discussed the possibilities of surgery, but since i was only about 3 months pregnant with lion, everyone was unsure about what to do next. that holiday season of 2009 was really surreal and filled with fear. our families didn’t even know i was pregnant until we formally announced it at each family’s christmas dinner. first we discussed the horror of the tumour and then we threw in that we were expecting. what an emotional rollercoaster!


but, we survived and are here to tell the tale. 


tomorrow’s appointment is to discuss the results of the MRI and bloodwork i had done in the fall. i am feeling hopeful and optimistic, but there is also a part of me that is terrified. so many what if’s are jumping around my head and it’s hard to remain completely rational at all times!

kiddo’s, advent calendar in it’s full glory, tree with shooting star.



it’s been a stressful few years. 
i am waiting for a calm christmas that is only made anxious by burnt cookies and pricked fingers!

xo, mama lola

trying to play catch up!

fa-la-la-la-laa, la-la-la-laa


it’s december third and i already feel as though i am playing catch up with the holidays. the boys’ advent calendar is late (gosh darn) and i am behind on my other christmas sewing as well. but, the calendar is getting close to being done. my goal is to have the kids receive their first toys on tuesday morning, but that’s assuming i don’t feel super exhausted each evening when i am supposed to be sewing!

a sneak peek of the advent calendar.

the fury which has been this terrible sickness in our home, furies on. tonight marks the one week mark of when all of this started. both kids have been in bed and asleep by 6pm most of the week. we went to the doctor on friday morning and discovered lion had an ear infection in his right ear. i am scared, as i was a chronic ear ache sufferer as a child, and know the kind of future which may lay ahead of him. bear, well, he was sent to get a chest x-ray as our family doc didn’t really like the sound of his lower right lung. we did not receive a call back, so he does not have pneumonia! finally, some good news.

but, we have been able to start spreading some christmas cheer around in small sprinkles here and there. we purchased this for bear online on wednesday and it arrived friday morning. it’s a door way swing set, with rings and a trapeze bar. bear is always looking for new ways to challenge himself physically and he is starting to do some dangerous stunts on the banisters, so we thought this was a safe way he can focus that energy and see results. (to get into his top bunk, he climbs the least direct way up like a little monkey! it’s amazing to watch and he has never fallen, not even close). anyhow, the rings and things are from the same company that made the sweet hammock lion used all those months ago.

we also purchased our christmas tree. i felt like we all needed some air in our congested lungs so we went for a quick visit to a local nursery and perused their tree selection. it was fun for a few minutes, but then the cranky, grumpy little boys showed their faces and it was time to head home. today we decorated our tree and that didn’t go over as well as i had wanted. bear started off happy and delighted with the task at hand, but then he faded quickly bringing out unpleasant behaviour. so it goes i suppose.

mothering sick children is tough, but it’s even harder when you yourself are sick. now, dear hubby is losing his health and giving into the sickness that has ravaged our home. let’s hope it doesn’t debilitate him like it did the rest of us, so that he and i can get our christmas groove on and get going on our gifts, baking and so on and so on.

lion is never too sick to care for vaava.

tis the season to be jolly









xo, mama lola

ho! ho! ho! i’m already thinking about the holidays!

click on the red tab on the right and join me on pinterest! —————–>
******
i am looking forward to the holidays this year. the magic of christmas, especially with the kids is so great. bear and i have had some serious conversations about santa or joulupukki, as he’s called at our house. you know, where he lives, the logistics of his job and the always curious idea of what he does in the summer. i am a bit of a sucker for this particular holiday. i have lovely memories of christmases past from growing up in finland and am trying to create some wonderful memories for my kids to cherish.


this year, i really want to make the boys an advent calendar. there are some super cute ideas out there, but i am going to keep it simple, i think. 

source.
in my fabric stash i found tons of the burlap that’s left over from our wedding. i can’t decide what to do with it… possibilities below include:
A) is to make 24 burlap pockets and sew them to a background fabric, like in the picture below.

[source]

B) or sew 24 little bags from the burlap and then hang them from a branch or something. i have no picture of this, as it’s my own idea.


either way, i want the calendar to fit a surprise for each kid on each day. i also want it to grow with the boys as they get older, instead of being too childish or babyish. i have some felt that i will use to decorate the pockets or bags, as i think the calendar above is a tad too plain for my liking.


i would love some input and suggestions! time is a ticking and i gotta get sewing!


happy monday!

xo, mama lola
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