I want to wish everybody who celebrates a Merry Christmas, may light and joy always be the part of your lives!

Our day was spent in this strange state of half excitement, half rest.

First of all, children awoke at 5 am! They tried to be quiet, but ended up waking me anyway and I had to tell them very very firmly that they are not allowed to be up until the sky gets lighter. D. went back to sleep, but C. sat and read until 7 am. Crazy, I shudder at the thought of them rising even earlier tomorrow.

Today the goal was to spend the day together and finally relax. We managed to do it mostly.

First of all we read:

My husband read to kids a story about the very first Christmas tree, which, according to the legend, was raised in his native city of Riga in the 16th century.

The book he brought from Latvia a couple of years ago and it’s called The First Christmas Tree by Juris Zvirgzdiņš, it’s a tri-lingual edition and Latvian is nicely translated into a literary Russian and English. Kids asked their dad to read a little bit in Latvian, and he even remembers how! It was funny to hear him reading it, because it’s so foreign for us not to understand a word he says.

the first christmas tree

The second book we read (in Russian, but it’s also available in English) is Findus at Christmas by Sven Nordquist. I am sorry to say this series is not more popular in US, and hardly anyone I speak to even heard of them. They have been all the rage in Europe for a few years now.It’s such a warm and sweet story.The Findus and Pettson series are great, kind and funny, I absolutely recommend it. The illustrations alone are a wonder, so many details to look at. This is an affiliated (which means I might receive a small commission if you do buy it)  link to buy this book at book depository (they have free shipping for any purchase to a lot of places worldwide), the whole series is available at book depository as well. In this particular book Pettson, an old man, and his kitten Findus are in quite a predicament- Pettson gets injured and can’t venture out of the house, nor to get a tree or some food. They face a very grim Christmas indeed, but thanks to friendship and kindness of their neighbors it turns out to be a wonderful day.

FIndus at Christmas

We didn’t plan to have a grand dinner (Russian Christmas isn’t until January 6th anyway), but we did make a Russian Potato Salad (aka Olivier), it’s such a staple, hardly any holiday goes without it.

The recipe:

All ingredients are meant to be enjoyed in quantities that are pleasing to the consumers, so proportions vary but the principle is simple: cut everything you can into small cubes, mix together and add mayo+sourcream (1:1 ratio) sauce. The mix in our house is:

boiled potatoes (skin peeled)- 3 large Russets

boiled eggs, peeled- 4 or 5

fresh cucumber, cubed -1

pickled cucumbers, cubed- 2 or 3 medium ones

meat (chicken breast, ham, bologna, boiled beef)- cubed

green peas (canned or frozen blanched)- to taste

diced fresh dill

salt to taste

mayo+sourcream (1:1)

Mix well and enjoy, but take care because it’s easy to eat the whole bowl (which really is a basin :)) in one sitting.

Some people also include diced carrots, but we don’t.

Russian Potato Salad

we weren’t stingy with the sauce today 😀

Second Culinary Adventure today was supposed to be loved and tried Chocolate Cookies with Chocolate Chips, but turns out one little girl took care of all the chocolate chips, even though they all were in the freezer, so it became a Chocolate Cookies that are Chips 

The recipe (as it should be):

3/4 c of melted butter

1/2 c of cocoa

1 c of sugar (we substracted to 2/3 because our cocoa was sweetened and it actually tastes way better)

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 c of flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

Chocolate chips (which were eaten all up by C. , so 86 that)

Powdered sugar to roll cookies (we forgot about that)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C)

2. Mix butter+cocoa+sugar+eggs+vanilla extract

3. Mix together dry ingredients

4. Gently combine dry and wet ingredients, add chocolate chips

5. Put in a fridge for an hour at least

7. Spoon on a lined baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes

8. Dust with powdered sugar if desired

What happened with us is, first we went without chocolate chips this time, second D., who was in charge of adding flour, didn’t quite put 2 full cups of flour in, as the result our dough was a bit softer. But we found it out after the cookies were baked. The result was absolutely delicious though- thin, lacey, crispy crunchy cookies. So we decided it a success and pronounced it Chocolate Cookies that are Chips.

Chocolate Cookies

it’s not bitten off, they glued together :p

We spent the rest of the evening by watching the first installment of The Hobbit (yay, the Annual Tolkien Marathon!) in a soft glow of our tiny tree.

Kids then prepared treats for Santa and his reindeer and went to bed in great excitement.

Ready for Santa

Presents are all ready and waiting, hope kids will have mercy and sleep at least until the sunrise!

Merry Christmas to All!


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