Monthly Archives: July 2012

Seurasaari Island MidSummer 2012

This year we decided to head to Seurasaari Island to attend their bonfire celebrations.  I think anyone that was not at there summer cottage was probably attending this event.  Lots of people came to celebrate. The pictures are from the island and then we stopped and took pictures on our way home looking out at the bonfire on Seurassaari Island.  Those pictures were taken around 10:45pm.  You cannot really have fireworks because it just does not get dark enough.  We hope some of you might come visit around this time of year.  Finland is so green and beautiful!

I also included some educational information about  Midsummer below that I found from Nordic Recipe Archive.

At midsummer, the people in the Nordic countries celebrate the lightest time of the year and the proper start of summer season. The short winter days are far behind and one can enjoy the long days and white nights of Nordic summer.

Although an ancient feast, midsummer is still an important national festival in Finland, as well as in Sweden and Norway.

Midsummer is celebrated on June 24th, but in Finland (in year 1955) and Sweden (in year 1953), the date was moved to fall on the first Saturday after June 19th, on the initiative of labour organizations.

The major midsummer festivities in Finland and Sweden take place on Midsummer Eve, the Friday preceding the Midsummer Day. Like Christmas Eve, the Midsummer Eve is a public holiday, during which only stores are open part of the day.

Midsummer is also the time of summer solstice, the culmination of summer and a turning point after which the days begin to slowly shorten again in the northern hemisphere. The day of summer solstice falls between the 20th and 22nd of June.

During the period called polar days, the nights are short and light, while in the regions north of the arctic circle the sun does not set below the horizon at all for several weeks. In the village of Nuorgam, situated near the northernmost point of Finland, the sun does not set between the mid-May and the end of July.

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Ella and Stinging Nettles

Early summer has arrived and Finland is so lush and green.  It is amazing how green it is and if you thought everything was “bigger in Texas” you are wrong!  The plants and flowers are huge, but we’ll save that for another post.  This post is about Ella and Stinging Nettles (urtica dioica) or in Finnish Nokkonen.

To Ella this Nokkonen is just an evil plant, but it is actually rich in vitamins (A, C, E,K, B1, B2, B3 and folic acid), calcium, potassium, manganese, iron, zinc and lots of antioxidants.  I’ve been told that it has a flavor like spinach.  Ella’s experience with this “evil plant” involves the wonderful walking and biking paths throughout Espoo and Finland.  Both girls enjoy picking wildflowers and Ella learned that mixed in with these beautiful flowers are these evil green plants that sting you and it lasts quite awhile.  Another incident was crashing on her bike into the stinging nettle.  I knew instantly what it was and what it feels like to have touched the plant.  Thanks to my Delaware Nature Center days with field trips as a kid and summer camps.  I think a comparison would be like a jellyfish sting.  The stinging nettle plant has many hollow stinging hairs called trichomes on its leaves and stems, which act like hypodermic needles, injecting histamine  and other chemicals that produce a stinging sensation when contacted by humans and other animals.

I couldn’t quite remember how to treat it, but always remembered with jellyfish you could scrape it with a credit card and it seemed to help.  I quickly learned from reading that this is NOT the way to treat stinging nettle.  It actually makes it worse.  Sorry sweet Ella!  What we did is similar to what you can do with a bee sting.  You take baking soda and water and make it into a paste and spread that onto the area.  Ella seemed to think it helped.  She has learned to stay away from the plant and she knows exactly what it looks like.  I guess someday she will tell her kids that she knows what nokkonen is from her days living in Finland.

Below I found a fun blog that included some recipes using Nokkonen (Stinking Nettle).  The young leaves can make a tasty soup and can be dried for later use.  We might have to remember this next year.


300 g boiled stinging nettle (if you cannot find, use frozen spinach instead)
1 onion
50 g butter
4-5 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 litre milk
2 teaspoons salt
pinch of sugar
pinch of black pepper

Bring a large pot of water and 2 teaspoons of sea salt to a boil. Drop in the stinging nettles and cook for 2 minutes, until they are softened. Drain and rinse with cold water. Chop coarsely.

Peal and chop the onion, melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in the onion. Cook until the onion is translucent and softened. Pour in the milk, constantly stirring. Bring to boil, add the stinging nettle, then reduce the heat to medium.

Season with sea salt and black pepper. Serve with hard boiled eggs.

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Sirkus – Girls First Time to the Circus

On a Tuesday night in June,  we decided to go to the Sirkus (Circus – English)  with the girls.  The signs were posted all over the Tapiola area and of course the girls spotted them immediately.  We got the little info on the signs translated and we decided to give it a try.  We were joined by our neighbors and their two daughters.

I was expecting big things since it cost 63 Euros for our family to go.  It was quite small, but I think the girls enjoyed it.  The group was from Hungary and Bulgaria, I think…  We were entertained with lots of flexible women.  At one point I couldn’t look because it looked like her spine was coming through her stomach.  All of the animals seemed to struggle with following their directions for treats.  One thing I noticed, was the trash can and all the cotton candy that was thrown away.  You most likely would not see this in the STATES.  The candy would be totally consumed.

I feel pretty comfortable with saying we can check this off the list and we can skip it next year.

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A Quick Visit to Sweden with SuSu

In June, the girls and I headed on the overnight ferry with SuSu to Stockholm.  We were going to spend the day in Stockholm and then get back on the ferry to head back to Helsinki.  We were going to meet some cousins, Harold Ljung and his daughter Kristina and her daughter Beata.  Beata is between the ages of Natalie and Ella.  We went with them to Junibacken.  This was a great place to bring children.  It allowed the the children to feel like they were in the great stories by Astrid Lindgrin.  Most of you are probably familiar with Pippi Longstockings.  The kids ran around on the life-size play structures brought to life from illustrations.  The kids also enjoyed running around Pippi’s house.  The girls sat and listened to two theatrical stories that were completely in Swedish.  Even though they could not understand they still seemed to have a wonderful time.  They were having so much fun meeting their new cousin, Beata.

We had such a beautiful day in Stockholm.  We were able to walk and talk and the girls held hands and giggled and enjoyed their short time together.  While we were in Stockholm, the princess was being baptized.  We believe we heard the cannons going off.  Stockholm felt like a much bigger metropolitan city than Helsinki.  It will be fun to wander around next time we visit.  Also the ferry was a lot of fun and so convenient to do from Helsinki.

Harold completely spoiled us in Stockholm.  We enjoyed ourselves and now cannot wait to go back and see more of Stockholm!

Kittos Harold and Kristina!!

I hope to add a video soon.

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Swedish Cousins – Family Resemblance

Christian’s grandmother, Ella Kylberg Erickson and her sister Lillian Kylberg Magnuson, stayed in touch with cousins in Sweden by writing letters to them in Swedish. Having the letters translated that were sent from Sweden to them allowed Christian’s parents to reconnect with those families. This new connection resulted in a reunion in 1998 near Jönköping, Sweden attended by 65 Kylbergs, the family of Oscar Kylberg.

Oscar Kylberg immigrated from Sweden to Texas in 1898 and is Christian’s paternal great-grandfather. He returned to Sweden and brought back Anna Pettersson in 1905. In 1908, they were married in Austin. The little girl in the picture, Beata, (accent on the first a) is part of Anna Pettersson’s family. Her maternal grandfather and grandmother, Harald and Barbro Ljung and her parents, Kristina and Henrik and little brother, Edvard, live in Stockholm. It was fun to visit them for the day.

I have always thought that Natalie which is named after her great grandmother on my father’s side looks so much like a Chase and Ella who is named after her great grandmother on her daddy’s fathers side looks so much like an Erickson.  I was so stunned how much Beata and Ella looked alike!  Family roots are sooo amazing!  It was also fun to witness the bond between the girls.  We look forward to more visits with all of them.

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