Category Archives: Estonia

Fat Margareta, Tall Hermann and our Final Dinner

There is a story in Estonia about two popular landmarks that are in love with each other, but embarrassed about how they look. Tall Hermann is a tower of the Toompea Castle, on Toompea hill in Tallinn. He is visited by two swans and reveals to them his love of Fat Margareta and how he thinks she’ll never love him because he is too tall and ugly. Fat Margareta (a local defensive tower), on the other hand loves Tall Hermann but feels she is too fat and ugly for him to love her. 

Paks Margareta seen from the front Photo of Pikk Hermann or Tall Hermann.
On Friday we read this fun story and looked at some different pictures of these city treasures. Anu gave us a translated version so we could read the story in English (or else we never would have known it). Then, the kids drew pictures of castles and towers and did some watercoloring. 


Tallinn's Castle


Painted Castle


Freehand Painting


Last night, we closed our eyes and found ourselves in the middle of Tallinn, near Fat Margareta and Tall Hermann. In the background we could hear the music of Estonia penetrating through the city streets. On the table before us, an array of bowls adorned with Estonian cuisine. 


*Sorry it’s a little blurry, technical issues. 

Tonight’s Estonian Menu 

Carrot and Apple Salad


 Beetroot Salad 

Barley Skillet Bread


 Estonian Pork 



Bread Soup


Estonian Rye Cookies



Honestly, I have never made anything like Estonian food. The salads were not like American salads, more like a type of garnish and it sounds like they serve many with each meal. They were quite delicious, although we’re still trying to get the kids to eat beets. (They wouldn’t go for it even though we called it “sweet red salad”. We’ll keep trying.) I loved the parsley mixed together with the carrot and apples with a hint of sugar. Everyone really enjoyed the barley skillet bread which is served quite often in Estonian homes. The pork was made with sauerkraut which isn’t something we eat often, but was flavorful and nice. Yurie, who loves things that are pickled, absolutely loved the pork. She also loved the bread soup, which is actually a dessert. Out of all the desserts we’ve made, she said this one was her favorite. The rest of us enjoyed it too, topped with whipped cream and an Estonian rye cookie, which the kids and I made on Friday. It kind of reminded me of Christmas wrapped up and served in a bowl. Delicious! 

Tänan väga Estonia. (Thank you). It was an honor and privilege to learn about your great nation. You will forever be in our hearts. 



My Tallinn

some friends picked Tallinn up this shirt on a trip to Tallinn

Cork Deer and Potato Prints


Okay, so we had a few setbacks this week. Namely that we had to leave our home as it was being painted and move in with my parents for a few days. That didn’t stop us from continuing our learning  journey, but it did prevent me from posting about it.  

For the past few days we’ve been having fun with Estonian crafts. The first was found on my sweet friend Anu’s school’s blog. They are little deer made out of corks. (Fortunately, I have a friend who saves all her wine corks and she let us have a bunch.) While these little deer may look quite easy to make, we did have some challenges, and, in the move of houses, I misplaced the pipe cleaners for the antlers. Anu said they made their deer with toothpicks which worked on a couple corks, but those Estonians must have really strong fingers or something because it didn’t seem to really work for ours. In the end, we just glued them together with tacky glue. I’ll have to go to the store to pick up some pipe cleaners for the finishing touch, but they really are quite cute!  



This link shows what the deer really should look like.  

The next fun craft we did was potato printing. Apparently in Estonia potatoes are a really big deal and they even have a potato print festival making some pretty amazing designs using potatoes. As this was my first experience doing potato printing, I stuck to some easy designs…a heart, butterfly, triangle, star and happy face.  


All you have to do to make the potato into a shape for printing is first lightly carve out your design in the potato. Next, you cut around the design leaving it protruding from the top of the potato.  



It's hard to tell, I know, but this is a butterfly


 I used a little cheese knife, thinking initially the kids would be able to help, but this really wasn’t quite the kid craft. Although, the printing part of it was super fun for my kids and so easy for them to do. We used a bunch of different tempura paints and laid white paper all over and the kids went to town with potato printing. 





Now that you’ve seen our humble versions, here’s what the professional Estonian potato prints really look like from  



Aren’t they amazing? The whole website on potato printing is very impressive and there are many more pictures to look at. For us, it looks like we’re going to need a lot more practice to make it into any festival.



Something about this fascinating country draws me in. The culture is deeply rooted in the past yet vibrant and thriving in the present. Tallinn itself shows the bringing together of old and new with skyscrapers standing tall behind the old medieval town.

I’m so thankful for my new friend Anu and the help she’s been in introducing me to more of the Estonian culture, the real culture, not just the stuff you read on Wikipedia. Yesterday she sent a link to the “Estonian Night Song Festival” Apparently this is a song known by all Estonians and they are a people who love to sing, so much so that they’ve been having song festivals since 1869! We listened to this passionate tribute this morning before our busy Tuesday began and I felt even more connected to these beautiful people. You can tell that this nation has been through a lot, as is evident in their history of being ruled by other nations, but perhaps that has brought the people together in a way that we in America can’t understand.

Other things about Estonia intrigue me as well, like the fact that it’s almost 50% forest and that in 2011 Tallinn will be the European Capital of Culture. There are also over 1,500 islands in Estonia. I just can’t wait to visit again some day! Hopefully before then I’ll be able to say a few things in Estonian, but it sounds like the language is quite difficult to learn.

One word I have learned, thanks to my friend, Anu, is Tervitades—wishing all the best. She signs it at the end of every email. I love it.


Tallinn’s Estonia

In 1998 I had the privilege of visiting the beautiful town of Tallinn, Estonia. It was a short visit as we were just passing through, but the town was so cute and welcoming I won’t forget it.

When we were deciding on names for our first child, Tallinn quickly hit the top of our list, along with Paris if it was to be a girl. I am so glad we ended up with a Tallinn. What a love and a joy he is!

This week, we’re studying “Tallinn’s” country–Estonia–and boy is he excited! In my research for things to do and recipes I happened to find a little kindergarten blog swap between a school in Tallinn and one in another country. I spent awhile on the blog and then found a photo gallery of pictures from the school with a link to someone’s email address. I decided to randomly email this person and see if they had any advice for our Estonia week. A few days later I received an email from a lady at the school and she has been a fabulous help for our week. The entire school’s blog alone is enough to impress anyone interested in art ideas for kids I wish I could read Estonian and understand everything they’re saying.

What I do love is that, on the other side of the world, a new found friend in Estonia is helping us learn about her great country….all because of the internet.

Today, as we dove into this country with deep roots and history, we didn’t have to travel far as Denmark and Estonia are quite close compared to where we’ve journeyed.

Tallinn had already found “his” country awhile back on the globe and found it again today before they colored and starred their own map pages. Of course stars were placed on the city of “Tallinn” which means “castle town”. I love that!

For our flag art today, the kids used blue stickers to fill in the top row of blue, black stickers for the next row and white stickers or nothing for the bottom row. While it’s a little different from the original flag, I think they turned out quite nicely.

We have so much to learn about Estonia and I hope we can shed some new insights for those who maybe have never even heard about this Baltic Nation.