Monday, 13 April 2015

New Baby Blanket

Another baby blanket was completed this weekend.
The yarn is Drops Merino Extra Fine. The pattern is from Drops, with some minor amendments like adding in the heart in one of the squares and not including the little bobbles which is part of the original pattern. I envisaged they could be uncomfortable for a little body to lie on if the blanket was wrapped around him. Yes, it is for a boy due this week, so done just within time! Unfortunately, the blanket isn't perfect - I noted several (very annoying) mistakes when it was done, but I am still pleased with this first attempt of cable knitting. Or perhaps I could hide behind the old saying that mistakes should be added to anything you make as "only God makes things perfect"... ?
Anyway, here it is after washing, resting on Our Student's old foam blanket last in use many, many years ago... I have many times thought of getting rid of it, but it is actually brilliant for stretching out washed knitted or crocheted garments on...!

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

More Luck than I Deserve...?

A really lovely, relaxing Easter holiday came and went.
The troop was gathered and I have to say I really enjoyed just being home with the family.
The days were spent with good food, long walks, knitting, talking and sleeping.
But I wonder if I might have used up this year's allotted portion of good luck.
Just listen to this:
On Saturday we took the Student and the in-laws for a meal at our favourite Turkish restaurant Efes. I had booked the table for 5.45 as this was the only time they could fit us in. We were fortunate enough to get a parking space right in front of the restaurant. As we were tucking in to the meze that was appearing in front of us (soooo gooooood!) I happened to cast an eye out of the window and saw to my horror a parking attendant looking at the car! I knew I had not paid for parking as I thought it was free after 5 pm. I couldn't even manage to speak, just squeaked and bolted out the door with napkin in hand and food in my mouth. All the charm I possibly could possess was mustered and believe it or not - he let me off the hook! Parking was payable till 6.30, so I ran in again and the kind waiters were offering me coins to put on the meter.
Lucky escape no 1!
borrowed from the web
The next day we decided to walk along The Backs and through King's College to look at the lovely daffodils and tourists. Even if we live in walking distance to town, my in-laws can't manage to walk too far so we drove and parked in a nearby road to the entry to the college from the Backs. It is a fairly long road, and we were parked about mid-way. We proceeded on foot in to town and my charm came to full force again when I manage to convince the kind guardsman to let me bring all three of my guests (University employees can normally bring 2 free guests).

Town was packed and we enjoyed Afternoon Tea at Harriet's. Tip: the portions are so generous - we ordered for 3 (even if we were 4) and even managed to bring home a small doggy bag as we just couldn't finish it all.

borrowed from the web
On the way back we leisurely walked over Garret Hostel Bridge on Burrel's Walk and looked at the people punting. We had been out for about 3 hours when we entered on to the street where I had parked the car. I suddenly noticed a couple examining the parking meter and saw to my horror that parking was payable ALL DAY, EVERY DAY. It being Sunday I thought parking was free and I had not paid anything... I then saw the dreaded sight of parking attendants making their way down from the other end of the street! Without a word to my family, I started running LIKE MAD towards our car which was mid way between me and the parking attendant.... Suddenly the hours spent in the gym came into force and I sped to the car, delighted to see they had not reached our car yet and just jumped in and drove down to the family who by now realised what had happened...
Lucky escape no 2!

So, lesson from this Easter: start paying attention to parking regulations and parking meters...!

Monday, 16 March 2015

Facebook, Birthdays, Childhood Logic and Numbers

One of the aspects of "being on" Facebook is that 'suddenly' you know when (most) of your friends' and relatives' birthdays are. Don't get me wrong - I think it is very nice to receive congratulations from near and not so near friends - whether in person or on FB.
But I have noticed that some days of the year many of my friends/family/acquaintances have joint birthdays:
For instance today - I know 4 people with birthdays (ok, it includes a set of twins)
On 19 May there are 3 sharing the same birthday
13 October there are another 3
24 October there are 4 with joint day
5 December there are 4

October, December and March seem to be the month when most of my friends on FB are born. Our own immediate family's birthdays don't fall into any of these months, but are spread out over the year. Another 'birthday anomaly' is for instance my in-laws' birthdays which are one day after the other  - that is a bit unusual, I'd say.
When I was little, I had this idea that the oldest child in the family 'chose' the date of all the future siblings' birthdays because my sister and I are born on the same day of the month (not the same month). When I noticed that this was not the case in some (most!) families - I made the 'logical' explanation in my mind that they probably were half siblings, ie they probably did not have the same mum or dad... Well, imagine all the questions THAT could spark off if this was indeed the case...!
Do you have months in the year with many birthdays in your family?
In any case - Happy Birthday to those celebrating today!

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Ladies Who Dine at the Movies!

This last month I have been to the movies twice. It is literally years since I went to the movies last. Can't even recall which film it was I saw...
Both times we went this month "The Ladies Who Dine" (our little group of friends) were almost the only ones in the movie theatre. It has become expensive going to the movies, and there are just so much more film entertainment available through various other online media. Makes me wonder how long the cinema is going to survive. But to our surprise there was an offer on Wednesdays this month - £5 per person - that is a fair offer, I think!
But we had a blast, it was the being together that mattered.
We first went to see "Theory of Everything" which was nominated for 5 Oscars. Needless to say, we all enjoyed it very much. The acting, the scenery and the familiarity as much has been filmed in our own town made it a treat. Ok, I must admit I got a bit hung up on scenes that were supposed to be in Cambridge, but that neither of us could identify... But it is still a good film of their relationship even if I did miss some more focus on his work. But then again, the film wasn't about his work.

Moving on: Last night we went to see "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel". I just love the cast, in particular Maggie Smith, Dame Judy Dench and then the new 'boy' - the silver haired fox, Richard Gere.

So, where do you see yourself retiring when the time comes...?
Any big plans or places you want to see health and wealth permitting?

Perhaps you might want to check in to the Best Exotic Marigold hotel...?

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Restaurant Review: Pierino, South Kensington

picture borrowed from the web
I had a business meeting in London yesterday. It doesn't happen very often, but a couple of times a year I go to London to discuss investments and money with the company's trustees. Sounds important, doesn't it..?!
The more fun part of these London trips is when I can meet up with The Student to have a nice catch-up and dinner! I went to meet him close to his halls of residence and he took me to one of his favourite local Italian restaurants - Pierino (37 Thurloe Place, London SW7 2HP) - for dinner. I thought I would mention this as a useful tip as the restaurant is by South Kensington tube station and just around the corner from all the lovely (free) science museums in London. Not that London lacks places to eat, but this was a very successful visit.
We shared a duo of bruschetta for starters and then for main course we both had "Pappardelle Machiavelli" which was "home made princess pasta with smoked salmon and fresh spinach in a cream and white wine sauce". The starter was fine, but the main course was truly one of the very best pasta dishes I have ever tasted. The pasta was amazingly fresh and I gather that princess pasta is long flat strand of pasta - a bit like if you were to cut up a sheet of lasagne plates. The flavour was intense with the right amount of salmon and spinach and without too much white wine sauce which often tends to drown the dish. It was so lovely, but left no room for dessert...
 I am afraid I didn't take any pictures, but I will certainly be back.
We both drank fizzy water and the bill came to just over £30 for the both of us.
You can't complain about that for a truly gorgeous meal.
So, in short - a highly recommended place!

Friday, 20 February 2015

College Wine Tasting!

One of the real perks of being part of academic life in Cambridge is the possibility of belonging to a college. Cambridge is a collegiate university where you are not only a member of the University, but as a student (and often as an academic) you belong to one of the colleges. The Colleges are responsible for admitting students to the University and is the base while you're studying at Cambridge. College is also where you eat, do a lot of socialising, receive academic and pastoral support, and where you often have your supervisions. Colleges also offer various form of entertainment, social activities and sports facilities.
I feel I belong to Clare Hall College since it was The Professor's college while he did his PhD and we lived as a family in college for 2 years when we first came to England. It is a lovely, all embracing, family friendly college and we have very fond memories of the time we lived in college and the many events we have attended throughout the years. They still use one of my old pictures on their website with a very young version of our Student. Although we didn't move far away - our house is a few hundred meters away - it has been a while since I attended any functions in college.
But that all changed last night when my new friend - an amazingly lovely Norwegian visiting professor from Tromsø - suggested we go to a wine tasting evening. I am so pleased that she has embraced college life as I suggested it to her when she arrived here. It gives such a different experience of life here if there is a college connection.
But it was all about wine last night. I am no expert at all on wine, but I tend to really enjoy Italian wine and we regularly buy from this vineyard in Tuscany. However, it is important to keep an open mind and see what else is out there! The evening was fun, informative and tasty where we sampled 14 different wines. Their prices ranged from £5 to about £20. I let my palate do the choosing and intentionally didn't want to be biased thinking a more expensive wine was the better, so out of the 14 wines - here are my 3 favourites, one white and two red:
I don't often drink white wine, but this was a very enjoyable and neither too dry nor too sweet Cantina Ottoventi 'Punto Otto' .8 Grillo Sicilia IGT, Sicily. At around £6 a bottle you really can't complain!

Villa di Vetrice Chianti Rufina Riserva 2010 gives a very attractive aroma and is very well balanced. Price should be around £10 and well worth it!
And finally, Primitivo di Manduria Dunico 2010. Very drinkable, but more pricey at around £17 a bottle. Perhaps for a special occasion, but I think I would rather have go for two of the former.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Easy Does It...

Note to self -
it is very silly to get over confident in the gym and put extra resistance/weight on the workout machines.
You just end up with very painful and torn ligaments in the knee... 
And then you have to take anti-inflammatory medicine and the doctor will ban you from the gym for at least 2 weeks!!!
But he did say I could keep swimming (and possibly biking)...

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Tried and Tested: Chicken Korma

Indian food is very popular here in the UK. So much so that Indian dishes have been voted the nations favourite food for years. Although, I am sure many Indian dishes in the UK are adapted to a European palate and very different from their original version. However, I am offering you here our family's take on a very popular curry - Chicken Korma. With its mild, fragrant and tasty herbs and spices it suits most people - particularly if you are not too keen on very hot and spicy food. It truly is a tried and tested recipe which has now settled in this form:
You need:

1kg Chicken breast or mini breast fillets
(You can obviously substitute the chicken with lamb, beef or game)
1 heaped tablespoon of finely grated fresh ginger
3 cloves of garlic, minced
150g thick (plain) yogurt
1 dried red chilli
2 finely chopped onions

1 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil

1 tbsp ground coriander
Pinch of ground black pepper
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala

75g creamed coconut
salt to taste

2 heaped tbsps. ground almonds
finely chopped Coriander Leaves, to garnish
juice of  1/2 lemon

This is how you do it:
Cut the chicken breasts into bite sized chunks and mix it with the ginger, garlic and yogurt. It is preferable to then cover it and marinade for 12 hours or in the fridge overnight.

On the day of cooking you need to liquidise the chopped onion and red chillies, add a little water if you need to blend til a smooth paste.

Heat the ghee/oil in a pan and add the ground coriander, ground black pepper, turmeric and garam masala and stir fry for about 1-minute over a low heat.
Turn up the heat, add the onion and chilli paste and stir fry for 5-10-minutes.

Add the chicken with the yogurt marinade and continue to stir fry for another 10-minutes.

Add the creamed coconut and enough water to *just* cover the chicken (be careful not to add too much water as the flavour may become watery). Bring it to the boil and stir in the ground almonds.

Reduce heat to low, cover the pan and simmer until the chicken is tender (30-40 minutes).

Remove from heat, add lemon juice and salt to taste. Mix well.
Serve with basmati rice and salad of finely chopped tomato, red onion, flat leafed parsley and mango .


Monday, 2 February 2015

Tried and Tested: Sholezard (Persian Saffron Rice Pudding)

picture borrowed from the web
My in-laws have been living with us for quite a while and I am very spoilt with coming home to ready made dinner most days. I tend to do the cooking on the weekends, both to give my mother-in-law a break, but also because I truly enjoy cooking. She is a very good cook, but there are still the occasional Iranian dish not included in her repertoire which I make on occasion. Traditional Iranian cuisine is based on the use of lots of fresh vegetables, pulses, beans, meat, rice and fruit. There are not as many desserts as in Scandinavian cooking, as fresh fruit is often the preferred end to a meal.
Here is an exception to this rule:
(or Persian Saffron Rice Pudding)
You need:
250 grams rice
2 l water
 400 grams sugar
4 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
 1/2 teaspoon saffron
 2 tablespoons crushed almond
For decoration:
 cinnamon and either slivered almonds or pistachios

This is how I do it:
Wash the rice a few times until the water is clear, then drain.
Add the 2 l of water and bring to a boil, removing the foam.
Cook for 30 mins and then add the sugar and stir well.
Dissolve the saffron in 2 tablespoons of hot water and add to the mix.
Add the oil, cardamom, and the crushed almonds as well. 
Stir carefully, cover and cook at low temperature for another 20 mins. 
Take the lid off and cook for another 20-30 mins.
Chill and serve with pistachio, almond and cinnamon sprinkled on top.
Iranians make the most elaborate decorations - I am not well versed in this respect...
Some add rosewater to the rice while it is cooking, but I omit this as I am not keen on the taste or smell of rosewater.
This rice pudding has a strong flavour of saffron, but it is actually very light, although very sweet.
I made it last weekend and it was well received

Friday, 23 January 2015

Check Up time!

Snix's cat box. Notice the organised folder on top with all his data and insurance papers. What a well organised cat, that is!
January seems to be a month for a lot of check ups in our house!
Our cat, Snix (his name is a pun on St. Nicholas as we got him right before Christmas 9 years ago), had his annual check up with the vet this week. He was not amused... Poor baby, he was sleeping on my bed, all warm and snug when I just whisked him into his cat carrier before he realised what was going on and could protest. Once there, with a rather defeated attitude he kept pressing himself towards me for comfort, while he quietly accepted being examined: eyes, teeth, weight, claws, heart, etc etc.

"I refuse to model today. No photos, please!"

He got a clean bill of health, but the vet suggested he was moved on to cat food for older cats. Not sure Snix could believe his ears! Food for older cats!? He is a mere 9.5yrs old.... A cat in the prime of his life, if you ask him. But apparently food for older cats contain more calcium which they need more of as they get older. So, he got his booster injection and was back on my bed in no time. Hopefully, a year till next 'trauma'.
The surgery was busy with loads of other cats and dogs in for the check ups. Or as one of the cats needed - medicine to induce vomiting because the silly cat had eaten rat poison. Something that doesn't happen too often to cats, according to the vet. Dogs, yes, but cats tend to know better. The owner did say this particular cat was generally rather stupid...
And today was my own check up with the oncologist. It is now just over 1.5 years since my own cancer operation and I am so grateful and happy that everything seems to be fine. I was very lucky with the early discovery and have had a very good recovery. I feel I am back to "normal" now, but with added awareness of my own health and I don't take anything for granted any more.
Next week is the annual MOT and service of my car.
I hope that goes well, too!

Friday, 16 January 2015

Flattery Gets You Everywhere...

I make a lot of knitted and crocheted things for myself and the family - whether they want it or not...
But I was flattered when one of the Student's friends asked me to make a pair of felted socks/slippers for him. Not often the teenagers take an interest... He requested them in 'coffee and cream', but this was the closest I could get.
I hope they keep him warm and he likes the result.
The pattern is free from Drops.
I used Rowan Brushed Yarn and no 7 stitches.
They are knitted in one piece and sewn together.
Then I washed them on a normal program in the washing machine and stretched them into the appropriate shape/length.
Very easy.
Now on to a baby blanket I have been asked to make for a friend expecting in a couple of months time.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Graduation in Durham!

Students gathering outside Durham Cathedral
I was up in lovely, but very blustery Durham on the weekend (incredible winds - think it was the storm 'Nina' that was making all the noise!) in connection with the graduation of one of the Professor's PhD-students. I don't get to know all his students, but every so often some of them become like friends and it feels natural to be there with them on their big day - particularly if they are not able to have their own families with them.
Borrowed from the web - we were not allowed to take pictures inside during the ceremony
 I had not been in to the amazing Cathedral before, but I will definitely go again soon (have wanted to save it till we have guests to take around!). Simply beautiful. After the ceremony in the cathedral there was a reception in the school.
Fitting decoration for the occasion - from the reception in the Business School.
We then proceeded to our house for a couple of hours before we went for dinner.
Picture borrowed from Finbarr's webpage
The new Doctor invited us all out to a delicious meal at Finbarr's . Finbarr's is an excellent  restaurant for a special occasion. We ate very well and it was such a nice way to mark the day. I strongly recommend the restaurant if you make your way to Durham.
And the socks I was knitting...? No, they were not completed on the train, but on Monday evening. I have two more 'UFO's to complete before I start anything new. Wool has been ordered for this new project, but I have PROMISED myself to finish off these two other projects before I get going on anything else.
Looking at the new wool waiting will be a good incentive, I think...!

Thursday, 8 January 2015

There Is A Chance...

I am heading up to Durham for a long weekend and with about 3 hrs on the train there is a chance I might finish the socks I am making for The Professor on the way! Socks like these are such a great way of using up leftover yarn from other projects. I can't abide the thought of throwing out the leftovers, and I hate having leftover yarn cluttering up the knitting basket. Making something useful is therefore a win-win solution.
I really recommend Bitta Mikkelborg's book "Sokker - Strikking Hele Året" - there are just so many ideas and patterns to chose from. The patterns and techniques are very well described making it a pure joy to knit
(sorry - to my knowledge, the book is not available in English)

Monday, 5 January 2015

Going to the Theatre: The Play That Goes Wrong!

The Play That Goes Wrong
Happy New Year!
We have had a lovely Christmas and New Year celebration with loads of food, drink and merriment! Christmas parties, walks, talks, snacking, knitting, reading, tv-watching and sleeping! That summarises the last two weeks pretty well. I 'packed away' Christmas on the weekend and we are now back to 'normal'. One remaining guest is still with us for one more day, but the Student and the Professor are both back in their universities and I started work again today.
Felt ok, to be honest. Must be a sign that it was a sufficiently long and relaxing break!
Just wanted to give a tip if you are going to London any time soon:
We started a new family tradition last year where we go to London for a weekend either before or after Christmas to stay in a hotel and go and see a play. This time the three of us went the weekend before Christmas and saw "The Play That Goes Wrong" at the Duchess Theatre in Covent Garden. The Professor and I conveniently stayed at the Grange Strathmore in Kensington, close to where the Student now lives and it was a nice hotel. Apparently, it used to be the London residence for the late Queen Mother's father (sold in about 1898)!
But about the play: the website explains: The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society attempt to put on a 1920s’ murder mystery in Havisham Manor, but as the title suggests, everything that can go wrong… does, as the accident prone thesps battle on against all the odds to get to their final curtain call. This brilliant new laugh out loud comedy performed by Mischief Theatre Company has enjoyed two successful runs in the West End and was the sell out smash hit of the Edinburgh Festival with its sensational reviews, numerous accolades and awards. The Play That Goes Wrong is guaranteed to leave you aching with  laughter!

And it did. A lot of slap-stick humour - really great fun and well acted. We all particularly enjoyed Dave Hearn in the role as "Max Bennett" and Henry Shields as "the director Chris Bean". Here is the trailer:

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Tried and Tested: Sylterull number 2 or Norwegian Pork Roll 2

I am really pleased with the result of this year's pork roll recipe. Here is my other version of how to make it. This version was simple, straight forward, little mess and it is nice and firm.
I got the recipe from MatPrat.No and here is the English version of how I made it:
You need an approx. 1.5 kg slab of pork belly
No bones and preferably not scored, but it doesn't matter too much
You might need to go to a butcher to get a big enough piece
Cover it completely with water and let it simmer for about 2 1/2 hours
In the meantime, mix in a bowl and set aside:
1 1/4 table spoon salt
1 tea spoon ground pepper
1 tea spoon ground clove
1 tea spoon ground all spice
1 tea spoon ginger
3 tea spoons gelatine powder - equivalent of one sachet of gelatine powder from Dr Oetker
(the recipe called for 5, but I put in three and it is ample!)
Take the meat out of the water and let it cool so it can be handled
Take the skin off in as whole pieces as possible
Bring out a bread mould and generously line it with cling film letting the ends hang over the sides so you have enough to cover the meat at the end
Take the skin and put a layer with the outer side down in the bread mould
Sprinkle some of the spice mix on the skin
Cut up the meat - it says to do it in nice slices, but mine crumbled no matter how I cut it and it doesn't seem to matter too much
Put a layer of meat on the spices
Alternative putting the spice mix and the layers of meat
Build it as high as possible in the mould
End with a final layer of the skin, this time the outer side out
Cover it with the clingfilm
Put it in a press (of 2-3 kg) or use a heavy frying pan/books/etc and leave it in the fridge till the next day.
It is now ready!
I decided to divide mine in two and freeze them, but you can also put it in brine to keep it in the fridge.
Bring on the mustard!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Deep Blue Gig

What a weekend!
Starting with a great birthday party on Saturday for another dear friend being introduced to to the "50+ club" and ending last night out on the town supporting a friend's gig! Well done, T!
December is such a busy month with all sorts of lovely, fun activities!
And I even managed to bake Berlinerkranser, Biscotti and Red Onion Marmelade...!
Tonight I am planning to make "ribbesylte" - after a new recipe.
I will let you know if it is better than my old recipe
(which happens to be one of my most viewed blog posts!)
But first off to the last yoga session of the term!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Even in December...

I had to make a quick trip up north to Durham on the weekend and was surprised to see that the amazing rose bushes outside our house are still blooming...
Even in December...
With the low light and the particular glow the sun has this time of year it made me think of the song "In the bleak midwinter". Here is a version sung by the Choir of Kings in Cambridge.
It is rapidly getting colder all over the country - even if there is no sign of snow neither in Durham nor in Cambridge... The cold here is a different 'kind' than I am used to from Scandinavia. It is a 'humid' cold which clings to your skin and you feel much chillier here than at even lower temperatures in a 'dry' cold.
On the plus side, I don't struggle with excessively dry, itchy skin here as I often encounter in a 'drier' cold.
It is important to see the bright side of things..!

Hope you are enjoying the advent season - the anticipation and preparations are almost the best part of Christmas, in my view!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Going to the Theatre: Oklahoma!

illustration borrowed from the web

Last week I went with three friends to see Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical "Oklahoma" at the local arts theatre and it was a great night out including a quick bite to eat before!
What a treat!
Even if you are not familiar with the musical (it was also made into a film), you surely are familiar with many of the songs - particularly "Oh, what a beautiful morning" - EVERYBODY must know it... See - I am sure you are singing it in your head as you are reading this...? It was hard not to sing along! (Ok, I 'hummed' a bit..)
"Oklahoma" was the first musical written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. It is based on a play from 1931 and set in a town called Claremore. It tells the story of cowboy Curly McLain and his romance with farm girl Laurey Williams. A typical boy-meets-girl-story in other words, but very well sung and played.
We all agreed we should do things like this more often! We are spoiled with accessible and affordable local events like this.
That should be classed as a "New Year's Resolution"!

Do you have any resolutions for 2015...?

Thursday, 4 December 2014

One Year on...

First Sunday in Advent - with PURPLE candles!
Ok, I am back on the blog!
More than a year has passed since my last blogpost...
A lot has happened, but at the same time it is hard to accept that a year could pass by so quickly...!

It has actually been a very good year, when I think about it. Some of the big headlines from this past year have been:
My health has gone from strength to strength and I am doing fine after a very scary 2013. I have made several changes in my life and the most "dramatic" is that I now go to the gym at least 3-4 days a week. Before work. And I LOVE it! Ok, I am a morning bird, so no surprise that this works for me. I truly recommend it (if you are a morning bird, that is). In addition, there is such a lovely group of people coming in most days and they are all so very friendly and supportive. I didn't expect the bonus of finding so many lovely, jolly people gathered at 7 am in the morning! I am not used to meeting other 'morning birds', so it is nice to meet 'fellow birds' with the same disposition of getting up at the crack of dawn!
Of other very good things that happened this past year, is that Our Young Man finished his A-levels  and is now at University studying in London. He is loving his new life. I am not hiding that it feels strange - (almost) empty nest - but I am so happy for him. He is really embracing life in London. He has been home once this fall, but we have seen him several times as we have popped in to London to meet up with other friends passing by this big city. Having him there means that I am getting to know London better as well! About time after living over 15 years in the UK!
This year we also bought a second home - a house in Durham for The Professor and we both spend a lot of time commuting between our two homes. Project managing and redecorating from afar is no mean task, but it is coming together nicely. In some ways it is nice to have two homes - we don't have a holiday home anywhere, instead we have two homes. It just worked out this way for now, but time will tell what will happen in this respect. It was great this summer when we drove over to the Lake District for the first time. It won't be the last time we go to the Lakes. It was simply stunning!

So, I plan to be a bit more active on the blog as I actually miss it. Looking through other years' printouts confirms my intention - it is a fun way of keeping a 'diary' of events in our lives!

Friday, 29 November 2013

Much to Celebrate and a Taco Chicken Tip!

Yes, there is no denying it.
This month it is
50 years since President Kennedy was killed,
50 years since C.S. Lewis who wrote the Narnia books died (he died the same day as Kennedy - which is probably why nobody remembers) 
50 years since Dr Who was first aired and
50 years since I was born in a hospital in New Jersey!
It sounds very grown up - being 50... Hope it isn't compulsory...!
I am truly blessed with all the celebrations in my honor with lots of attention from dear friends, visits from Norway, meals out and a fun party last weekend!

So far, turning 50 has been nothing but FUN!
Over to the Spicy Chicken Tip:
Due to my illness this summer, I am 'using up' holidays from the previous holiday year (our holiday year runs from 1 October - 30 September) by having every Friday off. It feels like a real luxery - I could get used to this!
So, sitting this morning with a cup of coffee reading blogs, I came across Trine's Matblogg with a recipe for making your own taco spices. Taco is much loved in this house and by putting together the spices yourself it isn't just cheaper, but you are also in control of how much sugar and salt you consume!
Homemade taco spice:
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 1/2 teaspoons chiliflakes 
2 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoons paprika powder (I use the hot smokey variety)
2 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 tablespoons seasalt
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
Be aware that spices can vary in strength, so start out carefully.
Despite liking taco, I got fed up with the usual taco recipes with minced meat, cheese, etc, etc. Instead, I often roast chicken with the spices.

Here is my simple Taco Chicken recipe:
take one raw chicken
place it in a roasting bag
add a couple of tablespoons of taco spices
close the bag
shake vigoursly to spread the spices
roast the chicken in the oven for the time suggested on the roasting bag pack
One VERY succulent, juicy, spicy taco flavoured chicken!

Well, I'd better get a move on. First Sunday of Advent is coming up and Our Young Man is expecting an advent calendar - as usual! I have got 19 out of the 24 surprises ready.
Only 5 more to go... It is getting hard being inventive and keeping the price down!
Besides he said - no chocolate...!
Any suggestions...?

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Not so Much of a 'Comic'? Night Out...

Back in the spring I won a couple of ticket in a raffle to see the American comedian Reginald D. Hunter. Last Sunday Our Young Man accompanied me and we made a night of it and went out for a nice meal at Carluccio's first.
We had seen Mr. Hunter on TV many times, but I was a little disappointed in his performance on Sunday. His humour can be rather crude and he sometimes addresses a lot of very controversial issues, but although there were the occasional giggle, I never really felt like there was much scope for a real hearty 'belly laugh'. Nah, to give him the benefit of the doubt - I just don't think he was 'on form' that night.

His warm up guy - Canadian born Pete Johansson - on the other hand was much funnier and his arguments for why we should re-introduce bears...(!) to the UK were simply funny!
But having said this - it takes real guts (and talent) to get up and stand in front of an audience and try to make them laugh. Not something I would have wanted to do for a living!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Embarrassing Moment and Knitted iPhone Cover

I managed to make the same mistake as many others apparently have done - I dropped my phone in water... It all happened as as I was walking around the house looking for my iPhone and gave up as I needed to use the bathroom... Why did I not simply call the phone to hear it ringing...? Sigh...

Need I say more? The phone was in my back pocket...

Ok, so I found the phone, but chucking it in a bag of rice to revive didn't work so a new phone has been ordered and in the meantime I am using the simplest version possible of a mobile phone. For somebody who has become used to organising my life via the various apps on the phone, not to mention the calendar, this has been painful! No internet, no usable calendar, no emails... Actually, it is rather peaceful...!

But the new phone is on its way. I wanted to use up some left over yarn and knitted an iPhone cover (pattern taken from the book Knit Nordic). Quick and easy even if I managed to miss a round (yup, you can see it in the pattern if you look closely) but since I think it will be too small for the iPhone - it fits perfectly the current simple phone- I couldn't be bothered undoing it. But I will make a new one for the new phone. I realise the knitted texture makes it much easier to find the phone in my handbag!

Have you had any 'phone related' incidences...?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Knitted Tie

Scandinavian (and particularly Norwegian) patterns are all the rave these days. You find them in anything from clothes to kitchen ware! 

Our Young Man was on a quest rooting through my old sweaters and was very pleased when he discovered my Marius sweater and others I knitted for myself when I was 16 or 17. Still in pristine condition! But he was equally disappointed when he realised that he is of course much broader/taller/bigger than I was at 17... However, he struck lucky when he found a beautiful hand knitted sweater that had been made for his father by a very dear neighbour. Now he is just hoping for colder weather. Hand knitted woollen sweaters require a colder climate than we generally have...!

But he did ask if I could knit him a tie. Apparently, that is also all the rave - sporting knitted ties. Obviously, we have to show off our roots, so I found a pattern for a knitted tie based on a Setesdal pattern in the book by Eline Oftedal called "Knit Nordic" (I think "Marius, Setesdal, Fana, Voss, Norske Strikkemønstre på nye måter" is the Norwegian title of the same book). The bottom part carries the pattern and the rest is knitted in moss stitch (perlestrikk). I must admit it was a bit boring knitting the moss stitch, but it is simple to do in front of the telly.

Let's hope the Young Man likes it.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Still Hanging in There!

Oh, yes, I am still here!
I have neither found the right time nor inspiration for the blog, but I hope that will return!
I have gone back to work, and after my summer ordeal that felt ok. Not great, but ok. I am still on a phased return but aiming to start full time again next week. I think that will be ok, too. Sometimes you have to push yourself to move forward. One good thing that has come out of my illness is that I  started working out. Since July I have been going to the gym every other day and I really LOVE it. Who would have thought.... It has become a habit and I feel so much better for it. I just hope I can keep it up when I start working full time...!

Time flies and beautiful autumn days are here. The heating goes on regularly in the afternoons, the Cat refuses to step outside for days on end (he is getting lazier by the year) and The Professor reported frost on the ground up north in Durham where he is.

Last week was half term and Halloween and tonight is Bonfire Night. I wrote about Bonfire Night last year, so you can read about that here, if you want. Soon it will be Thanksgiving and then Christmas. It is just one form of celebration after the other!

Another thing to mention is that Our Boy has also sent off his University application for studying next year. So fingers (and toes and anything else!) crossed he is accepted to the course he wants at the University he wants! I am just finding it hard to understand that he is soon off to University... Seriously, where have the years gone???

These pictures are from Sunday when I managed to lure Our Boy (I guess I should start calling him Our Young Man ...) with me for a walk on Sunday with the promise of having lunch at a noodle bar. Their noodles in hot, steamy and  broth, like their Tom Kha Gai is just what you need on a blustery day. The soup was bursting with flavoursome broth enhanced with coconut milk, chicken, pork, seafood, mushrooms and various vegetables and vermicelli noodles. The portions are enormous so the leftovers were brought home and served as a starter for dinner.
No wonder this is a popular place with students!

So, time I had a 'wander' around Bloglandia and see what other bloggers are up to! Maybe time to start thinking of Christmas, too! That reminds me - I MUST get the amaryllis bulbs planted if I am to have any chance of it blooming for Christmas! Last year's didn't bloom until end of April...! I think I might be late already...

Have you got yours planted...?


Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Alexis Gloves

It is getting chilly here. It can still get up to 17-20 degrees during the day, but on a grey, rainy day like today there is no denying autumn is here. I went by a new wool shop the other day and came across the pattern for these fingerless gloves. I knitted them using baby alpaca wool - a first for me. It is the loveliest and softest yarn. I wouldn't mind making something else in this yarn!

As I paid for the pattern I don't think copyright laws allow me to just put it out on the web, but if you google 'Alexis gloves' you should find it. The top end has a loop that goes around the middle finger. Dramatic effect :-)

But I think it was the picture of the model that made me look twice at the pattern - she is almost the spitting image of my beautiful niece. It isn't my niece (who of course - in my eyes - is even more beautiful), but I think I found her 'twin'. :-)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad