Sunday, 31 October 2010


Just popping in to wish you all a Happy Halloween!
As Our Boy is expected back from his 4 days scout trip tonight I think Halloween will be a somber affair in our house as he has probably not slept very much while on camp... I therefore chose a picture taken about 11 years ago  - long before we had a new kitchen - and Our Boy is only 3 years old here.
Happy times ;-)

Can you see the cat face we put on the pumpkin?
This was long before The Cat joined our family, so we were obviously already then liking cats!

I remember going trick-or-treat'ing when I was little and living in the USA. It must have made a great impression on me as I was less than 5 when we moved to Norway, but the memory of this festival is still very strong. Contrary to popular belief, Halloween is not originally an American tradition. It has its roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain and the Christian All Saints Day. It was originally an old harvest festival and the marking of the darker part of the year with the carved out pumpkins used to ward off evil spirits.

Over here the children go trick-or-treating in a couple of streets in the neighbourhood, but mainly enjoy the slightly spooky feeling of being outside in the dark.

Have fun and be safe in the dark!

Friday, 29 October 2010


I have got my first award by the lovely Pafrika!
I am a Cherry on the Top ;-)! Thank you, Pafrika!
As I understand how these things go, the award comes with a responsibility.
This time it is to name 3 things I like to do, so here goes:

  • 1 - Cooking - not really a surprise when I look at the categories on this blog with the most entries... I have always loved to cook and have a substatial collection of cookery books - never seem to have enough! Fortunately, with a Tenage Boy (who never seems to get enough food but still just gets skinnier but taller - don't know how that works...;-) I have a very grateful recipient of my culinary experiements.
  • 2 - I love being a mother. Yes, yes, we all love our children, but I love the whole experience even though I will be the first to admit I don't get it right all the time... and yes, it can be trying on your patience... But seriously, I can't remember my life before I became a mother and I am really grateful for this "role" in my life. Perhaps this lack of memory is a little worrying ... ;-)?
  • 3 - For the third point I will put something less "noble" and with the fear of seeming greedy I will actually throw in several things I love to do:
    • meeting up with friends - whether for a quick coffee, a meal or just a chat
    • yoga - my new passion which makes me feel soooo good 
    • reading - there is nothing like curling up with a good book
    • travelling - still so many places to see!
    • crafts - very gratifying when it works
    • listening to good radio programs while cooking - I always have the radio on when in the kitchen
    • cuddling with The Cat - yes, some would think he is my second child ;-)
    • walking in the country side - it is great to have such a lovely area for walking with the pub at the end of the path ;-)
And then the awards comes with the condition that I show something nice. I have chosen these pictures of the gladioli I picked up to brighten the weekend as they remind me of my bestest friend who had gladioli at her wedding all those years ago
(The Cat was very curious to what I was up too and insisted on joinging the picture):

I am also to pass the award on to 5 other blogs. This is the REAL challenge as there are so many lovely, deserving and creative blogs out there. I was tempted to say "none mentioned, none forgotten", but since this is my first award I think I should be more specific.
So, although many have already received this award, I have not checked if any of them have already received this award, but I would still like to promote

Hvit Stil - simply because this was the first blog I started reading and she inspired me to start my own blog as well as many of my projects. Just wish I had some of her energy...!
Fru Tunheim - started blogging around the same time as me and has a lovely way of using few words to say a lot
Hverdagsthing - because she has such a nice mix of interesting entries and pictures
Mannes hverdag - because she is so creative and I feel a little bit closer to home in her blog and I love it when she uses our local dialect in her entries ;-)
GO Photo - because she takes such lovely creative pictures and really inspires me to want to learn more about photography

Tried & Tested: Decadent Croissant and Chocolate Pudding

Having my Norwegian friend and her family close by is such a treat this term!

We generally get togheter once a week for dinner and this week was my turn to cook.
I will get back to the Iranian inspired main course in another blog post.

I decided to be a bit inventive for the dessert and also use up some stale croissants in what became a decadent take on a "bread and butter pudding":

In a buttered oven proof dish I tore up:
4 croissants and mixed with
100 grams dark cooking chocolate (from Ikea!)

I then combined
3 eggs with
280 ml of cream and
2 tbsp of brown sugar and
3 tbsp of Baileys (I used the Coffee type)
and some skimmed milk and poured over the croissants

I then let it sit for about 30 mins to let the croissants soak up the liquid.

It then went into the oven on 180 degrees for about 20-25 mins

I served the pudding warm with ice cream, but I guess a nice custard could do as well.

This was more than ample for 4 people and a good way to use up leftover stale bread/cake.

You could use any type of stale bread instead of croissants

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Recommended reading: Miss Garnet's Angel

Death is outside life but it alters it: it leaves a hole in the fabric of things which those who are left behind try to repair.
This is the opening line of the novel where Salley Vickers has created a wonderful character
- Miss Julia Garnet  -
a very proper retired schoolteacher, who decides to winter in Italy (what a dream!).

The story is set to the beautiful and ethereal background of Venice where Julia - the uptight English rose - is transplanted into the culturally rich soil of Venice and begins to blossom. This anti-heroine is so down-to-earth and dignified, and yet so very naive. But she is believable and  delightful, as she discovers each new experience and her confidence grows. She embarks on a journey that leads her through the three F’s of her life: fear, faith, and friendship. Julia overcomes her fear of the unknown, and she develops deep and meaningful friendships during the seven months in Venice  - more than she ever did in her entire life in England.

Vickers has given the book an excellent cast of characters and an interesting story full of death, love, myth, faith, truth, hate. Yet, it is a very gentle book.

Among other things, the novel challenges us to think about how we interpret the world around us.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Tried & Tested: Apple Cake

The very lovely and creative Quiltefia recommended this low calorie Apple Cake (click on the link to her blog for the recipe in Norwegian) and I can wholeheartedly support it!

It is simply delicious, very moist and rather light!
It doesn't contain as much butter as many other recipies I have used in the past, and you can always substitute sugar for Splenda.
I made one on Saturday with the plan to take it with me to a dinner party on Sunday. "Mysteriously", somehow most of it was "gone" before I knew it and whatever was remaining didn't look like much to bring to the dinner party so a second one was quickly made ;-)

Here is my take on her recipe:

  • Beat 1 dl sugar with 3 eggs
  • Melt 85 grams butter and add 2 dl low fat yoghurt
  • Mix 250 grams of flour with 2 tsp of vanillasugar and 1 tsp of bakingpowder.
Combine it all well together and add to a greased tin.

Core, peel and cut up 4-5 apples which you put firmly into the batter.
I also added some chopped almonds and I think some raisins might be nice as well.
I gave the whole cake a good sprinkling of cinnamon before baking it on 185 degrees for about 25-30 mins

Yummy - another recipe worth keeping!!!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Some Thoughts On Christmas Preparations...

24 October... 2 months till Christmas... hmmm...
It feels VERY wrong to see all the Christmas decorations already out in the shops - they have actually been there for a while! Halloween is not even over! 
Over 2 months before the holidays and the shops are full of decorations and Christmas paraphernalia... If it was up to me it should not be allowed until 1 December! Many families here in England even put up the Christmas tree on 1 December, but nothing goes up before 23 December in my house - except for the advent candles and the calendar, of course.
But perhaps waiting with the preparations till 1 December might mean that we would all get even more stressed than we already are...? Or do the constant reminders enforce the stress....? 

Don't misunderstand me. I adore Christmas. I love the preparations, the anticipation, the smells, the food, the decorations, the secrecy and the togetherness. I even love the cold! One of the perks of being married to somebody with a very diffrent cultural background is that I get to decide EVERYTHING about how we celebrate Christmas. After 25 years together The Professor doesn't know any other way, so he is completely on my side and no need for any compromises... ;-)

My concern is that this "dilution" of Christmas takes away a lot of the magic, particularly for the children. I can't remember there was much talk about Christmas until advent started when I was a child. And even then, the 24 days of waiting were a mix of joyous anticipation as well as agonising torture. My fear is that with over 2 months "waiting time" the kids get fed up waiting and the magic is lost...

So, after this rant about early Christmas reminders I admit I bought the first two Christmas gifts today - just because I came over something really perfect for some friends. Now, that is purely accidental as many people I try to shop for birthdays and Christmas throughout the year whenever I come across something suitable. Since they are Christmas gifts I can't show what I got, but to prove that it isn't all about Christmas yet, I got a couple of new cushions for the living room...
And they have completely nothing to do with Christmas!

Friday, 22 October 2010

Coffee Morning

A couple of the parents (read: mothers) in Our Boy's year organise monthly Coffee Mornings on the last Friday of the month in a conveniently located cafe as an informal way of getting to know each other.

It was easy gettting to know the mothers of his friends (as I tend to be a bit of a chatterbox...;-)) when Our Boy was in Primary School and we were all waiting for the children by the school gate at the end of the day . Most of my best and dearest friends in this town were "acquired" that way. We have forged deep and strong friendships independent of the children as most of them are now in different schools around town as they moved into Secondary School.

So, when Our Boy started Secondary School 3 years ago with none of his old classmates it brought a completely new set of parents for me to get to know!

Unfortunately, just like me - not everybody manages to come to the meetings every month, but we are still a "hard core" that normally make it and it is a very pleasant way to learn about other aspects of what goes on at school.

You would be amazed what you learn about your own child hearing it from other sources ...


Wednesday, 20 October 2010

My Friend - The Author

borrowed with kind permission from

I am so excited for a friend of mine!
She is now an 

Imagine! Being published!

Her first book "Being Human" is coming out just in time for Christmas at the beginning of December

The book is published by the publisher Classic TV Press which specialises in the 'explorations and celebrations of classic television series - past and present'.
I am starting to feel I am 'rubbing shoulders' with celebrities as I know the publisher, too!


I really look forward to the book as I have so enjoyed reading her blog. It is one of the wittiest and funniest blogs I have ever read.
Now that the book is out of the way I hope she will find time to continue with the blog... hint, hint!

Well done, J!

(The book can be ordered directly from the publisher or via Amazon)

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Open Day & Sunday Walk

A couple of weekends ago Our Boy's school held an Open Day for prospective new parents. All the current students have to help out and the older ones guide the new parents around showing them the facilities and talking about the school.

My Norwegian friend and I were of course NOT new prospective parents since both our boys are current students, but we were curious to see the new building that was finalised this summer. So we snuck in and had a wander around. We did run into our boys but tried not to embarrass them too much...  

The new facilities are lovely, but sorely needed now that the school is no longer an all-boys school! Our Boy's year is actually the last boys-only year.

Not frost - just a spiders' web

The rest of THIS weekend has been spent relaxing because I must have slept in the wrong position as I have got a stiff neck. Gentle yoga movements have help a little, but rest seems to be the best.

However, as most "good Norwegians" we had an urge to get some fresh air which neither lack of mountains nor forrests could deny so Our Boy and I went for a walk to the pub in Grantchester where lunch was waiting!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Gog Magog

My Norwegian Friend and I went with my Former Neighbour
 to the lovely farmshop in the curiosly named Gog Magog this morning. Their website reads:

"The name 'Gog Magog Hills' is taken from the hills upon which the farm lies. Some say that Gog Magog was the name of a legendary giant whose lair was in Wandlebury Ring - just a stone throw away - but the name is certainly not specific to the locality. There is doubt as to whether there was one giant or two. What is certain is that the name was not used before the sixteenth century and possibly the name was due to nothing more subtle than that the hills looked like slumbering giants and that Gog and Magog were familiar giant names."

I love shopping in farm shops where most of the produce are locally grown and sourced. Fortunately, more and more farms are opening their own farm shops as people appreciate buying food directly from those who have grown it.

We even managed to squeeze in time for a coffee in their little coffeeshop

and a visit to the turkeys

(who were happy in their blissful ignorance of not knowing what is in store for them as we approach Thanksgiving and Christmas...)

Friday, 15 October 2010

Tried and Tested: Autumnal Soup Idea

The shops are full of pumpkins (not just for carving for Halloween, you know!) and butternut squash this time of year which are perfect for deliciously warming and filling autumnal soups.
And the colour of the soup becomes amazing! 
I rarely make the same soup twice as it all depends on what is in my larder at the time...

Here is this week's soup:

Fry some
  • onion,
  • garlic,
  • a couple of stalks of chopped up celery
chop up and add
  • a large butternut squash
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 parsnips
  • 2 potatoes
  • 2 stock cubes
  • enough water to cover the vegetables
Let it cook till the vegetables are soft and use a handheld blender to whizz it all up. You don't have to blend the cooked vegetables, but I think this improves the flavour.

  • 1 tin of chickpeas
  • 1 pack of bacon which has been cut into small pieces and fried
  • season to taste
Serve with chunky pieces of bread

Tip: The Professor and Our Boy always add a tsb or two of vinegar (balsamic or red wine vinegar) to their soup bowls.
This gives it a bit different, but interesting taste.
And as The Professor would say -
"all food can be improved with a little parsley".

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Recommended viewing: New Period Drama - Downton Abbey

Sunday evenings are spent with the people at Downton Abbey!

This is good news for those who love British period dramas:

ITV has made a new series called "Downton Abbey". The series, which stars Dame Maggie Smith (well know for many, one of her latest characters is as Professor MacGonagall from Harry Potter), Hugh Bonneville, Penelope Wilton and Elizabeth McGovern, examines the lives of the Crawley family and their domestic staff set in 1912.

 As it says on the ITV website:
"Some of them are loyal to the family and are committed to Downton as a way of life, others are moving through, on the look out for new opportunities or love or just adventure. The difference being that they know so many of the secrets of the family, while the family knows so few of theirs..."

Lovely way to end a Sunday!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Tough Negotiations

Our Boy has had a mobile phone (in my name) for some time now.
He doesn't use the phone much, but it is a safety link for us when he is "out & about" on his own, so we are happy to provide him with one.

The phone was approaching the need for renewal (nothing is made to last these days...!) and since the subscription is in my name I was instructed by Our Boy and The Professor to call the company and ask for the PAC-number
(Porting Authorisation Code is apparently what you need to be able to move your current phone number to a new subscription and still keep your old number).

When asking for the illusive "PAC" number, all sorts of
alarm bells
went off for the very polite salesman probably working from a call center in India - but how come they are always all called "George"....??? and he started offering me all sorts of phones and new deals - he was desperate  not to loose my custom!

Both my men smiled knowingly as this was expected and now the hard negotiations started...!

To cut a veeeery long story short, I think I played sufficiently "hard to get" making poor "George" call me back 3 times while I was "thinking" about his various offers... ;-)
I ended up renewing the contract for 18 months (not 24 as was the start condition) while cutting the monthly subscription cost with 20%, keeping the same amount of free calls/email/internet access and getting a free HTC Hero! I can't say which company we are with as this was "a special and confidential offer only for me (!) "
- yeah right!

But a sure sign that you have made a good deal when haggling is when the salesman is not happy at the end...
I think I pressed "George" as far as I could and Our Boy is now waiting in anticipation for his new phone arriving tomorrow.

And I am happy we will have cheaper phone bills!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Bedroom Changes

As I mentioned last weekend, I started re-arranging the bedroom whilst dreaming of the ultimate bedroom solution. We have a rather large rectangular bedroom which is in dire need of upgrading, but there are always some other projects that get priority. Never the less, I want to make some changes while I wait for new wardrobe, floor, lighting, etc. etc.  Suddenly I had the idea of more or less breaking the room in two with bringing a wall halfway into the room and creating a walk-in-closet area behind this wall. I had more or less decided this would be the way to proceed once we start the work and explained in great detail the plans to the Professor who normally has no vision for these projects... He didn't grumble too much as he knows these plans may change a "million" times before we get around to the work... 

I know the picture over the bed is too low, but it worked before I rearranged the room. Brick walls are a nuisance when it comes to hanging up pictures...!

Yesterday afternoon we took a quick trip to our local shop, Homesense, and suddenly the Professor got a "vision" when he saw a screen wall for sale. He convinced me this could be an alternative to putting up a permanent wall as "you rearrange everything every 3 months anyway". The screen was a mere £100 so we got it in the car and went home.
To my surprise, I love the lace like effect and the way the sun filters through the window blinds and the screen. It actually gives a sortof a Middle Eastern feel to the room.
Hmm... that is an idea, might need some more accessories,
me thinks!

So, I like it!

At least for now.

Till I change my mind. 


Friday, 8 October 2010


(The picture from the bench in the guitar teacher's garden)


I can't say how happy I am that the weekend is finally here! 
I normally don't write much about my work on the blog, but I make an exception today. I have just had what I call my "exam" which actually is the board meeting. We hold these meetings twice a year and I always work myself up in such a flap before these meetings.
If I am honest (which I should be!), the meetings are not that bad, the people are nice, but I still worry about things I fear might be controversial and cause conflict. However, it never ceases to amaze me that things I think might be controversial just flies through, while items on the agenda which I thought were straight forward get all sorts of attention... I think this is why I have almost become superstitious and fear that if I DON'T fret and worry, THEN the meetings will go badly.
Silly, I know.
But, now on to the weekend!
The Professor is home, I did the weekly grocery shopping last night and we are going to friends for dinner!
What a great way to start the weekend!

Just hope Our Boy would get that hair cut tomorrow...


Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Tried and Tested: Autumn Gathering and Brownie cake!

More Norwegians have arrived and we gathered after a long week for a Sunday dinner.
Not exactly Norwegian fare, but still a tasty lasagne with homemade focaccia, a BIG salad and a bottle of wine
(think I might have been Italian in a previous life...)

Dessert was a simple chocolate-brownie-cake I have made numerous times, so it is truly "tried and tested"
(which also makes lovely muffins):

Stir 4 eggs with 5 dl sugar (don't whisk or stirr too much)
Melt 200 grams of butter
and add along with
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanillasugar
3 dl flour
8 tbsp good quality cocoa powder

Bake in the oven for about 30 mins (test!) at 175 degrees.

The cake is meant to be a little chewy inside - like a good brownie!

(to avoid temptation we sent most of the leftover of the cake with the guests ;-))

Monday, 4 October 2010

Unrealistic Project?

Here is the yarn I attempted buying on Saturday when I discovered to my horror I had gone to town without my wallet.
Well, a quick trip to the shops on Sunday took care of that "problem".

I have been inspired by so many blogs to make my own snuggly throw - a "granny-square-throw".
Just hope I won't be a granny before it is done... 
Perhaps a cushion is a more realisticly sized project???

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Getting the Hint!

I am taking the hint:

Do you know the feeling when you are really busy and have lots of projects,
but for reason they are just not meant to be?

Today has turned out to be a day like that for me:

After a very busy week at work, I cherised the luxery of sleeping in till 8.30 am.
I had a nice cup of coffee in bed with The Cat. The house was quiet (Our Boy likes his sleep) so as I was sitting in bed looking around and thinking about all the changes I want to do to the room when we finally get around to redecorating it (yes, reading blogs does that to you!).
 I decided to do what I can and rearrange the bedroom. I threw a load of washing in the machine and got out the hoover and rearranged the bedroom. Happy and content with my mission, I had a quiet moment reading blogs and then hung the now clean clothes, had a lovely shower and a quick breakfast.

More plans had been brewing in my mind and decided to return a faulty lamp to the shop across town and jumped in the car.

This is where it all went wrong.

First weekend of October is the BUSIEST weekend of the year in our town as ALL the new students arrive. The roads were jampacked with proud parents and their hopefuls with cars laden to the rim with everything and nothing of what the aspiring students will be needing.

I should have known! 11 years in this town should have taught me something???
It took me 20 mins to go around the block. Obviously, I went back home and had a change of plans. The lamp would have to wait, I decided to bike to town and buy the yarn I need for my next project. It is a lovely sunny day, so I biked carefully among all the cars into town. Yes, it was even more crowded as this is one of the drawbacks of living in a famous University town as there milllllllions of tourists as well. Not a bad word about neither students nor tourists - we need the all!

I chose the yarn, had a look around the shop (it is like a being in a candy store!), but restricted myself to the 4 balls of yarn and went to pay. PANIC! There was no wallet in my bag. Obviously, I couldn't buy the yarn and I left the shop casting longing looks at the yarn as I walked out calling Our Boy to check if I had left the wallet in the car. Phew! Yes, it was there. A black wallet on a black seat... need I say more?

There was nothing else for me to do but to bike back home where things started looking better as Our Boy had cooked me lunch! I also ran into an old friend in town whom I haven't seen for a long time and we had a long chat. The sun is shining and we are off to a BBQ tonight!

Surely, nothing can go wrong there?

In the meantime, I will stay put indoors and not start any new projects.

I think my quota for the day is used up.

In the meantime - welcome back to all the new students!