Monday, 31 May 2010

Having spent the first years of my childhood in the USA,
I thought I should show my "roots" and make some
Tollhouse Cookies;-)

Actually, Our Boy is on half term break this week, but is spending the entire week revising for exams next week, so he needed a little encouragement and some rewards for the hard work he is putting in.
The cookies were even good enough to receive a mention on his Facebook page ;-)

Tollhouse Cookies

225 grams of flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

225 grams of softened butter
225 grams of sugar (I actually used about 190 grams as it just seemed too much sugar!)
150 grams of brown sugar
1 tsp of vanilla extract (or vanilla sugar)
2 large eggs
350 grams of chocolate pieces (I used 200 grams - again it just seemed ENOUGH of the sweet stuff)
Chopped nuts (if you want)

Bake for 9-11 minutes 180 degrees in the middle of the oven.
It makes about 45-50 cookies

Sunday, 30 May 2010


The flowers are blooming in Norway, too! I brought the flowerpot from England 
I am back after 48 intense hours in Norway with mamma. I managed to arrive earlier on Thursday evening (Ryanair was 30 mins EARLY!) so I went straight to see her at 10 pm. She didn't expect me till the next morning, so it was lovely to see how happy she became. Friday was filled with x-ray appointment and doctor's visit. We will see what it leads to, but we are considering going down the private route as we get the impression the public health service isn't too keen on helping an old lady.

Saturday mum and I went in the beautiful weather for a drive to Sweden and had a nose around the shops in Svinesund/Nordby. No matter how poorly she is, the shops still have their attraction! ;-)
 The view from Mamma's room at 8 pm. She has the sun all morning and day and can see the entire town from her room.

My flight back last night was 50 minutes early... The sceptic in me thinks Ryanair intentionally estimates a longer journey than necessary so they can say "Another Ryanair flight has landed on time". But I am not complaining - they are cheap (although not always cheerful) and fills my needs as long as you have learned to play their game.

Funny world -
I was delighted to meet again on the way over an English lady I met some months ago on the same flight. She lives in Norway, but goes over regularly to see her elderly mother in England - exactly the reverse of me.
There is some comfort in realising that our family's situation is in no way unique.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Weekly Routines

Tuesday evenings are my FIRST Yoga evening of the week. My teacher was away on a hiking-and-yoga trip in Greece the last two weeks. She had asked the lady she herself had trained with - all those years ago - to take the class for her.
WHAT a lady!
We guessed she was perhaps 60 and was SO impressed with her. She was of course the fittest of us all... You can imagine our shock (and inspiration) when we were told that she was actually way into her 70-ties...
The evening was rounded off as per usual with a drink (fizyy water or Diet Coke) in the pub next door with The Ladies Who Dine.
So civilised... ;-)

My SECOND Yoga evening of the week (yes, I have joined another class) is on Thursdays.
It is very interesting to see the different teachers' approaches. I have had 4 teachers so far since I started after Christmas and have enjoyed them all for different reasons.

However, this week I won't be able to make the Thursday class as I am flying over to Norway for a couple of days to see my mother. She is not well and we will be speaking with the doctors who are struggling with her medication.
It is not easy getting old, and particularly not when your ability to communicate has been so severely damaged by strokes.

On a brighter and more selfish note - I get to see mum!

Monday, 24 May 2010

Fun in the Sun

Our Boy spent much of the weekend at a friend's birthday-party-sleepover, so I kicked off my shoes and did just what I wanted this Sunday!

We had bought a nest of tables from Ikea a long time ago and I decided it was time they were spruced up. I suddenly became brave and painted the legs of one of them white. Very pleased with the result, actually. Think I will do that with the larger table as well.

And then I had a big bowl of mango/pineapple/banana and blueberries in the sunshine!
(The yellow flower is from the tomatoes and the green is the basil coming along nicely!)

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Up Close & Personal

The Cat is now officially fed up being my model...
I have had great fun this weekend playing with the "new" functions on my camera. They are not new at all. I just didn't know my camera despite having had it for about 4 years... Well, this is one of the "side effects" of having started this blog - I have become really keen on taking pictures again ;-)

Another not so pleasant up-close-&-personal encounter is that I woke up this morning to find the garden gate wide open. There is no way I can open it myself from outside. But somebody has... some time between 11.30 pm and 7.30 am... I tiptoed out in my nightgown and saw that they have been to at least two other neighbours' gardens as their gates were also wide open. It doesn't look like they have broken in anywhere, but the upsetting thing is that I slept (on the 2nd floor) with the windows wide open and heard NOTHING! We were broken in to last summer in broad daylight and had an alarm installed in the house so I am not afraid even if I was alone last night, but I am very ANGRY!
I am getting on with the task of having a new and better garden door installed!

Some tips:

  • Don't leave any garden tools out that can be used to force open windows/doors

  • Don't draw all the curtains shut as it makes the house look un occupied

  • I keep the garden light on in the night to remove the advantage of working unseen and so I can see if there is anybody "lurking" about

  • Have an alarm installed. Most of the time they don't bother if they see an alarm - but not always as a friend of mine experienced...

  • We have sliding patio doors and I had a piece of wood cut that I put in the little sliding groove when the door is shut. This way the door can only be opened 5-10 cm even if they have managed to break the lock.

  • Don't keep your keys hanging in the lock on the inside. We have a letteropening in our front door and some might try to get the keys by putting their hands through this opening.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

My Town

We are fortunate to live within 10 mins bikeride to town and on a gorgeous day like today that is pure joy!

 Just to prove we have completely blue skies today! ;-)

Happyness from the market...

I love walking around looking at the old historical buildings. The details around some of the old doors are fascinating.

Yep, punting is a favourite past time among locals and tourists. However, the locals tend to go in the opposite direction of the old colleges and into the countryside...

 The river was busy today....!

Back home in the garden - our pride and JOY!

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Too many distractions...

One of the perks of occasionally working from home is that I can have my lunch in the garden ;-)
It is an amazing day her - 25 degrees! All the windows are open, the lilac is filling the air with its scent and the birds are chorousing outside.
My paper is almost done, just doing the reference list. I am submitting tomorrow so the weekend should be MINE!

Before I started working this morning I had a quick glance at a few of my favorite blogs and became really inspired by Gry's blog where she was talking about using Macros when photographing. This was new to me, but lo and behold - my camera does have this functionality! I did a quick search and found the digital photography school which has great tutorials for novices like myself. So, over lunch I got my camera out and took these pictures. Another tip I picked up was to use the self-timer (on the lowest settings) to avoid shaking hands. Oh, I so look forward to playing more with this function this weekend!

Also, played with another functionality when I took this picture of the herbs... The basil is doing well, but the parsley is being more fickle... Believe it or not, they were sown at the same time!

Still struggling with the pax label, as you can see..

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Recommended Reading: Stories of Shakespeare
I admit it.
Despite having a degree in English,
I find Shakespeare hard to understand.
There! I have said it.

Not that the stories are hard to understand - NO! it is the language they are written in that is so hard to penetrate. The stories are generally about love, honour, greed, traditions, war, peace, etc etc. The comedies are actually really funny - once you understand the language. When I studied for my degree we had several Shakespeare plays on the curriculum. I ended up borrowing tapes from the audit library and listened to the plays acted out. Suddenly it was so much easier to understand! Even if you don't get every word, it is still easier to get the meaning. 

I recently found a book by Mary Macleod retelling three of the Shakespeare stories - Macbeth, Hamlet and Taming of the Shrew - in modern everyday language. This is another good way to understand the plays without battling with the ancient language. I was amused to realise that JK Rowling MUST have borrow some phrases from Macbeth for the Harry Potter books...

We are actually very lucky as the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival puts on performances in the college gardens every summer. It can be such a lovely event - if the weather is good - to bring a picnic (and some nice wine!)  and sit on the grass in the college gardens watching a Shakespeare play. There are no stages, it is just played out in the gardens. I try to catch a play each summer with The Ladies Who Dine. Last year I saw Romeo and Juliet as we had young visitors from Norway and we thought it would be easier to understand as the story is more familiar. We normally prefer the comedies, but perhaps we are ready for Hamlet this year...?

PS: Sorry about the annoying PAX search labels... I am having problems getting rid of them! Grateful for hints!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Restaurant Review: Jamie Oliver

Our Boy and I went out last night to celebrate 17 May and decided to try out the new Jamie Oliver Restaurant. It did not let us down! The restaurant is set in the old tourist information hall and has been completely revamped. It is a great location and so BIG!
The food was amazing.

We shared the two starters and had Bruschetta with Chicken liver and Italian Nachos (not really nachos) for starters - both really nicely made. Will defintely have the Bruschetta again.

For mains Our Boy had the pork belly roulade filled with pine nuts, raisins and lentils, all cooked for 14 hours... It was incredibly tender. He also had the Posh Truffle Chips (yes, I did steal some from him) - again, lovely!

I had the Beautiful Boactini Carbonara. The pasta was cooked just right, but was perhaps a little too chunky for my taste. The sauce was delicious - Jamie had not spared any calories in the making...;-)

We were simply too full for dessert - unbelieveable! - so I can't comment on them. Nor did I sample any of the wine as I was driving, but the water was very nice ;-)

Monday, 17 May 2010

17 MAY!!!

The Constitution of Norway was signed on May 17 in 1814. The constitution declared Norway to be an independent nation.

Norwegians are very proud of the fact of the noteworthy aspect that the Constitution Day has a very non-military nature. All over Norway, children's parades with an abundance of flags form the central elements of the celebration. Each elementary school district arranges its own parade with marching bands between schools. The children in the parade also make a lot of noise shouting "Hurra!", singing patriotic and national songs, blowing whistles and shaking rattles.

In addition to carrying flags, people typically wear red, white and blue ribbons. It is also a long-standing tradition to wear traditional local outfits, called bunad. I made my own when I was 18 together with my mother (we had to attend a special course for it to be approved) and mine is from Ostfold (the picture is not of me!). 

The day is a BIG family event and people will get together to have LOTS of nice food, cakes, icecream and hot dogs...! mmm

I have to say I am a little nostagic today since I am not home to celebrate. Our Boy and I will go out for dinner tonight to have our own little celebration, but NEXT year - I will be there!!! In the meantime - GRATULERER MED DAGEN!


Sunday, 16 May 2010


The assignment is coming along - one week to go, but I think I will finish it earlier. Suddenly it feels like the pieces of the puzzle are falling into place. Still some open "spaces", but I am more confident than before. I will get The Professor to read through it- academic meanderings is his field after all, even if the topic is not within his relm. This paper is on research methodology which is showing you understand the "recipe" of how to do research.
The actual thesis (which is not due till November) will be on the lack of women in academia (at least in my field).
Actually, it is rather depressing reading...

So, I need a little therapy - and for me that is baking. Below is the recipe for some carrotcake muffins I made this weekend:

125 gram flour
1 tsp bakingpowder
a pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
125 light brown sugar
2 eggs
1dl sunflower oil
125 gram grated carrots
25 gram grated coconut
25 gram walnuts (optional)

Sift the flower, bakingpowder, salt and cinnamon.
Stir in the brown sugar, eggs and oil
Mix well
Add the carrots, coconut and chopped walnuts

Bake at 180 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

They are so moist, but if you want to add some frosting:
mix 50 grams of soft butter with
50 grams of Philadelphia cheese and
225 siftet powder sugar and
1 tsp lemonjuice

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Early morning glory!

Isn't it typical - when you CAN sleep, you CAN'T sleep...
I woke up at 6.30 am and was wide awake. The sun was shining so beautifully in the garden so I couldn't resist getting the camera out.
I love these quiet, still mornings before the day gets going.

However, I can assure you I didn't get up after all... I crawled back to bed and didn't wake up till The Professor brought me a cup of tea at 9.30!

Better get the day started now. Have a lovely weekend!

Friday, 14 May 2010

In memory of a friend

I had some very sad news today.
An old professor, colleague, and friend of mine passed away yesterday.

He was a true old fashioned gentleman and a sweetheart. He became 83 and had had a very interesting life filled with events that could fill books and films.

 It is a few years since we worked together, but up until he moved to his daughter in Ireland last year he would still regularly come to town to take me for lunch in his college. It was lovely seeing how respectfully he was treated when we entered the hall and how everybody knew him. It made me feel very special, too. These visits were always such a treat and I enjoyed our conversations so much.  It feels like an era is passing when the old dons die. I feel so privileged to have known him.

Thursday, 13 May 2010


I don't have much time for the blog these days as I am trying to finish off an essay in research methodology for my master thesis. I am thorougly fed up with it, but I have a small hope that if I push it, I might be done with it this weekend...
I am telling all my friends to stop me next time I come up with such a silly idea as doing a master while working full time, with a family, and really wanting to spend time on other hobbies! It seemed like such a good idea at the time...
However, all the course work is over and done with, so after this it is 'only' the thesis left ;-)

In the meantime, The Cat is enjoying the few rays of sunshine that comes our way. Don't be deceived - it is still rather chilly, at least compared to what we normally should expect this time of year...

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Never mind...

The ash cloud over Spain prevented The Professor from going out there on Tuesday. 
After some deliberation it was decided that he would do a Skype conference with the company instead of risking going over today and perhaps be stuck for his return later in the week.
So, we are lucky to have him home for a full week!
A bonus given by the Volcano... ;-)

All this business with the ash clouds and the various potential airline strikes has made me think perhaps we need to consider alternative ways of travelling this summer. We will be going to the south of France for our holidays and right now a 9 hour train journey through France doesn't sound too bad. It actually sounds rather ok...

Monday, 10 May 2010

Crazy About Frames

I am going through a period where I am changing the picture frames in the house.
This is now my white period.
I have been through a gold-period, silver-period, no-particular-period-just-anything-period, wooden-period, Persian-miniature-period... you name it, I have probably been there. There are BOXES of frames stashed away. Should really consider paiting and reusing some of them!

I can't justify buying all the frames at the same time, but every time I go to TK Max or Homesense I pick up a new frame... They are so inexpensive, and lovely!

I wanted to get a nice frame for this picture of The Professor in a pensive moment taken at a conference by a professional photographer.

I find that after I got a digital camera some years ago I don't often print pictures anymore. Judging by our albums it is as if our lives stopped a few years ago! My pictures are really precious to me. I think that if the house was on fire, after rescuing my family and The Cat, I would go for the pictures. They are my memories and amongst my most treasured posessions. I am not a particularly skilled photographer, but that doesn't matter. They are the recording of my past and aids the memories, some happy and some more painful, but no less important, reminders of days gone by. 

The plan is to find time on a rainy weekend to put together some photobooks and have some of the pictures printed. I love bringing out the pictures and looking at them and not just store them on the computer. Which reminds me that I should take a new backup since it is a little while since last time...

Back to the frame - I got the wrong size (didn't remember to measure it, of course) so this frame will have to wait till I find another picture that suits and next time I go to Homesense I will remember to write down the photosize!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Another Surprise Party

Wow! What a day!
This seems to be the year for surprise parties as yet another of my friends were shocked to find a 
surprise birthday party in her house!
She had no idea what was going on as she had been whisked away yesterday for a spa weekend by her aunt. Upon her return this afternoon, she was shocked to find the house  filled with about 60 family members and friends who wanted to celebrate this lovely lady. Even her mother had come from Iran to surprise her! She couldn't believe her eyes!
Very emotional it was for everyone.

We were treated to amazing Persian food cooked and brought by professional caterers from London.
Several of her friends had made cakes.
Most cakes in England are often decorated with icing, but she doesn't like that so I baked her the two
Norwegian birthday cakes pictured above.
This is the easiest failsafe recipe which my mother's cousin  gave me over 30 years ago:

Whisk well 5 eggs and 150 gr sugar
Add 150 gr flour and 1 tsp baking powder
I also add 1 tsp vanilla sugar, but that is not necessary.
Lille Persille suggested some time ago to put the eggs in warm water before whisking them to ensure the sugar and eggs absorb more air.
It works.

Bake in a lined tin at 160 degrees for about 45 mins. 
The trick is to start with cold oven.
Fill with fruit or jam and whipped cream.

But look at these chocolate cakes somebody else brought! I have got to get the recipe....!

Friday, 7 May 2010

Good Times

I can't believe it is the weekend again, but I am not complaining!
It probably feels a little like a cheat because Monday was a Bank Holiday... ;-)

The Professor is expected home for the weekend! 
Our Boy and I are looking forward to enjoying his company two weekends in a row (luxery!)
as he is down south in connection with a trip to Madrid for a lecture series he is giving next week. Joy!
Just wish I could have been the "tag-along-spouse" on his trip to Madrid...

I am happy we have adjusted to this change in our lives with The Professor being away most of the time. We have just learned to appreciate the time we have together.
Quality instead of quantity, I guess.

The picture above is from last weekend when we had guests from Norway.
We love walking in the English countryside! Not quite the Norwegian woods, but still very enjoyable.
Talking about things Norwegian...,
I guess it is obvious which fairytale these chaps we met last weekend are illustrating...:

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Calm Again

I am pleased to say I am calm again. I have found the "inner peace" once more and yesterday's traumas are a mere distant memory ;-)

This was greatly helped by having dinner last night with
The Ladies Who Dine
at the local French restaurant Cafe Rouge.
Lovely food, lovely wine, lovely company.
Mulling over the day's events with good friends is the best way of putting the world to rights, don't you think?

Also glad the slightly wobbly bike ride home in the dark was uneventful...

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Not a Happy Bunny....

Warning: I need to have a rant!
I have two issues these days that is driving me crazy:

1. The first relates to a particular Swedish furniture company which I have previously glorified.
 They do not deserve this anymore.
We had ordered a sofabed for the flat in Edinburgh.
This took 3 weeks to deliver.
We waited patiently.
The sofa arrived and
The Professor attempted to put it together.
Now, I am the practical person in this relationship and the wizz at putting flatpacked furniture together
(if I may say so myself...).
The Professor is the theorist and drives me mad LOOKING at the pieces while trying to figure out how to put it together.
Now, I was obviously not there and he was left to do this himself, bless him.
He called me rather upset saying the sofa has two left arms and no right arm...
I told him he was being silly and
he then sent me a picture from his phone clearly showing two identical arms... (technology, eh?)

Upon calling and complaining the unnamed Swedish furniture company it has taken them 1 week to come up with the following solution:
we will have to order a NEW sofa (another 3 weeks to wait) as they could NOT just send another arm... However, they are not willing to take the incomplete, unusable sofa back - that will be up to us to do as we "please" with... My question is, surely there must be somebody out there stuck with two right arms for THEIR sofa???

We have reached the end of our patience and
you might have guessed that the sofa is going back and we are cancelling the order!
Back to square one in finding another sofa we can agree on...

2. My second rant is about a domestic internet provider
(which also is part of a larger airline and credit card  company).
I am trying to get internet installed in a flat owned by my employer and this seems to be taking AGES (at least weeks!) and something which should be simple is proving to be very testing and complicated.
I am fed up calling the company, pressing one button after another in order to be able to speak with a LIVE person. 
I feel for the poor tenants in the flat having me running in and out with one engineer after the other to try to sort it out.

I am not a happy bunny but feel better for having had it all out now... ;-)

Monday, 3 May 2010

Honey Chocolate Cake

Here is the recipe for Nigella Lawson's
Honey Chocolate Cake
we have been indulging in this weekend:

For the cake:
100 gr dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
275 gr. light muscovado sugar (I actually used dark sugar as that is what I had at hand)
225 gr soft butter
125 ml runny honey
2 eggs
200 gr plain flour (I had to add another 100 gr as it seemed too little)
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon cocoa
250 ml boiling water

Melt the chocolate in a good-sized bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water. Set aside and cool slightly.
Beat the sugar and butter
Add the honey
Add the eggs
Add the flour, melted chcolate, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa  and last of all the boiling water.

Bake at 180 degrees in a 23 cm springform cake tin for about 1 hr. Check to ensure it doesn't catch and burn on the top.

The Sticky Honey Glaze:
60 ml water
125 ml runny honey
175 gr dark chocolate
75 gr icing sugar

Bring the honey and water to a boil and add the chopped chocolate.
Leave for a minute and then whisk again.
Sieve in the icing sugar and whisk again until smooth.
Let it cool.

Ensure you put the completely cooled cake on the final cakeplate with strips of baking paper underneat to catch any drips from the icing. Ice at least an hour before serving so the glaze has a chance to set. Carefully remove the strips of baking paper and you have a clean plate with no drips.
Nigella decorated it with marsipan bees, while I had some lovely strawberries at hand.

It is very gooey and lovely honey chocolatey...

Saturday, 1 May 2010


I just wanted to share a picture taken yesterday of the lovely lilac tree now in full bloom in the garden.
Lilacs are among my favourite spring blooms so I was delighted when there already was a tree in our stamp sized garden when we bought the house 9 years ago. I am also delighted to see that the tree has survived another year although The Cat uses it as a scratch post...

The house is clean, the laundry is done, beds for the guests are made, and meals are planned. Time to sit down with a book before the guests arrive tonight!

Just had an idea - maybe I should make Nigella's chocolate cake this afternoon... mmm...