Wednesday 30 June 2010

Music and Electricity!

Once a week Our Boy takes guitar lessons from Dr Bass (who incidentially is also a part time actor - he plays one of the wizards in the upcoming Harry Potter film! - That is our claim to fame today ;-).)
This operation involves me taking Our Boy to the lesson and often sitting in Dr Bass' garden listening to them playing.
It is most enjoyable, both the listening part and the garden.
Last week this enormous hyacinth caught my eye and I had to take a picture with my mobile. Lovely!

We are enjoying some very hot days and nights right now. Last night was a strange night. I went for a walk with my Welsh friend in the early evening (including a pitstop for a Pimms...;-)). When we returned home we were welcomed to the sounds of some neighbours having a really good jamming session in the garden. They played really well and it was a joy to hear! They carried on almost till midnight, but it was in no way annoying.
However, when they finnished it was as if the air could not settle. It was very humid and it was as if there was a lot of "electricity" in the air. Even The Cat was uneasy.
We all found it hard to relax and fall sleep. Good thing I don't need as much sleep in the summer as in the winter, cause I think it was closer to 2 am before I dosed off and 6.30 am I was up again...

Might have a snooze in Dr Bass' garden this afternoon, I think... ;-)

Monday 28 June 2010

Recommended Reading: The Yacoubian Building

We are blessed with a lot of bookstores in our town. This is good for me as I always have a couple of books on the go! Actually, being a University town it would be strange if there weren't a lot of bookstores... One of them is called Galloway & Porter and they sell discounted books. They are supposedly damaged, but I have rarely found any damage to those I have bought. Unfortunately, they are closing down and they will be greatly missed!

Our Boy keeps saying I should try the new electronic reading devices. I don't think they are "me"... I like to hold the book, turn the pages and the feel it gives in addition to the reading experience. Think I am a bit old fashioned, me... ;-)

I just finished "The Yacoubian Building" by Alaa Al Aswany.
The story is about the lifes of the people in a big apartment building in Cairo. It sounds a bit like one of my favourite authors, Alexander McCall Smith's serie "Love over Scotland". But that is where the similarities stop. This story is about the lives of the inhabitants where some live in squalor on the rooftop, others inhabit the faded glory of its apartments and offices. We meet a womanizing aristocrat, the secretly gay editor, as well as religious fervour jostled with promiscuity, bribery and exploitation as well as joy and elation. It is a mix of modern life with ancient culture. But when dreams are dashed, hope turns to bitterness with devastating consequences.

The focus was at times a bit too "promiscuous" to my liking, and I am NOT a prude. I also felt there were too many stories to be told and not enough pages to write them on. The author could have expanded more on the characters and perhaps divided it over two books. 
On the positive side, it was very helpful with a glossary as well as a list of characters as many cultural references were unknown to me. 
So, I learnt something new today, too! ;-)
The book is an international best seller and has received great reviews.

Would I read it again (always the best question to ask)? Probably not.
But I would give the author another chance.

Sunday 27 June 2010

Speech Day

Yesterday was "Speech Day" at Our Boy's school.
It is a day to celebrate the hard work the boys have put in and to reward those who have done exceptionally well.
Unfortunately, the day involves parents (and students) sitting with bodies too large for the children's chairs for about 3 hours (yes, you do feel that!) listening to the Headmaster giving a looong talk about the school and the children. Fortunately, he is rather witty so it wasn't so bad after all.

We were all rewarded with drinks, canapees and a hog roast afterwards in the grounds and we were blessed with great weather!

Our Boy was among the children receiving special recognition for his work and we were really proud of him. Oh, and their special reward was a £20 booktoken! I am pleased to say I managed not to cry (I get worse every year - I am such an embarrasment...!), but that was probably because I was filming! Nothing like having a concrete project to deal with so I don't succumb to too much emotions!
In the afternoon a friend and colleague from Spain came to stay for the night and we enjoyed several large jugs of Pimms in the garden! Yes! That is what summer is all about - good weather, good food, good company and good drinks! ;-)

Friday 25 June 2010

A Rainy Day Alternative

I have to admit I don't know much about Danish film.
I am familiar with the names of some of the bigger actresses, but don't really know much more. The only real production I can recall is from the late 1980's or early 1990's (I think) when the Danes made a big production called "Matador". It was a huuuuge success in Norway. The series is set in a small sleepy Danish village starting in the late 1920's (I think it goes on till the 1950s/60s). The story is about a village - the lives, love, happyness, arrogance, poverty, tradgedies of the inhabitants and the war. The British have of course always been very good at these period dramas. However, I particularly enjoyed this series as it is set in Denmark it portrays the Scandinavian equivalent of an 'upstairs/downstairs' drama showing how the changes in society also altered the lives and attitudes in these characters.
It really draws you in.

It brought back happy memories when I discovered the series when I was home in Norway a few weeks ago (actually I bought it on a trip over to Sweden - talk about Scandinavian integration!) and I treated myself to the first 6 episodes. The next 6 next might just be on the shopping list next time (I think there are 24 episodes all together). Yes, it comes with English/Norwegian/Swedish subtitles if your Danish is not too strong! 

A great alternative on a rainy day if you don't want to watch the football!

Thursday 24 June 2010

Flaunting it!

A few months ago I came across a suggestion for displaying jewellery. Christine (the very first blogg I started reading) suggested this in her blog I thought it was a great idea to display your jewellery in a suitable padded frame instead of hiding them in a jewellery box. I was therefore on the lookout for a frame to use, but instead I came across this display frame/cabinet.

Now most of my jewellery got stolen last year, but it is nice to see how new things are "coming my way". Several of the new pieces have been made by friends and I LOVE them - they are very ME! There is hardly a day I don't wear jewellery. Soooo glad I am a girl (well, for other reasons too...!)

Oh, and the poppy bud from yesterday is now in bloom:

Wednesday 23 June 2010

Half full or half empty...?

It is unreal to think we are midway through the summer now... Although we are having a dream weather today,
there hasn't been too many of them. 
(not forgetting that yes, England won the match today...;-))
I hope with all my heart we will see more days like today this summer!

This morning I saw this lovely, lonely poppy blooming in a very neglected (!) flowerbed. It was the only poppy among other flowers - a lone traveller, I guess. I wanted to take a picture of it, but didn't have time on our way to work and school.
However, when I got home this is all that was left! Don't know if it has been intentionally beheaded or if this is nature's way...

But not to despair
- there are more buds so hopefully more chances to take a picture of it in bloom.

I think I choose to be a 'half-full -person'...

Tuesday 22 June 2010

So much to be happy for!

What a day!
I have got SO much to be happy for!
  •  I received today the results on my research methodology paper with my best result ever! Only have to write the master thesis now...20 000 words due in November - don't want to think about THAT today!
  • Our Boy has had excellent exam results!
  • I have finally had a hair cut!
  • Summer is here (today) - must be at least 26 degrees outside!
  • I have a yoga class tonight!
  • I am meeting some of the Ladies Who Dine for a drink after yoga!
Happy Girl!

Monday 21 June 2010

My Tins

I love my tins.

When a friend of mine gave me a box of chocolate from Zurich I was almost more happy for the tin than the chocolate! Btw - the chocolate was AMAZING!

However, I particularly like tins that can be useful, and I don't mean just for cakes or cookies.
This one is special to me as it used to be my mother's. I keep the dishwasher tablets in it. Funnily enough, I have no idea what she used it for as I had never seen it in use!

This one has a lot of history for me. 
It came from the hotel where my mother used to work as head receptionist when I was little.
It is now where we keep the cat food.

Some tins are new, but made to look a bit old. This one holds the laundry detergent and looks much nicer than the regular packs I think!

I like things that give order to my life.
This one is very practical when Our Boy or the Professor (at the last minute) need to shine their shoes. All they need is in one place
I will already have taken care of my own, of course...! ;-)

Sunday 20 June 2010

Tried and Tested: Focaccia

Baking seems to be the obvious answer when the weather is as miserable as now.
If I didnt' know better I would have thought we were in October...

I have mentioned before the lovely focaccia recipe with a "secret" trick I found on Fru Hermez' blog.

Here it is in English:
The "secret" is to make the dough the night before and leave over night to rise in the fridge (!) and then also a little on the counter before baking.
Yes, it will actually rise in the fridge and makes the entire process so timeconsuming! Me like! I normally put the dough together on Friday evening and that way we have the bread for lunch on Saturday. It feels like NO work!

Mix in a mixmaster or food processor (or by hand)
1 generous tsp of yeast  (30grams if you use fresh yeast) with
6 dl flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 tblsp olive oil
3 dl lukewarm water

Form to a ball, cover and put it in the fridge overnight. SIMPLE!

The next morning:
Let the dough rest a little on the counter.
Shape it and put in a suitable tin or ovenproof dish
Add some sea salt, chopped garlic, rosemary and olives plus a generous helping of olive oil over the dough
Bake in the oven on 200 degrees for 20-30 mins

Saturday 19 June 2010

Notice board creativity

Our Boy was on a scout hike last night so I used this rare opportunity to indulge in a project of my own.

We have recently swapped around a couple of the rooms in the house so Our Boy now has a much larger bedroom and I have a much smaller office... Rearranging made me look at much of the stuff in a new light and quickly realised the old cork notice board was really boring. I got some wadding and some furniture material to cover the board from the company Callyco who have recently opened a shop in town. It is a lovely shop full of great fabrics, ribbons and ideas!, but their website is not up yet, so more info about them later in the month.

I picked up Our Boy from the camp site at 8 am this morning and they have as usual not had ANY sleep,
so after a fry-up breakfast at home he went to have a rest and fell asleep in about 2 minutes.

Bless! ;-) 

Thursday 17 June 2010

Photo fun

I have been playing some more with Photoscape and as The Cat is my closest object he has to put up with being my model.  
He is a real mummy's boy and extremely cuddly. He would gladly spend all his time on the space on the desk (don't tell the Professor) between my arms with his head on my right arm...
Not the easiest way to type or use the mouse.
At least he has stopped trying to catch the letters on the screen ;-)
If you are interested in Photoscape there are several tutorials on YouTube

Summer seems to finally be coming even if there is still a bit of a chill in the air. I am hoping for a peaceful evening in the garden under my new lanterns.
The Cat will probably join me...

Wednesday 16 June 2010

Garden idea


A friend of mine sells these tea light holders. Ideal both for outdoors and indoors, I think.

I don't dare to leave them hanging in the garden as I fear they may not last very long if the squirrels want to play with them...

I look forward to it getting dark and putting candles in them when the squirrels are all tucked in bed!

Tuesday 15 June 2010

More Annual Events!

Last night was the annual Summer Concert in St. John's College.
I am lucky to have a friend working in the college and the Ladies Who Dine put on our fineries and went off to a great evening with classical music.

Two of us rode our bikes to the event.
I can confirm that it is NOT easy biking in a dress and trying to preserve a minimum of modesty... ;-)

The concert ended with wine and canapes being served as well as the most delicious tarts... yum!
I tell myself it isn't all bad to have a tart (or two) or a profiterole (or two) given it is only once a year...!

The evening as always was rounded off with watching the fireworks from the May Ball at Trinity College, but I felt I had to go home earlier as Our Boy was on his own. It took us a little while to find our ways out of the college, so by the time we were on the bikes the fireworks had started.

It was almost magical riding the bike (on the pavement and with no lights...)
with the fireworks going off around me!

Monday 14 June 2010

Glad it is Monday...

So ignored, but still happy to bloom!

Please don't misunderstand me - I loooove my weekends! But sometimes it is actually nice to get back on track after a particularly busy weekend ;-)

Starting Saturday afternoon after the Summer Fete I wrote about yesterday, Our Boy had three friends over this weekend for a late birthday celebration. Really lovely, polite boys they were. I still have a hard time being addressed as "Mrs...". I always think it is my mother-in-law people talk about! 

The celebrations started with them going to the movies to see Prince of Persia. Our Boy's guitar teacher is an extra in the film, but they didn't spot him. Apparently, a very good film - in the style of "Pirates of the Carribean" although not as good.
The rest of the evening they spent eating burritos and nachos (no real cooking involved as it was all rather ready made, so no recipe attached) and the Budapest cake while they were either playing computer games or the playstation or being silly on Facebook. Just what 14 year old boys want to do!
They rounded it off with watching movies in bed till about 2 am... Not bad, actually - but I caved in at 12.30 am. However, they all woke up at 6 am (probably because of the light)! I refused to get up that early on a Sunday, so pancakes were served at 9 am. Amazing how many pancakes 14 year old boys can manage to eat...

We then all rushed to town to buy new shoes for Our Boy (thank God for Sunday open shops!) - really annoying three weeks before the end of term! The old ones had suddenly lost a sole and had a big hole (!) in them, so no way out... After a quick bite for lunch at "EAT" the celebrations were over and we drove the boys home.

Neither Our Boy nor I had much energy left so the afternoon was spent watching a DVD of a Swedish classic House of Angels while Our Boy slept on the couch...

In the evening I went with my Welsh friend and saw "Sex & The City 2".
I found the film full of lovely mindnumbing Western cultural ignorance and didn't really like the clothes most of the time except for classy Charlotte. But the interiors were a lot more interesting! I am not really slating the film, it is what it is.

So, you see - sometimes Mondays are a blessing after a busy weekend!

Sunday 13 June 2010

Summer Fete 2010!

The annual Summer Fete yesterday in the vicarage was just as lovely as always.

Every year the vicar opens the gardens to an array of tombolas, second hand nicknacks, cakestands,games for this children like the coconut shy, splat-the-rat, bouncy castles, smash-the-plates (which was painful to watch for a collector...), second hand bookstands, brassband, cream teas and more  - all to raise funds for the church!

I am not an avid churchgoer, but I do respect the local church and it's activities. The vicar in particular has been extremely helpful to us in the past in a difficult situation, so I like to go and show my support although I am not active in the congregation.

The tombola is always generous and out of the seven tickets (£1) 3 were winning numbers!

And this year my takings were rather useful like some soap, bathfoam & wine (has not always been equally useful...). Our Boy was also lucky and we went home with 2 bags full of prizes! I particlarly loved the Tollhouse Cookie Tin and the two red polkadot bowls. Look at my "loot":

Our Boy's sleepover is still going on... report on that tomorrow! ;-)

Saturday 12 June 2010

Lovely Saturday!

Although the sun and the higher temperatures are not really with us at the moment it is still a lovely time in the garden with so much in bloom.

There are some flowers I HAVE to have every year and lobelia and petunia are among them. The two baskets in the trees are coming along nicely. Probably because of all the rain lately...

Today is a busy day in our house as Our Boy is having some friends over for a sleepover to celebrate his birthday and to mark the end of the exams! I have started preparing the food for tonight by making a lovely focaccia bread which I found on Fru Hermez' blog (sorry - I will translate it to English another day), but I have a feeling most of it has already been consumed by Our Boy...It is really yummy!

There is also the Summer Fete in our local vicarage this afternoon. This is a classic annual event in the community and hardly anything more English than that! Weather permitting I will make my way over shortly and perhaps post a blog about that tomorrow! 

Friday 11 June 2010


I have been wanting to get a new table cloth for the garden and thought an oilcloth would be useful so I wouldn't worry too much about spills etc. Before I got around to the shops I remembered a number of oilcloths I used on the dining table when Our Boy was younger. Most of these tablecloths now have various numbers of stains and marks from his numerous art projects and are therefore not very pretty nor suitable anymore...

For some reason I never got around to throwing them. Glad I didn't. As an experiment I took one of them and cut a round cloth (on a part without stains) for the garden table and a potenial cover for the bench (oilcloth is not the most comfortable to sit on when it gets hot so it might not stay...)

I think my new tablecloth works.

Actually, looking at the bench on the picture
- I think I need to paint it white...

Thursday 10 June 2010

Words of Wisdom

After some challenges in our closest family
I am in a bit of a philosophical mood today,
so I share the following with you:

"The man of wisdom is never of two minds;.
the man of benevolence never worries;
the man of courage is never afraid."

Could do with some wisdom, benevolence and courage right now...

But on a lighter note (and linking back to my Bagel Recipe):

"Between the Optimist and the Pessimist,
the difference is droll.
The Optimist sees the doughnut,
the pessimist the hole!"
Oscar Wilde

Wednesday 9 June 2010

When Will I Learn...?

I finally got around to booking an appointment for a hair cut only to be told the first appointment available is in two weeks! Nothing drastic is needed, but it is high time to give it a trim!

TWO weeks is therefore a long time!

However, I KNOW there is normally a wait for an appointment, but I NEVER learn...! The hair is normally fine, until it SUDDENLY isn't and URGENTLY needs a cut!
Plan, Mette, plan!!!
There are of course plenty of other hair dressers in town.
Probably very good ones.
But I am a wimp when it comes to my hair.
Once I find a hair dresser I like - I am loyal.
Probably out of fear... remembering bad experiences in the past - I DON'T mess with a hair dresser that works!

Besides, my hairdresser, Alberto, is Italian.
He can talk the talk and uses all his Italian charm to make me feel like the most beautiful woman in the world with his compliments and the "magic" he performs on my strands. All while we discuss his up coming wedding...

I know he treats all his customers the same way.
But that hour in his hands I forget about them and just lap up his beguiling words and walk out feeling "a million Dollars".... ;-)

Tuesday 8 June 2010

Tried and Tested: Best Bagel Recipe EVER!
My friend in New Zealand sent me this bagel recipe. 
They are  so easy to make and SOOOO tasty!
Problem was that were eaten before I had time to take a picture - but they turned out just like the plain ones above.
My only "complaint" is that this recipe is only for 8 bagels....
I promise, you will never buy bagels in the supermarket after having tasted these!
The recipe used cups as measurement, but I have converted them to metric as I am more used to that - therefore even the water has been weighed to get it accurate.

Make the dough with
225 grams (1 cup) warm water,
1.5 tspn salt,
2 tablespoon sugar,
375 grams flour and
2.5 tspn yeast
(I use the breadmaker on the dough setting).

Then when the dough is ready (i.e done it's warm, rising thing),
I cut it into 8 pieces,
and shape like a bagel (by poking a hole into each piece).

Then I poach each bagel in hot water for 1 minute on each side, then drain, brush the top lightly with milk, then bake for approx 20 mins (or until brown) in the middle of the oven at 180 degrees.

I agree with my friend saying "They are just fab !"

Sunday 6 June 2010

No waste!

Just to follow up on the Budapest Cake I made for Our Boy's birthday yesterday:
The Budapest recipe leaves you with 6 egg yolks which can't be wasted (!), 
so why not make another cake ;-)

Here is Gold Cake 
(click on the link for the recipe in Norwegian):
150 grams butter
150 grams sugar
6 egg yolks
225 grams flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
2 dl whipping cream

Mix the butter and half the sugar.
Mix the egg yolks and the rest of the sugar
Mix all togheter
Add the flour and baking powder and make into a smooth batter
Whip the cream and fold into the batter

Bake at 175 degrees for about 1 hr.
When cool, transfer to a plate and sift som powder sugar over for decoration, if you like. 

And just in case you are getting worried about us eating too much cake
- we share with our neighbours ;-)
It doesn't seem to be common over here to bake as much as I do,
so I kind of enjoy being the "exotic" addition and spreading the "joy"

And here is the Birthday Boy:

Saturday 5 June 2010

Happy Birthday!

Our Boy is 14 today!

He was cerimoniously woken up to singing (!) parents carrying cake and presents!
Cant' believe it -
where did time go and where is my little boy???
That sunny day in Aker Hospital in Norway was surely only "last week"...?

This year I made an exception to the usual Birthday Cake by making an altogether different cake.
This cake is called "Budapest" and when I grew up it was only to be had at one particular coffee house in Stromstad, Sweden and nobody knew how to make it at home.
I have no idea if the recipe really comes from Budapest or not. It might be a case of what in English is called "Danishes" are actually called "Wienerbrod" (Viennese bread) in Denmark/Norway...

But I am digressing - with the internet it was a doddle to find the recipe for "Budapest Cake". Fru Tunheim's Blog also gave me the tip to look at the website Det Sote Liv (Sweet Life) for some very tempting recipies,
"Cake Budapest" is translated below to English (click here if you want the Norwegian text):

Cake bases:
6 eggwhites
3 dl sugar
85 grams of custard powder (the type that does not require cooking)
100 grams grated hazelnuts (I used almonds)
25 grams flaked hazelnuts/almonds

Whip the eggwhites stiff and add the sugar little by little.
Add the custard powder and the grated nuts

Bake half the mixture in a round form in the middle of the oven at 175 degrees for 15-20 mins. Use greased baking parchement so it doesn't stick to the form. Cool the cake in the form. It will almost double in height while cooking, but will fall back again when it comes out.
Bake the second half of the mixture the same way, but add the flaked nuts on top

3 dl of whipping cream
2 tablespoons of powder sugar
1 tin of apricots (I used dried, but very moist apricots)

Whip the cream with the powder sugar and add the chopped apricots.

8 tablespoons of apricot jam

Add first the apricot jam to the cake without the nuts
Add the whipped cream/apricots

Add the second cake (with the nuts) on top!

Voila! Budapest Cake!

Thursday 3 June 2010

Shared Joy!

Last night the summer came back!
As there is no yoga this week because of half term break I called around to some of the Ladies Who Dine and we agreed on a walk across the meadows to the neighbouring village, Grantchester.
On my way to meet the Ladies I had to take some pictures of the flowers in the garden and the room on top of this house. One day I want to have a bedroom with a turret...;-)
 A lot of people had had the same idea, but the meadows are large enough for all, ducks, dogs, cows and people. As usual we ran into several people we knew along the way and it was great to see how happy the change in the weather had made everyone!

The evening was rounded off with Pimms in the garden at one of the local pubs in Grantchester before we wandered home viewing a most spectacular sunset.

There will be more walks (and Pimms...)!