Monday 28 February 2011

Sunday Delights and Memories

The weekend was spent trying to recover from a painful throat infection and getting the house back in order again after the decorating project. Just doing one room has made such a mess and upset the order in most of the rest of the house... We have no extra storage space and this creates the problem. It will quite a while till I start another decorating project, I think!

Cooking and baking is my way of relaxing and I made these vanilla custard filled buns - always a big hit with Our Boy. I got 18 out of this recipe, so some will go in the freezer in wait for a suitable occasion! I must have filled them too much as the filling had burst through several of them. Not that it mattered, but the 'surprise' was kind of showing...

The grey weather took a turn for the better and we even enjoyed some sunshine for a few hours. I took a few pictures in the garden and the main picture above shows that the lilac is getting ready with large buds!

Today is 28 February.
A special day which I always think about as my dad was a 'leap-year baby' born on 29 February and would have been 71 if he had still been with us. Sadly, he passed away almost 17 years ago. 
I remember him most for his sense of humor and he used to have great fun with being 'younger' than his kids and getting us to calculate how old he really was...

Sunday 27 February 2011

Half Term Adventure

We have spent part of this half-term holiday in Edinburgh with The Professor.
The Cat was sent away to a (lovely) cattery, but I always feel guilty about sending him there. It is a lovely place on a farm where he has his own little room and outdoor area, but it isn't home...

But the flat in Edinburgh is becoming home. Little by little things are finding their way in and we are enjoying the flat and the city. The picture above is obviously from the kitchen. It was all renovated when we bought it and looked very sleek and modern. However, I have decided I will not have black granite work tops or black tiled floors in my next house/flat - contrary to belief - 'everything' shows! But a lot of black and white and steel gives a rather masculine feel so the quirky whiskey bottles softens this a little

Funny what writing a blog makes you do - never thought I would take a picture of the toilet before...

But here are some details to show how the re-decorator has aimed to keep the bathroom in style with the house from 1890. It has its quirks: you MUST remember to close the toilet lid before flushing if not the force from the water tank makes a lot of it splash out on the floor...Not a problem, if you only remember to close the lid before flushing!

Here is a picture of the bathroom looking into the hallway.
Sorry, for the lack of styling for the picture... Just didn't notice that cleaning can on the sink until I got it on the computer. Again, the colors in the bathroom like in the kitchen are held in black/white/steel so a little splash of color with a bright towel is in its place. I have sort of a 'fobia' for drilling holes in tiles (just think I will ruin them) so this suction hanger does the job.

We are delighted to discover that the flat is just around the corner from a large park with a small lake leading to the Botanical Garden.
Great place for a walk or jog!

Although it was colder in Edinburgh than home further south, spring is definitely in the air.
Buds are appearing and even some blooms were coming.

Just lovely...

Friday 25 February 2011

Never Enough Books!

I was made aware of this web site 'Forgotten Books' which allows you to read thousands of books online, download free ebooks in PDF format. They are also booksellers (paperback) and specializes in historical writings including classical fiction, philosophy, science, religion, folklore, mythology and sacred texts, in addition to secret and esoteric subjects, such as: occult, freemasonry, alchemy, hermetic and ancient knowledge. They reprint classical literature and old books that have long been out of print and they are partners with and Google Books.

Without signing up to become a member they allow you to download one book a day which they send you a link to.
I have just received mine and will take a look at it.
To be honest, I am a little sceptical to reading literature on a screen/Ipad/Kindle.
I like to HOLD a book and FEEL it.
But new days and new techologies, so it must be tried
- at least once.

Wednesday 23 February 2011

I Never Thought...

My first chandelier

I never thought I would be buying a chandelier...
It just wasn't really me, I thought...

But then I have never had a flat from 1890 with 3.5 m under the ceiling before either... 
It was just so clear that our flat in Edinburgh just NEEDS a chandelier...!

There is a perfectly fine lamp hanging in the living room, and the room actually needing a new light is the second bedroom where there is just a lone light bulb hanging from the ceiling...
What were they thinking!?
Not pretty at all...!

We spent last Saturday walking around the antique shops in Edinburgh (I have to commend Our Boy on being soooo patient!), but as always when you are looking for something particular, nothing seemed right...
Lo and behold - a decision was quickly made when we came across 1/2 price sale on new lamps in a department store (yep - we love a bargain):

The light in the living room will be moved to the second bedroom and a new chandelier will be put up in the living room!

Not the antique find we had hoped for,
but no comparison to the lone light bulb!

Tuesday 22 February 2011

A New Dining Idea

picture borrowed from

I have heard about this concept before
- I seem to recall hearing about similiar underground/pop up restaurants in the USA.
This one is in Edinburgh and unfortunately, I only learnt about it AFTER I had left Edinburgh this weekend....
However, there seems to be a waiting list to get in, so it might be something to plan for another time I am in the Scottish capital!

Charlie and Evelyn's Table is a new dining experience. It is not a restaurant, but a private dining club hosted in a private home. This husband and wife team have been receiving glowing reports from national press and glossy magazines.

This is how it works:
You book a space at their table (they can accomodate max 8 people in total), agree on any food allergies/not likes and BYOB ('bring your own booze').  Payment for the food is in the form of a donation (recommended is £20) and you are sent a copy of the menu planned and can object if there is anything you don't like. So you turn up on the agreed date and you are treated to 4-5 courses and dine together with the other guests.

I think this sounds really different and fun!

This is taken from their blog:
Rachel and Chris Rowley LOVE to eat and to share this passion with others. Their hospitality has been widely enjoyed by those who know them and those who don't. Intrigued by the concept of secret, pop up or underground restaurants, they began to daydream about their own. Charlie and Evelyn's Table is their daydreams made real. And, the table really does exist. It was bought by Chris's Grandparents(Charlie and Evelyn) years ago. It has been at the heart of Chris and Rachel's home since 2004 and they look forward to welcoming you to it, or, bringing the Charlie and Evelyn experience to you, at home.

Saturday 19 February 2011

Recommended Reading: The Forgotten Garden

The train journey to Edinburgh takes about 5 hours.
5 hours completely to my self... bliss! 
The mobile coverage is often poor so I can't even be reached by phone.

I love it!

I read a lot or do some crocheting.
To my surprise this seems to be a novelty as I always get nice and friendly comments from fellow travellers completely mesmerised by what I am doing...

On the way up to Edinburgh this weekend I completed Kate Morton's book "The Forgotten Garden". I have previously read her book "The House at Riverton". Both these books are a bit sad, nostalgic, romantic and with a twist in the tale and about family secrets. This book is cleverly told over three stages in time, in the early 1900s, in 1975 and present day. I think that worked very well. 

I see that Kate Morton recently had another book come out called "The Distant Hours".

I wanna read it!

Friday 18 February 2011

A Glimpse....

The renovation of Our Boy's room is almost done!!!
I thought it would take two weeks - it took six weeks...
I promise it will be a while till I endeavour on a new project!

The only thing outstanding is the painting of the wood above the wardrobe and filling in some of the nail holes on the skirting board. The builders left yesterday and I will do the last touches myself.

Our Boy and I were so excited we just HAD to try out moving some of his furniture in last night and this morning.


We will now spend some days with The Professor in Edinburgh.
So, for now I offer you a glimpse of the finished room and will return to give you more when we are done furnishing it when we return home again next week.

Have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday 16 February 2011

New 'Kid' on the Block

Most bakers and lovers of home made food are familiar with the long list of British men and women making their appearances on TV teaching and inspiring the great British public to cook:
  • Cutie Jamie Oliver
  • Sexy Nigella Lawson
  • Interesting Nigel Slater
  • Bad Boy Gordon Ramsey
  • Trusty Delia
and so on....

The last entry on this stage is former-model-turned-chef Lorraine Pascale, the hosts of the baking program "Baking Made Easy".
Baking isn't necessarily 'rocket science', but it does require that you have good ingredients, the right tools and know a few tricks.

I enjoy her programs and may well buy her new book.

And yes, she does make it look like it is easy!

Monday 14 February 2011

Braving the Elements...

picture of the pub borrowed from the Internet
I have mentioned my love of lists before:
At the beginning of a weekend I make a list of the things I would like to accomplish that weekend. Sometimes I get a lot done and sometimes I don't. But at least it focuses the mind.
It is also soooo rewarding to be able to cross things off the list!

Therefore, after a particularly efficient weekend I felt very rightous and rounded it off yesterday with a brisk walk and a spot of lunch together with my Welsh and Danish friend.

It became a brisker walk than anticipated as it was sooo windy! Yes, it is spring like here in My Corner of England with lots of little flowers coming out, but we could have done without that wind..!

Now that the days are getting longer the intention is to increase the exercise level by making a walk along the river and across the fields to the neighbouring village most days of the week...
(famous last words???)

Note to self
- must avoid rounding off the walk with a stop at the pub!
(or at least limit the visits to once a week!)

Saturday 12 February 2011

Tried and Tested: Brownie cake with Oreos

This weekend there is (kind of) a triple celebration in our house:
1. It is Mother's Day in Norway (not here in the UK)
2. It is Valentine's Day on Monday
3. It is The Professor's Birthday weekend!

Ok, even if we don't celebrate Mother's day since we wait till it comes around here in April (?), AND The Professor is not with us this weekend AND Valentine's Day isn't till AFTER the weekend we can't be stopped by technicalities... 
This cake is too jummy for that 


Stir (don't whisk) 4 eggs with
6 dl of sugar
Stir in 200 grams of melted butter with
2 pinches of salt and
2 tsp of vanilla sugar/powder as well as
3 dl of flour and
8 tsb of cocoa powder
Remember NOT to whisk as you don't want too much air into the batter as it helps keep the brownie a bit heavy and gooey on the inside.
Crush most of a packet of Oreos (keep a few for decoration) and stir into the batter.
Pour into your baking tin and 
break the remaining Oreos and pop them randomly in for decoration.

Bake in the oven on 175 degrees for about 45-50 mins 
Don't put it too high in the oven so the top won't be burned.

Friday 11 February 2011

Tried and Tested: Peanut Butter-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

Last weekend I made these 
Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Cupcakes:

Mix 85 grams of flour with 
1/2 tsp baking powder and
1/4 tsp salt.

Melt 115 gram butter and
170 gram semisweet chocolate either in the microwave or in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.

Whisk 100 gram sugar into the slightly cooled chocolate mixture and add 3 large eggs.
Stir in 2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla powder and add this to the flour mixture.

In a separate bowl make the Peanut butter filling:
Stir together till smooth 4 tbsp melted butter and
65 grams powder sugar and 
150 grams peanut butter and 
1/4 tsp salt and
1/2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla powder.

I mixed the two batters separately and then poured one tsp at a time in the cupcake tins. I got 14 large cupcakes out of this batter. However, I think I will swirl the two batters together in the same bowl next time as it was rather fiddly... 

Bake in the oven on 180 degrees for about 30 mins. 

The peanut butter, chocolate and butter make these cupcakes rather calorie rich, yes! 
but they were just what a rowing and running teenage boy burning a lot of energy desired.


Wednesday 9 February 2011

What a Find!

The blog Anettes Hus is encouraging her readers to show their best second hand find, so here are mine:

A couple of years ago I was lucky to buy two hand made bed spreads (for single beds) at an auction in a tiny place in Sweden. I think this is the first time I have ever bought anything at a live auction. It was soooo exciting!
Got a real buzz...

The auction takes place every month and was obviously a real happening in the little place as the entire village turned out and many obviously just came to meet friends and neighbours and for the cakes in the cafe... Me and my friends were obvious outsiders and stood out like sore thumbs, but we had great fun and made some great finds! You never know what will be up for sale as it depends on the old estates they buy from. There was a lot of junk, but also some real finds. 

I had my eyes on the bedspreads from the start. They were the last items to come up at the auction and I got BOTH OF THEM for less than 200 Swedish kroner which is about £15.
I couldn't belive my luck.
I had planned to join them together and make one large bedspread, but changed my mind and now one of them adorn the lower half of my double bed over the dark blue bedspread (it works and looks nice) and the other is on the day bed in my office at home.
But I have more beds in need of bedspreads, and found the one pictured above on Ebay. It is cream (I would have preferred white), but also handmade.
Again, it was a bargain at about £10.

I love Ebay... very addictive.
I have recently bought a couple of handmade table cloths from Ebay, but I will show them some other time.


Tuesday 8 February 2011

Recommended Viewing: The Jane Austen Book Club

I love Jane Austen's books, "Pride and Prejudice", "Sense and Sensibility", "Emma" and so on.
Romantic, me? Surely not...

I was therefore an easy target when I passed by this dvd while shopping on Saturday.

The story is about six Californians who start a club to discuss the works of Jane Austen, only to find their relationships - both old and new - begin to resemble 21st century versions of her novels.
It is a sweet, amusing and romantic film - perfect for a cold blustery day when you want something simple to watch. Book clubs are common around here, but I don't belong to any. I like the idea, but I fear I wouldn't be structured enough to have read the books in time for the meetings...
Perhaps something for when I retire in the very distant future?

The film mainly left me with a desire to go back and re-read Jane's books.
And that was probably the entire purpose of the film!

Monday 7 February 2011

Hint of spring?

When I went to the garden centre on Saturday I had the intention of getting the pretty pearly blue flowers I showed on Saturday.
Well, needless to say, I walked away with a bit more...

They had this cute wrought iron plant stand on offer filled with pansies and daffodils already planted in the basket.
For £10 I just couldn't walk past!

Also this wrought iron wall basket was allowed to come home with me and I think I will spraypaint white before hanging it on a garden wall.
I can 'see' it filled with trailing lobelias in some months time, perhaps...


And three sets of colorful garden gloves!
They should be easy to find, I think!
Just hope the wind will ease off as I am itching to get started in the garden!

PS: The floor is arriving today!
We might FINALLY see the end of the project this week!!!

Saturday 5 February 2011

A Lazy Weekend

After a migraine attack last evening I am feeling rather washed out today. I only get them a few times a year and they are normally triggered by strong or flashing light. I should have known it might happen as I was driving behind a rescue car with flashing lights and the thought struck me 'that doesn't feel good to look at'. I should have stopped the car and made more distance between the rescue car and me, but that is easy to say now. 
However, I am normally not too bad if I get to my medication in time, but I still feel rather rotten the day after.

yipppeee! The rhubarb has survived the winter and has started sprouting!

Fortunately, it is not a very hectic weekend ahead of us.
Some grocery shopping and a quick trip to the garden centre to get some spring flowers to cheer me up was quickly done away with this morning. I feel better already.


We have a whopping 15 degrees today (yes, plus 15!), but it is soooo windy! Feels like the entire house will take off!

I am therefore staying in, taking it easy with a cup of tea and admiring the spring flowers.

Enjoy the weekend,
wherever you are and whatever the weather you have!

Wednesday 2 February 2011

Floor Saga...

The renovation work in Our Boy's bedroom is going ever so slowly...
We have been waiting for the new floor for over 3 weeks after being told it would take 10 days to 2 weeks. I am really frustrated as the supplier is telling me one new story after the other. I finally lost my temper on Monday after being served yet another lie from them and actually filed a formal complaint with head office over the behaviour of their employee. I understand delays can happen, but I can't tolerate being lied to. The person at head office with was very nice and empathetic, and I was promised a reply within 48 hours... Much to my disappointment I have still not heard anything - and the 48 hours have long passed. The disappointing thing is that I have renovated two other rooms and used their floors and been really happy. This time it is simply a disaster. I am giving them till lunchtime tomorrow and then I will cancel the order.
There are other shops!

In the meantime, the decorators are done with the re plastering and  painting and we have gone with a grey color (Goosewing from Dulux) on one of the short walls to give the room a more masculine feel and a slightly creamy color on the others to give some light (Jasmin from Dulux) and white on the ceiling. 
We have put in 8 spotlights in the ceiling and they are divided into three different zones (2+4+2) with a dimmer switch for each part.
I am really pleased with these brushed steel dimmers.
Little joys! ;-)

We are lucky to have very patient builders who just fit our work in between other jobs. I am so fed up with the mess all over the house, but surely there must be an end to this!

Our Boy is at the local theatre with his class tonight seeing 'Much Ado About Nothing' by Shakespeare - which is part of their curriculum this year, so it should be educational.

I will spend the rest of the evening in the kitchen making some cupcakes to take to work tomorrow. My amazing colleague is leaving and we are having farewell tea tomorrow at noon. We had a lovely lunch for her in the President's Lodge in one of the colleges yesterday, but it is always good to have an excuse for cake!

And in another couple of weeks a new colleague is joining us, so that should be an opportunity to have 'welcome-to-us-cakes'!


Tuesday 1 February 2011

Keeping Up With the Times...?

Ok, I am not in my twenties anymore... not even in my thirties! BUT I do find it fascinating trying to keep up with new 'innovations' and the changing times. What I am referring to are all these new communication platforms that didn't exist  just a few years ago.
Email is common place and nobody bats an eyelid if you are '102' and have your own email account - it is almost expected. 'Everybody' uses either Facebook/Twitter/blogs/texting/Skype... or even all of them.

We are all soooo easy to stay in touch with. 

A regular landline phone is almost becoming old fashioned... I don't know how I would do my job without email, Skype, internet or texting.

I initially signed up for Facebook because Our Boy was interested and being a responsible parent I needed to understand and know what he was up to. It turns out that this tool has enabled me to rekindle contact with a lot of friends and family and it is good fun. I don't post much there, but it is one way of staying in touch. 
I also became a 'blogger' and find inspiration and ideas here.

But I have given up and just can't get my head around Twitter....

I have tried it and signed up, but I just don't get it!
Maybe it is the word limits available that discourages me? Maybe it isn't creative enough - it is just a bit boring as there is little or nothing to illustrate the words...
I just 'need' more to express myself.
I also find it too fleeting. Despite being used to writing as I have this blog I find I have NOTHING worthwhile sharing with people on Twitter...

At least with a blog you can go back and read what people have posted and there is normally a theme or topic being considered.

Nah, I am throwing in the towel - Twitter just ain't for me...

I wonder what the next decade will be bringing of new innovations on this front...!