Tuesday 31 May 2011

Tried and Tested: Cinnamon Rolls

The Dough:
10 dl flour

1 dl sugar

¾ ts ground cardamom 
(optional - I put three pods in the milk and removed them before adding the dry ingredients)
100 gr  butter
3 dl milk 
1 egg 
1 1/2 tsp of  yeast 

Spreadable Butter
Brown Sugar

Powder sugar for dusting when cooled

How to do it:

Melt butter, add milk and heat till it is lukewarm.
Add yeast to this mix
Mix in the egg and sugar and add the flour with the cardamom
Let the dough rise (double in size) for 30-45 mins.

Divide the dough into four balls.
Roll each dough ball into a triangular shape and spread some butter/cinnamon/brown sugar on it.
Roll into a sausage shape.
Cut into approx 3 cm thick pieces and place tightly in a well greased baking tin. 
Let them rest for 30 mins to 1 hr.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 12-15 mins on 225°C.

Dust with powder sugar when cooled.

Monday 30 May 2011

Keeping the Memories

In theory, being married to an academic should ensure that we get to travel with him around the world when he goes on conferences etc.

In reality, this doesn't happen very often. 

Our Boy's school, my work and other obligations get in the way... 
But we have managed to join The Professor a couple of times to Florence, Italy and Boston, USA. 
And I hope that there will be more opportunities in the future! 

These pictures of Our Boy got a new frame from Ikea on the weekend. 
The pictures were taken 6 years ago in Florence and with his 15th birthday coming up next weekend I was struck by how he has changed. 

No longer a boy, but we are starting to see the man. 

Time sure goes by so very, very, quickly...

Sunday 29 May 2011

Bank Holiday Project: Revamping Garden Furniture and Ikea trip

We are in the midst of yet another Bank Holiday Weekend. 
I am not complaining but I would have liked some more sunshine and less wind! But 21 degrees isn't too bad.

My project for this weekend has been revamping the garden furniture. We have a wooden bench, a chair and a footstool which have all seen better days. But they are all sturdy although weather beaten. I have therefore given them a new lease of life and got some pale jasmin garden furniture paint and I am pleased with the results. The pictures of the bench above were taken a few days apart. 
That lovely afternoon sun is sorely missed today.

But I have not just been painting. I managed to slip in a trip to Ikea today. We are in the middle of two outlets, each about 1 hour away. I went to the one in Milton Keynes. It is a strange place... The town was purpose built in 1967 and reminds me of new estates in the USA. The roads are all wide and it is very green, but to me the place has no soul. On the other hand it has 'thousands' of roundabouts. The challenge is that it looks the same all over and it is so easy to get lost. My SatNav is a necessity in these cases, although I think we need to update it as there are a lot of new road layouts on the way. Most of the time it looked like I was driving in the middle of a field and I could almost hear the lady in the machine getting anxious over this 'reckless' driving...

But I have to say I was sooo good at Ikea and did not go overboard as it is all too easy to do when going to Ikea... The supplies of candles and napkins are now replenished as well as Swedish caviar, crisps, blueberry jam and chocolate plus the odd things I never knew I needed


Saturday 28 May 2011

Recommended Reading: The Dog Who Came in From The Cold

After many weeks with very dry weather and high winds we have got a real autumnal feel today still with the high winds, but also some blessed rain!

Unfortunately, it means I can't finish my garden projects. So after some usual weekend housework I curled up and finished Alexander MCall Smith's book 'The Dog Who Came In From The Cold'.

I have several times sung the praise about McCall Smith's books and he didn't disappoint this time either. This is the second book in the series about the people (and dog) in Corduroy Mansions in London. I wrote about the first one back in March and have enjoyed this easy read again. He is great for weaving the story about the people in the apartment building together. Although many of them don't know eachother, they still all have some interactions at some point. This time one of the main stories is about William's obliging and urbane dog Freddie de la Hay (isn't it a fab name!) who is drafted by the MI6 as an undercover spy... It is an utterly silly story, but all so entertaining!

I hope there will be a another book in the series not to long. There are still a lot of loose ends and many stories to be told about these excentric inhabitants of Corduroy Mansions. I want to know how Berthea Snark deals with writing the unofficial book about her obnoxious politician of a son, Oedipus Snark!

You can find more about Alexander McCall Smith's books on his website if you click here.

Thursday 26 May 2011

Tip: Useful Digital Photography Website

Photography is my new passion and a hobby I really enjoy trying to express myself with. I am not particularly good, but I am willing to learn! As you might recall, I went on a course a couple of weeks ago and I also follow some very inspirational blogs (see my blogroll on the right hand side)

I have also signed up to get regular emails from Digital Photography School. They offer useful tips and hints on how to improve. There is always something interesting to read there and they have a useful library over tips and tutorials to browse through.

All for free!

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Fitflops - This Year's New Shoe Fashion

My new Fitflops are light tan - it was just the 'wrong' light when I took the pictures with the IPhone
This summer's shoe fashion here in the UK are FitFlops.
Actually, I think they made their entry into the market last year, but this year they seem to really have taken off.
'Everybody' has them.
But who can blame them - the logo says:

"Fitflop - get a workout while you walk"!

Apparently, they feature muscle-loading microwobbleboard technology which increase the time your muscles are engaged each time you take a step. These shoes are supposed to give relief from a whole host of pains ranging from heel pain, chronic back pain, sciatica osteoarthritis lower leg swelling and not least to improve your posture, energy, firmness and muscle tone.

Of course, I had to have a pair!


PS: Blogger seems to be acting up for me again.
I am not able to leave any comments on most other blogs.
So, to my 'regular' blog friends, please note that silence from me doesn't mean I have not 'visited' you!

Tuesday 24 May 2011

The Spice Challenge

I saw this clip with the comedian Michael McIntyre on another blog and just had to share it with you...

So, how is your spice cabinet doing?


Monday 23 May 2011

Rubix Nightmare

Do you remember the Rubix cube?
Well, it keeps making it reappearance!

Our Boy's record is 28 seconds...


I get annoyed and can't even do it in 28 minutes!
He claims he is going to teach me this summer... 

Yeah, right...!


Sunday 22 May 2011

My Shopping 'Secret'

I don't like grocery shopping. 

A weekly shop would take about two hours out of my precious weekend time 
  • going to the shop, 
  • choosing the groceries, 
  • putting them in the trolley, 
  • putting them on the band, 
  • packing them in bags, 
  • putting them in the car, 
  • carrying them from the car to the kitchen, 
  • unpacking and 
  • putting it all away. 

It is just such a waste of time!!!! 

So, I don't do it.

Instead, I have a nice polite man in a brightly coloured van bring our groceries to our house once a week!
Several supermarkets offer this service here in England.
I use Ocado

I log in to my account either via the computer or my IPhone and put in my shopping list for the week and 
hey! presto! the shopping 'appears' in my kitchen...
(OK, admittedly I have to put them away myself, but I like to have my own order in things anyway ;-))


I actually save money this way as I spend less money than going to the shop. 
This tells me how much I am tempted by things I see when I am in the shops.
The quality is always superb and they have a real no-nonsense policy. 
I can edit the order until quite close to delivery.
Delivery can even be free if I choose the delivery time carefully.
On the anniversary of the arrangement they send me a nice bottle of wine.
That is customer care I can like!
I also see it as a small way of saving the environment as I don't have to drive to the shop myself.

Well, it works for me.

I still go to the supermarket 'once in a blue moon' just to remind myself why I shouldn't bother...


Saturday 21 May 2011

Listening to the Summer Sounds...

I quickly spray painted the iron basket. I think it looks prettier in white than in the original brown.
This evening I am enjoying being thoroughly physically tired .. 
-  tired from working in the garden. 
It is that kind of satisfied tiredness knowing you have done something really useful. 

Basil, garlic chives, rosemary, mint, tomatoes and chilies are among this years crop
Our Boy went hiking (12 km) and camping with the scouts last night. After picking him up at 9.30 this morning from the camp site I decided to 'attack' the garden. Our Boy is revising for GCSE exams starting next week, so no help to be had from him, but The Best-Neighbour-In-The-World came out and gave me a hand. It is so nice to work together with somebody!

The borders were all overgrown - the &*%@ ivy had taken over big time and the hedge was blocking for the sunshine.  Our garden is very small, but we have three huge trees 
(lilac, elderflower and one with yellow flowers - can't remember the name) 
and they need pruning so we also get some sunshine... 
We filled three bins with our cuttings!

I should have had some before-and-after pictures, but these are all 'after' pictures. I nipped out to the garden centre and got some more plants and some soil. 
Just need to be good watering the new plants unless we get some much needed rain! 
The lawn is looking very unattractive as it has gone without rain for such a long time... 
Actually, I never thought I would actually wish for rain here in England. 
Normally we have more than enough!

But you make do with what there is and if the weather keeps I am hoping to paint the bench and the chair tomorrow. They have both weathered rather a lot since last year so I think it will give them a new lease of life.


I am going 'white' this summer, of course!


Thursday 19 May 2011

Tried and Tested: Pita Bread

Our local delicatessen sells really delicious pita bread every Thursday. They get them only once a week from a bakery that also delivers tempting French baked goods... 
I like that they are not always available as it makes it a little bit more special. 

So, Thursday is Pita day!

But pita bread is not hard to make. 
I have often made them - when I have time - and they are great to take on a picnic or for the lunch packs, as well as for a quick and easy dinner on a hectic day. 
I use this recipe by the famous Norwegian chef Ingrid Espelid Hovig which I found in a magazine from 1995 
(I still have the cut out in a plastic folder!):

4.5 dl water
25 gram yeast
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp salt
10-11 dl flour

Mix all well, cover under cling film and let it rest for 30 mins. 
Knead well and divide the dough into 16 balls.
Let them rest for a few minutes
Flatten the balls with a rolling pin - to the size of a small plate.
Transfer the flattened dough balls to well greased baking sheets or baking parchment. You probably won't fit more than 4 pitas to each sheet.
Let the pitas rise for about 1 hr.

Bake in the middle of the oven on 250 degrees (very hot oven!)
After a few minutes the pitas will puff up.
Bake for about 8 mins (keep an eye on them so they don't burn).

Note: If they have been rising too long they might not puff up, 
but it should be possible to prize them open for filling.

Those in the picture were filled with plenty of lettuce, tomatoes, fried bacon, onion, cheese and mushrooms. 

Pitas are perhaps an alternative to tacos...?

Tuesday 17 May 2011

17 May!

It always feels a little strange celebrating 17 May and not being in Norway... Every year I say 'Next year I will be home', but it is hard to fit a trip in when it is still normal working days over here. 

Never mind, we also celebrate over here!
In the afternoon Our Boy and I are looking forward to a piece (or two) of this lovely Budapest cake (click on the link for the recipe) which I also made for his birthday last year!

But I leave you a picture of waffles - one of the most Norwegian coffee treats there is. I made some on Sunday when a friend popped over and there wasn't anything else to offer her in house. I have to admit I don't use any particular recipe for the waffles... any measurements is more or less 'in my hands', but this is roughly what goes into them:

2 eggs
2 tbsp sugar
approx. 4 dl milk
approx. 4 dl flour
25 grams melted butter

Whip eggs and sugar and add some milk and some flour until a lumpfree batter. Add the melted butter.

Let them cool slightly. 
Spread either jam/sugar/cheddar cheese or Norwegian goat cheese (or even butter) and fold them over two and two.

Gratulerer Med Dagen!

Sunday 15 May 2011

Learning Something New

I have not been much of a blogger this last week. 
Life gets 'in the way' 
and as many other I also had problems logging in...

But I did go on the photography course I mentioned some days ago. 
It was really a great day and money well spent! 

We were 10 people in total and they were all lovely. We had a good laugh with Rod, our brilliant instructor. He was very informal, and really knows his stuff. It was fun to hear all of us going 'Aha' and nodding as 'the penny dropped' when he was explaining something or giving useful tips. 
For instance, I never knew I could set my camera so that the vision in the viewfinder suited my eyes when I am not wearing glasses. (On my Canon EOS 550D there is a small wheel with a '- and +' sign next to the viewfinder.)

We had an indoor class in the morning and spent some time practising in the afternoon what we had learnt, about depth of field, aperture, ISO, correct exposure, white balance,  composition, and so on. 

At the end of the day our pictures were uploaded to the projector and we all got to see each other's work. It was really instructive and there were some very good shots. I got nice feedback on mine and am happy that the theory seemed to worked!

I use Photoscape to adjust my pictures, but I am tempted to get Photoshop Elements. We were recommended version 6, 7, or 8 to be the better versions. I appreciated we were not encouraged to get lots of fancy lenses and gadgets. There is enough to play with and to get to know in the camera as it is.

There is still lots to learn and I am hoping to go on another of their courses, perhaps in the fall. But I want to practise more what I have learnt before any new knowledge is taken on board! 

Friday 13 May 2011

No More Technologically Lazy...

I am completely convinced that the makers of Zits must have a camera in our house...

I am feeling rather good about having overcome my technological laziness...

What I mean is, that having a teenage boy who speaks 'tech-language' like it is his mother tongue I have the last few years left any technological/IT problems in our house to him (and his dad) ...
He is all too pleased to show off his 'superior' skills and knowledge to his mother and I have been happy to let him think he is...


However, this week I had to install a new TV in an apartment I administrate (as part of my paid job). That was a breeze, but the challenge was that there was no antenna connected to the flat nor cable tv. My solution was to buy a small stand alone antenna which sits behind the TV. I admit it was a little fiddly hooking it up and tuning it in, but I was adamant I would NOT call my son to come and help...

Lo and behold, I managed it all on my own!
I feel sooo proud of myself!


Well, I should perhaps also mention that Our Boy helped me install the same type of antenna a few days earlier on the TV in my bedroom...

Tuesday 10 May 2011

Finally Going on a Photocourse

I am so excited!

I have just signed up for a photography course this coming Saturday!!!

I manage fine with many of the settings on the camera, but I so look forward to getting to know more of the secrets of my Canon 550D and to talk 'photography' with likeminded people!
Just hope the weather stays as glorious as it has for the last few days...

And the course is being held in the most beautiful surroundings at Wimpole Hall which I have written about before - actually several times:

Sunday 8 May 2011

Feeling Righteous

I think I have earned some 'brownie-points' in the neighbourhood... 

 We live in a cul-de-sac where most of the houses are situated in the old apple orchard which used to belong to the main building dating back to the early 1800s. Most of our neighbours are really lovely and we get on well. We are 19 properties consisting of some flats in the old building and town houses in the old orchard. We share among other things a communal garden. There is a gardener that comes once a week and looks after it and that way it is always well maintained and nobody argues over people not pitching in... 
We also share the drive-in to the properties, and not to forget 
- the recycling bins... 

We have three types of bins:
1. The Blue bin which takes paper/clean foil/glass/tinned cans/plastic bottles/telephone directories etc
2. The Green bin takes food and garden waste and small quantities of card board.
3. The Black bin takes all other types of household garbage.

 Each household has a black bin at the end of their garden and we have a common area for the blue and green bins which we all share. The system really isn't difficult to learn as the bins are clearly marked with what goes in them. However, some of the flats are rented out and new lodgers always take a bit of time to get used to the recycling scheme... I won't go there... In addition, here in the UK people don't use designated paper bags for disposing of food waste - it is all just thrown open into the bins. 
Well, it doesn't take much imagination to envision that the blue and green bins end up looking rather horrible and the potential for smells and flies having a grand party in the warmer weather... 

Therefore, after the bins had been emptied yesterday morning, Our Boy and I got the water hose out and cleaned them properly inside and out and used some disinfectant to get rid of any potential 'nasties'... 
The-Best-Neighbour-in-the-World joined us and together we got through them all. 
They are now all 'spic-and-span'!

How lovely it is to feel so righteous... 

I think I will bring up the suggestion of getting a company in to clean them on a regular basis. 
With 19 households it really shouldn't be expensive!

Another weekend project has been getting to grips with the granny-throw I started last October
I know - it is taking FOREVER! I get bored of it and put it aside, but I want to complete it now!
I think I am about 70% done and have started putting the squares together. I kind of regret not having a clear design in mind when I made the squares, but it isn't looking too bad. 
I like it when there are patterns in these, and there is actually a system to it...


However, it will be a &*% job to fasten all the loose ends...

Friday 6 May 2011

Innocently Guilty!

Yesterday I received a letter from Bath.

Although we just visited Bath a couple of weeks ago, I can't say I know anybody in Bath.
And I couldn't recall any excessive flirting taking place so it couldn't have been a love letter...

I have committed a crime!

Apparently, I have driven the car into a bus lane and been caught on camera. The letter contained a couple of pictures of me committing the crime (well, you don't see me - only the car) to prove it and yes, I do remember that strange little road in the middle of a crossing...
We had just driven into Bath and were looking for a place to park the car to go explore the city. Looking around trying to get to grips with the layout of the town, I never noticed this little slip of the road was a bus lane...

I have had my driver's licence for close to 29 years (shows my age, doesn't it) and have for the first time in my life received a fine (parking tickets don't count...).

The fine is for £60...
if I pay within 14 days it is reduced to £30...
I thought that was nice: a fine with a discount.
A real bargain, if you ask me!


Wednesday 4 May 2011

Tried and Tested: Healthy Flapjacks

A couple of days ago I made some Healthy Flapjacks inspired by Matmonsteret.
I think this must be among the healthier things I have baked in a long time...

- and they tasted of summer


Mix the dry ingredients:
7 dl oatmeal
1 dl flour
1 dl whole wheat flour
1.5 dl brown sugar
0.5 tsp salt
0.5 tsp baking powder
a handful of raisins
a handful of chopped almonds

Mix the wet ingredients :
3 tbs warm honey - I warmed it gently in the microwave oven
(tip: if you rub some oil on the measuring spoon before using it on the honey,
the honey will just glide off the spoon!)1.5 dl water
and add this to the dry ingredients and knead gently

Pour the mixture onto a small lined baking tray
(keep some aside for the topping).
Smear 6 tbs jam (I used blackcurrent) over the mixture.
Add some sesame seeds or sunflower seeds for the top along with the leftover mixture

Bake in the oven on 175 degrees for about 30 mins.

Cool and cut into squares.

Sunday 1 May 2011

Enjoying the bank holiday weekend

feels nice to get my camera out - the Iphone just isn't good enough...
We are basking in the sunshine this lovely bank holiday weekend. The royal wedding gave most people Friday off and the pragmatic British celebrate 1 May on the first Monday of the month so tomorrow is free too! I might have to pop in to the office to prepare a few things for upcoming events, but it is so lovely not to have to run after the clock. I think that is what stresses me the most - not the work itself.

On our trip to Bath last weekend I was lucky enough to travel with people who love looking for antiques and bargains as much as I do (don't tell the Professor...!;-)). Nobody therefore objected to making a few stops on the way when we were lured off the beaten track when seeing signs for car boot sales! We all found some 'treasures' and this blue pot was one of my finds. 
I admire my guests for managing to bring all their 'treasures' back to Norway...! 

Don't you think the pot looks lovely with the lilacs which are now in full bloom here in 'my corner'?


I hope you are having a happy 1 May wherever you are!