Wednesday 29 February 2012

18 Years "Old"...

My dear Pappa would have been "18" today if he had still been with us.
He always had fun with us kids being older than him...

And my dear friend in NZ is "12" today!
Happy Birthday all Leap Year Babies!

Do you know a 'leap-year-baby'?

Monday 27 February 2012

It Is Happening...

Spring is HERE!
We have enjoyed +18 degrees some days (not every day) and the crocuses are in full bloom along the Backs.

I didn't manage to get out and take pictures myself this weekend, so I have borrowed one from BBC, but this is what it really looks like now.
So lovely and much appreciated!

The concert on Friday with Joan Baez was even better than I had thought.
What a lady!
We were probably among the younger ones in the crowd, but the lady herself is 71 - amazing...
It was really nice to have a 'date' with The Professor!

Ms Baez played many of the familiar, old time favourites, but also quite a few new ones. I particularly liked this one - 'Just the Way You Are' written by Dirk Powell who was accomanying her:

Thursday 23 February 2012

Green Tea...

I haven't been a fan of Green Tea which I understand is very healthy and full of goodness and antiocidants etc etc. They all taste too much like 'grass' to me (not that I have eaten grass...)
But I was pleasantly surprised when Our Boy brought home this one with lemon from Clipper. I generally always add lemon to any tea, so that was a good start.

It is actually very nice!

And I don't mind the rumour that it is also beneficial for weightloss.

Tuesday 21 February 2012

Recommended Viewing: Call the Midwife

BBC has done it again!

To my delight I have been watching a new period drama Call the Midwife every Sunday evening this winter. The series is based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth and set in the East London slums in the 1950s. The first series of 6 episodes premiered mid January and we have followed the midwives and nuns at the Nonnatus House struggling with medical and social problems in a deprived area of East London. The characters are played with much warmth and humour by the likes of Pam Ferris, Jenny Agutter, Mirada Hart and the beautiful Jessica Raine (to name just a few). I must admit it is amazing to see the harshness and how rough life was like in the 50s.

I am pleased to note that the second series of 8 episodes is expected to air in mid 2013 - even if it is a loooong time to wait!

In the meantime, another period drama started last night of Upstais Downstairs. Not quite Downton Abbey, but I think I should give it a few episodes before I make up my mind on whether I like it.
I think I might.

Monday 20 February 2012

Recommended Reading: The Importance of Being Seven

I am in a 'McCall Smith' phase again having just completed "The Importance of Being Seven" by Alexander McCall Smith and started on "Bertie Plays the Blues" from his 44 Scotland street series.

I just love the familiarity of the characters and the warmth and humour underneath the short chapters. 
It is not 'laugh-out-loud' funny, but I catch myself chuckling all the time...

The fact that it is set in Edinburgh, a city that is becoming more and more important to me, is also a big plus. I love feeling familiar with the street names and the places in the book which is not far from our own flat in Stockbridge. Maybe one day we will have a flat in Scotland street or Moray Place? It is almost so that I expect to run into Angus walking Cyril, Domenica arguing with Antonia, Matthew and Elspeth with the triplets and not to forget wee Bertie and his intolerable mother Irene when I am in Edinburgh... 
(don't worry, I KNOW they are fictional characters!)

Sunday 19 February 2012

Different Taste...

Our Boy went to a concert in London on the weekend with Skrillex... 
Apparently, it was 'awesome' and phenomenal'. 

Not my cup of tea, I have to say

The Professor is coming home next weekend and for his birthday earlier this month I got us tickets to see one of his favourites who is coming to town this coming Friday, Joan Baez.

Varied taste in music in our house...

Friday 17 February 2012

What a Difference!

picture borrowed from www
Talk about huge difference in a few days.
Last Saturday we woke up to incredible -13 degrees...
The coldest I have ever experienced in this country!

Today we have a balmy +11...

I know what I prefer!

Have a good weekend
- whatever the temperature!

Wednesday 15 February 2012

Recommended viewing: The Descendants

We went to see the movie The Descendants
(click on the picture above to see the trailer) 

In my view, George Clooney gives a very good interpretation of a bewildered father and husband in a tragic situation and battling with landowner issues in Hawaii.

Yep, I cried.
You would be hard pressed to not cry watching this movie.
But it had its funny moments as well.
Go and see it.

Tuesday 14 February 2012

Birthday Weekend

We are back home again after a long weekend in Edinburgh where we have been celebrating The Professor's birthday. His birthday coincided with the school's winter half term and I also took a couple of days off work. Edinburgh is an amazing city. It has so much to offer and yet it is small enough to explore on foot.

 As a birthday treat I had booked a table for us at The Witchery for Sunday evening. It was amazing! I highly recommend this lovely restaurant set in a 16th century building next to the castle. They also have a few rooms you can book if you wish to spend the night there. A really special experience, I would think!
But be warned, both the restaurant and the accommodation is very popular, so book well in advance!

Apart from enjoying walking around a very springlike town, we also went to see the newly refurbished Portrait Gallery
What and entrance hall!
I had left my camera at home so the pictures are all borrowed from the web.

We also managed to find time to do a little painting in the flat. Just some odds and ends that needed doing like an old cupboard that had been waiting for a lick of paint. 
Good to be able to tick that off the list!

Friday 10 February 2012

It Doesn't Take Much...

to make me happy...

'Fiskeboller i hvit saus med kokte poteter og raspede gulrøtter'
(fishballs in a white sauce with boiled potatoes and grated carrots)
is not exactly common fare over here, so edible gifts from kind friends are very welcome!

Actually, this traditional Norwegian dish almost ended my relationship with The Professor before it even started! The first dinner I invited him to in my student flat 27 (!) years ago was 'Fiskeboller'. Years later he confessed that he had almost decided to stop pursuing me as this was the worst thing he had ever eaten...!

Well, he didn't stop pursuing me and found out I could cook other types of food, too (which is good as he is not particularly interested in cooking himself)...  
But I only make 'fiskeboller' when he is not home.
Fortunately, Our Boy has got more of his mother's food taste so we really enjoyed it last night.
And there are leftovers for today!

A real treat - two days in a row!!!

Wednesday 8 February 2012

Jubilees: The Diamond Queen & Dickens

Monday was the start of the Queen 's Diamond Jubilee.
60 years on the throne.
Not bad, eh?

For most people the jubilee means nothing more than getting an extra public holiday this year
(5 June -Yeah!).

I wouldn't claim to be a monarchist, but I admire the Queen’s tireless service to her country. I do however believe that a modern and democratic country should appoint its head of state (which is what the Queen actually is) in a democratic way. However, the current monarchy has evolved over centuries and works reasonably well, which is probably why there is no real move for radical change in British society. I don't think we can guarantee that this attitude towards the monarchy won't change when the next generation takes over....

But, lots of respect to the Queen. Not many holds the same job for 60 years!

the Google doodle marking Dickens 200th birthday
Another jubilee to mention is that yesterday it was 200 years since Charles Dickens was born.  I wonder what horrors of society he would have written about if he had been alive today? There was no welfare state back then. Poverty was a theme Dickens explored in many of his novels, and there is no doubt it would still preoccupy him if were writing today. Likewise the gap between rich and poor and the financial recession would have been a theme Dickens would have delved into if he were writing in 2012. His father had lived beyond his means and was sent to a debtors' prison, the Marshalsea in London. This was the inspiration for his novel Little Dorrit, the tale of a girl whose father was imprisoned in the Marshalsea after going bankrupt. This continued gap between those earning the most and the rest of the population, would have provided Dickens with some powerful source material.

So, although A LOT has changed since Dickens' days, there are still a lots of similar topics he could have addressed.

Monday 6 February 2012

Making Envelopes

The Brits are really very good at sending cards for birthdays and Christmas. I like this tradition and try to remember to send people cards - it really is so much nicer than an email...

Being stuck inside this weekend because of the heavy snowfall my creative juices started flowing (or maybe I was just trying to get out of doing housework...)
I have had some wall paper samples lying around for a while which I thought I might make something out of. The samples are free sheets you can collect from many decorating and diy shops.
I suddenly thought I could make envelopes out of these.

I 'sacrificed' an ordinary envelope to use as template and just drew it on the back of the wall paper sample.
I then folded the cut out sample as the template and used picture tape to fasten the sides or double sided tape would do it.


Sunday 5 February 2012

Snow and Frugal Challenge!

The first snow of the season came last night!  I would estimate it to be a good 10 cm!
Good thing it is Sunday... judging by previous years experience I doubt many would be at work if it had been a normal working day! 
The Cat was just so NOT IMPRESSED. He is refusing blankly to enter outside...
I have been challenged to a frugal month!
I am not to buy anything new for myself or the house for the month of February. 
I can however swap/borrow or make new things.
The idea is that we all have too much of everything and consume and waste too much. 
Being still close since Christmas I don't think this will be too hard of a challenge!

It was interesting that this challenge came just as I was thinking it would be a good idea to try to eat a bit more out of the freezer and try to empty some more out of our cupboards which are all full to bursting! 
So, I am extending this challenge to try to spend only about half of our normal weekly shop for the month of February. 

To be honest, I think we could easily live for weeks or months out of what is in the cupboards... 
Amongst the things that fill up my kitchen cupboards are numerous types of beans and pulses which are abundant in many Persian dishes my mother-in-law makes when she is here. Dinner tonight will be based on these as I mixed and soaked a variety of beans and pulses last night and this will become an Persian-inspired vegetable and bean stew with chunks of beef. Or a different take on a sort-of Norwegian lapskaus. And as I have made a large casserole, there should be enough for tomorrow, too!

So, I hereby extend the challenge to YOU 
-  will you take the frugal challenge, too?

Saturday 4 February 2012

But Who Are YOU...???

My little blog is coming up for its 2nd anniversary!
I can't believe I have been blogging for two years..!
I find blogging extremely rewarding.
I discovered a new 'world' when I by accident came across the first blog I started following - Hvit Stil.Com
Bloglandia is a community of amazingly generous people willing to share tips, give inspiration, offer ideas and support.
And I thought blogging was only for self obsessed teenagers - no, I can't really claim I am a teenager, but I won't comment on whether I am self obsessed :-) ...

My most popular posts seem to be cake and dessert recipes:

1. Cloudberry and Porridge Dessert
2. Decadent Croissant and Chocolate Pudding
3. Eton Mess
4. Julia Child's Chocolate Cake with Almonds
5. Apple Cake Succsss
But I don't know who

Amazingly, people are logging in regularly from all over the world - Norway & UK being on the top of this list, but also people from India, Japan, South Africa, Brazil, Italy, Turkey, Russia, Ukraine and many, many more. The majority of you don't leave any other traces/comments except I can see in the background statistics which country you have logged in from.

And that is absolutely fine, of course.

But I won't hide that it makes me curious as to who you are ...

Thank you for stopping by.

You are still welcome here, whether you leave a 'trace' or not!

Wednesday 1 February 2012

Coming Together by Chance?

I promised yesterday to take a picture in daylight of the lovely cushion My Friend and her Delightful Son made for me and here it is together with the new throw. They all go together so well you would have thought it had all been planned!

Obviously, I am in a grey-&-creme-period at the moment.

The test of the warmth and snugness of the throw is whether The Cat likes it or not. He can be rather choosy and will not cuddle on our laps if we choose the WRONG throw... I had a little snooze on the couch after dinner last night and woke up to find my little black furry friend sound asleep ontop of me and the throw.

It is approved!