Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Not Wanted...

I have for the longest time felt my conscience tugging and been thinking that I should do my bit and start giving blood.
A TV-campaign last spring(!) prompted me to register, but I never got around to making an appointment to actually go and do it.
Until last Friday.
I proudly went for my appointment and filled in various forms and had a small interview with a very friendly nurse whilst drinking lots of water. All was fine, and I was escorted into a long rectangular room where the other good donors were sitting in chairs hooked up and donating. I made myself comfortable in the chair that tilted backwards and was feeling very smug and good about myself as I offered my arm to the nurse. 
She rolled up my sleeve on my right arm and started feeling around for a vein.
"Hmmm....", she said.
"I think I sometimes can be a little tricky. They tend to use the veins by my wrist", I offered.
She smiled back and said "I can't use those by the wrist, I need to check your left arm".
She did and again the "Hmmm..." came.
"I will go and ask my colleague to have a feel", she said.
I felt the entire room was looking at me, the only one not hooked up.
The same "Hmmm..." came after the colleague had felt my right arm. She then proceeded like her colleague to check my left arm. "I can't feel anything at all in the left arm", she said. "The right one is very faint and it rolls away. I don't think we can use you," she concluded. Now the entire room was staring at me (at least I think they did).
Me - the unusable one!
I hadn't even been stabbed once! 
She explained that instead of them starting to stab me randomly in the hope of finding it and thereby scarring the veins I was better off saving my veins in case I ever really needed access to them... Which was nice of her and makes sense, I guess.
But I still felt the rejection burning...
I scrambled out of the comfy chair and did the walk of shame out of the room. In the waiting area, The Professor had fallen asleep waiting for me. A thought struck me - perhaps I can just roll him in and get him hooked up ...! Imagine his surprise...
Well, of course I didn't and we couldn't as you have to register and sign up in advance. But I will work on getting him registered as he might be the only one in the family that can donate. Our Boy seems to have inherited the same type of deep embedded rolling veins that I have. They probably won't want him either.
But it is the thought that counts, isn't it?

Monday, 26 November 2012

Pinterest Inspiration - Table Decoration

The Ladies Who Dine came to my house for lunch yesterday, Sunday. It was kind of a start-of-the-season-gathering/birthday-celebration and just a general-together event.
We chose to meet on Sunday lunch as it is already increasingly hard to find a suitable Friday or Saturday that everybody can make. Besides, Sunday lunch is a great British tradtion!
The above IPhone-pictures (I really need to get my good camera more out - I have becom lazy!) are from the table and I was pleased with my simple silver/acorns/candle decoration on a slate tiered cake stand. Inspiration from Pinterest (you can find me there)! Very simple and just using what you already have but put together in a new way. And for some extra sparkle I added a smal battery-operated garland of fairy lights along the table.
As usual, I was worried it wouldn't be enough food (ok... I admit that after various canapees and a starter with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon followed by the main consisting of 2 mustand-and-honeyglazed hams and a roasted chicken along with a 'mountain' of roasted potatoes, mashed swede, brussels sprouts, fried mushrooms and a tomato and onion salsa and my friends dessert of apple strudle with whipped cream followed by coffee and mints and biscotti was too much for 6 ladies), but it looks like there are enought leftovers for me and The Boy for the rest of the week...

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Another Year ...

Another year older, yes...
It was my birthday this weekend and after starting with lunch out with friends on Sunday, I treated myself to a day off on Monday!
My gift to myself was to do whatever I really fancied doing...:
It started with Our Boy waking me singing 'Happy Birthday' while bringing gifts and serving tea in bed
The day progressed with
baking a cake (this is my most downloaded recipe)
listening to a lot of music
hemming some material I had bought a year ago I and making it into a new table cloth
having coffee and cake with a friend that popped by
starting knitting on a small project (which should be done in a day or so)
reading a book
having a lovely dinner with Our Boy
receiving lots and lots of phone calls and emails

Next weekend The Professor is coming home
We are invited to a Thanksgiving party on Saturday - the turkey is ready at 2 pm...
On Sunday the house is being 'invaded' by friends coming for lunch
No, age doesn't matter, there is plenty of time to plan celebrating the BIG year, next year...!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Tried and Tested: Chocolate Fondant

Talk about mid week temptation!
On an ordinary Wednesday I surprised Our Boy with Fru Tunheim's recipe for chocolate fondant.
It won't be the last time...
All in all it took less than 25 mins from start to finish! 
You can either make them the traditional way with flour and sugar or there is the alternative to make them low carb. I did kind of a mixed version using ground almonds and sugar. I also want to mention that I got 5 fondants out of 3/4 of the recipe below so the recipe is generous.
To make 6 generous fondants

125 gram butter
150 gram dark chocolate
125 gram sugar OR 75-100 gram Sukrin/Splenda
85 g flour OR ground almonds
4 eggs
Melt the butter and chocolate and add the sugar/sweetener.
Mix well.
Add the flour or ground almonds and whisk with a hand held mixer.
Add one egg at the time.
Pour in to well greased ramekins.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 11 mins at 200 degrees.
They were lovely and had exactly the right consistency of lovely gooeyness when we cut into them

Monday, 12 November 2012

Country Living Fair 2012

Yesterday I went with my two Welsh friends to the Country Living Magazine's Christmas Fair 2012, in Islington, London. I didn't bring my main camera, so you will have to do with the IPhone pictures.
The fair is an annual event, although this was my very first time.
It was almost a bit overwhelming, to be frank, but well worth going!
So much creativity and inspiration!
I didn't buy very much (ok, a few things...), but  I enjoyed even walking around making notes on creative suggestions. Got to love the "Notes" function on the IPhone...
I simply loved the fair and I think it will become an annual event for me!

Friday, 9 November 2012

Grumpy Country Bumpkin...?

Just loooove this area of London...
Our Boy and I went to the Norwegian embassy in London yesterday to renew his passport which is due to run out in January. The consulate services and passport office got new locations (still same building) three weeks ago and it is all very smart! Must also say the people there are lovely and very helpful. It was quick and efficient and the new passport will be mailed us when it is ready. Good news is also that the new passport will now be valid for 10 years. No more going to the embassy with him every 3 years...!
We also found some time for shopping for the young man.
 But I feel a need to vent:
I am rather annoyed with certain shops. Particularly those where you are met at the door by a bunch of scantily clad overly-excited-super-informal-and-way-too-familiar-for-my-liking young male shop attendants (and some young ladies) dancing away to deafening music (it is IMPOSSIBLE to talk inside the shop), dressed in OPEN SHIRTS and flip flops (hello! it is NOVEMBER!!! - OK, I KNOW it is part of the 'uniform') in premises so dark that you have to feel your way around the room...coming up to within an inch of your personal space and asking whether they can
"Help you guys with anything?".
It didn't help my mood as we were leaving we were surrounded by chorus of
"So nice seeing you guys"
"Thank you guys for shopping with us."
"Hope you guys have a nice day".
"Hope to see you guys again real soon"
coming from 10-15 attendants whose job clearly is just to smooch (and annoy) the customers!
Nah, it made me really grumpy!
This is not the way NORMAL people behave on this island.
I know the brand is not British, but this kind of behaviour really doesn't work here!
It just seems sooooo fake!
I grant that the quality of the clothes are good (the jeans Our Boy bought last year still look brand new!), but
I do not want more-than-half-my-age-over-the-top-eager-shop-attendants try to make me feel hip and young...
I do not want to be called 'you guys'.
I do not want people to pretend they care about me when I perfectly well know they couldn't care less, except for what is in my wallet!
And I HATE loud music in shops!
I just leave then - I can't think!
Don't worry.
I swallowed my annoyance and didn't embarrass my teenage son who did get what he came for.
And on Sunday I am off to London again!
But that will be a different trip!

Monday, 5 November 2012

Bonfire Night!

Guy Fawkes - borrowed from the web
Fireworks have been going off all throughout the weekend although Bonfire Night is actually tonight on 5 November. The Cat is not too pleased about that, but he tends to stay indoors when it gets chilly and he doesn't seem to mind the fireworks when he feels safe inside.
Bonfire Night is also called Guy Fawkes' Night. For over 400 years bonfires have burned on November 5th to mark the failed gunpowder plot - a plot that relates back to the conflict between catholics and protestants. In 1605, thirteen men planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Among them was Guy Fawkes.
Some of the 13... borrowed from the web
After Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603, English Catholics who had been persecuted under her rule had hoped that her successor, James I, would be more tolerant of their religion.  Unfortunately, James was not and 13 young men, decided that violent action was the answer by blowing up the Parliament. In doing so, they would kill the King, the Prince of Wales, and the Members of Parliament who were making life difficult for the Catholics. However, as they realised that also innocent people would be hurt or killed in the attack some of the plotters had second thoughts and an anonymous letter was sent to warn a friend to stay away from the Parliament that day. But the warning letter reached the King, and the King's forces stopped the conspirators. Guy Fawkes was in the cellar with the barrels of gunpowder when the cellar was stormed so he was caught and executed. So, the questions many ask are - was he framed and would the plot have worked as the gunpowder apparently was old...
On the 5th, agitated Londoners who knew little more than that their King had been saved, lit bonfires in thanksgiving, a tradition to this day!
You can ask whether it is anti-Catholic to celebrate this event, but I agree with those that say that it is important to remember the history and the fact that the celebration is a commemoration of the thwarting of an act of mass murder. Also, I feel it is safe to say that the passage of the centuries has eradicated any sense of anti-Catholicism associated with the celebration.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Tried and Tested: Fruity Biscotti

Lovely treat with a nice cup of tea or coffee on a windy and rainy Sunday...
I got inspired to make biscotti after last Saturday's adventure to the pop-up restaurant and was recommended this recipe by the chef. It is from BBC's Good Food website but since this blog also serves to keep my own favourite recipes, I have shamelessly copied it here. They are super easy to make and an instant hit in our house. BBC Good Food calls them "Fruity Christmas Biscotti", but I don't think these should be limited to Christmas (besides - it is too soon to start baking for Christmas, isn't it?) :
To make about 72 biscotti you need:
350g plain flour , plus extra for rolling
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp mixed spice (a British spice blend of cinnamon/clove/ginger/coriander/nutmeg)
250g golden caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
coarsely grated zest 1orange
85g raisins
85g dried cherries
50g blanched almonds
50g shelled pistachios
This is how you do it:
Heat oven to 180C. Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper.
Put the flour, baking powder, spice and sugar in a large bowl, then mix well.
Stir in the eggs and zest until the mixture starts forming clumps, then bring the dough together with your hands - it will seem dry at first but keep kneading until no floury patches remain.
Add the fruit and nuts, then work them in until evenly distributed.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 4 pieces. With lightly floured hands, roll each piece into a sausage about 30cm long.
Place 2 on each tray, well spaced apart.
Bake for 25-30 mins until the dough has risen and spread and feels firm. It should still look pale. Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack for a few mins until cool enough to handle, then turn down the oven to 140C.
Using a bread knife, cut into slices about 1cm thick on the diagonal, then lay the slices flat on the baking sheets.
TIP: The biscuits can be cooled and frozen flat on the sheet at this point, then bagged and frozen for up to 2 months (so perhaps it isn't too early to start preparing some of the baking for Christmas...?).
Bake for another 15 mins (20 mins if from frozen), turn over, then bake again for another 15 mins until dry and golden.
 Tip onto a wire rack to cool completely, then store in an airtight tin for up to one month, or pack into boxes or cellophane bags if giving as gifts straightaway.

This was my contribution to Sota Saker's November challenge

Thursday, 1 November 2012

This Got My Attention...!

Not always easy to get the attention of passengers - particularly if you fly often, but this was an inventive way