Tuesday 29 January 2013

A Little Gem of a Secret...

picture borrowed from the web
A while ago a friend of mine told me about Fattoria la Vialla.
As it is explained on their website "The La Vialla Farm is a family-run agricultural enterprise, one of the oldest and largest organic-biodynamic farms in this little piece of Chianti".
picture borrowed from the web
My friend had purchased their products for years and was so thrilled with them, so on her recommendation I ordered a bottle of wine, some pecorino cheese and some olive oil.
The products were all amazing - particularly the wine - the Casa Conforto Chianti Superiore D.O.C.G. 2010.
picture borrowed from the web - I see the label says 2008, I have only tried the 2010
To be honest, I am not a big wine drinker. Most of the time I would rather have water, but this wine is really something else. At £6.50 a bottle - including free delivery - you can't argue with that! (You have to order for minimum £75 to get free delivery, but I teamed up with my friend, so no problem reaching £75 between us.) A new case is now in our house and no other wine will do!
To top it all - A few days later I also received in the post a small sample of their new wine as well as a few pieces of biscotti and a mini-bottle of olive oil. I like service like that.
picture borrowed from the web
I don't know if they ship to other countries (other than the UK) and what the customs implications might be, but they are easy to contact via the email found on their website to find out.
Apparently, they also have holiday houses for rent on their property.
Perhaps we do another Italian holiday this summer...?
PS: I am (unfortunately) not sponsored by Fattoria La Vialla

Thursday 24 January 2013

Recommended Reading: "Tett Inntil Dagene"

I am reading a book I got for Christmas by an acclaimed Swedish-Kurdish author, Mustafa Can. I am reading it in Norwegian (originally written in Swedish: "Tätt Intill Dagarna") and the English title is "Close To The Day".
The book is mesmerising in its sadness and at the same time a tender description of Can's dying mother. The book is about her last months and how her son during this time gets to know his mother in a new way. He rediscovers her culture and background, a world he has fought to get rid of and has felt ashamed of. He gets to know a woman who has lost 7 of her 15 children, who left her country and settled in an unknown culture. He sees the challenges she faced settling in a culture she struggled to understand, but which her children quickly embraced. The story is also an example of the challenges of growing up between different cultures.
The book is beautifully written and I am enjoying the lovely use of the language. I read quite a lot, and most of the time the language is fine (sometimes it is not!). But every now and then you come across something that is superbly well written.
This is one of those books.

Monday 21 January 2013

And Then the Snow Came...

After several days of severe warnings and very little action, proper snow finally came this weekend! Ok, I know that some parts of the UK have had loads more than we have, but I can't help thinking there is a slight sense of drama going on... Many schools are closed, trains and flights are cancelled and people are forced to either take holidays to look after their children or try to work from home. At least let's hope the kids go out and play in the snow!

I spent a large part of my childhood in Norway and can't remember that school was ever shut even for a single day because of snow... However, I do remember there was talk of sending the children home once because it was too hot one summer...
But since there are no winter tyres for the cars and many don't have proper winter clothing (amazing to see people walking to work in their wellies! - must be sooooo cold and slippery!) it is no wonder even a small amount of snow take people by surprise. The Cat has not been outside since Thursday evening when he spent the grand total of 2 minutes outside...
I am enjoying this little show of snow. It makes everything look very pretty and clean. And I like the freshness in the air. 

So, put on another layer of clothing and stay warm out there! I can see the daffodils and other spring flowers are already about 5-10cm above the ground so it will be spring soon enough!

Thursday 17 January 2013

4 Blue...and Freestyle Knitting

4 blue degrees this morning and bright sunshine makes the world look pretty
But it was awfully cold biking in to work...

I have been busy lately with the "knitting bug" - knitting socks and other things.
One of the projects was to re-vamp a cushion we were given last year by good friends. Being very creative people, they had in a joint project made a scatter cushion for us. I loved this cushion as they had all contributed with the layout using different textures and materials in the panels. So, I was really upset when one of the panels made with lace got worn and torn!
The new panel in the cushion is made of the same yarn I used when knitting the "Marius-cushion"
To repair it I knitted freestyle two new panels, making up a pattern as I went along alternating knit and purl stiches (rett og vrang) and simply covered the broken lace.

One of my favourite shapes is the heart, so I included a couple of hearts.
 Now we have a unique scatter cushion jointly made with 

Thursday 10 January 2013

I Used To...

Great book with very easy explanations - in Norwegian.
I used to collect cooking books...
I still do. I have a lot... 
No, I have not counted them...
But lately I note that another collection is starting to take shape - knitting and crocheting books. Even if I know how to knit and crochet, it is always good with new inspiration and to learn new techniques! Just like I know how to cook, but it is still good with new inspiration and to learn new techniques...
Do I sound like I am trying to justify myself here...?

Inspiring book and the description of the shawl I am hoping to make is in this book
Here are three of the latest ones that have found their way to my bookshelf the last month
Original book is in Norwegian, but you can now also get it in English (as you see!)
Nope, my hands are not idle in the winter evenings. 
At the moment I am knitting socks to use up some old yarn after making some of the Christmas balls.  I have promised myself NOT to buy any new yarn until some of the old stock has been used up! I have finally cracked how to do the heel nicely! Very satisfying!
So proud of myself!!!

But I have also promised to try to crochet somebody very special a rather intricate shawl. Even if I have got myself a special lamp - with a magnifying mirror which is excellent for doing bead work -  I prefer daylight to do that so it will have to be a weekend project.

So, what is YOUR project these days (or evenings)?

Monday 7 January 2013

Slow Start to the New Year... (or perhaps not)

Happy New Year!
I went a bit quiet over the holidays, but I am back again!
Here is a quick summary:
We enjoyed lovely, peaceful days over Christmas with loads of seasonal food... and it continued when we went to Norway to celebrate the New Year!
The weather was not the best although we were greeted with a lovely white wintry landscape. Well, that soon turned into pure ice and rain... But never mind, the company was great! A couple of days before New Year's Eve we were invited for pinnekjøtt and on New Year's Eve we were 15 around the table enjoying a gourmet meal cooked by the host's nephew who is a professional chef at a great restaurant in Oslo.
We have been so spoiled!
Marius pattern bedsheets!
I didn't manage much shopping whilst 'home', but I managed to run and get new bedsheets for Our Boy. He was lucky enough to be given a super long down duvet (2.20m) and bedsheets when kind and considerate friends came from Norway earlier in December. At 16 he is 1.85m, so the regular duvets (2.00m) are short for him and you can't get any longer ones here (yes, I have asked!). Talk about happy boy!  'Now I don't have to choose whether to have cold feet or cold shoulders', he says. Oh, the little details that make life comfortable
After we came back to England The Professor and I we went straight to Durham to suss out the town and to start looking for accommodation for him. Early days yet, but we plan to rent something for a while whilst waiting to sell the place in Edinburgh and then buy something new in Durham. I am pleased to say I liked the town very much! Reminds me in many ways of where we live now, but still different. For one thing, Durham has hills.... On a positive note - great for exercise!

Oh, and we managed to see "Life of Pi" at the movies! I had not read the book, but I enjoyed the film!
So, now back to normal routine!
Work wise, that is...

I end today's post with a picture of my friend's new Jack Russel puppy...
Too cute for words!
Hope you are having a good start to the new year!