Sunday, 30 August 2009

My First Soap

It's not a perfect picture (taken with my cell phone), but this is the result of my first attempt at making soap..... creamy, white bars of soap made almost entirely from olive oil.

I'm so impressed with myself that I'm giggling like a little girl.

Because I needed to don rubber gloves, and because my cell phone is still very new and cool and I did not want it to get wrecked by any traces of caustic substances, I didn't take any pictures after this.

But...... These two blocks have now been sliced into 19 bars of soap, and have been packed away in a dark place. I will have to wait 4 weeks before I can use them.... or give them to friends. They will need this time to finish their chemical reactions and have a soft enough ph-balance to use.

I'm looking forward to it....

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Mother Daughter Bake Off

So last week I was quite sick, and was home for the week. And since my daughter attends the same day care that I work at, it was just easier to keep her home than get dressed and go out of the house twice a day to both deliver and collect her. (My husband was working a split shift that week, and was unable to help with either of these, which would have made all the difference).

Towards the end of the week, I was starting to feel better. And my daughter was going nuts. She'd watched a lot of tv. She'd played every computer girl-game known to man. She'd painted and drawn so many pictures that the kitchen and living room walls were covered. She had pearled and beaded, built sculptures with Lego, played with her dolls and gone outside to take pictures with her camera (we'll chat about that later) until she just could not do these things any more.

Finally, she was bored.

So I asked her if she wanted to make cup cakes from scratch. Not from a package.

I didn't need to ask her twice.

Before going further, do realize that this is NOT a food blog. You will NOT find professionally taken pictures here. If you want that, why not visit two of my favorite food blogs:

The Pioneerwoman Cooks:


Everybody Likes Sandwiches:

In the meantime, this is the story of my day with my daughter.

First, I don't normally use recipes when I cook food. I'm more of what you would call an intuitive chef. However, I do know where my boundaries lie.... usually anything that comes after dinner and involves dessert. This would include cupcakes.

My recipe came from a Norwegian recipe book pictured below. spis drikk lev, which translates as eat drink liv.

Oh yes, and before I get sued, I should say that this book was created and put together by Fran Ward, to whom I am eternally grateful for. Her hard, industrious work will be an inspiration to me for many years to come.

The recipe chose is called SPICED CUPCAKES, found on page 32, as seen below.

Unlike most North American recipes, the ingredients are measured out in weight.

First, 250 grams of flour are tossed into a bowl of your choice.

Next, 2 teaspoons of baking powder.

And then 175 grams of brown sugar. Mine was quite hard since I had not used it for quite some time (perhaps close to a year?) and I needed to spend a lot of time breaking it apart with a fork.

Next go the spices: .25 teaspon of cinnamon and .25 teaspoon of freshlly ground nutmeg. I ignored the instructions here. First, I added a lot more spices (Norwegians are NOT known for spicing up their foods) and added ginger as well. Secondly, I doubt I will ever in my life have a fresh nutmeg to ground, so dried powder had to suffice.

In the meantime, my daughter needed a job to do, so that she could rightfully say that she made the cupcakes with a little help from me. Thus I gave her the most important job: chopping up two bananas into tiny pieces.

We just won't tell anyone that after 4 minutes she thought that this was not fun any more and wanted me to finish the job she started.

I chopped up the apple needed.

As for the liquid ingredients, one needs to whip together: 1 deciliter (100 ml) of milk, one egg and 3 tablespoons of peanut oil (I only had raps oil).

Then you pour the mixture into your dry ingredients:

And mix it together until it is nice and thick like this:

Then you put in all the chopped up fruit:

And mix these until the batter looks like this:

Then you fill up the cup cake tins.....

And give the bowl to your daughter who is eternally grateful because she has NOT had ANY fun this week.

And ignore her when she's still working on it 15 minutes later.

Now, as the cup cakes were baking, the house filled with a wonderful smell that reminded me of autumn: apples, spices, thick breads.... Mmmmmm......

Now when the cup cakes came out of the oven, they certainly looked a lot different than what was in the book...
One cannot see it from the picture below, but they really did look a lot different.

But they tasted wonderfully. I would definitely make these again any time soon. Even if my daughter refuses to help me chop up bananas.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

My New Model

This is my new model, BM. I am very grateful that she has said yes to this project because for the first, she has a great jaw line. Just look how it gracefully slopes upward to the ear. Almost like a Greek sculpture.... Her complexion is also perfect, as most truly Norwegian skin is.

The second reason as to why I am grateful is because I have no money and can't afford to pay someone who looks as nice as her.

However, I am not allowed to say anything more about her. That was part of the deal: no full facial pictures, and no details about her on the internet. The truth is she has an important job and it's not in her best interest to have herself displayed in a public way. I can say that she works for the government, but she's not a spy. She's not a senator either. (Or a mayor, or councel woman).
Her job covers a lot of different areas in Norwegian life. For some, she helps to bring closure to years of pain. But she's not a priest or a pastor. Others would rather never see her again, feeling that she has ended their lives. This however is the price she must pay to do the kind of work she does. I don't think she takes it too personally.

Her work involves a lot of different types of knowledge that has taken years to aquire: economic, legal, social, religious, ethical, and anthropological as well. But she is not an expert in any of these areas.

Finally, one would think that her job would make her very stuck up, stuffy and pretencious. However, she is one of the most lively people I know of, perhaps THE most lively person I know right now in my life. So we now know that she is not a docor.

She always has a smile on her face, almost always can see the humor in any situation. She almost always has a kind word to say about people, even to those who have not been particularily kind to her.

And when I brought up the idea, wondering if she would perhaps be willing to do this for me (I had expected her to turn me down immediately) she immediately jumped at the chance. While she has not said this to me, I think that she saw this as an oppurtunity to do something she would not otherwise get a chance to do.... another item she can write on her list of 'Things I Have Done During This Life.'

In any case, it has been a lot of fun to work with her in this way and it seems like both of us are looking forward to taking lots of pictures together in the future.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Saturday Mornings at My House

Well, not all our weekends are like this.

Most of the time one or both of us is working on somthing.

At the cabin working....

Or Viking Man has a work weekend...

Or Viking Man is working overtime....

Or I have a long list to complete and have the kids tagging along, doing their very best to not let boredom get the better of them....

But this weekend is not like this.

And life is good.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

An Enlightening Experience

A few weeks ago I purchased and then received a light tent. This has completely changed the way I take photos. And I've learned one major thing about myself - I am (or was) scared of light.

Now, I've never been scared of the darkness. Even as a child when I was scared of alligators under my bed (I had a deep blue carpet.... thoughts of sharks appeared later), but this had nothing to do with the dark. When it was time to go to bed, I was able to convince myself that they too were sleeping.

But during the day getting to my room would involve running down the hallway at full speed, making a sharp 90 degree turn at the end of that hallway, and the flinging myself through the air until I landed safely on my bed which was in the middle of my room.

However I digress.....

The first round of photographs I took were a great improvement over those that I took before I had the light tent. However, many members of the European Street Team I know and love were telling me that they were not light enough.

This involved a second round of photography. When this was done, I touched up my photos using my favorite (free) tool: Picasa3. I lightened them so much that I thought they looked unreal. However, my team members cheered me with great energy, saying I had finally got it right.

Had I really? I thought my pictures looked like they were almost touched by the hands of God, light cascading from above.

But apparently there are many who are not agreed with me. The traffic in my stores has soared to almost 3 times what it was before.

And I'm getting hearted. By others than my team members. That too has not happened for quite some time.

So once again I've learned that I do not see the world quite as my fellow man does. Why this surprises me is another good question as I had resigned myself to the fact that I live in a slightly altered universe than many - and feel quite at home here.

Still, I'm starting to get use to the changes, to stretching the walls of my security box. Starting to think: Yeah - that is a really cool picture.

First Day of a New School Year

I've been at home the last little while, not feeling as frisky as I normally do, and this is why it continues to be quiet on my blog.

Having said this, it is important that I blog a little bit for my family back in The New Country, keeping them updated with what has been happening in my children's lives.

Yesterday was the first day of a new school year for my son. Yesterday he began second grade.... and couldn't wait to get going. I should have let him sleep in 15 minutes longer than I did. He was itching to get out of the door.

[First of all - a warning the the pictures are not as great as they usually are. My hands are not as steady as they normally are, and my brain is not as focussed as it usually is]

Here he is eating breakfast, yougurt and musli:

And suddenly he said to me: I need to have blue hair today. It's the first day of school!

Fair enough - we put some blue in his hair.

And then I forgot to turn off the flash:

And after I thought I had turned off the flash, it turned out I did not push the proper button hard enough:

But there's no time to take new pictures as my son has really important things to do today.

Like putting on shoes that won't cooperate.

Okay - he's ready to go and will stand still long enought to let me take a picture.

And I forget to turn off the flash.

Ahhh... I'm giving up on taking proper pictures now. Now I just want to sit on the couch and relax before my daughter wakes up.

My son checks his bag one more time.

Okay Mom, no more pictures. I'm ready to go.

And off he runs without a hug and kiss. (Which is okay because I definitely should not be kissing him too much right now).

And I run to the kitchen window before he disappears for the next 6 hours.

It's very quiet in the house right now....

Monday, 10 August 2009

Finally a New Post!

It has been a long time since I've posted on my blog. This is despite those who have been nagging me, wanting to see what has been going on during my summer. (Yes, BM - I've been listening to you. You too TW.)

It has been a long summer with lots of work. And I've come back from my holidays and jumped right back into my full time job. So my evenings have been dedicated to washing huge garbage bags of clothes, towels and weeks of bedclothing... as well as the clothes we are using in our every day life back in the city.

But I've finally got around to finding the pictures I want to use, and getting my head around what I it is I want to say.

First of all - here is the most important of our projects: the porch on the third side of our cabin. This is what we (and especially my husband) has been dreaming of for 10 years.

We have already been out here eating breakfasts, watching the sun rise.

(Well, okay, that's a bit of a lie - have day light almost 24 hours a day means that we would have to wake up at 3 am to see the sunrise. Maybe we'll try that in October. But we have eaten lots of breakfasts out here).

We've also eaten lunches out here and myself and my husband have enjoyed a glass of wine or two (or more...) in the evenings.

And I also have to say that since we've been using this side of the cabin we've seen more animals this summer than we ever have in the 12 years we've been living out here in the summer. We've seen: porpoises, a family of mink, sea eagles, weasles and lots of fish jumping out of the water. It is quite amazing.

In the autumn, when the grass begins to die, I will (yes, that is *me* I said) be starting to dig out the dirt down the forth side of the cabin.

We'll be starting to build the forth balcony next spring.

I am a bit hesitant about it though. It is a steep incline, going straight down to the sea.

But, great things do not come without great risk. I will just check my life insurance before starting.

We're also using the porch as a storage place. Until now we've had piles of nicely stacked building materials covered with tarps. They've been green tarps of course, so they blend into the landscape. But they've still been there and have bothered us. Now we've got it all tucked away...

And they're protected from the rain....

The second major project that we've completed was to re-routed our water supply around 20 acres of property. Here is where we used to get our water....

Which was way at the far end of the first porch we built 8 years ago. And completely on the opposite side of the cabin to where the kitchen is.

But with hard work done by my kick ass brother in-law and my cool nephew...

And a little bit more tinkering here...
(If the truth be said, it was my brother in-law who did all of the important work on this project)
And paying my 7 year old son an advance in his allowance to crawl under the second porch (build 3 years ago) which is muddy and wet, to pull and push the hose and tap to where it is supposed to be....

We can now simply go out our kichen door to get our water. We will be building a stand for the sink pictured here.

The third project: I spent 3 days (with the help of one of my younger nephews and my son (7 years) and daugher (5 years) to paint this wall. It would no doubt have taken me a lot less time without the help, but it isn't always the point to get something done in the least amount of time.

And most of the paint actually ended up on the wall.

We are really happy with the color on the wall - although you can certainly see the difference with the wall beside it:

Here's a better view of the painting that needs to be done next summer....

But at least we'll have a great view to comfort us while getting the work done.

Finally there was a bit of fun building. My daughter has been after her father to make a proper bed for her pet lion. You could see that she totally fell in love with her father when he got the job done:

It's a perfect fit.

And inbetween all of this work, and the fishing, swimming, water tubing, and day trips we took, I was still able to get a lot of crafting done.

It has been a very good summer this year.