Monday, 30 November 2009

Café Copenhagen - 30 November 2009

The kitchen remodel is finished (yeehaw), so I'm flying on to other things...

Today I restart my BlogTalkRadio show and I'm looking forward to getting back into the studio - though also a little nervous. But as the Flylady says, you can do anything for 15 minutes, and that's precisely how long my show is ;)

Come and join me for a quick pamper session! Chat will be open and I'm hoping some of my twisters (twitter sisters) will be joining me. And if you can't listen live, then you can always listen to the archive - no excuses! :)

Click here to listen.

Okay, time to clean my desk and get myself ready... Happy listening! :)

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Christmas Planning - 29 November 2009

I've had a busy but productive week with my Christmas planning. Christmas lights (on a timer switch) are up in the garden and the presents (for 30+ people) are bought, wrapped, labelled and hidden! :)

I also made up a large batch of Forloren Hare (Mock Hare, Danish meatloaf) for the freezer. And DD7 has just decorated some candles with a 'wax' pen, so that we have an Advent Candle decoration. (Picture to follow when we've lit the first one tonight!)

This week I'm going to be doing the following:
  • continue to declutter the Flylady way, 15 minutes at a time
  • start putting up some decorations in the house
  • going to various Christmas parties
  • finish getting the Xmas cards written and get them posted
  • pamper myself (Flylady habit for December) by getting my hair cut and coloured ;)
My twisters (twitter sisters) have more ideas for Christmas planning. Go check out what Candace, Krista and Pippa have been up to.

And enjoy!

Saturday, 28 November 2009

(Almost) Wordless Saturday

I don't normally do 'wordless' posts ('chance would be a fine thing', as DH would probably say, ho ho). But today DH and I are out to dinner and a rock concert (yeehaw!) with my sweetie friend Rasmus and Magtens Korridorer. Pre-Flylady I would be running out the door, shouting instructions to the baby-sitter, frantically looking for my 'evening' handbag, telephone half-charged, DH and the taxidriver waiting impatiently for me. Changed days. Lookey here - two (count 'em) coats - and I've still an hour to go! ;)

Have a great Saturday night! :)

Friday, 27 November 2009

Pleased as Punch

Last Friday I was the cat that got the cream and today I'm as pleased as punch. Look at these beauties! ;)

Part of my Christmas planning - a new idea for me this year - is to make a few meals for the freezer. So that when things really hot up, I can take a shortcut. Especially as there will be 8 of us in the house for Christmas for 10 whole days ;)

Did a trial run with my Forloren Hare (Mock Hare) a few weeks back and this is the batch I made today, all wrapped in bacon and ready to cook. Four of them. Frozen raw so I just remove from freezer and bake when the time comes. Easy peasy lemon squeezy! :)

Bon appétit!

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Menu planning Thursday - 26 November 2009

This coming week is going to be fairly simple mealwise, as we are now officially into Christmas party mode and DH is away in Brussels a few days. Asked the kids what THEY would like to you can guess what's coming, right? ;)

  • Plans have changed the last couple of days, so tonight it was the quickest, easiest (though no less tasty for that matter...) meal for me to make. Spaghetti bolognese (spaghetti with meat sauce). Clean plates all round :)
  • Chicken fajitas (didn't make them earlier in the week) served with salad and lots of fresh veggies
  • DH and I are out to a birthday dinner/concert by Denmark's finest rockband Magtens Korridorer. The guitarist just happens to be our sweetie friend Rasmus.... :)
  • Old family favourite of breaded chops, baby peas and gratin dauphinois
  • Pizza. Again! LOL Homemade with the kids favourite topping, pepperoni. Don't know where that comes from because I've never liked pepperoni.

  • Wow, it's the 1st of December!!! Scout night for the kids and they go at different times. They have requested burgers. I always serve them with individual bowls of veggie sticks and either crisps or potato wedges.

  • DD7 and I are at a Christmas party early afternoon. I'm bringing sausage rolls (made with specially imported British pink pork sausage!) and ketchup to serve, of course, the others are bringing cookies and æbleskiver (Danish Christmas donuts) so we won't need much dinner. Request for tonight is Danish meatball and dumpling soup.
That's it! Bon appétit! :)

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

This little piggy went to...the Winner!

I'm FLYing through the Flylady's 'Holiday Control Journal' (a Christmas planner) and yesterday I picked up a couple of pigs for our traditional Danish Christmas dinner. The piggies are pale pink, very cute and I'm just about to wrap them up in penguin Christmas paper! :)

No - they're not real pigs - they're made of marcipan and are the stars of our Christmas dinner on 24 December (remember that the Danes celebrate Christmas, like the majority of Europeans, the evening of 24 December).

The typical Danish Christmas meal consists of main course (we do duck in our family) and dessert. The dessert is called ris à l'amande. Despite the French name it is very Danish...heavy, cold rice pudding, 'lightened' (tee hee!) with whipped cream and specked with chopped, blanched almonds. Served with a jug of hot cherry sauce - mmm!

According to tradition (which dates back a century or two) a whole blanched almond is 'hidden' in the pudding. The pudding is served to the whole table and whoever finds the whole almond is 'the Winner'. The mandelgave or 'almond present' is usually a small, marcipan pig (don't ask me why) but can also be a small bottle of snaps, a book, a game, you name it. And if you have small kids, it's wise to sneak a whole almond into each child's bowl if you want to ensure 'peace on earth' on Christmas Eve.

In DH's family, they go a step further and try to hide the fact that they have found the whole almond until the very end of the meal. By hiding it in their mouth, in a pocket, under the tablecloth etc. Just to keep everyone guessing ;)

I've bought 2 'almond presents' this year because there will be (at least) 10 of us for Christmas dinner. I like to keep the tradition going, so each winner will be getting a marcipan pig as well as an envelope with some 'scratch' cards, just to keep the excitment going a teeny bit longer.

OK, I need to wrap these piggies...Happy Wednesday! :)

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Crafty Tuesday - Thingumyjigs

Tuesday has rolled around again - do you have time for a 15 minute craft?

You'll need:
  • clay, plasticine or playdough
  • plastic bag
  • knife to cut the clay
  • pair of scissors
  • scraps of fabric
  • ribbon, wool, twine or elastic bands
  • some type of decoration (see below)
Today we're making a thingumyjig. Don't quite know what to call it. Something that you can pop on a windowsill, put in the middle of your dining table, give as a gift, etc, etc. My DD (dear daughter) and I first made these down at our local Danish library. They have a free craft workshop the first Saturday of the month and we've made everything from badges to birds to Christmas decorations.

First, use a knife to cut off a piece of clay and put it straight into a small plastic bag. Form it into a cone/triangular shape. Cut off the excess plastic at the top of the bag. Stick your decoration firmly into the centre of the clay.

Cut out two or three squares of fabric (err on the side of bigger, you can trim them later). Net (the stuff you use for making tutus) is cheap, comes in all colours and looks really good for this project. Lay the squares so the edges don't match. Put your piece of clay in the middle and bring up the sides of the fabric.

Use an elastic band to hold in place.

Add a bow to hide the elastic band and pretty the whole thing up...

Voilà - we're done!

We normally use plastic flowers (DD7 likes to give them to her friends). But use any bits n' bobs you have lying around. Anything on a stick can be used. For Christmas you could push a styrofoam heart or star on to a wooden skewer and use red fabric. Or push a sytrofoam egg on to a skewer and use yellow fabric for Easter. You get the idea... ;)

Enjoy! :)

Monday, 23 November 2009

Copenhagen Kitchen - week 12

We. Are. Finished. No. More. Kitchen. Remodel.

12 weeks. 12 weeks that actually flew by (thank you again, Flylady).

What now? Well, I' relearning to cook in the new kitchen. Still finding out how all these new (and wonderful) kitchen appliances work. Just the other day I discovered that the hob (induction) has 5 rings that have seperate timers on them... So I can cook pasta for, say, 12 minutes, boil broccoli for 4 minutes, gently heat sauce for 3 minutes - and they switch themselves off automatically. How cool is that? ;) And I haven't even got to the chapter about the automatic temperature sensor...the hob came with special barcode stickers that you stick on the sides of your saucepans and it automatically cooks your steak to perfection. Apparently.

But what now, now? I need to find a new topic for my Monday posts. The blog at the moment looks like this:
  • Tuesday - crafts, usually 15 minute ones ;)
  • Wednesday - my life, often Denmark related
  • Thursday - menu planning
  • Friday - things I like
  • Saturday - normally a recipe
  • Sunday - Christmas planning
I'm thinking it's been a while (too long) since I sat in my little BlogTalkRadio studio... My idea at the moment is to write a post Monday morning and follow it up in the afternoon (Danish time) with a radio show. "Café Copenhagen". A chance for Flybabies to get together for a chinwag or a good old pamper session - for those magic 15 minutes! As Emma says, we shall see... :)

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Christmas Planning - 22 November 2009

Can you feel it?! I can see it, at any rate. People are starting to put up Christmas lights in their gardens, invitations are coming thick and fast to Christmas parties, it's suddenly okay to even mention Christmas, who's coming for dinner, what the kids have on their wishlists etc. Hooray! :)

Started to feel a bit overwhelmed but - hey, stop a minute - checked my trusty Flylady "Holiday Control Journal" (which I started 3 years ago) and things are actually pretty good. Don't think I've ever been so organised with Christmas gifts... Some of the food (and toilet roll/kitchen roll to last a nuclear fallout) is bought. Lots of wine and 'good stuff' in the pantry.  Christmas cards are underway and will post them next week. Yep, I'm feeling good! :)

Tasks for this week:

  • fit in a trip to the Tivoli Gardens with the kids
  • get the last of the kids presents
  • get the beer baskets for my Dad and brother
  • finish the Xmas cards
  • keep decluttering the house - makes SUCH  a difference ;)
  • take (even more...) time for me!
Candace, Krista and Pippa are also well on their way to having Best Christmas Ever. See how they do it! And don't forget to check out the Flylady - it's never too late! :)

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Oksekød i Fad - Beef in a Bowl

I said in my last Menu Planning Thursday that I'd share DH's recipe for Oksekød i fad. He's cooked for me (and I mean cooked as in chop things up, not just heat things up) twice in the 15 years we've known each other. And this is the only recipe of his that you might want to try...

You'll need:
  • one onion, finely chopped
  • a large knob of butter
  • lots of paprika powder (the mild stuff)
  • 500g minced beef
  • ketchup (lots of it)
  • mashed potato or packet instant potato
Fry the onion in the butter. Add about two teaspoons of paprika powder and fry that too. Add the minced beef and fry that until it's browned. Add about 1 dl to 1.5 dl ketchup. Yes, I know it's a HUGE amount, trust me on this! The beef mixture will now have turned slightly orange. Cook gently for about 5-10 minutes. Scrape the beef mixture into an ovenproof dish (the type you would use for lasagne). Spoon the mashed potato over the top. Put into a hot oven - about 200c/400f - for about 20 minutes. The beef mixture will start to bubble slightly.

Just going into the oven :)
That's it!

Not the fanciest dish in the world. Or the healthiest. Or the best looking. But DH made it for me, I made it for friends, who made it for their friends and family. And the beat chain goes on! :)

You could jazz it up by adding garlic, spices or vegetables. Or put some grated cheddar on top of the potato. But DH is appalled by the idea. Because the Danes are very plain-spoken. And the name says it all. Beef in a Bowl.

Bon appétit! ;)

Friday, 20 November 2009

Cat that got the cream

I'm feeling like the cat that got the cream today. (Slightly pushed along by the fact that there is S.U.N. in Copenhagen today.) I got DD7's Christmas present yesterday. She has just a few small wishes this year (I know, imagine that!) but we were at a loss as to the 'main' present.

At the beginning of this week, I got an e-mail from the Flylady with links to how to make simple gift bags on youtube and the net. She sent it out to help us 'crafty' flybabies get rid of our clutter = all those bits of fabric that we hang on to and never get round to using. I showed the idea to DD7 and she was off and running! :) These are the first bags she made, all on her own. Don't know who was more proud. [insert 'Mum tear' here]

She was allowed to use my sewing machine, a Janome (Memory Craft 4800QC) to make the gift bags. But as I have a very swanky, high tech, computerised machine [insert 'expensive' here], she is only allowed to use it under strict supervision.

So when I was in town yesterday, looking for more Christmas fabric (yes, I know, I'm supposed to be using up what I have, not buying more...), I ended up in the sewing shop. They didn't have any children's sewing machines but showed me a basic Singer. At which point my eyes probably glossed over, because that's the make of machine Mum had. Heck, didn't everyone have a Singer back in 'the old days'?

Had a lovely chat with the two ladies in the shop and, low and behold, they offered to sell me the demo model for basically half the price! Complete with box and guarantee! :) So I'm feeling like a child at Christmas myself now. Going to see if I can also find a small workbox for DD7. Don't all nice, young ladies have a workbox...just like in regency, romance novels? And I know that Ikea have a great, cheap starter set (sewing scissors, thread, etc).

So I'm the cat that got the cream and hoping that DS9 won't let the cat out of the bag before Christmas... ;)

Happy Friday!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Menu planning Thursday - 19 November 2009

If you're new to this blog and wondering why I'm not doing the whole "Menu planning Monday" blog thing, it's because making my menu plan midweek works SO much better for me. For a start, me knowing what's for dinner for the weekend coming up is such a comfort for me! :) I order my groceries online and have them delivered Wednesday or Thursday, so the fresh produce is really fresh for the weekend. By Tuesday or Wednesday of the following week, I'm using up leftovers and what's left in the fridge - which suits me fine, as DH isn't always home for dinner on weekdays. Used to get annoyed if I had planned a 'nice' dinner on weekdays, only to find out at 4, 5 or 6pm that he wasn't actually coming home... ;) So all the really 'good' meals are planned for the weekend.

  • we had a change of plan yesterday (DS9 has the flu) and had spaghetti bolognese (pasta with meatsauce). Today I've mixed the two lots of leftovers, added celery and red pepper, put bacon on the top and lots of cheese/breadcrumbs and will put it in the oven. So it doesn't look too much like yesterday's leftovers...
  • DH is away so the kids and I will have...drumroll, again! With spinach salad.

  • out to dinner chez some friends - hooray! I know what we're getting, too. Roast lamb - my fave and DH's favourite meat - double hooray!
  • christening my new oven by making a h-u-g-e batch of stegt flæsk (strips of pork belly oven baked until they are really, really crunchy) with baby potatoes, parsley sauce and cauliflower. A Danish classic.
  • have been enjoying doing things in my crockpot on Mondays (makes me feel SO organised at the start of the new week) so doing a mild pork curry with rice done, you guessed it, in the rice cooker :)

  • As usual, both kids are out to Scouts, at different times of the evening. Going to make chicken fajitas with lots of fresh veggies.
  • Oksekød i fad (literally, beef in a bowl) which is a weird Danish version of Cottage Pie. DH has only ever cooked for me a couple of times and this was one of them...stay tuned for the recipe! ;)

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Windy Wednesday

I'm writing this at 8pm on Wednesday and it's pitch black, wet and very windy here in Copenhagen. The weather forecasters have predicted hurricane force winds and parts of Denmark have already lost power. But, to be honest, I really don't need the weathermen. And why on earth, when it's blowing a gale, are they reporting from outside - wind howling into the microphone for extra dramatic effect - instead of a nice, warm studio?

No, I don't need the weathermen because I have my very own barometer. Garden furniture. I can see for myself that the garden furniture in front of the house (one small table and two chairs) has blown over into the flower border. So it's fiendishly windy tonight. And before you think it, yes, I had actually already moved the furniture to a more secluded spot when I got gust (ho, ho!) of the bad weather.

Anyway, all this reminds me of those kitsch barometers that you see in Scottish tourist know the type, surely? A stick which says on it:
  • if this stick is wet, it's raining
  • if this stick is hot, it's sunny
  • if this stick is white, it's snowing
  • if this stick is frozen, it's cold
  • if you can't see this stick, it's foggy
  • if this stick is moving, it's windy
Maybe they should add, "if this stick has disappeared, there's a hurricane"

Goodnight all! :)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Crafty Tuesday - Silly Snowmen (and Snowladies)

We are now officially 5 weeks away from Christmas and two weeks away from officially being able to put up Christmas decorations. So isn't it about time I started posting some Christmas crafts?

This is another one the kids can do all on their own...Silly Snowmen. And in true Flylady fashion, it shouldn't take more than 15 minutes! :)

You'll need:
  • white paper or cardboard
  • paper or cardboard in various colours (we used red, black and brown)
  • glue or gluestick
  • pens, pencils or paint
  • beads, stickers, pipecleaners, sequins, bits n' bobs!
First of all take an A4 sheet of white paper and draw two circles on it, one large (for the snowman's body), one small (for the snowman's head) and cut them out. We drew round a plate and a cup.

Fold the large circle in half and draw lines (see photo below). The first one starts at the middle and goes almost to the edge. The second one starts at the outside edge and goes almost to the middle. And so on...

Cut along the lines. Open up carefully - this is the only tricky part - and glue the head to the body. Draw or paint a large, snowman smile :) Now you can let the kids loose with all those bits n' bobs... ;)

Stick on pompoms, small buttons, sequins or stickers for 'buttons' on the snowman's body. Cut out shapes - round or triangular like a carrot - for the snowman's nose. Cut out a larger shape to make a hat, scarf or legs/arms for your snowman. When you are happy with your snowman, turn him over and stick a small button or bead on the bottom. Sticky tape is best for this job. Take a length of string or ribbon and stick it at the top, so that you can hang him up.

Yay, you're finished! Now go hang him up and look forward to the snow. No snow in sight? Well how about a nice hot cup of Snowman Soup? ;)

Monday, 16 November 2009

Copenhagen Kitchen - week 11

So here we are again, another Monday, another day of the kitchen remodel. But it's all good - just need the electricians to come and finish off a couple of jobs tomorrow and Wednesday and then we're done! :)

All in all, I can't believe how stress-free the whole remodel thing has been. Unless you start counting the number of gin bottles I have put in the recycling bag... (Not kidding.) But truth to tell, we have not only survived this remodel, we have flown through it. Yep, it's all thanks to the Flylady. The (ongoing) decluttering process. Morning routine. Before bed routine. Menu planning. Pampering. WHB. And, especially for me, my timer and those magic 15 minutes.

Seriously, if you haven't already checked out the Flylady, please go and do it now. It's free. And it all starts with...a shiny sink :)

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Christmas Planning - 15 November 2009

Oh my word, where does the time go?? Already halfway through November which means that Christmas is just over 5 weeks away...eek! But also hooray! When I sit down and think about it, I'm actually doing really well with the preparations. Famous last words? ;)

  • personalized Christmas cards have finally been ordered
  • most of the Christmas presents have been bought
  • aforementioned presents have been wrapped and tagged :)
  • have started extra pantry of food for Christmas dinner and extra goodies
  • wine is ordered, just need to collect
  • been to huge toy shop with the kids and they have made a small list each
  • bought a couple of presents for myself from the family ;D
  • made hair appointment for myself
  • started making cookie doughs for freezer
  • Christmas cake is baked and being fed every Monday during WHB
I'm loving the Flylady 'Holiday Cruising Missions'. And they're also giving me a kick in the backside and making me see the clutter with fresh eyes. Zero tolerance from now to Christmas! ;)

Krista, Candace and Pippa have more ideas on their blogs, so go check them out and get into the Christmas spirit, it's not too late! :)

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Nappy Cake

Hooray - we have a new baby in our extended family! :) We've bought one of those musical teddies (you pull the cord on this one and it plays "La vie en rose") but we wanted to do something a little bit different too, so DD7 and I have just made a 'Nappy Cake':

First of all, roll up the (clean) nappies and secure with elastic bands. You could use pink hair elastics, if it's a girl.

You'll need two pairs of hands for the next part. Take a plate or round tray and make the first layer of 'cake'. Put a large elastic band around these, or tie with string. Then add as many layers as you like, we did three.

Add a few small gift items. We put in a bath thermometer, cream, talc, little book, dummy and a pink rubber duck. Now you take ribbon or crepe paper and tie it round each layer (to hide the rubber bands).

Cover the whole thing with cellophane, top with a (pink) bow and - hey presto - a gift fit for a little princess! ;)

Friday, 13 November 2009

My five cents on my five scents

Just back from town and a spot of Christmas gift shopping. Almost done with my list - what a feeling! (As Irene Cara would say.)

I'm greatly looking forward to getting this present on the evening of 24 December, the day the Danes celebrate Christmas. Cos I already know what's in it! Chose it myself, today, for myself... :) I think it's going to be a gift to me from DD7 and DS9. Or maybe DH. contains a little scented candle, body wash and shampoo from my favourite bath and body series 'La Source' by Crabtree & Evelyn. Which got me thinking about my all-time favourite scents:

  • '24 Faubourg' by Hermès - this is the only perfume I have ever worn where people have literally said, "You smell lovely!", I've been wearing it for over 10 years
  • 'Coco' by Chanel - when I wear this (only at night, too heavy on me during the day) I feel like a real grown-up and really 'dressy' ;)
  • 'La Source' by Crabtree & Evelyn - this is what's in the package above, makes me feel good in the shower in the morning, smells like the sea and is good for the skin
  • 'Eau Dynamisante (Invigorating Fragrance)" by Clarins - this is an eau de cologne I use in the spring and summer, have been using it for about 15 years, always makes me feel really fresh (and I refuse to listen to my old French colleague, Gaby, who thinks it smells like cat wee)
  • "Delirium" by the clothes company, Mango - nice and light (did I also mention cheap?!), everyday fragrance, comes in a really cute pink bottle with a big pink and red flower that DD7 would just love to get her dainy little hands on...

Happy fragrant Friday! :)

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Menu planning Thursday - 12 November 2009

  • Didn't make Blender Quiche yesterday, so that's what we are having tonight. Will make it with leftover ham and lots of cheddar cheese.
  • DH is out to dinner. Which means we can get takeaway! :) And the kids will no doubt - just like their favourite Nintendo DS hero - want pizza! :)

  • Not going to prepare a meal as such tonight (will probably have Danish smørrebrød: ryebread with various toppings) because we are out to a friend's paaaaaarty! :)
  • Will no doubt be tired after the party and, as the weather is cold, cold, cold we will need something nice and easy and warming. Roast chicken, broccoli and baby potatoes. Might do the chicken in the crock, but I'm worried that I might have a family rebellion on my hands if there is no crispy skin... Though if I make dessert then I can probably get away with it! ;)
  • I have some beef in the freezer that I want to use up, so will make Beef Pasta Satay from Leanne Ely's Saving Dinner book. Easy to make, always gets eaten up, and I have all the ingredients in my stock cupboard...
  • Scout night for both DKs (at different times). Thinking that I will use up any leftover chicken and do a simple Fried Rice (I can make the rice in my ricecooker in the morning, so it's cold by teatime) and add any veggies that I have lingering in the fridge. Krista has a very easy recipe for Chicken Fried Rice on her blog if you don't know how to make it.
  • When I decanted the contents of our old freezer into the new one, I discovered that I have been bulk buying prawns/scampi. So will put on my thinking cap and see what I can do to get rid of some of them! Please feel free to chime in... ;)
Bon appétit! :)

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Child's play

Emma asked me yesterday about how my DKs (dear kids) Danish school deals with 'unpleasant behaviour' amongst the pupils. There are no doubt lots of internal guidelines and tactics but I think our school do it best by trying to stop it even starting...

We're told encouraged at the very first Parents' Night in first grade/primary one to elect a Festudvalg (Party Committee) for the class. Four or five parents who volunteer to arrange social activities for the kids and their families. They've used this system at the school for the past few years and it help stops bullying amongst the kids. The theory is that a good social network inside (and outside) the class makes for a better learning environment. Happy kids learn better! :)

It's up to each 'Party Committee' to decide the frequency and nature of the get-togethers. I've been on Party Committees for both DD7 and DS9 class (and their nursery too). We've had family gatherings at the local Deer Park (sledging in the winter and picnics in the spring), a mini Olympic Games, potluck dinners at school, bowling and iceskating in the centre of Copenhagen.

A couple of weeks ago DS9's class organised a dinner at school. One child plus one parent were to be at the Home Economics room on the Friday afternoon at 4pm. We were split into teams who would make: a starter (tuna mayonnaise), main course (burgers and various salads) and dessert (homemade pancakes and sorbet) - the children were to make the food, the adults were there for supervision. Two more teams set tables and organised the drinks bar. The rest of the family was invited to come and eat at 6pm. The evening was a huge hit and the food was pretty good too! ;)

These activities give us more time to talk than in just passing when we deliver or pick up our kids. Which in Denmark takes place inside the school classroom or After School Club, not at the school gates. Plus if you have, say, a boy, it's nice to get a chance to meet the girls in the class... And if and when problems do arise, it's so much easier to be able to talk things over face-to-face instead of phoning someone you've never met.

But I think the real key to success are our (infamous) Parent Parties. No children - just adults. A chance to let your hair down and really get to know the other mums and dads. They invariably start with very civilized talk about the kids, then the food is consumed, the drink starts to flow, the music is turned up and the carpets are rolled back. Yep, those parents can sure party. Though I'm getting just a teensy bit too old for those 3am finishes... ;)


Thought I should tell you that today DS9 is off on a school trip with the boys in his class (3rd grade) and their 'micro-buddies' in 0. grade (kindergarten). It's a bonding trip for the boys - the school is taking them to see the Danish national football team who are training for a friendly match on Saturday against South Korea. Note from the school says to pack a picnic lunch, water bottle, autograph book and pen... ;)

And I'm just about to put on my lippy....because there's 'Parents' Coffee' at the After School Club today. Guess I'd better go and be sociable! ;D

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Crafty Tuesday - Bottle Aprons

Yeehaw, it's Tuesday which means it's time to get crafty!  Today we're making 'Bottle Aprons'...

The Danes are very environmentally-friendly and buy most of their drinks in glass bottles. Recycling is big business and there's a deposit system, even on tin cans of coke. At traditional Danish lunches where we eat ryebread with lots of toppings, beer and snaps (and which can last for hours on end) you'll see lots (and lots...) of beer or soda/soft drink bottles on the table.

I first remember seeing these 'Bottle Aprons' at my DMIL's house. OK, I admit they're kitsch but they're also rather cute! ;)

She made me a whole set of them in Christmas material but you can, of course, make them for any occasion. What about making one for a wine bottle, then give the bottle and apron as a homemade Christmas hostess gift? Or make some in yellow fabric for the Easter lunch table, orange and black for Halloween? Or make one in plain fabric and customize by adding a friend's name or message in felt letters à la "Mum's Daily Tonic?" You get my drift...

I used my sewing machine to make these, but you could do them by hand if you have (too much) time and (shedloads of) patience...

You'll need:
  • small fabric remnants
  • bias binding or ribbon
  • thread
Cut out a basic apron shape. I did mine 15cm/6" high and wide. The narrow part at the top of the apron was 6.5cm/2½". Those measurements are pretty good for a 'one size fits all'. Yes, I know the picture below is 'sideways' but I don't have the energy to turn it round for you...

Take a small length of  bias binding or ribbon and attach it to the 'top' of the apron. As you no doubt already know, I always take the easy way out so I don't bother attaching one side of the bias binding and then the other. I just go ahead and sew it straight on. Without pinning either. Remember what the Flylady says - it doesn't have to be perfect! Just get it done... ;) Then do the same with the 'bottom' of the apron. Thus...

Then take a long, long length of bias binding. Pin it on to the apron at the sides and at the top, making sure to leave a 'hole' big enough for the apron to go over the neck of the bottle. If it's for a wine bottle, you should make the loop even longer. Sew from one end of the bias binding, all the way round to the other end.

And bob's your uncle, we're finished - what do you think?!

Have fun! :)

Monday, 9 November 2009

Copenhagen Kitchen - week 10

The kitchen is R.E.A.D.Y and we are open for business! Yay! Double yay! :)

After 9 weeks of washing dishes without a sink I've been allowed to come out of my camp kitchen in the basement and back up to the ground floor and into the light... Or semi-light, I should say, because we don't have any spotlights working at the moment. Fault in the electricity cables... No wall lights or floor heating either :(  But not to worry, the electricians are here (Monday morning) and think they have located the cable in question. [slaps thigh and shouts 'hooray' in good old pantomime style]

I was allowed to run around naked in access to the kitchen last Wednesday night. DH was working late and DD7 was at a classmate's house for play/dinner club. DS9 and I were supposed to be going out for sushi but we got a takeaway instead and christened our new dining area :) The whole idea with the new kitchen was to give us space to sit and eat - something that lacked in the old kitchen.

To be perfectly honest, DS9 was actually rather relieved that we weren't going to sit in the sushi restaurant where the drive-by shooting took place... Anyway, here we are, pleased as Punch...and the sushi was magnificent as always!

There were no builders/electricians/plasterers/painters here last Thursday or Friday. Which suited me down to the ground because I wanted to move my stuff back in there and just enjoy my new shiny sink. Complete with pull-out hose and light on the end of the tap:

Have to admit, aside from being very fancy, the tap light seems to have hidden telekinetic powers and makes young children want to help...

I've posted a new video of the kitchen on youtube so you can compare the new to the old. Or maybe you want to see how it looked, halfway through the remodel? Hope you enjoy. And there are plenty of new pictures over at picasa.

And what now? Well, we've already done a lot of baking in the new oven. DKs are enjoying the new fridge/freezer immensely judging by the amounts of cold water and ice they are consuming. I still need to figure out the new hob (which can apparently fry a perfect steak all by itself with no adult supervision) but the dishwasher works just fine and even shines a little red light on the floor, so I know that it's running. Technology. Gotta love it!

Tune in next Monday. When we're - hopefully - in the home straight. Who knows, the two of us might even have a chance to be alone..? ;)

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Christmas Planning - 8 November 2009

Really beginning to get into the swing of Christmas Planning now :)

Yesterday I went shopping with DD7 and we managed to get lots of presents bought. Today we wrapped, labelled them and bagged them 'per family' - so that they are easier to find when it's time to hand them out! :) Hoping to get the last of the teacher/extended family gifts bought and wrapped this week. Also hoping that the quaint shop around the corner will have their Advent Calendar of Danish beers ready - always appreciated by my Dear Dad...

Also hoping to fit in a visit to a big toy shop with the DKs so that they can have a good look and make their lists before the family start asking what they would like. DH and I will buy the DKs gifts at the end of November. One large thing each and a few small gifts. They get far too many presents as it is! ;)

DD7 also chose her 'party outfit' yesterday. Pink sparkly cardigan, pink t-shirt and sparkly pink lacy skirt. Was going to take a picture of it for the blog, but she has wrapped it up and labelled it! LOL Our first 'official' Xmas party is only 3 weeks away, so it's nice to have that sorted.

Still haven't ordered my Christmas cards... Will stop procrastinating and just order some tomorrow - I know, I know - they do not have to be perfect!! [I can hear the Flylady's voice in my head. Again.]

If you're following my blog, you will know that I've been baking a few Christmas things to stow away in the freezer. Yesterday it was Savoury Cheese Crisps. Hoping to do more of that kind of thing next weekend.

If you want to see how others do their Christmas planning, go check out the Flyady, Candace, Krista and Pippa. Always nice to get some new ideas and inspiration! :)

Oh - by the way - DH told me the other day that we might be 16 at the dinner table on Christmas Day... Our dinner table. Good job I'm organised! ;)

Happy planning!

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Savoury Cheese Crisps

It's Saturday afternoon and, after a very successful Christmas shopping expedition with DD7, we are now on to baking some Christmas goodies. Going to bake a few right now, so you can see how they look, but the rest is going in the freezer.

These are Savoury Cheese Crisps. Basically a copycat recipe of my Shortcut Shortbread. Except, of course, it's savoury!

Here's the basic recipe - just halve or double up as necessary. Even I can do the maths on this one... ;)

You'll need (equal quantities of):
  • 100g or 4oz cheese (I used cheddar)
  • 100g or 4oz butter
  • 100g or 4oz flour (I used plain white)
Roughly chop the cheese and butter into big chunks and tip it into your food processor. Add the flour. Whizz until the mixture forms a ball and does the 'wheel of death' thing. Don't let it run too much. Not because it harms the dough in any way but because the butter will soften, leave streaky marks on the blender bowl and generally make the washing up part afterwards more difficult... ;)

Put the dough into a plastic freezer bag. I normally grab the dough using the plastic bag as a kind of glove - that way I don't even get my hands all sticky!

Work the dough (in the plastic bag) into a long sausage shape. Then put it into the fridge to rest for about 45 minutes, or straight into the freezer for later use.

Clean the kitchen decks, turn on the oven to 190c/375f and cover a baking tray with baking paper. Remove the dough from the bag, place on a chopping board and slice very thinly. Place on the baking paper. They will puff up ever so slightly, but shouldn't spread out too much when baked.

If you want, you can give them a dab with milk or egg yolk. Then if you want to be very fancy add a sprinkling of:
  • Nigella seeds (they look fantastic, sooty-black)
  • paprika powder
  • rosemary
  • cumin seeds
  • sesame seeds
  • or whatever you have on hand

Bake for about 5-10 minutes. Keep an eye on them after 5 minutes. They should be golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and put on a cooling rack. They'll harden up as they cool. Enjoy immediately or put into a tupperware box.

These are the Cheese Crisps DD7 made. Good job I took a photo of them, cos they have now mysteriously disappeared! ;)

Bon appétit! :)

Friday, 6 November 2009

These are a few of my favourite things (Danish bands)

It was "Spil Dansk" (Play Danish) day in Denmark last week. Which meant that the public radio stations played Danish music. All day. Only Danish music. The funny thing is that I didn't even realise that they weren't playing any 'foreign' artists because there's just so much darn good Danish music around! :)

So you don't know any Danish groups? Hmm. What about Aqua and their global hit "Barbie Girl"? Or are you trying to forget? ;) Alphabeat, Safri Duo, Infernal and Junior Senior have all had success in the UK.

Here's my personal top 10 of current Danish bands - in no particular order. Some sing in Danish, some sing in English and some do both. Yep, those crazy Danes are also rather clever:
  • Magtens Korridorer (my sweetie friend Rasmus and the boys, currently at the top of both the album and singles charts - go Rasmus!)
  • Spleen Utd (great name, never tire of them, give me more!)
  • Carpark North (big, clean rock)
  • Michael Simpson (dark and electronic, his mum hails from Grimsby)
  • Mew (classical sounding rock)
  • Veto (electronica, very particular 'shouty' voice)
  • Oh No Ono (the 'hair bear bunch' look and a bit wacky)
  • The Broken Beats (clean, catchy rock)
  • Sterling (more clean, catchy rock with a twist - saw them in a small concert venue and, mid-song, the lead singer jumped up on to the bar where I was standing - luckily none of my G&T was spilt in the process...)
  • Kashmir (the legendary David Bowie asked - and got - to work with them, the result was "The Cynic"...need I say more?)
  • When Saints Go Machine (from very disco to very down-in-the-dumps, their song Spitting Image was instrumental, if you forgive the pun, in getting me through my last 5k race)
Happy Friday! :)

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Menu planning Thursday - 5 November 2009

Wowee zowee - the new kitchen is open for business! :) There is a fault somewhere in the wires for the spotlights, lamps and underfloor heating... But who cares after 9 weeks of building work when you finally have a dishwasher, sink (complete with running water), oven, hob and fridge/freezer?

Keeping the menu fairly simple again this week... Mainly because I don't know exactly when the electricians will be finished tinkering with things, and the day/days they are here I might have to go back to using the little camp kitchen in the basement :(

But forewarned is forearmed, n'est-ce pas? So let's cross our floury fingers ;)

  • have been working on putting things back into the new kitchen today, 15 minutes at a time, so just going to pull out the frozen chicken/bacon wrapped in pastry from the freezer (which still needs empyting...) and serve with rice from the ricecooker. Fresh spinach salad on the side.
  • making real burgers served in big burger buns with ovenbaked potato wedges on the side and individual bowls of fresh veggie sticks with Goma and Ranch Dressing for dipping
  • the Stuffed Pizza Rolls from the fantastic site were a huge hit when we made them recently, so they are back by special (kiddie) request. Going to make double this time (filled with mini Danish meatballs) to be on the safe side, and serve with the warm pizza sauce. Still thinking of a dessert to make in my new, huge oven! ;)
  • old Danish classic of hot glazed ham, with gratin dauphinois/creamed potatoes and probably sugar snap peas
  • will probably be a busy day with builders/painters around, so going to put some Beef Goulash in the crock and serve with suet dumplings. Kids aren't that keen on dumplings but I don't give a hoot, cos I do! LOL
  • as you all know by now, Tuesday is Scout Night for both DKs - they go at different times, so it's always an easy-peasy dish. Going to do an old family favourite, my own Hurdy-Gurdy Swedish Sausage Stew. Will serve with a mix of spelt/rice from the ricecooker.

  • will have some ham leftover from Sunday night, so will cube it, and use it as a base for Blender Quiche. Will serve with beetroot and maybe small baby potatoes if it's really cold out.
Bon appétit! :)