Monday, 31 October 2011

Christmas Planning 2011 - 8 weeks to go!

Good afternoon and welcome to this week's round-up of my 'countdown to Christmas' planning (click here for last week's post) - even though, tonight, no thoughts of Santa will enter my head as we'll be out for Halloween! :)

One of my goals for this week was to get the kids' school photos into frames and wrapped.  So I went to Ikea - armed with a list, naturellement - and bought supplies.  Here I am, ready to start...large clean table, scissors, tape, frames, photos...and music turned up to 11! ;D





Twenty minutes later and 18 photos are in frames.  Though they aren't wrapped in Christmas paper yet...  Oh well, I'll let the kids help with the actual wrapping - that's the fun part :)  And just look at how much rubbish there was from the packaging and the trimmings from the photos - eek!

I also said last week that I would place the order for our online photo upload Christmas cards by today.  Oops!  Still not done!  So, no more procrastinating, it's top of my list for tomorrow morning...
But I have been a good girl and have already booked not only my next haircut (for this week) but also made an appointment for a haircut and highlights in December.  Go (glamorous) me! ;D  (And I've booked appointments for the kids too.) 

I've also pencilled in other events in my diary: a Christmas shopping trip to Sweden, pantomime at the theatre, DH cooking Danish Christmas donuts, Lucia Procession at school, Christmas lunch with my girlfriends,  Whew, I'm already feeling in the Christmas spirit! ;D

DD9 after the Lucia procession last year
And what else do I have on my to-do list for the coming week?  Hmm.  More gift buying and wrapping.  Plus, as we're visiting family for Christmas this year, I need to finalise those arrangements.  And I also need to arrange holiday 'accommodation' for our two new 'babies'! ;D
DS11's dwarf hamster, "Hammy" :) 
Check back here next Monday for another 'countdown to Christmas' update.  Have a marvelous Monday! :)

Friday, 28 October 2011

Halloween - boo! Not boo hoo!

I'm getting our Halloween things ready today and tomorrow because I don't want to be running around on Monday afternoon when it's pitch dark (yes, folks, our clocks go back on Sunday night).   Been there.  Done that.  Got the Zombie t-shirt.  So here's my checklist so I don't turn into an unravelled mummie a frazzled mummy.  We want 'Boo!'  Not 'boo hoo!'  ;D
  • Make the final arrangements of where the kids are going/what time/who is going with them. DS always meets up with his classmates.  DD and her friends will probably be with me.
  • Monday's night's dinner will be very easy - I've put panini (grilled sandwiches) and soup on this week's menu plan
  • Find three torches (I keep them in one spot - go me!) and make sure they have fresh batteries in.
  • Check through the outfits the kids will be wearing together with the kids (as sometimes they chop and change their minds...) and put my clothes (thermal underwear, fleece jumper, ski socks, hat, warm gloves, winter boots, etc) in a pile, ready to put on before we go out Monday (I hate standing around getting cold)
  • Do a bit more Halloween decorating outside our house.
  • Make up a few skeleton hands (see below)
  • Fill up our own plastic pumpkin with (wrapped) sweets, in case anyone should ring on our door :D
Skeleton hands...a quick and simple last-minute treat!

On Monday evening I'll fill up a thermos full of chai, so that we can have a hot drink as we walk around.

And - before we leave - we'll agree to do, say, 30 houses or 1 hour's worth of guising.

Voilà!  Have I missed anything?

And if you need any easy ideas for decorating, here's a link to some crafts I posted last year...

Ghost lollies

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend! :)

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Menu plan - Thursday 28 October 2011

It's pea soup weather here today which, should you be unfamiliar with the expression, doesn't mean that we're physically having pea soup for dinner (not that I don't like the stuff, unlike the rest of the family).  It means that this morning you couldn't see much further than the end of your nose.  Or, in my (skinny dipping) case, the end of the bathing bridge! ;D

My sweetie friend V walking off into the sunset fog 
Here's this week's menu plan, plenty of hot dishes:

*  some kind of pasta dish (just a jazzed-up spaghetti bolognese) with salad and homemade wholewheat rolls

*  roast chicken legs with baby potatoes and broccoli

*  wholemeal pita pockets filled with (leftover) chicken and fresh salad (rocket/spinach) and veggie sticks on the side, risengrød (rice pudding made in my rice cooker) for dessert

Please remind me to change my nail varnish later!
Glazed pork chops (from Krista's blog) with baked vegetables on the side (leftover chopped baby potatoes and broccoli, yellow pepper and garlic)

*  big fat Danish pork sausages with mashed potato, gravy and carrots

*  I've had fish in the freezer for the last couple of weeks (which was on the menu plan but never made it to the table...) so now is the time!  Will cover it with herbs and breadcrumbs and bake it and serve it with The Pioneer Woman's crash (leftover) potatoes, remoulade sauce and a green salad

*  something quick for Halloween night before the kids go out guising...probably panini (hot toasted sandwiches and soup)

Bon appétit!  Now let's get autumn over and done with and move swiftly on to winter.

I took this while running in the park at 5pm tonight,
pesky slippery leaves everywhere ;D
Hope you have a thoroughly thrilling Thursday! :)

Spil Dansk!

[postscript: oops! posted this yesterday at blogs.denmark.dk but forgot to put it here as well! ;D]


Spil Dansk ("Play Danish") day is just around the corner! :)

Held on the last Thursday of October, it's the day when Danish music is played, performed, promoted and celebrated. Which means that radio stations play Danish music. All. Day. Long. And there are concerts and events all over Denmark. If you want to find out what's happening near you, the official Spil Dansk website has a nifty event finder, just click here.

Last year on the blog I wrote about some of my Danish music faves anno 2010. Here are a few of my favourite Danish bands this year, plus a few videos to get you started. Go check them out...

Magtens Korridorer (sing in Danish) This is the first single from their new album "Imperiet Falder", which comes out on 31 October.



WhoMadeWho (sing in English) In this particular track, they take the mickey out of that whole Danes-are-the-Happiest-in-the-World thang... ;)



When Saints Go Machine (sing in English) This is a very old video (please forgive the terrible sound quality...) but a fave song of mine.



Have a wonderful Wednesday! And don't forget to turn the stereo up to 11! :)

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Christmas Planning 2011 - 9 weeks to go!

Christmas is coming, Christmas is coming - my favourite time of year, woo hoo! And - just like last year - I'll be posting my Christmas Planning progress week by week here on the blog. Nothing like writing it down in black and white to keep me accountable :)

Another quaint Danish tradition...
burning a candle at breakfast or dinner and watching the days counting down!
The Flylady has kick-started her Cruising through the Holiday Missions (small, daily missions that will get your house, your family and yourself ready by 1 December) and I'm following those and also using Flylady's free Holiday Control Journal (a helpful planner with places for all your lists). I started using her Holiday Control Journal about four or five years ago and it has been a breeze to get organised. I just add to it every year and it's fan-flippin-tastic to have everything in one place: Christmas card lists, gift lists, recipes we use at Christmas, Christmas songbooks.

Anyway...what have I done so far? Baked the Christmas cake! (See yesterday's post for the recipe.)

I've started buying a couple of extra goodies (Christmas snaps/schnaps, boxes of chocolates) and baking supplies (flour, sugar, icing sugar) when I do my food shop.

I've been through the Holiday Control Journal and know who I need to buy for, what I bought them last year and already have a good idea of what to buy this year.   Amazon here I come! ;D

A few gifts are already bought. Wrapped. And hidden! :)


Gift wrapping session from last year...complete with a cuppa and biscuits! :)

And I've just set myself a couple of goals for this week. We just received the kids' school photos so:
  1. I'm going to order my Christmas photocards online (our cards always include photos of the kids)
  2. I'm going to put the kids' photos into (cheap) frames from Ikea and get them wrapped up (we give them to close family members)
You might think it's too early to plan.  But - hey - do you really think you're going to have more time in the month of December?  I think not!  And I want to be ready before this stuff arrives...

View from my kitchen...27 November 2010
Hope you have a terrific Tuesday! :)




Monday, 24 October 2011

Christmas Cake

Ciao!  We're baaaaaaack from a mini-week in Rome (it was the Danish schools' autumn break) and - as is the tradition in our family - baked our Christmas cake yesterday - woo hoo!  Yes, yes, it seems early but - hey - Christmas is just eight weeks away and this little baby needs to be fed every week with whisky...or similar (Christmas) spirits! ;D

I'm reposting the recipe from last year (and, if you're interested, here are pictures of us in the kitchen back in 2010).

So check the list of ingredients, check your cupboards and get ready to go stir crazy...

  • 450 g mincemeat from a jar (1 lb)
  • 225 g wholemeal flour (8 oz)
  • 3 level teaspoons baking powder
  • 150 g dark brown sugar (5 oz)
  • 150 g butter or margarine (5 oz)
  • 175 g mixed dried fruit, chopped into small pieces (6 oz) [I use whatever I have handy - normally prunes, raisins, apricots, cranberries]
  • 50 g walnuts (2 oz) [yuck, don't like nuts in cakes, so I don't use them ;) ]
  • grated zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon [I don't always bother]
  • 3 eggs


* * * * * *

HERE ARE THE MIXING/BAKING INSTRUCTIONS
Put everything in a large bowl. Mix with an electric hand whisk if you have one because this mixture is pretty heavy.  Get everyone in the family to stir it with a big wooden spoon (just for theatrical effect) and make a wish.  Naf, I know, but that has become our little Danish/Scottish family's tradition.
DD9 stirring and making a wish yesterday
Pour into a 20 cm (8 inch) round or square cake tin.  Make sure the base and sides are lined with paper, because it's going to be cooking for a looooong time.

Put into a preheated oven at gas mark 4, or 325 f.  Or if you're here in Europe, 170 c.  Check it after 1½ hours.  If it is firm and springy in the middle and doesn't leave a mark when you press it, it's done.  Otherwise give it a bit longer (can take up to 2 hrs in all).  Depends on your mincemeat, what fruit you're using etc.

Leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes, then turn out and finish cooling on a wire rack. Don't bother taking off the paper.

I then wrap mine in tinfoil, put it in a plastic box and feed it once a week (an integral part of my Flylady WHB each Monday morning up to Christmas).
Feeding it involves poking it several times with a skewer, then drizzling with a couple of tablespoons of Drambuie (Scottish whisky liqueur).  Or cognac, Grand Marnier, brandy - whatever you happen to have to hand (can't really be tasted in the final cake, mainly gives a richness to the fruit).

Just make sure that whatever you use is fairly alcoholic.  Because the 'proof' of the cake is in the eating... boom boom!

* * * * * *
I gave it a stir.  DH gave it a stir.  DS11 gave it a good stir and finally we were able to put The Cake 2011 in the tin...


And here it is...all ready for the oven!  And the CD in the picture?  We listened to "Ella (Fitzgerald) Wishes You a Swinging Christmas" while we made the cake...two bars of that CD and I'm seeing snowflakes!


Don't forget to check back here tomorrow, when I'll be kicking off this year's "Christmas Planning Countdown"...

Have a marvelous Monday! :)

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Menu plan - Thursday 13 October 2011

One more day of school and then it's the autumn break - hooray!  And tonight I'm out with a friend to see Snoop Dogg at Vega (which also just happens to be my very favourite concert venue ever), so it doesn't get much better than that! :)

It's leftovers for dinner tonight (DH is minding the kids while I'm out letting my - short but perfectly coiffed - hair down) but the rest of this week's menu looks like this...

*  Danish Medister sausage (which is made of pork and comes sold in a large ring) with baby potatoes, sovs (gravy) and homemade warm, red cabbage

*  Homemade tagliatelle pasta (the pasta was made from scratch by DS11 - you can see him in action here) with leftover Medister sausage, green beans, garlic and cream.  And lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and black pepper on top.  Yum! :D


*  A whole piece of ham (bought from the supermarket ready-cooked, I just reheat it in the oven) smothered with honey and mustard, served with my own version of gratin dauphinois and roast autumn pumpkin

Gratin and ham in the oven...I love my huge oven! :)

*  Leftover ham chopped up small and stuffed into wholemeal pitabread pockets with spinach, cucumber and tomato (DD9 and I are on our own while DS11 and DH are out to a football match)

Pasta med kødsovs/spaghetti bolognese/pasta with meatsauce - whatever you call it in your neck of the woods.  It always goes down well in our house and is my number one 'What-to-make-when-I-can't-be-bothered-to-cook' meal.  I brown the minced beef (or use a bag which I've already browned from my stock in the freezer), add a jar of Dolmio pasta sauce and cook the pasta.  Top with lots of cheese.  Add some veggie sticks or salad on the side.  Done and dusted! :)

Forloren Hare (can you believe it's my most popular blogpost EVER?!!) which is Danish meatloaf.  And - yes - it is delicious.  We had it a few weeks back and I made an extra one and popped it in the freezer (together with a packet of bacon, to put on the top).  So I only need to remove from the freezer in the morning and cook it in the evening.  No preparation mess.  Love that!  This time it'll be served with baked potato wedges and carrots.

So that's your lot.  And don't worry if you don't see me here for menu planning next week (the school autumn break).  I shall be enjoying (hopefully) high temperatures and lots of pasta, pizza and gelato in La Bella Roma!

Ciao tutti!  Hope you have a thoroughly thrilling Thursday! :)

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Happiness is...more hot tea

I wrote a post called "Happiness is..." just over a month ago and posted this picture.  My friend and I had just had our daily skinny dip in the Danish sea.  And there we sat, in the warm September sunshine at 8.30 am, drinking a cup of tea - with bare arms and legs, toes still full of sand...


This morning I took another picture at the same spot.  Here we are again.  We've just had our daily skinny dip in the Danish sea (water temperature today was 12 degrees/53.6f).  The sun is just about to break through at 9am, and we're having a cuppa and a piece of honningkage (honey cake).  But today we dried off and wrapped ourselves up in our winter coats, heavy scarves and gloves...  Aren't we mad to still be bathing in the sea?  Yep!  But we love it!  And we come away from the beach every morning with a smile from ear to ear...



Hope you have a wonderful Wednesday.  Wherever you are.  Whatever the weather! :)

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Those Crazy Danes - Kitchen Gadgets

I love my food and I love my kitchen gadgets - my breadmachine, ricecooker, crockpot, mini grill, etc etc.  But did you know that those crazy (but lovable) Danes have their very own kitchen gadgets?

Let's start with the most common ones.  The one on the left with the white handle is a cheese slicer - which gets used every Saturday and Sunday mornings, when we eat warm rolls topped with jam and Danbo cheese for breakfast.  The other gadget, the one with a wooden handle, is a parsley chopper - which I use whenever I make persillesovs, parsley sauce (to go with stegt flæsk, fried belly pork).


These next ones only come out of the cupboard once a year. At Christmas time. The two 'frying pans' are for making æbleskiver, Danish Christmas donuts. My husband (who only cooks once a year...) makes up a huge batch of donuts - about 150 - together with the kids. We freeze the donuts in batches, then eat them warm with sugar and jam - the whole lot washed down with gløgg - in the run up to Christmas. Yum!  :)  If you want to try making the donuts yourself, the family recipe is right here. On the righthand side you'll see a wooden contraption with the butterfly screws.  Don't fear, this is not an instrument of torture...  It's a rullepølse presser. A press for making rolled pork sausage. You can buy them in the shops but our one was made by my husband's brother in woodwork class at school. He made it for his mum, bless him! ;) (I've only ever used it once but I can confirm that it did the job just fine...)


And what do you think this is for?


If you've ever eaten suppe (a broth containing meatballs, dumplings and carrots) in Denmark, you might be able to guess...


It's a bollesprøjte. You put minced meat or dough in the metal tube, push down the wooden plunger and - hey presto - out pop boller, mini meatballs or dumplings. (You use a knife to slice them off as they pop out.)   The bollesprøjte belonged to my Danish father-in-law who - even when he was well into his late 80s - always made his own soup dumplings from scratch.  Unlike myself - who always buys them readymade from the freezer cabinet at the supermarket.  Hmm, perhaps I should have a go at making them myself?  Watch this space for an update...


Have a terrific Tuesday! :)

Monday, 10 October 2011

Pasta pronto!

During one of my decluttering sessions in the basement, I came across my pasta machine.  Which I don't think I've used since DD9 was born.  Oops!  However, it doesn't take up thaaaaaat much space, so I decided to hang on to it.  And yesterday - while DD9 was off at a birthday party - I taught DS11 how to make fresh pasta :)

He passed the first test with flying colours...putting the machine together! ;D
I made up the pasta dough in my bread machine.  You dump everything in (600g flour, 5 eggs, 60ml water, 1 teaspoon of salt), switch on the machine and 15 minutes later you're all set...

We put half of the dough in the fridge for another day.
First of all, I showed DS11 how to take small balls of dough and feed them through the machine several times.  You turn the dial to about 6 or 7 to begin with.  Then work your way down to about 3.  If you make the dough any thinner than that, it's too difficult to work with.  And - hey - don't worry about making the strips of pasta even lengths.  We want them to look rustic... :)



If you're going to use the dough for ravioli or lasagne, you can use it straight away.  We left our strips of pasta to 'dry' on the kitchen table for half an hour because we wanted to make tagliatelle/fettucine.  If you try putting 'moist' dough through the cutters, it tends to stick and the strands don't separate.


And now for the fun part.  Putting it through the cutters!


We hung it up over the backs of chairs.

Insert the theme from "The Godfather" here... ;D
At dinner time we boiled it in lots of very salty water.  It took about 4 minutes to cook.  And the final verdict?  Mamma mia, é squisito!

We ate it with a simple sauce of cream, garlic, green beans and some chunks of Danish sausage (Medister)
that was left over from Saturday night.  Plus lots of fresh parmesan and black pepper. 

See, now I've made myself hungry writing this blogpost!  Luckily it's just coming up for 12 noon and there's leftover pasta for my lunch.  Yum.

Have a marvelous Monday! :)





Friday, 7 October 2011

Super Fling Boogie...in the dining room

The Super Fling Boogie continues!  And I continue to feel lighter with every 15 minute decluttering session.  So why, oh why, can't I be consistent about it?!  Oh well, progress not perfection, right? :)

This week's Flylady zone is the Front Porch/Entrance/Dining Room.

I set my timer for 15 minutes and started on our sideboard/china cabinet.  The 'china' part only needed straightening up.  Though to my credit I did manage to part with some cups and glasses that we never use.  I then attacked the 'worst' drawer - which is the one that contains candle holders...

I could have sworn I sorted this drawer out during the last Zone Super Fling Boogie?! ;D
Now - granted -  you may think that that's an awful lot of candle holders to have...  But, hey, remember that I live in Denmark!  So we light candles morning, afternoon and night... :D

Anyway, the timer was still ticking (8 minutes left) and I got stuck in.  Anything I hadn't used since last year or didn't love went straight into a giveaway box.  Lots of half-burnt candle bits went in the rubbish.  I gave the drawer a quick hoover and put everything back in.  The things I wasn't sure about - not too many of those this time round - were put at the back of the drawer, along with a mental note to fling them next time round.

Still too much stuff...but getting there! :)
I was finished before the timer went off.  So I did the part which, for me, is always a bit of a stumbling block...  I actually took the giveaway box right out to the car.  Hooray!  And two hours later, it was out of my car (and out of my hair) and had found a new home at DD9's After School Club (who always find a use for our 'junk').  Hooray again! ;D

The giveaway box
I ♥ decluttering!

Hope you have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend! :)

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Apples - again, again!

Okay, okay...just one more post about the apples from our garden, then I promise to stop! ;D


DD9's class were here yesterday to pick apples and, when they left, I picked up the best and biggest ones that were left lying on the lawn.  I read a great tip recently on freezing apples for use in a crumble or pie.  Just chop them up roughly (I left them fairly big because our cooking apples go 'mushy' very fast when baked).


Then I filled a freezer bag with enough apple chunks to make one crumble, using my tart dish as a size guide.  I flattened out the bags a) to make them easy to stack in the freezer and b) so that later I can simply dump the contents into the flan dish and bake from frozen :)


Ta da!  Wasn't that simple?

Hope you have a terrific Tuesday! :)

Monday, 3 October 2011

Super Fling Boogie...in the garden

The Flylady's "Super Fling Boogie" (a month long party to get rid of as much clutter from your home as you possibly can) continues and I wanted to make serious in-roads to some of the 'clutter' in our garden...  Apples!

As much as I love our two ancient apple trees, we always have a bountiful crop and there's no way that we can use them all.  I freeze them, use them for cakes and desserts, grate them into bread dough and sauces.  And we're always giving them away to friends and family.  But most of them usually end up here...in the garden refuse container.  And every fortnight we have three bins full! :(


This year I'm putting the windfall apples around our bushes and trees as a kind of compost.  It'll give them lots of nourishment during the winter and - cross your fingers - maybe keep the weeds/grass at bay?


I also invited DD9's class to come "på æblerov" ('pinch' or 'steal' our apples).  They were here this morning and we had great fun.  I shook the trees - while they stood well back to avoid being hit! - and it literally rained with apples.  They also climbed up the trees and used brooms, rakes flag poles to get them all down...

They filled up their wagon and hauled it back to school.  Where they were going to draw some of the apples as part of their Art Lesson. The rest of the crop will go to the After School Club for baking! :)

They're going to weigh them back at school.
Don't forget to post your own pounds on the Super Fling Boogie Meter! ;D

Hooray!  I get rid of my 'clutter' and everybody wins!  And we still have a few left on the trees.  For us.  For the birds.  And for our squirrels...


I'm off to make crockpot apple sauce.  Have a marvelous Monday! :)