Thursday, 22 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

The kids are now on school break, so it's time for me to tidy my blog desk, close my blog cabinet and go off and enjoy Christmas with our Scottish and Danish families. And thanks to the Flylady, I'm all ready and relaxed - hooray!


Merry Christmas!


Greetings from the bathing bridge! :)


Love

Diane


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Friday, 16 December 2011

Burn Baby Burn

Can you believe it's only 9 days til Christmas?! As you'll have seen from my blogposts, I've been FLYing through Christmas prep and enjoying all the parties and events. There's only one area where we're behind...our calendar candle!

Two days 'behind' - eek! ;D

Have a fantastic Friday and a wonderful weekend! :)

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Thursday, 15 December 2011

Menu plan - Thursday 15 December 2011

Amazingly we're still having mild weather with daily temperatures of around 5c or 41f (which is also the temperature of the sea that we swim in every morning!) and still no sign of snow...  It's pitch dark before 4 pm now - which always makes me want to curl up on the sofa and sleep.  On the other hand, it's the perfect setting for the St. Lucia procession over at school.  Here's DD9 and the girls from her year in action on Tuesday afternoon...


Without further ado, here's whats's on the menu at Casa Copenhagen for week 50:

*  Meatballs, herby tomato sauce, tagliatelle, salad and freshly baked bread

Madder (Danish open sandwiches) on a night that we're out to a school party

Baked ham and gratin dauphinois...perfect bed mates! :)

*  Honey/mustard baked ham and my version of gratin dauphinois, brussel sprouts

*   Leftover ham added to egg-fried rice or alternatively served in wholemeal pita pockets with salad

* Breakfast for dinner: sausages, scrambled eggs made in my ricecooker, croutons, pancakes, fresh tomatoes/cucumber, orange juice and hot tea

* French beef stew made in the crockpot: cubes of beef, sliced onions, chopped carrots, garlic, red wine, beef stock, salt, pepper, paprika - just dump everthing in the crockpot and turn on the heat ;D


Hurdy Gurdy Swedish Sausage Stew - mmm, comfort food :)

Svensk pølsegryde - Hurdy Gurdy Swedish Sausage Stew - our recipe is here

Bon appétit!

Hope you have a thorougly thrilling Thursday! :)

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Danish Anger Management? Vent!

[This post is also published at the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

I think I’ve solved the mystery as to why those crazy (but lovable) Danes are so darn happy.   Anger management!

Just go to any Metro station in Copenhagen.  Stand on the platform at the entrance to the train doors. There’s a special area – clearly marked with a white line – where those crazy Danes are encouraged to let it all out.   You’re not convinced?   Then look for yourself.   It says, in big letters, “Vent”.

To vent or not to vent? That is the question…

Ahhhhh, but hold on just a minute…   The text “Vent” is, of course, på dansk. Danish. So what you’re actually expected to do is “Wait”. As in ‘queue'.   Patiently.   Behind the white line.   Thereby allowing people to get off the train, before you attempt to charge in.

So anger management it isn’t…   But – let’s look on the bright side – at least the Danes are finally learning to queue!   Something we Brits are world-champions at…

Have a wonderful Wednesday! :)

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Christmas Cake 2011

Merry Christmas, dear Readers!  [she said, drinking a cuppa and wiping crumbs from her mouth]

I decided that Today was The Day to cut into the Christmas cake...

Who cares if the icing turned out a garing shade of turquoise a bit darker than it was supposed to?
Yikes, a little smidgen of those colouring pastes really does go a long way...! ;D


Who cares that the white icing got bits of cake crumbs mixed in to it? 

Who cares that the blue icicles wouldn't stand up straight, as I had planned, or stick on to the sides of the cake?

It looks pretty good from a distance.  Or by candlelight... ;D

And I had an 'aha' moment.  I don't need to wait until we have special guests coming in order to cut it.  I can take a slice (or two) today.  And linger over the very best part - the thick layers of marcipan and white icing!  Yum!  ;D

Bon appetit!

Have a terrific Tuesday! :)

PS: It's not too late to make your own Christmas cake.  The recipe we use is right here - and it can be made one day before it's eaten :)
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Monday, 12 December 2011

Christmas planning - 2 weeks to go!

I feel a bit silly calling this post Christmas "planning" like all the others because - thanks to the Flylady - all my prep for Crimbo is actually done!  Ha!  Our greetings cards were posted on 30 November.  (Almost) all the presents are bought and wrapped (or ordered online).  And...we've all just had haircuts! ;D
We lit the third advent candle on Sunday :)
So - instead of telling you all that I've done or need to do - I thought I'd let you have a peek into what I've been able to enjoy since the 1st of December!

* * * * * *
Put together some cookie dough...baked one portion and put three logs in the freezer, which I can pull out/slice/bake when we have friends over :)
Ingredients for cranberry and pistachio shortbread in the mixer
Been to Tivoli with the 'girls' for drinks and a pantomime...
Sorry for the blurred image...too many glasses of wine drops of rain on the lens
Made sweets with the kids...
These are some of the 'healthy' ones: dried figs/orange juice/cocoa powder/coconut
My friend H and I went to an exhibition of Danish Christmas decorations by Jette Frölich (and had gløgg and æbleskiver in the café afterwards)

Enjoyed a lovely Xmas lunch with my winterbathing friend V
Spoleben with winter cabbage
* * * * * *
Nice!  And especially nice to be able to enjoy it all without rushing around and getting stressed.   This week it's full swing over at school where we'll be partaking in the Lucia Procession/Concert, Xmas Bingo, Breakfast and Decoration-making with DD9's class...
Advent calendar of presents in DD9's class -
a name is pulled out of Santa's sack every day
Phew!  Thank goodness for my Flylady Holiday Control Journal and pampering! ;D

Have a marvelous Monday! :)

Friday, 9 December 2011

A Christmas (Winter bathing) Miracle

If you're a regular reader, you'll know that my friend V and I love vinterbadning (skinny dipping in the Danish sea, all year long).  And have become thorougly Addicted.  We've been stripping off down by the waterfront.  Come rain, hail or shine.  But, with the temperatures beginning to plummet and storms brewing aplenty, we were forced to realise that - at some point - standing undressing/dressing in the snow just wasn't going to be fun.  (Funnily enough, the thought of being in the freezing cold water is an attraction - ha!)

Huge waves = huge fun! :)
We're on the waiting list for not one, but two, different bathing clubs.  One of which has a 6 year waiting list...  The clubs have changing rooms, toilets, hot showers and [sniff, sniff] sizzling saunas!   Waaaaaaah!   Let us in from the cold!

Our current al fresco 'changing room'...
we bring our own bathmats - slightly warmer than standing on cold paving stones! ;D
But, this Tuesday morning, an Angel appeared before us.  Walking his dog.  He and his wife - fellow winterbathers - had seen us many times on the bathing bridge.  (Yep, told you that we're there on a daily basis.)  They thought we were 'cool' to have braved the elements.  But wouldn't we like to have the key to an old storeroom, owned by the Chief Lifeguard?  Nothing fancy.  No space to swing a cat.  No running water.  And in desperate need of maintenance. (It literally hasn't been cleaned or dusted for 15 years [sneezes] but nothing that my Flylady purple feather duster can't cope with!)

But, wow, there are walls!  Four of them!  A door!  A bench!  A hook to hang our clothes!  Halleluja!  We feel like Mary and Joseph, who've been given space in the stable...  Yep, there are such things as Christmas miracles! ;D

♪♫"I saw three ships come sailing in, on Christmas day in the morning...." ♪♫

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend! :)

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Menu plan - Thursday 8 December 2011

Incredibly, there's still no sign of the snow here - only sleet.  Instead the Weather (and Beach) Gods have been smiling on me and we've had beautiful sunny mornings almost every day this week.  Though the lack of clouds does, of course, bring with it a very hard night frost that makes the sand crunchy to walk on!

View of the bathing bridge this morning at 9am - water was 6c/43f 'warm' ;D
We're now up to our ears in Christmas events, so dinner at the moment is quick and simple.  And I'm letting go of my perfectionist tendencies, throwing caution (and my money?) to the wind, and even allowing for the occasional takeaway...

*  Lasagne: nothing fancy, just the good old-fashioned homemade kind - green salad :)

Flæskesteg: traditional Danish roast pork, served with baby potatoes, gravy and steamed cauliflower

*  Steak salad: pieces of steak flash-fried, baby gem lettuce/peapod shoots, pickled red onion, avocado, cucumber, cherry tomato, béarnaise sauce on the side

*  Pork meatballs, baked potato wedges, broccoli 'salad' (raw broccoli florets, crispy bacon, pumpkin seeds, tiny bit of mayo/vinegar dressing

*   Madder: Danish open sandwiches with eg, pork liverpâté, mackerel in tomato sauce, herring, egg mayonnaise

Holy trinity of Christmas beer, herring and egg mayo :)
*  Pizza from the local takeaway

*  Leftover Night: wholemeal pasta with any leftover meat and veggies that need to be cleaned out of the fridge

Bon appetit!

Hope you have a thoroughly thrilling Thursday! :) 

I 'Heart' Danish Christmas!

[This post is also published over at the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

In Denmark they say that "Jul er hjerternes fest".  That "Christmas is the festival of hearts".  And it's true - look around and you'll see hearts everywhere.  Gingerbread hearts, crocheted hearts, heart-shaped tree ornaments and...the ubiquitous Danish woven paper hearts, which you'll see hanging in windows or on the branches of the Christmas tree.

Are you ready to "jule" (yep, the Danes even use the word 'Christmas' as a verb!) and make some easy peasy Danish Christmas heart crafts?

WOVEN PAPER HEART
My dearly departed Danish father-in-law loved to make things out of paper and was a dab hand at the very intricate woven designs.  But be warned: in order to do paper weaving, you have to have nimble fingers, bucketloads of patience and Danish blood in your veins.  You're still determined to try?  Hmm, then I'd suggest borrowing a book from your local Danish library. Or try, for example, http://www.julidannevang.dk/klip/klip.shtml

But I'm going to show you the two-minute version - the cheat's version - as taught to me by my daughter, aged 9.  You'll need two pieces of paper or carton in different colours.  (Red and white, if you want to be really traditional.)  Mark out the shape (see below) and draw a line in the middle, up to the point where the edge starts to curve.  Cut out the shapes and then cut along the middle lines.
 
Turn the white carton at right angles and weave the first 'finger' through the red carton.

Weave the red 'finger' over the white and - hey presto - færdig (done)!  Just add a dab of glue or a piece of sticky tape, to stop the heart from falling apart.  Use blue tack (or, as Danish kids call it, 'pædagog-snot' = 'teacher snot'!) to fix them on your window pane.  Or add a paper loop, and hang them on the tree.

FABRIC HEART
You could, of course, buy these in the shops.  But the cutest/kitschest/most precious ones are, without doubt, those handmade ones that your little darling brings home from kindergarten, nursery or school.

Super simple.  Cut two heart shapes out of fabric.  Tip: if you use zigzag scissors, you won't have problems with edges fraying.  (Felt fabric is perfect for this job.)  You can make them any size you like, but hearts about the size of your palm work well.

Sew round the edges, leaving an opening for stuffing.  You can use a sewing machine or do it 'old school' with a large needle and thick thread.  Stuff the heart, then sew shut.

Add a loop at the top of the heart, so you can hang it up (on the tree, on a door handle, etc).  You can also add some beads, glitter glue, etc.  We went for the simple look and used this plain ribbon that says "God Jul".  Which, as you will remember, has nothing to do with God! ;D

So now we've made Julesnaps (Christmas Snaps), Æbleskiver (Danish Christmas donuts) and some Danish Christmas decorations.  I think we've got Danish Christmas covered, ikke sandt?

Glædelig jul!  Merry Christmas!

Have a wonderful Wednesday! :)

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Name change

I came home from the schoolrun yesterday and, as part of my Flylady morning routine, I took a basket of washing down to the cellar.  You can imagine my surprise when I spied - sitting on the second step down - DD9's hamster "Sparkle"!

She sat there, quite the thing, with her little paws up, as if to say, "Oh, don't mind me...I'm just out for a wander!"


We have no idea when she managed to escape from her cage.  Probably during the night.  But she climbed up through a tiny hole in the top of her cage, jumped down from the garden room table (onto tiled flooring...ouch!), wandered through the living room and out into the hall.  Before jumping down the basement stairs.  Not bad for a little baby girl who only measures 5cm from nose to tail! ;D



She's now safely back home (under lock and key) and thankfully looks no worse for wear after her great adventure.  But we're thinking of giving her 'Houdini' as a middle name...

Here she is in action, climbing the bars - again!
Have a terrific Tuesday! :)

Monday, 5 December 2011

Family Advent Calendar 2011

Drum roll, please (and perhaps some sleigh bells?), for this year's Family Advent Calendar!
Picture taken after our skinny dip in the cold Danish sea on Thursday 1 December...
was lovely to get my nice big, warm bathrobe back on! :D

  1. Christmas Bazar at school (see Thursday's post) and a skinny dip in the sea wearing nothing but...a green and red Santa hat!
 2. Finish decorating inside the house
 3. Christmas lunch with lots of pickled and curried herring, Danish Christmas beer and snaps
Danish holy trinity of Jule øl (Christmas beer, we decorated the bottles...),
æggesalat (egg mayo) and sild (marinated herring)!
 4. Our local Danish library has a free craft workshop - this time we're decorating gingerbread hearts

 5. Go to the post office with the Christmas packages
 6. Watch a Christmas film and eat popcorn
 7. A trip to Tivoli to see the fairy lights and go mad on the rollercoasters :)
This is the Xmas tree at Tivoli, but look up in the left hand corner...
that's the tower we'll be going up in! ;D
 8. Crazy Christmas Cabaret (a type of pantomime) with members of the International Ladies Club of Copenhagen
 9. Christmas lunch - yet again, woo hoo!
10. Tidy up the garden and hang up goodies for our feathered friends
11. Make some edible goodies with the kids! Marcipan sweets, candy canes, coconut ice...
Goodies we made in 2010
12. Make up a large batch of sausage rolls to freeze and to eat! (my recipe is here)
13. DD9 is taking part in two St. Lucia processions...
DD when she was 8
14. Kids will decorate the Christmas cake which we made in October, recipe is right here
15. Christmas Bingo evening at DS11's after school club
DS11 with his winning bingo card last year...which won him the star prize!
16. Make Christmas decorations and crafts with friends and their kids
17. Decorate the Christmas tree!
I shall play an Xmas tune on the old joanna while the kids decorate the boughs... ;D
18. Gløgg (mulled wine) and æbleskiver (Danish Christmas donuts) with friends
19. Take in teacher gifts
20. Last day of school - hooray!
21. Watch a Christmas film
22. Double check the gift lists - is everything wrapped and ready?
23. A walk in the park - perhaps complete with some snow?


24. The girls are going to a show, the boys are going to a football match
25. Merry Christmas to one and all!

And don't forget to give yourself the best Christmas present of all... the gift of Flylady! She will not only help you to get your house in order - she'll also help to sort out your head! ;D  And will remind you to pamper yourself every day: a hot bath, read a chapter of a book before you turn out the lights, make yourself a nice coffee or hot chocolate, phone a friend, listen to your favourite music and turn up the stereo to 11!  Anything that will put a smile on your face and recharge your batteries... :D

Have a marvelous Monday! :)
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Thursday, 1 December 2011

Happy 1st December!

Happy 1st December! Is your Christmas planning well underway?  Are you ready to relax and enjoy the month of December?


DD9 and I have been busy making cupcakes for today's school bazar (all profits are going to the Sally Army.)  We've made approximately 60 of them...whew! ;D


The first of December doesn't only mark the countdown to Christmas.  There's another important reason to be jolly!  Because the Flylady habit for December is pampering.  Doing something nice for yourself EVERY day.  (And the idea is, of course, to keep going with it after the month is up...)  I've shared lots of my own ways to pamper here on the blog.  (27 posts!)  Today, for example, I decided that I really needed a break from the cupcake decorating - so I snaffled one of the cakes...ha! ;D  (And dang good it was too!  The easy peasy cupcake recipe is right here.)


So go pamper!  But don't forget to come back on Monday, when I'll be sharing our Family Advent Calendar for 2011...

Have a thoroughly thrilling Thursday! :)