Spreading End of Year Love

A wonderful community
December 29th

Jane from Sydney in Australia is more famously known as Quen Bab's, have you heard of her?  Jane was named Australian for the day back in June 2015 and strives despite her several illness' to brighten her community and spread a little happiness around her hometown which has now rippled out across the world.

What does Jane do?  She yarn bombs on scales from leaving small crocheted hearts to yarnbombing entire cycle racks and so much more,  just look at the riot of colour...

Photo was taken from Queen Bab's website,
a typical example of her riot of colour that she
spreads around her local community

Website:  Queen Bab's

Instagram:  IG account

Facebook:  Facebook

Queen Bab's has given much to the community as I have already mentioned and on her website, she provides many free patterns and tips on how to yarn bomb and what to consider before you begin.  She shares all her experience of what does and does not work. If you are considering doing something like this yourself her website is invaluable, even if this is not your thing, go have a peek!  Jane is mostly wheelchair bound and desperately needs a new wheelchair, so she has designed a new pattern called the  Love Bomb Christmas Ornament and she hopes the crochet community around the world will get behind her and buy the pattern as all proceeds will go directly to funding a new and much-needed wheelchair. 

These Love bombs just make my heart sing,
the photo was taken from Queen Bab's Ravelry page

And the crochet community has not disappointed, so far the hashtag #lovebombornament has 320 photos and the hashtag #lovebombcircle has 147 photos, that's a lot of love being shared all over the world people are making Jane's love bomb and even yarn bombing them, just look at this... know where I would like to be...

As of the 5th December, (the pattern was only released on November 30th) a third of the money needed to fund a new wheelchair had been reached!  By December 9th, they were halfway there! And by December 11th they had reached the three quarter way mark!  By the 22nd it was looking like Jane would be able to go shopping in the new year for a working wheelchair, the amount raised will determine which model!  How fantastic is that! 

I have bought the pattern but unlike so many people who seem to have found time not only to make one but several, as soon as I have published this post, whilst my son is having a teenage party in our house !!!!! I am a nervous wreck, I will attempt to soothe my nerves by making the simple yet beautiful love bomb...

Screenshot from Queen Bab's Instagram account from many others
who have made her pattern and shared their joy with her

   May you all have a wonderful new year and I wish for you all that you wish for yourself and loved ones   

God Jul ~ Merry Christmas

Jul aften ~ Christmas Eve
December 24th

Wishing you and yours all the love, happiness and warmth in the world.

Last minute preparations in hand, the Christmas hats are on the coat hooks in the hall, cakes about to be decorated and the last of the guests will arrive this afternoon.  All is well with the world except we are missing mamma, who has not been able to fly here due to illness.  
Sending mamma the most love, we miss you and love you xxx

Christmas hats, it's compulsory to wear them!

The tree is finally up

The last presents are wrapped,
hope John will like his new plants!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas from me

Scandinavian Christmas baking 7 ~ Lemon almond cookies

Lemon Almond Cookies
December 20th    

Today I bring the 7th and last bake of cookies in the run up to Christmas.  I have so enjoyed this year trying out new 'små kjekks' for the traditional 7 bakes of a Norwegian Christmas and have found some new favourites.  It's lovely to have such a selection now to choose from each year.  Here you can find a link to each of the other 6 bakes for 2017:   1 Pepperkaker  2 Hvite Pepperkaker    3 Julecookies    4 Juliga Kolasnittar   5 Havreflarn Cookies   6 Bordstabelbakkels  For previous years bakes visit the drop down heading on the home page and click on Christmas posts.

All 7 cookies baked for Christmas in true Norwegian tradition

Lemon almond cookies,
photo from Trine's Mat blog

The 7th cookie today comes from the talented Danish cook Trine In this cookie recipe  almonds, a favourite of any Norwegian cook is used but the twist with these is that she adds lemon zest to give the cookie an entirely different flavour and feel.  Not so typically Christmas in taste, yet, I found the lemon took away the almost too sweet taste that an almond cookie can have, try this as something different, I would be surprised if you did not like this.  For Trine's original recipe and how the cookies should look, I urge you to visit her page:  here

Ingredients for Lemon almond cookies
Lemon Almond Cookies
You will need:

♥  175g ground almonds
  175g sugar
♥  1-2 lemon zest
♥  1 tbsp plain flour
  1/2 tsp baking powder
  2 egg whites
  icing sugar for decorating, optional

1  Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius

2  Mix the almonds, lemon zest and sugar thoroughly.

3  Add the sieved flour and baking powder and mix well.
You can see the mixture here is
lumpy and I think over whisked

4  In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites so they are only just stiff, DO NOT OVER WHISK ~ I over whisked and think that is why my cookies did not spread out well on the baking tray and were difficult to pipe!  More on this in a minute. 

5  Add the egg whites carefully into the almond mixture until you have a smooth and soft mixture.  Mine was a little stiff and I suspect because I over whisked.

6  Put the mixture into a piping bag and place small drops on a lined baking tray leaving a good space between each cookie 'drop' to allow them to spread.  You should be able to get between 10-14 on each tray.

The cookies in the foreground have been
squished half way through baking whilst
those at the back show what they looked like
before I squished them!
7  Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until they are a lovely golden colour. NOTE:  As my mixture was a little too stiff halfway through baking I could see they had now spread out as expected so I took them out of the oven and squished them with a palette knife to the desired cookie depth and width. 
 It is important that they are not over baked, the cookies should be still soft inside.

8  You can decorate the cookies with some drizzled icing sugar and let them rest for a few minutes on the baking tray before transferring them onto a wire rack for complete cooling.  Moving them immediately from the baking tray could result in broken cookies as they will be very soft.

9  Place in an airtight box until needed.

Lemon almond cookies, not as pretty as they could
be but worth making as the taste is amazing. 
I am adding these to my must make each year list

Trine's lemon almond cookie, mine will
look like this next time, I must remember
not to over whisk the egg whites!

Feeling festive and ready. 
All the  pre baking is now complete
The 7 Norwegian Christmas cookies for 2017
In the cup are caramel cuts, to the right are table stacking cookies,
tied in string are oat cookies, in the middle are the cranberry
and almond cookies, to the left are the lemon almond cookies,
in front of those, the dark hearts are pepperkaker and to the
side, the paler hearts are the white pepperkaker. 
All 7 cookies for Christmas ♥

 In case I do not pop back to eclecetichomelife before Christmas as there are still many more things I wish to do in 'real' life that I may not have time.  It has been such fun sharing my December journey with you and hope you have enjoyed it as much as I.

  I wish you all the warmth, health and happiness 
in the world my friends, 

  Merry Christmas & God Jul 

Newer Christmas Traditions

London Calling
December 19th

Albert Hall singalong last year
For as long as I can remember mamma and pappa would drive us into London to see the Christmas tree from Norway in Trafalgar Square and the Christmas lights in central London, back in the 1970's London really stood out for Christmas lights compared to other towns in the UK.  These days all towns now dress up for the season to encourage shoppers to visit and I love the twinkling lights.

From the time our own children were old enough to appreciate traipsing into London, John and I too took the yearly Christmas visit to the capital but we began by taking the children to the theatre in the week before Christmas.  We were lucky enough to catch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Oliver, Starlight Express, and the Lion King to name but a few.  In more recent years there has been less theatre and more sing-alongs at the wonderful venue that is the Albert Hall.  This year after having visited and sung to our heart's content for the past 6 years we decided to miss it and to try our hand at the theatre again and we were not disappointed.

We sing along with gusto

The wonderful Albert Hall,
to read more about it click here

Photo taken from the internet shows
Robert Lindsay as Scrooge
For two shows only this year the talented Robert Lindsay took the lead role in the London Musical  Theatre to play Scrooge in a Christmas Carol.  It was unlike anything I have ever seen before.  It was neither a narration of Dickens' well-known story nor was it a theatre production or even a musical. 
We had seats in the stalls, it does not do it
justice here, but we could see their faces very clearly
It had a full orchestra, a choir and lead singers who acted in a pared down way with no props.  The story unfolded beautifully but still allowing much to the imagination.  Lindsay was beyond brilliant, his comic timing, his expressions and his perfect Scrooge voice made it a night to remember.  John not known for overdoing the praise could not thank me enough for organising it and said how marvellous the whole thing was.  A snippet of the review from  Musical Theatre Review   says:

In the mix are waltzes, syncopated numbers, patter songs, wistful lyricism and more. And Michael Starobin’s  imaginative orchestrations make imaginative use of instrumentation to bring out the many moods the piece requires.
It goes without saying, given the cast list, that everyone at the front of the stage does an excellent job.
Robert Lindsay as Scrooge is nimbly charismatic – both funny and moving – and the fact that he may not be the industry’s finest singer matters not a jot in this context.
These old theatres have so much detail
There is, however wonderful, singing from Glenn Carter (has he ever done the Commendatore in Don Giovanni?) as the imposing Jacob Marley, from Sophie-Louise Dann as hilarious Brummie Mrs Fezziwig and from Gemma Sutton as the crystalline-voiced Ghost of Christmas Present. And Tobias Ungleson is a bit of a show stealer as Tiny Tim.
The whole performance (directed by Shaun Kerrison) is, in a sense, a joyous celebration not just of Christmas and a time-honoured iconic story, but also of musical theatre itself.

We left the London Lyceum, usually home to the Lion King on a real Christmas high.  Bring on the rest of the week and Christmas, we are READY...

Decorations by Seven dials, Covent Garden

Mistletoe and baubles in the market at Covent Garden

Oxford Street

  We are on Christmas countdown, have you much to do? 

Christmas hygge

Friends and Family
December 18th
A Christmas greeting in the porch

The days in December leading up to Christmas can be fraught if we are not careful.  rushing here and there and trying hard to be as prepared as possible whilst going also going about our daily lives.  However, I do think it important to take a moment out to be with friends and family too, after all this season is supposed to be about that isn't it?

Last week I invited my crochet ladies over for a few nibbles and some gløgg, it was a lovley evening and felt full of warmth and happieness.

Afer having seen badges like this on the selling website Etsy... 
These badges gave me an idea...

I decided to make some of my own, with various crochet phrases, unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures but I wrapped them up and everyone took one at random, we did have a few laughs as the quotes picked out seemed to fit each recipient well...
This saying was my favourite!!!

A festive kitchen adds to the warmth of the season

Norwegian savoury waffles with a mixture of
toppings is a quick and lovely treat to offer visitors

Here we have a combo of brie and redcurrant, Wensleydale
and caramelised onion, salami and bean salad
and salmon and lemon on savoury waffles

Cardamon cake for recipe click here
Cardamom cake, a hint of Christmas flavour
without being too overpowering

So far there is only a touch of red, the house will
become decorated from the 20th onwards and the tree on 23rd

AS well as savoury waffles and cardamom cake, here you
see 5 of the 7 Christmas bakes that a Norwegian
house makes leading up to Christmas

Candles are used throughout the winter to add to
the feeling of warmth both mentally and physically,
but be careful and watch out, they are of course a fire hazard!

  I wish you all warmth and happiness 
in your home with loved ones

Scandinavian baking 6 ~ Table stacking cookies

Bordstabelbakkels ~ Table stacking cookies
December 17th

Today is the 3rd Sunday in Advent and we are only a week away from Christmas Eve.  I am so excited.  Today I bring you the 6th of the 7 cookies that I bake in the run-up to Christmas.  Have you baked any of the cookies yet or any of your own?  Do let me know please, would love to hear from you. 

Today's cookie is Bordstabelbakkels, literally translated as Table Stacking Cookies and if you look at the photographs, I think you can see this is a very apt name.

what sets these cookies apart from others is that you have the cookie base itself and then what we call the filling but actually makes the cookies have two different textures and taste.  I love these cookies but be warned the egg whites and icing sugar mix for the filling must be really stiff before you add the ground almonds otherwise the filling spreads more that is really desired when baking.  this happened to me this year but time was not on my side to make another batch to photograph for you, so excuse the very amateur look of these cookies, but they are still worth it, the taste is divine. 
You can see where the cookies get their name
from each rectangular cookie is stacked upon the other

You will need:

  1 egg
♥  1 tbsp double cream
♥  125 g sugar
  250 g plain flour
125 g butter at room temperature

For the filling:

  3 egg whites
  180 g icing sugar
♥  180 g ground almonds

1   Whisk together the egg cream and sugar.  

2  Add the sifted flour and butter and mix to form a dough.  

3  Place the dough in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours.          
The filling was not stiff enough before
baking so has spread a little too much

4  Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius.  

5  Prepare two baking trays with greaseproof paper  

6  To make the filling, whisk the egg white until they form white peaks and carefully add the icing sugar.  

7  Gently stir in the ground almonds.  

8  Roll the dough to approximately a thickness of 2mm.  

9  Cut out the cookies so they form rectangles of about 2 x 8 cm.  Place each cookie on the prepared trays.   

Bordstabelbakkles ~ Table Stacking Cookies
10  Using a piping bag, preferably with a round nose hole pipe a line of the filling along the middle of each cookie. 

11  Bake in the oven for about 6 minutes or until they are golden.  

12  Cool on a wire rack.  

13 These cookies will keep for a couple of weeks if kept in an airtight container.

Bordstabelbakkels, the 6th cookie baked before Christmas, only one more to bake...

  Hope you are all enjoying the run-up to Christmas.

Scandinavian blogs

My Scandinavian fix
December 16th

Today is all about Scandinavian inspiration and those that I turn to both for ideas and tips.  Where do you get your inspiration from?  Is it any one thing or place, or do you gain inspiration all around, I'd really love to know.

The first crafting Scandinavian inspiration was always Arne and Carlos, I have followed them for more years than I care to think about and they never disappoint, the two of them spur off each other and now travel the world spreading their love of creating:  Arne & Carlos

Next, comes Vibeke a Norwegian with the most serene and beautiful style.  She knows how to set up a good photographic shot and I drool over all her postings, this is her Norway,  her home and it is pure magic: Vibeke

Vibeke's stunning gingerbread house

Outside Vibeke's house

For all things Scandinavian there is the blog that shows you fashion, design, recipes and family getaways, not the blog that I visit the most but has some very useful and inspirational little gems:  Little Scandinavian

From the blog Little Scandinavian and the
article about where to spend Christmas

For seasonal inspiration, Anna scours the internet and shops and brings us her favourites.  She often reviews Scandinavian books and I now have my eye on a new recipe book.  Again a dip in and out of blog:  Anna

Book reviews by Scandinavian Christmas blog

And... there are so many wonderful food blogs out there that are Scandinavian, amongst my absolute favourites are: Manuela

Manuela in her pastel kitchen

Just some of the culinary delights to be found on Manuela's website

Paul born in Oslo and now living in NY is someone I turn to again and again.  He mainly focus' on food but is not unknown to dabble in a little crafting too, my sort of person:  Sweet Paul

Paul himself, the man behind the website Sweet Paul

Many of Paul's recipes make me smile, an example
being these skiing figures on top of the cookies

Kristine runs the website Det Sote Liv, directly translated as The Sweet Life, what's not to like about this site?  Lots of inspirational desserts and baking goes on here:  Kristine

Wonderful Lussekatter for the 13th December made
into a wreath shape, great idea from Kristine

Trine from Denmark is passionate about eating well and enjoying food.  She writes about all meal times and work internationally around the world to encourage people to share their food stories and make the world a better place: Trine she also writes a food blog: Trine's food blog

Trine foraging in the woods

A classic Swedish dish prepared by Trine of meatballs

And I couldn't end this post without adding my favourite cafe in London, I pop in here whenever I can to have my fix of Norway:  Scandi Kitchen they also sell goods online too!

The Scandinavian Kitchen is to be found
on Titchmarsh Street in London

Just some of the wonderful smørgasbørd
at the Scandinavian Kitchen

♥  Hope all your Christmas preparations 
are moving along smoothly