Homecrafted eclectic reflections

31st December

It is a time of reflection and I am following on the band wagon.  We have had a very mixed year, with a deep loss and some unexpected hospital stays.  But, despite the sadness that is very real, the year has been and is now almost gone and we look forward. In saying that on a home crafted front this blog has gone from strength to strength and I would like to thank you all for being a crucial part of this journey with me.  thank you to all those who have commented either here or on other forums and to all of you who read but remain silent, I thank you for your time in spending here with me at eclectic, you are warmly welcomed back.

A look back at this year...

All sorts of bags

Various sewn bunting

Lots of crocheted garlands

Hearts featured heavily this year

A variety of crafts

Makes that hold things in one way or another

Items made to be worn

And let us not forget Christmas makes

  Sending you nothing but good wishes and happiness in the coming year, see you in 2015 

Five a day post

26th December ~ Boxing Day

Today for the fist time I join in with a group of bloggers and post about five things. Amy at Love made my home began and hosted this party and I am grateful to be joining in. 

I have decided to share 5 sites with you on various social media that I follow. I would like to spread the love. Being new to the blogging world I have found the support tremendous and inspirational. To all of you I follow, sorry I could not share you all and to those I am yet to discover, I cannot wait. 

My five for today are:

For great inspiration as to what to read, you should watch out the talented writer and read her for honest fresh reviews, pop along to the Wordpress blog of Nicki. She set herself the challenge of reviewing 50 books and 50 films that she had not previously read or seen in the year she turned 50. Find her at 

On Facebook I follow a fellow Scandinavuan offspring.  Sweet Paul from America also had a Norwegian mormor (mothers mother) as I did. His page is all about the sweet things in life. Who could resist that. He writes about baking, crafting and home style in a way which has fun and flair.  Go see for yourself at

On Twitter I follow a superb knitter who says she dabbles in crochet too but my word her creations are original, unique and have some wits to them. I usually end up in her blog but as I have already shared a blog with you, Twisted gets mentioned in this section. But I urge you to pop over. Her written word is so clever and never fails to put a smile on my face. A very talented lady. Find her on twitter at:


Of course there is also Instagram and I confess to perhaps loving this form of social media the best. It really is what it says. It's instant. The community are uber supportive and friendly and you can find inspiration immediately. Often from IG you may pop to someone's blog or begin quick snipets of conversation but the photos often just speak for themselves. I love it. Today I share with you a Norwegian baker who writes her posts both in Norwegian and English. She has many thousands, oops just checked, she has over one million followers! And they follow for good reason. Her food bakes are sublime. Don't be put off by her immaculate nails or the pastel pinks of her photos, her bakes are delicious   Find Manuela on IG as:


And lastly let's not look at electronics but good old books. I cannot get away from them despite trying to embrace new technology. I do not want to be left behind in the past but neither can I let it go. I love books to flick through, to touch and to read and admire. Christmas for me once the festivities begin still mean cook books. I love sitting down in a quiet moment over the Christmas period with a cup if tea and Christmas cake and flicking through cook books. I maybe stuffed full of rich food but I like to continue to peruse the food and wonder when I may try this recipe or that one. My current favourite is another Norwegian descendent, Signe, living in London but was brought up in Oslo as a small child. Her book Scandilicious is top of my go to list at present.  She has another great book out too. Go see what you think. 

I hope you have enjoyed my insight into some that I follow and that I may have introduced you to new sites. I always find that so exciting. Enjoy the rest of the festive season everyone. I wish you nothing but good things. 

I am joining in Five on Friday, taking five minutes from our day to enjoy five things.  Please go and visit the other people who are also blogging about Five on Friday this week.

Jul Aften Christmas Eve

24th December

God Jul to everyone. Today is Christmas in Norway. As us tradition mamma has been to the church years and place a wreath for lived ones not with us this year. For us that is particularly poignant this year too as I fear reading and listening to the news it will be for many also. 

Life does not stop however much we sometimes want it to and we try hard to embrace the around us. I think we are managing fine. 

Today the Christmas cake was iced, last minute dash to the shops, which were remarkably quiet, a quick coffee with a friend and then... Five o'clock bell rings and Christmas proper can commence. 

We are well, opened our Norwegian presents, spoke with family abroad. Exchanged out family tradition of giving and receiving of two  pound presents to much hilarity. And food left out for FatherChristmas  and his reindeer. 

Wishing you all a wonderful festive season and sending you all my love. Will pop back to blog land I a few days time. In the meantime. GOD JUL

Poor mans cookies bake number 7

23rd December

Poor mans cookies

Today in Norway they call it Lille Jul Aften, literal translation would be Little Christmas Eve. Our ham is cooked and glazed, the turkey has made it into the house and the vegetable are in situ too. I can relax despite the fact there are still presents to wrap, the cake to ice and the sausage rolls to name but to name a few. But a few sips of an alcoholic beverage, music playing and family around it will all get done. I am excited even if this stinky cold seems to want to win the battle, I'm giving it a good fight and run for its money.

We bake the last of the seven cookies today and I confess that the dough needs to be made the day before you need it. These cookies today would be great to make in between Chrustmas and new year. They keep for only a week or so but really are absolutely best eaten warm when newly made.

Mormors Fattigmann (mothers mother poor man)

These are very traditional cookies and have been made for many generations within Norwegian families. Ideally you should shallow fry them in lard and as we only make them once a year I do. But if you cannot bring yourself to do this you could shallow fry in butter or vegetable oil but the taste will not be the same.

There are other cookies called Goro that require a beautiful mould to press the cookies into to produce an intricate pattern. These poor mans cookies are based on that but do not require the specialist equipment, possible this is how they found their name.

You will need:
100ml double cream
5 egg yolks
75g sugar
1 tbsp brandy
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1 egg white, whisked to stiff peaks
500g plain flour
For shallow frying: 500g lard

1. Whisk the double cream till it holds it's shape.
2. In a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar to firm a thick consistency.
3. Carefully mix the cream, yolk mixture and brandy.
4. Add the spices to 3/4 of the flour and very carefully add this to the whisked egg white being careful not to loose all the air.
5. Mix the two mixtures together and firm a dough. Cover in cling film and refridgerate until the next day.
6. Roll the dough out with the remainder if the flour sprinkled on the work top. Roll the dough out quite thinly. If you have a crinkle cut pastry roller use this to cut out the cookies. I have mislaid mine(!) do I just used a knife instead. Cut London thin strips about 3cm in width and then cut on a diagonal angle to produce a diamond shape cookie. Cut a slit in the middle too. See photographs, hopefully for clarification if needed.

Cut into diamond shapes and add a slit

7. Once the lard has melted place the dough in and cook for between one to two minutes. Let then turn a golden colour, not too brown. They cook quickly.

Shallow fry in lard for best results

Cook till golden (light) brown

8. Place the cooked cookies on kitchen paper to allow the lard to run off. 

Dry on kitchen paper to soak excess fat

9. Once cooled sprinkle on vanilla icing sugar and eat immediately. 

Sprinkle with vanilla icing sugar

❤️  We have now made all 7 traditional cookies for a Norwegian Christmas.  ❤️

Christmas marzipan Norwegian style

22nd December 

This is my IG post from today,
feeling a bit under the weather :(
Almonds feature heavily in the Norwegian kitchen and never more so than at Christmas time.  Every year we make our own marzipan and those of you regular to this blog will know we have to make them in fruit shapes, it's a family tradition.

This year I chose to use natural food dyes and I must admit to being a little disappointed.  The colours were obviously not as bright as artificial colourings but the difference was staggering, especially with the red dye.  In fact we were so unimpressed that we ended up adding far too much of the colour that it altered the taste of the marzipan.  We ended up having to throw that section away, what a waste!  On closer inspection of the bottle the red food dye was made up from paprika and yes, we could taste that on our marzipan.  I love a bit of spice in my food, but this was not a good combo.  So our red apples are muted in colour this year and we did not even bother with making strawberries and very sad we are too.  It was therefore doubly sad when the yellow and dulled red colours did not mix to produce a wonderful orange colour, so we have no oranges this year either.  That 'orange' colour looked very much like some un mentionable dog mess and so too went the way of the bin.  Oh dear...

Not very red marzipan

The red natural food dye up against my red vase

...but we do have marzipan so not all is lost, just a lesson learnt.


To make the marzipan, I usually grind my own almonds but only after I have blanched them.  You can speed this process up in a number of ways 1) buy ground almonds, although I do not think for some reason this is quite the same, must be the Scandi snob in me, it does produce perfectly good results, so ignore my comments! 2) buy blanched almonds 3) buy ready made marzipan ;)

I tend to use 500g almonds and 500g icing sugar.  Mix the ground almonds and icing sugar well and then slowly add egg white.  Depending on the size of egg you will need 1-2 egg whites.  You want the mixture to come together and form a ball but not be sticky.  Remember if adding food dye, that too will add to the wetness of the dough.

Once the marzipan is made we divide it into the number of colours we wish to use and also leave some plain in colour. 

Make various shaped fruits and also you can cut some shapes out with the smallest cookie cutters you have  too.  Melted chocolate and marzipan are a good combination and often we do this too.

Chocolate covered marzipan

Here are this years contribution to our Christmas table...

We always make the marzipan and
then divide it up into sections for different colour dyes

Marzipan being shaped into fruit

The first plate of marzipan is ready

♥  We are now in Christmas week, hope all is going according to plan for you, as long as this cold that is threatening to set in disappears, all will be well this end, I hope?! 

Christmas in London

21st December

We are still in London, so writing this post again on the hoof and filling up on Christmas spirit. The Albert Hall was a huge success last night, see yesterday's blog post here  And today we Christmas shop with the added bonus this year of also following the Paddington bear trail. Fifty bear statues to be found, so far we have spotted a couple and hope to add many more throughout the day. 

Liam Gallagher designed this Paddington
wearing a green parker

John Hurt designed the marmalade
influenced coat for this Paddington

As always there are lots of twinkly lights and those in Carnaby Street are modern and fun...

Headphone and moustaches made us giggle

Oxford street lights were at first a disappointment but I confess to now actually liking their simplicity and end en mass do look spectacular. 

Bright lights, big city springs to mind

I love that the shops will not be outdone and both the department stores Debenhans and John Lewis filled their walls with white lights, warm white and ice white. Both equally stunning. 

I have learnt over the years to always look up in cities

Side street too in London light up and you really need to look all sound to make sure nothing is missed. 

Peacock tails and feathers

Covent Garden has the largest baubles I have ever seen, they are in fact the same decorations they had last year which pleases me and they have a beautiful gigantic silver deer statue. 

Covent Garden never ceases to impress

We will continue today soaking up the spirit, ticking off the Paddington's we see and hopefully competing our Christmas shopping. Never forgetting that today is the last Sunday in advent and tonight on our return home we will light that fourth candle. 


For those of you wondering , I have not picked up my crochet hook or blanket since the last post on it a week ago. I knew this week would be otherwise occupied. I am still hopeful to begin the border and complete it by the new year?!? Watch this space!  Hope the last few days of Christmas preparation go according to plan for you all. Are you calm or stressed out about it all?

❤️  I can almost smell Christmas from here...  ❤️

Christmas sing a long

20th December

I am writing this blog post on the hoof so to speak so I do not think I can add captions to photographs or chance the font, please excuse. I will try to rectify this later. 

I have mentioned several time the importance to me of tradition at Christmas, that of keeping old ones and introducing new ones.  Two years ago we began at the behest of Mr H to ensure we all were given a jolly good dose of Christmas spirit the week end before Christmas. The children no longer perform carols at school, we all work right up I till Christmas and so it was felt a big push the week end before would bring us altogether in a Christmassy feel. It works and we love it. 

The weekend before Christmas we have started to come together in London and descend upon the beautiful round iconic building, that of the Royal Albert Hall.  

If you have not been and you get the opportunity you really should try. It is just splendid. The sheer size of it set in the middle of London, the intricate carvings on the outside, the beautiful interior decor not to mention the outstanding acoustics within, perfect for musical endeavours. 

Today will be our  third visit for the Christmas Sing a Long, so popular, it sells out tickets very fast and people are coached in from all over the UK on day trips for it.  Christmas hat wearing is not compulsory but it might as well be, everyone wears one.  The compare and conductor of the orchestra and audience again will be Jonathan Cohen who unwittingly wears an extra event Christmas waistcoat, usually made every year by the same audience fan. It is really a jolly happy, clap you hands, sing your heat out sort of day.  Sounds twee, but taken in the correct spirit it is meant, even our teenager ask during the summer months if we have purchased our tickets yet, set the spirit and happy tone for the festive season.

Today we will be singing our hearts out and being right royally entertained. I hope you too have a fabulous Saturday.  

Tree festival

19th December

I love real Christmas trees and I could not contemplate ever having one that was not real. I know all the arguments as to why artificial maybe better but for me they are not. End of. I do however concur that some artificial trees are wonderful and can be the most amazingly dressed trees around. They are symmetrical and elegant but they are not real so do not do it for me. Sorry. 

In Norway of course you can buy your Christmas trees as we do here in the UK, in garden centres, super markets and in random pop up places but for many going out to hunt for the perfect tree in the forest and to chop it down and bring it back home through the crisp white snow is part of Christmas. In nostalgic rose tinted glasses view I would tell you that most Norwegians decorate their tree either on Lille Jul Aften (December 23rd to you and me) or on Jul Aften itself. But now times are changing and many put their tree up before then. 

Here in our house we have become Anglicized a little bit and put up our tree any day after the 20th December. Except this year we have put it up earlier so that mamma who is visiting us before Christmas can decorate the tree with us, these moments are for family and we wanted mamma with us too.

From the very first moment I had my own home the tree decorations had to be home made, I am sure this stems from my Norwegian roots as I remember many a Christmas with mamma making woven paper heart bags to put on the tree full of nuts and raisins.  Our tree for the past 22 years has had home made salt dough red painted hearts, and I could not now think of our tree without them. Follow the link to the salt dough recipe we use for our tree... here .  You will need to scroll down half way through the post and find TROLLDEIG, Norwegian for salt dough.  Make it, it's such fun and they will last for years.   This year. lots has been turned up on it's head for us in our household, but one of the nice things is that our daughter has started to collect her own Christmas baubles.  That of glass.  These will be added to each year, can you imagine buying a whole trees worth in one go, way too expensive.  But somehow with friends and family enjoying her wanting to do this she has already amassed 11 beautiful baubles.  these will leave our home when she does, I'm trying not to think about it; the loss of these new glass baubles of our daughter leaving home?  So for the first time, we have bought baubles on our tree too, I admit they look elegant and beautiful, but I think it the combination of home crafted and clear glass that is wonderful.
We always have salt dough red hearts on our tree,
homemade of course

As we have moved everything around in our house, the tree is actually in a different room for the first time, I felt something was missing in the front room and decided we needed to be decadent and add in a second tree!  This really I felt was extravagant but a wonderful necessity and it was here that my Arne and Carlos knitted baubles found their home this year.  Although I now realise I need more of them...
Potted Christmas tree with knitted Arne and Carlos baubles
Tree festival
I have obviously been walking around in the last few years in my own Christmas bubble as I am only now joining in on the Christmas tree festival band wagon and WOW is all I can say.  I have not been able to find the origins of why tree festivals began, but certainly in our market town, it has brought the masses into church and created money both for charity and the church itself.  I happened to be in town and had 10 minutes spare, seeing the huge sewn sign (who could resist that) I wondered in.  My 10 minutes spare led to an hour walking round the church and a cup of tea to boot.  Each tree had been decorated by various groups including local pre school, s
primary and secondary school, scouts, brownies and local business, not to mention the WI as well.  All trees were decorated to a Christmas carol title and we were given a sheet on entry and had to try and match the tree to the carol.  A lovely way to spend an hour in an other wise busy month.  I shall look out for it next year and take the family along too.
Yearly tree festival in the market town

Can you match the carol to the correct tree?
Here are the carols that were represented at the church, not all are photographed, so your challenge is slightly harder, have fun, let me know how you managed!
Mary’s Boy Child • The Cherry Tree • Away in a Manger • Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree • Good King Wenceslas • Hark the Herald Angels Sing • Jingle Bells • O Little Town of Bethlehem • Once in Royal David’s City • The First Noel • The Holly and the Ivy • The 12 days of Christmas • We Three Kings of Orient are • While Shepherds Watched • White Christmas • Santa Claus is Coming to Town • All I want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth • Let it snow, let it snow • Little Drummer Boy • Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer • We wish you a Merry Christmas • A Christmas Carol by Dickens • A Spaceman came travelling

Are you a  die hard and your tree looks the same every year, or are you someone who buys new colours for the tree each year?  Do you have a special bauble or precious ornaments for the tree.  It's such a personal thing tree decorating.
♥  I would love to know about you and your tree ...  ♥


Kransekake Norwegian Celebration cake

18th December

We love all things sweet in this house and despite baking so much in the lead up to Christmas we do not eat that much of it ourselves. The majority of that made is plied on visitors or given away as gifts. We will not be rolling out of the house quite yet. That said, Norwegians do know how to make an incredibly sweet celebration cake and I am yet to find anyone who doesn't like it, as long as they can tolerate nuts.  The cake in question ~ Kransekake 

To see the history of kransekake and the full recipe and instructions, follow my post on it from last year, you can find it here

I was asked a question as to how to make a kransekake if one did not have the specialist equipment used. Well, it is possible just not quite as easy. 

As you can see from the photographs a kransekake is made up of 18 rings placed on top of each other. I have ring moulds for this but if you do not,  you need to draw consentric circles on grease proof paper and then roll your mixture into long thin sausages and place in the marked circles. See below photograph hopefully which may explain it visually better than my written word. 

Draw ever decreasing circle for the layers of the kransekake

Make sure to leave space between the rings
as it will swell a little in baking

I made only six rings in this way as an example to show you. My son is delighted as now he will share this with his friends. 

An example of 6 rings made without
specialist kransekake equipment

Icing should be zig zagged

Mini crackers, ribbon and flags are often
seen as decoration, but you can do whatever
you like on the kransekake

I did  however have my first EVER failure with kransekake this week and so I shall be making another sometime between now and Christmas. I had the oven temperature too high by mistake which meant that the mixture whilst in the oven swelled up too quickly and too much. Thus on completion of baking the rings were much more swollen than normal and on closer inspection were hollow, as all the mixture went into the engage red size if the rings!  It tastes fine but it's not as it should be and does not look as magnificent as usual. Take a look...

Easy storage and transportation box
for the kransekake

Can you see how hollow this one has become,
this is NOT how it should look. 
Lesson learnt, do not have oven temperature too high!!

Couldn't lift off the bottom tings to ice
them individually, hence the messy icing. 
Am very embarrassed!

Do pop over to last years post on kransekake and see his it should be please

Just a week to go till the big day. I am so excited. Keep well and thank you to everyone who has commented. I love having a two way flow of words with you. Brings the blog alive. Thank you ❤️