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      Christmas wrapping with an icy twist

      December 27th 2018

      This year we have decided that our summer holiday next year should be a little different.  I will in due course post more about where and why but suffice to say we are going to embark on a new sailing adventure.

      Keeping my husbands Christmas presents along this next adventure theme and not being in the zone to make his presents this year, I decided to buy the items that I know he will need and would have had to buy anyway!!  This way we save money and he does not feel guilty about spending so much on his dreams, plus it shows him I hope that I am behind him wholeheartedly on this adventure. He only hears me being cautious and maybe negative sounding when really I do think it will be a trip of a lifetime.  I see risks and say, 'But, what if...' and  'How will that be possible?' and also, 'Is that not too dangerous?'

      With all this in mind with only a few days to Christmas day, I decided it would be great to wrap his presents in a way that maybe gave a hint to what was inside.  Plus I normally make him at least part of his present every year and this year I had not made anything.  I realised that I had left it too late to make the wrapping out of paper mache which would have worked brilliantly so thought I would have to construct it out of card and paper instead.  My daughter's friend loves to create and when she was here with only four days to go before D day and I mentioned to her what I had in mind, I could see she was on board and she gleefully replied, 'Leave it to me!'  The following afternoon, Ella called upon her to see how they could construct said wrapping ideas when she was informed by her friend that she had already begun, all was in hand and that she was using ice to create it!  On hearing this, I was both astonished and somewhat alarmed as we were to be spending Christmas at friends, a good 45-minute drive away, also knowing they had a very small freezer, added to the fact that one of my presents was electronic, I panicked a little.  So I too began creating out of paper and card and we ended up with two... ICEBERGS.  Mine was the least impressive by far!   Want to see...

      Excuse the blurred image.  John was led outside to the garden,
      where we shouted, mind the icebergs! Inside both were his Christmas presents all
      on the theme of cold weather.

      My paper and card iceberg

      The real iceberg

      Just to give you an idea of the size of the wrapping iceberg,
      it was hollow inside and was able to hold 3 gifts all on the theme of cold weather

        Do you have any unusual wrapping stories to share?   

      Trust you all have had a wonderful Christmas and thank you for all your lovely 
      comments here on the blog, each one is truly appreciated.

Jul Aften

December 24th 2018

Mamma flew back to Norway so we are spending Christmas apart but she was here for the
Glass baubles and home made salt dough hea

preparation and she will return in a week to spend New Year's Eve with us.  In south Norway where we are from the first snow has fallen and they will have a white Christmas.  Mamma will be spending the morning preparing the feast for the evening and as always will visit the church to place flowers on graves of loved ones no longer with us.  This is a very traditionally thing to do today in Norway and up and down the country people will be remembering those no longer with us.

Us?  Here in our home we will be baking and cooking the desserts for the next few days, listening to festive music and coming together in the hub of the home.  I will also be delivering the last of the presents and handwritten cards as I usually do and then at 5 pm promptly, the bell will ring and Christmas proper for our family will begin.

I wish you all a very jolly Christmas and hope it is not a difficult time of year for you.  My purpose of this blog was always to bring some joy and cheerfulness and to give you a peek into the type of traditions that are important to our family one with a mixture of Britsih and Norwegian.

  From our home to yours, 
Merry Christmas & God Jul 

Lille Jul Aften

December 23rd 2018

Today is Lille Jul Aften in Norway, literal translation, Little Christmas Eve.  In our house, as I am sure in many, today the real excitement build up begins, we can say tomorrow is Christmas Eve and the festivities begin.  Little Christmas Eve is all about the last minute preparations, coming together from afar and beginning to start celebrating.

Traditionally in Norway this was the day the house had it's final clean before all the last guests arrived and in the evening when the house was prepared the freshly cut tree from the woods would be brought in and decorated ready for the following day and the Christmas songs sung by all holding hands and dancing around the tree.  I remember many years ago a male friend of mine was somewhat embarrassed at having to sing and dance around the tree with us and he was heard to say, 'What goes around the tree in Norway, stays around the tree in Norway', meaning please do not tell my friends back home that I have been a part of this.  Me, I love traditions.

This year we have decided to have a family day out and see the lights of London.  A day trip, just full of enjoyment.  Do you have plans for today?

Carnaby Street, just by Liberty, my favourite department store

Just off Carnaby Street, Lille Jul Aften

Oxford Street, Lille Jul Aften

China Town, Lille Jul Aften

Covent Garden, Lille Jul Aften

A quick stop to Harrods at Christmas is always a treat,
ook at these marzipan sweets, a bit more professional than ours!

Marylebone High Street on Lille Jul Aften

  Happy Lille Jul Aften 

Eppleskiver Munker

December 22nd 2018

Munker panne, for making
Norwegian munker or
Danish æbleskiver
Do you watch reality TV?  Did you watch the Great British Bake Off (GBBO)?  We are not a great TV family (although we do love the movies and film nights) but the GGBO is one of our favourites and we sit and watch it together as a family.  this year we made several their bakes and one of the weeks had me very excited, that of Danish Week.

We often do not see the show when it is broadcast but usually a few days later, so I was surprised one week when on his return home from the gym he mentioned he knew a bit about that particularly weeks show.  whilst on the running machine they had broadcast the GBBO on the large screens but as he had his headphones in he could not hear anthing.  But he said he recognised this weirdpan they had used and thought we might have one but was sure we had not baked this particulary item.    When he began to describe it, I laughed and said yes, we did have such a pan but that he had only ever seen it used as a candle holder!  What was this pan, it was a munker panne.

After watching Danish week John wanted immediately to have a go and was surprised we had not made munker before or that he had ever eaten them.  I only recall eating them as a child hot from the pan when my mormor made them in Norway.  So to the kitchen, we went.  Below are the photos taken at each stage...

Here you can find Paul Hollywood's recipe for munker, or as they like to call them æbleskiver
Norwegian munker or Danish æbleskiver Recipe

We used Bronte's recipe from her Scandinvain Christmas book that I have mentioned previously and you can find the recipe in full here:  Bronte's aebleskiver

Step by step, making munker:

Making the mixture, trying not to loose too much of the air...

Preparing the apples for the inside of the bake...

First munker in the pan...

Notice the chopsticks in the bottom left-hand corner of the photograph.

Turning the munker over was difficult and we used a combination of toothpicks and chop sticks.

It was a tad messy to do...

They tasted much better than they looked!  A soft doughnut texture that melted in the mouth.  Absolutley delicious but quite a bit of phaff to make but we laughed and had great fun making them!

Norwegian munker

These really are a lovely thing to make despite the phaff and taste so light and lovely.  If you have the time in the in-between bit, I would suggest you give them a go!

  Wishing you much Christmas joy this weekend 

Last Minute Push

December 21st 2018

I don't know about you but I love the month of December, can you tell?  
Knitting on the boat in the winter sun
It is dark out there and the weather can be grim but there is something about the twinkling lights that people hang on their house and place in their front gardens that bring joy and the much needed missing light.  Divali too in November has that same feeling, let's bring light in at this dark time of year.  It is after Christmas that I seem to suffer and notice the darkness more, once the lights of Christmas are packed away for another year.  And yet the days by then will already be beginning to lengthen and there is more daylight, not that I ever feel that this is true.  But it is.  Today is the winter solstice.  It changes every year but always falls between December 20-23 and this year in the Northern hemisphere it is today, Friday 21st December.  The sun rose only a few moments ago at 0803 in the UK and tonight it will set at 1553.  Last night was the longest night and from tonight the nights start to become shorter and the days longer.  
The solstice is the when the sun is furthest from us meaning less sunlight and the southern hemisphere today will have their longest day.  The word solstice comes from the Latin word solstitium meaning sun standing still.  Don't you just love knowing snippets like this?  There is a difference between equinox and solstice too, today is the winter solstice, shorter day and longer nights but the equinox is when the day and night are of the same proportion, usually, this happens around March 21 and again around  September 23 every year.
Today I will light the fire, no work for me I am now on my Christmas holidays, whilst my son is still I school I shall sit by the fire and frantically try and finish his present.  What can a mother do, when three weeks before Christma you see on his wish list a knitted jumper?  I have had to knit in secret and try to fit it in around everything else, so it is really not ready.  but with my new philosophy this year of taking things slow and not stressing, I will try and complete it but if not, I will wrap it up regardless and tell him I will complete it this side of New Year, I'm almost there.  
I was not daft as I chose thick wool needing only 17 stitched per 10cm and an easy bottom up circular pattern with a round yoke and very little pattern.  Had I more time, I would have knitted something with more pattern, maybe that is something for the future, let's see how much he wears this...

Every opportunity to knot to try
and complete the Christmas gift

Whilst watching my son in
his rowing race, I knitted

Accompanying my husband unexpectedly
to winterise our boat, I had to knit,
sorry I did not help honey!

  Do you have last minute things to do?  Are you taking it in your stride or are you stressed?  

Delfia Cake

December 20th 2018
Norwegian coconut butter

Since I have been married most years my Norwegian aunt made me a fridge cake for Christmas, known in Norway as Delfia kake. It is made from coconut butter, which was unavailable in the majority of supermarkets in the UK twenty-five years ago, now, of course, you can find it almost everywhere.  Tante Berit, my mother's only sibling died last year and left a big hole in our small family.  This year, with mamma here, we made Delfia kake and even though we did not speak of her, my aunt was not far from either of our thoughts.  I think I am going to rename this cake in our house Tante Berit's Cake.

Line a loaf tin with foil

This is a fabulously easy cake to make with children and needs no baking.  It is terribly sweet, so a little goes a very long way.

Tante Berit's Cake

You will need:  

250g dark chocolate
4 tablespoons strong coffee
250g coconut butter
2 eggs
Coconut butter
3 tablespoons sugar
Approximately half a pack of Rich Tea biscuits
100g marzipan
1 bag of sugar jelly sweets, the soft variety, Haribo or equivalent

♥  Line a loaf tin with foil.
♥  Melt the chocolate over low heat, adding the coffee.
♥  In a separate pan melt the coconut butter and then remove from the heat and COOL.  Do not omit to cool, this is very important.
♥  Whisk the eggs and sugar until they form a thick mixture, this will take several minutes.
♥  Add the chocolate to the thicken egg mixture and continue to whisk well.
  Add the coconut butter a little at a time, continually whisking.  Continue to whisk until the mixture has an even look to it.
  Layer the chocolate mixture alternately with biscuits, sliced marzipan and the jelly sweets, finishing with the chocolate. 
  Decorate the top with some jelly sweets.
  Place in the fridge to stiffen up and take out and slice thinly and have with a cup of tea or coffee.    Remember it is sweet!

Melt the chocolate and butter in separate pans

Whisk the eggs and sugar...

Until thick and creamy looking.

Add the melted chocolate,
I had let mine cool a bit too much!

Mix well

Adding the coconut butter gave
it an extra sheen of gloss

Norwegian jelly sweets
literally translate to 'sticky men' !!!

Layer the cake with the chocolate mixture and marzipan, biscuits and sweets.


Even more layering

Finally, decorate the top layer with jelly sweets

The finished cake after refrigerating

Slice thinly and not as thick
as the picture in this slice!

Perhaps a word of warning, however, if you are going to let the children eat this, I suggest a good run around outside after to burn off the sugar intake and avoid any of those sugar highs!  Enjoy x

An attractive looking cake
that goes down well with children.

  Are you ready for Christmas yet?