Saturday, December 14, 2013


It turns out that I'm not a very prolific blogger. My posts are few and far between, especially lately. I haven't posted anything since our Italy trip this August! But so much has happened since then! Of course, number 1 is that baby #4 is on it's way! We're so excited about that! The girls really want a little brother but we shall see. Another big exciting event was that Daniel and Niki moved to Spangereid! So that's been tons of fun and we're really enjoying getting to be with them and really be an aunt/uncle/cousins to their 2 little cuties. And the 3rd big thing that's not quite as pleasant is that my back decided really to just...give up. So I've really had to set limits for myself to get through this pregnancy. Good news is I'm almost half way! Woot!

Anyway, to the point. We've been working on the house when we have time and money. Right at the beginning of Sept we finished Rebecca's room. She had been sharing a room with Emilie since we moved in so both were very happy when Becca's room was finished. Sindre was off shore for the better part of October and November but when he got back, they started full swing on our basement.
It went pretty fast actually. There's still stuff left to be done. We haven't installed the wood stove yet and we're still missing the trims and small details. And we haven't even started on the guest room and storage room down there. But the goal was to get the family room done. And mission accomplished.

When you sit down here now it's almost hard to imagine how it looked before. Let's suffice it to say that there is a whole lot of work and pure determination behind the finished product.

Here is a little reminder of how it looked before we started the renos. This is the guest room which is still unfinished but it shows you how the original stone walls looked.

And this is a part of our now family room. This picture shows the kitchen cupboards that were down here. They are original to the house that stood before this house was built on the same foundation. This is house was built in 1929 so these cupboards are from some point in the 1800's. We wanted to save them but they were too eaten up by wood worm. 

The basement was absolutely FULL of stuff. It was cold and musty, smelled bad, had extremely uneven floors, and the only way into it was to go out of the house and through a set of stairs from the outside.

First we had to dig a new basement that would connect to the old one and go under the new extension.

Then, by sheer muscle power, the guys dug up the basement floor with sledgehammers and carried out the rubble, bucket by bucket. We needed to dig down a bit to gain a little ceiling height, to put in the in-floor heating cables, and to pour a new, LEVEL concrete floor.

After that we didn't do a lot of work down there. Sindre put in all the wiring for the electrics and we had to finish the floor in the new part of the basement so that they could install the staircase. So it was like that until just a few weeks ago.

The guys starting to install the floor and white wash the walls:

And as of today, it looks like this. 

We love it already. We're pleased that there's lots of space, the ceiling height is good and it turned out like we wanted. And we've already tested it out with a movie night with Daniel and Niki last night. We'll be opening all our gifts down here on Christmas Eve. Can't wait to put a tree up and make it Christmasy. :)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My Italian Experience

It was everything I hoped it would be! We were driving around one day and we started talking about traveling. Neither Sindre nor I have traveled very much except for the usual. Which around here means we've been to Denmark and Sweden but no farther. And of course we've been in Canada. (Great place, btw!) We've been wanting for years to venture a little farther but when vacation time came, we always chose to go home to Canada. This summer we decided to finally change it up ! We decided, rather suddenly, instead of a long road trip in Norway, we could just as well head south and have a European road trip. We were thinking about France but we ended up setting our sights on Italy. My wonderful in-laws also wanted in on the fun and suddenly we had booked our hotels and ferry tickets. Exciting!

The first few days were mostly driving. We took a ferry from Norway to Denmark, drove through Denmark and spent the first night in Germany. The next day we drove through Germany and into Salzburg, Austria. I loved it! What a gorgeous city. So much history and culture.

Hohensalzburg Fortress (built in 1066):

The view of Salzburg from the Hohensalzburg Fortress:

We also visited Mozart's birthplace, the house he grew up in. And the Mirabell Gardens which featured in the film "Sound of Music" where the Von Trapp children were learning to sing (Do, Re, Mi).

We spent one full day in Salzburg and then drove over the Alps into Italy. What a fantastic trip! One thing that surprised me was how warm it was up in the Alps. Around 26 or 27 celcius. It's only a 4 hour drive from Salzburg to Venice. Venice was amazing! Just stunning. It was very hot that first day and the crowds were extreme. But we did manage to see the main sights like St. Mark's Square, St. Mark's Basilica, we went up the Campanile clock tower, drove in a vaparetto (boat buses), ate pizza and gelato, bought Venetian masks for the girls and just enjoyed all the canals and bridges and architecture. 

St. Mark's Basilica:

St. Mark's Basilica from the top of the Campanile.

St. Mark's Square:

Other Venice shots:

Both the crowds and heat were extreme so we learned to stay away from the city during the day. We spent a beautiful day at Lido di lesolo, a beach on the Adriatic Sea just 40 min from Venice. You could spend all day in the water, it was that warm. We went back to Venice one evening when we were hoping for slightly cooler temps and maybe smaller crowds. What a great evening! We dined alfresco along one of the canals and walked around to the Jewish Ghetto. I didn't take any pictures as it was the Sabbath and a man came and asked us not to. I did actually get a little choked up at the WW2 memorial in the square. It was just a lovely evening.

Our journey took us an hour west of Venice to Verona where we spent 3 days. The first day Elin, Madelen and I spent the evening at the opera at Arena di Verona where we got to experience Verdi's Nabucco. We loved it! Even Madelen was attentive through all 3.5 hours of the opera. And the Hebrew Slave Chorus....the decrescendo to pianissimo at the end....chills! Here it is if you've never heard it before.

We spent two absolutely glorious days at Lake Garda. The first day we were at Lazise at the southern end of Lake Garda. We thought it was so beautiful!

That is until the next day when we went further north on the east side of Lake Garda to Malcesine. Oh my! It was just stunning! Crystal clear water with the Alps rising up all around. Words can't describe and pictures don't do it justice.

We've made lots of memories, the girls enjoyed themselves and we're happy and satisfied with our experience. There are 3 things that stand out to me; the gondola ride at twilight in Venice, the opera in Verona, and Malcesine by Lake Garda. 

I could post a hundred pictures and describe all the details but that would take forever and still not give you the full story. So I'll leave you now with my favourite picture from the trip.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ye Glorious Summer!

We've been having a beautiful summer! The nicest we've had in at least 4 years. So we've been taking the days as they come with no real plans. Just relaxing. It's really nice after such a hectic year. Sindre is gone offshore again so it's just been the girls and I. Just 6 days til he's home!

We've done a few things around the house both inside and out since we've moved in but nothing that shows much. I finally got my piano in it's spot. And working on the details in the living room and kitchen.

I've also been watching my garden grow. We've figured out that we have 4 black cherry (sweet cherries) trees, 1 red cherry (sour cherries) tree, 1 apple tree, 2 plum trees, blackberries, 3 black currant bushes, and at least 6-7 red currant bushes. I already knew that I really don't like black currants but I'd never really tasted fresh red currants before. And they're really yummy. Sour but good. One of our bushes that gets a lot of sun has already ripened and I've picked about 2 litres of berries. 

The girls helped me clean them and take off the stalks.

I made a yummy dessert from them for the girls and I one evening. We used blueberries and red currants, crushed oatmeal cookies and vanilla sauce. Delicious! 

Now I'm in the process of making red currant jelly. Hope it turns out! 

In just 10 days we're heading to Austria and Italy! Our first European tour and we're so excited. We're driving and will be spending most of our time in northern Italy around Venice and Verona. Praying my back holds out for the long car trip. I'll be sure to post lots of pictures. :) I hope your summer is turning out just as glorious as ours!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Rhubarby Yumminess!

I adore rhubarb! I've loved it since I was a kid and we'd pick it from my aunt and uncle's garden and eat it sour as can be. Or dipped in some sugar. But most of all, I loved my Mom's homemade rhubarb rolls. Now, in my new backyard, I have all kinds of yummy things growing. We have red and black current bushes, plum, apple, cherry and black cherry trees, raspberries and blackberries. But we don't have rhubarb. Which I plan on remedying next spring (or whenever it is one plants rhubarb). So when I saw some rhubarb for sale at the store, I couldn't resist buying a bundle.

Now, I did't have a recipe for my mom's homemade rhubarb rolls. And there probably isn't one. She's a "take some of this and, you know, as much as you need of that" kind of a baker. So I was on my own. And so I made some yesterday off the top of my head. And it was so yummy!! Like my mouth is filling with water type of yummy! We ate it warm with vanilla ice cream and hot rhubarb sauce/stewed rhubarb.

I started out with my Dad's super duper biscuit recipe. Norwegian in brackets for my Norwegian friends.


4 cups flour (mel)
1/2 cup sugar (sukker)
1 tsp salt
6 tsp baking powder (bakepulver)
1 tsp baking soda (natron)
1 cup shortening (melange)
2/3 cup buttermilk (kulturmelk)
2/3 cup milk (melk)

Blend all dry ingredients together well. Blend in shortening. Add milk and buttermilk to make dough. Sprinkle enough flour to make it dry enough to handle by hand.

At this point instead of cutting it out into biscuit shapes, I rolled the dough out ino a rectangle. I put some butter on, then sprinkled some sugar and 3-4 handfuls of sliced rhubarb. Roll up and cut into slices.

Lay the slices into a pan.

 In the meantime you need to make a sugar syrup. I take about 3 cups of sugar in a saucepan with enough water to dissolve the sugar, plus a little bit more (it's not an exact science, at least not when I do it). Bring to a boil, turn down low and let simmer for 10 minutes. Pour most it over the rhubarb rolls, reserving a bit to make the rhubarb sauce. Bake in oven at 350 F (180 C) until golden brown on top. To make the rhubarb sauce add another 3-4 handfuls of rhubarb to the reserved sugar syrup plus another 2 cups of sugar. If you want it to be thicker, liked stewed rhubarb, don't add water. I wanted to make a sauce to pour over the vanilla ice cream and rhubarb rolls, so I added a tiny bit of water. When it cooks it gets pretty runny so be careful not to add too much water.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream or even just plain cream, topped with the hot rhubarb sauce. *drool*

I would love to show you a picture of the finished product in all it's sticky glory but I was so busy eating, I forgot to take one. So you'll have to make it yourself to see how it turns out. ;)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Well I'm back for another before and after session. And this time, as I'm sure you've figured out by the title, it's the kitchen. We're still not 100% finished but we're mighty close. I was planning on blogging more regularly now, but my back has completely different plans than I do. So I'm just taking it as it comes. So here goes. First let's see what it looked like before.

The kitchen was two rooms before. We knocked out the walls separating the kitchen from the dining room/living room and turned it into a bigger kitchen.

This is the same view after a great deal of ripping apart. The walls are down and the all the other walls are stripped down to the bones so we could check for rot. And if you notice on the right side there is some insulation where there originally was a window. They had taken it out and covered it up. We reinstalled a window there. 

And here we are after the outer walls have also been removed, and rebuilt with new studs and insulation. The window has been installed as well. 

Getting closer.

And closer.

And.....tada!! This is the same view. We still have some work to do. The trim around the door needs painted. The doors themselves need painted as well. And we're still missing the foot boards and one cabinet door. But I love it. Especially the window seat. 

And here is the rest.

It's exactly the white kitchen I've been dreaming about.