Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Any given Sunday

I mentioned in my last post that Norwegians are outdoor people. Canadians are too but Norwegians seem to make it more of a part of their everyday life. Like "The Sunday Walk". On any given Sunday you are sure to meet your neighbour and at least half of your neighbourhood somewhere outside on a "trip". And if the weather is exceptionally nice, then the streets and countryside will be crawling with happy Norwegians soaking in the rays and breathing in the fresh air. As they say, "Ut på tur, aldri sur.", which means, more or less, that you can't be grumpy while in the great outdoors.

And since we had fantastic weather last Sunday, we decided to make it an afternoon in southern Norway's beautiful nature. We went on a "grilltur". My girls LOVE to go on a grilltur. This means that we pack our backpacks with hotdogs, oranges, drinks and chocolate. And of course some lighter fluid, matches and a sharp knife. And we go for a long hike, find a pleasant place to stop and make a little bonfire. The kids run around exploring while we sharpen some sticks to roast our hotdogs over the fire. And we love taking "pinnebrød" (stick bread) with us. Pinnebrød is more or less a pizza dough. I make it before we leave and put it in an ice cream container. The dough is pretty much risen by the time we get to our destination. We pull off a piece and wrap it around the hotdog instead of having a bun. Ok, so it gets a little well done on the outside and slightly doughy on the inside but isn't that the true essence of cooking in the outdoors anyway?? And it's good by itself too. Just wrap it around a stick and hold it over the fire. And food always tastes better outside. Even a sandwich. Seriously. Take your lunch, go for a walk and when you find a nice spot, lean back against a tree and enjoy your meal.

Here's the recipe I use for Pinnebrød:

4.5 dl (2 cups) flour
25 gr (2.5 tsp) dry yeast
2 tbs olive oil
1.5 dl (2/3 cup) warm water
a dash of salt
a dash of oregano

Knead it all together into a nice smooth dough, put it in a greased ice cream container and chuck it into your backpack. Seriously, hotdogs taste waaaay better with this way.

Here we are at the look out taking a rest before we continue:

The view:

The fire:

The food:

And a little update about the upstairs hallway reno.....we're 95% done!! The rest of the wallpaper went on last week, Saturday was devoted to the flooring and we put all the trims back up and painted the nail holes today. We're still missing a few trims, a new light fixture and some finishing touches but HOPING to be done that on Saturday. So stay tuned!! It's perty. :D

Friday, March 23, 2012

Spring belongs to Norway

Growing up in Canada, I'm used to 4 separate seasons. You know, summer, fall, winter, spring, sharply divided by various types of weather and the state of nature. In Norway those lines are somewhat blurry. My first year here I learned that fall equals rain. A WHOLE LOT of rain. And the trees aren't even a pretty colour. Then I learned that winter also means rain. More and more rain. Now all you Canadians that are sick to death of snow and shoveling and winter storms may think that that doesn't sound too bad. Well, let's just say that rain is depressing. You can't play in it, go skiing, sledding, snowboarding, make forts, have a snowball fight, make snow angels, and it really, really stinks at Christmas. What's a Canadian to do?

And then came spring. Ahhhh, glorious spring! I am absolutely sure, seeing that Edvard Grieg is Norwegian, that he wrote Morgenstemning (Morning Mood) in the spring. Listen to the music and you'll know how I felt that spring, and subsequently every spring after. 

Not that spring isn't nice in Canada. But after a whole, very looong winter of snow, that all has to melt, we all know what spring equals in Canada. Spring equals mud. Just when you think you can ditch your boots, think again. And it rains. Yuck.

Spring belongs to Norway. They days are long. We're so far north that we're already having long days and short nights. And it's sunny! Bright blue skies reflected in an even brighter blue ocean. Flowers everywhere (I'd wager a bet that Maritimers don't often see flowers in February!) and everyone out in their flower beds and back yards weeding and digging and planting. Everyone outside in general. Norwegians are fiercely proud of the beautiful nature of this country, which they have every right to be. And Norwegians are outdoor people. They have a saying, "There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing." Meaning you can be outside in all types of weather as long as you're dressed for it. But in the spring we can finally peel off some layers and really appreciate the warmth of the sun. 

And I just can't leave you today without some more Grieg. This just sums it up so perfectly and is a reflection of everything I've tried to say with words! Happy spring everyone!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pancakes and Wallpaper

Yesterday was an interesting day. My friend and neighbour is a teacher and asked me to come speak to her 7th grade class about Canada. They're doing a project where they virtually travel to another country. And if you're a Canadian and a Maritimer you can't speak about Canada without mentioning maple syrup. And can you think of anything more lovely than that?? Sweet, sticky,  golden yumminess! And since I practically grew up in the Sugar Woods I have lots of experience to draw from. In fact, I never miss home more than I do during maple season.

Here we are at Neil Ripley's camp back in 2007. It was summer but we always make a point of visiting whether it's maple season or not.

Emilie and I were putting labels on maple syrup jugs. 

 Neil filling up some jugs for us to take home.

The day continued with our Hallway Project!! My upstairs hallway was a dark dungeon that I've wanted to redo since....well, pretty much since we did it the first time. I hated it right away. I've begged poor Sindre over the years and, well, now it's finally happening! It's just the beginning of our rather big reno plans that include the foyer, staircase, downstairs bathroom, kitchen and a whole lot of flooring. I'm not sure Sindre knows exactly how big my plans are but if I just push a little at a time, hopefully I'll get my way. Lol!   I tried to find a before picture of the hallway but I have nothing. But suffice it to say that "dark dungeon" pretty much sums it up.

I'm quite proud to say that I have done the vast majority of this project myself. That includes removing all the floor, ceiling and door trims, removing painted fiberglass wallpaper (which was an ITCHY, difficult job), sanding the walls, crackfilling and sanding again, a coat of primer, and painting 2 coats of white panel paint on every last trim and there are LOTS. And I painted all the door jams white as well. But I needed help with the wallpapering because I had never done it before. So my dear husband stepped in and we got half of it done last night. And can I just say, it is sooooooo pretty. Seriously gorgeous.

It took us 2 hours just to figure out how to get the wallpaper up and where to cut it so we could match the pattern but not lose too much wallpaper in the cutting. The whole thing was very confusing but since we ended up doing it the way I had originally thought, I guess I'm not as confused as I thought. Or....? Anyway, 2 more hours and we'd got half the hallway done. Somewhere in that time, I managed to throw a couple of frozen pizzas in the oven (Grandiosa, a staple of the Norwegian diet!), drive Emilie to choir, fetch various drinks and snacks for the girls and help them with homework. Phew!

Here are "halfway done" pictures.

You'll have to wait a little longer for the final outcome!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday is Soccer

It's been a really busy weekend! We can safely say that Emilie has been celebrated well. Had a lovely Saturday evening at Solbakken with friends and family.

Sunday ended up being a busy day too. I decided the night before that Madelen's bedroom needed changing around. So after some pulling and shoving and a good amount of vacuuming, she's got a better organized bedroom and it's easier for the girls to watch TV from her bed now. Cozy on a rainy afternoon.

And since we were at it, we went ahead and moved Rebecca's room around.

And since that all went so well, I decided I could just as well switch out our living room curtains and area rug. In the winter we have lovely chocolatey brown curtains that make the room feel warm and cozy. But now that SPRING is...well, springing, I was ready for something light and airy.

But today's highlight was most definitely the Neumann Cup soccer tournament for Emilie. Soccer is big in Norway. Really big. I wouldn't quite put it there with hockey in Canada but you catch my drift. Her 3rd grade class is her team and Sindre is one of their coaches. Actually their "soccer team" is a part of the "Children's Athletics" program they offer here in Spangereid. They have an hour of athletics one evening a week. They do all sorts of things, soccer being one of them. I love how physical fitness is made a priority here. Anyway, they played 3 games today. First match they lost 3-0. Second match they also lost 3-0. But third time's the charm and they WON 1-0!!! Hipp hipp hurrah! That goal "tasted good" as they say in Norwegian. We cheered and praised them to the heavens and they all got a trophy!

It's definitely been an eventful weekend. And another new week starting....

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Emilie's Birthday

I was painting some trims the other day and my mind wandered to all the blogs I've been reading lately. Which lead me to thinking about having my own blog. What would I call it, what would I talk about, why should I? So I decided it would be a great way for my family and friends back at home to get a glimpse of everyday life (at least MY everyday life) here in Norway. And it sounds like a fun hobby. So I'm jumping in feet first and we'll see how it goes! This is definitely a learn-as-I-go endeavor. Gulp! I'm a little nervous...hehe!

So today is our oldest daughter Emilie's 9th birthday. We had a family party yesterday that she shared with her 2nd cousin Adrian. All the family showed up, we ate (too much), opened some gifts, sang some songs, and went to bed exhausted and happy. And started round two this morning. Emilie had all her girlfriends here for a CUPCAKE party. We started off with each girl making their own pizza, music (of course), play, and, the highlight of the party, decorating cupcakes. I think all the girls really had fun! The cupcake decorating seemed like a big hit. We had planned on doing a treasure hunt for their treat bags at the end of the party. But they were so absorbed in their cupcake decorating, we just let them be and handed out the bags before they left. Now the mess is cleaned and we're taking a very appreciated break before we head out to visit friends Arne and Benedicte over at Ida and Tore's house. I hope they don't mind if a few (or more) cupcakes come along. 

I found the free printable cupcake toppers at if anyone is interested. I'd never tried cupcake toppers before and wasn't sure the girls would want anything inedible on their cupcakes but they were popular and the owl is super cute!

And last, but certainly not least, here is our sweet, bright, and fun loving Emilie Joy!