Those Crazy Danes – High School Highjinks

If there’s one thing that signals the start of the (6 week) Danish summer school holidays for me, it’s the sound of car horns, singing and cheering. Danish high school kids graduated at the end of last week and (surely you know what’s coming next?!) there’s a quaint Danish tradition attached! 😉 After the graduates are sent off with an 8am singsong in the school hall, they head outside and start decorating trucks…

Lots of greenery and the all-important Danish flags (see my Flying the Flag post about those).

I think we need more balloons over here, please!

And why is it that it’s always the girls who get left to doing the decorating? Hmm… (And, yes, yes, young Danish girls are all very tall and skinny.)

Anyway, one of the most important things is the banner on the side of the truck. Which tells you which class and high school the students graduated from. And what the students will do if you wave to them or give them a toot from your car. The banner on the truck above reads “1 Toot, we drink. 2 Toots, we finish the glass. 3 Toots, we’ll give you a flash.” And these Danes keep their promises…we saw at least one bare bottom this weekend 😉

Once the trucks are decorated and the beer crates are loaded on board,  it’s time for the graduates to climb aboard (there’s a little ladder at the back) and drive around the neighbourhood. The whole day! Singing and waving at passers by and motorists. Who are only too glad to wave back and toot 🙂 We passed a lot of trucks when we were out in town on Friday afternoon – DS10 and DD8 thought it was fantastic fun when we rolled down the car windows and waved and tooted as never before. The trucks make stops at each student’s house along the way, where proud parents/family/friends/neighbours are waiting with more flags. And (more) drinks. And eats. Hopefully there’s also a toilet stop or two, too? 😉

The students have gone home and it’s also time for me to lock up. I started blogging on 1 August 2009 and have posted every day since. Three hundred and thirty-three (333) blogposts. In a row. I’m pleased with that. Hope you’ve enjoyed reading them?

Have a wonderful month of July!

See you on 1 August! 🙂

Happy Campers! :)

The kids finished school last Friday and are now on holiday for 6 weeks until school resumes in August – hip, hip, hooray! 🙂 We’ll be spending two weeks in La Belle France with DH for our ‘official’ summer holiday, but the rest of the time we’ll be playing ‘camp’ at home. Here. In our own backyard. Copenhagen.

Yes, we’re doing Flylady Camp! 🙂 You see, if you don’t sit down for 10 minutes (set your timer!) and plan a few activities, or at least make up some kind of basic summer holiday routine, those six weeks of school holidays can d-r-a-g along. Both for you and the kids 😉 Ready to give it a try? Here are a few posts I’ve written before, to help you on your merry way. These were from the Camp the kids and I did during the Danish Easter holidays, but the ideas can be adapted/used at any time.

We’re going (FLY) Camping! (contains links to Flylady printouts)

FLY Camp – Settled In

FLY Camp – Postcard Time

And, finally, here’s a link to the main Camp page on the official Flylady website:

Have a terrific Tuesday! 🙂

PS: The blog will be closed

for the month of July.

But I’ll be back, promise!

Watermelon Ice Lollies

We’ve – hooray, hooray – got a heatwave approaching Denmark this weekend! Which means it’s already hotting up and I’ve (stone the crows) been able to wear my sandals and summery skirts several days in a row. Which means we’ve been down at the local beach and swimming in the Danish sea (current water temperature 15.5c or 60f). Which means icecream every day. Which means I bought a watermelon 😉 And one of the best ways to enjoy it (and, let’s face it, get it used up because these things are humungous), is making these Watermelon Ice Lollies…

You’ll need:

  • a watermelon (obviously)
  • a good, sharp knife
  • cocktail or lolly sticks
  • cookie cutters

Slice the melon fairly thin – if you make it too thick, the cookie cutters won’t go all the way through. Don’t ask me how I know this…

Cut out shapes using cookie cutters and pop in a cocktail or lolly stick

If some of them don’t work out, just gobble them up immediately. No guilt and no waste! 😉

I have to say that my favourite is always, always the dinosaur! 🙂

Pop in the freezer for a couple of hours and enjoy. If you’re serving adults, you might want to soak them in some vodka first…

Have a marvelous melon-y Monday! 🙂

PS: Please note that the blog

will be closed for the month of July.

But, don’t worry, I’ll be back! 😉

Scaredy Cat Challenge – Get Packing!

To be perfectly honest, I’ve done abominably badly with my personal Scaredy Cat Challenge this week. My goal is to get ready for our summer holiday in France long before ‘the night before’. But this week has been hectic with my birthday celebrations, DH being away for six whole days and a whole barrage of end-of-term activities at school. Hmmmph. I have, however, managed to pick up a few surprises for the kids backpacks (see my We’re all going on a summer holiday! post for details of that) and I’ve been coralling old undies/socks/pjs (see the same blogpost for the gory details on those!).

Anyway, I refuse to get overwhelmed. There are still lots of days left and therefore lots of opportunities to set my Flylady timer for 15 minutes (or, for Pete’s sake, 5) and just go and do something – even if it is just writing the luggage labels for our suitcases 😉

I started writing today’s blogpost at 9am this morning (while waiting for the kids to surface for breakfast…) and have already added a few items to this week’s online grocery list (waterproof plasters, shower cream, small drink cartons for the journey, etc). Started putting together a pile of things we need for the (three different) mobilehomes we’ll be staying in (toilet roll, kitchen roll, washing up liquid, small bars of soap, old teatowels/handtowels, mini salt n’pepper, couple of stockcubes, coffee/coffeefilters etc). So where there’s a will (and a Flylady timer) there’s a way! 😉

Is there something you want to do but are having trouble starting? Or, tee-hee – like me – finishing? Then link up with us (MckLinky at the bottom of this post) and let’s hold hands and be scared together!

Have a simply super Sunday! 🙂

PS: This is my last Scaredy Cat Challenge post

for the time being as the blog

will be closed for the month of July.

Elderflower Champers

Elderflower bushes are generally considered a ‘weed’ – they just appear in your garden, wanted or not. For myself, I think they’re actually quite pretty – small creamy coloured flowers which turn into crimson berries in the autumn. We’ve ‘lucky’ to have two large bushes in our back garden.

The Danes drink (organic) elderflower juice all year long – it’s a popular alternative to cola, all year round. I used to make my own elderflower cordial. Until last year – when I couldn’t get hold of sachets of citric acid – and discovered this recipe for Elderflower Champers. Easy, elegant and soooo good! 🙂

Cut about 10 small elderflower heads (in full bloom – not the ones turning pale brown) and rinse them gently with cold water – just to get any bugs out 😉

Pop them in a very large pot, to which you add a roughly chopped lemon. Pips n’ all.

Pour over 750g sugar (just over 1 lb) and 2 tablespoons of white vinegar. White wine vinegar if you have it.

Lastly, pour over 4½ litres (roughly 9 pints) of cold water. Give it a good stir round, cover and leave for at least 24 hours in a cool place.

The next day you can strain it and put it into sturdy glass bottles. A word of warning: it gets really fizzy, so you need bottles which won’t pop! I made up my elderflower champers today, so you’ll need to make do with a photo of the ones I made last year…on the old kitchen counter.

Leave the bottles in a cool, dark place. You might want to wrap them in a plastic carrier bag – just in case they ‘pop’, remember? Natural yeast will work it’s wonderful magic and – after about 6 weeks – you’ll have the most fantastic, golden, summery champagne which will make even the French turn green with envy. Serve really cold. And be careful when you open the bottle! (Lock animals and kids indoors and wear firework goggles…) If you leave it longer than 6 weeks, it will start to lose some of its fizz (and be less alcoholic) but still be drinkable.

Have a super summery Saturday – cheers! 🙂

Feel Good Friday – Fødselsdag! :)

What better reason to feel good on Feel Good Friday than a fødselsdag (birthday)? Especially when it’s your own! 😉

I’m forty-three today and never felt better. Never had it better. I mean – really – just like it says at the top of my blog – life in Denmark, rock music, good food and the Flylady – what more could a girl want? 🙂 Thirteen girlfriends helped me start off the celebrations in style on Monday night (we started at 7pm and called it a day at 1.30am…) and I’m going out to lunch with the family tomorrow (DH has been away on business since Sunday, poor thing, and won’t get home til midnight tonight).

But as I love the idea of making everyday things special, I prepared a little basket to take to the schoolgates this morning (you can just catch a glimpse of the basket on the doorstep in the first picture). So a couple of schoolmums and I enjoyed raaaaspberries, shortbread and a teeny glass of bubbly on a bench in the playground while waiting for the kids to finish school at 10.30am. School is now out for summer, yay!

Have a fantastic Feel Good Friday! And many, many thanks for all the good wishes! 🙂

PS: This is my last ‘Feel Good Friday’ blogpost

for the time being as the blog

will be closed for the month of July.

Menu planning Thursday – 24 June 2010

School’s. Out. For.Summer! Well, it will be, twenty-four hours from now 😉 Add to that, Denmark are playing Japan tonight (and, fingers crossed, going to qualify for the next round of the World Cup!).

Tag on the fact that it’s my birthday tomorrow.

And, for good measure, the kids have summer camp activities (badminton and ‘spy school’) a couple of days next week. So you’ll forgive me if this week’s menuplan is not at all typical of our usual Danish fare! 😉 Here, in no particular order, are the dishes that may (or may not…) make it to our Danish kitchen table:

* Something with minced chicken – will search RecipeZaar for inspiration 🙂

* ‘Hot’ salad of fried potatoes, chunks of real bacon, croutons, boiled egg quarters, cucumber, tomato and lots of crunchy salad leaves.

* Spaghetti bolognese made in the crockpot. I’ve a bag of already-browned’ mince in the freezer, I’ll just add a jar of pasta sauce (I always use the Dolmio brand with extra veggies) and we’re done 🙂

* ‘Breakfast for dinner’ – rolls, omelet, bacon, waffles with maple syrup

* Quorn Parmesan (a variation on Parmesan Chicken, made using quorn fillets – a protein-rich vegetarian alternative to meat) served on top of jasmine rice.

* Toad in the Hole (yes, again!), my how-to-make instructions are here

* Leftover night 😉

Have a thoroughly thrilling Thursday! 🙂

Those Crazy Danes – Happy Midsummer!

Another month, another quaint Danish tradition! 😉 Tonight we’re celebrating Sankt Hans Aften, which translates literally as Saint John’s Evening. In practice it’s a celebration of the summer solstice and falls on the evening of the 23rd of June. The Danes gather around bonfires (some topped with effigies of witches – the idea is to send them off to Germany, tee hee!) all along the coast and beaches, in parks and forests and in town centres. Some bring a picnic dinner to share, there’s usually a speech by a local dignitary or VIP and, at 9 or 10pm, the bonfire is set alight and that’s your cue to start singing a midsommervise (midsummer hymn) called Vi elsker vort land (We love our country).

Last year the kids and I went down to the canal in Hellerup. A gospel choir entertained hundreds of spectators with a short concert and at 9pm the bonfire – out on a pallet on the water – was set ablaze. We sat on the quayside, equipped with icecreams, while others enjoyed dinner on their boats and yachts (on my wish list for next year!) and a good time was had by all…

Have a wonderful midsummer Wednesday! 🙂

Tee-hee Tuesday! Pat a cake, pat a cake…

‘Tis the season to be baking. School is almost finished for the summer and my birthday is almost here. So I’ve been doing a lot of baking and cake decorating this past week. In fact, I dread to think how many eggs, packs of butter, bags of flour and sugar I’ve gone through! 😉 So I thought it only fitting to direct you to the following website if you’re in need of a good tee-hee this Tuesday. (I’ve mentioned this site before but it definitely deserves a re-airing.)

And while we’re on the subject, I’ve decided to share a couple of pictures of our entry for last Friday’s school cake competition. We didn’t win, but you can judge for yourselves whether our Lego cake should be submitted to the ‘cakewrecks’ website… 😉

Have a terrific tee-hee Tuesday! 🙂

Asthma..argh? Week Three

I’ve had asthma now for three weeks. Or perhaps I should say, I’ve had the diagnosis for three weeks. And the honeymoon period is now over. I’ve told most of my friends and family about my affliction, the medicine is doing it’s thing (I hope) and it’s all getting to be very routine. I remember to take my brown inhaler morning and evening, and I always carry the blue inhaler with me – either in my handbag or in the pocket of my running jacket.

I’m thinking I also need to keep the blue inhaler beside my bed at night. I woke up suddenly, in the middle of a very exciting dream, last Tuesday night (actually it was Wednesday morning, 1.15am) with a searing pain across my back. As if somebody had stuck a (very large, flat) knife between my shoulder blades and wasn’t going to remove it any time soon. I lay in bed for a minute, breathing deeply and hoping it would go away. Which it didn’t. So I rolled over on to my tummy, knees drawn up underneath me, and did one of those yoga ‘cat’ stretches. (Which is usually great for helping lower back pain.) That didn’t help much either.

And then it hit me – is this what they call an asthma attack? I’ve experienced this kind of pain a couple of times before in my life. Most recently while sitting in a car driving back from a jaunt to Græsted. Thankfully I was a passenger (DH was driving that day) because I was sitting there thinking, “I’m having a heart attack!” It took me a good half hour to get rid of the pain in my chest and scared me no end.

Anyway, back to the early hours of Wednesday morning… I thought I should try my blue asthma inhaler – maybe that would do the trick? Managed to slide out of bed and hobble down the stairs. Sat down on the kitchen bench and took a deep puff. Deep breaths, control your breathing, control your breathing. Now, to be honest, I’m not really sure if it was the medicine that kicked in, or wishful thinking, but it seemed to ease the pain in my back within seconds and I was able to go back up to bed and fall asleep fairly quickly.

Was it an asthma attack? Or something completely different? Hope my fellow asthma sufferers and helpful blog readers can help me out on this one!

Have a marvelous Monday and keep your wits (and your inhalers) about you! 🙂

Scaredy Cat Challenge – Get packing!

Did you see yesterday’s post? No? It’s here – We’re all going on a summer holiday! I’ve started preparations for our family holiday to France and – in my head – I’m doing really well. However, before I know it, it will be the night before we leave and I’ll still be running around doing things and thinking “Why oh why didn’t I get this done two weeks ago when I had the time?”…

So my new Scaredy Cat Challenge is to get cracking on packing! 😉 Or at least to get stuck in and do things right now. Why wait till next week when I have 5 minutes to look out maps today? No procrastinating! 🙂 Would you like to join me with this challenge? If you need a few pointers, the Flylady has an excellent checklist of what you need to do and pack before leaving for a trip. You can find it right here.

Or do you have a Scaredy Cat Challenge of your own? Then link up with the MckLinky below. Let’s be scared and hold hands together and get things done! 🙂

Have a super Sunday!

We’re all going on a summer holiday!

Our summer holiday in the south of France is fast approaching and I’ve made a start on the preparations. Put the newspapers on hold while we’re away. Picked up currency (Euros) from the bank. Gathered a small supply of medicines and toiletries. Started putting aside towels, undies and nightwear that are ‘past their best buy date’ to wear then toss at the end of our trip, giving us more space in our suitcases for souvenirs! 😉

One of the things the kids look forward to is finding surprises in their travel backpacks, things to keep them amused on the journey. It’s become one of our holiday traditions 🙂 We’re flying to France, so here’s what they’ll have for the plane journey:

  • a small pack of pens and a blank notebook
  • new puzzlebook
  • reading book or comic
  • Nintendo plus a new Nintendo game (they get one at Christmas and one during the summer)
  • headphones – for use with the Nintendo and in-flight entertainment
  • ‘sookie’ sweets such as TicTacs, a small packet of chewing gum, chocolate covered raisins – good for relieving sore ears during landing
  • toy shop catalogue – they can dream, can’t they? 🙂
  • pack of cards
  • coloured pipecleaners and beads for threading
  • tiny pot of modelling clay – it’s amazing what it can be used for!

And you should never go on holiday without your favourite cuddly toy…

Doggy and Pikachu

For long car journeys we also take a pot of bubbles and a small ball -good for making us get out and stretch our legs during toilet stops. Just remember to fill up the tank before you head off! 😉

Have a simply super Saturday! 🙂

Feel Good Friday – The Flylady MR

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a Feel Good Friday blogpost about the Flylady BBR. You can read it here. Today it’s the turn of the Flylady MR. What’s MR, you ask? Morning Routine. A simple checklist to help you FLY through your day.

Mine looks like this:

  • Shower/coffee/dress to shoes/fix hair and makeup
  • Check the calendar, what’s going on today?
  • Clear away the breakfast things, wipe down kitchen, start dishwasher
  • Schoolrun
  • Hang up washing/iron the dry stuff from previous day/put away
  • Empty dishwasher
  • Check what’s for dinner
  • NEWO interval run with a friend, or 6 minute strength train
  • Post today’s blogpost 😉

I’m normally finished by around 9.30am, leaving me lots of ‘playtime’. Or, as the case is today, hopefully plenty of time to prepare for tonight’s school Summer Party – one of the highlights of the kids social calender 🙂

In my pre-Flylady days, I would go full steam ahead with preparations for the party, be up half the night beforehand, forget to eat properly/drink enough water and generally run myself (and the house) ragged. Ha, those days are gone! Now I just stick to my routines like g-l-u-e and all the rest will – usually – fall into place. Today I’m baking my world-famous cold-risen bread (you can find my recipehere). Preparing crockpot lasagne (Krista’s recipe is here). Chopping lots of veggie sticks. Packing our picnic basket with glasses, cutlery, plates, rubbish bag, serviettes, a purse (full of small coins for the kids to spend at the various stalls). And – perhaps the most important part – icing our entry for this year’s Cake Competition. (And, yes, I baked the cake yesterday – forward planning saves the day!) The theme for our cake is all terribly hush-hush so (for once) my lips are sealed! Though I can tell you that it involves around two hours of painstaking work, copious amounts of neon coloured icing and therefore copious amounts of cleaning up…  😉

So without further ado, I shall FLY off and get my MR finished and get this show on the road! 😉

Have a fantastic Feel-Good Friday! 🙂

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Menu planning Thursday – 17 June 2010

DH won’t be home for dinner all next week. Add to that the fact that I’m throwing a birthday party for 14 Danish girlfriends (hooray!), DS10 has a sleepover at school (where I’m the DJ, tee-hee!), we’ll be celebrating (yet another) quaint, Danish tradition Sankt Hans Aften (more on that in another blogpost) and – stone the crows, that came around fast – it’s the last week of the school term! So we won’t be cooking much food this week. What we do make will be very simple, use store cupboard ingredients, take minutes to put together and be child-friendly…

Toad in the hole (yes, our new favourite, you can see how we make it right here)

Crockpot lasagne.

Homemade chicken burgers on shop-bought wholemeal buns.

Pasta with Danish meatballs and spaghetti sauce.

Mexican Tortilla Triangles (that DD8 enjoy’s making). Also known as Quesadillas.

 – And, bien sûr, lots of fresh salad or veggie sticks served alongside all of the above.

And what am I serving up for my girlfriends? Pink champers, oodles of sushi from the best place in town and a few homemade desserts. One of which will be Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Pavlova. Here’s one I made earlier – complete with chocolate Lego men 😉

Hope you have a thoroughly thrilling Thursday! 🙂

Daily Denmark – (Quirky) House and Gardens

One of the great things about cycling around these parts is the chance to spot some strange houses that you normally miss when you’re whizzing by in a car. I’ve often noticed this particular house but never before got up close enough (or slowed down enough) to have a decent look. From the side, you can see that it’s an artist’s atelier. Fantastic, huge windows, three floors high.

From the front of the house, it’s more like a little church. Or perhaps the perfect setting for a gothic horror film? Thank goodness I cycled by at 8.30am – a bright summer Copenhagen morning – or else I would have had a serious case of the heebie jeebies! 😉

After a spot of intensive googling I managed to find out that this was the former home of Axel Poulsen, a Danish sculptor. (There are lots of fantastic pictures taken inside the house and garden in this photo archive.) He died in 1971 but the new owners of the house have kept a lot of things as they were…including the statue on the front pavement. Clutching each other, shying away from the bemused glances of passers-by? 🙂

When I got back home (puff, puff, pant, pant) I remembered that our own house (built in 1933) has some pretty quirky exterior details of its own. Sadly our gargoyle doesn’t spit out water anymore – hmmm, maybe a future project? 😉

I l-o-v-e this giant cactus-shaped planter. It weighs a ton, so we only move it around every couple of years… It was probably purchased when the original garden was landscaped.

And – the absolute favourite of every child who comes to our house – this little (copper-plated) door at shoulder height in the side wall of the house. Complete with ornate knocker and the name of the original owner of the house.From the days when milk and bread were delivered on a daily basis, probably back in the 1930s. These days the door is boarded up and there’s actually a wall behind it. But we’ll never get rid of the little copper door. We like quirky! 😉

Have a wonderful Wednesday! 🙂