The kids are now on school break, so it’s time for me to tidy my blog desk, close my blog cabinet and go off and enjoy Christmas with our Scottish and Danish families. And thanks to the Flylady, I’m all ready and relaxed – hooray!
Can you believe it’s only 9 days til Christmas?! As you’ll have seen from my blogposts, I’ve been FLYing through Christmas prep and enjoying all the parties and events. There’s only one area where we’re behind…our calendar candle!
Two days ‘behind’ – eek! ;D
Have a fantastic Friday and a wonderful weekend! 🙂
Amazingly we’re still having mild weather with daily temperatures of around 5c or 41f (which is also the temperature of the sea that we swim in every morning!) and still no sign of snow… It’s pitch dark before 4 pm now – which always makes me want to curl up on the sofa and sleep. On the other hand, it’s the perfect setting for the St. Lucia procession over at school. Here’s DD9 and the girls from her year in action on Tuesday afternoon…
Without further ado, here’s whats’s on the menu at Casa Copenhagen for week 50:
* Leftover ham added to egg-fried rice or alternatively served in wholemeal pita pockets with salad
* Breakfast for dinner: sausages, scrambled eggs made in my ricecooker, croutons, pancakes, fresh tomatoes/cucumber, orange juice and hot tea
* French beef stew made in the crockpot: cubes of beef, sliced onions, chopped carrots, garlic, red wine, beef stock, salt, pepper, paprika – just dump everthing in the crockpot and turn on the heat ;D
Hurdy Gurdy Swedish Sausage Stew – mmm, comfort food 🙂
I think I’ve solved the mystery as to why those crazy (but lovable) Danes are so darn happy. Anger management!
Just go to any Metro station in Copenhagen. Stand on the platform at the entrance to the train doors. There’s a special area – clearly marked with a white line – where those crazy Danes are encouraged to let it all out. You’re not convinced? Then look for yourself. It says, in big letters, “Vent”.
To vent or not to vent? That is the question…
Ahhhhh, but hold on just a minute… The text “Vent” is, of course, på dansk. Danish. So what you’re actually expected to do is “Wait”. As in ‘queue’. Patiently. Behind the white line. Thereby allowing people to get off the train, before you attempt to charge in.
So anger management it isn’t… But – let’s look on the bright side – at least the Danes are finally learning to queue! Something we Brits are world-champions at…
Merry Christmas, dear Readers! [she said, drinking a cuppa and wiping crumbs from her mouth]
I decided that Today was The Day to cut into the Christmas cake…
Who cares if the icing turned out a garing shade of turquoise a bit darker than it was supposed to?
Yikes, a little smidgen of those colouring pastes really does go a long way…! ;D
Who cares that the white icing got bits of cake crumbs mixed in to it?
Who cares that the blue icicles wouldn’t stand up straight, as I had planned, or stick on to the sides of the cake?
It looks pretty good from a distance. Or by candlelight… ;D
And I had an ‘aha’ moment. I don’t need to wait until we have special guests coming in order to cut it. I can take a slice (or two) today. And linger over the very best part – the thick layers of marcipan and white icing! Yum! ;D
I feel a bit silly calling this post Christmas “planning” like all the others because – thanks to the Flylady – all my prep for Crimbo is actually done! Ha! Our greetings cards were posted on 30 November. (Almost) all the presents are bought and wrapped (or ordered online). And…we’ve all just had haircuts! ;D
We lit the third advent candle on Sunday 🙂
So – instead of telling you all that I’ve done or need to do – I thought I’d let you have a peek into what I’ve been able to enjoy since the 1st of December!
* * * * * *
Put together some cookie dough…baked one portion and put three logs in the freezer, which I can pull out/slice/bake when we have friends over 🙂
Ingredients for cranberry and pistachio shortbread in the mixer
Been to Tivoli with the ‘girls’ for drinks and a pantomime…
Sorry for the blurred image…too many glasses of wine drops of rain on the lens
Made sweets with the kids…
These are some of the ‘healthy’ ones: dried figs/orange juice/cocoa powder/coconut
My friend H and I went to an exhibition of Danish Christmas decorations by Jette Frölich (and had gløgg and æbleskiver in the café afterwards)
Nice! And especially nice to be able to enjoy it all without rushing around and getting stressed. This week it’s full swing over at school where we’ll be partaking in the Lucia Procession/Concert, Xmas Bingo, Breakfast and Decoration-making with DD9’s class…
If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that my friend V and I love vinterbadning (skinny dipping in the Danish sea, all year long). And have become thorougly Addicted. We’ve been stripping off down by the waterfront. Come rain, hail or shine. But, with the temperatures beginning to plummet and storms brewing aplenty, we were forced to realise that – at some point – standing undressing/dressing in the snow just wasn’t going to be fun. (Funnily enough, the thought of being in the freezing cold water is an attraction – ha!)
Huge waves = huge fun! 🙂
We’re on the waiting list for not one, but two, different bathing clubs. One of which has a 6 year waiting list… The clubs have changing rooms, toilets, hot showers and [sniff, sniff] sizzling saunas! Waaaaaaah! Let us in from the cold!
Our current al fresco ‘changing room’…
we bring our own bathmats – slightly warmer than standing on cold paving stones! ;D
But, this Tuesday morning, an Angel appeared before us. Walking his dog. He and his wife – fellow winterbathers – had seen us many times on the bathing bridge. (Yep, told you that we’re there on a daily basis.) They thought we were ‘cool’ to have braved the elements. But wouldn’t we like to have the key to an old storeroom, owned by the Chief Lifeguard? Nothing fancy. No space to swing a cat. No running water. And in desperate need of maintenance. (It literally hasn’t been cleaned or dusted for 15 years [sneezes] but nothing that my Flylady purple feather duster can’t cope with!)
But, wow, there are walls! Four of them! A door! A bench! A hook to hang our clothes! Halleluja! We feel like Mary and Joseph, who’ve been given space in the stable… Yep, there are such things as Christmas miracles! ;D
♪♫”I saw three ships come sailing in, on Christmas day in the morning….” ♪♫
Incredibly, there’s still no sign of the snow here – only sleet. Instead the Weather (and Beach) Gods have been smiling on me and we’ve had beautiful sunny mornings almost every day this week. Though the lack of clouds does, of course, bring with it a very hard night frost that makes the sand crunchy to walk on!
View of the bathing bridge this morning at 9am – water was 6c/43f ‘warm’ ;D
We’re now up to our ears in Christmas events, so dinner at the moment is quick and simple. And I’m letting go of my perfectionist tendencies, throwing caution (and my money?) to the wind, and even allowing for the occasional takeaway…
* Lasagne: nothing fancy, just the good old-fashioned homemade kind – green salad 🙂
* Flæskesteg: traditional Danish roast pork, served with baby potatoes, gravy and steamed cauliflower
* Steak salad: pieces of steak flash-fried, baby gem lettuce/peapod shoots, pickled red onion, avocado, cucumber, cherry tomato, béarnaise sauce on the side
* Pork meatballs, baked potato wedges, broccoli ‘salad’ (raw broccoli florets, crispy bacon, pumpkin seeds, tiny bit of mayo/vinegar dressing
* Madder: Danish open sandwiches with eg, pork liverpâté, mackerel in tomato sauce, herring, egg mayonnaise
Holy trinity of Christmas beer, herring and egg mayo 🙂
* Pizza from the local takeaway
* Leftover Night: wholemeal pasta with any leftover meat and veggies that need to be cleaned out of the fridge
In Denmark they say that “Jul er hjerternes fest“. That “Christmas is the festival of hearts”. And it’s true – look around and you’ll see hearts everywhere. Gingerbread hearts, crocheted hearts, heart-shaped tree ornaments and…the ubiquitous Danish woven paper hearts, which you’ll see hanging in windows or on the branches of the Christmas tree.
Are you ready to “jule” (yep, the Danes even use the word ‘Christmas’ as a verb!) and make some easy peasy Danish Christmas heart crafts?
WOVEN PAPER HEART
My dearly departed Danish father-in-law loved to make things out of paper and was a dab hand at the very intricate woven designs. But be warned: in order to do paper weaving, you have to have nimble fingers, bucketloads of patience and Danish blood in your veins. You’re still determined to try? Hmm, then I’d suggest borrowing a book from your local Danish library. Or try, for example, http://www.julidannevang.dk/klip/klip.shtml
But I’m going to show you the two-minute version – the cheat’s version – as taught to me by my daughter, aged 9. You’ll need two pieces of paper or carton in different colours. (Red and white, if you want to be really traditional.) Mark out the shape (see below) and draw a line in the middle, up to the point where the edge starts to curve. Cut out the shapes and then cut along the middle lines.
Turn the white carton at right angles and weave the first ‘finger’ through the red carton.
Weave the red ‘finger’ over the white and – hey presto – færdig (done)! Just add a dab of glue or a piece of sticky tape, to stop the heart from falling apart. Use blue tack (or, as Danish kids call it, ‘pædagog-snot‘ = ‘teacher snot’!) to fix them on your window pane. Or add a paper loop, and hang them on the tree.
You could, of course, buy these in the shops. But the cutest/kitschest/most precious ones are, without doubt, those handmade ones that your little darling brings home from kindergarten, nursery or school.
Super simple. Cut two heart shapes out of fabric. Tip: if you use zigzag scissors, you won’t have problems with edges fraying. (Felt fabric is perfect for this job.) You can make them any size you like, but hearts about the size of your palm work well.
Sew round the edges, leaving an opening for stuffing. You can use a sewing machine or do it ‘old school’ with a large needle and thick thread. Stuff the heart, then sew shut.
Add a loop at the top of the heart, so you can hang it up (on the tree, on a door handle, etc). You can also add some beads, glitter glue, etc. We went for the simple look and used this plain ribbon that says “God Jul”. Which, as you will remember, has nothing to do with God! ;D
I came home from the schoolrun yesterday and, as part of my Flylady morning routine, I took a basket of washing down to the cellar. You can imagine my surprise when I spied – sitting on the second step down – DD9’s hamster “Sparkle”!
She sat there, quite the thing, with her little paws up, as if to say, “Oh, don’t mind me…I’m just out for a wander!”
We have no idea when she managed to escape from her cage. Probably during the night. But she climbed up through a tiny hole in the top of her cage, jumped down from the garden room table (onto tiled flooring…ouch!), wandered through the living room and out into the hall. Before jumping down the basement stairs. Not bad for a little baby girl who only measures 5cm from nose to tail! ;D
She’s now safely back home (under lock and key) and thankfully looks no worse for wear after her great adventure. But we’re thinking of giving her ‘Houdini’ as a middle name…
I shall play an Xmas tune on the old joanna while the kids decorate the boughs… ;D
18. Gløgg (mulled wine) and æbleskiver (Danish Christmas donuts) with friends
19. Take in teacher gifts
20. Last day of school – hooray!
21. Watch a Christmas film
22. Double check the gift lists – is everything wrapped and ready?
23.A walk in the park – perhaps complete with some snow?
24. The girls are going to a show, the boys are going to a football match
25. Merry Christmas to one and all!
And don’t forget to give yourself the best Christmas present of all… the gift of Flylady! She will not only help you to get your house in order – she’ll also help to sort out your head! ;D And will remind you to pamper yourself every day: a hot bath, read a chapter of a book before you turn out the lights, make yourself a nice coffee or hot chocolate, phone a friend, listen to your favourite music and turn up the stereo to 11! Anything that will put a smile on your face and recharge your batteries… 😀
Happy 1st December! Is your Christmas planning well underway? Are you ready to relax and enjoy the month of December?
DD9 and I have been busy making cupcakes for today’s school bazar (all profits are going to the Sally Army.) We’ve made approximately 60 of them…whew! ;D
The first of December doesn’t only mark the countdown to Christmas. There’s another important reason to be jolly! Because the Flylady habit for December is pampering. Doing something nice for yourself EVERY day. (And the idea is, of course, to keep going with it after the month is up…) I’ve shared lots of my own ways to pamper here on the blog. (27 posts!) Today, for example, I decided that I really needed a break from the cupcake decorating – so I snaffled one of the cakes…ha! ;D (And dang good it was too! The easy peasy cupcake recipe is right here.)
So go pamper! But don’t forget to come back on Monday, when I’ll be sharing our Family Advent Calendar for 2011…
My sweetie friend V and I arrived at the beach yesterday morning – desperate for our skinny dip in the Danish sea (yes, yes, we’re completely addicted now) – and were met with this sorry sight…
The sign on the bridge says “Use at your own risk”! ;D
Sunday night’s storm had destroyed our beloved bathing bridge 🙁 If you can’t remember what it looked like before, read my old posts or look here…
A sunny morning in September 🙂
At first we were completely downhearted. I mean, honest to goodness, haven’t we done fabulously well since we started back in June? And we were all set to celebrate swimming on the 1st of December (tomorrow) with Santa hats… 🙁 Oh pook!
But, hey, we decided to see it as a test. A new challenge for us. Who needs a bathing bridge anyway? So we threw off our bathrobes and ran into the sea as fast as we could from the edge of the water. And splashed around (giggling like schoolgirls) until our hands and feet were numb from the cold. We did it! Another victory! And you know what? We can do ANYTHING! 🙂
If you’ve ever been to a Danish party (40th birthday, christening, confirmation, graduation, silver wedding) you’ll know that there are always speeches and songs. The songs will be written specially for the birthday boy or girl, usually to the tune of a well-known melody – so that everyone can sing along. It’s a rather daunting task to write a song. Especially if Danish isn’t your mother tongue! ;D
Getting ready to celebrate our Copper Wedding (12½ years of married bliss)
But even if you’re too scared to stand up and make a speech or write a comprehensible song in Danish, you can still contribute to the party. Here’s a very simple but fantastic idea I’ve seen at many parties… Just take any well known song. For the sake of example, let’s use “Der er et yndigt land” – the Danish national anthem. This was one of the songs used at my friend T’s birthday party.
DER ER ET YNDIGT LAND
Der er et yndigt land
Det står med brede bølge
Nær salten Østerstrand
Nær salten Østerstrand
Det bugter sig i bakkedal
Det hedder gamle Danmark
Og det er Frejas sal
Og det er Frejas sal!
And if you don’t know the melody, take a listen here!
Anyway, at the beginning of each line, you write exactly who is supposed to stand up and sing that line. Like this:
(Everyone) Der er et yndigt land
(Birthday girl’s family) Det står med brede bølge
(Birthday girl’s friends) Nær salten Østerstrand
(Birthday girl’s colleagues) Nær salten Østerstrand
(Couples) Det bugter sig i bakkedal
(Singles) Det hedder gamle Danmark
(Only the birthday girl) Og det er Frejas sal
(All those who are ready to party!) Og det er Frejas sal!
As you’ve no doubt worked out for yourself, there’s a lot of standing up and sitting down. Which means that everyone is involved. Certainly helps to break the ice! 🙂
Of course, it’s more fun to take a long song (or at least three or four short ones) and really go to town on the categories… How about: vegetarian, drinks beer, works in the public sector, can ride a bike, dog owner, over 1.80m tall, loves shoes, owns a rabbit, drinks wine, doesn’t like gardening, is wearing clean underpants, votes Socialist, under 45 years old, lies about their age, long-haired, sport freak, has had a speeding ticket, lives in an appartment, is sexy, has at least ten fingers, is a pensioner, has blue eyes, over 90 years old, etc, etc, etc?
Oh. And don’t forget the most important part. At the end of the song you have to write… Skål! (Cheers!)
Photo taken at the end of our Copper Wedding party…
We’re getting into the final stretch! The Flylady has started sending out the final ‘super’ missions for getting ready for Christmas, and I’m actually feeling very much in control. Which is just as well, as we had some excitement yesterday afternoon when DH fell down a very long flight of concrete stairs at the station (we were at home, wondering where on earth he had got to) which required an ambulance ride and 10+ stitches on the top/back of his head. They kept him in overnight (because of concussion) but is now safe back at home where we can keep an eye on him… 😛
Anyway, apart from the ‘head injury excitement’ we lit our first advent candle at breakfast yesterday morning and DD9 and DS11 got their advent presents (Dress Up Your Own Paper Pups and Lego Crazy Action Contraptions from the ‘Klutz Chicken Socks’ series which I found on amazon). So that kept the kids busy all morning 🙂
Last week my goals were to clean out the freezer, hang lights in the garden and finish the Christmas cards…hmm.
Well, the freezer is looking much more respectable. Okay, so I didn’t actually defrost it, but I did throw out lots of old bread etc, so there is more space for the new stuff coming in. Plus I can actually see what I already have in there – bonus! 🙂
I had planned to hang up fairy lights in the garden on Saturday afternoon but we had a storm warning for the whole of Denmark for Sunday afternoon/evening, so I decided to wait until it had blown over. So I went out this morning (Monday) to clear up the debris/move the garden furniture back into position/lift up the bikes which had been knocked over and then I quickly put up the lights. 30 minutes and that project was done! There are quite a few light bulbs which have blown but I decided not to notice and will replace those next year… ;D
We haven’t started playing any Christmas music just yet – Thursday 1st December will be quite soon enough – but I do have one CD that I’ve lovedfor years and years which is always, always first on the turntable (and playing in the background when I bake my Christmas cake in October). Ella (Fitzgerald) Wishes You a Swinging Christmas. Here’s one of my favourite tracks…cue the snowflakes!
And Candace introduced me to this little pearl last year… Yes, yes, we all love Billy Idol. But Billy singing Christmas songs? Surreal. Scary. But oddly addictive! ;D
Check back next Monday for more Christmas planning. When my Christmas cards will (hopefully) be posted, baking will have started and we shall all be parading around wearing Santa hats or reindeer antler hairbands…