Menu plan and April Fool – Thursday 31 March 2011

Our dinner plan…brought to you by Diane Denmark in conjunction with Flylady menu planning! 😀

*  Tomato soup in tall glasses and panini (yep, just a fancy name for grilled sandwiches!) on a night when it’s just me and DD9

Biksemad which is basically Danish ‘hash’: chopped onions, cubed potatoes and cubed meat, fried up and topped with a fried egg and cubed beetroot. And plenty of ketchup.  Here’s the biksemad – straight from the freezer, ready for the hot oven…

*  Chili in Breadbowls.  Got the idea from the 5$ Dinners website.  A huge hit with the whole family!  I used the breadmachine Breadbowls recipe and they turned out terrific – see the photo below.  But I made my own shortcut Chili which is basically minced beef, a jar of spicy tomato sauce and kidney beans. A little tip: if your kids are like mine – and aren’t mad about the beans – then mash or blend the beans before you add them to the minced beef.  That way, you’ll still get the authentic chili taste and nutrients… ;D



Yummy breadbowls!



The finished article – DS11 ate two… ;D

*  I’ll refrigerate the leftover Chili and put it in tortillas a couple of days later to make Enchiladas.  And serve with spinach salad.

*  ‘Use up what’s lingering at the back of your fridge’ Quiche – the recipe ishere but I just whisk things together – no need to get your blender all messy! Our quiche will contain red pepper, spinach and cheddar.

*  We’re hopefully barbecuing on Saturday (cross your fingers!) and will be having teriyaki chops, sausages, baby potatoes, tomato salad and Overnight Salad (I reposted the recipe for this on Tuesday).

And don’t forget that it’s the 1st of April tomorrow!  I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet, but I won’t be repeating what I did to the kids a couple of years ago – adding a few drops of blue food colouring to the milk carton…  They were certainly surprised when they poured milk into their glasses and onto their cereal.  But then they couldn’t face eating it afterwards.  Oops!  ;D

 Have a thoroughly thrilling Thursday! 🙂


Does James Bond have X-Factor?

Did you know that I post every Wednesday about those crazy (but lovable) Danes?  They’re published over at denmark.dk – the official website of Denmark (I’m so proud to be one of their bloggers!)

Today’s post is about the music from James Bond films – an idea that popped into my head thanks to a random tweet about Tori Amos from Lesley over at Shedding this Cocoon.

The direct link to my post is here – Does James Bond have X-Factor?

Have a wonderful Wednesday – whether you’re shaken or stirred! 🙂


Time to dust off the Overnight Salad!

As they say around these parts, “I just can’t get my hands down!”  Why, you ask?  I’ve just seen this weekend’s weather forecast for Copenhagen.  And I had to do a double take…  We’re going to have temps of up to [steady yourselves…] 19 degrees celcius (66 fahrenheit) on Saturday.  Woo hoo!

Forecast courtesy of dmi.dk

Perhaps I should explain that – for weeks and weeks – we’ve been around zero to 5 degrees (32-41f).  So this means it’s time to get out the shorts, sandals and the garden hose!  Luckily I started worked on the garden last weekend (see yesterday’s post Down the Garden Path), so we’ll be able to relax, sit around and just enjoy the warmth…

And, of course, the warm weather means that we can fire up the barbecue!  I’ve just placed my online grocery order and have added pork chops and sausages to the list.  And a bottle of rosé wine bien sûr – so that DH and I can sit on the deck, sunglasses perched on the top of our heads, pretending we’re already on our summer holidays in France 🙂

I’ve also ordered lots of salad items (so those poor wee hard-working root vegetables can finally go on spring break) and will be making this ‘Overnight Salad’ to go with our grilled meats.  Sounds very weird, but it’s very tasty and the best part is that I can make it on Friday night or Saturday morning.  I’ve posted it before and – with the warm weather approaching – it’s time to dust it off and put it back on the menu! 🙂

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OVERNIGHT SALAD

I discovered ‘Overnight Salad’ in a book by Dawna Walter. I bought some of her books after seeing her on “The Life Laundry” tv programme on the BBC – back in the days when I was first looking for ways to get better organised at home, long before I discovered the Flylady. Heaven knows why there were recipes in that book but, though I’ve hardly read it since (yes, I should declutter it!), I’m still making this salad! 😉

Why is it called Overnight Salad? Because you can make it the night before and it won’t wilt! You can also make it a few hours before you need it and leave it sitting in a cool place, if you’re short on fridge space. I often make it when we’ve family coming to visit or when it’s barbecue time – just grill some steaks/sausages/chops and serve this alongside. And yes, it sounds gross, but it’s actually yummy!

You’ll need:

  • iceberg lettuce
  • bunch of spring onions
  • mayonnaise
  • sugar
  • frozen peas
  • cheddar cheese
  • bacon

Take a big glass bowl – remember the one you got as a wedding present? Chop up an iceberg lettuce. No nutritional value here, just crunch! 😉 Then finely chop a bunch of spring onions and scatter them on top.

Gross part coming up! Mix up a generous amount of mayonnaise with 2/3 tablespoons of sugar. Spread this on top of the lettuce and onions.

Cover the mayonnaise with a thin layer of frozen peas.

Grate a good-sized block of cheddar cheese and sprinkle over the peas, be generous! And then, for the grande finale, top with crispy bacon pieces…

Leave overnight in the fridge or on top of your kitchen worktop for a couple of hours. Bon appétit!

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Hope you have a terrific Tuesday! 🙂


Down the Garden Path

Spring has finally arrived in Copenhagen and we put the clocks forward on Sunday night, so it’s full steam ahead to long, long, bright nights – hooray! I put up the ‘hammock chair’ and the hammock between our two old apple trees yesterday afternoon.  And now it’s a race between me and the kids to see who gets to lie in the hammock first…

As usual, the move from wintertime to summertime has brought a sea change within me. I just want to get out and garden!  I managed a couple of hours yesterday – raking up leaves and collecting junk to take to the dump – and already things are looking good.  But I don’t want to crash and burn, so this year I’ve come up with a plan.  (If the weather is good, I tend to get carried away and forget all about what I need to do indoors…)

I’ve made a checklist of what needs doing, and will try to limit myself to one job at a time.  I’m doing it the Flyladyway with babysteps.  I use an android app on my telephone for my Flylady routines, and I’ve simply added another routine called ‘Garden’.  (The app I use is called Chore Checklist Lite – it’s free in android market.)  Here’s what’s on my list:

  • Buy gas cans for my weed burner
  • Buy bedding plants (April/May)
  • Scrub the wooden deck with cleaning fluid
  • Prune back the bushes
  • Weed out the grass from the stone border around house
  • Edge the lawn
  • Weed the patio
  • Weed the main path
  • Weed the entrance way
  • ‘Lawnmothering’ (a term I coined for mothers who mow the lawn themselves instead of expecting their husbands to do it…)

I’ll be doing one task a week, or one task a day – depending on the weather, my mood and my schedule.  But it’s nice to have it written down, so I can see what I need to do.  And, of course, what I’ve achieved ;D

This morning I cam back from my run at 9am and went straight out into the garden and started pruning the bushes.  It was a glorious sunny morning, so I couldn’t resist…

I did 15 minutes after my run.  And then another 15 minutes before lunch.  Usually I set my Flylady timer, but when I’m outside I like to listen to music on my headphones…when I’ve heard three or four songs it’s time to stop.  And – voilà – one large bin full of garden refuse!



I hope you noticed that my gardening gloves are Flylady-purple? 😀

 The other thing I need to do right now is dust off my bike and get it ready for biking to school in the mornings.  DD9 got a new – icecream pink – bike for her birthday and is raring to go.  (Though don’t let the sunshine fool you – it’s still very cold frosty morning and evening, so we’ll be keeping the hats and gloves on for another month yet.)

I’ll be posting my progress in the garden every week, so don’t forget to check back.

Have a marvelous Monday! 🙂


Turn off the lights! (Let there be light 2)

It’s funny how things turn out…  Last Friday I wrote a post called Let there be light. about light on the end of my kitchen tap and a music programme on Danish radio.  This week I’m on the same topics.  Just with a very different perspective…

Wherever you are in the world, you’ve no doubt seen or heard something today about Earth Hour.  Millions of people around the globe will switch off their lights for one hour tomorrow – Saturday 26 March – to ‘pledge their support for the planet’ and ‘take a stand against climate change’.  Here in Denmark we’ll be joining in – from large businesses like the Tivoli Gardens to local councils and, of course, people like you and me.  We’ve got friends and family coming for dinner tomorrow and – at 8.30pm – we’ll be dining by candlelight. Will you be turning off the lights?

[On a side note: we’ll be putting the clocks forward in Europe this weekend…

so we’ve got lots of lovely, bright, long, long, loooong summer nights ahead of us – hooray!]

I also mentioned in Friday’s post that I love the Danish radio programme Unga Bunga.  Well, on Tuesday Kjeld Tolstrup, one of the show’s DJs (and an icon in Danish music), died at the age of 45.  Very, very sad news 🙁  For years and years this programme has been one of the highlights of my week.  I dance around the kitchen on Friday nights while preparing dinner or clearing up – glass of wine or a G+T in hand, dreaming back to the hazy days (read: before kids) when I would regularly go clubbing.  RIP Kjeld.  You’ll be sadly missed.

Here’s a track that Kjeld played on the show a few weeks ago which literally gave me goosebumps… The old techno classic Dr Baker ‘Kaos’ from 1990 (which I still have on cassette!), now revamped by Kenneth Bager, (one of Kjeld’s friends and another icon in Danish music).  I only figured out today that – duh – Dr Baker and Kenneth Bager are the same person.  (Bager is the Danish word for baker…)  So, twenty years later, he’s remixed his own song.  And it’s still fantastic second time around!  It’s a terrible video (I’m sorry, but it truly is) so why don’t you just turn up the volume to 11 and – as the title suggests – Turn off the lights!

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful Earth Day 🙂


Menu plan – Thursday 24 March 2011

Welcome to another week of menu planning.  Pull up a chair and join us?

*  Wholemeal pita pockets filled with salad, veggies and sliced chicken

*   Egg-fried rice with prawns (which didn’t make it to the table as planned last week)

*  Chili in breadbowls.  Got the idea from the 5$ Dinners website.  I’ll try out their breadmachine breadbowls recipe but make my own chili.  A little tip: if your kids are like mine – and aren’t mad about the beans – then mash or blend the beans before you add them to the minced beef.  That way, you’ll still get the authentic chili taste and nutrients… ;D

* Roast chicken.  Quinoa made in my ricecooker and broccoli and carrots steamed in the little tray which fits in the ricecooker…  I love my ricecooker!

*  Herb-crusted salmon fillets (I mix up herbs and breadcrumbs, dump it on top of the salmon, drizzle a bit of olive oil on the top, then bake in the oven.  The kids love them!)  Asparagus wrapped in bacon (also roasted in the oven).  Hasselbach potatoes (also roasted in the oven, my recipe is here).  Easy peasy lemon squeezy! 

*  Crockpot lasagne – this week I added a layer of grated carrot and chopped red pepper and it turned out a really pretty colour, quite sweet too.  Here it is in the crock, just before I switched on the power…

*  Leftover lasagne. Koldskål and kammerjunker for dessert (a Danish soured dairy product and little vanilla biscuits).

That’s it.  Bon appétit!

Hope you have a thoroughly thrilling Thursday! 🙂



Punk classics for beginners

Last week I told my piano teacher that I had a confession to make.  I’d – shock – been to the local library and found some sheet music: easy classical pieces rearranged for children.  (‘Punk classics for beginners’ does, unfortunately, not yet exist…)  Even more shocking – I’d been trying to play some of them!  He took a look at one of the pieces (a minuet by Bach), played it, laughed and said that it was just fine.  He thought it was great practice for my level and wants to hear me play it at my next lesson.  Eek! ;D

I don’t know why I felt like I had gone behind his back. I started learning piano in September but feel that, as I’m not a ‘proper’ pianist (whatever that is…), I shouldn’t go off playing on my own.  That I should stick to playing the music from my books Vi spiller klaver 1 and Vi spiller klaver 2.  Which is, of course, completely nuts.  After all, if I was learning a new language or at an art class, then any extra work I did on my own wouldn’t be cheating.  Now would it?

But I guess it’s because I’ve still got that scared feeling.  (If you remember, learning to play piano was a previous Scaredy Cat Challenge).  The fear of doing the wrong thing.  Playing the wrong note.  Head spinning with Danish and Italian musical terms (dur, mol, fis, tonika, legato, ritartando…).  The fear of getting out of my depth.  Which I know, of course, is also nuts.  Because I’m doing this in babysteps and loving the process.  So much so that I practice for over an hour every day.  I actually have to set my Flylady timer in order to limit my time.  Luckily my teacher says it’s all paying off – he thinks I’m very methodical and can tell that I’m putting in a lot of effort! ;D

So maybe this particular Scaredy Cat Challenge isn’t quite over yet?  I’m going down a new path, playing music that isn’t in my textbooks.  Hmmm, all I can say is run for the hills and cover your ears.  And if you happen to find a copy of ‘Punk classics for beginners’, let me know!

Have a terrific Tuesday! 🙂


Duck(lings) in a row

Tiny white snowdrops and yellow erantis are popping their little heads up all over our garden and the bird feeders are beseiged morning, noon and night.  All we need now (pretty please?) are a few more degrees on the thermometer!

Last spring I came home from a morning run to find a duck in our garden.  A big mummy duck.  With 10 baby ducklings in tow…  What to do?  They couldn’t fly and would be prey to all the neighbourhood cats.  As we live in a village with quite a bit of traffic, I didn’t really want to open our gate and let the poor wee mites cross busy roads all on their own! ;D  The animal rescue people suggested we put the mum and her babies in a cardboard box and drive them to a local park.  So we put some water in a mini-paddling pool – with the sides down, so the little ‘uns could climb straight in – and let them splash around.  And went off in search of a suitably large box.  Came back a few hours later to find that our little web-footed family had gone!  I wonder how many of these wee ducklings survived?

Hope you have a marvelous Monday full of the joys of spring! 🙂


Let there be light

I’ve had a bit of an ‘off’ day.  Felt restless.  Spilt my morning cup of chai.  Spilt candle wax all over my hands.  Lost one of my favourite new earrings on my way home from my piano lesson…  So I did the only thing I knew…I shined my sink!  (Fellow Flylady afficionados will understand me.)  And right now – 6.39pm – I’m in the kitchen, feeling gooooood!  Listening to Unga Bunga (a Danish ‘get ready to go clubbing’ radio show) and looking at one of the most beautiful sights I know – the light on the end of my kitchen tap.  Behold.  And weep!  ;D 

Hope you have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend! 🙂


Menu plan – Thursday 17 March 2011

It’s shaping up to be a busy weekend with family and friends and, of course, DD’s ninth birthday party with all the girls from her class.  If you want to know what the girls will be up to, go read Party Games.  This morning I baked 30 buns for the party (which are now in the freezer) and a cake for DD to take into school tomorrow…

And our menu for the week?

* DD has chosen pizza and icecream for her birthday dinner – no surprises there ;D

* out to the cinema to see ‘Rango’ so will have some madder (Danish open sandwiches)

* chicken and bacon puff pastry parcels (ready-meal from the freezer) with a salad of raw broccoli florets, red pepper and cherry tomatoes

* real pork sausages (real meat, not the full-of-bits-you-never-dreamed-of-frankfurter-type of sausage…though I love them too) with homemade chili-honey sauce (just equal quantities of chinese sweet chili sauce and ketchup, then add a bit of honey to taste) mashed potatoes and sugar snap peas

* tagliatelle pasta with cream, baby peas (from the freezer) and leftover sausage

* egg-fried rice with garlic, broccoli and prawns

* confit de canard (duck confit from a tin, all the way from La France: duck legs cooked then conserved in oil – just remove from the tin and grill until the skin is crispy – the meat falls off the bone…delish!), green beans with balsamic vinegar and honey, baby potatoes

That’s it for another week.

Bon appétit and have a thoroughly thrilling Thursday! 🙂

  



Sweet dreams!

DD8 was looking at the Ikea family magazine and said, “Hey, Mum, that’s your bedroom!”.

And, by jingo, she was right.  Kind of.  We do indeed have the same Ikea bed.  And this week we just happen to be using the very same Ikea duvetcover…

All of our bedding comes from Ikea.  I love their bedding.  Affordable, fresh and great colours.  Here’s my other fave duvet cover (which starred in a previous post Feel Good Friday – Time for Bed).

And you did notice those rollaway shelves didn’t you?

They’re fantastic for keeping things hidden – which means that my bedroom always looks ‘peaceful’.  Which in turn makes it much more enjoyable to do my Flylady Before Bed Routine.  Which in turn makes me delighted to curl up with a good book in bed (and a stash of chocs) and get an(other) early night.

But you do have to watch those rollaway shelves like a hawk.  Otherwise they explode with magazines and books when you pull them out.  So today I’m going to set my Flylady timer for 7 minutes and have a good old fling.

Have a terrific Tuesday and sweet dreams! 🙂


Party games

DD8 turns 9 at the weekend and the girls from her class (all 13 of them) are coming here for a party.  I thought I had written a post about party games last year, along with a post I did on birthday party planning. I certainly meant to.  (Goodness knows, I’ve mentioned these games to twitter and facebook buddies loads of times.)  But a quick search of my blog this morning brought up zilch, so I’m getting them down down on virtual paper now.

If you’ve any other good ideas or family favourites, please let me know.  And, hey, there’s cake for everyone! 😀

Cupcakes for DD’s seventh birthday

* Eat Your Shoelace: give each contestant a very long liquorice shoelace and – with hands behind their backs – they have to eat it. Good for keeping them quiet…

* Fluffy Bunnies (suggested by Emma – thanks, Em!): put out a huge bowl of marshmallows and see how many marshmallows you can stuff into your mouth in one go. My DH will be standing ready in case any child requires the Heimlich manoeuvre…

* The Chocolate Game: contestants sit in a circle and take turns to throw the dice. If you throw a six, you put on gloves, a hat, sunglasses and pick up a knife and fork. You’re then allowed to cut up a (wrapped) bar of chocolate that’s on a plate. Eat one square before you go on to the next – no putting in four pieces at one time! ;D You can keep cutting and eating until the next person throws a six. [Adults love this game too!]

* Flap the Fish: cut out large fish shapes from paper or carton. Contestants stand in a line and race their fish. How do you get the fish to move?  Use a folded up newspaper to ‘fan’ them with.  Try and hit the ground just behind the fish. [said the old pro…]

* Egg and Spoon Race: contestants race with an egg perched precariously on a spoon. If you drop your egg, you have to go back and start again. We normally use small balls instead of eggs.  Because it’s less messy – and to avoid this happening… ;D

* The Sack Race: um, do I have to explain this?  Kids – or adults – race against each other in sacks.  And if you’re terribly clever, you’ll ask the kids to use their plastic sacks afterwards for cleaning up the party debris 🙂

* Musical Statues: this is the easiest game of the lot – turn up the music, let the kids dance, randomly stop the music, everyone stands like a statue and whoever ‘moves’ is out. Those who are ‘out’ of the game help to be the judges. The simplest game of all – no equipment needed – yet the kids love it and keep asking for more…  Isn’t that always the way?

* Pass the Parcel: wrap up a prize (best to have a small sweet for everyone) and then wrap it again and again and again – the more layers the merrier! Use all your old bits of wrapping paper, brown bags and plastic bags. The parcel is passed around in a circle and – when the music stops – whoever is holding it, unwraps it.  Keep going until you get to the prize.

* Scavenger Hunt or Treasure Hunt: leave clues around the house and/or garden which lead the kids all over the place.  We usually do this at the end of the party and give everyone a goody bag from ‘the treasure chest’.  Lesley also had a great idea for goody bags: put them in a large tub filled with old, crumpled up newspapers and let the kids ‘fish’ for them.

* Newspaper Dress Up: divide the kids into two or more teams.  Give each team a stack of old newspapers and a roll of stickytape.  They have 5 minutes (or longer) to ‘dress up’ one of their team.  Help them to get creative.  They can make a hat, dress etc or just cover their person like a mummy.  And don’t forget to take photos!

As I said earlier, if you have other good ideas, please leave a comment!

Hope you have a marvelous Monday! 🙂

[ Postscript: thank you, Emma and Lesley, for your help! 🙂 ]


Scaredy Cat Challenge – Spring in my Step

Time for a new Scaredy Cat Challenge.  Time to put the spring back in my step!

I recently got my ‘undercarriage’ checked at the doctors and we got talking about my feet.  The doctor said, “Oh, you’ve got bones missing at the front of your feet”.  Really?  That was news to me because my feet are…well, my feet.  That’s how they’ve always looked.  At least, I think they’ve always looked like that.

He said that – if I didn’t mind paying about kr 1.000 (roughly £100 or $200) – I would greatly benefit from getting soft insoles – not only for running but for everyday use.  Of course, I completely forgot to ask him why the bones were missing.  Maybe they’ve never been there?  Could it be the result of putting on almost 20 k (45lbs) during my two pregnancies?  (My shoe size used to be a 38, but now my foot has flattened out to a 39.)  Or maybe my running shoes don’t give me enough support?  I can’t say that my feet have been hurting but, then again, I suppose prevention is better than cure.

So my new Challenge is to get my feet sorted out.  It’s a three-pronged attack so it’s a sort of ‘Holy Trinity of the Blessed Feet’… ;D

1) I’m going into town next week to an orthopedic shoe store to get measured for insoles. They physically check your feet and use a treadmill/computer to check your walking style. I’m also taking DD8 with me because she ‘walks on the outside of her feet’ and needs checked too.

DS8’s new spring shoes

2) I’ve already had my first consultation with a skin doctor and it was great to get things checked up. Yes, she confirmed that I do have verucas (in addition to hard skin and corns) on my feet.  She’s already frozen the verucas once.  (Which wasn’t too painful at the time, but the blisters that came up afterwards were a nightmare – eek!)  But she also removed an annoying tiny skin tag which I’ve had on my neck ‘forever’ – bonus!  (One of those little things that annoyed me, but not so much that I ever made a special appointment to do anything about it.)  And she’ll take a biopsy of a mole that appeared on my leg, just to be on the safe side. (Another ‘problem’ I was procrastinating on.)

3) I’m going to make regular appointments for a pedicure.  As you saw in my Scaredy Cat Challenge last year Twinkle Toes, getting a pedicure is half heaven/half torture for me.  This time I’ll choose a chiropodist rather than a beautician because I obviously need bigger guns for these hard-worn feet!  Plus my little health insurance policy will – apparently – refund part of the cost. […said the canny Scot]

So that’s my new Scaredy Cat Challenge – to put a spring back into my step!

You can either watch from the sidelines, join in with me or start your own challenge.  Remember that these Scaredy Cat Challenges are not resolutions – they’re more of a ‘what do I want to change or learn or accomplish’ here and now type of thing.  Perhaps you were procrastinating about taking that scary first step. 

Whatever you choose, I’ll be glad of your company.  Let’s hold hands and be scared together!

Have a fabulous Friday and a great weekend! 🙂