Wot no bathing bridge?

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! 🙂

Have a wonderful Wednesday! 🙂 


Give us a (Danish) song!

[This post is also published at the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

www.blogs.denmark.dk]

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…

amazingly there’s still beer left in the tap! ;D

Hope you have a thoroughly thrilling Tuesday! 🙂


Christmas planning – 4 weeks to go!

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 loved for 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…

DD in 2009 when she was 7…aww! ;D

Have a marvelous Monday! 🙂


Thoroughly Loving Millie!

We were at a school event last week and, in order to find our ‘partner’ for dinner, we had to find the other half of our playing card.  Here’s the card I pulled out of the hat…

“Love is very, very near…”

The Queen of Hearts!  (Okay, okay, so it wasn’t the Ace – but, hey, it’s close enough for me!)

For those unfortunate enough not to know what I’m referring to, I suggest you quick foot it to amazon or youtube right now.  Go check out the film – my most favourite film in the whole wide world – Thoroughly Modern Millie. 🙂

Guess what I’m going to be rewatching for the (literally) thousandth time?

Have a fabulous Friday and a thoroughly wonderful weekend! 🙂


Menu plan – Thursday 24 November 2011

Only a few days to go until the first Sunday in advent, the official ‘kickoff’ for Christmas, hooray!  Menu planning is still my least favourite Flylady habit but I have to say that, at times like these – when our calender is CRAZY busy – I just love having it thought out in advance.  It’s like a big comfy safety net 🙂  And this week I’m in for a real treat.  One night we’re going to friends for dinner.  And DS11 has been roped into cooking not one but two meals for us.  The little lamb.. ;D

Here he is in action, making pasta from scratch 🙂

Without further ado here’s what’s cooking at Casa Copenhagen this week:

* Jambalaya (rice, onion, garlic, red pepper, spicy sausage, prawns) – DS11 found the recipe in a ‘cookbook for boys’ and wanted to try it, so he’s cooking it for us

* Spaghetti Carbonara – another recipe that DS11 found in a ‘cookbook for boys’, so he’s making that for us too!

* Wholemeal pizza with chicken and shallots (readymade pizza bases that we’ll top ourselves) with carrot and cucumber sticks on the side

*  out to friends – yippee!  Great company, good food and no work for me! 🙂

Nothing hits the spot like blue gin with tonic and lots of ice!

* roast chicken (simple and yummy) with a risotto of bulgur wheat/carrot/cabbage/garlic made in my (beloved) rice cooker

*  spaghetti bolognese/pasta med kødsovs/spaghetti with meat sauce made in my crockpot: one ‘flatpack’ of mince that I precooked and have stashed in the freezer, one bottle of Dolmio tomato sauce.  Dump and go! 🙂  Spinach salad on the side.

*  breakfast for dinner:  sausages, bacon, my Granny’s pancakes, scrambled eggs (made in my beloved ricecooker), lashings of ketchup.  Fresh orange juice and hot tea to drink.

When I cook pancakes for school, I use two frying pans to save time…

That’s it, bon appétit!

Hope you have a thoroughly thrilling Thursday! 🙂


Julesnaps – Danish Christmas Snaps

[This post was also published at www.blogs.denmark.dk – the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs]

Christmas in Denmark just isn’t Christmas without…snaps!  (Also known as akvavit or brændevin).  I got this recipe from one of my DDSILs (Dear Danish sister-in-laws) back in 1999.  It tastes of coffee and orange so, though not really suited for drinking with sild (herring), it’s a lovely wee warming drink on a chilly afternoon.  You don’t live in Denmark and can’t get snaps?  Never fear, you can also make it with a bottle of neutral vodka.  It ideally needs to sit and brew for 35-40 nights so, if you want to make some for the coming festive season, you’d better get your (ice) skates on!

You’ll need:

  • one orange (appelsin)
  • 30-40 cloves (nelliker)
  • 100g soft brown sugar (brun farin)
  • 40g coffee beans (hele kaffe bønner)
  • vanilla pod (vanillestang)
  • bottle of neutral snaps, e.g. Brøndums or vodka (en flaske snaps uden ‘smag’ som Brøndums)

First of all, find a very large glass (e.g. pickling) jar that will be big enough to hold the snaps and the orange.  Stick the cloves into the orange.  Or get one of Santa’s little helpers to help you… ;D

Mmm, it’s already beginning to smell of Christmas…

Put the brown sugar into the jar.

Add the coffee beans.

Pop in the orange and the vanilla pod (split in two, if you’re so inclined).

Pour in a bottle of neutral snaps or vodka.

Clamp the lid down and give the jar a good shake.

And now comes the hard part…waiting 35-40 days before you drink it!  (Though go ahead and shake the jar occasionally, if that would make you feel better.).  When the time is up, you can sieve it through a coffee filter, or just pour out what you need straight from the jar.  Skål!  (Cheers!)  And – God Jul! – which, as you will remember, has nothing to do with God… ;D

Hope you have a terrific Tuesday! 🙂


Christmas Planning – 5 weeks to go!

How are you doing with your Christmas planning?  Haven’t started yet?!  Never fear, you can go check out the Flylady’s website for a complete run down of what you need to ‘cruise’ through Christmas.

My goals last week were to get the Crimbo cards started and finish off the gift shopping.  Happy to say that the (circa 40) cards are well and truly started and DD9 is having a ball playing ‘post office’: sticking on the stamps, ‘second-class post’ stickers and charity stickers.

I managed to find some cute – and very apt – ‘winter bathing Viking‘ stamps!

I’m still working on the gifts – ho, hum – but at least everything that we’ve bought/made so far is wrapped and hidden.  And talking of gifts, the kids have been decluttering their rooms (5 mins at a time) in order to make way for the Christmas pressies that will be coming in.  DS11 decluttered his shelves and ended up with two full bags of games and books.  DD9 has a huge collection of dogs but was able to part with a whole bag of them.  Here she is saying ‘goodbye’ before they went off to the charity shop! ;D

In other news, DH did his once-a-year-stint in the kitchen on Saturday afternoon and baked…110 Danish Christmas donuts.  Yum!  We ate about 20 of them on Saturday night and the rest are bagged up and in the freezer – all ready to be enjoyed warm with hot gløgg in December.

DS11 also did a stint in the kitchen – helping me to make up Christmas snaps (recipe for that on the blog tomorrow).  It needs to sit for about 40 days, so we’re right on schedule!

So all in all, a productive week.  I even remembered to feed the Christmas cake – ha!

And my goals for this week?

To finish the Christmas cards and make another effort with the gift shopping.

To clean out and organise the freezer – cos we’ll need all the space we can get for the extra meat/veggies/rolls/icecream/snaps etc that I’m adding to my grocery shop every week.

We’ll also be out in the garden putting up our Christmas lights.

And lighting the first advent candle on Sunday…

Breakfast last year – third Advent Sunday

Check back next week to see how we get on…  And which music we’ll be playing to get us in the mood!

Have a marvelous Monday! 🙂


Clean out your Car (Crash) Friday

Fridays in Flylady land are ‘clean our your purse/handbag’ and ‘clean out your car’ days.  I don’t use the car very much, so I only need to fill up with petrol every second Friday.  But over the years I have got into the habit of tidying out the car while I tank.  Those couple of minutes are enough to throw out any rubbish, dust down the interior, refold the travel rugs and check to see what’s lying in the boot.  And – more importantly – what needs to come out of the boot and go back into the house… ;D

On Wednesday I was one of the parents who was going to collect DD9 and her classmates from school camp.  I drove in convoy with another mum and we left in plenty of time.  I knew it would take a good  half hour, so I filled up my purple Flylady travel mug with hot coffee and was going to listen to the new (and need I say fantastic?) Magtens Korridorer CD.  Off we drove into the countryside 🙂

Two kilometres before we reached the school camp, we had to slam on the brakes.  A car had crashed just in front of us and there was debris everywhere.  A married couple were already on the scene and were on the phone to the emergency services.  We managed to get the driver – who was still sitting in the (smoking) car – out of it and back up to the road.  He had gone into complete shock and didn’t know where he was or what was going on.  His passenger had managed to climb out of the car but had head injuries and was bleeding.  We got her to sit in the back of my car (kept cosy with travel rugs) while we waited for the ambulances to arrive.  My friend (who’s an air stewardess – very useful during emergencies!) kept her company while we directed the traffic and tried to clear the road.  A builder got the broom out of his van and swept away the debris.  Maybe I need to keep a rubba sweepa in the boot of my car, too? ;D

The Danish cavalry arrive – hooray! 🙂

I’m so grateful to the Flylady that my car was clean and organised.  I felt like I was prepared and ready to help.  My red warning triangle and travel rugs were easy to reach.  I had bottled water in the boot and the coffee was still hot! ;D   It didn’t take long before the first ambulance arrived, quickly followed by the police and the firebrigade (and a helicopter overhead).  But, hey, you never know what’s going to be round the next bend.  So maybe you should go and clean out your car right now?

Want to see what happened to the car?  Here’s the news story – what a waste of a Porsche…

http://ekstrabladet.dk/112/article1659554.ece

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend! 🙂


Menu plan – Thursday 17 November 2011

Hooray for Thursday – or “Little Friday” as we like to call it around here!  ;D  We’re running full-steam ahead towards the weekend while our local shops run full-steam towards Christmas.  Fairy lights are popping up all over (which is nice because it’s now pitch black by 4.30pm) and we’ve just seen our village Christmas tree being hoisted into place…

But, as usual, I digress!  Here’s this week’s menu at Casa Copenhagen:

*  wholemeal pasta with pesto, leftover duck and ‘on their last legs’ veggies

*  oven baked honey/mustard ham with gratin dauphinois (baked in the oven at the same time) and peas

suppe (Danish soup: stock, carrots, meatballs and dumplings) with hot wholemeal rolls

*  takeaway sushi (woo hoo!) for DS11 and I on a night when DD9 is away at school camp

*  DS11 is hosting one of the ‘dinner groups’ in his class so the kids (four of them) will be preparing our dinner.  The menu is: veggie burgers (veggie burger, wholemeal buns, bacon, cheese, lettuce, cucumber, ketchup, fried onions, etc), baked potato wedges. And banana splits for dessert 🙂

I made up some teeny, mini muffins for the school’s bake sale –

and was able to declutter my stash of cake toppers at the same time! 🙂

flæskesteg (Danish roast pork with crunchy crackling), baby potatoes, sovs (gravy), red cabbage and green beans.  And a very good bottle of red wine… ;D

madder (Danish open sandwiches on rye bread) topped with smoked salmon and fresh prawns.

Bon appétit!

Have a thoroughly thrilling Thursday! 🙂


Pass the smelling salts, I’m buying Danish stamps

[also published at the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs blog

www.blogs.denmark.dk ]

On Monday I went online to buy Danish stamps in order to be ready for writing Christmas cards later this month.  Yes, yes, sending cards through the post is terribly old fashioned, but this is one Christmas tradition that I really like.  I keep a running list (in my Flylady Christmas planner) of how many stamps I need.  For example: 10 stamps to Denmark, 20 stamps to European addresses, 1 to the USA.

Looking back at last year’s list, a stamp to Europe cost 8½ Danish crowns.  That’s £0.97  Or  $1.55  Which – at the time – I thought was daylight robbery.  Ha!  Never underestimate Post Danmark – the Danish postal service…

Last year’s Xmas stamps

This year a stamp to Europe costs 11 Danish crowns.  That’s a whopping £1.26  A whole $2.  And need I mention an increase of almost 30%?!  (Though to be fair, as the cost of sending letters internally in Denmark has pogo-jumped by 45%, I suppose I’m getting off lightly.)

So this year I’ll be sending all my Christmas cards by B-post (second class).  Which in reality means that they’ll spend a few extra days hanging around in a postbag or postal room somewhere in Denmark before finally being sent on their merry way.

The Danes may be the happiest in the world and Denmark may be the ‘in’ place to visit but Post Danmark certainly don’t want you writing home and telling everyone else…

Oh, and the stamps I ordered on Monday at 1pm?  Yep, I’m still waiting for the postman to deliver them! ;D

Have a wonderful Wednesday!


Gardy loo!

Okay, I have to share!  I discovered this photo when I was decluttering.  It’s me – early 80s – complete with a red walkman and dyed red hair to match…  Eek!  And where am I?

Teenage kicks…

I’m somewhere in the North Sea, climbing the ‘rigging’ of…a sludge boat.  A boat that takes unmentionable gunk out to sea.  And dumps it.  Believe it or not, this trip on the sludge boat was a perk of my student job.  For three summers I worked at Edinburgh council’s Department of Water and Drainage (which is the slightly more palatable way of saying ‘sewage’).

The vessel bore the fantastic name SS Gardyloo.  Have you heard that expression before?  People in Edinburgh used to shout “Gardy loo!” (from the French ‘garde à l’eau’, ‘watch out for the water’) before throwing rubbish/slops/buckets of wee-wee out of their windows.  But that was, of course, hundreds of years ago 😉

Lunch on the high seas was part of the package and, as it turned out, the Captain of the Good Ship Gardyloo was also the Cook.  And a pretty fair cook at that.  After the main course (chicken, methinks) we were invited to go out on deck, where he ceremoniously shouted “Gardy loo!” before releasing the sludge into the sea (while we held our noses).  When we came back in, dessert was all ready and waiting for us…  Yep – you guessed it – chocolate mousse!  Ha!

Hope you have a terrific Tuesday! 🙂


Christmas Planning – 6 weeks to go!

Have you started planning for Christmas?  No?  Never fear – help is at hand! 🙂  The Flylady has a whole section on her website…planning lists, non-clutter gift ideas, recipes.  I’ve been using the Flylady’s Christmas organiser for years (you can download it for free here) and keep adding to it/revising it every year.  I also like to keep myself accountable by posting my weekly progress here on the blog 🙂

One of my goals for last week was to go through our boxes of Christmas decorations and weed out what we no longer use or love.  It took me a bit longer than 15 minutes but I have to say it was fun!

I managed to fill a whole bag with decorations we no longer use (or like)

and gave it to the After School Club.

I’ve put all the Christmas serviettes together and can see that, um, we really don’t need to buy any more of those this year… ;D

Nor do we need to spend any money this year on red candles!

The shelf with all the Christmas linens (mostly inherited from DH’s family) is pretty neat and tidy.  And I discovered lots of little tins that we can use if we’re giving homemade biscuits or chocolates as presents.  Yay, more money saved! ;D

On the food front, I’m still buying a few extra goodies every week.  And I fried 2 kilos of minced beef and put it into 4 freezer bags, all ready for the crockpot (chili con carne, spaghetti bolognese, taco filling or Cold Weather Hotpot).

Goals for next week?  I really need to make a big push to get the last of the gifts sorted.  I know what we want to give – we just need to make it, order it online or physically go and buy it from a shop.  Simple, right? ;D

And I’d like to start on the Christmas cards.  We usually send about 40 of them.  DH and I made a lot of international friends in the days when we both worked at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, so most of our cards go to friends abroad and family.  I’ll write about 5 of them every night while DD9 sticks on the stamps and labels (her favourite job).  Which means I should really pop off and order my stamps online now…

Happy Christmas planning!

Have a marvelous Monday! 🙂



Menu plan – Thursday 10 November 2011

Seems like it’s been a long week.  [She said, sipping chai, in her pyjamas at 8pm]  Not sure if it’s because it’s pitch black here by 5pm, because DH is away on business in Sweden or because there have been extra, extra, extra curricular activties.  But, even though I still struggle at menu planning (and often do it through gritted teeth…), it’s such a great stress-reliever that I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Plus I’ve learned to cut myself some slack.  Pre-Flylady we ate quite a few takeaways.  Now we eat home cooked food six or seven nights a week.  But, hey, just because I menu plan, doesn’t mean that I have to make everything from scratch, right?  That would be going from one extreme to the other.  So, yes, I do have frozen pizza (and frozen meatballs and frozen veggie burgers) in my freezer.

This week I’ve cut myself some of that lovely slack.  Two of the dishes on this week’s menu (the duck and the curry) are coming from SmagsSag (run by friends of ours).  You place your order in the morning and it’s delivered to your workplace by 4pm.  Everything you need for the dish is in the box (right down to salt, ha!) and the – beautifully fresh – ingredients are already prepped.  So the only thing you need to do is to finish frying/heat through/sprinkle on the fresh herbs.  Food is on the table in 15 mins…  Now where did I hear that before?! ;D  And – bonus – our kids can prepare the whole meal themselves.  A great service for busy mums – especially as it’s healthier and cheaper than a takeaway pizza! 🙂

So.  Here’s this week’s menu at Casa ‘Slacker’ Copenhagen:

*  Wholemeal tortilla ‘calzone’ triangles (take a tortilla, top it with grated cheese, tomato sauce and ham or whatever you have left over – fold it in two and heat gently in the fryingpan until golden brown – cut into three and – voilà, instant calzone) made by DD9 served with veggie sticks

* whole family is over at school for dinner with DS11’s class (child + 1 parent start preparing food at 4pm, rest of family is invited at 6pm to eat/drink/be merry/do the washing up!)

Boller i karry: a Danish classic, mini pork meatballs in an sweet apple/curry sauce served with basmati rice (prepared in my beloved ricecooker)

All these dark winter afternoons =

hot chocolate with lashings of squirty cream and mini marshmallows! 🙂

Andesteg: another Danish classic, duck with boiled potatoes, caramelized potatoes, red cabbage, warm crisps and lots of yummy gravy

Suppe: Danish meatball, carrot and dumpling soup (straight from the freezer) served with homemade wholemeal bread

*  leftover night: which is usually wholemeal pasta and any veggies/meat that have lost their first blush of youth, homemade waffles for dessert

Bon appétit and have a thoroughly thrilling Thursday! 🙂


Name that pickle!

[also posted over at the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs www.blogs.denmark.dk]

Here’s a strange Danish delicacy.  Do you know what it is?

They’re called asier and you’ll often see them served in Denmark alongside hot roasts like flæskesteg (pork), frikadeller (Danish meatballs) or cold roastbeef.   I was a bit wary of them at first (they look so anaemic) but now I love them!   If you close your eyes, they taste like soft, slightly rubbery beetroot. (That’s supposed to a compliment.)   I’ve never seen them anywhere outside of Denmark. And when visiting family ask me what they are I say they’re pickled white cucumber.   But is there a better word for them?   Most dictionaries suggest ‘pickled gherkin’.   According to botanists they’re a member of the pumpkin family.

.

Well, whatever you want to call them, if you chop them up really small, they look very similar to those cubes of pears you get in tins of fruit salad. And that’s exactly what the kids in my husband’s family did to an unsuspecting uncle at a family party…   He got more than he bargained for when he tucked in to his dessert! 😉

Have a wonderful Wednesday! 🙂