24 packages, tied up with string…

Pakkekalender!  A word to strike fear into the hearts of every Danish parent!

Not only do the Danes exchange gifts (after dinner) on the evening of 24 December, many families also make a pakkekalender  – an advent calendar of small gifts, one for every day in December – for their children or grandchildren.

When my DS14 was just a toddler, I thought, “What a quaint idea – child’s play!  Let me get started straight away!”  And preceded to spend my waking hours searching high and low for suitable (i.e. inexpensive [said the Canny Scot]) gifts, and every dark winter evening wrapping them all.  And let’s not forget a creative display on which to hang them! Here’s some inspiration for the uninitiated… 🙂

As the first of December approached, so did the pressure.  But I made it, hooray!  Let the games commence!  Sonny Boy initially expressed delight.  And for the first ten days or so, it went well.  “Oh, great, taaaaak Mor!”  But – hey ho – as we approached Christmas Day interest was waning.  And the gifts were beginning to pile up in a corner.  Next stop: the Toy Cemetery (bottom of the toybox) or the bin.  And then DD12 made her arrival, and I was then making not one but two pakkekalendere.  Help!  Finally I saw the light and came to my senses: I didn’t need the stress and my kids didn’t need the junk.

So I negotiated with them (um, okay, told them) that in future there would be no more Pakkekalendere!  These days it’s a chocolate calendar and Adventsgaver. One (farily large) present every Advent Sunday – usually a book, game or a DVD.

Now there are – selvfølgelig – in these days of big business, readymade pakkekalendere available – at a price – all wrapped and ready to gift.  And not only for your kids or grandkids.  How about a calendar of 24 luxury chocolates for your husband? Or 24 tiny bottles of nail varnish for your wife or girlfriend?  24 packets of tea for your Granny?  24 organic beauty products for a friend?  Yep, you name it, they have it in pakkekalender form…  Here’s something I glady buy for my DDS (Dear Scottish Dad) and DSB (Dear Scottish Brother) every year.  An advent calendar of julebryg (Danish Christmas beer).  Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow?  Hic! 😛

Okay, let’s wrap it up!  Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Diane 🙂

One month from now…

Today’s date?  24 November.  One month from now – at this very moment (6pm) – we’ll be lighting candles and sitting down to Danish Christmas dinner.  Eeeeek!

Yep, countdown is progressing and you can no longer hide your heads in the sand.  On Saturday afternoon I was at a Christmas craft fair at an OAPs home and enjoyed my very first æbleskiver of the season (Danish Christmas donuts).  And managed to get the flormelis (icing sugar) on my black trousers.  Selvfølgelig!  Goes with the territory! 😛

Today, Monday, I’m just back home from an exhibition of Danish Christmas ornaments by Jette Frölich.  A Danish designer who’s been producing Christmas ornaments for nearly 50 (count ’em!) years…

I won’t be decorating our home just yet – we”ll probably start next Sunday (Adventsøndag).

And the Christmas gift shopping?  I started at the end of October (most things are wrapped and labelled) and hope to be finished by this weekend.  Go me’ *o/*

Have a marvelous Monday!

Diane 🙂

Remember to take all your belongings with you when you leave…

Whenever my Scottish family or my ‘adopted’ Danish family get together, all the old funny stories come out.  Nothing like a good laugh to get rid of the blahs!  One of my favourite stories involves my DDDMIL (Dearly-Departed-Danish-Mother-in-Law) who – like my DDH (Dear Danish Husband) – could be, let’s say, a trifle ‘distracted’ at times.

One morning, many many moons ago, she walked into Viborg town centre, together with my DDH (who back then was just a babe in arms – or, in this story, was just a babe safely bundled up in his pram).

She did her shopping, chatted to a few friends she met in town (as you do in small towns) and, as lunchtime approached, she headed back home.

Got home, unpacked her shopping and suddenly had a nagging thought that, hmm, she had forgotten something…  What was it?  Yep, you guessed.  She had left my DDH in his pram outside a shop! Of course, she went straight back for him.  He was still there, sound asleep, no harm done.  This is Denmark after all! 😛  [You know you’re in Denmark when…Baby comes too!]

I thought of my DDDMIL and that story when I spied this ‘Gratis Hundeparkering‘ (‘Free Dog Parking’) box outside a supermarket this morning.


If you put your dog (or child?!) in it, just remember (as they always say on the underground trains here) to make sure to “take your belongings with you when you leave”…

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Diane 🙂


If you can't stand the heat in the Danish kitchen…

Y’all know that I ♥ Denmark and those crazy (but lovable) Danes.  But I can’t help feeling that they got the wrong end of the stick (or should that be hot poker?) when it comes to designing items for removing hot dishes from hot ovens.

I mean, really, why do the Danish public continue to put up with (totally impractical) grydelapper (‘pot holders’)?  And, by the way, our neighbours – those silly (but lovable) Swedes – are just as bad.  Yes, grydelapper come in all forms and materials…cotton, rubber, silicone. All equally useless and dang fiddly to use! 😛

And let’s not forget the ‘crocheted-classic-do-it-yourself-Christmas-gift’ version of the grydelappe.  Hiding at the back of the kitchen drawer or the bottom of the Christmas ornaments box…

The only other choice in Denmark is the single, (lonely) unattached grillhandske (oven glove/mitt).  A step up from the grydelappe, but just as awkward to handle.

So where, oh, where is my true love?  There can be only one!  The double oven glove! Please let me know if you find any in Denmark.  My Mum and Dad in Scotland have been bringing double oven gloves over in their suitcase for me, for the past 16 years… ♥

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Diane 🙂



Cash ain't King when you don't have a Crown!

Picture the scene.  You’re quietly minding your own business, walking along the street, when you see a sign that makes you lækkersulten. [Great Dane-ish Expressions – To ‘have a case of the munchies’]  I wanna flæskestegssandwich (roast pork sandwich) and I want it NOW!

But, hey, the pølsevogn(sausage wagon) doesn’t take cards.  I don’t have any cash on me (remember, the Danes pay for everything with their trusty Dankort).  And there isn’t a cash dispenser in sight…  Waaaaaaaaaaah!

But hold on a mo’!  All is not lost!  There’s also a sign that says “Mobilpay” together with a telephone number!    Yep, I can play for my flæskestegsandwich (and a cold chocolate milk, Cocio, to go with it, should I so desire…) by simply opening the app on my telephone and transferring the money straight to the sausage seller.  No fees or fuss for either of us. Très smart, non? 🙂

I’ve also used Mobilepay when transferring money to my kids’ pocket money accounts. For paying our dues to the school slush fund.  When out having lunch with friends: I pay the whole bill, we divided it up ourselves and they send me their share by phone, straight to my account.

Not to mention buying things when out and about at markets and summer festivals (here’s my sweetie friend, Tina, owner of the Pink Flamingo shop in Hellerup at a charity fundraiser).

Just download the app, get your account sent up and keep a look out for a sign that says “Mobilepay” or “Mobilpay”.  And remember not to spend all your money in the one shop! 😛

Have a marvelous money, money, Monday!

Diane 🙂

Danish Christmas Party? Check(list)!

It’s Friday, yay!  Which means not only the start of the weekend and party time but – all through the month of November and December – Julefrokosten! The Danish office party!  (You’ll remember that the first ‘snow’ fell last Friday – Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! – so the streets are already awash with Julebryg, yule brew/Christmas beer.)

Are you off to an office party tonight?  Or, I should really say, this afternoon?  ‘Cos they normally start in the early afternoon and carry on until the wee, small hours.  And are you, like every good Girl Guide or Boy Scout, “well prepared”?  Here’s a helpful checklist I saw in the window of our local chemist/drugstore (the MATAS chain)…

  • nailfile
  • lipstick/lip gloss
  • tights
  • hairspray
  • glitter
  • hairspray
  • hair accessories
  • condoms (!)
  • deodorant
  • perfume, handbag size
  • powder
  • glitter for nails and body
  • SP12 chewing gum
  • MATAS plaster for blisters


Um, with that little lot, you’re going to be needing a shopper rather than a tiny clutch bag, ladies! 😛

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Diane 🙂

To be, or not to be (confirmed). That is the question! (Part Three)

Our DS14 (dear son, aged 14) is at the age where many young Danes get ‘confirmed’ and, if you saw Part One and Part Two, you’ll know that he’s been in a bit of a quandary. To be, or not to be (confirmed).  That is the question!

Well, he’s been attending the confirmation prep classes (which, you will remember, are scheduled into the Danish school timetable) and has also been at church on Sundays. Now, to be honest, it’s not because he has a burning desire to get out of bed early on Sunday mornings. I men, let’s face it, teenagers have no burning desire to get out of bed at all on Sundays! 😛  No, he’s been going to church with his cronies because, in order to be confirmed, you also have to attend a church service at least 10 times during the prep classes.  No cheating!  “So how do you prove that?”, says I.  “Well, Mum, I make sure to shake the minister’s hand at the end of the service.”  “Ah,” says I, “but the kids could also just say that they’ve attended a service at another church in the area, and no-one would ever know?”  “Hmm,” says DS14, “then you’d need some proof – like a photo of you inside the church or a copy of the Order of Service!”  Ha, serious stuff! 😛

As I sent him off on his bike on Sunday morning, I handed him DKR 20 (about USD 3.30, UK£2.10) for the collection plate.  And then I had a thought…what does the collection go to?  They can’t be raising money for a new roof or radiators for the church (as sometimes is the case in Scotland) – because here in Denmark the church is funded by the state. DS14 told me that all monies collected must go to charity, the church isn’t allowed to ‘make money’.  Good show!

But back to the quandary.  To be, or not to be (confirmed).  Well, DS14 wants to go ahead.  Which means that we can also go ahead and tell family/close friends to keep the date free and book their ferries and flights.  And start thinking about a venue, outfits, gifts, speeches and songs…phew, or should that be pew?!

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Diane 🙂


10 November? Duck for dinner!

My DDH (Dear Danish Husband) often accuses (is that the right word?!) me of being more Danish than the Danes.  You see, I ♥ traditions. And in Denmark there are just so many of the dang things – hooray – that I sometimes tend to go a bit overboard.  Take today, for example – 10 November:

DDH walks into kitchen:  Oh, duck for dinner tonight?  Great!

Me:  Well, selvfølgelig, we’re having duck, honey.  It’s the 10th of November!

DDH:  Um, eh, oh yes, just didn’t realise the date…

Me:  Yep, Mortensaften (“Morten’s Evening”), the day when all good Danes should be eating duck!

DDH:  Um, great!  But we never actually celebrated Mortensaften in my family when I was a kid…

Well, we do now!  So duck for dinner it is.  A kind of mini run through for 24 December, when the Danes eat duck for their Christmas dinner…

So why are the Danes eating duck tonight, 10 November?  Well, it all goes back to the year 371 when Saint Morten (ok, make that Saint Martin), a French munk, was forced into being a bishop.  The story goes that Morten (um, Martin) didn’t want the job, so tried to make a quick exit and hid himself in the nearest barn – which turned out to be full of geese.  The geese said “quack, quack, quack!” and Saint Morten (um, Martin) was discovered!  Boo!  Hiss!  And so – to get back at those pesky geese that gave the game away – the Danes eat goose (um, make that duck) on the evening of 10 November. (St Martin’s Day is 11 November.)

Velbekomme!  Or perhaps I should say bon appétit?  ‘Cos tonight we’re having French confit de canard (out of a tin).  Yum!

Have a marvelous Monday!

Diane 🙂



Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow?

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow?  It may only be the start of November but today – Friday 7 November –  is the official start of Christmas in Denmark.  Tonight at 8.59pm precisely the first ‘snow’ will fall: the snow in question being wet but not exactly white, more of a pale brown…  It’s the launch of Tuborg’s Christmas beer – called julebryg (‘yule brew’) or jule øl (‘yule beer’).  And the day is therefore nicknamed J-Dag (‘J-Day’)  It all started back in 1990, when the Christmas brew was traditionally launched on the second Wednesday of November.  But, because so many students were hung over on the Thursday (hic!), Tuborg were forced in 1999 to move the launch to the first Friday of November… 😉

If you watch Danish tv, you’ll already be familiar with the iconic advert from Tuborg   Coca cola lorry go home! 😛

Skål og glædelig jul!  Or should I say, Glædelig Jul og godt tub’år!  So, who’s ready for a beer?  We make these ‘reindeers’ every year – cute, non?  And – since it’s Friday – here’s a joke…  Me: What has antlers, pulls Father Christmas’ sleigh and is made of cement?  [You: I don’t know.]  Me: A reindeer!  [You: Um, but what about the cement?]  Me: I just threw that in to make it hard. Boom, boom! 😀

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Diane 🙂

1 TV, 2 TV, 3 TV…

When we were in Paris last month, my daughter wanted to send a postcard to one of her schoolfriends.  She wrote the message and I wrote the address:

Danish addresses are always written with name of the street first, followed by the number of the house or building: Lykkevej 38

And then sometimes you’ll see “1 tv”, “2 tv” or “3 tv”.  What?  Mrs Dahl has three televisions, whilst Mrs Schiøtz has two and poor old Mr and Mrs Bjerg only have one? 😛 

No, silly!  TV means they have appartments on the left hand side.  T.V. means til venstre.

What about Mrs Boysen and 2, TH?  Well, that means she lives on the second floor, the appartment on the right.  T.H. means til højre.

Look at the picture again…  Quiz time!

Where does Mrs Dahl live?  3.sal, t.v.  On the third floor, appartment on the left.

And Mrs Boysen?  2, th.  On the second floor, appartment on the right.

And Mrs Schiøtz?  2, tv.  On the second floor, appartment on the right.

And Mrs Øberg?  1, th.  On the first floor, appartment on the right.

And Mr and Mrs Bjerg? 1, tv.  On the first floor, on the left.

How did we do…all correct? 🙂

But what if you live on the ground floor, appartment on the right?  Well, that’s called stuen in Danish, st.  So your address would be Lykkevej 38, st, th.

Oh, and if by chance you cross over the Sound to Sweden, remember that our neighbours – the silly (but lovable) Swedes – don’t have “ground floor” or “stuen”.  Unlike the rest of Europe, they call the ground floor the first floor – American stylee.

Have a wonderful Wednesday – the only way is up!

Diane 🙂

I heart Danish comfort food! (Part Eleven – Sprængt okse/and)

This morning it was dark and pouring with rain when my kids biked off to school.  I put on my waterproofs (no such thing as bad weather – only unsuitable clothing!), got on my bike and battled the wind and rain down to the beach…in order to strip it all off and enjoy my ritual morning skinny dip in the sea with a friend.  Life is good!

Got home – starving as usual – and feasted upon a piece of ryebread with slices of that Danish classic, sprængt oksekød (salted beef)…  Life is really good!

The beef was left over from last night’s dinner of hot sprængt oksekød, carrots, tatties and peberrodssauce (horseradish sauce).  (Not the most attractive dish, I grant you.  Unless you’re a big fan of grey meat?)

It’s a very easy dish to make and the cooking method is the same, whether it’s duck or beef.  Boil one litre of water and about 300g of cheap table salt for a few minutes until the salt dissolves.  Let it cool and add your piece of oksebryst (beef, about 500g) or andebryster (4 duck breasts).  Let them sit overnight in the salty-as-an-old-seadog pickling liquid.

The next day, pour off the salty liquid and cover the meat with fresh water.  Bring to the boil and remove any white, foamy stuff.

Add a carrot, bay leaf, a sliced onion and a small handfull of peppercorns, pop the lid on and simmer gently for about an hour.

Remove the meat, leave to cool down slightly and then slice thinly.  While it’s cooling down, you can be getting on with the peberrodssauce.  Now, traditionalists will make the sauce by starting with a roux, adding some of the cooking water and then adding horseradish and some milk or cream.  I decided to go with this modern (and easy peasy) version from Karoline’s “Granny’s Food” cookbook…

You simply take about 3 large tablespoons of creme fraîche (38% fat) and 3 large tablespoons of crème fraîche (18% fat) and put them in a little pan along with 3 tablespoons of grated horseradish (you’ll find tiny pots of it in the chiller section, keeps forever), salt, pepper and about ½ a tablespoon of sugar.  Heat through gently.  I added more sugar ‘cos I like it that way…

Heat through gently.  I added a bit more sugar to mine – because that’s the way I like it! The peberrodssauce turned out really good  and tasted great – both hot last night and cold this morning.

After dinner, DDH (dear Danish husband) gave me his verdict on the sprængt okse.  “Well, it looked and tasted like it’s meant to…”  Praise indeed! 😉

Velbekomme!  Have a marvelous Monday!

Diane 🙂