Getting ready for Easter

If you live here in Denmark you’ll have noticed that the Danes are getting ready for Easter. They celebrate in big style, and the country will basically shut down tonight, Wednesday.  Despite being very low-key about religion, most of Denmark will be closed Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday.  So although you may find the occasional food store open, schools are closed, as are council offices and most businesses. Plus libraries and post offices (don’t expect to receive mail or parcels).  Museums, your local swimming pool and fitness club may have special opening hours. Buses and trains may be running on ‘holiday’ schedules. Check before you head out!  😉

easter2

Today – Wednesday – is the biggest shopping day of the year aside from the last shopping days before Christmas.  Pretty amazing when you consider that people are only buying food and drink – not a Christmas gift in sight!  If you forget to stock up, you’ll need to hop over the Sound to Sweden (they’re open for business as usual on Thursday). Or prepare to run the gauntlet on Saturday.

easter3

And what do the Danes actually do on all these holy holidays? Well, they don’t really head for church – they save that for Christmas. No, Easter is the time to eat, drink and be merry with family or friends. To get out in the garden. And get the garden furniture out (if you didn’t do it when spring officially started in Denmark on 1 March). Do some DIY. Get busy down at the allotment or open up your summer house and hope for fantastic spring weather! Here’s my DS16, many years ago, at our Swedish cabin, about to dig into some Easter chocolate…

IMAG7949

Me?  I’ll be doing a mixture of the above: a bit of gardening, an Easter egg hunt and friends coming to stay. Lots of eating and drinking. So I’m already stocked up with the Danish Easter essentials. And what do the Danes eat? Lamb selvfølgelig. Lots of påskebryg (Easter beer) and snaps. And the ubiquitous array of foods that you will see at Danish lunches (see my Christmas Advent Calendar post). Rejer (prawns), sild (herring), varm leverpostej (hot liverpâté), various meats like flæskesteg (roast pork) and rullepølse (rolled pork). One of my own faves is tarteletter (tart cases filled with a mixture of chicken and asparagus).  Look herefor more about them.

easter4

Get them while they’re hot!

There’ll be lots of cheese. Dainty biscuits and chocolates/chocolate eggs. Or you might want to serve this yummy Danish mazarinkage (marcipan cake).  Takes only 5 minutes to put together if you have a kitchen mixer! My recipe is here.

IMAG1036

And now? Let us pray. And hope the Danish weather gods are with us!

Skål! God Påske!

And if you are bored over Easter, then why not enjoy a good book. My cozy crime novel, set in Denmark, is finally here! “Death Comes to Strandvig” is now available on amazon – for less than the price of a cup of coffee! Links here to the international store and the UK store. Set in a small Danish town, there is plenty of hygge, a lot of winterbathing, traditional Danish food, iconic Scandinavian design, terrible jokes, a little romance and – selvfølgelig – a dead body! 😉

book cover goodreads

I hope you enjoy it!

Diane  🙂


Easter is coming…send a secret letter!

Fastelavn has been and gone. The snow has been and gone (with the occasional flurry to keep us guessing). So what’s next on the Danish calendar? Easter beer and eggs!

eggs

The kids will be on Easter break from next Friday – woo hoo – no more pesky packed lunches until they restart on Tuesday 29 March 🙂

But you can’t have Easter in Denmark without – selvfølgelig –  a traditional Danish Easter craft. Today we’re making a gækkebrev – a secret snowdrop letter!  For which we’ll need a vintergæk (snowdrop). My garden is currently full of them. Splendid!

snowdrop

If you don’t have a snowdrop, you may need to improvise. Draw one?  Now, did you know that gækkebreve are a purely Danish tradition?  I thought it was a Scandinavian thing.  But no.  It’s a crazy Dane thing.  And right now, as I type, little kids all over Denmark are sitting at home (or nursery, school, the museum or local library) cutting holes in paper and drawing lots of dots.  All in the hope of getting a chocolate Easter egg!  More on the logistics of that later in the post…  First up, let’s get making one! :)

You’ll need:

  • white and coloured paper
  • glue or a gluestick
  • a pair of scissors
  • a snowdrop

Choose a coloured piece of paper for your paper ‘doily’. Fold it in half, then in half again.  Draw a rough shape and cut out.  If you’ve never done this kind of thing before, keep it simple!  The Danes are world-famous for their intricate papercutting.  Hans Christian Andersen(you know, the one who wrote “The Ugly Duckling”, “The Little Match Girl”, “The Princess and the Pea”, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, “Thumbelina” etc, etc, etc…) was also an expert at papercutting.  I’ve only lived here for 18 years, so I’m still learning…

Open up up the paper and you should have something that looks like this.

Stick it on to a plain white piece of paper. I used a gluestick.  And it’s fine if it isn’tperfectly stuck down all over – it just gives it an even better 3d effect ;)

Then you’re ready to write a little poem on it.

Henne bag ved havens hæk, fandt jeg denne vintergæk.

Hej, min hvide lille ven, nu er turen din igen.

Du skal gå til min ven, hviske så kan kan forstå,

han må gætte prikke små, for et påskeæg at få!

.

But if your family and friends aren’t Danish, you’ll probably want one in English, right? Try this one for size:

Snowdrop, snowdrop, snowdrop fine,

Omen true of hope divine,

From the heart of winter bring

Thy delightful hope of spring.

Guess my name I humbly beg.

Your reward: An Easter-Egg.

Let these puzzling dots proclaim

Every letter in my name

.

Now listen carefully.  [I shall say this only once…]  At the bottom of the gækkebrev,DON’T sign your name.  You draw a large dot for every letter of your name.  So my name, Diane, would be  . . . . .    If the person who receives the letter guesses who it comes from, you have to give them an Easter egg.  But if they can’t guess, they have to give you an Easter egg.  So disguise your handwriting and be creative!  I usually put in three dots for M.U.M.!  ;)

The final touch is to pick a snowdrop from your garden – just draw one if need be – add it to the letter and send to a friend or loved one.   And keep your fingers crossed that theydon’t guess who it’s from…

God Påske!  Happy ……!

Diane :)


Crafty Tuesday – Chicken or the (Easter) Egg Trick

While Easter is still fresh in my mind (i.e. we still have some bits of chocolate egg left and the decorations haven’t been put away yet) here’s a fun little chicky trick to amuse the kidlets…

Take a sheet of paper (portrait style) and draw an egg. Or an Easter egg 😉

Take another sheet of paper (landscape style) and draw a little chicky.

Place the papers criss-cross[is gonna make you jump, jump] with the chicken paper on top of the egg paper.

Roll them up around a pencil. All the way. Remember that the chicken was on top…

Now you’re going to unroll and – hey presto – the egg now came first!

Don’t even think of asking me how I did it… Because a) a Magician never reveals her tricks and b) I don’t know! 😉

Have a terrific Tuesday! 🙂


Très Bon Friday

I must say, we’ve had a très bon Good Friday 🙂

Started by taking a car full of junk to the recycling centre (the fruits of several 15 minute Flylady decluttering sessions in the basement and garden shed yesterday) and then had a great traditional Danish Easter lunch at my Dear-Brother-in-Law’s place. Including, of course, snaps. And Easter beer with a wee, yellow chicky on the bottle 🙂

We returned home late afternoon to – joy of joys – s.u.n.s.h.i.n.e and decided on yet another 15 minute bout of gardening. I even wanted to go back out there after dinner – so it must be spring, right? 😉

Instead DH and I put our heads together and did what a man’s gotta do…finalise the summer holiday plans. We booked the first part back on the 2nd of January but have been procrastinating ever since…oops! So three hours of looking at Michelin maps, websites and brochures and we’re all booked – hooray – vive les vacances!

Have a fantastique vendredi Friday! 🙂


Crafty Tuesday – Easter Lunch Bunnies

Tuesday is the day I do a spot of crafting. Today is no exception! Here’s your 15 minute craft…something for the Easter lunch table. Super simple  = great for the kids. If you make these bunnies within the next couple of days, they should be fully sprouted with cress in time for Easter. Otherwise you could also fill them up with (chocolate) Easter eggs 😉

Okay, time to set your Flylady timer for 15 minutes and ‘get cracking’ [insert big ho, ho here].

You’ll need:

  • empty milk or juice carton
  • pair of scissors
  • coloured paper or carton
  • glue stick
  • cotton wool
  • cress seeds

Cut down your empty carton.

Fill it up with cotton wool.

Cut out some ‘grass’ from a length of green paper or carton and stick on using a glue stick.

Now it’s time to make a ‘wabbit’. I folded over my paper and drew one freehand. There are plenty of templates and stencils on the net if you need inspiration – just google “rabbit template”.

Cut out your ‘wabbit’ and stick him on to the milk carton. Feel free to draw on eyes, a nose, etc. I like my things pretty plain. Also because I sometimes end up with a Hot Cross Bunny instead of a cute-faced one… But I couldn’t resist adding a little bit of cottonwool for his powder puff tail 🙂

Dampen the cotton wool and sprinkle over the cress seeds. Leave on a warm windowsill for about a week and keep the cotton wool damp. I’ll post another picture when we see start to see some growth 😉

When the cress is sprouted, put your Easter Bunny on the table along with a little pair of scissors and let guests help themselves. Though you might have to explain what cress is to younger guests… I remember one Easter where we put cress on top of our egg mayonnaise salad and DS10 (then just a tot) asked, “Why are you putting grass on my food?” Bon appétit! 😉

Hope you have a terrific Tuesday! 🙂


Crafty Tuesday – Window Dressing

It’s crafty Tuesday and today we’re doing a really simple window decoration. But they don’t need to hang in the window. They can hang from a mobile. Or you could make several of them and place one on each plate for a special Easter lunch. They end up like soft fabric so can be kept from year to year. The kids can make these themselves, though you might not want to let them loose with your iron! 😉

So set your Flylady timer for 15 minutes and I bet you’ll be finished before it rings…

You’ll need:

  • fusible interfacing (the stuff that sticks to fabric when you iron it on)
  • tissuepaper
  • a pair of scissors

Take a piece of tissue paper – I find deep colours work best. Decide on your motif or design – keep it simple and fairly small. I cut out some eggs as we are now in the run up to Easter. Here’s my egg shape…

which I folded in half a few times and snipped out little shapes (triangles or hearts are good).

Then when I opened it up…voilà, it looks a bit fancier, and will allow the light to shine through 🙂

Lay your shape on the interfacing. You are going to make a sandwich. Make sure that, when you fold over the material, there will be enough to leave a little border all the way around.

Fold over the interfacing. Time to ‘grill’ the sandwich – not too hot!

Trim around your shape and stick on your window. Step back and say a prayer to the Sun God… (He had his cordless headphones on today, next time I’ll have to pray louder.)

And before you know it, we’re done. Hope you have a terrific, sunny Tuesday! 🙂


Crafty Tuesday – Cute Cones

Today’s craft (yep, it’s Crafty Tuesday again here on the blog) couldn’t be simpler. Won’t even take the magic 15 minutes!! 😉

You’ll need:

  • paper or carton
  • scissors
  • glue, gluestick, gluegun or stickytape
  • pencil or pen

Draw circles (use a cup or small plate as a guide) on the paper or carton and cut out. I used a pair of zigzag scissors to give some of them a fancy edge.

Gently roll the circle into a cone and glue down the front edges.

Cut out a length of paper (should be at least the diameter of the starting circle) to make the handle. Dab glue on each end and stick inside the cone.

You can then decorate them according to the occasion. We made yellow ones today for our Danish Easter decoration… Gather branches, hang the cones, feathers and eggs on your ‘tree’.

DD7 filled the cones today with feathers. But in the week up to Easter we will replace the feathers with…chocolate or marcipan eggs! 😉

Hope you have a terrific Tuesday! 🙂


Crafty Tuesday – Thingumyjigs

Tuesday has rolled around again – do you have time for a 15 minute craft?

You’ll need:

  • clay, plasticine or playdough
  • plastic bag
  • knife to cut the clay
  • pair of scissors
  • scraps of fabric
  • ribbon, wool, twine or elastic bands
  • some type of decoration (see below)

Today we’re making a thingumyjig. Don’t quite know what to call it. Something that you can pop on a windowsill, put in the middle of your dining table, give as a gift, etc, etc. My DD (dear daughter) and I first made these down at our local Danish library. They have a free craft workshop the first Saturday of the month and we’ve made everything from badges to birds to Christmas decorations.

First, use a knife to cut off a piece of clay and put it straight into a small plastic bag. Form it into a cone/triangular shape. Cut off the excess plastic at the top of the bag. Stick your decoration firmly into the centre of the clay.

Cut out two or three squares of fabric (err on the side of bigger, you can trim them later). Net (the stuff you use for making tutus) is cheap, comes in all colours and looks really good for this project. Lay the squares so the edges don’t match. Put your piece of clay in the middle and bring up the sides of the fabric.

Use an elastic band to hold in place.

Add a bow to hide the elastic band and pretty the whole thing up…

Voilà – we’re done!

We normally use plastic flowers (DD7 likes to give them to her friends). But use any bits n’ bobs you have lying around. Anything on a stick can be used. For Christmas you could push a styrofoam heart or star on to a wooden skewer and use red fabric. Or push a sytrofoam egg on to a skewer and use yellow fabric for Easter. You get the idea… 😉

Enjoy! 🙂