Friday, 19 December 2014

Finally

I went up to the magazine stand and saw that the new Donald wasn't there. I turned to the newsstand lady and asked why it hadn't come. It would come on Friday she answered. I realised it was only Wednesday! 

I knew it was Wednesday and yet realising it wasn't Friday upset my whole week. It ruined my Wednesday, it didn't do much for my Thursday and even today (being really Friday) it didn't quite sit well with me. Despite the Christmas porridge and the cake we got at work. 

On the plus side: I got some good feedback this week. Yesterday I was asked to stand for the Tide branch of the union. I declined (work, course, team leader, operation coming up: I think I have enough on my plate). And today I was told by one of my team that despite original reservations, I was doing a fine job and he liked working with me! 

Of course it is now Friday and I have the weekend off. Then only three days of work and four more days off (ie: no working on Christmas Day, Boxing Day or next weekend). Plus I am finally getting to grips with it being Friday.

By the way: even though the new Donald Duck magazine came out today (it being Friday), in the end I didn't even get it! Will have to get it tomorrow. Which is Saturday. I think...

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

The dark ages

Once again I am sitting in the dark. This time however, it was expected. Although I had expected it an hour later. Fortunately I already had a fire going in my wood burner and the first candle was lit as well. Unfortunately I was in the basement when the lights went out and it is dark in the basement. Very dark! I had to feel my way around while carrying a heavy log basket!

Looking out of the window right now, I can see some of the other houses. All with their Christmas lights twinkling away and porch lights inviting people in. So, I wonder whether it is just me! Or are the houses that I cannot see affected as well? 

The mysteries of life. Or rather: of the dark!

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Photo on Sunday 2014-34

When I heard the mailbox open and close yesterday, I wondered what I would get. Would it be the box I was expecting from my sister, would it be the package I was expecting from Germany, would it be a boring bill? Or would it be a package sent by my parents containing all sorts of goodies. After all, my sister had just received one...

Well, it was the latter! Yum! Thank you parental units! Very much appreciated (and partly eaten already, I couldn't resist). I only have one question: what's with the bitterkoekjes????

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Black outs, Dutch vampires and more!

I had a course on being a teamleader this past week. Two days were spent trying to learn on how to behave, what to say and what to do while being a teamleader. A lot to take in, but it was fun. We had to travel to Bergen (about three hours by bus) and there we stayed in a hotel. We met teamleaders from other places around Norway and we learned a lot. Early next year we will have another two days to learn even more!

*****

After coming back and driving home, I was met by a bit of a nasty surprise. Apparently the weather had been very bad all day long: thunder and lightning all day, which had caused some major disruption to the electricity supply. In other words: it was dark driving home. At home it was even darker. And cold, because of course no electricity means no heat. And as I found out: it also means no water! Fortunately I still had some bottled water, but my bed looked like I was living in the Arctic there were so many blankets on it!

*****

After my appointment on Tuesday I needed to get my bloodwork done. So, I went down and found out they had closed for the day. Since I was away on that course for two days, I wasn't able before Friday to go to the hospital again for my bloodwork. I went in, waited ten minutes, got a Dutch vampire to get two vials of blood and walked out again. 

And on that subject: my surgery is scheduled for early February. Just over 7 weeks away. Let the countdown begin...

Friday, 12 December 2014

A taste of Christmas

No, not made by me!
Have you ever wondered why we make gingerbread men and houses for Christmas? Why not eat them all year round? They do taste good enough to do so. Yet, most of us don't. So, what is so special? 

The ingredients to make gingerbread men are ordinary flour, butter and ginger and other spices. And those last two ingredients make the gingerbread men so special. Because they were expensive. They were shipped from far away, it took a long time and that meant that the only people who were able to afford them were either very rich or had saved up. And Christmas would be a time to enjoy the best you could get. If you had to save all year to get your hands on a bit of ginger...

Imagine not only using ginger, but also cinnamon, cardemom, coriander, anisseed, nutmeg and cloves. Imagine the amount of money it would cost. Imagine how you would savour the taste and enjoy it. Imagine the taste of Christmas!

So, get you to a shop and get buying some ingredients for my Christmas tasting Speculaaspie! Here they come:

For the speculaas spice mix:
5 ts ground cinnamon
4 ts ground cloves
1,5 ts ground ginger
1 ts ground cardemom
1 ts ground coriander
1 ts ground annisseed (I couldn't get hold of that, so used ground fennelseed instead)
1 ts ground nutmeg

ts = tablespoon
Take a clean, dry glass jar with lid. Put all ingredients in jar, put the lid on and shake until well mixed. It will keep and if it runs low: just add more ingredients!

For the dough:
300 grams of ordinary flour
100 grams of brown sugar
pinch of salt
200 grams of cold butter, diced
2 table spoons of speculaas spice mix

For the filling:
75-100 grams of dried apricots
75-100 grams of raisins
2 large and firm apples, peeled and diced
2 dl of fresh orange juice
300 grams of almond paste

1. Mix the four, the sugar, the spice mix and the salt in a bowl. 
2. Add the butter and knead until you have a consistent dough. If it is still too crumby, add a bit of water. 
3. Wrap in a bit of clingfilm and put it in the fridge for at least an hour. The longer you leave it, the more flavoursome it becomes.
4. Preheat the oven at 175 degrees Centigrade. Grease a 24 centimeter loose bottomed round tin.
5. Put the apricots, raisins and orange juice in a small pan and heat. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes until the juice has nearly evaporated. Let it cool.
6. Mix the cooled fruit mix with the diced apples. Set aside.
7. Divide the dough in two. One part is used to roll out and cover the bottom and sides of the pie tin. Make sure it fits properly by pressing it down and cut away any excess. 
8. Roll out the almond paste and cover the bottom of the dough completely. Put the fruit mix in and press down with the back end of a spoon.
9. Use the rest of the dough to make small balls. Put them on the top of the fruit and press down lightly. Cover the whole of the pie! If you haven't got enough, cover in a symmetrical way.
10. Put the pie in the oven (middle or lower shelf) and bake it for between 50 and 60 minutes until done. Leave to cool in the tin. 

Eat and enjoy your own taste of Christmas

This post is part prompted by Spin Cycle. Thank you Ginny Marie at Lemon Drop Pie.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Forget about Pat Cash (although he is cute)

There will be a few people who know who Pat Cash is, for those who don't: he is an Australian tennis player. And he is cute. Not that his ability to smack a ball around or his cuteness have any direct influence on my life. Although those tennisballs...

As you may remember I went to see my gp several months ago (late September) about this pain in my lower abdomen. She sent me to get an MRI done. Which happened a month later. Another two weeks later I was back at the doctor's for the results. Which showed a large tennisball sized lump in or on my uterus. I would need to see a gynaecologist. Five weeks later and today was it...

Now, here is a diagram here that shows how it should look. Apparently with me it doesn't. What should go straight up, tilts at a very heavy angle, What should have some volume is flattened. Plus the myomas of course. Which were not as big as a tennis ball after all. The main one was nearly twice as big! No wonder I am in so much pain. Not only does it flatten my uterus, it also severely hinders my intestines. Which is most likely the source of the pain. 

Anyway, after calling in the main man on the floor (head gynaecologist) I was told the good news. Yep, it has to come out. And quite likely the ovarian tubes as well, although they were not certain about that yet. Depending on who performs the operation, I will either have a large scar going sideways, up/downways or a few holes. The most important thing though?

The time frame of course. They have given me three months, but they will try sooner. So, fingers crossed!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Photo on Sunday 2014-33

Oswin has this little thing she plays with. Three feathers bound together and she treats it like it is a bird. So, what do you do as a good cat when you find a whole bunch of feathers tied together: treat it like it is a big bird for her to play with!!

I have to keep my feather duster behind lock and key or otherwise she will be dragging it all through the house!!!

Don't you just love cats??


Friday, 5 December 2014

Preparations are under way!

The meat for Christmas dinner has been bought and freezered. The main will be kale 'n' mash and the freezered meat. I know what I will have for desert (the Speculaas cake/pie). The side will probably be a home made husar salad (Dutch recipe). I still have some plums in red wine that will go down well with ice cream at some point during the day.

The choice of Christmas films to watch is growing by the day. Either they arrive in the mail or they are recorded off the telly (Channel 5 has a great choice). Of course the old favourites will be on my list as well: White Christmas, Arthur Christmas, the Muppet Christmas Carol, a Muppet Family Christmas plus many more. 

This Sunday I will do some preliminary Christmas cleaning and some serious Christmas decorating. No tree yet, but I am hoping to get one next week. I already have some presents to put under it as well, although there was one I had to unwrap today already!

Mind you, with all of these preparations going on, I don't even know yet whether I will have to work. Or perhaps I will be recovering from surgery (although I severely doubt it, seeing how 'fast' things are moving here in Norway). But at least the preparations are going fine!


This post is prompted by Spin Cycle. Thank you Ginny Marie at Lemon Drop Pie. 

Thursday, 4 December 2014

One of those

There are days where everything goes smoothly. Today was not one of those. Today was one of those days where everything went a bit wrong. Not massively, not damagingly, but wrong nonetheless. 

I was tired to begin with. Then the keys to the bus were missing. I got a spare set instead. The first two trips went fine. No delays, no problems, everybody behaved. My third trip and fourth trip were on time as well. But there are some road works en route, which always cause a bit of trouble since it is a narrow stretch of road. 

The real 'pester Mara day' was still to start however. Lorries getting in my way, more roadworks, loads and loads and loads of children and to top it off: lorries in my way while I was trying to negotiate roadworks while the bus was still filled with a fair few children. 

I got back to the office and was asked whether I wanted to do some overtime. Today. The answer was no. My head was still reeling, my ears were still ringing and I was mentally tired as well as physically. Rest and Doctor Who (the first series ever) were in order. 

Tomorrow is another day. Hopefully without lorries and road works!

PS: I didn't damage the bus (although it was close at one point), I left on time for every single trip and everybody behaved and was nice (compliments about my new Christmas earrings were plenty). Oh, and the hair was fine as well!!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Life as I know it

 
When I first thought about moving abroad, I never thought that I would end up living in a small wooden cottage in the Norwegian countryside. But, as of last week (November 27th) I have been in Norway exactly two years. Running on adrenaline those first few days, not sleeping well and a week later: a new job. 

I have been in that 'new' job for two years tomorrow (December 3rd) and when I mentioned being in Norway for two years last week on Facebook, one of the first things mentioned to me by my colleagues was cake. Norwegians have a fondness for cakes which is quite astonishing. I think I have eaten more cake in the last two years than in all my other 41 years combined! 

Anyway, cake. But what type of cake. I didn't want to do the 'usual' chocolate cake, nor did I want to do something Norwegian really. Come in Google! Something Dutch inspired, yet possible to make here in Norway. In the end I found a 'speculaas cake'. I made two yesterday. A spicy cake (cinnamon, cardemom, cloves, nutmeg and a few more) filled with apple, raisin, apricot and almond paste. I am actually salivating as I type!

I hope my colleagues like it...