Monday, 31 May 2010

Our Nest

As promised here are some photos of our little den. 

Kamil, an amazingly talented joiner, made us a wonderful high-raised bed with lots of storage underneath. (He is the one who made my sewing wardrobe too!)

This is my new neat beautifying area where all I need is easily at hand.

Here is a close-up of the curtain I made out of lace dollies from the Thursday market at Gloucester Green.

Here is Aline's little bed ready for her when she decides to come and join us. The birds in the mobile I made with a pattern from Spool Sewing. You can find the free pattern on their blog. The fabric I used for the bumper is from the lovely day I had a Liberty.

And finally behind the door are our laundry bags that I made to help us avoid piles of clothes on the floor. 

Stefan's scrumptious bread - RECIPIE!

As promised here is Stefan's recipe for a wholegrain bread.It doesn't take that much hands-on time, the secret is lies in letting it rest and prove long enough. So you need to be making it on a day/afternoon you plan to be pottering around at home. The second secret is kneading the dough when mixing - this is easy peasy if you have a good kitchen mixer, if you don't have one it takes a little longer but your reward is a good therapeutic work-out toning you arms and upper body. We also use local flour from The Oxford Bread Group, and we can highly recommend it! We get flour delivered to our local hub every other week, but the main thing they do is delivery of bread.

This recipe makes three big loafs.


Step 1
3 1/2 dl boiling water
180 g wholegrain rye
70 g wholegrain wheat 
70 g sunflower seeds
50 g sesame seeds
50 g flax seeds

Step 2
1 liter water - it needs to be fairly warm about 30C
1100 g strong white flour
150 g strong brown flour
150 g rye flour (sometimes we use oat flour instead)
40 g sea salt
25 g fresh yeast (if you can't get fresh yeast use dry yeast) 

  • Step 1: Place all the ingredients in step one in a bowl and pour over the boiling water. This helps the seeds blend in better with the dough and keeps it nice and moist. Cover the bowl and let is cool down. Stefan often does this the evening before or in the morning before he goes to the library.

  •  Step 2: Mix all the ingredients - including the seed mix in a big bowl, but keep about 1 dl of water back for later in the kneading process. Start kneading the dough at slow speed for about 4 min(7 min if hand-mixing) and then increase the speed and knead for another 5 min (8 min if hand-mixing). When you have increased the speed slowly add the rest of the water. The dough is ready kneaded when it is subtle and has a shine to it. When you stretch it, it should give you nice long strings of dough. This means that the gluten is doing its job and that you bread will rise nicely. By the way the dough is probably wetter and looser than what you are normally used to, this is how it is supposed to be so don't panic.
  •  Cover your dough with a clean tea towel and place in a warmish place, or at least out of the draft. (During winter we fill our sink with hot water and place the bowl on a baking tray on top of the sink)Let you lovely dough rest for about 1 1/2 hour while you get on with your life. 
    • Lightly dust your counter top with flour, 'pour' out your dough and divide it into 3 chunks and let them rest for 20-30 min on the counter top. Just enough time to wash up the bowl and have a cup of tea! Shape the 3 lumps of dough into loafs and place them in bread tins (that you have gently brushed with oil). Brush your loafs with lukewarm water and sprinkle on some seeds if you like.  

    • Let the loafs prove until they have doubled in size (again covering them loosely with a tea towel and leaving them in a comfy place). This might take 1 - 2 hours. Put you oven on 220C while the loafs are proving. When they have risen, bake them on the lowest section of the oven for about 30-45 min. They are done when they are lovely and golden and sound hollow when you give them a tap. Take them out of their tins and cool them on a rack. 

    • Enjoy while still slightly warm with butter and lovely jam! 

    Monday, 24 May 2010

    The room where everything is possible

    We have a lovely little home, on a lovely little road, with a lovely little garden at the back. In order to fit our lovely little life into our lovely little home, specially now that we are expecting lovely little Aline we've had to think hard. The first change was move our bed out of the big bedroom and into the little one. (I'll do a post on our new bedroom later this week.) We have now managed to fit our life and hobbies into the bigger of the bedrooms- as well as Aline's changing stations and clothes - and when she starts sleeping in her own room her bed will be in here too. This is what it now looks like, starting with the study corner/ Stefan's home studio.
    The bookcase has all our most important books and articles for our studies, you can glimpse Stefan's speakers on top of the bookcase, and his guitar next to the desk. His other instruments live in the wardrobe just next to the desk along with all our other office stuff.

    This is Aline's cornerWe're using my grandma's old dresser as Aline's changing stationHer clothes are waiting for her in the draws and her cloth diapers are easily accessible in the baskets on the shelf. When she's old enough her bed will go in the corner where the table and chair are currently standing. I'm suspecting that this space will quickly accumulate more stuff when Aline actually arrives. The walls are still pretty bare, I have some ideas - such as photos of friends and family or silhouettes of  animals...but I can't quite decide... (For family and friends reading this - this is a hint - e-mail me some nice photo's of yourselves and I'll have something to put on the wall and Aline will get to know your faces!)
     And here is a close up of the changing mat I made as it turned out to be more of an effort than I first anticipated as I had to make it fit the little shelf. 

    And now on to my favorite! A wardrobe that takes me to my own little Narnia. From the outside it looks like any other wardrobe:

    But when you open the doors, there is a whole new world with hours of creative fun beckoning! And the best thing is that when I'm done for the day I can just shut the doors, and Stefan doesn't have to be bothered with my stuff on every table!

    As you can see the surface the sewing machine is on pulls out so that I can comfortably sit and do my sewing and other crafty stuff. Underneath the pullout shelf I have room for all my large sketch-books, nice paper and other oversized items that up until now have been floating around in random places.

    All my fabric and buttons are organized by color inviting me to hours of fun!The buttons, by the way, live in old jam jars that are hanging by their lid from the under the shelf.

    I also have my own mood-board for inspiring things I come across.
    So as you can see this is truly the room where everything has been squeezed in and where everything is possible!

    The Garden and the Gardener

    As the due date for Aline's arrival is approaching rapidly, my man has been working more and more from home. Here he is working hard on his PhD, while admiring the results of the hard work he has put in to our garden.

    The plants have really grown and we are inspecting them for signs of flowers every day. Soon if it goes according too plan our garden should be an array of white, blue and lilac flowers. I wonder what we'll see first - flowers or Aline? 
    Here are some images of what we already are enjoying of flowers:

    Hurray for Stefan who has made this beautiful space for us!

    Saturday, 22 May 2010


    As we didn't get to go home for the Norwegian national day on the 17th of May, we celebrated it in our garden making waffles and watching the parade on youtube (Here and here and here and here are some examples for those of you have no idea of what I'm on about). Not quite the same as the real thing, but still a taste of home!

    For those of you who have a Norwegian style waffle press (not a french waffle press!)at home here is the recipe we tend to use:

    2 eggs
    2 dl sugar

    5 dl white flour
    1 ts vanilla sugar
    1 ts cardamon powder
    2 ts baking soda
    5 dl milk
    150g melted butter
    a small pinch of salt
    2 tbs of water

    1. Start off by whipping together eggs and sugar so it's light and fluffy.
    2. Mix the dry and wet in separate bowls before adding them gradually into the egg mix. Continue until all is combined.
    3. Let the batter rest for 15 min. It should be like thick pancake batter.


    Super easy Banana cake

    This morning when I came down to the kitchen I was greeted by the smell of bananas. After a little hunt I found the bunch of very ripe bananas in the bread box (!?!). Something had to be done with them very soon, if not they'd go in the bin. 
    After a couple of Google searches and reading several recipes, this is the one I synthesized according to the number of bananas I had at hand and the content of my storage cupboard. Amazingly enough, despite my experimental approach it turned out lovely! And it was super easy - it took me 15min to mix together - the most time consuming part being copping the chocolate and walnuts.

    I made mine in a large tray-bake tin, but it could be done in two loaf tins, a cake tin or half the recipe for one loaf tin. It's not that sweet so if you have a sweet tooth maybe do 400g of sugar. Next time I'll probably use half brown sugar for a more caramelly taste.   
    225g butter
    340g sugar
    460g self-raising flour
    4 eggs
    5 large or 6 medium very ripe bananas

    optional extras - try all or just one whatever you have in the house:
    a couple of handfuls of chopped chocholate
    a couple of handfuls of chopped nuts
    2 tablespoon of honey
    2 teaspoons of cinnamon
    1 tablespoon of vanilla essence

    1. Turn your oven on 180c and grease an appropriate tin.

    2. Cream butter and sugar together, followed by adding the eggs.

    3. Mush your bananas with a fork and add to the creamed butter,sugar and eggs mix.

    4. Add the flour and whatever extra flavorings you have at hand and mix well.

    5. Pour into your tin and cook in the oven for about 40min or until the tip of your knife comes out clean.

    6. Make some nice icing, serve with a spoon of thick vanilla yogurt or eat plain with a cup of tea!



    Monday, 3 May 2010

    Getting ready

    The time for Aline's arrival is quickly approaching and we are trying to get as much as possible done both in the house and on our PhD's before she comes and demands our full attention. Unfortunately posting things on my blog is therefor not on the top of my list, but hopefully I will soon find the time to post photos of the things I've made in April and the changes we have had done in our home. But until then here are some photo's that our lovely friends Ard and Mary took of us at Magdalen College so that we could have something to remember Aline's pregnancy. Thank you so much!

    And Mary hosted a lovely baby shower for Aline and me. Thanks again Mary! And also thank you too all the lovely ladies that came and made the day so special for us - and the presents you so generously gave! Here are some pictures for those of you who were sorely missed!

    Full concentration making cupcake decorations!

    Mary's yummy cupcakes!

    Baby food tasting! Jill was the champion!

    And a big big thank you again to Mary - the most wonderful friend and hostess! Here she is in action! Love the shoes!