I was out walking with a friend of mine. A delightful activity which brings out a smile, makes me feel refreshed and gives me wonderful rosy cheeks. I cast a quick glance over at a grocery store as we passed on the opposite side of the road. It was over in no more than a few seconds:
The sliding doors opened and a man appeared. He looked down toward the ground straight in front of him. His face was careless and anonymous, I have no memory of his features. But then his eyes wrinkled, his mouth opened and his face exploded in happiness. He looked at his dog who emitted the same happiness and using its entire body to show it.
The quick glance gave me such an intense dose of happiness. It burned in my chest and spread out to the top of my head and the tip of my toes.
Enjoy the little things in life, and please do share them with me!
We spent four pleasant nights and four gorgeous days in Cannobio in early autumn. Fours days of walking barefoot by the lake, eating Italian ice-cream, soaking up the sun, seeing new places and faces. And thoroughly enjoying life. We stayed at Residenza Patrizia. A hotel I would very much recommend if you’re in the area. It was clean, pretty, and colourful. The staff was very helpful and very polite.
Travelling with two small children was throughout our stay a positive experience. Of course it helps that our children are somewhat well behaved and both have big, blue, eyes. But they are still children and we let them roam around and understand that they cannot be expected to sit still. Still they were always met with smiles and friendly faces. High chairs and cots appeared as if by magic during the first hours of our stay.
Sitting waiting for lunch outside the restaurant the children were hungry and far from patient. Son was running around and was not eager on taking order. However, a few minutes after ordering we received a plate with something that had him sit down quietly while he waited for his expected dish to be served.
If ever in Cannobio don’t hesitate to stay at Residenza Patrizia. We were not disappointed (even if we could not find it at first and were worried the hotel did not exist at all…)
Fastelavn is the three days before lent. The word derives from low-German and means the evening before lent, it also tells of Norway’s religious history and influences: lent is a Catholic tradition, while Norway is primarily Protestant, much of the tradition has been brought to the country through German influences. Lent starts seven weeks before Easter, which would be now on Wednesday. Today is the last Sunday before lent. Traditionally the days before lent were days where you could feast before the 40 days of fasting, consequently the days before lent are in Norway called ‘fleskesøndag’ (lard Sunday), ‘fleskemandag’ (Monday) and ‘feitetirsdag’ (fat Tuesday).
The Christian traditions were mixed with heathen traditions of fertility. ‘Fastelavnsris’, twigs from a birch-tree decorated with colourful feathers, are sold by a non-governmental organisation for women’s health in all supermarkets the Saturday before fastelavn. Historically the ‘ris’ was used on married, young women who had yet not born children and to fight of winter. Norwegians might have invented friendly spanking…
Today much of this is lost. The meaning of it is not given much thought, but a combination of the earlier traditions lives on. Today is, by the man in the street, called ‘fastelavn’ or ‘bollesøndag’ (sweet-roll Sunday). The modern tradition involves exquisite sweet-rolls, the dough similar to that of the French brioche, served with cream and a sprinkle of icing sugar. And the tradition still stands strong. Last year my parents visited for ‘fastelavn’ and my mother made the rolls. Here is her recipe:
Makes 12-16 rolls:
3,5 dl whole milk
50 grams of fresh yeast
100 grams of butter
1 dl sugar
500 grams of flour
1 t cardamom
Melt the butter and mix with the milk. Make sure it’s not too hot when you add the yeast. Add the egg and mix with the dry ingredients. Knead the dough and leave to rise until it has doubled in size under a plastic cover (the plastic will keep the moist from vaporising). Roll out and leave to rise while the oven heats up to about 200 degrees Celcius. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and delicious. Try and wait until the rolls are cool before you slice them in two and add whipped cream (mix the whipped cream with custard cream if you feel decadent) and serve with a sprinkle of icing sugar. Many also serve with a layer of jam (raspberry or strawberry) and a thin slice of marzipan.
The outline of the 2014 summer vacation has been sketched little by little this year, before Husband suddenly took out the magic marker and drew with bold lines. The vacation is consequently now planned, booked, and waiting to happen.
We’re going by car again this year. Our own car, but using a bit of Deutsche Bahn’s (German railway company’s) fuel from Hamburg to Munich. We, and our Skoda, are spending a night each way on the Autozug (cartrain) reducing the mileage and the number of days we would need to travel to Italy.
This year we’re planning a week by the coast with a group of friends, some nights in Tuscany with our extended family, about a week near the beautiful Garda lake, and a few nights in culinary heaven at the foot of the Alps. I can’t wait!
Pictures are stolen from the hotels’ websites, Le Volpaie, Agriturismo Ai Casoni, and the Cavallino information site.
Finding something to cherish this tuesday wasn’t all that easy. I have not had an easy day. It all goes back to this weekend:
I have faced one of my most dreaded challenges this weekend. And I now live to tell the tale. Husband is offshore, as he often is. I’ve had my mother-in-law, we call her Bestemor, has been here to babysit Daughter while I’ve been intern-ing(ish). She left of Friday to go back home. On Saturday morning my parents and youngest brother, all living in nearby, left to visit my older two brothers (who live far away). And then, on Saturday around noon I was struck, like lightning from a blue, clear sky, by one of the meanest viruses known to man: the stomach flu! I was out flat with two children to take care of. Many have been through worse, I know, and I am no hero. But I have dreaded this as one of the worse tasks that comes with having a man who works away from home. The stomach flu virus is very attracted to me and will jump me every. single. time. I hear about anyone who’s ill. And it hits me hard! Luckily, this time, the children didn’t get it at the same time…
The days following these 24 hours of pure agony I have, wisely, been following the new hip 3:4 diet. You’ve heard of the 5:2 diet? well, I live hardcore and have for the past 4 days had an intake of no more than 500 calories (on average). Today that resulted in nausea, dizziness, headache, short temper, but an acceptable weight loss. Son has been magnificent and knows not to piss off his momma, Princess darling, on the other hand, has had a day worse than me, or that is at least the message she has tried to get across today. Can you say whining? But now, I got it all out of my system and I can focus on what I want to remember from today:
- I managed to go for a long walk today. It was windy with a few drops of rain in the air, but then suddenly the sun came out. My route was a large circle, starting off towards the west (towards Shetland) before heading north and walking east to get home. As I turned to start walking north, due to a windy path, I found myself facing east. Staring straight at the rising sun. It blinded me and showered me with light. This is quite amazing after weeks of not having seen the sun properly.
- I complained to Son earlier today that this place was such a mess. Cleaning the house was not first priority during this weekend. Two hours after Son was supposed to be sleeping he called me from upstairs: “Mom, you know the sink in the bathroom? You know what? (he’s not very good at getting to the point – that could be hereditary) You don’t have to clean that now cause I just did!” He is an amazing wee man. And although he might have flooded the bathroom – that was one proud little man who went to bed again afterwards. He then, finally, fell asleep straight away.
What will you remember from your Tuesday? Please do share!
My little princess awoke early this morning. We have a set time in the morning when morning starts and the children are not allowed up before then, except for under exceptional circumstances. This was an hour before that set time and I grunted and silently begged for her to turn around and fall asleep; it didn’t work. I picked her up from her bed and placed her in ours and hoped I could trick her into a wee nap; it didn’t work. Finally I placed her in her bed again and told her firmly that it was still night. She objected at first, but then stayed quietly in bed for another half an hour. Disappointed I had lost precious sleep I could feel the morning starting off on the wrong foot. I decided I could not let that happen and instead lay silently in the dark trying to wake myself up and change my state of mind. Negative thoughts started to drift away and were replaced by a positive mindset. Then I heard it, a weak melody prickling the darkness. The song of a robin singing to lure out the first rays of the sun.
My son has some stuffed toy birds that resemble the real ones and even play a melody identical to that of the resembling bird. Thanks to these I could easily recognise the bird.
It’s the first time I’ve ever recognised a bird based on its singing and the moment felt a little magical to me. I lay for a few minutes listening to the beautiful song. When it faded and ended I still had time to read for a few minutes before morning started. Despite the reduced hours of sleep, the morning turned to the better and really has improved the entire day.
What made your tuesday a day to cherish?
I promise I won’t turn my blog into an interior design blog. It’s just that, well, we’ve decided to stay put where we live now. Make this our permanent residence for time and time to come. Unfortunately it’s not quite big enough for us, and the layout, well, the layout is a different story. So we’ve started tearing down a few walls and building up a few more. (read: my husband does the building and the tearing. Me? I’m architect/project manager – and I do my job well!;) ) Anyway, we’ve made a room for our little princess and I have gone far out of my comfort zone to add colour to it. It’s not all that daring, but to me, wow, I never thought I could add that many different colours to a room and still have it look ok.
I didn’t plan much before I started, but I wanted a chandelier and a wallpaper that I could vary the look of as our girl grows older. Now, the darkish purple is met with a soft pallet of pastels, but when she’s older it would take on a whole new look if combined with black, metals and mirrors. This time I decided on most of it, next time it’s her turn, but I hope she sees the wallpaper’s potential.
The room makes me feel so happy. The sense of achievement lingers and has given me more courage when now taking on my son’s room.