Delightful life

Starting work is a strange matter. A strange matter indeed.

I glanced around me, as I often do when thinking of what to say next, and I now noticed the bowl sitting on the kitchen counter. The bowl holds what is tomorrow’s breakfast (a delicious wheat and barley bread) for some of us and it needed my immediate attention. Breakfast is, when the hours I’ve set aside for sleep are subtracted, only a few hours away. Bread needs kneading.

There, the bread is now sitting quietly on it’s tray. The bubbling yeast has been been reset and it is now trying to fight its way up and out again. The oven is ticking and clicking and making other small noises to quickly increase the temperature. Rufus Wainwright accompanies the noises with a soft, slightly melancholic voice asking me to raise my fists and stay. I’m not going anywhere, but my fingers are needed at the keyboard, and I only sporadically softly clench my fist when I reach for my glass of Bulmers pear. The house is quiet. The kitchen is a mess. I sit and cherish every moment. Breathe in. Breathe out. Life is good.

IMG_0278

Now, back to work. As I said, it is a strange matter. You see, Norwegian teachers are on strike these days. I’m still working, my union is small and work slowly, slowly but efficiently I hope. But my working days are strongly affected by the many teachers who are not working. I won’t venture too much into the politcal aspects of the strike, but I have to point out that this is not a strike concerning the teachers’ working hours or pay, but core changes affecting the entire schooling system that are initiated by not the teachers, nor the politicians, but a third party that should be responsiple only for the economic situation of the various communes and smaller parts of Norway. The strike’s been on since June. Many things aren’t right. It’s strange. A strange matter indeed. And so are my first days and weeks at work.

Still, life is good. The transition has been smooth, from stay-at-home-life to working-life. I suddenly have a whole new load of fantastic people in my life; intelligent, reflected, and enthusiastic people who inspire and comfort me in my new life. The transition has been easy. Now autumn is coming, that transition is harder on me. 17 degrees are not what they were a month ago. But I’m prepared. Boots have been located. Windowsill has lettuce peeping out from dark soil and will bring green goodness for many months to come. Life is good. Do your best to enjoy it as much as I am.

And, by the way, Rufus, Wainwright, is coming here in a few weeks time. What an out-of-the-blue-surprise. Never in a million years had I imagined that he would suddenly turn up here and sing only a few metres away from me. Because now he is. I have tickets. I am looking forward to it with that childish, bubbling enthusiasm that many claim will never survive into adulthood. Yay!

The land at the end of our toes…

I’m sitting at the kitchen table, the room is dimly lit by one ceiling lamp and two small candles. Make that one candle by the way, one just went out. A small coffee plant is showing small vibrations in the leaves caused by my movements as I’m writing. My son is whispering in the dark just above me in his bedroom, the sound of his whispers are sometimes drowned by the howling wind outside. Tall evergreen in my neighbours garden are dancing to a beat that I cannot hear, while a large uncut shrub of some unknown, maybe even undecided, kind is bending over our fence, stretching it’s long thin arms through my recently repotted herbs. My nasturtiums seems to have surrendered to its aggressive attack already, while little rosemary gallantly stretches upwards and forwards as if to dance herself away. It doesn’t look much like summer. I’m contemplating a cup of tea, but it’s already quite late. This morning I was out picking tomatoes in the front garden, it feels like the wind has stretched my conception of time, and that the tomatoes I ate, fresh from the plant, were picked many days ago.

We have had a long summer this year. It started already in April. I cannot remember ever having a summer like this, even the long sunny summers of my childhood had rainy days where we picked berries in the garden in our wellies, jumping into summer-warm rivers with raindrops dancing in the water around us. This year the only rain I’ve had was in Italy. Or so it seems. Maybe it’s just me getting older, my memory becoming selective and picky about what it decided to store for the future. I am definitely getting older. I have a full time job now, for the first time, starting next week. Until now I’ve done a bit of this, a bit of that, not ready to define myself and ‘what I want to be when I grow up’. But now I have, sort of. I cannot guarantee that it’s permanent. It will be for quite a few years, but for the rest of my life? No, ‘the rest of my life’ is a definition and thought that scares me more than the howling wind outside ever has.

The land at the end of my toes an early morning a few weeks ago, on my way to buy breakfast. A small country road in Italy a kilometre or so from the shore of lake Garda.

The land at the end of my toes an early morning a few weeks ago, on my way to buy breakfast. A small country road in Italy a kilometre or so from the shore of lake Garda.

I’ve spent the last days and weeks with my family. Both extended family and our little family. It’ been tough coming home after having been gone for almost five weeks. But both the kids and I have enjoyed getting into the routines at home. Routines that will dramatically change the coming week. There’s so much happening this autumn. Every autumn has alway brought something new into my life. I’m very excited this year, very excited. I’m trying to prepare for it, all trying to get ready, without really knowing what I should and could do. But I’m calm and mentally prepared for it all. Very ready to meet many new and wonderful people, broaden my horizon and adapt my way of thinking. I love the influences of new friendships and social groups. It will be a good year.

I will take you with me, sporadically as I always do, and I will change along the way. Adapt, improve, and change as the land at the end of my toes goes on and on, and on and on.

Home is on the horizon

IMG_3766

The setting sun as we leave Denmark. On the ferry going home

August is here again, and so am I. The past five weeks I’ve spent only a few nights at home. I was planning to write an ‘I’m home’-post, but I’ve left again. I’m close to home though, and it’s good, it’s good to be (close to) home again.

We started with a few days with bestemor and bestefar, my husband’s parents in the south of Norway. Then early one morning we took the ferry to Denmark, over to Hirtshals and the same day drove to Hamburg. In Hamburg we took the train to Munich, the Autozug, before we drove via Austria to Italy.

We had four stays in Italy: first we spent two nights at Ai Casoni, an ‘agroturismo’ near Treviso; second, we spent a week in Cavallino, just north of Venice; third was a hotel in Tuscany along with mormor and morfar (my parents), two of my brothers and their girlfriends; fourth and last was a short week by the Lago sea. We had one more stop in the very south of Germany, before taking the train back to Hamburg and then the ferry from Denmark.

The journey has been amazing; memorable, fun, and exhausting. The children have been wonderful and they have seen and learned much. We spent just about four weeks abroad and we have and still are visiting family before and after our roadtrip. Pictures and more bragging to come. This summer has been absolutely wonderful!

Vegetable garden – notes for next year

Petunia keep the pest away while the broccoli's thriving

Petunia keep the pest away while the broccoli’s thriving

I have now planted all my little sprouts out in the garden. I’ve built two more lunawood boxes (read more about building the box here) and a small add-on box for the largest one (it now looks sort-of like a ship). I have planted carrots, leeks, broccolis, sweet-peas, petunias, dill, coriander (cilantro) and courgettes (zucchini). I can proudly say that everything is alive and growing. I have learned very much the past month or so, and I thought I’d list some. They’re good to remember next year!

Courgettes are growing, after a few mishaps

Courgettes are growing, after a few mishaps

  • courgette plants are very crisp and easily break. I broke the main stem of two of my three plants and I thought they were doomed. But I placed them in a glass of water and after only a few days the stem had already developed new roots. I replanted them inside and let them have some peace and quiet for a few weeks before planting them out. They’re thriving!
  • do not underestimate the power of sunshine. I know very well that plants need sunshine and water to grow. I have few windowsills that are bathed in sunshine and thus my sprouts have only had a few hours of sunshine every day. They were growing well so I didn’t think much of it. Until I saw my neighbours plant, a courgette plant I gave here that I had planted at the same time as my plants, and although smaller than mine, her had five large flowers when mine has just started to develop the flower buds.
  • petunias keep pests away from plants of the cabbage family. My six broccoli plants are still without larvas and other yucky creatures, despite the many white and yellow butterflies that have visited out garden (those butterflies lay eggs that devour the broccoli).
  • carrots need space to grown. That is why I added the extra floor to my boat-box. That way they’re planted above the other vegetables and can stretch further down into the ground.
  • tomato plants benefit from having marigolds and basil planted close. These are apparently good companion plants, and marigolds also help keep some pests away from the tomato plants. They all also require sheltered spots with much sunshine.
  • start planting early. February is probably a good month. Then the plants are big and sturdy for when the warmed days arrive. And seeing the new life spring to life in the dark, heavy months of winter helps fight of depression.
Sweet-peas are climbing and needed support

Sweet-peas are climbing and needed support

 

Filled vegetables


Filled vegetables - recipe. Delightful Chatter

I was born and raised in a family and a nation (or even part of the world) that is largely fed on high-carb diets. We’re amazing at underground veggies. Root vegetables can be and is used in so many different ways. Above the ground veggies on the other hand is something still a little exotic in this part of the world. And there are of course reasons for that. Living on the coast far north wind and rain is more common that not. Root vegetables are safe, they grow here, just like the sheep.

Above the ground vegetables are thus sort of a little intimidating. Honestly, ten years ago I had never tasted a courgette (zucchini), paprika is something I knew three uses for: diced in salads, sliced on top of cheese on a slice of bread, or on our (I call it ours, it’s as Norwegian as komle!) Grandiosa pizza. Google that last one, it’s not something we eat often and not something I’ll blog about. But I think youtube would have some treasures for you.

However, trying to incorporate as many vegetables in our diet as possible I have to turn to the above ground types, and find new ways to use them. One dish that blew my mind, thankfully not literally, was a dish I was served at Lou Pistou in Nice last year. It was typical for the area, very simple, and just soooo good. The recipe was no secret, so the wonderful, lovely lady explained it to me. I have now tried making it myself, and this is too good not to share.

Filled vegetables - recipe. Delightful Chatter

You need vegetables that you can fill, and I believe anything goes. Try making a local version! I had onions (those are a must), courgettes (zucchinis), aubergines (eggplants) and peppers (paprika). You can serve this as a full meal (mine was served with a salad – and  talk about getting your five a day!!) or you can something with it (fries, rice, or similar). Here’s what you need:

Serves 4:

  • 2 onions
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 aubergine
  • 2 peppers
  • 250 grams of ground beef
  • four slices of bacon
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • thyme, oragano or basil
  • two good handfulls of parmiggiano (or similar cheese)

First boil the vegetables for about five minutes. Put the whole veggies in the pot. At the same time you fry the bacon in a pan. Afterwards cut in half and scrape out what’s inside (throw away the insides of the pepper). Use the now empty and halved veggies as serving bowls. Finely chop everything else and mix together. Fill the halved veggies then bake at 200 degrees celsius for about 35 minutes.

Confirmation and bunad galore

We celebrated my oldest niece’s confirmation last weekend. She is fifteen and as a Evangelical Lutheran tradition we then celebrate her becoming an adult. Her life doesn’t change much at fifteen, but traditionally this is the age from which you were considered an adult. 18 is the age where you’re legally considered and adult in Norway.

The tradition involves weekly church meeting throughout the school year, although this varies from place to place. There are also non-religious confirmations based on various secular organisations, where obviously the church is not involved. The confirmations has long traditions in Norway, and was introduced during the 16th century, during the 18th century if was made obligatory. The confirmations coincided then with the last year of school and the confirmation became a religious exam, as well as a requirement for getting an apprenticeship. Today it is a matter of getting to know your religion, becoming more reflected, growing up and also the family party.

My niece was two when I met my husband and when I met her for the first time. It has been amazing watching her grow into the young lady she has become today, and it has happened so quickly. She went from a young girl to a young lady in the blink of an eye. She is lucky to have an amazing mother who can take credit for the level of maturity in my niece. She has done a good job in emphasising my niece’s good qualities throughout her upbringing and focused on the positive in life. But my niece is much more than just the result of her upbringing, she is also very clever, she has a brilliant sense of humour, she is well-reflected and mature for her age. She is insanely beautiful and determined. I’m very proud of her and consider myself very lucky to be able to follow her further in life.

I wish to keep my family anonymous and thus leave you with pictures of some of the gorgeous bunads present on that special occasion.

Planning a vegetable garden

Planning a vegetable garden. Delightful Chatter

Sweet peas shoot up quickly

I’m so pleased with my boxed herb garden that I have now taken it to a new level. I have built more boxes and I now have my own little kitchen garden. I still haven’t harvested anything, but the plants are growing and it’s all looking very promising. I’m so pleased I’m smiling like crazy whenever I’m in the garden, and I’m there very often now, because of the smiling, but more because of what’s making me smile.

Planning a vegetable garden. Delightful Chatter

Courgette plant is growing to take over the world

I know nothing, or, well, I knew nothing, about gardening. I’ve taken babysteps this year and I have learned much. Every day is a new surprise as I have so little knowledge and thus so few expectations about what will happen next,  every time I see something new or if there has been unexpected progress I’m all excited.

 

Planning a vegetable garden. Delightful Chatter

Carrots look grassy, delicate and thin

I started planting inside in April, and I realise now that January/February is when I’ll start next year. We’ve had a very early summer this year and I should have had larger plants to plant outside already in May. I should still be able to harvest from them all during the summer and early autumn, but starting earlier would result in me being able to harvest in the early months of summer.

Planning a vegetable garden. Delightful Chatter

Lettuce started slowly and carefully – was then killed by the cat – and is now trying again

I started out with lettuce, courgettes (zucchini), carrots and sweet peas. They were all planted from seeds in proper soil in milk cartons covered with cling film or other types of see-through plastic. The plastic was removed when the sprouts had grown to reach it.