Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spring? Don't think so...

It's almost April, and this is my backyard.  I wonder if all this snow will have time to leave before fall...


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Terms of Endearment

I watched Terms of Endearment yesterday. Finally!
Yes, sometimes there is a classic (I suppose this movie qualifies as one) that I think about seeing, often, and still, years go by...
For those among you who don't know which movie I'm talking about, Terms of Endearment came out in 1983, directed by James L. Brooks, and with such actors as for instance Jack Nicholson, Shirley MacLaine, Danny DeVito and Debra Winger.
It won 5 Oscars (Best Picture, Best writing, Best Actress etc )and it was nominated for, and won, a bunch of other awards.
As I see it, the movie is about a very particular and complicated mother-daughter relationship.  Add to this a struggeling marriage, friendship and serious illness...
Yes, I cried.  Of course I did.






See here for more information.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Weaknesses...

Upon reflection, I decided I had three main weaknesses:
I was confused (evidenced by a lack of facts, an inability to coordinate my thoughts, and an inability to verbalize my ideas);
I had a lack of confidence, which caused me to back down from forcefully stated positions;
and I was overly emotional at the expense of careful, "scientific" thought.
I was thirty-seven years old and still discovering who I was.
Julia Child.
These could easily have been my own words...  Just add a year. (Or two actually, tomorrow.)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Palm Sunday

Today is Palm Sunday, and we're entering the Holy Week.  In Norwegian, the correct name of this week is Den Stille Uke (The Silent Week), but most people just call it Påskeuka (Easter Week), because all school kids started their Easter break this weekend, and many adults also take time off from work all this week.  In Norway  both Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays, so it makes for a good break without taking that many days off work.  Norwegians usually escape to their mountain cabins, but we'll be staying home, just relaxing, maybe taking day trips or gong out for dinner.  We don't have that many plans, and I think it's good for everybody.  
Writing this, I just came home from the old wooden church downtown, where I attended a concert, a beautiful Easter  a capella concert given by a local choir, (Vestoppland Kammerkor), with works by Mahler, Mendehlson, Grieg and others.  It was a strong, emotional and spiritual experience, in a beautiful church filled with candles, and I left feeling that the mood was set for the week to come.

The painting is a mural by Giotto, made in 1304-06 on the walls of the Scovegni chapel in Padua, Italy.  It shows Christ approaching Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, while people greet him as a king, waving palm leaves and laying down their cloaks on the ground in front of him.  The scripture tells us they were shouting "Hosanna!", and many of them were probably the very same who, a few days later, shouted "Crucify!"...

Mountain Weekend

Last weekend we stayed to nights in a little mountain hotel, together with my sister and her family.  We went Nordic skiing, sat down for good meals and just hung out, enjoying the wonderful mountain views and fresh air.

The landscape just outside the hotel


Our youngest is trying on his skis for the very first time...


My oldest son


My oldest daughter


My nephew and godchild


My youngest daughter


My niece







Saturday, March 27, 2010

Picture of the day: Norwegian Mountain Beauty


This picture was taken last weekend, when we spent two days up in the moutains.  Another post about this stay is coming up!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Stuffed animals - homemade!

Just wanted to show you these three guys.  They are stuffed animals made from my kids' drawings.  They designed the toy just as they wanted them to be, and I tried to be as faithful to the drawings as possible, when I made them.

First: "Horse", designed by my then four-year-old daughter:




Then, "Poppy", designed by the same artist, six years old. (The name was inspired from my friend's daughter.)




And here you have "Fluffy", designed by my 13-year-old:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Spa complaint follow up

Yesterday I wrote  a post about a disappointing spa stay, and about the letter I mailed to the hotel.  Guess what, today I got a call from the hotel manager.  He was extremely sorry, and he thanked me over and over again for writing the letter.  "We're going to learn from this", he said.  Actually, the whole staff had got a copy of my letter, and they were going to have a meeting, going over every single point.  He's going to email me shortly, and there will be a recompense of some sort.

Pictures of the day: Swimming in Winter Wonderland...

This pictures are from the better part of my spa experience: Swimming in hot water, surrounded by snow.  Surreal experience.  (Even more surreal the night before, swimming in the dark while it was snowing in my face... but I didn't bring the camera then.)




And then some pictures of my very good friend, Heidi:





Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spa-weekend, a huge disappointment!

Three weeks ago I spent 24 hours in a spa-hotel in the south of Norway.  I was there with a good friend of mine, a friend I don't see that often, and this weekend was going to be all about us, talking, relaxing, and enjoying the spa and hotel restaurant.  24 hours of well-being, a good strenghtening medicine for two busy moms.
Well, unfortunately we were really disappointed.  There were just too many things that weren't as they should be.  The get together with good friend - part of it was of course great, but not the relaxing spa experience we were paying for...  We were actually shocked by the lack of professionalism, and by the lack of service-mindedness.  We didn't feel pampered, like you expect in a place like that, and there were things that were completely unbelievable!
Yesterday I wrote a long letter, were I explained everything, in a correct and sober way, and I mailed it to the resort.  I also mailed copies of the letter to the local tourist office, to the hotel owner and to the hotel chain management.
Now I'll just wait and see what happens. I'll keep you posted.

I've got a guitar!

Yes, last week I bought a guitar.  Been thinking about it for a while, since my daughter has guitar lessons in school, my husband already knows how to play, and since it sort of makes sense for us to have one.  
Except for our toddler, the whole family plays the piano, we've all sung in a choir at one time or another (right now it's only Alma), and I play the saxophone a little bit. 
Now I want to learn how to play our guitar as well.  Will need some sort of manual, learning guide, though.  We'll see how it goes!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Picture of the day: Morning fog


Photo taken with my mobile phone camera a couple of days ago, at the parking lot where I was dropping off my ten-year-old son for his nordic skiing field trip.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Rain

It rains!
This morning I walked alone downtown for an errand and back home again.  A nice walk, with some time for thoughts to wander as well.
Soft rain against my face, what an amazing feeling!  I realize I haven't experienced it since Rome in November last year...  Yes, that's right, we've had winter here, real ice cold winter, with lots of snow, temperatures way below zero, and a lot of glistering beautiful days with a sky so blue it looked like it was painted and sun lightening up the days, even if it wasn't strong enough to warm the air and melt the snow.
This morning we woke up to 2 degrees Celcius (about 35 Fahrenheit), grey skies and rain.  And already we can see pieces of black road where the snow  is slowly melting away.  In the big fur tree outside our house, the birds go crazy chirping and whistling, almost like they want to be the first to announce the change of seasons.
And, they're right, because it actually smells like Spring out there.  An earthy, treeish, hopeful scent of what's about to happen.  Soon.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Picture of the day: The Royal Palace Park, Oslo

This park surrounds the Royal Palace in Oslo, the king's home. 
I've been told I used to run naked here, as a toddler. (It was the 70's after all.)

Homemade tomato soup

Why on earth do instant tomato soup at home when it's so easy to make the real stuff, and sooo much yummier!
Here's a recipe that goes well with everybody in my family, including our picky eater.  


2 cans crushed or diced tomatoes / 2 bokser finhakket tomat
Two cups chicken broth / 1/2 liter hønsebuljong
1 small onion (or 2 shallots)
3 tbs/ss butter
1 tbs/ss all purpose flour /hvetemel
4 tbs/ss tomato paste /tomatpuré
garlic (1-2 cloves)
basil (little or much, depends on what you prefer.)
salt
pepper
sugar


Chop the onion and garlic into small pieces, toss in cast-iron pot with the butter, and cook over low to medium heat until the onion is soft and transparent. (7-10 min) Add the flour, and stir until there are no lumps.  Add the chicken broth, the tomato paste, the basil and the diced tomatoes.  Let simmer for five minutes, and add some salt, pepper and a hint of sugar.


I usually use the stick blender at this stage, so that the soup gets all smooth and creamy, (and my picky eater really prefers this), but you can serve the soup like it is now.


Serve with some kind of bread, and put sour cream/crème fraîche on the table, so that everybody can serve him/herself.


The whole thing takes less than 30 min to make.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Picture of the day: Jonatan in the snow

This morning, 9AM, Jonatan is out in the woods, saying goodbye to Samuel who is off with his school for a day of Nordic skiing and eating hotdogs, cooked over open fire.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Too late - again.

Why is it that I can't go to bed in time?
Maybe part of it is that I'm alone with the four kids again.  I'm not too happy about being the only one in charge, even though everything runs smoothly.  Most of the time, that is.
Just another thing to check out.  -Did I lock that door?  -Where is that backpack that Alma needs tomorrow for her nordic skiing day with school?  -Did I turn off the dryer? -And what about straps, to bind the skis together, where are they?  -Found, just have to remember to make hot chocolate for both kids who are going to be outside all day tomorrow.  -The living room is a total mess.  -So is pretty much the rest of the house.  -What about the light downstairs, did I forget to turn it out?  -Enough, already!  I need sleep. Goodnight!

Other winter activities

The last day of the kids' winter break:  Dad had to work, and the four children and I went for a walk in the neighborhood, with our kicksleds and a regular sled.  We had to stop in this little slope for a while.  Lots of fun!








Monday, March 15, 2010

Picture of the day: Kids Nordic skiing


My husband took this photo a few weeks ago, at a recreation/hiking area just outside our little town, where we spent a few hours nordic skiing and enjoying the beautiful winter day, eating hotdogs and drinking coffee and hot chocolate.  My ten-year-old son to the right and my six-year old daughter to the left.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Våg å Være - Mitt Første Fotoår (Book Review - ALSO IN ENGLISH)

This book isn't in English yet (as far as I know), so I will write this review in Norwegian.  Translation in the end of the post!

Våg å være
av Trond Andersen.

Denne boken har som undertittel "Når en krise intreffer".  Det er forfatterens egne opplevelser det handler om her.  Om da han mistet 75% av synet pga en hjernesvulst, og om hvordan han jobbet seg ut av krisen, fant nye bærebjelker, og bekreftet gamle som fortsatt var der.  
I tillegg til de egne opplevelsene, har han samlet sitat, fortellinger og lærdom fra andre kilder, og det er blitt en bok som kan hjelpe mange, enten de går gjennom en stor eller mindre krise.  
Det er rett og slett en god verktøysamling til bruk i eget liv.  Språket er godt å lese, og man får lyst til å streke under mange steder.
Boken har en annen del:  Mitt Første Fotoår er en samling av forfatterens egne fotografier, skapt etter at han mistet synet.  Dette er vakre, stemningsfulle og egenartede bilder som jeg får lyst til å se lenge på.  Bildene er fulgt av sitater,  fra andre mennesker og fra forfatteren selv.
Jeg leste ferdig boken i går, men den blir ikke plassert i bokhyllen på lenge ennå.  Den må ligge framme, så jeg kan bla i den nå og da, se et bilde igjen, lese et avsnitt igjen.
Anbefales!


Her forteller Trond Andersen selv om sin krise og om boken:



This book's title translates something like "Have the Courage to Be", and the book description  "When a Crisis Happens".  It is about the author's own experiences, about how he lost 75% of his eyesight due to a brain tumor, and how he managed to rebuild a life afther this, find new ground to stand on.
In addition to his own experience, there are quotes, stories and important material from other sources, and the result is a book that can help a lot of people, during and after a small or a big crisis.  It's in a way a really good toolbox for Life.
There is also another part to this book (when you turn it around): "My first year as a photographer" is a collection of the author's own photographs, all taken after he lost his eyesight.  These are beautiful and special pictures that I want to take in for a long while.  The photographs are followed by quotes, by the author and others.
I really hope this book gets translated to English and other languages.  (Maybe I should offer to do just that?  I happen to know the author.)

Trond Andersen's web site

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Picture of the day: Family portrait

This photo was taken last summer.  Lazy days of August, enjoying the south part of Norway.

Photo: Reidar Gusdal

Friday, March 12, 2010

Slipping Through My Fingers

I can hardly hear this song withouth crying.  It says exactly how I feel about parenting.  As a mother, I know there are all these precious moments literally slipping away, and time goes by way too fast. 
I really do wish I could freeze the picture, breathe for a while, feel that we are here and now, without changing,  but that break just doesn't come, and far too many moments are waisted.
Well, I'll just continue trying to hold on, keep up, and gradually letting go... 
That's life.

Picture of the day: Jonatan and Grandpa


This photo was taken during our winter holiday trip last week.  Jonatan enjoys sitting with Grandpa, singing and playing.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Red Beans And Rice Burritos



Here it is, the recipe I wrote about.  I made this for dinner yesterday.  It is quick and easy to prepare, but yummy and healthy.  It's also perfect for a vegetarian diet.  I discovered it at The Six O'Clock Scramble.


Red Beans And Rice Burritos


1 cup (ca. 2 1/2 dl) rice
2 tbs olive oil
1 onion, cut into small pieces
1 green bell pepper, (paprika) cut into small pieces
Garlic, about 2 cloves, finely chopped
15 oz red kidney beans,  rinsed and drained*
15 oz, Italian-style stewed tomatoes*
1 Tbs/ss ground cumin
1/4 tsp/ts cayenne pepper (optional)**
Large (burrito size) tortillas. (Count 2 per person, more if very hungry)
Salsa
Sour cream / rømme


*(For my Norwegian readers:  I found these cans (hermetikkbokser) in a big ICA store.  Just buy several of them, and stock!)


** I don't use this.  Too strong for my youngest.  I put salt and pepper shakers on the table.


Cook the rice.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.  Not too hot!  Add the onions, peppers and garlic and sauté them until the onions and peppers are soft, about 7-8 minutes.



Add the beans, tomatoes, cumin and cayenne (optional), bring to a boil and let simmer for a few minutes.
Add the cooked rice and stir it in thouroughly.



Heat the tortillas (microwave or oven, see the package instructions) and let everybody serve themselves:  Place a scoop of the mixture in the heated tortillas, top it with salsa and sour cream if desired, and wrap them burrito-style.



I usually make a double portion, and then it's perfect for 6 (with some leftovers)


I picked up this recipe when we lived in Seattle last year, and my kids love it.  We were all happy to see that the very same cans of beans and stewed tomates can be bought here, at our local grocery store.


It only takes the time the rice needs to cook, so this is is very quick to make, healthy and very tasty.  Enjoy!