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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

NEW YEAR'S MOCKTAILS

Hope everyone had a good Christmas! All set and ready for big NYE celebrations tonight?

I'm part of the emergency response team at my work, which means that every fifth week I go on duty. While I'm on duty, I have to have my phone with me and be no further than one hour from the airport at all times. I also can't drink alcohol. For the most part, it just means that I don't make many plans for that week, and most often I just end up chilling at home, spending the weekend making stuff and catching up on Netflix. It's not so bad. I've been pretty lucky with the rota so far as well, and it hasn't really crashed with my plans too much or made me feel like I'm missing out on things. There's been a couple of times where I've not been able to drink at parties, but it hasn't really been that bad (other than everyone automatically assuming I'm pregnant. Sorry guys, just on duty!). However, this time my duty week has landed on New Year's, so I'm looking at a pretty quiet New Year's Eve celebration tonight.

I'm pretty excited about it though still. My house has a fantastic view of the valley, so I'm looking forward to watching the fireworks. I'm also having a friend over for dinner (who is also on duty!), and I'm cooking a reindeer roast with these cheesecakes for dessert. I also plan on serving up some mocktails, so I've been perusing the internet for some mocktail inspiration. At first I was a little disappointed, as I seemed to find a lot of "recipes" that were essentially just fruit juice and didn't feel very mocktail-y at all. But further research led me to the following recipes, which I'm looking forward to trying out. If anyone else is having a non-alcoholic NYE, how good do these mocktails sound?


Cranberry Tangerine Rosemary Cream Soda from Spoon Fork Bacon
Cranberry Sparkler and Apple-Ginger Sparklers from Marath Stewart
Pomegranate Mojito Mocktail from BBC Good Food
A couple of delicious sounding mocktails plus some general advice on turning regular cocktails into mocktails from A Beautiful Mess 

Know any other good mocktail recipes?



Tuesday, 23 December 2014

KNITTED BABY BOOTIES

So the most annoying thing happened while I was knitting this baby blanket for my sister's baby. I had 20 stitches left (I counted, which in retrospect probably just made me even more annoyed), when I ran out of yarn. Knitter's worst nightmare, right? I contemplated undoing a couple of lines and finishing it off earlier, but it actually seemed more complicated than what it was worth. So off to the yarn shop I went to get another ball. Needless to say, this left me with some leftover yarn.

And what's a girl to do with a ball of baby merino wool? Make some cute booties, of course! I first came across the pattern for these in a copy of Mollie Makes that a friend of mine brought over to me from the UK when she visited this summer, but I could not for the life of me understand the writen instructions how to put them together. Even though I've been knitting for a good ten years now, knitting instructions baffle me. But then I came across these instructions from Small Friendly, complete with a diagram, and it all made so much sense. The booties were super quick to knit and put together. Barely used any yarn though, so I still have quite a bit left. Any suggestions of what to do with the rest?



Monday, 22 December 2014

HOMEMADE COFFEE SYRUP

Whoooooa, December is a busy month. Why is it that when you were a kid December felt like the longest month in the world, but when you're an adult it just seems to fly by? We've been making the most of it though, and in between Christmas parties, Christmas baking, drinking gløgg and eggnog and making and shopping for presents, Graeme and I also celebrated our 6 year anniversary with a weekend trip to my parents cabin. We had hail storms and it was pretty wet and freezing, but we got the fire going and had a lovely and relaxing weekend. We had our annual Christmas beer tasting and Graeme even managed to squeeze in a fishing trip--our freezer is full! And this weekend we went to my friend's cabin in the mountains and played in the snow. It was a perfect winter wonderland and Graeme got to try skiing for the first time (#graemebecomesnorsk). On top of everything, I've also been taking tons of pictures with plans of making a Christmas 2015 album (somewhat inspired by this), but so far I've had no time to sit down and print my photos. I'm looking forward to a couple of days after Christmas when the rush is over!

While a lot of the things I'm up to these days are still confidential (though I'll probably share after the big day!), I thought I'd share these recipes for making coffee syrups. I made these earlier in the week, and we've been enjoying them with our morning coffees. Starting your day with a coffee with a bit of gingerbread syrup in it is sure to get anyone feeling Christmassy! And taking a cup along on a dog walk in the cold is highly recommended too.

Recipe:
500 ml sugar
500 ml water
2 tablespoons clove
2 tablespoons ginger
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions: Add all ingredients to a pot, and simmer for about 15 minutes until the sugar has completely dissolved. Let it cool, and add to a bottle. Enjoy in your coffee with some Christmas cookies or some of Graeme's amazing short bread (honestly, it's probably the best shortbread I've ever tasted, and I lived in Scotland for 7 years).


Thursday, 11 December 2014

NEWS!


See that above house? That's my childhood home. And guess what? I just bought it!

I've been renting it out and living in it for a couple of years now already (whoa, how time flies!), but a couple of weeks ago I signed a bunch of papers and what have you, and now it's all official. Exciting! There's tons of things I want to do to the place (and will now be able to!), so watch this space!

Also, just to clarify: no, we don't have snow here yet, this is just wishful thinking. It's a photo I took in December 2012 when I had just moved in. But I'm crossing all my fingers and toes and hoping for tons of snow this year too!

Saturday, 29 November 2014

MARGOT PAJAMA SHORTS



I have a confession to make: I am awful at giving birthday presents on time. I also often like to make the present rather than buy, and far too often this ends up taking longer than what I had planned. Making things takes time. And when you're in a full time job, making gifts for people sometimes requires a relatively high level of planning and organizing to utilize the free time you have. And if the person you're making something for doesn't even live in the same country as you, even more planning and organizing is required. I've tried time and time again to organize myself better to stop it from happening, but I'm still awful at it. I tend to make really detailed and overly ambitious plans, completely forgetting that I don't actually have a gazillion hours in a day. And this tendency to make overly ambitious plans is one of the reasons my friend Eb got these pyjama shorts over two months after her actual birthday. Although having said that, I think two months late for a birthday present might actually be an improvement. One bonus with giving them to her so late though, was that I was able to give them to her in person last weekend when I met up with her in Manchester.


To make these, I used Tilly Walnes' pattern for Margot pyjamas from her book Love at First Stitch (a book I'm slightly obsessed with these days!), and shortened the legs to make shorts. I had a good bit of leftover fabric from my button down skirt (another Tilly pattern!), and thought it would be perfect for some PJs, as it's super soft like flannel. I used black satin ribbon for the waistband, and black bias binding on the inside seams and on the back pocket. Adding pockets to an item of clothing instantly improves it in my opinion (now she won't have to hold on to things while she sleeps! haha). The shorts were based on measurements she gave me, though they looked a little bit when I finished so I added a bar of chocolate to the present. That way she can fatten herself up a bit so that the pyjamas fit better, as I'm not quite at the level of doing alterations yet.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

DIY GUITAR PEDAL BOARD

Graeme has a lot of guitar pedals. It used to drive me nuts when we lived in our flat 3/6 in Glasgow, as he kept them in our living room and they seemed to have a complete life of their own. All those wires and cords would have a tendency to completely take over the living room floor, and I don't even know how many times I tripped over them. And accidentally stepping on a guitar pedal is almost up there with stepping on legos.

So when I saw on pintrest that someone had made a guitar pedal board out of IKEA Gorm shelves, I highly encouraged Graeme to make one too. And not only did it turn out looking really awesome, it did an excellent job at keeping those guitar pedals in check. However, this first pedal board was left in Glasgow when Graeme moved over to Norway, so obviously he had to make another one, and this is the improved version. While the first one worked great, this one looks even neater as it has a plank at each end hiding the cords pretty much completely. This is how he did it:


Step 1: Gather your supplies. You will need a saw, hammer, screwdriver and screws, velcro tape, floor protectors, and of a set of GORM shelves from IKEA. This set should come with two shelves, and you'll be using one and parts of the other. If you're planning on painting or staining the pedal board, you'll also need paint and a paintbrush (duh). Graeme used a nice black stain.

Step 2: Take apart one of the shelves. You'll be using two of the top planks: one as is and the other cut in two. So for the second plank, draw a line down the middle and saw so that you have two thinner planks (see image below).


Step 3: Saw away part of the end bits as below. Graeme just used a regular saw to do this, but it was a little fiddly. This step is technically optional, but it means your end planks will fit in neatly and won't stick out (as much), and you'll end up with a neater finish.



Step 4: Screw the full plank to the back of the board, and the half plank to the front. If you cut away part of the end bits in step 3, these should slide in quite nicely.



Step 5: Paint or stain. Leave to dry before going to the next step.

Step 6: Attach the velcro tape to the board pedals, and remove the rubber feet from the pedals if they have any. If you're keeping it on floors you don't want to mark, it's a good idea to also add floor protectors. Your guitar pedals will fit neatly on top of the board, while the cords and wires will be hidden inside. Now grab your guitar and start making some noise!




Sunday, 16 November 2014

ÅSOM SEWING: SKIRT

Just thought I'd update you on what we've been making in my Åsom sewing class! For our second project, we made skirts. Everyone learnt how to make a pattern for a half-circle skirt in the class I missed, but I picked up a similar skirt pattern from Stoff & Stil. It wasn't quite a half-circle skirt, but I got a quick catch-up on how to make the patterns from scratch, so that'll be another sewing project for the future!



The skirt I made was in many ways very similar to this one I made earlier, though there were also some key differences. While the one I made earlier was based on rectangles, the pieces this pattern used were a bit curved, which I think made doing the gathering easier, as there wasn't as much fabric to deal with. The waistband was also a simpler version, as I only cut one piece of fabric and folded it over (with interfacing), rather than cutting two pieces and sewing them together. My sewing instructor commented that this was the lazy version of a waistband, but I'm still pretty happy with how it turned out. I also learnt how to attach a zipper and how to use bias binding, so my skirt even looks neat on the inside. I haven't really bothered with this in previous projects, but definitely will in the future!

Friday, 7 November 2014

CARDAMOM AND ORANGE CRUSTLESS CHEESECAKE

Oh, how I love cheesecake! It's my go-to when I'm ordering dessert at a restaurant. While I was a student in Glasgow, six of us shared a flat right around the corner from a Peckham's that sold the most delicious cheesecake. During this time, a couple of my flatmates and I went through a bit of a phase where we perhaps visited that Peckham's a little too often, and ended up eating a little too much cheesecake. Though, there is no such thing as too much cheesecake, is there?

I've never really made much cheesecake myself though. I've made a couple of gelatin-based ones, but my heart lies with baked cheesecakes for sure. I was convinced they were really difficult to make though, until I stumbled upon this recipe for baked cheesecake in apples. I tried it out on a couple of apples, but ended up with a bit of leftover cheesecake mix which I poured into a ramekin and threw it in the oven with the rest of the apples. And while the cheesecake in the apples didn't seem to set properly (maybe my apples were too juicy?), the cheesecake in the ramekin turned out delicious. I've since tweaked the recipe a bit and added some flavors, and now it seems it's my go-to when I'm making dessert at home as well. No such thing as too much cheesecake though, right?

Ingredients:
200 g cream cheese
60 g powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cardamom
zest of half an orange
1 egg
digestive biscuits (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Add the cream cheese to a small bowl, and mix in the powdered sugar. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Divide the mix into two greased ramekins, I use two 12 cm terracotta dishes. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Once baked, take it out and place in the fridge for 1 to 3 hours to cool. Serve with a crumbled digestive biscuit on top.


Tuesday, 4 November 2014

PHOTO BOOK: PHOTO ADVENTURES VOLUME II




Yay! I made another photo book! I made a short to-do list of 11 items this fall, and this was one of them (which leaves me with 5 items left on this list, eek!). Photo Adventures Volume II, is as you may have guessed, the sequel to this photo book (and you can see others I've made here and here), and contains photos Graeme and I have taken with our analog cameras. One thing I love about these books is how they're divided up. The first volume contains photos from all our photo adventures up until Graeme proposed. In fact, the last photo of that book is a photo I took of him with my Diana mini, seconds before he popped the questionI love that photo! This second volume contains the photos we've taken while we were engaged, most of which time we were living in separate countries, so there's a lot of photos both from Scotland and Norway. I've already started on Volume III, which starts with an iPhone photo (I'm including digitals in this one!) of my super excited face as Graeme surprised me by showing up on my doorstep a week earlier than he was supposed to when he moved to Norway this summer.



Making a photo book is a really time-consuming task for me though, so I'm way behind on the list of photo books I want to make. First I gather all the photos (which usually requires a bit of digging as they're all in different folders organized by camera, then year, then occasion--that's how it goes when you have about 15 cameras and organizing geek tendencies). Then I spend ages deciding which ones to include, before deciding on the order and then eventually the layout and placement on each page. And I have tons of little rules I follow, like how the colors of a page have to go together, and how I can't have two pictures of the same person next to each other, unless there's other people in that shot or unless it for some reason just works really well. I've also started editing some of the photos in photoshop first, though so far only to add titles as I'm not a massive fan of the title page options and fonts the blurb software comes with. It's a very time-consuming process, but I also really enjoy it, and these days I'm making more of an effort to dedicate some time to actually sit down and do it. However, my dad recently asked me if I could make one for him using his pictures, as he'd gotten a flyer in the post for a special offer on Cewe photo books and because I help him with all things computer-related. I laughed in his face.


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

ÅSOM SEWING COURSE

So I joined a sewing class! A friend of mine (who's behind the sports brand Åsom) is running a sewing course for beginners, and it sounded fun so I decided to join.  We meet on Mondays at 18.00 at Sølvberget in Stavanger (join us!). However, I wasn't able to make it last Monday as I was travelling, so I decided to finish up my project from the first class at home. And ta-da! Check out my mini shopper, aka my new yarn bag. I'm not sure how many projects we'll be finishing during this course, but I'm looking forward to having some dedicated sewing time each week, learning more about different types of fabrics and techniques, as well as meeting some like-minded people who enjoy sewing too.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

BALSAMIC TOMATO TATIN

Pinterest can be both a blessing and a curse. While it's great for finding inspiration, I find that I often end up pinning things and never look at them again. This is especially true for me when it comes to recipes for some reason. So I decided to take a look on my pinterest boards for something to make for breakfast, and came across this recipe for a tomato tatin. I'm a bit of a breakfast enthusiast, and love trying out new things for breakfast on the weekend. The past couple of weekends, I've made tomato tatins for breakfast.

I first tried a variation of this recipe using green tomatoes from the garden. It's getting colder and I've started to lose hope that the tomatoes on my plant will ever end up actually turning red. A handful of them have made it, and they've been the sweetest and most delicious tomatoes I've ever tasted (of course I'm not biased), but we are now at the end of October, we've started lighting up the fireplace and my tomato plant is still full of green tomatoes. But at least this recipe is something that works with green tomatoes, too. But my favorite way of making it is with caramelized balsamic red onions. I love the flavor you end up with, and while some might argue this is a bit of a summer dish, I think it's perfect for a weekend breakfast/brunch in fall, when it's all stormy and wet outside.


Ingredients:
200 g flour
100 g butter
1 egg
pinch of salt
250 g tomatoes (mixed)
olive oil
1 large red onion
2 tblsp balsamic
1 tsp sugar
olive oil

Directions:
First make the dough: Mix flour, salt and butter until combined, and your dough is forming little pebbles. Combine the egg, and let chill for 30 minutes. While your dough is chilling, cut your tomatoes in half, add a bit of olive oil to the bottom of your pan, and add a layer of tomato halves, skin sides down. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle a bit of olive oil on top. Bake in the oven on 175 C for half an hour, until the tomatoes are soft. While your tomatoes are baking, slice your onion and sauté in a pan with some olive oil. Once the onions are soft, add the balsamic and sugar, and continue to cook until caramelized. Take out the tomatoes, add a layer of carmelized red onion. Roll out your dough, and place on top. Prick with a fork, and stick it back in the oven for another 30 minutes. Once the dough starts to brown, take it out and dig in!


Sunday, 19 October 2014

SAVE THE DATE!

Things have been pretty busy recently. The company I work for got bought up this year, and it's been pretty busy leading up to transition day. I've also been house hunting, and looking into whether I should buy my parents house that I'm currently living in, or find somewhere else, so we've been going on house viewings and have three more today. And last, but not least, three weekends ago Graeme and I sat down, had a few whisky sours and started planning our wedding.

We've actually been engaged for three years now, so I guess it's about time we took the next step. So we spent that evening perusing Pinterest, making plans and getting excited. The following week we started looking at venues, and fell instantly for the second venue we looked at and got it booked. We've attended a wedding fair and have two more scheduled. And yesterday we spent the day making our save the date cards. A few of our guests will be coming from pretty far, so we want to give them plenty of time to make their arrangements.

Graeme designed these using a photo I took with my Diana mini, and the fonts Wisdom Script (free/donations from here!) and Neutra Display (we also made a more censored version that reads "It just got real" to send to relatives). We printed them at home, and I'm really excited about the result. (So excited that I'm posting this blog post the day after we mailed them, so for some of you this will be a bit of a spoiler.) Shit just got real, guys!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

CHORIZO AND TOMATO SALAD





Where I work, we eat lunch ridiculously early. Sometimes it feels more like a second breakfast than lunch (or brunch, I guess!). I thought it was very strange when I first started working there, but it’s amazing how quickly my stomach has gotten used to it. However, one downside is that sometimes by the time I’m back home from work I’m absolutely starving. And on days like that, I sometimes like to make myself this quick and delicious chorizo and tomato salad. 

The salad was inspired by a chorizo and tomato salad Jamie Oliver made on one of his shows, though with a few changes. It’s great as a quick meal when you’re craving something fresh, but it also works really well as a side too. 

Chorizo, feta and tomato salad recipe:
350 g tomatoes (mixed bunch if you can, and preferably at room temperature)
1 garlic clove
2 shallots, sliced
However much chorizo
handful of basil
handful of parsley
balsamic
olive oil
flaky sea salt
ground pepper

Directions:
Roughly chop the tomatoes and place in a salad bowl. Chop the basil and parsley leaves, sprinkle over the tomatoes and drizzle a bit of olive oil over. Chop the chorizo and slice the shallots, add to a frying pan with some extra virgin olive oil. Add garlic to the chorizo frying in the pan once the chorizo starts to get a little crispy, and as the garlic starts to go brown add a splash of balsamic vinegar. Use a slotted spoon and transfer the chorizo, shaollots and garlic to the pasta bowl and drizzle some of the olive oil and balsamic from the pan over the salad. Season with freshly ground pepper and a pinch of sea salt, and serve with crusty bread. 




Friday, 26 September 2014

KNITTED BABY BLANKET



I was over at my parents' place, playing IT support for my dad when my mom came in, showing me a bunch of knitting patterns for baby clothes. My dad tried to shoo her out, but my mother replied with urgency that I only had just over three months before my sister was due, and as my sister doesn't knit it's important I knit something for the baby. Not that I wasn't thinking about knitting something anyway, I've just not done much knitting recently. My morganite cardigan has been at a standstill for months (this just happens to coincide with me hitting the complicated part of the pattern), and I haven't had any other projects on the go as I felt I should finish the cardigan before I start something else. I have too many UFOs as it is.

But you heard my mom! If I'm gonna knit something (and still have time to make Christmas presents!), I had to get started. So I started a baby blanket, and decided to go for Pickle's Little Star Baby Blanket in all yellow, using Drop's Baby Merino. It's so soft! It took me a couple of lines to really get the pattern, but now I'm on a bit of a roll and I'm about halfway through. I think the hardest and most time consuming part so far has actually been making the foundation stitches--somehow I really struggled to estimate enough yarn to count out 99 stitches and had to do this twice haha. Numbers have never been my strong point.

Friday, 19 September 2014

DIANA F+ / SOUTH KOREA

If you're a regular reader, you may know that I visited my sister in South Korea earlier this year. I took lots of photos with my SLR camera (which I really need to make a photobook out ofASAP!), but I also took a couple of rolls of 120 film with my Diana F+. I had completely forgotten about them though, as they were hiding behind a couple Cadbury creme eggs in my fridge (that I sadly also forgot about and have now gone off. Fail!). So I was both excited and surprised when I got these back from the developer's. Even more so, when I realized that the other film I shot in Korea (also fisheye, of buildings on Geoje) appears to be hiding. I had a couple of really cool shots of the building my sister lived in on that film, so really hoping it turns up. But for now, here's a couple shots form my surprise film.

These were all shot on 120 film with the Diana F+. The ones shot with the Fisheye lens were from a cycling trip I took to the mountains on Geoje, while the others were shot at the beach in Busan.