Monday, February 28, 2011

Valentine's Day

Two years ago today we got engaged!  Hard to believe how fast time has gone by.  In honor of this special day, I thought I'd share how we spent our first married valentines day.  

Valentines Day flowers
I came home from work to find that my valentine had put together little appetizers - burrata cheese on raincoast crisps with prosciutto!  

We were finishing up dinner (leftovers from the night before), when he pulled these out of the fridge - homemade chocolate covered strawberries! 

To top it all off, he made white hot chocolate to sip between bites of strawberry.  So good!

Although Valentine's day isn't really a real holiday - it was fun to treat it as one this year. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

February obsessions

1. Raincoast Crisps
Even though they are $6.99 a box at Whole Foods, I can't help buying a box every couple days and promptly inhaling it with goat cheese (or whatever cheese we have around). My favorite flavor so far is the rosemary raisin pecan.  The genius thing about these crackers is that they are super crunchy and packed with ingredients you can pronounce (read the label on the back to confirm).

2. My veggie and meat CSAs
I haven't felt this inspired in the kitchen in a loooooong time.  Every weekend night for the past few weekends my hubby and I have made multiple dishes.  It has been AWESOME to have leftovers to eat during the week for dinner instead of either soup from a box or take out.  Our veggies come from Eating with the Seasons and our meat CSA comes from Marin Sun Farms.
mushrooms for a Alice Waters mushroom toast

meat balls!
we get ground beef in our meat CSA
3.  All things Scandinavia
Even though I'm back from Norway and Finland - I still find myself thinking about when I can get back. It hurts me that amazing northern lights happened to happen this year about two weeks after we got home!  I'm still studying my new cookbook and design book and can't wait to make heart shaped waffles for someone.  I even looked into what it takes to become a Norwegian citizen and it turns out it is tough - you pretty much have to be a legitimate refuge.

I'm thinking our first home should be a log cabin in the Bay Area
decorated like its in Norway

4. Selling things on Ebay
I go through phases with Ebay, but right now I have three pairs of shoes and one set of pillar candle holders for sale on Ebay.  In the past, I've sold 3 coats, several pairs of shoes (maybe 8?), and probably 5 dresses.  Pretty good money in selling your old, gently used things.  I think of it as a way to justify new things!  Since we are coming out of the holiday season, and because we're in the lull before summer - I'm trying to clean and simplify.
A pair of shoes I'm currently selling on Ebay
5. Crafting!
I'm hosting a baby shower for about 10 people in a few weeks and I am using it as an excuse to do all kinds of crazy, crafty things - like buy cute invites on, emboss place cards for the guests coming, and experiment with food I can make.  Because it is a relatively small group, I can do things I couldn't do for past showers that were larger (like host it at my house).
to make this I bought:
embossing powder, a stamp pad, a heat gun, place cards, and a rubber lion stamp
I know it sounds crazy...

6. Dexter
I resisted watching this show for a long time - even though we have some friends who are so obsessed they watched while giving birth to their daughter.  I watch it on Netflix streaming on my Google TV.

I might try to make my obsessions post a monthly thing because it is fun to see it all together.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

little aliche

In the spirit of my 2nd bloggerversary, I'd thought I'd share some insight on the image at the top of my blog.  It is a close up shot of my christmas cactus which bloomed for the first time last year

My christmas cactus must have known my bloggerversary was coming up, because she bloomed just in time (a few months AFTER christmas).  I had a giant christmas cactus in my room in high school that I never really appreciated.  However, in college I gave my best guy friend Benji a christmas cactus named little aliche.

Since then, I've always had a soft spot for christmas cactuses.  In graduate school, a labmate brought me a piece from her christmas cactus - which I also named little aliche (to honor the first).  It took 5 years for that clipping to turn into a plant that blooms!  Well worth the wait.  

The blooms on my new little aliche are a deep fuchsia (much darker than the one I grew up with) and have been enchanting me for well over a month now.  Best. Plant. Ever.

Friday, February 25, 2011

our viking ship

Today I got the coolest email from my mom regarding my earlier blog post about Norway.  You must read it for yourself:

my viking ship

"you are not going to believe this, but when I was in the 8th or 9th grade, we had a huge history book as our textbook.  In the back of the book was a small black and white picture of that Viking ship.  When I was bored or tired of listening to whatever was being taught, I used to look at that picture and imagine foreign lands and think about what the Vikings must have been like, but most of all I wanted to know what was outside the windows where that soft, lovely light was streaming into the room.   I looked at that picture so often that I memorized it.  It was just like the one below except taken form a point slightly back from where the one below was taken, and in black and white.  If someone had told me then that I would grow up to have a child that would one day go and see my Viking ship--well I wouldn't have believed them, but I'm so glad that this has come to pass.  Mom"

my mom's viking ship

Norway Day #5

Early on day #5, we left Northern Norway behind (with a piece of my heart) and headed back to Oslo.  

We checked into the Hotel Continental in Oslo.  It must have been a SLOW day because we got upgraded (for free) to a suite with a balcony!  Sweet suite!  The hotel has a lot of history because some of the Nobel Peace prize winners have stayed there.  Super cool.  

our sweet suite

view from our balcony

Once settled in at the hotel, we headed for the Viking Ship Museum.  Aside from two other museum goers, we had the entire place to ourselves!  Norway in January is pretty great.
these boats were BIG
There were three boats at the museum.  All three had been buried with wealthy Vikings somewhere around 800 BC.  They were buried with things they might need in the afterlife - and boats were going to be a way to get around.  The boat pictured above (and in the next two photos) belonged to a very wealthy woman.
View from the top
the profile of the stern of one of the boats

The second boat was a little less ornate than the one above, but also huge.  This boat belonged to a man.

After the Viking Ship Museum we headed to Frogner Park to check out the sculptures of a famous Norwegian artist Gustav Vigeland.  This little guy was on a lot of postcards, so I snapped a picture. 

A giant sculpture made from a single stone was the highlight of the park.  It featured writhing bodies fighting to get to the top.  

close up

After being outside in the cold most of the afternoon walking the streets of Oslo, we went inside into the cold of the Oslo Icebar.  Yes it was cheesy and touristy - and yes we were the only ones in there (which was strange).  Our admission included one drink and the use of a giant insulated cape - and a 45 minute stay inside the Icebar.
I got a champagne and blood orange cocktail

I imagine it is much cooler if there are other people there.  The music was loud and it smelled slightly of mildew.  The ceiling was just a normal office-style drop tile that wasn't very cool or club-like.
The interior of the Icebar
Later on, as we walked to dinner, we passed another advertisement for a strange burger at McDonald's.  El Maco Fiesta anyone?
McDonald's in Oslo
The sewer covers in Oslo were cool looking.

For dinner in Oslo, we had gotten a recommendation to try Lofoten Fiskerestaurant.  Billed as one of the nicest places in Oslo, we went in with high hopes and the appetizer course started strong with a trio of salmon done different ways.  It was delicate and flaky.  Unfortunately, that is where it ended.  The remaining courses of the multi course chef's tasting menu were only OK, and the service was pretty bad. We'd had so many great meals in Norway, that this one was barely a blip on the radar screen.
salmon three ways
I liked the food (and culture) in Norway so much that when I got home I promptly ordered a Norwegian cookbook and a book on Scandinavian design.  One of these days I'm going to try making a fish au gratin similar to the one we had in Tromso.  

Day #5 was really our last day in Norway.  Early the next morning we got up, took the train back to the airport and went our separate ways.  My hubby went back to the US (meeting in Boston) and I went on to Ireland to meet my co-workers for a two week European work trip.  Not a bad way to start the year!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Norway Day #4

The fourth day was our only full day at Lyngen Lodge.  The original plan had been to drive two hours away to do dogsledding, but as we awoke and saw the beautiful day unfolding, we couldn't bring ourselves to drive away!

The view from our window - yes please

view from the breakfast table

So instead of driving to sledding, we made a quick (impulsive?) decision to join a group that was going snowshoeing in the mountains behind the lodge with Elisabeth, the manager and part-owner. It was the best decision of the trip!  We joined two other couples and had a fantastic day - see if described on the Lyngen Lodge blog!

a road sign

there was SO much fresh snow in the trees

our ski poles just sank in the fresh snow

I'm climbing up the bank after crossing a small (not totally frozen) stream

our fearless quide Elisabeth breaking our trail

victory (and sandwiches) at the top!

on the way down - my hubby jumped off a big rock into the soft snow

snow angels in snowshoes

the lodge at twilight - around 3pm
have you ever seen anything more beautiful
our equipment at the end of the day
We came home to a big fire and lovely treats - spice cake and hot coffee and tea.
the common room

During the hike, I managed to fall at the very end - arms outstretched and holding camera - forward into the deep snow.  My camera survived with a bit of water clouding the lens for an hour or so - so the cake only looks hazy...
we had this wonderful spice cake waiting for us

post hike coziness

At Lyngen Lodge, meals were included in the cost and they didn't disappoint.  Elegant, but hearty and rustic.  Portions were just right.
fish first course

Chicken wrapped in prosciutto for the second course

dessert was rice pudding and some kind of jam
not really my thing but the Norwegians at the table ate it up

Since we didn't see the Northern lights on the trip - we decided to recreate them inside with our green napkins!  We then tried to do this outside so we could tell our friends and family we'd seen them, but it was too dark to get the same trick to work.
the northern lights - inside

Overall it was the perfect vacation day.  Lyngen Lodge is a wonderful place and I'm already plotting to find a reason to go back!
more reindeer

For those of you that are serious skiers - February marks the opening of ski season as the days are long enough to hike up and ski down the slopes.  Warren Miller was so impressed, that the Lyngen Lodge was featured in a recent ski movie.

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