So to make up for a lot of posts about moving and my daily life, I thought I’d do a picture post of all the food I probably haven’t shown you yet, (and some I probably have but forgot). Enjoy!
I hope that was enough to tide you over for a while!
Since I’m blogging every day in November, I thought I’d make use of the prompts given here to help me a bit, since housewifing around sometimes doesn’t generate that much blogging material (though I could take hourly progress photos of the cushion-cover I’m knitting…). Anyway, today’s prompt was to justify the existence of one of my favorite places, things, or people. Since I’m not the biggest fan of persuasive writing, I’m choosing to merely sing praises instead of justify existences, and one of my favorite places on the planet is Louhelen Baha’i School.
Now, the first time I went to Louhelen, I was 15. I went there to do a few months of service (volunteer work) over the summer. The summer had its ups and its downs, but it left a big impression on me. Before I’d gone, I’d never had really any contact with another Baha’i my age (siblings not included), and realizing that there were other youth going through the exact same things as me really helped to solidify me as a Baha’i. The support of the wonderful people I met helped me get through times when I might’ve veered away from the Faith, mostly in an attempt to feel like a normal teenager, and for that, I am really thankful. I still keep in touch with most of the youth I met that summer, and am so glad I did.
I didn’t end up going back to Louhelen for four years, but returned after my freshman year of college. I was really excited to be back, but was also really shy upon my return, since the group of people serving changes every summer, and I didn’t know anyone. I needn’t have been worried, however. That summer got me through a bit of heart-ache that was still hanging on from back at school. I met more of my now-best friends, and near the end of the summer, met Andreas. So basically, Louhelen changed the course of my life (quite literally, veering it off into Europe isntead of the midwest, where it was headed).
But forget the big stuff, Louhelen is the place where I learned to fold fitted sheets, make enormous amounts of hummus, and clean public bathrooms (whoohoo!) I loved working full-time in the industrial kitchen. When I came back for the third time, I assumed the roll of resident baker and with my baking partner, would bake batches of 100 cupcakes, and make trifles when all else failed. However, I have mysteriously few pictures of us working….but we did, I swear!
The above is the first picture I ever took of Andreas, shortly after meeting him.
We worked hard at Louhelen, but we also formed deep freindships, had sleepovers with a ridiculous amount of candy (I mean it)…
and we fell in love. I’ll forever be indebted to Louhelen for introducing me to my husband and so many of the kindred spirits in my life. I’ll never forget my three summers serving there, and even if I wanted to, I couldn’t! I have a very handsome souvenier coming home to me every day.
I love Louhelen.
Things are still hard. I’m still having good days, and bad days, and the occasional mental breakdown. It’s about time to move again. We were supposed to move next Wednesday, but we might be putting it off a few more weeks, as the person we’re subletting from might not be coming back. Might. Maybe. Even though I’d like to stay here a bit longer before moving, all this uncertainty is getting to me. It might not seem like a big deal, but amid all of the other uncertainty and “stuckedness” it’s really frustrating and disheartening.
There’s not much that seems to help sometimes when everything gets so overwhelming, but having little things to look forward to, and to take my mind of off whatever is happening (or not happening) in the big picture does perk me up a bit. These chocolate cupcakes are exactly that. Even Andreas loves them, and he doesn’t have nearly the sweet tooth that I have. I’ve found that the people I’ve met here in general aren’t really big fans of frosting, but this one can capture anyone’s heart, and it has. It’s more buttery and rich than sweet, and the cupcakes are wonderfully fluffy and chocolatey.
Now, as I’m making my way through another rough patch, I feel the urge to make these today. These and soft pretzels…but we’ll see how far I get. The cupcake recipe is the base of these delicious-looking hostess-style cupcakes. When I baked them, they ended up perfectly domed on the top, and I decided they were better suited to a pile of silky frosting.
The buttercream recipe is the one my mom has always used that she got from her mom, and maybe that’s why these are so comforting to me. With buttercream, it’s generally suggested that you let it sit out for a while before serving, so it can soften, but I’ve always preferred it straight from the refrigerator, and so does Andreas. Something about the solidity of it melting slowly on my tongue is like a mix between frosting and ice cream, and brings me back to almost every birthday my family celebrated while we were growing up (which were many, because we were a family of nine!).
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
1/4 cup (60 g) butter
2 Tbs. flour
2 Tbs. cocoa powder
3/4 cup milk (I used chocolate oat milk to make it extra-chocolatey and more Andreas-friendly)
1 tsp. vanilla (I use vanilla sugar)
Melt butter over low heat. Add flour and cocoa powder, then gradually add milk.
Cook until it boils and thickens, stirring constantly. Cool to room temperature (this is super important! I usually put mine in the fridge for a while) and then add vanilla.
Cream 1/2 cup (120 grams) of softened butter with 1 cup sugar. Add the “pudding” mixture and beat for about five minutes, until it reaches a nice spreadable consistency and all the sugar granules are dissolved.
So, I’m not doing the *best* about keeping up with my photo-a-day…I slipped a lot when I had my visitor, and I’m still working to catch up, but I’m having lots of fun, and I’ve been working on some other things lately! 10. Your Favorite Color
I decided to do photo-a-day again for July! I took a break for June because I fell too far behind in May, but I missed taking pictures, and found I took far less pictures of other things when I wasn’t doing photo-a-day, so it’s back!
Sooooo, I forgot to bring my camera to knitting group which was to be the subject of this picture, so I don’t have one. However, I will say that during knitting group, we talked about visas, childbirth, stolen bicycles, weddings, yoga, childbirth (some more, one of the girls who comes regularly is pregnant), a tribe somewhere who believes that babies are actually made up of an accumulation of sperm inside the mother’s uterus (believe it or not we have talked about this every single time I’ve been to knitting group, except for one), and…….oh, yes: knitting. Briefly.
Yesterday I did a sort of look-back-over-the-year anniversary post, and while those were things I definitely wanted to say, I also wanted to do something a little more light-hearted! I also wanted to share some pictures from the wedding last year, and a bit about what we did to celebrate.
As per usual, I made Andreas a little gift:
Even though our anniversary wasn’t until Monday, we decided to celebrate early and have a picnic in the park on Saturday. We found a perfect little secluded corner, the weather was perfect, and we bathed in the sun (and sunscreen) for the first time this summer. We also got to watch some fearless goose-families who surrounded us while grazing.
Our first wedding anniversary was celebrated in the same spirit as our wedding was a year ago–calm, laid-back, and not a huge deal (at least that’s how I remember it…) I love going back and looking at all the pictures from that day, and I thought I’d share some (maybe a lot) here. You might notice that my family isn’t in any of the pictures. Don’t worry, they haven’t shunned me for marrying a Dane! My family is very spread out, and I knew from the beginning that no matter where we got married, most if not all of my family wouldn’t be able to come. I wasn’t sad that nobody could make it, but I do remember feeling a bit sad that nobody there was there for only me. Still, knowing I had my family’s support and love from far away meant a lot, and our wedding day was really perfect.
I didn’t pick necessarily the *best* photos to post here, but some of the ones that capture what I remember most about the day, or that mean the most to me.
My mother-in-law made the wedding cake, a friend of hers, a retired chef, made the dinner, I crocheted little flowers for the favors, my friends who came early helped pick out the flowers, candles, and tablecloths. We spent time together folding the napkins, sorting bags of gummi bears into individual colors, and making cupcakes. It felt intimate and cozy, and was practically stress-free. In fact, I think that the moment that I felt the most anxiety that day was when Andreas and I were waiting together to come out for the ceremony, and we couldn’t tell if our entrance song or the “sitting-down-time” song was playing. For the record, it was our entrance song, and we were a good 3 minutes late to our own ceremony.
It’s nice to remember how excited I was to have the words “my husband” roll off my tongue, and how giddy and happy I was to start our life together. In the midst of the worry and stress of everyday (and not so everyday) life, it’s a good reminder of how very worth it this will be.
My husband and I have lots of favorite things (each other capturing the number one spot), but we have a new favorite thing.
Not just any pita bread, though. Homemade pita bread. It started a couple weeks ago, when I was determined to find a few new, healthy dinners to add to our rotation, especially dinners that don’t contain allergies for Andreas (dairy and sugar). I decided to do pita bread, hummus, and cucumber/tomato salad, and while it was really good the first time, with store-bought pita, I knew I wanted to try homemade, and my sister sent me the recipe that she uses. I’m not sure where she got it from, but I am sure that I have to share it here. Even the first time I made them, they puffed up beautifully, were perfectly soft, fluffy, and chewy, and we’ve been excited about them ever since.
1/2 tsp dry yeast
1 1/4 cup warm water
1 C whole wheat flour
2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 Tbs salt
1 Tbs olive oil
In a large bowl, mix yeast with warm water until dissolved. Add wheat flour, then 1/2 cup unbleached flour. Stir for about a minute in one direction (this activates the gluten in the flour). Let the sponge rest for at least 10 minutes, and up to two hours. Add the salt and the olive oil. Mix well. Add the remaining unbleached flour, about a half a cup at a time, then turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 8-10 minutes, until smooth (dough should be tacky, but not sticky). Return the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled (about an hour to an hour and a half). Punch down and divide into 8, shaping each piece into a ball before rolling out into an 8-inch circle.
Cover the rolled-out pitas, but don’t stack them. Place in a hot, dry frying pan for 30 seconds, flip, cook for one minute, flip, and cook one minute more (pitas should be all puffed up when you take them out of the pan). Cool on a rack for a few minutes, then wrap pitas in a kitchen towel to keep them soft.
Even though this pita is amazing with hummus and cucumber-tomato salad, we had a lot of bell peppers to use the other day, so I decided to make fajitas using those and our Quorn filets (another one of our favorite things). We now have another easy, super delicious dinner, and though the picture isn’t great, the meal was.
So it’s June 10th and I have not posted my last week of photo-a-days from May. That’s because I didn’t take a photo a day during the last week. And I kept thinking to myself “oh, that’s okay, I’ll just take them now and post them later” but I already felt like such a cheater that I ended up putting it off more and more until we’re a third of the way through June, so I’ll give you the ones I took, and some extras to cover for the days where I lazed out. And that will be good enough. So there.
25. Unusual (I have weirdly shaped feet that poke holes through the toes of my shoes. I’ve worn these shoes for maybe 2 months now…I even poked a hole through a pair of chucks once.)
27. Something Sweet
28. The weather today
29. A Number
Now for the extra credit:
These are Herbert (left) and Muriel (right) and they had built a nest directly above our balcony.
Apparently, they do this every year, and every year the chicklets blow out of the next and drama ensues. This year was no different, but it was fun to follow the drama for the weekend with my husband. For a few precious moments, one of the chicks had fallen onto our balcony. Did you know that seagull chicks are all spotted?! Anyway, Andreas wanted to film it, but it got scared when it saw the camera, scampered away, and promptly fell through the crack in the floor onto the balcony below ours. Nuts. It eventually fell twice more off of the remaining balconies before joining its sibling down on the ground where we could see the parents alternately sitting on top of them and feeding them. However, we’re pretty sure that a cat has eaten them, since they’re nowhere to be found anymore.
This is my and Andreas’s new favorite dinner. We’ve been looking for new things to put into our weekly “rotation” of meals, and this one is now topping the list. Homemade hummus is super easy in a food processor, and the whole meal has no allergies for Andreas! Also, as soon as I learn to make my own whole wheat pita, it’ll be even more healthy. We’re pretty excited about hummus, pita, and tomato/cucumber salad.
We’re also pretty excited about ratatouille…(with homemade crusty bread!)
You can also have this picture of me that Andreas took, because it’s the only picture we managed to (accidentally) take of the bread! Look, it’s in the lower left!
It’s also sufficiently embarrassing to serve as my punishment for not getting pictures up sooner!
My goal for this week is to finish my Danish learning book/CDs and make a trip to the library! Also, I’d like to (successfully) cast on a few new projects, but we’ll see how that goes. Don’t want to be too ambitious, you know.
Oh, and I’m making brownies.
It turns out, that I’m the kind of person who has to “play catch-up.” This is why I haven’t yet posted my last week of May’s photo-a-day challenge (that coupled with the fact that I’m pretty sure that it’s not June yet because 1) how on earth could it already be June? and 2) it’s grey, cloudy, rainy, and cold.) It’s also why I haven’t posted any of my recent knitting projects, but I am here today to fix that!
I’ve actually been knitting a lot since we’ve moved to Sweden, although before I joined the knitting group it was a bit of an off-and-on activity. However, I’ve been on quite the kick recently and have managed to actually finish quite a few projects, so I thought I’d give a run-down.
These were a few things I knitted for my nieces (one who is five and one who is…about negative four months old). The hairband and giraffe were birthday gifts for the five-year-old, who enjoyed them even though her aunty Zeta sent them over a month too late for her birthday. Oops. The…other thing…is a sort of lovey for the new baby. When I started making it, the sex of the baby wasn’t known, and it began life as a lion. However, after realizing that a baby would probably eat most of the lion’s mane within its first few weeks of life, I decided to nix the mane and let the animal be whatever it felt like being, which is sort of a mix between Winnie-the-Pooh and a mouse. While it definitely didn’t turn out how I envisioned it in the beginning, at least it was give-able, and I’ve learned valuable lessons for future lovies made for future nieces and nephews.
I’m pretty happy with how they turned out (although one is noticeably more loosely knitted than the other) but they’re a bit small for me, so they’re going to make the trans-Atlantic flight and become a gift for my little sister, who is the only person I know whose feet are smaller than mine.
After that, I received a huge amount of yarn from my neighbor, and a request for a sweater for her (absolutely adorable) baby girl. This one knit up rather quickly, as I just did a few changes to a sweater I had already made a couple of times for a couple of different babies in the past. I added the heart design, the scalloped neck-line, and the buttons on the shoulder.
Luckily, I had just finished this before I managed to chop my yarn-holding finger and had to put my knitting on hold for a bit. However, my mother-in-law, about whom I can never, ever say enough good things, knitted me a “dimsidut” (the Danish equivalent of “thingamajig”) to protect my finger so I can knit. Check it out!
(photo courtesy of my chin)
Now I’ve just started a pair of socks for my mom, but I’ve run into a snag. For some reason, every time I have to knit ribbing, it ends up looking great on the inside and pretty awful on the outside. I’ll play around a bit more with it before I start the actual pair of socks, and continue looking around on forums for any tips, although I haven’t found anything applicable yet. Any advice?
Next up: catching up on May photo-a–day…don’t worry, it’s coming!