Thursday, December 31, 2009

Year end.....

NEW YEAR - 2010!
Thank you so very much for showing interest in my blog, for all the lovely and inspiring comments and for showing me your blog. Without you I don't think my blog had been possible! I didn't have much hope when I started. :) I'm wishing you many moments of crafting in the new year too! I'm looking forward to a new year full of inspiration and sharing thoughts and ideas with you all!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Giveaway from Nat

Not just Nat has a 1-year blogging anniversary giveaway. Below you can see what you can win - gorgeous gifts - isn't it? Click here for more details. Hurry up - the draw is Jan 3rd 2010!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas on the farm vs Mauritius

Christmas traditions from my Norwegian culture.

I have wonderful memories of Christmas celebrations at my farm. I can still get the smell of "surkål" (cabbage a la norvegienne) and roasted pork ribs..., not to talk about all the preparations on a farm before Christmas, which I'm going to tell you now.

Each part of the country, each tiny village, each farm, have had - still have - its own traditional dishes during Christmas; different dishes from meat (pork, lamb, reindeer) and fish (cod, halibut). Turkey has become quite popular too, but I still believe that is more a New Year's Eve dish.

The first preparation began already in spring, when we bought three piglets to be fattened and slaughtered for Christmas. When I was a kid, I became very friends with the pigs, but I knew they were food, so that was never a problem. At the end of November the pigs were slaughtered. For a kid that was always an exciting time. Dad was never able to kill animals - not even a mouse - we always had 2-3 men helping, one of them was my grandfather. It was not only the meat from the pigs that were used; we made brawn, hashed lungs, salted and boiled pig's trotters, black (blood) pudding, sausages etc. What I remember the most are the boiled pig heads (!) and the mess in the kitchen! But that was part of the preparations! :)

Making beer for Christmas is an old tradition in Norway, and on the farm it was no exception! Some weeks before Christmas mom made beer, and the fun part of it was when the corks flew off the bottles and made a "BOOM" in the cupboard where the bottles were stored. :)

I have already talked about Christmas cookies in previous posts. We always used to make at least seven different cookies. I believe the most traditional cookies from the area I grew up, are krumkaker (coneshaped, wafer-like sweet biscuits made in a special iron; krumkakejern). Goro is another kind of wafer baked in a patterned, rectangular iron. Then we have smultringer (doughnuts), fattigmann (fried cruller), pepperkaker (gingerbread cookies), sandkaker (cup-shaped shortbread biscuits), serina (small tea cakes) etc. Another goodie is Delfia Cake, which is made of coconut fat (oil) and chocolate - veeery heavy!

Another important task to do, was to hang out sheaf of oats for the birds to feed. We grew oats and barley, and always saved a couple of sheafs for the birds at Christmas; one on the bridge to the barn and another in an oak tree next to the house.

A few days before Christmas Eve, my father & I went to our forest looking for the most beautiful spruce (fir) tree. When it was very cold (frost) we used to keep it in the hall to "defrost" it, so it was ready to be decorated on the 24th.

BTW - did you know Norway introduced "friendship trees"? The Municipality of Oslo has since 1947 sent trees to Trafalgar Square in London, as a "thank you" for all the help that was given during WW2. Trees are sent to Rotterdam and Reykjavik too - as far as I know.

The night before Christmas Eve mom made rice pudding (porridge), for the creamed rice to be prepared the next day. I believed so much in Santa Claus when I was a kid, that I insisted porridge with a lump of butter had to be given to him at the barn! :) Santa Claus was believed to be an invisible, little man who always helped out. As a gratitude for that, he had to be pleased with a plate of rice porridge! :) This was done at most farms in the country, but I have no idea if it is still done... My mom told us (Johnny & me) about the devil himself who was supposed to live in the room under the barn (I don't know the english word for this room...). We were scared to death of course, and behaved very well the days before Christmas! :)

The photo below shows "Kattås" (Cat Hill) - the hilltop next to our farm. I always believed Santa Claus lived there - and at dusk I saw him too! LOL! :) For some years I wasn't quite sure... One Eve Santa brought me a pair of skiis, and that Santa's hands looked exactly like daddy's hands!!! How come??!! :))

Coming from the county of "Østlandet" at the Southeastern part of Norway (not far from Oslo), pork is - and still is - the main dish on Christmas Eve. It is said as many as 90% of the population in Østlandet County eat pork on Christmas Eve! :)

Our menu consisted of roasted pork ribs, pork meat balls and pork sausages, red cabbage, cabbage à la norvègienne (surkål), gravy made of fat from the rib, and cranberry jam (whortleberry jam?). To drink there was homemade beer, other stronger beer and the famous Norwegian akevitt (akvavit). For dessert; creamed rice with red fruit sauce.

When the dinner was done, we let our bellies relax a little bit, then there was coffee, cookies, chocolates, different nuts, dried dates and figs, liqueur and cognac. There were gift swaps, we were playing some board games or watching TV. :)

My first Christmas in Mauritius was a disaster! DH's family (Hindus) don't celebrate Christmas, except giving gifts mainly to the kids in the family on Christmas Day morning. Since I had freshly moved in, I had no idea where to buy different ingredients. It didn't make it better it was heavy rain and leaking from the roof several places. I was terrible homesick and cried my heart out! But that was 6 years ago, and the last 2-3 Christmases have been wonderful! :)

In many ways there isn't a big difference in celebrating Christmas here - or other places. My traditions are deep rooted of course, and I try to make them as "live" as possible here in the tropics. Well, trying to catch the Christmas spirit or stay in the kitchen making cookies for hours when the thermometer shows +30C (86F), isn't always easy! But recalling mom's kitchen, where we had a wood burning stove - doesn't make a big difference! It was often so hot in the kitchen that I had to go outside airing myself! :))

Christmas trees (mainly filaos and pines) are sold several places, and as everywhere else there are chaos in the shops, on the roads etc. I try my best to avoid shopping these days! As I mentioned above, having our own forest where we could choose the most beautiful tree, has made me very fastidious! I can't get myself to buy one of those filaos or pines, because in my eyes they are not "my perfect Christmas tree"! :) I have always detested plastic trees, but I rather prefer the plastic ones to the trees sold here. We have two artificial trees we decorate; the biggest one in the dining room and the smaller one in the TV-room. I have brought some Christmas decorations from Norway; some Santas I've made and other decorations.

I'm very fortunate to have my dear childhood friend Johnny in Norway, who sends me a few Christmas items each year; "surkål", (cabbage à la norvègienne), "rødkål" (red cabbage) and cranberry jam. Oh, and my beloved Nidar marzipan! :) The only items for a "Norwegian" Christmas dinner I don't get here, are pork meatballs and the Norwegian Christmas beer (beer made specially for Christmas). For dessert; creamed rice with fruit sauce. While preparing the dinner, I always listen to Norwegian Christmas song, and recently I got a German CD, which is very nice too.

I love Christmas - have always done. I have begun to love Christmases in the tropics too - but it had been nicer if it hadn't been that hot! :) It is all about adaption to another culture, and make the best out of it.

DH doesn't say much, but I know he's getting used to and loves my traditions too, especially since there is not much celebrations or gatherings in within the family. He doesn't eat pork, but likes to taste the other items. :) We had a wonderful Christmas this year too - just the two of us. :)

~ CHRISTMAS 2009 ~

I've not been to Norway during Christmas - and there's no snow in Mauritius!! Photos are taken by Johnny at Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2009. His mom lives next to my ex-farm.

I have not seen anything about copy right on the Christmas cards I've added. If there is, please let me know!

Sorry the links (recipes) are in Norwegian only, but if you'd like any of the recipes, I'll gladly translate! :)

Friday, December 25, 2009


.... to all my readers!!! May you all have a wonderful Christmas and many festive days!

Norwegians celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve. Living in another country where Christmas is celebrated on Christmas Day - does not make any difference to me - Christmas is and will always be the 24th! This year I intended decorating a bit early, to have some quiet days before the Eve, but the only thing I managed to do early was to put up the Christmas wall quilts.

When the days grew nearer to Christmas, I finally decorated the tree and found places for the Santa's. Actually we have two Christmas trees; the biggest one in the dining room and the smaller one (both artificial) in the TV-room. Since we have an open solution with no walls between the kitchen, dining and TV-room, two decorated trees make it more festive!

Who is hunting mice?! :)) Birre-Liten has always loved this tree skirt, I really don't know why... Perhaps the decorations are glued on to the sacking (?) and he likes the smell of the sacking? Who knows?! I don't believe the only reason is that he is after the mice!!! :))) After I took this photo, he was rolling on it, kicking and most probably trying to kill the mice! LOL! I made the tree skirt ages ago... can't really remember which year it was, perhaps late 1980's.... I love it! :) I love the dancing couples! :) Before I put it on the floor I had to re-glue four eyes on the mice - Birre's fault from earlier years!!! :))
Enjoy the festive days!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Baking for Christmas - part two

After "Baking for Christmas" (part one) - I wasn't sure I was going to make more cookies. After some days I decided to make "sandkaker" and "fyrstekake". Sandkaker is one of the "must" for a Norwegian Christmas. I had never made sandkaker before either... Well, they turned out thicker than what they were supposed to be, but.... what to expect from a novice?! :)) The taste is so yummy, because of the grounded almonds in the dough.

I don't think "fyrstekake" is another "must" for Christmas, but I made it because I just love it! :) The name of the cake can be translated to "the prince's cake" - but actually it is a macaroon cake.

The last days I've been busy with the last preparations for Christmas. I was going to take some photos of the trees etc, but I realized the batteries have to be reloaded first. For me, Christmas is today - Dec 24th - but since it is tomorrow for DH - we celebrate both days. More about that in my next post. :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mrs Moen's Great Giveaway

Would you like to win a kit for this gorgeous Village table runner? Nina Lise in Norway has a gorgeous giveaway - take a look here for the details.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Virtual Christmas Quilt Show

I'm taking a break from the Christmas preparations to join the "Virtual Christmas Quilt Show". Quilters who want to participate are to enter their Christmas quilt and tell about it. I was invited by SewCalGal - who is hosting the show. There are wonderful prizes to win, so if you would like to join - take a look here. Hurry up!!! It ends Dec 25th.
Here's my entry for the show. It is a wall quilt I made last year, from a pattern in one of the Australian craft magazines. I fell in love with it from the day I got the magazine, and couldn't wait making it! I love it, because it reminds me of my native country Norway and how I used to celebrate Christmas together with my (late) parents and dear friends. The quilt resembles the house where I grew up, the tree - my father & I went to the forest to cut the most beautiful Christmas tree, the log cabin - the fireplace at our home, the doves for peace, the poinsettia we always had for Christmas, the bell & candles (lights) on the tree, the gifts etc. :) Living in a tropical country doesn't give the "right" Christmas spirit to me, but looking at this quilt makes me more comfortable with it all. :)
The quilt measures 95cm x 110cm (37in x 43in). Oh, and there are prairie points around it. This was the first time I made prairie points - thought it was very difficult to make - but was is easier?! :)) I loved making it, and it is a great project for using up stash. I didn't buy any new fabrics for it! :)
Here are a few details; the message.

The crazy patchwork heart...
...and the poinsettia.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Preparing for Christmas

The last days have been a bit busy with some preparations for Christmas. Today I've started to decorate, but the trees have to wait until tomorrow morning. I haven't made any Christmas wall quilts this year, because there are no space anymore on the walls. Therefore I want to show one I made last year; gingerbread people. I don't know if you can see it properly, but the table runner is cross-stitched - by me - many years ago. :) It shows two small girls skiing, from a painting by the famous Swedish painter Carl Larsson. I can't remember the title of the painting and I don't have the pattern anymore either...
Here's the gingerbread people garland I made last year too, and a pair of decorative potholders. You may wonder why one of the "people" is darker than the other ones? I ran out of felt and didn't want to purchase more for only one "people" - that's why! :) The garland had been too short - to my taste - if I had skipped one "people". :) There are eight "people" all together...

Cleaning/polishing cobber and brass is something I really don't like to do! The polishing cream stinks and I feel the job in my finger joints afterwards. :( I'm happy DH helped me with the polishing! :) He was "complaining" afterwards too and stated he doesn't want to do it again this year! I guess he doesn't realize there's less than 2 weeks left of this year - LOL! :))

Ooooh - how they are shining!!! :)
(pssst... It was needed - wasn't it?!)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

While waiting for Christmas...

Needlepoint picture completed! Hurray!!! This is what I've done the last days instead of sewing. It was a birthday gift from my dear friend Johnny - almost three years ago. I used to do a lot of needlepoint in earlier years, but lost interest. I thought it might be fun doing it again, but NO!!! (Johnny - I know you are reading this - please don't buy another one!!!!) :)) I didn't enjoy doing it that much - or better say - I won't rush to the shop buying another one! I think I have had my dose of needlepoint for many years!!! :)) I have yet to iron it, and I hope it is possible to stretch it a bit to make it more straight. Johnny intends visiting us next July - I have to frame it before his visit - or else....... Joking! :))) I've used DMC wool - half cross stitch. I don't like using wool for needlepoint; I prefer three strands DMC embroidery floss - cross stitch - it turns out more beautiful (my opinion).
Birre-Liten was bored some days ago... It was raining and he didn't want to go out. What is better than to view town from a dry and comfy place?! :)

Early morning nap - under the sewing table. That's fine with me, as long as they don't eat the cable for the sewing machine!!!

Baking for Christmas

I haven't had much time for sewing lately - as you can see! :) The last days I've spent shopping and baking for Christmas. My late mom always made at least seven different cookies for Christmas, but I'm afraid I'm not that eager when it comes to Christmas cookies. Usually I make fruit cake, but this time I forgot about it. You may wonder how that is possible?! Yes, it is possible, because last year I discovered the "Black Cake" from the Caribbean Island St Lucia. The dried fruits for this cake have to be soaked in cognac or rum for approx 2-3 months - the longer the fruits are soaked, the better the cake becomes! I simply forgot to buy dried fruits and rum in time... That's why there's no fruit cake this Christmas! :)
As you can see; I've made ginger nuts, or perhaps they are called ginger cookies or gingerbread? I made one batch last Saturday, which turned out so yummy that I decided to make another batch a few days later! :) I have yet to decorate the gingerbread pigs, hearts, men & women, and I hope I'll do it before we eat them all!!! :)

Another "must" when it comes to Christmas cookies in Norway, is "smultringer", which I have translated to "Norwegian Christmas doughnuts". Believe me; this was the first time in my entire life I've made "smultringer"! Perhaps this is a myth, but I have never heard anyone who succeeds in making "smultringer" the first time; the dough becomes too "liquid" and more flour has to be added. I have several recipes, but I picked the wrong one!!!! When the dough is done, it has to stay in the fridge the night over. I was near to give up when I discovered the dough was too liquid to be rolled! I had to add twice as much flour as I already had, and even then I had to add more so it was possible rolling it! Phew!!! I believe there's a printing mistake in the recipe...

I must confess I don't have much patience when things go wrong.... Thanks to DH who encourages me to continue when I want to give up! After adding more flour to the dough it was possible working with it. In the end the "smultringer" turned out as tasty as the ones my mom always made! No, not really... In Norway "smultringer" is fried in lard, which I don't get here - as far as I know. I had to use clarified butter, which is not the same, and it gives another taste.

DH frying "smultringer"! :)

For a novice like me, they didn't turn out that bad! Some of them could have been more roundish, but never mind..... :)) We shared some with MIL - later on she complained she had eaten too many!!! :))

Monday, November 30, 2009

Table runner & table mats

They were supposed to be potholders.......................... But again the blocks ended up something else! (If you take a look here, you'll see how it all started). I did make potholders too! I intended to make a set, but using from my stash I didn't have enough of some of the fabrics used on the table runner, so I had to use something else for the table mats. It doesn't really matter - I think! :) I love blues and I'm quite satisfied how they turned out.
The table runner measures 17" x 27" (43 x 69cm).

The two table mats measure 16" (41 cm) square.

I've used the same fabric on the star on all three, but on the photos the color on the table runner (star) turned out darker than it actually is. Perhaps it is because the background is ligther blue....

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Disappearing 9-patch attempt

This is not meant as a tutorial for "disappearing 9-patch" blocks. There are so many tutorials on the net/blogs, so I don't see any point to make another one. What I want to show is my very first attempt on this block. I have heard/read so much about it recently, got so curious about it that I had to try! :)
As you can see of the photos, I have used three colors (fabric) only; light, dark and one accent color. As I see it - there are no "rules" when it comes to using fabric/colors. I have seen many other quilts using this block, but instead of three colors only, there have been used several light and dark fabrics and of course the accent fabric.
Months ago I bought the "leaves" fabrics, which I really love. When I bought it, I bought only a fat quarter of the dark pink one, which didn't last to more than four blocks. Fortunate the web shop where I bought it has more in stock - even on sale :)) - so I purchased more, which I won't get until after Christmas - I believe. It doesn't really matter, I have more than enough to do these days and I don't know if I have much time for sewing at all.

Here are the four blocks - so far. :)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Santa & the Quilted Goose

I don't know why, but Santa came early this year... I must have been an extremely good girl?! He even brought me a fat goose! :)
Well, this is a pattern designed by Judy Golder (Australia), which I bought earlier this year. Christmas is soon approaching and I love to either make a Santa or buy one - if I find something interesting. (I'm quite sure I'll buy one too! Hehehe!) It was easy to make him, and the greatest of all is that I used from my stash; didn't buy any flannel or other materials at all! :) Santa's clothes are made of flannel as well as his hands. The "boots" are made of black linen. The star on his hat and the beard (wool) were included with the pattern. The goose is quilted. Santa is 52 cm / 20 inch tall.
Cute - aren't they? :)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hello Betty & Potholders

The last couple of days have been hot and sunny, after the rain from cyclone "Anja" we got earlier this week. Fortunate "Anja" went East of us and was never any threat to the island. I did quite some weeding and trimmed some trees before the rainy days, and yesterday I spent more than half the day in the garden. I love to work in the garden, to see improvement, cleaning up etc, but my poor old knees and back don't like such work that much... :( Today I'm taking a rest-day and have time for a few updates on my blog.
Back to the rainy days this week... I did some sewing, and was surfing some fabric web shops, when I came across one shop having jelly rolls, layer cakes etc on sale - 35% off! :) Earlier this year I bought two layer cakes for another project, but have I started that project??? NO!!! The variety of layer cakes and jelly rolls on sale aren't that good, but I just wanted to buy it because
1) it was cheap
2) because it has retro colorway
Perhaps I got inspired without knowing it when I made these?! :) The fabric is from "Hello Betty" collection by Chloe's Closet for Moda. I have yet to decide what to make out of it of course - hahaha! :)

I intended to do some garden work in the beginning of the week, but the rain prevented me from doing it. Forced to stay inside, I made another pair of potholders. I have used the same pattern as for the pair in my previous post, but these with Christmas fabric.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Storage bags & Potholders

I'm hit by a virus called "brettepose virus"! I don't know the word for "brettepose" in English... perhaps "storage bag" or "basket", since they are small bags for storage. OK, I'll call them storage bags. :)) I'm a member of the quilt group "Quilt Skandinavia", where there is an outbreak of "storage bag virus" these days. :) I'm not quite sure how many storage bags have been made within the group - I have made eleven! Here are three of them. They are perfect as gift bags, where almost anything can be added; sweets, tea & coffee, nuts, shampoo etc. The sizes may vary; the two small ones are 4,5" x 8" (11,5 x 20cm) and the bigger one is 4,5" x 10" (11,5 x 25,5cm). They can be made bigger too.

Do you remember this post - where I got obsessed by 9na's "Jule-sy-mysterium"? I made quite some blocks that is not going to be potholders - perhaps a lap quilt... I wanted to make some potholders too, and here is one pair made of some coffee fabrics and Moda Marbles steal blue. I like the color combination - perhaps I'll make some place mats too, but not right now. :)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Place Mats & Table Mats

Yes, I've been working hard on the place mats and table mats this week. Today I decided to complete them all - and I did! When I'm in the sewing mood I tend to forget about other things, and that is what happened today! I was supposed to do the dishes, mopping the floors and porch, but snuggled up in the sewing room. Right now it's pouring down and thunder in the distance so I'd better shut down the computer if it continues.

I think you will remember they are all made from the old pillow cases I got from Johnny. He wanted me to make two place mats - and here is what came out of 5 old pillow cases! :) They look quite retro - don't they - from the 1970's. :)

The first photo shows a small tablecloth. It measures 14" x 22" (36 x 54cm).

Here are two place mats. They measure 16" x 19" (41 x 49cm). The size is a bit odd for a place mat, but it ended up that size due to the pattern I created. :)

Another tablecloth - measuring 15.5" x 21" (39 x 53cm)

A small table mat. It measures 15,5" x 15,5" (40 x 40 cm)

And finally two table mats. The size is 13.5" x 13,5" (35 x 35 cm).

For the backing I used an old bed sheet Johnny sent me too. :) Isn't it wonderful to re-use bed linen, clothes etc? I'm collecting old flannel shirts, which I hope to make a lap quilt when I have enough...

Coffee trees in bloom

Look at these flowers! Ain't they beautiful? Our coffee trees are in bloom! If I'm not mistaken, we have 10 coffee trees (I'm too lazy going outside to count them!), and when they all are in bloom it is to be admired. The trees were in bloom last year too, but far from the intensity as this year. I didn't know the flowers have such a sweet scent - it reminds me of oleanders. The flowers - the way they are placed on the branches, reminds me of snow! :)

Don't believe I'm the new Karen Blixen - a Danish woman who settled in Kenya to grow coffee... I guess you all know the film "Out of Africa" (Meryl Streep / Robert Redford). My forever favorite film - don't know how many times I've seen it! :) We have the trees in our garden, because as coming from Norway - I find coffee trees very exotic! :)

Coffee is grown in small scale in the Chamarel area, because the trees flowers during the risky cyclone season. The trees are grown in sheltered places by the ridges of the hillsides. There are three types of coffee growing here; Arabica, Liberica (smaller version of Arabica) and Robusta. Coffee is not endemic to the island, it was imported from Brazil, via Madagascar and Thailand. The coffee beans are roasted, ground and packed by hand in a small factory at the tiny village Case Noyale.

A few green coffee beans.