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If someone had told me five years ago that I would be completely glued to a reality TV program about sewing I would have had a good laugh. I didn’t even have a TV back then and only watched selected movies and series. I hadn’t gotten into sewing and didn’t consider myself as the crafty type at all.

I guess things have changed… now my favorite TV program is The Great British Sewing Bee. A really nice, no intrigues competition between amateur sewers. The best part you feel like you are learning stuff while watching it. And did I say no intrigues? I hate programs where the whole purpose is to have the contestants bitch about each other. None of that!

Borrowed from BBC

Borrowed from BBC

I came across this program at the best time possible. I am still having problems sitting due to my tailbone and spend most evenings exhausted after torturing myself through work and an extremely painful train ride. Perfect to watch lying in bed!

Right now it is possible to watch the first season on YouTube and last episode on Dailymail.

Season 2 is currently on BBC which you can access using Unblock us if you are outside the UK.

Season 2 is soon over but the good thing is that it looks like there will be both an American and a Norwegian version. I cannot wait! If you are just a little interested in sewing, give it a try. There are even men competing! Must admit I didn’t think men could sew…. How lame of me!

So apparently evolution has left me some tail. It is quite obvious that all believers of intelligent design have never hit their tailbone. Any designer with common sense would not have put a bone in the spot that you sit on. At least not a bone that can get so easily injured and that can cause this enormous pain to its owner.

Embarrassingly I managed to hurt my tailbone playing go-cart during team building. I love go-carting! It really brings out the competitiveness in me and I was quite proud when I managed to be the only girl that made it to the final. This despite being hit quite hard early on in the race by some co-worker that didn’t know how to drive.  I could feel right then and there that something happened to my tailbone but the severity of it didn’t really start syncing in until I sat down afterward.

I literally had to pull the hooks of my bra out of my back afterwards. My back had quite a few blue spots and I couldn’t sit down, sit, get up, walk or stand without being in severe pain. Almost two weeks later I still feel like I am sitting on a sharp knife and I have learned by painful experience that there is no way to sit comfortably on a train with an injured tailbone.  I simply have to suck it in for the 2×40 minutes train ride each day.

Being able to sit comfortably reminds me of my business trips to Asia few years ago. Believe it or not I got lucky and got upgraded to business class three times in a row on a long distance flight. What a luxury! I just wish the train seats were as luxurious.

This brings me to today’s recipe. I read an article (Norwegian) at the start of the year that stated that this was one of those tastes to look out for in 2014. I am talking about kimchi, which is spicy fermented cabbage that is used as a side dish for almost everything in South Korea.  It is difficult to describe it. Spicy, crunchy, sour, and sweet all at the same time. Great as a side dish to Korean barbecue like bulgogi.

Jar of Kimchi

Jar of Kimchi

Kimchi

Adapted from Dr. Ben Kim

1 head of Chinese or Napa cabbage
0,75 dl sea salt
Water
0,6 dl Korean Chili flakes (Gochugaru)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
3-4 green onions, sliced
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 ripe apple or pear, finely chopped
1 tsp sugar

Measure the salt and add enough warm water to cover it. Stir and wait until it dissolves at least a little. This requires some patience.

In the mean time wash and chop the cabbage into bit sized pieces. Pour the salt water over the cabbages and make sure it is somewhat evenly distributed. Let it sit for 4 hours to let get the salt get rid of some of the water in the cabbage. It will look a bit shrivelled at the end of the 4 hours.

Rinse the cabbage with cold water to remove the excess salt

Combine the red chilli flakes with enough warm water to cover it. Stir until a red chilli paste is created. Add the chilli paste to the cabbage.

Now add minced garlic, minced ginger, green onions, and fish sauce.

Blend the apple or the pear and onion with 3 dl water and add to the mixture.

Now blend well with your hands. I recommend a pair of plastic glove. Transfer everything to a large glass bottle. Make sure there is a little bit of room at the top in case it expands a bit.

Now leave at room temperature for 24 hours. After this transfer it to the refrigerator and after few hours it is ready to eat. According to online sources this can be stored for at least couple of weeks in the fridge.

Kimchi

Kimchi


Note: I bought my Korean chilli powder in South-Korea and I have yet to find it in Oslo. I am sure it can be bought online somewhere.
Korean Chilli powder

Korean Chilli flakes

Doc Silja McStuffins

I honestly cannot recommend anything other than buying your kid a Carnival costume. Why would you even consider spending every single minute of your free time for few weeks trying to make your kid one? Sacrificing sleep should be reserved for partying and not to redo a piece that you aren’t too happy with.

Why would you want to hit the pedal of your sewing machine like it is a Formula 1 car praying your fingers don’t end up in a painful collision with the needle?

Then there is the agony if your three year old will actually accept to wear the costume.  You know that them agreeing to it beforehand doesn’t mean a thing when it comes to judgment day. Lets no forget the agony you feel when you actually bribe them to put on the last piece of the costume. Because that one piece has all of sudden become uninteresting.

That grueling moment when you enter Kindergarten and see that all your fears have come true, that the place is buzzing with little pink princesses in cheap shiny Disney dresses.

That thought lingering at the back of your head that you have spent a little fortune on all the different fabrics and materials you needed to make it. Thankfully you are sensible enough to not start calculating. Seriously, how much more expensive could it really have been?

Yeah, why would you put yourself through all that pain? You would because it is fun, you learn stuff and get a nice sense of accomplishment afterwards.  It is so nice to see your kid happy as well, she was very proud when I finally convinced bribed her to put on the last piece. There were no complaints over not being a princess and she even made statements that she rather wants to be Dora for Halloween than a princess.

McStuffins vs Silja (borrowed from Disney)

McStuffins vs Silja (borrowed from Disney)

I made her a Doc McStuffins costume. McStuffins is a little girl that wants to be a doctor and cures her stuffed animals and toys of all kinds of diseases. Her magical stethoscope brings them to life when there are no grown-ups around.  A cute TV program and I think my little Doc was even cuter!

Doc Silja McStuffins

Doc Silja McStuffins

In case anyone wants to go through all this pain and agony I am putting down some notes about how I got the different pieces together and a little mini tutorial on how to hack a shirt pattern to be a doctor’s lab coat.  In case it you feel it is too much work, you can always buy the “real” thing from Disney.

McStuffins

McStuffins

Lab coat:

lab coat

  1. Get a regular shirt pattern with a collar. I used one from Sy til Barn by Rikke Misciattelli (you can see the type of shirt it is here). I picked the next size (104) above what she uses regularly to make sure it could be worn outside of clothes.
  2. Get some white cotton, wash and iron.
  3. Extend the front and the back pattern pieces like I did in the drawing.
  4. Make sure the sleeves are wide enough so they can be folded upwards. My daughter didn’t want to fold in the end but at least we have the option.  The sleeve should be a bit longer than a regular shirt pattern. This was a simple pattern with no fancy hems or cuffs on the end and I just ended up adding 2 cm in all directions like seen in the image. The approx width of the cut sleeve was 24,5 cm including seams.
  5. Cut and sew according to instructions. If you find the instructions for attaching the collar difficult to comprehend I found this picture tutorial very helpful.
  6. Add pockets. Draw a square approx 14×11 cm. Draw rounded edges starting from approx 5 cm from the bottom bottom. I drew them freehand on the fold. I folded in approx 2 cm twice at the top. Ironed that and 1/2 cm seams on the sides and botton and sew it on the front.
  7. Add buttons. I used a total of 5 buttons evenly spread.

The buttons should technically be white but my little girl didn’t buy into it when I said McStuffins had white buttons.  She announced that Silja McStuffins thinks they should be pink!

McStuffins t-shirt/sweater: Find a long sleeved t-shirt pattern.   Make sure the pattern has binding around the neck, a longer cuff at the sleeve and at the bottom of the sweater. The pattern I used was Fall Basic from Ottobre 4/2013. I had to add the bottom dark purple stripe. I made a strip that was 4 cm shorter than the circumference of t-shirt and of the same height as the cuffs on the sleeve (approx 6 cm with seam). I hemmed it and then sew it on.  The fabric I used was Wisteria purple white stripe cotton from Girl Charlee which seems to be sold out now.  I bought some darker purple jersey from them to get the contrasting color.

Skirt: I made a simple skirt from Ottobre 4/2013 called Swinging Hem. Used some pink jersey I had lying around. It should have been darker pink but this was all I had.

Pants: I made circular stencil out of acetate paper with my Silhouette Cameo machine. Any circular shape will do or I am sure you can just paint round dots by hand. I used cheap light lavender jersey from Stoff og Stil and pink and white fabric paint from the same place (follow instructions on the type you use). I cut out the pattern pieces before I painted them. You can use any normal pattern for tights. I used Tiny Path from Ottobre 6/2013 without adding seams and that I shortened a bit. I tend to skip the seam allowances on the sides when sewing from Ottobre as the patterns seem to be made for sturdier kids than mine.

Hairband: I bought the cheapest hairband  I found at H&M and ripped off the ribbon they had wrapped around it and painted it. I made the mistake of buying fabric paint so this was a bit of a challenge… I had to do numerous rounds and then applied clear nailpolish over to get rid of the stickiness. I made a flower out of a pink flower button and model clay. Then super glue did the trick of attaching for short term use.

 

Hairband

Hairband

Stetoscope and Lambi are the “real” thing from Disney.

The doctor is here

The doctor is here

I have two reoccurring nightmares that keep haunting me. One involves not finding a clean or a suitable restroom when I need to do you know what. Half of those dreams involve nasty, dirty bathrooms (think Trainspotting) and the rest involves the inability to get privacy. Sadly the sports people in Sochi seem to have hit one of my nightmare. Is this seriously real?

The other dream that keeps coming back is the one where I need to get somewhere or do something but somehow everything is in slow motion. Everything seems to take so long and something always stalls you. Very frustrating! Getting a kid sometimes feels a bit like being stuck in this dream. You can never again expect to do things at the speed you want. To be sure you get to work in time you need to always have a good buffer because there is always something that doesn’t go according to plan. And the things that move the slowest of all are your hobby projects.

This set for example took approximately 3 months or so to finish. There was always something that got in the way. And when I managed to squeeze in a half hour I almost always made some mistakes so I had to spend equally long reverting that.

In the end it finally got finished and by that time the t-shirt is getting a bit on the smaller side. Gah!

The patterns I used were “Froskegenser” and “Brun Bukse” from the Heilt Spesiell og Jubel book that has taken the Norwegian sewing community by a storm. The pants are made out of isoli (sweatshit fleece?) from Stoff og Stil (not recommended) and the t-shirt stuff is jersey from Girl Charlee. I really advice against ever buying fabric from Stoff og Stil to use in clothes. This is not the first time I have seen horrible quality.

Front pockets

Front pockets

I got to try my hands at some new techniques like piping and decorative seams with my coverpro. Then there is the regular bias binding that is still a bit tricky to me.

Tricky neckline

Tricky neckline

Back and side

Back and side

The little miss is a tough on to take pictures of. She cannot seem to stand still for a second making it hard to get good pictures in the dark, gloomy weather you have in Norway these days.

How to get your clothes to stay still

How to get your clothes to stay still

The good thing about active child that doesn’t have patience to pose and just starts playing is that you sometimes hit these nice shots that you know you are gonna treasure.

Artist?

Artist?

The lie that worked

My daughter is not easily fooled. She sees through all the little tricks that you can normally fool kids with. There is however one blatant lie that I have been able to get her to believe. That one thing out of all the other things I have tried to trick her with is that she believes I have an extra pair of eyes at the back of my head.

I guess you do instinctively grow an extra pair of eyes when you have an active kid that demands your attention all the time. You know that if you let your watch down for just few seconds that they have managed to get themselves into some kind of trouble. It is all about survival really. Your side vision becomes super sharp if you don’t want to either bring a cage to the grocery store or spend hours trying to pick up everything you need. I am actually amazed that evolution hasn’t already grown us some extra eyes.

I have at times doubted that she actually believes that I have eyes at the back of my head. All evidence however says she really does. When I one time told her to wait because when she wanted to show me something and then when I finally turned around she said “But mom, you don’t have to turn around, you have eyes at the back of your head”.

Impatient model

Impatient model

I got a new gadget this Christmas from my two favorite people. A Silhouette Cameo cutting machine that can cut vinyl, fabrics, paper etc. It took me a while to get started but for my first project I decided to make a decorated hat with wool lining. So I sewed up my first hat (based on this tutorial) and then cut out Silja’s name and a set of eyes. Now she can also have eyes at the back of her head. Maybe I should make one for her dad as well, she says he doesn’t have them ☺ .

I am watching you

I am watching you

And when I promised myself yet again that I will stop posting complaints about NSB (the train company in Norway) they outdo themselves with a new advertising campaign claiming that you can save up to 19 work days a year. It popped up in my Facebook feed the day after a rather vicious commuting day with a long delay. So now my blog has an NSB category…

Really NSB?

Really NSB?

They even made a web site where you can do your own personal calculations. Yeah, my results didn’t quite add up to reality so I decided to correct it for them.

Theory vs. practice

Theory vs. practice

I just hope that frustration fumes aren’t bad for the environment so there is at least something positive about me not giving up and starting to drive.

Calculation were made with a very conservative average of a 15 minute delay per day for the same amount of days NSB used in their calculation (230).

Sorry for the Norwegian in the image. In short, they claim I save 46 hours a year, I claim I loose 58 hours on delays. They claim I save a lot of money and I say I was too late to pick up my kid twice (had to call someone to have her picked up on time).

I recently met up with an old friend of mine from Iceland that I haven’t met for ages. Very nice indeed and I felt transported back to old times in many ways. Not only was it nice catching up with a part of my life that I had somewhat lost touch with but it also made me look at life in Norway in another way. It made me realize that there are so many things here that I have simply grown accustomed to that used to be or should I say are a bit strange.

I have accepted and even started appreciating the excessiveness of walking in Norway.”Just around the corner” coming out of the mouth of a Norwegian is something completely different than what you would expect in both the States and Iceland. It really is a little hike. My rule of thumb is to multiply any time estimate with at least 2.2 when it comes to walking here.

Then there is the excessive need to feel safe. Bike helmets for grown-ups were a tough one for me to get used to. I still feel like an idiot wearing it but after years of being bullied into wearing one I no longer feel safe without it. At some point I must have just mutated into one of those safety freaks. It wasn’t until my friend pointed it out that I realized people here wear reflective yellow vests when they go out to walk their dog. You even see dogs wearing them sometimes. Confession: I put one on when I go out jogging at night…

Someone going out for a jog

Someone going out for a jog

This being safe thing really isn’t all that bad especially when it comes to food. Things tend to be more hygienic here than most places. You notice it when you go abroad at least. I think one of the most genius food product in Norway is a result of this need for clean and fresh. I am not too impressed about the Norwegian cuisine in general but they have few good things and this one is the bomb!

Salma salmon is the purest, most delicious raw salmon I have ever tried. It is the freshest form of salmon with not even a hint of that fatty, fishy taste and smell that tends to go along with salmon. It melts like butter in your mouth! Perfect for sushi and delicious in this dish that you can either eat as a light lunch or use as an appetizer.

Salma

Salma

Salma

Adapted from a Hellstrøm recipe
140 g salma
50 g Spekeskinke(Norwegian cured ham) or some other kind of cured ham like parma
¼ red onion, finely chopped
10 straws of fresh chives, finely chopped
salt flakes
black pepper, crushed
good olive oil

This should be enough as an appetizer for approx 3 people or a lunch for one.

Cut the salmon in slices and rip the spekeskinke/parma ham in pieces of approx equal sizes to the slices of salmon. Spread on a plate. Drizzle chopped red onion and chives over. Now drizzle a moderate amount of salt flakes, fresly ground black pepper, and olive oil over. You can put the salt, pepper and olive oil on the table so people can add according to taste.

Simple lunch

Simple lunch

This isn’t really a kid friendly dish but if you want to get your kids to try you could cut the salmon bits into little Nemo fishes. It got my daughter to try one bite which was really all I was aiming for. The trick with kids is usually to get them to try things often enough and they will eventually start liking them.

Here is a shot I took with my mobile.

Nemo fish

Nemo fish salma salmon

I guess most of you know what housewife points are but does anyone know what the equivalent is for men? I really need to know because I just did something I generally leave to my fiancé and I really want some man-points(?) for it. Yeah, I shoveled snow for the first time… like ever. I honestly cannot remember ever doing it. I guess I should be grateful that until now it has just magically disappeared before it gets in my way.

I managed to get some housewife points recently as well. I made cookies! Every year I have big plans of making at least a couple of cookie types before Christmas and every year I fail. I never make it past the mandatory gingerbread cookies. I am not really sure why I even bother thinking about it. I don’t really eat them if I have them simply because there are too many other unhealthy things around that time of the year and there simply isn’t enough stomach space for them.

I blame this need to make Christmas cookies on the old tradition in both Norway and Iceland that a housewife should make 7 kinds of cookies (Syv sorter/Sjö sortir). I am starting early this year and at the same time I am hoping I will ruin some New Year’s Resolutions! I am thinking about rejoining the gym and I really don’t want too many people there!

I first tried this particular type of cookies from one from the biggest baking wizard I have ever known, a former colleague of mine. She used to bring truckloads of cookies to the office quite often. When I say truckloads I really mean it. I still can’t grasp how it is possible to make this varied quantity of baked goods in a normal kitchen and by just one person. I am pretty sure all of us that worked there during this time secretly dream of a reunion where she is responsible for the refreshments!

These cookies have the nicest name ever White chocolate macadamia cookies. It almost sounds healthy! If you haven’t tried macadamia nuts before you are really missing out. Those are the best nuts out there (and of course one of the fattier type, go figure).

Cookies

Cookies

White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies

Adapted from EriKa’s old blog

300 g flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
170 g butter, melted
170 g brown sugar
80 g white sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Approx 100-130 grams coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
200 grams coarsely chooped white chocolate

Preheat the oven to 160°C.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl.

Melt the butter on low heat until it is soft enough to beat. Beat it together with the white and brown sugar. Then beat in the egg and the egg yolk. Add the vanilla and beat the mixture until it is a bit frothy. Now add the dry ingredients into the mixture slowly. Do not stir too much. Add in the chopped nuts and white chocolate by hand.

Use a tablespoon to measure out each cookie. This batch will make approx. 20-24 cookies. Make them into a round ball and the press them down lightly on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Make sure there is enough space between them as they will spread a bit in the oven.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges look slightly golden brown. Remove from oven and let them cool for a little while before removing them for further cooling.

Help yourself

Help yourself

Right now my little darling is making her dad’s chess pieces sing the Santa Lucia song. She is drilling them quite hard to behave and sing. It is absolutely adorable to watch and it makes me sad that we loose this childhood ability to imagine that the simplest things are some completely different than what they really are.

Grown-up life is all about time and duties. The lack of time and the excessive of duties. Entire December went by in a blur without being able to get anything done. When I wasn’t working, I was too tired to do anything other than the bare necessities. In turn I feel guilty about all the things I didn’t do but should have and sad over all the things that I wanted to do but didn’t do.

I however managed to do one thing! Make a Christmas dress for my little sweetheart. Literally last minute before Christmas.

Dress

Dress

I sometimes wonder if there is really any sense in starting things early. They always seem to somehow get done no matter how late you start. Ok so maybe not quite as nicely but the difference is really marginal. Like this years Christmas dress. I had been thinking about it for more than a month and yet I didn’t find time to start until few days before Christmas. Everything that could go wrong went wrong and I ended up hitting the pedal on my sewing machine full force just few hours before Christmas dinner to get it done.

My gut feeling however tells me that I would have been doing last minute things anyway on Christmas Eve even if I had started at the beginning of December. You tend to use up all the time you have anyway

Back of dress

Back of dress

I hacked together a new collar design (based on a very expensive dress I saw in a store in London) for the Geranium dress that I have made twice before all in just few hours. Ok, there are things I would have liked to do better and differently but it is much more rewarding to actually make something real than to just make trial versions first.

Collar

Collar

It is almost impossible to get good photos of the dresses my little ones wear. Standing still really isn’t her thing. I guess it isn’t important. It is the moments I want to remember not the details.

Unwrapping presents

Unwrapping presents

Dancing

Dancing

The fabric is an old Enchanted Garden Daisy by Riley Blake Designs I had lying around.

Happy New Year everyone! Lets hope 2014 brings us plenty of time and less guilt!

Two years ago the biggest news here in Norway was the butter crisis. This year the newspapers are full of stories about a woman that probably hasn’t had an ounce of butter in years. Yeah, it is obvious that Norway is a pretty peaceful country since these things seem to take over the headlines.

So this blogger celebrity called fotballfrue (football wife) posted a photo of herself on Instagram four days after giving birth with a pretty much flat stomach. I must admit that I zoomed in when I saw the photo wondering if this was even humanly possible or if it could be photoshopped. It was pretty impressive.

Now why anyone would post a photo of themselves in their underwear on Instagram is beyond my understanding. This is being said by the person that tends to secretly judge people that post selfies (unless they are funny or with a kid) as being a bit self-centric. So I can’t honestly say that I didn’t find her a bit ego centric posting this.

The reaction of the public wasn’t too forgiving. Many women seemed to get really upset at her and saying it was wrong to post such a photo as it gives out the wrong messages to her reader that this is normal. I feel like the anger is pointed towards the wrong person. The problem isn’t with her. If you read her blog you see that she is overly obsessed about exercising and diet. She probably got help from good genes as well but that is another story. If she is willing to invest that much time into her body and sacrifice all the good food out there that is her choice.

I however feel that some people that comment on her blog and on the articles deserve some pepper. I have seen repeated comments telling other women to stop being lazy and that they have no excuses for not being like this. I find this wrong and these are the people that deserve our anger. This isn’t the norm and not everyone can afford the luxury of being able to spend that much time on taking care of their body. Then there are genes, complications, etc.

That being said, being fit (up to a certain level) is somewhat a choice for many of us. Only being a programmererfrue (programmer’s wife or technically a future one), I myself have made a decision. I like exercising but mostly just to feel healthy and to be able to indulge in the food I want. As much as I would like to be superfit, I see that I would have to sacrifice too much time with my kid to be able to do that and therefore I wont. I like good food too much to be able to cut it out or eat differently from my family.

Maybe we should all just actively make a decision about what we want to be and how we want to live our lives rather than living in denial and venting our anger on the wrong person?

So for all of you women that want to keep enjoying life even if it means a slightly softer waistline I recommend you this creamy pasta recipe! I have seen some happy faces while eating it at my place so I know it at least gives some pleasure :) .

Creamy Pasta

Creamy Pasta

Pasta Al Sugo Bianco

This was originally adapted from some random Macaroni Grill copycat recipe but has been changed quite a lot since then.

Chicken Marinade
½ dl olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 chicken breasts

Mix the crushed garlic and smoked paprika into the olive oil. Put the chicken in the marinade and let it rest for 30 minutes or longer. Fry on each side. Before it is cooked through, cut the breast into slices and quickly finish them off in the pan. Now chop into mouth sized pieces.

Cheese sauce
4 dl cream
1/2 chicken bouillon
110 grams (1 american cup) parmesan cheese, grated

Warm the cream until it starts to get bubbly (not boiling). Add the parmesan cheese and the bouillon. Cook on low-medium heat until it thickens. Put aside.

300 g pasta (farfalle/penne or whatever you have at hand)
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 spring onion, the white part chopped
1,5 dl cream

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package. Drain.

Sauté red onion in butter until it softens. Add green onions and chicken and fry until the green onions become soft. Add the garlic at the end right before deglazing the pan with cream. Add the cheese sauce and cook until everything is heated.

If you have space in you pan or pot add the pasta there. Otherwise pour both the pasta and the sauce into a big bowl and mix. Serve with some nice bread and Carrabba’s Dipping Oil.

Dig in

Dig in

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