Saturday, March 5, 2011

Fun with a Box

Mary has been having a lot of fun lately with one of the boxes we shipped to ourselves from the states. I'm tempted to call it her first "play pen" but we don't leave her in it unattended and she doesn't really spend that much time in it. 

She loves to practice standing up and the sides of the box make great handles to hold on to and are pretty much the perfect height for her. 

They also provide a handy teething toy. 

She seems to be feeling her teeth more these days but there's no sign of one popping through yet. 

She also loves smaller boxes - see above. 

Woodley developed this play area which consists of Mary's favorite box surrounded by 3 chairs and the sliding door out to the porch. Inside the box is a pillow to cushion her if she falls. From here she can play with toys that we set up for her on the chairs or she can look outside. Best of all, the chairs keep her from tipping the box over.

And sometimes I can even manage to get some reading done while I sit next to her. She likes to help me out with the books. 

I never would have guessed that we would end up using one of the cardboard boxes even more than some of the things we shipped in it! 

What a happy girl in a box! 


Monday, February 28, 2011

Snow Scenes

This past weekend it snowed a lot and Woodley captured some lovely photos of the snowy scenes around our house. Today it warmed up though - maybe as high as 45 degrees F and a lot of the beautiful snow melted. Since I'm not sure how much longer the snow will stick around for, I thought I'd better post these photos right away while we are still living in snowy Oslo. : ) 

Above is the view of the soccer stadium from our front corner window. Mary and I sit on the floor by this window for awhile every day and watch the T-bane trains go by. 

Above you can see the snow piling up on the picnic table outside on our porch. The birthday banner is still up from my birthday earlier this month. We thought about taking it down, but it makes the living room so much more festive. Mary is enjoying her box. 

Here is a house that we look down on from our living room windows.

Yay falling snowflakes!

And below is a view out of my kitchen windows. I love looking at that house. It is so classic and timeless with its white picket fence and blue trim!

Up next is my favorite photo of the snow. So pillowy and soft looking! I think I want to print this one out and put it up on my wall! 

And last of all, here are some photos taken on our way home from a fun dinner and games night with Stephan and Liv. I have to admit, when I dreamed about being a mother, I never imagined pushing my baby through the streets of Oslo around midnight, dodging drunk pedestrians (really, just one very drunk pedestrian) in the middle of a heavy snowfall. 

Thankfully we made it home safely and Mary was a little angel. (I do hope that one very unsteady man was able to find a taxi or something to take him home - or at least made it across the road. He seemed to be trying to make up his mind to venture out into the crosswalk when we went by, but he didn't seem to be able to make up his mind to actually try it.) 

Mary seemed so happy to have finally arrived back at her own comfy bed. She didn't cry a bit as I changed her diaper and put her back to sleep. Instead, she couldn't stop smiling as she settled down to go back to sleep. She seemed to say, "I'm so happy to finally be home. I love you mommy." I'm so lucky to have such a wonderful flexible girl! 

Ahhh beautiful snow! I think I'm going to miss it when it all melts, but I'll enjoy not having to bundle Mary up so much to go out and about. 


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Woodley's New Favorite Dessert

Based on the ingredients below, do you have any ideas guesses as to what I might be making?

Chocolate chip cookies! (Or, rather, chocolate piece cookies.) It was interesting going to the grocery store for the first time and trying to make sure I got the right ingredients despite my bad/non-existent Norwegian. It may be fairly obvious, but moving from top to bottom, left to right we have eggs, butter, salt, flour, sugar, brown sugar, chocolate, vanilla, and baking powder. I was trying to find baking soda but it turns out that it isn't actually sold in boxes in most grocery stores here. A new American friend showed me a little packet of what appears to be baking soda. But I didn't have it yet when I took this photo. Very interesting. I wonder what they use to keep their refrigerators smelling fresh. Arm&Hammer has an untapped market. Also, there were no chocolate chips to be had. A bar of chocolate was the closest thing I could find.

Let's take a closer look at that block of butter. What's that I see? Could it be an emoticon? Looks like one to me.

I never thought I'd see a winking smiley on a butter container.

Chocolate chip cookies are one of Woodley's favorite desserts/snacks so I knew I had to find a way to make them here in Oslo and it was the first real baking experimentation I did. I made my first batch last month but haven't gotten a chance to blog about it until now.

I don't have a specific chocolate chip cookie recipe that I use, instead I keep trying new versions always hoping to find the best recipe ever. I think I prefer a cookie that is less crisp and more cakey but gooey is ok. I'm still searching for the perfect one. This time I tried out "My Big, Fat Chocolate Chip Cookies" by Tyler Florence which I discovered using my Food Network iPad app. Only, I had to use baking powder instead of baking soda (I used a bit less than the called for amount) and I made smaller cookies than the recipe recommended - just 12 cookies for a whole recipe didn't seem like quite enough.  

They turned out pretty well but weren't the best cookies I had ever had. The first batch flattened out quite a bit and were crisper than I wanted so I added a bit more flour. Later I discovered that I really do need to measure out the butter by weighing it since dividing the 0.5 kg block of butter into 4 pieces and using them as I would a block of butter in the states means that I consistently add a little bit too much butter. Hence, the need for more flour. But, I do have a handy scale and I have worked out that a Tablespoon of butter should be 0.5 once so it is pretty easy to get the right amount now. I think my recipes are turning out better since I made that change. 

Above you can see the cookies on the "cookie sheet" which is actually an oven rack. When we first got here one of my "must find" items that didn't appear to have come with our furnished rental house was a cookie sheet. We searched at Ikea, the local grocery store, and then another cooking store but there were no cookie sheets to be had. I mentioned this to our friend Stephan and he told me that over here people use their oven racks as baking sheets. Amazing! I had never thought to try that, although I did wonder why the oven racks were solid sheets of metal. So I guess that's why they don't sell cookie sheets here. It felt quite odd to pull out an oven rack, grease it, and plop cookie dough down onto it but the oven racks worked surprisingly well as baking sheets. I suppose I shouldn't really be surprised by that since that's what they were designed to do. And it is nice not having to store separate baking sheets. 

For Valentine's Day I thought about baking Woodley a heart shaped cake but since I didn't have a cake pan I decided to fall back on something I already knew worked - the chocolate chip cookies. To make them a bit more special I decided to turn them into ice cream sandwiches, something I had never tried before. I looked up some directions online and was surprised by how easy it was. I simply put a piece of cling wrap in a bowl, put a cookie on top, added some soft ice cream, topped it off with one more cookie which I smooshed down a bit, and then pulled up the cling wrap to cover the ice cream sandwich. I smoothed it down around the sides and did a bit of sculpting to give it a smoother look before tossing it into the freezer. A few hours later we had a gorgeous dessert which reminded us of the Moowiches we always get at The Northwest Washington Fair. 

Woodley was in heaven and has declared that this is his new favorite dessert and that I must always have homemade moowiches in the freezer from now on. I haven't quite managed that, but I am looking forward to making some more - maybe some tiny ones would be good. The only problem now is the price of Häagen-Dazs here in Norway. I had bought some as a special treat for Valentine's Day without realizing how expensive it was. After I got home and investigated the receipt I was shocked to find out it costs, gulp, about $12 usd for one pint! So, no more Häagen-Dazs for us. We'll have to test out the local variety of ice cream.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Learning to Eat is a Messy Business

One of my new least favorite chores is cleaning up Mary's splat mat after she is done "eating" a meal. At this point she's still mostly just playing with the food and enjoying learning about the different flavors and textures. Since not much is making it into her a lot of her meal ends up on the floor. I love the mat, but I don't much enjoy wiping it clean after every meal. I do feel like a good old-fashioned housewife as I bend on hands and knees scrubbing at the floor though. :)

Sometimes I'm tempted not to offer her any food at a particular meal because I'm not looking forward to the clean up but she enjoys it so much and is so sad if she doesn't get to sit up with us. And I'm really not hard to convince when she pulls out that adorable lower lip. I can't seem to find a good example of the exact face I'm thinking of, but this one is fairly close:

Dinner Tonight:
Reindeer Burgers - (Mary's first taste of a burger, I'm now wondering what she will think at Christmas time a few years from now after she learns to love eating reindeer here in Norway. It's a fairly common meat here and I believe it is farmed in northern Norway. Sadly, the burgers also had some beef and pork mixed in so Woodley wouldn't eat them)
Leftover Chicken - for Woodley
Broccoli with olive oil and white wine vinegar
Bread with butter and jam
Leftover Rice
Green Salad with slices of Brown Norwegian Cheese on the side

I need to re-charge the iPad so I can go back to browsing my favorite cooking websites when Mary wakes up in the night. I've found that's the best way to find new recipes to try and helps make the 5 to 7 nightly wakings much more endurable. Thankfully she has started sleeping for some 2 - 3 hour stretches. I'm really hoping they increase!


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Biggest. Twix. Ever.

Woodley returned from the electronics shop the other day with the biggest package of Twix I had ever seen! Unfortunately, it's not one gigantic Twix, instead there are 10 individually wrapped pairs, so 20 bars altogether. I'm guessing these will last less than a week. Woodley really loves his Twix and I think these ones have less sugar than the American version so I'm enjoying them too - I don't like super sweet things these days. Yum!

Dinner Tonight:
Rotisserie Chicken (cheating a bit, but super easy)
Mashed Yams
Steamed Broccoli with olive oil and lemon juice
Basmati Rice
Green Salad
Mixed Berry Pie (Yum!)

(Woodley showed me how to find the tilde!)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Summer Cars?

On our outing today we noticed several cars that we assumed must be used mainly in the summer months. Or at least they haven't been used for a few weeks now and the owners have some serious digging to do.

And the worst by far...

I wonder if they will just wait for the snow to melt or if they will try to dig out their cars before April or May. Personally, I think that if I had a car I'd definitely want to use it in the cold snowy weather when I don't enjoy walking around outside as much.

Hmmmm. I'm using our new Norwegian keyboard which allows me to make special Norwegian letters, but it's hard to find some of the normal American keys. Perhaps my new signature will be:

(but I'm not sure I like how that looks)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Saturday Moment

Since I'd like to blog more regularly but don't have much spare time, I thought I would at least try to post a photo of a favorite moment from each day and list what I cooked for dinner/plan to cook for dinner. That is, if I don't have time to do a longer entry on a specific topic. 

So here goes, my favorite moment of today was watching Mary learn how to eat berry pie filling with her crepes for brunch. Let's just say she headed off to the bath directly after brunch and Woodley couldn't bare to look at her for much of the meal.

In other news, we went on a family shopping expedition today hoping to find a bike pump to fill up the air in Mary's stroller tires - no luck there. Apparently the tires require the type of pump that is used to fill up car tires. What we did find was the following:

Looks a lot like an iPhone! But instead, it is kitchen magnets. They don't really go with my vintage blue/green kitchen theme but I've been longing to put some photos up on our refrigerator and these were handy and amusing.

On the menu for dinner tonight:
Chicken Enchiladas - we'll see how those turn out. They are in the oven now but had to be made with "taco sauce" aka salsa instead of enchilada sauce, strange reconstituted corn that was soaked in water and wrapped in plastic, Italian canned tomatoes with basil, cheddar cheese, flour tortillas and taco seasoning since that's all Woodley could find for me at the store. Poor guy, he searched forever to find just what I had asked for. Interestingly, a company called TexMex appears to have taken over the Mexican food product market here. This doesn't inspire much confidence in the quality of the Mexican food I'll try to make... we'll see.
Refried Beans
Basmati Rice - the only kind I had in the kitchen
Green Salad
Sliced Tomatoes

Wishing you a wonderful Saturday!