Saturday, August 31, 2013

[G] was the letter of the week

[G]lasgow - with interesting back alleys and cool wall paintings

[G]lamour - the feeling after giving myself a long needed pedicure

[G]ame Day - GO IRISH!
I am married to a avid Notre Dame fan, so the first game day of the season is a big happening!
We celebrate with Bloody Maries, Budweiser and home made chili. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Small comparisons #1: A Room with a View

This is the series where I compare a book and the movie version of the book based on these 3 criteria:
1) Is the mood of the book translated into the movie?
2) Do the characters have the same motivation in both the book and the movie?
3) Is the movie just as easy to understand without having read the book first?

This is one of relatively few times where I saw the movie before reading the book. The movie instantly caught my attention with the opening music being O Mio Babbino Caro by Puccini and the excellent cast (Helena Bonham Carter, Maggie Smith, Daniel Day-Lewis, Dame Judi Dench among others). Further on I found the way they divided the movie into chapters very interesting. All this made me download a free version of the book on Kindle and read it right away.

Short synopsis 
E.M. Forster published A room with a view in 1908 and the story takes place in the same period. Director James Ivory chose to stay very close to the original setting in the book in his movie from 1986.

The main character is the young woman Lucy Honeychurch. In the first part she is in Florence with her older cousin Charlotte Bartlett as her chaperone. At the pension where they stay, they get to know among others Miss Lavis, a writer, and Mr. Emerson and his son George. There are some tensions between the rest of the pensionnaires and the two Emersons because of their direct and frank behavior. There is a hint of romance between Lucy and George, but it is swiftly suppressed by among others Miss Bartlett.
Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham Carter) and George Emerson (Julian Sands)
The second part of the movie takes place back in England. Lucy Honeychurch says yes to marry Cecil Vyse, an acquaintance neither her mother, nor her brother really likes. It seems Lucy says yes to his proposal because he is a suitable a husband for her. Whether it is fate, coincidence or divine intervention, the Emersons move in to a house in the village where Lucy lives. Will Lucy choose the man she thinks is the proper choice for her, or will she choose love?

The proper way
The first thing that hit me, was the slight absurdity of the behavior of the characters. It is obvious already in the opening scene when Lucy and Miss Bartlett arrive in Florence and to their disappointment realize that they haven't got rooms with view. When Mr. Emerson and his son offer their rooms since men don't appreciate a view the same way women do, Miss Bartlett brusquely refuses this because it seems improper to her. This constant concern for what society deems "proper" runs through the book as well as the movie.
Miss Bartlett does NOT approve of that. 
Lucy is young and has not yet grown into her own personality, and both the book and the movie shows how she is influenced by everyone around her in different ways, but the book show her own confusion better than the movie, which is understandable as long as you can't show a person's thoughts in the movie. However, the dialog in the book is very rich and filled with much of the characters' thoughts and motives, and since the movie is using the dialog almost word to word, most of the feelings and opinions seen in the book are conveyed to the movie.
But Cecil approves of this. 
The big question in both the movie and book, is whether Lucy will conform to what society seems to deem as right for her, or if she will make her own choices. 

Characters as caricatures
Since all the dialog in the movie is so closely based on the dialog in the book, the personality of the characters stays the same. And in this they seem to me like caricatures of opinions. It seems that Mr. Vyse and Miss Bartlett are the voices of the society, where as the Emersons are the voices of a more liberal and free approach to life. Lucy's mother and brother are somewhere in between.
Mr. Emerson telling Lucy that she should choose love. 
What I found very interesting when reading the book, was the author's strong sympathy with Lucy and antipathy with Mr. Vyse, especially when it came to Lucy's search for her own personality. While Mr. Vyse found her the most attractive when she reminded him of a lifeless piece of art, Lucy shows on several occasions (especially when playing the piano) that she is inclined to be much more independent, and has a strong personality just waiting to blossom. This makes me ask myself a couple of questions; Was E.M. Forster kind of a feminist? And was the book perceived as a criticism of the society at the time it was published? 

Those two last questions are the main difference between the book and the movie, as far as I see it. The story in itself is very well put onto screen in the movie, but the radicalism of the author is partly lost in the movie. That being said, the movie stands very well on its own feet and I don't expect a movie to be able to convey every layer and sentiment found in the book it is based on.


How did you feel about the movie and/or the book?
What should I read and watch next?
I have already started on reading "Dangerous Liaisons" and want to compare it with the 1988 movie with Glenn Close and John Malkovich and with "Cruel Intentions" from 1999. This will however take about a year to finish since the only free version of the book was in French and my efficiency when it comes to reading French is rather low compared with Norwegian and English. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Small comparisons: Intro

I am not good enough at reading classic books or watching classic movies. This time I've done both! And I am turning it into a new series here.
Look! I'm reading! 
Netflix is the main source for TV entertainment in our home since we don't have cable, and here the other day we were looking through some movie options and my husband realized I have never seen A Room with a View. I said yes to watch as soon as I saw that both Helena Bonham Carter and Maggie Smith are playing in it. It is interesting to see the two of them playing their characters in this movie when I associate them with their roles in the Harry Potter movies. It also did not hurt that Daniel Day-Lewis and Dame Judi Dench star in the movie as well.
Helena Bonham Carter has really become more eccentric through the years. 
Watching this movie which follows so closely the structure of the book it is based on, made me want to read the book as well. And voilà! - I had the idea for a new series where I read a book and watch the movie based on it do kind of a comparative review.

I am not that interested in really reviewing the books or the movies, a bunch of people have already done that much better than I will ever be capable of doing. What I am looking for, is whether or not I think the movie capture the spirit of the book. With that in mind, I have chosen 3 criteria for my comparisons:
1) Is the mood of the book translated into the movie?
2) Do the characters have the same motivation in both the book and the movie?
3) Is the movie just as easy to understand without having read the book first?

The first book-movie comparison I am doing, is of course A Room with a View. It will come online here tomorrow. Others I have on my list are Breakfast at Tiffany's, The Great Gatsby and Dangerous Liaisons. If any of you  have suggestions on books I should read and compare with the movie version, don't hesitate to leave a comment about it. I am open for new, interesting reads and movies to watch!

Small treasures

I love browsing flea markets and second hand stores. Most of the time I am not interested in anything special. I just really enjoy looking at all those things that once were cherished  by someone. But sometimes I come across something I like so much I just have to get it. Or because my husband fells in love with it, as in the case of this little candle holder.
I think he secretly dreams of a situation where we lose power and he will lead the way around the
house carrying this with a burning candle stick - just like in the good, old 18th century. 
I have been looking for an ice bucket. I want one that at least looks like it is mid-century, made of crystal and with a square pattern. I haven't found the ice bucket yet, but at the market in Covent Garden I found the perfect ice tongs.
Look at the chicken feet! 
I  have no clue what kind of style it is, or when they were made. There's no stamp on them to help me identify them. I'm just happy I found them and that they now are cherished by me the way they (hopefully) were cherished by their previous owner.

Now all I have to do is to find the ice bucket to go with them. Any tip on where I should look?  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Small creations

I don't think I just talk for myself when I say that Pinterest is a great source for both inspiration and procrastination. "I'm just going to have a quick look on Pinterest" has a tendency of turning into a whole evening filled with pinning. Most of the time I just pin it and forget it, but there was something with this tutorial that I tumbled upon on Pinterest that I found especially appealing. Before I forgot it again...

...until I found a bag of something called "doll clay" in my local crafts store. It is very light and it doesn't require baking, it will just dry in room temperature. I don't have a picture of the clay because this happened long long time (a couple of months) ago.

I had a great time playing with the different kind of effects you can make. My favorites are these two bowls I use to store some of my jewelry in.
The pattern is made by a crocheted doily.
I painted the pattern in two different shades of purple.
In addition to the two bowls with the doily pattern, I also made some with a pattern from a little bush branch I found in the garden.
I just used a rolling pin to make the pattern. 
The bowls with the branch pattern has just been standing in a cabinet the last couple of months, waiting for me to do something with them. I finally got around to it here the other night.
I used the colors Green Light, Sap Green and Burnt Sienna.
The paint I used is a cheap acrylic paint that is mainly meant to be used on canvas, but it seems to have dried very well on the clay, and with a layer of lacquer over it I don't anticipate any problems.
I think the pattern is nice in itself, but the paint makes it really stand out. 
I don't think the clay is very strong, and the bowls are very thin and light. They work very well for my jewelry, but I wouldn't use them for anything heavy. And even with a layer of lacquer, I don't think they would survive much time in water. That being said, I think they are very decorative and I'm really happy with the result!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


We were so privileged as to be invited to a beautiful christening last weekend. Even though I am not personally believing in an omnipotent god, I still feel there is something sacred about welcoming a new child into this world. I also love the fact that it gave me an occasion to wear my Bunad - my Norwegian national costume.

The Bunad's origin lies in the national romantic movement in the 19th century, but most of the Bunads you see today were designed in the 20th century based on rural clothes worn in the 18th century. In Norway the Bunad is considered formal clothes and you wear it at big occasions like weddings, christenings and our national holiday on May 17th.
The big children's parade in Oslo on the Norwegian National Holiday.
Photo by Morten Johnsen.
The design of the Bunads vary from place to place. My Bunad is from the lower part of Buskerud, the county my mother's family is from. All the embroideries are done by my grandmother.
There is love in every stitch. 
I am so impressed with the handwork put into it. A professional seamstress did the montage of the dress. The hand sewn stitches are so even!
This is something I will never have the patience to do. 
I got my Bunad for my confirmation when I was 15. Luckily it was made with the intention of being something I can wear for a long time, so there were a certain amount of extra fabric left around the waist and in the torso of the dress, because let's face it - my body today at 29 is not the same as it was at 15.
This is me a few years ago. 
Even though I only get to wear it a couple of times a year, I think my Bunad is my absolute favorite piece of clothing. The fact that my grandmother embroidered it and that it will probably last longer than my life time makes it even more precious.

Do you have a piece of clothing or something else precious to you for the same reasons?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Meatless Monday #2: Spicy tomato soup

I have a notebook called "A random log of the things we eat"
No system at all in it. But I still like it! 
I like to make a note of it when I make something especially good, I have my staple grocery list in there, and I use it to keep track of what we actually manage to make during an "Eat-What-We-Have-In-Our-Fridge" week. Today's recipe is from this book.

This is how I like tomato soup; spicy and creamy without containing cream. This recipe is my own, which is not something I can say very often.The amount is fitting for 2 people.
I threw in a couple of tomatoes I had. 

Spicy tomato soup à la Marit 
1 big or 2 small onions
10 garlic cloves
2 tbsp olive oil                                          
2 tsp minced chili
2 tsp pesto rosso
4 tbsp ketchup
2 tsp soup bullion
400 g (1 can) crushed tomatoes (or the same amount in fresh tomatoes)
1 dl red wine
2 tbsp balsamico vinegar

Keep the dry skin on the garlic cloves, drizzle them with 1 tbsp olive oil and some salt, and bake them in the oven on 200C (ca. 400F) for 20 mins.

Chop the onion in big chunks (and the tomatoes if you use fresh ones). Sauté it in a big pot with 1 tbsp olive oil. When the onion is glaced, add the garlic (without skin), chili, pesto, and ketchup. When this is heated up, add the bullion, the tomatoes (if you use crushed tomatoes), the red wine, and the balsamic vinegar. Let this simmer for around 30 mins. If it gets too thick, add some water.
Some wine for the soup and some wine for the chef. 
Take the soup off the heat and run it smooth in the blender or with a hand mixer. Add as much water as you need to get the thickness you like. Put the soup back on the heat and let it boil for another few minutes.
We really like our soup thick. 
We had our soup with some bread and an egg.

This recipe is based on what I always have in my fridge and will be adopted to whatever I have available. 

What is your favorite soup?


For other posts in this series, please look here.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

[H] was the letter of the week

Or, rather, [hotel] was the theme of the week since we first were on a little road trip, then spending this weekend in Glasgow.

[H]otel that gave us their corner suite 
I'm really sorry for the crappy photo,
it wasn't originally meant to be put on here. 

[H]otel that has a wonderful view of a Norwegian fjord

[H]otel that is nicer than many other hotels
And with cool art above the bed. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Make-do and Mend: Torn jeans

Inspired by the mended doily I bought in London this summer, thought I decided to do something I haven't done in a long time.

Growing up, I wore jeans every single day. Mending my jeans was among the first things I learned how to do on a sewing machine. Today I barely own a pair of jeans. The pair I own, I wear so rarely that I don't think I'll ever need to mend them. My husband, however, has a couple of jeans that has been laying around for a while just waiting for me to be inspired enough to fix them. 

You need a pair of jeans in need of mending, some jeans fabric you can use for the mending
 (I bought a pair of jeans for NOK25/$4 at a second had store that I cut fabric swatches from)
and some blue thread that more or less matches the blue color of the jeans.
Pin some of the jeans fabric on the inside of the torn jeans.
I own exactly 3 sewing pins, but that's all what's needed. 
Then just go crazy with the zigzag seam on your sewing machine. 
I don't know if zigzagging is the technical term, but that is what I am doing along the frayed edge. 
The zigzagging I do from the outside of the jeans, and when I'm done I cut off any excess fabric on the inside.
No, this is not the neat backside of my grandmother's embroideries. 
This does require a sewing machine, but it doesn't require much skill when it comes to using it. The results will always be good unless something is wrong with the machine. The best results are of course in the crouch of the jeans, it can practically not be seen that you've mended them, but I also fixed the frayed leg hem on a pair of jeans.
I'm pretty happy with the result. It can barely be seen when the jeans is worn. 
My husband is happy, he now can wear his favorite pair of jeans outside the house again.

Do you have a tip for clothes or other things that you mend instead of throwing it away? 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Small work in progress

I am not a particularly creative person, but I do like to create. This manifests itself generally as an interest in cooking, a basic knowledge in how to use a sewing machine, and occasional waves of need for crocheting or knitting. This time the trigger was my husband's uttering of a wish for kind of a cardigan.
This is the jacket my husband wants. 
I love this greyish blue color and the softness of the wool-cotton mix. And I love how the bamboo needles don't make any sound when I knit!
The needles are so quiet, I just call them my ninja needles. 
The start of my knitting project coincided with a wonderful warm weekend, so most of my Saturday was spent relaxing with my ninja needles, the soft-as-baby's-butt-yarn, and a glass of wine. 
While knitting I could rest my eyes on the best view in the world - my husband! 
Since I don't know any vocabulary for knitting in English, I don't know what to call the pattern or style of knitting that this jacket calls for, but I like it because it feels very light and airy, not so dense as your standard wool sweater usually is. 
I might fight my husband for it after I've finished it. 
What are you creating at the moment?

Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans

Most days I eat my veggies and try to avoid sugar and the worst kinds of fat. A bar of chocolate can actually survive several days in my cupboard. But some candies are just too tempting. Getting to buy a box of Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans was such an occasion.
The sad, empty box that once contained the Every Flavour Beans
Chocolate frogs and everlasting jaw breakers I can (almost) get in the normal store, but the excitement of maybe getting a vomit flavoured jelly bean you only get from Bertie Bott.
Vomit, earthworm and something else disgusting
Alas, I only got one box. Now they are all gone.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Small blue marbles in a pie

Like I foresaw here, I did indeed meet a sweet blueberry pie after my little walk in the forest!

I'm not much of a baker. I like cooking, but baking has never really caught my interest. However, with the perfect amount of blueberries sitting on my kitchen counter, I had no choice but to make a blueberry pie. As we will see  later in this post - blueberry pie can never go wrong, even when the baker isn't really up to the task.
I love the look of blueberries. They shine like small marbles. 
I looked up pie crust recipes. They all contain butter, flour and water and it all has to be ice cold. Ain't nobody go time for that, so I decided on just mixing a cup of flour and 100 g (ca. 4 ounces) butter and threw it in the freezer for half an hour. I don't know what the water is for, but I suspect adding some of it might make the dough easier to work with. It is possible it could have improved the end result.
This is my dough. I think it looks good. 
The blueberry pies I've had before, has usually been just blueberries and a layer of pie crust also on top. For some reason I thought vanilla custard sounded good together with the blueberry pie, so I decided on adding that as a layer in the pie itself. I used this recipe, but decided to use a little over 1 cup of heavy cream and skip the milk since I wanted the custard to be really thick.
The brown sugar actually worked well with the custard. 
I think it was at this point I did my major mistake. I was beforehand a little worried about the amount of liquid in the filling of the pie (hence the skipping of milk in the custard), but this should also have made me realize that pre-baking the crust could be a good idea. Which I of course didn't do.
Dough, vanilla custard and blueberries. The dough should have been pre-baked before this. 
After 50 minutes in the oven, the crust seemed baked and the blueberries were cooked, but I could see through my glass cake pan that the crust at the bottom was not going to be crusty.
It looks like a mess, but at least a hot and delicious one. 
The blueberry pie with the vanilla custard was awesome, but very messy. I'm willing to give it a second try, but the pre-bake the crust before putting the vanilla custard and the blueberries in. An alternative is of course to make the blueberry pie and the vanilla custard separately, but what would the fun be in that?

Have you had any good ideas in the kitchen that in the end didn't turn out that great?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The making of Harry Potter

I'm a huge fan of Harry Potter. I love the books. I love the movies. I read them over and over again, and I watch them over and over again. And I am lucky enough to share this love with my husband.
Yes, this will be me. Together with my husband.
We're good together that way. 
As I have mentioned before, we spent a weekend in London this summer, and my husband is the best travel planner partner ever. He researches everything, I plan all the logistics. This time he surprised me with researching his way into the Harry Potter universe and the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London (it's outside London so I had to figure out how to get there - which I did brilliantly).
Unfortunately I was not brilliant enough to organize our arrival in a flying car. 
When you buy your tickets, you buy a tour for a certain time in the day. When we got our tickets, there were only late tickets left, so our tour started at 5 pm. Which actually turned out to be perfect. Even though the tour started at a certain time, we were free to walk around the studios in our own tempo. Being there late in the day meant that it was less crowded and we didn't have to stand in very long lines.
We only had to wait a couple of minutes in line to get a glass of butterbeer.
It would have been worth waiting for several more minutes - it was delicious! 
There was so much to see, so much of the original sets that was still there! Like Dumbledores pensieve, the Hogwarts Bridge that was so important in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, all of Diagon Alley and a complete model of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and the school grounds.
I love exploring the settings on my camera! 
The studio was open until 10 pm that evening, which was good since we spent a good 3 hours looking at everything.
For some reason the Knight Bus didn't show up when we wanted to go home,
so we had to settle with a normal bus and train. 
The tour was incredible - I feel like I've visited Hogwarts! It makes my bitterness of never receiving an acceptance letter from Hogwarts as a kid a little bit easier to live with. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Meatless Monday #1: Chickpea casserole

There wasn't any special thought behind my choice of the first Meatless Monday dish. I looked in my cupboard and saw two cans of chickpeas I didn't know what to do with, and then did a quick search to see if I could find a recipe for them. This was the first one to pop up and looking through the recipe, I realized I basically had everything it called for already, so I decided to go for it. I did, however, lack the parsley and the yogurt. I opted for skipping the parsley and substituting the yogurt with low fat sour cream. 
The shallots turned into a red onion, the Parmesan is hiding and the two garlic cloves turned into three. 
The prep work was easy and fast. I used a slow cooking brown rice, so I had more than enough time to finish up everything else while waiting the 45 minutes it took the rice to finish.
Prep, mixing, the Parmesan came out of hiding and the casserole is ready for the oven. 
Reading the comments on the recipe, I knew beforehand that the dish has a tendency of being a little dry. I decided to follow the recipe this first time, and then find ways to tweak it to my liking later. I baked it on 175 Celcius (350 Fahrenheit) for 40 minutes. I then turned it up to 210 Celcius and put on the grill for a couple of minutes in order to get a crispier topping.
Trying to find a way to shot both topping and the casserole itself. 
It did turn out a little dry and the onions were a little under cooked. The topping was also not as crisp as I would have liked it. The next time I will sauté the garlic and onion lightly before mixing it with the chickpeas. I will also add 1/2 cup water, stock or white wine (depending on what I have on hand). To make the topping crispier, I will mix the bread crumbs and the Parmesan with an egg. Still we really enjoyed the taste of the dish and will try it again later.

Not only was this my first vegetarian meal (ok, not strictly vegetarian since the Parmesan probably was made with animal rennet), it was also the first time I've photographed my cooking. I have a lot to learn and I think I need a better light source for photography in my kitchen. 

PS. We had a lot of leftovers which we ate the next day. I decided to heat it in a pan together with more water and some sour cream. With all the breadcrumbs the consistency was something between porridge and stew. I think I will try to make a chickpea stew at some point.