Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A 30th Birthday Brunch

 I have just turned 30! Since my birthday fell on a Sunday this year, I decided to have a brunch party. I love breakfast food, and this seemed like the perfect occasion for a fancy version. I invited some of my favorite ladies and had such a wonderful time!

Some people make big parties for anniversaries, and if it wasn´t for our recent wedding, I would have loved that too. I have a tendency of putting a lot of planning into an event, so I decided that a small party was best this time. After a little research I found an article on how to host a brunch party and still sleep in on Smitten Kitchen, which was very helpful. It gives recommendations on what to serve, and they are basically all things that can be made in advance. She writes it really well, so you should check it out if you are planning a brunch in the future. Some additional tips from me: set the table the night before, and gather your decor ahead of time (I kept postponing this and had to run outside to find some twigs and branches last minute).


The decor was very simple. I used gourds, pumpkin and citrus fruit for the centerpiece, and twigs with a welcome card on each plate. This was the first time I set a table with our new fine china, and I was very excited! The striped silver napkins match the silver rim of the china, and I also used some leftover paper straws from the wedding.


Brunch menu that can be (mostly) made ahead:
Cranberry orange scones. These were so tasty! Can be made ahead and frozen uncooked, and on the morning of the party you thaw the scones and cook them like you normally would.
Spinach Quiche Cups. Make the egg batch the day before, cook the day of.
Cinnamon toast french toast. Made the day before and left to soak in the fridge overnight. Cook the day of. Serve with syrups.
- Fruit salad with pomegranate, papaya, plums and kiwi. Prep as much as possible the day before, especially something tedious and stain-inducing like pomegranates. Mix the fruit the day of. Served with a raspberry-lime sauce and yogurt.
- Cheese, crackers, dried meats and condiments of your choice
- For dessert: Chocolate cake. I had planned on making this gluten free Chocolate cake with almonds and beetroot, but then surprisingly, a birthday cake was delivered to my door and I will have to save that recipe for another day.
- A mimosa bar with a few different juices, bubbles and fruit garnish.
- And of course: a never ending stream of coffee.


Some of the lovely ladies. Thank you so much for making my birthday great! 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Red Leaves

My sister gave me a Norwegian fall poem for my birthday, 
and I think it is too lovely not to share.



RAUDE LAUV

Lik raude lauv
som atter vert grøne
like brune lauv
som vinkar i vinden
og kviler på jorda
kviler i jorda
før dei atter er der
grøne
og byrge
i sin uskjønelege byrgskap
som heng så trygt
i vind
i sol
i regn.

Jon Fosse


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Yesterday was a great pumpkin cooking adventure with my good friend Jae. Since my husband is no fan of pumpkin foods (and I obviously am), I am so happy to have other people to share this joy with. In addition to the soup we made for dinner, there was no question in my mind - we had to make pumpkin spice syrup! It is super easy, and so delicious in lattes, steamers (warm milk) or on pancakes for breakfast. I have used this recipe many times, and just love it.

But if you are looking for a perfect fall dinner suggestion, here it is:

ROASTED PUMPKIN SOUP

Ingredients:
1,5 kg raw pumpkin
4 cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp oil/butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cumin
1 liter vegetable or chicken stock
salt and pepper
sour cream, cream or creme fraiche - for serving
roasted pumpkin seeds, for garnish


1. Roast the pumpkin and the garlic.
You need about 1 kg of actual pumpkin "meat", so a small pumpkin of 1,5 kg should be enough. Cut the pumpkin in half to remove the seeds and the stringy parts. Cut in wedges and place it on a baking tray. Roast for about 30 minutes on 200 C or until tender, but take the garlic out after 20 minutes so it doesnt burn.

2. When the pumpkin is soft and fully cooked, remove the skin (it will peel off really easily) and puree with a blender until smooth.

3. While the pumpkin is in the oven, chop the onion and cook on medium heat until brown and soft. Add all the spices, pumpkin and the stock and let it all simmer for 30 minutes. Add the roasted garlic in the end.

4. Optional: Roast your pumpkin seeds as well. Rinse and dry them, sprinkle with salt (and pepper), and roast on 200 C for 15-30 minutes, and you have the perfect snack and garnish for your soup!

5. Puree the soup with an immersion blender. If you only have a standing blender you will have to wait till the soup cools a bit before you do this.

6. Serve hot with a dollop of cream or sour cream, roasted pumpkin seeds and some fresh rolls on the side.

We found the recipe on Exclusively Food.

A real wedding budget


I have read a LOT of wedding blogs the past year, and one of the things I find really interesting to read about is the facts of wedding planning, including budgeting. So today I am writing about our budget, and maybe there are a few future brides/grooms that can benefit from it.

Planned budget: 50 000 kr
This number was very random, basically the highest amount I thought we could spend... I quickly realized it would be very difficult to keep to it. Earlier, I wrote about how to make a wedding budget, which might be helpful early in the process.

Actual budget: 77 500 kr
Was it really the "budget wedding" I wanted it to be? Comparatively, the average for weddings in Norway is around 100 000 kr, so maybe not. Being a part of a non-profit organization for 8 years has had a big impact on my view of finances, and it turns out that paying a professional for their service cost a lot more than I thought. PS. Our honeymoon and rings are excluded from the budget.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Fall Wish List

It is almost October, and definitely fall in my neck of the woods. Since my birthday is coming up in a few weeks I have already been asked if there is anything I want. You would think there is nothing left on my wish list after getting married, but rearranging the house and getting a new job has revealed a few little needs/wants for both me and the home. Here are a few pretty things I love right now.


- This amazing nightstand by Augustav would be perfect. But since it is sold out...


- A more realistic wish: 4 Enudden shelves from IKEA to fit our small bedroom

- Yoga Blocks and a Yoga strap would be very helpful

- A pair of shoes that are comfortable for walking


- A classic chambray/denim shirt

- Table settings in our fine china Anmut Platinum

- Sturdier dining room chairs. But I have no idea which ones...


- And pretty flowers. Always. Picture by Jose Villa.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Hiking Årdalsåsen


Yesterday was a perfect fall day. The weather is still warm, so the ground was pretty dry, and the forest was golden and beautiful. My hiking partner and I decided to climb one of the 10 peaks (hah!) in the area, and chose Årdalsåsen in Porsgrunn because of the gapahuk/wooden tipi at the top.


This trip starts under the train tracks by Telemarksporten and continues to lead you into the forest. 


It was pretty with all the dry leaves on the ground, and lots of mushrooms I didnt dare to touch. 



We made it to the top, a whooping 258 meters above sea level, but the view is still great. This is a easy hike, with only a few steeper areas, so it is perfect for kids to join. 


Also, it was windy there!


We headed for shelter, lit a fire and had some coffee while we waited to cook our hotdogs. There is plenty of firewood inside the gapahuk, so there is no need to bring your own. 



This was only my fifth hike this season, so I have no ambition of completing the goal of 10. Of course, the goal is really to be outside in nature, so I hope I can enjoy at least a few more this fall. 

More info on the trip on Titoppern.no

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What I Wore: Wedding Edition


Finally I can share details of the dress that I worked on for so long! My wedding dress was a cap sleeve, ivory lace, round neck, sheath gown with a sash - to use all the wedding terminology... The store didn´t have my size, so it had to be taken in a little, which I decided to do myself. This was a lot harder than I had thought, mainly because I wanted it to be impeccable. In the end I settled for about 99% satisfaction, and with only a week left before the wedding there wasn´t really anything else to do about it. I loved wearing the dress, it was light and airy and comfortable, not heavy and itchy like many of the other wedding gowns I tried on.


Another challenge was that the fabric was very thin, so I had to add extra lining. I found the perfect silk slip to go underneath, and when everything else was done, I basted it to the dress and plan to remove it so I can reuse it for something else later. I also changed the back of the dress to make a V-neck instead of a round collar, added lace to make tiny cap sleeves, and a ribbon sash around the waist. More on the dress process here. 



I loved my vintage accessories. Early on I knew I wanted to wear the bracelet my grandma gave me. I also wanted to have something borrowed, and was lucky I got to choose between several vintage pairs of earrings from Mike's family. I settled for a pair of white rhinestone clip-ons from the 1950s, but there were some other really pretty ones too.


I was very happy I had a cardigan. Despite the sunny weather, Ålesund was quite windy on June 28th, and because of the sun we had to resort to pictures in the shade. I had first scoured Etsy for hours to find the perfect, fun and vintage cardigan. I found it, ordered it... but it never arrived! So a week before the wedding I went to the closest mall, found a very plain peach cardigan and settled with that decision. In addition, for parts of the photo shoot I was actually wearing long-johns! You can't see it, but it's there.


Matching shoes and nail polish with my maid of honor was the closest I got to a cohesive bridal party look. (Though I did make sure the best man had a neutral colored tie.) But since we were all wearing flowers I think that settled the matter if anyone was in doubt. 


I wore the veil for the ceremony and some pictures, but decided to leave it off for the rest of the day. To be honest, a veil is kind of in the way, especially if there is any wind or lots of hugging involved. The cap and lace matched my ivory gown, but the tulle itself was a very different shade of white. It is more noticeable in the pictures than I thought it would be, but that´s not a big deal.

My wedding garb was really a DIY and budget effort. In total, the outfit cost me around 4000 kr, and a little more than half of that was for the dress and everything I needed for alterations. An added bonus is that with some minor updates, everything but the veil can be used again. Or is there any other occasion than your own wedding that calls for a juliet cap veil?? It would be sweet to use it again.

Dress: A Dolce & Gabbana knock-off from a small dress shop in Tallinn, Estonia
Slip: Else Maries Undertøyssalong, Skien
Veil: Vintage, via Adorned in Grace
Cardigan: Cubus
Red sandals: Esprit
White pumps: Vintage (already owned)
Bracelet: Inherited from my grandma
Earrings: Something borrowed - they were Mike's great-grandmothers
Handkerchief: Inherited. Also Mike's great-grandmothers
Hair and makeup: Anniken at Fri Frisør
Flowers: Blomsterstua Ålesund

Photos: Irene Lovund

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Our traditional and personal wedding ceremony

I could never picture getting married anywhere but in a church. I had only been in Skodje church once, for one of my cousins confirmations. But when we decided to have our reception at Nedreskodje Gard, the choice was easy. The church is a 10 minute stroll away from the barn, it is quite small, and it looks really pretty too.

Here is a peak into our wedding ceremony, complete with soundtrack:



This sounds cheesy, but the moment the church doors opened and I started walking towards Mike must be the most emotional I have ever experienced. Seeing him for a couple of hours for photos earlier in the day didn´t take anything away from making it special. I was smiling and crying, and just so incredibly happy! I was not very nervous, but unusually emotional during the whole service - and grateful to have a handkerchief at hand.

Our processional was "Bruremarsj" by Jan Magne Førde. I have always loved this song, and the fact that the composer is from my hometown makes it even better. My dear friend Erika joined the organ player for this song, as well as for the hymns we sang.


We had readings by a couple of our sisters from Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 and Colossians 3:12-19, and a paragraph on marriage and being in love from "Mere Christianity" by C.S Lewis. All our parents were also involved in a prayer of blessing.


We had been wearing our rings during the whole engagement and had planned to take them off before the ceremony and give them to my dad who was our officiant. As I sit there in church I see Mike carefully take his ring off and hand it to his best man, and I realize I am still wearing mine too! Just a few minutes later it was time to say our "Yes", and the next thing up was the ring ceremony, so we remembered just in time. It all happened very fast, and suddenly we were married!



During the speech we held hands and smiled. It was slightly surreal to think that we were married for real,  that this was not another rehearsal. I must admit I can not remember much of what was said, though I thought it was great in the moment. Luckily it is all recorded on video (a last minute decision), and if we are lucky I might be able to get a hold of the manuscript too. 

The big surprise of the day came at the end of our ceremony. My dad walked out from behind the altar, my cousin Sondre started to play the guitar, and suddenly my dad burst into song! He had seen an untraditional blessing on youtube and decided he wanted to sing it for us. Everyone was so surprised, and there was a LOT of laughter.


Finally, we walked down the aisle as man and wife, while "Wedding Day at Troldhaugen" by Edvard Grieg was played. We hugged everyone, kissed on the stairs and since the skies were bright blue we walked to our reception and into marriage serenaded by a pretty violinist.



All pictures by the talented Irene Lovund Photography

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