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Crazy blog weekend with TorAa

posted on 10th December 2006 under Habits

For a while now, a very good friend of mine TorAa and I have talked about getting together with our wives and doing something fun the four of us. We finally made it this weekend in our vacation home in Mariestad, Sweden. It’s a long time since I’ve had such an enjoyable, relaxing, lively and fun weekend. It’s seldom you find a more perfect match of people hitting it off right from the beginning. The whole weekend was like a symphony of happiness. To make it short; our definition of the good life is very much the same and that happened to be the same for our wives too. So I would say it was a perfect match.

Tor I and met quite a few years ago in The Norwegian Computer Society as we share an interest in strategic use of information technology among other things. The last year, Tor has become more and more interested in blogging and started his own blog the 31st of August. So now we are blog friends too:-) Let me then give you a peek into our hilarious Friday evening:

The Bloggers – Taken with my Nokia mobile phone.

As we have a wireless network in our apartment, there were at the most three computers connected. This picture is from late in the evening where we had coffee avec and a cigar each when surfing around, checking other friends (a lot of them mutual) blogs, commenting and enjoying cyber space together. We even migrated TorAa Mirror into beta blogger so he is ahead of me now:-)

With the introduction of this post, you might ask if that was the only thing happening this weekend. It was not! When was arrived, we had a lovely meal of Rakfisk (fermented fish) and I will tell you all about it in the next post. Saturday we had the most fun time shopping with the wives in charming Mariestad (I’ll tell you all about it in a couple of days!) and in the evening we had another quality time including a trivia contest until almost morning.

Blogging connecting people:
This weekend was to Tor and me a blogger’s gathering too and to be honest, I could tell our wives felt a bit neglected sometimes. They where very patient though and we tried to make it up to them Saturday night – and succeeded:-). Anyway I think it’s wonderful to meet other bloggers and have posted about it before, like when I met Charles in Bergen and Mark in Oslo. When surfing around on Friday evening, Tor found a post from a mutual blog friend Ghee in Japan who was suppose to meet Yorokobee in Tokyo. Blogging sure is connecting people!

See you next time when I will serve you Rakfisk – a historical culinary sensation from Norway!

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The Christmas Fair in December

posted on 6th December 2006 under Culture, Habits, History, Tradition

Inspired of all the visitors and interesting comments on my last post when I declared Advent time begun, I’ve decided to give you a bit more from our first Sunday of Advent adventure. The Christmas Fair at Norsk Folkemuseum (the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History) is Oslo’s largest pre-Christmas event. At the fair you can experience: The Open-Air Museum with historical houses decorated for Christmas according to the traditions of the buildings’ early inhabitants. Christmas market gives you 120 old fashioned stands selling handmade products, arts and crafts, Christmas ornaments, speciality foods and other holiday treats. You’ll have entertaining family programs featuring concerts, folk dancing, children’s choir, Santa’s Workshop and more. There is also Church service in the 12th century Stave Church from Gol in Hallingdal.

To get into the right mood, we started with the concert given by the famous Norwegian choir; Boys of Silver (Sølvguttene). They got their name primarily because of the shiny, silvery uniforms that were acquired in the beginning (for lack of other, more subtle materials). Later the name has been attributed to the special sound and clarity of boy’s voices, voices of silver. The choir has been an extremely popular institution in Norway, with its many performances on radio and television, in addition to concerts all over the land. The choir has toured internationally, and has frequently visited other Scandinavian and central European countries. Sølvguttene has visited USA and the former Soviet Union on several occasions. Last Sunday they gave my wife and me a wonderful Advent introduction as they song the traditional Christmas songs. All in Norwegian, but some are quite international like: ‘Silent Night’, ‘Jingle bell’ and ‘A child is born in Bethlehem’.

All pics taken with my Nokia mobile phone – please click to enlarge!

Another attraction for children (well, adults like it too:-) is the horse and carriage. I so much remember when I was there as a child how I loved to ride that and also when my own children loved to do it. This day I was laughing to myself as I debated: ‘Am I to old for this?’ I didn’t do it though, there was so much else to see and experience LOL

I mentioned the old buildings, so maybe I should give you an example. The one above is probably from the 17th century, with its very special construction and the grass on the roof. There was even a man playing an accordion to give us the right atmosphere. The weather for the time being is unusually mild with a lot of rain. Folkemuset gives what’s needed of course, as we normally have temperature below freezing and some snow this time of the year. See how well the children are dressed for outdoor activities and also how they are drawn to the fire:-) Actually, if there is something missing in Advent this year, its that we don’t have any snow:-(

I’ll end this story with some more examples of Norwegian hand craft and maybe the most Norwegian you can ever find: ‘Ostehøvel’ – the cheese slicer! It was invented and patented in 1925 by Thor Bjørklund, a carpenter from Lillehammer, Norway. Its mass production started in 1927. Cheese slicers are very common in the Nordic countries, the Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland. The success of the cheese slicer in these countries is due to the fact that cheese is eaten mainly on bread and that most traditional cheese varieties in these countries are hard enough to be sliced. It’s a must tool on every breakfast, lunch or almost any table in Norway. How else could we have our piece of bread with the brown or yellow cheese? I actually hired one of Bjørklund’s grandchild on a job once, and I did not have to dig into her references that much as I know she came from a good family:-)

Please scroll down to the next post if you haven’t read all about the quality time I had with my wife at the first Sunday of Advent. I do hope by this I’ve set you into the right mood for the wonderful season to come!

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Advent time in Norway

posted on 3rd December 2006 under Culture, History, Tradition

It’s about time to get back to the main theme of my Terella; sharing about Norwegian culture and traditions. Nothing to me is more traditional, a time filled with expectation and anticipation, than advent time. Not that I consider myself especially Christian, but when the first Sunday of Advent appears, a lot of lovely memories are running through my head. Advent of course refers to the four weeks before Christmas – the final count down:-)

To get into the right mood, I had another quality time today with my wife At ‘Norsk Folkemuseum’ – the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History – where you can experience and learn about traditional Norwegian culture and history. Walk with me down the memory lane while I show you some of the pics we took (mostly with a Nikon CoolPix cam. as it’s quite dark in Norway at this time of the year you know).

Let me start with a Christmas house entrance decorated with garland and of course ‘Julenek’: A symbol of Christmas in Norway. It is a stalk of oats tied to a pole. Traditionally, it was good luck if birds ate from the juleneks. It symbolized hope for good farming. Today, people throughout Norway hang juleneks as a general symbol of hope.

Norsk Folkemuseum gives excellent insight in how people lived hundreds of years ago. So let me take you into a Christmas decorated house from the 1890s. In the living room, the table is sets with the family’s best china. There are seven children in the house, and several of them sleep on the floor. The only way to have room for the Christmas tree is to hang it from the ceiling. The Christmas decorations are home made of course, some from glossy paper and some from newspaper. I was fortunate enough to live in a bigger house and had only one sister so we had the tree on the floor. I do remember though, that most of the Christmas decorations were home made. I have some of them on our Christmas tree still, but I have to get back to that as the tree mustn’t be decorated until the day before Christmas Eve you know!

Another interesting little thing caught my eye when we went through all this old building, a cradle hanging from the ceiling and with a child inside. This child is ‘reimet’ as you can see which means to wrap the child’s legs with a wool cloth and tie a ribbon around the outside. They did that for practical reasons up until the beginning of the 20th century. It was impossible for mom to keep an eye on the little one while preparing for Christmas with all the cooking, baking and cleaning. They also thought the babies would get stronger and straight legs by doing that. I’m glad they didn’t believe that anymore when I was a child:-). My grandfather was ‘reimet’ though and he lived to 97 years of age. So it obviously wasn’t too bad anyway.

The Christmas marked at the museum is a collection of Norwegian hand craft and our food tradition. Let me give you some examples:

Christmas market at the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History
(Taken with my Nokia mobile phone)

The four Sundays of advent are often traditionally celebrated with four candles with one to be lit each Sunday. Each candle has a specific meaning associated with different aspects of the Advent story. The first one almost always symbolizes expectant hope sometimes associated with prophecy. I’ll end this post with another Norwegian hand craft example:

So today at dinner, our advent wreath was at the table with one candle lit. By this I declare Advent time begun and I hope I have infected you with some anticipation. There will be more of this in the next four weeks, so stay tuned as I’ll love to share with you!

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In the Name of Science – The Speed of Meme

posted on 30th November 2006 under Habits

Today I came across an interesting post. It’s a grad student Scott Eric Kaufmann, at his blog Acephalous where he is making a test of how fast a meme travel through our blogssphere. As an Adjunct (part time) Lecturer I cannot resist giving him a hand. Pleas go over to his post, link it to your blog to participate and make blog history! When you’re done, ping Technorati!

While I’m at it: My partner in Lynn’s Three Pin Shuffle is KnitOwl from TN, US! How very exciting! I’ve sent my pins to her today. Be nice and go visit her blog too:-)

Update Dec. 1st:
The one and only; Barefoot Mistress at ‘Susies The Boss’ is celebrating her birthday today. Susie is a blog friend who challenged me by grilling me in July this year. Please visit her blog and wish her well!

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Brussels, Belgium – another culinary sensation

posted on 28th November 2006 under Food

Thanks for all your comments on my last post from Brussels and especially those of you who could add some more information about the places I was visiting. A good example of how educating blogging is and how much comments can be enriching. I promised to tell you about the dinner we had on Saturday and since the last one was so long, I will make it short and sweet this time.

We where staying at Jolly Hotel du Grand Sablon, so it was just a nice five minutes walk to the restaurant (actually quite close to Grand Place too):

The restaurant – visit their website!
All pics taken with my Nokia mobile phone – click to enlarge!

On their own webpage they say: Les Brigittines “Aux Marches de la Chapelle” offer you a pleasant Art-Nouveau setting with restful, dark-green walls and wood panelling. The original paintings, clever lighting, elegant Art-Nouveau objects and, in particular, the magnificent wooden bar ensure a nostalgic conviviality that in winter becomes even more agreeable when the fire is lit in the big open fireplace.

The menu:

Crémant d’Alsace – a lovely start and appropriately dry I think, just to wake up your appetite:-)

As a starter:
Chicken Soufflé, butter sauce with chives. We had Mãcon Villages – Joseph Drouhin and this white wine tasted perfect to the chicken.

The main dish:
Fillet of lamb with tarragon, market vegetables. We had Cõtes du Rhõne – Paralelle 45 Paul Jaboulet and this red whine tasted lovely to the lamb with a rich and very flavour taste.

For dessert:
Ice nougat, very sweet and tasty and I had coffee avec with it – a habit of mine:-)

This was of course tasty and very delicious. What made it an even more perfect evening to me was to share this with my friends within CEPIS – Council of European Professional Informatics Society. We were about 30 people all together and from all over Europe. At my table there were representatives from Finland, Poland, Slovakia and Hungry. We talked about the food and the wine of course, but also about culture and traditions of our countries as well as the history and the development of Europe. For sure our part of the world has opened up after the fall of the Iron Curtain. It was very interesting to listen to their experience and observations before and after the fall. So I learned a lot from my European friends that evening as the atmosphere around the table was very enlightened and like a consciences sensation. That is an important part of a culinary sensation too I think. Dinning is not all only about food – its about socialising too, you know:-)

This was the same society fellows I was with in Sofia, Bulgaria six month ago. Click here if you like to see a Bulgarian culinary sensation from that stay!

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