Monday, December 14

3rd Sunday and St. Lucia

The celebrations roll in like pearls on a string. Sancta Lucia is a normal celebration in Norway, due to our close neighbor Sweden. It is tradition to gather early in the morning, meaning before it gets light at 9.30..., and the oldest children walk through the house bearing lights and a crown, in white frocks and red sashes.

Here they are hanging ready for them to find them in the morning.

I had invited my good friend and her family. The children were a little young, but the tradition and memory for next year is hereby planted, and they were all adorable. Jasmin actually had learnt the song during the course of the last weeks, and Noa and Lea tuned in on the last words in the verse.

Early, the kids and I baked Lussekatter, Lucia buns, in traditional spiral forms, with raisins and saffron.

We lit the third candle and recited our third verse.

The third light of Advent is the light of the beasts.
Light of hope that shines in the greatest and the least.

I had needle felted a little sheep to be put in the great stall Anders had made for the table. My first felted creature at the age of 29. It turned out great though the first thing Lea said was: look- a pig! It had all been a little distressing if Anders had not moved in, felted the snout down and behold- a sheep. The first picture a pig, the next two- a sheep. And the day was perfect again.

Now I will try a donkey. Wish me luck.

Saturday, December 12

Conflict Resolution

I work and study conflict resolution and peace keeping methods. I imerse myself in methods of negotiation and dialogue.
I feel somehow connected to the Buddhistic way and the sense of every daily event a chance for practice.
But still I can surprise my self with irritation. Up close.
In my search for advice, I went to Johan Galtungs book on the topic, which I highly recommend, but in the end I found the teachings of the Buddha had a beautiful verse which serves inspirational and remindful, of the lovely fellow human beings we are surrounded by.

The Skilled Person

Regard the person who sees your faults
as a revealer of treasures.
Associate with that skilled person
as one who is wise, who speaks reprovingly.
Keeping company with such a person,
things get better, not worse.

He should exhort, instruct,
and restrain you from poor behavior.
To the good he is endearing,
to the bad he is unpleasant.

He would not associate with harmful friends.
He would not associate with the lowest of people.
So, you should associate with encouraging friends;
you should associate with the best of people.

He who imbibes the teaching
rests happily, with a clear mind.
The skilled person delights always
in the way revealed by the noble ones.

Irrigators guide the water.
Fletchers shape the arrow shaft.
Carpenters shape wood.
The skilled tame themselves.

As a rock of single solid mass
cannot be moved by the wind,
so are the skilled unshaken
by praise and blame.

As a deep pond, clear, calm,
so do the skilled become serene,
having heard the teachings.

Good people stand apart everywhere.
The good do not initiate conversation
out of desire for enjoyment.
Touched now by pleasure, now by pain,
the skilled do not expose their highs and lows.

Neither for your own nor for anothers sake
should you wish for a son, wealth, or empire.
You should not wish for your own success
if acquired by improper means.
You should be virtuous, wise and honorable.

Few are those among the people
who cross to the other shore.
The rest of humanity just runs about
on the bank right here before us.

But those people who follow the way
when the teaching is well proclaimed
will go to the other shore.
The realm of death is so hard to traverse.

Having left the dark way,
the skilled person should cultivate the bright.
Coming from his home to no home,
in seclusion, where enjoyment is hard to find,
there he should hope for delight.
Having forsaken all desires, possessing nothing,
the skilled person should cleanse himself
of the afflictions of his mind.

Those whose minds are well trained
in the factors of full awakening
who delight, without clinging,
in the renunciation of grasping-
such bright ones, impulses destroyed,
are, in this very world, unbound.

-The Dhammapada (Teachings of the Buddha)

Wednesday, December 9

Baking Day 3

Major Baking Day 3, with my friend Ingunn today. We planned "Pepperkaker" ( ginger bread cookies- the traditional Norwegian Christmas/ Advent to-do) with the kids, and then "Berlinerkranser" Berlin wreaths, and "Chocolate/ coconut cookies". Worked while the twins on both sides slept, drinking Cortados and rolling like crazy.

Recipe as follows. This is an old traditional cookie, from my mom's mom.

Berlin Wreaths:
2 bolied eggs
2 egg yolks
125g suger
300g flour
250g butter (the real thing)
eggwhites for brushing
Suger pearls and/or finely chopped almonds for topping

Norwegian recipe:

2 kokte eggeplommer
2 rå eggeplommer
125 gr. sukker
300 gr. hvetemel
250 gr. smør
Eggehviter til pensling

I stekeovnen: 175 grader i 10 minutter

Kok eggene i 8 minutter. Gni ut de kokte eggeplommene, bland inn de rå. Visp egg og sukker godt. Tilsett hvetemel og mykt smør vekselvis. (NB! Smøret må ikke smeltes.) Avkjøl deigen. Trill tynne pølser og form små kranser. Pensle med eggehvite og dypp i perlesukker. For å få riktig fin fasong på kransene, kan en avkjøle dem godt før en pensler og dypper. Deigen er ganske myk, så kjøkkenet må ikke være for varmt under baksten.

Well, two sorts down, 5 to go...


We love hot air balloons, ordered from China through e-bay.
And we send up every chance we get.
Every week.

Monday, December 7

Julie and Julia

We recieved an amazing book for our wedding from my familiy in 2002. "The Art of French Cooking", written for the American Kitchen by three woman, including the great Julia Child. I have not used it as much as I would have liked to, apart from baking whole chickens, quiches and of course vanilla sauce. But Anders, being the chef he is, loved it. After the fire, it is the only thing he really misses, and cannot find. He wants in Norwegian, like we had before, but it seems like it has gone out of print or something. If anyone has any advice, please let us now.
We saw the movie "Julie and Julia" last night. Amazing film. I recommend it Not so often one feels so good and are so hungry after a movie! And Meryl Streep is fabulous.

Sunday, December 6

St.Nick and Early morning Light

Sunrise and the morning moon.

The second light of Advent
is the light of the Plants.
Plants that reach up to the sun,
and in the breezes dance.

The Fartøyvernsenterets annual Christmas Workshop was Sunday, so Anders left early to work preparing little boats for the Litlle Boat Workshop post. We all went in the afternoon. It's a great event, gingbread cookie making, wax candle rolling, blacksmith work, music and song in the Mongolian tent, and of course little boats.

Lea sanding her own boat on the bench

Anders teaching Noa how to drill.

Dear old man St.Nikolas Dear
Come to my house this year.
Please put something in my shoe,
for I've been good the whole year through!

The morning began with throwing open the front door to find three little boots filled with a gift, and a basket of honey stars, oranges and nuts. And lo and behold!, St. Nickolas' horse had eaten ALL the hay! We have an Advent Calender with little windows one opens, from my mom. Amazingly enough, because it is German I guess, todays picture was St.Nick. We waited until 9.30, when it got light, to go on a little picnic up to where the creek is, and eat our honeycakes, and clementines. (Which I have been thinking were mandarines all these years, but are apparently not.)

What was left of our St. Nikolas picnic.

Jasmin's little Cecilia taking a rest in the grass.

While the twins slept, we prepared our own St.Nick basket to leave at Luca's front door.

The honey cakes and oatmeal/ raison cookies were arranged and the card made. Unfortunately our plan to leave it at the door and hide backfired. Both his mother and him did not see it. So after giggling with all the three kids, crouching behind the house in the dark and howling wind, we decided to knock again and invite ourselves in for tea.

Wednesday, December 2

Advent Sunday

The first light of Advent is the light of the stones.
Lights you find in seashells, crystals and bones.

Advent is upon us. And it is wonderful. I am really enjoying sharing the rituals and stories and meanings with Jasmin this year. Four years old is a pretty smart cookie. And I feel, despite being not Christian at all, that I can incorporate the meanings of rituals and the magic into our lives, and enrich it. It all feels attuned to the life style we lead already, the importance of rhythm and stability, breathing in- breathing out. And creating that mood, that mood of happiness.

We baked Danish "Kleiner", made Rice-Cream and cherry Berries, we invited our good friends Ingunn and Family to walk the Advent Spiral outside with lanterns in apples. It was a good day.
We are reading "Oles Skitur" often. And the Uncle Frost has been here everyynight now, leaving a thin layer of whiteness.

The days continue along the norm. Anders cut his leg quite bad at work this Monday, which just so happened to be his birthday. 6 stitches and a few days at home has been fabulous for us. He has been putting together christmas cards to send out. Beautiful.

"Before enlightenment- chop wood, carry water.
After enlightenment- chop wood, carry water."