Some normal, some bizarre marvelings of a little Icelandic girl

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Nostalgia Path: What I got for Christmas + a healthy snack recipe!

Apparently it's going to be a quiet evening at my apartment tonight. . . . Everybody - and I mean everybody, even the cats - have fallen asleep. . . . before 7 PM. I guess not everyone has such endless energy such as myself, hehe.

It's time for another walk down memory lane and I found it appropriate giving the Christmas month, that I should reminisce about the presents that I got for Christmas when I was a child. It's so easy to find Christmas presents for kids, all they want are toys, toys, TOYS! If you give them something that is NOT a toy, be prepared for some major hissy fits and loud nagging (even crying!). Although it might be easy, it's also pretty scary too!

1. Playmobil
When I was a kid, regardless of age, I LOVED playing with Playmobil or "Playmó" like we used to call it. However, I preferred the ones which had a lot of small crap included. You know, the little baby playmobil, the animals, the miniture toys. And I also liked playing with the kid figures more than the adult ones. I think it was probably because I wanted those kid figures to have more adventures than the adult ones XD
Oh, if a playmobil package came with a little yellow teddy bear, I would be BEAMING WITH HAPPINESS!! That little guy was my angel, my gem, my treasure! I used to hold it in my right hand ALL THE FUCKING TIME!! My mom told me that I had started to write and draw with my left hand because I was always holding on to that yellow teddy bear. Now I wonder where I left him. . . .

2. Lego Belville

I have to admit, I wasn't that much into the original Legos when I was a kid. I mean, sure, I loved playing with the types for babies (building stuff was AWESOME!!) but when I got Belville for Christmas one time, I knew there would be no turning back. I loved playing with them but not as much as, say, organizing them neatly? Yeah, I was a neat-freak back in the days (I'm still a bit of neat-freak but not as hardcore as I used to be!) Yo
u see, nothing made me more giddy with excitement than when I had organized the figures in either normal or weird positions and they just had to stay like that until I wanted to play with them again.

3. Dennis the Menace the movie

I got the movie on VHS from Santa Claus (Kertasníkir in the Icelandic tradition) and I was so excited that I watched it immediately. And I repeatedly watched it until Dennis' techniques, habits, the clothes he wore were engraved into my mind. For it was this movie that turned me into a slight prankster when I was a kid. I even got my dad to make me a slingshot out of PIPES! And it didn't hurt that my maternal grandpa looks A LOT like Walter Matthau did in that movie (minus the moustache).

4. The pink Barbie Car. . .

. . . . . . Yes, I got that car from my aunt. Which was funny because I didn't own any Barbies! I think she assumed that I was really girly like her own daughter (who owned sooooo many Barbie dolls!). If I ever got caught playing with a Barbie - which just happened when I visited my niece - the only thing I would do is just change their clothes. That was it. It's not like they could move their limbs easily! And they couldn't even stand without falling down (seriously, what is up with that?! Even with those heels on their tippy-toe feet, they STILL wouldn't stand upright!). So yeah, I didn't play with that car much, he just collected dust on top of my closet for a long time.

I would list more but those are things that I remember the strongest when it comes to toys that I got. I wish I could ask for some cool toys for this Christmas without getting weird looks. But hey, I guess I have grown up a little up since the things that I want this year are stuff like books, art supplies, clothes and board games. I guess you can call board games toys for adults :P

Alrighty, time for a recipe! This is a pretty healthy snack, which is good since we Icelanders are nr.2 obese people in the world (it doesn't make any sense, we have the most beautiful women AND the most fat people?!). Anyways, like I said, it's healthy and you don't need an oven for it! All you need is a food processor or a blender. You can view the original recipe in English HERE while I will post the recipe in Icelandic.

Hafra-rúsínur kúlur

1/2 bolli af rúsínum (80gr.)
6 matskeiðar af haframjöli (30gr.)
1/2 bolli af valhnetum (40gr.)
1/8 teskeið + 1/16 tsk af salti
1/4 teskeið af vanilludropum

Persónulega mæli ég með að setja 2-3 tsk af agave-sýrópi svo það verði nógu klístrugt til að móta.

Malið haframjölið í matvinnsluvélinni þangað til að það verður mjög fínt, í c.a. 30 sek.
Bætið síðan hinum hráefnunum og blandið mjög vel.
Mótið í litla bolta eða í stöng. Það er mjög gott að frysta þetta. En þetta helst inn í ísskáp í allt að 2 vikur.

Þið getið bætt hverju sem er í kúlurnar, ég hef sjálf sett hveitikím og þurrkuð goji-ber ásamt 1 tsk af kanil og þetta bragðast æðislega!

Einfalt, hollt & gott ;)

Question of the day:

~Do you remember what you got for Christmas when you were a kid?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Meaningful and homemade gifts for Christmas

Well, since December has rolled in, more and more people are racing to the malls in order to buy Christmas presents for their loved ones.

I can see nothing wrong with that, except people nowadays tend to buy things that are new and exciting. . . . things that people probably won't use much when the craze has faded away.

I heard the other day that the Christmas present of the year in Iceland was an Ipad. I really don't get why though. It's SUPER expensive - especially here in Iceland and it doesn't seem to be very foolproof or should I say "clumsy-proof". That's just my opinion, I'm sure a lot of people will defend this product, saying it's great and everything but is that really what people want or even NEED?

For me, when it comes to gifts, be it Christmas gifts or birthday gifts, I always tend to think it through for a long time. For me, gifts have to come from the heart. It has to show that you really care about the person and that you put a lot of careful thinking and time on it.

That's why I love making some gifts from scratch. There are lots of ideas out there that you can do.

For example, 2 years ago I made a photo album for my mom to give to her on Christmas Eve. I used old photos of her when she was a teenager, old family photos, photos of her parents, siblings and close friends and I glued them on an empty scrapbook and wrote sweet sentences next to the photos. Needless to say, my mom loved it (she even started to cry, she was so happy).

I also drew a picture for my paternal grandparents and put it in a cool frame. My grandfather has always liked my drawings, so I figured giving one to them would be a great Christmas present.

You don't really have to be artistic to make these kind of presents, all it counts is that you put some love and time into it and people will appreciate the effort afterwards.

Here are some ideas for slightly home-made and meaningful Christmas presents:

1. Family photo in a pretty frame
If you have grandparents and they don't have a recent photo of your family, it's a great present to give. It doesn't have to be done by a professional photographer (well, if you can find one that's not incredibly expensive, then I think you should give it a go!). You can use an old-fashioned camera yourself, take the photo, develop it at a store (or print it at your own home) and put it in a nice frame.
A nice idea to it would to let your family hold some sweet notes in front of them as a message to the one you're giving it to. For example "We love you Granma & Grandpa" or "Thank you for always being there for us" or some other mushy stuff, because let's face it: Christmas is all about being mushy!

2. The gift of experience
Okay, so this is not really "home-made" but I think giving gifts that will give you experience is a great present! It can be anything. If your friend has expressed desire to learn how to make Indian food, then you can give her Indian cooking lessons! For the adventurous types, giving things like scuba-diving (I don't really know if that's possible to do in Iceland though . . . ), Sky diving (NOW THAT'S WHAT I WANT FOR MY 25TH BIRTHDAY!!!), rockclimbing lessons, the list is endless!

3. a homemade recipe book
If someone you know really loves to cook, I think it would be great if you would give that person your very own recipe book. I mean, sure recipe books from celebrities are fun to have too but they can be expensive and in my opinion, gathering your own or your family's famous recipes are much more fun and creative. Then you can spend time decorating it on your own. Just don't go overboard with the glitter!

4. Photo calendar
This is something that my brothers, my older brother's girlfriend, my husband and I are going to give to my maternal grandparents. We're going to collect photos of everyone they know & love, and match it together with their respective birthday months. That way, they will always know all of our birthdays (not that grandparents usually ALWAYS remember them anyways).

5. Something artistic
If you happen to be artistic, then I suggest drawing a memory drawing. It doesn't have to be super detailed, a simple black&white drawing of a special memory with the one you intend to give it to, is a great idea. In order to get ideas, I think searching around old photoalbums might be a good idea.

6. homemade clothes
I know a lot of girls that just love to knit. Knitting a woolen sweater with a cool pattern (not necessarily the old-fashioned Icelandic pattern because in my opinion, it has become pretty overrated) or a scarf or mittens are great gifts. Just make sure that the person you're giving it to, prefers the good old itchy wool or the more softer one.

7. Connect your gift with the person's hobby
Okay, again this is probably not "home-made" but this is one of the reasons I put careful thinking into my gifts. I try to connect it with that person's hobby. For example, my best friend is artistic and is really good at it, so I always encourage her to keep up the good work by giving her art supplies as presents. My husband is a zombie-fanatic (and is slowly turning me into one), so I gave him the Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks along with a lightsaber, telling him that he should prepare at once for Zombie Apocalypse. I think I will give him a specialized Zombie Survival Kit for his next birthday. The only tricky thing is where can I get a machete. . . ?

8. Memory jar

I just read about this one and I instantly fell in love with it! It's similar to the photo album that I made for my mom. It won't cost you much, all you need is a big empty jar and memories that you have gathered from friends and family. You write on a piece of paper, fold it together and put it inside the jar. Then you can spend some time decorating the jar. It would be nice if you could gather 365 memories from people, so that the person who gets it can pick up one piece of paper and read what people wrote about him every day for a year.

That's all I can think of for now. Until next time,

Catch ya laters!

Question of the day:

~Have you ever made a home-made gift before? Share with us your ideas!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Snowy day calls for laziness and a muffin recipe!

Yep, I'm definitely back in my home country. . . .It has been snowing non-stop today (how convenient since today is December 1st).

Yeah I know it's a shitty picture taken with a shitty camera. I apologize for not owning a really expensive one (I might borrow my dad's camera once my finals are over) to take all those glorious photos of food or environment that I have been seeing on various blogs out there. . . . .

Anyway, for a person who doesn't particularly like the snow and all its wonders (I hate being cold! Really, sometimes I wonder if I had been adopted from some heat-loving country like Spain or something!), I didn't really shout profanities and verbal abuse at the snow once I noticed it snowing today. It just reminded me that I really was home.

A year ago I was in Japan for an exchange program and I was probably the only person at the university that I was attending, that jumped with joy when I was told that it rarely snowed in Tokyo. Of course I got weird and shocked looks, with people saying "but it's so beautiful and fluffy and stuff!". Seriously?


When you come from a country that practically snows for 4 months almost non-stop, you embrace the idea of no snow! No really, my husband and I were both so relieved that we never had to go out dead early in the morning and have to scrape the snow off the car windows.Nor did we have to get particularly worried that our shoes and sock might get drenched.

Okay so we did get that one day in the Tokyo area where it snowed a lot and that was the time when I went partying with my friends, so dressing according to the weather did not apply with me at that time. SO of course I cursed BLOODY FUCKING MURDER as I had to walk in ankle-deep wet snow, praying that I would NOT be clumsy enough to trip and get myself entirely drenched.

So there you have it, I'm not a fan of snow, its coldness and whatever that comes along with it. But like I said, it DOES have a special meaning to it as it reminds me of home. Just sitting on your couch, wearing semi-woolen sweater that your mom bought in H&M in London and relax the whole day.

That's exactly what I did today. I could have been productive (well, I was a little bit productive = washed our clothes, took them out of the dryer, folded them and swept the floor) and I could have gone to the gym for my 1-hour sweat-induced workout but I decided that today was going to be a day where I did nothing at all. And you know what, it felt pretty good. You need at least one day where you can just let go , relax and do nothing (I call browsing various sites on the internet as "nothing" here). Some people do that on weekends but I like being active on weekends where I go to the gym, bake goodies and try to find my motivation to draw.

I find it more important to do so in December where everyone is getting stressed for the holidays. So despite getting drowned in preparing for finals, projects, cleaning the whole house and other stress-related stuff, I suggest that you take one day to just let go. It's worth it, I tell you.

I'm both looking forward to the weekend and dreading it a little. The last day in my pole fitness class is on Saturday and I'm sad that it's ending. But at least I told the trainer that I would come back after New Years. The second thing dreading me concerning the weekend, is that I have to spend it reading a whole book that might have valuable information for my B.A. graduate thesis. My topic is interesting. The book is not. Why the hell do scholars have to write in such a boring manner??
So the only thing cheering me up for the weekend is that I'm going to bake my favorite muffin recipe. I've done it twice now and the husband and I really like it. You can view the recipe HERE in English (I wish it was my creation, but sadly it's not). It's from Janetha's blog which is one of my favorite blogs to read.

Since it's in English, I'm going to go ahead and translate it in Icelandic so that my Icelandic readers can understand and so that my foreign friends can laugh at how stupid it looks in Icelandic.

Banana Muffins

Einn bolli af hveiti
Einn bolli af heilhveiti
Ein matskeið af lyftidufti
1/2 teskeið af salti
1/4 teskeið af kanil (þar sem ég elska kanil, þá set ég vanalega 1-2 teskeiðar)
1/2 bolli af hrásykri
1/2 bolli af púðursykri
1/3 bolli af repjuolíu (canola oil)
4 stappaðir bananar (skiptir engu máli hvort þeir séu ofþroskaðir eða ekki)
1 teskeið vanilla (ég notaði vanilludropa)
1/4 bolli af vatni
Fylling af þínu vali (ég hef notað súkkulaðibita og rúsinur)
Má bæta við hnetum


1. Blandið saman hveiti, lyftidufti, salti og kanil saman í skál og setjið til hliðar.
2. Blandið saman sykur, bönunum, olíu, vatni og vanilludropum í skál þangað til að blandan verði mjúk (ég notaði KitchenAid hrærivél en þið getið hrært þetta með því að nota gömlu góðu hendurnar)
3. Hellið þurrefnunum varlega saman við blautu blönduna og hrærið vel.
4. Hrærið fyllinguna saman við
5. Setjið deigið í muffin form og hafið það þannig að deigið nái að miðju í forminu
6. Látið múffurnar bakast við 175-180 gráður Celsius í ofni í 25 mínútur eða þangað til brúnirnar verði gullnar á lit.

Gott er að stinga tannstöngli í miðju múffuna til að tjékka hvort að þær séu ekki bakaðar í gegn.

Kælið, berið fram og njótið :)

Until next time

Catch ya laters!

Question of the day:

~If it snows in your country, do you feel lazy or active when it snows?