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norway

i’ve had a bit of wanderlust as of late and a desire for home. i haven’t lived in norway since 2011, but still consider it home to a large degree. certain images, songs and conversations remind me of a familiarity, which if i was honest with myself, probably isn’t all that familiar anymore. but it’s the beginning of the year and i’m planning for the coming months. i’m a planner by nature and am learning that despite my best planning and organization, really beautiful moments and people seem to enter when least expected. a trip to norway in the spring to visit friends who are having babies and getting hitched is in the works and simply planning for it feels familiar and calming.

i ran across this TEDtalk today and it is filled with all the goodness and oddities of norway. it is a reminder that planning is necessary, but taking time to enjoy the ride is just as important. kinda like home.

what a busy week! we’re in the middle of planning for a big event at work, still playing catch-up from travels and last night i hosted a thanksgiving dinner for a large group of friends. as the evening was winding down, we looked out the window to see falling snow. today i woke up to more snow and 17F – the perfect conditions for baking.

i haven’t baked in a while and after skyping with several friends from norway this week, i thought it only suitable to bake kanelsnurrer. i’ve never made this exact type of bread before, but i will definitely be baking it again! i used two different recipes and adapted as needed. (i didn’t leave myself enough time to let the dough raise as much as it needed. but it turned out great!)

-3KANELSNURRER

  • 150 gr butter
  • 5 dl milk
  • 1 pkg dry yeast
  • ½ t salt
  • 1 ts cardamom
  • 90 gr sugar
  • 1 egg
  • about 1 kilo flour
  • 50 gr melted butter
  • cinnamon sugar mixture
  • 1 egg, whisked

melt the butter and milk together on the stove until it is warm (about 100F). in a mixing bowl, add the yeast and add the melted butter/milk mixture. stir until the yeast is dissolved.

add the salt, cardamom, sugar and egg and stir. mix in the flour, a little at a time. using an electric mixer is easiest, but it is also possible to obtain the same result kneading with your hands. mix on medium speed for 5-10 minutes, adding more flour if needed. the dough should be elastic and not too sticky.

place plastic wrap over the bowl and set in a draft-free, warm area for up to an hour. (until doubled in size)

when it has doubled, divide the dough into two sections. flour the area where you will be rolling out the dough and roll it out into a thin rectangle. brush the melted butter over the entire dough and then sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture. fold the dough as you would a tortilla and cut it into strips, about 2 inches wide. (should make a total about 20) halve each of those strips and twist the strips, wrapping it into a circle. repeat with the other half of the dough. line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place each bun on the paper. allow the dough to raise for 30-40 minutes. brush the tops of the buns with the whisked egg. (for a helpful pictorial, check out brown paper belle)

bake in the middle of the oven at 400F for 10-13 minutes, depending on the size of each bun. enjoy warm (the perfect accompaniment to a snowy day!) or freeze for later use.

reykjavik – my new favorite european city. there is something so magical when the sea meets the mountains and that magic happens in reykjavik.

i spent 2 days there, compliments of icelandair, on my journey back to the states. it was a great end to a perfect little trip to norway. when i’m finished with jetlag (and unpacking), i’ll share a bit more about my time in both places.

most stores close by 6 or 8pm in europe, leaving only restaurants and bars open late. it was the same in reykjavik, but i found a bookstore/cafe that was open to 10pm each day. when everything else shut down and my feet were tired from walking, i headed to eymundsson bookstore (the oldest and largest bookseller in iceland), bought a pastry and coffee, loaded my arms with books and magazines and made myself at home until closing time. it was during one of those evenings that i stumbled across the music of lily & madeleine. lily and madeleine are sisters from indiana with beautiful voices and heart-breaking harmonies. they recently signed with asthmatic kitty records (home to sufjan stevens), so you know they are worth a listen.

time goes by much too fast here. so many good conversations, cups of coffee and amazing bread, not to mention the beautiful sights. i’m trying to cram it all in, meaning today i had 10 minutes to stop and catch my breath before i was on my way to the third visit of the day. i wouldn’t have it any other way.

here’s another little glimpse of norway: thomas dybdahl. i highly recommend checking out more of his music here.

i stepped off the plane and my shoulders sank. i was so worried everything would feel different and i in turn would feel out of place. but all was as it should be. a friend graciously offered to pick me up at the airport and as we stopped at a cafe in oslo, another friend happened to be riding past on his bike. we then made our way to skien where we met more friends at a cafe, and thus it began. incredible friends, familiar sights and sounds, lots of laughter (and tears), coffee and catching up. friends are coming in from sweden and denmark and i am already wishing i was staying longer and could pack all this place has to offer in my luggage and carry it back with me. grateful and thankful don’t begin to describe it.

moddi is a norwegian musician and his music is quite fitting for this monday morning.

i’m a little overwhelmed these days. i have a new, perfectly healthy nephew (baby bjorn!), a foot of fresh powder fell on denver this week (with more to come) and as i’m thinking and planning for norway at the end of this week, i’m amazed at the quality of friends i have. people are coming from other parts of scandinavia and norway just to hang out and drink coffee with me for a few days. i’m beginning to think that maybe three weeks isn’t long enough!

as i’m thinking about the goodness of life, i can’t help think but think about boston and the bombings that took place just a couple days ago. i’m counting my blessings and am prepared to soak up every ounce of goodness on this coming trip. it’s tempting to become overwhelmed with what needs to be done before i leave, knowing i will have to say goodbye once again and wondering what life will look like when i come back to denver. instead… count my blessings, count my blessings.

(anne lamott had a great post on her facebook page with her reflections on the boston marathon bombing, love and making sense of it all. worth a read!)

“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”
Frederick Buechner

today i realized that i have been in colorado for just over a year. man, this has not been my favorite year. actually, the move to colorado was pretty much the continuation of the worst year so far. moving in good circumstances is tough enough, but top it off with a load of grief, uncertainty, and fear and you’ve got a recipe for potential disaster. this has not been a disaster though. and i kind of think that the story of my life these past two years can be a picture of hope and grace for those living through transition.

as i shared with a couple of friends that i’d been here a year and not my favorite year at that, one friend asked about the bombing in oslo. i’d mentioned the bombing in passing on a couple different occasions. it’s not something that comes up in everyday conversation, but it’s a big piece of my story. as i began describing that day, i noticed my voice was shaking and my thoughts were quite jumbled. i don’t talk about it much, but the events of that day are often on my mind. after telling the story, i was exhausted. it brought back the feelings of confusion, shock, the crazy loneliness after stepping on the bus back to skien. it has shaped the way i approach traveling, being in unfamiliar places and how incredibly aware i am of my surroundings. when i moved back to the states, i was eating dinner at a restaurant and mistook a loud clap of thunder for a bomb and promptly burst into tears, proceeding to cry the rest of the meal. talk about a downer for the suckers eating with me. i’ve had people tell me not to let it affect me, but i think that’s insensitive and dumb. so i don’t listen to those people. events like this, events that touch us at the core of our humanity, are supposed to affect us. they don’t need to rule us, but we do not have to be the same people as we were before. i am different because of the bombing. i experienced a new level of community and compassion with/from my friends because of this. i see that life can change in an instant – that we can make good decisions, be kind, caring people, do the right thing and bad things still happen. i believe God must have a plan for me and that He really did spare my life that day. i don’t think i “got” those lessons before.

in dealing with all this, i’ve realized a couple very important survival tactics for transition: 1) i have to compartmentalized my life in order to make this place, colorado, my home. part of that is necessary, part of it really sucks. as much as i want to, i can’t talk about norway every day – it alienates those around me and makes it really difficult to put down roots. 2) though compartmentalization is necessary, i need to talk about my life in norway. it is an important part of the total picture! moderation is key. 3) maybe this isn’t totally about transition, but talking about traumatic events is important. in making friends here, i so badly wanted them to see “me” – but i wanted to leave out the hard stuff. that was so draining and it wasn’t the truth. i truly believe that as we are honest and talk about difficulties/trauma, those things lose their power in our lives. perhaps one day when i talk about the bombing or other events that have affected me deeply, i won’t feel so tired and spent. perhaps i’ll have the words ready to accurately describe those moments. i don’t ever want to feel callous to trauma or injustice or pain – if anything, i believe making it through these past two years has made me a more thankful and aware person. and if i can do it, anyone can.