Sunday, 27 March 2011

A working weekend -

Well, right now it's snowing, but yesterday it was sunny though really cold. There was a cold wind blowing, and because I've been having problems with my asthma all week, I didn't want to dig up more heavy, soaken soil. In any case, the soil in my garden box was frozen so I imagine the soil to be dug up was not much different.
But as always there is a lot of work to get done. We have received a gift of stone during the week. When my brother-in-law was living, he worked with excavators, stone, dump trucks and hauling services, etc. My husband is still quite good aquaintences with some of my BIL's old work mates and they are often only happy to help us out once in a while. We've been needing lots of stone to work with, and this is what we received this week.
Concerning my garden. Everything is going well with it despite the fact nothing is really happening at the moment. But it appears that the neighbors are really impressed and my mother-in-law is impressed beyond impression. So all is right with the world at this point of time.
However, my husband has said to me: It is pink, you know.
Me: Is this a problem?
Him: Not in and of itself, but if we're going to do this and make it bigger in the years to come, we should probably be a little bit more professional about it.
(Well okay - he didn't exactly say it like that..... but it was good enough for me as I would much rather do this kind of work than anything else this weekend).

In the meantime, we had told my kids that they had to do 30 minutes of work for us hauling rock to both sides of the cement wall we're working on. They of course thought that this was the absolutely worst thing that could have happened to them. If you closed your eyes and only listened to them, you would have thought that we were the absolute cruelest of parents by all their crying, complaining and screeching at times. They complained that they were tired, had sore arms, sore legs, were sick to their stomachs, etc. My daughter even said she had a broken bone in her foot. However, as always, when the 30 minutes of work was finished (which took 45 minutes because of the rest breaks needed), the sprang off to their friends and were not heard from again for another 2 hours.

The plan for the wall is to put stone on either side and cover it with soil. On the side closest to the road there will be flowers which my daughter intends to plant from seed (or they can be purchased if problems with this arise). On the side closest to the house a small hedge will be planted to help give us some partial privacy.

And here is how my garden looked after the first coat of paint. The same color as the house and the sheds we have.

Very nice indeed, I think.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

A Bed of Potatoes???

I have been wanting to make myself a vegetable garden for a long time. But the time was never right - I had kids in diapers, I was focussed on looking for new work, we were preparing to move to a new house, etc, etc, etc.

Now my kids are older, we've been living in our new house for almost 3 years, I'm in a job that I like and things are generally going my way.

I had fully intended to purchase the materials that I needed to make a garden, but as luck would have it my in-laws have moved to a smaller apartment and much of their furniture needed to be replaced. This included the bed. When we heard that they were going to throw out the bed frame, I jumped at the chance to save myself some extra money.

This is the bedframe standing up against the shed.

My husband had left for work at 4 am this morning, but before he left he scraped into the ground where he wanted the garden to be so that it would not interfere with the rest of the landscaping her is working on.

And here at the back of the house we have a tiny little spot of property that is not covered in rock and gravel. The shed you see belongs to our neighbors and is placed right along the edge of the property.
Now, the thing is that this area needs to be dug out and filled with rock and gravel. It has been my job to do this and for 3 years I have not even started on it. In my defense, we had no where to place the soil before now and I was pretty busy with other things anyway. But now the time is right.

I had to admit I wasn't sure how this was going to move forward. I had free reign to use all the material available to me from my husbands tool shed. And like most of my big projects, I prefer to move forward without too much forethought and make adjustments as I need along the way.
Here I was just placing the sections of frame together. Each piece had either industrial screws or screw-holes, so in theory it shouldn't be difficult to put together.

See?? Easy peasy.

I was quite happy that there were no obvious problems thus far, and I looked like I clearly knew what I was doing to those who drove by, honked and waved at me.

I need some re-enforcement pieces of wood to nail into the corners and hubby had said I could use some of his leftovers from when he laid down the floor in the attic a few weeks ago. I found a piece that I thought could be cut into four pieces. It took a while for me to find a saw - but this is no fault of my husband. He is super organized, which is something I really have to work hard at but have been getting better as the years go by. After 10 minutes of looking, I found it hanging in plain view on the back wall of his tool shed. Go figure.

So I cut the piece of wood into four pieces. See that red spot on the upper left piece of wood????
Funny story about that....

Yeah, it's blood. And yeah, I mangaged to cut myself on one finger. Now, I'm not proclaiming that I can saw planks and timber like a professional, but I do proclaim that there's nothing girly about my technique. I've been taught by those who are much better than me and have a good understanding of how to let the saw do the work, take my time, etc.
The problem is that I'm just too cheap. When I came to the last cut to get my last two piece of wood, it wasn't long enough for me to put enough pressure on it with my left hand while sawing with my right. And I just couldn't be bothered to go and get another piece of wood. At this point, I was sawing in quite a girly fashion, hardly putting any pressure on the saw, making short back-and-forth movements and just generally praying that no family member would walk by. Despite this, the saw jumped out of the groove in the wood and landed on my finger.

It was just a tiny cut, but it just wouldn't stop bleeding. Blood in general does not bother my, but it was dripping on the wood, dripping onto the gravel below, onto my clothes - so in the end I was required to be a responsible adult (which is something I try to keep during my working ours, Monday through to Friday) and go in and get a bandaid.

I nailed in the first corner piece of wood. I was so contrated on making sure it was firmly in place on one side of the frame that I forgot to make sure it was also tightly against the second side. Thus there is room for my fingers. Well bugger all, I thought, but after contemplating the dilema for about 15 seconds I decided my husband would no doubt have an ingenious way to fix the problem. Then I made sure I did the other 3 corners properly. I mean, what could go wrong???

And now it was time to lay down newspaper. It was at this time I realized I had another problem. We only get the paper on the weekends. It was Saturday. And the Paper was collected for recycling the previous Monday. So the above was all I had. I began to make friendly visits to my neighbors who are beginning to be quite used to my crazy schemes and usually are willing to help me purely for the entertainment value involved.

As you can see, I've got great neighbors.

Now the really hard work begins. I've done a lot of landscaping at our cabin before. Landscaping itself is never easy, but landscaping on the west coast of Norway by hand has to be some of the worst. Even during dry periods the ground is heavy, dark and saturated with water. But there's not much to do but to just get on with it.

It takes a bit to break through the grass and get started, but once that is done it does start getting a bit easier.

After 4-5 loads of soil it's time for me to stop for a bit. It's 1 pm, I've got iron clothes for my son who's headed to a birthday party, hubby is coming home from work and would like to sleep for a bit, and I've got a long list of things that need to be purchased to make the next week run smoothly. So time to pack up.

After dinner I'm drinking a quick cup of coffee and read on the internet that it's supposed to rain cats and dogs tomorrow, which makes me realize I have to finish everything tonight. Changing back into work cloths and heading out, I see that one of the corners has completely opened up. I have no idea how this happened and it's a surprise to me. After having a little consulting with my husband I'm thrilled to learn that he suggests that I use the power drill and the big, long and thick screws. You can bet my heart starts racing as power tools is something I feel just don't take as much of a center role in my life as they should. The day is looking up.
So after 30 happy minutes of working with power tools (30 minutes that went by all to fast if you ask me), it appears that my garden box is going to be solid. From this point onward it was moving soil as quickly as possible from the ground into the garden. It was heavy work as I was already pretty tired (it's soooooo much easier to run on the elipse machine). Before I knew it, it was dark and cold. I could see my breath rising from me and I was more than ready to go inside, clean up and open a bottle of wine.

This is my newly built hole-in-the-ground. It's a bit hard to see, but it is a good meter and a half deep. (What am I going to do with the rest of this soil???)

And here is as far as I made it on my garden. The soil will settle and I will have to add at least 5 loads more. But this can wait until next weekend.
As for now, I feel it's been a long day, with lots accomplished.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Good News -

It's a new year and I'm on my way to introducing a new product: Aloe Vera soap.

I have had a number of interested customers write to me over the last year asking if I sold this type of soap, was going to sell it, had heard of anyone else who had produced it, etc.

Well, I can finally say that I am on my way - I have received 3 small aloe vera plants that I have soaking in water until they start growing roots, after which I will be planting them permanently.


Looking forward to keeping everyone informed of my progress -

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

First Class in Karate

I took my first class in Karate tonight, with my kids who already have their yellow belts.

It was really the workout for me and I can say that I feel each and everyone of my muscles in my body.

That's a lot of muscles.

But I don't hurt. Not yet in any case.

And I'm already looking forward to next week. :)

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

A new thrill in my life -

Okay, it has been a long time since I have written a blog post.  What can I say? Fall has come and with it the usual colds that go around, meaning I've been home with the kids or I've been working double shift because some of my co-workers have been at home with their kids.  Thank goodness I work at a fabulous workplace and we take care of each other as much as we can.

On top of that, my soap sales have really taken off, including two inquiries about making 150+ soaps as wedding favors for weddings over the New Year.  All of this has been good, but also means I've been balancing my life on a knife's edge.  I've been taking lots of extra vitamins and cod liver oil, been watching even less TV than I normally do, and forcing myself to stop what I'm doing (no matter what it is I'm doing) and going to bed at reasonable times.  It's paid off so far.  I myself have only had one really good cold, but I managed to keep working thanks to my great co-workers.  I have it in the back of my head: when I get fever, I can call in sick with a good conscience. 

But this is not at all what I wanted to talk about.  What I wanted to talk about was the new thrill in my life. Anita Blake 

I was lucky enough to come across a written interview with the author Laurell K. Hamilton

Official photo from Twitter - lkhamiton

What caught my attention was this: she writes about a strong woman, Anita Blake, who's profession it is to legally do away with vampires, zombies and the like.  She has practical knowledge of a wide variety of weapons, and she knows there is a time and a place for each weapon, depending upon where she'll be, what she's wearing, etc.

If this was not interesting enough, what really caught my eye was the fact that Hamilton has received criticism due to the fact that as the series of novels progresses, Anita becomes involved in a number of sexual liaisons that are unbecoming of a woman. Needless to say that this type of criticism seems to come primarily from the USA.  Apparently if a male character is involved with 2 or more women, this is quite acceptable.  But should this be the reverse then it is not appropriate for the general reading audience. 

Mind you, I have not progressed that far in the series. 

(Photo nicked from

The first novel was a very good read, though not a fabulous read.  It took me a while to wrap my head around the fact that in Anita's world vampires and zombies live alongside humans and there are various laws governing both.  Though towards the end of the book it I did naturally accept this reality.

What I did really like about this book was that I was able to get a good insight into Anita.  And let me tell you, she rocks.  She's cocky, yet has high morals. She doesn't take crap from others, especially male police officers, though she doesn't put them down either.  They have a mutual understanding of each other.  Her job is an official executioner sanctioned by the state and she sleeps with stuffed penguins.  Basically she's the kind of person I wish I could hang out with once in a while. 

(Also nicked from

I just finished reading the second book last night, and I really thought it leaped forward from the first book in great bounds.  She encounters a number of really gruesome characters, and takes them on in a way that leaves you thinking: Yeah, that could really happen.  She shows both her tough side to us as readers, as well as to her close friends as to how far she is really willing to go when faced with decision making between right and wrong, both to stick it to the bad guys, and to outwit them to save those who are clearly worth saving.

I'm 37 now, and this if the first time in 3 years that I've read something that has really drawn me in and has been a lot of fun to read.  Ask my husband - the last couple of years I've read book after book and have thought again and again: Well that was a complete waste of brain cells.  This is true even to the point where I stopped purchasing books because I could not trust that it would be money well spent.

I've heard comments from some who have read her books that they have hopped off half way through the series because Anita begins to change too much.  I'm really interested to see how I respond to this when I get to this point.  I know for myself that I've had intimate conversations with close friends where we admit to each other that we are clearly NOT the same person we were 15 years ago.  We have totally different values, what we think are more open minds and a completely different way of looking at life.  What will I think? We'll just have to stay tuned to find out.

But for now, I think Anita was one of the best things to happen to me right now. James Bond and Indiana Jones have nothing on her.

Friday, 8 October 2010

A fun purchase that turns my world upside down -

I made a purchase the other week. Something that I thought would be fun to wear  at work.  For those who don't know, I work full time in Norway's education industry, working with pre-schoolers. (95% of Norwegian children go to day care full time, which is incorporated into the Norwegian school system).

I saw the ring below from my friend, RenatheSchneider

I had expected the kids to think it was super cool, and my co-workers would be skeptical, roll their eyes and think: Yeah, we expect that sort of thing from Nicole. 

Instead and much to my surprise it turned out to be quite the reverse.  My co-workers thought it was really cool, asked me who I bought it from, how it was made and what the price was.  From my co-workers I had my 'outside-the-box-personality' accepted and even honored a bit. 

From about 30 kids over a two day period I had conversations like this:

Is that a bee in there? -- No it's a fly.

Is it dead? -- Yes.  

How did it get in there? -- The woman who made the ring put it in there.

Why? -- She thought it was a cool idea.  I also thought it was a cool idea and so I  bought it from her. 

Does it still make buzzing sounds? - No, it's definitely dead.

Did she kill the fly? -- No, the fly was already dead on a window sill before she made the ring.

Why? -- Because flies are born and only live a few weeks before they die.  That's the way they're made.

Why would you put a dead fly on your hand? -- That's a really good question.  I think it's a fun thing to do.  

My mom got mad at me for squishing dead flies. -- I can understand that.  Squishing dead flies can be a bit yucky. 

I don't think my mom would like that ring.  -- Yeah, I can bet a lot of mommies wouldn't like that ring.

Why do you like that ring? -- I guess I like it because it's different than all the other rings I see. I don't think there's anyone else in Norway that has a ring like this.

Are you sure you're allowed to wear that?  -- ????

And so the questions continued.  I honestly didn't think that this ring would cause such a stir with all the little ones I work with.  There were a lot that did think my ring was cool.  But I was very surprised at the number of children who DID NOT think it was cool, and who questioned in a 4-5 year old way if it was acceptable to use animals as decorations.  Which does to go show that our hard work of introducing ideas of ethics and philosophy are starting to pay off. 

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Ten Things that Went Right This Week -

I've always been a believer in positive thinking.  Earlier in my life when things were tough I was keeping a journal where I wrote positive things almost daily.  Perhaps now when things are really good in my life I shouldn't forget this.  Perhaps certain habits should be kept up continuously regardless of the situation.

1) Even though I was feeling pretty bad with a big head cold, I still went to work and was treated well by those I work with.  It made the week livable and by the end of the week I was feeling much better and glad I pulled through without staying home. -- Yeah to the good people I work with.

2) I received a second wholesale order. 

3) My daughter was invited to her first birthday party since she's started 1st grade.  She's very excited and it makes my heart sing.

4) The group of women I work with and I had a meeting with the parents of the children we work with and almost all the parents had great things to say about the work we did.  Those who wanted something changed had small wishes that were not big deals.  Everything seems really positive.

5) I've eaten candy every day this week.  Since it's been a bit of a rough week and since I have not gone overboard, I'm deciding that this is a good thing that is needed for my soul.

6) I'm starting training again tomorrow.

7) Today I drove into Bergen today, alone and without kids.  Even though I was just in for soap supplies and didn't even treat myself to coffee, I listened to my favorite music driving to and from the city.  And I started day-dreaming again about what I want to do for my 40th birthday.  Maybe I'll invite the Canadian Ambassador to Norway or even the King of Norway.  Not that I expect them to show up, but it would be really cool to show off some rejection letters. 

8) My kids have  been exceptionally nice this week.  I mean, I have great kids who have good boundaries.  I'm just saying that they've been exceptionally nice this week, especially on a week that I really needed them to be.  I think I'll feed them Nuggati for breakfast tomorrow.

9) My husband made dinner tonight - Fårikål - which is Norway's national dish.  And he made enough to eat tomorrow evening as well.

10) It's Sunday tomorrow...... and I have all day to think of things that will make me happy.