Saturday, 28 August 2010

A Sunday Walk

We as a family are doing our best to be more active about taking more family walks/hikes on the weekend.  

Last weekend was such a weekend, but our time was really cut short so we drove to a fairly easy route - a gravel road that follows the power lines into the wilderness between where we live and Bergen.  It's a very popular route as the road is flat and well maintained by the city, and has enough hills, dips and turns to provide exercise for all ages and skill abilities.  This weekend that we were here, we met an awful lot of people - other families such as ours, seniors out for their daily walks, hard core trainers running with headphones attached to their ears as well as those new to exercise who were obviously working up their strength and endurance.

We park our car at a parking spot just off the highway.  It is here that many park their cars before taking buses into Bergen.  We then cross the road and make our way to the pedestrian over cross.

Here is the view to the left of the over cross.

And here is the view to the right.

And of course my kids need to take the opportunity to be really tough and sit for a few minutes high under the overpass, with the cars passing directly over their heads.

But only 20 meters from the overpass the gravel road starts.  We can hear cars driving pass us for about 15 minutes.  But after that we have moved far enough away from the main highway that we only hear the birds and the last of the summer insects buzzing.

As mentioned, a nice terrain for all types of people to walk/cycle/run/train on.

My son insisted that I take this picture because he was convince that the possibility that this hole led to a magical underground kingdom was better than average.

Nice scenery.

Nicer scenery.

Open spaces.

Secret places.

Must make a mental note that the Heather is getting ready to harvest.

Another beautiful scene. Here we stopped to eat some apples and let our kids splash in the water.

Small corners of the forest that look like fairy tales where trolls live.

And where princesses collect their flowers and herbs.

And knights in shining amour train.

After walking for an hour, we reach a nice meadow.  It was here we rested and had a bite to eat before heading back.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

My Newest Latest Soaps

I made a bunch of different soaps just before going on summer vacation, and now the school is starting they're ready to go.

I think they look fabulous. All of these soaps are made from olive oil, sunflower oil, soya oil and coconut oil.

This one will be known as PURPLE JASMINE OATMEAL. The lovely flower leaves are picked and dried at my sea side cabin from the wild rose bushes we have there. Unlike commercially purchased flowers, these petals keep their color when dried. Also added is crushed oatmeal (great for the skin) and Jasmine Essential Oil.

This is my new MARIGOLD soap. It crushed oatmeal and dried organic marigold flowers on the top.  

EUCALYPTUS AND LEMON BALM SOAP. Both of which are good to get rid of mosquitos. :)

DARK JASMINE TULIP SOAP - This soap is made with the essential oil Melati, which belongs to the Jasmine family, but has a heavier smell to it. Perfect for winter days when we want to remember the summer.

These are my new, HUGE, bars of MOCHA SHOWER SOAP. Perfect for great scrubbing action.

This is my new SILVER CHRISTMAS SPICE SOAP - a soap with the spices of Allspice, Cinnamon, Ginger and Nutmeg. This combination of spices gives a lovely silver sheen to the soap as well. The smells with be great for the upcoming holiday season.

A new batch of TURMERIC soap. Turmeric is great for those suffering from extra dry skin or exceme.
Should you wish to purchase one of these soaps before I get a chance to put them in my store during the next couple of days, do send me a line at:

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Another Painting in My Collection

Well, I've purchased another painting. I hope it doesn't become too addicting.

This one was purchased from a used store not far from our cabin. At the moment it is hanging in our bedroom there. However, I plan to repaint the living room next year and then make place for this piece.

I purchased it for one basic reason: The first because I really am trying to keep with the traditional theme of Norwegian cabins (and my husbands traditional family) but add in some of my modern wishes and likes.

The style of the painting that you see is pretty abundant in Norway: a picture of a cabin of some sort by water, trees and with a mountain or two in the background. Usually however, the colors are incredibly subdued or even dark and depressing in nature.

However I really liked the colors in this painting. When I first saw it, it was hanging really high on the wall of the used store.

After the work was taken down for me, I saw that the buildings were made three dimensional with matchsticks and some sort of thick paper. In the windows the artist used gold foil to simulate candle light shining outwards through the glass.

I did write the name of the artist down to research him/her when I came home, but have misplaced that note somewhere. The woman who sold us the painting (and who would not give my husband a discount of any kind even though this work only cost us about 50.00) said that the artist was famous locally and that many of his works were in many houses in western Norway.

Regardless of the truth of this story (which could be completely true for all I know), I in any case liked this piece enough to think that 50.00 was well worth the price. I will be looking forward to giving updates on my research of this piece in the near future.

Monday, 16 August 2010

What I did last summer.....

So I've been back from vacation for a couple of days, and have had a number of friends and collegues ask me what it was I did over the summer.

I painted.

I painted three sides of a two story cabin, the walls twice and most of the window sills 4 times.

I've come back with one arm looking like it belongs to someone who trains seriously, 5 times a week, and the other arm looking like... well... an arm of a 37 year old who does not train as much as she should.

This side of the cabin had not been painted in many years, and is the side that faces the sea. When I was painting the walls, you could almost hear the wood sucking in the paint.

As one can see, these two windows are all foggy. This is because when my husband took over the cabin and it was falling in on itself, he needed many windows at the lowest prices just to fill in the holes. He was able to purchase a bunch of punctured windows for next to nothing. We have since been replacing the windows, one every couple of years. We hope to replace these in another 3-4 years.

We will have to hurry though. As you can see on the green, unpainted window frame, the wood is falling apart and rotting. When I was scraping the window that was white, I almost took out the entire bottom part of the frame with one little flick of the scraper. I gently pushed it back and asked it nicely to behave for just a couple more years.

This is our front door, saved from a security firm. We've been meaning to paint it and this year I got around to doing it.

First coat with white paint.

Second or third coat with white paint. I forgot to take pictures consistently.

Fourth coat with white paint.

All the windows and crosses in the windows were painted four times. I actually don't know what the word is for those crosses in the windows, as we never had them in my part of Canada where I grew up. In any case, they too needed to be painted 4 times, in super thin coats.

Luckily these crosses are easy to take off. You just need to put your fingers underneath them in the proper spot, apply a little upward pressure, and pop they're off!

Here's the first batch, with rocks and pieces of wood underneath them to keep them from sticking to the plastic.

Oh yeah, I also scarped and painted the kitchen door twice.

Now we're starting to see pictures of the finished job.

A long stretch of wall that's got two coats. There's a glimps of the scaffolding my husband made for me to paint the upper reaches because I didn't want to stand on a ladder. Considering he learned a few things from his father who is a Master Carpenter, I completely trust his constructions.

This is a picture of the same side of the cabin as the first pictures in this post. Everything looks so much better with some good coats of paint. Although I will have to paint the nearest window white again. I was desprately trying to get this wall painted before it started raining and sacrificed the white windows to get it done. But at least I know I'll have something to keep me busy the next time I make a trip to our little paradise.
I'm pretty proud that I got all this work done. Don't forget I did it while making most of the meals (my husband was helping his father on other construction work), keeping order inside the cabin and washing clothes by hand once a week.
Even my mother-in-law is impressed. :)

Saturday, 14 August 2010

A Day Out At Sea - Our Family Trip

What can I say? We have the greatest kids. Even though my husband and I were working physically hard most of the summer building and painting our cabin, we only heard one or two complaints from them during an entire 4 weeks. Most of the time they were playing with their cousins and when they were alone on our property for 10 days, they played so well that my mother-in-law actually came down from her cabin to ask if we had told them to 'not bother her' (they were so involved in their play that they were not even going up to their grandparents so very often).

Because they were so good and because my husband and I were able to get so much work done, we decided to treat them to a day on the sea.

Needless to say they were thrilled.

The day was planned. Late lunches were packed (warm hamburgers with cheese [but no veggies - an extra treat for my kids] wrapped in tinfoil), thermoses of hot chocolate and coffee were made, a cooler of fruit was taken as well as a bottle of Pepsi, and finally we could not forget the bags of chips and pretzels which are usually not eaten in our house.

As you can see, we packed the boat with matresses and blankets for the kids to ride on (we did this last year as well and it was something that they spoke about for months. And being great kids they were quite willing to cover up their faces so that this picture could be on my blog.

The first thing we did was take the take the boat to a county called Lindås. It was here that my mother-in-law had been telling us of a lock that has now been turned into a channel. According to her the water ran very swiftly through the channel and it was very exciting and a little scary. So of course we needed to take the kids there.

Here is some of the scenery that we motored by....

Small villages with their own marinas, both for the locals who all own boats as well as for the cabin owners that don't have direct access to the water.

We were a bit wary of the weather. The clouds were heavy and dark, but they all seemed to be floating over us to Bergen, where it rains 3 meters a year. We took comfort that we were still seeing bits of sun even though it was much darker futher inland.

And now we're coming to the area where this lock is located.

Water symbols that need to be obeyed, lest we run aground.

As we start slowing down, we can catch glimpses of cabins that peak out from hidden passages.

More natural scenery with man-made stone work that's probably close to 80 years old.

And here we come to the lock. We must say that we came when the tide was nearly at its highest, so the current was not particularily strong. Having said that, the current did move incredibly fast. While it was not really a problem for my husband, I would feel uncomfortable with my boat knowledge navigating this stretch of water, especially when we came back in the other direction.

A close up of the stone work.

Yes well, that was 10 minutes of excitement. Now the question came, what should we do now?? An answer was suggested: Should we go to Fedje? Yes!! My kids could hardly contain their excitement.

Fedje is the most westernly point of Norway that is populated by people. It's an island off the mainland and takes us over an hour to travel to by boat from our cabin. It was a central point for whale hunting, back in the day. Now however it deals more with sports fishing as well as being a major radar control for both commerical and military purposes. Most people who live on the island take the ferry to the mainland every day to go to work.

First we have to go under 'The Bridge'. Yes there are lots of bridges on the western side of Norway that connect small island to small island. But this one in particular is known to my children as simple 'THE Bridge.' The current comes in and out so strongly that it churns up lots of food and undergrowth and attracts really large fish. I've never fished in this area without catching something. Definitely a place to go for all those who visit me. And who are not vegitarian.

We pass the bridge and start heading towards the beginning of the fjord, which can be seen as those large islands that look very tiny in the distance.

And now we're out into the open sea, looking back to the mainland. Pictured is a large fishing boat. One can see how the blues of the clouds and the distant mountains begin to fade into each other. We did also see 3 large cruise ships as well as 4 oil tankers, but these were so far off on the horizon that it was impossible to take a picture of them with my little camera. That will have to wait until next time... when I hopefully have a much larger camera.

After about 30 minutes riding at a high speed on really choppy water (I won't be able to do this when I'm 80!) we reached the island of Fedje. The main harbor is on the right hand side. As one can see, there are very few trees here. The winds just blow too hard.

And looking to the north west from where we were, one can see the open ocean. If we keep heading in this direction and all goes well, we'll make it to Greenland in 5-6 days. That's also assuming that the Gas-Fairy visits us and refills our tank when we're sleeping.

And this is looking back towards the mainland of Norway.

Here we are in the main harbor of Fedje. All the houses and buildings always look so romantically perfect because they are painted almost every year. The storms out here can be severe, and the blowing salt does nothing good for all outside surfaces. Also, a good amount of income for the island is also based on tourism, so a pefectly romantic setting doesn't hurt.

Another scene 300 meters away from the last picture.

And this, according to my children is a giant fire boat. We did try to point that it was a cable boat, and showed them the large reels used for lying down and pulling up huge undwerwater cables. But no - according to them it was a giant fire boat. How could they know that, we asked them. Because it's red, they responded.


Here are some more boat houses at the back of the harbor. I would guess that most of these are rented out to tourists, without having anyone actually tell me this.

Some of them are still drying their fish outside.

And then we see a Pilot Boat come in. It is here that all freighters and cruise ships are met with pilot boats before they are allowed to travel into Bergen. This particular boat only stayed here for 15 or 20 minutes before turning and going out of the harbor again.

But then we could suddenly feel the air changing. Or if I'm going to be really honest I'll admit my husband could feel the air changing. I was busy eating my hamburger. He showed me the sky past the island towards the open ocean. It was time to pack up and head back to the mainland. These clouds could simply be clouds. Or it could be the beginning of a storm that we didn't know anything about because we were not really paying attention to weather forcasts.

So we told our kids to 'hunker down' as we were going to speed back to the mainland and it was sure to be a bumpy ride. Like true kids, they buried themselves under the blankets. And so we left.

We passed by the local ferry making one of it's last run out to Fedje. It was approx 9 pm at this point.

One of the things that I always have loved about the northern Atlantic ocean is the different shadings of dark blues, greys and blacks. I was lucky that the camera was able to capture the different shades of blue from the left side of the water to the right. This of course has to do with the light and not the water itself and for a couple of minutes this was the sight to be seen: the water at the bow was bluer than the water at the stern. And the sun shifted and the illusion was gone.

This kind of sea is completely different from my good friend Star's sea. It's definitely beautiful, yes, but I can't say that there's anything pretty about it. I'm always left with the feeling of being very small, but in a very other worldly kind of way. I always feel more humbled coming back from trips like this.

And lets not forget the colors of the sky. Even late in August, the sun hangs in the sky for quite some time. We were almost at the mainland and had slowed down the boat. At this point my daughter complained she was cold so I took the oppurtunity to relax under the blankets and share a little body heat with her. We looked up at the sky and started finding shapes and pictures in the clouds.

We were now officially back to the mainland and stopped in a little habor called Hopland. This is where my husband's grandmother was born. We filled ourselves with refeshements of hot chocolate and chips while we watched clouds roll it. It looked like it was just going to be cloud cover, although we weren't entirely sure at this point.

My husband's grandmother was born in the white house, in 1903. It of course was less than half the size at that point and was until recently owned by one of my mother-in-law's cousins. But it was sold outside of the family a number of years ago so I have no bad feelings about taking pictures of it. As you can see, my husband's entire family has grown up right on the sea shore.

The clouds start coming in and we start puttering back towards our cabin, which will still take us a couple of hours to get to.

We stopped under the bridge again because my children wanted to sit under it and listen to the cars drive over. We had to wait for 15 minutes for the first one drive over us.

As we drove onward, we threw out the last of the potatoe chips and hamburger bread to the seagulls. They swarmed behind us.

We realize that we're very lucky. The clouds are just cloud cover. The winds die down and the water becomes very still and calm.

And then around 11.30 it gets dark enough that my camera cannot take proper pictures anymore, because it has nothing to focus on. Still, I love the blues and blacks.

But in the end we all had a great day at sea. We came home after midnight, after having spent 7 hours in the boat seeing different things and the kids were very happy.

Needless to say we all slept until close to lunch time the next day.