:D

Archive for July, 2007|Monthly archive page

Making a bonfire of my vanities…

In The Main Beef on 31/07/2007 at 14:51

I tell ya… I always knew I was something of a prude, have often made note of that part of my nature, and worked on bracing myself for whatever shocking things I would see as I wandered through Europe. For all that the States offer up a bevy of skin and naughtiness, to be had whenever and wherever you might be, still it is a fairly uptight country. Without debating the rightness or wrongness of it (depending on which side of the multi-faced coin you’re on), in Denmark homosexual couples are allowed to marry, and then expected to received the same rights AND responsibilities that heterosexual couples get for entering into the contract of marriage. In the States, while there are concessions for gay couples to claim ‘significant other’ benefits, they are not allowed to marry, even though they may be as much if nor more committed to their relationship as comparable straight couples.

Another example, nursing mothers are as natural as can be. However I have noticed that there is a bit of a debate, in the States, on whether it’s ‘proper’ for a nursing mother to do what comes naturally wherever she might be. Should she toss a blanket over her shoulder to protect the passers-bys’ delicate sensibilities, or feel comfortable taking care of her child, knowing that others will see it for what it is, feeding time, and not somehow sexualize it. On Sunday, the DH and I went to a Viking Faire with his sisters to see a little piece of Denmark’s storied history played out in a field south of Århus. It was pretty cool, all in all, we had some period food, viewed wares made by skilled craftspeople, and watched some mock battles of various Viking forces. They even had a bunch of Icelandic horses with their humans, demonstrating a few of the skills that make them unique among their own kind. Slightly smaller than standard Stateside horses, a bit shaggier to combat the colder temperatures, they also have a couple of different gaits, particular to their breed. One, demonstrated quite effectively, is called tølt (don’t even ask me how to pronounce that one). When a horse canters, kind of a jog, it’s a bit of a bouncy ride. When the Icelandic horse tølts, it’s a much smoother gait, even though the same speed. Two riders were side by side, one cantering, one tølting, both with glasses of beer. The cantering rider spilled her beer fully by the time she had passed our spot in the field, the tølting rider hadn’t spilled a drop. I thought it was pretty amazing, though my DH kept hoping the horses would toss their riders for some excitement. We have differing views on the merits of horses. 😀

Anyway, all horsing around aside, as we wandered from tent to tent, I noticed a mother calmly breastfeeding her child. No blanket, no thought of embarrassment or discomfort, just popped out her breast, attached the child, and went on with her conversation. In plain view of everyone. And as I thought about it, it really seemed only right. I mean, it’s the best way to feed a child, provides all the nutrients and whatnot needed, offers comfort and cuddling, how can it be anything but normal and natural? Should women be pulling out their breasts wherever they are? If they have a hungry child, why not? Do they have to cover it up? Why? To keep me from being embarrassed at the sight of random breast? Seems silly, to me. I can blush and keep from looking. As a stranger in this particular strange land, who am I to expect the world to conform to my ideas of proper? So I blushed a bit and moved on to the next tent, deciding that if no one else found it odd, I could learn to deal. Of course, then the naked children came out.

As part of the faire was situated on a stretch of beach, access to the ocean was too inviting as the temperature went up during the day. So parents obliged their kids and let them play in the water. A few were in swimsuits, which is pretty standard in the States. They have suits for everyone, from just-baked buns to adults, so no one has to be naked unless you’re a teenager skinny-dipping in a lake somewhere. But I wouldn’t know anything about skinny-dipping, honest… I was a really good girl. I was! Swear! *winks* Moving on… Some of the kids were just in their underthings, as parents hadn’t brought suits. And then there were the nekkid kids… lots of them, buck nekkid, scaring the fishes in the water and the Americhick on the shore. Just like it was the most natural thing in the world. I was quietly scandalized, desperately wishing for a viking vendor that offered little swimsuits to cover them up… even the chainmail maker would have been appreciated at that moment, at least for me. 😀 Heck, strategically draped seaweed would have worked. Did I mention I was a bit of a prude?

Well, all of this nudity of course gave the DH much to laugh about… He is often amused at how much I blush over here. The openness of conversations has a tendency to make me squirm until I can get a handle on myself and come up with decent responses, but most of the time it’s done with red cheeks. Of course, when I catch him doing it on purpose, I can recover a bit faster, but sometimes I manage to stumble right into it without even thinking, which he finds even more hilarious. eesh… His sisters and friends find it quite amusing, too. Sometimes I feel like a bit of an exhibit – come and see the amazing blushing american, say just the right thing and she turns red! Or is that the wrong thing?

So, while I work on on loosening my strict views of acceptable versus unacceptable, I keep the DH in stitches. I’ve always heard that laughter in a marriage was a very good way to keep the homefires burning, or something like that. At this rate, we’re looking at a golden celebration, right about the time they learn how to teleport folks.

A Word About Flamingos and Visas

In The Main Beef on 28/07/2007 at 21:49

My DH has a thing about flamingos. Or rather, he has a thing about the word flamingo, and inclusively, all things flamingo-related. Why? I don’t know… that’s like asking why I have a thing about weiner dogs, or why my BFF owns a growing herd of nubian goats and loves her dog in THAT way. He just does. Being the curious wife that I am, one day I asked what flamingo means in danish. Silly me, I figured it would be animal-related, such as the bird. Get this… flamingo in danish means expanded polystyrene. WTF?!?!?! (WTF = what the flock in Wren-netspeak) I will be forever amazed at that…

On another subject, as mentioned in earlier posts, I have been waiting for my resident/work visa to arrive since we applied at the end of May. Now, 4 days shy of two months, we received official notice that my visa’s been granted. I can go down to the local police station on Monday and get the sticker and page added to my passport, then get my official CPR (Central Persons Registry, basically) number. Thus begins the next stage of life in Denmark, from an Americhick’s point of view. This should be interesting… 😀

Movies, mayhem and the BIG bike race

In The Main Beef on 28/07/2007 at 13:32

In about one week, I will have been in my recently adopted country for four months. That’s fire måneder (pronounced fear moanelthe, or a close approximation thereof) in Danish. During my time here, as I wait for my work permit to be granted so I can get off the husbandly dole a bit and feel freer to indulge my need for bags of all shapes and sizes, I’ve gotten to watch a bit of tv. Everything from Danish comedians to older American shows, an Australian serial about sisters on a ranch in the Outback, fodbold (also known as soccer in the States), and Le Tour de France. Oh, but the DH loves loves LOVES his Tour. As well, I’m learning a bit of danish from the commercials, some of which are quite entertaining. And then there are the cartoons.

Here, as in most parts of the world that don’t speak english I’m guessing, subtitles run rampant on any show aired that’s not in danish already. Now some of those shows already have subtitles because someone’s speaking in yet another language. Those are re-subtitled, into danish. Kind of a pity, because while I might understand everything else that’s being said, I miss those parts. But that’s not really a huge deal. I’ll get it soon enough, and be able to understand them. I am already able to pick out certain errors of translation, so I consider myself well on the way to actually understanding the whole thing, and not just the slight missteps. What has kind of weirded me out though, is the cartoons. Not the purely danish ones, but the ones that I recognize as american, such as on the Disney Channel. Those are not subtitled, because the small ones watching may not be of reading age yet. They are completely revoiced. Mickey and Minnie Mouse have new voices. Kermit the Frog would now be Dagmar the Frog. Hercules sounds nothing like the movie I saw, but I admit that was a while ago. Now, the new Simpsons movie is out. Over here the Simpsons are still broadcast in english and subtitled, but as I understand it, they will be revoicing the movie into danish. All I can ask is… WHHHHHHYYYYYYY! Or perhaps better… d’oh!

So, now that the DH is on summer holiday, we’ve been spending many hours watching Le Tour. Or at least we were, until the leader Michael Rasmussen (a dane) was summarily dismissed by his team for alleged trangressions. He was the leader, yellow jersey, had more lion stuffies than his kid knew what to do with, and could have been buried in all the bouquets he received before he was tossed. His team say that they dismissed him because they couldn’t trust him, and that someone said he’d been spotted in Italy when he said he was in Mexico. Now he has retained an attorney to fight the allegations, but the race has been somewhat spoiled. It’s kind of disappointing really, I was almost getting into it, as much as an indoor girl can at any rate. I could appreciate all the effort the racers were putting into the race, winced when riders took spills, and the DH and I pondered on venturing to France next summer to try and watch one of the mountain stages. We may still have to do that though; just imagine, France, mountains, actual summer, avoiding rider whizz… possibly more excitement than a simple girl like I could handle. 😀 Until then, I sigh a bit at the loss for Michael, and the loss of innocence that the repeated findings of doping and other issues has inflicted on everyone who really enjoys the sport, and the race. Heck, I even miss trying to figure out how someone can still be winning the race even if they don’t win a particular stage. I know, times and all that.

Of course, now the DH has been sucked into something altogether different, from which I may never see him again… online poker. I weep at the loss… *sobs dramatically* He claims he isnt addicted, that he can give it up any time. As long as he doesn’t try to bet the dog, we’ll be ok.

From the Chick's Køkken: Lauridsen Chocolate Cake with Buttercream Frosting

In Culinary Improv on 20/07/2007 at 17:48

Now, another installment of Culinary Improv. This particular recipe comes from the DH’s family, designed to be simple and easily prepared. It has turned out wonderfully every time we’ve made it, even in our slightly less than Martha Stewart-perfect kitchen, and has received raves from our resident taste-testers, his work colleagues. We present it for your chocolate indulgence now. Enjoy!

Lauridsen Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Chocolate cake:
500 g Sugar
250 g Flour
6 tbls Cocoa
2 tsp Vanilla sugar
2 tsp Baking Powder
6 Eggs
250 g Melted butter or margarine
1 dl coffee or juice

Chocolate buttercream frosting:
500 g Confectioner’s sugar
115 g Butter, softened
1 tsp Vanilla extract
3 tbls Milk
115 g Cocoa

Cake:
Mix dry ingredients together thoroughly, add liquid ingredients and mix thoroughly, pour into cake pan and bake at 200 degrees C for 50 minutes to an hour, until knife or toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean. Cool on rack or counter.

Frosting:
Mix ingredients together thoroughly, beating in large bowl until smooth; spread over cooling cake, making designs as desired. Feel free to lick all bowls and beaters clean.

This cake can also be enjoyed without frosting, with the addition of chocolate chips, marshmellows, with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream, or with a large glass of cold milk. Indulge yourself in the chocolate!

😀

Summertime, and the living is easy…

In The Main Beef on 20/07/2007 at 14:57

Birds are singing (at the bumcrack of dawn no less), and the river is high… because it’s rained more here in the past month that it rains in California over two years. Three if they’re in a drought. But, I digress.

Summer holiday time has gotten into full swing here, and it’s the first time for this little Americhick to experience what it means for an entire country to take vacation at the same time. Ok, perhaps that’s a bit of an exaggeration, not everyone is on holiday at the same time. But at any given time, a goodly portion of the working populace is not… working, that is. My DH’s three-week summer holiday begins next Monday, and we will start doing our first official traveling around Denmark during his off-time, before I head back to language school to better learn how to not butcher Danish into unrecognizable mush, like I do now. 😀

One result of the standard summer holiday time here – renovations on our apartment complex seem to have come to a halt. Our particular building is being renovated, new roof, windows, doors, exterior insulation, all things to help the tenant-owners with lower heating/cooling bills and hopefully higher selling prices when it’s time. They’ve been working on the building for a couple months now, but with summer here, it seems the holiday bug has bit, and renovations must wait. So it goes. I have a feeling the same thing may be happening with my visa, and I will be waiting a bit longer before I get final confirmation, and can apply for the necessary numbers and insurance. But, these things can be worked around, so while we wait for the end of summer vacations, we will work on the apartment and do some traveling around the country. I’m looking forward to seeing the city that the DH grew up in, and traveling to the east coast of the country to hunt for amber along the beaches. I imagine they will give me other reasons to post, as well. Stay tuned…

From the Chick's Køkken: Cheesecake – Randers Style

In Culinary Improv on 19/07/2007 at 12:29

Thank you for dropping by. We hope you’ll give one or more of our recipes a try sometime, they’re just little things the DH and I whipped up in our continually evolving kitchen. These recipes are improv, snatched from various online places and adjusted to our tastes – so feel free to add, subtract, multiply or divide (within reason, your results are your own if you do) as you see fit. Construction dust seasoning can be ordered, for a limited time only (we hope), in individual 100 gram packets; please contact Wren or the DH for more information. 😀

Cheesecake – Randers Style
Ingredients:
300 g Digestive Biscuits, crushed
125 g non-salted Butter, softened
50 g Sugar
250 ml Cremefine with Vanilla
200 g Cream cheese, softened
250 g Sour cream
75 g Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla extract
300 ml Strawberry puree
1 dl Gelsugar

Time to prepare: As long as it takes. You can’t rush good tastes. ;D

Start with the crust: Mix the digestive biscuit crumbs, butter and sugar thoroughly then press into bottom of tart or springform pan. Bake at 200 degrees Celcius until brown and settled; remove and let cool on counter.

Now the filling: Whip the cremefine & vanilla together until stiff enough to turn the bowl over without spilling. Mix the cream cheese, sour cream and sugar together until smooth, then fold in cremefine gently and mix thoroughly. Spoon into pan over crust, then chill in your fridge.

Last but never least, the topping: Combine the puree and gelsugar in a bowl and mix thoroughly; cover and microwave at full power (100%) for 2-1/2 minutes, then remove and stir before pouring over chilled cheesecake. Go wild, it’s your party, drown the cheesecake in the sauce. Then chill in your fridge.

Enjoy!

The DH and I made this little delicacy last night so he could take it to work. It seems one of the traditions here that I am learning about is that those taking vacations will bring in a cake or other treats for celebration. So, as his summer holiday begins next Monday, it’s his turn to feed the office hordes. I certainly hope they enjoy it, and I really really hope he brings home a piece or two for us to have, too. Otherwise we have to make another one just for us. 😀

And he cooks too…

In The Main Beef on 10/07/2007 at 20:56

I tell ya, this is every girl’s dream… Imagine a handsome, funny, intelligent, charming guy, good with kids and critters, a hard worker who comes home from his job as systems administrator for a major hotel chain and geeks out in his spare time because he likes it, honest to a fault, believes in relationships as partnerships… AND HE COOKS, too!!! Not just the simple stuff, either. Not only that, but he works culinary miracles using only a microwave/convection oven and a grill. Let me explain…

The DH and I have a tidy little apartment in Randers, which is in the upper-middle part of Denmark. Since we bought the place in November of last year, the DH has been working on redoing it to better suit us, new floors, fresh paint, and a new kitchen. As it was mainly just him for the first six months (with invaluable help from his two marvelous sisters, their spouses, and his BFF), things have moved slowly but forward. Now that I am home, we’ve made a bit more progress, including much headway in the kitchen. However, a few things still remain to be done, including a countertop, and installation of the stove and oven. So, for the past few months we have been improvising. One of our wedding gifts was a lovely huge grill, so we’ve done quite a bit of grilling, finding out that there’s a lot that can be done that way, and new ways of seasoning to keep things interesting. Combined with the microwave/convection oven, we have been producing cutthroat cuisine that, I believe, could win awards for the tastiest improvisations whipped up without using a standard stove. All courtesy of my DH.

Why is that? Simple… I don’t cook. Not that I can’t, or that I don’t know how to come up with recipes, but I really don’t enjoy cooking. I enjoy the end results, as evidenced by my plush figure, but trying to come up with ideas, making the effort to time everything out, just the effort of cooking, is beyond me. Given a recipe and ingredients, I can whip up fairly credible edibles… but the DH has gone above and beyond, producing some amazing dishes. The things you can do without a stove – truly impressive.

So, if you find yourself wanting to try something a little different, check out the Culinary Improv page. You might find something you like… and you don’t even need a stove. And thank my DH for being adventurous in the kitchen, and being willing to work with a wife who dodges cooking duties whenever she can, in favor of going on endlessly about the wonderful man she married in these virtual pages.

Rain rain go away…

In The Main Beef on 07/07/2007 at 00:27

So… I’ve been here three whole months now, plus 3 days. I made it through spring and into summer, when I should be enjoying warm temperatures and regular doses of sun to keep my color. At least, that’s where I came from. However, it would seem that I’m not in Kansas anymore. And I have the little dog to prove it. *cackles madly, then coughs*

Since we got home back in April, I can count the sunny days on two hands. I lost count of the rainy ones when I ran out of toes, including the ones on the husband and the dog. He wasn’t real thrilled that I was using his toes, he’s kind of sensitive about them, always afraid I’m going to cut them off when I trim his nails. No, not the husband, the dog. sheesh… Anyway, it’s been a bit rainy here for the past three months. At first I looked at it as an extension of California winter weather – I’m used to some rain, I can deal with it. And all the blooming flowers and greenery were well worth the daily doses of liquid sunshine. Fields of yellow flowers were all along the route to Århus, and the profusion of roses, daisies, marguerites, lavendar, petunias, lilacs, poppies, and various other types that blanketed every yard and window box brightened even the greyest day. Then, summer arrived with a vengeance, sun and heat making the Danes complain about the unseasonable weather, and me and the dog rejoicing at temperatures reminiscent of San Diego. The dog soaked up every sunbeam he could find, the husband started tanning nicely, and I decided I could really get to like it here. And then, with no more warning than a weather report, it all changed. It’s been raining ever since.

Now, I understand that all living things need water to survive. I can appreciate that if one wants green, then some rain must fall. Rain slickers must be worn, wellingtons must be purchased (yes, for the dog too), anti-frizz gel must be slicked into the hair before going out. But really now… three solid weeks of rain? Every frickin’ day? Without fail? I don’t recall reading that in the Welcome to Denmark book I received when I started language school. As an aside, that’s a pretty cool book I have to say. Has quite a lot of good information and comes in a ton of languages. Now back to our regularly scheduled rant…

I’m getting a little tired of the rain now. The taste of summer we had was a tease for me, and I want more. I’d say I was desperate for it, but then that would make me sound… desperate. Ok, maybe I am, a bit. I mean, if stuff gets any greener around here it’s going to go fluorescent. The dog walked through a puddle the other day that was up to his belly. Now that may not be saying much since he’s a miniature dachshund, and he likes walking through short grass because it tickles his tummy, but I’m afraid the next puddle he finds will be his last, and he will be lost at sea.

I’m not asking for much really, just a few days, weeks, months of sun. I need the blue skies and shimmering heat waves that signal summers I’ve been used to for 13 years. Not forever, I know I can get used to the weather here as it’s similar to midwestern weather that I grew up with. I can live with weekly rains to get the green. But I need some sun, or I’m going to start looking like my oregano plant that I forgot to water – a little bit brown and withery, dry around the edges. Luckily for me Ras watered the oregano… now if I could get him to generate some sunlight, he would be the ultimate husband – handsome, funny, smart, can grill like a madman, and a source of solar energy. The total package. 😀 Ah, but he’s already that to me, so the solar thing would really just be a bonus.