Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Some pictures from our Christmas this year. We spent Christmas eve at the brother-and-sister-in-law's, and it was my first really Danish Christmas, complete with candles and dancing around the tree. So cozy. Christmas morning we kept our tradition of going for a beach walk with Nicola and Rune in the afternoon before lounging around making pizza, playing board games in the afternoon and skyping with our families while wearing our matching Christmas pajamas. Ugh. We are so lucky to have such great family and friends here, there and all over. Hope you all had  lovely time with your loved ones too. I'm already taking down all our Christmas decorations and getting packed to go back to Canada on Friday! For two months! I can't wait. More updates once I'm there but have yourself a merry rest of the holiday season, friends.

Winter Solstice + My Scandinavian Christmas

Friday, December 21, 2012

I just wanted to stop in and point you over to The House that Lars Built where I was honoured to participate in Brittany's My Scandinavian Christmas series. I've been so impressed by what the other bloggers came up with that I was a bit nervous about my turn. But I wanted to write about celebrating solstice, since it's a new tradition that I've started and have really been enjoying. So, happy solstice friends! Enjoy these days cozy, quiet days of darkness before the craziness of Christmas is upon us. Already our place has turned into a Christmas factory - last minute shop orders and presents being packed, cards being written, and concoctions bubbling and baking away. I'd highly recommend listening to this episode of This American Life while finishing up your Christmas projects or while curled up on the couch with some hot chocolate tonight. 

Christmas in Copenhagen

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Some pictures from around town lately, all from my Instagram, of course. I promise I'll be taking the real camera out soon.  I really like the Afterglow app though, and have been trying hard not to put circle and triangle frames on every picture. The snow has almost melted away but it's still feeling a lot like Christmas here. Danes do Christmas right, there are lights and candles and decorations up just about everywhere. I think it's giving our apartment an inferiority complex. I finished up all my school stuff last week - had my last Danish class ever and last exam for a while (I failed one part due to my chronic language exam nervousness that I'll have to retake in the spring), and wrapped up my architecture & design course with an exhibition and a bit too festive party. I still have to show you all the work I did this fall at school! I'll be working on getting it all photographed and portfolio ready, so I'll show you some photos soon. I learnt so much, and it was so great being able to play around and make things day. I've missed that. So now I have a bit of time to catch up on all the projects I haven't had time for, and to craft and bake like crazy in preparation of Christmas. I'm hoping there will be some time to just sit with a book, too. I'll be popping in here now and then but won't promise anything given my recent track record. But you can find me on Instagram and Pinterest too. I hope you all have a lovely, lovely holiday. 

DIY White Christmas Decorations

Sunday, December 9, 2012

This is the last in my mini series of the easiest/laziest DIY Christmas decorations ever. These ones really are. That was the whole point. If you are anything like me, and are spending your Christmas season at the library or are just busy with life instead of at home handcrafting things, then this might be for you. Even though I'm heading into my last week of exam craziness, even I managed to find the supplies for these decorations around my place and take five minutes to make these while listening to a debate on Danish radio. Yes, this is what my life has come to. Only one more week. I don't think any instructions are necessary for these, so I'll just write out what I did but just ask if you have any questions. 

Dip dyed jar / I taped off a clean peanut butter jar using painter's tape and painted it white. I used model paint because I find it gives a slightly glossy finish and better opacity but you could also use acrylic. I found that these wide neck jars are the perfect size for a short pillar candle. 

Painted deer / I used an old plastic deer I've had for years (I bought it at the zoo) but you could use any plastic animal or toy from the dollar store or thrift store. I think a few different animals would look really cute. Again, I used model paint but any paint would do. 

Wool pom pom / I took a bit of yarn from my stash and made a pom pom using the fork method. You can also try the cardboard method, or pom pom makers if you have them. You can often find cheap, acrylic yarn at the dollar store, or better quality cheap yarn at the thrift store. 

DIY Winter Room Spray

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

When I saw this idea for a winter room spray, I thought that it would make a perfect quick Sunday afternoon project. I love essential oils and often put together a blend in an oil warmer but I've been neglecting them lately in favour of cedar incense. So this seemed like a great way to use up some of my stash of oils. Now once a day I open the windows for a few minutes and spray this around the apartment which keeps things smelling appropriately winter-y and not stale. I doubled the original recipe and used equal parts peppermint, rosemary and cinnamon essential oils for my blend but other favourites are sweet orange and clove or cedar and juniper. I just used one of the recycled bottles that I hoard, and put a chalkboard label on it. I got impatient with putting packing tape over top to laminate it though, so I would suggest doing it a bit more carefully if you want it to look a bit nicer than mine. Happy *spritzing*, ha ha. 

DIY Washi Tape Advent Calendar

Friday, November 30, 2012

This week has been a bit of a rough one. I won't go into details, since it's not all that interesting, but let's just say I'm glad that this month is almost over. But since things have been so hectic lately, I'm really glad I took the simple/easy route with holiday crafts this year. I know December is going to be busy, as it always is, so I wanted to make our advent calendar for this year with activities for each day so we don't completely miss the season. Most of them are small, like 'make hot chocolate' or 'go for a walk in the woods', so I'm hoping it will be fun and not just another chore to add to our daily to-do lists. The entire calendar was super easy and quick to make using things I had on hand - I just taped a tree shape using washi tape, stamped each day and an activity on a place card and taped those up as well. You could do the same with little treats for each day, or tape up a tree and add some ornaments. I also reused one of my Danish paper stars for the tree top and my God Jul banner and hung up a few honeycomb paper balls to make things feel a bit more festive. I have a few more small holiday crafts to share soon, too. You'll have to excuse the dark, grainy photos. It's impossible to photograph indoors these days. Happy almost December! 

Christmas Inspiration

Sunday, November 25, 2012

It's starting to be that time of year when visions of felt garlands, origami stars and sugar plums dance through my head. You guys read that book too, right? Or maybe it's just me that thinks too much about these things as soon as American Thanksgiving (or ok, earlier) is over. It's so dark here though that any brightening up is very welcome. Plus, scrolling through Pinterest with glazed over eyes seems to be a great way to procrastinate studying for my Danish exams. This year I'd like to keep things really simple for Christmas. I got carried away last year and our tiny place looked like a Twin Peaks Christmas shop exploded in it. I'm also finding that every year the commercialism of Christmas gets to me a little more. It's something I struggle with a lot anyway - I look at and make pretty things all day. While I definitely recognize the value of art, it's also far from saving lives. Lately I've been feeling the need to do more good, and I'd really like to start this Christmas. I usually get overwhelmed by all the places/people that need help, but even small steps have to be better than doing nothing. Handmade gifts, recycled decorations, volunteering at local shelters and donating to charities (I know this is a complex one) are the kinds of things on my Christmas list this year. Do you guys have any good ideas for ways to give back a little? 

All pictures from my Pinterest 

Fog & Cedar Winter Collection

Monday, November 19, 2012

Oh man, where did the last couple of weeks go? There's now frost on the ground in the mornings, it's dark by 4 and there are Christmas lights and carols. It's that time of year again. This is one of the things that has been keeping me busy - Nicola and have put together a little winter collection for Fog & Cedar. I've been spending my Saturdays going from studying Danish at the library to curling up on Nicola's sofa armed with pots of tea, our Canadian slippers and craft supplies all over the floor. It's not that hard to figure out that it might be the part of the weekend that I enjoy the most. We are really happy with the way it all turned out, and we hope you are too. There are new styles of the marbled clay beads, a special holiday gold dipped wooden bead necklace and hand dyed Cowichan wool ear warmers among others. There will be some more knitted goods added to the shop in the coming weeks as well. I had big plans of things to make, and things to blog about, but life gets in the way sometimes. And right now life means two more Danish exams (last ones ever - hopefully!) and a lamp to design and make for my final school project and then Christmas vacation. So close! Hope you all are staying cozy and finding ways to cheer up these grey days. 

Kate's Sprinkle

Friday, November 2, 2012

One last post of pictures leftover from the summer. The day before I left to come back here, my friends threw a little baby shower for my dear friend Kate. Kate was pregnant with her second girl, so she wanted something small (a sprinkle!) with just our group of girl friends who have known each other since elementary school. Luckily my stay overlapped with Chloe, who was visiting from Australia with her second baby boy Raff, by a couple of days so we were both about to attend. Mollie, another super mama, hosted the sprinkle in the beautiful backyard of her new house. She did an amazing job, cooking up a delicious brunch and setting the table with vintage china and cute zoo decorations while at the same time juggling sweet Celia. I can't really put into words how much I like these ladies. Even though we are all living such different lives in different places, there is something so special about friends that you have grown up with, that know you so well. It's been amazing to watch them become mothers, and they have made the rest of us the happiest aunties. And I think they get prettier with every baby, which isn't really fair. It makes it a bit tough, being so far away and missing milestones like first birthdays and first steps and the everyday changes that happen so fast with littles. But it also makes me more grateful for the time I get to spend with them. Beautiful Ivy was born about six weeks after these photos were taken, and I can't wait to meet her and see who she becomes. 

Hallowe'en at Tivoli

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

This last Sunday, Nicola and I dragged our husbands to Tivoli to partake in the Hallowe'en festivities there. The holiday is slowly becoming a thing here, which is funny to see happen. I was worried it would be really cheesy, but it was pretty darn cute with all the pumpkins (including the biggest and smallest ones in Denmark - ha!), a haze maze, candied apples and spooky things everywhere. Unfortunately, the haunted house was only open after dark but we consoled ourselves with hot chocolate and tea. Today will be pretty quiet, with classes all day and night, so it was the perfect way to celebrate a bit. Hallowe'en is a bit strange as an adult, isn't it? It's not filled with quite the same magic and excitement. Still, there are decorations up, apple cider and candy corn to go along with a Hitchcock movie tonight and a party on Friday (I know, after Halloween?) where I'll probably dress up like a cat like I have an embarrassing amount of times through the years. Cat girl/lady 4ever. Happy Halloween, friends! 


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

We turned back the clocks here this weekend and it's noticeably darker now during the day. I always get a bit nervous about it, since it feels like the whole city goes into hibernation as the days get shorter and colder. I talk a lot about light on this blog in the winter time, but that's because it's so important when you don't have it. We got a wake up light this year, just in time, and it is amazing. I wake up right away with the light, and I love that it has a sunset setting at night so you can fall asleep to a cozy, warm glow. The other week when I was sick I forced myself to go out for a walk around the moats before the sun went down, just so I would have gotten outside once that day. I'm trying to get in the habit of taking a weekly walk, which sadly can seem hard to fit in my schedule these days. But I find when I do take the time to slow down, breathe some fresh air and take in my surroundings, I feel so much better. And it's even more important as the days get shorter, to try to appreciate some of the beauty of this time in between fall and winter, instead of just hiding away from it all. 

Carrot Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting

Sunday, October 28, 2012

I've just spent this last week running around trying to get caught up from being sick the week before and hopefully I'm somewhat back on track. I had a big project for school to finish and Nicola and I hosted a clay bead workshop for Craftenhagen on Friday which was so much fun. All my creative time has been taken up with projects for school so it was really nice to get together with some ladies and make things. Now I just have to keep my head down and work hard for the next six weeks or so until my programs are finished. But for now, let's talk about cupcakes. I made these for my birthday, since it's a tradition for both Mark and I to have carrot cake for our birthdays. It was one of the first little things we bonded over, which led to me bringing him a carrot cupcake one Sunday afternoon and leaving with him as my "official" boyfriend, whatever that means when you are in high school. I've been making carrot cake almost every year since, and also made these cupcakes for our wedding. So, long story short, I guess I like carrot cake even more now. I wasn't sure how they would work as a gluten and dairy free version, but luckily they turned out great. I feel like after a few months of doing this, I'm now finally starting to feel like I am getting the hang of baking and cooking this way. I found a gluten free flour mix which is amazing, it has all the extras like sorghum gum already in it so you don't have to fuss with all the different additions. I've also found out that it's best to work with the restrictions instead of trying to make something like shortbread or croissants which will always taste like a disappointing substitutions. Just some little tips I'm picking up along the way. I also wanted to say thank you for all the birthday wishes and words of wisdom. You guys are so lovely, and I ended up having a really nice day despite being a bit under the weather. I was completely spoiled with a massage, sushi and the best fall weather Copenhagen has had. I don't think 25 is going to turn out to be too bad after all. 

Carrot Cake 
Adapted from the REbar cookbook

1 1/2 cups grated carrots
3/4 cup crushed pineapple
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup cane sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups gluten free flour mix
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp ginger
1 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp ground cardamom 
1/2 tsp allspice

1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F.  Oil  cake pans if using. Combine grated carrot, pineapple, coconut, walnuts, dates and raisins in a large bowl. In a separate mixing bowl, beat the sugars with the eggs. Stir in the vanilla and whip on high until the volume has tripled. On low, pour the oil in slowly to blend in.
2. Combine the remaining dry ingredients and gently stir into the egg mix. Fold in the carrot mixture. Divide the batter among the muffin liners or cake pan and smooth the tops. Bake 30 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Coconut Frosting
Adapted from My New Roots

1 cup coconut milk (just the solid)
¼ cup  honey

Pinch of sea salt
¼ cup coconut oil
2 ½ tsp. cornstarch

1/2 tsp. water

1. In a medium saucepan, heat coconut milk, honey and salt, simmer no low for 5-10 minutes, stirring constantly so that it doesn’t burn.
2. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and water to form a smooth paste.
3. Pour cornstarch mixture into saucepan.
4. Mix contents of saucepan with a hand blender (or quick hands) and bring to a boil, briefly.
5. Remove pot from heat and very gradually blend in coconut oil.
6. Place pot in fridge for 30-40 minutes, until frosting solidifies and turns white.
7. Remove from fridge and blend again, until fluffy.
8. Spread over cake or cupcakes, and top with toasted coconut. 

At Home: Brittany and Paul

Monday, October 22, 2012

This post is part of my ongoing At Home series where I peek around the homes of other foreigners in Copenhagen.  In this series I wanted to explore different concepts of home and what it means to be at home somewhere. 

Brittany is an American designer living in Copenhagen with her Canadian/Danish husband Paul. Here she is in her living room getting one of her handmade paper flowers ready to ship. She also runs the popular craft/design blog The House that Lars Built. Brittany recently reupholstered the couch as one of her many DIY projects. In her spare time she plays the cello and performs concerts around Copenhagen. 

A detail of their bookshelf full of books and craft supplies. Paul works for an insurance company and is also a writer. He authors his own blog of short stories and they have collaborated on articles for publications like Kinfolk together. 

The living room window sill filled with craft projects made by Brittany, a basket of yarn and plants. Brittany is a classical music fan, hence the bust. 

More colourful flowers, these ones metal candleholders, hang alongside a Hindu god hologram in the hallway. The hologram was given to Brittany by the village of Namje, Nepal, for her birthday while she was there working there with Spirit of Place last year. 

A paper wreath made by Brittany hangs in the bedroom. 

The kitchen, where Paul spends his time experimenting with new recipes like this cheese bread. Paul does the cooking, Brittany does the washing up. The oven mitt is from Brittany's shop. 

The house Brittany and Paul live still has many vintage details, like the mint tiles in the bathroom. The tea towel here is also designed by Brittany. 

The sunroom at the back of the house, used as Brittany's workshop and storage. She recently moved into a downtown studio. 

Bright rag rugs and old wood floors from the entrance to the living room. 

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