Thursday, 31 May 2012

Kiki & Katie's super delicious banana cake recipe

100g butter 
275g sugar
2 eggs
350g self raising flour
1/2tsp baking powder
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2tsp salt
5 ripe bananas
1tsp vanilla essence

Go and grease a cake tin and preheat your oven to 180C (that's 356F to you, my American friends!) Don't worry about the size of the cake tin, if there's mixture left over you get to make cupcakes with it too!

1. Cream together the butter and sugar. If you can, find yourself a cute little helper to do this for you:

I'd just like to point out that Katie's face here is a huge exaggeration. I promise you it is not that difficult to cream the butter and sugar. 

2. Beat in the eggs and add the vanilla essence. 

3. Fold in all of the dry ingredients. I skipped both the salt and the bicarbonate of soda and it actually turned out really nice, so it's up to you whether or not to include them! 

4. Mash up the bananas but leave them slightly chunky. I know that 5 seems a little bit excessive, I actually adapted this recipe from an old Good Housekeeping book and trust me, it's very yummy with 5 bananas mixed in. 

5. Now pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake at the centre of the oven for 30 minutes. You might notice that it has risen a lot and is already golden-brown after only 15-20 minutes. If this is the case, turn the oven down a little and bake for slightly longer. 

Have you forgotten to preheat the oven? Have a listen to this sweet music while you're waiting for it to heat up :)

Now it's time to decorate!

Make buttercream by mixing 85g of butter with 230g of icing sugar (and, if you're feeling fancy, a few drops of food colouring too :) Again, this is a good time to bring out your cute little helper...

... just be sure to keep an eye on her if she has a tendency to gobble up the icing!

That's all, just keep your cake(s) in the fridge because they're extra yummy when the icing is cold. 

Love from Kiki & Katie

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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

17th May - Norwegian Constitution Day

Ok I'm finally, finally getting around to posting about Norway's National Day, which took place on the 17th May. 

First of all, I apologise for the lack of (good quality) photos. I'm quite short, especially in comparison to Scandinavians and as a result, I was often unable to see over the crowds! 

The Norwegian Constitution day is a national holiday and celebrates the day on which the Constitution of Norway was signed, declaring Norway's independence. It was signed on the 17th May 1814 and this date has been celebrated ever since. 

On this day, the Norwegians are all dressed very beautifully in their national dress. There is a huge parade that takes place, where children from all over Oslo walk, play music and carry flags through the town. 

Isn't this little guy the cutest? Honestly, seeing little babies and children all dressed up in their national dress is the cutest thing!

I personally loved the musicians and the dancers, they were very impressive. 

After watching the parade for a couple of hours (we managed to squeeze ourselves into a teeny tiny gap at the front so we were standing there mesmerised for quite some time), we took a short walk up to the palace, where we saw the King waving from the balcony. Naturally we waved back. 

We spent the rest of the day wandering around the city, looking for candy floss stands and watching minature music displays, before joining the crazy queues for the T-bane. 

How does your country celebrate it's national day/independence day? We don't have one in England, nor do we have a national costume, which I think is such a shame! However, we will be having a big celebration this year for the Queen's diamond jubilee. It will be fun to make an English version of this post! 

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Monday, 28 May 2012

It Matters Monday - Should the age be lowered for cervical cancer screening?

There are not many things that bother me. I tend to keep out of politics, avoid confrontation at all costs and I never really get involved in campaigns or protests. However, there is one thing that is extremely important to me. If you live in England, you may have heard the recent news reports about smear tests for cervical cancer. I recently filled in a questionnaire which was aiming to find out how clued up young people are on these tests and how likely they are to take them in the future. It is clear that the need for these tests is very much in the forefront of peoples minds at the moment. The thing I have a problem with, however, is the fact that us girlies have to wait until we're 25 until we can take the test.

25 is far too old, in my opinion. In recent years there have been too many deaths of those under the age of 25, deaths that could have been prevented if those girls had been allowed to have the smear test at a younger age. In my group of 5 close female friends (from my hometown) two of them had already contracted HPV which was in the process of developing into cervical cancer. Both were told that they were in the beginning stages of cervical cancer and were promptly treated. Those two friends were lucky enough to have significant enough symptoms to warrant a test. 

HPV stands for Human Papilloma Virus and is the most common sexually transmitted infection worldwide. It is more common than Chlamydia. In a large number of cases, it does get cleared by the body, naturally, within a couple of years, but it can also lead to cervical cancer. In 2008 a vaccination was introduced that prevents this virus. However, the vaccine can only be administered to girls between the ages of 9 and 25 who have not been exposed to HPV before - ie girls who have not yet had sexual intercourse. That leaves a gigantic gap for us girls who have not been able to get the vaccine, but still have years before we can get the smear test. That means if we have the virus, it has plenty of time to develop without our knowledge. 

I understand that there are health risks when having the smear test underage. The results are not always reliable and of course it's expensive too. However, I firmly believe that those of us who are experiencing unusual symptoms, have been diagnosed with another sexually transmitted infection or who have not practiced safe sex and believe that we have been exposed to the infection have the right to be tested. After all, is it not better to be safe than sorry?

What are your views, my dears? Do you think the age should be lowered, or at least that allowances should be made for those of us who might be experiencing some of the symptoms of this terrible disease? 

Also, please feel free to join in with my new Monday blog theme 'It Matters Monday'. It would be lovely to read about the things most important to you guys (and it's nice to get a little inspiration when we're stuck for post ideas, isn't it :) I'll put the button up in my sidebar shortly, in the meantime feel free to copy it from here.

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Sunday, 27 May 2012

Simple Pleasures Series - Simple Iced Coffee

In this little series, I'm going to show you some simple (& delicious) ideas that I've either found around the web or come up with myself. I hope you enjoy them!

Todays post will be a quick recipe for a very simple iced coffee, made from only milk and frozen coffee. I came across the idea of making coffee ice cubes on Pinterest a little while back and Eunseong and I had been dying to try them out ever since! So one morning after breakfast, we boiled some water and added some coffee before letting it cool to room temperature. 

(I recommend 1 tablespoon of instant coffee powder for each mug of hot water. I know that this sounds strong but they melt slowly so it gives just the right amount of flavour).

Once our coffee was cool, we poured it into little ice cube bags (these are so cool! I was quite amazed by how smart they were!) but I'm sure it works to use a regular ice cube tray too. (Just watch out since it might stain :)

We let them freeze over night, before adding them to glasses of cold milk the next morning. 

The result was absolutely delicious! It tasted just like creamy iced-coffee but was so much simpler to make! Ours did look a little bit messy, I didn't realise that the coffee colour was going to leak into the milk so quickly - the original picture that I had seen showed a pretty contrast between the dark brown and the white. Ours didn't look quite so sophisticated, but the lovely, mild coffee flavour made up for that. 

What do you think? Have you tried this before? You can do this with chocolate or strawberry syrup too, for a lovely cold, milky drink :)

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Photo A Day May - Part Four

From the left...

13. Mum - I love this picture of my mother that was taken when she was a little girl. It came in a set of four and was from a black and white photobooth. I think she looks so grumpy and pouty. Isn't it the sweetest thing?

14. Grass - This little patch of grass leading to the sea was filled with lots of pretty wildflowers.

15. Love - Sometimes we need to remember how much we are loved. Eunseong helps me with this regularly. This sweet note of hers made me cry on the plane. I had to pretend I was sleeping to try to cover my tears and sniffling! 

16. What you're reading - Another example of my ongoing Carl Sagan obsession... 

What are you reading, my dears? Do you have any recommendations for me? I'm looking for a sweet, summer story that's easy to read, but I'm not that into girly books. I'm actually starting a project, in the coming days, that will mainly be about Roald Dahl, so I've just placed an order for a collection of his books. I'm so excited to receive them!

I hope you're all having a perfect, lazy Sunday. 

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Saturday, 26 May 2012

Eurovision Song Contest 2012

Are you watching it with me right now? Who would you like to see win? Here is my favourite Nordic act:

I should really be supporting Scandinavia, but I (not so) secretly adore Jedward :D 

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Friday, 25 May 2012

I ♥ Bournemouth

Sorry for not writing for such a long time. I can't believe it's already been a whole week! 

After flying back to England on Monday evening, I've spent the last few days exploring my new town and wandering around the beautiful seaside.

I'm currently working on some new posts, including a small series where my little brother and I try out some simple summertime activities in order to give all you mummies out there some sweet ideas :)

That's it for now. I hope you are all very well and enjoying the hot weather, it's 28 degrees (82F) here! Jack and I are just finishing watching Mr Popper's Penguins before we go back to the beach for a swim and some ice cream. What a lovely place to live! 

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Friday, 18 May 2012

Photo A Day May - Part Three

From the left...

1. Something you do every day - We have a small balcony by our kitchen and I like to stand there each day and look at the view. There isn't much to see, just a few trees and a small mountain in the background, but you'll never be more thankful to see the fresh green leaves of the trees than when you've spent the winter in an icy Scandinavian town... 

2. A favourite word - One of my favourite words is 'smultronponny'. 'Smultron' are those tiny forest strawberries and 'ponny' means 'pony'. It's a kind of Swedish candy that I love, but I kind of just love saying that word.

3. Kitchen - You might have read about my amazingly disgusting kitchen that I have to share in this flat. I didn't want to gross you guys out so I took a picture of our painter's ladder instead. He painted the walls that same shade of horrid-weird yellow. I made friends with him while I was eating my toast, he seemed like a nice man. 

4. Something that makes you happy - Ice cream makes me happy. Especially when I get to eat it while I'm wandering around in the evening, chatting with a good friend, with the sun's warmth still in my skin. What makes you happy?

Thank you all for your sweet 'good luck' wishes. The exam went ok, I feel like I could have done better but that can't be helped now. Today I had a very long and tiring day sorting out paperwork, ready to leave here. I finished my essay as well, which was the last piece of work I had left to do. I'm feeling relieved but also a little overwhelmed so I think I'm going to take it easy tonight before the crazy packing and cleaning mission begins! How are you all doing? I miss you! I can't wait to get back to normality so I can spend some time here with you all! 

PS: If you have a moment, please pop over and see Gail, she's walking on Sunday for Autism Speaks, an organisation that helps families who are affected by autism. She's written a lovely post about why 'Team Isabella' are walking on Sunday and it would be great if you could show them some support :) 

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Monday, 14 May 2012

My last week in Oslo

Today is the beginning of my final week in Oslo. This time next week I will be on my way home to England, having packed up my little flat and said goodbye to some of the dearest friends I've ever had. It's a funny feeling, some moments I have butterflies because I'm so excited to go home, and some moments I feel like crying because I've grown so fond of this place. 

I won't be posting for the next couple of days because I have exams. On Wednesday afternoon I will have my phonetics exam and I'm hoping to have completed an essay I'm writing for another course by then too. On Thursday it is the Norwegian national day and I'm planning a huge post to tell you all about that. I will be wandering around Oslo all day with my camera so that I can come back and teach you all about it!

So I'm sure you will be hearing from me by the end of the week, but until then I need to study very hard. If you see me creeping around here anytime before Wednesday, you have my full permission to shout at me and tell me to get back to work!

Keep safe, keep smiling, have a lovely week and I can't wait to come and see what you guys have been getting up to while I've been gone! 

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Saturday, 12 May 2012

Holmenkollstafetten 2012

Today was a very warm and sunny day in Oslo and I hadn't planned to do anything but stay inside and study. However, I ended up having an unexpected day out. My friend was running in a relay race, so I went to take care of her things and give her some water at the end of her run. Since it was quite a spontaneous decision and I hadn't heard much about this race, I thought it might be a minor university event with a few small teams or something. I was so pleasantly surprised when I found out that I was wrong! This race was the Holmenkollstafett, an 18km long relay race with 15 members in each team and 40,000 people taking part!

It was really fun to watch the people running. Some of them were dressed in a special way, representing their company, university department or charity. We saw a blind man running with the help of a guide, a man in a furry gorilla cosutme and even several young, but very energetic children taking part. There were various mishaps, mainly due to crowd control - it was unbelievable to see the amount of people wandering vaguely in the middle of the street, in the way of all of those exhausted runners! There were also a couple of occasions where the person who was meant to be taking the baton was missing, which resulted me learning a lot of Norwegian swear words!

One of the fun parts of the day was hearing the Norwegian crowd cheering at people running past. In England we don't really say anything specific, (do we??) but here they shout something that sounds like "hai-ya, hai-ya"which sounded quite unusual to me. It was nice that even people just passing by stopped to cheer a few random people here and there. The race felt very inclusive and everyone who took part was given a lot of support and encouragement. 

We stayed for quite a while, watching people whizz past and sunning ourselves happily in the unusually warm weather. It was a really exciting day and it really confirmed for me how much I'd like to take part in a race someday. It must be very rewarding to train for so long and to take part in an event like this, where so many people come out to watch your hard work pay off. 

Have you ever competed in a race? I hope your Saturday was as beautifully sunny as mine turned out to be!

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Friday, 11 May 2012

Sweet dreams

My dears, I just wanted to share a pretty song with you. Whenever I'm having difficulty sleeping I always listen to music like this to help me to drift off. I discovered this song today and it has such a lovely melody:

She's singing:
She sat alone beside the sea
and sang his bittersweet songs
until he appeared, and said,
"Swan, swan, tell me, where will you sail when the sun goes?
Swan, swan, tell me, where will you sail when the sun goes?"
but he never received a response.
If the world knew the other, better, side of life.

The song is by an Icelandic band called Rökkurró whose album I was given a few years ago. I hadn't realised that they had released a new album since then and was very pleased to find this song. I hope you like it. I will probably make a post about this band later on, but for now it's time to close your eyes and sail off into dreamland. 

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Thursday, 10 May 2012

This made me smile

I found this yesterday and it made me laugh. I know a few of you that will like this...

Having lived in Norway since last August, I'm sure you can imagine how much I'm missing my little dog. Her name is Mackie and she is probably the most-snuggled animal on this planet. Most people fear becoming the crazy cat-lady, and I sometimes think I'm destined to become a crazy anything-furry-and-cute-lady. But the best part is, I'm not even remotely worried about that. I'm kind of looking forward to it!

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Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Photo A Day May - Part Two

From the left...

5. Bird - This is the little bird ornament that Eunseong gave to me. He is sitting in the failed-birdfeeder that I used to have stuck to my window. Before taking this photo, I had had the very high expectation that, after filling the little birdfeeder with oats and nuts, pretty birds would come flying towards my window and I'd be able to take an amazing photo for this post. Are you surprised to learn that it didn't turn out the way that it was in my mind? The failed-birdfeeder wouldn't even stick and I keep finding nuts and oats everywhere. But it was a nice try.

6. You - This picture was taken last year on Midsommar. Here is a tutorial I made for the wreath of flowers I'm wearing on my hair.

7. Someone that inspires you - This is my flatmate Eunseong. She is very clever at astronomy. She inspires me to always look up at the sky. She once told me that "the best thing about the future is the fact that we cannot know what is going to happen until we get there". She is wise. 

8. A smell you adore - I love the smell of the forest. I love it when it's that perfect combination of sun-warmed wood, wildflowers and wet grass and soil.

Who inspires you? A friend or relative? A celebrity?

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Photo A Day May - Part One

From the left...

1. Peace - It was very peaceful to live in Oslo last Semester. Last night we were thinking about our former housemates and the lovely times we had. One night we were all upset about various things and we sat together in the kitchen, cried and ate oranges. We always managed to calm each other and I miss the way that we used to live together so peacefully. 

2. Skyline - I know there should really be buildings in a skyline, but much of Norway's 'skyline' looks like this. Natural and serene. 

3. Something I wore today - I live in floral dresses and long cardigans. This outfit is kind of my comfort-wear. It's just a light cotton dress and a warm snuggly cardigan with deep pockets to keep my candy in!

4. Fun! - Fun is people-watching on the warm balcony, whilst sipping glasses of ice cold 'Fun'. Strawberry and Rhubarb flavour is the yummiest. (And pinkest!) 

How are you doing today? Is it as grey there as it is here? It's now less than two weeks until I pack my bags and move back to England. This time I will be moving into our new house, I'm so excited to get to know the new area and to decorate my new bedroom! 

I have a lot of books in storage and some are brand new. I'm thinking about having a giveaway soon because I want to find good homes for them. What do you think? Is a book giveaway something you'd be interested in? 

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Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Lets cycle around the city together today

"She didn't have to pay for it-
it was growing there already, 

tall and old, by the gravel drive,
where we used to ride our scooters.

No one else was allowed to pick
the huge pale blooms that smelt like jam

It was mine all through that summer.
In October we moved again.

But even never seeing it
couldn't stop it from being mine"
A Rose Tree - Fleur Adcock

inspire nordic 

Monday, 7 May 2012

Look what I found... (+ award time!)


I came across this while I was looking around on Pinterest earlier and I thought some of you might be interested. I know it's a little late, but that doesn't matter, we can catch up! I know many of you love to take photos and even more of you love a challenge so it seemed kind of perfect. I might try it, even just a few of them, it seemed like a cute little challenge for the month :)

Now for the award... A great big, huge, fat, snuggly thank you to the lovely Dana for giving me this award:

Here are the required 10 random facts about me:

1. I spent the majority of my childhood wishing to be grown up and now that I am grown up, I spend the majority of my time wishing I was a child again.

2. I'd like to be cool and sophisticated and sip on iced lattes while I rush to important meetings wearing my sunglasses, but I secretly think that they taste like what happens when your hair gets stuck in the wrong end of the hairdryer.

3. I never leave the house without my mini book of flowers, just incase I come across a wild flower that I'd like to know the name of.

4. I think that tea and biscuits can cure anything.

5. I am a total space geek and love to spend my evenings staring up at the sky, finding constellations and planets.

6. I always have a hairband round my wrist and get kind of frantic if I find it's not there.

7. If I met up with you, I'd probably bring cake.

8. I adore picnics.

9. I love mornings. I love to wake up early and make something special for breakfast. I love to take walks in the cool morning air and don't understand how people can sleep in until late - those who wake up late often don't get a chance to see the sun before it hides behind the clouds!

10. Whenever I hear an ice cream van, I turn into a 5 year old, leap out of bed and go and press my face up against the window. If it happens to stop, I can be out there in 3 seconds flat.

I'm allowed to give this award to 6 others and it's so difficult to pick just 6. However, I've chosen LauraGailHazelJojoBecca & Lisa

EDIT: I want to give this award to Sabrina too. Sorry award people, but 6 creative blogs just isn't enough! I'm sneaking someone else in!

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A to Z Challenge: Reflections

I found out about the challenge in mid-February this year and about a week later I signed up. I loved this challenge so very much and am so grateful for having been given the chance to take part.

I met so many wonderful people through the challenge that there is simply no room to list them all. If you go to my followers, on the right hand side of this page, and look through them, the majority of them are dear friends that I have made during the challenge. During the weekend I usually put up a list of fun links to visit, so I'm sure if you stick with me, you will get to meet many of these wonderful bloggers very soon 

The only problem I had during this challenge was finding the time to reply to comments. Unfortunately I'm usually busy with essays and exams during April and had less time than expected to work on the challenge. I'm happy to say that I managed to write a post for each letter, but I would have loved to have been able to visit my wonderful commenters more often. I'm doing that in my free time these days though :)

One thing that really helped was the little calendar that I made. I wrote down each letter and each day on a piece of paper and filled it in with lots of possible topics. That means that I was able to find something for each letter and that you can expect many more Nordic-themed posts in the future, since I have many left over topics! 

Taken in March, note the typical cookie I'm halfway through eating...

That's it really, for reflections. I just want to say a great big sparkly thank you to all of you who visited me, supported me, commented me, followed me and encouraged me throughout the challenge. I really value each and everyone of you, my dear friends, and I'm so glad I decided to take part in the challenge in the end. Even if I don't always have time to comment, you can be sure I'm spending minutes with you, here and there, reading about your days and sending you wishes. I'd like to give each and every one of you a warm, squishy hug!

(PS: You can find all of my challenge posts right here :)

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