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Thankful November
After our trip to London, November was still pretty insanely busy and actually rather stressful. Chris was still gone for most of the month and work at the bakery never slows down.


First off, we had the Varatun Christmas market to prepare for. We had a booth with cake supplies and hosted a gingerbread decorating station for the kids. While we were in the process of mixing, cutting, and baking over 800 gingerbread cookies, every baker’s worst fear came true: our oven stopped working. We had to scramble and take all the cookie dough over to Katrine’s house to bake them. As you can imagine, late nights ensued in order to have them ready in time for the market.


Luckily, we had already purchased our big new industrial oven and were in the process of having it installed while we were in the UK the week before, but it still wasn’t completely hooked up and in working order yet. THANKFULLY because of the Christmas market we hadn’t taken any cake orders so while inconvenient, it wasn’t as big of a disaster as it could have been.


Also…I got up in the middle of the night to pee (as pregnant women are wont to do) and stumbled over my suitcase in the dark, ripping off my big toenail again (it was already pretty janky due to a ballroom dancing accident my freshman year of college). I couldn’t wear closed toe shoes for three days due to the swelling! What a start to the month!


My poor toe!
The cake shop completely torn to bits while our oven was being installed (and yes…those are Halloween decorations still up…) + A special delivery from Chris since he couldn’t be there in person to help me through my rough week. I seriously married the most amazing man :)
Varatun Christmas Market
We finally got our brand new-to-us deck oven up and running! This was the first test-bake and from then on out our lives have changed for the better. We went from only being able to bake 12 cupcakes at once to being able to bake 120. No more 14-hour baking days for moi! I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing that is after almost 4 years of baking in a tiny normal home oven.
Skittles being Skittles and hanging out on the baby bump.
Chris came back from Naples and that same weekend our church ward had a fun Thanksgiving activity up at some cabins at the Sirdal ski resort up in the mountains the weekend before Thanksgiving. We all got together and cooked 10 turkeys, huge vats of sweet potatoes, and numerous pies and had ourselves a classic American Thanksgiving dinner. The picture above is the only picture I have from the trip. It started to snow pretty heavily on the way back down to Stavanger and unfortunately since Chris had been gone for so long we still hadn’t put the winter tires on our car. It was a little shaky, but we made it home in one piece.

The next weekend on the official holiday Chris and I had ourselves a little mini Thanksgiving dinner just the two of us (by official holiday I mean the Saturday of the official weekend. Since Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated here in Norway Chris and I don’t get it off of work so we haven’t had Thanksgiving dinner on actual Thanksgiving day since we moved to Norway.) This year, on my continuing quest to make the perfect turkey, I whittled it down to the bare bones to start at the basics. I got rid of all the homemade fancy roasted garlic rub and all that nonsense from years past and purely rubbed it all over with butter and stuffed the cavity with lemons, onions, and herbs. It turned out to be the closest to the turkeys on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens I’ve made yet! I still need to work a little bit on the evenness of the browning and now I’m going to start to play with flavor a little since it was a little bland with only butter, but it was perfectly moist and that’s ultimately what matters! Next year just might be the year!

Chris and I sure had a lot to be grateful for this year!

Hurra for 17 Mai!
Chris got back from Menorca the morning of the 17th of May, otherwise known as Norway’s Constitution Day. I was planning to write a profound and witty anecdote or two about the tradition of bunads (the national Norwegian costume) and the fact that it was Norway’s 200th anniversary of their constitution, but considering I’m about 9 months behind on this blog now and I really just want to get caught up I’ll just say that Yay! Norway has been its own country for 200 years! and Yay! Bunads are awesome and beautiful!
We skipped the morning children’s parade this year so after a nice long nap, we met up with some church friends to watch the folketoget, or People’s Parade.
Love these kids’ faces!
Love this guy’s face too!
Our friends, the Olsens, all decked out in their 17th of May finest.
Church dogpile.
Lynne in her gorgeous bunad custom made for her by her mom!
More bunads because I love them so much.

Gratulerer med 200 års dagen Norge!

Easter Break

Looking back it feels like March and April were just one big whirlwind of cake, cake, and more cake. We were so blessed to have so many orders to fill so soon after opening, but Katrine and I hadn't figured out our groove yet and unfortunately took on too many orders for the two of us to sanely handle. We got everything done we needed to, but it meant a lot of 70 hour work weeks and we were completely and utterly exhausted and very close to our breaking point by the time Easter rolled around. Fortunately, Easter is a week-long work holiday here in Norway so we made the most of it and finally gave ourselves a little break. I can't even express how desperately it was needed. Especially since it meant Chris and I finally got to have some work-free time to ourselves for the first time in what felt like months.

One morning a day or two into the break, I woke up to a strange sound in the backyard. In my half-asleep state I couldn't figue out what it was, but then I realized with a start that it was the same bleating sound of baby sheep I had heard a week before out at Utstein Kloster! I jumped out of bed and over to the window so fast it woke Chris up in a bit of a panic. He was not as enthused as I was as I excitedly pointed out the window whispering, “Baby sheep! Baby sheep!”

But lo and behold, our backyard was full of soft and fluffy little lambs and it was so fun to watch them run and frolick in the spring sunshine all of Easter break!

Skittles does NOT like the sheep in the backyard. Whenever she sees them pass by our window she starts screaming at the top of her lungs. I assume it's a territorial thing, but it got especially bad with the baby sheep dashing about all day. When we bring her outside to look at the sheep up close, she suddenly gets all timid and hides in my hair. She talks all big when she's safe behind a window, but is a total chicken when it comes down to it. We are working on this…
Enjoying the most of the beautiful spring sunshine and weather while I could, I also used the break to get my patio container garden started again. This spring I expanded on last year's radishes, carrots, kale, peas, and broccoli with a potted rhubarb plant, green beans, spinach and five bags of potatoes. We'll see how it goes!

Between the arrival of the little lambs and the much-needed break from work the holiday afforded, there was a heightened sense of symbolism for me during Easter this year. It never got fully fleshed out into a spiritual thought in my mind, but watching the lambs in connection with the celebration of Easter was a definite reminder of the atonement and sacrifice of the Lamb of God and the peace that it brings to our lives that is the true meaning of Easter.


A Very Thankful New Years

One of the perks of Chris working for NATO is the annual opportunity we have to order real Butterball turkeys for Thanksgiving every year. The only thing is, we have to order them a few months in advance and you can only order in a size range (e.g. 10-15 lb or 16-20 lb, etc) so it’s kind of a crap shoot how much turkey you will actually get. Chris and I had talked about having a bunch of friends over for Thanksgiving, so we played it safe and ordered one in the 16-20 lb category back in September. And, since Chris REALLY likes leftover turkey, he played it extra safe and ordered an additional 10-15 lb turkey thinking we could have a smaller one just for leftovers.


Then as the months progressed, Chris’ little brother decided to get married around Thanksgiving so we bought plane tickets home instead of planning Thanksgiving dinner in Norway. Then the turkey shipment came in and we were given a 19lb turkey and a 14lb turkey! So we spent the holiday in the US with the Hills with two giant turkeys waiting for us back home. Yikes.


We had to do SOMETHING with the turkeys because as much as Chris loves Thanksgiving turkey leftovers, 33 pounds of turkey is a bit more than even he can handle. Since Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated in Norway anyway, we decided we could celebrate our own Thanksgiving whenever we wanted to! So we picked New Year’s Day and had a bunch of our friends join us for a Thankful New Year’s feast!

We were lucky to be able to book the NATO boat house for the night, since we were still table-less and couch-less at our apartment. Eating Thanksgiving on the floor with 20 people just seemed like a bad idea…
I’m still on my quest to make the PERFECT Thanksgiving turkey. You know, like the ones on the cover of Martha Stewart Magazine with the perfectly even brown skin and juicy insides. I got pretty close this year! It looks a little charred in the photos, but in person it wasn’t far off. I think next year might just be the year I finally get it!
The group shot
Chris photobombing his own photo.
We spent the evening enjoying good food, fun games, and fantastic company! We couldn’t have asked for a better start to 2014!


Christmas 2013

We got “settled” into our new apartment just in time for Christmas. (Why does it seem like we’re always either moving or traveling during Christmas time? We really need to stop that. It’s much too stressful.)


We still didn’t have any living room or dining room furniture (our “couch” was a pile of pillows in a corner and our “table” was an upturned moving box), and we were nowhere near being upacked, but we unearthed our decoration boxes and decked the halls for Christmas anyway.

Including our tree :)

I found a tutorial on Pinterest on how to take sparkly Christmas tree photos. I had some fun testing it out :)
And of course, the annual church Christmas concert. I was in charge of the decorations again this year and with a LOT of help from Carrie and Anita it turned out pretty fun!
Chris performed “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” with our bishop’s daughter, Anna, complete with full instrumental accompaniment and backup singers. One of these days I’m going to have to track down a video recording of the performance, because it was just darling! The ward has been a little obsessed with Chris’ deep voice ever since.
Since we weren’t traveling anywhere for Christmas this year, we were exposed to some more Norwegian Christmas traditions. One of our new favorites is ‘ribbe’ (roasted pork ribs) which is a traditional Christmas dinner in Eastern Norway. Our friends, Grethe and Leidulf, had us over for ribbe one evening and it was oh-my-gosh-delicious!
And oh yeah! It snowed! Fresh snow is such a magical way to get into the Christmas mood. We were hoping it would last until Christmas Day, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. We were happy to get one last snowy shot from our old apartment’s view before it all melted away.
We’re really learning to love Christmas in Norway!