Spring always arrives later in Iceland than in other parts of Europe, some say about two months later than central Europe and even later here up north. This impacts both the flora and fauna when the frost doesn’t leave the ground till April/May. It’s not uncommon for the birds to lay eggs in late June so that’s what we found in grandma and grandpa’s back yard last weekend.
A beautiful blackbird’s nest with five little eggs in it. The little bird was sat patiently in a tree nearby so we didn’t want to disturb him too much but we really adored his nestmaking skills.
A few days ago we celebrated Ash Wednesday. I don’t know how or if you celebrate it in your country but in my town here in Akureyri, Iceland it’s a grown custom for kids to dress up early in the morning, visit the companies in town and sing a song or two and get candy in return. My boys, aged 10 and 6 decided they wanted to dress up as their every day heros, namely Minecraft characters. It was a challenge because they had to be able to move around, get in and out of cars and such and being in a cardboard box isn’t really appropriate for that. Also they had to dress well because it was only about 4°c outside. It’s much easier to dress up when you don’t have to have the snow overall on.
But anyway.. I decided to sew two costumes, ‘a creeper’ and ‘diamond armor Steve’. The look and texture is of course softer than expected of bitmap characters but they did get some attention and were easily recognized in the town. Here’s a slight tutorial for the minecraft costumes. If you have any questions feel free to comment below.
For the costumes I used two blankets, one cardboard box which I cut in pieces, plastic tape, four empty Ritz Crackers boxes, two plastic flowerpots and some kids plastic paint. And ofcourse my sewing machine.
Did I just say flower pots?
Yes, I did. It was tough to figure out how to place the cardboard top onto their heads, so the bottom of the pot is taped to the cardboard and a piece of fabric threaded through the holes in the flower pot and pinned to their cap.
The ‘Creeper’ only had cardboard at the top so it was hard to keep it at place, so I would recommend something more sturdy.
The Diamond armor Steve was made by cutting down, forming and taping together a piece of cardboard paper. I only made the shoulders but made them wide enough for the fabric to stay straight down his body. I could add measurements but its really better to measure your child and make it fit him/her.
The fabric is folded so its a whole piece. The shoulders were closed in the final outcome, not open at the ends. The fabric was sewed together at the sides and glued to the cardboard.
In whole it took two afternoons to make these, they were thrilled and my Daniel, who wore the Diamond Armor Steve costume, was asked for a selfie with various people down town 🙂
Oh and the candy they brought home, best pay I could have imagined 😀
If you bake a lot then you probably know this, I wish I had known when I first started, it would have saved me a lot of time and trouble (and some disappointing results too). This goes for most cakes and cookies but ofcourse you should always follow a recipe if its any different and precise. These tips are more like ‘between the lines’ tips.
1. Blend all ingredients at the same temperature. That means no cold eggs with hot butter. Most of the time baking is an instant decision so the eggs are still in the fridge when its time to blend them in. I place them in luke-warm water (not hot! did that once and the whites turned ‘white’).
2. Mix fat and sweetener well, doesn’t matter if its butter, coconut oil or vegetable oil (I never use margerine anymore) and sugar, brown sugar, splenda or other sweetener. They should really melt together before adding eggs.
3. Adding the eggs one by one and stir well to fill the blend with air, but not too much because you dont want the air to go out
4. If you have a yeast dough, adding oil can make it softer but the oil should never be blended with the yeast, rather when you have a wet mix of water, yeast and wheat you can add the oil. And #1 rule for a yeast dough is t-i-m-e ..
About 10min drive from my town, in the rural countryside, is a small hut beside the road, that is open all year and sells only Christmas decorations. The smell in there is divine, christmas carols are played in the background and while on the outside it looks like a very small hut, inside it has a grande staircase down to the cellar so actually the house is around 4x bigger than it looks like from the outside. Under the lowest part of the staircase is a children’s play area where the kids can crawl (my 10 year old barely so) and adults can’t reach them at all. Thankfully, they know there are caramels with various flavors (including chocolate, candyfloss, blueberry and even bacon and beer) available upstairs 🙂
Both upstairs and downstairs is PACKED with christmas decorations for sale, anything you could possibly imagine from glittery american to hand crafted scandinavian decor and icelandic trolls (and actually ‘Grýla’ an ogre who cooks misbehaving children into a stew, can be spotted through a crack in the stony walls – is the only thing my 6 year old Emil is not too keen on looking at), leafbread, smoked meat and everything that goes with this tradition in Iceland. The person who owns the place, Benedikt, actually and really looks like a Santa, throughout the year he sports a brown beard and a baseball cap but in December his whole look changes dramatically.
(More about Grýla on wiki)
The outdoor area is cute and friendly. You can put your head into a santa board figure and have your picture taken, they also have a couple of giant tic-tac-toe boards and these adorable bird houses. Also in the garden is the ‘Wishing Well of Unborn Children’. A beautiful place of peace and good thoughts. On the signpost it sais:
“We all have wishes related to children.
We wish to have children and want to bring them
all the happiness in the world.
Grandparents wish to hear again the pat of footsteps.
Big sister and big brother wish to have small brothers and sisters.
Friends wish their friends to have children
and an unborn child has all our deepest wishes.
Walk to the well and make a silent wish.
Touch the surface of the water and your wish will join
all good wishes in the wishing well
for children of the future”.
The upper floor of the tower (seen on first pic) holds a huge adventurous Christmas calendar, where you open little boxes with stories that relate to fairy tale figures and you match them with the pictures adorably painted on the walls.
Taken last summer, Emil enjoys a caramelized apple in July 🙂
Find out more:
I’m admiring the new calendar at the new mr. Printables shop. You can add little surprises in the paper boxes in shape of houses. Super cute and clever!