Today has been very snow rich and windy. The weather forecast had warned last week that the weekend was going to be rough in our area us so we made preparations by doing some grocery shopping and cancelled events we had planned. This weekend was going to be a cozy indoor weekend. This morning people were basically requested by the police and rescue team to stay indoors, the roads would not be cleared till the weather would get better.
When you know a snow storm is coming, you don’t even try to make plans, it just hits you and you’re happy that you and the people around you are safe. Even though it gets really cold outside (it very seldom goes below -20°c /-1F) and even if it does our houses are very strong and warm, always tank-top weather indoors. The snow gathers around the house and you might have to dig your way out but then you just have to remember the warm summer days and that they will be back, eventually.
The boys spent a good part of afternoon on our backyard porch shoveling and making tunnels and pathways, they really loved it and couldn’t care less that it was windy and had snow blowing everywhere.
They were really happy being outdoors, and especially when they thought of throwing snow at the window with their mum behind, who was safe and warm indoors!
On November 22nd we cleared our backyard porch
It feels a long time ago that me and little miss cleared the porch which is now completely filled with snow. We use the porch to hang out clothes to dry so we try to keep at least a part of it clear.
All of the windows in our house now have natures Christmas decorations 🙂
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.
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 🙂
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As you may or may not know, a volcanic eruption started in late August in the Icelandic highlands. Actually it was on my son’s 6th birthday August 31st. It’s been ongoing ever since and you can actually see it live on webcam here. It hasn’t interrupted our lives at all, since its quite far away, about 110km south from my town Akureyri far away from anything called civilization. Quite fortunate that!
But then it started.
A a few weeks ago we started noticing SO2 pollution from the Volcano. It spews up 20-60 thousand tons of SO2 (Sulfur Dioxade) on a daily basis, compared to the 14K tons emitted by the whole EU daily on total. So with the calm frosty weathers (this time of year we’re dancing around the 0°c degrees) the gas distribution forecast has been even more important than weather forecast. If gas pollution is harsh people are advised to stay indoors, kids wont go out during breaks at school and babies are not put out in strollers while napping and walking outside is ofcourse not advised. It is sometimes viewable as a blue haze but at other times its only sensed as a burning sensation in eyes and throat. My sister shot this video outside her home in the south-east:
On Thursday last week the Civil protection agency sent out 40 thousand SMS messages to people in my area to warn us to stay indoors, turn up the heat (which supposedly increases air pressure and inhibits gas from entering the apartment) and turn off any air conditioning equipment. Its kind of funny to get an SMS being asked to turn up the heat when it’s -5°c outside, like its not on full blast already! 🙂
The gas dispersion can be seen at the Iceland Meteor office website and it looks like we’ll get our share again on Thursday.
In that way the Volcano has had an impact of our lives in a sense that I have a great desire for the cold strong winds straight from the North Pole, to get some fresh air for my youngsters. I’d rather take on the freezing winds than more of this sneaky unhealthy pollution. But with the ongoing earthquakes in the glacier volcano close to the eruption, around 60-100 per day, this situation is likely to continue at least for the next weeks.
Image copyright: Axel Sig
One of the first items I put in my baby basket when I was preparing for the arrival were the baby & mommy products from Sola Urtasmiðjan. I used both the baby rash cream and mommy cream for sore nipples when my now 6 year old was a baby and they work like magic! I use the baby cream when I put a disposable nappie on my little one, any redness goes away. I don’t use the cream when I’m using cloth nappies both because I don’t have to and that the cream contains oils that can make the nappies repel, usually they do wash out though so I’m not very worried but I’m trying to eliminate the risk.
I don’t really use many baby products for the little one and the rule of thumb for me is that only products that are edible should be in contact with the skin. That goes for the salves from Sola Urtasmiðjan. Their ingredients are natural and organic, handpicked wild icelandic herbs from clean, pure air and unpolluted soil. Wild thyme, red clover, yarrow, violets, Iceland moss, lady’s mantle, angelica and more. All raw materials are 100% natural from the plant world i.e. cocoa- and shea-butter, unbleached beeswax, herbal oils and omega plant oils, all rich of necessary nutrients for the skin. All plant extracts, essences, preservatives and antioxidants are made from plants; herbs and fruit. Urtasmidjan uses no chemical products, no colorings, chemical scents, parabens, alcohol or petroleum based products like vaseline, petrolatum, paraffin or produce from animals.
They’ve been operating for the last 20 years and are one of the few products that I safely trust for my baby’s skin.
Now it’s the season to go picking berries! We have a variety of wild berries here on the north coast, mainly three types of blueberries, my favorite type are called bilberries and we try to pick as much as possible before the nighttime frost ruin them. Harvesting berries in late july & august is a very common tradition in Iceland and in fact one of the few sources of vitamin c (along with root-vegetable) that my ancestors in Iceland used to survive, there are no fruit trees here because the summer is too short and cold for them to flourish.