Thursday, April 24, 2014

Designing Decor: Experiments In Space

We live in an age of finite space.  Not all of us are lucky enough to own or rent large and spacious homes, in fact small cars and small apartments are the norm of city life and most of us live in cities where by definition space is premium. Interior design helps us create the illusion of space where no space exists.
My particular home is about 50 square metres, it has one small double bedroom and one wet/shower room. My kitchen, dining room and living room are all squeezed together in one room. It doesn’t feel cramped but I do spend a lot time putting things away, like most of us that live in a smaller home. My husband bought the apartment before we met so it seemed perfectly reasonable for us to live here after we got married.  Just before we got married we renovated the flat, taking it from a studio apartment with separate kitchen to a one bedroomed apartment. We had a lot of help in arranging the flat from my parents-in-law after the reno and for the last four years I’ve been perfectly content with how the space worked.

Modern Home/Cosy Feel

Then last Easter weekend(17th April 2014)  we visited some friends of ours who have four beautiful children.  They live in a new build house that is in the what you might describe as new Scandinavia style. My dear friend Samantha however loves the feel of country cottage style and has taken the bones of her quite modern home and decked it out with a modern country cottage style, making it feel very cosy with her  beautiful farmhouse dining table and six old fashioned dining chairs around it, right next to a beautiful floor to ceiling picture window. I was so in love with the idea that I just had to try it out and see if somehow I could achieve a feeling of space and still have my very old and somewhat decrepit dining table with its IKEA dining chairs nearer my large window.  So I embarked on about an hour of heavy lifting with my patient and long suffering husband.

A Beautiful View Unseen

Our kitchen/dining/living room is very square, and for the last four years we’ve had our sofa pushed against one wall, our kitchen on another wall, our television on yet another wall and my dining table a dumping ground next to my over- filled bookcases which are against the same wall as the TV. We have a beautiful view across the Bergen Fjord, but for years we haven’t really been able to see it as well I thought it deserved to be seen. Why? Well two reasons:
  1. The height of the window.
  2. The position of the sofa.
The sofa was pushed up to the wall, in theory to maximise the view through the window, but since the sofa sitting position is much lower than say an upright chair, well all you could really see was the mountains of Ask√ły. I have nothing against those mountains, but I did feel like we were underestimating the view some what.
Also the position of my dining table though useful as a work table meant that it was more likely to be used as a dumping ground. Since it was right in front of the hall way door any thing that needed to used in the living area would end up on the table. We hardly ever ate there because it was always filled with random stuff that took too much effort to move. It was the bane of my housewife-ish aspirations, it never seemed to be tidy.
BEFORE: Gorgeous, of course, but not quite so good as….IMAG0123
…AFTER: Pure genius!IMG_0914

An Extra Room

Okay, so maybe I’m making a big deal out of nothing. Interior design is an indulgent hobby of mine. I really enjoy trying to bring a new mood to some place. I feel like with this new arrangement of furniture I have gotten an extra room, from where I can type this blog, eat my breakfast, work on my numerous amounts of projects… etc. I love the fact I can now see our beautiful view in its entirety through the glass door, that I have acquired a more cosy conversational seating arrangement. It feels like a completely new space.
With interior design, out of the box is never wrong. Thinking in new ways is my new mission. I hope this gives you ideas, or at least impetus to see your own home in a new light. Please subscribe in the top left corner, and comment below.
Till next time.
Davita

Monday, April 21, 2014

Imaginative Cookery: It’s Raining Men, Gingerbread Men!

IMG_0846It’s another first here at Mrs Egeland’s Creative Domesticity. I can’t actually remember posting a recipe before, although its possible that I have.

Here I am continuing to work on my new mission of bringing you ideas. Which brings me neatly to a recipe that I personally get a little nostalgic about. It’s more widely associated with Christmas but, why should the time of year stop you from making something delicious?

Reason For Nostalgia

In Norway, we have different things at Christmas, firstly something called “kakermann”, which is a vanilla cookie that has a cakey consistency in the shape of a man, sort of. We have something else called “pepperkaker”, which is similar to ginger nut biscuits with less ginger and more black pepper. But I have yet to see a “pepperkakermann”, or a pepper-cake-man. Although I have no doubt that they exist, somewhere. However, that is why gingerbread men make me feel so nostalgic, they are my taste of Britain, they remind me of home. So why should I have to wait for Christmas to taste nostalgia?

I love to cook, I love food, I especially love eating  (which explains my fluctuating waistline) and baking is a treat that I don’t always get to indulge in. So when a little friend of mine (a friend’s daughter, almost an adopted niece) asked if we could bake together I was delighted to oblige. What better recipe to share with a child than gingerbread men?!

So We Begin

I give all due credit to Windows Food &Drink App, and Illustrated Step by Step Baking which is where I got this recipe.  I’d just like to say that the ounce measurements came from a conversion online, I just hope they’re right!

4 tbsp syrup
2 1/3 cups (18 1/2 oz) flour
1tsp baking powder
1 1/2tsp ground ginger
1 1/2tsp ground cinnamon
7tbsp (3 1/2 oz) diced butter
3/4 cup (6 oz) dark brown sugar
1 large egg
Decorations and icing.

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F. In a saucepan warm the syrup till it's runny, then leave it to cool on one side. Sift or whisk the flour, baking powder and spices together in a large bowl. Add the butter and rub it into the flour/spice mix until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and mix it in well. In the cooled syrup beat the egg. Then making a well in the flour mix, pour in the syrup mix and bring together into a dough. I found that it was quite sticky, but persevere and do your best to make a dough ball.  Then on a floured surface knead the dough lightly with plenty of flour if its sticky until smooth and roll out. Roll out to about 1/4inch,  and then using cutter, cut out as many as possible. Re-rolling leftover dough and continuing to cut out shapes until all the dough is used up. I managed about 18 gingerbread men. At this point you can add raisins on your gingerbread men for eyes and buttons, I didn’t do that, I preferred to decorate afterwards. Bake for 10-12 mins until golden. Leave them to cool on a wire rack. When they are completely cool use icing to decorate and to stick sweets to them. I cheated and bought prepared icing in a tube, but it would work just as well with homemade icing and a piping bag.

And Serve!

IMG_0847

This photo was taken after my little friends had gotten a hold of quite a few of my gingerbread creations, which explains why some of them have disappeared. I, innocently enough, made some a little detailed. I really should have paid more attention to the shape of the sweets I was sticking to my gingerbread men/women.

Oh well it didn’t stop them from being delicious. When I took these to a friend’s for the weekend, her troupe of rugrats devoured them all and complained there weren’t enough, in spite of the odd decorations! I learned my lesson, make a double batch next time!

Hope you find time to bake your own creations. Please leave a comment, tell me if you tried this recipe maybe. Please subscribe, follow me on Google+, Twitter or Facebook. Till next time.

Davita