Christmas 2016

Christmas is upon us and here in Norway we start the celebration on Christmas Eve. Actually most of us start on December 23rd which is the day the last details are supposed to be put in place. I can’t manage three days in a row now so my Lille Julaften (Little Christmas Eve) was spent resting, taking a shower and making the Norwegian version of sauerkraut.


Our sauerkraut is not fermented like the german version is. It’s delicious tho and is perfect with the pork based feast we traditionally eat on Christmas Eve. To make it you need:

  • 1 cabbage
  • 1 apple
  • 1/2 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar/apple cider vinegar (maybe a little more if it needs it)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1/2 l Stock (I use chicken)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

I cut the cabbage into wedges and then into strips in the food processor. Cut the apple into smallish cubes (it will dissolve when cooked). Put all the ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil, simmer for about two hours until it looks like this:

img_0062

Surkål – directly translates to sour cabbage

Heat before eating.

My mom and I have spent a couple of hours tonight with me in my new Christmas PJs. That is a new tradition that we started after I got worse again. She left me while I still had some energy left and has gone up to my uncle to spend the rest of the night there with some more of our family. She’s picking me up tomorrow to go to hers for christmas breakfast (traditionally it lasts all day here but I probably only have about two hours in me).

We’ve eaten our pork belly, pork meatballs and pork roast and had cloudberry cream for dessert. We’ve opened a few presents and toasted in non alcoholic beverages. I do miss having a little Aquavit to drink but that seems like an incredibly bad idea right now when just a little alcohol makes me very hung over and this particular drink has a lot.

I wish you all a very merry holiday and hope to come back with more in Romjula (day 1-5 of Christmas).

 

GOD JUL!

 

Making new habits – getting better at being effective at what I can do

I’ve talked bit about habits before and how I use them to preserve energy.  A few years ago I found a tumblr called Unfuck Your Habitat (UFyH) and that started changing how I approached housework. I used to be really messy, and would clean and tidy up in a panicked frenzy when someone was coming to visit. Naturally that meant I hated every second of it.

giphy2

Oh, do come in.

It’s a lot of work changing habits like these, it has taken me about a couple of years to get to the point I’m at now where I have a home that is pretty much always – if not super clean – at least tidy. It feels good to have gotten this far being as sick as I am.

So what sort of routines have I created for myself? Well the rules of UFyH are pretty simple; put it away not down, laundry has three steps – wash, dry, put it away dammit, everything has to have a place to live. Most importantly the system emphasises working within your limits. I’ve not documented the paring down of my excess stuff since most of that happened in the middle of the renovation of my living room and kitchen, but trust me I got rid of a lot of stuff I never used.

The routines I have now is as follows: Keep the kitchen and bathroom spotless by doing a little bit every time I’m in there. I wipe down counters and sinks and put stuff away pretty much on automatic now and I think that I might use about 10 minutes or so a day keeping things clean. I had to get a new dishwasher for my new kitchen and bought a narrow (45 cm)  one because a full size one wouldn’t fit in the new layout. Best decision ever! It’s more than enough space for one person, and has a very handy short program that I often use when the machine isn’t full. Not filling things up to the brim makes it easier to empty again strangely enough 😏

giphy3

 

About a decade ago I was an apprentice in a restaurant kitchen, and pretty much the first lesson I got was to keep your workstation clean. Don’t know why I stopped doing it ’cause it turns out it’s a lot easier to cook when I do it now. We separate out food leftovers in green bags Oslo (they turn it into bio fuel) so I keep the (smallish) bucket I use for it on the counter while I prepare food and have less steps to go to get rid of vegetable peel and eggshells etc. Packaging gets tossed in the sink first and sorted later. Most of it is plastic and gets recycled and some of that needs to be rinsed before going into its blue bag (blue and green bags gets separated out by a giant robot named Bagsy and goes to making new stuff. The leftover garbage gets burned and is used for heating homes, like mine). My bins are under the sink so its a short distance.

giphy9

This goes in there, that in here and we’ve saved the world!

I’ve also gone back to preparing all the ingredients before I start cooking (mise en place) – it saves a lot of energy since you never have to hurry to finish chopping something up or finding something you need. And as always – there is no shame in using frozen and already prepared ingredients. If you have a food processer of some kind using it as often as you can does save your energy.

giphy7

Cooking is easy, all you need is a horse a cow and a goat.

Laundry gets the same treatment. I thought I had to get a narrow top loaded machine for my tiny bathroom (a narrow frontloader will fit I found out later) and had no room for a tumble dryer. Hanging laundry can be really heavy work, but I tend to run smaller loads these days so I manage to get it done. When I can tho, I’m getting a combination washer/dryer so I can just skip the hanging up all together and go straight to putting it away dammit.

giphy8

This is where this belongs, and this is where that belongs

My mom comes in to change my sheets and mop the floors for me and do other heavy stuff, but I manage to stay on top of most of my chores even if it gets a bit dusty in here sometimes. I have though about getting a robot vacuum cleaner but my google skills has failed me a bit on finding one that will work well in a small apartment with a lot of walls and furniture in the way. If anyone has any suggestions I’ll be grateful.

giphy6

Step aside peasants, I’m coming through here

I hope this didn’t come across as too splainy, I’ve re written this post a few times and still think it could be better. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask ( I might take a little time to answer tho, I haven’t slept that much lately and it feels like I might be able to now :))

 

Getting a wheelchair I think

I’ve talked to my mom about getting a wheelchair again. She has seemed very reluctant to admit I need one, but it turned out it was a bit more complicated than that. She was kind of excited to get me a lightweight manual chair that we can use to go shopping or museums and stuff. So am I to be honest. Lasting more than ten minutes in a shopping centre and not crashing after would be great.

lpqwswu

Probably not me?

Thing is, she didn’t want me to have a big outdoor electric chair. I don’t particularly want a big chair, but living in Norway we have winters and a smaller electric chair might not work very well on snow. Apparently she’s afraid I’ll get into an accident. To be fair they are fast and my reaction time is not brilliant any more. I refuse to drive a car these days, I’m terrified I’ll hit someone or something.

I’ll talk to my doctor next visit and start the process. I might get an evaluation team to come asses what I need the most. I think a lightweight collapsable chair is what I need, and I’ve seen some with helper motors on their wheels which might be good for me.

 

Best part of the summer is starting today

Every year I watch the Tour de France. Pro cycling is the only sport I follow these days, and le Tour is the big event of the year. It’s the only sport I share an interest for with my mom. I’ve tried many times to explain why I find it so fascinating and I’ll try again here.

giphy

The history of the race is long and involved. It only stopped for war, and when war was over it picked tight back up again with limited infrastructure and barley any equipment. That’s not true today of course, the teams have budgets in the hundreds of millions each year and the support system for the 9 riders of each team in a grand tour is pretty large. There are bus drivers for the team busses, there are masseurs, doctors and physiotherapists. There’s a professional team of cooks often with an executive chef that has done his or her time in top restaurants (the riders eat and drink around 8000 kcal a day during the race). There are team managers, equipment managers and mechanics.

My mom and I were in London a few years back following the start of the tour. I didn’t manage to do much more than stay in the fanpark although I was having a good period, but my mom was following the riders down from the start in York and she really had a blast. I got a fabulous sunburn on my face as well this day. Don’t forget sunblock when you spend a whole day outside.

What I find so fascinating about the sport is the mixture of highly trained sportsmen (and women), the long long races, the fantastic vistas of wherever they are (France usually brings it to 11) and the gentlemen’s agreements that still exists in a professional sport that is over a 100 years old. The personalities of the racers, some you like, some you don’t. The team managers and owners making a spectacle. Sitting with your hearth in your throat when the big and the small crashes happens. Hoping no one gets seriously hurt. It’s not exactly relaxing but I love it anyway.

By the way, if you happen to watch TV the final day, the pro women’s team gets to race and finish with a sprint on the Champs Elysee a couple of hours before the men come in. They are savage!

It has begun…

So have I told you how great my mom is? I’m feeling like crap these days, and had to throw in the towel on organising the renovation and she just runs with it.

We’we been amazingly lucky that the handyman that did the demo turned out to be a great guy and incredibly competent and has agreed to do the majority of the building work for us. They (my mom and JH) have apparently finished painting the ceilings and prepping the floors today, and are starting on panelling the walls tomorrow. The kitchen has arrived from IKEA. We need a few more things but I’m hopefully we’ll enough to do a little shopping next week. Fingers crossed we’ll be done early December!

Can I stop now?

I’m exhausted. I’m really exhausted. Right now I’m waiting for the first of four contractors to come and view my apartment so that I can get some quotes, but I just want to pick one at random and be done with it.

The thing is, this last week has been incredibly productive. I always knew that if a healthy person tried to do what needed to be done that it would be done in a few days. My mother just proved that by packing all my stuff up and taking away things for charity and recycling in just a few days. I’m supposed to do the “paper work”: getting a contractor, organising demolition and getting rid of the large pieces like my old couch and the dishwasher.

It’s all done. Someone is coming to get the dishwasher today, and someone else the couch tomorrow. The demolition is scheduled for tomorrow morning, and as I said four contractors are coming today and tomorrow. But it really is a bit to much for me. I keep telling myself that it’s just one more day, and then I have a few days off. Can it be thursday already?

An update – sort of

My body decided to stage a major uprising against me the last few months, and any progress in getting things done came to a screeching halt. Sitting in this mess didn’t exactly help my health.

I have a major problem with asking for help. This is normal i guess, but when you are ill it kind of cumulates in that you don’t want others to have to pick up the slack for you. Cue Monday 27th of October and me sitting down on my computer playing a game. All of a sudden my vision started rolling in two different directions. I called my mom telling her what was happening, and that we would have to cancel plans we had that day. She told me in no uncertain words to call the damn ambulance RIGHT NOW, and as we all know you listen to your mom when she gets that tone of voice if you are five or forty-one.

I think the ambulance was here in five minutes, so was my mother. They rushed me to the hospital. I didn’t really realize until I got there that they thought I had a stroke. Anyway, I spent a week in hospital and the result was a minor brain haemorrhage, and a malformation in my brain stem that is probably something I was born with. I’m doing pretty well – I have a few minor issues, but all in all have been pretty lucky in how it all played out.

Getting back on topic. My mom coming in and having to do things for me made her realize how bad things have gotten. She has appointed herself building foreman, and is roping in the help I need to get the work done. The living room and kitchen is almost empty. There is someone coming on Wednesday to do the demolition needed. I have ordered my new kitchen, and I have a few builders coming to give me estimates next week. When the building work starts, I’m staying with my mother and she will be here with the contractor.

Right now I’m sitting in a bedroom that is nice, clean and tidy and liveable. I’m gonna stay here til I the next time I have to move wich is hopefully never.