The Forgotten Giants

Every city has its secrets. Some good, some not so good. A couple of weekends ago, we discovered a beautiful secret here in Copenhagen. A kind of treasure hunt if you will. A search for giants. The Forgotten Giants.

Brought to life using recycled material, these wooden giants bring a fairytale-like charm to the wilderness of the city. The artist, Thomas Dambo has placed the 6 giants in his favourite places around the city. The giants are a group of siblings, each with their own character and named after volunteers who helped build the sculptures. They are all off the beaten track, so really get you out of the city centre and exploring the suburban nature. In the artist’s own words, he hopes that his “art will inspire people to see the big potential in recycling and taking better care of our planet”.

With only half a day at our disposable, we headed out to Høje Taastrup in the west of Copenhagen. A train journey followed by a short bike ride led us to our first stop. That’s where we found Teddy Friendly. Standing tall in the woodland shrubbery, right next to a bog of sorts, Teddy’s elongated arm served as the perfect bridge over the stream. Although made of hardwood, the layered technique used for the body made him look fluffy and welcoming. The way Teddy looked almost a natural part of the woodland itself was inspiring to see. A credit to the artist’s incredible talent.

The little plaque at the foot of one of Teddy’s arms included a poem explaining where we could find his brother, Sleeping Louis. Each of the giants have these plaques to help us find the next one but we opted to use the treasure map provided instead. We were against the clock that day and had to strategically pick a route that worked best for us. So we jumped back on the bikes and half an hour later, we stumbled upon Thomas on the Mountain.

Deeper amongst the tall trees and on a fairly steep hill lay Thomas. Leaning back on his arms with his long legs outstretched, looking out over a clearing in the municipality of Albertslund. His relaxed expression fits perfectly with his lazy posture. We couldn’t resist climbing up his legs, onto his belly and shoulders to get some cool pictures.

A much shorter bike ride away led us to our final stop of the day in Vallensbæk. Here, we met Thomas’ sister, Little Tilde. Despite her size, she had a unique cuteness about her. Peering through two trees over a lake, the curiosity in her eyes was clear. I read afterwards that her body is full of 28 birdhouses. Looks like we’ll have to go back and see if we can find any birds seeking shelter in them!

With that final find, we called it a day. Our friends, who had joined us on our treasure hunt adventure, had kindly invited us over for dinner. We were well in need of some sustenance by the end of the day, especially after all that exploring and biking! It was a lovely and delicious end to our evening.

With three more giants still to discover, be sure to keep your eyes peeled and continue the adventure with us…

Mose

Finding the Surface

So it’s been a little over 4 months since my last post. Some of you may be wondering, why. If you haven’t been wondering why then that’s OK too. All I really want to say is that it all started when I decided I wanted to write a post titled, Loneliness and Guilt. When I started writing it, I was adamant not to let it be a negative and sad post. As you might have guessed, that’s exactly what it began to turn into. So I just stopped. Stopped writing. Stopped thinking. Stopped feeling. Something inside me found itself right next to my “emotion switch”. Before I even knew what was happening, the switch was flicked to off.

From then on, I can only describe myself as drowning. Deeper and deeper into the abyss of my own negative thoughts. Until a moment, just a couple of months or so ago. That’s when a big fish, gliding past my floating body, slapped me across my face. Yes, literally! I knew the impact had flicked the switch successfully back to the ‘on’ position because I was immediately aware again. Aware of my surroundings. Aware that I couldn’t breathe. Aware that I needed to reach the surface.

Since that day, I’ve been working hard to get myself out of this abyss. With every stroke of my arm, I pushed harder and harder to get my head above the surface. Now I can breathe. Along the way, I’ve been putting things into place. Practical things. Things that I know, that will stop me from being pulled down there again. Giving the tangled, overgrown mess of negative thoughts some kind of order. Dealing with. Accepting. Putting into perspective. I’m not going back down there, but I still need to get the rest of my body out. More courage. More strength. More time.

There’s a long way to go. However, with every negative thought that is dealt with, comes space for positivity. With space for positivity, comes room for growth. There’s nothing more I want right now than to grow. Grow and keep growing…

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The Music Video Is Out!

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I was involved in filming a cover video for one of the songs in a newly released Indian film. The team completed the editing super quick and released the video at the end of January. As promised here is the anticipated music video for you to experience. I only really feature in a few shots and for those of you who know me personally, it will be more of a fun game to spot me in the scenes 😀 . I ALWAYS cringe when watching myself back on video or looking at photos of myself, so I have only watched the completed music video once 😦 . The number of views on YouTube grew quickly and the film’s director even complimented our work. It was nice to know that he acknowledged our time and effort.

Just a note before you watch it, this video was produced for a very niche audience – mostly those from the state of Karnataka in southern India. So the scenes have been made to appeal more to such an audience with the usual Bollywood style clichés (i.e. slow motion scenes of lovers running towards each other! :D). Although they are clichés, it adds to the comedy factor of the video. Keep an open mind and enjoy!

Did you spot me?

Staying with the Indian theme, let’s talk about tiffin boxes. These are the iconic metal lunchboxes that many workers in India have the privilege of receiving every day. The tiered design allows for a choice of dishes to be included, alongside some rice and of course some flatbread too. Traditionally, it had only been the wives of working men who would prepare the lunch fresh in time for it to be collected and delivered to their husband’s workplace. But nowadays, restaurants and caterers also offer this service, although not always in the metal containers that we associate with a tiffin service. The idea has even spread to the UK, as far as I know 🙂 . ‘The Lunchbox’, a 2013 romantic film exemplifies the tiffin box service quite well, in my opinion. Even though things don’t quite go to plan in the film…

I bring this up as my husband has, for a while now, been skipping lunch at work or just picking bits and pieces from the predominantly meaty lunch offered at Novo Nordisk, Måløv. This was not on! After being told by the chef that vegetarian food simply isn’t as easy to flavour as meat and that is the reason behind why they don’t offer any REAL warm vegetarian options, we were OUTRAGED. What a ridiculous reason!!

At the time the Novo layoffs were imminent so we didn’t pursue things further but we knew we had to do something to get some better grub into my husband’s belly. So we got a hold of a tiffin box from the UK and tested it out, just last week. We were a little sceptical about how well it would work but also about how warm the food would stay. In the end, although the food had gone cold it still made for a lovely lunch and my husband bought back the tiffin squeaky clean! Result! It’s a double win too as it means I’ve got to get more creative in the kitchen to ensure there’s always something to fill the tiffin box with. We’ve started off with trying it out two times a week and will see if we can also find a clever way of keeping the food warm until lunchtime!

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My husband’s tiffin box

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Filled with a spinach curry, kichadi, some chapatis and cucumber 🙂

Let’s head back to Denmark now.

I thought I would just share a little thing that made me laugh recently as I read the local Danish newspaper. Wait a second. Did I just say, “…as I read a local DANISH newspaper”? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, my Danish has reached that level now. It is extremely surprising to me and I really didn’t think I would be at this level with just over a year of learning. For any of you out there who might be learning the language, all I can say is don’t give up and stay consistent. There is hope, even when it might seem impossible and frustrating, there is hope…

Anyway, what made me laugh was an article about weird behaviour that people have. The examples had been portrayed with images and I think the fact that I could actually understand what was written, was actually part of the reason why I was so entertained by such a simple concept. Go ahead and have a read for yourself if you are a Dane or can understand Danish, otherwise, I have also translated a few below (apologies to the Danes if they aren’t completely perfect!). I’m not sure they are as funny when written in English!

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“I have to be the last one to pee before we go to bed” (Female, 54)

“When I am alone and I think about something embarrassing, I have done/said, I say out aloud ‘Shoot me in the head… No, don’t do that’.” (Male, 24)

“I am always out and turn on the tap in the kitchen when I get up and before I can go to the toilet” (Female, 31)

“I walk around and ‘close’ pens if they are open” (Female, 19)

I totally agree with that last one. If I see a pen left open or without a lid, I HAVE to close it. The same goes for power sockets, if nothing is plugged in and the switch is on, I HAVE to switch it off. If I’m not able to, it WILL bug me all day!

What about you guys? What odd behaviour could you add to these examples? And be honest, because we all have them!!

Café G and The Queen

With the husband off gallivanting the streets of Hamburg on a boys’ weekend away, I was left with no choice (or shall I say, had the perfect excuse) to indulge in a delicious brunch out with my girls. Going all out with an All-You-Can-Eat Weekend Buffet was the only way to go and Café G  was ready to oblige. One of the girls had recommended it very highly to us so we couldn’t say no and it did not disappoint!

At first, when we turned the corner to find the entrance we noticed just how busy it was and could only spot one table inside that would be big enough to accommodate us. If we hadn’t arrived when we did we may have ended up eating outside. That might not have been so bad really with the cosy-looking woven chairs, gas burners and blankets to keep us warm on that dismally cold and grey Saturday afternoon.

The interior had a lovely charm with a mixture of benches and chairs for seating with a range of coloured blankets scattered across the café in true Danish style. The large, wide and almost floor to ceiling style windows with the many hanging lamps made sure we got as much light into the café as possible.

Now to the food. There was a huge selection, including cereal, bread, pastries and pancakes to cold cuts and cheese with both fried and scrambled eggs. The array of fresh fruits and salads brought colour to the spread – pasta salad, green salad, potato salad, tuna salad, broccoli salad, melon salad – need I go on? To top it all off we had free refills on tea, coffee and juice. It almost felt like we tucking into brunch at a fancy all-inclusive holiday resort, a bright shining sun and a scenic view of the beach was all that was missing! 😀

I wish I had stopped to take more pictures but here are a couple to whet your appetite.

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So many choices!

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My friend’s plate piled high 😛

Although we were only there for brunch, Café G also has an evening menu so I’m sure we will find ourselves back there again soon!

The 2006 film, The Queen took me by surprise when I found myself picking it as my choice of evening entertainment on Netflix. It brought back the memories of Princess Diana’s death in 1997 and depicted a side of Queen Elizabeth II that had never really occurred to me before. To me, she was always just the Queen and somehow this film brought to light her more human side, one that could be related to a little better. Of course, I am totally aware that it is a film and I can never be completely sure about how much of what I saw was a true depiction. Despite that, I found myself really enjoying the film and learning some things along the way.

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Warm and cosy under a blanket, ready for the film 🙂

What made me laugh the most was when the Queen received a call from the newly elected Tony Blair, whilst she was away at Balmoral Castle in Scotland and she declared that she would take the call in the kitchen! Sure enough, the scene continues to show her entering the kitchen, much to the surprise of her staff, who obediently deliver their curtsies and bows. So, there the Queen stands beside a long wooden table covered in vegetables until one of her trusty staff members brings out an iconic rotary dial phone with its cord trailing behind it and of course a chair that’s placed behind her to add some much-needed comfort. And there you have it, the Queen taking a call in the kitchen despite having (I’m sure) a range of other more fitting rooms to take the call in! 😀 . It’s something I completely didn’t expect; I wonder how true it was! Now, I’m totally looking forward to getting into the Netflix Original series – The Crown.

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“I’ll take it in the kitchen” 😀

Anyway, in some way the film brought me closer to the UK and gave me some comfort in being away. I think it would be so great if we could know more “normal” things about the Queen and the royal family by peeling back the layers of personalities they have to wear every day to fulfil their various roles. Maybe someday but I guess for now, I’ll have to stick to appreciating her various depictions on TV or the big screen.

If you haven’t already, give The Queen a watch and let me know what you think!

Made in India

There really is nothing like waking up to the sound of birdsong. For the first time in a very long time, I noticed the sound of birds tweeting as the sun shone brightly one crisp winter morning. It brought with it a sense of relief that spring is only around the corner but also took me right back to my family home, where I grew up. I remember getting up every morning and looking out of my bedroom window at the ever changing colours of our garden (or more our neighbour’s garden) that was full of tall trees surrounded by foliage and flowers of all sorts.

More relevantly however, I remember always hearing the soft twittering or chirping of the blackbirds and sparrows, sometimes even into the winter too. Reminiscing like that just made me think of how few birds we see here in Denmark. Maybe I need to switch my alarm clock tone to the sound of birdsong to make up for it! 😉 . Anyway, that was something totally random I was thinking about last week!

With the aim of getting better at cooking, late last year we purchased a couple of Indian cookbooks. I have to admit that I’m usually one of those people who buy a whole lot of recipe books and then never really look inside them (you know who you are!). This time however, I made sure we selected the books carefully so that we would definitely make use of them. So yes, Made in India by Meera Sodha has broken that bad habit of mine and I can say I have actually enjoyed cooking recipes from her book. Her recipes simplify Indian cooking, making it easy to follow and customise for individual taste. In my opinion, the fact that I can personally relate to many of her recipes is what really attracts me to her book. She has included a number dishes that I grew up on and some that my family still make on a regular basis so when I’m craving my mum’s food, I can just flick through the book and try to replicate the taste. The recipes I’ve tried get pretty close but I’m not perfect yet!

We also bought a second book by the same author called, Fresh India, which looks just as good so we can’t wait to try out some recipes from there too. If you like a good Indian curry or any Indian food for that matter, I’d definitely recommend that you check out her books 🙂 .

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A recipe I tried out recently, Fresh Spinach and Paneer

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My version of the dish (without tomatoes). Looks close enough to the picture in the book!

From reminiscing and satisfying cravings, I move onto the feeling of utter dread and panic. Two things I found myself feeling late one afternoon at Danish school. I had decided to stay back after class to get some work done and before I knew it, 12pm turned into 4pm and I was the only person around (as far as I could see). The sunlight was fading fast and I found myself asking the question “Does this building ever get locked?” The answer of course is YES and now you can probably guess what happened. It wasn’t a shock at first, as I was asked politely by the caretaker to leave, as they needed to lock up. However, as I proceeded to leave I found that the back gate leading onto the street was closed, instead of trying to open it first (thinking it would definitely be locked!), I headed back through the building to the front door. Surely that would be open? No! What I saw instead was a wooden block across the width of the door and a huge padlock looking up at me very intimidatingly.

Of course, at this point my imagination began running wild and thoughts of being stuck in the school all night flooded my mind (totally unnecessary, I know!). With the hope of catching the caretaker round the back of the building again, I ran (yes, that’s right, I RAN – that’s how scared I was!) back through the school towards the gate I encountered before.

Instead of the caretaker, I found a student who was trying to leave with their bike. This somehow made me think a little clearer, meaning I actually tried to open the back gate and to no-one’s surprise it opened with ease. I feel just the tiniest bit sheepish, now that I’ve written out what happened as my feelings of utter dread and panic were grossly exaggerated. But I can tell you this, as I felt the gate give way and stepped outside of the building’s grasp I let out the biggest sigh of relief…

It almost felt like I was escaping the grasps of the evil orcs from Lord of the Rings! Hmmmm, now I’m just getting carried away! 😉

Let’s Shoot a Music Video!

We are back at Danish school after the Christmas break and with a new timetable. This means no more classes three days in a row, which is a welcome addition, as the pressure of completing homework after each consecutive lesson, was quite tough. The new struggle for me now is deciding whether I should take a break from job hunting and put my full focus on learning Danish well or whether I should continue the job search in hope that I will get lucky again or start thinking about completing a course so that I’m better qualified for the Danish job market. As I am so far into my Danish course (Module 4 of 5) it just wouldn’t make sense to give it up for a full-time job. If I did (by some miracle!) get a full-time job, I could, of course, switch my Danish to evening classes but this would mean I would no longer have my favourite teacher, who I think is critical to the passing of the final Danish exam! So many decisions that I just don’t want to make! What do you think I should do?

It’s interesting how life works sometimes. The way different opportunities come around, throwing something new at you and you know instantly that saying yes is really the ONLY way to go. So, on the weekend just gone, I was lucky (or maybe just stupid) enough to get myself involved in a non-commercial music video shoot for a song that is to feature in a new Indian movie. Sounds exciting and glamorous right?  Well, it was pretty exciting to be honest and a completely new experience but it was far from glamorous. We were a small production of 25 odd friends utilising everyone’s different skills (or in some cases just stretching what little hint of a specific skill each of us had) to somehow make things work!

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Enjoying a moment of quiet amidst the craziness!

Just like that, my very basic makeup skills were somehow turned into a pivotal cog amongst all the other working parts of the production. As I hadn’t been available for the rehearsals before the shoot, I was unfortunately (or in hindsight, thankfully) unable perform for the shoot but I promised my friend that I would help with makeup and hair. I had no idea that I would be doing full makeup on all the male performers, completing the female performers’ looks as well as being on hand for touch-ups throughout the two-day shoot. We filmed 8am-11pm both Saturday and Sunday!! And I could not have been happier to hear, “That’s a wrap!” at the end of it all 🙂

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Interesting collections at the shoot site!

I have a new found respect for people who spend their time on film shoots or shoots of any kind, to be honest. Whether for work or for leisure, it takes a bloody great deal of energy, dedication and patience. Not only that but immense STRENGTH to be able to say yes to an outdoor shoot in short party dresses with temperatures hitting -4°C after a downpour of snow the day before.

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As I was up so early to be at the shoot site on time, I got to experience the snow coming down in light sheets and glide over the street like the dusty sand does over desert dunes. I have never seen snow like that before, so grainy. I’m used to the soft fluffy type. In the morning darkness, as I watched the movements in the snow, it almost looked like there were some weird snow creatures walking around me. Eerie to say the least….

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In the end, I was even roped in for a few simple scenes during the shoot so I CANNOT WAIT for the final video to be released on YouTube and see how it turned out.

Watch this space guys!

The Blog Is Not Dead!

Why hello there! Remember me?

I know it’s been incredibly long since I last posted but unfortunately, life just seemed to get in the way. There have been a number of different things going on, which have eaten up my time and consumed all my energy. Even more than that, they have felt a little like I was losing control of my own life, which was not great, or should I say more terrifying than anything! The way I’ve just described that makes them sound like bad things but on the contrary, they are all really great! However, I can’t say I really dealt with all the different things in the best possible way, which is probably what made the experience so difficult to get through.

Because three months worth of blog posts is just too long, here is a quick highlight of what’s been going on:

Our Own Apartment

Yes. That’s right. We bought an apartment in Copenhagen! This was one of the biggest challenges we have faced here to date. Buying your own property is complicated enough in English with all the legalities and financing but try it in Danish, then you’ll get the real meaning of challenging. We did get ourselves a lawyer to make sure we weren’t getting ripped off but honestly, for the most part, I felt like I was signing my life away! Saying that, we are super happy with the apartment and love that we can finally set up the place as our own. Check out our Ikea haul! As you can see there was a lot of furniture to build!!

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We moved from our old rented apartment gradually as we were lucky enough to have found the new one only a five-minute walk away. A number trips back and forth with jam-packed suitcases meant we only had to make two trips in a friend’s car with the bulkier items. Even though our old apartment was a bit of a shock for us when we first arrived, we gradually got used to its little quirks and over time it became home. As we left it at the end of November, I remember it being a lot more emotional than I expected.

My First Job in Denmark

This was probably the reason that contributed greatest to my feelings of lack of control and took over my time the most. Through my network, I was able to secure a 3-month contract as a project coordinator for a research group at the University of Copenhagen. Woohoo! I was super excited and so grateful for the opportunity but also a little down that it was only a 3-month contract. Returning to work after nearly a whole year and into an area that was totally out of my comfort zone, I struggled a lot and had the steepest learning curve to date. I was losing sleep and stressing about work all the time, it kind of consumed me. My Danish classes suffered, as did my self-confidence. There was no way that a life like that would have been sustainable so I did something about it and tried to acquire some more clarity at work. This helped a lot but the stress was still there in lots of different forms and continually aggravated by the apartment paperwork as well as many other things that I mention below. Having started the contract in October, it did come to an end in December and although I was sad to be leaving (especially as I was finally starting to find my feet) a part of me was glad that I no longer have to worry about it. Now, it leaves me with a clear mind to start the New Year with a new adventure.

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Love this tree silhouette from my window at work on a cold winter afternoon

The Novo Nordisk Layoffs

For those of you who don’t know, Novo Nordisk (the company my husband works for) announced 500 layoffs this year, which completely threw a huge spanner in the works. This was especially stressful for two reasons. One, the reason we have been living in Denmark is because of my husband’s job and two, we had just bought an apartment!!! It was nearly an entire month from the first announcement until the final decisions were made on who would be asked to leave so the wait was pretty uncomfortable, to say the least. Thankfully, my husband was safe and we were glad that our world was not going to be completely turned upside down!

Family Visits and Diwali Back Home

Since October, we have also had a number of visitors here in Denmark. Then we had our weeklong trip back home to celebrate Diwali (the Hindu festival of light) with our family. These visits were a lovely respite from everything that had been going on and we were very glad to have family around us. However, given how busy we have been these last few months, we barely had the chance to keep on top of things. Don’t get me wrong, we never once wished that we weren’t having visitors or making visits! It just meant our time was prioritised differently and it goes without saying that we always look forward to time with family.

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Fancy a newspaper chair and footstool – something we spotted at the Design Museum!

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The beautiful Skovlyst Brewery that we walked through the forest in the dark to visit 🙂

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Danish Classes

Until I started working, I had no idea how much time I was actually dedicating to learning Danish as a result at the start of my work contract; I ended up missing quite a lot of lessons. I did rectify this very quickly as it’s so easy to fall behind but I felt the effect of work on my progress immediately, which worried me slightly as I was due to sit my very first Danish exam since starting the course in January 2016! But thankfully I passed and am continuing the course. I’m over half way now so it’s going to take everything in me to push to the finish line, which I believe is in November this year. My biggest fear though is that I get to the end of the course and I’m not fluent in Danish 😮 . Hopefully, that’s not the case!

So there you go all the reasons why I couldn’t muster the energy or brain power to turn on my laptop and starting writing. Apologies!

After those bumpy three months, where emotions were flying all over the place, we decided that a quiet Christmas (or generally just a break from everything to recover) was just what we needed. For that reason, we didn’t fly back to England over Christmas and instead used the time to celebrate my husband’s birthday, spend some quality time together and de-stress. We really missed spending the time with family, which is what we always look forward to around that time of the year but the few days we had to ourselves were cosy and relaxing just the way we wanted 🙂 .

New Years was spent Danish style this year at a friend’s apartment, where we enjoyed lovely homemade dishes together in great company and with a perfect view of all the fireworks. We even started the New Year with a couple of Danish traditions including literally “jumping” off a chair into the New Year and eating Kransekage (a cake tower made of concentric rings of batter that usually incorporate some form of marzipan and is decorated with icing, Danish flags and sparklers). Danes are only allowed to use fireworks during the New Year period so it’s not surprising that they go totally crazy during this time. It was the first time in my life that I witnessed fireworks being let off from the middle of the road right outside our friend’s apartment! Let’s just say that I was glad to be indoors, protected by the closed window and that I’ve never experienced a view of fireworks such as that in my life before. We felt like we were actually inside the fireworks and seeing the bursts of light right up close at eye level. Amazing! I had actually been advised to wear goggles if we were planning to head outside during New Years in Copenhagen. So that gives you a little idea about how hectic it gets out here!

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Quite blurry but check out our New Years kransekage! Can you spot the cake tower under all that decoration?

Anyway, things are finally settling down and I really can’t wait to get back into writing. I have missed it. Although, I have had a couple of new ideas that I would like to try with my posts so maybe I’ll take a shot at it and give you guys something new in 2017 😀 .

I hope all of you have had an amazing start to 2017 and wish for it to be full of happiness, positivity and lots of new adventures!

Until next time…