Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Latvian Garden Blanket

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This has been finished since before xmas, as my younger brother got this for his newborn son as a xmas present. But as many of you know, blogging about things shortly after they have occur are a lot harder than you would think. So, now I blog Smile.


The colors were initially selected on the basis that my younger brother were expecting a girl, and my sister-in-law not being especially fond of traditionally girl’s colors. Which was lucky seeing that my nephew surprised everyone by being a small boy, and not a girl.


I used a sewing machine both to secure the steek and to attach the cotton fabric on the backside. Next time (if there is such a thing) I will try to use the crochet technique to secure the steek, as the sewing machine made the steek grow a lot. And I mean A LOT. Which in turn made it very hard to attach the cotton fabric as the knitted fabric no longer resembled a rectangle.


But, as a first try, both on knitting such a huge and difficult color work, as well as doing a steek, and attaching fabric to anything hand knitted, I am quite pleased with the result. And the newly made parents also seemed pleased.


Sewing thread

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I have started on a haruni as a present for my mum's birthday. As I only have about three weeks to finish this shawl, I decided to go for the simpler version and knit the main body of the shawl in stockinette.
A while ago I purchased some yarn from eBay. This was when I had just started out knitting again, so when the yarn arrived and it turned out it was more like sewing thread than the proper yarn I used on my 4mm needles, it did scare me a tad. Additionally, this was also pure silk, and I do find it hard to use anything beautiful if I don't have the perfect project or purpose for it (thus ending up with a lot of beautiful things lying around gathering dust until they get too old to use or suchlike... Don't even get me started on chocolate which would turn white and uneatable in my drawer while I waited for the perfect time to eat it). Anyway, both these predicaments made for a swift placement of the yarn in my closet where it would wait in peace until I could knit with sewing thread and I'd found the perfect project.
Well, that day is today. Or so I think. The yarn has a lovely mustard color which I think my mum would so appreciate. It is silk, and who wouldn't be impressed by that. But it's so thin! And I mean THIN! It's literally like knitting with sewing thread (this is a lie, I don't know how it feels to knit with sewing thread, I have never tried it, but you know, artistic freedom and all that), and I start to worry that when the whole shawl is finished it will be more like a spider's web rather than a usable shawl. Can a lace shawl get to be too lacey, too spindery?
On the upside, I do see that the amount of yarn I have will probably last me for another couple of years. That's definitely a good thing with very very thin yarn, you do get a lot of yardage out of 400g.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

It grows, it grows

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The kitchen garden is coming up strong now.


And suddenly all the strawberry plants have sprouted. I am so so excited about the strawberries. Just thinking about being able to eat our own homegrown strawberries puts a smile on my face.


But, surprisingly enough, I though I only had 10 seeds, but somehow I ended up with 15 tiny seedlings. Not that I am complaining, more is (almost) always better.

I have tried to talk to munchkin about it, but he isn’t too impressed nor interested. The first couple of days after I had sown the seeds, he would come over and have a look at the pots, but then it dabbed off. especially when he realized that he wasn’t allowed to play with the spray can (a small accident involving a happy 2-year old, a spray can, and a rather wet mobile phone belonging to mummy put an abruptly end to that).

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Cream cake with a strawberry twist

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It was hubby’s birthday, and my family was to come over for cake and coffee to celebrate the birthday boy. So, it was time to make a cake. My family like cream cake, thus I decided to make one for the party. But, instead of the traditional one, with plain cream, canned fruit, and strawberry jam, I decided to try to make a fancier version.


I first had to make a sponge cake. I have never made a sponge cake before, so I was a bit apprehensive about it as I have been told that it’s horribly difficult. But, one time has to be the first.

I started out with 6 eggs and 180g sugar, and whipped it until it had at least doubled in volume. I only have a handheld mixer and it took me about 10 minutes on high. Then, I mixed 180g plain four and 1 tsp. baking soda, and the slowly sifted and folded it into the egg/sugar mix. Poured the batter into a circle shaped cake form, and baked it in the oven on 160C for 45 minutes.


And it turned out beautifully!! Look how high that beauty is!

As this cooled down, I started to prepare the creams for the cake. I decided on making a strawberry cream and a chocolate one. I started out with heating and crushing 200g of frozen strawberries. I only used a fork to crush the strawberries, but I think that I will use a mixer next time, as I had a bit larger bits in it than I would have preferred. Then I mixed in a pack of strawberry jello powder.


Then I let it cool a bit, and then stirred in 100g of Philadelphia cream cheese. I didn’t wait for it to cool down enough, so my cheese melted a bit, and the mixture became a bit too runny.



I then whipped 2dl cream until fluffy, and carefully folded it into the strawberry mix.



And this is the end result. Munchkin quality checked the whole process, every step on the way, and lots of the finished product, and deemed it yummy and moreish.


The chocolate cream was made by melting 50g of chocolate in 1 dl of cream over low heat, don’t let the cream boil. Then cool it completely, and whip. My cream separated a bit at the end, it still tasted yummy, but didn’t look to hot. As the chocolate cream was to be used inside the layers and not on the top, I decided to still use it though.


I then started to construct the cake. First, I divided my sponge cake into three layers.


All the layers got a good drizzle of cream to make them more moist. The first layer got strawberry cream and chopped bananas.


Then, the second layer was chocolate cream and chopped bananas (bananas, cream, strawberries, and chocolate – can’t really go wrong there).


And then the third layer was put on, and the whole cake covered with more strawberry cream. I then decorated with a bit of chocolate shavings, silver pearls, and flowers made from banana.


Saturday, 12 March 2011

There is life…

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Can you see? Some of the chrysanthemums in the first row were the first to make an appearance. Then, the oregano sprouted, which I truly doubted they would, and then suddenly there were tomato plants coming up as well. One day there were nothing there, and the next I had 2cm high shoots.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Nettbrett – fremtiden i dine hender?

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The following post is in Norwegian. I will try to get around to translate it into english in a later post.

Man kan synes hva man vil om nettbrett men man må være enige i at lanseringen av nettbrett kommer til å forandre måten vi konsumerer internett på. Sjansen for at du vil lese nettaviser og e-post på et nettbrett om noen få år, ser ut til å være ganske stor.

For kun et par år siden var det få som trodde at et lite brett skulle kunne ta over store deler av markedet for bærbare datamaskiner. Da iPad ble lansert så var det ikke mange teknologieksperter som ga enheten mye kreditt. Satoru Iwata, president i Nintendo uttalte i januar 2010 at "... [iPad] var en forvokst iPod Touch og det er usikkert om disse funksjonene [som tilbys på iPad] vil være nok til å få folk til å kjøpe [den] ... ". Arik Hesseldahl fra BusinessWeek sa i februar 2010 følgende "det er vanskelig å se hvordan iPad vil komme i nærheten til å endre det daglige liv i samme grad som iPod eller iPhone. Utfordringen med iPad vil handle mindre om å forbedre et etablert marked enn å bygge et nytt". Slike sitater er interessant lesning, for hvem kan glemme Bill Gates sitt berømte sitat "Computers vil aldri trenge mer enn 512k RAM". Nettbrett er en sann innovasjon. Ikke kun i forhold til teknologien, berøringsskjermen er ikke ny, men i forhold til bruksmulighetene og bruksmønsteret for forbrukerne. Det handler om hvordan en hel verden er i ferd med å endre sitt syn og forståelse av bruk av datamaskiner. 

Rask utvikling
Accenture har estimert at nordmenn innen 2014 vil eie én million iPader eller liknende nettbrett. Det stemmer ganske godt med tall fra analysebyrået IDC, som tror på 880 000 nettbrett i Norge i 2014. 

Mye tyder på at utviklingen kan gå langt raskere enn disse estimeringene. Respons Analyse gjennomførte en undersøkelse blant forbrukerne for Aftenposten hvorpå fem prosent av de spurte (250 000 på landsbasis) oppga at de allerede hadde anskaffet seg et nettbrett. Over tre ganger så mange, 18 prosent, svarte at de vurderer å kjøpe et nettbrett i løpet av 2011. Noen av disse kan riktignok ende med ikke å kjøpe, men til gjengjeld kan noen av de 75 prosentene som ikke har planer om å kjøpe nettbrett i 2011 komme til å ombestemme seg. 

Nettbrett er et typisk eksempel på at riktig produkt kan skape et behov. Og mange brukere av nettbrett har opplevd at behovet forsterkes etter at de har anskaffet seg nettbrett. En undersøkelse blant britiske iPad-brukere viste at 24 prosent brukte nettbrettet sitt 5-10 timer ukentlig, mens 43 prosent bruker det mer enn 10 timer ukentlig. Allerede ser flere av dem på iPad som sin primære underholdningsdings i forhold til enn den tradisjonelle TVn, ifølge tall fra kommunikasjonsbyrået Cooper Murphy.

Viktig brukervennlighet
En viktig faktor for suksessen til nettbrett er den lave terskelen for å bruke produktet. Du må ikke lære et nytt verktøy for å bruke dem, i motsetning til den tradisjonelle datamaskinen hvor man må bruke mus og/eller tastatur.  Husker du første gang du brukte en datamus? Hvor utrolig klønete det egentlig føltes? Første gang du tar på et nettbrett føles det helt annerledes. Til og med små barn og eldre som aldri har brukt datamaskiner forstår intuitivt hvordan det fungerer. Nettbrettene har alle til felles at du bruker fingrene på skjermen for å navigere deg rundt i menyer, lister og på nettsider. Å ta på og berøre noe for å samhandle er innebygd i alle.
At nettbrett vil bli brukt er sikkert, men hva som er mindre klart er hvordan nettbrett kommer til å bli brukt i fremtiden. Vil alle nettbrett bli rettet mot dataforbruk som iPad, eller vil andre bruksmåter dukke opp? Det er kanskje den eldste og yngste generasjonen som vil ha mest nytte av et nettbrett: et nettbrett er, tross alt, verdens enkleste inngangsportal til alt som er tilgjengelig der ute på nettet. Nettbrett er en enhet som er enkel nok å bruke for nybegynnere i alle aldre og avansert nok for de veldig erfarne. Nettbrettet har virkelig brakt mening til P i PC.

Et potensielt område for nettbrett bruk som har fått økende oppmerksomhet i det siste er læring og lek for barn. Konseptet er enkelt: Med sin berøringsflate kan nettbrett hjelpe barna med å utvide sin kreativitet ved hjelp av intuitive programmer som tillater dem å farge, spore bokstaver og gjøre enkel tall-øvelse - mulighetene er uendelige. Forskningen viser at nettbrett er en enhet som kan stimulere interessen for å lære gjennom morsomme og lettbrukelige samhandling og appellere til et større flertall av barn enn tradisjonell læringsformater. 

Barn og nettbrett
Uansett hvilket nettbrett man foretrekker så kan man være enige om at nettbrett er perfekt for den taktile, lette læringen som barn liker så mye. Bildebøker og pedagogisk programvare for tradisjonelle datamaskiner har vært fast innslag i mange klasserom i flere tiår, men i dag kan foreldre komme i gang mye tidligere med programmer som hjelper barn å lære å lese og tallene, samt nyte underverkene i naturen. 

Barn har mye høyere forventninger enn voksne når det gjelder teknologi. For eksempel vokser flere og flere nå opp med forventningen at alle skjermer responderer på berøring.
Berøringsskjermer er intuitivt. Bruk av en pekepenn eller bare en finger for å samhandle med spill er en naturlig metode for samhandling som ikke kan bli forbedret. Berøringsteknologien bryter ned grensene mellom mennesket og teknologien, og er en fantastisk fremgang som kan bli standard for alle enheter i fremtiden.

Sønnen min på 2 år oppdaget nylig min Galaxy Tab, og det var siste gang jeg fikk bruke den i fred hjemme. Han elsker den, og kaller den for ”min store (tele)fon”. Det tok han mindre enn en dag å forstå hvordan han brukte nettbrettet, og er nå en ekspert på å finne videoer på Youtube, og navigerere generelt rundt på nettbrettet. Å observere han sammen med besteforeldrene sine mens de leker med nettbrettet er et studie i hvordan hans generasjon har en helt annen forståelse og kunnskap om teknologi. Selv i hans spede alder av 2 år, så er hans kunnskap om nettbrettet et lysår foran hans mormor og morfar. Jeg har også flere ganger observert han trykkende på tv-skjermer eller datamaskinskjermer. Tydeligvis er forventningen at alle skjermer kan berøres. Jeg er ganske overbevist om at berøringsskjermsteknologi er begynnelsen av en ny bølge av intuitive grensesnitt for alle enheter. Og hvis det er den retningen ungene forventer teknologi til å gå i, hvordan kan jeg være uenig? 

En ting er sikkert: Nettbrettet blir ingen døgnflue. Det ligger an til å bli en massiv kamp om pengene til forbrukerne når de en gang skal ut å handle nettbrett som har funksjoner nok til å sende den tradisjonelle datamaskinen på gamlehjem.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Kitchen garden dream

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We bought and moved into our new house last october. We used to rent a tiny flat in the city, and when I say tiny, I mean TINY. Myself, hubby, and munchkin shared a one-bedroom flat measuring 38m2. So, yes, NOT much space. It was definitely time to be looking for something bigger. But, real estate is pricey – big time! In the city, we wouldn’t be able to afford much more than 50m2, which although was bigger than what we got, wouldn’t really cut it. But then we started looking in the town where I grew up, and DANG, what a price difference!

We ended up buying a row house 10 minutes walk from the city center, and we loved it! It is spacious, with 130m2, two living rooms, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and wait or it… oh yeah, a 32m2 terrace!!! Unfortunately, we moved in so late in the year so we didn’t really get to use the terrace at all before winter came along, but we are so so so excited about this spring and summer. After having lived in an apartment in the city with no balcony, thus having to lug blanket, food, baby, trolley, drinks, sunhats to the park every time we wanted to enjoy some sun outdoors, having such a large outdoor area, which is all ours, on our doorstep, will be such a joy!

utemoblerI have already spent way to much money on buying fancy garden furniture, which we are waiting for in anticipation. Our terrace is still covered in snow, but hopefully all the snow will be gone by april, which is when the furniture is supposed to be delivered.


So, also in anticipation of a summer on the terrace, I decided to buy seeds of various kinds to grow. Yup! After having read up on what can and cannot be cultivated on a terrace in pots, I decided on the following plants (which I purchased from eBay – got to love that site):

  • Roma tomatoes
  • Harbinger tomatoes
  • Alpine strawberries
  • Two types of spring onions
  • Garlic
  • Coriander
  • Basil
  • Capsicum
  • Giant sunflowers (for munchkin, I swear)
  • And various flowers

So here they are. The green in the front is a couple of garlics that had already started their life in the fridge unintentionally (by me, not by them I suspect). The first row is garlic, the second is capsicum, then roma tomatoes, fourth one is Harbinger tomatoes, and the last one is some basil and coriander. The blue box in the back is strawberries, and the tree clay pots at the back has oregano, more basil, and more coriander.

Now, it’s time to wait…