Happy All Saints… or Halloween!

We are a bicultural family, raising bilingual children. We celebrate Christmas and Easter combining traditions from two country, and we also celebrate things that are only familiar to one of the parents.

Halloween is not part of either the Danish or Hungarian tradition. In Hungary we celebrate All Saints on 1st November, and the Day of the Dead the following day. Both days are spiritual and kind of gloomy. They are not the time for fun, they are time for remembering the lost ones. It is a tradition to go to the cemetery these days, putting some flowers on the graves, lighting some candles. It is a sad thing, sitting there, and remembering the people we loved so much and cannot see anymore.

Halloween is not a genuine part of the Danish fests either, Halloween is, as we all know, of Anglo-Saxon origin. But nowadays it is widely spread all over the world, also in Denmark. Yes, people carve pumpkins, put them outside their doors, buy the cute little decorations they can find in any supermarkets, some may even hold parties, with costumes and everything. Well, not in Hungary, I can tell you that… We, Hungarians, are a strange nation. There is this collective attitude in the air, criticizing everything that is different, new. Some people say, that Halloween, and for instance Valentine’s Day are stupid American holidays (well, not), therefore we should despise them, and stick to our old, gloomy ways. They even say, that Valentine’s Day is a joke, because you cannot celebrate your love only one day per year, you have to celebrate it every day! Sounds good, but the problem is, that usually they don’t celebrate it any day, at all 🙂 Yes, probably there were times when I was thinking the same. But a lot of things happened to me, and suddenly I found myself far away from home, with a new family – speaking a different language, having different holidays, different traditions, habits, food, mood, etc., still, welcoming me with open arms and a lot of warmth. I learned a lot in the past few years, and I am very keen on creating a colourful, multicultural childhood for my children. I want them to welcome everything with an open heart and mind. I want them to remember and cherish the moments of holidays and traditions of our home. I don’t want them to reject the possibility for a little bit of fun, and different moments then the everydays. It is ok to be gloomy, but I want them to celebrate as well, any time they can:) And Halloween is a good time for that 🙂

We are going to light candles tomorrow for the loved and deeply missed ones.

But I also did my best, to grab the atmosphere of Halloween, and smuggle a little bit of festivity into this average Wednesday evening.

We started by picking a handsome pumpkin in the supermarket (I know, I know, shame on us, buying a pumpkin in a supermarket, instead of growing it in our own garden 🙂 ), and then I read a lot about pumpkin carving on different forums, because I have never done anything like this before, and gave it a try. It was surprisingly easy to carve the pumpkin, I might even do it again next year 🙂

From all the flesh that I took out of the pumpkin, I decided to cook some pumpkin soup. I loooove pumpkin soup 🙂 I don’t have a very accurate recipe for it. I just throw the pumpkin, one or two diced potatoes and some diced carrots in a pot, pour so much water (or leftover chicken broth) so that it covers the vegetables, add some salt, and cook them nice and soft. Once they are done, I give them a go with my food processor, add a bit of cream, and put the soup back on the gas for a few more minutes. It turns out so lovely and thick and comfoting, and perfect with some fresh, warm garlic bread… (great, now I’m hungry again)

Once the sun started to go down, we put our carved, little, heart-eyed pumpkin outside, and lit some lights. (Check out or welcome-frog! 🙂 )

And we also lit some candles inside. On the second picture, you can see the results of my kids decorating skills, they had this concept of grabbing everything and misplace it. I tried to save the picture, though 🙂

Those funny little pumpkin-lookalike berries grow on a bush in our garden. They are absolutely cute and pretty, so I decided to use them as decoration. Does anyone know what they are?

 

 

 

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The Elephant Hat

Well, the time has come, I am going to introduce You to my very first tutorial, with pictures and description and a PDF and everything 🙂 So hold on to your keyboards, here we go:

Our story started, well, mainly when I got my kids, and they started in daycare. Winters are harsh in Denmark, and those little heads and ears need very good protection against the cold wind. Talking about children, it is a very good idea to have a winter hat, that covers their ears and somehow their throat should be covered too, and it is essential, that the small ones cannot take their hats off easily. However, in Danish daycares they have this rule, that no clothing should have any strings on, even scarves are forbidden, due to strangling hazard. Understandable. That is why every Danish kid wears these very practical, warm winter hats, that they call “elephant hats”. They cover everything that needs to be covered, and the small ones can definitely not get out of it alone.

We also have quite a collection of elephant hats in our home, obviously, most of them are leftovers from last winter, aka too small for my kids. For some reason, I have a couple of hats that fit my son perfectly, but there was only one of these elephant hats in my daughter’s size. And this one and only girly elephant hat simply disappeared mysteriously, I have the suspicion, that my husband, who tends to loose everything he gets his hands on, has something to do with this…

So here we were, winter came in suddenly, and yet, no elephant hat for my babygirl’s pretty little head. And since Wednesday is the big day of the week, when her preschool group goes on a trip, I needed a warm elephant hat very quickly. You can guess what happened, I decided to make one myself 🙂 I took some leftover isoli fabric (which is nice and warm and fluffy) for lining, and some stretch jersey, and created this very warm, funny looking hat. I got so excited, that I made one for my son as well 🙂

Here they are, my little elves, in their new and super-warm hats, on their way to the car:

But naturally one hat is not enough to go through a whole winter, especially in the case of kids. They just somehow get dirty and wet every time… So today I went on, and made another hat (I’m rolling :)) for Cherry, this time a little bit more girly one. And since I felt so amazing, I decided to create a little tutorial as well 🙂

First, if you, like me, haven’t slept for two days, thanks to a certain little boy who is growing his teeth and hence screaming all night, you need to start the process with a nice cup of coffee. And if you, like me, happened to start your day by cleaning up in the hallway after a pup with very healthy digestion, you might wanna pour a little bit of Baileys in that coffee too…

Feel better already, eh? 🙂 Now, look out of your window, embrace the sunshine, and if you can stare in the light without blinking, then you are ready to start sewing. If you feel the sudden urge to sing “Twinkle-twinkle little star”, then you miiight have poured a little bit too much Baileys in your coffee. In that case I recommend you not to go anywhere near your scissors or a sewing machine, you might wanna take a nap instead.

Now, lets assume we didn’t get drunk so early in the morning, as it would be disgraceful, and we are ready to work.

For this hat, you can use any kind of material, as long as it is stretchy. Jersey, velour jersey or isoli. I chose two layers of simple cotton jersey. To begin with, I cut out the pieces, 2 times for every layer, and then sew them together, interlocking (in my case zig-zagging, as my machine doesn’t have other functions) any raw edges, as I went.

I decided to make this hat a little bit more girly and elegant, so I made a felt flower of the same colour as the lining of the hat. I stumbled upon this tutorial on Pinterest, of foodwineandmodpodge. I think this flower is very cute, and very easy to make 🙂 Now, that the two layers were basically done, I took the hat I wanted to be on the outside, turned it rightside out, and stitched the flower to its place. Oh, so cute 🙂

After this I began to sew the two layers together. To do so, I turned them again inside out, put them into each other, so the right sides were facing each other, and sewed them together along the face cut. After I was done with this, I turned the hat back again, rightside out. Yeah, there is a lot of turning during the process…

Now, I did something I learnt from my Mum. She says, that everything with a lining in it, needs some extra securing, so the layers don’t go sliding all over the place. So I reached up in the hat, grabbed it at its back, and found a spot, where I can stitch the lining to the outer part, so it remains in its place. Obviously I had to turn this part inside out again…

Our hat is almost done, happy? 🙂

The final step, aka finishing the hat by closing it in the bottom, caused a bit of a trouble for me. The original description I found about lined hats was talking about leaving a folding hole open in the lining, sewing through it, then turning everything out and closing the hole. Well, my friends, I tried and tried and tried. But simply couldn’t figure it out, how this folding hole thingy can work. I stayed up really late last night, ended up staring at hats with no opening whatsoever, trying to solve this logical game, but failed. (Remember, I haven’t really slept much recently). So I decided to do it my way.

I took the interlocked (or zig-zagged) bottoms of the two layers, created a fold of about 1 cm on each, turned them against each other, then pinned and pressed them, and sewed them from the outside. Probably it is not the most elegant and professional solution, but this is the best I could come up with 🙂 Please, take a look at the pictures, if my description is confusing 🙂

Anyway, if you are still with me, and haven’t stopped reading after the first inside-out turning of layers, then you might be interested in the pattern for this hat.

I, with not little difficulties, created a PDF pattern, belive it or not 🙂 I am very proud of myself, however, the quality is quite poor, please excuse me for this, this is my very first PDF pattern. I still hope, it is usable.

So far there are only two sizes, one for 3-4 years and 1-2 years. The PDF should be printed out in A3 format, and don’t forget to add an extra cm (or inch) before cutting!

The Elephant Hat

Well, enjoy 🙂 I am exhausted now from all this work, I’ll be  off 🙂

A Perfect Sunday

Perfect Sundays are something we all dream of. Perfect Sundays however happen to be quite rare. But yesterday happened to be a Sunday and happened to be perfect.

We woke up to a beautiful, sunny day, frost covering everything in the garden. I felt like a super mum, and made omelets for breakfast. I don’t know about others, but my kids can eat sooo much for breakfast, that it would feed a smaller army. After munching a few biscuits, finishing up their first portion of cornflakes, and the second portion, and the third portion, and some fruits, they jumped upon the eggs and the rye bread as hungry hyenas… A little bit later I discovered, that the clock on the kitchen wall shows a different time that the one on my phone, and we realised with my husband, that we actually missed to set back our watches to daylight saving time… One hour gained of the day, quite unexpectedly 🙂

Now, that it was quite early, and very sunny, we decided to go for a nice walk in the woods nearby. We packed up the kids and the dog, and set out for a route that covered my usual running path. It is a very beautiful route, leading through some fields, among old farms, with modern windmills as a background in the distance. It takes about a kilometer or two to arrive to the forest. We have only been living here since July, but I can tell you, this forest is simply gorgeous in the summer and in the autumn. I assume it is gonna be marvelous in the spring as well, however, I don’t have high hopes regarding the grey, boring winter… Laika, our pup, really enjoyed the tour, she actually was so excited, and kept up such a powerful pace, that my husband decided, to tie her to the stroller, and utilize her help provided to pull the wagon 🙂

Once in the forest, we decided to take a little detour, and follow a very narrow path, leading up the hill, that I have never taken during my runs.

The path was almost intact, and led us to an opening with the most beautiful view! We ended up sitting on the top of a hill, staring at the fields, woods and a sparkly little lake under us. We truly regretted, that we hadn’t anticipated to stumble upon such a nice spot, and hadn’t packed some lunch and warm cocoa. But we quickly decided, that next time we will hold a little picnic at this spot 🙂

After sitting there for about half an hour, and watching some hunters getting into formation around a little woody area, most likely aiming for ducks, and when the children started to be restless, we decided to get back on track, and go home. According to my running statistics, we covered about 4-5 kilometers that day. The distance, the fresh air and the bright sunshine drained all the energy out of Cherry, Paddington and Laika, so after we got home and had something to eat, the two kids and the dog simply fell asleep, on three different points of the house 🙂 Sweet silence and peace 🙂

I decided to seize the possibility, and quickly made some chocolate chip cookies, that were happily consumed by my husband, and the children, once they woke up. We ended the day with watching cartoons and having some nice and autumnal comfort food for dinner (sheperd’s pie).

It really was the Perfect Sunday.

 

The Ebeltoft rainfestival… I mean applefestival…

Last week was the official autumn break for Danish schools, meaning that a lot of fun and family friendly activities were provided all over Denmark.

So we decided to take Friday off, pack up the family, and go to the Ebeltoft Applefestival. Ebeltoft is a lovely little town on the edge of Djursland (the part where my husband was born and raised), located at the seaside, on a hilly area, full of tiny little cobbler-stoned streets, charming houses, small craft- and artshops, giving home to the Glass Museum, and the Jylland Frigate, which is an old war ship from the 19th century, made into a museum. Ebeltoft is named after apples (æble in Danish), so it is not very surprising, that the city holds a festival dedicated to apples every autumn.

We really like to visit Ebeltoft, because it is simply beautiful there, and we like apples too, and the festival sounded fun, so we set out on Friday. It is about an hour of drive from here, and the closer we got to Ebeltoft, the more and more rain poured down on us… We really hoped that this tendency will stop very soon, because we obviously had our jackets on, but were not prepared for this kind of rain at all. As you can guess, the rain didn’t stop when we parked our car at the bottom of the city, next to the Frigate, so our first thing was to run into the nearest souvenir shop, and buy an umbrella. Now, being a little bit more rainproof, we began our walk in the city, to find the festival. Umbrella or no, we got soaking wet in no time, while following the signs leading to the festival. It was also lunch time, and the kids got whiny, so we entered the first grill place, had some sausage mix, warmed up a little, dried our jackets, and by the time we were done, the rain died down too. From that on it was only dripping, but hey, this is Denmark, so dripping rain is almost a default set-up.

Finally, after a few toddler tantrums from our sons part, and when we could see on each other’s faces with my husband, that we already truly regret coming here, we reached the premises of the festival, and things started to get better. First we spotted some candy apples, bought one for each kid, and it turned out to be the best decision ever, because the apples kept them occupied and happy for the rest of the day 🙂 Now, kids being taken care of, strolling happily beside us, holding our hands, licking the apples, we could really start to absorb the atmosphere and enjoy the festival. There were a lot of these red-striped tents, offering space for different crafts and goodies made of apples. Apple cakes, apple balls, apple juice, apple cider, you name it 🙂 There was also a huge tent housing all the talented craftsmen and -women of the area, it was a pleasure to see all of the nice things and get somewhat inspired by them.

Leaving this tent, we suddenly found ourselves staring at a little train. Obviously the kids, mainly our son, got very excited about it, so we went closer, and found out, that this little express is going around Ebeltoft, stopping at a few places. Since at this point we were quite far away from our parking car, kids getting tired, weather not getting better, we decided to jump on the little express, cuddle under some blankets, and get a ride 🙂 This also turned out to be a very good decision, children were super happy, and if they are happy, so are we 🙂 It was nice and warm under the blankets, and we didn’t have to walk, carrying the kids. Our little train choo-chooed around the city, between the cute little houses, and people were smiling at it wherever we went. We jumped off of it at the old town hall, went into some shops, then slowly walked back down to the parking lot.

All in all, it was a great day and a great experience. We might return next year… if it is not raining… 🙂

 

A little sunshine in the rain

 

 

We were very lucky with our house. Not just because we found our dream-house in a nice community, but also because of the previous owners.

This couple were living here for 40 years, all their adult lifes, and now they decided to move closer to their grown up children, and bought a house in Sweden. We had the pleasure to meet them personally: after the first papers were signed, they simply invited us over for a coffee. They turned out to be very nice people, and provided us a lot of useful information about the house, tips regarding the garden. Jonna, the wife, she is amazing, and full of energy, she decorated everything with the finest taste, up to the smallest details. Actually, all these small little things were the final push in our decision of buying, because it all just looked so lovely, you know? 🙂

Also, since they moved from 155 square meters to 70, we had a part in the contract, saying that for the price we pay, they leave some of their furniture behind. And since we moved from 83 square meters to 155, we were very happy for the extra chairs, tables, mirrors, lamps, etc.

Among the leftover furniture we discovered many beautiful things, a few things we didn’t want to keep, and another few that had some promises in them.

 

Like this little commode, we found in their master bedroom (now divided into two children rooms) and what reminded my husband of the entrance furniture they used to have in his childhood home. We thought it looked very nice, however, bit shabby and dusty, the top part of it covered with fungus stains, and all the drawers coated with some old, ugly paper. I also found some traces of the once probably white painting.

Nothing a little love, sandpaper and paint cannot cure, he? 🙂

So, after about 3 months of procrastinating (or simply because I prioritised other things then this little piece of furniture waiting patiently in the kitchen, under the staircase), I went to war. I dragged poor thing out of the house, into the carport, put up my mask, and started sandpapering. After that it got a layer of white wood paint, leftover from the renovation. The next day, after the white paint got completely dry, things went crazy and colourful 🙂

After living thirty years in the faith that I am not a fan of the colour yellow (I have always been the pink-and-blue type of girl), this summer I was struck by the recognition: I love yellow!!! I don’t know why, but it came very suddenly: when we were planning the decorations and colours for the house, I realised, that I can picture many things in a nice, summer yellow. For example this commode. So I went down to the local paint shop and chose 3 cans of a pretty yellow autolack (which turned out to be just enough for two layers of paint).

The old, shabby little furniture got a new, happy, sunshiny life (whether it wanted it or not), and now standing proudly in my office, providing a pop of colour and a lot of happiness, when I look at it. My office still has a lot to improve (it is seriously under construction), because all the junk and basically everything, we haven’t found a place yet has just been thrown into it since we moved in, but I have a vision about this room and working hard on making it come true 🙂 And my little sunshine commode was the first step in the process 🙂

 

I love to sew balloon pants

Yes, it is true. I love to sew, in general, but sewing balloon pants is my favourite of all 🙂

Actually, balloon pants are the reason I wanted to learn sewing. Because the world is full of cute fabrics for kids, and what do cute fabrics fit better on, than balloon pants?

So when I found this irresistible brown fabric with cars, and the sweet birdie-flowerish-striped-kind of fabric, I knew, what was going to happen. I took the pattern from Minikrea, and made these:

 

I was very proud of the result, as these two pair of trousers were my very first sewing projects. Even my husband got a little bit surprised, saying: “they look like the ones you buy in the shop!” (always the tone of surprise… 🙂 ).

So I got bloodthirsty: I wanted to make more and more and more and more balloon pants! And I did, I took the cute owl-patterned fabrics, the boy and the girl version of them, I even paid attention to the details, and used an also owlish fabric for lining. The result:

 

And to include a life-situation photo with a real model, here is some pictures of my son, posing in the owl pants, and wearing the fluffiest bearish knitted vest, made by my Mum (I wish I could knit like her, she is so talented). Our model represents a sporty-elegant style 🙂

 

Finally, I would like to say thank you to my photo assistant, Miss Laika Troublemaker (yes, she is sitting on top of me on this picture) for her efforts: