Monday, 28 May 2012

Individual Puff Pastry Apple Pies

My mum made puff pastry salmon for her and her partner for dinner today and forgot to put the rest of the puff pastry back in the freezer, so I decided to use it to make a dessert.

I found the recipe HERE, but I have written it again with metric measurement for those that prefer that, like myself.

481 grams puff pastry
340 grams apples (two medium sized ones)
43 grams brown sugar
2 tsp flour
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 egg (beaten)

Thaw puff pastry according to instructions on package.
Peel, core and chop apples up coarsely.
Combine apples with sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon and nutmeg. I just juiced half a lemon and used all the juice from it, which was a lot more than the recipe states, but it made them very nice and fresh, and not too sweet.
Heat oven to 175 C
Flour surface lightly and cut pastry sheets into nine 8x8cm squares. I had 3 puff pastry sheets and managed to cut them into 12 squares, roughly the same size.
Place approximately 4 tbs apple mixture on each of half of the squares and brush edge with beaten egg. I didn't measure, just distributed it on 6 fairly evenly.
Place second pastry square on the top of the already filled pastry to form a pocket.
Press down border with fingers to seal and then press with fork to decorate the edges. It's the first time I've made anything with puff pastry, so I managed to tear them a little bit, but I think they turned out quite nice for the first time.
Make a 3cm L shape incision into each pie and fold back the pastry flap.
Place on un-greased cookie sheet and give each one an egg wash.
Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until golden.
They might not look very pretty, but they tasted lovely. 

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Eurovision embarrassment!

If you for some reason really don't want to know who won Eurovision tonight, don't read this post!

I don't normally like the songs Norway enter into Eurovision with. Like Rybakk, I liked the violin, but his singing was horrible. This year I actually liked the song though. Tooji is quite good. He's not even a singer, he works in child protective services and wants to continue doing so, but that's besides the point. Here is the song from Norway if you haven't seen or heard it;
I like it. I know people's taste in music is different, but I at least thought we would get some points in the competition. It looked dire for a while. Not a single point! Even the UK got points! And theirs was HORRIBLE!! Creepy old guy that couldn't sing!
Norway got 7 points, all together, and that was after 3 countries voted for us! Terrible! Last place!! It's horrible! Less than the UK! I really can't believe it! I thought at least Sweden would be nice and give us 12 points or something, but no.

Sweden got nineteen 12's by the way! Nearly half the 12's in the competition, beat Rybakk's 16, but didn't beat his points. At least Sweden was worthy winners of the competition.
Although it would have been funny if Russia had won the competition! It was close for a while. They're not very good, but they're super cute!
But I'm truly embarrassed on the voters' behalf that they gave the UK more points than Norway, being at the bottom wouldn't have been so bad if the UK wasn't above us!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Back to reality

This morning my granddad came over. He needed some help with writing a letter to an insurance company. Since mum had to go to work I helped him out. Then, when I finished, he gave me money! Thanks granddad! At least I worked for them. Easy work as well.

Well, I finally know when I'll be going to Oslo. It's not for another 2 weeks, but at least I can start sending in applications for jobs now. Which is what I've been doing today.

It's such a mission! I of course had to start with updating my CV. Then I actually had to apply for jobs..! Writing application letters again. I've not had to do that for a couple of years! I always get a little stuck on what to write, especially when I apply for jobs where I might not have all the right qualifications but try to make the ones I do have sound like enough.

There is also the problem of having an Australian keyboard when writing in Norwegian as there is three more letters in Norwegian: æ, ø and å (and we use them A LOT!).

Online applications is a bitch as well (pardon my French). Why ask the same questions 5 times and 50 random questions? I guess it's to make people prove that they can think originally or something, but still. It's just annoying, can't they ask those questions at the interview?

I ended up only applying for 3 jobs today. It took me so long to sort the new outline for the application letter out, but at least now I have it, so hopefully I will be able to write the proper applications quicker now. I'll try to apply for some more jobs tomorrow. 

Monday, 21 May 2012

I'm back!

Back in Norway after more than 10 months away.

I arrived on the evening of May 17th, Norway's National Day. As I was flying from Rome I saw the sky under me accumulating more and more clouds as we got closer to Norway. They didn't have very nice weather for the celebrations around Norway that day, and it wasn't really the best welcome home from the weather Gods I could have had: rain and temperatures so low I could see my breath. At least it was the kind of weather I associate with Norway...

It's strange to be back. It kind of feels like I've never even left. I'm back where my mum lives at the moment, Vestnes. I went for a walk today, hunting down some postcards. I went to the bookshop a few days ago but they didn't have the right place name on them, so I had to walk for an hour to get to the ferry dock where they luckily had the right ones.I can't believe they didn't have the right postcards at the bookshop though, one of two places they sell postcards and they only had postcards with the names of even smaller places on them! I'm in Vestnes, I want to buy postcards that says Vestnes on them!

When I had just left the house to walk to the ferry dock I saw a little squirrel scampering up a tree. It paused when it saw me, and for a little while it was really close to me, but at soon as I moved to get my camera out of my bag it ran further up the tree. It was a nice start to my walk, I haven't seen many squirrels here before.
Can you spot the squirrel?

Except for May 17th the weather has been really nice since I got  back, it was even quite warm today (keep in mind warm for Norway is low 20's), it's like summer had come early. This is when I like Vestnes the most, when the sun is shining and I can see all the lovely mountains surrounding us. Everything looks prettier in the sunlight.

I do like Vestnes, but mostly as a place to go on holiday to, to get away from all the hustle and bustle of bigger places. To relax. Catch up with family. I don't like living here so much. You know in other countries, especially the U.S., Canada and the U.K., when you go to the smaller places people smile at you on the streets and talk to you... Not in small place Norway, not Vestnes anyway. People look really grumpy, I hadn't really noticed before. And because it's such a small place (approx 5000 citizens) everybody knows everybody and there is so much gossiping, double standards and narrow-mindedness. I don't like the people here.

Although I never liked Oslo when I lived there I hope I will like it more now. I am moving to my dad in Oslo in a few weeks, I'm not sure when. My dad isn't really a planner. It's hard to plan when he has a job where he comes in one day and get a message he's going to America for 3 weeks. I've not even been to his new apartment there, or met his new girlfriend, he got both while I was in Australia. It will be interesting.

The thing that annoys me most about this is that I can't apply for jobs in Oslo until I know for sure when I'll actually be available for interviews etc. down there. I hope I won't have to wait too long to get a job, I need to start saving up for America next year.

The get out of jail free meme - Part 2

Another meme from Sunday Stealing.

* Has there ever been anyone that you now regret meeting? Not really
* What's the last film you saw? Would you recommend it? Monte Carlo. It was okay, I would recommend it to people that likes girly-teenagey movies.
* Would you rather have roommates or live alone? I don't mind having roommates, but I would rather live alone
* Do you like any of your friends a little more than just a friend? Yes
* If you found out that you were going to be a parent, what would you do? Freak out
* Do you give money to homeless people when they ask? Rarely
* A weekend in Las Vegas or Miami? Why? Both because I've never been, hopefully I'll at least get to see Miami next year
* What was your reaction about the president supporting gay marriage? "Finally the Americans might see sense as well!"
* You are totally alone on a Saturday. What do you do? Watch a movie, read a book or do something on my laptop.
* You have 3 months left to live, what is your bucket list? If would probably be full of places I want to see before I die
* Ever use a tanning bed? No, and I don't want to
* Is there anything you would change about your body if you could? Yes, I think most people would say yes to this if they were going to be completely honest
* You wake up in an unfamiliar place, what is your first reaction? Confusion
* Is there anything you should be doing right now? Not really
* At what age do you think that sex becomes less important? Why? I hope never, but I've herd it becomes less important when you have small kids. Or maybe not less important but they just don't have enough energy for it.
* What is your favourite breakfast food? I like breakfasts in Norway. We usually just have bread and fill the table with things to put on it. Cheeses, meats, jams, various spreads... I have never seen such a selection of things to put on bread in other countries
* Your phone rings at 4am, who do you expect it to be? Someone that has a good reason for calling me at 4am

Sunday, 20 May 2012

The get out of jail free meme - Part 1

Another meme found at Sunday Stealing.

* When you're home alone, do you still close the door when you use the restroom? Yes
* If you have to go grocery shopping, would you rather go alone or with someone? Depends on my mood, but I think it would be better to go with someone so that I wouldn't buy quite as much junk as I would going on my own.
* It's your best friend's birthday, would you buy them a gift even though they didn't buy you one for yours? Yes
* You win the lottery. Lump sum or small payments over a period of time? Why? Lump sum. I think that if I had gotten it in small payments over time it would have been very easy to spend it all, whereas one big payment would just go straight into my savings so that I knew how much I had and that way I could just use it when I needed it.
* Do you like your music loud or at a reasonable level? Reasonable level. I hate loud music.
* Are you a beach person or a snowy mountain person? Beach
* When do you brush your teeth? In the morning after breakfast and at night before I go to bed, if I'm going to a party or something I will also brush them before that.
* Can you watch scary movies alone? When I was a teenager I loved to watch scary movies on my own, I still can do it, but I get scared more easily and would prefer to watch them with someone, like a nice guy I can snuggle up with.
* Soft bed or firm? And in fantasy land, who's in it with you? Somewhere in between, but more firm than soft. And I'm not telling.
* Would you rather stay at home all day, or be out and about? Depends on my mood, although I feel guilty if the weather is nice and I've spent all day inside.
* Do you like to keep the peach or be confrontational? I like to keep the peace, but that doesn't mean that I won't express my opinion on something even if that clashes with the opinion of someone else.
* Are you more likely to be with a large group of people or a few close friends? A few close friends
* What are your plans for October? No idea, I'll probably be working to save up money for America.
* If money were not a problem, where would you like to live? England somewhere
* What is your ideal profession? If I knew that I would be trying to do something to get it.
* Are you close to your mum and dad? Not really unfortunately
* What is one fear that you can't seem to overcome? My fear of never finding out what I want to do with my life, to never have a job I'm happy in.
* Are you good at math? Simple math, yes.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Rome - Part 4


Today I took the Metro for the first time in Rome. It was crazy! I don’t know if it was because it was in the morning so people were going to work or if it’s always that busy at the termini, but it was really crazy. I just got squashed in the crowd that was waiting to get on the metro, and then on the metro when I finally got on. I didn’t actually have to get on, the crowd behind me just kind of pushed me in.

When I got out of the metro I could just follow the crowd. I was not the only one going to the Vatican City today. When I got there I had to put my bag on a conveyor belt and go through a metal detector just like at airports. Which makes sense I guess, since you’re going to a different country; the smallest one in the world, both in size and population.
 When I got into the Vatican City I could see that there was a heap of chairs put out on the piazza that was slowly filling up. I realized the Pope must be speaking to people today so I went and sat down as well. I’m glad I went there early so that I got a fairly good seat.

I thought the Pope would just be going straight up on the “stage”, but when he came he was standing in this golf cart type thing and drover around between the seats that had been put out, it was quite cool because that way I actually got to see him up close. When he went around people were screaming, crying, dancing… It was amazing to experience. Some people had gone a long way to come here and I bet some of them had probably saved up their whole lives just so they could come and see their spiritual leader in the flesh.

Of course people couldn’t go into the Basilica until a little while after the Pope had left again, and the line to get in was really long, but once they started letting people in it moved fast. It’s free to go into the Basilica, and it’s so big in there that even though there is a lot of people it’s not too crowded, just a little more than comfortable.

I thought that you could go into the rest of the Vatican City from the Basilica and from there to the Sistine Chapel. No. You have to go out of the Vatican State again, walk around to the other side of the wall surrounding it and there you can go into the Vatican Museum, which houses the Sistine Chapel. If I had known that I would have left to go there earlier to try and beat the crowds.

It is €15 to get into the museum. There is a lot to see and it’s really pretty so it’s worth it… In a way…

All I wanted to see was the Sistine Chapel, to see one of the most famous paintings in the world. But it was full of groups doing tours and I kind of just got shepherded along, squashed in between them all. I hated it. It was too claustrophobic. I headed straight towards the Sistine Chapel, but to get there I had to walk through about 100 rooms, squashed between the other tourists heading the same way. It’s not really good conditions for enjoying what you’re seeing. I just took a few quick pictures as I was walking because I didn’t want to stop, I wanted to see what I came to see so that I could leave as soon as possible.

I finally got to the room with the painting of the hand of God giving life to Adam is. It was nice. I’m glad I’ve seen it, I know I would have regretted it if I hadn’t. The room was completely full of tourists and although I managed to find a place to sit for a bit it was just too claustrophobic so I left after a short time. It’s not allowed to take pictures in that room.

The Sistine Chapel is beautiful and just the work that went into it, especially by Michelangelo is absolutely amazing, in a way I wish I could have gone through it with less other tourist around so that I could actually look at the art and enjoy it, but you couldn’t pay me enough to go in again when it’s that busy! Never again!

I was supposed to walk a few other places today as well, but after the “ordeal” in the Vatican Museum I just had to go back to the hostel to “cool down” and breathe again. I do have claustrophobia and the way it was in the museum was a total nightmare and I just got too stressed and I knew I wouldn’t be able to enjoy anything else today. At least the other things I was going to see was just “extras”; it wasn’t something that I had really wanted to see while I was in Rome, it was just stuff that had been suggested to me and wasn’t really that important.

M&J Place Hostel

In Rome I stayed in M&J Place. Like most buildings in Rome it’s really old, but it’s got a certain charm to it. I stayed in a 10 bed mixed dorm which was just the right size for luggage etc.

The staff was really nice and helpful and the reception was open 24 hours so there was always someone there.

The bathroom on my floor was a “proper bathroom”. Only one person could use it at a time, which was nice because it meant you had loads of space and there were hooks for your things, but it also meant that I was nervous about keeping people waiting. The shower was in the ceiling, so it was a little bit annoying when I didn’t want my hair to get wet, but it was okay. The shower curtain didn’t really stop the water completely so the whole bathroom floor got wet when I took a shower.  

After I wrote the above paragraph I also found a shared bathroom on my floor (right across the hallway from my dorm… Not that I’m blind or anything…) with three shower stalls and two toilet stalls, so now I don’t feel so bad about occupying the big female one. But the shower stalls were really small and there was nowhere to put your things so that they didn't get wet.

They have breakfast, not free breakfast mind you, but you can go to reception and get a token for a buffet breakfast for €3 and use in the bar downstairs, at least it’s an all you can eat one, so if you have a big appetite you can really get your money’s worth. The buffet includes juice, toast, croissants and cereal.

In May they also did free internet, which was nice. Comes in handy when you don’t have a phone, and also for the blog.

There was no locker in the dorm, which was annoying especially since they could have easily fit some in. But at least it felt slightly safe since it was 24 hour reception and an electronic key card for the dorm doors. 

Rome - Part 3


Again my feet are killing me, but with all the beautiful things I have seen today I don’t mind at all.

The first stop on today’s walk was San Carlo Quattre Fontane. It’s four fountains on each corner of an intersection. They were beautiful, but they were in an awkward place because of the traffic, the streets are so small there that there isn’t really any place to sit down and relax and look at them and enjoy them, so I just took some quick pictures and moved on.

Rome is pretty much made up of loads of narrow streets crisscrossing each other, and at the end of one that I was walking down was the Fontana di Trevi, the Trevi Fountain. I heard it before I saw it, it’s so big! It was beautiful, like most things here in Rome. I threw two coins into the fountain, one to return to Rome and one for luck in love. When you throw the coins in you’re supposed to throw them with your back to the fountain and over the opposite shoulder to the hand you’re throwing with.

The next stop that suddenly appeared at the end of a narrow street was the Pantheon. I must say it looks good for its age: almost 2000 years old! And still standing! It’s absolutely amazing! It looks gorgeous. From the outside it looks fairly “plain”, but when you go inside it’s just so beautiful, and it’s free to go inside it! There was probably a lot of people inside when I went, but because the Pantheon is so big it didn’t feel like it at all.

From the Pantheon I went to Piazza Navona. It’s an oval place surrounded by buildings, and there are three fountains. There was also loads of street artist and people selling things, cafes and restaurants in Piazza Navona.

After Piazza Navona I walked to Piazza del Popolo. You know how I said after yesterday I would always ask for the prize before I got anything? Well… This guy came over to me in Piazza del Popolo with so roses, I just started saying No straight away, he kept saying “it’s good luck, it’s good luck”. I probably said no and tried to move away 10 times, in the end I thought that maybe it was free since he was just trying to give them to me and not starting so say only so and so many euro? (I know, silly me.) So I let him put the three roses in my hand, then he started tying a bracelet on my wrist, I tried to say no, but he started saying “it’s good luck, it’s good luck” again, so I let him tie it on. When he was finished I said thank you and I was going to move away, then he said “something?” and gestured with his hand for money, of course. Well, I could have given the roses back, but the bracelet was tied on so I couldn’t give it back, but at least he didn’t say a price, so I gave him the coins I had, and then showed him that my purse was empty (the coin part anyway). I think he got maybe €4. Needless to say I said no and tried to avoid looking at anyone with roses the rest of the day, and I said no in such a way that they didn’t dare ask again. But at least he didn’t ask for a certain sum, for which I am grateful.

The Spanish steps were next, or as it is called in Italian: Trinità dei Monti. It was a nice place to sit down and relax my feet for a bit, which is what everybody there seemed to be doing. While I was sitting there an Italian guy came over and started flirting with me. Unfortunately, or fortunately, he didn’t speak much English and I’m not that good in Italian so we had some communication problems and he left after a couple of minutes. I didn’t really find him that attractive anyway so at least I didn’t have to try and “let him down easy” if he asked for a date of anything.

I have not seen a single one of those thieving kids that people warned me would be everywhere in Rome, actually I’ve not seen a single child at all that hasn’t been on a class trip or something. Maybe it’s because it’s the middle of the week so kids are at school, or maybe the government has managed to get control of it, I don’t know, but it’s nice to not have to worry every time I see a child if it’s going to try and take my money or not.

Part of me thinks it would have been nice to go on a tour of Rome so that I would have learnt more about each place, but I’m also enjoying walking around on my own, at my own pace and being able to see the non-touristy streets.

A girl checked in at the hostel this afternoon that I got along with and we went for a walk around Rome after dark. It was absolutely breathtaking, and I’m glad I met the girl because I wouldn’t have gone for a walk after dark on my own because of all the narrow, slightly scary, alleys and streets.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Rome - Part 2


My feet are aching! I walked around one third of my planned walks in Rome today. I have to say I absolutely LOVE Rome! It’s so beautiful here. I just love how old the whole city looks, how much history there is in the streets.

My first stop on the walk was Santa Maria Maggiore. When I got there I was at the back of it, which I thought looked beautiful and then I walked around to the front and that was even better!

 I shouldn’t need to introduce my next stop. One of the places you HAVE TO see if you go to Rome! I hadn’t planned on going inside, just seeing the outside was enough for me, but the guy that showed me the walking routes yesterday told me that the Colosseum ticket was also valid to get into Palatino, Foro and Mostra (all in the same place) too and it was only €12 so I went inside. It’s just amazing. It feels very strange to be in a place so old that is still standing.

Before heading to Palatino, Foro and Mostra I walked to Circo Massimo, which is where they raced in the horse drawn carriages in ancient Rome.

Outside the entrance to Palatino, Foro and Mostra I saw a couple of guys dressed up as ancient Romans, so I had to take a picture. One of the guys came over and asked if I wanted to get a picture taken with one of them, I thought it would be kind of cool so I agreed. What I forgot to do is ask for the price (so what happened is kind of my own fault), but I thought it was just a picture, taken with my own camera, no print out or anything, so it couldn’t be too expensive. The guy that posed with me was flirting, and asking me to give him a kiss and basically making me feel a bit uncomfortable. I don’t mind harmless flirting, but it has to be done” right”, if you make someone feel uncomfortable it’s not flirting, it’s just creepy. Anyway. €20! €20 for a few pictures! I think €10 would have been expensive enough; I thought they were joking when they said €20. My daily budget while I’m in Rome is €50, I had already spent €15 for my breakfast and the Colosseum ticket, but that’s okay, I don’t need any more food today, do I? I know I still have €15 left, but that doesn’t seem like much when it’s still only noon. I seriously felt like I was being robbed, I nearly cried! Who needs the pickpocketing kids when the working adults rob you in their own way? But the pictures had already been taken and it was my own fault for not asking how much it was before it was being taken. Remember: always ask how much something is BEFORE you get it! Lesson learnt.

After my “robbery” I went inside the area of Palatino, Foro and Mostra. It was nice, but I have to admit I was in a bad mood because of the money I had just thrown away (I wasn’t even that happy with the pictures when I had a look at them later). The area was a lot bigger than I thought it would be and it’s full of lovely ruins that makes me think that if the ruins looks that beautiful just imagine what it would be like to go back in time and see it before it became ruins!

My next stop was Monumento a Vittorio Emanuelle II, apparently that’s the reason of the saying “all roads lead to Rome” or something. It was beautiful. 

The last stop today was Piazza della Repubblica. There was a really nice fountain in the middle of it.

I know I can survive on the €15 I got left for today, but it did ruin the rest of my day that I had to pay €20 for a few pictures. Being in a bad mood because of it and not really being able to properly appreciate all the beautiful things I’m seeing in Rome didn’t really make my mood any better. Hopefully I will be in a better mood tomorrow when I’ve got a new €50 to spend. And I will remember to ask about the price BEFORE I get anything!

I am already looking forward to seeing the things on tomorrow’s walk, so stay tuned!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Rome - Part 1


So after 23 hours of travelling I’m in Rome! I have to admit I’m a little disappointed that the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Cairo was at night because I would have loved to see what it looked like between those places since I’ve never flown that way before. I also really wanted to get out and look around in Bangkok and Cairo since I’ve never been to either, but it will have to wait until another time.

I have only been in Rome a couple of hours but so far I love it. I love all the old buildings, and how even the new ones are made to fit in with the old. I don’t understand the €2 culture tax people have to pay though. €2 per person per night in Rome… Can anybody tell me why that is?

One of the guys in reception was really nice and gave me a map and drew up a walking route for me for each of the three full days that I’m here so that I get to see all the sights, so look out for pictures in the next few days!

I only took a tiny walk today to check out the area around the hostel, it’s okay and there is a station nearby where I can get the bus, metro and train from so that makes things nice and easy.
Random pretty building opposite the station
 I was a little bit nervous about Rome, especially after everyone have been going on about pickpockets and stuff, but I’m really looking forward to the next few days! And I will only put one day’s budget in my purse, so that if it does get stolen then I know I’ve still got money and it’s not the end of the world. I also won’t bring my bank card with me, but I wouldn’t do that anyway.

I’ve heard Italian traffic is crazy, and seeing cars squeeze through really narrow streets that looks like they should be pedestrian is a bit strange, but after Kuala Lumpur it doesn’t really faze me. But I also think that the narrow streets looks like they should be pedestrian just because they look so old, but so does everything else in Rome so in a way I guess it’s not so strange that they squeeze through the narrow ones as well…

I met some of the people I’m sharing a dorm with, with exception of one boy we’re all girls, and I got along with all the ones I met, which is nice. I wonder what the guy in the dorm feel about sharing a dorm with 9 girls… I guess most guys would be all like “Oh yeah, I’m such a ladies man” or whatever in public, but I think it’s probably quite intimidating for him in a way, maybe. 
Free glass of wine and free WiFi at the bar next to the hostel. Don't mind if I do...


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