Thursday, 28 February 2013

Packed and ready to go!

It was both nice and sad to leave work and all my co-workers today. I have enjoyed most parts of my job and most of the people there, I hope I'm as lucky when I find something new in England.

Would you believe I didn't pack a single thing for my American Adventure until after work today?!

Admittedly I don't really own much, but it will be interesting to see if I'll have any overweight in my suitcase when I pack the last pieces tomorrow morning, or when I head home from the states, seeing as I am planning to take just a few more things to England with me when I move at the end of March.

I'll just have to try not to buy too much while I'm in the States.

Normally before I go somewhere I make a list of what I need to remember to pack, and what I have to remember to bring with me: Passport, tickets, bankcard, pyjamas... I didn't even do that this time! I just hope I remember everything!! I've already put my passport in my hand luggage, so at least I know that's sorted!

Since I usually just wear my work clothes all day most days unless I'm doing something after work, I hadn't realized just how few pieces of clothing I have! Not sure I have enough clothes to last me for two weeks!

I don't think it's quite hit me that I'm going to America... I started to realize it as I was packing today, but I don't think it will properly hit me until I'm actually there. It was the same with Australia. I think it hit me while I was sitting in the taxi from the airport, looking at the palm trees and what was supposed to be winter...

Only one more sleep until I get on that big metal bird and fly "back in time"!

This time tomorrow I will probably be having dinner with a friend I've known for about 10 years but never before met. I'll be in a new country, new continent. I'll spend two weeks seeing things and places I've never seen before, fill my camera with a heap of pictures and fill myself with new memories and experiences.

I love travelling!!

Friday, 22 February 2013

The Gatecrasher

The Gatecrasher
By: Sophie kinsella writing as Madeleine Wickham

Outer back cover: Fleur Daxeny is beautiful, unscrupulous, and has a large wardrobe of black designer suits. With the help of The Times announcements page she gatecrashed the funerals and memorial services of the wealthy, preying on rich, vulnerable men. She charms her way into their lives and onto their platinum credit cards, takes what she can, and then moves swiftly on.
When Richard Favour, a dull but wealthy businessman, meets Fleur at his wife's memorial service, he's bowled over. Gradually Fleur works her spell on Richard's reserved and stilted family - transforming their lives while she moves in on their wealth. She finds herself lingering longer than she meant to, becoming involved in the family - but as Fleur rifles through Richard's files, it becomes clear that she is not the only one after his money.

About a lady that goes to funerals and picks up wealthy men, it was really funny. The book focuses on one "job", Richard, and I really felt like I got to know all the characters in his family. The book is funny but at the same time quite sad and deep.

Richard sets out to learn more about his late wife after her memorial service, and it's interesting as the reader to also find out more about her.

I didn't like the ending of the book, I think it felt very rushed and it left so much unresolved. It's like Wickham got tired of writing and just wanted to be done with the book.

Most of the characters were really good, but I think I'll have to say my favourite character was Philippa, there was just so much going on with her and in a way I felt like she was more "real" than all the other ones.

I won't be keeping this book. Partly because it's one less thing to take to England, and partly because it just wasn't that good.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Exercise studies..?

I have been thinking about studying again... I am a lot of the time really, I just find it hard to actually decide on something. I mean, how do you know what you want to do the rest of your life, or not necessarily the rest of you life, but next year, or 5 years from now?


There was a time last time I lived in England that I was exercising almost every day, for a couple of hours each day. I loved it! I was also thinking about maybe studying to be a fitness instructor, but I talked to one of my fitness instructors and I just thought it seemed like a bit of a hassle. Then there was the part about standing in front of a bunch of people and telling them what to do..! It all seemed a bit scary.

When you think about it though anything you have to learn kind of seem like hassle to learn until you're actually doing it. Once you're actually learning it it seems so simple (hopefully)! When I heard about all the things I had to know for the office part of my current job I was really worried, then I started learning it and I couldn't believe how simple it all is!

I have been lazy lately. I went running almost every night for a while when I was in Australia, but since I left the family I've just not done anything at all. I get some exercise at work, but it's more heavy lifting than any proper exercise. I really want to get back into shape. Not to lose weight or anything, that's never been my goal, but just to get fitter and feel better about myself, it is nice to be able to run 30 metres to catch the bus without getting out of breath.

So what I am thinking at the moment is this: Once I move back to Chesterfield I will start exercising again, maybe get some of my friends with me. I'll see how I feel about it after a while, and then I might take a class at the college that I've seen: Level 1 award in Exercise Studies, even if I decide not to take the class I will keep up the exercise just for myself. If I do decide to take the class I will see how I feel about that and if I like it and decide to pursue a career in exercise I will go on to get a YMCA qualification or an NVQ or something.

I don't want to say; THIS IS WHAT I'M DOING, that way I'm just setting myself up for disappointment if I back out. I am just going to take it easy and do it step by step, see how I feel about it after each step. I still need a job to finance it all first.

My friend at work, who is planning to go to Australia this August, is a personal trainer and she loves it, she wants to keep working with it and maybe one day open her own gym, and I think she is part of the reason I started thinking about it again. She also has a blog, check it out - Fanny Ronkainen.

The basically obscure meme

Another meme from Sunday Stealing

1. Do you notice a person's eye colour? I usually do as I'm talking to them as I try to maintain eye-contact, but I often forget the eye colour, unless it's quite special...
2. If you could get a tattoo free, would you do it? What would it be? Yes, I would get a small pink breast cancer bow.
3. What kind of smoothie sounds really good right now? The one I usually make; frozen tropical mix, blueberries, avocado, banana, egg, hazelnuts and orange juice. The last few times I've also put some passion fruit in it.
4. Have you ever fired anyone? No, but I think I might have contributed to someone getting fired or leaving, I don't like it when people don't do their jobs properly and so I will tell the manager about it.
5. Did you like swinging as a child? Do you still get excited when you see a swing set? I did, not sure if I get excited but I do like to get on them if they are proper "strong" ones.
6. If you could have any pet in the world, illegal or not, what would you get? A tiger! They are so beautiful and majestic, but since they are illegal I will settle for a regular house cat.
7. Have you ever watched the Superbowl all the way through? I've never watched it at all.
8. Which continents have you been on? In a few weeks I will have been on all except South America and Antarctica.
9. Why did you name your blog whatever you named your blog? I used the name Lilly on the blog for myself as I didn't want to use my real name, so I named my blog "The Lilly Pad" as in lily pad; my own personal space.
10. Longest plane ride you've ever been on? Flying to Australia, I think the last flight was 14 hours!
11. If you had to move to another country, where would you move? I am moving to another country! The United Kingdom.
12. How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? He would chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could if a woodchuck could chuck wood.
13. How did you spend Valentine's Day? I was at work and then I was at home relaxing and playing with my new camera. Valentine's Day
14. Do you eat enough vegetables? Probably not, which is a bit rubbish of a vegetarian...
15. Do you like horror movies? What about thrillers? I used to love them both when I was a teenager but now I seem to scare a lot easier, I could still watch them though but I need a safe pair of arms around me.
16. If you could change your natural hair colour, would you? To what? I liked my hair in the summer when I was younger, it went a nice golden colour. Now it's usually just mousy brown, so I guess I would change it to be that golden colour again maybe.
17. What subject would you take if your were forced to take a free class? I would love to study but I keep changing my mind about what all the time, at the moment I'm thinking maybe a health and fitness class.
18. Do you use a reusable grocery bag? When I remember to bring one with me yes. I used to always keep one in my bag, but now I keep forgetting to put it back in after I've used it.
19. City or nature person? Nature. Cities can get too busy for my liking.
20. Do heights bother you? Can you look out the window on the top floor of a skyscraper? Heights doesn't really bother me. I don't like it on top of a cliff because there's the chance I can fall over and die but I don't mind looking out of windows of a skyscraper.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Apparently it's a good day to die hard...

When I got off the bus into the city today this is what met me:

I must say it's one of the best advertisements for a movie I've seen in a long time! I was meeting my friend for dinner and a movie anyway. we were planing to finally watch Skyfall, but it seemed a bit silly seeing as it's out on DVD in not too long, so after seeing the above advertisement we decided on watching "A good day to die hard" instead. I quite enjoyed it actually, and I must say, the guy playing the son is much cuter on screen than he looked on the poster, I actually didn't recognise him from the poster at first! A good movie if you like watching car chases and lots of things blowing up. I also have to say I kind of love that it came out on Valentine's Day...

I am looking forward to summer now. I'm tired of all the snow and ice everywhere, I can't wait until 3 weeks from now when I'll be in Florida!

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Happy Valentines Day!!

A few months ago I asked a Hindu friend if he celebrates Christmas, his answer was that he;

"...enjoy every religious festival no matter what the religion, any excuse for a party with friends and family." 

Isn't that just a great way of looking at things? 

I thought that way today, Valentines. I might be single and I didn't party or anything, but I wore a red top and some hearts in my hair instead of my regular plain bobby pins. Any excuse to do something fun. Something different. 

I also played with my new DSLR today. One bad thing about having a DSLR is that it shows up a lot better if you don't have a steady hand on slow shutter speed.
auto vs. manual

Beautiful Disaster

Beautiful Disaster
By: Jamie McGuire

Outer back cover: GOOD GIRL - Abby Abernathy doesn't drink or swear and she works hard. Abby believes she has buried her dark past, but when she arrives at college, her dreams of a new beginning are quickly challeneged by the university's walking one-night stand.
BAD BOY - Travis Maddox, sexy, built, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs - and wants - to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight club, and his days as the notorious college Lothario.
IMMINENT DISASTER? - Intrigued by Abby's resistance to his charms, Travis tricks her into his life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain celibate for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis's apartment for the same amount of time.
OR THE START OF SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL? - Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match. Or that this is the start of an obsessive, intense relationship that will lead them both into imaginable territory...

No, just no. After reading it I think the picture on the cover is quite apt, but it's not a ""healthy" read.

The relationship between Abby and Travis is written to make the readers want it as well, when really, if someone finds themselves in a situation like that they should get a restraining order! The only "sane" person in the book is looked at as a bitch, someone no one wants to listen to.

Saying that, some relationships are like described in the book, which is sad, and of course the people in said relationship doesn't want to listen to anyone else, but they are unhealthy relationships and I don't think they should be promoted as something good! Sure, it's fiction and a bad boy can be tempting, but there has to be a limit.

Usually after I read a book with a relationship I want part of that relationship for myself, this time, I hope I never find myself in a relationship like that!

Not only was the relationship bad, the story itself was very mediocre.

I will not be keeping this book.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

A new toy!

I've been wanting an SLR camera for years now, when I saw on TV on Sunday that one of the electronic stores had a sale on I just couldn't wait any longer! I actually didn't get the one that was on sale, well, I got the same camera but with a better lens and slightly cheaper at a different store.

I am really looking forward to using it and learning more about how to use it. It's not top of the range but it's a nice camera to start out with. No point in spending loads of money on a camera I might en up using only a few times a month.

At least I'll hopefully get some really good pictures from my America trip now.

Only "problem" is; it's a little heavier than your regular compact camera, not as easy to just put in a handbag (unless you've got one of those monster ones).

My dad has also told me to have a look at lenses while I'm in America as apparently they are a lot cheaper there, so I might just get one more with a better zoom on it or something, we'll see.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Shrovetide "Boller"

I know in the UK you have Pancake Tuesday, also known as Shrove Tuesday, here in Norway we have Shrove Sunday, which is today. We make the above "bolle", or sweet bun if you will, filled with cream and jam. I can't even remember the last time I ate those, so of course I had to make some! I was worried that it wouldn't be enough when I used the following recipe, but just one of those babies is enough food for a whole day!

I got the recipe from this website: Tine


50 grams yeast (or 1 small packet of dry yeast)
3,5 decilitres of full fat milk
100 grams butter
100 grams sugar
500 grams sifted flour (approx, I had to use about 550/600grams)
0,5 teaspoon cardamom
0,5 teaspoon salt
0,5 teaspoon baking powder

1 egg whisked

3 decilitres whipping cream/double cream
2 teaspoons vanilla sugar


Start by melting the butter in a small casserole, careful so it doesn't burn. Once the butter is melted add the milk and heat it to 37C (for Fahrenheit... just like babies milk; check it on the inside of your wrist). Put the yeast in a bowl, if you're using fresh yeast crumble it. Add the liquid and stir it so the yeast disintegrates

Add the sugar, salt, cardamom, baking powder and flour and knead to a smooth dough. Don't put all the flour in at once in case you don't need it. Cover the dough with some cling film and leave it in a nice and warm place to rise to twice it's size, approx 30 minutes.

When I made it I got 10 "boller" of the dough, although I could have probably gotten 12 if I had made them smaller. Divide the dough into parts (just under the size of a handful), and shape them into balls. Put them on a tray with baking paper, cover the tray with plastic and let it rest in a warm place for another 30 minutes. Sometime within these 30 minutes turn your oven on 250C.

Glaze with the whisked egg and put them in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Whip the cream and vanilla sugar to a fluffy cream, spread the "boller" with jam ( I prefer rasberry) and cream, sprinkle some icing sugar on top, which I forgot, and enjoy!

Australia Revisited

A girl at work is wanting to travel to Australia in August, and so she's asked me what places I would recommend. I've already sent her the link to this old post, but then I started thinking; I think I wrote that one on my last day in Australia, as I was sitting at the airport waiting for my flight, what about now, almost a year after I got back, which places would I then recommend?

As my laptop hasn't got any Scandinavian letters since I bought it in Australia, it's such a hassle writing anything in Norwegian, so I figured I might as well write in English and at the same time make a post of it, this way I can also share my thoughts with more than just one person.

Feel free to share your own thoughts and favourite places in the comment section!

Things to DO while you're in Australia:
Hold a koala (only allowed in Queensland)
Pet a kangaroo
Try surfing

Places to see:

Go to Yulara and see Uluru and Kata Tjuta. I'm always surprised when people doesn't know what Uluru/Ayers Rock is, it's one of the most famous places in Australia besides the Reef! It's expensive to get there and stay there but it's absolutely worth it! I'm saying go to Yulara instead of Alice Springs because that way you can actually see both Uluru and Kata Tjuta from where you're staying, and you don't have to travel for hours to get to either of them.

Posts from when I was in Yulara:
Yulara 1
Yulara 2
Yulara 3

Great Barrier Reef
You can travel to so many places along the north of Queensland and see the Reef, I went to Cairns, and although the city was nice enough I wouldn't say it was so special that anyone HAS TO see it. But the Reef, oh the Reef! So beautiful. I could stay there forever just look at the beautiful fish and the reef itself, I kind of wish I had gone on a trip that lasted two or three days so that I could have gone to the outer Reef as I've heard the colours are stronger there, but I was happy with just the one day as well. One of my friends, EG that I met in Yulara, recently went to the Reef and the Green Island, he only went for a day as well and was happy with that.

 Great Barrier Reef

***Not necessarily a must see, depends what you like, but if you do go to the Daintree Rainfores/Cape Tribulation you HAVE to stop at the Daintree Ice Cream Company!! You'll never have that ice cream again!
Daintree and Cape Trib is good just to get to see the Australian Rainforest. You'll see plants and trees you'll not see anywhere else in the world.

Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road
My favourite city along with Hobart! I can't really explain it, it's just so nice and laid back, it was just the feel of it that made it my favourite. The top things to see in Melbourne: Just hop on and off the free tram or shuttle, you'll see loads. Queen Victoria Market, Luna Park in St Kilda, go at night so you see it all lit up and that way you can also see the penguins at St Kilda Pier. Just walk around the city centre and see the street art, it's amazing how beautiful it can be when people are actually allowed to spray paint the walls.
The Great Ocean Road is Amazing as well, and seeing as the Twelve Apostles are eroding it's a good idea to go see them now while there are actually some left!

Posts from Melbourne:
Melbourne 1
Melbourne 2
Melbourne 3 (Great Ocean Road)
Melbourne 4

Port Macquarie
It's a small place, you don't need more than a day there, just make it a stop if you're taking the Greyhound. To me, it's worth the stop just to go to the Koala Sanctuary and see the painted rocks along the esplanade.

Port Macquarie

Not many people bother going down to Tasmania and Hobart, but I loved it there! I liked it just as much as Melbourne. Tasmania is the only place you can see the Tasmanian Devil, and I think Hobart is worth the visit just to go to MONA, the most amazing museum and art gallery I've even been to! I also wish I had gone inside Port Arthur while I was there. Hobart also has some of Australia's oldest buildings if you're interested in that. And then of course there is Salamanca market with all it's yummy food and beautiful items.

Hobart 1
Hobart 2
Hobart 3
Hobart 4
Hobart 5

Of course you can't give Sydney a miss if you go to Australia! A lot of people go to Bondi Beach just because it's a beach they've actually heard of, but I would suggest doing the beach walk from Cogee to Bondi just to see some of the other beaches there as well. Manly is a nice place to visit, I might have an immature sense of humour and laugh at everything that said Manly, but it's a beautiful place, and very good for surfing. You also have to see the Opera House (I can't imagine anyone going to Sydney and not seeing it), Sydney Harbour Bridge and Darling Harbour. There is fireworks on at Darling Harbour quite often and you should make sure you go at least once, the one on Australia Day (January 26th) was absolutely amazing!
The Blue Mountains outside Sydney is nice, it depends if you like hiking though. The day I went the weather was terrible so the mountains were grey instead of blue and loads of people on the tour was complaining, but I quite liked it, just to get out and do some hiking again, do some exercise and see a place I'll probably never see again.

Sydney 1
Sydney 2
Sydney 3
Sydney 4
Sydney 5 (Blue Mountains)

Did I miss anything important? Please let me know in the comments.

One of my "goals" while I was in Australia was to see every state capital, and I did, I have not written about them all here but if you go to this old post you can find some more info about them and at the bottom of that post there are labels that will take to to all posts about those places.

My friend isn't too bothered about Western Australia, but there is something there I wish I had known about while I was in Australia, I would definitely have gone! Lake Hillier a lake in the south of WA, and it's PINK!! I think I have to go  back! Not something I would have wanted to miss had I known about it! I wonder if they are going to film the last Hunger Games movie there?

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Hot Lentil Soup

When I was younger I used to eat a lot of soup; meat soup, tomato soup, cauliflower soup, vegetable soup.... Usually, only the meat soup was home made, the rest was usually dry powder instant soup. I remember we used to put macaroni in the tomato soup to make it less boring... I still got sick of it after a while, I still can't eat tomato soup.

When I moved to England I just seemed to stop eating soup. The family I worked for didn't really eat it, I tried a canned soup once when I moved on my own but it was terrible and put me off soups for a long time, so until I started making the extremely simple Potato Leek Soup I hadn't eaten soup for ages. I also tried this Pumpkin Soup, but pumpkin isn't really something they have in all stores in Norway and I have been to lazy to get on the bus to go where I know they might have it just to make the soup as I don't really use pumpkin for anything else.

Anyway. I decided it was time to try a new soup. We have a website in Norway called MatPrat (Food Talk), it's full of recipes, usually with meat, but some of them just need a few changes to make them vegetarian. It's there that I found the following recipe for Hot Lentil Soup. The original has chicken stock and pork in it, but I just omitted the pork and used vegetable stock instead.

I was a bit worried about the amount of tomato in it, and also the lentils as I'v never cooked anything with lentils before, but it turned out really tasty! I made a four person batch and ate myself it all in two days! Of course I guess it might be more filling with the meat in it, I did eat it with some nice bread the second day though and filled up much quicker.

The recipe can also be used as a pasta sauce, just use less or none of the vegetable stock. I think I'll try that one day as it was the first thing that popped into my head when I sat down to eat it.

1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and cut into thin strips
1 tbs oil for frying
1 can of red lentils ( I think the one I used was just random lentils...)
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 litre vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste

1) Sauté the onion, garlic and chilli in a pan with the oil until the onion is glossy.
2) Rinse the lentils thoroughly in cold water. Add the drained lentils and tinned tomatoes to the pan and stir well.
3) Add the vegetable stock and let it simmer for 10 minutes, season to taste with salt and pepper.

A very nice and healthy soup suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

The Summer Without Men

The Summer Without Men
By: Siri Hustvedt

Inner front cover: Out of the blue, your husband of thirty years asks you for a pause in your marriage to indulge his infatuation with a young Frenchwoman. Do you:
a) assume it's a passing affair and play along
b) angrily declare the marriage over
c) crack up
d) retreat to a safe haven and regroup?
Mia Fredricksen cracks up at first, then decamps for the summer to the prairie town of her childhood, where she rages, fumes, and bemoans her sorry fate as abandoned spouse. But little by little, she is drawn into the lives of those around her: her mother and her circle of feisty widows; her young  neighbour, with two small children and a loud angry husband; and the diabolical pubescent girls in her poetry class. By the end of summer without men, wiser though definitely not sadder, Mia knows what she wants to fight for and on whose terms.

I am so glad this is a short book! I could not focus at all because of the way it was written, the only parts of the book that I found interesting was the ones about Abigail, and Flora. Abigail has some really interesting secret embroideries and Flora is just a funny little child dealing with her parent's arguing in her own way...

The book is written as if the main character is talking to the reader, in some places it does actually say "dear reader.." There are no chapters in the book, only paragraph breaks, which is fine because the book is so short, but the paragraphs are quite long in some places and for me the way the book was written made it very boring, I almost fell asleep at some points!

The things that happened in the book was quite interesting when I think about it now that I'm finished reading it, Mia experiences a lot during her summer without men and to see how she deals with it, as well as dealing with her husband's Pause, is interesting, but the way it's written is just dull and annoying.

I did like one sentence in the book: "...only the most hard-hearted among us have no use for mush or blarney or those old ballads about lost and dead lovers..." page 214

I will not keep this book, I picked it up at a BookCrossing zone, and it will go back there the next time I'm in the city.

Friday, 1 February 2013

The shortest month of the year will seem like the longest.

Only 1 month left until my American Adventure!! I am so excited!

I bet I will be dead tired when I land in Boston, but I will do the same as I did when I went to Australia and stay awake until night-time. I didn't get jet-lagged then so I hope it works this time as well, at least the flight isn't as long! It will be strange to fly "back in time" though, I've only done that when flying to the UK but that's only 1 hour difference so it's not really noticeable.

I will be starting my adventure in Boston, where I am meeting my friend Anne and maybe my friend Jan. We will spend a few days exploring Boston, Salem and Maine before heading down to New York. I am really looking forward to it all, especially Salem as I have been wanting to visit the town since I learned about it's history with all the witch trials.

New York will be amazing as well, we're spending a day and a half there. I have seen it on TV plenty of times, but when it comes to imagining myself actually being there I draw a blank. There is so much I want to see, and we're even going to a Broadway show! I'm excited to find out what I feel about the city, I'm not one for big busy cities so it will be interesting to see if I find it too busy or not. Maybe I'll love it and want to go back? I am anyway really looking forward to seeing it.

The day before I fly down to Orlando the plan is to go to Washington DC, I love the thought of going to the capitol of the United States, just like I did in Australia. I've not really thought a lot about what I want to see in DC other than the White House and the Washington Monument, but it looks like a pretty city from what I've seen on TV.

Orlando... I'm just so excited! My friend Mat was in Oslo for a couple of days this week and I mentioned that it would be really cool if she was going with me, and now she's actually going to look into coming! It would be amazing if she could come but I think it will be magical on my own as well. I've also got a friend who works at the Hilton down there that I haven't seen in a few years so it would be really cool if I could meet up with her.

I arrive late afternoon/early evening to Orlando but apparently the Downtown Disney Area and Disney BoardWalk is open quite late, so I think I might explore those the day I arrive as the other days I'll be busy walking around the parks.

There'll be plenty of walking on my holiday so I think the main thing to remember to pack is some good shoes!

Has anyone been to any of the places I'm going? What did you think? Any suggestions as to what I should see/do?


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