25 December 2007

Merry X-mas

Now it's Christmas - we're sitting here on Christmas day and relaxing. But we do want to wish our readers a merry Christmas and show a few pictures of Santa Barbarian x-mas decorations. Yes, all of the little dots in both pictures are small light bulbs.

22 December 2007

Cold Turkeys

The smart thing about the important holidays over here is that Thanksgiving and Christmas are pretty close and that the food is quite similar. Therefore the supermarkets don't have to change a lot in their displays from late November to late December - cranberry sauce, potatoes, stuffing and of course frozen turkeys merely have to be re-stocked.

At least the 2 holidays are different in their decorations - and there are just more decorations for Christmas!

Christmas Baking

Although Kirsten sent us both "pebernødder" and "brunkager" (which is a type of gingerbread cookies) we thought we'd better bake a little ourselves. So last Sunday both Finnish breads and Swedish chocolate breads were made. The latter ones are new to Lisbeth, but Tue's beaming enthusiasm convinced her that they were worth a shot. And both of them turned out quite nicely, although the Finnish bread are a bit large: We only got about 50 cookies from a recipe that was supposed to give 125 cookies..

20 December 2007

Nice 'kids' in this house...

It certainly looks like Santa Claus thought well of us within the last week or so. A veritable surge of x-mas parcels, cards and goodies. It just might end up with a real x-mas after all ;-)

Painted Mailboxes 2

Now that the nights are cool one can sit down and dream of southern shores - such as the destination of our vacation a few months back.

Painted mailboxes are also found in Hawaii - interestingly, we found all of these in the small coastal village Puako (which we visited one of our last days on the island). The images are quite appropriate - at the local beach we saw a large turtle up close and there were several places with old petroglyphs in the vicinity of this village.

18 December 2007

Santa Claus is coming to town..

We did promise you x-mas related posts here in December and some decorations have been spotted around. We particularly like the arrival of this Santa Claus on a nearby lawn. He looks happy about the landing, but I don't know what the reindeer are saying to all this...

16 December 2007

Christmas mood

Last week all x-mas gifts for relatives overseas were shopped, so now we only have to take care of the most important ones: our own of course :-)
And since we found some duck last night we are well on the way towards the x-mas dinner as well...

Tue in Action

We can't keep on just writing about the weather and various repairs in our apartment (due to plumbing issues in the apartment above ours we've recently had workers enter our place on 4-5 occasions spread over the course of more than a week), so let's present the places where Tue is most often found: Our kitchen and his fume hood.

He looks happier in the kitchen, but apart from that it's pretty much the same routine: Heat resistant containers are taken out; carefully chosen ingredients are mixed; a little stirring goes on, et voilà, there's a result that you can either be satisfied or dissatisfied with.

The procedures in the kitchen are more often deemed successful, but these are also the experiments that Lisbeth can enjoy. Particularly interested readers can follow our 'new' electronic cook book here.

14 December 2007

Getty Guests

It has become customary for us to present the friends who visit us here on the blog - and so it goes with Caroline and Martin as well.

We spent a foggy Sunday going to the Getty Center in LA. Driving down we were fortunate enough to get some sun, but it didn't get warm enough for Tue and Martin to feel really comfortable wearing just t-shirts (smart as they are the guys left their warmer shirts in the car!), and the excellent views of LA which we'd been promised were absent - as you might get an idea of looking at this picture from the cactus garden at the museum.

13 December 2007

A Sunday walk

On Sundays we often walk or bike a trip into the area near where we live. On a recent Sunday afternoon with mild weather we decided to walk back along the beach. The sun was setting and suddenly we saw a large pod of dolphins busy catching fish and jumping out of the water. All this to the sounds of seals (and/or sea lions) further out to sea - very idyllic!

12 December 2007

The Dog House

It's December already and people are starting to decorate for x-mas. We'll show some pictures of that later, but first a picture we took this past summer of a more permanent decoration outside one of the houses around here.

06 December 2007

Once more about the weather

Do you remember this spell of gray skies when we had the first set of November visitors from Denmark? When Caroline and Martin one weekend drove from San Francisco to Santa Barbara the fog grew denser the closer they got. From here on we don't want any more visitors from Denmark if they can't leave the boring Danish November weather at home!

An other reason not to any more visitors is that now we've thrown out the guest mattress. Apart from the fact that it feels like the living room is a little larger now it also has the nice effect that now we can turn on the heat. Until now the mattress was standing in front of our gas-heater mounted on the wall - burning gas inches away from nylon sounds like a recipe for bad things...

When we're not having guests from Denmark the weather is quite nice in the daytime - still around 20 C (68 F), but at night we can sometimes feel that this is the winter season. The other night when we biked home Lisbeth even wore Tue's mitts.

When we first tried to turn on the heat we had some technical difficulties, but after a visit from a couple of maintenance people, a new thermostat, and a minor gas leak we're now in business.

02 December 2007

Painted Mailboxes 1

We have to admit that we've fallen a bit behind on our mailbox stories lately, bet here we go again with a selection of painted mailboxes from our old neighborhood

Flowers are a theme, as you can see, but our favorite is perhaps the frog - here looking at us from a crop of strelitzias (bird of paradise flowers).

The mailbox in the upper right corner is the one that looks the most like it was painted by hand, and the 2 on the left we have seen in front of a couple of houses in the exact same design.

More about Thanksgiving

Our thanksgiving dinner became a rather complicated story as it turned out several of the chemistry boys didn't have any plans for the big day. Therefore we arranged a potluck dinner in Ralph's (the new German Ph.D. student) studio.

Since 3/4 of the guests were non-Americans we got some instructions from Ralph's American girl friend regarding the authentic menu. After tasting it she concluded that we all did fine.

We had:

Turkey - Ben had purchased a 14 lb bird which according to internet-turkey-calculators should be able to feed about 20 people, but we didn't really have any leftovers. Cooking time: 5 hours.

'Stuffing' - bread cubes, walnuts, raisins, celery, olives and onion which contrary to expectation were prepared outside the turkey. Inside the turkey there were stuffed carrots.

Green bean casserole - baked in the oven, made from green beans in cream of mushroom. Very nice, and we didn't know this existed at all.

Mashed potatoes - Tue was in charge of this part and made a version with scallions and sour cream.

Cranberry sauce and brown gravy - contrary to our expectation the cranberry sauce was cold and shaped like the can it came in. Tue made a nice brown gravy - fluid and warm - from the turkey drippings.

Corn bread and ordinary bread - corn bread is somewhat like muffins (and a little sweet). Zarko made the wheat bread himself.

Eggnog - before we got the real desserts this curious drink was put on the table. We don't think we'll adopt this tradition!

Pumpkin pie and cheesecake - the pumpkin pie of course being the authentic dessert, but since Tue is well aware of Lisbeth's reservations towards this vegetable he had suggested that she made a cheesecake as alternative dessert. Both Ben and Martin were very happy about this. We noticed that there was some leftover pumpkin pie..

To all this Caroline and Martin had brought some nice wines, amongst others the popular Coppola red wine :-)

It was nice evening, even though we still don't understand why this day - when one gratefully commemorates that the first settlers survived the first winter on food donated by the native Americans - has to be celebrated, when one thinks of how they were thanked in the years that followed...