Icelandic design

29th of July 2017

A friend of mine is an Icelandic designer.

She is different and her clothes like nothing else.

I love this wonderful design and every winter I wear her amazing clothes, but today I want to share with you some of them.

She lives in Akranes in Iceland and has her workshop there.

When I first met her she had a shop in Reykjavík and that was where I bought my first outfit. I had come for a visit from China and Iceland was horrible cold. I needed something warm, something that could protect my bones from freezing to death.  This was more than 10 years ago. Every year I add something and my collection is now quite amazing.

During the years the design has changed but she is truthful to her inheritance and the touch is similar.

Akranes is a small place but worth visiting when you travel to Iceland.

Here above she is outside her new workshop in Akranes  enjoying the beautiful weather. This is a playful design and I hope one day she will have an exhibition where her playful mood shows.

Even though the summer is not hot and sometimes it rains and the wind tries to capture you, the Icelandic nature is beautiful and that is where my friend Gerður picks up her ideas. If you visit her Facebook site https://www.facebook.com/gagadesign/  you can see more and even contact her while on your way north.

Iceland does not have a big population but I can tell you that the art is blooming there. There are singers, painters, designers, musicians and you just name it. Sport is also blooming in the country and many famous Icelandic football players  have been working for example in UK, Belgium and France. The conditions in Iceland are not the best in the world to practise football but the swimming pools are amazing.

Swimming outside, under the blue sky, with the snow flakes falling like stars is an experience you would probably not have anywhere else in the world. You get out of the pool and it is freezing. You run into the hot pot and enjoy talking to your friends or just absorbing the beauty, the winter’s beauty.

The summer nights are bright and no night. 24 hours of daylight. Can you imagine that? Some complain about the bright nights but you get used to it and there is always the possibility to put something over your eyes or even have black curtains.

The winters are dark. The spring is my favourite time in the country. Everything is waking up and the tiny sprouts that have survived the winter are peeking up from the soil. They smile at you and there is a promise of beautiful flowers, soon.

This is the atmosphere where my wonderful friend Gerður picks up her ideas when designing. No wonder she has so many admirers all around the world.

I hope you will visit her Facebook site and you can contact her there if you like.

Hulda Björnsdóttir

 

 

 

The story behind the orchids

27. July 2017

When I came to Portugal more than 6 years ago, my neighbour gave me 6 orchids. She was thinning hers out and gave me cuttings.

Never in my life had I taken care of orchids or put orchids seedlings in a pot. I was told what soil to use and someone gave me some tiny pots for the huge orchids. There they were, poor things, one cold winter in my balcony. To make the story short. They all died.

Not one survived.  I threw the pots away and named the ones I saw everywhere, the ugly ones. I was jealous. Of course. The ugly ones looked ugly and nothing special for most of the year but then one day the flowers came out and every garden in my neighbourhood was full of them.

I was never going to try this again. There was some Portuguese magic between the ugly ones and the people, that I did not understand. My friends mother had some amazingly beautiful orchids and I talked to them every time I came for a visit. How did she do it? They seemed to be blooming most of the year.

One day when I was taking my walk, a man in a house not far from me, was in his garden and I stopped to talk to him and admire his beautiful ugly ones. He had just planted some in new pots and gave me one. I took it home and killed it few weeks later. It was not my intention. I was going to take really good care of it. I just did not know how.

I tried some inside ones. They are different. Everything went the same way, they died.

Two years ago I got really sick and needed to stay home and could not travel around the country as I had done before. I was bored and needed to figure out something to do. Something challenging, more challenging than my illness. Guess what! The ugly ones, they were the best challenge I could come up with.

My friends mother gave me one in a pot. She, the orchid, gave me beautiful flowers and now I was sure I would be able to keep her alive. Oh no! One day all the leaves had gone. Was she dead? I would not let go. I nourished her, talked to her and told her stories. Then came the winter and I just left her alone.

My balcony was really cold and the wind blew heavily. Almost during the whole year. The apartment was cold. There is no insulation in houses here and I was paying a lot for heating during the winter. There had to be a solution. Yes. I could put up a glass wall or rather glass windows and doors around the balcony. That would solve the heating problem and even safe me money when looking to the future, the gas bill would be less.

Since the wall would come next October I began to experiment with the ugly ones again. The one my friends mother gave me had not passed away. She came around with happy leaves. I was not hopeless after all. Then I invested in 3 outdoor ones. They were on promotion and not that expensive. I asked the family, my friends who run the flower shop, how to take care of them and they sold me bigger pots and soil and I did everything right this time.

October came and I had broken my shoulder in September, but the men came with the wonderful glass doors and sliding windows for my balcony and I was happy. This winter I have been warm. I spent less on gas and the big surprise is that I am becoming an orchid specialist.

The ugly ones have become the beautiful ones. The one that I managed not to kill 4 years ago, an inside orchid, gave me flowers and opened the first one on the 23rd of May this year and is still blooming.  You can see her outside the kitchen window.

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There are 2 others, inside ones, that will bloom next year, I think, and some others have given my amazingly beautiful flowers all the time. I told Philip that I would treat myself with one orchid per month. That was 6 months ago. I am not going to buy anymore. I have got different colours and different shapes. The outdoor ones will bloom in September, I hope, and there are wonderful colours in waiting there also.

Now they are just in a green group protecting each other.

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The culture here in Portugal is to share the orchids. When you need to thin them you give your friends and neighbours one.

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One day I will be able to share mine. At the moment I am learning to keep them alive. I sing for them, talk to them, read for them and take care of them. They need love and nourishment just like we, the people.

Hulda Björnsdóttir

 

 

 

Fires in Portugal

27th July 2017

In my wonderful tiny country, which is just like a small slice of Spain, there is a huge summer problem.

The fires rip along the country.

I wake up in the morning and look over the neighbourhood from my balcony. There should be clear sky and birds singing, but not this morning.

Everything was dark. The smell of burning wood filled my senses.  There has been drought this year. Very little rain and the farmers are worried. The crops, what will happen to the crops? If the farmers don´t get their crop they have no income. What is it that makes every summer like a hellhole with burning fires everywhere.

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This year is worse. I have been here 6 years and every one of them we have had terrible fires, but not as many deaths as now.

This photo is from yesterday afternoon.

The fires are about 80 km away from my home but the smoke is here and the smell, the horrible smell.

Why is this like that every year? Why does the government not do something about it? What can be done?

Those questions pop up every year. Now there is a committee, 12 people, trying to figure out something. They will talk until death, but will something wise come out of it? I’m not sure. I hope so, but I am, truth to tell, not optimistic.

This morning I was watching the news and the names of 64 people, that lost their lives just in one day some weeks ago, were read. Family of 4, family of 2, a firefighter and many more. What a tragedy and all because we have trees that somehow catch fire during this time of the year.

I was driving home from Coimbra and saw cigarettes flying from cars ahead of me. How can people be so stupid? Don´t they think about anything but them selves? This makes me furious and the cars had a P number so they were likely people living here. No one should do this, its common sense.

It is not just in Portugal. It is in south Italy and southern France also. The drought is killing everything and those who don´t respect the nature, sometimes, light the fires just by pure ignorance.

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This is how it looked from my balcony early this morning, clouds of fire all around. Massive and no crack in it. The smell horrible even inside my apartment.

I hope someone will come up with a solution, not soon but NOW.

Good help those who have lost their homes these last 24 hours. It brakes my heart to see grown men crying on TV and looking at the shell which few hours earlier was their home.

Hulda Björnsdóttir

 

 

 

 

The Portuguese wedding part 4

I said some days ago that I would tell you about the naked tree next to the entrance of the building where we had the lunch.

20157326_875023422649486_8536352425404211531_oSo!

So here is the tree, but not naked anymore. Now it has some beautiful cards on it.

What are these cards for? I had no idea. I did look and saw names of famous composers, which made sense to me because I knew this would be the concert of the year. I assumed, without looking that there were names of some famous arias beneath the composers name.

Little did I know!

In the afternoon there was a lunch. It was supposed to be inside. When people begun to move inside I did as well.

There were several tables and no names at each plate.

How would I figure out where to sit? I knew a bit about the people I would be sitting with but did not see them anywhere.

Oh, this was so humiliating. There must be a simple explanation, I thought. I just had to figure it out.

I headed out, trying to find the bride. She would know. I found her and she explained everything.

The cards, on the naked tree, did not have names of arias on them. They had names of people!

The composer was the name of table and the arias were the names of the people who had been but together and should enjoy each others company during the lunch!

My table was Vivaldi and wonderful people kept me company during the lunch. People I had not meet before but took me under their wing and made sure I did not get lost.

We had interesting conversations and I learned a lot. I always learn when I talk to the Portuguese. They are willing to share and they are all immensely friendly. I cant count my blessings enough to have all those new friends in my life and hear their stories and get to know about their lives.

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The concert of the year was really a concert of the year.

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My beautiful friend, the bride, is a great soprano singer and she sung for us after lunch.  Ave Maria and several arias. What a performance.

One of my new friends  played the piano like a true maestro.

I sometimes complain about not getting enough art to nourish my soul here in Portugal.

This day was a heart warming day in every sense. My beautiful friends got married. Now the future is bright and the happiness waiting for them. I look forward to continue to be part of their life. I am luckier than most. Having friends is precious and worth nourishing. I will never forget this wonderful day. It is one more memory that I will keep in my heart forever.

Hulda Björnsdóttir

 

 

 

 

I am not hungry but need something

25th of July 2017

These days it is really hot here in Portugal. I get hungry but not hungry. I don´t want hot food and for lunch I don’t want to cook.

Something needs to nourish me and that’s when I love my blender and frozen berries.

Today I mixed blueberries and pecan nuts plus protein and soy milk.

I make my own soy milk and there are no added ingredients. Just the beans and water. I learned to make my own when I lived in China. After 6 years in Portugal my old machine needed rest so I invested in a new one. Its steel and hopefully will last for ever.

Usually I add frozen bananas to my smoothie but today I did not.

If you want to experiment just put anything you have in the fridge or freezer. I like the cold one because it is hot.

Just make sure the protein you are using is good quality.

You could add some cyan pepper and even some hemp oil.

Use your imagination and experiment. That is the word of the day. Experiment

Life is too short to lack the adventures. Experimenting with something new is always and adventure. It does not have to be huge, just the little things, like making a smoothie with different ingredients can be a great surprise. Just look at mine and see the beautiful colour. Using strawberries makes a different colour. Did you know that frozen strawberries are healthier than fresh ones? Don’t ask me why but I like them cold and they taste different.

Have a great day and enjoy it.

Hulda Björnsdóttir

 

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Making my own bread

24th July 201720231925_875757922576036_7210386085241346755_o

Good morning everyone.

I have been writing about the wedding but now its about my bread. There will be more blogs about the wedding but not today.

I try to make my food because then I know exactly what is in it.  I also like to use natural ways to keep the insects away and found this wonderful solution by accident. In a pot outside my kitchen door I planted Mint, Basilica and Lavender. Every time I go to my balcony I touch the plants and no mosquitos.  I am not a mosquito friend and they probably hate me.

The plants grow in the pot and get a lot of attention from me so they are happy. I usually make my breads on Sundays because the electricity is cheaper. 6 breads in the oven and I am happy.

This Saturday I got the idea to use my insect trap to make my breads different. The kitchen smelled like heaven after I cut them to pieces. Yummy.

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Mint, basilica and an Icelandic herb. The  Icelandic one needed to be soaked and I used the water also in the bread.

I always use spelt and lots of seeds. Never sugar, but raisins make it sweet.  The recipe changes every time. It depends on what is in store.

5 dl. spelt (this time I used fine and integral together, 2 dl.fine and 3 dl.integral.)

1 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 dl each, pumpkin seeds, raisins, sesame seeds and girasol (Have no idea what it is in English but this is the Portuguese name)

4 dl. mixed soymilk and water (Homemade milk of course with no added sugar or anything, just beans and water9

This is mixed (by hand and not too much) and baked for 45 minutes more or less at 185 degrees.

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I love these breads and it is convenient to have them in the freezer. Let them rest for a while under towels, until they are cold. Then you just put them in whatever you want to keep in the freezer until you need them.

Yesterday I had mine with hemp butter. Usually one slice is my breakfast with Chinese tea, Jasmine tea that I get from my friends in China every year. The summer crop. On top of the bread in the morning I use 1 teaspoon organic honey mixed with cinnamon and a slice of goat cheese.

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Well, now you know how to make a delicious bread where you put your love and passion into it while mixing the ingredienses  by hand.

You eat healthy and your body loves you.

You think positive and your mind adores you.

You spread love around and everyone smiles at you.

What more can you wish for?

Hulda Björnsdóttir

Portuguese wedding part 3

20248346_875138202638008_1724057825709424866_o.jpgI have already posted 2 parts and here is the 3rd one.

This young man had a very important job at the wedding.

I noticed him when the groom arrived with his family.

He looked so grown up and yet so young. So sweet but also a tiny bit nervous.  I saw him talking to the grandfather and it looked like he was seeking some advise, which he got with a smile and a pat on the shoulder.

Grandfathers are like that. They cheer when its needed and they encourage when you have to depend on your independence.

The young man was not tall. He was not playing loudly with the other children while the brunch was served. There was just a grown up young boy who would one day be a handsome young man having the young women trying to look their best. What a grand future.

When the bride arrived it was obvious that his role was important.

Just before she came and we gathered at the house he was sitting there with his glasses on. A terrible sunshine could ruin everything so sunglasses, big ones, were a must. He sat there with a box.  I asked what was in the box? He looked at the groom, who stood next to us. Oh, I knew. The rings. They were the treasure the wonderful boy took such a good care of and did not let out of his sight. I asked if I could take a photo and that was ok. That moment he made my day.

When the bride had arrived and the priest finished talking and laughing he was asked to bring the box.

Where was he?

If you are a young boy with a heavy task ahead you sometimes loose the concentration. That’s normal isn’t it?

Someone found him and he walked with dignity towards the altar. Some people tried to guide him but that was not necessary, now he knew what to do.

The box was opened and the rings were there. Everything was ok and he could go back. Looked like a heavy burden had been lifted from his shoulders and he could breathe normally.

Moments like this are precious for us who live them but they are like diamonds in the memory bank for a young handsome Portuguese boy.

He was my hero and I will never forget him.

Hulda Björnsdóttir

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