Sunday, April 24, 2011

Banana Bread Recipe

I have been slowly creating this recipe, changing others I found online to be more to our taste. This is a very banana-ie, moist, thick bread :)

When we ended up with 30lbs of Banana's this week I was able to perfect it. I have been doubling this recipe and doing it in a spring form pan, but any type of pan (or muffins would be fine)


 1 cups all-purpose flour
 1 cups whole wheat flour
 1/2 cup bran flakes

 2 tablespoons flax seeds
 1 teaspoon baking soda
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 1/2 cup butter (or coconut oil)
 1/2 cup sugar  (Or honey or maybe none at all if the bananas are really good and ripe)
 2 eggs, beaten
 ~8 mashed overripe bananas

nuts or raisins if you like


 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a pan.

 In a large bowl, sift flours,  baking soda and salt. Mix in bran and flax.

In a separate bowl, cream together soft butter and sugar. Mix in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Add nuts if you like. Pour batter into prepared pan.

 Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

A few pictures of the weekend

Saule with her homemade Easter basket. Inside she had honey, jelly, capers (which she loves), a "wishing crystal", a change purse I painted- she was thrilled and tried it all at once.

This is only a very small part of the huge fields near our home

Our Easter tree

A remote beach we rode our bike to.

Nap time

Saule spent almost the entire weekend naked, but she did do this fashion show this morning. She likes to try clothes on, at least for the bike ride through the city.

Easter dress

Our art project of the day

Where did my body go?!

For some reason we are the only people who keep the windows open in our area....maybe its a Danish thing?

These two always like to sleep late. We bed share and I wouldn't have it any other way. I sneak out in the morning and do yoga.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Kalvebod Faelled Vestamager

Give a kid a fish and you entertain him for a day; teach a kid to fish and you entertain him for a lifetime.

Imagine- just outside the hustle and bustle of the downtown wide open spaces, apple orchards, and tiny ponds. There is a place loaning (for free) nets and buckets and laminated ID pages filled with pictures of pond critters. The kids are going wild. Saule and I took off our shoes pulled up our pants, and waded in in search of water bugs, snails, frogs, and fish. The excitement in the kids eyes, the way they chased each other around the banks, got muddy, and shared their catch with us was fantastic! It reminded me of when I was little and used to play for hours in our pond in the yard. How much fun we had. 

That's what is happening today, and everyday at Kalvebod Faelled Vestamager. This wonderful park is a huge expanse of open space just a short peddle from the airport and the downtown. Fields, orchards, and ponds are left in their most natural, sometimes overgrown state leaving room for lots of waterfowl, birds, deer, and other animals. This is a birding hot spot, complete with guides, blinds, and other friendly birders!

There is a nature center "Naturcenter Vestamager" which has a fantastic array of exhibits about Danish wildlife and ecology, a natural playground built from tree limbs, a child size stork nest up a ladder, a chicken coup complete with about 2 dozen hens and chicks.  There is also a bee hive with a glass viewing window, a "fox den" complete with props, rooms filled with stuffed animals (real ones), and all of this is housed in the middle of an enormous field in a lovely open glass sided building. There is a scope set up with bird books nearby. 

The park is huge and flat and stretches as far as you can see. There is no way we could explore it all in just one day. So at Saule's request we are going back tomorrow.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Finding your tribe

I recently posted the following message online, and I am re-posting it here in an effort to attract even more people. We have since started a facebook group called "Copenhagen Alternative Parenting Group". Please feel free to join the group!
 "I'm looking to connect with families that have more in common than just being from someplace other than Denmark and having kids. Its nice to meet other English speakers- but its also nice to have something to talk about :) 

Are you interested in attachment parenting, baby wearing, extended nursing, lifestyles? 

Maybe you like to travel off the beaten path, or have a passion for serious camping/biking/trekking/bungee jumping/etc with your kids? 

Maybe you home school or have considered doing so?

Maybe you dream of living off the grid, or giving it all up and moving into a tee-pee or a bus or a house boat? 

Maybe you raise worms under the kitchen sink, or tomatoes in window boxes, or goats in your backyard?

Maybe you are just feeling like the mainstream is not your stream and are seeking other ideas and fresh conversation?

Or maybe you are really open minded and mesh well with other people seeking the road less traveled? 

If you think this might be you- please email me or join our new facebook group. I look forward to meeting you. "


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Potatoes in the living room!

Going from endless space to grown things to no space at all- I've accepted the challenge and started growing indoors. I found this web page which led me to lots of others like it, all about how to grow spuds in a box. So we started it in our living room about 2 weeks ago, and today we were able to add the second layer.

Ours is a little different, I am using a cardboard box I found, lined with a plastic trash bag. Our dirt isn't great, just topsoil and potting soil. However the potatoes are doing great! They have really grown allot in the time they have had, even with not much sun the past 2 weeks. I plan on cutting and re-taping the bottom when it comes time to remove the lower potatoes.

Naked Women!

Saule and I joined the pool as soon as we arrived here in January. She and I both needed an outlet for our energy and I had planned our pool membership befor we even made the move. I love to swim and had big plans for teaching her.

There has been one unexpected perk in our new pool experience: naked women. Yep, I said it. I really like the strict naked shower policy in Danish pools. The women walk blithely around the locker room completely nude. The 19-year old blonde woman who works at the ticket counter explained that they try hard to keep the chlorine level in the pool to a minimum by enforcing a high level of hygiene among the swimmers. Everyone scrubs head to toe with soap before donning on a clean swim suit. 

This mandate appeals to me on several levels. For starters I dislike chemical exposure of most any kind including chlorine. But in our Danish neighborhood spa the scent and burn of chlorine is nonexistent. Finally, seeing all those naked women has given me a fresh understanding and new perspective about what women of different ages and shapes look like. 

There are always lots of other swimmers so its a rare occasion when you don't have to wait for a turn beneath one of the 26 shower heads lining the walls of the large, ladies' shower room. Usually about a third of the women are pregnant, sporting bellies of different sizes, shapes, and colors. Not all abdomens are created the same. Some are covered in stretch marks, others have long blue or lavender veins. Eight-month popping belly buttons decorate some while others are perfectly globus  and pink. 

Our sister swimmers are mainly ethnic Danes or otherwise northern European, so far as I can tell.  The vast numbers of Arab women who live in my neighborhood are not represented here. There are a few minority women however with beautiful chocolate, caramel, and mocha colored skin.There is also a group of disabled swimmers whose short bodies are twisted and bent like the scrub oak trees of Cape Cod. When they writhe and contort themselves to get out of their wet bathing suits they look like they are fighting a strong wind. There are women with pleasingly plump curves, unabashedly fat women, women with huge breasts the same size as the infants they hold, and women with almost no breasts at all.  

One day as I nursed Saule' while sitting on a bench in the locker room (completely nude) I watched a very thin women's back as she changed her baby's diaper. I could clearly see every bone from her knees to her neck. She looked robotic in the way her muscles tightened and pulled just beneath her paper-thin, white skin. There are tiny babies and children of all ages, playful teens and very old people who pay no attention to anything but their carefully-laid next step. There are women with huge planes of body hair and others with none at all. And I can't catalogue every hair cut, shave, scar and tattoo. Nature indeed loves variety. 
There are the little boys, too, who are welcome to shower with their mothers until the age of eight. Being a mother of a little girl, all those naked little boys scampering about hurriedly trying to get into the pool while pulling, stretching and contorting their penises like so many rubber snake toys was a bit of a shock for me. But a month into our swimming routine I discovered that's perfectly normal little boy behavior. Young girls who come to swim with their fathers use the mens' locker room. My husband and I compared notes and its seems it's a gender-mirrored version of the ladies' locker room.
Everyone in the ladies' locker room looks directly at and talks to everyone else as if we were all fully clothed.  Co-workers and neighbors greet each other. Saule' plays in the infant-sized tubs with the shower hose while she watches the women, and they watch her. The first time we came to swim she hit the breaks at the door with an expression of “What the HECK!?” on her face. She now proudly marches in and announces “Time for everybody get naked!”.   

Somewhere in her tiny mind she is developing a wrinkle that informs her of what a "normal" women's body looks like. She knows what it might look like at two years old, as a pre-teenager, when pregnant, just after giving birth, after hip surgery or a car crash, and when you're an octogenarian. She knows that her perfect little pale self falls somewhere on the spectrum of "normal," not taboo, not unusual, and not funny. Her impressions (at least for now) about body image, are being formed by real figures, not by those judged beautiful by societal norms and fashions, those often-exaggerated and even-painful types which the media hypes as most attractive and to many women are unattainable if not altogether undesirable. I am happy that Saule' has an opportunity to see what diverse, "real" non-Photoshopped bodies look like. It wasn't what I intended to teach her at the pool, but then that's been one of my biggest parenting lessons I guess; that she is always absorbing unexpected and valuable lessons, usually not the ones I had planned.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Free Lettuce!

Did you know if you take a head of store bought lettuce and cut it about 2-3 inches up from the end, stick it in water and wait it will re-grow? Romaine works well. Its starts slow so be patient.  Here are the first leaves starting in the center. That's free lettuce!

Spring on the farm

Think shoe box diorama meets window box. Meet, Saule's farm. She has a little barn, a fenced in barnyard, and outer fields. The livestock stay in the barnyard, which is freshly seeded with watercress. The fields have a few onions at the edges, and some other seeds, all planted today so no sprout yet.

We have a nice big dining room table, and this is going to stay our center piece so we can all watch it grow. While we worked on it we talked allot about farm animals and how a farm works. About manure and what crops need to grow, and different kinds of livestock and what they contribute. We sang "Old MacDonald had a farm".  We learned about pest control  and made scare crows. Talked about how dirt is made (we started this 2 weeks ago and have been hooked on worms and dirt ever since). I really like this project and it seems like a things grow we will have plenty to talk about. We will be able to harvest our crop of cress when its ready (this is VERY fast growing so good for Saule's age), and then we can move through the seasons on our tiny farm, and maybe plant something new "next spring"!  Oh, and did I mention the materials are mostly recycled! An old box cut and lined with a grocery bag makes the base. Cardboard scraps from the same box make the barn and fence. The animals were cut from an magazine. Everything was covered in clear packing tape to prevent the water on the plants from ruining it. Add dirt and seeds and its ready.

No dead guy. No candy. Just a spring celebration.

Easter is next week. We aren't going to have candy or an Easter bunny, or talk about religion with Saule during this time.  We are however going to take the traditions we enjoy and create our own families spring celebrations. 

We have been discussing the way the earth is waking up, and have closely watched as the seemingly dead plants are coming back to life. The birds at the duckpond are returning. Flowers are popping out of the mud.   We always have so much fun coloring eggs. Its a great time to do art as a family, and Saule enjoys dipping the same eggs over and over again.

Even with day after day of rain we know winter is over and moods are lifting. We are about a week away from our first indoor harvest of greens, and the other plants are well on their way.  The peas are winding up the strings in the back window,  the potatoes in the livingroom need mounding and water daily.

The eggs took on new shapes as animals this year, we all did a few. We plan to take them to the Deer park on Easter Sunday, and hide them in the woods. We will bring a picnic and enjoy the day outside climbing the old oak trees. I do plan to make an Easter basket with treasures for the day. We will play the Lithuanian egg knocking game,  where each person hits their egg to another, last to crack wins! And we will go on the swings to swing the world back to springtime the way we did in Lithuania, each person takes a turn pushing.

This is our Golden Lion Tamarin egg.

Saules bird egg.

At center is Saule's goat-bird-lion-egg.

Turn off screens and turn on life

As most of you know, our family have already chosen to live TV free. The TV our apartment came with has pictures of animals and nature taped all over the screen so we don't have to look at the ugly black screen. Saule had a brief February love affair with "Dora" on youtube during our move here, which thankfully is now a distant memory. 
We are also happy to be able to live phone free. I remember the good old days when telephones stayed at home, and if you needed to leave a message you could (if the machine was turned on which in our house it never was). I had a cell phone for a time, and I can say I don't miss it AT ALL. All that stuff that people think they get from cell phones is in my mind out weighed by the burden they come with. Did you know life was just as good pre-cell phone? You could still keep track of your family, talk to your friends, have an alarm, have a calendar, listen to music, and tell the time!

HOWEVER computers are very much a part of our family, and I really have a hard time with that. 
I justify to myself all the screen time I get from my 7 year old macbook but the truth haunts me- I should be doing something else MOST of the time I am on the computer. 

SO you can understand how happy I was when I found out about screen-free week. 

Screen-Free Week, presented by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood,  is April 18-24, 2011!
Kids, families, schools, and communities pledge to turn off screens and turn on life.

Did you know?
School-age children spend nearly twice as many hours with screen media such as television, video games, computers, and hand-held devices as they do in school.

Television use is at an all-time high among preschoolers—according to Nielsen, young children spend, on average, more than 24 hours a week watching TV.

Screen time is habituating and linked to poor school performance, childhood obesity, poor sleep habits and attention problems.

Forty percent of 3-month-old infants are regular viewers of television and DVDs—even though the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under two.

Children are spending way too much time with screens—and it’s not good for them. That’s why more than 60 leading health, education, and childcare organizations actively support this year’sScreen-Free Week (April 18-24, 2011), the annual celebration where children, families, schools and communities turn off screens and turn on life.