Sunday, December 27, 2009

Julbord i Clintondale or Honey is there a zebra in the closet?

We try to mix the best of both worlds (Swedish and American) around Christmas. We open presents on Christmas day morning according to American traditions (in Sweden we do it Christmas eve) but the food is Swedish ALL THE WAY. Julbord means Christmas buffet and here are a few highlights. Missing are things like 7 different kinds of herring and julmust (christmas soda) but you take what you have. 

Gravlax - Cured Salmon

My dad is the gravlax master, it's consistently the consistency of BUTTER, so following that tradition I decided to go ahead and cure my own this christmas. Just mix 2 table spoons of salt with a little less sugar and 1 table spoon crushed white pepper. Rub it all over the meat side of the salmon, leaving the skin on. Cover with fresh cut dill. Cut the filet in half and place the meat sides together. Wrap in a foil packet and stick it in the fridge for about 30 hours, longer is better. My sister says people are doing it with pine tree branches these days and I 'm ready to experiment. We serve the salmon with Hovmästarsås:

9 tablespoons of light olive oil
3 tablespoons of white vinegar
2-3 tablespoons of sharp mustard
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/4 sugar
fresh cut dill

Serve with lemon

Jansson's Frestelse - Jansson's Temptation

Slice potatoes in sticks and layer in a pan with chopped onions, sliced butter, minced anchovy filets (I ended up using about 5 small filets) and salt and pepper. Put in the oven at 450 degress for about 45 minutes. Cover if needed.

There have to be meatballs and prince sausages on the julbord, doesn't matter if they are dad's old trusties or from a bag from IKEA.

James' deviled eggs. 

And yes - food has EVERYTHING to do with it. Christmas that is. And then cartoons - lots of cartoons.

Our water issue turned out to be of a slightly different nature than we thought. In our state of denial we didn't see the big area by the cottage that was completely without snow. And also the fact that there was a small river flowing next to the cottage. All collecting in the puddle behind the house which we thought was directly from the leak. Scott figured it out and brought his digger. James and Scott then dug up the water line that feeds the cottage from the main house.

The pipe had not busted due to freezing, the pipes are buried well below the freezing line. Instead someone had done a crappy job of connecting 2 pipes a long time ago and it was that joint that finally gave out. A quick patch job and the cottage had water again. Scott says everything underneath the cottage should be well protected from the cold. Some insulation on a few pipes and good as new. He also pointed out a few ways for us to save a buck this winter... We are now hard at work weather proofing doors and windows. Foam edges on doors and plastic wrap over the basement windows for instance. And of course the little oxygen tent for Furnace Von Frankenstein. We want to turn into energy and money saving fools!!! 

And here is the next step:

En ny kaminman är född. A wood junkie is born. This is a 5th of a cord and should last us a good while but James already wants more... We are very interested in putting an insert into our fireplace to actually make it generate heat. Right now it's just for that special romantic atmosphere but if you want to use it for warmth you pretty much have to sit inside of it.

Other house plans during this vacation is to finish painting the living room to get ready for a floor sand and a couch. I made myself a little desk in the bay window and I think that's where I will spend most of my days finishing 3 screenplays and watching Hulu... James is hard at work in the upstairs bedroom which has become his temporary studio, figuring out new software and playing music. And then we take breaks and watch lots and lots of awesome movies. It's all very very very good.

James gave me little planters for christmas, and me - normally such a patient person, just ask my mom and dad... CAN'T WAIT for my herbs to grow. I have no idea what shade of green my thumb is so here we go, we'll soon find out.

And yes honey, there is a zebra in the closet.

So one last time - until next year - Merry Fishmas and a guppy new year.

Feeding Frenzy

We had crazy bird activity the other morning. It's better than TV.

Blue jays come around once in a while. They bully all the other birds away.

The cardinals are back and they are so pretty! 

This is a lady cardinal. (And falling out of frame - a slate colored Junco. Yes, a Junco.)

Yeah they ARE nice to look at in the tree and flying around but up front they seem to be the dumb pretty boys of the bunch. Mind your manners dude and don't talk with your mouth full. There's enough seed for everyone so slow down.

The precious mourning doves are almost my favorites. They come down to eat when everyone else is done and they swarm the place. While they are waiting they sit in the big Sugar Maple in pairs, chillin out.

Good night sweet Clintondale, good night.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Random Signs of Christmas

I found this beautiful drum at a vintage store in New Paltz and bought it for Rosemary but she let me keep it...

Ornaments from when James was a kid, a present from Rosemary.

Continuing the disco christmas tradition with discoball ornaments!

The wreath is from James' sister Susan in California. In Sweden we put christmas tree branches on the stoop to clean off your feet on. The outer door has new storm windows - a present from Rosemary, something we would never have gotten to - thank you thank you thank you!

One of the most important ingredients of christmas GlöGG! This one is from IKEA...

James' sister Donna sent this tree from California and Rosemary brought us Panettone (Italian christmas bread)

Little Santas who are falling over backwards. Memories of pyssel och knåp, arts and crafts galore... They are from Sweden along with the table cloth which I grew up with.

We even gift wrapped the furnace.

 Our present to the furnace is this little room made of plastic so that he can be more efficient and cost us less in oil. It also helps to further the illusion that a serial killer lives in our basement. Merry ax-mas.

Merry Christmas - God Jul!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Trees and Plumbing Lessons

It was going to be a short weekend, we knew that, so all the more reason to get to relaxing FAST! GO GO GO – RELAX! James had spent the better part of the week outside, first in pouring rain then in bonechillin cold. I was inside most of the week but caught up on his misery on Friday night in Long Island City where I spent 6 hours shooting an exterior with the wind howlin around my ears. 

So so cold on 30Rock. You just accept it and keep watching the clock. By 3 am it was wrap time and Keanu gave us a bottle of vodka to warm up and thank us for the first 2 weeks.

So we got up to Clintondale Saturday morning. James had some errands to run so I took a little dozer. He got stuck in crazy holiday traffic and I got stuck with a text from Chris the tenant. 

Before I go any further I would like to introduce you to our water system. When James and I moved in the previous owner took us through the process a little bit and we said “sure sure we get it…”

We so do not get it.

The water comes from the well and goes in to the blue tank which is the pressure tank. Then it mixes with the water from the little white tank in the back which is 35 gallons of water mixed with 3 gallons of bleach. It then passes through the yellowish tank which is the filter and THEN it goes through the little stubby white tank which is the water softener. The tall one behind it also belongs to the softening system. We often question if we need all this crap. Especially the softening system, since it takes a good half hour to wash soap off your hands. But we need a person in the know to tell us that and that seems like a down the line thing. SOOO…when we first moved in we filled the tank that holds the bleach solution and have since then been watching it like hawks. Has it gone down yet? I don’t think so? How is that possible? Nothing yet? Nope, still the same.

We show up on Saturday morning and the water pressure seems a bit low. Hmmm,  that causes a trip to the basement where we find said tank EMPTY. We get in the car and go to Loews to buy bleach not really thinking WHY it is suddenly empty.

Welcome to the world of being a homeowner.

Back to the text message… Chris seems to think a pipe has burst, his toilet won’t refill and his water pressure is way down…

Welcome to the world of being a landlord…

I call a plumber, he is going to charge us $105/hour to come out on an emergency call, oh, and plus 50 as a trip charge. We decide to hold off, thanking Chris for his patience.

We spend the evening coming up with GREAT theories why this is happening and why the pump on the chlorine tank won’t stop. Finally James gets out of bed to turn it off.

We wake up to no water.

It’s time to call Scott. It all makes sense, the pipe that is feeding water to the cottage toilet has busted because of the cold and now the pump is going going going trying to fill it but all it is doing is causing a big puddle in the yard. I guess we just didn’t want to believe it.

James has decided to stay the week at the house and deal with the problem. I on the other hand am going to Buffalo. I just didn’t think it was cold enough in New York City… My movie is flying us up there to shoot on location for 4 days and there is just no preparing for how brutally frigid it is going to be. But by this weekend I am Clintondale bound for 2 1/2 weeks. Best present ever!

I am 35 years old and I’ve never had my own Christmas tree. I guess I never had a good place to put it and I never used to spend the holidays in the States. So this one – we are going ALL OUT! 

We got the tree and I got the xmas made EZ by IKEA kit. No really they just had nice cheap ornaments and for the Casey-Slaters that’ll do just fine… 

My new hobby is figuring out new uses for the bailer (the not machine that puts the tree in the net) it's just so clever.

Bagged and done. 

James  is liking Christmas more and more cause today he got to break out the power tools to get our tree to fit in the tree holder. After that he used the Mora kniv, a knife he got as a present from Gizmo, to wittle the top to fit the Christmas star. He is also just now realizing why every dad on his childhood block dreaded the time of christmas trees. They are hard to get in the house and they are hard to put in the holder.

All kinds of class in one picture. Disco Christmas star from the 99 cent store. Peeling wall paper. Insulating foam in the window. One sweet-ass drop ceiling.

Fat and lovely and ready for ornaments. Next weekend it’s glögg and julpynt and Elvis’ holiday album while fighting about where and how the lights should go on the tree. Bringing back lovely childhood memories.


 Oh I'm sorry Mr. Squirrel, are we out of nuts?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Snow Day

I was going back and forth on doing something with our left over turkey and finally decided for it on saturday. Once the flurries started on saturday afternoon the only thing that would make this winter day complete was to have a soup simmering on the stove.

We took a walk over to the Gunk Haus around 4 and it was a complete winter wonderland by then. This is the view from the bottom of our property. The turkey soup was simmering on the stove and the coze factor was pretty high.

This is the view walking south on Maple Ave.

I had the turkey and I have this amazing blue cast  iron pot from Martha Stewart, a gift from Rosemary. The rest was up in the air. I've never done anything like this and I totally winged it. I drowned the carcass in the pot and poured a good amount of water in there. I had some celery left in the fridge and thought that would be a good idea. And hey - an onion. And since no one really knew how to carve a turkey at Thanksgiving, there was a lot of meat left on it. And with the meat, a lot of rub-leavings, so I didn't even have to put herbs in the soup. I went to Robins Market on Rt 32 and picked up some cabbage and carrots, mostly cause they look pretty in there for the photographs. See:

It simmered for a few hours and then I fished the carcass out and picked off the good meat. I left enough stock and veggies to make a soup and strained the rest to have stock for later. Wow! I made that?

Then I put some cabbage in the pot and 3 cubed potatoes. Delish.

For dessert we had Swedish pancakes, although we just call them pancakes back home, and in Clintondale we like to be a fancy so we call them crepes. After the frying pan I put vanilla ice cream and hjortron sylt (cloudberry jam) on them and roll em up. This batter recipe proved unbeatable, even the number one pancake which is often pesky came out great. By the 5th one I was flipping them with the pan.

3/4 cup sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons of melted butter.

I let the batter sit in the fridge for a few hours to thicken and I put the butter in right before I started frying.

Here are the new windows in the bay window and our first exposed Tyvek. Tyvek is what you put on your house to seal it while you are working on it. It's a little joke I guess cause it's an eyesore to the neighbors but over here at 19 Maple Ave it means things are getting done. Anyway, we are very happy with how they look!

All the windows are in and these were the last ones. The big daddys in the pastry shop, hard to see from this angle, but they look great!

We had ourselves another knotweed bonanza last weekend and we got the area pretty much cleared. We have no idea how to tackle this stuff in the spring but this is a giant improvement.

 Our little random fires made me think of Iceland.

Well, it's back to the city for us but the countdown is getting closer. T minus 2 weeks until we get to spend 2 1/2 weeks in lovely Clintondale!

Also, welcome to Chris and Jack the puggle who just moved in to our cottage today! Yea!