Chocolate Balls : A Swedish Delicacy

My blog friend Pam, at Gingerbread Snowflakes, is doing an international, ‘St. Nicholas Eve Cookie Recipe Swap’ on the 5th December – so I said I’d come up with a traditional Swedish ‘cookie’…

Chocoalte Balls!

These are truly DELICIOUS, and extremely easy to make – and please bear in mind that the photo of those below were made partly by my two year old, so no perfect cookery here – but they were so delicious that they were gone before I could take a better photo…!

So what do you need?

100g butter

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablesppoon vanilla powder (or vanilla essence)

2 – 3 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 cup cooking oats

2 – 3 tablespoons cold coffee

Grated coconut or ‘pearl sugar’ for decoration

 

1) Mix butter, sugar and vanilla until soft

2) Mix in cocoa, oats and coffee

3) Stir until well mixed

4) Form ‘dough’ into small round balls.

5) Roll balls into ‘pearl sugar’ or grated coconut until covered.

6) Leave chocolate balls in fridge until time to eat

Enjoy!

 

Please note that I have translated the Swedish recipe in to English, so the measurement of 1 dec to 1/3 cup is an estimate – you may want to use only 1/4 cup of sugar. Also, I’m not sure what ‘pearl sugar’ is really called in English – it’s kind of like rock salt, but the sugar version and much smaller ‘rocks’!

Building Beautiful Bird Boxes

Leon’s Scout group is amazing. Not only are the leaders voluntary, but they organise the most amazing activities – camping, forest walks, building campfires, swimming contests, climbing, crafts, baking, making jam – to name but a few. Most of these activities are one evening on a specific weekday, but once or twice a month they also organise weekend activities.

Last weekend Leon took part in the bird box building workshop…

And just look how many they made!

All to be sold at the Christmas fair on Sunday…

‘The Camp’

‘The camp’ – so it was called from this lovely book I got the idea from.

Ashamedly it’s a project that been being worked on intermittently throughout the year – a ‘team’ project from both parents and grandparents. Oiginally made for Maya in mind, it now appears to have taken up residence in Alfie’s room…

It’s a flexible, movable, and all round compatible role play area!

It started off as a lion’s cave (with the gates set in a circle and a sheet put over the top for ultimate secrecy. It was then a school room, and now appears to be a play area based on ‘Mario’ (from Leon to Alfie…)!

What do you need ?

Ten pieces of wood – each 70 x 3 x 2 cm for the uprights

Ten pieces of wood – each 50 x 3 x 2 cm for the horizontals

Saw, chisel and hammer

Twenty screws

10 hinges

Woodglue

Sandpaper

String

Pieces of material (book recommends five pieces each 85 x 50 cm), though we used six.

Rather than dictate the book to you, I’ll just show you in photos what to do…

Two horizontal and two upright pieces of wood screwed in to a frame….

Make six of these frames, and hinge together….

To make a flexible role play area…

A 3 1/2 cm piece of wood was also cut out of both horizontal and upright pieces of wood, at top and bottom, where they were slotted and glued together.

This is working out to be a fantastic play area, simply due to the fact it is so open ended – it can be a partition, a wall, a house, a circle, etc, etc…. Β It’s just a shame it took us so long to finish! πŸ™‚

Guess Where We Stayed Last Night?

Yes, that’s right, those clinical bars could only mean one thing – the hospital!

Poor little Ted was once again rushed in to hospital due to weight loss, and once again, we are back at home, and hoping to get things back on track with a “strict , timed feeding regime” (this is so much not my style – how will I cope?!?) …. lets hope we have an end to these hospital visits once and for all!

 

Kids, Life, Death & Afterlife

Yes, the title is dramatic – but I found this wonderful book in the library…

It’s a very beautiful and simple book about dying, and coming back as something/someone else, but in the end being happy with the person you were. The pictures are incredibly detailed, and really very lovely…

This was a really interesting book for Leon and Maya. We discussed how in some religions believed that we came back as another creature. Leon decided he would like to come back as a cat, and Maya said she would also like to come back as a cat so she could be Leon’s friend. I said I would like to come back as a bird – but Maya quite rightly pointed out ” but then we could catch you”!

Finally! A Baby Is Born!

And it’s a boy!

He was born exactly a week ago, 4 kilos and 53 cm long, and his name is Ted.

The birth was normal and quick, and the hospital staff were outstanding. In the last week mum and baby have had some feeding difficulties, and we’ve been in and out of hospital due to Ted’s weight loss and some jaundice, but all seems to be picking up, we are healthy, and back to blogging (as much as we can right now!).

The rest of the family are also doing well, and Leon and Maya are extremely happy about their new baby brother. Alfie is having some uncertainties, and that doubled with some ‘terrible twos’, means he’s a bit of a handful right now – but we’re giving him lots of love and attention, and I’m sure all will soon be good for him again.

Some classic comments and activities …..

From Alfe ; While eating dinner, Ted was crying, Alfie said “He doesn’t know us. He wants to go back to his mummy”.

Again Alfie ; Looking at my post pregnancy belly, “have you got another baby in there?”

And Alfie (while still pregnant) ; “Where’s my baby?”, “In here” I reply pointing to my stomach, “but I can’t see his legs” Alfie replies.

From Leon ; “But where will his bedroom be?” and proceeds to set up a cosy bedroom for Ted in my wardrobe.

Again Leon, on hearing how babies like to look at black and white things, he shows him the dice he is playing with.

 

Leon has been completely fascinated with Ted, and said some other wonderful things (unfortunately I have forgotten them for now), and is extremely caring towards him. Maya has also been extremely caring, but seems to be taking it all in her stride right now, and hasn’t said too much yet.

And so there we have it – four beautiful, wonderful, healthy children! How lucky I am. πŸ™‚

 

My Blog Is Suffering!

Yes, you can probably tell.

My blog is suffering…..

The baby was due yesterday, and in the last week or so my body has slowed down. My head is spinning with ideas, but physically I seem to be getting very little together! πŸ™‚

So, for those of you who have got to know my oldest ‘babies’, I’d like to introduce you to their latest hobby – horse riding. A couple of months ago Leon’s friend asked him to join him in a riding class. Leon, who had never plucked up the courage to go near a horse, let alone ride one, panicked, “No, no, I shall never do that! Ring his parents and tell them no!” Β I started to laugh at his nervousness, and he started to laugh in turn at his own nervousness. ” Talk to him about it tomorrow at school. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to” I said. When he came home from school the next day I asked, “Did you talk to Rasmus?” Leon replied “Yes. I said yes. They’ll pick me up at 4.30”

Imagine my surprise! So that day he came home at 8pm, having ridden for a few hours – “Was it fun?” I asked. “Yes! I’d like to start straight away!” he replied.

And so for the last few months Leon has been riding every Wednesday afternoon – and absolutely loves it!

This photo is a little out of focus, but the joy on his face is ‘worth every pixel’!

And of course, leon couldn’t start riding lessons without Maya – the girl who has been begging to ride for a few years now….

Despite being only 6 years old, and most riding schools in Sweden having 7 as the age of starting these classes, this is not a normal riding school. It is more of a ‘parent cooperative’ run by enthusiasts – a farm, where parents help out with the skills they have. The farm has chickens for eggs, is getting goats for milk, as well as ducks for eggs – and everyone helps with the building of the duck pond, the building of the chicken coops, and the care of the animals. Most importantly, the little riders help with the care of the horses – brushing them, cleaning their hooves, mucking out their stables and polishing their saddles and reins.

As you can see (in the slightly unfocused photo), Maya is pretty small next to her horse, and finds these tasks quite daunting!

But I’m guessing the riding on the horse will make up for this!?

And so that’s us for now!

I will attempt to continue my posts over the next few weeks – but my body will make the decisions!

Rangoli Sand Patterns

On www.activityvillage.co.uk there are some simple printable rangoli patterns, ideal for introducing Diwali to children…

We decided to use coloured sand (with glue) to make our patterns.

Leon first chose to do a print out, before drawing his own pattern, while Maya drew her own pattern from the beginning – and Alfie just enjoyed mixing the sand and sprinkling it on glue!

Experimental Sugar Skulls

The plastic skull moulds I got from the museum looked like this…

The mould (which originally came from www.mexicansugarskull.com) had instructions on the back, to make sugar skulls, but one of the ingredients was ‘meringue powder’, which I had never heard of, and I would assume we are unable to buy in Sweden. I did toy with the idea of mixing egg whites and sugar, and leaving them in the moulds to freeze, but the idea of using uncooked egg worried me a little…

Then, Leon and I remembered once making ‘coconut sugar mice’, and so we decided to take a risk, and experiment with this recipe. We mixed condensed milk, icing sugar and coconut, making a firm dough-like texture, filled up the moulds, and left them in the fridge to harden for a few hours. When i checked them, they were firm, but I could see the shape would be ruined if I tried to pop them out – so I decided to leave them in the freezer overnight.

This morning, by pouring a little hot water over the moulds, and easing them out carefully with a knife, we finally were able to take out our sugar skulls – and decorate them with coloured icing pens, sprinkles and silver baubles!

 

Leon’s happy skull…
… and what looks like a slightly sadder one, by Maya!

They had to be decorated quickly as the icing didn’t take long to run, and now they are hardening up in the fridge. I don’t think the kids will be eating them, as in fact the ‘real’ sugar skulls are mostly for decoration and gifts for the dead, but this was a fun, and unusual activity to do!

Day Of The Dead In Stockholm

Today we visited the ‘Etnografiska Museet’ (Ethnology Museum), to see the annual ‘Day of the Dead’ exhibition.

A small, but excellent exhibition, with a children’s guided tour….

…. and a popular workshop where Leon and Maya made skull masks and skeletons…

The kids enjoyed learning about this celebration! Leon even made some ‘sugar elephants’ in the morning (simply sugary water put in to the freezer) after reading up about the celebrations on the internet – he felt that the elephant ice-cube moulds could be used as we didn’t have any skull moulds!

Fortunately there were some skull moulds for sale at the museum – so tomorrow we shall attempt to make some sugar skulls…. πŸ™‚