Friday 25 February 2011


... to another corner of our garden...
For the first time in many days, it did not rain today.
Longing to sit outside, if only for a minute, 
I grabbed some "essentials" and found a bench...

To those of you who are new readers, 
I think this blog post might serve as a rather 
revealing description of some of my passions...
Chocolate, moss, flowers, more chocolate and yet more moss,
- all yummy favourites in the Swenglish Home.

I am off to Turkey for a few days on an exciting work trip, 
but hope to catch up with you at the end of next week.
Wishing you all a lovely weekend!

Wednesday 23 February 2011

Octopus week in the dark...

So, this week is octopus week...
No, not to eat. Oh no. 
Sucking noises as multi-limbed sea monsters find their way 
into human intestines - not my favourite tune...

But symbolically speaking, 
I try to multiply my arms to accommodate 
the juggling challenges that life throws you sometimes...
It is all good: interesting work, boys home from school on half-term break, 
more work, new exciting projects in the pipeline...
Still, a lot, and all at once.

So I take a break, stop to smell the roses a little. 
Or, in my case, allow myself the time to take a few photos.
Bloggable ones, preferably.
But no, there is no light anywhere.
All photos turn out a mushy grey, a grainy, bleak bla-ha.
Outside, the rain continues, as if paid by the drop...

A HUGE thank you for all your incredibly kind and encouraging words after my last post.
I feel very touched by your kindness and cannot emphasise 
enough how much your words mean to me.
As I have no time to visit you all "in person" to thank you at the moment, 
let these brightly coloured flowers be my greeting of gratitude to you all.

Thank you!

(Some cheap glasses made into colour-injecting tea light holders, by glueing 
paper-resembling fabric onto the glasses with découpage glue.)

Thursday 17 February 2011

Proudly presenting...

Dear blog readers,
Can I share something with you?
Something which I am so proud of and which seems to have put
 a permanent smile on my otherwise still winter-gloomy face?

Those of you who are familiar with the gorgeous Norwegian magazine Vakre Hjem, will most certainly also know Franciska Munck Johansen, a wonderfully talented interior journalist, stylist and photographer. She writes for other magazines too, and is now publishing a book with inspiring summer images and ideas. It is called Sanselig Sommer ( Summer For All the Senses) and packed with her own stunning material as well as photos and ideas from a number of selected bloggers.

I was incredibly flattered when Franciska contacted me to ask me if I would like to be part of this book and can now proudly announce that some of my summer-scented images will appear in Sanselig Sommer! The book will be published in April and you can find out where it will be sold here .

Those of you who are readers of Vakre Hjem might also recognize some of my photos in the next issue of the magazine, in a feature about the book.

I know it is very un-Swedish of me to blow my own trumpet like this, but please allow me a small tooot - tooot to celebrate my joy and delight over this, at the same time as toooting to thank you for making blogging so enjoyable and contributing to my wanting to explore new creative paths and ideas. Let the trumpet tooot-tooot also represent the amazing opportunities that are out there for all of us, if we just dare to dream and to pursue the passions that fuel us the most.

Thank you all and thank you, Franciska!

Sunday 13 February 2011

The lilac loveliness - what happened next...? 

Well, a few pots 'happened', and as a couple of new ivy plants mysteriously appeared in my bag home from the garden centre today (yes, I did pay for them!), I felt inspired to create a little green corner to look out on from inside. The rest of the garden is not much to look at yet, as it seems slow to wake from its winter hibernation, where the dress code invariably appears to lean towards the brown and grey. But here, here on my repeatedly blogged bench, I hear whispers of growth and green.

Sshhhhh, can you hear it too?

Thank you so much for all your kind blog birthday greetings.
Wishing you all a lovely start to the new week!

Oh, yes, I nearly forgot...:

A few words from your "Sugar Daddy"...

As promised, here are the recipes for diet disaster the chocolate pralines in an earlier blog post... Enjoy!

Milk chocolate with cinnamon
and chopped hazelnuts

Hazelnut-cinnamon pralines
You need:
Milk chocolate/cooking chocolate (I use Co-op's own brand.)
A handful of chopped hazelnuts
Ground cinnamon

Melt the chocolate in a water-bath/bain-marie. Add chopped hazelnuts and as much cinnamon as you like (keep tasting! :-). Pour into silicon moulds (very cheap at various "Pound Stretcher" shops, or perhaps you can use IKEA's ice cube moulds?) and leave to harden in the fridge. (If I am short of time, I sometimes speed up the process by putting them in the freezer briefly. Desperate cravings call for desperate measures...)

Lemon white chocolate crisp butterflies

Lemon white chocolate butterflies
You need:
White chocolate (I use Co-op's own brand white chocolate crisp)
One fresh lemon

Melt white chocolate in a water-bath/bain-marie. Mix in some finely grated lemon peel and freshly squeezed lemon to your taste. Pour in silicon moulds (see above) and leave to harden in the fridge. (I am usually quite generous with the lemon, as it gives them a very "summery", fresh and "zingy" flavour...)

Marsipan with orange peel
and dark chocolate

Marsipan with orange peel and dark chocolate
You need:
50 g butter
1 1/2 dl vatten (dl = decilitre, i e 1/10 of a litre)
1 1/2 dl flour
300 g almonds (ground)
700 g icing sugar
 (I only used half of the measurements here, and it was still enough for two long "sausages")
+  candied orange peel and dark chocolate 
(I sometimes add a little Calvados or some other liqueur, which gives it a little "oumph", but it works just as well without.)

Boil the water with the butter. Add the flour and let it all simmer until it becomes dough-like and start to come off the sides and bottom of the pan. Leave to cool a little, then mix in the ground almonds and the icing sugar. Roll into a couple of sausages, gently slit the whole length each and stuff the orange peel in the middle. Push it shut again and roll it to an even "sausage". Melt dark chocolate in a bain-marie (see above) and brush on with a baking brush.


You need:
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp light Swedish "sirap" (sorry, I do not know what "foreign" product to compare this liquid sugar to)
1 tsp of cocoa powder
1 1/2 dl sugar
50 g skinned and chopped almonds
100 g milk chocolate/cooking chocolate

Brown the sugar in a pan with thick bottom. Add the "sirap", cocoa powder and chopped almonds. Stir until quite runny, then add butter whilst still stiring.

Pour and spread the batter (is that the best word in English?) on an oven tray covered in grease-proof paper. Let set for about 30 sec and then cut lines in the still soft batter. Let cool and then break off pieces along the pre-cut lines.

Melt the chocolate in a water-bath/bain-marie, then dip the daim pieces or use baking brush to spread the chocolate evenly on one side of the daim pieces. Leave to harden and then do the other side.

(As for the source of the recipes, the first two were just my own experiment and the second two  I had on scraps of paper in my recipe pile, found probably on the internet, but I would not be able to say where - sorry. If anyone recognizes these recipes as their own, please do let me know, and I can list the source properly.)

Let the sugar rush begin!

Friday 11 February 2011

Well, chin-chin thanks to you!

Well, I never...

Wow, really...?

Would you believe it...?!

A year now. 
One whole, extraordinary year. 
The Swenglish Home popped out like a confused and 
slightly wobbly blog baby a year ago yesterday. 

At first, not knowing much about the world or how to speak blog-ese properly, but curious to explore and discover. Soon grateful to find guidance and support in some lovely and experienced blog godmothers, and also surprised and delighted at others' kind words of encouragement. 

The toddler months passed quickly, and The Swenglish Home went from crawling to upright, still tickled to be part of this community of beauty and kindness. Practice makes.. well certainly not perfect, but perhaps something resembling improvement, and new ideas were tried out. The Swenglish Home found its own voice.

So here we are now, nearly grown up, childish enough to still want to play, greedy enough to still want to learn more. Grateful enough to want to embrace you all, for making this year an extraordinary experience.

Raise your glasses, please. This one is for you!

To those of you craving the recipes for last week's pralines, 
worry not, they will soon appear here, in all their sugary glory...

All the best,

Saturday 5 February 2011

Sweets for my sweet...


Dear supportive blog friends, 

You say you think Johnny Depp (see previous blog post) might just show up on my door step one day... Well, I have actually swam in the same pool as Johnny, in a spa in Bath. Except he was not there at the time - a small but significant and squeekingly annoying detail. I am inclined to think that my turning into a mermaid and spending the rest of my days bobbing on the waters of the Carribean, is probably more likely than Mr J and I meeting in real life... But then again, I do have a lovely pirate in my life already, and two mini-pirates to chant "me hearties" with at any given time...

And there are other pleasures in life. Pleasures which do not require worrying about a bad hair day, or about turning into a stuttering teenager in the face of celebrity beauty. Chocolate, for example. 

In my cheap silicone chocolate moulds from the local "Pound Stretcher" shop, some mini treats were born yesterday, hoping to tickle the palates of our dinner guests tonight. The cake stand they are posing on, is my latest little project. After having long admired similar cake stands in blogs and magazines, time had come for me to have a go. Many are those I should perhaps list as inspiration references here, but one in particular stands out:, where Ida also has a link to her webshop (selling her hand-made beautiful cake stands and more).

In the top left corner of the six small images above, is one of my favourites from my Christmas chocolate making, milk chocolate with cinnamon and chopped hazel nuts. Below that image you can see the lemon white cholocate crisp butterflies, which share a plate with some home-made Daim. Last but not least is the home-made marzipan with orange peel, covered in dark chocolate.

I am completely ignorant when it comes to different types of supposedly posh china, but I have understood that Spode is a name familiar to many people. Those with a trained china eye may spot the pile of small Spode plates above and dare I say I was delighted to spend only 60 p for each of them in a local charity shop... Perhaps I should keep a little more quiet about the fact that one of them was drilled through to join its mates in this tiered cake stand experiment, as that might be perceived as sacrilege...?

 Should anyone be interested in the recipes for the chocolates above,
I would be more than happy to share them, just give me a shout...

A sweet, sweet weekend to you all!

Friday 4 February 2011

OK, last plead... for now...

(Photos from last year.)

OK, call me cranky and childishly impatient, but spring, where art thou?!

Outside, the wind is so strong, it sounds like some parts of our house might soon be roofless. 
Inside, I am playing "artisan chocolatier" and experimenting making small pralines. And no, for those of you who may wonder, I look nothing like Juliette Binoche ( in the film Chocolat), and no matter how hard I try to will him to appear on my doorstep, Johnny Depp is a no-show...
But the pralines are coming together, 
and I think they may possibly make a guest star blog appearance soon...
But please, spring, please come soon, 
before I praline myself into a circular sugar blob...

Wishing you all a lovely weekend,
 and a particularly warm hug to my readers in north-east America, 
where Mr Winter seems to be holding you hostage in an unusually chilly grip!