Denmark is closing for Easter! Buy! Buy! Buy!

If you’re new to Denmark, then you had better stop frittering away your time on the internet.  Get out RIGHT NOW and stock up!  Yep, the Danes celebrate Easter in big style and the country will basically shut down on Wednesday night.  Despite being very low-key about religion, Denmark will be closed Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday.  Completely closed.  Imagine that…the shops are closed for more days than over Christmas!  (Council offices and businesses are also closed. As are some attractions.  And the streets are deserted…  Easter is not the time to visit Denmark!)

So you have to do your grocery shopping NOW.  Stock up big time. And if possible, avoid Wednesday – that’s the biggest shopping day of the year aside from the last shopping days before Christmas.  Pretty amazing when you consider that people are only buying food and drink – not a Christmas present in sight!  If you forget to stock up, you’ll need to hop over the Sound to Sweden (they’re open for business as usual on Thursday).  Or prepare to run the gauntlet on Saturday.

And what do the Danes actually do on all these holy holidays?

Well, they don’t go to church, that’s for sure (they save that for Christmas.)  No, Easter is the time to eat, drink and be merry with family or friends.  To get out in the garden.  And get the garden furniture out (if you didn’t do it when we changed to summertime on 30 March) .  Do some DIY.  Get busy down at the allotment or open up your summer house and hope for fantastic spring weather…

Me?  I’ll be doing a mixture of the above: a bit of gardening, an Easter egg hunt and friends coming to stay.  Lots of eating and drinking.  So I’m already stocked up with the Danish Easter essentials.  And what do the Danes eat?  Lamb selvfølgelig.  Lots of påskebryg (Easter beer) and snaps.  And the ubiquitous array of foods that you will see at Danish lunches (see my Christmas Advent Calendar post). Rejer (prawns), sild (herring), varm leverpostej (hot liverpâté), various meats like flæskesteg (roast pork) and rullepølse (rolled pork),  One of my own faves is tarteletter (tart cases filled with a mixture of chicken and asparagus).  Look here for more about them.

Get them while they're hot!

There’ll be lots of cheese.  Dainty biscuits and chocolates/chocolate eggs.  Or you might want to serve this yummy Danish mazarinkage (marcipan cake).  Takes only 5 minutes to put together if you have a kitchen mixer!  My recipe is here.

And now?  Let us pray.  And hope the Danish weather gods are with us! 

Skål!  God Påske!

Diane  :)

By Diane • April 14, 2014
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Gæk, gæk, gæk? Guess your way to an Easter egg!

My kids will be on Easter break from Friday.  Woo hoo – no more pesky packed lunches for the next week!  (For them, school restarts Tuesday 22 April.)

And that – selvfølgelig – means it’s time for a traditional Danish Easter craft: making a gækkebrev - a secret snowdrop letter!  For which we’ll need a vintergæk (snowdrop).  Though - as we’re well into April - Danish snowdrops have basically gone into hiding again, so we may need to improvise.  Now, did you know that gækkebreve are a purely Danish tradition?  I thought it was a Scandinavian thing.  But no.  It’s a crazy Dane thing.  And right now, as I type, little kids all over Denmark are sitting at home (or nursery, school, the museum or local library) cutting holes in paper and drawing lots of dots.  All in the hope of getting a chocolate Easter egg!  More on the logistics of that later in the post…  First up, let’s get making one! :)

You’ll need:

  • white and coloured paper
  • glue or a gluestick
  • a pair of scissors
  • a snowdrop 

Choose a coloured piece of paper for your paper ‘doily’. Fold it in half, then in half again.  Draw a rough shape and cut out.  If you’ve never done this kind of thing before, keep it simple!  The Danes are world-famous for their intricate papercutting.  Hans Christian Andersen (you know, the one who wrote ”The Ugly Duckling”, “The Little Match Girl”, “The Princess and the Pea”, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, “Thumbelina” etc, etc, etc…) was also an expert at papercutting.  I’ve only lived here for 16 years, so I’m still learning…

Open up up the paper and you should have something that looks like this.

Stick it on to a plain white piece of paper. I used a gluestick.  And it’s fine if it isn’t perfectly stuck down all over – it just gives it an even better 3d effect ;)

Then you’re ready to write a little poem on it.

Henne bag ved havens hæk, fandt jeg denne vintergæk.
Hej, min hvide lille ven, nu er turen din igen.
Du skal gå til min ven, hviske så kan kan forstå,
han må gætte prikke små, for et påskeæg at få!
 

But if your family and friends aren’t Danish, you’ll probably want one in English, right? Try this one for size:

 
Snowdrop, snowdrop, snowdrop fine,
Omen true of hope divine,
From the heart of winter bring
Thy delightful hope of spring.
Guess my name I humbly beg.
Your reward: An Easter-Egg.
Let these puzzling dots proclaim
Every letter in my name
 

Now listen carefully.  [I shall say this only once...]  At the bottom of the gækkebrev, DON’T sign your name.  You draw a large dot for every letter of your name.  So my name, Diane, would be  . . . . .    If the person who receives the letter guesses who it comes from, you have to give them an Easter egg.  But if they can’t guess, they have to give you an Easter egg.  So disguise your handwriting and be creative!  I usually put in three dots for M.U.M.!  ;)

The final touch is to pick a snowdrop from your garden – just draw one if need be - add it to the letter and send to a friend or loved one.   And keep your fingers crossed that they don’t guess who it’s from…

 
 

God Påske!  Happy ……!

Diane :)

By Diane • April 10, 2014
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I swear I heart Denmark!

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that my blog (hey, make that my general outlook on life) is a “No Whining!” zone.  Positive!  Upbeat!  Optimistic!  Sunny!  As the Flylady says, “Enjoy what you do.  And do what you enjoy!”  Which, in my case, selvfølgelig involves the words “skinny dipping” and “cold water”… :)

I mean, come on, really…  Who wants to end up as one of those twisted and sad “my-life-revolves-around-leaving-negative-comments-on-social-media” kind of people?  Or, as is very common in the blogging world, the disgruntled expat, whose greatest joy is telling you what they (love to…) hate (about Denmark) and listing all the things that were oh so much better “back home”?  Yikes!

But…  [Ha!  Yes, you knew there was a "but" coming!]  But, okay, if you put a gun to my head and I had to name one – just one – little, itty, bitty thing that I dislike about Denmark, it would have to be the F-word.  Call me old fashioned.  I hate swearing.  Just ask my kids.  “Yes, Mum, we hear you!  Swearing shows a lack of vocabulary!”  In fact, the only time when you will ever (ever) hear me swear is down at the beach on the days when take-my-breath-away sea temperatures gang up with hold-on-to-your-hats storm force winds.  So it’s not really skinny dipping but more like being pummelled with rolling pins and stabbed by a thousand knives…  ;)

But I digress!  Yep, the F-word is rife here.  You see and hear it in the Danish media.   All.  The.  Time.  I remember seeing “F**k” in a newspaper headline, lit up in giant neon lights at Rådhuspladsen (the town council square).  You’ll hear it in the playground at børnehave (nursery).  And not just from the kids, but also their parents.  Ouch!   What about that Danish theatre play with the oh-so-catchy title, “Jeg, mig, f**k dig!“?  (I, me, f*ck you!)  Oh, and will you be watching Eurovision, live from Copenhagen, next month?  Don’t worry, you can relax when you hear the Danish entry, Basim, ”Cliché Love Song”.   Luckily for us, they’ve changed the original chorus of “a f**cking cliché love song”… 

…to the more demure “another cliché love song”. Phew! 

So with all those F-words flying around, I suppose I really shouldn’t have been toooooo surprised when this advert appeared on TV2 Zulu the other night.  What is it for?  Chocolate milk from Cult.  But not chocolate milk as we know it, Jim.  A high caffeine, energy type one.  With the oh-so-catchy name “Jeg er ik’ bare en f**king kakao“.  (I’m not just a f**cking chocolate milk.)  Um, really?  Who’s behind the advertising campaign – a bunch of 5th graders? :P

Not enough F-words for you?  Then try their dedicated Facebook page – click here – though don’t say I didn’t warn you!

 

I’d like one bottle of chocolate milk.  And could you put it in a brown paper bag for me, please?

Diane :)

 

By Diane • April 8, 2014
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You know you’re in Denmark when… (Baby comes too!)

You know you’re in Denmark when… 

Okay, so y’all know that Danish babies sleep outside in their prams or barnevogne, “child wagons”, as they’re called here.  I told you before that a French friend of mine nearly fainted when she found out.  “It’s barbaric!”  My Mum actually did the same with me in Scotland in the summer.  But here in Denmark they do it all year round.  In the deep mid-winter.  When it’s raining.  Snowing.  You name the inclement weather - we have it – Danish babies sleep outside in it.  Just remember to dress Baby Viking accordingly.  Keeping in mind the Danish motto: There’s no such thing as bad weather.  Only the wrong clothing!  Though selvfølgelig the Danish health authorities don’t recommend that Baby Viking sleeps outside when ill.  Or if the outside temperature drops below minus 10c/14f  ;)

Above you can see my DS14 (dear son, 14) when he was about a year old, together with a friend from creche.  When our DKs (dear kids) were small, they slept in a pram which I parked in our garden.  People who live in flats often have an old, extra pram permanently parked on their balcony, so the baby can get their daily nap. And at vuggestue (creche) they’ll often have specially built, large wooden cribs for the kids.  The cribs are parked in a shed when the weather is particulary nasty.  Our two kids were sent off every day with their favourite small duvet/comforter and pillow.  Hyggeligt!  And sleeping outside usually means that they take a l-o-v-e-l-y,   l-o-n-g,  h-e-a-l-t-h-y  nap!

But, as usual, I digress…  Now, just because you have a baby doesn’t mean that you can’t get around Copenhagen.  On the contrary.  Baby always comes too!  The buses have space for a couple of prams.  And prams here can be  r-e-a-l-l-y  b-i-g.  You get on via the middle doors of the bus.  And ring the “pram” bell when you get off – so that the driver knows to allow you extra time when disembarking your tank…

The Metro and S-tog (Subway) trains have specially assigned areas for parking prams and bikes. 

 You’ll find those carriages at the front and back ends of the train.

Want to browse the shops?  No problem!  Baby comes too!  Get right in there!  Though it can get quite cramped sometimes when there are two or three prams vying for place…  [It can also lead to 'road wars' on the pavements when you are trying to manoeuvre past those giant prams.]

Baby is in the middle of a nap, or prams aren’t allowed in a particular store?  Just point the pram towards the window of the shop and keep an eye out.  I had a hard time with this one in the beginning.  Funnily enough, I always took my *valuables* out of the pram.  ’Cos I was more concerned about someone stealing my shopping than my baby… :P

Where are the Mum and Dad of these Viking Twin Babies?  Inside the café, on the other side of the window.

Yep, those crazy Danes have it all sewn up.  Or should that be snuggly tucked in?  So you fancy living in Denmark?  Babies no obstacle!

Diane :)

By Diane • April 2, 2014
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Oh My (Danish) GOSH!

I bought some nail varnish the other day.  Okay, nothing new in that.  But I’m on to my fourth bottle of the same colour. Surely this is some sort of female record?  I mean, hands up all those that have a bathroom cabinet of half-used bottles?  You know what I mean.  The colour isn’t quite right/it chips easily/it was a gift from a friend/it’s an expensive brand, bla, bla, bla.  But you can’t quite bear to part with the bottle because – hey – you might need precisely that colour for another occasion?  Guilty as charged! :P

But I love this particular varnish and have used up Every Single Last Drop of the the first three bottles.  Two coats and you are good to go for almost a week.  Yep, as a winterbather/gardener, I can certainly vouch for its hardiness…  The colour is called “Peachy” (number 570) and it’s by GOSH.  My 16 year old (you know how picky they can be) Scottish niece even complimented me on the colour – and wanted her own bottle ;)

Here comes the science Danish bit!  Yep, did you know GOSH was Danish?  I’ve been using their makeup for years but had no idea.  The penny only dropped when I saw that they had a new range in collaboration with the Danish singer Medina. Now, Medina is certainly a style icon and a bit of a diva. But, as she rarely sings in Danish, I couldn’t see that anyone outside of Denmark would know who she was.  Let alone want to use her for advertising.  Ah, so GOSH is a Danish company?  Starts to make sense…

But, as usual, I digress!  Yep, they do a great line in affordable makeup (à la Rimmel and Maybelline).  A great mix of classic and funky colours.  And selvfølgelig all wrapped up in trademark Danish streamlined design packaging.  And – hey – you might also want to check out their fabulous pink varnish, number 569.    Yep, I’m already on my third bottle of “Flamingo” ;)

Diane :)

By Diane • March 31, 2014
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World Half Marathon Copenhagen…Klar, parat, start!

***  Get the free, official IAAF/AL-Bank World Half Marathon Copenhagen 2014 app (itunes and android)

for the latest information about the race, traffic info, results, etc  ***

Klar, parat, start?  I’ve just been to pick up hubby’s starting number.  He — and 29,999 other runners — are taking part in the World Half Marathon Championships taking place in Copenhagen tomorrow afternoon.  And before you ask…please, no questions about his estimated time!  Given that DDH (Dear Danish Husband) hasn’t trained for months, just making it over the finish line without assistance from Falck will be a victory in itself! :P

The race starts and finishes at Borgen – home of the Danish Parliament – which you all know from the tv series!   And the Starter for the Women’s Elite Race is our Prime Minister, Helle Thorning Schmidt.  Remember her.  She of ‘selfie with Obama’ fame?  [The Danish Prime Minister (Almost) Got a Nose. A small one!]  Photo opportunity there, methinks?!

The Starter for the Men’s Elite Race and the Mass General Race is HRH Crown Prince Frederik.  Now Frede (as he is affectionately known), the one who is married to Mary from Australia, is no stranger to a bit of fitness himself…  He’s run several marathons and last year he completed an Ironman – the first royal ever to do so!  Perhaps he’ll join in the race? Because once the runners are ‘out of the gate’ they’ll head towards Kongens Nytorv and Store Kongensgade – passing by his ‘house’ and Queen Daisy’s residence… [40 things you always wanted to know about the Danish Queen (But Were Afraid to Ask)]

Fancy going to watch?  Just be warned that the centre of Copenhagen will be at a standstill tomorrow, so you can only get there by S-train or Metro.  But the Danish weather gods are on their best behaviour and we have beautiful sunshine today and mild temperatures (around 10c/50f) which are set to continue into the weekend.

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Diane :)

 

By Diane • March 28, 2014
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Danish Milk. Grey or blue?

Do you drink milk?  We drink lots of it in our house.  And – what’s more – we’re living dangerously without a safety net and still choosing to drink (and enjoy) cow’s milk! [Gasps from the audience...]

My fridge

Now, I’ve mentioned before the hazards of not being able to decipher Danish food packaging : remember these little pots of pasteuriserede æggehvider – pasteurized egg whites?  The mother of a French friend of mine mistook them for Danone mini yoghurts. And put one in the grandchild’s packed lunchbox.  Ha! ;)

Been there, done that!  Well, not exactly the egg-whitey thing.  But do I remember leaving Scotland at the tender age of 21 to go and work in the small (but perfectly formed Duchy of) Luxembourg and being totally baffled by the dairy section at my local supermarché.  I knew to look for “lait” but had no idea if I was buying semi-skimmed, full-fat or long-life. Repeat the scenario holidaying in Spain, Greece, Italy, etc, etc, etc.

Things are a lot easier here in Denmark because those crazy but lovable Danes have a clever milk coding system.  The colour on milk cartons is standardized.  Thus, if you know what kind of milk you like, you can easily find it.  But you need to know the Danish name for it selvfølgelig!  So in order to make your trip to the supermarked a little less hazardous, here’s my run down on the various types of milk you’re likely to encounter in Denmark:

  • full-fat – sødmælkdark blue carton
  • semi-skimmed – letmælk - pale blue carton
  • 0.5% fat “mini” milk – minimælklight grey/blue carton
  • skimmed – skummetmælkgrey carton

.

But - hov – what about all those other dairy products lurking in the cooler section, just waiting to confuse you?

  • whipping cream – piskeflødered carton 
  • non-whipping cream for coffee – kaffeflødeorange carton
  • buttermilk – kærnemælkgreen carton  Unless – selvfølgelig – it has a picture of an apple on it.  Then it’s æblemost – applejuice… ;)
.
And the countless other types of yoghurts/soured milk products will just have to wait until another blogpost!

My friend V's fridge

My kids love skummetmælk and my favourite is sødmælk.  What’s your favourite tipple?

Happy drinking.  Oh, and “mooooooooooo”!

Diane :)

 

By Diane • March 24, 2014
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WhoMadeWho. Who? Here we go again!

After two years of (not so) patient waiting, WhoMadeWho finally have a new album out – “Dreams”.  Hooray!  Okay, okay, so I admit that after the first couple of listens, I’m not nearly as enthusiastic as I was about their previous albums.  ”Dreams” is low key, slow paced and grown-up.  But it’s received rave (rave, rave…) reviews right across the board, both in Denmark and abroad – so it will no doubt grow on me.  Even they admit that this is one to be listened to at home or through headphones.  But – hooray, hooray – promise us that there will still be a party (with a capital P) when they play live! And I have tickets to see them next month, woop, woop! :D

So what are WhoMadeWho like live?  Phenomenal!  Read on, Macduff…

[First published 18 April 2012]

It’s Wednesday morning and I still have music ringing in my ears from Saturday night.  You see, I was finally able to see WhoMadeWho live. (A Danish band I’ve loved for a couple of years and mentioned on the blog before.)

Two thirds of WhoMadeWho

 

What started out as a concert – at my favourite venue Vega – turned into a party.  And then into a toga party! :o )

WhoMadeWho – it’s all Greek to me…

 

So just like one of their tracks, I’m still high and “two feet off ground”.  ’Cos those lovely Danish boys seem to have split personalities.  In the studio, they make very polished albums.  Not to mention appearing in very (very) polished videos.  Like this one made for them by ‘Good Boy! Creative‘ which has been nominated for – and won – several awards around the globe…

WhoMadeWho – Keep Me in My Plane

But on stage?  They’re wild.  Wild with a capital W.  With a strobe and light show that should carry health warning signs…  So I’m still hopping.  Turn your speakers up to 11 and feel free to hop along…  (In this teaser video, you’ll get a short clip of their legendary cover of Ben Benassi’s “Satisaction”.  On Saturday night it lasted about 10 minutes.  Ha!  Fan-flippin-tastic!)

WhoMadeWho – Trailer from Roskilde Festival 2011

Have a wonderful Wednesday! :)

Diane [First posted 18 April 2012 ]

By Diane • March 19, 2014
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You know you’re in Denmark when… (Sexy Danish Domesticated Dads)

You know you’re in Denmark when…

…you wonder why there are so many good looking men coming out of a building at 7.45 in the morning.  Then suddenly realise that those men are SDDDs!  Sexy Danish Domesticated Dads…

Yep, while Danish Mums tend to do the afternoon pick-up, it’s often Danish Dads who do the morning run to vuggestue (creche) and børnehave (nursery). And Danish Dads are also a dab hand when it comes to packing lunchboxes (remembering to use the special Danish lunchbox paper!) and cooking dinner.

Yep, the Danish work-life balance is pretty obvious on the home front. [Such a pity my own DDH didn't get that particular memo! ;) ]

So – ladies – next time you’re heading off on the school run, you might want to slap on some lipstick..?

Diane :)

By Diane • March 17, 2014
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The New Nordic…Potato Chip!

Unless you’ve been living underneath a rock for the past year, you can’t have missed the hype.  The New Nordic ‘Thang’.  You know, the New Nordic Kitchen.  The New Nordic Diet.  The New Nordic Cuisine.  The New Nordic Lifestyle.  The New Nordic etc, etc, etc…  Getting back to nature.  Going out to the forest, dales and streams and foraging for food.  Viking roots, slow-food-rub-a-dub-stylee.  It started a few years back and has been building and building…

Three years ago, DDH (Dear Danish Husband) took me for my birthday to Noma (at that time, the Best Restaurant in the the World for the second year running) and we had the full whammy of their New Nordic dishes.  Prawns so fresh that they were still alive and wriggling as we swallowed them.  Deep fried moss.  Eggs we should fry ourself on hot iron plates, on top of smoking hay (washed down with champagne).  Yep, it was hard not to sit and think, “The Emperor’s New Clothes?”  Here we are, paying the best part of kr.5,000 (US $950, UK £560) for lunch for two, eating glorified fried eggs! ;)

But, as usual, I digress!  Anway, the New Nordic ‘Thang’ has been trickling down to the man in the street ever since.  First of all, we have the renaissance of rough-and-ready-rugbrød (ryebread).  Which is back with a hearty, healthy vengeance as a lunchbox staple.  But then again, did it ever really leave?

Then someone had the bright idea of marketing rugbrød (ryebread) as a tapas delicacy.  Slice the ryebread, roast it, add salt (big, manly flakes, selvfølgelig), put it in little bags and sell it at highly inflated prices [said the canny Scot].  Dang!  ‘Cos these rugbrødschips (ryebread chips) are actually very addictive!

But you know when the trend has finally gone mainstream when it hits the lowest supermarket shelves.  Yep, even the humble potato chip has had a New Nordic makeover.  They even came up with the cheesy name of Sbrød.  A combo of sprød (crunchy) and brød (bread)… 

Just add a glass of beer micro-brewery-unfiltered-pilsner or apple juice some freshly-tapped-birch-juice and you’re all set!

Diane :)

By Diane • March 13, 2014
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Diane's Daily Denmark

Diane

Daily Denmark...living with those crazy Danes! Never serious, always informative. A Scot who fell in love with a Dane while working in Luxembourg. Permanently settled in Copenhagen and Mum to two little Vikings. I ♥ Denmark!