Oslo in Spring

No matter how many times we find ourselves in Oslo, we are always finding new areas and new things. And no matter how many times we go, I always enjoy going back.

Oslo is especially lovely when the sun is shining and the flowers are in bloom. And that is exactly how we found it when we there about a week ago.

It was a perfect day for walking around the city, with coffee in hand and friends by our side.

And that is exactly what we did. Once we arrived in town, we kept our distance from public transportation and just enjoyed the city on foot.

I loved seeing all the colors, both in decor, and in nature.





As is always the case in Norway, when the sun comes out, the people come out.

And Karl Johans Gate, the main pedestrian street in Oslo, was certainly bustling with people and activity.

It was another fantastic day in the capital city!




Norwegian Patriotism

We made some friends in Oslo on our last visit…I was initially reluctant to ask for a picture. But then I thought to myself: if they dress like that, and walk down the most touristy part of the city, then surely they shouldn’t be shocked at such a request.

And they were great sports, even posing with props from the souvenir stand!


I’ve posted before (HERE) about the funny signs we see from time to time.Here is one I saw on a recent trip to Poland. I think bathroom signs tend to be the most entertaining!

What are some of the strangest or funniest signs you’ve seen?

Kaffetur 3 / Coffee Tour #3: Elbgold Kaffee, Hamburg Germany

The more we look, the more it seems an allusive thing. Finding that perfect combination of ambiance and high-quality coffee. And particularly difficult to track down good handcrafted coffee nestled in a place where you want to sit for more than just a few minutes.

And with that, I introduce our readers to Elbgold Kaffee.
Located in an artsy neighborhood of Hamburg, Germany, they have a great selection of coffee for purchase in-house or take-away. They partner with well-known local shops to offer pastries and other baked goods through the day. And their selection of fair-trade beans, all roasted in-house, is quite extensive. Not quite the perfect combination that we are ultimately on a quest for, Elbgold nevertheless offers great coffee and a fun atmosphere.

Aesthetically pleasing coffee shops that offer excellent coffee are always a plus.

Elbgold incorporates several common elements of the current wave of coffee shops into their location: chalkboards, high ceilings and exposed rafters to create that warehouse vibe, a neutral color palette, and seating crafted from coffee bags. The overall feel is relaxed but not overly cozy, leaning instead more towards trendy, a place to be seen. It is busy, and it can get a bit loud [not necessarily the worst thing when you have the kids in tow].

Ample seating indoors and out provides plenty of opportunity for sitting and enjoying a fine coffee. The traditional tables and chairs were a bit odd to me, but they do offer a number of food options on the menu.

I know, I was shocked as well. Who knew people went to coffee shops for something other than coffee?!?

For many people, the atmosphere makes or breaks a place.

But to us, it really is about the coffee. And Elbgold offers quality coffee. We were definitely pleased with what we ordered. Of course we have only been once and that was last year, so I can only speak to that experience. But with such a massive space and such quality beans, it would sure be nice to see some more time and attention given to handcrafted drinks.

Still, the coffee was really good. And in the summertime, a nice cold brew is always a welcomed treat.


Overall, we enjoyed the coffee at Elbgold.

Daniel enjoyed it as well! He is always
more than happy to finish off the last sips.
A kid who loves black coffee?!?

So much so that we decided to take one more for the road!


You can learn more about Elbgold here (I hope your German is better than mine!).

Memorable Eats: The Familiar

It’s funny, the things that we get excited about when living overseas. Often it comes in the form of things we did not really indulge in when we lived in the states. But there is just something comforting about the familiar.Over the past couple of years, we’ve had several chances to enjoy some foods that gave us just a taste of our home country.

And sometimes that can provide just what you need to combat a bit of homesickness.








Memorable Eats: Hot Chocolate like you wouldn’t believe!

Sometimes as you travel, or maybe when you’re just taking a stroll around the corner, you come across interesting an usual food, or candies, or drinks. Occasionally they are off-the wall terrible, and then at other times they are great.In this first entry of a new blog series, Memorable Eats, I am sharing about something unusual that could probably fall into the categories of food. AND candies. AND drinks. Let me introduce you to drinkable chocolate.

If you are every in Poland, put this place on your must-see list: E. Wedel Chocolate Lounge

It is a restaurant. A confectionery.  A cafe. And so much more.

When we were visiting friends and colleagues in Warsaw, one of them mentioned stopping by a Wedel Cafe for hot chocolate. Sounded like a great idea to us!

And we are so glad we went. Merely calling the drink that Wedel serves a hot chocolate is doing it a real disservice. They call it drinking chocolate. And that is much more accurate.

I’ve had good hot chocolate in my life. Maybe even great every now and then. But what we had in Warsaw went way beyond that.

Wedel knows chocolate, and they excel when it comes to a drinkable chocolate. Drinking chocolate is much thicker than hot chocolate. It literally looks and tastes like someone took fine chocolate and melted it into a cup. Yeah, amazing.

There were so many varieties on the menu, so Zack and I decided to share the tasting trio. An excellent choice.

Three small cups of drinking chocolate: dessert, milk, and white chocolate. Each was delicious, but I think the dessert chocolate was our favorite!

We also shared the dessert tasting trio.

Another excellent choice, especially when there were so many delicious options. It would have been almost impossible to only choose one!

The boys enjoyed their drinking chocolate as well, complete with whipped cream and chocolate candies.

There are Wedel Chocolate bars throughout Poland – so if you are ever there, you definitely need to stop in!

Kaffetur 2 / Coffee Tour #2: Solberg & Hansen

Those that visit our city typically end up taking home a bag of Sandefjords Blanding (Sandefjord’s blend) coffee, purchased at a shop downtown. And that coffee is actually roasted by a company based in Oslo. That company, Solberg & Hansen, recently opened a concept shop in Mathallen, in one of our favorite areas of Oslo.

How can I describe Mathallen? As I’ve mentioned before, mat is the Norwegian word for food, so the name translates to The Food Hall. Located on the river in an area that was formerly comprised of factories and mills, Mathallen sits on the edge of Grünerløkka, home and play place of all of Oslo’s cool kids.

To call Mathallen a food court seems a bit unfair, because it is so much more than that. In this massive warehouse-style shrine to gourmet delicacies and discriminating palates, you can buy superior cuts of meat and hard-to-find cheeses, grab lunch from one of the varied counter-service shops, or sit down and relax with friends for a drink or a meal. Weekends also include cooking demonstrations and delicious samples.

You can also take a break and enjoy a fine hand-brew at Solberg & Hansen. Their new concept shop offers coffee, tea, retail sales, and even some courses and cupping.

We have always been pleased with their coffee when we’ve bought it here in Sandefjord. So we were anxious to see what they had to offer at Mathallen.

They have a nice variety of beans available for purchase, and the styling and presentation at their pour-over bar is impressive.

The overall feel of the space is nice. The relaxed pace certainly fits the brewing technique, but seems to stand in contrast to the loud environment where it sits.

If you find yourself in the Vulkan or Grünerløkka neighborhoods of Oslo, we highly recommend a stop at Mathallen. And while you’re there, why not take the time to check out Solberg & Hansen as well?

On the Table: Hearty Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Apples

Healthy food can taste good. Really good. Case in point: this one-skillet dish that has become a family favorite for us.

Zack found it on Twitter, from the Beach Body website (here). He challenged, I accepted.
Of course, as is usually the case with recreating an American recipe in Norway, I made some modifications.
It all starts with the sweet potatoes. A food that made me gag as a child has now become a favorite in my quest for mixing it up when trying to cook healthy.
Two potatoes, ready for baking

And the rest of the ingredients, sitting and waiting while the potatoes bake. I used ground chicken instead of chicken breasts, and I was very pleased with the results.

I also have quite an assortment when it comes to spices. Sage brought from the states. Pepper from Norway. Paprika purchased in Germany. And Hawaiaan sea salt that was a gift from some Norwegian friends. Also included: apples, raisins, red onion, and olive oil.

Apples and onions. With a little OO. Yum.

Chicken, raisins, and spices.

Toss that all together.

Throw it all back in the skillet with the diced sweet potatoes, and let it brown a bit. Then get ready to devour it.

Yeah, you can thank me later.


Hearty Chicken, Sweet Potato & Apples
3 teaspoons Olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
2-3 apples – recipe called for cooking apples, I used what was on hand: Gala – cored, diced (the menu said peeled – I did not peel them)
2 cups cubed baked sweet potato (I baked two medium sweet potatoes)
¼ cup raisins
400 grams (@1 lb) ground chicken
1 tsp. dried sage
¼ tsp. sea salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
¼  tsp. paprika
  1. Bake the sweet potatoes. (Oven is always best, but use the microwave if you must)
  2. Remove from oven. Cool slightly, remove skin, and cut into cubes
  3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Cook chicken, using a little bit of the seasonings listed above (I ended up using more paprika & sage than the recipe suggested). Place in a large bowl.
  5. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in the skillet.
  6. Add onion and apples; cook, stirring frequently, for 6 to 7 minutes, or until mixture begins to brown. Place in bowl with chicken.
  7. Add all other ingredients in the bowl; mix well.
  8. Heat remaining 2 tsp. oil in skillet over medium heat.
  9. Add mixture, pat into an even layer in pan; cook, without stirring, for about 5 minutes.
  10. Stir gently; cook an additional 2 minutes, or until it begins to brown. Serve immediately.

Kaffetur 1 / Coffee Tour #1: Ministerstwo Kawy / Warsaw

While every morning deserves a little coffee to get things started, I think Mondays typically require even more!

So what better day than Monday to share some of the coffee
shops we’ve visited in recent years…

On our first edition of Kaffetur, I’m highlighting Ministerstwo Kawy (the ministry of coffee) in Warsaw, Poland. (Website here)

When we visited Poland we discovered a number of noteworthy coffee shops. This particular cafe offered excellent hand brews, and delicious baked goods as well.

William has promised to build one of these for us!

The decor was simple and modern, with a bit of a Scandinavian feel to it.

Both of the ladies working behind the counter at Ministerstwo seemed to be quite knowledgeable about coffee – and spoke excellent English as well.

Did I mention that they sell amazing sweets? Zack and I enjoyed sharing a slice of this unusual yet delicious cake.

We ordered a Chemex with a very freshly-roasted African coffee.

The coffee was delicious – some of the best we had on this particular trip.

The location is close to a large roundabout, and a short walk to a Metro station. We highly recommend Ministerstwo in Warsaw!


Art with a Story

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, it’s a painting, and it tells a story that is near and dear to our hearts.

We asked our friend Anna to create something for us, and didn’t provide many specifics. We wanted it to have something to do with adoption, and at one point we had talked about the colors of Ukraine’s flag (yellow & blue).

We were already familiar with Anna’s work so we knew whatever she did would be good. But when we picked it up on Sunday afternoon, we were amazed. It is incredible how an artist can take a request and make it into something so personal and, in my opinion, powerful. That is exactly the case with this piece. I also think when it is an artist that knows you well, the depth and power is even greater.

It really does say a lot about us.

It shows the boys’ interests. And their individual background colors reflect their Ukrainian heritage.

Daniel, the artist
William, the athlete

The red at the top reminds me that it all started with a love story 🙂 And the rainbow reminds me of promises: from God to us, from us to God, in our marriage, and within our family.

I think the use of color symbolizes a lot as well. The colors are beautiful on their own. But their real beauty is seen when they come together. Kind of like our family: each of us holds gifts and talents that become more when we come together.

We are so excited about the way this turned out. As Anna pointed out, someone that didn’t know us would simply see it as a piece of art. But those that know us can see that it tells so much more!