Gothenburg, Sweden- Cruising Scandinavia

Cruising Scandinavia and the Baltic


Second Port of Call: Gothenburg, Sweden

Gothenburg, Sweden is a place I had never heard of. Building began in this area in 1308 when the Norwegian king built a huge fortress to hold Sweden back (must not have worked – it’s Sweden now).

 This church was built in 1914 to resemble the medieval churches.

Cruising Scandinavia: Gothenburg, Sweden   Cruising Scandinavia: Gothenburg, Sweden

There are adorable villages throughout the islands that are on the west coast of the country.

Cruising Scandinavia: Gothenburg, Sweden

Cruising Scandinavia: Gothenburg, Sweden

Cruising Scandinavia: Gothenburg, Sweden

 We had pickled herring with onion for breakfast – I think that will be the one and only time I ever do that.

Guest Author: Vicki L

Oslo, Norway – Cruising Scandinavia

The Cruise Begins!

First Port of Call:  Oslo, Norway

Our Scandinavia and Baltic cruise officially begins in Oslo, Norway.Cruising Scandinavia - Oslo, Norway

Since Chuck is half Norwegian, this was to be a highlight of our trip! Things work out the way they should, but sometimes don’t go as planned. . . the tour we REALLY wanted was sold out by the time we arrived at the ship. . . there was a “high terror” alert in Oslo. . .the temperatures were in the mid 90′s (record heat!), it was humid and tour busses and museums aren’t air conditioned. . . 

BUT we got to berth right next to a Viking fortress – complete with cannons!

Cruising Scandinavia - Oslo, Norway Cruising Scandinavia - Oslo, Norway

 We saw the KonTiki, Fram and Viking Museums

Cruising Scandinavia - Oslo, Norway

Cruising Scandinavia - Oslo, Norway

 and we do have a better insight into Chuck’s Norwegian ancestors!

Next Stop:  Gothenburg, Sweden

Guest Author: Vicki L


Let’s Eat Cake! – Heavenly Lemon!

Let’s Eat Cake! – Heavenly Lemon!

Let's Eat Cake! - Heavenly Lemon!

Cake of the Week:

Meyer Lemon Cake

with Lavender Cream

“The floral notes of Meyer lemons meld with lavender in the most heavenly way in this light, golden cake. The secret to the moistness of the tender layers is olive oil—a common ingredient in Provençal cakes—and they take well to the bright lemon curd and loose billows of lavender-honey cream”

  This perfectly poetic description from the introduction in the recipe says it all!!

One might expect this cake to be a bit heavy and dense with the olive oil but is delightfully tender and light and moist.

I really liked the cake –  made with whipped egg whites and lemon juice and will use this cake recipe as a base for other cakes.

This cake was easy to make and everyone who tasted it enjoyed it.

Each taster’s sweet/sour preference varied. Some people thought it was perfect because they like tart. Others thought it needed a sweeter topping to balance the tart. Personally, I thought the curd was too tart. But that can vary with each lemon, too.

The lavender cream had mixed reviews too. It added a nice balance to the curd but the floral taste was a bit different.

Let's Eat Cake! - Heavenly Lemon!!

Let's Eat Cake! - Heavenly Lemon!







Let's Eat Cake! - Heavenly Lemon!




Tuesday Tidbits – Watermelon Slicing

Watermelon Slicing the right way?

Is there a wrong way?

Watermelon: Big wide wedges of red juicy slices at summertime picnics or as a refreshing treat on a hot afternoon – juice dripping down our arms and staining our faces from ear to ear. These are the images – or memories – most of us have of eating watermelon.

Tuesday Tidbit - Watermelon slicing


How to slice and serve the easy way:

With little people in my life, I have learned to cut smaller pieces of watermelon – easier for them to handle but here is a really practical way to slice and serve watermelon – easy to eat, still juicy but confined. It is almost like every slice is the delicious ‘heart’ of the melon.  Great for everyone!

Tuesday Tidbits: Watermelon Slicing

Instead of slicing the melon into wide wedges that inevitably get juice all over your face and chin, cut the fruit (or any other melon) in half, then slice it in a grid. That will give you evenly sized slices that each have a bit of rind at the bottom to act as a convenient handle

Watch this video if you need specific instructions!


Anyway you slice it, Watermelon is delicious and refreshing



Top image:

Adapted from News & Views  Photo: Courtesy Dave Hax

Cruising Scandinavia & the Baltic

Cruising Scandinavia & the Baltic


 But First:  A Big Red Bus Tour of London


An amazing adventure cruising Scandinavia and the Baltic gives us visits to Oslo, Gothenburg, Talinn, St Petersburg, & Helsinki.  It begins with a flight into London and a brief but fun tour of London on a Big Red Bus. And, yes, it rained!

Cruising Scandinavia and the Baltic

Cruising Scandinavia and the Baltic

Cruising Scandinavia and the Baltic

Cruising Scandinavia and the Baltic

Cruising Scandinavia and the Baltic

Cruising Scandinavia and the Baltic



Thanks Vicki for sharing your amazing adventure!

Story and photos: Vicki L


Let’s Eat Cake! — Take 2

Let’s try this again!

The first cake of the challenge was a bit of a flop — a frustrating but funny “Epic Failure“.  And some of us are a bit cautious about our assignments, but we plan to just “plow through and see what happens!”  So here goes . . . “Let’s Eat Cake! — Take 2″

Our Cake of the Week:

 The Pink Cake

Let's Eat Cake -- Take 2

With some extra time this morning,  I went ahead and made the cake and got it frosted, instead of baking one day and frosting the next. And just to let you know – all this fancy “mix with the paddle attachment, mix with the whisk attachment ” isn’t happening in my house. One little hand mixer is all I have, and it’ll have to do.

I was intrigued with the part of the recipe where the chocolate is incorporated into the sour cream.  That all worked pretty well.

The cake itself is very moist, and has a nice chocolate flavor.

The Frosting is another issue! 

First of all – an entire pound of butter???  Yikes! I love butter, but this is way over the top for me.

Secondly, my little hand-beater had a tough time toward the end of the butter incorporation – it got a bit thick for the small beater to handle.

I transferred it all to a larger bowl before adding the raspberries.  I used frozen.  At the price of fresh raspberries in this little town it was cost prohibitive to use fresh with the required 4 cups.  (A lovely raspberry patch would be so nice!)

The  buttercream frosting directions do say that the mixture will appear “curdled” somewhere along the line when beating in the butter, but not to worry as it will smooth out as it all gets mixed in.

Well, before adding the raspberries the mixture was nice and smooth and fluffy.  When I mixed in the raspberries, that’s when it “curdled.” I beat the heck out of it, and it never did go back to smooth and fluffy, so I gave up and just put what I had on the cake.


I would  have liked to have added some chocolate curls, but I didn’t have any chocolate for that.

The frosted cake tastes okay, but that “frosting” has just way too much butter in it.  (It actually tasted quite bland before I added the raspberries.)  When I ate my piece of cake I ended up scraping off most of the frosting.

The chocolate cake itself is also kind of bland, but works well with the raspberry flavor of the frosting. I think the cake batter does need a rich frosting of some kind to make it work.

My take on The Pink Cake:

- it’s good, but not good enough for all of the work.

There you have it!

Top photo by Erin Kunkel


Voodoo Doughnut Magic

Voodoo Magic and Doughnuts come together!

Voodoo Doughnut Magic Something Fun – Something Different – Something for the Ages  is what Voodoo Doughnuts of Portland wants to be. They seem to be all that and more. Voodoo Doughnut Magic

Voodoo Doughnut Magic creates unique flavors like Bacon Maple Bars (bacon strips topping traditional maple bars and glazed donuts frosted and topped with cereal … cereal? — intriguing)

Voodoo Doughnut MagicVoodoo Doughnut Magicand they still qualify as a delicious donut! Traditional flavors such as:  plain cake, chocolate sprinkles, and plain glazed (raised and cake) are also offered.


 Craziness is what I call it!

How long would you wait in line for these choices?

Voodoo Doughnut Magic

 We had heard of Voodoo Doughnuts.  But when we got to Portland, we were amazed to see a seemingly never-ending line  out the door and winding around the block  at the downtown store….just for doughnuts! Are they really worth that wait?  Having a short time to visit Portland, we decided we would for-go the Voodoo Doughnut experience and not spend precious time in line. But then . . .

We discovered a second location: Voodoo Doughnuts, Too is just a few miles out of downtown and on our way to the airport! So we stopped there and walked right in – no wait!

Remember that, if you want instant gratification to your  Voodoo Doughnut craving!

Voodoo Doughnut Magic

Voodoo Doughnut Magic

Voodoo Doughnut Magic

There is an interesting connection between Voodoo Doughnuts and Rogue Beer (see: Rogue Beer . . . and Lunch: Limited Edition Beers based on Donut flavors or is it the other way around? Our first experience with Rogue Beer was when a bubblegum pink bottle caught our eye:  Maple Bacon Beer – we had to give it a try. It was surprisingly very tasty!

Voodoo Doughnut Magic

Voodoo Doughnut — The Magic is in the Hole!!!


Let’s Eat Cake! . . . Epic Failure?

Cake Time! Let’s Eat Cake!

The challenge: Bake one cake a month. Take photos during the process or at least of the finished product. Tell us about the experience and share the photos. EAT the CAKE!

In a totally RANDOM drawing done on behalf of each participant by Mr. Tommy, the first round of recipes have been picked and handed out.

First up:

Let's Eat Cake. . .or Not

Yellow Layer Cake with Chocolate-Sour Cream Frosting

Are you ready to eat cake? Let’s get started!

 Ok – here ya go!!!  I was laughing so hard during this!  My helper was complaining that she couldn’t take pictures because I was making her laugh, too.  It was hilarious!

I bought two sets of new cake pans to start this adventure!  I have two “old” pans – don’t even know if they’re nine inch or eight inch.  I needed three rounds for this cake (each split in half so I’d end up w/6 layers), and I wanted to make sure they were all the same size, etc.

Let's Eat Cake . . . or NotThe cake batter was easy to make and I thought it turned out good – fluffy and good consistency.  The cakes took a little longer to bake than the recipe said, and ended up with “crispy” edges – kinda like when there’s too much butter in a chocolate chip cookie and it spreads and gets crispy (?) – so I didn’t adjust for altitude, and I think that I should’ve added more flour (live and learn)!  When the cakes were cooled and I cut them in half, it seemed like the “tops” were bigger than the bottoms, but I wasn’t comfortable trimming around the edges – the cake seemed too “crumbly”.

The frosting recipe was a sour cream chocolate icing – you mix it up and let it get thicker in the fridge as it cools (recipe called for 30 minutes).  Well, I let it set all afternoon and finally decided it was probably as thick as it was going to get.

So. . . I put the first layer on the cake stand, topped it with the icing, smoothed it to the edge, put the second  layer on, topped it with icing, smoothed it to the edge, then the third, etc., etc.  By the time I got to the fifth layer, things were obviously off-kilter and leaning towards one side.  I tried to smoosh everything back to the other side without making too much of a mess – there was a little movement in the right direction, but obviously not enough. Let's Eat Cake . . . or Not I went ahead and put the final layers on and noticed how uneven the layers were (as in, the edges of the layers were radically not even).  I thought I was being careful when placing the cake layers on each time, but I think the spreading of the icing created movement that made everything crooked.  The picture on the recipe doesn’t have the sides of the cake frosted, but I had lots of extra frosting, and thought that maybe I could hide some of the unevenness if I threw some frosting on the side (obviously not!).

Let's Eat Cake! . . . or NotThen there was more movement and I hollered that we needed to cut a piece quick!  and get it on a plate. We grabbed a dessert plate and cut a slice and rushed to get a picture of the inside of the cake on the stand.

Let's Eat Cake . . . or NotThen while we were taking a picture of the slice on the plate, the whole cake just started cracking and sliding so I grabbed a cookie sheet for it to fall on – it was hysterical at this point – a slow (but kinda quick as it gathered momentum) mudslide.

Let's Eat Cake . . . or Not

Let's Eat Cake . . . or NotLet's Eat Cake . . . or Not

Wow.  I think the frosting was too “slick” – maybe more powdered sugar?  But I didn’t want to mess with it too much when I was making it – the picture looked like it was very glossy and not too thick with powdered sugar.  Now I know!

None of us were big fans of the taste of the cake, either.  I’ll get the “boys” opinions tonight.  - It had a tang or sourness that’s a little unpleasant.  Which is surprising to me, because I love tangy/sour things – I love buttermilk and sour cream.  But, not so much in this recipe!  What a way to start the cake challenge!  Geesh!

OMG!  It was fun though, and I enjoyed the experience, and the girls and I got a good laugh!  :)

It’s OK if you start with the epic failure – we can only get better from here!  By the way, neither of the “boys” liked the taste of the cake either – both cut a large-ish slice and neither finished.  It looks like it should be good – it’s just not.  :(  


Cake Image:  Stephen Lewis


Rogue Beer . . . and Lunch

Great Food, Fun Places, and Fun Times in Portland

Arriving in Portland mid-day, we drove downtown – for Fun – just to be downtown and get some lunch before heading to the suburbs.

We wandered around the Pearl District, enjoying a beautiful Oregon day of sunshine and fresh air (the locals were flocking downtown, in joyous celebration).  There are lots of choices for lunch but what to choose?

Then we saw the Rogue Beer banners and discovered we were in “the heart of Portland’s Historic Brewing District in the Pearl” at the Rogue Ales Distillery and Public House.Rogue Beer. . .and Lunch

Featuring outside seating – a requirement for our meal with this perfect weather – Rogue Beer . . . and Lunch  a menu with several intriguing options for lunch,  and Rogue Beers — we took a seat!

First a beer:  Morimoto’s Soba Ale –a buckwheat based. Rogue Beer . . . and LunchTASTING NOTES: The delicate flavor of our roasted Soba (buckwheat) brings a nutty finish to this light and refreshing ale. A perfect accompaniment to lighter cuisine.





Then lunch: Salmon Melt – one with cheddar and fries, one with swiss and chips. Omigosh! SO DELISH! And a lighter cuisine — perfectly paired with Morimoto’s Soba Ale.
Rogue Beer . . . and Lunch

Rogue Beer . . . and Lunch












Rogue Ales Distillery and Public House occupies the former home of a long-time Portland institution  – Portland Brewing and Bogart’s.

Rogue Beer . . . and Lunch

Rogue Beer . . . and Lunch


Rogue Beer . . . and Lunch


Let’s Eat CAKE!

It’s CAKE TIME!  Let’s Eat CAKE!

…at least once a week

….isn’t that what Betty Crocker, (or was it Duncan Hines or Pillsbury?) led us to believe? 

Works for me!

Somewhere along my journey from childhood, it may have been programmed into me, but I have become convinced that the proper homemaker provides the family with a luscious layer cake every week. Let's Eat Cake!

It hasn’t happened for me….yet.  It remains a standard for me to live up to and now…. we are going to eat cake!

I’ve always been attracted to pictures (& recipes) of pretty cakes. As a child, I would linger over the lovely pictures in the cake section of my mother’s Betty Crocker Cook Book… drooling, dreaming, and wishing I could taste them;

Cake Time! wishing even more, I could actually MAKE one of them – so pretty, they had to taste good too! I never actually made any of the fancy ones (Sunburst cake, or Pink Cake or Queen Elizabeth Cake, or….)

We always made a tried & true ‘safe’ cake  – usually the ‘quick cake’ which was quick – and easy – sort of a ‘dump cake’  – and eaten fresh and hot out of the oven with chocolate syrup drizzled over it….. mmmm…that was actually really good! Still… not the same as I imagined the fancy frosted layer ‘party’ cake would be. Not that I didn’t try once in awhile. Determined to make the ‘perfect’ chocolate layer cake, I would end up with a lopsided, drooping, sagging sorry excuse for a layer cake.

So – when I came across a collection of recipes on the internet for lovely layer cakes (with pretty pictures!) I wanted to make them ALL – so luscious and so enticing! (don’t you just luv the internet? -all those delightful recipes!!)

Let's Eat Cake!

Knowing it would take me a LONG time to make them all, I challenged a few fans (& relatives) to join me in raising the bar and striving to be the proper homemaker with a weekly cake. Realizing that one a week for each of us still might be a bit much in our busy lives (and healthy lifestyles), we decided a one-a-month each would work.

And so it starts – a random drawing of a recipe each month for each of us and we have: One Cake A Week! (Maybe even a Betty Crocker Cake!)

Let the baking begin and . . .

Let’s Eat Cake!

Let's Eat Cake!




Image Credits: General Mills, Betty,, My