Crossing the ocean for the first time.

SO! Hello, hello! I had my first business trip to Las Vegas and I managed to stay for two more days and see one of the greatest natural wonders -Grand Canyon, and one of the greatest human projects of its time – Hoover Dam. First I got on a plane from Las Vegas to get to the Grand Canyon Maverick Airport – then got on a helicopter. Then got back and went back to the Canyon by bus. The next day I went to the Hoover Dam. 🙂

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Norway

Hello. It’s me.

Iana, not Adele.

So! I just came back from my crazy-great-felt-too-short-felt-too-long trip to Norway. Yes, Norway in March could be a bad idea. So if you’re interested in hiking, do it in the summer, when it’s the warmest. No, I didn’t see the Northern Lights, but I also didn’t put that on my agenda since I was in the south part in a low season. If you decide to visit in a not-so-smart moment like me, make sure you have waterproof boots (seriously – waterproof) and a waterproof jacket. I lived in The Netherlands for 4 years but nothing compared to my Norway experience of fog, wetness, cold and some more rain.

HOWEVER!

It was an insanely great experience and as my friend who lives there said “very authentic” because of the weather haha.

Well, here come the photos and the explanations as usual 🙂

I woke up at 3am, got on a plane from Sofia to Munich, then Oslo, then I was supposed to land in Haugesund, however the weather was bad so I ended up in Stavanger instead. Luckily, I met a super massively cool marine biology master student (I shall name him Kiba, he’ll know why haha).

I got to Haugesund around 7pm, ate, fell asleep, woke up at 5am, left for Stavanger again.

 

Pine trees, water, bridges, rocks, ferryboats, tunels and fish – Norway explained. JK

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Following was Gamle Stavanger old wooden town 🙂

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The next day we set off to conquer Preikestolen “Preikestolen is a steep cliff which rises 604 metres (1,982 ft) above the Lysefjorden. Atop the cliff, there is an almost flat top of approximately 25 by 25 metres (82 ft × 82 ft). It sits on the north side of the fjord, opposite the Kjerag plateau, located on the south side.” (Wikipedia)

Climbing trees because it was easier than the icy road, crawling, going through rivers of melted snow and holding hands to keep from falling to your death. Literally.

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To reach…

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…Magnificence!

And moving on to another great adventure with a starting point in Bergen, a city rich in history and sights. Second largest in Norway, founded around the 1020s, capital of Norway in the early 13th century, and from the end of the 13th century became a bureau city of the Hanseatic League. The League was  founded in Lübeck, Germany, (you can check out my roadtrip to Lübeck by clicking here) created to protect economic interests and diplomatic privileges in the cities and countries and along the trade routes the merchants visited. The Hanseatic cities had their own legal system and furnished their own armies for mutual protection and aid.

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Bergen

Fun fact: The legacy of the Hansa is remembered today in several names like the German airline Lufthansa or the Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen, in the Netherlands, and more.

It’s a pretty cool part of history to learn more about 🙂

Here I visited that quay known as Bryggen in Norwegian where some 300-year-old houses remain.

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Following was a 3.5-hour fjord cruise that included some wild goats, going under an icy-cold waterfall with some waterproof-suit-thing on and amazing views.

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The captain’s dog
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Old way of fishing by throwing stones in the water, forbidden now except in one place in order to preserve the tradition.

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Absolute happiness.

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And a little bit of Haugesund.

IMG_0550IMG_0554Harald Hårfagre

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Harald*, who apparently brought the country together because a pretty girl told him to if he wanted to marry her. Or so they say. Nothing to do with politics.

Harald Hårfagre * 🙂

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The end.

 

Fish + Veggies (2 recipes) (Salmon & Cod)

I’ve been experimenting altering a couple of recipes I found online some time ago. They’re both healthy and both easy to make but the first one takes less time. One involves cod fish (although you can use pangasius too) and the other salmon. 🙂

PS You will need an oven for this. It’s a funny thing to share, I know, but I didn’t have one for 2 out of 4 years living abroad so you begin to appreciate the little things. Like a proper shower, where more than 5 drops of water come out at a time. Brilliant this thing called “pressure”.

Without further ado:

Cod (or Pangasius) with squash and peppers

For 4 people I take around a kilo of the chosen fish (like, cod or pangasius, not like a Harry Potter fish, you actually want to make sure it’s intact, doesn’t have scars and all)

You will also need:

Salt

White pepper

Bread crumbs

1 squash

2 white-green peppers

A little bit of oil, if you have a spray thing – great

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cut the cucumber and the pepper into circles, spray or use just enough oil on the pan so the fish doesn’t stick. Cut the fish if needed and put salt and white pepper on both sides of the fish. Put it in the pan and put the vegetables on top of it. Spread some bread crumbs and put it in the oven for around 15 minutes. That’s it.


Salmon with asparagus and potatoes (takes about an hour)

You’ll need:

(For 4 people) 4 salmon fillets

Asparagus – depends how much you want – 3-4 pieces per person is ok

Small potatoes – 25-30 of them or a kilo bag

4 tablespoons oil

8 tablespoons lemon juice

1 lemon aside from the one you’ll need for the juice

10-15 cloves minced garlic – depends how much you like garlic really – I almost put the whole thing in

4 tablespoons (fresh) thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

4 tablespoons honey

Preheat oven to 200°C. Cut the potatoes into halves if they are really small, otherwise cut the halves into halves too. You want to have two oven trays because of the quantity of the food. Put some oil on the pan and mix the potatoes in it, add salt, black pepper, a little bit of the garlic and thyme and put them in the oven for about 25-30 minutes. You can mix them around for a bit somewhere in the middle of those 25-30 minutes.

Make a glaze: combine 4 Tbsp. lemon juice, 4 Tbsp. honey, the rest of the garlic, and the thyme.

Cut the whole lemon in thin circles.

Depending on the size of your pans put the asparagus either with the salmon if you have space or with the potatoes since they’re almost cooked and you can move them on one side of the pan.

Put salt and pepper and the glaze on both sides of the salmon fillets and spread some of the glaze on the asparagus. Put the lemon circles on the fish. Put everything back in the oven for another 10-15minutes.

Eet smakelijk as the Dutch say 🙂

Red Velvet Cake or Arm Day at the gym?

I knew the cake would take quite some time to make but didn’t expect it to last 2 hours. And that’s because I didn’t wait for the layers to cool which you MUST NOT DO unless you’re fast as lightning, because the warm layers heat up and melt the cream. So I was just being fast and then put the cake outside where it’s well below 0°C temperatures.

Really, just leave yourself the whole day in a way because making the cream for the cake even with a good mixer (doesn’t matter if it has a stand with a bowl or not) takes about 30min. I didn’t have a stand with a bowl, so I just bravely used my nature-given arms.

In case I’ve made you rethink your idea to make a Red Velvet cake, look how nice it is!

Make sure you read the recipe well before you begin so you’re aware what you’re getting yourself into. Also, I know it’s supposed to be Red Velvet cake but next time I’m making a rainbow cake or a green one – just to creep people out even more. So you can make your Green or Blue Velvet cake and be your own master! Take a risk! Live on the edge!

Here we go.

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For the layers:

2 eggs

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1 cup oil

1/2 cup coffee (better not use instant coffee)

1/2 pack baking powder оr 5grams

2-3 tablespoons cocoa

2 vanillas – 1 dry/powder and one in a capsule or 2 dry ones

1 teasp baking soda

1 teasp vinegar

1 cup buttermilk * / milk with lemon some squeezed lemon juice

Red paint for food

A pinch of salt

 

Baking paper to put in the pans

Butter to butter the pans

 

For the cream:

400 ml whipping cream

1 cup powdered sugar

350g of cream cheese

 

Preparation:

  1. Put in a large bowl sifted flour, baking powder, 1 dry vanilla, cocoa, salt and red paint.
  2. In another bowl beat eggs with sugar until fluffy.
  3. Then in the same bowl add the oil, buttermilk, 1 capsule vanilla and the coffee.
  4. In a tiny cup or in whatever you want put the soda into the vinegar and then add to the egg and sugar mix too.
  5. When you’ve mixed them a little bit start adding them to the dry mix until a nice uniform and red mixture is formed.
  6. Preheat oven on 170°C
  7. Butter the pans then put baking paper on them so you can easily remove the layers and so you can let them dry.
  8. If your oven is also not too big like mine, find a way to separate the mixture into 3 even parts and pour the first one into a cake pan around 25cm.
  9. Bake on 170°C for about 20 to 35 minutes – just keep checking with a toothpick whether the batter is ready. If you take it out and nothing is sticking to it, the batter is ready.
  10. Do the same for the next two layers. Maybe you can bake them all and then split them into 3 but I haven’t tried it yet.
  11. When you take them out wait for 5 minutes and then with the paper move them onto a grid of sorts so that they can dry and not touch anything but the paper.
  12. When you’re sure they have all cooled down you can start preparing the cream.
  13. Mix the cream by itself with the mixer just a bit then add the powdered sugar. Mix again better. Then add the cream cheese. Mix again.
  14. Put a layer of the cake, then cream, then later, then cream, then layer. Decorate with the cream.
  15. Voila! – Cool for an hour and EAT!

Soon coming a personal recipe for a non-bake fast and easy to make cake to recover the damage from this one and for some chicken with veggies and cheese 🙂

PS if you make a Blue or Green cake, please share the awesome photos with me!

Ultra Easy Tilt-Shift lens effect using Photoshop Elements

Halo, everyone! I’m sick and not at work which makes today the best time for my next tutorial blog. Finding time seems like the hardest thing right now – it keeps beating me in Hide & Seek! Or maybe it’s the fact I took up Swing dances, Dutch language and yoga. “Always exercising that brain!”

A sketch from a Canadian comedian just popped up in my head so, here’s that before the tutorial to make you laugh:

And now back to my tutorial of sorts. I haven’t used a Tilt-Shift lens and I don’t know if the success rate is 100% but I’ve noticed some photos aren’t good for that trick. I usually play with the photos of things I’ve taken from REALLY far away or from the highest place I could find. I’ve also noticed that higher is better than further. Check out those pics:

The first one is The castle that inspired Disney – Neuschwanstein from afar and the second one the gorgeous city of Nördlingen from the tower in the center.

I’ve usued a Tilt-Shift on both (for fun) and the second one looks so much better.

Using the effect is actually a piece of cake – I mean, except you don’t feel guilty you ate 3 pieces instead of one and then wonder about the gym and then end up with a glass of dark beer and a book by the fireplace instead…

So, there’s 4 steps to making that effect and the first one is to open the file in Photoshop Elements (I bought the 11th version a few years back and I’m in love with it) and from the top menu choose GUIDED and then scroll down on the right and find the TILF-SHIFT effect:

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As an example I’m using a photo I took this summer from the top of a hill in Brasov – Romania. And if anyone, especially US citizens, want to have a laugh – I was standing next to the V on this sign when taking the photo:

So, after you click on TILT-SHIFT, the following menu appears and you want to click on Add 1. Tilt-Shift and then 2. Modify Focus Area since it adds it by default.

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Just click anywhere at first and move the mouse/your finger like 1-2cm in any direction to get a feel for what the effect does. Play around with the lines and get a feel for them and you’ll figure it out in no time – Photoshop Elements has taken care of that. Adobe’s user-friedly game is spot on.

At any rate, you should get something like this:

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It’s simply fun 🙂 And if you didn’t like the tutorial, I hope you liked the video and my jokes – they’re always on point. No messing with my jokes. I don’t take jokes about my jokes.

I haven’t shared my photos from Spain with you just yet – I hope to do it soon, because they’re pretty awesome and in less than 2 months I’m off to Norway and I can’t wait to share that adventure with you! I was told I’m not okay for going to Norway by myself in the winter but Mr Gulf Stream will keep me warm  if not safe.

See you soon!

~Iana

My Christmas present to you

Merry Christmas, everyone!

It’s been a long while since I’ve written on my blog – I finished school and started working, picked up some language and dance lessons and it’s high time I found a more organized rhythm to find time for blogging again.

Recently I’ve been making a ton of deserts at home. Reason being I didn’t have an oven in the past year and now I do!

So as a Christmas present to all I’m going to share with you 4 recipes for an (apparently) American, Japanese, British and Brazilian deserts.

#1 Super easy Brownie recipe

Products:

  • 180g butter
  • 100g dark chocolate – a chocolate bar
  • 150g flour
  • teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2. teaspoon salt
  • 200g sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2ml capsule vanilla essence

Preparation:

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Sift the flour into a bowl with the baking powder and salt.
  • In a separate bowl break the eggs lightly with the sugar and vanilla extract.
  • In water bath melt the chocolate with the butter until smooth consistency.
  • Add the chocolate mix to the egg mix. I pour it slowly while stirring because the mix is hot when you add it to the eggs.
  • Add flour mixture and stir again.
  • The resulting dough I poure into a cake shape so I can easily remove the side. I have added butter and sprinkled flour on the shape first so the dough is easily detachable after that.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes.

#2 Japanese Cotton Cheesecake

So there’s, like, a gazillion recipes for a Japanese Cotton Cheesecake out there, but the one I found super nice I’ll show you below. It’s great, however, it’s missing a few details I’ll add after the video.

For easier use, here are the products you’ll need:

  • 250g cream cheese
  • 50g butter
  • 20g cornstarch
  • 60g flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 140g sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 100ml milk
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar which I can’t get my hands on so I messaged the guys who made the video and asked them what I can use instead and got the following response: “You can actually omit the cream of tartar. Just make sure to beat the meringue until stiff peaks form.”

Preparation:

You can see the preparation in the video, however besides the cream of tartar part I was wondering if it matters in what kind of pot I bake it and the answer is ‘Yes, yes it does.’ 😀 Make sure to pour it onto a carton of sorts or if you can’t, make sure you unwrap it from the foil so that no water is left under it, because it soaks up during the night and makes your cheesecake wet and not fluffy. I tried saving my first by putting it on hard paper towels and changing them like diapers but it would be best to just make sure it stays in a dry place. You can unwrap it after leaving it to cool off for 15-20 minutes.


12432975_1020521d2573890823_1330126972_o   #3 Simple British Scones

Products

  • 1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup firm butter
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons whipping cream (heavy cream)
  • White coarse sugar crystals for decorating the top

Preparation

  • Heat Oven to 200
  • In a large bowl mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in butter using pastry blender (or hands or with 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions) until mixture looks like fine crumbs. Stir in egg, vanilla and just enough of the 4-6 tablespoons of cream so dough leaves side of bowl.
  • Place dough on lightly floured surface; gently roll in flour to coat. Knead lightly 10 times. On ungreased cookie sheet, roll or pat dough into 8 inch circle. Cut into 8 wedges with sharp knife that has been dipped in flour (you can leave wedges or separate them). You can also use a cup to create round scones. I used a heart shape. Brush with additional whipping cream and sprinkle with coarse sugar crystals (I skipped the crystals part).
  • Bake 14-16 minutes or until light golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet. Carefully separate.

 

Video courtesy my friend M.


#4 Brigedeiros

Products:

  • A can of condensed milk (~100g)
  • Half a bar of dark chocolate – I use 75% but you can use 65% to make them sweeter or higher to make them less sweet
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Lots of chocolate sprinkles (I buy 8-10 small bags) or coconut sprinkles or whatever you like to “wrap” them in
  • Mind you’ll need a little more butter to put on your hands when making the, let’s call them, bonbons

Preparation

Put all the ingredients in a pan. Cook, stirring, until thickened, for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to handle. Put butter on your hands and keep applying so that the chocolate doesn’t stick to your hands. Form into small balls and wrap in sprinkles.