Sunday, September 26, 2010

Back From Iceland, But Can't Stop Thinking About the Lobster

 We're back from an incredible journey.  Iceland is such a beautiful country with ever changing landscapes and scenery that stimulates the imagination.   The people speak English though I had lots of fun trying to say words like Snaefellsness or Vatnjokull but mainly stuck with English with the exception asking for a kleina (yum) or saying  "takk fryrir" which means thank you.  
We spent a lot of time driving, both on and off the Ring Road.  After a couple of days in Reykjavik, we drove the southern coast to a tiny harbor town called Hofn.  In this little village we enjoyed spending time in local hangouts, visiting secret waterfalls, soaking in the local "hot pot" or geothermal spa, taking private walks on the beach and going to a secret place where seals sometimes hide out.  We even found a miniature viking village that was built as a film set for an upcoming movie and series about the vikings.  
Hofn is a place well-known for its langoustine and while there, we feasted.  One of our favorite restaurants during the trip was a place called Humarhofnin.
A brother and sister own the restaurant.  The brother works in the kitchen and the sister serves, visits with clients and grows the herbs used in their cooking (pictured in the restaurant window).

The owners were delightful people and because of our love for lobster, we got a private tour of the restaurant and a few details on their cooking techniques.  
The black sauce you see below is unbelievable.  It's served as a dipping sauce to accompany the grilled langoustine.  It really should be bottled and sold.  The pink sauce is good but doesn't begin to compare with flavors of the black sauce.
There's another place in town that in travel guides is well-known for its lobster pizza and let me tell you it is scrumptious.  The chef has just published a cookbook which is a wonderful guide to the cuisine of the region of Vatnakojull (aren't Icelandic words interesting) and Iceland in general. 
Of course I brought home an autographed copy! 

Closer to Reykjavik, in a coastal village called Stokkseyri, we dined in a well-known restaurant called Fjorubordid.  It has been featured in the New York Times and has been visited by a number of folks you might know, like Martha Stewart and Bette Midler.  
Yes, the lobster soup is magical but in my opinion the best place for a langoustine is Humarhofnin in Hofn.  I hope you get to visit.

Monday, September 20, 2010

So Many Photos

This place is amazing.  I told my husband that I feel like we are driving through an issue of National Geographic!  Here are just a couple of pictures from yesterday (I think we've taken more than 400 so far)!  


Friday, September 17, 2010

Snaefellsnes Pennisula

This the land of the elves - they're hiding under rocks everywhere.   It's also one of the seven power points of the earth, the place where Jules Vernes began his Journey to the Centre of the Earth, home to a glacier, home to fifty-four species of birds, a place to whale-watch and and home to an active volcano.  It holds a sacred place for allowing three wishes and if you abide by the guidelines, wishes come true.  It's just amazing.  
Helgafell - A Place for Wishing
We started our day at 9am and arrived back at the hotel at 8pm.  And we have so many pictures.  I'm just sharing a few before we get tucked in.  Tomorrow is going to be another beautiful day.  I just know it.
A View From the Top of Helgafell
On the drive to the glacier

Don't blink or you might miss a waterfall - they are everywhere
Kirkjufell stands as proud as a prince

And for my family - we are everywhere here!!!

Time to call it a day

With some beautiful Icelandic music.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Kinda Hard Not to Be Excited

I won the Empress of the Eye, Lars Bolander book giveaway.  Click on the title of this post to read more about the book.  Celebrating now!

Interesting Vacation So Far

We are just starting our vacation but it's been interesting so far.  For lunch we enjoyed smoked puffin (yes, those cute little birds) and an amazing fish gratin with yellow carrots. 
Smoked puffin with a sweet and sour sauce
 While dining we noticed several men passing around a few fishing lures, some were framed, and one was handed to one of the men.  There was lots of excitement but we couldn't tell exactly what was going on.  It was awkward but I was trying be discreet in getting a photo of the fishing lure conversation when one of the men turned to share what was happening.   

During the recent economic downturn, relative to its size, Iceland’s banking collapse was the largest suffered by any country in economic history.  Inflation during 2009 was at an all-time high, and now you're probably wondering what this has to do with a fishing lure.  
Notice the tiny object in the man's hand
Well, the owner of the restaurant, Prir Frakkar, or Three Coats,  decided to grow his beard and vowed not to cut it off until the interest rates dropped below 10% at Citibank.   Apparently the owner's beard grew quite long and he was looking something like a Santa Claus before things improved.   In the first quarter of 2010, the rates finally dropped below 10% and in celebration the owner shaved his beard.  One of the restaurant clients decided to take the beard shavings and use them to make celebratory lures specifically for use when fishing for salmon.  
Proud owner of a new lure

Today's lunch event was the funniest fishing tale I'd ever heard.  I'm not sure that anyone has actually used the "bearded" lures yet but the recipient of this lure was plenty proud and say's he's going on a fishing trip this weekend.  

We are so excited that at least we have internet access.  Apparently coverage can be spotty so we are enjoying it for now.  

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Taking a Break

Guess where we're going.

Thanks to for the photo!!!

Here are a few clues:

It's the most sparsely populated country in Europe.

In 2006, the country was ranked 4th on the list of "happiest nations in the world."

72% of all energy used in this country is produced from its own resources.

The majority of people in this country believe in elves.  They are also very superstitious. 

The language has been preserved completely unchanged for more than 1000 years.

This country has the longest work week in all of Europe - the country is dedicated to productivity.

Can you guess where I'm going?   Not to worry, I will be back in a week or so with LOTS of pictures and things to share.  Keep guessing!    See you soon!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Emily Post

I was reading through the October issue of Vanity Fair and I was astounded to read that two-thirds of Americans have no clue who Emily Post was.   This was shocking to me but in some ways it makes me wonder about many things.  
Lindsay Lohan on the cover

When I was in fifth grade (public school), etiquette was a part of the curriculum.  Did anyone else have etiquette classes in school?   In these classes we learned basic table manners, how to introduce people, how to answer the phone, restaurant tips (seriously), etc.   There are illustrations from our book that I still remember to this day.   My older brother went to a different elementary school and the year they had their etiquette classes, they also had ballroom dancing classes once a week.  My school didn't have that but I would have loved it!   When I was in junior high, I took a charm class.  Charm classes were offered through a local department store or our recreation department.   It was in the charm school girls learned how to sit, walk and get in and out of cars.  My husband and I laugh about this all the time because I need lessons in getting in and out of low-lying cars and SUVs!!! 

In my husband's family they lived more formally so there weren't need for lessons.  They did and still do have "protocol" for nearly every facet of daily living.   It is something about my husband and his family that I've always appreciated.  The dress code when visiting is a little more formal but I love it!

One of the salons in my mother-in-law's home
Reading the VF poll made me think - are we losing our good manners?   On our blogs we all enjoy seeing some amazing tablescapes, but no one is ever sitting at the table.  Most of the working mothers I know are feeding their families in between extracurricular activities.  How may families actually sit down for evening dinner anymore?

In the office, we frequently have business etiquette consultants who remind everyone in the workplace what is appropriate office behavior.  It's funny but this summer one of our interns wouldn't answer his phone when anyone called him but if he did his response was "yep."  

It is also amazing to me that RSVP has lost its meaning.  I can't tell you how many times when getting ready for events at work or parties at home, I'm guessing the head count.  These days people are less likely to respond to an invitation.

Let's not forget electronic device etiquette - driving and texting, in the checkout line, a restaurant, hair salon or doctor's office all while talking on the cell.  And call waiting drives me crazy.  How often has it happened that someone calls you and then says, "Oh, I'm getting another call - hold on a minute."  Is all of this necessary?

From Wikipedia:
Etiquette (pronounced [,eti'ket]) is a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group

Guess some of these new behaviors are just another part of "the new norm."

Friday, September 10, 2010

In Memory

Tumbling Woman, 2002, Eric Fischl"[The sculpture] was a sincere expression of deepest sympathy for the vulnerability of the human condition. Both specifically towards the victims of Sept. 11 and towards humanity in general." - E. Fischl

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Last week I met up with some very good friends from a professional group I belong to and we talked about creating vision boards and after this weekend, I've decided it's time to make one.   Honestly,  we had such a wonderful weekend with family.  In addition to our children and grandchildren, my sister, brother-in-law and niece came to stay with us as well.  One of my brothers, his wife and a very dear friend were able to stop in for visits to make the weekend full of wonderful moments filled with memories.  Everyone needs to be a part of a circle of love.
 The weather also co-operated.  A couple of times when I stepped outside to see the turquoise-colored sky and felt the warm sun while enjoying the cool breeze, I felt so emotional about our beautiful world.  You know, the blue background of the computer in my office at work is not a substitute for God's beautiful world.   

The combination of such extraordinary days made me think about changes. Maybe it's time to make a few.

Yesterday Pondside (who, I'm proud to say just happens to be my Pen Pal) sent me a couple of copies of Canadian Living.  One of the first articles I turned to was What's Your Cup of Tea?  It's a very short article with a few questions that help connect you with your passions.  This article was just the motivation I needed to get started on my vision board.  

This weekend is going to be a busy one but my goal is to carve out a few hours to focus my thoughts on developing my personal treasure map.

I'd be so interested to hear from you.  Have you made your own vision board?  Have you seen changes in your life since making one?  

Friday, September 3, 2010

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

The kids are all home!   Well almost.  Our daughter-in-law is still in Germany.  My husband surprised me last night by coming home from the airport with my son (from Germany) and daughter (from Portland, OR)!   We are looking forward to a great weekend and I wish the same for you and your family.