Homemade Chocolate the Romanian Way

I’ve been meaning to share this recipe with you for at least 3 or 4 years, ever since I found it on taste bazaar’s blog and tried my hand at it for the first time. It reminded me so much of my childhood that it almost brought tears to my eyes. Not that my mom or grandmas ever made it at home, but from time to time, I’d be so lucky as to get this treat when visiting family friends. It only takes me 15 minutes to make and serves a desert for a whole week. NB- highly addictive. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Ingredients

100 g butter

100 ml water

150 g sugar

350 g milk powder

40 g cocoa

a tea spoon of vanilla extract

almonds/walnuts/raisins (I prefer one of the first two)

Bring the water, sugar and butter to the boil. After 5-7 minutes, add the vanilla extract and let the liquid cool down.

Add the milk powder and the cocoa in a bowl, then add it to the liquid. Finally add the almonds/walnuts/raisins. Pour everything on a parchment paper an make a “sausage” out of it. Let it cool down in the fridge for 4-5 hours.

Tell me what you think!

xxx, Alina

First Day of Fall

I’ve been meaning to write for ages, but there’s never any time. I started on this entry last week, after I passed the theory exam for the driving license, but I only got to write the two first paragraphs. I was feeling deliriously happy, yet very very tired, and so I opted for a nap instead. That pretty much sums up my life lately- if you got 30 minutes, take a nap. Haha.

Earlier this summer, I wanted to write about our holiday in Romania, about meeting my family after 1,5 year, about the freedom of having a babysitter all of a sudden, about how incredibly hot it was in Bucharest and how all I wanted to was to hide from the sun, about how amazing it was for Madeleine to have her parents by her side 24/7 and how she would hold both our hands while walking, but then the holiday started to feel like long time ago and by the time I found a break, the memories had already faded.

And so I’ll be writing about everyday life instead. About short days and macaroni with butter, about fried rice and tiny feet running around the living room until they’re too tired to carry the small body they belong to. ๐Ÿ™‚

Lately she’s been waking up around 6 (for months and months it was 5-5:30 and that half an hour- an hour makes all the difference!) and I turn on the TV on cartoons and fetch her milk bottle while I brew myself some coffee. When it’s really early, we watch a cute Swedish series called Sjรธlykkan while we cuddle, most days though it’s “children’s TV” while I read the news on my phone, we still get to cuddle. ๐Ÿ™‚ After breakfast – if I’m lucky she eats the first thing I make, if not I have to make up to 3 dishes hoping one of them will be the winner- she starts running around with her bears, talking to Sam or playing with her strollers. Around 8:20 we leave for kindergarten where she’s happily playing (and sleeping) until I pick her up at 3:15-3:30.

Meanwhile I work, if there’s any work, I try to tidy up a bit (the kitchen looks like swept by a hurricane every single day), walk Sam if he’s with us, take a nap if I woke up before 6, buy some groceries and Sim Salabim it’s pick up time from day care. Most days are very uneventful, sometimes I find the time to lunch with friends or take a massage, in between translating messages, court hearings and preparing for the translation exam I have coming up in October. Other days, I feel like I’m an underpaid stay home mum. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The afternoons are a swirl of macaroni, cartoons, ice cream, reading and falling asleep together with me and her bears. On a good evening, she hardly wakes up and we get to eat our dinner and watch some series, otherwise I’m in and out of her bedroom putting her back to sleep each time she wakes up (for various reasons). At 9:30 I’m dead and buried and go right to sleep.

How about you? How are you doing?

xxx, Alina

Days of Our Lives

Good morning! Actually, it’s noon and I’ve been up since 6 am and would die for a nap, but Madeleine is in kindergarten and this week she hasn’t been sick, so there’s no time to waste on catching up on sleep- haha.

I’ve been a busy bee all week and today I thought I’d continue in the same spirit and get lots of stuff done, but when I came back from walking Sam after dropping Madeleine off at kindergarten, I felt so happy to be home alone on a sunny day I decided it can all wait till Monday. ๐Ÿ˜‰

So I’m writing an entry on the beloved child and how I thought there was something wrong with me for the better part of her first year and sometimes I still do. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Being under medication for depression (turns out it was anxiety, but it’s the same pill), I was terrified of getting a nasty post partum depression. I was also afraid she might die in her sleep (sudden infant death syndrome), ’cause you read about that, too. What I was totally unprepared for was however everything else- the extent of exhaustion I would feel, how I mourned the life we had before and the resentment towards others who seemed to deal with a newborn so much better than me and still wish for a second child.

I’m on the clock, so I’ll make it short and sweet. I kind of instinctively knew I woudn’t enjoy breastfeeding, I’ve never even liked to see others do it and always figured I’d use a shawl myself, but when she wouldn’t nurse at all and if she tried it felt like a snake biting my boob, I knew it was not for me. However, society has lots of opinions about breastfeeding and it was difficult to find help to stop, the doctor wouldn’t even prescribe me medication, I had to tie my breasts with a scarf and sleep like that for 10 days or so. It was such a nightmare, I’m still traumatized.

Another thing I didn’t know before having her was that I would spend so much time worrying. These days it’s getting increasingly better, but for a year now, everything has been a potential “weapon of mass destruction”. If you forget a pen on the table, she’ll grab it and put it in her mouth, if she gets the chance, she’s going to climb down from the couch head first, she’s tasting her bath water whenever you turn your head for a split second and finding dust bunnies to swallow in every corner. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Boy, am I happy she started kindergarten and I’m back to joggling work, our dog Sam and everything else in between! I even joke about being the typical Eastern European Jack of all trades, I have no idea how you ladies who work full time do it, because between dentist’s and chiropractor’s appointments, Madeleine being sent home with fever yet again and squeezing in a bit of work here and there, there’s literally no time left for anything. And if things get better after a while in terms of communication and understanding each other, the difficulty now is to make her eat enough or diversely enough. Plus we had some weeks after she started kindergarten when she literally wouldn’t sleep unless I climbed in bed with her, on account of separation anxiety. And when I tried to leave she woke up crying again. And although you love your child more than anything, you’re tired and you’ve been eyeballing that beer since 15 o’clock and all you want is a hot shower and an hour to yourself.

So it’s been rough. So rough I had to remind myself how happy I am she’s here. How lucky we are to have had her at all. How precious she is, how she makes us laugh all day long. And that she’ll grow up and continue to fill our home with joy. And worries. haha!

So I’m leaving you here and getting ready for a lovely weekend with pancakes and cosy dinosaur screams from 6:30 in the morning. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And if you don’t love every minute of it, it’s ok. ๐Ÿ˜‰

xxx, Alina

Funny How Things Turn out in Life

I’m sorry for my long absence, these days I call it a good one if I get to shower, there’s Madeleine and then there’s everything else. So four months have passed since I last wrote a couple of words and believe me, it’s a wonder I’m writing this entry now. ๐Ÿ˜‰ (If it isn’t dinner, it’s walking Sam, or she wakes up on account of separation anxiety or I’m simply dead and waiting to be buried ;-))

You see, having yearned for a child for all my life, when it finally happened, I should have been in 7th heaven, but the truth is corona monopolized our lives and on top of that I had no idea raising a child would be this hard. Some days I feel I’m just starting to keep afloat, most days I don’t.

But the happiness is real. You do get to wake up to (and in our case with) a funny little creature so happy it’s out of line when the clock shows only 5:30, then you start singing and clapping your hands the minute you’ve put on your socks and from there it can only get better. She gets her milk and I brew my coffee while checking the infection rate in Oslo- haha.

As I was telling you everything is about Madeleine these days. Although she started kindergarten on the 1st of March, it feels like for the better part of the time she’s either been sick or her group/the kindergarten have been closed. So I work if I get the chance and I’m happy if I get to meet up in person, because seeing people is what keeps me sane.

We’ve been cheering for spring for a month now and now she’s there and then she isn’t. How about where you live? Do you get to at least be outside, with all these restrictions? We have, even when it’s been too cold to enjoy it, we’ve bought a coffee and pushed the stroller and tried to keep our chin up.

The vaccination is slow or maybe I’m just too impatient and so we don’t dare to make any plans, either, not even for a weekend a couple of hours away where there’s more life than here. Up until now it was sort of a conscious decision not to go anywhere, but now I feel I’d give my right arm to get a taste of normality just for a day or so.

Otherwise, we’re good. There’s almost nothing left of my life before children and I miss it terribly, but there’s no time to mourn and her being so sweet definitely helps.

I wish you a happy spring, wherever you are!

xxx, Alina

Christmas as 4

This year we’re celebrating Christmas the 4 of us: me and F, Madde and Sam. โค I’m trying to find the Christmas tree foot stored somewhere in the attic, ’cause, guess what: We’re getting a tree! I’m so excited I could jump for joy, had I not been so sleep deprived that.. But that’s another story.

Since we moved into a new apartment in February, we’ve been negotiating a new style together- I have things to fill a whole house, but it’s stuff I bought on my own or in “my previous life”, so we’re trying to find something that both can live with. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Which is why we’re not gifting each other anything this Christmas, instead we’re getting this lovely lamp from &tradition. It’s called Copenhagen, one of my favorite cities. We wanted to make sure it would come on time for the holidays and because I dared to ask, we were able to buy the one on exhibited in the store with a big discount. Yay!

My George Nelson bubble lamp is not double insulated and so we have to find another pendant for our living room table. And who would have thought it would be such a hard task? I’d been looking at Louis Poulsens PH lamp, but it has the same shortcoming, so we’ll have to search some more. Do you have any advice?

I had to get a new Mac since my old one ended on the floor with a cup of coffee aboard and I need to buy an Apple Card for my memory card, or else I can’t seem to transfer pictures from my camera. And you know me, these things take a lifetime to get sorted, which is why I only have pictures from my mobile. But I’ll leave you a cute picture of my two babies who seem to make friends with each day that passes.

I hope you have a lovely holiday and drop me a line if you feel like it.

xxx, Alina

Parting with the Baby

Our little baby has grown up and what do you know, yesterday she turned 7 months. For each day that goes by, she’s cuter, funnier and more agile. She’s been crawling for a couple of weeks, feeble attempts here and there, but today was the day she chose to race towards my purse in no time. You should have seen her, so purposeful, so self-assured. This little missy has a mind of her own and I love that about her.

For many months now I couldn’t wait to go back to work. I found maternity leave rather boring, child rearing pretty exhausting, I struggled to find room for myself in this new role, I so wanted to be more than just a mom. Amidst this quest for validation, sleep deprived and on the verge of depression, I forgot I love this baby more than I love myself. And now that I’m starting work in less than a week, I’m kind of sad. Not that I suddenly started loving the endless weeks filled with coffee dates (if the weather allows it), trying to time everything so that she sleeps when she’s tired, walking the pram without entering any place so as not to wake her up, having her food ready the second she’s hungry, and so on. But I’ll miss her warm body onto mine on the couch, every time I pick her up from her bed after a nap, messy hair and flushed cheeks, her tiny hands looking for my moles to pick on. I’ll miss going to the coffee shop and seeing her stretch after my muffin, walking home and singing along with her, telling her daddy is on his way home while washing her cheeks after porridge. I sound like I’m leaving her for good- haha. You see, I had an epiphany yesterday- having turned 40 three weeks ago, I got a gift card for massage from a friend of mine and she offered to mind Madde for an hour, too. Easier said than done, you have to find a day that suits both of us, meet at a slightly precise time, feed the baby before and leave the baby with the friend. It’s strange that I have sometimes felt the urge to be on my own so bad I’ve gone to the toilet and locked the door (when daddy’s home to sit the baby), but when I had to part with her for an hour, I felt my heart cringe.

I enter the premises. No baby, no babbling, just silence. I take off my shoes and find a couch to sit on. Such bliss. Or is it? I wonder if the baby’s fine. The masseuse shows me in to a candle lit room, some background music on, she’s soft spoken when she tells me to remove everything except for my knickers. I’ve done this so many times, my muscular pain has forced me to take so many massage sessions it’s effaced all my natural prudishness. I climb on the heated bed and under a crisp sheet. I place my head on the pillow and try to decide if I should fall asleep or not. At this point there is no baby, just me. The masseuse is a professional, her touch is divine. I want to fall asleep, but the rubbing is so good I almost feel like crying. I’m also counting minutes. Do I still have 20 or 30 minutes? If I fall asleep right now, it would still count for something. Ten minutes before the session ends and I hear a baby crying. Is it Madde? My mother brain plays tricks on me.

I stretch my bones, I rub the oil into the skin, wash my hands and get a glass of water to drink. Then I go outside and look for the baby. Turns out she’d been crying a little, but now she’s asleep. We find a place and order some pasta and a beer to celebrate. Madde wakes up and the first thing she sees is me. I’m so happy to be reunited I feel like shedding a tear or two. She wants to eat my pasta, I give her small bites to try. This must be how it is for many of us, overwhelming, yet we couldn’t be without them. The tyrants. The babies. The love of our lives.

xxx, Alina

Things You Have No Idea about until You Become a Mom

There were so many things I had no idea about when it comes to babies and motherhood, I thought maybe there’s somebody else out there like me! ๐Ÿ˜‰ So I figured I should share some inside information with you.

Before doing that, I have to admit that sure, I have seen the occasional anecdotic sequence of pictures depicting how life is over (and in so many ways!) when you have a child, but it’s not that bad (at least for us it isn’t) and so I don’t find it representative. Nobody tells you this other stuff, though.

Picture by Kjersti Hegna
  1. Whereas some women put on a considerable amount of weight during the pregnancy and lose most of it afterwards, others (like me) gain little weight before they give birth, but compensate afterwards. Yesterday I was swinging my bottom in the mirror while saying “Repeat after me: Big is beautiful!”
  2. The mothers jogging with a pram, it’s a myth. I see them everywhere, but I know literally nobody who has the energy for that. So they must be visiting from another planet.
  3. I used to think babies had to be fed, changed, bathed, cuddled with, put to bed. Wrong. Most of the time will be spent trying to guess what the baby wants. The baby is tired, but also hungry and the baby can’t fall asleep because she’s too hungry and won’t eat because she’s too tired. I have no idea how many swear words I invented trying to figure out how this baby thing works. But, as a friend of mine put it, the interior monologue doesn’t count as long as you’re sweet to the baby. Phew!
  4. You spend 40 years yearning for a baby just to get a baby and spend most of our waking hours hoping that she’ll go to sleep.
  5. There is no better smell than a baby. No cheeks more kissable, no toothless mouth more beautiful when it breaks into a smile.
  6. You’ve never known love until a cutie pie comes into your bed in the morning and pulls your nose, your hair and everything else she can grab.
  7. You spend all your time wishing for a break and when she sleeps you start missing her. If she sleeps longer than usual, you’re so happy you’d do a little dance, but also a bit worried, because she might not be waking up any more… Sometimes you can’t stop yourself from checking up on her and end up waking her up and she’ll be cranky and you’ll be mumbling “I’m such a moron!” for the rest of the day. Other times you’ll take a shower, put on some lotion (now that’s what I call a luxury!) and then settle under the blanket with your beloved Mac and a cup of coffee. Next thing you know, the cup is slipping from your hands, coffee is spilling on the Mac and both of them end up on the floor. Hello poverty!
  8. At some point during this journey you realize your parents were people like you and just like you, they probably did their best and you still think it wasn’t enough. And you see yourself dining with your grown-up daughter in 20 years’ time and toasting for better days when she brings up this and that that hurt her, the way you used to do to your parents when you’ve had one too many.
  9. That waking up in the middle of the night for countless times and many months in a row still enables you (somehow) to care for a baby throughout the day.
  10. That it’s getting better by the day, for the ones of you who felt maternity leave was one desert of time and no validation, just know that for each day you’re closer to going back to work, your baby is getting bigger and sweeter and almost (just almost) makes you wish you were a stay home mom. (Just not really) ๐Ÿ˜‰

xxx, Alina

Parenthood

Itโ€™s been raining since last night

I heard it when I woke up at 5

To give you the last milk bottle-

Your hands were playful,

But your eyes were still sleepy

I kissed your forehead

And put you back to bed

Between the rabbits and the squid

You reached for the pacifier

And grabbed the squidโ€™s tentacle with your tiny hand.

It was still raining when you woke us up

Just before the alarm started ringing

And I brought you to our bed to cuddle.

You grabbed your fatherโ€™s nose and reached for my hair

And said something that resembled oh, hi there.

Itโ€™s still raining and youโ€™re taking your second nap

Iโ€™m all by myself wrapped in my longing cloak

All day I dream of minutes filled with silence

And when you sleep all I can hear is youโ€ฆ

All days are filled with so much of the same,

The uniformity of it all is so draining,

And yet I have so much patience

Where does all this patience come from

I never though I would make a good parent

I never knew how to even be good to myself

Before you came along.

September 2020, Oslo

My Child

You’re 6 months old today, my child-

I thought motherhood would spark

So much creativity,

I imagined you’d be my model

In photography

And my muse in writing.

Instead I’d wake up tired

And long for you to sleep

So I could gather myself

And be something resemblant

the one I used to be.

I’d walk as if on egg shells

And curse the floors for creaking

Hoping not to wake you up

Wishing for one more minute on my own,

But at the same time missing you so much

That my arms ached from your absence.

Oh, the love and terror a newborn baby

Brings to the table..

7th September, 2020

On Writing

In the morning we cuddle, I put her tiny body onto mine and she starts pulling my face with her little hands, shrieking with excitement. The sun is dripping in through the tomato plants in the kitchen window, its long arms reaching the couch. My feet are cold and so are her hands, there’s fall in the air.

When she’s sleeping (finally she accepted the pacifier), all I want to do is read. Or write. Throughout the day my head is full of stories, but when faced with a white page, my brain is blank. The screen is staring back at me.

“Why do you keep posting all these details on motherhood on fb? Do you really think people care?” To tell you the truth, the response is secondary. I mean sure, it’s nice if people can relate, not so nice when others write things belonging to a totally different era and you can sense the scorn of others again, for why did she have to wait until 40s to have a baby, “other people have 20 years old children already”, as someone told my mom.

But with all the risks of oversharing, writing is cathartic for me, it’s always been like that. And the funny little stories are a coping mechanism with days that are pretty much alike, too little sleep and the realization that, as much as I’ve always wanted a child, this child is here to stay. I mean forever. Good God in heaven! (Don’t get me wrong, I feel blessed every single day!) I remember this feeling when I got a cat- they live for 10-12 years?! And then another and then Sam- what, will I always be a dog-owner, for as long as he lives? I would think it’s the responsibility of it that sometimes feels overwhelming, nothing else.

Contrary to many of my friends’ experience, I managed to read quite a lot of books during my maternity leave. Mostly because she sleeps so lightly and I don’t want to wake her up. But also since I need some me-time and folding bed linen can be done when she’s playing next to me. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And reading is supposed to lead to writing… haha!

I only have 4 weeks left, before daddy takes over. And then 6 more weeks from February. I can’t wait to talk about other things than the baby. To be able to get a massage or go to the hairdresser without needing a baby sitter (not that I have had a baby-sitter!) To the string of Sundays that my freelance life combined with paternity leave I’m hoping will feel like.

Until then, I have to go to the veterinary with Madde in a pram and Sam in a leash. I’ve been dreading it since last week. Wish me luck!

xxx, Alina