Even natural beauty needs a little help sometimes

Scandinavians are often considered to be blessed with natural beauty. Perhaps it is the fresh, clean air, the wholesome food, and the generally high quality lifestyles?

Despite popular belief, not all Scandinavians are tall, slender, blond and blue-eyed with a milky complexion that needs no beauty products. And even those that are all of the above need some TLC and a bit of help from time to time.

Who me, which Scandinavian am I? How nice of you to ask. Well, I fall into the category of the Scandinavian who colours her hair blonde regularly as the fair Nordic look suits me far better than my goth-emo black hair from my teens (and no I was neither a goth or an emo!). I’m the Goldilocks of height, not too tall or too short, just right. I have green eyes and after many years of living in London, my poor pores need much more TLC than I’m currently giving them.

As someone who’s refused to go outside without any makeup until recently, I thought I’d share some of my beauty must haves with you.

Black mascara. The more the better – just as long as you don’t get clumpy, extremely separated lashes that looks more Rocky Horror Show than Old Hollywood Glamour! To keep my lashes lush-ly (I know it’s not even a word!), I pick up Dior mascara whenever I’m rushing through the Duty Free at the airport.

Simple cleansing wipes. Such an easy way of removing make-up and impurities after a long and busy day.

Clinique pressed powder. I was only introduced to it about a year ago, but have become so addicted that when my last one fell on the floor and the little that was left was pulverized,  I actually swore out loud (Note: these are times when knowing a second language can be extremely useful, just in case you don’t want anyone around you to know what you said).

Vaseline Lip Therapy. is a necessity in my handbag. I quite like the rosy lips as it gives the lips a subtle pink tint.

There you have it, some of the must haves in my make-up bag. So what are your staple beauty products?

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Expat in the City

For an expat (and perhaps many native Brits too), living in the conurbation that is London can sometimes be a solitary thing. Even when navigating through the buzzing streets, narrowly avoiding colliding with camera equipped sightseers who have suddenly stopped to capture another great memory to show the “people back home” or to consult their maps, finding yourself in the company of thousands of strangers can spark the sense of loneliness.

I’ve had this happen to me many times, not because I don’t like the city or have no friends, but simply because a part of me has realised that I cannot “pop back home for the weekend” (that would take me 3-4 hours in air time alone, not including travelling to and from the airports and waiting for my connecting flight) or that I have no history in this country prior to 2003. And, whether I like it or not, the longer I don’t use my native language on a regular basis, the words will continue to fade. One by one, being boxed up and stored at the back of my memory, getting more and more difficult to find when I need to, slowly removing a part that makes me “me” – my USP if you like.

Luckily some of the above can easily be addressed.

My sense of loneliness will perhaps continue to appear from time to time, but will also quickly pass as I have a great network of really good friends in the city. People I wouldn’t want to be without, people who I consider my London family.

I also have a place I can call home in the city (even if rented!) and I’m excited about the history I will create in the years to come, so the history + going home for the weekend are not really an issue when I think about it.

When it comes to the slow disappearance of my mother tongue… Well that I can fix by starting to write and read more (and not just newspaper e-articles) in Norwegian. So if you from time to time see some weird scribblings at the bottom of my blog posts, fear not. I have not fallen asleep at my mac whilst writing. It will be a translation of the English text. Perhaps you’ll even learn some Norwegian 😉

So yes, among all the problems and joys life brings, being an expat can sometimes add a few more to the mix. But then, this is the life I have chosen, and I am still happy I did!

A few of my favourite things

It’s been over 10 years since I took my first steps around London town, instantly amazed by its sheer size and possibilities. The year was 1996, and I was over for a long weekend visiting my aunt who was living there at the time – thank god photos from that trip are not easily found as my dress sense could only be described as “fashion roadkill”. Then again it was the 90’s and it only takes one look at Friends to see the truly fantastic garments people favoured…

Since that first breath of smog filled air and narrow escape from cars when crossing the road (left-hand driving is truly a test for anyone not used to it. It taught me to look both ways, twice!), I have always had a soft spot for this great city I now call home.

Having lived here for almost six years, this post is in celebration of some of my favourite things about this marvellous city that you either do or don’t understand.

(in no particular order)

1. Running through the fountains at Somerset House on a warm summer day. Because sometimes it is ok to forget that you are a grown-up, and unleash your inner child!

2. Urban Walking along the Thames, taking in the sights and looking at people. Tip: this is best done early on a Sunday morning, before tourists turn up to block your chosen path for the day.

3. Style! Where else in the world can you find such a fantastic mix of people and trends?

4. The markets: Camden, Spitalfields, Portobello. Each with its own atmosphere and soul. I love going for wander around the markets, feeding on the creativity and energy. Again, as with Urban Walking, go early if you want to escape the crowds.

5. Massive, outdoor furniture. You know when summer has arrived when the green sofa + chair appears on the Southbank.

These are only a few of my favourite things. More will be added. Watch this space!

Scrumptious cake

This weekend for my flatmate’s Birthday, I decided to make her a Norwegian Birthday cake – bløtkake – to celebrate. It’s really a quick and easy cake that most people will enjoy, just don’t think of the calories!

Full of cream and delicious berries, I thought it would be wrong not to share the recipe, so here goes.

Sponge cake:
5 eggs
150g sugar
150g flour
1ts baking powder

Filling/Topping:
7,5dl double cream
1-2tbls icing sugar
Jam (I used strawberry)
Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries

Method:
In a medium sized bowl add eggs and sugar, and beat until you get a fluffy, thick texture. Sift flour and baking powder together and gently fold into the egg mixture. Place baking paper into the bottom of the tin (20-24cm), and pour the mixture into it. Place the tin on bottom shelf in a pre-heated oven (160°C) for 45mins.

When the 45mins are up, take out and let the cake cool completely. Once cool, remove the tin and cut the sponge cake horizontally into three parts – this is where the yummy filling will go! Now take 1dl of milk and pour evenly over the three parts, to ensure the cake doesn’t become too dry.

For the filling and topping, pour the double cream into a mixing bowl and add the icing sugar. Whisk until you’ve got a lovely, creamy consistency – having an electrical whisk helps, believe me!

Divide the cream into two bowls, one for the filling and one for the topping. Add jam (3-4tbls) and cut berries of your choice, and fold into the whipped cream. Divide evenly across the bottom and mid sponge cake. Complete by spreading the rest of the whipped cream on the top sponge and side of the cake, and decorate to your hearts desire with fresh berries. If you look at my bløtkake I obviously channeled my Norwegian heritage with red, white and blue.

Happy baking!

Recipe: Det Søte Liv