Tuesday, September 30, 2008


The title says it all:)

September 30 - forgot

There is a new fabulous children's clothing store in town, so adorable and if the krona keeps weakening- affordable. Jeanie you would love the rocking stuffed sheep!!!!

Plus I checked out the other clothing store which is great. Saw a great dress Lauren would love!!!!

September 30

Wow, what a fantastic day! So full and beginning to feel like life is taking shape here.

The day itself felt really different than it has, the air quite a bit colder, the frost or snow coming further down the mountains, at times the clouds hanging incredibly low and even a few snow flakes falling. After the gym this morning, while Jacob was in class, Zelia and I took a very long and delicious nap. With Danielle we ate some left overs from last night and then spent some times together as a family. Jacob headed back out to do work and we eventually headed to our second swimming class.

Right away Zelia was smiling at the babies and the parents and was so happy when we got into the water - what a difference familiarity can make. Today we went under the water several times and she did great - no tears! I am beginning to get to know some of the moms a bit more and was told that at the end of the course we will all be going to Flatery, another town, to their swimming pool with a photographer. Fun.

As we were dressing to leave the teacher, Gubny, let me know about a mommy and me group that meets at the church on Wednesdays at 10:30 - perfect, we will be there!!! we are back at home and Zelia is of course outside, bundled up fast asleep after her hard work in the pool.

More observations: many of the middle aged women (don't ask me what I really mean by that) wear their hair quite short, many women have tattoos. The cars here are not small, lots of SUVs for the weather, I see a ton of Toyotas, Kias, Subarus, Skoda, Hyundai, only 2 Hondas so far and an Opel every once in a while. Some of the trucks are like monster trucks - I think they are VERY necessary in the winter.

There are 2 kindergartens here, one more traditional, I was even told that the boys and girls are often separated and the other, I can't remember the name right now. If someone can, please email me. It's Italian, focused on self discovery and student lead...AHHH found it, Reggio Emilia. Excellent, maybe I can go and observe one day.

Rosh Hashanah

Shana Tova!!! What a way to celebrate - with a house full of people in this little apartment in Isafjordur, Iceland. We all ate in the apartment connecting since there was space in there to bring in all the tables we could find to seat 15 people. Much of Sunday and Monday was spent cooking. On the menu: hallah, noodle kugel, veggie kugel, ceviche, hot fish dishes, hummus, pita, olives. Israeli salad, honey cake and apple cake. Of course for all of us baking this was the first time we had used the ovens and as you can see they were TOO HOT!!!! ugh. SO frustrating after working so hard on the dough. Anyway, the hallot were passable but not fabulous. The oven in our apartment has the option of having heat from the bottom, top or both - it was set on both - just a bit too hot:(

Everyone from Jacob and Danielle's program came, Henry, Tanja, Astrid, Trann, Bjarni, Gisli, and Tor, those who were married brought their wives, Peter, the head of the University Center came as did the Professor in town, from Wales, Alan and his wife Hilary. Rosh Hashanah was a new experience for almost everyone and seemed to be enjoyed which was great! We even explained why ceviche in this house:) back to the cooking...after class Jacob met up with Gisli and they went and got amazing fresh fish, red fish, flounder, cod and wolf fish. Now if you know Jacob that means preparing 4 different dishes with all these fish. In the the end he decided not to make the flounder since we really had enough. So, the wolf fish were prepared on the stove in a pot with tomatoes, coconut milk and hot peppers, the cod and red fish were roasted whole in the oven - Zelia loved them! Tanja made the honey cake which came out very well and not dry at all!!!! Very surprising right - must find out where she found the recipe and Astrid made a delicious apple cake.

Zelia was all dressed up for her first Rosh Hashanah - notice her dress...it is a Yemenite dress and was mine when I was little. She had such a good time with everyone and then would get grumpy so then I would try to get her to sleep, she would nurse and want to head right back out and do the cycle again. By the end of the evening, in her pj's she was having a great time playing with Henry and his necklace.

It was a great evening and a great way to begin the new year.

This morning we were all pretty tired. I ran to the gym while Jacob was home and came back to a very grumpy Zelia who is now asleep. I think I will join her. This afternoon we have our swimming class and then this evening I am teaching a trial pilates class. fun.

ciao for now

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cottage Cheese

I had to title this blog cottage cheese, because anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE cottage cheese and am forever looking for good cottage cheese. You see in Israel there is the best cottage cheese which comes in several different fat contents, 9% is by the far the yummiest. There are also many different yogurty cultures that make delicious dairy eats. For whatever reason these things are missing in the US, however, right here in Isafjordur I have found such delicacies and am thrilled! We eat a lot, A LOT of dairy here. Let's begin, Skyr, which you can buy in wholefoods is Jacob's favorite. It's very thick, a lot like Greek yogurt, I prefer the other fattier (of course) creamier yogurts. There is also something called AB milk and it is fabulous, in a bowl with some meuseli and jam. Then as I was shopping yesterday for Rosh Hashanah - more on that in a bit, I found the cottage cheese, came home and was overjoyed!

So, since I last wrote it has been quite rainy, without as much sun as before, but as you can see many many rainbows. There are several that appear almost everyday and makes me feel thankful every time I see one. When walking to the market in the rain yesterday I actually got to see 4 rainbows and one was a double - not bad.

On Friday, Z and I went to a lunch lecture given by a PhD at MIT who is studying Viking weapons and fighting techniques. It sounds really interesting but ended up being so academic that it became almost dry. Poor guy - he looked like a viking so that was fun. Jacob met me there and then we headed to our first swimming class with Z. We went to the hospital and after much standing in confusion, figured out where we needed to go. By the way, you take your shoes off almost everywhere here, including when you enter the hospital. It is so nice and clean:) Z and I went into a small dressing room and it was as yet unclear whether Jacob could join us or not. We changed and found the small rehab pool with other parents and babies, yay, turns out Jacob could come. The pool was about waist high and warm like a bath. There had been a father in there with his baby but apparently for a free swim of sorts and he didn't stay for the class. Besides the three of us there were 5 other moms and babies. They sang several Icelandic songs during the class so I asked the teacher to write them up for me so I could sing along. One mom told us how much Zelia looked like us and so I eventually met her and her son. It turns out that all swimming pools are heated up on Sundays so that you can go swimming with your baby. Nice. Notice that the babies do not have to wear a diaper in the pool which is great. Don't you love the Wonder Woman bathing suit???

Friday night Jacob began not feeling well and Saturday woke with a fever which remained all day. This morning, Sunday, we went to the hospital where he was seen by a doctor. He has strep and now is on anti-biotics, whew. So, the plan to go to the market yesterday for everything we needed changed and Zelia and I went out on our own. The larger market is a good 35-40 minute walk away. I got going for her nap, bundled up and headed out in the intermittent rain. Remember I saw 4 rainbows....Zelia slept the entire way there but just as I was pulling out a shopping cart her eyes opened - had I left her outside she may have remained asleep, live and learn. We went through the market with our very large list for the meal on Monday night, hummus, Israeli salad, ceviche, kugel, pita bread (I forgot that) and fish dish. No brisket to be had here... After checking out, I still had Zelia wrapped on me, I managed to get all the groceries packed into her stroller and her inside with minimal complaining. However, not 10 minutes into the walk did she start screaming and then really screaming and so out came the wrap and there I was, pushing a VERY heavy stroller full of groceries, wearing Zelia and hoping it didn't start to rain too hard. We did make it home, I was tired and wet and she was asleep.

It's funny how just being somewhere else makes for new cooking, we have made Jok (Thai rice soup/porridge and Mapo-tofu - Zelia loved them both).

Other things I have noticed: most babies are in 4-wheeled carriages, sort of old fashioned looking, but with these great covers to keep out the rain and wind. The people don't have too much of a uniform look, blond and brunettes, not particularly tall and actually, if anything looks similar it is that they are a bit stocky, not as thin as I had expected.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thursday Sept 25

Well, Ima left yesterday. Zelia and I walked Ima to the bus, which for 500 krona took her to the airport for her 9:30 flight. As reported, she got to Reykjavik and went by bus to the 66*North outlet, but bought in the regular store in the end. Later she discovered that there is a trip to the Blue Lagoon which will get you to the airport on time. Make note of this if you come and bring a bathing suit.

I had a meeting with Ola and another physical therapist about teaching pilates in their space. I had been hoping to teach them tomorrow in the morning but haven't heard back from them. Next week....

The weather continues to change abruptly and we are slowly making our new home- homier with the help of the sales at Husasmidjian (hardware store in town). Tomorrow we go to our swimming class but first to an open lecture about viking weapons and fighting. There is a man here, a PhD from MIT doing research, so fun!

I joined the gym today and worked out some. Man am I weak!!! The gym is small with equipment in every corner. kind of reminds me of the gym I went to in NY, run down but good enough:)

Zelia is trying more new food, tofu, soy beans, chickpeas and now chunks of sweet potato which she has succeeded in getting in her mouth! yay. I will try to post a video of it. Look for swimming photos tomorrow as well - in a superwoman bathing suit - oh yah!!!

It's great chatting with so many of you online, so nice to stay in close touch.

We will be cooking for Rosh Hashana on Monday as we invited the entire program with another student Danielle - we hope there is horseradish sauce around here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sudureyri Trip

We had a nice morning. Ima got a fabulous massage and Zelia and I spent some time at home. While here we had a nice visit from Helga whom we met through Dora. She rode her bike over to tell me that she had spoken with a man named Oli about me teaching pilates and that I should go and see him. So once Ima returned we went out to visit a gym, the post office and then to Oli's office. He wasn't in, buthis wife Cata was and she was very friendly. We went to find Jacob at the library and then headed home. On the way I met Oli and we made an appointment to meet today to discuss teaching. yay.

At three we got on the bus, really a mini bus for Sudureyri. We headed through the 6km tunnel and found ourselves in a very small town, known for its sustainable fishing practices - all hand and longlines used. We were dropped infront of thepost office and had 3 hours before the bus headed back. Well, we walked around the docks,looked at some fish,then we walked out of town to walk a dirt road along the water and then,well, only an hour had passed... We walked back to the post office but there was no earlier bus. There was a restaurant and inn but both were closed, we think for the season, so we continued to walk to the verslun (minimart). We bought some chocolate covered licorice and some bars of chocolate. The Sirius brand is very good and made hereand then we sat. Jacob wandered and we looked at some newspapers. Then we walked to the docks again hoping to buy a fish. I have to mention that Zelia slept the ENTIRE time, wow.

Back on the bus we decided to eat out once we returned, so was is to be Thai or Italian??? It was raining and we headed to the nearest and Thai it was. We got a taste of every dish they madethat day and Zelia enjoyed her chickpeas and some white rice. While we were there we bumped into Danielle another student and discussed inviting all the students to have a Rosh Hashanah dinner on Monday night which we are looking forward to. We laughed that we have the only mezuzot in allof Iceland. That's right,one on the front door and one on the bedroom door. Anyway, Zelia wasmaking friends of her own with a baby at another table. It turns out we had seen the baby and mom before at the massage place. Both parents eventually came over and we chatted with them,mostly the husband who spoke English very well. It turns out he is from Flatery, nearby, and some students in the program had interviewed his mom. The family fishes and has theirown business drying wolf fish. We exchanged information and will hope to hang out soon. How nice.

Finally, as we walked home, for the 4th time that day we ran into Jacob's professor who is here from Wales and we all had a good laugh at the smallness of the place. We had even seen him at Sudureyri:)

All these pictures are from there.

I ma leaves this morning and hoped to see a bit of Reykjavik which will be nice. My friend Cody who I met in Panama but whose family is from here (how crazy is that????) told us that 66*North has an outlit there... Hard to believe that Ima is not part of life here for real :(

Monday, September 22, 2008

shopping in Isafjordur

Well this is a small town but there are a few VERY nice shops - many of you would be happy to find some fabulous clothing!!!

There is a great sporting clothier with fabulous items. There are a few Icelandic brands that are great one is called 66*North. Ima and I checked out one of the two boutiquey stores in town and there were some GREAT things, different brands several from Denmark and although expensive not that expensive, yay. The other one we haven't checked out yet. We did go into a gift shop that had really neat things as well.

There is a funny mixture here of remoteness but then cosmopolitan feel all at the same time. I really like this combination.

I walked to the hospital today, because I heard there was a swimming pool there as well. As it turns out they are starting a baby swimming class tomorrow!!!! What timing. unfortunately we will not be able to begin tomorrow since we are taking a bus to another town for Ima's last day. The class also meets on Fridays so watch out Zelia will be wearing her wonder woman bathing suit - I will take some pictures:)

Jacob made a delicious soup today for lunch, like the soup we had at the farm, meat, kidney beans, tomatoes, onions, carrots and some skyre, then for dinner he made mac and cheese in our new casserole dish - not a bad food day.

I have to check out the gym!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Daily Life

Just some thoughts after returning from a walk in the little Isafjordur forest. By the way apparently the land used to be filled with Aspen, but were cut down by the vikings and now there are almost no trees. The evergreens here are not native. The forest is just a little place with a nice trail where we went mushrooming today. Zelia is eating dinner, I vacuumed and Jacob is making mushroom pasta with chicken, yummmm.

So, the air is very dry here, so we wash our clothes and hang them in the little wash room and the bathroom. We washed our first load of diapers and hung them and they too dried within the day - thank you Kathie and Paul again for the fabulous diapers!!! To buy disposables here are extremely expensive!

Happily the place is well heated and I am not nervous about being cold this winter as I had thought. Some things we are happy to have and recommend for anyone coming to visit: rain gear, pants too, good gloves, hand and face cream, hiking boots that are water proof or else also bring rain boots, a great hat that covers your ears. Of course a liter of alcohol from the duty free when you land:) I am sure we will think of more as we get to know things better here.

Sheep gathering

Wow, yesterday was a great adventure. Some students and the land lady's (Dora) family gathered in our house at 8am, Jacob borrowed a car from the director of the University Center, Peter, installed the borrowed car seat and we were off. We were following Edda who was driving 3 other students, Henry, Tanja and Tran to Betty's farm. She warned us that her car was not too powerful:) Before we knew it she was off and we were quite a bit behind.

Ima is going to take over this blog since she was more involved in the sheep gathering than I...I am sad to say. I stayed in the farm house with Zelia, Dora, her daughter Suuna (4 yrs old) and Effi. Our job was to wait for the sheep to be chased down the mountains and get them into the barn. Finally, I went in with Suuna who really wanted to get out of the hail and rain while Dora and Effi put up a fence to keep the kinta (sheep in Icelandic) from running away. While Zelia napped and I colored with Suuna, this is what Ima was up to...she begin with today...and then gets to the sheep gathering.

Yesterday gave me flashbacks to Outward Bound as I donned my hiking books and raingear to cross rocky fields and steep riverbanks, taking position on the leeward side of out-croppings to get protection from the wind, rain and hail and eating berries while left to watch others climb higher while waiting for the sheep to get down to my area.

There is something mystical about being alone on a hillside with the elements being so fickle that you keep turning around to see what is coming next from over the mountain top.Your feet may be cold but you can’t leave your position; you get thirsty but since Jacob has your water you eat handfuls of crow berries. You constantly scour the hills looking for sheep; they often stand still for so long that it is hard to tell them from the rocks until a shower makes the rocks glisten with moisture.I wished I could have been with those who went higher though I am probably not nearly as nimble as the young guys. row of sheep appear high up, looking like train cars moving along a track; how frustrating to see them pass onto the far side of the mountain because there is no one up there to herd them downward. As a larger group get down to my area two riders on Icelandic ponies help gather in some strays and we try to push one old, tired and blind in one eye ewe down the hill (you’ll see her picture, too).After joining the two boys (Thor,9, and Gerd(?) 12) in the barn, we had a wonderful lunch in the farm house. A delicious vegetable soup with ground oxen and ground pork and lightly creamed with a thin white cheese, bread, cheese, ham and a loaf of some kind of German pork fat product. We’ll have to ask Emily and Ulf what it is.Coffee, cookies and oranges (Zelia sucked on an orange for the first time and really enjoyed it) and we were on our way. Back over the narrow gravel and mud road with partially washed out patches with some snow squalls to add to the thrill of the drive.All the waterfalls we had seen on the trip to the barn were running fuller and faster and a couple of on coming cars had to pull over in the one lane section of the 6 kilometer tunnel.After a yummy dinner of locally farmed cod we went to join the evening portion of the day long music festival which we had had to miss.All afternoon there had been short concerts in people’s homes and now everyone gathered in the town square to hear more music and to sing.The weather drove all of us to the music center where, much to our surprise people were quite pushy getting into the hall (and a good portion of the population was there). We had to leave because the music and vibrations were too loud for Zelia.We took a walk and had an ice cream (soft serve dipped in chocolate) at the gas station.As we got close to home the sky lit up with fire works and with that we said good night to another exciting day.So back now to the story I lost. The night we went to dinner at the restaurant that looks and feels like a tavern from the Middle Ages, it was pouring as we walked over so we were all soaked when then unbolted the door for us. When the woman saw my jeans she said I would get sick and disappeared into the kitchen. She came out holding a pair of slightly holey, black tights and a fleece blanket and said I had to get out of my wet pants before I got sick. At first she pointed to the ladies room but that was across the plaza which would have meant getting soaked again so I just changed right there behind the table. She took my pants and said she would put them in the “oven” and out she went to another building to take care of them. We all shared the blanket, putting it over our legs, under the table. I think Andea has described the dinner already. I think we have scored a lot of points with the land lady letting her know how much Andrea and Jacob are willing to do around the house and that they are so environmentally conscious. Her daughter loved Zelia and it was mutual. (They have just left for the airport as they now live in southern Iceland. They are German as is a friend of hers that we met today. This woman is connected to the school and has only been here 4 years. She said that what we have noticed is true, that Icelanders are not very open and friendly. It takes time and patience to “fit in”. I think with all that Andrea has to contribute, they’ll break in easily. It also seems that they get quite a bit more snow than we had been led to believe; also the average, winter temps are around freezing, that doesn’t include the wind chill! We are off for a walk to the forest. I won’t be ready to leave here on Wednesday and really look forward to returning.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Day #2 continued

I had to get back on and describe the delicious meal we just had. Jacob has been talking about a great meal he had before his program started and checked many times that the Tar House would still be open. It closes for the winter. And yes it was open. So we headed over there, through heavy wind and rain and got there pretty soaked. I was luckily pushing the stroller so my pants were protected. Ima and Jacob were not as lucky. We were the first people there and walked under a wood beamed, very low ceiling to a long wooden table. We parked the stroller and began to get settled. The owner, a woman came over and saw Ima's wet pants and insisted that she take them off and put on another pair, which she did, in the restaurant!!! She took Ima's pants and hung them in her house we think.

The bread came out with butter and pesto spreads and Zelia was eating her brown rice, sweet potato and pea meal. The first coarse had two dishes: a traditional Icelandic fish stew and a Spanish fish stew. Now this isn't a stew in a bowl with broth but a thick stew that sits on a plate with a slice of very dark bread. The Icelandic one had potatoes and leeks and the Spanish one was made from a salt cod. Both were almost paste like in consistancy and very good. Zelia seemed pretty interested so she got to try some and LOVED it. She ate a good amount of the Spanish one which was pureed. Her first protein, it was very cute. We even got extra for her. I'm not sure she would have stopped eating had I not cut her off:)

Next we were served two thin slices of smoked duck, plated with arugala, parsley and balsamic drizzle. Even I liked it and I don't like duck. Finally, two large cast iron frying pans were brought out and placed on stone trivets. The first had plaice and halibut, potatos, tomatoes and lemons. The second was wolf fish served in a picata like sauce but with mustard as well and a salad with grapes. yummmm. We finished it off with some tea, coffee, after 8 chocolates and another chocolate which was very good as well. Zelia had fun crawling around the place and flirting with some of the tables.

Our walk back was less windy but not less rainy and we are all now in fleec pants warming up. Zelia is ready for bed and Ima is making sandwiches for tomorrow. We have to get up early so it's time to get to bed.

good night

Day #2

Well we managed to sleep pretty well, Zelia as well, who ended up sleeping until 9:40am!!! I have to mention the howling wind that began at night and continues now. Jacob was off in class giving his group presentation and eventually Ima and I woke up and had some coffee. by the time Zelia woke and we all ate and got dressed, Jacob returned and we planned Saturday and then went for a walk in town to do some errands.

We walked by the ships to Jacob's school, met Peter, the director of the University Center. By the way, I thought it would take a very long time but we have already left Zelia sleeping in her stroller outside when going into stores, etc. She was happy as a clam all bundled up against the wind. We found a nice store with lots of great cold weather clothes and a great pair of boots, sweet:) We got some lunch at one of the two bakeries, grilled sandwich, hot chocolate and tried 2 pastries for dessert. Tonight we are going to a restaurant which is next door to the maritime museum, Jacob said he had a meal there that was one of the best he has ever had!!! That's a big deal. Anyway, they close for the winter so this is one of the last chances now. We did a few more errands, found the pool and headed home in time for Zelia to get out and play.

Now Jacob and Ima are working, cleaning and organizing and Zelia is VERY busy exploring the apartment. She just had lunch and is getting her old favorites, tomatoes, pees, sweet potato and brown rice - not bad! She is even getting very good at going up and down the step into the living room and bedroom.

Dora, the landlady has been here with ther daughter. Dora is originally from Germany but has been living here sine the 80's and loves it, although she now lives on a farm in the south of the country. Her friend Betty is a sheep farmer and tomorrow we are going to her farm, about an hour away to help gather the sheep in for the winter. It has so far been unusually mild here and Betty explained that it will be harder to get te sheep in because they are not that cold yet:) We leave at 8am. the weather is supposed to be pretty stormy so we'll see how it goes. Betty will have food and coffee for everyone who helps. Then in the afternoon , when we return there is a music event. The music school in town is celebrating its 100th birthday and all day tomorrow there are chamber music concerts in people's homes - how neat. We want to be able to see some of them.

Arrival in Iceland

Wow, we are here, finally after 3.5 weeks at home without Jacob. Ima, Zelia and I arrived in Kevlavik yesterday in the morning after an easy 4.5 hour flight. We all slept for most of the flight since we had already had a delicious dinner with Aba outside security in terminal E. I recommend it next time you are there. We were traveling with 5 50lb bags, 2 carry-ons, a computer, a stroller and a baby and a bit anxious checking in. The ticket agent didn't even blink, yippee. We landed around 6am (Iceland is 4 hours ahead of EST) and went through security with our carry-ons before passport control where they also collected all water and soda bottles. We got to baggage claim and mistakenly passed on the large duty free grocery store before heading out. We tried to buy some alcohol on Jacob's request in Boston to bring but we were not allowed to do that for Iceland. We really should have bought some before leaving baggage but it was too much to think about after the trip. We exchanged some money, found our bus and loaded on to get to the bus terminal in Reykjavik where we switched to a mini-bus to the airport. When we were landing the pilot told us that winds wer blowing at 30 knots! and we felt it when we stepped outside, wooooooo. We were quite a sight with so much baggage and Zelia all wrapped up. We were there quite early for our flight and ended up getting on an early flight. The plane was not too big, held about 30 people.

The flight was fine, a bit windy so some bumps and as we were heading back down the view was very cool - the landing was better. We got our things, called the University Center to try and find Jacob and he had already called so was there with a friend to pick us up!!! We stepped outside to be faced by a mountain risingout of the sea like a wall - spectacular. the mountains are totally bare, not a tree in sight and incredibly steep. The tops were all cut off by glaceirs long ago. To get us and our baggae home two trips had to be made, but each trip took only about 10 minutes.

The apartment is great, prefect size for us. It has been lived in by many people and quite worn, but we are in the process of organizing and cleaning it and it will be home yet! After hanging out here for a while we went for a 4+ mile walk with the stroller to the larger, cheaper market. I love seeing supermarkets in new places. You first walk into a refrigerated room that holds all the produce and later there is one for meats and dairy. We did a nice shopping and of course I was taken with all the yogurts!!!! yummmm...I am in the process of tasting them all. why is yogurt in other countries always so much better than in the States??? The wind was blowing hard and my ears hurt but the scenery was amazing. The town is in the fjord and the mountains surround us with the ocean coming in. You can see carved into the mountains where the treams run with the snow melt. there are some streams now with fresh spring water coming down.

After taking a nice nap we began making baby food and dinner. Pork chops, pasta with wild mushrooms picked by Jacob and some salad - from kosher home to pork chops, well you have to live where you are I say! blueberry yogurt was dessert, delicious.