Showing blog posts tagged with: kids

Making jam v 2.0

by Hilla Duka - View comments

homemade strawberry jam with chia seeds and goji berries

I wrote previously about how I started to make jam, since that seems to make almost anything edible to the sensitive pallets of my delicate offspring. Well, devious as I am, I'm finding even more ways to sneak healthiness into a jar of red berries. This time I made it with Chia seeds instead of pectin, and added Goji berries to the mix. At first I was alarmed as the seeds were clearly showing, and the dried Goji berries didn't dissolve as I had hoped they would, but it turned out to be a mere question of time, as almost everything in life is. I had to let it boil for about twenty minutes instead of about ten as before, but it turned out just as nice as ever, only with some hidden goodness in it! Being to kind of mother that I am, I still haven't told them what's in it - and they haven't noticed anything different at all. 


Goji is considered the most nutritious berry in the world, and is packed full of antioxidants, vitamin C, magnesium, zinc etc. Chia is a seed that contains lots of Omega-3, fibre and protein. While Chia is virtually tasteless, and can be added to any liquid to make it jelly like, goji has a distinct taste, quite bitter, and I find them hard to eat as they are, but mixed with other berries they kind of disappear.

homemade granola

And then, as I was feeling all homely and Nigella like (I just love watching her cook! Even when she cooks meat I'm drooling...) I decided to make granola as well. This is another one of those staples I make about once a month, and everyone just loves. I keep about half of the batch for us, then graciously hand out the other half in little portions to my parents and brother. 


It's ridiculously easy to make, you simply pour about one litre of oats and other grains, and add like a dl each of water, honey and coconut oil. Sprinkle on some cocoa, or cinnamon and cardamom on top, and put it into the oven for about half an hour. Then add basically anything you like to it, I usually put in Goji berries, cranberries, coconut flakes, hazelnuts, dried blueberries... The kids love it with some yoghurt and sliced banana on top, and if they've had that for breakfast, I can rest assure they won't be suffering blood sugar mood swings. 

Winter watching

by Hilla Duka - View comments

little island with hut - twinter walking

The snow didn't make it in time for christmas, but it showed up a few days later. And so we all bundled up in our thickest sweaters and heaviest boots and went winter walking.

winter landscape sweden

I think this might be the first year since I was little that I've been able to really love the winter. Before I've always felt cold = bad, but now I'm revelling in the white landscape, the look of snow on the branches, the frosty lake...

closeup–branches with snow


Jacob by the frozen lake

The lake being frosty, but not frozen through turned out to be a concept very hard for Jacob and Milo to grasp! They kept wanting to try to walk on it, not wanting to listen as we called words of warning...

How one thing leads to another

by Hilla Duka - View comments


The whole thing started with a search box. Or rather, it started with a random thought as to how one would go about building a search function, and as this site was originally intended to be the place where I try stuff out, it seemed natural to build one for what has now become my blog. I’m not a very good web developer, and not a very experienced one - I moved on to product management before I had time to become more than a junior developer, but I still think it’s really fun to build stuff.


Only, when the search function was ready there was no place to put it, which lead to a complete rethink of the layout. So now the blog looks completely different. I’m going to try to not mess about with styling this year, for now I think the layout is functional, and it will hopefully let me focus on content rather than css! Let me know how you like it, or if you don’t, or if you miss something!


And speaking of how one thing leads to another, remember how I got really excited about healthy eating, and making things from scratch? Well, it turns out my kids were not as excited, especially about having to give up stuff they loved, like basically anything sweet. Those kids are addicted to sugar I tell you. Anyway, that made me look into if there was any way of making the things they liked, only healthier, with less sugar. Turns out you can make jam. And it’s super easy. So now I buy frozen berries, and sugar with pectin in it, and the jam is only like 10% sugar as opposed to any store bought jam which has around 50% sugar in it, and no extra additives. It only takes about fifteen minutes, and the kids seem to really like it. Win - win.

The kids room part two

by Hilla Duka - View comments


So I promised I would show the kids room once everything was ready, and I'm finally making good on my promise. As I started discussing in this post, for various reasons we'll continue to live in my small two bedroom flat in the nice area well suited for kids, rather than move to something bigger and further away, or get the house I was envisioning before I fell ill.


And in deciding to  stay, we needed to improve the room the boys share. They don't really mind sharing room, and I think in many ways it's good for them, but each needs his own space too, for his own things, his private hideaway. That's why we  planned and planned and came up with a new way of making the most of their room. The three story bunkbed of my dreams didn't pan out as the ceiling height is a mere 2,4 metres, but I came up with this alternative, which also provides a reading nook for when we put them to bed, or for when they want somewhere cosy to sit and read during the day. I say read, but they mainly use it for playing on their iphones.

cozy reading space

One of the walls in the reading nook consists of the back of two bookshelves, to make it prettier I’ve covered it with a fabric. The chair comes from Åhlens and the little table, that doubles as Milo’s storage space, comes from Kartell. Originally it functioned as my bedside table, but this way it fills a better function.

bunkbed for three with string shelf

All the boys have some sort of personal storage by their bed - Jacob got one of my old String shelves, and Jonathan got a shelf the length of his bed, though quite narrow so that he doesn’t bang his head on it at night. For now, the Kartell table will be Milos storage.

bunkbed for three with bookshelf

On the back of the reading nook are two IKEA shelves, soon to be brim full of kids books and toys they still want to play with. Mainly, they no longer play with toys, they play on the Xbox or the computer or the iphones/ ipads when they’re allowed, and then they read or they draw or paint. So much so, this christmas they got a crafts hamper (seen below their portraits above), filled with different material for their creative geniuses. They loved it, and I loved that I got to make good use of the hamper originally filled with goodness and sent by my lovely colleagues at the London office. Now it's filled with goodies once more, though this time not edible at all...

backpack storage

We really did end up using absolutely every bit of space in the room - behind the door the kids have hangers for their backpacks. They just about fit in the small space between the wall and the door. That's also the only place I would allow them to put this hiddeous Star Wars poster - this way, the only was it's seen is when they close the door. 

table and storage in kids room

On the other side of the room is two metres of shelf storage and a table for their computer and space to do homework. I honestly still cannot understand how we managed to fit all these functions in one 12mroom.

For this renovation, we really tried hard to be environmentally friendly and use what we had, buying only a minimum amount of new things, and then not buying plastic or easily breakable things. The only new things we got was Jonathans lamp, one of the bookshelf (we had one before), the armchair for reading, some supplies, wood and and the gray paint on the wall. It ended up costing us very little, apart from the time and effort it took to make, and the end result is such a drastic improvement on what they had before, I can’t help but be well pleased.

Happy Christmas

by Hilla Duka - View comments


The tree was huge, the food delicious and never ending, the company large and merry and the presents plentiful. I think it's safe to say we've learned how to do Christmas. 

Two whole days have been spent cooking, not exactly a traditional christmas meal, but all the food that was ordered by the kids, and then some that we thought would be nice. Never before have we prepared this much food! 

glazed salmon for christmas

Yes, this is a glazed salmon. Glazed, I tell you. I may be a vegetarian, but I'll not pass up the chance to glaze anything. Champagne (actually sparkling wine, but champagne sounds better, don't you think?), balsamic, rosemary, honey and dijon mustard. Have no idea how it tasted but it was fun to make!

banana bread for chistmas

Banana bread for sweets, they look unimportant, but the kids love them, which usually means that if I make them for the kids, I can do something more fun for the adults. Unfortunately I didn't get a shot of my carrot cake with icing before we gulfed it down... Just take my word for it, it was delicious.

My body's aching, my arm's all swollen, and I can't really walk proper, but as I climb into my comfiest spot in the sofa, the kids tucked up in their new beds, the candles burning low, I'm filled with pleasure at the day. Another Christmas for me and my family, thank you. The first one in about fifteen years with both my parents present, thank you cancer for that. 

And for one day, one precious day, I was so busy trying to make sure everyone was having a good time, I didn't think about the cancer, about being ill, about what's ahead. Another thing to be grateful for.

Good days and bad

by Hilla Duka - View comments


How can you stay so positive? It’s not just once I’ve had that question, and I hope, if my dreams of becoming a miracle patient go pear shaped, that my kids will remember me as someone who was happy. Because I am. I am and I’m not, you know? It’s a landscape of extremes. I am so incredibly happy for what I have, more so than ever before. It’s in some ways as if the cancer diagnosis put new glasses on my nose, and I can see everything so much clearer, feel so much stronger. I love my life, and the people in it with a new sort of ferocity. I never knew how much I would be willing to sacrifice, just to stay around with them a bit longer. As parents, we often say how we would give an arm and a leg for our kids, now I get to see how true that is.

Milo and Jonathan

And at the same time, trust me, I’m not so bloody happy all the time. I cry, so unbelievably much, it’s insane I haven’t dried up yet. It’s inconceivable to me that I will die, long before my time, and not see my kids grow up, not be there for them. And when the realisation hits me that this is a likely scenario, it smites me down every time, and there I am, floored, crying my eyes out and making sounds that don’t belong in a human mouth. I can live with my present, I can live with looking odd and being in pain, but I can’t live with the idea that I will leave my loved ones. So when that idea takes a grip on me and holds me in it’s claws, I’m not so positive anymore.


I’ve lost quite a lot of functionality in my right hand. Chemotherapy induced neuropathy, it’s called, and apparently it’s here to stay - at least for as long as I am. I am, of course, right handed. I can more or less type on a computer, though not write by hand. I can’t draw much, or crochet, and I really shouldn’t hold a cup with that hand. It hurts, or rather aches, quite a lot of the time, and it’s very swollen. Still, I don’t care. Take it - take my arm! I want to shout at the cancer, or the chemo - it’s very hard at this point to know who or what I hate. Take it all, if you will just leave me with some life left in me.

Ilir and Milo
These are the thoughts that go through my head, especially as I recuperate after another round of chemo. When my days are filled with vomit tasting and aches and pains and loneliness and mind tricks. And then I pick myself up, after these long days are over and I finally have some energy again, and I go out and have a coffee with you, and you ask me how I can stay so positive. This is how. There are good days and bad, even if I don’t show them all.

Building spaces

by Hilla Duka - View comments


I’ve lived in this flat for longer than I’ve ever before lived in one house. In some ways I love it to bits, and in some ways… not so much. It’s a two bedroom flat, mainly planned for a couple with an extra room for guests or a small baby. As in one. One small baby. Definitely not three little tykes.


I switched rooms with the kids years ago, to give them the big bedroom, but thanks to a very bad layout of the room, even though it’s a decent size room, it’s been impossible to plan it for three kids. Or maybe it’s just that it’s really, really hard to fit three kids into one room. Still, I don’t buy into that whole idea that all kids must have their own room. I think everyone needs to have a space that is their own, but I remember how I loved to share rooms with my brother and was really upset when I had to move into a room of my own. And as adults we fall in love and move in and no one questions the idea that we should share bedrooms.


We’ve been looking at bigger flats and considered moving, but in order to stay in the same area, we would have to pay so much more money, it’s ridiculous. Basically we’d add one half income in living expenses, just to get one extra room, never mind two, and with me being ill and plans for the future being uncertain to say the least, it was just off the table. So, back to the drawing table it was. I knew there had to be some way to make it work, to give each child a space of their own, and still have some floor area left, and a place for them to do homework and draw and stuff. There just had to be some way to make it work.

I pride myself on being quite imaginative (amongst other things. I’m extremely good at priding myself in general), and able to think up clever solutions. Show time. Time to put my money where my mouth is. So I thought long and hard, and finally came up with this idea, which is basically like a bunk bed for three, but in two different directions. And then somehow (either I should have gone for a career in sales or he must really love me) I convinced Ilir to build it. I felt pathetically old fashioned gender wise here, but since I these days I’m ridiculously weak, it really did feel safer to let him handle the building bit.



The plan was almost too simple - take two of IKEA’s most popular tiny bunk beds, and then put one on top of the other. Basically, sawing a bit here and changing a bit there for a longer one - or so I thought. It took an entire day, and then some. But the end result is great. We still have some work planned for next weekend (I’m lying, we have enough on our my todo list to keep us occupied until the end of next year - by which point I will have a whole new todo list) - painting the whole thing (and the walls) and finding a small arm chair for the cozy corner and generally making a hell of a lot of hygge in there, but at least now I can see where it’s going, which feels great. A few steps closer to the goal - making sure that all the kids have their own space, whilst not breaking our bank account or moving to a cheaper neighbourhood.

bunk bed for three kids room ikea hacks
As you can see, still a long way to go before it's interior-decorating-magazine ready, but you get the general idea. One, two, three kids sleeping on top of each other. Floor space. There's a desk and stuff too, on the other side of the room. Very organised. I'll show it to you when it's all painted!