Norway

Daniel and I spent last week in Norway! Norway has been on our travel wish list for a long time, but it’s so huge we had to choose a small area to see since we only had a week. We decided to limit our visit to Lofoten, a chain of islands up north. We definitely have a “type” when it comes to vacations—remote, secluded, and beautiful. Lofoten delivered big time!

The area was not very “touristy”, but nearly all the locals we met spoke English. They were so friendly and welcoming, too. Every time we visit Europe I’m awed by everyone’s language skills! How do you guys do it? I feel like such a dummy for only knowing English and a tiny bit of Spanish.

If you love beautiful nature and hiking I’d definitely recommend visiting Lofoten. Maybe go a bit earlier in the summer than we did, because by late August a lot of businesses had already closed for the season. We had heard horror stories about Norway being expensive, but we found that in the Lofoten area we spent the same at restaurants and on groceries as we do at home. (Gas, on the other hand, was crazy expensive.)

Ok, picture time! This is Reine, an unbelievably gorgeous fishing village. It looks completely different depending on the weather, so we visited several times to experience its full range of loveliness. Sunny was our favorite.

Lofoten Norway

Anitas Sjomat in Reine served us the best fish burgers and fish soup we had in Norway, and the restaurant welcomed guests with a wagon of terrifying (and pungent) dried fish heads out front. “Stockfisk” (dried cod) is Lofoten’s big export, and boy is it stinky. The fishermen dry it on huge wooden racks by the water all over the islands.

Lofoten Norway

Haukland was my favorite beach, and the perfect picnic spot. The water was teal and clear. It was like being in the Caribbean (albeit a bit chillier—which I prefer anyway).

Lofoten Norway

This is just a roadside view. Almost all the roads in Lofoten wound through unreal mountain and coastline landscapes like this. Daniel patiently pulled over every time I got the urge to photograph, love him.

Lofoten Norway

One of the two stoplights we hit during our trip. The only traffic jams we came across were caused by sheep in the road.

Lofoten Norway

This is Yttersand Beach. Raise your hand if you want to live in a house with a grass roof on a Scandinavian beach.

Lofoten Norway

There were a few drizzly rainy days during our visit, which made the little village of Henningsvær look extra mystical.

Lofoten Norway

Here’s Utakleiv Beach in all it’s rocky glory. How is this place real?

Lofoten Norway

This is our Airbnb rental. We had never tried Airbnb before, and the whole experience went perfectly. We made sure to pick a rental that had lots of good reviews, and it didn’t disappoint. The house was on a small lake, and we couldn’t resist a sunset paddle one night.

Lofoten Norway

I posted a handful of other Norway photos over on Instagram while we were traveling.

Doggie Cupcakes

Mabel turned 7 last week, and Oliver’s 9th birthday is coming up, so I made them doggie cupcakes to celebrate! They were actually pretty tasty. Apple and peanut butter go so well together. I started nibbling one and would’ve eaten the whole thing, but the dogs were giving me a pitiful we-thought-those-were-for-us look.

doggie cupcakes

Oliver was terrified of the birthday candles, but the scent of peanut butter was too much for him to resist!

doggie cupcakes

doggie cupcakes

doggie cupcakes

It’s crazy how different my dogs’ personalities are. As soon as I gave them the go ahead to eat Mabel stole Oliver’s cupcake right out from under his nose, smeared it all over the floor, and began scarfing it down as quickly as possible. I scooted Mabel’s abandoned cupcake over to Oliver. He daintily ate the biscuit off the top, licked off the peanut butter icing, and carefully kept the cupcake on the plate as he ate. Love these pups.

doggie cupcakes

Doggie Cupcakes Recipe:

1 egg
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup cooking oil (or apple sauce)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons honey (optional)
1 cup shredded apple
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
additional peanut butter for frosting (optional)
dog biscuits for garnish (optional)

Whisk the egg, peanut butter, oil, vanilla extract, and honey together in a large bowl until well blended. Stir in the shredded apple. Sift the flour and baking soda together, then stir them into the peanut butter mixture.

Spoon the batter into a muffin pan lined with cupcake liners. They won’t rise too much, so you can fill each liner to the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until the tops are browned and spring back when pressed. Cool completely.

Before serving frost the cupcakes with peanut butter and remove the cupcake liner. Garnish with a dog biscuit.

Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.

Scuppernongs

My favorite grapes are in season! Have you ever had scuppernong grapes? They’re native to the southeastern US, and I can only get them this time of year. In addition to having a name that is absurdly fun to say repeatedly in funny voices, they are delicious! They taste different than standard red or green grapes. They’re more complicated somehow. They manage to be sweet, tart, and zippy all at the same time. To me they taste like wine in fruit form, since The local vineyards often wine-ify them.

scuppernog grapes

The skins are very thick so I only eat the grape guts. They’re pretty tedious to eat between peeling and deseeding, but I must love fruit tedium since I’m also obsessed with pomegranates.

First I cut them all in half like so.

scuppernog grapes

Then I dig out the seeds with a fingernail and pinch the bottom of each grape half while slurping the flesh directly into my mouth. It’s kinda like eating raw oysters (except not disgusting—sorry oyster lovers).

scuppernog grapes

You may have noticed that my updated site is up! Now my blog pictures are so huge, it’s practically offensive. It should be easier to read/shop Wit & Whistle on your mobile phones now, and my new e-commerce system will make it simpler to find what you’re looking for in my shop. Just let me know if you notice anything that seems screwed up. I still have some tweaking I want to do, but overall it’s done. Ta-dah!

Mobile Friendly

Sometimes it might look like it, but running Wit & Whistle isn’t all fun and drawing naked dudes and fetuses. I also spend a lot of time doing crappy stuff like bookkeeping, taxes, and web programming. It has been four years since I designed my current site, but now that being “mobile friendly” is a thing we all have to worry about, I’m redesigning it and switching to a new e-commerce plugin while I’m at it. I don’t really know what I’m doing, but I know just enough about web programming that I’d feel silly hiring someone else to do it for me. So, for the past week I’ve been hacking away at CSS and staring blankly at PHP. My favorite part about PHP is that one teeny tiny typo will cause your entire website (including the WordPress editor) to disappear. It’s the best.

css

In spite of all the frustration, I’m getting a tortured sense of satisfaction now that things are slowly coming together. I’m hoping to go live with the new site sometime next week. Actually I don’t know if that’s possible, but declaring it here on the blog makes it an official deadline that I have to meet. Better place your orders now before I post the new site and everything breaks. Ha!! Just kidding. (I hope.)

Look! The test site fits on my phone. There’s a little menu button and everything. Not too shabby for I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-doing programming, eh?

css

Okay… what a boring post, but this is really all I’ve been working on lately, so welcome to my boring life!

Donut Quest

When we visited Portland last year we went to Blue Star Donuts 3 times… in 2 days. On the way to the airport to fly home I begged Daniel to stop at Blue Star one last time. I bought half a dozen donuts and finished stuffing my face with them just as we made it to airport security (okay, Daniel might have eaten a couple too). I had never had donuts so good, and I was heartbroken to leave them on the west coast. So, I made the decision to do some serious donut testing to find the best donuts in the Raleigh area. Here are my results, listed from my most favorite to least favorite.

Monuts

Winner of the donut quest! Monuts had so many creative flavors, and the menu changes daily. They tasted as great as they looked. These donuts might even be better than Blue Star. The downside is that Monuts is more than an hour roundtrip drive from my house, so I’m not likely haul my donut craving butt all the way over there very often. Maybe that’s for the best though.

monuts donuts Durham NC

monuts donuts Durham NC

Duck Donuts

Duck Donuts is dangerous. It’s less than 10 minutes from my house and right next to the Post Office I frequent. Their donuts are really great, although you won’t find any super inventive flavor combinations (these aren’t hipster donuts). The novelty of Duck Donuts is that you choose your glaze and topping, and they make your donut fresh to order so it’s still warm when you take that first bite. Uhhh… yum! The donuts are a teeny tiny bit doughy/undercooked in the middle, but in a purposeful way that makes them unique.

Duck Donuts Cary NC

Krispy Kreme

No photo for Krispy Kreme—I didn’t revisit for my quest, since I’ve eaten tons of their donuts over the years. Krispy Kremes are not novelty donuts. You can buy them at every grocery store in the south, although they did originate here in North Carolina. However, if you drive past a Krispy Kreme location and the “hot donuts” sign is lit up, you have to go in for a couple plain glazed donuts hot off the conveyor belt. They’re addicting still warm from the frier and freshly glazed. Trust me. You’ll be surprised how many you can eat.

Rise

Pitiful presentation, sloppy frosting, and there were random blobs of icing from other donuts on my donuts. Rise’s donuts were stale and dense in a bad way. Not to mention they messed up my order and gave me two of the deformed boob-looking donuts. I did not order two of those. Humph. A lot of people rave about Rise’s donuts, but I wasn’t impressed. Sad, because the descriptions of their imaginative donut flavors sound delicious. Maybe they were having an off day. I’m willing to give them a chance to redeem themselves at some point, especially since they’re opening a location closer to me soon.

Rise donuts Durham NC

Donut quest complete! These are just the highlights. I tried some other places with run-of-the-mill donuts that weren’t really worth mentioning.

If you don’t have a favorite donut spot you have to do a donut quest in your area. It makes you feel productive while you’re eating donuts! This is how you try a bunch of donuts without feeling like a pig: Go to the next donut shop on your hit list, get a bunch of donuts, take a bite out of each one, finish your favorites, and give the rest away to your friends/family. They probably won’t mind the missing bite (Daniel didn’t). After all, you shouldn’t look a gift donut in the mouth.