Month: December 2015

It finally snowed!

We finally have some snow in Southern Norway! It has been so unseasonably warm this entire winter that we wondered if it would ever snow.   I walked home in the stillness  and enjoyed the house glowing in the in winterWe might even get a chance to do some cross country skiing on the fields behind our house if it doesn’t melt.

cross country ski run outside house  We lit up the fire in the sauna and had a soak with the snow all around!

Viking Market Back Again This Summer

It’s not too early to plan!  Horten’s Live Viking Market has announced it will be back again this summer!  I still have some fantastic pine syrup I  bought there last summer, which I will use for Christmassy cookies and biscuits.

Organizers are taking applications for market participant already starting in January:  it should be another great market!

viking market

Christmas is coming….


Local Christmas markets are starting up, and there is much to see and buy that is locally and made and of excellent quality.   This weekend  the market at Karljohansvern took place, but if you missed that, you can still find lots of wonderful items at Karljohan in the shopes atGarasjeTorget.  GarasjeTorget literally means the Garage Plaza- what were once garages used by the navy base on Karljohan have been converted into tiny, cozy shops at the far end of the road leading into the Preus Photo Museum and past the famous submarine.  I am not one for shopping, and when I do, it is usually at used stores, but at GarasjeTorget you can always find the types of treasures you would never find in a department store or a mall.  Some of my favorites are:

Original stuffed animals at Lene’s MoR (Myk og Rar means soft and rare)  Lene models her fantastic designs after drawings made by children with cancer.  You will never see another stuffed animal like this, ever (unless it’s one of Lenas!)  Lene animals BRM Strikk offers these wonderful warm fleeced blankets:  warm blanket and these wonderful goblets are from the Pikilia Handwork shop:  pikiliaIf you are around Horten in the weeks leading up to Christmas, a trip down to Garasjetorget is a must!  When you are done shopping, or for a break inbetween, have lunch or supper at Cafe No. 10  ( Nummer Ti, in Norwegian, so named, of course, because it is housed in the 10th garage spot!

Hope to see you in Horten this Christmas!

We have 5 stars!

If you are interested in an ecological holiday a good place to start is with    This site lists homes and holiday venues around the world.   The Goats’ garden is listed on the site, and is in fact the only organic venue listed in Norway.

In addition, The Goats’ Garden is listed under Eco Hotels of the World with 5 stars.   Eco Hotels give stars based on ratings of energy, water, disposal, eco-action, and protection.   The Goats’ Garden has been listed with 5 stars and has been given the Eco Hotels seal of approval:

eco hotels of the world

Since we were given the rating, we have made even more upgrades to our property and ecology, putting in a Biovac, biological septic system, additional composting, and new organic gardens.  We are the only Norwegian listing on this site also.     Here is our rating description on EcoHotels:

Green Star Rating Results:
For more information on how these work click here
Overall Rating: ★★★★★ (5)

Energy Rating: ★★★★ (4)
Staff Comment – Our home is heated mostly with wood. We have a wood stove in the kitchen and in the living room, and a ceiling fan in the living room to direct extra heat upstairs. The house is well insulated and we have two and three layer glass in all windows. We use low energy bulbs throughout the house and staff are aware of the necessity to turn off lights and appliances whenever possible. We use electric appliances sparingly; we have an energy saving vacuum machine and use energy saving settings on the washing machine and dishwasher. We air-dry all clothes, towels, and linens. Guest rooms have an electric panel with a thermostat and day night electricity sinking. We provide a guest guide to the thermostat and to saving electricity in general, and our staff and management are trained and aware of energy saving. We use a service of our local electricy authority that allows us to choose to buy alternative energy.

Water Rating: ★★★★★ (5)
Staff Comment – We have our own non-chemical septic tank and our own well. We use compost and water conservation methods in our ecological gardens. We reuse spent water from the goats or from the house in the gardens. We use ecological cleaning products and organic toiletries. We change sheets and towels only on demand. Staff are aware of water saving measures, turn off taps when not in use, use the washing machine on eco settings, use the dishwasher only when full. We have signs in the bathroom reminding guests to use water sparingly and have an ecological manifesto in the rooms with the room literature. Guests are advised to use showers instead of baths, and we have a written water saving memorandum in guest rooms. Guests may use ‘family cloth’ optional cloth wipes instead of toilet paper, if they choose; we provide wet bags for used family cloth and wash these for our guests.

Disposal Rating: ★★★★★ (5)
Staff Comment – We avoid as much waste as possible by buying only what we need. As much as possible we buy from local farms or use our own home grown products thus avoiding packaging. We shop with cloth bags and take care to buy organic products in ecological packaging. We sort all waste and advise guests on sorting waste as well. Guests are advised to use the recycle bins and the compost bin. We sort guest waste from the guest room bin ourselves when we clean the rooms if they have not done this themselves. We sort foodstuff, paper, plastic, metal, and glass. We have our own compost and compost all compostable material for the garden. We also have a second business called ‘Carbon Free Creations’ that recycles used clothing and other products into new clothes, accessories, toys, and other products. Everything is used, and scraps are used to provide stuffing for stuffed animal creations. Any used towels, sheets and so on are also recycled through our Carbon Free Creations. We do not use disposable tableware,etc, although we are experimenting with edible plates and cups, and handmade recycled paper plates and containers.

Eco-Active Rating: ★★★★★ (5)
Staff Comment – The owner and staff are members of our local Transition Initiative and we are active in community projects such as Incredible Edible, Freecycle, and organic planting, as well as Film nights featuring films to increase ecological awareness in our local town. We work together with local permaculture and seed saving organizations and take part in lectures and presentations held by local organizations such as MaJoBo (Food,Earth and Living) and Fremtid I Våre Hender (The Future in Our Hands) and NaturForbunet (the Nature Foundation) We are members of a local farm cooperative and get many of our vegetables from there or from our other neighbours. All profits from our Bed and Breakfast are deposited in the Cultura Bank, a local bank that funds ecological projects. Our blog and PR material emphasize our environmental priorities and practices, and guests are invited to join in activities if they like. All our PR material, envelopes, etc. are made of recycled paper. We offer pick up from our local airport in our electric car, which has mileage offset with credits for renewable energy from our local energy provider. We have made a commitment to offset air travel of overseas guest to our Bed and Breakfast by planting trees on our property and buying credits through We encourage the use of trains and will pick up and deliver guests at the local train station. We can loan out bicycles and encourage use of public buses. In our home we use ecological cleaning products, microfiber cloth, organic sheets, towels, and toiletries, and fully organic meals.

Protection Rating: ★★★★★ (5)
Staff Comment – We are dedicated to living as locally as possible. We source food, accessories, and vintage furniture from local farms, from local organic initiatives, and from local recycle shops. We protect our own land from pesticides and support the practice in our area. We grow organic food and share our seed locally. We aim to plant local perennial plants as well as plants localized through seed saving and selection. We advertise local events such as the annual Viking festival, the Roots and Reggae festival, and other music events as well as local products, in our in-room literature. We have a variety of Norwegian and other art, books, and music in our home. We are a bilingual home. We make local products available for sale at the location and advice guests of where they can find local handcrafts in the immediate local area as well as in the town.



A cosy spot

It’s blustery today, but inside it is warm and cosy by the fire.  Curl up in this comfortable wicker chair and read a book!  Tea is on the stove, too.

wicker chair no flowers

This wicker chair is handmade-( by me, actually).   Skovestuen Pil, (pil is the Norwegian word for wicker) is a small wicker farm in Vestfold Norway, which sells wicker and also offers classes in basket making and in chair building .  It took two days and the  patient direction of Lars at the Bendwood chair course to saw, screw bend, and nail each piece of wood and length of wicker into place.  there were just 5 of us on the course, and an amazing comraderie among us as we worked.  By the end of the day on Sunday I was bone tired (it is much more physically taxing that one would think, to bend and turn this way and that, while pounding in each tiny nail) but I was also happy to the core. Here is a photo from Skovestuen Pil’s website, of Lars working on a chair:

wicker chair course  Here is their website:      It was such an amazing experience.  This chair is not perfect, but it is the first piece of furniture I ever made myself.  It is so much more fulfilling to rest in a chair that you have laboured over yourself.

wicker chair

We covered the chair seat and ottoman with vintage embroidered  pillow covers from David’s mom- they look fantastic with the natural wood, and the clay nepalese elephant candle holders on the right.   With a full library of  books to read, we are ready for warm and cozy nights.