Wednesday, 31 August 2016

the bedroom: before + mood

We finally have a bedroom that is bog enough to fit our bed without the risk of bumping you chins in it every time you walk past it. This room is situated in a corner of the house with windows in two directions so it's really bright. The built in wardrobe isn't very sexy but practical, I guess.



We already had most of the furniture for this room before moving in. We'd even bought a free standing wardrobe from IKEA in Stavanger that we packed without assembling, since we knew the houses here didn't have an overflow of storage, plus that buying furniture here might be tricky. The furniture we have is made of mostly oak veneer. I want this room to be bright, relaxing and functional when it comes to organizing and storing clothes. I don't want too much clutter but I still want it to be personal and warm.

Shopping list:
  • curtains, white?
  • a big white, fluffy carpet
  • bed side lamps
  • hooks for clothes
  • big plants
  • art

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

bbq chicken wraps

More food! I've actually cooked more lately than I have in a loooong while. It feels good to be back in some sort of routine with eating proper food again... anyway. Me and Andreas alternate by cooking every other day and a few days ago I did these easy-peasy wraps that I can defo recommend. I found the recipe via Pinterest, as I almost always do, and it comes originally from Tastes Better from Scratch, i only did some minor changes. 

OK, so this is what you do, for 2 people = 6 small wraps. I used whole grain tortillas. Make a salad of sorts out of 1/4 chopped red onion, 1/2 a pineapple and some cilantro. Cut two chicken breasts into small pieces. Fry with oil and season with salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and pour some bbq-sauce on the chicken, enough to cover it. Serve. 

Monday, 29 August 2016

top five this week

I ordered four prints from Society6, feels exciting
finally got the studio in some kind of order for "school start"
we got a tenant for our house in Stavanger, yay!
we bought a whole bunch of new plants for the garden
exciting news from my dear friend Alis, you go girl!

Saturday, 27 August 2016

the studio: before + mood

As I wrote about working from home last week, and getting the home office in order for the "school start" on Monday I realized I haven't shared my ideas and mood-board for this room, nor for a few of the others! I showed you my plans for half of the house, then went traveling and forgot the rest. Oh well, better late then never. Here are my plans for the home office - or the studio as I fancy calling it. This room has an OK size, with windows in two directions. The light in here is fantastic in the afternoon when the sun is low. Otherwise, white walls, dark brown wooden floor, ugly AC-units, like the rest of the house.



This is one of those rooms where I've seen so many stylish photos on Pinterest that I'm inspired by, but at the same time I know it will be impossible to keep it as tidy, monochromatic and chic as I dream of. This room is also tricky because all the pieces of furniture we have for it are pretty boring and old. And not cool old, but more like "the same IKEA desk that Andreas had in his bedroom at his parents house"-old. But I guess that is a challenge too, making it look a bit grown up. Another challenge will be how to make this room versatile and multifunctional, it has to be a good place to study and work on the computer, but also be a creative space for painting, drawing ans sewing. 

shopping list:
  • carpet
  • baskets for storage
  • art
  • wall calendar
  • plants
  • wall-mounted shelves

Friday, 26 August 2016

I've read: the magicians

By Lev Grossman.

It's been a while since I started on a new fantasy series not in audio-book format, but now I have. I've been curious about this series for a while, but only now gotten around to read it. It has been decsribed as "Harry Potter for grown ups". As I am a grown up (kind of) and liked Harry Potter when I read them this had me intrigued. And I guess it has quite a lot in common with the HP series, only superficially, I'd say. 

This is the story about 17 year old Quentin, that gets thrown into the hidden world of magic and magicians when he is taken to the school for the magically gifted: Brakebills. There he eventually makes friends, learns how to play a very complicated magical game, and study magic, obviously. Yep, definitely some parallels to HP going on here. But then there are many differences too. It is way darker, the story evolves much quicker without focusing on too much on cozy details of life in the school for example. In the first book you get to follow the main character through all of his years in school, and you don't like him all the time. Another difference is that it takes place in the US, not England, even though the American magicians seems to have a week spot for British style and culture...

There is something about this book that I don't all together like. But I'm not sure what it is, really. It might be that sometimes it becomes a bit too pessimistic, and maybe because the plot took a few too many turns. It might actually also be a completely conscious move by the author, to make the reader feel that there is something not completely right about the story. Hmmm. Anyway, I will definitely read the rest of the books in this series, with all of the plot twists and unexpected developments I'm absolutely curious to see what will happen next. 

Thursday, 25 August 2016

our guard-cone...

Here's an example of how some things are different in different countries. And I'm not talking about language or religion or anything, but just one of those small things that happen here, that would never happen in Scandinavia. 

The first times we visited our house before we moved in we often saw cars parked in the driveway, on the lawn or under the house in the shade. We figured they belonged to someone checking up on the house, or something like that. But as we moved in we realized that people still parked in our garden and in our driveway, probably because it is conveniently close to the office and there were no shaded parking spaces closer. As we had furniture and other stuff delivered to our house, and as we - back then - had our loaner car, this annoyed us quite a lot, especially when people parked on the lawn and thereby damaging the grass. Once I had to park our car so that I blocked two other cars from driving out, and then a lady came and rang our doorbell so that I could let her out. She excused herself by not knowing that anyone lived in the house, so I guess that was fine. I mean, the garden furniture, plants and other stuff should have been a giveaway, but whatever... We thought that as our house would look more lived in people would stop parking here, but they haven't! Some days I've gone out and there's a random strange car under our house. What I want to say with this is not that people here behave rudely or anything, but how fascinating it is how much this bothers me? I mean, except for the fact that our lawn has been damaged and those times when we've had stuff delivered - like a fridge and so on - and there have been cars in the way, it doesn't really matter that they are there, right? But it does, for some reason. I think as a Scandinavian, I'm used to the importance we attach to borders around our houses. Even the smallest of hedges is a ridiculously strong symbol back home, right? We want our little forts and in Scandinavia where we have a lot of space we can have and have gotten used to having them. I actually wrote an essay on this once...

Anyway. I've felt a bit silly at times, and it's fun to reflect on this. But. I actually still don't want people to park under our house. So I've taken measures. Let me introduce, the Cone. The Cone has been in our garden since we moved in, we don't know where it comes from, maybe it has served the same purpose to the previous tenants as it now does to us. It is a Guard Cone. We simple place it in the middle of our driveway and no one enters. Actually even people who have an errand here seems reluctant to move it and drive in. It is a very efficient cone. It also have a charming stick figure on it. 

basic breakfast

This is not as fancy as a chia-pudding, over-night-oats, a smoothie-bowl or anything else that you'd normally see on a blog blog-worthy, but just a small recommendation: if you want something sort-of healthy, filling and quick to start off your day, have some bran-flakes with milk and banana - and then juts add a little bit of cardamom. 

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

tropical garden update: august

This might be a super boring post to read, but for me it's fun to have a record on how things are progressing in our garden, and since I'm the boss here, I'll post whatever I want. So. This weekend I worked quite a lot in the garden. And with quite a lot I mean as much as I could without dying from heat stroke. The first thing I did was to dig holes for and plant these three blooming "trees" that I don't know what kind they are. The were in pots before, but kept frying out and fall over, and as a result have lost many of their leaves. Hopefully they will recover now...

I also removed dead leaves from some of the palms, making them looking a little happier. It was really dry the whole of last week and I've been a bit lazy with the watering so some of the palms look a bit sad.

I while ago I planted three small eeeh palms/trees/plants next to the parking space under the house. I hope to make this into a nice and green little garden patch, with various exotic plants. I like green plants, and I especially think the leaves of this plant is really beautiful, but I also hope to find some flowering plants at some point. 

This weekend I focused  a lot on the grass and sowed the second round of grass seed in the spots where it's only dirt now, like in front of the parking space. As you can see there are a lot of brown patches all over the lawn, but especially under the trees were the ground often has been covered by dead leaves. There are already some tiny straws poking out from the last time I threw out seeds, a few weeks ago, but this time I hope I have covered more ground, literary speaking. It rained really hard just a day after this so I'm afraid some of the seeds got washed away.

On the same side as the new garden patch, but next to the storage room (see this post for more clarification on what the garden looks like) I'm planning to have a garden patch with edible stuff. I have to figure out how to keep monkeys away from whatever I grow here, but so far there's only a tiny chili-plant so there's no stress. 

On the opposite side of the house I dug a new garden patch two weeks ago. The ground is basically just sand here and I'm curious to see how these plants will survive. I've dedicated some space in the back of this patch - towards the house - for some taller plants, maybe bamboo, so that this eventually will be more of a privacy shield for the backside of the house. 

I also did some cleaning up of the hedge-project we have going on - this is the "before" photo. These little guys are only about 25 cm tall now, but I hope they will start growing for real soon. They are called Morning flower since their yellow blossoms only bloom early in the day and then closes. This hedge will probably never be very tall and as it grows along the little road where a lot of people walk to and from work I want to add some taller bushes as well for more privacy. 

OK, that's it for now! I'm sure you'll hold your breath for my next exciting garden post! 

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Weekend (tr)eats

Now that the addition of a mosquito net is done on our porch we sit out there more and more. Usually for meals, like weekend breakfasts and lunches, and the past few days we even had our lunch coffee together out there, when Andreas has come home for his lunch break. The view isn't awesome, especially now that they are building a parking-lot on the other side of the road, but otherwise this is a great place to just, you know, chill. Which we can do since we also installed a fan.

Anyway, I was supposed to talk about food. On Sunday morning we completely indulged with the worlds sweetest, most buttery and cinnamon-y and icing-y bun ever. Cinnamon-buns from Cinnabon. Omnomom. And we also had coffee-smoothies! Made from vanilla ice-cream, coffee ice-cubes (just coffee frozen in an ice cube tray) and frozen banana. And some milk. Weeeell, sounds like this was actually more of a milkshake, but anyway... We also tried a new juice flavor, apple/aloe with pieces off aloa in there. Not too bad, but I've had better stuff. 

And them two super easy things you can eat on a hot summer day, first: Fruit-salad, so underrated! This one is very yellow: banana, fresh pine apple and fresh mango. Nom. We had some honey on, but that wasn't really necessary. 

Amd then, toast with avocado and feta cheese. The best! Even better with some balsamico cream on, tbh.

OK, that was all this time, now I'm off to cook dinner!


Friday, 19 August 2016

thoughts about working from home

The 29th of August the fall semester in Sweden starts, at least at the two universities where I'm going to take courses at, remotely. It's going to be interesting to see if it's even feasible to take these courses from here - what with the sometimes unstable WiFi connection and the time difference.  But that's another story. I'm excited to try "working" from home for a while and starting a little bit all over with a new topic is going to be fun. I hope. I also have some plans on doing my own design related projects beside the studies, that are more related to the degree I already have. I've been following bloggers that either live on blogging or other creative business from home offices, for a long time now, so I believe that I'm aware of some of the struggles with working from home already. Their experiences will help me a lot I think. Isn't internet fantastic? Anyway, here are a few issues I will need to address somehow:

Not having colleagues
Yeah, this is the big one. It's going to be interesting to see if there will be a feeling of community with other students from the courses I'll be taking, I have no idea how that works when you study from a distance like this. One thing that is going to make being alone so much easier is that Andreas comes home for lunch every day. That will give me a structure to my day and someone to vent with if things go bad.

Not being able to take time off
I'm actually quite good at taking time off, so I'm not super worried about this one. But it's still a thing - you can always study more, read more, work harder, go into more detail on a project. My strategy for this is partly based on location - I will only and only work in the office, and the second part is time - I will set working hours based on what works best in regards to the time difference in combination with having normal diurnal rhythm. I'm totally going to have weekends off too, by the way. Period.

Only seeing the inside of our house everyday all day
I love our house but I already feel some tendencies of cabin fever. To fight this off, I guess I will have to try and find activities outside of the house, preferably social ones, plus actually schedule beach walks and small excursions in the area.

"Letting myself go"
First. I hate that expression. It sound so degrading, somehow. But yeah, there is an overhanging risk I'll end up walking around in my PJs and not showering for days. I've read several blogposts on this, and since I agree with the statement that you should dress up for yourself, not for others, I plan to actually put on normal clothes as if I were going to meet people. Maybe even put on some makeup and brush my hair, but we'll see about that. I do feel more awake when I've done that though.

Being distracted by "home-stuff"
You know. "I really should empty the dishwasher" or it's really dry outside today, maybe I should water the lawn.." Again, I think this is best solved with set working hours. I'll probably even schedule some off time during the days to get these things done. Because then I can focus more easily.


So, that's it. I totally look forward to trying this. Now, I have decided that I have vacation until the semester starts the 29th, so I have even more time to prepare. But I feel ready, I just have to clean up the office and make it into a functional and creative space. And see, there are so many positive things about working from home! Like, having cat company all the time, drinking my own, very good coffee whenever I want, and not being disturbed by anyone. Sweet.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

animals being sneaky

Under our porch there's a few old planks, left by the previous tenants I guess. I have a plan for one of them, DIY-ing a shelf for the hallway, but the plank needed to be cleaned up first. So I wanted to move it to a dryer spot. Considering it's been there for a while I figured there might be nasty bugs or something hiding under there so I was a bit careful while lifting it. And this big, brown lizard wriggled out! It was like 20 cm long and my brain first thought it was a snake. Oh jeeezuz I screamed. And it wasn't one of those fancy, ladylike "iiiiiiiiiih" screams either, noooo. More of an "oäääägh!" shrieks. While hop-dancing away and up the stairs with high knees and flopping arms, like some kind of bird. Afterwards I was shaking like crazy, giggling a little bit in embarrassment and casually looking around to see if anybody had seen me. I was lucky, no one had.

Later that evening I asked Andreas to move the plank. But to be fair I did tell him about the lizard. 

On a side note the same day I thought I had lost Hugo. I was looking all over  in the house for him, and was starting to think I had left a door open so he could have gone outside -highly unlikely because he's a scaredy-cat and hates going outside, but the brain does weird things when stressed. My heart had started to race a bit. But then I found the little gremlin in the closet. Sigh. 

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

sunset swim

I can't believe it took us this long to go for a swim in the sea. I mean, the beach is literary five minutes away, on foot. But this Sunday we finally went. And for once the beach was - I wouldn't call it crowded - but there was actually people there. A couple having their wedding photo-shoot, in what from a distance looked like very fancy clothes, a few guys jogging, and a family or two playing in the water. And us. And it was beautiful. We went in the late afternoon, early evening and the sun was on its way down. While we were in the water it sank closer to the horizon and became this red, glowing orb. The water was warm and turned an oily steel-blue color with orange and red gleams. It was fantastic. 

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

i've read: slade house

By David Mitchell

I only had a few minutes in the book shop to find a new book after finishing The Night Circus, and the only thing I had decided I wanted was a novel with supernatural elements. The cover of Slade house caught my eye and the blurb seemed to hint in that direction so I went for it.

This story is told from five different perspective over 36 years and at first glance seem to be a quite classic ghost story. I revolves around an impossible house that you reach by entering a tiny iron door set in a brick wall in a narrow alley. The author has managed to tell a story where the five narrators voices are clearly distinct and even though some elements are repeated after a while it is still interesting and I found the book a real page turner. It's only 213 pages long, easy to finish in a day or two and still enjoy every minute of it.  

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants fast paced, slightly scary and well written story to read on a train or in a hammock this summer. 

I googled David Mitchell after I finished this story and found a book called the Bone Clocks that as far as I get is was written before the Slade House and has some connections to it, story wise. I also learnt that this approach of writing with several different narrators isn't new for him. I'm going to try and get a hold of Bone Clocks and see if it works equally good in that one!

Monday, 15 August 2016

Kuala Belait grows on me

Oh how tired I have been this weekend. It's been ridiculous. I have slept a lot, but still, my body has felt heavy and my mind slow. I did get a bit of a cough on Sunday but to be honest I think the fatigue has more to do with the fact I haven't really done anything for a long time. The weather was sunny and hot most of the weekend (surprise!) and more than once we hung out in the shade on our porch drinking ginger beer.

My tiredness aside we did actually do a few "new" things this weekend. It's not very easy to explore around here, partly because we don't have a car and partly because there isn't that much to see... But on Saturday we took the bus to Kuala Belait and walked around a bit. We actually ventured away from the (maximum 100 meters long) main street and explored some of the side streets, plus a small boardwalk along the river where we haven't been before. It doesn't sound like much, but this little trip opened up a few more opportunities and actually doubled the size of this town in my mind. Among other things we found a nice new cafe, a furniture shop with high end furniture and a pretty nice carpet shop, where we bought a new carpet for our dining area.

Well maintained but empty boardwalk along the Belait river. 

Andreas trying out some of the strange looking equipment at an outdoor gym we walked by.

Now, I know I sound a bit whiny in this post, but the truth is I'm feeling more and more comfortable and settled in here. And happy. I love the house and garden, the climate and even though I haven't found a social network here yet I feel confident I will. Life is good.