Wednesday, 31 January 2018

easy-peasy spicy soup

So, this is probably one of the least sexy dishes you'll see online today. I'm sharing it for three reasons:
  1. it was good
  2. it is versatile and easy to make
  3. I actually took photos of it

Anyway. This is a spicy chicken soup. As I'm not awefully good at cooking I enjoy making soups as it usually consists of just chopping some stuff, throwing it in a pot and let it simmer for a while. This soup was no different, but with one brilliant addition: it is seasoned with ready-made fajita seasoning from one of those little yellow bags, like Old El Paso or whatever. So no need to be kitchen-clever, you know it'll be good. This is how you do it:

Chop us two bell peppers, a red onion and 4 garlic cloves. Throw in a big pot with two table spoons of olive oil fry for a few minutes. 

When everything's nice and soft pour in one can each of crushed tomatoes and black beans (without the "juice"). Add 1,8 liters of water plus two stock cubes, the bag of fajita seasoning and two fillets of chicken. Let cook for 15-20 minutes or so, until the chicken is cooked. Then remove the chicken and shred it with the help of two forks and throw it back in the pot for a few minutes.


I know food photography isn't really my thing, but who cares. This brown little mess was really tasty, is healthy and so easy to change depending on what you have at home. The next time I'll skip the chicken to make it vegetarian, add a can or two of corn and an extra can of black beans to make it a bit richer. According to the original recipe you can add rice to the soup too, but this will change the cooking time. Can be served with bread or nacho chips!

Monday, 29 January 2018

Monday, week 5

Good afternoon fellow internet users!

Over here in Brunei the time is 16:24 and just at this moment I'm done with the "have to do" part of this Monday, and will soon go over to the "want to do" part. This means I've already checked off going to the dentist, attending a meeting and finishing editing newsletter from my to do list, and now I only have two things left today - going to my first ever CrossFit class plus going to a stand up comedy night. Not too shabby for a Monday!

typical hospital floor matched with surprisingly white shoes

dentists office corridor. They look the same all over the world, right?

Otherwise my priority for this week is completing the first assignment in my graphic design course. I will spend tomorrow on that, and as much as I need to of Wednesday. Hopefully I'll still have time to work on some of my own architecture projects on Wednesday and Thursday because on Thursday evening me and Andreas are going away for a long weekend to Bali. I know it sounds completely ridiculous going to Bali for a weekend, but considering where we live it is comparable to going for a weekend to Copenhagen if you live in Stavanger or Gothenburg, like we did before. Anyway, it's going to be amazing, I hope. I love Bali.

Better with no shoes!
So, not much else is new this week! I had a ridiculously calm weekend, three evenings in a row in the couch with Andreas and the cats, watching movies and drinking wine. Not getting that much done during the days. Lovely. Anyway, I hope ya'll's week has started of nicely!

Saturday, 27 January 2018

black and white accessories

Hey hey hey there! I believe I haven’t really shown you my new glasses! These are actually a pair of the ones I showed you guys back in December - my dear friend Sylvia was right about which ones I bought! 

I bought them and they were delivered to my mom's house so I could pick them up over Christmas. I needed a back-up pair, and also wanted something that would provide a bit more contrast to my face. I left my other pair in Sweden - or actually they are now in Norway, to be fitted with new glasses via my old optician. Hopefully they'll be ready by the time my mom comes here to visit us in February, so I can have two to alternate with...

While on the subject of accessories I also wanted to show you my new necklace that I got from Andreas for Christmas! They are from Albrekts Guld in Sweden and came with a matching pair of small, round earbuds. I'm a huge fan of black diamonds and I love the drop shape. In these photos I wore it with a crane patterned shirt in pajama style from ASOS  - another Christmas gift from the Amazing A!

Friday, 26 January 2018

DIY earring display

I made another thing! 

This fancy-shmancy, trendy looking creation was something I came up with when I was organizing my jelwelry the other day and realized that I own a bunch of nice earrings that I don't use enough because I don't really remember that I have them. Hence - something needed to be done. 

After googling - no, Pinteresting - I had a few ideas but nothing that I really liked. I started going through my big box of craft material to get some inspiration. And guess what I found? Inspiration! Plus a small wooden box and a thin piece of cork. 

If I hadn't decided to make two of these, and if the glue gun wouldn't need like 4 minutes to get warm, this DIY would have taken me about 1,5 minutes to make. 

Measure a piece of cork to be the same with of the box. Cut. Glue. Done.

Btw: I find most of my earrings at the regular chains like H&M, Lindex, Monki and ASOS. I can also recommend Kate Spade for fun and cute ones and COS make clean, minimalist and geometrical ones that I like a lot. 

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

a good day

Yesterday was a good day, in the most unspectacular way you can imagine. The success lay mainly in the fact that I got my ass to yoga in the morning, and even though this resulted in a quite unproductive start of the day I think it helped setting a nice mood for the day. I made a smoothie for breakfast for the first time in months, had a nice lunch with Andreas and the local lady that will start teaching us Malay in a few weeks (!) and spent the rest of the day making Brunei related illustrations for the newsletter. I even survived the evening CrossFit foundations class! But, to be frank, I think the most impressive success about yesterday was that I seem to have avoided the major menstrual cramp sesh I usually go through every month. Not sure if it was a fluke, the fact that I worked out or that I took my painkillers as soon as the pain made itself known. Either way - major win!

Hope you had a great Tuesday too!

Monday, 22 January 2018

Monday, week 4

Good evening, internet! I just wanted to sit down here and share my Monday with you guys before I go out for my evening walk. I usually write my Monday posts in the morning, but today it was forgotten among a bunch of other tasks I had to get done. But still, I quite enjoy these little start ups of each week so I'll squeeze in a little post here now instead!

This week will be a highly normal week, as weeks here go. I haven't got any huge plans, deadlines or parties this week, and I am definitely happy about that. As I wrote about last week in my "priority" post, I have spent this Monday managing all of the shorter and urgent tasks that will make it easier for me to focus on the bigger picture the rest of the week. So I've bought course literature, paid for my new course that starts in the end of February, done some other internet bank errands, contacted people for the newsletter I'll be working on later this week, plus prepared for a meeting on Thursday. I got a late start this morning but still managed to check off all of my little boxes on today's to do list! Win!

Tomorrow, Tuesday, I plan to start the day with yoga - something I plan on doing a lot but very rarely do... Then I'll be dividing my day between working on some illustrations for my graphic design course and planning a new layout for the newsletter that I'm doing. New year new fresh look! I might join Andreas for lunch tomorrow as he has a meeting with a person we might start taking Malay lessons for... In the evening we are going to our fourth session of the CrossFit foundations.

As usual on Wednesdays I begin the day with a riding lesson. Last week my lesson went really bad and sucked - so I don't particularly look forward to this. The rest of the day I'll work on a new conceptual sketch for  a house here - just a made up project of my own to practice my skills, but a good way to get back in to architecting... Another CrossFit foundation session in the evening.

Thursday is a little bit more eventful with a project meeting with the re-modelling project. And then I'll be going through some tutorials for the architectural software I work in. In the evening we'll go to the final session of the foundations, after this we can join actual CrossFit workouts! Let's see what happens with that...

Friday will be spent working on the newsletter, including finalizing the new layouts and producing a bunch of new illustration and graphics. We might go to the gym in the evening, but we might also invite some friends over for beer on the balcony...

Saturday and Sunday is completely unplanned so far! But I have this vague idea of cleaning the outside of the first floor windows... And then I have to do the final work on the newsletter before sending it to proof reading on Monday morning.

Well. That's that! Nothing spectacular. Just how I like it.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

intention for 2018 - priority

Besides becoming better at exploring Brunei and Borneo I have another "great plan" for this year. It was inspired by my dear husband, who is very clever - and who has gone to lectures and stuff. It was after I had been complaining about the fact I've never gotten around to do any architecture related work last year and instead always ended up thinking I could "do it tomorrow or next day" and did everything else first. He said that I should start thinking of my "to do's" in terms of urgent versus important. And that was very much an aha moment for me.

My days are very much my own since we moved here, but I still have plenty of things that I should do, want to do and - in lesser extent - have to do. Basically the should do's are related to keeping up to date with architecture stuff, like creating content for a portfolio, refresh and extend my knowledge of certain software and update myself on current trends and developments. All this so that it will be easier - or at least not impossible - for me to get a job as an architect again the next time we move. I'm still not certain I want to work in architecture again, but I want it as an option, and I don't want to have wasted five years of education and eights years of work experience... 

The want to do's are related with my newfound passion for illustration, my interest in graphic design and - to a lesser extent - branding. These are things I have really enjoyed exploring through the several courses I've taken over the past year and a half, so much that I am now seriously considering trying make this my new career. I would like to spend even more time drawing and painting, to develop my skills, but I also want to spend some time working on my own brand and create more professional pieces I can use in a portfolio, in order to prepare for the future.

The have to do's are actually not that many, but still they manage to take over more of my head-space than I want them to. They are all related to the "official commitments" I have, which are the remodeling project I'm consulting on and the newsletter I am an editor for. It's not that I don't like doing these things - I do, but mainly because they are a way for me to get out of the house and meet people. the problem is that these projects involves meetings and deadlines that I constantly prioritize because they involve other people. It hasn't been a big problem, and in a way I need these projects to not become a complete recluse.

sometimes you just can't work at all because someone stole your chair and someone else is snoring 

So, in order to start prioritizing what is important instead of what is urgent I had to become more aware of how I have prioritized before and think about which of the things I do that actually are important:

Until now this is how I have prioritized my tasks, roughly speaking:
  1. School work
  2. Newsletter
  3. Re-modelling project 
  4. Drawing and painting
  5. Architecture work
This is my list of priorities for 2018
  1. Illustration course
  2. Architecture - Projects for portfolio
  3. Graphic design course 
  4. Illustration/Graphic design - Content for portfolio
  5. Architecture software
  6. Work with my own brand
  7. Re-modelling project
  8. Newsletter
This order obviously doesn't mean I'm going to ignore my commitments withing the projects here, but I shouldn't take on any more of the same kind, and I have to become better at setting aside time for them on certain days, and not let tasks involving them to interfere with work that are more important - even though they might not feel as urgent. The re-modelling project has priority before the newsletter as it is closer related to what I used to do as an architect, and is a valuable experience for my CV, even though the newsletter involves more actual work for me. 

I have rated illustration higher than graphic design partly because I am more passionate about it, but also because I have already taken several courses in graphic design and now I want to focus more on the other. 

The rest of the list pretty much reflect the need for me to have portfolio content and a good enough confidence in my capabilities to feel comfortable applying for jobs in both architecture and illustration/graphic design within a few years. 

I plan to schedule my weeks according to this list of priority, beginning with using my Mondays to work on emails and other stuff for the remodeling project and newsletter, plus other admin things or urgent things that have come up regarding the courses. This might sound contradictory to the plan, but means I will free up the rest of the week to work on what is really important. Tuesday will be illustration day, Wednesday and Thursday architecture days and Fridays graphic design day. I will try to do most of the work on the newsletter on Sundays. Unfortunately I can't influence when the various meetings will be, but at least I will now have dedicated my "office hours" according to what is important to me, and not try to work on five different things per day.

Well, this turned out to be a very long, and maybe not super interesting -  post. But in my defense; this was a seriously good exercise to do - and something I think I will have much use for. I often have a hard time saying no to new commitments, mostly because I feel the things I do for myself aren't important enough - because I don't get paid to do them and it wont hurt anyone else if I don't do them. Plus as many if them don't have "real life" deadlines I always feel I can shifts things around to make it work, but that usually just leads to me not having energy to work on my own stuff.  Having this list in my mind will help me to actually say no, I believe. 

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

DIY promarker storage

I made a thing!

Coming back from our Christmas holiday I brought t a bunch of new artists material, including 25 new Pro-marker pens. I quickly realized that keeping my growing collection in the same little box I'd used before wasn't going to work, and I started thinking of better ways of storing them, that would also make them more accessible and easier to find the right colors. After some googling, thinking and searching the house for suitable materials I came up with an idea. The solution was easy-peasy and made a nice little addition to my home studio. This is what you will need to do what I did:
  • a cardboard tube, with a pretty big diameter, like 10 cm or so. I used one I've recieved prints from Society 6 in, worked perfect!
  • a saw
  • wrapping paper
  • glue and tape
  • scissors 
  • fold-back clips
Saw the tube in 5 equally long parts. Cut pieces of wrapping paper long enough to cover the tubes. Use glue and tape to attach the wrapping paper to the tubes and then glue the pieces together, waiting in between adding each new piece for the glue to dry.

Obviously you can vary this with other sizes of tubes, adding on more compartments and so on. I though this was perfect in size as it fits all my pens and there's plenty of room to add more... it's pretty sturdy, I guess depending on what glue you use. 

Monday, 15 January 2018

happy monday, week 3

Hellooo internet,

After a weekend spent mostly across the border in Malaysia - we went there to attend a farewell party for a friend at the Japanese bar/restaurant he has opened - I'm now back in Brunei, hoping for a productive week, free from jet lag. I finally started sleeping normally this weekend and I'm so grateful for that. 

Last week was deadline week, that is, my two fall semester courses finished on Friday, so for me today is the official start of the year. Which feels good! Today I begin a new online course - Graphic Design for Print. My second course for this semester doesn't begin until mid February, and I'm pretty sure this course will start nice and slow - they usually do - so I'm looking forward to a week where I can focus quite a lot on my own projects. I haven't been drawing a lot lately, outside of my illustration course and now I want to get back in to the habit of drawing for myself a little bit every day. I have a few meetings for my more official commitments as well, but that's all good since it means I'll have to leave the house and meet some people. 

Another thing that is happening this week, in true New Years spirit, is that me and Andreas will go to "crossfit foundations". This means going to the crossfit gym (or box as it is apparently called) and getting introductions in to all the exercises and movements you will face during a workout, basically to get permitted to join crossfit classes. We are going three nights this week and three nights next week and then we can start doing crossfit for real. I both look forward to this and very much don't look forward to it, at the same time.

This weekend will be mostly revolving around an event we are attending on Saturday night, something called Burns Supper, which is supposed to be a black tie event celebrating the writings of Scottish bard Robert Burns, if I have understood correctly. Might be fun!

I hope your week is starting of nice and calm, and that you have fun things on your schedule!

Friday, 12 January 2018

making the most out of life in the tropics

As I said a few days ago, one of my two big goals for 2018 is to take better advantage of the fact that I live in a tropical country. But what does that even mean? As I know that most of you who are reading this live in the northern parts of Europe I think you all have very much the same thoughts about living in the tropics as I had, before I moved here. I was thinking it would be such a relief not having to wear (or at least bring) a coat every time I left the house, that not having to wear tights would be awesome and that I would go swim in the ocean aaaall the time and be sooo tan and pretty. Well, half of those things turned out to be accurate. It's pretty awesome not having to wear a coat, ever, and I don't miss tights, but I also don't go out much. I drink coffee on the porch most days and I go for short walks in the neighborhood in the evenings but - don't kill me now Scandinavians - I have swam in the ocean here only once... and that's the 30 degrees Celsius ocean, 5 minutes walk from my home I'm talking about here... It's a shame. And also results in the fact that people are surprised of how not tanned I am when I go back to Sweden. Which isn't really a problem, but just slightly annoying.

I also haven't really seen that much of Brunei as a country, nor have I discovered much of Borneo, except for Kota Kinabalu, Miri and Lambir national park in the Malaysian part. Last year me and Andreas traveled a lot, but mostly to destinations a little further away, that we wanted to make sure we got to see while living in this South East Asia.

So. What am I planning to do about this embarrassing situation? Well, here are my plans so far!

The small, everyday things: 
  • work to make the garden more inviting and spend more time in it
  • eat out at restaurants more often. It's almost cheaper than eating at home...
  • going on longer walks, also during the days when it's hot, like to the beach
  • clean up our barbecue and start using it, finally
  • go swim in the ocean with Andreas on the weekends. At least five times this year!

Discovering Brunei and Borneo:
  • go on day trips within Brunei, to the beach in Tutong, for example
  • stay for a weekend at Empire Hotel in the capital
  • hike to the Mulu caves in Sarawak, Malaysia
  • visit the city Kuchin and Baku National park, Malaysia
  • explore the rain-forest in Sabah, Malaysia

Thursday, 11 January 2018

second thoughts

I just handed in my final assignment for a course I'v been taking the past semester. The course is called Visual Identities from a Sustainable Perspective and well, the name says it all I guess. We've been studying the basics of branding, how to communicate sustainability through profiles and how companies can present themselves as more sustainable, maybe more than they actually are. I chose this course because I want to continue learn more about graphic design and branding, but also because I think sustainability is an highly relevant topic.

So, today I delivered my project for final assessment. And literary five minuyes after I'd hit the "submit" button I came up for a better concept than the one I just handed in.


The case that we were to work with for the past few weeks was to make fashion giant Calvin Klein in into a sustainable brand. Which included redesigning their logo, pick a new color scheme and create a brand manual and examples of a look book, an ad, clothes tag and webpage. It was an extensive and pretty fun task, and I was quite happy with the way I decided to interpret it. My concept was to work with the existing positive qualities of the brand, like timeless design and good quality, and basically argue that these things represent sustainability and should be emphasized. I had a bunch of other, more clear arguments as well, but that the basic point. The result was a more organic looking feeling, a logo including mr Kleins signature, beige and rusty red color palette and imagery including models looking friendlier and more relaxed than the classic, sexy CK ads. It was coherent and logical. And my final thought when I saw all of the pieces I made put together was that it was a bit boring, looking more like a catalog for h&m... But there would have been no time to change it.

So what was the better concept I came up with just now then? Instead of downplaying their usual provocative aesthetics I should have exaggerated it. Made a more radical and gutsy change to their products and saying everything is now made of natural, recyclable materials and made an ad with models dressed in leaves, grass and mud only. I should have used a bolder color scheme with higher contrast and shown that sustainable doesn't have to be bland and neutral.

So what have I learned from this? That feedback is important, but it doesn't help if the feedback you get is only from your own peers (in this case a fellow student) who might be afraid to criticize you. And that you should spend more time trying out different concepts before settling on one. Sometimes you might want to go in the complete opposite to what seems like the right direction.

And no, non of this is news to me. Having worked in a creative profession for eight years these are all well know and established facts. But the truth is, in my experience, in the real world you rarely have time to experiment that long with different ideas and concepts, and it's more effective and less costly to just go for the first good one you find. Even if you might have come up with an even better one if you spent a bit more time on it.

I will still try to learn from this and spend just a little bit more time on reflection and conceptual design. Crossing my fingers I will remember to do so.

Monday, 8 January 2018

week 2: starting up

Hello guys, how's your Monday? I woke up early today, in spite of my 4 hours and 45 minutes of sleep. I just have to get over this jet lag soon... anyway, I wanted to get back to normal routines this week and that means waking up at 6:30 or so. But man, I was tired...

I began my day on the balcony with a giant cup of coffee, planning out this week and writing in my bullet journal. Then I made the final polish on an illustration I had to deliver for my illustration course today. The rest of the day I have spent pretty much focusing on the same project - the visual identity of my own brand. More on that another day, I have much to say about this topic.

The rest of my week will look like this:

Tuesday and Wednesday
On Friday I have two deadlines, my two courses from last semester finises and the final assignments are due. Tuesday and Wednesday will be dedicated to re-branding Calvin Klein for my Visual Identities from a Sustainable Perspective - course. On Wednesday morning, if it hasn't been raining to hard - soaking the arena - I hope to go on my first riding lesson for the year. Since I'm still not feeling completely over my cold I'll take it easy for the rest of the week, maybe going to I'll go to salsa class on Wednesday evening If I'm not too tired .

In the morning I'm going to a meeting for the project I'm consulting on. The rest of the day I'll spend on my other deadline, finishing up a few illustrations for the illustration course. If I feel up for it, I'll go swimming with Andreas in the evening.

On Friday I'll just finish up if I have any more work to do on my deadlines, otherwise I'll work on my own project. I also hope to get back to drawing just fir fun again soon.

Saturday and Sunday
One of our friends are leaving Brunei for Norway (!) and we are going over the border to Malaysia to join his farewell party in Miri. We'll stay the night at a hotel and make a weekend out of it!

Is something fun happening for you this week?

Sunday, 7 January 2018

hello 2018! this is what I want to do with you

Another new year is here. Can you believe the 2nd millennium is actually an adult now? It's a big deal, really. Also, I really, really like the feeling of a new year...

As a big friend and supporter of lists I have obviously spent a large part of my holiday back home in Sweden compiling a bunch of them, trying to figure out what I want to achieve with the new year. I spent some time reflecting over what I liked about 2017 and what I want to change during 2018, which was a really good exercise. Besides several smaller and more specific goals within different areas in my life I understood that there are two major things I want to change this year:

I need to prioritize differently and
focus on what is important rather than on what is urgent


I want to take better advantage of the fact that I live in the tropics

What these two goals mean more specifically I will get back to in future posts, but I seriously - having formulated them for myself have helped a lot when I'm trying to make plans and decide what I want to do this year.

And then I have the more specific goals for the year. Some of them are continuations of ones I had for 2017 and others are new:
  • I want to get back in to good morning routines and wake up earlier. My workday needs to start at 8 on weekdays.
  • Continue with my good workout routines from 2017, generally, and more specific, begin with crossfit. I also have concrete goals for what I want to achieve in my various activities, like jumping over a 50cm fence on horseback and manage a proper pull up, but most of these I just keep to myself in my bullet journal
  • Update my LinkedIn profile and start working on CV's and portfolios, both aiming at architecture work and graphic design/illustration. 
  • Save more money. I have now set up specific numbers that I want to have reached by the end of the year, on my savings account and in funds.
  • Figure out and become more comfortable in my own style again, plus get dressed as if I were to meet people every weekday
  • Settle on a graphic profile for my own projects. This includes updating the design of this blog - and potentially move it to another platform, but also trying to achieve a more cohesive look of my Instagram accounts and other work I do.
  • Pamper my body more. Go get massage at least once a month and spoil myself by actually using all of the face masks, scrubs and cremes I already have. 
  • Go on date nights with Andreas once a month. Either outside the house or just at home. 
Do you have any goals for this year?