Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Living on the Floor

This week brought the much-anticipated estimated arrival date of our shipping container!  

However, our hopes were a bit dashed when I called the shipping company, and they said the ship would be delayed a couple of days.  

Then our hopes were really dashed when we found out the estimated arrival date was actually for the ship's arrival in Hamburg.  Which is apparently a one-week trip across the sea from Oslo.  

Thus, we're here on the floor.  On a comfortable mattress, at least.

Here's our container, outside our apartment in beautiful Portland on September 14th.  All packed up and ready to sail the high seas.  What bright-eyed, optimistic kids we were, thinking we would see this baby in four to six weeks.  Ahh.  Those were the days...

Okay really, things aren't that bad.  There have been worse delays in the history of the expatriate world.  Actually, I think it's normal to tack on at least a couple of weeks to the estimated arrival date.  And, we're functioning just fine with the bare necessities we've picked up in Oslo to get by until we have things like a sofa, more than two plates, and metal utensils.  We're warm, comfortable, and have a roof over our heads.  

I just really wanted to make some Halloween cupcakes with the cute little holders that are currently somewhere between here and Hamburg, dammit!

And, I suppose if our shipment was delayed so the stars would align for me to find this little gem, then so be it.  I give you...the greatest blanket in the entire world:

The softest plush ever on one side, and delectable sheep-ish stuff on the other.  If you think you've felt a softer/warmer blanket, you haven't.  Actually, if you have, please send it to us in Oslo (via mail, not ship!).

Okay, moving on from the apartment jazz.  Once the container arrives, and I wallow in a pile of our precious belongings, I'll post an entry of sheer joy.  And I'll probably still make pumpkin cupcakes in the Halloween holders.

Speaking of being grateful for warmth and a roof over our heads, it snowed this week!  Insanity.  I saw it in the forecast, but didn't believe it after 28 years of the spotty fulfillment of snow predictions in Portland and Tulsa.  However, I looked out of the window at the streetlight in the dark, and there they were:  huge, beautiful, fluffy flakes.  And I loved it.  

We also had a pretty fun weekend with some new friends.  We carved pumpkins, then visited the Vikingskipshuset (Viking Ship Museum).  I ridiculously forgot my camera on this day full of photo ops, so here are some iPhone goodies.  Actually, all the pics in this post are iPhone goodies.  Been a bad photographer this week...

This photo doesn't do the ship was huge.  The fact that this massive ship was completely buried in the ground is quite impressive.  Have I mentioned that I love history, and artifacts of all sorts?  Well, I do.  Like little wooden forks and combs and carvings.  Yes, indeed.

Pretty gate on the dock where we waited for the ferry that never showed (probably because it's done running for the season).   The bus saved us though.

Finally, I'll end this post how the Daily Show (my fave) ends an episode: with a Moment of Zen.  

This week's Moment of Zen: 

Discovering a delish bakery that's similar to Ken's Artisan Bakery (Portland's finest), minus the pizza.  This little plate of deliciousness is a Brie sandwich on bread with pumpkin seeds baked in it, and the liquid gold in that cup is apple juice.  In less than one week, I've had two of these sandwiches, a croissant, and a baguette from here.  Yep.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Running Trails, Mystery Meat, and Groupons

A random assortment of happenings.  Some happy, some slightly illness-inducing...

1.  New Running Trails - We're finding some fabulous new running trails, and loving them!  I think the best way to really see a city is to just lace up your running shoes and go for it.  There's a plethora of good running spots here.  Heck, just running in the city itself is interesting enough, never mind the trail around the water and the awesome parks.  So here are some pics of two of the more beautiful paths.  Obviously I was walking, not running, when I took pics (because I'm sure as heck not running with a heavy, breakable, precious camera), but these are the new gems that are motivating us these days...

Gorgeous trail around Sognsvann.

Trail along the fjord.

Boats on the fjord.

Boats and fall leaves - two of my favorites.

2.  Work and Class  -  If you think I've found a job, you're kidding yourself.  Ha.  Norwegian class is keeping me quite busy.   Ken, the only employed and productive member of this household, had to work quite a bit last week.  Hopefully this isn't a normal occurrence.  The poor guy was trying to answer questions on the phone and flip the chicken on the grill (I was cooking at the stove, in case you think I was just sitting there watching him...) at the same time on Sunday night.  Skillz.

3.  Mystery Meat - It can strike at any time.  Just when you think you've picked up something vegetarian (which, you opt for vegetarian based upon the fear of not knowing what meat will be in an unmarked dish behind a counter, so that makes this even better), you sit down, you take a bite, and...son of a...what's in this?!  It's happened to both of us more than a couple of times, and pasta/pasta salad seems to be the main culprit.  Although, it can also be right in front of you, and you still have no idea.  For example, we walked into a large tent at a food festival, and were excited to see what appeared to be beef stir-fry being cooked all around the tent.  Until Ken looked at the sign, and at the t-shirts worn by the folks who were cooking.  And there it was: hval.  Look it up if you can't guess.  Needless to say, we excused ourselves from the tent.  Then made a beeline for the vaffel tent.   You can see a full description of the cuisine offered at this food festival on my new favorite Norwegian food blog, the Nordic Nibbler.  Please note that he was victimized by a mystery meat far worse than we will ever experience (fingers crossed!)...

Once the mystery meat has entered your mouth, and you achingly swallow it, you then desperately reach for something that's guaranteed to be tasty, and will hopefully cover up the flavor (soda, candy, vaffel, etc).  You also lose your appetite for the next few hours, at a minimum.  Ken runs the risk of being a victim of the mystery meat every weekday, when he takes that oh-so-promising scoop of pasta salad from the salad bar at his office.  Needless to say, his jeans are a bit loose these days...

4.  Groupon in Oslo - We were big fans of Groupon in Portland, but this is a whole new level of appreciation.  Ken discovered that Groupon arrived in Oslo just around the time that we did.  And this, my friends, is an event worthy of much celebration.  Because it means that we can try restaurants for around the same price we would pay for a regularly-priced meal in the U.S.  So far, I've picked up great deals from a couple of different pizza places that look good, and last Friday night we enjoyed a pretty tasty three-course meal at a cute little place.  Love it!

5.  Feeling Like a Normal Fall - Between finding good pumpkins, and so many colorful trees dumping beautiful leaves all over the city (one of my favorite things about Portland's fall) there's a bit of the familiar loveliness of fall.

Fall window.

Halloween goodies from home.

On a final note, the ship with our belongings was delayed a couple of days.  It's supposed to arrive tomorrow, then hopefully we'll get our stuff delivered by the middle of next week.  Fingers crossed!  In the meantime, we have two more nights in our temporary housing, and we made an IKEA run last night (free bus, soft serve, pizza, hot dogs, cheap it) to pick up a mattress that we can use for a few nights.  We didn't mind dropping a little cash, because we'd rather eat mystery meat than sleep on a hardwood floor, and we can reuse the mattress as a lovely addition to our guest sofa bed.  So, feel free to come on over across the Atlantic anytime after next week!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Fall

Ken and I took a ride on the ferry out to a few islands in the Oslofjord. So beautiful!

We got off the ferry on Hovedøya, an island with a lot of pretty walking trails, and a couple of beaches we'll definitely have to hit up next summer.

The remnants of Hovedøya Abbey, a monastery built in 1147.

An insane amount of leaves, everywhere. Gorgeous.

Loved these colorful houses on Bleikøya, an island we passed on the way.

We've also been taking some walks around Oslo, of course. Here are a few goodies from the city...

Oslofjord on a cloudy day.

The ski jump at Holmenkollen, where they're holding the Nordic World Ski Championships in 2011. We should probably figure out how to get tickets. Seems like something that shouldn't be missed.

Fall foliage everywhere. Here is part of Akershus Fortress, built in the 1290s. A large portion of it is currently being renovated, so I can't get a good shot with all the scaffolding on the side. Cool though.

Hallo. Jeg heter Ken. Kan du hjelpe meg? Takk!

City Hall Square. This city has so many statues throughout. Love them.

The Nobel Peace Institute.

The Royal Palace.

Other Good Stuff:

Finding a Mexican restaurant.  Not great, but a bit of normalcy.

Vafler with raspberry jam and creme. My new favorite thing.

Revving up the fireplace at our new apartment. Our furniture isn't here yet, but I got a couple of chairs at IKEA so we can chill over there sometimes. It's a nice little vacation from our temporary housing (we are very grateful for our free temporary housing though!).

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Soundtrack of My Life

It rained for four days (the sun is finally out in full force today though!), and I've been taking care of uneventful administrative tasks and apartment stuff. So no exciting Oslo post this week. However, I did something I've always thought of doing, but never had the motivation to sit down, research, and put on paper. Until today.

If you aren't a music-lover, this post will probably just be long, boring, and perhaps confusing. But I wrote this for myself, so I understand if I'm the only one who reads it.

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I've been a huge fan of music my entire life. It's a beautiful constant in life, music. It's there when you're happy to make you dance, there when you're sad to let you know that someone else has felt the same way, and there when you're lonely, as another voice in the room. I've been relying on it very heavily with the move, since I don't know many people in Oslo yet. It's nice to have a friendly, familiar voice in the room.

So, I give you the soundtrack of my life. I went back to as early as I can remember being excited about good tunes, and picked a song that I felt was sort of defining for that year of my life. It was really fun to go back and reminisce. Nothing strikes up a memory in my mind like a song. Okay, maybe a picture. But pictures go better with songs, don't they?

Year: 1987
Age: 5
Song: "I Think We're Alone Now" by Tiffany

Rationale: I clearly remember staring at the tape longingly in the glass case at the record store until my mom bought it for me. Yes, my mom took me to the record store when I was little. Because she's cool (thanks Mom!).

Year: 1988
Age: 6
Song: "You Got It (The Right Stuff)" by New Kids on the Block
Rationale: Not sure if it was the music itself (probably not), or Joey McIntyre, but I sure was smitten. I remember dancing to this video in front of the TV.

Year: 1989
Age: 7
Song: "Electric Youth" by Debbie Gibson
Rationale: You can't fight it. I really wanted Debbie's jacket and hat from this album cover.

Year: 1990
Age: 8
Song: "Step by Step" by New Kids on the Block
Rationale: This was the summer I went to the NKOTB concert at Driller's Stadium in Tulsa. I wore my Joey t-shirt, tied on the side with a plastic clip. It was freaking magical. On the first day of school, we had to say a highlight from the summer. You know what mine was.

Year: 1991
Age: 9
Song: "Baby Baby" by Amy Grant
Rationale: I'm sorry. I reached into the depths of my mind to find someone (anyone!) else that I was more excited about than Amy Grant this year. She was it for me.

Year: 1992
Age: 10
Song: "Jeremy" by Pearl Jam
Rationale: It's a huge step going from Amy Grant to PJ. This was the beginning of the grunge era of my youth, and a transition out of the terrible music of the previous years. This video was creepy at the age of 10. But Eddie Vedder's voice kept me coming back for more.

Year: 1993
Age: 11
Song: "The Sign" by Ace of Base
Rationale: A brief relapse into terrible music. I requested the hell out of this song on the radio.

Year: 1994
Age: 12
Song: "Interstate Love Song" by Stone Temple Pilots
Rationale: Ahh, 7th grade angst and awkwardness. This was a big year for me musically…it's hard to pick one. It was toss-up between this and Greenday's "Basketcase." But I think I liked STP more.

Year: 1995
Age: 13
Song: "Glycerine" by Bush
Rationale: Gavin Rossdale gave me the chills. Pretty sure I had a poster of him. Went to a Bush concert. Thought I was awesome.

Year: 1996
Age: 14
Song: "Ironic" by Alanis Morissette
Rationale: It wasn't until high school that people told me I looked like Alanis. I wish they'd told me in 8th grade. It would've made my year.

Year: 1997
Age: 15
Song: "One Headlight" by The Wallflowers
Rationale: Ahh, Jakob Dylan. His lovely face was on the first issue of Rolling Stone I ever bought, in 1997. I loved this whole album, and listened to it repeatedly.

Year: 1998
Age: 16
Song: "Shimmer" by Fuel
Rationale: Tell me this song didn't make you want to rock out. I remember rocking out to it pretty hardcore at a Fuel show in T-town.

Year: 1999
Age: 17
Song: "Two Step" by Dave Matthews Band
Rationale: Thus begins my love affair with DMB. From 1999-2003, I traipsed to any show within driving distance of Tulsa - so St. Louis, KC, Dallas, and OKC. This song was released earlier than 1999, but I started really loving this song at shows.

Year: 2000
Age: 18
Song: "Take a Picture" by Filter
Rationale: For some reason, 2000 is fuzzy when it comes to good songs. But this was always a fave, so I'll go with it. Think I was still listening to a lot of DMB at the time, so maybe not a lot of variety in my rotation in those days.

Year: 2001
Age: 19
Song: "Anything You Want" by Spoon
Rationale: Britt Daniel is a god, and I got to meet him at an A.C. Newman show in Portland last year. I was ridiculously giddy, and told him I had loved his music for a very long time. He was very nice, and didn't treat me like the lunatic that I was. I've loved Spoon for a long, long time. True story: My car was totaled when a lady slammed into me at a stoplight (everyone was fine, thankfully), and I was listening to this album at the time. Afterward, I was able to fish the CD player and this CD out of the wreckage. True story.

Year: 2002
Age: 20
Song: "Fell in Love With a Girl" by The White Stripes
Rationale: Have you heard this song? If you can't rock out to this, I'm not sure you can rock out to anything.

Year: 2003
Age: 21
Song: "Bowl of Oranges" by Bright Eyes
Rationale: It's funny, but Conor Oberst has always had a way of saying how I feel at different stages in life. Thanks, Conor.

Year: 2004
Age: 22
Song: "The Sound of Settling" by Death Cab for Cutie
Rationale: This is the year I graduated from college, and moved across the country for grad school at the University of Oregon. Where I didn't know a single soul. And then I met some of my favorite people, and had some of the most fun I've ever had. I'll never forget how I felt for most of 2004, on the brink of a great adventure. This song always got me excited.

Year: 2005
Age: 23
Song: "Birmingham 1982" by Maria Taylor
Rationale: This song makes me very sentimental for some reason. Makes me tear up sometimes. I used it in the childhood pictures portion of our wedding video, and thought it was perfect for that. Maria's voice is beautiful.

Year: 2006
Age: 24
Song: "The Funeral" by Band of Horses
Rationale: This is one of my favorite albums, ever. I've seen them play twice, and this song rocks live. This is also the year I moved to Portland, and I usually have a deep affinity for music I'm listening to during a major life change.

Year: 2007
Age: 25
Song: "I Feel It All" by Feist
Rationale: I love Feist's voice. Got to see her at the Schnitz in Portland, and she is lovely live.

Year: 2008
Age: 26
Song: "L.E.S. Artistes" by Santigold
Rationale: Ken and I usually listened to/sang this song in the car on roadtrips around Oregon. Maybe that's why I like it so much. Ken and Oregon roadtrips are pretty fantastic.

Year: 2009
Age: 27
Song: "Kids" by MGMT
Rationale: This song has gotten my blood pumping on many a run. It just gets me going. And makes me want to dance, especially while I'm running.

Year: 2010
Age: 28
Song: "Zebra" by Beach House
Rationale: I remember putting this song on my headphones for the first time while spreadsheeting away in my cubicle. It was beautiful. And they're the first show I'll see in Oslo. So again with the love of the music during the transition periods of my life.

If you made it here, I'm impressed. Thanks for listening.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Apartment

Here she is, in all of her empty glory. We're actually shocked we found such a great place with this much space in it within our price range, since housing tends to be crazy expensive here. Here's to hoping our shipping container shows up in two weeks like they're predicting, so we can move in soon...

Living room looking into the kitchen. Do you see that little blue gem of a fireplace??

Living room window - lots of light. And they left this huge shelf, so that will be nice since our furniture from the U.S. won't really fill the living room.

Living room fireplace. Our rug and furniture will actually match it - awesome.

Dining area in the kitchen, and our little balcony. We just bought a Euro-sized grill to put out on this baby, and I'll find some chairs before we move in. There's also a flower box lining the railing, so I need to find something pretty that's resistant to frigid weather...

Kitchen, with fireplace #2.

Bedroom. Again, loving all of the natural light. No closets whatsoever in here. Who needs a closet, right?

Love this light in the entry.

So we love it. And we have our fingers crossed tightly for the container's arrival on Oct 19th!

Friday, October 1, 2010

London Calling

First of all, I will say that I was very excited to go to London for the first time. For very ridiculous reasons. I love history (especially Medieval stuff), Hugh Grant (Love Actually and About a Boy are two of my absolute favorite movies, ever), fish and chips, Prince William (don't act like you're immune to his beauty), and when people with British accents use words like "trainers" and "rubbish." I'll completely understand if you immediately stop reading this post due to my lack of dignity.

So, I went to London for a few days. My good friend Jamie, who I met in Tulsa as an intern many moons ago, called me the week before I left Portland and said she would be in London for work the week after we moved to Oslo. Found a $95 roundtrip (excellent) and I was there. She had to work during the day, so I rolled solo during the days. Then we had dinner together both nights and chatted it up. It was, as always, fabulous to see her.

The first day I went to the Palace, Hyde Park, and Kensington Gardens.

Pretty fall tree in the Princess Diana memorial in Hyde Park.

Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens. Ken claimed he spent a summer trying to find this statue. It was clearly marked on a map, and I found it in approx five minutes...?

Jamie gave me the brilliant idea to go to Stonehenge on the second day. So I hopped on a train to Salisbury (lovely little town), then a bus out to Stonehenge. It was a beautiful train and bus ride, and Stonehenge itself was cool. I also had a huge brick of the best shortbread I've ever had in my life there.

It was pouring down rain, and really windy. So I documented the way I really saw Stonehenge: from under a cute umbrella that kept wanting to turn itself inside out in the wind.

Risking the life of my precious camera for a sans umbrella shot. She made it.

Taken by some nice fellow Stonehenge patrons.

Had to catch my flight the final day, but I made it to the Tower Bridge and the Tower of London before rolling out. Good stuff.

Let's just say my trip ended with fish and chips for lunch, then asking the British security guy at the airport if I needed to take off my shoes since no one else was taking off their shoes. To which he replied "Oh. You've got trainers. No need."

Thank you, London. And Jamie.