Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It's Fryday, I'm in Love


The past ten days have produced a lot of photos, good times, and patriotism, so it's time to catch up.

First, we'll discuss good food.

Last weekend, a beautiful thing called "Fryday Saturday" was established at the home of our fun foodie friends, Hal and Alison.  They have every cooking contraption in the universe, including possibly the only deep fryer in a home in Norway.  They're pretty awesome.  

We rarely eat fried food here, because it's just not as common (or tasty) as the goodies at home.  I suppose we don't really eat it in the U.S. all that often, but whatever.  When it's gone, you miss it.

We decided to tackle all fried cravings in one day.  This glorious day was Fryday Saturday.

So Hal revved up the deep fryer, and the Fryday crew rocked the house...

Fried pickles with chipotle mayo sauce (nearly cried tears of joy when I found a few cans of chipotles in adobo sauce hidden on a shelf in a shop here), a spot-on rendition of KFC chicken strips, ditto for the KFC biscuits and coleslaw, sweet potato fries, and crab wontons.

Oooh and the dessert:  donuts.  These babies were better than donut shop donuts.  Also featured but not pictured: batter-dipped and fried Oreos and various chocolate candy bars.

Wowza that sounds like a lot of fried food now that I'm typing it all out.  

Can I just say that I'm so glad we've found friends that are not only a great time, but enjoy the experience of good food as much as we do?  Our get-togethers are fantastic, to say the least.  Thanks for the delish evening, Hal, Alison, Vier, Brigita, The Jet, and Bethany!  

Don't you worry though...the good eats for the week don't end there.

We were able to attend an early Fourth of July gathering, where tasty American food was handed out for free!  Again, things we don't even really partake of in the U.S. that often (other than the Erath Pinot Noir and the burgs), but when they're in a foreign context, you flock to them...

Burgers that tasted normal, Hebrew Nationals, Erath Pinot Noir from Oregon, Sam Adams, Ben and Jerry's, and...

McD's fries.  I loved watching a bunch of people in business attire walking around with bright red boxes of fries.

Thanks, America.  You know how to throw one heck of a party.

After all of that, you'd think we wouldn't want to eat for days. 

However, Norway celebrates the summer solstice, so Silje made us a traditional Norwegian porridge, which was delish.

After dinner, people go out to watch bonfires around the city.  We went to Aker Brygge and watched a bonfire on the fjord, of which I did not take a photo.  However, here's one pic from the evening:

No, we weren't even drinking.

Alright, now for the flip side of things.  We do actually exercise too.

The sun doesn't set for most of the summer in Northern Norway (Nord-Norge), and there's a marathon and half marathon in the city of Tromsø that takes place at night around the time of the summer solstice.  Ken and I really wanted to see the area, we like to run, and I wanted to run a half marathon as a fundraiser for a non-profit I support in Portland.

So, we flew almost two hours north to beautiful Tromsø, and ran a half marathon that started at 10:30pm.
Getting ready to run at what would normally be the time we fall asleep on the sofa.

What most of the race looked like - just gorgeous.  This is around 11:30pm.  

It was really cloudy that day, otherwise it would've been broad daylight all night long.  It was indeed light outside all night, and it was crazy to finish the race and see people lined up outside of bars downtown in daylight in the middle of the night.  Thankfully, our hotel had really dark curtains so we could actually get some sleep after this and do some sightseeing the next day.

Tromsøya from a mountain on the mainland.

Pretty mountains surrounding the city.

Tromsøya.  Thank you, iPhone panoramic app.

There was definitely no shortage of taxidermy in this city.

See caption above.

Now for some tasty tidbits from Tromsø...

Some sort of dried fish.  Nei, takk.

Various goodies at the meat market.  Nei, takk.

And the Moment of Zen:

Alison and Hal's donuts get a second shout-out, because now I can't stop thinking about them.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Time to catch up on the past couple of weeks, after my sappy post from last week...

Ken's birthday was a few days before mine, and he headed to the U.S. a couple of days after that.  Yes, he skipped out on my birthday in Oslo so he could go home and see friends and family, but I can't fault him for that since that was his first trip home since we moved here! 

Anyway, we started Ken's birthday off with this...

A beerfest in Oslo?  Could it be??

After the beerfest we enjoyed a fun dinner at a new restaurant on the Akerselva river, and ended the evening with Cuba Libres at our favorite semi-dive bar with Pierre.  

We also enjoyed some good ol' grilling in the park the night before Ken left, courtesy of the ingenious Scandinavian engangs grill - a little disposable grill you use once.  You just have to light it and it's ready to rock shortly after.

Ken and Henrik doing some manly grilling while I fell asleep in the sun.

Come to think of it, I don't know that I've given Henrik a shout-out in this blog yet, and that just doesn't seem possible?

When we got the keys to move into our apartment back in October, we accidentally tried to unlock the door on the floor below ours, rather than our door.  Lo and behold, Henrik opened the door to see what the heck the two crazy Americans were doing fiddling with his lock.  Luckily, Henrik (a.k.a. the partysvenske) turned out to be a very friendly Swede who had studied in the U.S. for four years, so we started hanging out shortly after.  He's the best neighbor we could ask for, and a great friend!  He appreciates my cooking, so he can come up for dinner or buttermilk pancakes anytime.   

Now, back to Ken ditching me on my birthday for a trip to the U.S...

Ken's flight was at the crack of dawn last week, so I got up to help him with last-minute packing.  I also snapped some photos of the astonishing amount of daylight at 3:30am...

View of the sunrise over the hills from our balcony.

Flower box on our balcony at 3:30am - no flash was used in this pic!

I was a little bummed to miss out on all the U.S. fun Ken was going to have, but it was paybacks for when I went without him back in the winter.  So, I decided to have a fun little bachelorette week to myself, and it wasn't too shabby.  I also lived vicariously through Ken via phone calls, where I asked every detail of who he was with, what he was doing, every morsel of food he was eating, etc.

On my birthday, I treated myself to a nice breakfast, then I was treated to a fun lunch by a wonderful group of my girlfriends here.  I'm so grateful to have such fun friends here.  Ladies, you know who you are...thank you for a lovely birthday lunch!  It decided to rain all afternoon afterward, so I just chilled, then headed to Connie's place for dinner, where she made us some tasty Thai.  Thanks to Connie as well!

I spent the rest of bachelorette week staying up way too late and eating way too many potato chips (a.k.a. crisps).  I know, I'm a wild woman.  

Then Pierre and Silje invited me out to a cabin in the forest last weekend.  It was absolutely gorgeous there, and reminded me a lot of the Cascades on the way to Bend, Oregon.  The cabin was so cozy and lovely too.  

There was some crazy rain for a few days before the trip, so we made it out there despite landslides around Norway.  We went for a really mushy, muddy walk the first day.  I'd like to give a shout out to wellies, for making this walk possible...

Pretty colors along the way.
Pierre and Silje on the trail.  In the words of Pierre: "Det er tåke."  (It's foggy.)

 A few flowers along the trail.

Pierre & Silje at the foggy lake.

Silje was an excellent tour guide!

 It finally stopped raining on our last day there, so Pierre and I took a bike ride along a river.

Thanks to Pierre & Silje for a lovely weekend in the forest!  

June always seems to be a non-stop, fun month.  I can't believe it's already halfway over, so I guess that's just how it goes...

To wrap it up, there's a tie for the Moment of Zen for the week:

1.  Running 16k/10mi and ending at a 7-11 for a cold drink, only to find a blue raspberry slush machine was installed for the summer.  I had two in one evening, and sadly there's no photo of this epic moment.

2.  A beautiful run in the forest - you can't beat the smell of rainy, tree-laden air!

Monday, June 6, 2011


I had a little late-night inspiration when I went to bed last night and realized I'd be 29 in the morning.  Here's what I came up with (saved it until this morning, because it's never smart to post a blog when you're half asleep...crazy talk much?):

Here I sit on the eve of my 29th birthday, restless and wide awake due to fact that: 

a.  The guy across the street is playing the guitar and singing on his balcony (which I really enjoy, because he's playing good songs).
b. It's still a little light outside at 11:30pm (equally enjoyable).
c. Birthdays are still exciting.

Since my mid-20's, I've wondered what it would feel like to face the end of the glorious decade everyone so adores in their lives.

Well, here it is...one more year left until that oddly definitive mark of 30.

And you know what?  I feel fantastic.  I have no regrets about my 20's thus far, and that's something I've worked very hard toward since college graduation.  

It may seem like I have a pretty carefree schedule these days, traveling and being available.  I'll admit, I do feel pretty carefree right now.  And I can't tell you how thankful I am for every single moment of this opportunity, because I know it won't last forever.

However, being a nomad and leaving behind dear friends and family three times in the past seven years isn't all easy-breezy.  Starting over multiple times takes a tremendous amount of energy.

I also spent the majority of my 20's working hard and doing a lot of soul-searching with regard to my not-so-stimulating/nerve-fraying career choice of accounting.  Sometimes I really wish I could go back and tell my 19-year-old self to avoid following the paycheck or the job security, in hopes that said 19-year-old self would take the hint and major in English or Journalism or Art or Education and hopefully enjoy going to work every day.

Alas, I never would have met the love of my life or some of my favorite friends without some of that spreadsheet-suffering in the audit rooms and cubicles, so 'twas meant to be in the end.  And I'm optimistic, so we'll see what happens when this fun little hiatus is over.  

Anyway, back to 29.  

There's a passage in Eat, Pray, Love (I know, I know...the chick book of all chick books) that really hit home when I read it a couple of years ago:

"Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it." 

Thank you for hitting the nail on the head, Elizabeth Gilbert.  You're a gem.

So there.  My thoughts on turning 29 are basically to keep swimming, be thankful, and have no regrets.

I'd also like to take a moment to thank the great 2-8.  It was one of those definitive years of life that helped to show me another little piece of myself.  

Actually, now that I think about it, my definitive years have surfaced every two years since college... 

At 22, I stuffed a suitcase to its limit and moved to a place I'd never even visited to attend grad school at the University of Oregon.  That year brings me smiles and tears every time I think about it.  It taught me more about myself than anything else ever could have at the time, and the amount of fun I had that year is indescribable.  

At 24, I stuffed my little Jetta to her limit and headed for the addictive green mountains once again.  This time I headed to Portland from Tulsa.  My family and Ken were in T-town, but I knew I had to live in P-town.  I constantly think about how extremely grateful I am that Ken joined me one year later, and that I met some of the coolest people I know.

At 26, I got married, and learned that the independence I thought I would lose didn't go away at all.  It actually became something even better.

A few weeks after my 28th birthday, the opportunity to move to Norway surfaced.  And everything in life got gloriously flipped upside down.  It was a year of goodbyes, scaling down to the bare minimum of possessions (which is absolutely refreshing), getting over the guilt of not working (okay so that didn't actually take long...), figuring out a whole new world, navigating frozen sheets of ice that were supposed to pass for sidewalks, traveling to places I'd always dreamed of visiting, and making amazing new friends.  

At 30, we'll return to our "normal" lives in Portland, but with a different perspective due to 28 and 29.  And I plan to get the biggest, furriest, drooliest dog I can find.  So, it seems like the two-year trend will stay true.

I'd also like to give a special thanks to Ken for making years 23-28 pretty darn fantastic. 

All that to say...here's to the last year of my 20's!  Time to make it count.