Friday, December 23, 2011

December Round-Up

We're in the midst of an 11-day journey through beautiful places, and I'm nursing a cold in a (thankfully, very comfortable) hotel bed after powering through a day of sightseeing.  

So, as my holiday offering, here are some photographic tidbits from the past few weeks, before I attempt to slip into a feverish slumber...

Snowy fun:
A pretty walk in the forest.

Another pretty walk in the forest.

Statues in the dark at 3:30pm.

They're also begging the universe to take them to the longer-days side of the winter solstice (which, luckily, we've now reached after the solstice yesterday!).

Holiday fun:

Ken, picking out our tiny, crooked, $25 Charlie Brown Christmas tree.  And carrying it all the way home.

Andy, enjoying a traditional Norwegian holiday dinner (thanks to Linda and Inger!) and Christmas beer in festive attire.

A field trip to a big mall in the suburbs, where I was greeted by this frightening Christmas troll scene.  Trolls legends are big in Norway, and apparently also involve Santa?

Nutcracker at the Opera House with a fun group of girlfriends.

Thanksgiving.  Love these girls, and can't thank them enough for their fun, wonderful friendships over the past year.  I love our little hang-out dates.  They're gangstas in the kitchen, to boot.

This "holiday" involved the celebration of three Aussie birthdays with a pub crawl whilst wearing adult onsies.  Everyone else invested in the fabulous Norwegian OnePiece, while I went for the cheap option of an H&M little girls onesie, that I had to keep covered with a sweater all night.  Good times.

A visit from Ken's cool cousin Shannyn.  It was fun to get to know her - thanks for visiting, Shannyn!

We also attended a traditional Norwegian Christmas dinner (called julebord), that was perfectly orchestrated by Silje (Pierre did polish the glasses, so kudos to him as well).  Sadly I don't have any pics from the occasion, but thanks a ton S&P!

Crafty fun:

I've always wanted to learn to sew, and have had the opportunity to finally do it over the past few months.  This corduroy skirt was my first project, and the construction was closely overseen by my teacher.  We'll see how I do when I'm on my own some day...

Tamale-making with Hal and Alison. So delish!

Love, love, love the Baked recipe for brownies (here).

Sunny fun:

This winter has been SO much warmer than last winter.  The sidewalks were covered with snow and ice for a few days, then it rained and warmed up, and it all melted in the city.  So, I've been taking advantage of the freedom to run without ice.  It was snowing when we left for our trip, so we'll probably return to a winter wonderland in the new year...

Early sunsets aren't too shabby when blue skies are involved.

Moment of Zen:  Going to sleep before 11pm to hopefully shake this cold soon!  

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Long November

November was kind of a strange month this time around.  It started off not-so-great, and ended on a better foot.  'Twas a bit of a roller coaster ride, that's for sure.

The weather seemed to correspond to the emotions, with solid sheets of gray clouds covering the sky that made me want to hibernate for the entire winter, then glorious warm, sunny days of biking and running.

Most importantly, the snow held off, giving us at least one more month of way better weather than we had last year (which was one of the coldest winters in a long time...glad I could be here for that momentous occasion).  Apparently, this was the warmest November on record.  Quite the contrast!

Yes, I'm obsessed with weather, and I pretty much mention it in every blog post.  Weather isn't small talk to me.  It's serious business!

Anyway, here's a little November synopsis...

First, something amazing: We went curling.  

And yes, it was as awesome as it looks on TV during the Winter Olympics.


We had a fun visitor, all the way from Tulsa in fact.  Andy stopped by on his way home after a work trip to Paris.

Thanks for visiting, Andy!  Good times indeed.
(Please note that we also kicked off the ice skating season in the photo above.  Sweet.)  

We got to cruise outside of Oslo on a couple of road trips, thanks to some friends.  It's always nice to get out of town when we can, since we don't have a car here.  

Thanks to Silje and Pierre, we've now blown our own drinking glasses at Hadeland Glassverk.  And thanks to Henrik, we've now been to the End of the World (Verdens Ende).  Thanks friends, we appreciate the field trips!

It's the end of the world as we know it.  

Or, it's a really pretty rock formation in the Oslofjord...

It was a super gray day, but the colors of the rocks (granite?) were lovely.

Navigating the slippery rocks.  I may have had an awesome bruise on my back for a week from slipping on one of the first puddles we came across.

In a desperate attempt to fight the gray, I decided to try to capture just how gloomy it was one afternoon.  So, here we go:

Gray rocks, gray sea, gray sky.

Gray shells.

Gray boats (okay, so there's some green and brown here too).

Gray people begging to escape the gray.

Dead tree.  Not gray.  But the background is...

The gray left us for a couple of days here and there, which led to some excellent sunsets at 4pm, which I enjoyed during a nice run along the fjord.

I suppose the gray mood at the beginning of November was set on the first day of the month, when we had to say "see you soon" to some very dear friends who had become our family here in Norway.  They moved home, and it was a sad farewell.  A goodbye is never easy, even if you know it's necessary, and that it's going to happen eventually.  There's a void without them here, and I'm definitely feeling it.

So, beautiful friends, we miss you dearly, we're grateful for a year of excellent memories, and we love you very much.  And, we'll see you soon!

After the goodbyes, I tried to spend as much time with other good friends and stay busy to keep from moping around too much.

I went to some fantastic shows - Ryan Adams at a small theater outside Oslo (amazing!), Givers.

Saw the Nutcracker at the Opera House with fun American girlfriends.

  We enjoyed an awesome Thanksgiving dinner with fun friends (thanks Bethany, Alison, Brigita, Abbey, and the men!).  

Linda and Inger made a nice Christmas pinnekj√łtt dinner for us to enjoy, and I mentioned our curling adventure, road trips, and Andy's visit above.  

Also, Ken traveled to Angola briefly for work...who knew he'd end up in Africa during our stint in Europe?  He seemed to really enjoy the trip.

So, November gave us some sunshine to help ease the gray.  Thanks to good friends, for the fun times to help balance out the sad ones a bit!

And the Moment of Zen:  Finding the American food aisle in a Swedish grocery store yesterday.  It actually kind of grossed me out a little, and made me really happy.  All at once.  Never thought I'd get that excited over a box of Stovetop stuffing...