Thursday, December 31, 2009

random thoughts on new year's eve

i woke up this morning with random thoughts swirling in my head and you know what that means i feel compelled to share them with all of you....

~  whose eyes are these anyway and when did they start needing reading glasses?

~  the child is now so horse-crazy she is referring to her room as her stall and answering questions with a snort and a paw of her leg.

~  there seems to have arisen some kind of insane misunderstanding that in order to join the blog camp 365 flickr group, one must submit one's underwear to inspection. i would like to say that although i have no idea how this notion came about, i can assure you all, with 100% certainty, that i want nothing whatsoever to do with your underwear. it's really all about taking pictures. if you choose to take pictures of your underwear, that's your business, of course, but please keep them tasteful, this is a nice group.

~  i have a vague sense of panic knowing that the grocery stores are going to close in 15 minutes, even tho' i am quite sure that i don't need a thing.

~  how can my husband have a child that's turning 18 today? and does it make me old too, tho' i had nothing to do with it?

~ sabin and i met the lovely and talented brigitte bouquet (of wobbly plate fame) in copenhagen the other day and had such a great time talking to her and her husband. she gave me a pretty little red wobbly tapas plate and sabin spent yesterday afternoon arranging small tapas plates on it. she even made a menu and we had to order whether we wanted small, medium or large. and no matter the size the plates came with carefully arranged carrot, blueberries, cheese, tomato, cucumber, cottage cheese and chorizo. it was a great present, thank you BB!!

~  i wonder if i should do my monthly blog print after i post this, or will i feel compelled to write something else later today?

~ why am i in rereading mode at the moment? i just keep reading stuff i've already read (most recently mistress of spices). does this happen to you?

~  how come other people can make their "blogged" thing a link on flickr and i can't? (hmm, maybe i should install that plug-in, eh spud?)

~ this photography takes my breath away.

and with that, i believe it's my last posting of 2010 (tho' you never know). i wish you all a very good new year's eve full of laughter and good conversation and just a wee bit of champagne. looking forward to seeing you all in 2010. and do join in with our 365 project on flickr. there's something really comforting to me to imagine a whole group of us, all over the world, taking pictures every day and sharing them with one another.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

the flow of laziness

jægerspris slot
the home of some or other countess danner who was the mistress of some or other king
(undoubtedly named frederik or christian).
she surely spent a lot of time in a state of somnambulant laziness,
hanging about, waiting for the king to show up.

i've very unwisely spent the next-to-last day of the decade in a state of somnambulant laziness. i slept in 'til almost 11 (bliss). i braved the grocery stores, just as everyone (including myself) was hamstering (direct translation from danish) for the days ahead when the stores are closed - but i was so relaxed from all that sleep that the lines and the crowd didn't even bother me. i bought food for a new year's feast. i made homemade lemon curd for a passion fruit roulade that i'm going to make tomorrow. i picked up some great hummus sandwiches from sundwich, a local sandwich place. mid-afternoon, we watched hercule poirot (he really gets a lot of grief for being belgian). i baked a loaf of bread on which i sprinkled sunflower seeds. i did four art journal pages in a state of total flow (thank you clary sage).

and i did it all in a very advanced state of relaxation. because i know that we're not running around with anything that we HAVE to do for the next few days. we're making our own leisurely new year's dinner tomorrow - some gorgeous madagascar prawns (was so relaxed i didn't even think about food miles). a beautiful beef roast with all the fixings, the aforementioned lemon curd and passionfruit roulade, a bit of champagne - just for ourselves. after all of the running around and hectic feelings of christmas, we're bringing in the new year in an utterly relaxed style at home. and i guess i've reached a point in my life where that sounds just perfect.

here's wishing all of you exactly the new year's eve you'd like.

wordless wednesday - sabin's tree

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

365 group created

i have created a 365 group for 2010 in flickr. i called it the blog camp 365 group, mostly because there are a zillion 365 groups and that name worked as a unique name. i've made it so you need an invitation to join, but please do request one if you'd like to participate. i just thought we should reasonably know one another. at least at first. maybe i'll change my mind down the line.

i've made it less restrictive than many flickr 365 groups. here are the rules:

1.) do take a picture every day.
2.) post when you have time.

i'd also request that you do leave comments. for me, doing this is about pushing my photography, so i'm really interested in feedback - good or bad. i hope you all feel that way too.

so click on the link and request an invite to play along and then get ready to take some pictures.

100 creative things in 2009

"one gets a sense of how beauty always has to inhabit a faultline between utility and ideology." - said a recent article on heather moore. i'm not sure how much ideology makes its way into the things i make, but i would like to think they combine utility and beauty. i vowed to finish 100 creative things (if i could count the stuff that's just started, i'd have been there a long time ago) in 2009 and i hereby give you the final four...

#97 - my latest baby quilt - up up and away - (going up on my etsy shop later today).

#98 - the first quilt block for a memory quilt for karoline, husband's oldest.
the balloon design i used on the baby quilt originated here.
i wanted her to remember the balloon ride she took in iowa in 2005.
and although the quilt's not finished, i'm counting it because the rest will be designed by her.
this was the gift she unwrapped on christmas.

#99 - the quilt block for mathilde, husband's middle child's memory quilt.
this one to remind her of all of the giant pieces of chocolate cake
 she ate on our trip to the philippines last year.
she'll design the rest herself, according to the memories she wants on her quilt.

#100 - a cuddle quilt for my nephew owen.
as you can see, i didn't get it sent.
i used the super cute crab fabric from ikea and backed it with a soft green
(and very stretchy hard-to-work-with blankie, also from ikea).
it's hand-quilted with yarn ties.

and that's it, 100 finished acts of creativity in 2009.
i may have to do it again in 2010!

Monday, December 28, 2009

writing is the new praying: non-resolutions for 2010

i'm not super big on new year's resolutions, at least not the traditional kind--you know, exercise more, get more rest, eat healthy, lose weight, run a marathon, stop drinking wine - all that stuff. but during 2009, one of my resolutions was to carry a camera with me at all times and if i can count my iPhone, i did, in fact, achieve that. i also vowed to create at least 100 things and i have also achieved that (photographic evidence of the last few coming soon). in my private, written journal, i declared that i wanted to be a blogger blog of note and that happened in 2009 as well.  so in the interest of writing as the new praying, there are a few things i'm going to do during 2010.

1.) the main thing i intend to do involves these gorgeous moleskine calendar notebooks i scored last month at norli bookstore in oslo. inspired by these beautiful journals by cathy cullis that i saw on flickr, i decided that i want to do mini art journaling in these calendar journals. i also love these. and these beauties by geninne. i know that mine will land somewhere in between and somewhere more me, but it's something i feel motivated to stick with. the small size of these and the fact that there's a different color for each month makes me think i can stay interested. the only drawback is that they have faint lines, but i'm hoping that i can deal with that, tho' normally i feel constricted by lines.

2.) i'm going to embark on a 365 photo project. i haven't selected a flickr group and i'm not sure i'm going to (unless some of you are interested in starting one with me? - do let me know and i'll create it). i very nearly did this in 2009 as it was, but i'm thinking it would be good for me to push through my current lack of photo mojo if i gave it a whirl.

3.) the simplicity project - as you know, we are planning on being very selective about what we buy during 2010 here at our house.  thanks to a great suggestion by glenn, i'm going to keep myself posted/accountable/focused on this quest by sharing a weekly "what i didn't buy" blog with all of you.

4.) a book contract. i want a book contract in 2010.

so there you have them, my three main resolutions that i'm hesitant to call resolutions for 2010. what about you?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

the naughty noughties

what a decade it's been. we've gone from monica lewinsky to sarah palin. ken starr to osama bin laden. clinton to bush's non-election in 2002 to obama. from the Y2K scare to the triumph of the iPhone. september 11. the asian tsunami. wars in afghanistan and iraq. from the skeptical environmentalist (bjorn lomborg) to an inconvenient truth (al gore). from the matrix to avatar. it's been an eventful decade.

my friend zuzanna wrote not long ago about all of the words that are forever changed by the decade, so i won't repeat that, tho' i did argue in a comment that the word "bush" is forever changed. we do things differently now than we did at the beginning of the decade. we blog. we google. we tweet. we have clever phones and GPS and digital photography.

although i think that forty is the new thirty, i spent the prime years of my life thus far in the noughties. i had a daughter. i accidentally worked for microsoft. i traveled the world. i had a good decade. but i'll admit, i'm ready for the new one to begin. i'm ready to leave behind the excess. the striving. the constant accumulation of more stuff. i think the decade ahead will be a simpler decade. we'll do more for ourselves - growing more of our own food, learning more, remember more of how things were once done. we'll return to a place where we can simply do more things for ourselves (sewing, canning, making cider are on my list). or at least that's what i hope.

i hope a lot of other things too, but only time will tell.

avatar, how you sucked, let me count the ways..

i devoted three hours of my life yesterday to the james cameron movie avatar and i would like them back, please. my sister says it's because i'm a snob and just on general principle hate movies that the masses love, but that's not true - i liked the harry potter films and even liked the film of the davinci code much better than the book (which admittedly, may not be saying much).

putting aside the cinematography of the movie, which i understand is ground-breaking from a technological standpoint but which i'm in no position to judge, here's what i hated about the film:

  1. the mineral that the humans were strip-mining from pandora was called unobtainium. how heavy-handed and obvious is that?
  2. the animals depicted on pandora utterly lacked imagination - they were just strangeified versions of  our animals - reptilian horses, neon-lit dinosaurs, dragon-like flying pterodactyls, skeletal dogs - if you're going to dream up a new people and a new planet, have the imagination to come up with something truly new.
  3. calling the range around the tree of voices where none of the advanced flight instruments work a "flux vortex" is trite and unoriginal. didn't we already see that in back to the future and/or 2001: a space odyssey (now THERE's a good film)?
  4. the thin plot could be summed up as a cheesy version of Rousseau's noble savage vs. the terminator. but what else would we expect of james cameron?
  5. the fiber-optic brain transfer thing is another example of how heavy-handed this film is. we are given NO credit for even a whisper of intelligence or ability to understand subtleties.
  6. the final fight between noble, but underpowered savages and ignorant soldiers with all the kit is just trite beyond belief. it's rambo meets terminator meets transformers meets last of the mohicans with a little of dances with wolves thrown in for good measure. a pastiche of references that dissolves into utter unbelievability.
  7. it's at least an hour too long.
  8. after the battle, the humans just pack it up and go home, rather too easily and tidily. 
  9. the theme of nature vs. technology is an interesting one, one which had tons of utterly unexploited possibilities due to the fact that apparently cameron doesn't care at all about story, but only about special effects.
  10. apparently james cameron didn't want to pay ben affleck big bucks, so he found some unknown australian guy who looked and acted quite a lot like him and who he could pay lots less. but it's obvious he had ben affleck in mind.
there were a couple of things i liked about the film. the glowy night botanical world was very cool, even if it could have been plucked out of an 80s disco. and that they said "i see you" to mean "i love you" is powerful. but honestly, i cannot recommend that anyone use their hard-earned money to see this film. it will not enrich your life in the least to have seen it. unless maybe you're a cinematographer or interested in high quality CGI. but the preview i saw for sherlock holmes looked pretty good. 

Saturday, December 26, 2009

2009: the year in review

looking back over the past year, much has happened. i feel like a different person here at the end of the year than i was at the beginning of it. it's quite fascinating how those changes occur incrementally and one day you suddenly realize that you're transformed. there have been some constants - photography, noticing the world around me, creativity, inspiration, lists, blog crushes, overthinking and general navel gazing. and it seems like evolution comes up kind of a lot, but i blame husband for that.

i've spent some time looking back on the year in a couple of ways. one, by reading skimming back over this blog and two, by browsing back through my iPhoto. shall we take a little stroll down memory lane?

january - moving in to the now-famous blue room was the highlight. i also did a lot of those interviews that were going around at the time. my sister visited and we went to møn's klint and the west coast of denmark. and we played an elaborate practical joke on her boyfriend, who was an extremely good sport about it, tho' he did drink an entire bottle of port afterwards. and our pooka turned 8. 42 blog posts.

february - what can i say, it was the month the eyeball obsession began. sabin started riding lessons. we celebrated our 10th anniversary. i learned about fika. i bought a new sewing machine. i went a little nuts about TtV photography. 39 blog posts.

march - i met and fell in love with a nikon D300. sadly, later in the year, i would have to give it back, because it was my work camera and i left that job, but happily, i found a very lightly used one in my favorite local camera shop a couple weeks before i had to give it back, so that didn't matter at all - and i learned that one cannot stay in a job for the sake of a camera (but that was in november, so i'm getting ahead of myself). i opened my etsy shop and sold my first items. i went a little crazy for stones. i had a gorgeous birthday dinner at my very favorite little castle to celebrate turning thirty-twelve. my kitchen became famous on apartment therapy.  the julie project started. 48 blog posts.

april - i practiced austerity april, a little exercise in buying less, it largely worked, tho' there was a moment of weakness towards the end of the month in the face of new music. a little trans-atlantic learning adventure began. i invented gin & tonic sorbet. moments of perfect clarity was named blog of note by the gods at google on april 21, which was a really good thing, because prior to that i'd been having a really crappy day. i continued to be obsessed with rocks. and the julie project fizzled out, which was definitely a learning experience. we went to a funeral. and a wedding. we visited a danish vineyard. 47 blog posts.

mayspring came in earnest. i visited the west coast of norway for the first time. the idea of blog camp was born and the first blog camps were scheduled. the blog camp blog was created. i got downright obsessive about rocks, particularly one i found on the west coast of norway. me and my gin & tonic sorbet appeared in disco underworld.  i wrote my 700th post and mused on what it meant to me to blog. i outlined my long-held theory that everyone needs their albanian. 49 blog posts.

june - i got flowered chucks. i attended nor-shipping. the first blog camp was held and it was even better than any and all expectations. i received the most lovely little stones from trinsch in isreal and from lynne in south africa (see, even others got caught up in my stone obsession). we celebrated the summer solstice and soaked in the light.  i had a realization (finally) about creativity and about accepting the release of your creativity into the world. michael jackson died and i found that i didn't care. 40 blog posts.

july - i learned how to make my pictures big. i embarked on an insane project provoked challenged inspired by spudballoo - to tell 30 secrets in 30 days. in the end, i told 29 secrets and one lie and no one ever guessed correctly which one was the lie. and i was exhausted by the effort. we spent time on the beach, soaking up the summer sun. kristina and i started across øresund, a photoblog showing the contrasts of denmark and sweden. i developed a sociology of mobile phones. we took a mini-vacation to dublin. and left for a real vacation in singapore via amsterdam. i added a new country to my list: malaysia. husband and me started the livet på landet (life on the land) blog to document our dream of moving to a farm. 52 blog posts.

august - i embarked on a new obsession: robots. i learned that our child is a budding photographer. i concluded that singapore is like disneyland (actually, i concluded that a long time ago, but finally documented it).  i reread the laura ingalls wilder books. i went to blog camp in england.  i visited stonehenge, which was something i had long desired to do. i developed a foot fetish. i had a truly brilliant experience at one of the last shipyards left in denmark. i started participating in postcrossing. and woven underneath it all, i developed a disliking for my job, which i'd really loved until then. maybe because they made me sit with more than $10,000 of their debt in travel expenses for an inordinately long time. 37 blog posts.

september - with the autumn beginning, i started to obsess about light. blog camp 2.0. i felt the significance of 09.09.09. the queen came to town. i found weaving at a museum in randbøldal. i thought about color. i started domestic sensualist together with beth. i discovered the wonderful henie-onstad art museum near oslo. my unease with my job deepened, and even made me ill, tho' i didn't see that at the time - interesting how that works. barbara kingsolver writes in one of her early books something along the lines of how people are so inside of themselves, it's sometimes hard to tell anything. i came to know what that meant in september. 39 blog posts.

october - i turned to embroidery in order to cope with my growing dissatisfaction with my job (phew, at least it manifested itself positively in some way). husband found a brilliant old sewing machine for me at the dump. we prepared for our house to be put up for sale i spent a couple of days in istanbul, one of my favorite cities. we had a glorious few days touring around denmark with an old cat love friend during the autumn holiday. i couchsurfed for the first time and it was fabulous. 34 blog posts.

november - the monocules© were born! i found a real treasure in a used bookstore. i pondered the 20th anniversary of the fall of the berlin wall. i closed in in earnest on my 100 creative things in 2009. with only a minor nervous breakdown, i held a brilliant thanksgiving dinner for friends and family. my work appeared in public bookstore. the gold edition of disco underworld came out and i was included! i voted in the municipal elections in denmark. i thought about and tried to articulate who this girl was, at least for now. and i left the job which had become the job from hell, and even in this economic climate, i still breathed a heavy sigh of relief. 37 blog posts.

december - i did some serious pondering and reading about simplicity. i prepared for christmas and revealed that i'm a bit of a scrooge about christmas cards. i lost my photo mojo a bit and am still hoping it comes back. i've been pretty introspective as i have tried to decide what's next after leaving my job. COP15 took place in copenhagen. i sorted a whole lot of sabin's baby clothes to save and donate. and i have at least three new bloggy-related projects up my sleeve (so stay tuned in 2010). 34 blog posts (and counting).


: : inspiration was a big theme for me in 2009. i wanted to seek it, understand it, pick it apart,  drink it in, swallow it and digest it. i was a little obsessed about it. but apparently i needed that.

: : i changed a lot over the course of the year. what i want from life became simpler (even if the amount of stuff in my house did not).

: : i became a photographer in 2009.

: : i also became an artist.  even if so far it's still mostly for myself.

: : i didn't fly enough to retain gold status on my two airlines where i've had it in recent years. and i'm ok with that.

: : i was directly (credited) responsible for the sale of no less than ten nikons in 2009. i think nikon should employ me.

: : i made a lot of connections and good friends in the blogosphere (and in real life) for which i'm very grateful. and i can't wait to see what 2010 brings.

Friday, December 25, 2009

ahh, christmas

the smells of a nigella-inspired dinner (duck AND a stuffed pork roast) wafting upstairs from the oven, harry connick christmas music playing on the stereo, a blissful hour and a half all to myself, while husband and sabin go pick up the big girls, a glass of homemade eggnog, and a bit of time to set the table, shower and take some photos of the ornaments. friends are coming for dinner, plus we have a really interesting couchsurfer staying with us - a bit of a wise man from the east, since he teaches at a university in singapore - the dinner conversation should be very interesting.  and on top of it all, sabin is feeling much better. it all adds up to a lovely christmas.

obligatory matrioshka ornament.

one of the original ornaments mom got me for my tree when i began to have my own tree.

mom got this one at the same time - back in 1989.
it's my very favorite ornament and always needs a place of honor.

since we've been mad for robots this year, this is our new ornament for 2009.

the birdie hides in close to the trunk and one of the purple star lights.

a purple pinecone. why not?

my oldest ornament - made by my grandmother.

i used to have a little mechanical turning device for this one
so it would go round and round on the tree.

came from mom back in 1989 together with the fish and the little bouquet.

and my table centerpiece. which i did all by myself instead of paying a small fortune.
#96 in the year of creativity.

and i've also decided that i love the purple.
i'm not getting rid of it. it all means too much.
and there's value in something you've built up over the years.

so here's wishing you all a wonderful christmas full of love and laughter, wherever you are!
i'm really glad i've had all of you in my life over the past year.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

wordless wednesday - picking a christmas tree

t minus 36 hours and counting

the danes think christmas is the 24th, even tho' they do refer to it as christmas eve, as one should. they torture their children by making them wait all day, until after the food is consumed and the dishes put away before finally letting the sugar-crazed, zombie-tired little darlings tear into their gifts. imagine how much more peaceful the day would be if they just waited until actual christmas, let the kids open their gifts in the morning like normal people and then they had their new games and toys to play with all day while the adults cooked. you know, like the normal order of things.

at our house, we try to do a bit of both. it works out because sabin's big sisters come to our house on the 25th, which is actual christmas, and i save a stocking of small prezzies for sabin to have in the morning. we do our big christmas meal that day and just have a good soup of some sort - tho' not my mom's oyster stew because i can never find oysters 'til after christmas - and some good bread on the 24th.

nigella fruitcake #95

as of this moment (midmorning on december 23), the only tree we have up is the little lego tree pictured above. and as you can see, the presents don't really fit under it very well. i baked up a storm yesterday - making a beautiful and easy fruitcake from nigella's christmas cookbook, a couple of loaves of cranberry-orange bread (recipe coming soon to domestic sensualist) and a thyme focaccia. when i wasn't baking, i was playing outside in the snow with husband and sabin and her friend, so there was no time to put up the trees (one big one and a little one for sabin's room), which we went out and cut down on monday.

after seven nearly uninterrupted hours of playing in the snow yesterday, around 8, sabin began complaining of a stomach ache. her cheeks got rosey (not in a good way) and her eyes glassy.  her friend, who was going to stay overnight, reluctantly tore himself away from her computer and went home with his parents who had come by to inspect the fort and have a bit of hot apple cider and freshly-baked nigella fruitcake. it was a good thing he did, because she spent the entire night throwing up, then fitfully sleeping for a little while, then throwing up again. and it's no better this morning, tho' now her little tummy is empty, so there's not as much throwing up. what a way to spend christmas!