Saturday, November 30, 2013

30 days of lists: day 30

i don't want to remember running around like a maniac, moving a horse and doing a whole lot of last-minute packaging and sewing stuff before tomorrow's market. i will manage, somehow, to get it all done. time will expand and be all that i need.

Friday, November 29, 2013

30 days of lists: day 29

i had this ready and couldn't get into blogger for hours due to some strange "infinite loop error" message. very strange. but here it is. better late than never and only one to go. went to a late open evening tonight, but only bought some small gifts for sabin's december christmas countdown calendar. i really do want to go with either handmade or flea market items this year and not succumb to the usual gift panic. happily, my budget will hold me to that.

oh, and these aren't minifigs, but some ordinary christmas-themed lego from a few years ago. i love that little reindeer.

a busy weekend awaits. we're moving sabin's horse home tomorrow and i'm frantically finishing up things for the christmas market on sunday, but first, a good night's sleep.

happy weekend one and all!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

a drop in the sea of gratitude

it's thanksgiving day. and while we don't load our table with turkey and all the fixings in denmark today, i want to send my own thanks out into the hive mind today. i've come to think such things matter. i asked for good vibes to be sent my way on monday morning and i swear i could feel them precisely when i needed them. it must be the same with the great mass of gratitude being sent into the universe today. that mass of goodwill and gratitude must make the molecules align and hum just a little more in tune, if only just for that one day. i must be part of that.

so i pause this morning, with my beloved molly cat nestled on her furry red pillow in my lap, purring contentedly, and i am thankful for...

~ the way that husband makes me laugh every single day.
~ the way he says, "have a great day," when he leaves every single morning.
~ how he ends our phone calls with "i love you," even when he's at work.
~ his undying drive and work ethic - he comes home from his day job and goes straight to work on one of the many projects around this house.

~ sabin. she's beautiful, thoughtful, kind, sensible and a good, loyal friend to her friends.

~ all these cats. even the wild bunch outside. they make me smile and comfort me every single day.
~ our little flock of chickens. and that the spotty one has started to lay eggs.
~ my morning chores - the cats flying around in the terrace, eager for their breakfast.  the horses crunching their grain is such a comforting sound. and feeding the bunnies their breakfast brings joy as well. i love letting the chickens out of the coop and scattering some grain for them. they're so funny with the secret (to me) language they speak to one another. those 15-20 minutes every morning, even when it's cold, ground me and start my day off right.

~ friends who help with something really important out of the goodness of their hearts and help me shine when i need to.

~ friends who listen to my rambling and rants and offer gentle guidance on the ways of the world.

~ recently finding an amazing group of smart, funny (english-speaking) women.

~ my sewing machine, fabric stash and the meditative quality sewing has at precisely the moment when i need to calm an inner restlessness.

~ that we have this enormous project that is this house. it's not the way we want it to be, but it will be one day and we work steadily towards that. it's good to have a mission and a shared goal. i think a lot of couples lose that along the way and i am so grateful that we haven't.

~ knowing that my family is gathered together, eating good food, playing cards, maybe singing a bit at the piano and undoubtedly laughing a lot. i wish i was there, but even tho' i'm not, knowing that they are together is good.

~ lastly, i'm grateful for the opportunity to learn patience and learn to let go in a process that means a great deal to me, but which i cannot control. but which i feel confident will have the outcome i desire.

there you have it, universe, my contribution to the thanksgiving sea of gratitude.

thank you for reading. and happy thanksgiving, one and all.

30 days of lists: day 28

always in my fridge. i should also have written cauliflower. i almost always have a head of cauliflower in the crisper. and i always have eggs, but i don't keep them in the fridge. they don't in the grocery stores in the UK, so why should i? never had a problem with them either. and for those who don't know danish, pålæg is sandwich fixings (ham, paté, sausage). a convenient and handy little one word that covers it all.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

30 days of lists: day 27

this item on the list makes me think it's aimed at a crowd a bit younger than me, but at the same time, it was fun to think back and see which courses popped into my head. the last one was taught by me, the others i took. i like being a student better than being the teacher, but it was a fun course nonetheless.

* * *

a heartwarming little story about lego minifigures.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

cultural drive-by

there's a lot of palaver about cultural (mis)appropriation these days. first it was miley and her twerking (i wonder why twerking wasn't the word of the year, selfie seem so three years ago, but i guess the OED is slow to move). and now katy perry is in trouble for dressing up as a geisha. i have my own local struggles with cultural misappropriation in that my little town is having a "black friday" this friday, not realizing that you can't have it without first having thanksgiving. while both are pure, unadulterated consumerism, at least we eat turkey and consciously think about what we're thankful for the day before. to have black friday without thanksgiving just seems wrong to me. it feels like they're taking on one of the worst aspects of my culture and celebrating it. it doesn't help that thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and i really miss it. black friday in denmark just feels like mockery to me.

that said, where did we think globalization would take us? these things are all products of a globalized world. katy probably thought the geisha garb was pretty and didn't think much beyond that. miley, she was just trying to shed hannah montana once and for all. and give, the local business club just wants a formal kickoff to the holiday shopping season. so they paste together some of the imagery and ideas they've seen thanks to film, television, the interwebs and the easy access to travel for the masses and they tried to make it their own. so they didn't understand the context and the signals it sends. big deal. it's something else in the new context anyway. it's only those of us who know the original context that get our feelings hurt, whether twerker, geisha or just a displaced american. 

culture is dynamic and it's constantly sucking in new influences and abandoning others. it's transformative and never stands still. and to be honest, we love that about it. but i still wish they'd introduce thanksgiving in denmark.

* * *

"there's a special way of being boring when you're christian." - husband, 25/11.2013
(in reference to a christian radio station he accidentally listened to on his drive home)
i love that guy.

* * *

i so gotta get husband to agree to this

* * *

would you use your own unique bacteria to make cheese?
these famous artists did. 

30 days of lists: day 26

the only rules i have for friendship are - be funny, be smart, be interesting and laugh a lot. that's not too much ask, is it?

Monday, November 25, 2013

30 days of lists: day 25

every family has squirks. my dad hates cucumbers, beets and onions. my mother; she can make ice cream sound crunchy (even when it's not). my sister has loads of quirks, but at the moment, it's the alarming amount of motorcycles piling up in her garage. husband can eat an astonishing amount of chocolate in a very short amount of time and you don't actually see him doing it. he's that fast. and sabin, since she was very little, gets completely squirmy and can't be still right before she falls dead asleep. it's rather uncanny, actually.  and me? i've not got any quirks, i'm sure.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

30 days of lists: day 23

i should have put on the list that i went through a marilyn phase about 25 years ago.
but i didn't think of that 'til now when i'm looking at the marilyn minifig.

* * *

the peak of chic - getting at the stories behind the designs.

* * *

i'm thinking of becoming a vayable guide.
now i've just got to come up with a fun, unique tour.

Friday, November 22, 2013

30 days of lists: day 22

i don't know if this was the kind of recent dreams they meant (and i do realize it's a bit hard to read). but i had the strangest dream the other night. i was at some western-themed resort with my mom and my sister. for some reason, they had hitched a team of horses to the pickup and horse trailer and were trying to turn them around (why they didn't just drive the pickup was unclear) when they nearly backed it into the large body of water that was right there. my whole life, i've had dreams about falling into water, usually yucky, stagnant water that doesn't turn out to be so bad once i'm in it. it just looked bad before i fell in. when i woke up, the trailer was precariously balancing on the edge and i don't know if it fell in or not.

* * *

i've bought a nikon coolpix p520 for sabin for christmas. i got a good price on it because it had been a display model. to make sure it works, i took my list shots with it today. i don't really know how to control the ISO, but it seems to have chosen an ok one for itself (tho' i have it on aperture priority and it should have been up to me to choose). it's a neat little camera and takes HD video (which is why she wanted it). for me, it's a bit of a frustrating step back, since it doesn't take the shot immediately, but only when it's good and ready. i remember that about my old sony point & shoot, but it's been a long time. you can't see on it that was a display model and it has the full warranty. i'm satisfied it works, so i'll pack it up and she'll be pleased as punch on christmas. and yes, i'm sure she doesn't read my blog, so i haven't spoiled the surprise. i love that what she most wanted for christmas was a camera of her own and tho' i'd have bought her a nikon 3200 if i were choosing, she had done her research and she knew what she wanted, so i got her that. 

* * *

a big thank you to blogger for moving the height and width so that they're next to one another in the html. it makes it so much easier to resize photos!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

winter's welcome arrival

at long last, yesterday morning we awoke to a proper, thick frost and then this morning, there was the dusting of first snow. don't get me wrong, i'm not complaining about the gloriously long, mild autumn we've had. but we are ready for winter now. the earth and the plants and the hibernating hedgehogs need a proper freeze. it helps them sleep and rejuvenate. we all need a quiet, waiting, resting period. we need to hunker down, to settle in and snuggle up. we need cold, crisp air filling our lungs when we step outside. i've been craving it without even realizing it until it was here.

why does it seem like every season is the best one when you're in the midst of it?

* * *

anna maria horner's new fabric lines are delicious.
and she's so genuine and authentic. 
reading about them on her blog is like a big, warm hug.

30 days of lists: day 21

my own personal food pyramid. there's a solid base of tea, coffee and wine (i should have put it in that order). then the second layer are the things i frequently make for dinner - stir-frys (stir fries looked wrong), omelettes, soup and quiches. then comes our new favorite cheese - a fabulous french sheep milk cheese called petit basque. so good. a bit pricey, but completely worth it. and then sushi on top. i love sushi, but don't get to eat it that often now that we live in the countryside. there are a lot of veggies and fruit too, but they weren't as humorous.

* * *

human architecture by spencer tunick. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

30 days of lists: day 20

what's comforting you these dark, dreary november days?

* * *

if you're interested in some beautiful, mint-condition vintage camera equipment or woodworking tools, check bill's listings on eBay!

* * *

and speaking of co-creation, check out these mother-daughter drawings.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

election day in denmark

it's election day in denmark. we vote for the municipal and regional representatives. i say we, because even i, as a non-citizen, can vote in the municipal and regional election. there are a lot of parties in denmark - left (which is actually right), conservative, the danish people's party (dansk folkeparti - they're just a shade to the left of nazis), social democrats, socialists, radicals, a left party called enhedslisten, which wants to send denmark into an ecstatic state of fourierian utopian socialism.

i have a pretty clear idea from the national level, what each party stands for, but it gets a little murky and diluted at the municipal level. and tho' you'd think the regions are between national and municipal, in denmark, they're not (basically all they decide about is the hospitals), they're really a third tier. DR, the national media outlet, has a quiz you can take to determine who you should vote for (there are so many candidates and you can only vote for one, so it's hard to know what each individual might stand for). the candidates were asked to the take the quiz as well and then the results match you with the ones whose answers were the most like yours. here are my results:

they illustrate nicely how far the local politicians are from their national party lines. i come out as most in agreement with someone from enhedslisten, which is at the far left of the spectrum on the national level. tho' i am not an advocate of utopian socialism, i could possibly be inclined towards their thinking, so the result isn't that surprising. what is, however, surprising, is that the candidate i'm next most in agreement with is from venstre, (which tho' literally left, is actually right), the second most right wing party in the country. on the side i least agree with, it doesn't surprise me that at the top is a member of dansk folkeparti, the party which has done all they can in the years i've been in denmark to capitalize on fear and demonize immigrants. what is surprising is the place in that column of a member of enhedslisten - that means that their two candidates represent the opposite ends of the spectrum in our local election.

the person that i was planning on voting for doesn't even make either list, which leaves me a bit in doubt. she is, however, one of the few i've actually spent time talking to about the issues, so perhaps that should count for more than the results of some media quiz.

tho' there is generally high voter turnout in denmark, people are saying they will stay home from this election. i personally think it's because there are too many candidates and people feel they can't get their head around it to know who to vote for (i know i feel that way). however, i do intend to exercise my right to vote. i think it's important and i'm grateful that i'm legally allowed to do so, despite not being a citizen. what happens in my municipality (which is more like a county in american terms) affects me, so i'm pleased that i have a say.  with so many candidates, the election can be decided by just a few votes, so it might even be that my vote actually counts.

i'll have to do some more thinking before i go in and tick that box later today, but i know already now that it's not going to be a member of dansk folkeparti. i never did like their politics, but last week, their "equality spokeswoman" spoke out against a toy store catalog that had featured boys playing with girl toys and vice versa, saying it was "perverse." that level of perverse thinking will definitely not be getting my vote. nor will anyone from venstre, whose national leader is in trouble (again again) for flying first class to the tune of 700,000 kroner in his capacity as director of a dodgy environmental organization (GGGI). not to mention at a more local level, one of the politicians from venstre declared in a neighboring municipality that "it's over with approaching the municipality in english."

i imagine i'll land somewhere in the middle and probably vote for the woman who seemed sensible and intelligent when i spoke with her a few weeks ago, even tho' she's not a member of the party i most identify with (radikale). sometimes you just have to go with your gut.

30 days of lists: day 19

is liberalness a word? if not, it should be.

Monday, November 18, 2013

co-creating ideas (or please help me out here!)

assembling a diverse group - practical people, experimenters, musicians,
people with their finger on the pulse of trends, nerds, children, folks from diverse cultures,
the more diversity of ideas and backgrounds, the better.
i need some feedback for a co-creation project. first a quick explanation of what i mean by co-creation. in these days of social media, there are a lot of ways that companies are co-creating together with their customers. there's crowdsourcing (which is arguably what i'm doing here) - asking an open question online or via social media, there's direct invitation to be part of an exclusive engagement with the company (what pinterest did very well with their recent translations into the scandinavian languages), there are actual gatherings of users (ala LEGO brick conferences around the world), where the company can take the temperature of what interests users. and i'm sure there are countless other ways of co-creating in this developing field.

for a presentation that's very important to me, i have to sketch out a fictional (but plausible) scenario and describe a co-creation process. the type of process i'd like to describe is one which may start with crowdsourcing, but it will end in an invitation to be part of an exclusive group and ultimately end in a new or improved product/product line, so it will actually engage several aspects of the kinds of co-creation i described above.

i believe that when co-creating, the more diverse your group, the better. i'm a believer in putting together experts, users, artists and musicians, shaking them up and seeing the magic that happens.

i'm looking for LEGO-related ideas, which is where you come in. i have several, but i would like more. i would also like your feedback on the ideas i already have. they are as follows:

~ along the lines of their architecture series, LEGO should develop a wildlife series, possibly even with a tie-in to the BBC, which produces such breathtaking nature documentaries and or/the world wildlife fund (or other organizations devoted to the welfare of the world's animals).

~ LEGO education has some pretty amazing stuff available to schools today, but it's only available in large packs, which not every school can afford. it's difficult for an individual teacher to obtain a package to investigate and look into how she can use it in the classroom without the school having a big, expensive subscription. a co-creation process together with teachers from smaller schools around the world might result in ideas for LEGO education to make it easier for teachers to use their wonderful products.

~ the LEGO advent calendars could use some inspiration - a co-creation process whereby consumers come with suggested stories/themes for the calendar. i know we personally bought two of them in 2010 - the castle-themed one and the city one, but haven't bought one since because we don't feel that the story that's there is clear or will sustain us through 24 days.

~ despite the popularity of the friends series, there is a lack of focus on girls with LEGO. i know my own girl wouldn't want the friends LEGOs. there must be another angle to appeal to girls. who should be involved in determining that?

~ an environmental angle on LEGO. despite being a plastic toy, they are a plastic toy that lasts and that people save and hand down to the next generation. LEGO should take advantage of this and have an environmental themed series. but what should that contain? and who should be involved? (can you tell that this is the one that interests me the most).

so, please, please leave me your thoughts and ideas in the comments or email me directly jknachti (at) gmail (dot) com (sorry, had to write that way to protect from the spambots). please do let me know your thoughts, i really need and appreciate your help! the sooner, the better!

it'll be here before you know it

i'm not usually one to prepare too much ahead of time for christmas, but thanks to the naturey christmas crafting event at the library, a neighbor who has gone into the christmas tree business and an upcoming christmas market here in town, i'm much more on top of things this year. and you know something? it's rather fun. this was my first attempt at a sweet little stacked felt christmas tree. i'll be making some more, for sure. tho' i've got to find some felt in more christmasy colors. this was just the felt i had on hand.

happy monday one and all!

30 days of lists: day 18

the cheerleader is in honor of the cheerios from glee.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

the brewery

i've not shared any house progress photos in ages. mostly because things happen so slowly and incrementally around here that it never feels like there's anything significant to share. but that changed recently.

husband recently his old workshop space (and a space that was a garage with the previous owners) into what he calls the brewery. it's a room dedicated to big, messy jobs, like pressing apples for cider, spinning honey out of their frames, and eventually yes, even making beer.

he painted the walls and ceiling white and the floor grey. and i can tell you that paint makes a huge difference. to divide the space up a little bit, he built a little brick wall (to practice his brick-laying skills for the bigger job in the kitchen). he also built several shelves - mostly to house the beekeeping supplies - frames, boxes, wax, even buckets of honey.

we got this old scale at a flea market ages ago and it really works and is quite useful when you want to weigh how much honey you harvested.

an old cupboard that was one of the first things we bought together way back when houses our flag collection down at the far end. we inherited the flags from husband's father, who was crazy about flags, especially the nordic ones.

the wood-burning stove isn't hooked up yet, but it will be and then i intend to spend lots of time out there, as it's much nicer than the house! i love the brick pedestal husband built for the stove. there to the left, there will be a sink, as a brewery needs a water source. we're scouring the markets for the right sink and haven't found it yet. but we will.

husband made a new top for an old green table that was here (one of the few good things), so there's a nice work table next to the honey centrifuge.

that little green bench was in sabin's room until yesterday. i'm not sure it's going to stay there, but it's always good to have another surface.

on the right is the cider press husband made. he's making modifications to it after this year's cider pressing, so it's not intact at the moment (if you're looking at it, wondering how on earth you can press cider in that). i love how he has no qualms about taking apart something he made and remaking it. i could really learn something from that. down at the end, more shelves with the beekeeping supplies on them.

my favorite feature is the meaningful stones he bricked into the wall. the three bricks are from a favorite beach in sweden. the second stone from the left is from crazy horse monument in south dakota. the heart and the stone with the eye are both from møn's klint, one of our favorite places in denmark.

i want to grab my book and a cup of coffee and go relax out there right now.

twiggy reindeer

inspired by about four different pins on pinterest, a suggestion from the ever-fabulous lisa, and a lot of sticks that blew down in our recent storm, i decided to make some little twiggy reindeer. we're holding a christmas hygge event at the library in december and have promised to make nature-inspired crafts with the kids (and adults for that matter) who come. i thought i'd try this out to see if they're a good solution for the event. i think they are, tho' i have yet to solve the glue gun issue - i think you can see my glue a little too much, but regular glue didn't really work so well, as it takes too long to dry and be stuck and let's face it, i lack the patience for that. maybe i just need to be more careful with the glue gun and not use too much.

all you need to make them are some fetching twigs, a branch with plenty of y-shaped bits for the legs, some little bitty pine (or aspen) cones, bits of ribbon or string and felt and a glue gun.

30 days of lists: day 17

Saturday, November 16, 2013

taking the time it takes

my grandmother made dozens of sequined ornaments way back when. i don't recall helping her make them, but i remember fondly getting them out each christmas and hanging them on the tree. i think i have only one of them today - a little golden boot.  but when i spotted some little kits featuring sequins, pins and styrofoam forms today at the grocery store, i had to try my hand at it. i can tell you that grandma was very patient. but sometimes it does a person good to slow down and just take the time it takes to make something.

30 days of lists: day 16

my sister was driving our old toyota and she had a 6-year-old sabin in the car. she was supposed to be headed for ikea, where we were to meet, but then the muffler partially fell off and started dragging and leaving a rather alarming trail of sparks. not knowing the greater copenhagen area, she had no idea where she was, so, on the phone with me and trying to explain, she looked around and said, "we're by the side of the road, right in front of a pizza place and a florist." which could be pretty much anywhere in denmark. it turned out that she wasn't that far from ikea, but it wasn't the ikea we were aiming for.

she once licked spilled limoncello off a table at a restaurant in the philippines. as one does. you should always lick up spilled limoncello. that stuff shouldn't be wasted.

Friday, November 15, 2013

mediocrity with a dose of rudeness thrown in or just another friday in denmark

i know i've said it before, but it can be challenging dealing with the rudeness of danes in public spaces. they may be the world's happiest people, but you sure can't see it on them and they are, to all appearances, not even remotely interested in making sure those around them are happy too. especially on a friday afternoon. they all go into what i like to think of as their solipsism bubble and they close out any and all evidence that other humans, especially those they don't know, exist. i ran into several instances of it just today. but i shouldn't be surprised, because it is friday.

first encounter - i was pulling into a parking spot at the mall (i was there to pick up sabin's repaired new iPhone 4S, which was in for repairs) and there was someone pulling into the spot directly in front of me, so we were coming towards each other. and she just kept coming, to pull through into MY spot so that she was facing outwards. she was so aggressive about it, that although i was halfway in and had a perfect right to the spot, i actually backed up and let her do it. she didn't even wave or smile at me. and she wouldn't look me in the eye when i tried to give her a sarcastic thumbs up. she refused steadfastly to acknowledge my existence. it was all about her. happily, i was in a good place, so i shrugged it off and didn't let it ruin my day. i'm not always able to do that. it helped that she resembled a cow clad in a ratty-looking sheepskin vest.

second encounter - in a parking lot (the friday solipsism bubble is especially prevalent in parking lots) beside the bank. i had parked my car and was walking towards the bank when i had to suddenly stop because a car came roaring in from the road and, inches from my toes and nose, whipped into a parking spot that was to my left. as if i wasn't there. which, in the eyes of the woman driving, i wasn't, since we hadn't met one another before. because when you're in the danish solipsism bubble, people you didn't go to kindergarten with very conveniently don't exist.

this is the jerk from the third encounter, license plate and all.
i wish i'd had the foresight to photograph the jerk from the first one.
third encounter - in front of the child's school, there is parking, as you might imagine. you normally pull in nose first, front bumper of the car up to the curb. but there was a parent in a station wagon, at the "rush hour" for afternoon pickup, parallel parked there, across three spots and effectively blocking 5 in total, because it wasn't possible to park in front or behind. she was chatting away on the telephone, blissfully oblivious to the other parents who also needed to park. as if she were the only one in the world. solipsism. egotistical self-absorption.

but even before these parking lot encounters, i was feeling grumpy towards danish culture. in the form of two emails from the leadership of our local school.

in the first, the principal at the school took 374 words (i know this because i copy/pasted the email into pages so i could see a word count) to vaguely inform about something vague, at a long distance, through a fog. and i still have no idea what she was talking about, as it was filled with jargon, smoke and mirrors. reading the email was like stumbling into a theatre halfway through the movie and trying to figure out the plot. and i couldn't. and it was not because my danish is bad. it was because it utterly lacked communication skills. makes me wonder what they're teaching my child about writing and clear communication.

in the second, the superintendent (the who did such a good job (insert sarcasm font* here) of handling the whole bullying topic in recent weeks), sent us a mail with a new alcohol policy. i can appreciate that the school wants an alcohol policy, but the mail opened with the words, "Med udgangspunkt i at vi som skole altid skal tage udgangspunkt i den svageste part..." which translates as, "with a basis in the fact that we as a school must always have a basis in the weakest link..." because yes, that's what you want to hear from your school, that they cater to the lowest common denominator and see it as their mission. and even better when it's inelegantly written. again, are they passing these writing "skills" on to our children? *weep*

i am feeling a little tired of mediocrity handed my way with a dose of rudeness. some days it's easier to handle than others. today wasn't one of those days.

* which one is the sarcasm font, by the way?