Oh, Julia

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I’ve been loving this Retro Stefson song lately. So far, I’ve relied on the radio to play it for me but I think I really must invest in their album. I love the record player I gave my boyfriend for his birthday two years ago – buying a vinyl record somehow feels like a nice investment, as opposed to a cd.

In other news, I’ve started another blog. That one is in Icelandic. A lot of world was meant to be a place for me to practice and hone my English. These days, since I don’t really have as much free time as I once did, writing a post can seem overwhelming (not that I was the most productive blogger even before baby… Oh well.) Anyways, I’ll probably be posting there more than here. I’m not sure what will become of this little place of mine – we’ll just have to wait and see.

Oh, and Happy New Year!

xx Sunna

All I want for Christmas

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So, a lot has happened since I last checked in here. A whole lot. A baby has happened. He was born October 20 and is the most beautiful thing the world has ever seen. I now know that they are not kidding when they say that caring for an infant takes almost all of your time. It’s exhausting and exhilarating and challenging and awesome and also a bit boring at times. And the most enjoyable thing you’ll ever do, too. At least if your baby is half as gorgeous and awesome and funny and cute and breathtaking as mine.

Anyway. It’s almost Christmas! For once in my life I’ve already started buying Christmas presents but to be honest I’ve also spent a great deal of time daydreaming about my little wishlist. These are a few of the things I would love to find under the tree this year.

kronkron

These tights by Kronkron. So, so pretty. They have a great selection.

Kristjana hönnun - hárband

A hair piece by Kristjana, available in Reykjavik and Berlin. Actually, I’d quite like to be wearing this come Christmas Eve.

The Case of Mr. Pelham

A kitty constellation iPhone case by The Case of Mr. Pelham on Etsy.

Seafoam Cream & Purple Striped Painted Antler by MadeByCassandraSmith

Seafoam, Cream and Purple Striped Painted Antler by MadeByCassandraSmith on Etsy. I love her work!

woodwood1

Wood wood leather laptop case. Infinitely nicer than the synthetic crap I currently own.

gold dipped triangle studs

Gold-dipped triangle studs from PetiteCo on Etsy. Her shop has lots of other nice things too.

Ísbirnir ´70

This photo of two polar bears (what, hugging? Fighting? Dancing?) by Mats Wibe Lund, taken in the now defunct aquarium in Hafnarfjörður in 1970. It was part of an exhibition of his work at the Reykjavík Museum of Photography this fall and I completely fell for it. Please come hang out on my wall?

mandla1

As ever, L’Occitane’s Almond Milk Concentrate is on my wishlist. It is the best moisturizer I’ve ever tried. Silky doesn’t even begin to describe it. It’s like… a sweet-smelling cloud in a jar. No joke.

walker

These boots from Shoe The Bear. Aren’t they great? Apart from being beautiful, they look really comfy and would definitely keep my toes warm for winters to come. I just can’t decide if I like the black or brown ones better…

kindle

A Kindle. So, I haven’t really been the biggest spokesperson for e-books and the sort. I love books. Real books; their weight, the way they smell, the crumbles and coffee stains on the pages of my favorites… An e-book, in my humble opinion, must always be  lacking in the character department. But. Yes, but. Now I’m up for maybe 2 hours every night, doing this breastfeeding thing. Which is exhausting, but that’s not the issue here. I think I would quite like being able to read during these dark and quiet hours. As is, I’m either staring into space or playing some silly game on my phone. I don’t want to turn on the light, as I’m trying to teach the little one that the night is dark and boring and there’s really nothing for him to do but sleep. I’m thinking a Kindle would be a perfect solution? Yes?

Allright then. I think that’s enough. I keep finding awesome, gorgeous stuff that I’m tempted to add to this list, but I’m starting to come off as greedy and obnoxious and I don’t want that. I shall now go covet beautiful things in silence.

Double chocolate procrastination

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I’m a procrastinator. Always have been. The only time in my life that I’ve been up to date on schoolwork through an entire semester was when I was doing my MA degree, and that was only because the workload was just plain crushing from day one. There was no time to get behind. Crushing. Before that, I usually didn’t start studying until a few days before the exam, stayed up through nights and crammed, crammed, crammed. And I got away with it.

At the same time, I’m really organized. At least, I want to be. The sight of neatly arranged cutlery in a drawer, for instance, can make my heart leap for joy, while a stray sock can really disturb me. That’s right. My boyfriend has made me promise that I will never buy a labelmaker. We both agree that wouldn’t be good for me…

The next month or so will be a tough one. I have loads of work to do and turn in before the middle of September. I also have to pack up all our stuff and move into our new apartment in Reykjavík. Oh, and really get cracking on some fairly important stuff. Like applying for maternity leave. There’s a lot of paperwork involved in that particular endeavour, believe you me. When all this is done, I can finally just relax and prepare my mind and body for this having a baby thing. Oh, and maybe get around to buying all the stuff we still need and getting the crib and so on. Three weeks is plenty of time for that, right?

Anyway. I’ve written a list of all the things I need to do and was just about to get started on the first of three interviews I have to turn in in the next week when, instead, I read a few blogs. And found this recipe. And of course, procrastinator that I am, decided that I couldn’t possibly start working without trying it out. The result:

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This is one instance when I don’t beat myself up about procrastinating. They’re yummy! I went the chocolate-pecan route and I love them! I didn’t have almond milk so I used regular and mixed spelt flour with the Graham flour I had on hand. It worked beautifully. Oh, and I will definitely be going back to that blog, she has lots and lots of mouthwatering recipes! I just hope she won’t post any new ones until late September…

Congratulations and celebrations

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celebrate little things

I cannot believe that it’s almost my birthday. (Six weeks counts as almost, right?) That seems impossible. It was just here a couple of weeks ago, I promise! It feels like time has sped up and yet, so much has happened in the last year. We went to India. I’ve petted an elephant and watched the sun set into the Arabian Sea and eaten my fill (and then some – I’m really only just starting to tolerate even the thought of cardamom again…) of masala dosas and prayed with fervour that my stomach would behave when it started acting up on an 18 hour bus trip from Mumbai to Goa. And we’ve found out we’re expecting a baby (a baby!), decided to move back to Reykjavík and are looking forward to a cozy winter in a house with a slanted roof and creaking wooden floors… and a newborn. (A baby!)

I digress. This was supposed to be all about my upcoming birthday. I like birthdays. No, really like them. Love, actually.  my own being a personal favorite. This year, I expect the fact that I’ll be 37 weeks pregnant to have some influence on how we celebrate it. But I think I might be looking forward to it even more than usual. By then we’ll have moved in to our beautiful new apartment (rented, but it feels like ours), I will have turned in all the assignments I’m working on at the moment and have nothing on my agenda besides preparing for baby and relaxing. I’m hoping for a dinner out with friends – and that I’ll still be able to fit into something that makes me feel pretty.

One of very my best friends, whose birthday is only two days after my own, is every bit as much of a birthday girl as I am. We tend to go just a tiny bit crazy during our September and treat ourselves every chance we get. I’ve already started on a list of pregnancy-friendly treats to enjoy this fall. Any ideas to add to it?

* Get all dressed up on a Monday night and go have a gorgeous dessert in one of the city’s fancier restaurants.

* Get mani/pedicures together. (Normally, I would suggest just doing this at home, but since I very likely won’t be able to see my own feet at that stage, I’m thinking a salon is a better option this time around…)

* Go see a girlie movie and then spend an hour dissecting it and, obviously, comparing it to our own lives.

* Go out for dinner and talk only of things and ideas and people that inspire us: what we liked about our journey through the last year and what we’d like to see happen in the next 12 months. Make a list of goals to be revisited a year from now. (God, I’m really loving lists lately! Oh well).

* Head out on a mini-road trip to the Blue Lagoon, followed by a burger and curly fries in the most American town in Iceland, Keflavík.

* Spend an hour finding the perfect new shade of lipstick and celebrating with a cup of coffee and a piece of the most decadent cake we can find.

* Pick a rainy night to cuddle up on the sofa with some ice cream and watch an old movie neither of us has seen.

Sounds like a good plan, right? I’m open to all suggestions though, so feel free to share any ideas that could make my birthday month even better!

The pretty picture is by Shandi-lee on Flickr.

Fictitious meals and the taste of a memory

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Breakfast and a book... utter joy!

Picture from here.

I saw this (found over at hjartesmil) and it made my heart leap. Fictitious dishes, recreated and photographed by Dinah Fried. Books and food. My favorite things.

I really, really loved to read as a kid. I remember being really frustrated that children could only borrow seven books at the time from the library. That only lasted me a couple of days, and the library was a bus ride and a good walk away from my home. I loved books: their comforting weight, the smell of the paper, the sound of the pages turning and the thought of the many people who had become enchanted by them before me. I would curl up on my bed to read, read while I was eating, on the toilet, while brushing my teeth. I dreamt of the day when someone would finally invent a type of paper that enabled me to read in the bath. I still did, but I just found having to hold the book up high and keep my fingers dry very annoying.

I still love to read, but nowadays I very rarely become so completely absorbed by a book as I did when I was younger (and I loveit when it does happen). I remember something close to physical hurt when I had to leave behind a world I had inhabited for those peaceful, glorious hours it took me to read a book. I felt real sorrow that I had to say goodbye to the characters, cut myself off from their lives. For me, reading wasn’t just about the adventures, the stories. I loved all the little things that made up that fictitious world; loved reading about food the characters ate and I had never tasted, trees I had never known existed and traditions that seemed really foreign to me.

Today, while working in the bookshop, I reread one of my beloved Astrid Lindgren’s stories. The book is called Madicken in Swedish, Madditt in Icelandic and Michievous Meg in English, Google tells me. Ever heard of it? It’s brilliant, like all her books. It amazes me that the Swedish Academy never awarded her the Nobel Prize, but that’s a whole other story. Michievous Meg takes place in Sweden during WWI (although that has little bearing on the story) and chronicles the adventures of the seven year old Meg, who has a knack for getting into trouble. It was just as great as I recalled. And as I read I kept smiling at the memories that sprang to life; me imagining the taste of the meatballs they ate on the roof, or the yellow plums Meg would stuff in her pockets, or the caramels they made for Christmas. Somehow, those things made the story come alive for me.

And there are so many other books, so many other foods, that I remember. In Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five series, they used to indulge in vanilla ice cream and ginger ale. I had never tasted ginger ale and I distinctly remember the first time I saw it in a store. I begged my father to buy it. I was so excited to finally know what it was, to get a little bit closer to the five I had shared my life with for so long. I read Laura Ingall’s books and could almost feel the maple syrup on my tongue, although the only syrup I had ever encountered was the green and golden can of Lyle’s in my grandmother’s kitchen cupboard. It’s really no surprise that later on I fell completely in love with Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate. Don’t even mention the famous fried green tomatoes from Fannie Flagg’s novel – I’m still dying to try them! Food and books are my weaknesses. Combine the two and I’m lost.

So, I loved Dinah Fried’s series. Oliver Twist made me laugh out loud, actually. Did you recognize any of them without reading the titles? Anyone have any other fictitious meals they’d like to contribute?

P.S. I found the photo on Flickr. It’s part of this series that’s right up my alley and perfectly in tune with this post, it seems. The photographer is sharing one photo a day from the heart of her home – the table. These often include both books and food. I’ll be checking back for sure!

Words of the world

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Happy COLOR Friday!

As a person who likes words, I was intrigued when I came across this (and subsequently, this) interesting post the other day. It’s a list of words in several different languages that don’t have an English equivalent. Now, the fact that they don’t isn’t really important. Every single language in the world has its own intricacies that are almost impossible to translate. That’s the beauty of language, in my opinion, and what I like best about learning a new one. When you’ve mastered a new language to such a degree that you begin to get a feeling for its quirks, its character… Its soul? Can i say that and not sound stupid? Anyway. I love that.

Following are the words I like the best from these two lists and two from the comments section, one of which happens to be my favorite.

In Turkish, gumusservi means “moonlight shining on water”.

The Japanese Koi No Yokan means “the sense upon first meeting a person that the two of you are going to fall in love”.

Yiddish has a great word to describe a dreamer, one that’s very impractically minded and has no business sense. Luftmench. Literally, it means “air person”.

According to the list, the Inuit iktsuarpok means “that feeling of anticipation when you’re waiting for someone to show up at your house and you keep going outside to see if they’re there yet.”

Cheonseng’yeonboon in Korean means “the couple destined to be together in heaven.”

And lastly, my very favorite word, also from Korean:

Han. This little word means: “the sorrow and grief that was repressed on the inside for years and could never be put into words properly”.

Photo from here.

Orange trees and old toy cars

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The internet mourned the loss of Nora Ephron last week, while I was still silent. Judging by this article by Tom Hanks she was a woman after my own heart. I am positive I would have liked her, had we ever met in real life. And, like Joanna, I was particularly moved by the last clause:

“For a wrap gift, she would send you a note saying something like, “A man is going to come to your house to plant an orange tree — or apple or pomegranate or whatever — and you will eat its fruit for the rest of your days.” Rita and I chose orange, and the fruit has been lovely, sweet and abundant, just as Nora promised — a constant and perfect reminder of the woman we loved so much.” To me, that sounds like the most beautiful gift ever.

Apart from the one I received in May, on behalf of baby boy. When I went to visit her in Sweden she gave my unborn baby a magnolia tree that I helped her plant in her beautiful garden. For baby boy to admire and tend to and grow alongside. Magnolia, because that was my very favorite flower when we had just moved to Sweden and I realised that trees actually flower. Like, for real. Up until then I hadn’t really given this much thought, had just read about flowering apple trees and cherry blossoms in books – Astrid Lindgren’s, for example – and moved on without reflection. See, in Iceland, we don’t really have a lot of trees. And very, very few that flower. That first spring in Sweden I just about died from happiness and felt like Pippi and Lotta and Emil and Mio all rolled up into one. Now baby boy has a tree of his very own.

That’s my mom. My very own Miss Ephron.

Picture from here.

P.s. Another fun thing is what we found as we were digging a hole for the tree: an old green and yellow toy car. It suddenly came into view, at the bottom of the hole, covered with soil but in perfect condition. I wander how it came to be there. (And, because I like to think about such things, whether something or someone directed us towards that very spot in my mother’s big garden. It felt like a sign. Of what, I’m not sure.) We scrubbed the car as clean as possible and now it awaits baby’s arrival in my mom’s house.

A lenghty post about thoughts and feelings and things.

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I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I haven’t posted anything here since April. (I’m going to pretend you did notice. It makes me feel kinda good.) I’m sorry about that. In the last few weeks I’ve been thinking about this little space of mine more and more, missing it more and more. My friends can confirm this, as they’ve been bombarded with a lot of links and mails with random thoughts that would otherwise have resulted in a blog post. And yet, I wasn’t ready to come back here.

See, there’s a reason I went quiet. Something pretty great happened, but it was a something that I wasn’t sure I wanted to share at all. And I tried to write around it, but it didn’t feel right. So I just stopped posting. These last few days, I’ve done quite a bit of soulsearching, trying to determine how I feel about sharing this hitherto secret part of my life. And I’ve finally reached a conclusion. I want to share. And I feel ready.

Now, this all sounds like I was secretly made Queen of Iceland or discovered my long-lost Siamese twin brother or eloped with a Beatle. I didn’t. I just got pregnant.

Yep. That’s it, that’s my big secret and the reason I’ve been staying away. Not much of a reason for radio silence, some might feel. All I can say is that during the course of this pregnancy I’ve found that I’m probably not the typical pregnant lady, if there is such a thing. I don’t gush about my “little diamond” to everyone and anyone. I definitely don’t feel super sexy, nor particularly glowy. And I haven’t posted a single picture of me or my bump on Facebook. See? Pretty abnormal.

This is not to say that I’m not happy. I’m truly happy about this pregnancy. Granted, I also freaked out when we found out I was pregnant and still have moments of pure, undiluted panic when I realise that I’m now responsible for this new life and ohmygodi’llprobablyscrewitupsobad. This, I’ve been assured, is quite common, so I’m not too worried. Plus, my boyfriend is totally cool as a cucumber about this whole thing, which calms me. (Most of the time. When I’m panicky this just freaks me out even more. Like this: what is wrong with him that he doesn’t understand how completely unprepared and immature and idiotic we are? Etc. I’m a lot of fun during these panic attacks, I can assure you.)

But the thing is I’ve been having a bit of a hard time, actually. After telling family and close friends, I found myself not really feeling a need to share the news with a larger public. A vast majority of my acquaintances in Reykjavík and abroad still have no idea that I’m pregnant, as I’ve been here in Flateyri since we got back from India.

Somehow, I’d always expected that when I got pregnant I would be completely overcome with emotion and over the moon and enjoying every minute of a new, more womanly version of me. I’m pretty emotional to begin with so I just assumed that me on pregnancy hormones would be one big heap of emotion. Also, I always thought I would love the physical aspect of being pregnant. Being less than curvy by nature, I imagined I would revel in my new lines; bigger boobs, rounded hips and that glorious belly… Er, no. That didn’t happen. I just felt like a stranger in my body. Big and awkward. And overcome by emotion in that transcendental Mother Earth glowy way? Not really, no. Apart from the exhaustion of the first trimester (I’m one of the lucky ones – no morning sickness here), I just felt like my usual self. Maybe a little more cranky than usual.

And I still don’t really feel comfortable about all the attention that ensues when people find out you’re pregnant. This new interest that strangers seem to have in my body has been a bit hard to come to terms with. I squirm when people I hardly know stare at my midriff  and I’m really not psyched about the “Oh my god, you’re getting soooo biiiig!” comments. What is that? I know, I know, I’m being a bad sport. And totally cranky. It’s just that I feel so awkward and big (and, lets face it, fat), that having other people pointing out to me just how much I’m expanding by the day is… well, overkill. And I do find it peculiar that as soon as a woman falls pregnant, everyone is somehow entitled to an opinion on her body. I am not used to people commenting on my bodyparts, my weight or asking whether I’m retaining water or throwing up. I do realize that it’s all very well meant. For me, it’s still a bizarre experience.

So this is why I’ve been absent. I didn’t really feel like talking about my pregnancy here, didn’t want any more attention than I was already getting. Didn’t want to squirm on the internet too. These days, I’m feeling better. As of today, I’m 26 weeks pregnant and I feel a bit better about all of it; the attention, the comments. At least for now. We’ll see how things progress when I enter the third trimester. Shudder.

Now, I didn’t exactly post a lot of pictures of myself before and I don’t know if that will change – but it feels nice to just write about my experience here. I guess it’s time to just own it, stop hiding from view and start… gushing? Yes? We’ll see.

The baby (a boy, we’re told!) is due in the beginning of October. We are currently looking for an apartment to rent in Reykjavík from September onwards, as we want to be closer to our family and friends when the baby comes. I have a feeling I might need some moral support in those first few weeks.

And with that, I am back. You can probably expect regular, rambling posts about all the weird and wonderful aspects of pregnancy, some baby-related stuff and the normal oh, my, that so pretty/crazy/wonderful/tasty posts.

Ah, it’s good to be back. I’m excited. Yay!

Original photo from here.

Ear candy: Ólöf Arnalds

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I’m so looking forward to Easter! Believe it or not, it is not solely because of all the good food and chocolate I’ll be allowed to consume (not that I don’t consume said chocolate even when I’m not allowed, but during Easter I don’t have to feel too bad about it… Anyone else like me out there?), but because of the annual music festical Aldrei fór ég suður, which will be held in Ísafjörður for the ninth time this Easter.

It features lots and lots of Icelandic artists, beginners and veterans, bands every Icelander knows as well as local singer/songwriters from the West Fjords. Each artist gets only fifteen minutes to perform. Admission is free and the artists all donate their work. The festival is attended by lots and lots of people, locals mix with people flying in from Reykjavík or other parts of the country and the ages range from still-in-the-womb to 90+. It’s an amazing experience and I can’t wait for Friday night, when it all begins!

There’s plenty of good Icelandic music and artists. I thought I’d share two videos from artists I like: Ólöf Arnalds covering Mr. Tambourine man with her sister Klara (I happen to be acquainted with both of them and they really are the nicest people!), and Snorri Helgason (who will perform at AFÉS) singing his beautiful Mockingbird with Mr. Silla. Do you like them?

ps. Wish me luck with my third go on that televised game show thing. We keep winning so we keep going back. And I started out not really caring about the competition at all, but now I really want to win! So please, fingers crossed?

Dream destination: Hanami in Japan

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Some people dream of running with the bulls in Pamplona, others yearn to experience the carnival in Rio de Janeiro. My dream destination? Japan, during those few weeks each spring when the cherry trees are in bloom and people gather to celebrate Hanami. Hanami is an age-old celebration and translates quite literally as “flower viewing”. More particularly, the viewing of sakura, or cherry blossoms.

And this is one of the reasons I’m in love with the idea of Hanami; it is so wonderfully zen. Thousands of people coming together to “enjoy the beauty of flowers”? Yep, beautiful! Of course, as is the case with most festivals, most people actually come for the food and drinks and fun and not only to gaze at cherry blossoms for hours on end, but still… And of course, cherry blossoms are almost painfully, perfectly beautiful. I would absolutely love to go sometime.

Do you have any dream destinations?

Photo is linked to its source and remixed by me.

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