Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Books


I really enjoy a good book. The thought of curling up on the couch with a lamp on and getting lost in a story or exploring new cities can pull me from just about anything.  Right now, I am between a few books - travel books by Rick Steves and Frommers for our upcoming trip to Amsterdam, Bruges and Brussels (our first European holiday – yay!); The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas; and Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl.  Sometimes I choose to re-read old favourites, knowing that I will love them as much as the first time, rather than start a new one but I’m always glad when I come across a new favorite (most recently The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – thank you Emily Davis for encouraging me to read it!).  By the way, she has reviewed this book and others on her blog which also contains all things fashionable, fun and girly – check it out, you won’t regret it!

I think this love of reading is fostered at a young age.  I have vivid memories of readingHank the Cowdog and Nancy Drew among others. I hope to share this love with my future children and anyone that wants to discuss a good book.  In fact, Jeffrey has already become a bigger fan of reading and is right in the middle of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. He also shared with me this list by Scholastic’s Parent & Child Magazine and inspired this post!  Check the list out here – I bet you’ll see a few of your old favorites (mine are shown below).  As for me, I think my next book might have to be Charlotte’s Web.





What are some of your favorites?



Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Unpacked!

We made it... somehow, we made it through last week!  You may think I'm just talking about the move and while that played a huge role in last week's chaos, we also got our bank accounts, bought our car, rode the train to and from work for the first time, Jeff survived his swim in the North Sea, AND we managed to get all of the boxes unpacked.  Phew, I'm tired just thinking about it.

The move actually went fairly smooth, especially if I don't think about how Jeff and I sawed the legs off a piece of furniture because it was just too tall.  That wouldn't have been too bad except that the saw broke on the fourth leg so we had to karate kick it off.  But it worked! I didn't think to grab my camera at that time (too busy cheering on Jeff's next kick) but, at the encouragement of my sister, I did take some pictures of the house before we had everything put away.  These should make some good before and after pics.




I am so pleased with how everything has turned out and can't wait to share the "after" pictures.  

Just wanted to give an update on Pistol boy as well, since so many people ask about him.  He loves his new home too and likes to perch by the fire when its lit.  But of course he misses all of you too!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Firewood

We had such a low-key weekend, and I loved it. I spent Friday evening at a colleague's house for a pot-luck dinner.  I made The Pioneer Woman's Fig Prosciutto Pizza and everyone really enjoyed it (or were just being very polite... I'll take either).  PS I did not think to take pictures because of the slight state of chaos the kitchen was in - and a special thank you to Jeffrey for having it all clean by the time I got home (he's the best).  Even though I was the only American and the only one who didn't speak Norwegian, this group instantly made me feel welcome and comfortable.  Hopefully, I can host something similar in our new (old) house!

Speaking of the house, we are having our goods delivered on Wednesday! Finally! This of course meant that Saturday was spent doing a little preparation for our move. We took a few things from our apartment over, claimed closets, and shopped for curtains.  Thank goodness for an Ikea being just down the road - the curtains we bought came with a hemming strip that allowed me to create the perfect length.  A big feat for me as I am not very crafty. At all.  What's most important is that they block out the light because during summer it is only dark from 11PM-4AM - I am mentally preparing now.

We also went by the Coop Obs (aka Norway Lowes) and bought firewood.  In hindsight, we may have been a little too excited about having a fireplace because we bough a lot of wood. But at $10 a bag when NOTHING in Norway is every just $10, how could we refuse?  So we hauled it all home and stacked it in our dungeon..err basement.

Pistol looks a little concerned..

Sunday was a beautiful day, and we spent part of it outside on a walk near Somarka - just south of Stavanger.  Its very wooded and still has quite a bit of snow on the ground.  Pistol loved it, of course!
This was about as still as we could get him - he love jumping around in the snow.

Self-timer perfection, if I do say so

My boyfriends
Wish us luck this week! I'll be coordinating the move while Jeff is in water survival training which encompasses helicopter crash simulations and a dip in the North Sea. I think I'd rather deal with the move...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Bergen

Our first weekend getaway was off to a rough start thanks to some car trouble.  For now, just picture Jeff and I side by side in the most enormous tow truck barreling down the small roads of Stavanger.  To make the drive better, we tried to engage our driver in conversation.  Silence followed a particularly graphic story of an overturned sheep trailer...

We shook off the experience with some Thai food (it's excellent in Stavanger, by the way, almost everywhere - our favorite is Manee Thai in the Sentrum) and woke up Saturday morning ready for our first real road trip to Bergen!


We decided to drive because we brought Pistol along. This meant riding on our first ferry - two in fact.  It's actually pretty easy to get to Bergen by just following E39 north until you can't go any further and have to take a ferry.  I'm not the best at just "winging it" so of course I did a little bit of research.  Both of the ferries we used were run by Fjord1 and they have a decent website.  Each of the ferries leaves every thirty minutes so even though we missed one, there was another on its way!


Didn't quite catch this one but it made for a good picture!


It's about a 4.5 hour drive to Bergen and we made it into town around 1:30PM.  Very few hotels have attached parking so we found a public garage and went out on the town.  There's a pretty area around a lake (currently frozen) that leads into downtown and the tip of the harbor.  And we actually found someone that would take a picture of all of us!


We weren't very specific on the type of hotel - just that it needed to be dog friendly.  We settled on P Hotel since it is smallish and only has locations in Norway.  
  • Pros: the location was perfect - near the shops, restaurants, and sites.  
  • Cons: a little noisy and the "inclusive breakfast" consisted of a ham and cheese sandwich in a pre-packaged container delivered left hanging on our door.  At least it came with a juice box :)


You can see our hotel on the right and a beautiful church in the background.

We enjoyed walking around the cobbled streets and drinking hot chocolate and didn't really have an agenda.  We eventually made our way to the harbor and walked along the quay.  The historic Hansa homes are on the Unesco World Heritage List, so naturally we took a picture.  It's hard to imagine that no heating was allowed when these were in use by the German merchants in the 1600s but was a necessary precaution due to the fires that often devastated this wooden city.  One word - burrr!

See the red Hansa houses on the left side?

We began our evening at the Scotsman to catch some of the Six Nations Rugby Tournament - a big deal to most of our UK expat friends.  I don't understand how the game is played.  Jeff doesn't even really understand it which means I'm really lost.  We had fun trying to guess at what was going on and made a spectacle of gasping every time a collision occurred on the pitch (so every 5 seconds - rugby is brutal!).

Unfortunately, our trip was cut short by a snow storm that started on Sunday morning.  This meant we weren't able to ride the funicular up the hillside to view Bergen from above - bummer, too, since this is a major attraction of the city.  This just means we have to go back... when it is warmer!

Checking my map :)

Our next few weekends will hopefully be busy with settling into our new house!  

Friday, February 3, 2012

Snow Day

No, this doesn't mean work was called off.  Though, in Houston, the whole city would have been shut down for a week if everyone woke up to a foot of snow on the ground.  It is rare for Stavanger to have this much snow all at once, but it obviously can happen. Luckily, I always have my camera around and I was able to snap the following pictures throughout our day.  It stopped snowing around 3PM - good thing too because we are making a trip to Bergen for the weekend!

Our drive to work - note the outrageous price for fuel (though in NOK, it is still per liter!)

Good thing I got this Eddie Bauer parka before we came.  Warm and cozy on our walk from the parking lot to work

Still on our way to work (it's at least a quarter mile from the lot - getting our exercise!)

Still snowing at lunch.  We walk outside our offices to the building you see on the left to eat.  Usually, the mountains across the fjord are visible.

Lots of snow at the Stavanger Domkirke (Cathedral) near the harbor


Shoveling the snow in our backyard! Still not moved in (darn customs) but already taking care of it.