Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Sunshine Household this Week

This week we are:  

Reading: Brown Cheese Please by Jenny Blake, a wonderful book on Norway, and the Norwegian (also known as "Weegie" according to the book) culture. I randomly saw the book in the store among a sea of Norwegian language books, and was immediately hooked! So I brought the book back as a birthday gift for Mr. Sunshine. I don't know how much of the book is accurate - I asked the cashier at the bookstore what he thought of the book, him being Norwegian and all, but he didn't have much to say - so I'd be curious to find out how much the Norwegians agree with what is in the book (the author, I later found out is Australian who lived in Norway). Some things though are spot on. The title for instance, speaks to the incredible passion Norwegians seem to have for Brunost (or brown cheese), a creamy, caramelized, mild and sweet flavored cheese that I seem to see everywhere. Apparently its an acquired taste - I like it a lot, and Mr. Sunshine doesn't care much for it. 

Watching (TV Series): The Wire.

Eating: Brunost, of course. And lots of plum tomatos (tomatoes taste incredibly good here). Simple, home-cooked meals. 

Drinking: Solo

Doing: Exploring the town. Grocery shopping. Our local grocery store, Coop, is in a swanky mall! Mr. Sunshine also did some fun team building stuff with his colleagues.

Listening: To the pitter patter of rain. It rains non-stop here!

Friday, October 21, 2011

We have a home!

A little bit of sunshine on a rainy day!
A view of the mountains from our temporary apartment

Apologies for the radio silence over here on the blog. I have no excuse except that I have been lazy. The non-stop rain hasn't been of any help either. I need to get used to dark skies, cold winds, and soak-in-to-your-bones-rain soon! I can't be blaming my inability to be productive on the rain for much longer. 

Things were slightly crazy early this week. We had been extending out hotel reservations by the week in the hopes of finding a place soon. Unfortunately, the place we really liked wasn't available until mid-November, so this Monday we tried to extend our reservation for a few more weeks and found out that we couldn't. Turns out that Stavanger was hosting a massive oil and gas conference - the OTD (Offshore Technology Days) - on Wednesday and Thursday and every hotel room in the city was booked for the two days. People were even renting out their apartments to conference attendees. So for a few hours on Monday, it seemed like we, and our 7 + bags would be homeless for Wednesday night! A few panicked phone calls and a sleepless (for me. Mr. Sunshine was his usual zen self) night later we found this really nice hotel apartment for a month. We moved in on Wednesday. The best part of being in an apartment, even though it's temporary, other than not being homeless? Being able to cook a hot meal. It is amazing that even though we love eating out and trying out new restaurants, eating out everyday for more than four weeks got old very soon. 

Also, in other news, we have a place we will call home from November 15! We signed the lease on Wednesday. I can't wait to move in and start decorating it. I'll have pictures up as soon as we move in. You know what this means? All y'all can come see us soon!!!

Ms. Sunshine

Friday, October 14, 2011

Gratulerer med dagen, min kjærlighet!

or "Happy Birthday, my Love" in Norwegian - Google Translate is awesome!!

It is Mr. Sunshine's birthday today - his first birthday in Norway! We haven't planned anything yet to celebrate his birthday. Maybe we will go to a nice restaurant tonight and do this on Sunday, weather permitting. I'll post pictures if we go.

Mr. Sunshine is my only sunshine. He makes my world bright, and sunny, and happy. I am so lucky to have him in my life. Happy birthday, Mr. Sunshine! You are the happiest, sweetest, handsomest, funniest, smartest, most generous man on earth, and I love you to bits!!!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things - Handwritten Post

Vintage Stamp Postcard by constellationco on Etsy
I have recently discovered the joy of sending and receiving handwritten mail. Not that there is anything wrong with emails or text or even a facebook message - they are eco-friendly, fast, efficient, and you know most people read their ast once a day - but there is something to be said about the thrill of receiving a handwritten card in the mail. I love figuring out who has sent it to me, and what might be in the envelope - an invitation to a wedding, or a birth announcement, or a postcard from a pretty place, or dear friend saying hello.

A handwritten note says "you are special to me, I took some effort to choose this card/ stationary especially for you. I could have sent you an email, but I care about you so I took some time off my busy schedule and wrote to you." Handwritten post is enduring - one can collect it in a little shoebox and read it years later.

It is as much fun to send a handwritten note, as it is to receive it. I am obsessed with pretty paper and stationary, so writing and sending letters through the post kind of justifies my crazy stationary purchases. I sometimes even buy specific stationary/notecards just so that I can match them to the receivers' specific personality! I am like a kid in a candy store in a paper store!!

I must admit that despite my love for handwritten post, I have not been very good at mailing letters/ notes out - I write them and they lie on my desk only to be thrown in to the trash months later. I have been trying to be prompt about mailing things and I think this might just be the incentive I need. 
52 weeks of mail is an Etsy project that encourages people to send handwritten mail once every week. It started October 9, 2011 and will end a year later in 2012. I am really excited about the project, and I hope I can commit to it completely. I plan to mail a letter randomly to a different friend or a family member every week, and I hope I receive some as soon as we have a mailing address in Norway!

Ms. Sunshine

Thursday, October 06, 2011

This and that

First there were 5 +  2 + 2 bags

Last dinner in Houston at Chilis. Thank you, P and M!

Saying goodbye to Houston

And then there were 7 + 2 + 2 bags
Our first sight of Norway

I am already smitten by the packaging.
 Milk packs for coffee on the flight from Oslo to Stavanger

What are we doing?!?!? Mr. Sunshine realizes that we are in Norway

Too late. We are in Stavanger now. Stavanger airport

Another view of our (now) local airport

Picture of a ship at the Skagen
Coffee at OsteHuset in a bowl, or as Mr. Sunshine called it "coffe soup'

Pretty centerpiece at OsteHuset.
Add a few more apples and maybe a few greens, and this would make for a excellent eco friendly thanksgiving centerpiece

Knick knacks for sale at OsteHuset

We are in Stavanger, Norway!

We reached Stavanger yesterday at noon (5 AM C.S.T) and promptly checked in to the tiniest hotel room ever. The room is even made smaller with the thousands of bags we have (we actually have 11 bags, including our backpacks, but it feels like a thousand). I hope we find a place soon.
The flights from Houston to Stavanger were pretty uneventful, except for an fire alarm incident at Newark airport. It went off for about 15 minutes, and no one seemed to care. I wonder what the fire evacuation plans are for security sensitive areas like airports. Oslo was a short trip and the customs and immigration was a breeze. All of it - from the de-planing to security for our connecting flight - took exactly 20 minutes, and we didn't even have to take off our shoes!

We haven't seen much of Stavanger. We did take a short walk along the sea side last night to get dinner. Stavanger seems to have a lot of restaurants, at least in the areas close to the hotel, which is good for us because we like to eat out a lot. Last night's dinner, however, gave us a sticker shock - we paid about 300 NOK or about $50 for a meal of two coffees and cold wraps. We were kind of expecting it, but I still felt guilty for spending all that money. It will take me a while to get used to the prices here, just like it did when I moved to the US from India.

We had dinner at a coffeeshop called OsteHuset, which apparently means the cheese house in Norwegian. The food itself wasn't very impressive, but the restaurant was really unostentatiously pretty. There were lots of candles and huge vases filled with apples as table centerpieces. The place also seem to sell knick knacks like vases, (from what I could see decor) books, and scarves and wicker baskets. If all coffeeshops and restaurants are like the OsteHuset, I think I will be very happy in Norway.

It has been raining non-stop since we got here, and I am already kind of missing the sunshine in Houston :-/

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

All our bags are packed and we are ready to go

Bye, bye Houston! So long and thanks for all the (craw) fish.

Ms. and Mr. Sunshine

T minus a few hours

We are almost (so not) ready to leave. I am writing this in our hotel room in Houston, with all of our bags taking up every available space on the room floor. The last few days have been interesting (read crazy) and we have been running around Houston like headless chickens. Most of it is because of bad planning - we never planned for extra luggage, dealing with left over furniture, forgetting things that we were supposed to give friends, returning things to stores and giving ourselves a few hours of rest (gah!). So here we are, 7:30 in the morning, two hours before we need to check out of the hotel still trying to make sure all our bags are no more than 50 pounds heavy (fun!). 

Yesterday was a fun day. We spent the morning waiting for the shippers to arrive and take our entire life filled in 29 boxes. They were supposed to come between 8 and 10 AM and finally came at 2 and left at 3PM. We sold our car (bye, bye Phantom), cleaned up the apartment (bye pink house, you shall be missed!), mailed packages, and then at 11:45 PM realized that all our bags were ridiculously over the weight limit. So, we made a trip to Walmart - only in the US can you run to a store at midnight to pick up a suitcase - came back with a bag that wasn't enough for our excess baggage! Yes, we are a family of a Phd and an almost Phd and we still can't figure out how much stuff we have :-/ Finally, we woke up at 5 this morning to go get another bag and that wasn't enough either! We now have 7, 50 pound bags, or in Mr. Sunshine's words "7 f****ing bags" (he does have a way with words ;-)). I am NOT looking forward to paying the airlines a fortune for all the excess baggage. 

Our life in 20 boxes and a few crates

When I get to Stavanger, I am going to sleep for 3 nights and 3 days. 

We won't have a phone for a while after we get there, but we will keep everyone updated through emails and the blog. 


Ms. and Mr. Sunshine

Saturday, October 01, 2011

The Sunshine Household this Week

This week we are: 

Reading: Sweet Paul. This is one of the prettiest magazine on the WWW.
Watching (TV Series): Up All Night. I think I might have a tiny crush on Will Arnett and Maya Rudolph. 
Watching (Movies): Blitz. Ugh! 
Eating: The Santa Monica from Pink's Pizza, Seafood from the Boiling Crab (yummmm!), homemade food at our friends' homes (we do have the bestest friends!)
Drinking: H2O 
Doing: Packing, cleaning, packing, cleaning, running around Houston tying loose ends like chickens with their heads cut off