Monday, January 30, 2012

Link Mondays

Here are some things that have fascinated me, inspired me, intrigued me, and made me smile this past week:

Who knew sandwiches could be a work of art. 
Brittany reinterpreted famous artists and their 
work in the form a sandwich. 
Any guesses for whose work this sandwich represents?
Picture from low commitment project.
This collaboration, aptly named, low-commitment project, by friends Tae Kitakata and Brittany Powell. Tae and Brittany alternate every Monday to post one simple, low cost, "low-commitment" art project on the blog. So far, each of the art projects they have posted have been creative and smart, and look like each of them had lots of fun doing them! I will certainly be looking at their website every Monday to see what they have been up to that week!

This stop motion music video for Kina Grannis's new song, In your arms. I can't believe that each background in this video is made of jelly beans - thousands and thousands of them! The video took almost two years to make and involved 30 people. I think all of the work was worth every jelly bean - the end result is stunning! See the making of the video here.

I am looking forward to watching the Happy Film - a film that, according to it's website, "takes a look at the strategies serious psychologists recommend to improve one’s personal well-being and overall happiness." The film isn't out yet, but you should see the trailer - it is pretty cool.
From tabisso

These lovely dream-like photos from an Alice in Wonderland themed wedding made me smile. They look like they are so much in love.

These punctuation lamps by French design company, Tabisso. I want each one of these in my house, when I grow up. Also, check out their alphabet and number chairs. So cool!


These amazing pictures of the Northern Lights in the Norway from the past few weeks. Apparently the solar activities that lead to the phenomenon was at a seven year peak this weekend. We were planning to go see the lights later in February, but couldn't work the detials out in time. Hopefully we can go this coming winter. Seeing the Northern Lights with Mr. Sunshine is on my life list. The link is in Norwegian, but the pictures are stunning! Check out this beautiful time lapse video of the lights in Finland. Doesn't it give you goose bumps?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Valentine's day gift guide - installment 2

Hi all! How was your week? My week was mostly uneventful, except for a nasty cold bug that been going through our household - first it was me and now looks like Mr. Sunshine is getting it :-/. So this weekend, we plan to do nothing except watch movies in our pajamas and drink lots and lots of soup and hot cocoa. I hope you have a funner weekend planned! I will see you all again next week. Until then, enjoy the next installment of my heart day gifts round up!

Have a sunshiny weekend!
Ms. Sunshine

1. Book lovers tote bag by hellopossum2. Mini Book Pin by lucie0ellen3. Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost luggage tag by OfTheFountain4. Love Poems by Pablo Neruda from Amazon5. Crime and Punishment and Dostoevsky Quote Earrings by DesignsByAnnette6. Red Journal Necklace by bookBW7. You are my Mr. Darcy embroidered hoop by skrynka8. Love word bookends by pbteen.  Yes, it is meant for teenagers, but I think would look lovely in an adult space as well, 9. Book Lovers Stack Print by glasslionstudio10. Kurt Vonnegut Doll Miniature doll by UneekDollDesigns

1. Sew in love print by heimastore, 2. Ceramic heart buttons by karoArt, 3. Heart yarn bowl by LASpottery, 4. Heart Cross-stitch by GeorgicaDesigns 5. In Craft We Trust Tote Bag by pannikin, 6. Red Heart Doilies by Knot & Bow, 7.Valentine Ribbon by SomersetMarket

Friday, January 20, 2012

Valentine's day gift guide - installment 1

Happy Friday everyone! I hope all of you had a good week, and have exciting plans for the weekend. I plan to update the blog a bit over the weekend, get some organizing done at home, and tend to what I think is going to become a nasty cold. 

Can you believe that January is almost over, and Valentine's day is just a few weeks away?!? Have you started thinking about what to get for your Valentine this year? For the most part, February 14 is just like any another day at the Sunshine household. We may wish each other in the morning, and maybe do something special for dinner (depending on what day of the week it is), but we don't normally exchange gifts. Of course, it doesn't help that my birthday falls almost a week before Valentine's day. But that doesn't mean that I can't share with you some things that I think would make for a great gift for your Valentine or any other day of the year. In fact, I think that the best gifts are those that are given without any rhyme or reason. Of course, don't forget to wrap the gifts in pretty paper!

So here is installment number of the Sunshine Valentine's day gift guide.

Have a Sunshiny weekend!
Ms. Sunshine

1. 'A Perfect Match' silkscreen print by Tom Frost from Soma, 2. Je t'aime print by Andrei D. Robu, 3. A Confetti of Love print by Woop Studios4. You are my greatest adventure by GusandLula, 5.  Valentine's endless linocut print by Zoe Badger

And some more prints:

1Flock print by Naomi Murrell2. The Beatles print by Sarah Winter3. YOU & ME Venn Diagram by YellowHeartArt, 4. You're My Favorite Work of Art by LoveSugar, 5. You are my universe screenprint by Rob Ryan

1. Teapot and tea cup necklace by  Ridley and Dowse2. Heart cup and saucer set from Patina3. Poppy Meadow Teapot by Orla Kiely4: Almedahls Du and Jag (you and I) Tea Towel from Huset5. Tea Bags - Cup of Fame by rawspace6. Tea cup art by Handz

1. Happily ever after pillow by alexandraferguson, 2. Born to live together by thegretest3. Custom Notebook Paper Pillow by designlab443, 4. I like you pillow by Karin Akesson5. Heart needlepoint pillow by Jonathan Adler, 6. Alexander Girard love pillow from allmodern,  7. You and Me Venn Diagram Pillow by diffractionfiber, 8. Yes / No Pillow by showpony 

1. Intensely Chocolate by Carole Bloom2. Heart ramekin by LeCruset3. Stand mixer by KitchenAid. It's red!!, 4. Julia Child Kitchen Print by TexturedInk5. Love bird bowl by princedesignuk6. Dishcloth from house88107. Measure Your Love Cup from FredFlare8. Rob Ryan Four Seasons Plates from designlifeshop9. Love plate by Ninainvorm

Credits: Washi tape from puglypixel

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sad Tuesday Morning

It has been a sad Tuesday morning for the Sunshine household. We found out that a great uncle, and a great aunt - both siblings - passed away within a few hours of each other last night. Both of them were wonderful, warm people and will be greatly missed.

It is times like this that sometimes makes me question our decisions of moving so far away from home and family.  Well, this is the life we chose, and this is what comes with it. So instead of being sad, I am going to go make something pretty today to celebrate the lives they lived, and the love they spread.

Link Mondays (Tuesdays)

Beautiful, clear sky over Stavanger.
Saturday, January 14' 2012
Hi all! Did you have a good weekend, and a good Monday? Did you do anything fun and adventurous, or did you, like me, stay at home and lazed around? Mr. Sunshine went out cross country skiing for the first time with his friends on Saturday, and I took a much needed weekend day to myself. He had a good time, but said that it was hard getting hang of the intricacies of skiing, especially going down hill. We will probably go back soon to the slopes to (first learn, and then) ski. Almost everyone we have met here skis - Norwegians seem to start when they are born, and non-Norwegians seem to acquire a taste for it. So, when in Rome, ski!

Here are some pictures from Mr. Sunshine's ski trip:

Sunday, we went to a Stavanger expat tea event at an expat's home. We made some curried, and lemon thyme deviled eggs (which is slowly becoming my favorite party/ snack food) and some chocolate, walnut and sea salt fudge to take with us. We had a lovely time, and it was really great meeting new people, and hanging out with people we have met before at similar events. One of the things I really like about Stavanger is it's very social and helpful expat community. Of course, the size of the town, and it's status as Europe's oil and gas capital makes it easier. It is big enough to accommodate people from all over the world, and all walks of life, but small enough that it is easy to meet people, and keep in touch with them. And contrary to what I was told before we moved here, Norwegians are really warm, friendly, and fun people (just like any group of people in the world
). Making friends here is not hard at all.

Here are some things that have fascinated me, inspired me, intrigued me, and made me smile this past week:

Picture by Crafty Dogma
of the Hidden Mothers
group.  Crafty Dogma  has
several other fascinating
vintage  photographs.  
The hidden mothers: Apparently, in the earlier days of photography, photographers taking pictures of young children would make their mothers hold their kids, so that they would be still during the photo session. What's  the big deal about that, you might ask? Well, the photographers of yesteryear had a strange (and in my opinion slightly disturbing) way of doing it. They would drape the mothers with a cloth, and then have them hold the child, such that one couldn't see the mother. Pictures were presumably cropped while being processed at a later time. This flickr group has several of such fascinating pictures. Via retronaut. FYI, this is a great website/ blog if you have an interest in history/ vintage photography. A word of warning  though - browsing through the website can be a time sink. 

This video by They Might be Giants. Illustration and animation by Divya Srinivasan. Check out both the band's songs (especially, The Alphabet of Nationsand Divya's illustrations and animations. They are gorgeous, and so much fun. Via Pinterest.

Also, this very inspiring video. The video was in response to another young girl's video that called for the boycott of girl scout cookies because the Girl Scouts of America were inducting transgender kids in it's organization. This boy is so smart, and I wish I was half as articulate as he is. The person who shared this video on Gawker, also commented: "this kid needs to grow up and be president." I agree! Via a comment on Gawker

Broken animal t-shirts by RWHM. Only $20. I especially love the bird one. Via NotCot. Picture from RWHM's website.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Happy Weekend!

How has your weekend been? Are you doing anything fun? I have had a lazy weekend so far. Mr. Sunshine is skiing with his work friends, as I write this, and I have had the house to myself. It feels odd to be all by myself on a weekend, but I am kind of liking it ;-)  I caught up on emails, did some work, and worked on the blog. Speaking of which,  have you noticed something different with the blog? We have a new header!! It took me forever to design it - even though I got all the lovely clip art from puglypixel. I have never done this before, so there was a lot of trial and error. And if you stopped by the blog in the past couple of days, you would have notice a few quirky things. Yes, that was me playing around with html and other fancy things (that I don't fully understand, yet). 

I really like how the header turned out, though in the future (when I have better image editing skills) I will tweak it a little more. For now, I think I will keep it as it is. What do you think about it? 

We also now have a Facebook presence - you can like our blog page by clicking on the Like us on Facebook badge on the bottom right hand side of the page. The badge was also made using puglypixel's amazing clip art. I will try to post additional lovely and fun things on the Facebook page. 

Till then, I hope all of you have a lovely, restful, adventurous, and a sunshiny weekend! I am off to take a walk and enjoy a nice day.

Ms. Sunshine

PS: This picture has been making the rounds on the Internet. I can't verify if it is actually a Milwaukee Public Library billboard. I am a big fan of smart advertising and marketing, and I think this is a good example of it. It certainly made me smile. I think I will take a book, and sit by the lake and read it :-). Via Artful Transformations via Reddit

Things that make me happy - color coded books on a shelf

Have you seen this video yet? If you love books, and reading, and if you like me prefer reading a real book (preferably curled up on your couch, with a hot cup of tea/coffee and some good music) instead of reading it on a Kindle or an iPad, you will love this video. I promise :-)

Sean Ohlenkamp and his wife (I could not find her name anywhere) re-organized and animated a Toronto based bookstore, the awesomely named, Type. And this is the result:

The duo did a similar project for their home. Don't you just love the way that they organized the books by color? Have you ever tried stacking your books/ clothes/ knick knacks by color or other criteria? 

Because I am silly, and because I like to procrastinate on important stuff (like for example, writing my dissertation), everything in my closet and on my book shelf is color coordinated most of the times. True story: one time, while avoiding studying for my comprehensive exams, I tried to coordinate hangers with the color of my clothes. I can't say I succeeded, because, well, Target only stocks so many colors in clothes hangers. Though for a short while I did entertain the idea of painting the hangers to match the clothes. Thankfully, I was a poor graduate student and better sense (and a very small bank account) prevailed.

This is what we did to our books in our new place. If you see, the last shelf is not color coded. By the time, I got to this shelf, I was out of patience. One of these days, when I need to avoid work, and need something to procrastinate on, I will tackle the last shelf.

Credits: I found the video via the Facebook feed of a friend (GK). The tape strips used in the first picture is from the very talented Katrina of puglypixel. You can find this, and many other blog lovelies here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Eames Documentary

Photograph from the Press Room of First Run Features 

Eames House of Cards by
The Curiosity Shoppe

Do you have any fun plans for the weekend? I know it is still Tuesday, but it is never too early to plan out a weekend. Plus, planning for the weekend makes the week go by faster (I think). I know what Mr. Sunshine and I are doing this weekend - apart from sleeping in late and baking some savory scones for an expat meet up - watching Eames: The Architect and the Painter - a documentary about designers Charles Ormond Eames, Jr and Bernice Alexandra "Ray" Eames on PBS . I discovered the work of the amazingly multi-faceted, and from what I have read, very cool couple a few years ago, and have been a big fan ever since. One of the things to do on my life list is to own an Eames chair. Specifically this (in bright Yellow, if I can find one) and this. I have also been lusting after an Eames coat hanger and their House of Cards

You can find the trailer and show times in the States here, and the whole documentary here.  There is also a companion website detailing their design timeline. 

Monday, January 09, 2012

Link Mondays

These are a few things that I am loving right now:

I love thank you notes - sending them, and receiving them. It is just a lovely, and warm way to tell the recipient that you appreciate all that they have done for you - even if it is something silly as making you laugh, or trivial as sharing their chocolate stash at work. They didn't have to, but they did and your life is better off (even if it was for that fleeting moment) for it. What to write in a thank you note, you ask? My advice would be: be honest, let your gratitude come straight from the heart - nothing feels more insulting than a thank you that is fake and forced, and not handwritten - write what you feel, and hand write it.  For more tips and techniques check this link out - the anatomy of a thank you note. Also the coolest thing about this link? A picture of a thank you note that Barack Obama sent to Yann Martel. Not only does this man writes hand written thank you notes to authors of books he reads with his daughter, his writing is really nice! I don't always agree with what he does as the President of the United States, and in fact, he has disappointed me (and millions of his supporters) more than a few times in the past four years,  but when it comes to just him as an individual and the things he does, I absolutely adore him! (Via ohsobeautifulpaper)

They Draw and They Cook - an amazing project, and now a book, that collects illustrated recipes by artists all over the world. It will make for a great gift for the artist or the cook in your life.

This video of Japanese artist Riusuke Fukahori at work. The first time I saw a picture of his work, it made me cringe because his paintings of gold fish look very life-like, so I thought he was actually using real gold fish in his art installation. Thankfully, he just paints them on some form of resin and then encases them in resin. Beautiful! His work is on display at the ICN Gallery in London till the 12th of this month. There is no chance I will be able to make it to the UK by then, but if you are in London, you should go see it!

A very good friend N sent me a pdf copy of this gem of a book illustrated by Edward Gorey. I can't believe that I never knew of it's existence. Now need to own a copy of this, like STAT. You can find a review here.

ETA: So according to the New York Times, the book had gone in to obscurity and out of print until very recently when a blogger posted a pdf of the book (possibly the same that N emailed me). The ensuing popularity of the book prompted a new reprint of this and a couple of other Edward Gorey out of print books. Yes, at least a couple of these books are being ordered from Amazon as I write this :-)

The remake project is a project that aims at reinterpreting famous works of classical art - paintings mostly - through photographs. There are so many creative entries, and I can't decide which ones are my favorite. (Via A cup of Jo)  

These are a few thank you cards that I have had my eye on for a while:

Shiny Silver Thank You Notes by Alison Citron 

Thank you so very much by Katie Hart

Geometric Thank You Card by Quill and Fox

Thanks card by Kathryn Whyte

Thank You Card by sassandperil Via Pinterest

Thank You Cards by 1canoe2

Merci Card by Rifle Paper

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

R and V visit Stavanger

I am writing this while on hold on the phone with UDI  - the immigration bureaucracy in Norway - for the past hour and half. It has been three months since I applied for my resident permit and I haven't heard from them yet. One of the sucky things about being an immigrant is how dependent our lives are on visas and immigration bureaucracies. Not having a permit in Norway means that I can't do pretty much anything. I can't have a bank card (and I hate carrying cash, and having to depend on Mr. Sunshine to pay for everything) or do any kinds of monetary transactions, I can't enroll for language classes or get a job. I can't even fly out of the country. It is not been fun! I am really hoping to get my permit soon.

E.T.A. I finally got through to the UDI after being on hold for almost two hours (they usually have a nifty feature where you can give them your number, and you keep your place in the queue. They call you back when your number comes up, but they didn't have it today) I was told that I should hear from them sometime soon. Keeping my fingers crossed

In other news, Mr. Sunshine's cousins left last night. This morning I woke up to an empty house and it is kind of depressing. Working from home can be very isolating. I have had days where I don't speak with anyone else but Mr. Sunshine. So, I had a good time with the boys around. It was wonderful to have someone around during the day to talk to, and hang out with.  I miss you R and V  - it was a joy to have you both visit us!

Here are some highlights of the past few days:

Getting ready for Christmas. Yummy marzipan, white chocolate, pistachio and cranberry bars from Sweet Paul magazine.  They were so easy to make, and so delicious! 

Yummy chocolate walnut fudge with sea salt being made. I really need to start taking better food pictures. 

I have been a long time admirer of welcome baskets for house guests. I think it is a sweet touch, and makes guest feel more welcome, while offering them little things that they might need during their stay at your home. I finally got around to making baskets for Mr. Sunshine's cousins, who were our first ever visitors in Norway. I will do a separate post on the basket and what went in to it.

We started out day before Christmas with a heavy breakfast of sweet potato zucchini frittata (I forgot to take pictures) and then decorated our Christmas trees, while listening to Christmas music.  

The boys did a good job with decorating the tree.

We then walked around town on the day the boys arrived, and came across this fishing boat selling freshly caught shrimp and lobsters. 

It turned out to be a beautiful morning, and we had a clear view of the bridge and the tree on top. Apparently it is a yearly tradition, and this year (according to one of Mr. Sunshine's colleague whose  brother works with the company that installs the tree) they had to go through multiple attempts to install the tree because of heavy winds. 

Fun fact: they use a helicopter to lower the tree. 

A lot of ships and boats were docked at the harbor for the holiday.

Dinner was simple, but yummy. And once again, I forgot to take pictures, except for the dessert - cider baked apples with vanilla ice cream.

The next morning we opened our Christmas presents.

Look what Santa (aka the amazing Mr. Sunshine) brought for me - a Marimekko tea pot.

We spend the rest of Christmas day watching movies, listening to music, playing board games, and cooking. And the meal was grand, even of I say so myself :-). The table setting. 

The pinnekjøtt is ready to be stuck in the broiler, and the jul pølse being fried. 

The rest of the meal. This is a common scene in our household - Mr. Sunshine cooks, I take pictures.

The mini pudding cakes sitting out to be cooled.

Place setting. It was red, black, gold and white themed. For the place tags, I just used red gift tags, stamped it with a christmas themed stamp and wrote names with a gold pen. I tied the tags with gold ribbon, I repurposed from another project and added two tiny ornaments to it.

 The very handsome Mr. Sunshine :-)

And the Pièce de résistance (at least in my mind): dark chocolate pudding cakes with a raspberry truffle filling

Yes, it was a great Christmas! We spent the next few days cooking elaborate meals, eating, drinking good beer, listening to good music, playing board games, watching movies, and generally having quality family time. I mastered a few new desserts including Panna Cotta. I made a batch with some kiwi coulis.

Also chocolate pudding

I used my kick-ass new blender a lot. Ginger carrot soup for lunch anyone? 

The boys helped us put together an Ikea dresser. 

We went out to one of our favorite bars in Stavanger - Bøker og Børst, and met some interesting people.

New year's eve was spent at our other favorite bar in town - the Cardinal - with  F and Ø. 

They have a beer menu almost as thick as a phone book, and it looks like they change their menu often. This one will the creepy santa was only for Christmas time and had a lot of Christmas beers. 

R found a new favorite beer.

The description of the beer in the menu. I wan't too happy about the picture.

We went out at midnight to see the fireworks. 

Next morning, we took a boat trip to Lysefjord. R trying a Titanic pose. In general, I think all such poses should be banned. But I am going to let this one slide by.

V enjoying the view. 

 At a mall.

Sunset from the TV tower.

The boys taking in the scenery 

The TV tower

Pretty flowers that the boys brought us. Thank you! 

Pictures by Ramnath Bhat, Vijendra Bhat, Mr. Sunshine and me