25 September 2012

evening river walk.

I love how there's so much fun stuff to do in Oslo for free.  There are often festivals with music on the weekends and lately some extra special things have been happening.  Two weekends ago there was Culture Night and last Thursday there was a river walk with candles, food, music and cool lights.  Around 8pm we met up with our friend Benny and took the tbane and then a bus to Grunerløkka, an area in Oslo, to walk along the river.  It turns out that we started at the end, so we were walking uphill and against the flow of traffic. And it really felt like traffic out there sometimes.  When we went into this ballon tunnel going the opposite way of almost everyone else, I felt like I was at Disneyland during the summer!  While it was occasionally annoying to have to push our way through a crowd, it was also cool to see so many Oslo dwellers out enjoying the cool air and the twinkling lights along the river.  About every 300 feet there was a new music group of some sort, a food stand selling coffee and pastries or some other form of entertainment.  We would stop every so often to listen to a choir or a folk band.  One of the most unique musical sights was a man playing klokenspiel.  I'd never seen this instrument before and in case you haven't either, I'll describe it: the man was playing a keyboard type thing that was connected to bells. (See picture below.)  SO cool.  It was great to hear the music, watch the man's fingers move along the knobs/keys and see the bells moving.  We were also simultaneously mesmerized and creeped-out by a pair of fire performers.  They were wearing leather clothes with blood-like make up dripping from their eyes and they were eating fire and twirling it around.  Kind of impressive, but also a bit horrifying.  I just wonder if there tongues are scratchy or something.
Trying to get a good photo was hard with the strange lighting around, but you get the idea.  It was a good night.  Also, I had no idea there was river in Oslo before this night.  Whoops.

In other news, tomorrow I am off to Stavanger for hiking and camping with a group of 10 friends.  Well, some are friends and some are soon to be friends- I only know 3 other people in the group.  Josh will be here in Oslo going to class and studying.  Hopefully he we will be more productive without me around!  Then on Saturday my Grandma Ann and Grandpa Matt will be visiting!  There's lots to look forward to and even more to be thankful for.

24 September 2012

diy end table.

DIY decor is kind of the m.o. for our apartment this year.  Since we're only here for a year and we won't be able to take a lot back to the USA, it doesn't make sense to spend a lot of money and buy a lot of stuff to decorate our apartment.  But we still want it to feel like home and look like a place we want to be!  This end table idea started when Josh looked out our window and saw a bunch of possibly useful stuff sitting next to the dumpster.  He went down for a rescue mission and came back up with this old chair frame with no seat.  As we were trying to figure out how to use the chair, we remembered we had an piece of wood (also collected from a trash pile) lying around.  After cleaning them off,  I set to work on painting the wood.
It only took about an hour to make and I really think it adds a lot to our little living room.

22 September 2012

oslo culture night.

Well, I'm a bit behind on the blogging because Oslo Culture Night was actually last weekend, but I'll share anyways.  Last Saturday all the museums were open late and were free as a part of culture night!  We ended up staying a bit later at a friend's house than we expected (which was great!), so we only made it to the Munch Museum, a little bit of the Nobel Peace Center and the firework show.  We practically ran through the Munch Museum because we got there with 15 minutes until closing.  It was still cool to see the scream and other paintings and drawings.  Apparently the Munch Museum rotates exhibits a lot, so if we go back we can see something new.

the murderer 

our friend benny + the scream

the scream + others

the scream

Edvard Munch wrote this poem to accompany the scream:
I was walking along the road with two friends. The sun was setting, and I began to be afflicted with a sense of melancholy. Suddenly the sky became blood-red. I stopped and leaned against a fence, feeling dead-tired, and stared at the flaming clouds that hung, like blood and a sword, over the blue-black fjord and the city. My friends walked on. I stood riveted, trembling with fright. And I felt a loud, unending scream piercing nature.

It was a shame we had to rush through the exhibit.  I felt like we didn't do his work justice by just glancing at many paintings and stopping to stare for a minute or two at others.

After the Munch Museum closed we headed to Radhussplassen for the fireworks show.  We ended up dallying around in the Nobel Peace Center, which has a cool exhibit on Ghandi opening soon.  They had a preview of the exhibit up, so we read a lot about Ghandi, his peace making and his fasting. I would love to go back for the complete exhibit and the movie! We found the perfect spot to perch for the fireworks- a short concrete fence overlooking the fjord.  We really had a great view and the fireworks were awesome!  I just love seeing the different bursts of light and color.  It's fun to try to capture the fireworks on photo, too.

Hope your weekend was great!

19 September 2012

riding the tbane.

How do we get around this beautiful city of Oslo, you may wonder. Well, we use a certain thing called the tbane- or the metro.  We are really lucky to be benefiting from the wonderful world of public transportation in Oslo, which includes the tbane, buses, trams and ferries! (Both Joshua and I use the tbane the most- usually at least once or twice a day.)   For 380 NOK (about 63 USD) we can get a 30 day passes that allows us to hop any of these transportation units at any time.  Pretty convenient! 
We got used to riding the tbane pretty much right away and within a few days we got more familiar with which lines go where, which lines we want to take and the times the tbane leaves from Kringsjå.  Despite knowing these departure times, though, you can often still find us running to the tbane to make it on time.  Sometimes we just can't seem to get out the door on time.  When we were completely new to Oslo and felt out of place, knowing how to ride the tbane gave us some confidence and a sense of reassurance that reminded us, yes, we can figure out how to live here!  

From our stop in Kringsjå it takes about 8 minutes to get to Ullevål Stadion, where Josh has class and about 20 minutes to get downtown, where we buy groceries, go to church and do fun things.  Almost every Monday, I (and often Josh, too) take the tbane to Grønland to buy produce, rice and spices at an immigrant run market.  Every student who gets to Oslo quickly learns that the market in Grønland is the cheapest place for produce.  However, we found out about these immigrant markets before we came and for a while Josh thought he had unlocked this awesome secret to the city of Oslo.  As it turns out, this is not a huge secret.  So after stuffing my backpack full of fruit and veggies (apricots, melons, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, beets and cucumbers are our current favorites), I just walk a couple minutes to the tbane stop and ride the 25 minutes home.  I’ve been doing a lot more reading lately thanks to these tbane rides.  I appreciate this time when I can’t be distracted by zillions of things and can just read, think or write.  
I love that all forms of public transportation are included in the 30 day pass.  A couple of times we have taken a ferry ride to the island of Hovedøya or the peninsula of Bygdoy to have a picnic and juggle the soccer ball.  I think this kind of exemplifies one of our favorite things about Oslo- that nature is so close at hand.  It’s so easy to access and enjoy nature here.  We’re just a ferry ride away from a beautiful green island and we can ride the tbane for 45 minutes to reach a great hiking spot. (Not to mention that we have a beautiful lake 5 minutes away!)

A friend we’ve met through Abels Hage (the garden) has offered us some bikes that she doesn’t need, so come Spring we might try to do without the 30 day pass. It would be great to have bikes, but on rainy days or with a load of groceries I imagine we would long for the convenience of the tbane. 

This might be a little more detailed description of transportation than is necessary, but I really hope it gives you more insight into our lives and helps you to picture how we go about our days!

p.s. photos for this post taken by Joshua D. Cranston.

17 September 2012

project life: week one

I started project life with the intent of documenting our first year of marriage.  But then I just couldn't wait to start because this project looked like so much fun (and it is)!  So, I recorded the summer, our wedding and now here's week one of married life: our honeymoon in Long Beach, WA.
We actually spent a couple days in Greenville after our wedding to wind down and spend more time with family.  This felt like a good thing because we knew we wouldn't get to see most of our family for another year.  We flew into Seattle and drove to Long Beach, WA, where Josh's best friend has a cabin that we got to stay in for free!  Long Beach is a cute little town with ice cream shops, bakeries, a farmers market and, of course, a long beach with an awesome dune trail.  The cabin had a great view out to the ocean.  We relaxed in Long Beach for 5 days and then drove back to Seattle.  Our stay in Seattle felt much too short, but it's was necessary this way.  We had a great time relaxing and picnic-ing with the Cranston family and had a big reception for all of the Seattle friends.  Leaving Seattle was the first of our many goodbye's before we left for Norway and that was hard.
A bit chilly, but a great honeymoon!

For those of you interested in starting this project, look here to learn more about project life.  For those of you scrapbookers or other project lifers,  here are the supplies I used in these pages: Black Signature Binder, Project Life Cardstock- Cobalt Collection, Photo Pocket Pages Designs A and B (I have this variety pack),  buttons and paper tabs from Ormolu, colorful Sharpies, American Crafts Slick Writers. American Craft Thickers. Washi tape from this etsy shop.  Lots of kraft cardstock, because it's my favorite.  Since I'm pretty thrifty, I plan on mostly using supplies I already have.  However, I have discovered the wonderful world of free project life printable journaling cards.  I suggest searching for project life on pinterest to find lots of freebies. 

16 September 2012

cardamom bread.

With not a super busy schedule I've been enjoying some of my various hobbies a bit more.  Specifically in the past few weeks I have been doing a lot of baking.  In fact, I think I've been doing too much baking because we now have a freezer full of bread.  People we see at Abels Hage give us bread every Wednesday and Josh got some extra bread from his school, which also contributes to the bread cache.  Early on we figured out that it's cheaper and more tasty to make our own bread than to buy bread at the store.  After making my favorite french bread recipe for two weeks, I decided to branch out and try a new recipe for cardamom bread.  It was delightful- flavorful with a hint of sweetness!  I pretty much just followed this recipe, but replaced a 1/4 cup of white flour with millet.  Our Ugandan friend gave us some millet and we've been using it kind of like whole wheat flour.  Anybody know any other good uses for millet?  All that to say, you could definitely make this recipe healthier by using half white/ half wheat flour.  This was also my first attempt at braiding a loaf of bread.  I love the look, but I must need more practice because the slices of bread would often fall apart in certain spots.  I will definitely make this recipe again in the future, although I will have to wait until we eat up our current supply of bread!
Oh, how I love bread warm from the oven!

07 September 2012

project life: our wedding

This is by far my favorite project life spread yet.  That's probably because this was one of the best days of my life and the photos (by my good friend Allison) capture the truly joyful spirit of the day. It's mostly all photos because there are just so many good ones!  On a piece of kraft cardstock I journaled about the day and included our wedding date.  I added a few other little comments on kraft cardstock on a few pictures and wrote down the people in our wedding party on white cardstock.  In the middle of the two pages I added a clear envelope pouch thing in which I put our wedding invitation, ceremony program, confetti and some really nice wedding cards. 
My mom and a good friend, Kelsey, did all the flowers for our wedding.  I wanted a wildflower look and they did an incredible job. The flowers were absolutely beautiful and one of my favorite details of the ceremony & reception!
Our wedding was so great.  It would take a really long time for me to express in words just how wonderful it was, but hopefully these pictures and my little bits of journaling give you an idea.

For those of you interested in learning more or starting project life, look here.  For those of you scrapbookers or other project lifers,  here are the supplies I used in these pages: Black Signature Binder, Project Life Cardstock- Cobalt Collection, Photo Pocket Pages Designs A and B (I have this variety pack),  buttons and paper tabs from Ormolu, colorful Sharpies, American Crafts Slick Writers. Washi tape from this etsy shop.  Lots of kraft cardstock, because it's my favorite.  Since I'm pretty thrifty, I plan on mostly using supplies I already have. 

06 September 2012

things and such, from josh

Hello, Josh here. As I have some spare time tonight, I thought I might add my voice to Rachel's and tell you about life here in Oslo from my perspective, which has been taken up largely by Fulbright orientation stuff, then University of Oslo (UiO) orientation, then the beginning of classes up until now. I do not relish the task of summing up my life in the past month, so I would like instead to reflect upon some high/low-lights.

One of the biggest recent developments is the fact that I am now the proud temporary owner of a guitar. Rachel and I have been attending weekly Christian Union meetings with a bunch of other Christians who are interested in eating and communing together. This has provided a means of getting to know new people, especially Norwegians who are otherwise a bit difficult to get to know (or find, for that matter, since we live in a student village populated mostly by fellow international students). Anyways, one of the Norwegians, a nice fellow named Jarl, which is pronounced with a soft "j" like "yawrl", told me that he had a guitar that he did not play and he proceeded to offer it to me. I can only interpret this as a blessing and a gift, since the ukulele has not fulfilled my desire to make music and just recently I had been really wishing I could have brought along a guitar. It is a black, non-distinct classic guitar with a muted timbre, but it plays and sounds pretty decent. Needless to say, I have wasted (or invested) a lot of time today welcoming this new thing into my life. 

For my master's program we have a gargantuan amount of reading every night, although we meet for my two classes maybe five times total every week. We also have Mondays off, strangely enough. Lately, our friday classes have been seminars in which we students are supposed to display our new understanding in a performative manner. These have taken the form of debates and rhetorical analysis, which I have found to be both a bit nerve-racking (I still get nervous when speaking out in large groups) and also intellectually stimulating. Once I accept the increased heart beat and get over the slight tinge of nervousness, I really enjoy participating in the debate, rebutting another's remark here, trying my hand at a critique there. I have found it rewarding to express my opinions and open up my position to critique. Plus, my fellow students (half of whom are Norwegian) are nice, amiable folk, none of whom make the seminar unpleasant or awkward. 

The classes themselves have been so-so; they are Research & Methods and Key Issues in Development and Environment. Though the methods class can be a bit boring and technical at times, I like that class better than the Key Issues class, mostly because the key issues class focuses on specific problems for two weeks at a time. This first module has dwelt on REDD+, a global reforestation program involving capitalism and market incentives, none of which I had never heard about and frankly do not really care about. The Methods class has addressed more basic issues, like meta-debates in the social sciences (naturalism vs. constructivism) or the differing methods used by researchers in various fields. With some philosophic topics mixed in, this class has sparked a lot of thought and gained my approval. Overall, my experience at SUM (Center for Development and Environment) has been positive. 

Here's a story: I had volunteered to be the class representative for our year and everyone had said yes since nobody else wanted to do it (which is why I stepped up). But after a day in the position, in which I did nothing but brag a bit to Rachel, I was deposed. A coup d'etat, regicide, call it what you like, but I am class representative no longer. An authority at SUM told me that class representative must be able to speak and read in Norwegian, which rendered me incapable of fulfilling my official responsibilities. Another guy, a Norwegian named Jorgen, stepped up to take my position, pretty big shoes to fill considering all that I had accomplished in such little time. I have considered filing a discrimination lawsuit, but once the brimming anger, nay pure rage, subsided, my good sense got the better of me. Actually, I am both a little relieved and a little bummed at the same time; it would have been nice to have a role that would facilitate new relationships with interesting people with my department, but it would have also been another responsibility.  Oddly enough, Jorgen, the new class representative, also just recently got married, as did two of the other guys in my program and one other girl. Out of the seven guys in my class, four of us are married. 

Well, I think that is enough for now. I covered less ground than I had originally hoped, but it is late and I am content to let this suffice. I plan on periodically posting on this blog. I used to have my own blog, but found it to be too onerous a task to sustain with any degree of success or feeling of accomplishment. If you have any questions or would like to know about any specific in my life, please post your questions, to which I will try to respond in a timely fashion. 

05 September 2012

from the weekend: an island and an artisan market.

Oslo is located on a fjord and there are lots of islands scattered throughout the fjord.  With our montlhy student public transportation pass (cost= 380 NOK) we can hop on a ferry and go to any of these islands for free!  On Saturday we went to Hovedøya with a group of friends from Christian Union.  This group meets every Wednesday for a meal, bible study time and fellowship.  We only met them last week, but feel really comfortable with the group.  The island is gorgeous! No automobiles, just some cute houses, rocky beaches, grass and picnic tables.  We played volleyball, frisbee, grilled our dinner and the played a big game of soccer.  Norwegians love to grill on these little disposable grills called "grill box." Actually I think they have a more Norwegian name, too.  The soccer game was great.  Most people in the group aren't trained soccer players, but everyone got into it and ran around.  It was fun to see Tan, a girl on my team who doesn't really play soccer, score on a penalty kick!  Here are more pictures of the island and our view from the ferry:
This is an old monastery!

After a fun day on the island, we headed back home and I got to work.  I don't have a job yet, but I did have an offer to sell my handmade goods at an artisan market.  Sunday, September 2nd was the big day and it went really well!  I worked all week to make cards and notebook, business cards and a "peachy press" sign.  The work paid off.  The festival turned out to be a real festival-- we weren't sure if anybody would really show, but they did.  There were other vendors, speakers, music, food and lots of people!
Not only did I sell a lot of cards, get a lot of compliments and make some money, but I gained experience, met some cool people and became reinvigorated to keep trying to sell my handmade crafts. I was a bit intimidated by the language barrier, but usually just asked "Snakker du engelsk?" (do you speak English) and people would switch over to English.  I learned a couple Norwegian phrases and the numbers 5, 30, 35 and 50-- those were the prices in NOK for my products.
I was really resourceful for this event.  I didn't buy anything to prepare for it, but used what I had brought or found.  The wood used for my signs were pieces that Josh and I foun outside a dorm building in our student village.  I wrapped one of Josh's flannels around a mushroom crate we found to act as a pedestal type thing.  The table cloth is a thin beach blanket that we've brought an have been using as a curtain.   Josh sat with me the whole time, talked with costumers and helped with the money.  It was great to have him with me and we both had a lot of fun.  The festival was in honor of the garden Abels Hage, which we've been volunteering at since our second week in Oslo.  There was a great spirit about the place.  Everyone was happy to talk and wander around the garden and look at the handmade goods.

My next big steps are to get my etsy shop running again and to make it to another market in Oslo.  Be on the look out for news about my online shop re-opening.