Monday, November 3, 2014

Growing up, Wednesday Addams was one of my earliest style icons. In grade two I was fairly obsessed with her, wearing my hair in braided pigtails and adopting an all black wardrobe. I have a non-smiling school photo of me from that year to prove it. I was equally obsessed with Christina Ricci, because she was just as cool in Now and Then, another childhood favourite. I can distinctly remember that the first website I ever visited when my parents got our desktop computer hooked up to the internet was a Christina Ricci fan site. It was such a thrill, and so novel, to see all that information, all those photos, available in an instant, and realizing that whatever I wanted see would be at my fingertips from then on. I take it for granted now, of course, just as I do so many things that were once thrilling and novel. It's something I'm working on, both trying to set limitations on my attachment to the constant stream of information available and trying to tap into a tiny bit of that sense of wonder and gratitude.

I've been having a hard time with both those things lately, as things have been a bit tough in general. I've been sick for several weeks now (nothing serious, just a nasty bug that won't quit) and that along with the increasingly darker and colder days has left me lacking in energy and motivation. I've been revisiting my posts on curing the winter blues, (here, here, here and here) as this is something that I struggle with every year and now have some tricks in my arsenal that sometimes help combat it, and am doing what I can to find happiness in the small things. Like watching this movie on Halloween. It seemed surprisingly un-dated for how old it is now. I found that I was still really into the aesthetics of the film - Wednesday is just as cool as ever, and the mansion still has a lot elements of my dream home, complete with secret revolving bookcases and trap doors. It also drove home another thing I'm trying to remember these days (and is also a big theme in this book which I am currently reading and loving), which is to stop taking myself so seriously. To relax and have fun while at the same time focus and work hard. It's such a juggling act sometimes, this being-a-grown-up business.

So Long, Summer

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Now that our glimpses of an Indian summer are decidedly over, I thought an update of sorts was long overdue on this space. It seems I'm posting seasonally these days, so what better way to start again than with a farewell to this past summer. Last summer was one of those summers that seemed like it stretched on for ages, with lots of long days and long nights, morning swims in the ocean and meandering evening walks, and I felt like I at once did nothing and all too much. My usual dichotomy. I'm well aware though, that some day I won't have the luxury of these kind of summers, so I tried to enjoy it as much as possible. With that, here is a little summery summary of some of the things that filled my time.

I finally got around to seeing Terrence Malick's film The Tree of Life, and if you haven't already seen it, please go watch it. This is the kind of film that makes my heart physically ache because it is so beautiful to watch. The entire thing felt like summer to me, especially that nostalgia for childhood summers I always seem to get. Even though the setting was in a different time and place, it still felt so visceral and universal. It was interesting watching it this summer with all the Boyhood buzz, which I also loved, but it was just such a different take on similar themes. I'll spare you the essay I could write.

My first real architectural model of a building that I designed. There might have been blood, sweat and tears put into this. I wasn't completely satisfied with my final project of last year, but I was happy with how a lot of it turned out. I'm proud of myself for getting through my first year, and felt like I learnt so much in the process. Plus, for the most part, it was actually really fun. One of my summer goals was to make a more professional website and portfolio, but that didn't quite get done as I spent as much time outdoors and unplugged as I could this summer. It's probably better to do it on these darker and chiller evenings anyway.

Japan! I had been meaning to write a whole post about my trip in June, but I was so overwhelmed with impressions and ideas that I didn't know where to start. I still don't. It was a trip I had been dreaming about for so long, and I was in no way disappointed. The landscape, art, architecture, food, people, kawaii things galore. It was all amazing. I can't wait to go back and explore more. If you want to read more about Japan on a blog that does it justice, go over to my pal Rachel's site and have a peek at her archives. If it doesn't make you want to go there, I don't know what will. Ok, well, maybe this Moomin 'anti-loneliness' cafe that we went to will.

After I got back from Japan, Nicola and spent about a week or so crafting things (and swimming and picnicing - it was a good week!) for Fog & Cedar. We had both gotten looms earlier in the spring, and finally put them to use. I'm still definitely a weaving beginner, but I'm hoping to follow Nicola's lead and get more into it this fall. It's so nice and relaxing. We've also been experimenting with some new materials and styles of necklaces that we're pretty excited about.

I also took part in an architecture workshop where we had a week to design and build a transportable structure that had multiple functions - a place for shelter, eating and swimming.  We were working at Papirøen (Paper Island) which is an old industrial area along the harbour that has been recently made public and revitalized with galleries and studios and a street food market. It was so fun to see how much life is being breathed into this new area, and to also get to use some power tools at the same time. I'd love to learn more about carpentry, and making things in general, but it was nice to make something real for a change.

And finally, we went back home to Canada for August. We took my mom's old camper van up to Tofino for a few days and did nothing but live on the beach for a few days. We also got to see two sets of dear friends get married, which is always so special and I was my normal teary mess. Somehow the month went by in a blur, but we got to do our favourite things, eat our favourite foods and most importantly spend time with some of our favourite people. Not a bad way to cap off the summer.

Spring Cleaning

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The nice thing about having a blog, however sporadically I might post, is that I can look back and see what kind of things start to repeat and become traditions. Every May is busy - birthdays, final projects and exams, holidays. The days get longer and warmer. I buy peonies, we plant our herb garden. And every time around this year I do some kind of spring cleaning. I clean out our closets, wash the windows, that kind of stuff. I had a bunch I wanted to do, but I've been busy with school, so I've only managed to get a few things done here and there during the weekends. But still, these little changes can make such a difference. Here are some of those things, if you are like me and love lists. And yeah, I've already posted some of this on Instagram already, sorry about that. It's pretty much the new form of blogging, isn't it?

  • Organized all our books and papers (i.e. Mark's entire medical school catalogue). Moving it all into file folders and turning the spines around helped so much in making it looks more streamlined and cohesive. Why do medicine books have to be so ugly? Not to mention expensive, ugh. 
  • I made a quick, rip off version of these banners because I am a lazy, broke student - although I obviously don't condone plagiarizing artists' work regularly. But, it looks pretty cute, right? I still need to work a bit more on making our desk space look nice, but this is still a good reminder to have up these days. 
  • I made a bunch of cleaning and skincare products, which I've had on my list to do forever and was so easy that it made me embarrassed I waited so long. I made an all purpose cleaner, lavender linen/room spray, oil cleanser, kitty balm, beard oil for Mark and some peppermint lip balm. I made everything in small batches to test things out, but I've been happy with it all so far and am looking forward to experimenting more. Next on the list is trying the no-poo method, and some homemade deodorant. I've also started doing dry brushing, which I like so far! Still haven't tried oil pulling yet, but I'm curious about that too. 
  • I also started making kombucha and am surprised how much I love it. It really seems to help my stomach, and gives me a bit of energy since I don't normally have much caffeine or sugar (it has both, in smallish amounts). I usually make it unflavoured, and add some frozen berries to it afterwards. It tastes like apricot cider. If you are thinking about trying it, don't be intimidated! I was scared at first by all the fermentation lingo (even the name scoby, ew) but it's really super easy, I promise. 
  • We are still working on organizing and amalgamating all our photos which is a huge project. For us, anyway. We take a lot of photos and have had a lot of different systems for organizing them over the years. I realized that it had been so long since I had printed any photos out, so I got a bunch printed through the Printic app and am really happy with them. It's so easy to be able to just order them on your phone, and it's a nice way to have some family photos around without it looking too formal or fussy. I also want to order some prints from Artifact Uprising. I made calendars through them for our family for Christmas this year, and the quality was really lovely. 

Getting Schooled

Sunday, April 20, 2014

I've been meaning to write a post about school for a long time. Since before I started in August, actually, but I haven't really known where to start. I'm not so great at short and succinct. And anyway, it took me three years to get here: a year to get my residency permit and then another couple of years to complete the state mandated Danish language program (I had to pass the equivalent of Danish high school exams to be eligible for university here). I think I made it pretty clear that it was a tough season of my life, being in this state of uncertain limbo and feeling like I was wasting whatever potential I might have to be a contributing member of society. Not to mention the change of identity and waves of homesickness that accompany a move to another country, but that's for another post. 

If it seems like a big jump from art history to architecture, it both was and wasn't. I loved studying art history, but always knew that I didn't want to be a professor or a curator - my internship at an art gallery here confirmed that the art world wasn't for me. What I loved most about art history was studying and designing spaces, and the way that people's interactions and experiences were shaped by them. I didn't realize then that architecture encompasses that and more, I thought architecture was more science than art. I struggled for a long time with finding a meaningful creative discipline. As much as I am a firm believer in the importance of art, to me it can also feel inherently superficial or insular in these times. I took a while to come to the conclusion, but I decided that through architecture I could help provide the framework for positive change that I envisioned.

I've already learnt so much by going back to school, not just about architecture but also about myself. It's been a challenge adjusting to a new language, field, and system. But it's also been just as challenging to stop being so analytical and self-critical and to trust and believe in myself, as cheesy as that sounds. To let go of my expectations of myself, and to come to terms with the fact that to get where I want, I have to do another bachelor degree (and masters, of course) which means my ridiculous, self-imposed "life timeline" will get pushed back. But most of all, I feel grateful. I am so thankful that I get to spend my days learning and growing and doing something I love (and getting paid for it - thanks Danish government, I forgive you for all the bureaucracy and language lessons that you made me go through). And that hopefully one day I will be able to give back a little. We'll see, right? #YOLO and all that.

I took these snapshots around our campus a couple of weeks ago while we were doing a photography workshop. Not a bad place to study really.

Spring Dreaming

Saturday, March 15, 2014

I love living in a place that has defined seasons. As much as I miss the temperateness of the west coast, I like seeing the difference spring makes to people in Nordic countries. Back home spring means cherry blossoms and switching to an even lighter jacket. Here spring means a completely different lifestyle. As soon as the sun comes out, the Danes flock outside and soak it up. It's kind of nice, that feeling of having to take full advantage of it, although it can actually stress me out a bit sometimes. People are noticeably happier, and I definitely feel like I have so much more energy. It was warm enough last week to lie in the park, sipping a cider and being surrounded by a sea of flower bulbs. I'm starting to get used to this idea of seasonal living. That it's ok that I want mostly to be at home in the winter, do hot yoga, go to bed early. I'll have time to read outside in the park, take naps, start running again now that the days are longer and lighter. It sounds cliche, but it is such a time of inspiration. I am so full of ideas big and small - of places I want to go, things to do and make, that I decided to write it all down to get it out of my head. 

Plan my trip to Japan
- Despite a pile of books on my bedside table, I still have done nothing about this. Although it's a school trip, I'll be there for a few extra days before and after and I know that I want to make the most of it. I have a bunch of Japanese films I'd like to watch too. Any recommendations of places/books/films are more than welcome!

Explore more of Copenhagen - With school just a ten minute bike ride away, I haven't really ventured out of the Amager/Christianshavn/Holmen area for a while. I'd like to spend more time around Frederiksberg, since it's so pretty and probably the place that I know the least. I'd also like to finally get my act together and make a Copenhagen guide, since I always get some visitors in the summer and often get emails about places to go here and I'm so out of the loop right now!

Do some apartment projects - We have kind of just left our apartment as is for the last three years, and it is definitely time to put a little love into it. Things need to be purged and painted, there is art to frame and hang, and I'd like to replant our herb garden in the courtyard. I'm hoping that I can familiarize myself with the wood shop at school so I can make some custom shelves and a couple of other things too.

Learn how to weave & knit more - I've been meaning to teach myself this for a while. I keep seeing gorgeous weavings and wall hangings and I think it would be a great project that could be taken to parks and cafes and a way to use up my yarn stash. I am also determined to learn how to knit some baby clothes, since I have another niece or nephew on the way this summer. 

Read, read, read - I used to read a ton and am still trying to get back into the habit. I would especially like to read a bunch of architecture and urban design/planning books this summer (I'm also going to try to teach myself some CAD programs, which should be interesting), as well as some good fiction. It's been a while since I've had of one those can't-put-it-down experiences (The Goldfinch didn't do it at all for me). And I'd like to treat myself to some new magazines, Synonym Journal and Oak both look great. Summer book club, anyone? 

Make a yoga & meditation corner - I don't like going to hot yoga as much in the summer for obvious reasons, and I'm getting better at having a home practice so I'd really like to have a dedicated space for it in our place. I like the idea of having a little altar-like spot with candles and crystals and all those pretty things. Anabela finds the best yoga related stuff: here, here and here.

Finally organize all those photos
- I started archiving our family photos the winter before last, and I'm hoping to get more done when I go back home in August. Besides family photos, I also have boxes full of high school photos there (so many artsy shots, ha) and Mark and I have boxes of negatives and Super 8 film that isn't even developed yet. Then there is my iPhoto situation, which has crashed and rebuilt itself so many times that it is a total mess. In an ideal world, I would also print out our photos into nice albums one day. We'll see.

Set up the camper van and take it on a trip - My mom has this old camper van that is equal parts hilarious and great and even though it has seen better days, it got us down the 101, to Yosemite and back, and we have a soft spot for it. Now with all our parents recently moving and living in smaller places, we are thinking that having a camper van back home might be the perfect solution for us to have our own space while visiting and a way to do some road trips at the same time. For now we are thinking of getting my mom's up and running, but we've been looking into getting our own and fixing it up just the way we want. This one is my dream and this 1950's camper reno is also pretty nice.

All photos from my Pinterest, the best form of procrastination.

Favourite Films of 2013

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

With the Oscars coming up this weekend, and with me being stuck at home with the flu, I thought it was a good time to do a roundup of my favourite films of the past year. I was originally inspired by my friend Natalie's great review of her top films of 2013 for S Magazine. While I was staying with her in Berlin, she also introduced me to the podcast Filmspotting, which has been partly to blame/thank for the recent rekindling of my love for film. 2013 was really a great year for films, or maybe it's just been that my hibernation method of getting through the winter was more conducive to watching them. In any case, here is my list. 

1. Her -  I already mentioned how much I liked this film. Spike Jonze and his art direction team did an amazing job of creating an entire aesthetic for these characters to live in, which makes it so much more believable. It's the perfect mix of nostalgic and futuristic, a pastel version of a Jetson's like world. Scarlett Johansson's performance really surprised me since I've found her style of acting often jarring but here her rawness worked so well as the voice of Samantha, the operating system that Joaquin Phoenix's character falls in love with.  As someone who spent a long time in a long distance relationship, the movie definitely struck a chord about how connected yet separate we can be. It felt especially fitting to be watching this on my laptop with my headphones on while Mark was next to me working away at something completely different on his own computer.

2. Inside Llewyn Davis - The Coen brothers can do no wrong in my opinion. This film is especially great, with all the characters so well written and flushed out - even the John Goodman cameo character. Like most of their films, this one is darkly funny and often painfully honest and bittersweet. It's such a classic and timeless story, of the starving artist looking for creative fulfillment and authenticity in a commercial world. The soundtrack and the gritty, melancholic cinematography adds another layer of depth to the work that leaves an almost haunting impression. It's also fitting in some ways that this was so obviously overlooked for an Oscars nomination this year... 

3. Mud - I liked this film way more than I was expecting. As someone who is mostly known for taking his shirt off, Matthew McConaughey has been hitting it out of the park lately with his acting. This film has a nice mix of themes, but is mainly a coming of age story that brings up questions about masculinity and loyalty, as well as the nature of good and evil. The slow unravelling of the story fits so well with it's setting on the Mississippi river, and has just the right touch of Southern Gothic that I love so much (which is probably also the reason why I am already hooked on True Detective).

4. Before Midnight - I had been meaning to see the Jesse and Celine trilogy for ages, so before the last one came out I took the time to watch Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. This film doesn't have the same rosy glow as the first two, but it is just as beautifully earnest, if not more so. I love that the connection between these two is so specific and visceral yet their dialogue is at the same time so universal and relatable. I often find films that deal with the topic of marriage to be either bitterly pessimistic or in the Hollywood vein of romantic so it was nice to see this one strike a much more realistic balance. 

5. The Stories We Tell - I already wrote a little about this one here, so I won't repeat myself too much, but I'm still really enamoured by it. I've noticed a reoccurring use of metanarrative in a lot of films coming out recently, and I think this documentary is a great example of working within that successfully. It's as much a story about stories, and filmmaking, as it is about family. 

6. Blue Jasmine - This film felt like a really refreshing departure from Woody Allen's usual repertoire to me. No matter what your views are on the resurfaced controversy, his voice is so strong that I often find it overpowers the characters in his films. Cate Blanchett is more than able to hold her own in this one though, the rest of the film is almost just a nicely constructed frame to support her incredible performance. There were a lot of obvious parallels to A Streetcar Named Desire, which is one of my all time favourites, and probably just made me like this modern version even more. 

7. Nebraska - I am so, so glad this film was shot in black and white. The Midwest landscape plays such an important part of grounding this film and gives that background of the contrasting values of humbleness and hard work versus the American Dream. Bruce Dern as a aging, slightly demented man who thinks he has won the sweepstakes was just the right blend of heartbreaking and aggravating. I had a bit of a hard time taking Will Forte seriously in his role as the son though and felt like he was a little out of place. I heard rumours that Casey Affleck was being considered, which I would have loved to have seen instead. 

8. Cutie and the Boxer - This is a documentary about contradictions. The artist couple it follows are at once quiet and loud, loving and hateful, humble and egotistical. I loved the mix of footage, from cinéma vérité style scenes, old family videos and Noriko's soulful comic book-like illustrations. Similar to other movies I've already mentioned, it's a meditation on art and how creating can consume you. 

9. The Hunt - This is one of the best Danish films I've seen in years, about a wrongfully accused man living in a small town. It's easy to draw parallels to The Crucible, which also plays with the themes of mob psychology, albeit as an allegory as McCarthyism. It's also especially fitting for use in a Danish context though, with the cultural tradition of homogeneity and Law of Jante. Plus, Mads Mikkelsen is a fantastic actor and the Danes always do dark, moody cinematography so well. 

10. Room 237 - This is another film about a film; or specifically a documentary about The Shining. It mainly details various theories and/or conspiracies about hidden meanings in the original film, some more outlandish than others. While it is in a way exploring film geekery itself, it's also about the Indiana Jones-esque feeling art historians, film critics and others get when unpacking symbology and metaphors as well as the importance of architecture in creating a psychological sense of place in a film. 

Raw Truffles

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What else are you supposed to do on a Monday evening when you have a craving for chocolate? I kept seeing similar ones pop up on the food blogs I follow and in local raw cafes (Karen and I recently went to this one which was especially good!), so I decided to give it a try. I was really impressed with the results! These are seriously so easy, they took just a few minutes in the food processor, and taste so good while still being good for you. Also, just in time for Valentine's Day, if you don't have anything else up your sleeve. Other years I have made peanut butter cups (also great with almond butter) and decoupaged jars of infused sugar, if you need more ideas for sweet treats.

Raw Truffles 
Adapted just slightly from Sprouted Kitchen's Almond Date Truffles

Medjool dates (about 15)
1/4 cup raw cocoa powder
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon

Pulse the almonds in a food processor until they are finely ground. Add the dates and blend until the two form a paste. Add the rest of ingredients and pulse until blended. Roll a heaping teaspoon into a ball and roll in extra cocoa powder, coconut, sprinkles or chopped nuts. You can also play around with the flavours, adding extra vanilla, mint extract or coffee. If you'd like them sweeter, you can also add a bit of raw honey. They keep best if they are refrigerated. Enjoy!

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