Thursday, 27 April 2017

feline affections

I think cats have an unfair reputation when it comes to loving their humans. I know all of us cat people know that our furry friends are fond of us, but everyone else seems to think that the cats just hang out with you when they want something - food or cuddles. My cats quite often behave in a way that makes it obvious this is not the case. It goes like this: I will be hanging out with them somewhere in the house but then need to move, doing something in another room for a while. Like working on the computer, reading a book or whatever. After a while, I'll look up from what I'm doing and there they are, one or both of them, having moved into the same room as me and now lounging on a chair or sleeping in a box, within a meter or so from me. Not meowing or in another way calling for my attention, just hanging out.They don't get anything out of this relocation - except the knowledge that I'm close by. So. For me, this is proof that they want to be with me, not only because I give them treats or belly rubs, but simply because they like me.

Then, of course, there are the times when they totally want something, mostly food (Hugo) or going out on the balcony (Cricket). Then they will reach up and pat me on my shoulder when I sit on a chair (yes that's how tall they are) or walk back and forth on the keyboard or my face or whatever needs to be done to get my attention. But that's another thing.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

I'm back! and dressed in flowers!

I'm back in Brunei after our four-day weekend in Ho Chi Minh City. We managed to get quite a lot of stuff done in those days, but I'll come back to what we did in another post, when I have sorted though the photos. For now I'll just leave you with close ups of the four pieces of clothing I bough over there. Pattern is the shit, amiright?

Pineapple dress from a random shop I don't remeber the name of, dress and short from Warehouse and culottes from Zara.

Monday, 24 April 2017

guys, don't always believe your own eyes

We are all aware that Photoshop-ing is a real thing, right? Nobody is ever as pretty as they look... Oh well, just to make that extra obvious and to give you a glimpse of what I learn in one of my courses right now, here's an example, with yours truly as the object!

So, what do we have here? In an assignment for my course "Digital photo editing" that I'm taking this semester we are right now learning how to retouch portraits. We were supposed to hand in one "realistic" version where none of the characteristics has disappeared and  one "extreme" or "beauty" version where we use all the tricks we've learnt to beautify the person on the photo.

  • The photo to the left is the original, a selfie I took the other day. It has a color cast - it's too yellow - and a bit dark.
  • The second photo is the realistic version, where I have improved the colors so the look more like they do in real life plus I have brightened it up some. I have also adjusted a lipstick smudge, increased the contrast in the eyes and tried to reduce a light reflection in the glasses. And removed some dirt from the glasses, and a few small spots in the skin.
  • The third photo is more fake than you might immediately see. Besides all the small adjustments from the photo in the middle there are quite a few other ones. The skin is "blurred" to remove anything that can look like a pore, I have added extra hair (that part looks pretty fake in my opinion - not my best work) and made the eye color more interesting and vibrant. But most importantly I have reduced the size of the nose, made the eyes larger plus made the shape of the lips more symmetrical. The whole chin is also more narrow.

Not strange that we feel we are being compared with super-humanly beautiful people all the time, right? I knew this from before but seeing how "easy" this is made it even more obvious. I mean, this just took me, a beginner, just a few hours.

You might think it's stupid and wrong that we learn how to do this, so this unfair treatment of photos can continue? Then I just want to add that this whole segment of the course was introduced by discussing the ethics of just this as going through a bunch of interesting examples all the way back from the 1800-hundreds. This is a really good course that generally focuses on other things than this, but I guess it is still a big part of photo editing so they can't just skip it...

Saturday, 22 April 2017

I've read: Huset vid sjön

By Kate Morton

Another book review! Yep, I've been reading a lot lately...

This one is in Swedish, but I assume it would be called "the house by the lake" or something similar in English. I got it from my mother in law who left it behind after they had visited in March. 

I didn't have any expectations at all when I started reading it, except that it would be an easy read - suitable for a vacation. And it fulfilled that! The story is one of those that are told from to points in time, parallelly. One is the story of a child going missing in the 1930's, and one is the story of a police trying to solve the case in 2003. She is going through some drama of her own and takes up this cold case as a bit of "hobby" while trying to sort that out. Like most stories like this it is at first hard to see how the stories will connect but then... well, they do.

There were several things I liked about this book. You slowly get to know more and more about the characters, especially the ones in the family of the missing child, and the story gets told from almost all of their points of view. There are interesting, unexpected twists. The setting - a beautiful house in Cornwall - is described so well I can see it in front of y eyes, and that time, the 30's, is really intriguing. But then there are some things I'm not a fan of. Like the ending... It's not bad, it's just... too satisfying? 

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

wednesday, packing and a movie review

I had another blah day today. It started OK but then my mood for some unknown reason became worse and worse and I felt bored and useless. This led to me spending a few hours in the couch, watching Suicide Squad for the second time. This helped a little bit. Notice how I even tried to make myself fell happier by wearing this awesome banana-print tank top today!

Anyway. I want to say a few words about Suicide Squad. Prepare for a nerd rant: My expectations for this film were high. I mean, I love a good super hero movie, and even though I've become less enchanted with the DC Batman/Superman universe these past few yeasr (Ben Affleck as Batman!? Come on!) I still had high hopes for this one. I guess I was hoping for some Deadpool magic or something. But. This is a train wreck of a movie. Especially if you - like me - haven't read any of the comics these characters are based on. For the first 25 minutes they keep introducing new characters, with very little back story, and it's reeeeally hard to grow a connection to them. I mean, I probably would have liked Katana or Captain Boomerang or whatever his name is if I'd new more than two seconds worth of info on them. That's the first bad thing. The second is the plot. It's not very good. I mean the whole idea of using a gang of super-villains to counter other bad-ass bad guys is nice but it just jumps from one event to the other without much explanation. Nope. I was thoroughly annoyed.


Then we have the Harley Quinn / Joker love story. I love Jared Leto as the Joker and Margot Robbie did a great job too. And Will Smiths character - Deadshot is pretty awesome too. Mr Smith is a good actor, in my opinion. And then yes, there were a few really nice scenes when the Squad was interacting with each other. Plus - awesome soundtrack! Lot's of classics and a few new good ones. 

So yeah, I have a love/hate relationship to this movie. 

Anyway. I spent this evening packing and preparing for our trip tomorrow. I've tried - for once - not to over pack! We leave right before lunch and have a short flight - only 1,5 hours - to Ho Chi Mihn City. I hope going away the weekend will take my blues away so I can get back in business next week. *crossing fingers*

Good night, y'all!

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

weak start of the week

bluagh. I'm so tired! This day has been quite useless. Not in any particular way, but I just haven't had any energy or felt like anything has been fun. And this has been a feeling that has been a bit too common for me the past weeks. On the positive side: I don't have anything I really have to do today so it's not such a huge catastrophe if I just spend the whole day walking around aimlessly in the house. On the negative side: I don't have anything I really have to do today so it's quite likely I'll end up spending the whole day walking around aimlessly in the house...

Oh well. I cleaned the litter boxes, that's something. Plus me and Andreas did a short session at the gym, so I did leave the house once.

And right now I'm typing this, so - yay!

random photo of me and Cricket just to liven this post up a bit...

I hope that some of my energy, resolve and discipline returns tomorrow as I actually need to work on the final assignment in one of my courses. Because then, on Thursday, me and Andreas are off for a long weekend to Vietnam! We're spending Thursday to Monday in Ho Chi Minh City, a place we've never been to before, so that's going to be fun! I'll tell you all about it when we get back.

I hope all of you have a great week and are way more energized than me right now *snooooore*

Thursday, 13 April 2017

I've read: Stardust

by Neil Gaiman

I bought this book, along with four others - when I was in Singapore a few weeks ago. I was so happy to find myself in a big, proper bookshop so I had a hard time selecting which books to buy! And then when I came home I realized that I had, unfortunately, bought one book that was the wrong book in a series I'm reading, and that I had already seen the film-version of this book. So that was pretty annoying.

Anyway, turns out I didn't really remember all that much of this movie so the book was till mostly an unknown to me. All well and good. 

As it is written by one of my writer-heroes Neil Gaiman, I had pretty high expectations on the story. He usually writes modern fairy-tales, but this one is of a more classical variation and takes place mostly in a fairly land with witches and unicorns and other nice things. I'm not going to go into much detail about the story, but basically this young man has a crush on a pretty girl - that honestly seems to be a bit of a b**** - and he promises to go find a fallen star for her. So he goes on a quest.

In my opinion it's not one of Gaiman's best but if you feel like reading a fairy-tale, read this. It's a quick read and very lovely in many ways, and the language often beautiful. 

Monday, 10 April 2017

my creative challenge #5 various semi-important stuff

The attentive blog-reader will notice that it's been a while since I did one of these posts. I actually decided to drop one of my two "obligatory" creative challenge posts of March just because I had traveled and had visitors, so there wasn't much time for creativity. Since then I still haven't come back into the flow of creating just for the sake of creating, but I have still been quite creative. Most of the stuff I have done have been connected to my school-work, but I have also done stuff for the newsletter I'm now an editor of, plus just some stuff for myself...

My visual profile
So I have started to think about and work on a visual profile of my own. This includes a logo and a graphic profile I will use for a homepage, business cards and so on. This might sound a bit weird since I don't have my own business... But my long term plan is to have one and until then I will at least work on my own "brand" for when I communicate with others in professional capacity, which I have to do every now and then.
I'm not going to show anything before it's done, so this iPhone photo of my computer monitor will have to illustrate that process so far.

Illustrating articles
As I'm now responsible for a newsletter that is sent out to a kind of big group I want to make sure it's nice to look at as well as informative. I am not only collecting the material that goes into the newsletter, I'm also designing it. So far I haven't ventured that far off the path that was already laid out before I got this position, but I will probably add a bit more of my own design over time. In the issue that was sent out last week I decided to illustrate a few of the articles, just to make them a bit eye-catching and create a cohesive look. Here's one of those:

Some light"architecting"
I'm helping my cousin with a few sketches on a possible extension of their summerhouse. As this is a house I have fond memories of it feels important to get it right... so today I'm sending over four different versions and see which one they like best. So far it is mostly quick hand-drawings but as soon as they have decided on what way to go I'll start drawing this baby up in Revit. Let's see if I remember how... 

I know it's irritating when I'm writing about stuff but not really showing what it is, but you will just have to see them as teasers. Some of these projects involve other people or are just too undecided - so I want to keep them for myself for a while. But I still want to have a record of me working on them, as these posts are a way for me to acknowledge that I have actually accomplished something even when it feels like I have done nothing for a while...

Thursday, 6 April 2017

I've read: the thinking woman's guide to real magic

by Emily Troy Barker

This book was a Christmas gift from my mom! One that was on my wishlist after I found it online somewhere. 
This is the story about Nora, who after the rehearsal dinner of one of her friends takes a stroll in the mountains and gets lost. Only to find herself in a beautiful garden and befriending a beautiful, mystical woman who convinces her to stay for a while and join a party. After that all kinds of strange and magical things starts to happen but Nora isn't all that bothered - her life wasn't all that much fun before this anyway! Hanging out with this woman and all of her enchanting friends, plus her hot son, is so much better! And then the troubles begin. Obviously. There's magic. And monsters. 

When I first started reading i was not impressed. For the first fifty pages or so I thought it was silly, and I didn't like the main character at all. The writing was good and I liked the set up, but I just wasn't convinced I would ever feel any sympathy for Nora. But then maybe a hundred or so pages into the book - once Nora has changed location again (I don't want to spoil too much) it started growing on me. As other, more interesting characters were introduced I started to really like it! It got exciting! And complex!

As I finished reading this book I immediately went online to try and find a sequel. Turns out Troy Barker is currently  writing one! Which is both frustrating but promising... Can't wait! Well, I can, and I will, but well, you know. 

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

dear diary

Hello peeps,

I've had a pretty slow day over here in our little house. My sweet husband have passed on a lovely cold to me so today I've been spending most of my time on the couch or the bed with a stuffed nose, sore throat and feeling generally clammy and slow. Having a cold is equally annoying in the tropics as back home in Scandinavia, I can assure you. Not that I does too much damage. I managed to get some work on my courses done and polish the final version of the newsletter I'm now editor for, that will be sent out tomorrow. So that's all good. I even had some energy left to go for a short walk in the sunset and steal a few more cuttings from bushes around the area. So, yeah, not too bad for a sick day.

One other thing that I managed to get done today was to apply for courses for next semester. I will get back to this in more detail another day, but it feels good to have that under control. Now I just have to figure out which of these courses I actually want to take, if I get accepted to all them.

Tomorrow morning I have an interesting thing on my schedule: my "assessment" for the riding lessons! Not sure what that will entail, but I think it might have to do with getting paired off with the "right" horse. Huh. It's interesting to see how one reacts to new situations, right?  Not sure how it will feel to sit on a horse. I'll let you know.

That's all for today, have a nice week!

Monday, 3 April 2017

tropical gardening, april 2nd

Wanna see what my green projects looked like in the beginning of March and compare? Have  a look here. In March I have been forced to give up on a few projects, I have tried planting some of my cuttings and added to my collection of avocado seeds.

I have replaced my grown-up pineapple with a new one! This one got its root by standing in water for over a month and now when it's in soil I hope it will start growing... the old big one is now moved to my tiny kitchen-garden on the side of the house. In the vases are some cuttings I've stolen from bushes around the neighborhood. 

Old cuttings now in soil. Some of these had developed roots and some not, let's see who survive!

The cantaloupe seeds have grown big, I should plant them in separate pots now! And a few of my avocado seeds. I add new ones to this collection every week. I'm going to plant a forest. 

The watermelon (and the cucumber)  is growing away from its pot. I have to watch out so I don't step on them.

I'm constantly forgetting to water the seeds I keep next to my cashew plants so now I try to keep them moist by covering them with cut off water-bottles. I still had to replace the old seeds, but let's see if this solution helps. The tomatoes are looking good though! Although I'm going to remove a few from the pot so they don't have to fight for the space. 

Mango, mango, avocado. I had such big hopes about that mango in the middle! It comes from a giant mango I bought from the shop, it was 20 cm long! It has started growing, but very slowly... I hope it will get a growth spurt soon!

Sunday, 2 April 2017

march resolution audit

April is here and time to check back in and see how I'm doing on my New Years resolutions! So, what about March...

  • Paint my toenails often. Because looking down on brightly colored toes makes me happy.
    Not really, sad and colorless tonails a lot of the time this month.
  • Run 10K, once. Like without stopping for a rest
    Since I actually ran 10K i February I've lost some of my inspiration. I had a few god runs together with Veronika when she was here but other than that March has been a bad running-month. 
  • Take an online photo course and start to use my camera on "manual" setting
    Nothing new here, I don't have time.
  • Bake my own bread, at least once
    Na-ah, not even a little bit.
  • Find one really good friend in Brunei
    With a few new things on my schedule from now on I hope I will soon find my selfwith a bunch of new palls, but who knows. 
  • Take 60 kg in bench press
    Training-wise, with traveling and visitors, March was bad. No improvements here.
  • Make one new proper friend via Instagram or a blog
    Nothing new here!
  • Start an online portfolio
    Not yet. And no projects to put in there either.
  • Grow my hair long and learn how to make a Dutch braid.
    On the photo you can see that not only have I a nice mix of brown and pale pink hair now, I have also almost succeeded in making a dutch braid. It felt super weird and backwards doing it but the result wasn't so bad.
  • Read 20 books, 5 of them non-fictional
    I think I have finished three books this month. I have to catch up on my reviews on them!
  • Be nicer to my skin: use lotion on my dry hands and legs on a daily basis and develop some kind of skin-care routine for my little face. Plus use at least SPF20 on my face, every day
    I bought a cool new face mask in Singapore, I have to try that one out! And I had a facial when we were there. Otherwise, like most of my routines, March haven't been the best on this account.
  • Only eat good candy, not boring candy. And enjoy it. 
    Oh, both my dad and Andreas parents brought a bunch of my favorite candy when they came visiting in March so I've had a lot of nice stuff to eat. It's almost gone now, though... :(
  • Try to reduce my screen time a little bit.
    Oh no. I've been spending thousands of hours on Instagram, Bloglovin and Pinterest, plus studying and watching Netflix, so no. Nope. 

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

new things! many new things going on! oh so many!

Hello there! I'm back again after two weeks off on "spring break" with my friend Veronika who was visiting my part of the world. It was really nice to have a friend around for a while, but now I'm all set to dive back into my courses and my routines. And there are some completely new stuff happening in my life from now on too!

The most significant one is that I'm now "working" as a news-letter editor for the local expat support organization, on a volunteer basis. I haven't really started yet, but I look forward to it. I think this might be a perfect opportunity to try some of the stuff I've learnt during my typography and graphic design courses. I just hope it doesn't mean I wont have time for "my" stuff! I've been really busy the first three days of this week just catching up on course work , plus starting a new full time course in vector graphics... so beside having vaguely pink hair now I'm also a busy, busy bee, but I feel good about that.

Another fun thing is that I'm trying to immerse in to the community here by signing up for various stuff. So far I haven't really heard back from any of them *sad smiley face* but still. The plan is to start doing yoga once a week and take riding lessons at some point. How crazy is that!? I tried riding when I was eight or so and thoroughly hated it, so I'm actually not sure this is a good idea, but I am a sucker for trying new stuff. Plus Andreas keep saying it is good that I'll learn some knight-stuff. That is very true.

Lastly I just want to mention that since our Sonos-system finally can be activated easily through the Spotify app life in my home-office is sooo much nicer... I mean I always listen to music while I work (unless I have to listen to a video lecture obvs) but it's nice to not always have to have headphones on. Plus I just added a bunch of new, fun songs to my favorite-playlist and now I can't stop sit-dancing and singing along. Good stuff.

Ok. That was it for now.


Monday, 27 March 2017

pink hair, don't care

I've been dreaming about pink hair now for a while. I mean, it's just so damn pretty! I know it's been trending for several years and I am pretty much the last one to join team candy-floss hair, but at least I have now! More or less... I bought this product fondant colors from Revlon (not sponsored) last summer when I was in Sweden. I was at a hairdresser to freshen up my tired hair with some highlights and got inspired to finally take the step away from blond to pink. But then I never got around to using it and then I came back to Brunei and kind of forgot about it.  But then a while back I sorted through some of my hair-spo photos on Pinterest and got inspired again...
all images from my hair and looks board on Pinterest

So this morning I had a go! This product isn't really a permanent hair dye, so I will have to refresh it quite often, I should think. The process was easy - I blended the right nuance of candy floss that I wanted by using a tiny bit of pink in the white base. Then I applied it to wet hair after washing it and left it in for 15 minutes. I realized pretty much instantly that the color wouldn't take all that much on my hair, especially since I have a really uneven color to begin with with dark blond roots and yellowish blond in the lengths. I was completely aware that the result would end up looking washed out and uneven, but to be honest that was kind of the look I was after.

I plan to repeat the process pretty soon again and see if I can get a slightly more even and saturated look, but considering the minimal effort I am totally happy with my new color! It might end up being temporary, but I smile every-time I catch glimpse of myself in the mirror so far I say this is mission accomplished for now.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

singapore sling, sleep and shopping

Yass... Last week in Singapore was pretty awesome. Me and my old friend Veronika spent five days walking around the city, getting the feel of it, shopping and eating good food. It was good. It was good because I remembered what it feels like to be around people. It was also good because we relaxed quite a lot by the hotel pool, and the hotel (Park Royal on Pickering street) was something extra. 

A nice blend of angular and organic architecture, made welcoming by an abundance of exterior greenery, quite extraordinary. I only have a few photos from my phone, but you'll get the idea.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

so long for a while!

Hey bloggy,

Just to let you know, I most likely wont be blogging much for the upcoming two weeks. Only for the nicest of reasons thought! Right now my parents-in-law are visiting and on Monday I'm off to Singapore to hang out with my old friend Veronika. I'm so excited to get a taste of the big-city-life for a while. Then she will join me back here in Brunei for a week. Not sure how much time I will be spending in front of the computer during this time! But I'm sure I will update Instagram, (I'm holly_hawkeyes there if you want to follow me) so check in there for more frequent updates.

So long!

Saturday, 11 March 2017

strange and lovely astronaut by Mab Graves

I know I have talked about artist Mab Graves before, but I just really like her! The other day I recieved this tiny, pink haired astronaut-girl that I bought from her Etsy shop and now I found a space for her!

I placed her next to my big orange Nike, I like how their body positions sort of mimic each other, and the colors look great together too. Although this crappy iPhone photo doesn't give astro-girl credit.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

my createive challenge #4 illustrator and a pineapple gift

And so another two weeks have passed by... time for another account of my creative progress for the past 14 days.

This time I have a hard time remembering if I have done anything at all! I haven't continued on my acrylic portrait and I haven't been working with either water color or Promarkers... But I have been playing with digital illustration and made one quite creative gift.

Pineapple themed gift set
Last Saturday me and Andreas was invited to a birthday party. I don't really know the people we were invited to that well but still wanted to give them a thoughtful gift. After some browsing on the internetzz I got inspired to do a "pineapple wine bottle" based on this pin. I also decided to add a few other pineapple themed things (an actual pineapple, canned pineapple, dried pineapple, pineapple soda) plus a suitably themed card. This was a fun gift to bring, even though it ended up being a it heavy.

What I used:
  • a wine bottle
  • ferrero rocher chocolathe
  • some green paper
  • a green ribbon
  • glue gun
  • tape

This is how I did: Make a cylinder out of paper and add some "leaves", by just taping them to the inside of the cylinder. Place the cylinder on the bottle and glue the chocolate on it. It's not harder than that! I also glued some pretty paper on the can of pineapple as you can see in the photo below.

I wrapped everything in cellophane and tied off with another green ribbon and the card, but I forgot to take a photo of that. I made the card in InDesign, here you see both back and front, before it's folded.

Digital doodles
The card wasn't the only digital fun I've had this week though. I've been working quite a lot on various school projects but I'm not including them in these posts. But I have also been forcing myself to just sit and "doodle" a bit every now and then as well. Here's the result of some of those lazy doodles from my sketch book, made on the balcony. They are inspired by some of the plants out there. 

And then the result after some digital manipulation of the hand drawings.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

tropical gardening, mars 2nd

I know most of you who read this blog are longing for spring and the trees to become green again, am I right? So I was thinking I could show you a bit of whats growing on our balcony/patio right now, to get your minds off the grey of winter! We've been building up our garden ever since we moved here, and I have also already started with a few "green projects" before this week, but these past few days I have really felt the urge to watch things grow again.

Most of my projects stands on the floor along the balcony railing. Our balcony/patio/veranda is completely covered with a roof  with quite a lot of overhang (and screened off with mosquito netting) so it's almost always shady out there. Which is nice. But down on the floor the plants will get some direct sunlight in the mornings.

Watermelon, cucumber and in the far back a bougainvillea that I'm growing from a cutting. 

Mystery pots! I've planted two mango seeds in the pot to the left, I'm  sure these will grow pretty fast to begin with, and then there's a baby avocado and hopefully what will be sunflowers soon... 

A small mango plant and more cucumber. So exciting to see if we can actually get any fruit from either of these! This cucumber have grown reeeeeally fast... 

I've grown some small tomatoes plants from seed that I just re-potted a few days ago. I think they survived the trauma, crossing my fingers...

I keep a home-made planter (made from a shoe box and a plastic bag) on the rail. 
Hopefully there will grow strawberries here soon...

Next to this little cashew-nut tree (I bought it "ready-grown", so to speak) I'm trying to cultivate kiwi and strawberries from seeds. not very hopeful about these... I also saved some small green things that grew out from a plant I keep inside, we'll see if something grows out of them. On the table I keep a pineapple that I successfully grew from one that we ate, and that I should really give a bigger pot soon. I also keep a vase with cuttings and a small plants from the garden I don't know the name of but that really seem to thrive in the dinosaur-pot. 

On the railing I keep another three avocado-seeds and an old egg-carton that will 
hopefully be the home of some baby artichokes and orange marigolds soon!

I also have plans on trying my luck with seeds from citrus fruits, kiwi and pomegranate. We can't keep any fruit trees or vegetables down in the garden since the monkeys will eat them, but hopefully we can keep things hidden enough on the balcony so they don't try to get in. They have already tried once when we had a small citrus tree in the corner, close to the stairs, so there is a risk... I'll keep you updated!