Saturday, 19 August 2017

stolen flowers

I think I have mentioned before that I miss having the possibility to buy cut flowers here in Brunei. I've heard that there is one place  in the vicinity where they sell them, but I haven't been there and apparently it's really expensive. I have recently bought new seeds to grow my own flowers in the garden, but if that doesn't work at least I have found out another way to change up the greenery a bit here in the house: by stealing flowers from my neighbors gardens!

Well, to be completely accurate I haven't exactly stolen them... it's more like I have helped pruning a few very overgrown bushes from the neighboring garden - where no-one lives at the moment. So I don't feel particularly guilty. And how pretty are these bright orange and pink flowers? I have no idea what kind of bush this is, but you see them in pretty much every garden here. And that little branch with leaves on, terribly cool pattern, am I right?

Thursday, 17 August 2017

dreamy garments I'm ogling right now

I have a self imposed spending-stop (when it comes to clothes) but after I saw this kaftan-post over at Anna's blog I just couldn't stop myself from browsing  Monki's web-shop for that lovely pink and green creation. I think the team behind the Monki collection is particularly good at patterns... I'm not going to buy anything now, but maybe someone wants to buy me an early Christmas gift? It's not that far away...

oversized dress with cool pattern in the best blue colors
kaftan with flower-pattern
drawstring shirt-dress in fun pattern
So, there's an obvious blue and patterned theme here. Unfortunately it seems like the pink and green kaftan I was look out for might be out of stock, that's sad. But also good because that makes not buying it so much easier...

Monday, 14 August 2017

my office

I'm slowly getting back to my normal routines here in Brunei, after a long summer break. Before my classes start in September I don't really have all that much I have to do, but I'm creating my own workdays filled (ok, maybe not filled) with work/study related things and creative challenges. At the same time I'm considering if there are any improvements or updates I can do in my home office! It's totally serviceable and quite cozy, but there are a few untidy or under utilized spaces. Most of these problem areas are hidden away in drawers that I should sort through but it would be fun to come up with a more visible project to get my motivation going.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

back up in the sadle

You know how I told you my suitcases were brim-full when I came home from Scandinavia? Here's another reason why...

After the introduction package of four sessions I did before my holiday I decided to keep on taking weekly riding lessons this fall. This means that I will spend an hour on horseback every Wednesday morning - unless heavy rain has made the stable grounds unfit for use (happens quite often, this week for example).

I don't feel the same enthusiasm for riding as I did when I began with Lindy hop or roller derby, but I still feel happy I'm doing it. I'm glad to have a new challenge that is so far away from what I usually do. Starting something completely from scratch means that the learning curve can be quite steep which is good for the self esteem. I don't think this will become a new obsession, but it's a really nice reason to leave the house and I get to spend some time with a big animal which is pretty awesome.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

three new things in my life

My life here in Brunei isn't exactly full of surprises. Most days look very much like the other without huge variation. Well, except for the days we're traveling I guess, but now I'm talking about everyday life, a normal weekday. Anyway, that's why today feels a bit special, since not one, nor two, but three new... things? happened to me today:

First thing: I met a new potential friend! A while ago I contacted this other currently non-practicing architect living here and asked if she wanted to grab a coffee. I'd gotten her contact info from a friend already before we moved to Brunei, and she wrote a really informative email to me and Andreas before we arrived, that helped me a lot when it came to understanding what life here might be like. Now I've met her in person and she is really nice, plus we share a lot of the same view on our profession. It was surprisingly fun to talk shop again.

Second thing: I went to this fitness class called Pilobox Knock Out, with another friend of mine. Fitness classes hasn't really been my thing before, but it is a social and engaging way of training. Today was my first time ever in this particular class and it was h.o.r.r.i.b.l.e. I mean I felt like would faint. But I also felt pretty good about doing it (afterwards!) so I might try to make this a regular thing. But damn, it was tough! Burpees (hate them) push-ups, jumps, planks. Jeeez.

on my way TO class, looking all naive, sporty and fresh... little did I know...

Third thing: I got a message from yet another friend (maybe I should have called this post "three new friends", instead...) asking if I wanted to join a salsa class tonight. Well, I was so tired after the Pilobox thing I declined but said I'd love to give it a go next week. Later she sent me a video of what they were doing aaaanndd... It looks hard. I mean, I can't dance salsa! Plus this was some kind of line-dance version I've never seen. But hey, I've always said I like to try new stuff so I'll try it for sure. 

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

a few new bits and bobs for the house

It's been a long time since I shared anything other than books I've read or plans for the future here on the blog! Time to get a little bit superficial and consumer oriented here again, I think...

I can't really find home decor stuff that I like in Brunei. Different taste, I guess. So this time when I went back to Europe I did what I usually do: buy things for the home that can easily fit in my suitcases. Ergo, small, flat and/or lightweight are key words. And when I piled up my acquisitions for this trip all next to each other I noticed a few other themes... black/white, green and to be hanged in windows!

storage boxes from Söstrene Greene
hanging glass vases from Indiska
large oval hanging candle holder from Bruka design
green curtain and curtain tieback from Hemtex
striped canvas storage-bag from Habitat

NB: I'm not sponsored, all of these things are bought with my own money and carried home in my own over full suitcases by my own two hands. Now I'm looking forward to finding good places for all of my findings... yay!

Monday, 7 August 2017


This year I gave myself a 9 week long summer holiday. I know. It is ridiculous, and I am totally aware of how privileged and spoiled I am. So let's focus on what comes next instead. I have now been accepted to the courses I've applied to and it's time to figure out which ones I'm going to take. I've decided to not study full time this semester, though, as I feel I need to start spending time on developing my architect-skills as well as the new skills (which I'm not sure I'll ever have professional use for, really). I've thought through what options I have when it comes to architecture self-studies and as I so far haven't found any appealing online courses I'm just going to try and come up with things myself.

My main goal is simply to find my way back to liking architecture again. For as long as I have been a practicing architect I have stayed as far away as possible from dealing with architecture-related stuff outside my work hours. This means I haven't read articles or magazines on the topic, or worked on projects of my own. It all just stressed me out too much. But  now I think it's time to start doing that, to build my confidence and also to figure out what areas I would like to work in, if I get the chance in the future.

Strategies to find my way back 
  • Get into the habit of reading articles from Architizer and ArchDaily, daily
  • Read or at least leaf through all my old architecture magazines. Mark interesting articles
  • Properly read a few of my architecture books
  • Make simple and quick sketches based on inspiring photographs
  • Get a specific note book for ideas and thoughts on future projects
  • Create a specific folder with inspiring photos and projects in my computer
  • Set aside time every week for "architect work"
  • Watch Ted-talks on interesting topics

Saturday, 5 August 2017

One skill per week

I had so many high flying plans on how creative I was going to be when we moved here and I would have all of this magical free time. Turns out my courses zapped most of my creative energy and Netflix, books and aimlessly surfing on my phone has stolen most of my leftover time. Oh well. You live and you learn. So, now that I'm back from all of my travels this summer I have made a plan. And that plan is that I will have a go at a new creative skill, per week, for the next few weeks. I will try to spend at least 30 minutes or so every weekday on the skill, watching tutorials or practicing. To get out of my comfort zone - and to not feel that my results have to be flawless - I've decided to try out a few techniques and crafts that I'm not very good at or have never tried before.

Here's my list of four new things to try!
  • Hand lettering 
  • Embroidery 
  • Watercolor (not new, but hard)
  • Macrame
  • creating patterns
Maybe now I will finally have something to show off in my "creative challenge" posts, that have goon conspicuously missing these past months... 

Thursday, 3 August 2017

New Years resolutions, an update

If you've read this blog for a while you will know that in the beginning of January I set up a bunch of goals for the year, and that I have checked in on those goals every month to see how I'm doing (this is the latest status). This month I have decided to do something different. I've decided to skip looking back on the "old goals" as it's starting to feel repetitive and instead add a few new ones to spice things up. I feel I want to make a few small changes in my daily routines and I hope these new goals will help motivate me with that. By the end of 2017 I'll have a look back on all of my goals, the old ones included, to see how I've done!

So. Here are my new-new year's resolution for the second half of 2017:
  • Start scuba diving again
    either with a refresher course or just have Andreas repeat stuff with me
  • Become a person that runs
    My original task for this year was to run 10k, once. And I did! But then I lost all motivation and pretty much stopped completely. But I still want to conquer my self imposed image as a person who don't run. So. Instead if setting a limited goal I just want to Run at least once a week. It might be one kilometer, but as long as o get out for a while
  • Paint my fingernails with fun designs more often
    No need to explain this except that I realized my goal of painting my toenails more often was too boring. Toenail varnish lasts longer and you don't have too do it as often. 
  • Try galloping at least once
    On a horse. during a riding lesson, obviously. I tried it once when I took riding lessons as a kid and hated it. No I want to give it another go. This one depends on what my riding instructor has planned for me, of course. 
  • "Read" five of my architect-books
    Semi thoroughly. More than just look at the pretty pictures. 
  • Go 90 days straight without shopping clothes
    This shouldn't be all that hard, but considering ASOS ships to Brunei... this will be tough one for me. Underwear and necessary sportswear excluded. 
  • Eat vegetarian at least two days per week
    On average. And I should say "two meat free days a week" because I'll still eat eggs and lactose these days. 
  • Post three blog posts per week
    Also this on average. Resulting in minimum 156 in total by the end of the year 
  • Complete at least one project for my portfolio
    This would be one of the "made up" projects I've mentioned before, as I don't have real clients. Or possibly a competition if I find a suitable one. 
  • Take 90 kg in dead lift and 60 kg in deep squats
    In addition to my old goal - take 60 kg in bench. These goals are a bit ambitious for my level, FYI.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

tasty (but not so pretty) birthday cake

The 2nd of August is Andreas's birthday and I decided to go all in with celebrations this year. This meant gifts en masse, him deciding what would be for lunch and dinner and me cooking plus a surprise cake. And as I don't particularly like either cooking or baking this was a pretty big deal... As you can see from this lovely photo of this pretty thing... erh... Well, to be honest it might not look like much, but it was pretty darn tasty! So I'm going to share the recipe with you guys.

This is actually a combination of several recipes that I found while browsing around Pinterest. I had an idea that I wanted to make a cheesecake - because it's easy - with white chocolate and lemon, but everything I found was either too complicated or with other combinations of ingredients. I ended up using most of the instructions from this recipe that I made for my own birthday (I recommend it!) but switching out some of the ingredients using measurements from various other recipes I came across. The result was really tasty, sweet but with a strong lemon flavor. I wish I'd taken a better photo, but we wanted to get started eating the cake...

Annika's (no bake) chocolate lemon cheesecake

1-2 lemons, juice and zest
300g Philadelphia cheese
250 g Digestive biscuits
80g butter, melted
1 dl full cream 
200g white chocolate
1 dl sugar

  1. Crush the biscuits and blend with melted butter
  2. Cover the bottom of a springform pan with the crushed biscuit/butter mix. Press to make a compact layer. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  3. Mix the Philadelphia cheese with sugar and  juice and zest from one small lemon.
  4. Melt 50g of the chocolate and stir into the Philadlphia mixure
  5. Pour the cheese mixture onto the biscuit layer in the pan, then spread with a spatula. Refrigerate until firm.
  6. Melt the remaining chocolate and blend with the cream and a little bit of juice and zest from a lemon - taste to see how much.
  7. Cover the cheesecake with chocolate. Decorate if you have time... suggestions for decorations would be mint leaves, lemon slizes, candles, gold and sparkles, whatever.
  8. Let the cheesecake cool for 30 minutes. Slice and serve.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

back to reality

It feels really good to be back home. Although it's still weird that this unreal life I live her counts as reality these days.

Today I'm jet lagged... I arrived back home yesterday in the early evening and after unpacking and showing off all of the neat stuff I brought home for Andreas (including the bottle of liquid smoke that had leaked a bit = smelly bag) I fell asleep in the couch when we were watching a movie. Today I had planned to wake up at seven to try and get back on track but it wasn't until 1,5 hours later that I dragged myself out of bed. But that wasn't really unexpected. It usually takes me about three or four days to become normal again after a trip to Europe.

 As my self-inflicted summer holiday officially ended yesterday I decided to spend this day planning what I need to get done this week and sort myself out a bit. The upcoming week I will blog more about what my plans are for this semester, as I figure it out. This week I'll focus on a few administrative boring this that needs to be done, as well as cuddling with the cats and Andreas as much as possible. I've missed them so much! And maybe most important of all, tomorrow is Andreas' birthday so of course that will have to be celebrated properly!

Sunday, 30 July 2017

I've read: Anansi boys

by Niel Gaiman

Another Neil Gaiman book, surpise surprise! 

This is the story about Fat Charlie, who isn't actually fat, a very normal guy who lives a very normal job, with a sweet girlfriend and a job he doesn't really like. When his estranged and embarrassing dad suddenly dies, in the most embarrassing way, he finds out he has a brother and suddenly his life isn't very normal any more. 

Strange stuff happens, all seem to be his strange brothers Spiders fault. Things start going bad for Fat Charlie, catastrophic even, and then take a turn for the worse. He tries to get out of trouble by traveling over the Atlantic (thrice) and talk his old voodoo-lady of a neighbor. 

It's no secret I like Neil Gaiman's books. They are always exciting, fun and smart. This is no different. I finished in just a few days and now I just want to read another one, just like it.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

I've read, The Shock of the Fall

by Nathan Filer

This is another book I just picked up based on the cover (as I guess most books are). It didn't turn out to be anything like what I had expected. In this book you get to know Matt. When Matt is a child, about seven I think, his older brother Simon dies. We get to follor Matt as he grow older, with him telling the story about his life, his brothers death and how that influences him. As I write it, it sounds like any other story about grief, but it is not.

It is in many ways a very sad story. An unusually touching story. And in my opinion extremely well written one. Not at all like what I usually read, but strange and in a way lovely. It left an impression.

You should read it too.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Swedish summer 2017

I'm now more than a week in to my two week long Scandinavian Holliday. And I've seen a lot, met a lot of people and eaten almost all of the things I've longed for. I'm not going to go in to much detail but at least I'll share a few photos.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

anxiety and fear

In my head, anxiety and fear are two completely different things. Anxiety is a feeling that creeps up on you, that get lodged in your chest and just sit there and fester. You might not always know the reason for it, or you might know the trigger but not why it makes you feel so bad. It can also be that thing that keeps you awake in the middle of the night or that suddenly just hits you right when you are about to fall a sleep. Why did I say that? Why did I do that? Did I remember to do that? What will happen now? Am I sick? 

I've been anxious a lot in my life. When I was younger I had anxiety about getting infected by parasites or getting blood clots in my legs. Bad enough to sometimes keep me up at night. But mostly I was anxious for stupid reasons that ended up not feeling all that bad the next day when I woke up. As a grown up, most of my anxiety have been related to my work. I've been anxious about making mistakes, that I don't know as much as I should or that I have forgotten something important. The past three years or so though, even this anxiousness have abated as I started to feel more comfortable in my position and with my tasks. And obviously I don't have any of those worries now! Most reasons for me being anxious these days are a light version of social anxiety, probably caused by the fact that I don't see people that often. Sometimes I just want to hide at home and not meet anyone.

But then we have the fear! And even though I have been a quite anxious person, I haven't really been that afraid. I'm not particularly afraid of being alone in the house at night. I can walk by myself late in the dark without feeling scared. I'm not totally comfortable with heights and wouldn't do a bungy-jump or skydive, but not in a way that influences my daily life. I'm comfortable with public speaking and I really enjoy trying new adrenaline-filled activities and sports. I even got over my long lasting and paralyzing aerophobia and can now fly around the globe without breaking a sweat. I'm not exactly fearless, but absolutely not fearful!

Funny though, the few things that really scare me now are still related to traveling. Because leaving home for a longer period makes me a bit scared. Not in a disabling way, but enough for me to start to worry after a few days away. So, what I am afraid of? It has all to do with the cats! I am afraid someone will break in (not an unrealistic fear here, sadly) and hurt or steal them (also not unrealistic, crazy how it might sound). I am also afraid there will be a fire and that they will die. I know they are "just" cats, but they are also my family and totally irreplaceable. We always have people coming to our house to feed and play with them several times a day when we travel, so the chance of something happening when we are gone isn't big, but it is there. And that is scary.

I'm also terribly afraid of octopuses, and always have been. Devil-spawn.

How about you, what are you afraid of? Clowns? The sea?

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

I've read: Nights of the Dark Moon

by Tutu Dutta

Nights of the dark Moon is a collection of folktales from Asia (and a few from Africa) that I picked up on an airport recently. I thought it might be fun to read something with a local connection for once.

And sure, there are fairy-tales from Indonesia, China, Japan, Korea in here (none from Brunei though). It's interesting to see the similarities (moralizing) and differences (cultural and settings obviously) to the legends and tales we know from Europe. And it was nice to read short stores too.

But generally I wasn't a big fan of this book. I don't think the prose was well enough written. And sometimes they ended a bit too abrupt. 

Friday, 14 July 2017

Digital declutter

When I'm on vacation, away from home, I always start planning what changes I want to make in my "regular life" when I get back. This usually takes the form of me writing lists... One of the things I've been thinking about lately is that I want to organize and change some things in my digital presence and on my devices. I imagine that will make life easier and maybe end up in me reducing my screen time... *hoping*

Here's what that list looks like so far!
  • Un-follow Facebook updates from groups and people I'm not all that interested in
  • Remove apps I never use
  • Find one proper news-app to use instead of several half decent ones
  • Un-follow some accounts on Instagram
  • Remove myself from various mailing lists 
  • Clean out dropbox and cloud
  • Double check Facebook privacy settings
Let's see if I can get this done before my classes starts in September!

Thursday, 13 July 2017


In only a few hours I'll be on a plane, taking me on the first leg on a trip to Sweden. This trip back home was not in my original plans for the summer - having already traveled so much - but my grandfather passed away in May and I wanted to go back home for the entombment ceremony and to visit my grandmother.

As usual when I go back home, I'll go a little bit all over the place. As I haven't lived in my home country for about eight years (shit) I'm pretty used to this, although I have mixed feelings. Of course I want to see as many people as possible when I'm in Sweden, but it is also quite stressful to try and plan all of the logistics and to never really sleep in the same place for more than a few nights in a row. This time I have decided to add yet another stop to my trip, as I will be going back to Stavanger (in Norway) for a few days as well.

But it's going to be great. I'll get to see most of my best friends and all my family, and will even have a few days in Stockholm, completely unplanned! I'll try to spend those days just enjoying the Swedish summer, however cold and rainy it might be, and also make sure to do some of the shopping for things I can't buy here.

Now, I have already written a few posts that are scheduled to pop up here while I'm gone, as the Blogger app refuses to work on my iPhone since my last OS upgrade... I don't want it to be as empty here as it usually is when I'ma away. And let me just say, while on the topic of blogging, that I'm so happy for your comments and likes! I know I'm like the worst person ever to promote this place, but I'm still super glad that there are a few people coming here to read every now and then.

Oh well, now I'm off to pack my toilet bag! Always hard to decide what makeup to bring... I always just end up using a third of what I pack...

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

I've read: the Wonder

by Emma Donoghue

To be completely honest, I bought this book 95% based on the pretty cover. The blurb was promising, but not totally convincing, but I needed more books so... This story is about a nurse, Lib, taught by the legendary Florence Nightingale (so it takes place during the later part of the 1800s) and now sent on a mission to a remote part of Ireland. Only once she arrives she realizes that her job will not be to take care of a sick person, but rather to monitor a young girl who has stopped eating and now seem like - miraculously - she has survived without food, for over four months.

Libs job will be - in collaboration with a nun - to watch over the girl and make sure no-one is secretively feeding her. Is the girl a medical wonder, a holy person or a fraud? 

I didn't like this book to start with. I wasn't impressed with the main character or the set up of the story. But it grew on me, kept me really wondering, and in the end I really liked it! Not the best book I ever read, but as mysteries goes, quite unusual and interesting!

Monday, 10 July 2017

3 film reviews

Hello Bloggy!
I'm back in Brunei after almost 2,5 weeks gone, traveling in South Korea and Japan. I have about a billion of photos, and a bunch of fond memories from this trip, but as I'm not a huge fan of reading other people blog posts about travels I'm just going to summarize this trip (along with the other resent trip I made to Hong Kong) in a short travel guide. But that I wont do until I've sorted and edited my photos, and gathered my thoughts. I'm thinking these posts will show up in September or so. No hurry.

Today I'm just here to say HELLO and also to provide you with a very important service called film reviews! I saw three movies when I flew from Japan to Singapore on Saturday, all of them movies I had on my "to see" list. Read and decided if they should be on yours too. If you haven't already seen them, then just scroll on...


This was NOT the best film to watch while in the air. It's not good to feel contained and stalked while on a plane. But that aside I think it was ok. Interesting to imagine what will have to be considered if life is ever discovered "close" to earth, even if it isn't life in the shape of little green men. When it comes to the actors... eh. Not bad, really, but I didn't grow that involved with any of the characters, although I liked I liked that the cast was so international.
Score: 3/5

Beauty and the Beast

Beautiful movie. I rarely watch Disney, but when it comes to live-action fairy tales I just can't stay away. And surprisingly I don't mind musicals! I used to have the Swedish Disney version of this story on audio tape when I was a kid and listened to it over. I remembered many of the tunes and most of the story but still loved this remake. The cast is impressive and the scenes and settings beautiful. I do kind of wish that the beast could stay a beast though. Now the ending is like, "if you are nice you can become pretty and then you'll be happy". Not cool.
Score: 4/5

Kong: Skull island 

Interesting historical setting, just by the end of the Vietnam war. As action movies go, where the plot isn't super important, this is exactly what I want from a movie. Cool actors! Jungle! A little bit of humor! Epic monster fight scenes! plus, lots of people dying spectacularly and surprisingly which keeps you on your toes. I did not like the last King Kong movie, but this one was better.
Score: 3,5/5

FYI the photos are from my phone, taken during the flight. The reviews are also written in flight. I was a bit bored by the end...