Monday, 21 May 2018

I've read: three series about magic

Here comes the second installment in my recap of what I've read so far, this year. The summaries are shorter and more a reminder to myself of what I've read than a proper review, but hopefully it's not too boring for you to read...

This time I'm comparing the three fantasy series I started the year reading!

The Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman

This series actually continues after the three books I've read so far, but I feel comfortable reviewing them anyway... In this series we follow Irene, a Librarian of the Invisible Library - a giant library existing outside of all other universes but with access to all of them. The Librarians can travel between different worlds and their goal is to collect (which sometimes means steal) important books from them. Some universes are modern, high technology world ad others are filled with magic and fairies and generally steam punk-y. It's a pretty fun back story, and the plot of the books are fairly exciting, but even after reading three books I can't say I'm particularly invested in what happens to the characters.
Score: 3/5


The Paper Magician series by Charlie N Holmberg

In this series, set in a steam punk kind of world, magic exists but only in the sence where every magician can control one kind of material, like glass, metal, platsic or paper (duh). This is the story of XXX who graduates from magician school and is forced to start working with paper magic, even though she rather have any other material. Luckily she is put in to apprenticeship with a young and hansom paper magician, who also appears to be involved in mysterious and exiting drama with black magic practitioners... This was a very easy read, but the story feels thin, is a little bit silly, and I get so annoyed with the main character for constantly doing such stupid things!
2,5/5


The Magicians series by Lev Grossman

I actually read the first book in the series a while ago and have already reviewed it here. The plot here is that magic exists in the world but is only known to a few people (Harry Potter style). Parallel universes also exists (Narnia style). But this series is way darker than Harry Potter or Narnia, there's more death, stupid choices, alcohol and sex in it, for one, and you definitely don't like the characters all the time. I remember not liking Quentin - the main character - at all in the first book, but in the second and third he grows on me, mostly because he grows up. This series is hard to put down, there are really good plot twists and great imagination, a series that feels like a way more solid piece of work than the other three. 
Score: 4/5

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Happy birthday to me, and: 30 after 30

There is this phenomenon called "30 before 30" where people come up with 30 things they want to achieve before they turn 30. Fun and innocent I guess, and something I would have thought was cool to make when I was in my twenties. But now this annoys me a bit, I just think it adds on the stress of ageing and the myth that life is over when you turn 30. Because of course you can't do any of these things when you are 31, then your done, over, passé! Well, you are not. And to prove that, to you and me, here's a list of 25 things I have done, managed or achieved since I turned 30.

I posting it here today as today is my 35th birthday, which means two things:

  1. a LOT has happened the past 5 years.
  2. a lot can happen in the next 5, 10 or 50 years

I am very aware that some of the things on my list are there only because I am a privileged person, who have access and the possibility to do them. But many of these things are not. They are things anyone can do, if you are prepared to step outside your comfort zone. And most importantly, most of these things I wouldn't have thought that 30+ me would (or maybe could) or even wanted to do, if you had asked 20 something me.


Since I turned 30 I have:

  1. learned to ride a horse
  2. begun dancing lindy hop, balboa and blues
  3. joined a roller derby team,learned how to skate...
  4. ... passed my roller derby minimum skills...
  5. ...and played a few bouts!
  6. become more comfortable at my work and handled several big projects
  7. quite my job to try something new and follow my dreams
  8. moved to a new country, my third outside Sweden
  9. become a student again, studied several completely new topics and learned new skills...
  10. ...like writing CSS and HTML code
  11. participated in a tap workshop
  12. made new and really, really good friends
  13. gotten used to driving on the "wrong" side of the road
  14. overcome my fear of flying
  15. planned a wedding in three months and gotten married
  16. learned to like (vegetarian) sushi
  17. run 10k (only once, so far, but still)
  18. dared to show of my drawings and illustrations on a special Instagram account
  19. bought the domain for the name of my (hopefully) future business
  20. designed a logotype that will be used (internally) in a big company
  21. tried jet-ski in Bali
  22. fired an AK47 on a shooting range in Vietnam
  23. danced Lindy Hop in Seoul
  24. tried katana sword-fighting in Tokyo
  25. tried SUP in Brunei
  26. cut my hair short...
  27. ...colored my hair bright red...
  28. ...and also bright pink
  29. started studying a new language (Malay)
  30. started dancing Salsa Casino


Me, on my 30th birthday, 5 years ago. Little did this happy redhead know what the next 5 years would include!

Friday, 18 May 2018

Birthdays past

It's my birthday-week, if you have missed that... As I love going back looking at old photos I decided to round up a few from my past birthdays!

Turning 30
celebrating in our backyard in Stavanger, eating cake baked by my darling Emma and just enjoying the perfect May weather with my sweet friends. Matching mt painting in the back very well!


 Turning 31
pretty much copy paste from the year before, including a cake made by Emma,
only another haircolour and even more of a children's birthday party theme!


Turning 32
and getting help opening gifts in bed. I received so many fun gifts perfectly suited all of my geeky interests from Doctor Who, to roller derby to gardening.




Turning 33
celebrating at Emma's since Andreas and all our furniture were already in Brunei, 
although he sent me a huge bouquet of roses! Emma also spoiled me royally with cake for breakfast and making halloumi burgers for dinner. That girl is a star.




Turning 34
Receiving a perfect mix of gifts from Andreas, getting celebrated with chocolate by my expat organization and having a balcony party in the evening. 



Wow. This posts makes me miss my friends back in Stavanger a lot... So it's pretty awesome I'll be able to spend some quality time with Emma and a few of the others when I come back this summer, yaaaay!

It also make me want to do something new with my hair... maybe I should make an appointment for Friday... 

Monday, 14 May 2018

My birthday week

Hello lovely people, happy Monday!



On Saturday I'm turning 35, so I'm making this my official birthday week, which means I'm going to enjoy myself as much as I can and not plan too many things. Except for on my birthday, I'm going to totally plan a bunch of things, but those things will mainly consist of food I will eat.

I enjoy having a birthday almost as much now as I did when I was a child. Sure, the focus has shifted some, but it's still one of my favorite days of the year, and I do try to make it something special. As I live far away from most of my friends and family I will not celebrate my 35th in any spectacular way, but if I know Andreas as well as I think I do, I might get spoiled enough anyway. 

This is how I have planned my birthday week, so far:

Monday
Take control of the week, as always on Mondays, by checking in on whatever tasks that needs to get done, answering some emails and so on. This Monday is a bit special though as I'm going on a team building event with the expat organization I'm part of. It will be a "dine and cruise" kind of situation, so I hope the weather is nice and the food tasty... 

Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday
Work on my final course assignment in my illustration course, the finishing touches on the dance event graphics and a few other projects. I'm not planning on starting anything new really, this week, just tie up loose ends. There will also be some CrossFit, salsa and swimming in the evenings.

Friday
Begin the day with a riding lesson, then go grocery shopping for the weekend. Then I'll have some rosé wine, bake two cakes (a chocolate cake for Friday and a lemon-lime cheesecake for Saturday) and prepare some cocktails and then have just a small group of friends over for the evening, nothing big. Just nice and chill and fun. 

Satur(birth)day
Sleep late. Have breakfast (cake?) in bed. Open gifts (I've seen the packages in Andreas' closet, so I know I'll get some). Read a nice book and eat chocolate. Open gifts I bough for myself from ASOS. Eat waffles with ice-cream for lunch. If the weather is nice, go to the pool for a swim, maybe even go for a walk on the beach? Probably talk to mum on the phone. Cuddle the cats. Eat halloumi and avocado burgers with sweet potato fries for dinner. Finish off with a piece of the cheese cake and prosecco. Then watch a good movie (maybe La-la land? Haven't seen it) eat licorice fudge and snuggle with Andreas and the cats in the couch. 

Sunday
Sleep late. Eat cheese cake. Go for a swim. Maybe catch a movie with Andreas. 



Sunday, 13 May 2018

I've read: plenty of books

It's been quite some time - since last year actually - since I wrote a book review! I have actually read quite a lot this year, so that's a bit strange, but I guess I have just been putting it off. As I don't want to go back and write a new post per every book I've read - that would just take too much time - I've decided to collect the books of 2018, so far, in two, shorter posts! This is the first one, covering a quite random selection of books. I am now reaching the end of my book supply, and have been reading stuff a bit outside of my normal genres, as I just don't have much of a selection here.

In order to make these post a bit more fun I'm also going to grade what I've read on a scale from 1 to 5, 5 being the best!

The Midnight Rose by Lucinda Riley



I git this from my mother in law who left it behind when we traveled with them in February. It's a story about a young Indian woman traveling to England and a fancy mansion in the early 1900 -  combined with the story of an american actress shooting a film in the same mansion in present time. I read it in Swedish and I was not particularly impressed by the language. The thing is, the part of the book that tells the story of the Indian woman, Anaitha, is quite interesting and well written, but the modern part just feels ridiculous. It feels like two different books and the way the two stories as intertwined is just too... much. It's annoying.
Score: 2/5

Hag-seed by Margaret Atwood



This is the story about Felix, a theater director that has lost both his wife and daughter, and the loses his job due to a power play by his former assistant. Felix is very creative and a bit too in to his job, and when he loses it he becomes a recluse just pondering how to get back on the people who maneuvered him out of his position. He ends up taking a job at a prison and starts setting up Shakespeare plays with the prisoners as actors.
This book is quite unusual, and it wasn't at all what I had expected. It's a story about loss, revenge and theater, and even though I don't think I'll be thinking a lot of this book in the future, I don't regret reading it.
Score: 3/5

Equal rites by Terry Pratchett


I considered not mentioning this book as I've read it before, along with all of the other books in the Discworld series, but I did read it this spring, so here we go. I can't go in to detail about the Discworld universe, but let's just say this is a humorous fantasy book that deals with the difference between being a witch and a wizard, and if a woman can be a wizard. As with all of Pratchett's Discworld books I love the language, the innuendo, the fantastic characters and crazy plots.
Score: 4/5

Prep - Curtis Sittenfeld


I got this book from my dad as an early birthday gift when we met in Vietnam a month ago. It was on my wish-list as I'd read about it somewhere and I am fascinated by life in boarding schools. The story covers fourteen year old girl Lee Fiorais years at the fancy boarding school Ault. It turns out she doesn't feel like she fits in, and she decides from the starts that she isn't cool enough, rich enough or smart enough to be anybody. The book covers all of her years at the school and we get to know her and her friends and what happens at the school, big and small. There's some drama, but this is a quite slow paced book. I didn't love it, didn't hate it... It was OK, but not really my cup of tea.
Score: 3/5

Djevelmasken (the Devil's Mask) by Tom Egeland


I guess I must have bought this book last year when I was in Norway., and it's been in my pile of "to read" books ever since. I've never read a book by Egeland before, and this was a part of a series about The albino archaeologist Bjørn Beltø. It's a crime novel taking place in a small community in Norway, where Beltø is hired to help uncover the mysteries surrounding three deaths, one in the 1700, one in 1954 and one in present time. There are connections to the church, demons and a ancient relic - the Devil's mask - and feel a bit like a Dan Brown book. It was years since I last read a crime novel, and this isn't the best one I ever read, but it was totally ok and fun to practice my Norwegian.
Score: 3/5

Friday, 11 May 2018

Online window shopping

As I've said before I spend quite some time browsing online shops for cute outfits. Not that I buy everything I find, but I think this is a nice substitute for not having any real life shops to peruse. I always end up putting tons of things in my virtual shopping cart, but only rarely buy anything. Last week I actually did buy some stuff, as a birthday gift for myself, so I will not open that package until my actual birthday. I'll let you see what I got after that! I can promise you at least most of the stuff was following my own rules for my new wardrobe I talked about a few posts ago...

Anyway, I've heard about a - for me - new online shop, that actually ship to Brunei, so the other day I had a look at that one! It's called Zalora and carries their own brand, plus tons of international brands such as Mango, Ted Baker, Calvin Klein... I ended up spending a short eternity looking at their clothes for the Muslim festive season that will come soon, following Ramadan. I've been considering buying a suitable outfit that would be appropriate if we are invited to an open house - the most common way of celebrating here. Outside the "regular" stock this site has "modest wear" and Raya Season wear and some of the outfits there are absolutely spectacular! I think, as a westerner, we can learn something about elegance and the use of patterns, colors and structure when it comes to our festive clothing. Why do we tend to wear so much black? Here are a few of my favorite looks.



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These are just three of many fabulous creations. I'm not sure I ever find the right reason to wear anything like this, but they are amazing right? I'm having my eye on a less avant-garde piece though, a modern variety of a traditional Malayan kebaya and sarong, something that wouldn't look as conspicuous at a local party...

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When wearing local "costumes" I think it is important to make sure you don't do it to make fun of or downplay the importance of tradition and symbolism. Here in Brunei the locals are always happy to lend you an appropriate outfit and make you feel included, which is one reason I would like to buy a traditionally inspired outfit myself, as a way to show respect and appreciation. 

Monday, 7 May 2018

week 19

Mondays are always a bit fragmented for me. I try to tie up all loose ends from last week when it comes to projects and emails, and plan the week to come. I also try to get all of those smaller admin tasks done so that they wont interfere and interrupt my workflow for the rest of the week. I like this plan, and it usually works OK. I also try to spend at least some time on this blog... Anyway. This week will look a lot like last week, so I'm not going to go in to detail. I've realized that most of my posts here lately have been just me writing to-do lists for my weeks, and that can't be all that fun to read. This week I'll try to improve and actually post something else!

To begin with I'll tell you three high-lights and three low-lights of this past weekend!

Best was:

  • sleeping in on Saturday! OK, I woke up around 6 to feed the cats, as usual, but then I slept until 10:30! Sooo nice
  • Snuggling up in the couch with Andreas and watch Gangster Squad on Saturday evening. I hadn't seen this movie from 2006 before, and this was also the first ever Ryan Gossling movie I've seen, it was surprisingly good!
  • Hanging out with my favorite people here in Brunei for 4 hours on Sunday, just eating tons of food and chit-chatting

Worst was:
  • walking home on Sunday and noticing a suspicious black tube-like thing by the road and realizing it was a snake!! It was a pretty big one, like a meter and a bit, and completely black. I didn't get a good look at the head but some research led me to think it might have been an Equatorial Spitting Cobra. Eeeuuugh...
  • Almost setting the kitchen on fire while making dinner on Sunday. Don't need to say much more than that. I hate having a gas stove!
  • The occasion for our Sunday hangout was to "celebrate" that our friend Fina will leave to spend a year working in USA this week. It's sad!

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

dresses, food and friends

Hi there!

It's just past midnight and I'm still sitting in front of my computer. It's not that I have been extra busy today or anything, it's just that I have a video-conference with my illustration class back in Sweden at 2:am (8:pm Swedish time) and I rather stay up late than wake up early to join it... I also didn't get at all as much done today as I had planned so now I'll just use this extra time to catch up.

The reason I was distracted from working on my projects during the day was that I posted a post in a "buy-and-sell" group on Facebook today, to try to get rid of some of the clothes I sorted out of my closet over the weekend, which resulted in a bunch of people coming over to try things on! It was quite nice, although a bit outside my comfort zone. I guess I hadn't expected the interest to be so big! In the end I sold one pair of shoes I've only worn once, a skirt, a top and three dresses! I didn't exactly make a lot of money, I set more or less symbolic prices, but it feels good anyway! I still have a bunch of stuff that I will try to sell over the next week or so, like 15 dresses and 2 pair of shoes, and four bags of clothes I will give to charity. Let's just say my closet is at least a little bit more airy now, for a while. I aim to replace the things I've gotten rid of with the kind of pieces I like to wear now. Less flower and leaf-patterns, more geometric and abstract patterns and more bright colors. And pockets on everything! Like this dress I wore today.

Dress from Mango, shoes from Asos

The reason I put on one of my current wardrobe favorites today was that I was going out for lunch with Andreas and a few of our friends to "celebrate" that one of them - Fina - is going away for a year to work in USA. Sad for us, fun for her! I don't remember the name of the food the others had, it was some kind of noodle soup (not lafka) with plenty of meat, but as I had one of my vegetarian days I had fried rice instead. Nomnom!




Monday, 30 April 2018

buh-bye april!

OK, so seasons and months don't matter as much when you live in the tropics, but that aside - I'm so happy May starts tomorrow! Not only because it's my birthday month,  I just love the feeling of May. I don't have anything huge planned, no trips or anything, but I also don't have a ton of work. Just my illustration course and one major project that needs to be finished over the past couple of weeks. I hope to fill this month with simple things, like working in the garden, drawing and illustration a lot for my portfolio, hanging out with friends and Andreas. May needs to be a month of routines, because come June, the craziness with travels begin again. More on that another time.


This weekend I went on a masquerade with jungle theme, watched a lot of Supernatural episodes and cleared out my closet. It was a good weekend, a little bit of everything. This week I have a couple of meetings and video-conferences, and I will try to get as much as possible of the design work done for the dance event I'm working on. This is what my week will look like, if all goes to plan:

Monday
The morning began with a meeting with the expat organization I'm in, after that I have sent some emails, planned my week and worked on a few pattern designs I drew yesterday and now wanted to digitize, and the afternoon will be spend doing some cleaning and washing before going to CrossFit with Andreas.

Tuesday
I'll divide the day between the final work on the dance clubs yearbook, the program for the dance event and start working on this months newsletter for the expat organization. I'll eat lunch with a group of friends and take it pretty easy in the afternoon, since I'll have to wake up for a while at 2 am to join a video conference with my online class in Sweden. In the evening I'll either go swimming or go to CrossFit. Or rest.

Wednesday
I'm still waiting for some info for a small remodeling project I'm doing. Hopefully I'll have enough by Wednesday to get some meaningful work done... Other that that, I'll do a few chapters in my online Revit course and start with this week assignment for the illustration course.

Thursday
The morning starts with a meeting to go through all of the material for the dance event, so the rest of the day will probably be spent making editing and updating that. Plus, I have a mid-semester video-chat with my illustration teacher!

Friday
I've moved my riding lessons to Fridays starting this week, which makes more sense for me, as I don't mind my Fridays being a bit more relaxed. I'll have to spend a few hours preparing a drawing workshop I'll hold next week, after that I'll be working on this weeks illustration assignment.

Saturday
Me and Andreas have decided to clean out and organize our storage room on Saturday... Not exactly fun, but highly needed. No plans outside that... Maybe we'll go to the pool for a while to relax from all the hard work.

Sunday
I'll have to do the finishing touches of the newsletter and hand in the illustrations assignment, but hopefully I'll get most of the actual work on both of these tasks done during the week. The highlight - or the saddest part, depending how you see it - of the day will be the farewell lunch for our friend Fina. She has been a big positive for us here in Brunei so we'll miss her a lot.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

work in progress

Sometimes you just have to start somewhere to get something done. Most things can be revised and updated if needed, very few things are set in stone. That's how I have started to think about my plans for starting a business! I still have many questions, like for example if I should register my firm in both Norway and Sweden, the two places where I'm most likely to have clients, or if I should stick to just one. Anyway. This might all come as a bit of a surprise - me talking of starting my own business - but it's not at serious as it sounds. It's just that I want to make as much preparations as possible for when the time comes for me to start working again, for real, and as my time here so far has made me realize that working as a freelance designer is kind of my dream I want to do whatever I can to make that reality. My super-duper soft launch of this "business" was when I created my second Instagram account - @naikas_sketchbook with the user name Studio Naika, and now I decided to just go for it and buy the domain StudioNaika.com and create a custom work email. I still wont take commissions or try to get any clients, I want to be way more prepared, have a business plan and so on, but I was afraid I would miss out on the domain name, and as I struggled really bad to come up with a name I felt I had to go for it.

The name is nothing fancy, just me switching place of the first two letters of my name and removing an N. But there you go. Hopefully I can get back to you with more updates on this in the next few months or so.