Kicking off 2015 right — in Europe.

Happy new year, everyone! Hoping you all were able to spend some time with your family and friends. I was lucky enough to spend Christmas in Los Angeles, and then New Years in Oslo with my absolute favorite Norwegian. And, I finally got to see Norway in the snow, and I have to say that I’m smitten. The winter is actually worse here in DC… so I’ll probably just have to move to Oslo at some point in my life.

Real talk, though, I’d really like to just take a couple of months off to live in northern Norway during the winter — chasing the aurora borealis would be my jam.

Itching for more Norway photos? Check out my summer snapshots from Bergen and Oslo.

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desperately missing: norway

desperately missing norway // sweetsonian

I’ve been texting Silje in Norway, and following all of her lovely friends in Norway via Instagram and Snapchat — and I’ve found myself incredbly vacation-sick for Norway and it’s gorgeous views, bubbly language, and friendly faces. It was almost a year ago when I took just over a week to explore Oslo and Bergen! And since I held back on taking a vacation this year, I’m already daydreaming about the trip I’m hoping to take next year. My obsession with Norway continues, so you can bet that I’ll be taking at least another week there next summer :)

Here are some of the gorgeous views I’ve been pinning to my to-do list. If you want to make a Norwegian laugh, try pronouncing all of the Norwegian words and names out loud.

Atlanterhavsveien — “The Atlantic Road” is a winding, gorgeous road that was orginally proposed as a railway in the early 1900s (then abandoned). The road itself was build in the 1970s, and it now connects the semi-inhabited tiny islands of an archipelago in Western Norway.

Reine, Lofoten Islands, Norway — I’ve had this image pinned for years. Lofoten is farther north than where most Norwegians live, and it’s a bit of a trek to get up there… but it’s first on my to-do list for my next trip to Norway. Last summer, I met a couple of Americans while I was in Bergen, and they had just come back from Lofoten. They described the water as being as blue as the Caribbean, but you’re instead up in the Arctic Circle. I want to go to there.

Trolltunga — “Tip of the tongue,” known as one of the most spectacular hikes in all of Norway. The little ledge of a cliff juts out, holding you more than 3,600 feet above sea level — how crazy is that?! It’s a day-long hike through high mountains, but the views are breathtaking and highly worth it.

Preikestolen — Pulpit Rock, a hike to a stone cliff that looms almost 2,000 feet over the Lysefjord. The hike is just over 2 miles each way, but… you start at sea level and climb all 2,000 feet in that 2 miles, so it takes the average fit person 2 to 3 hours. So… you’ll find me on the stairmaster tonight.

photos from tulúm

tulúm // sweetsonian

tulúm // sweetsonian

tulúm // sweetsonian

I was lucky enough to spend the past week or so celebrating the wedding of one of my favorite college friends (ahem, the only other girl who was just as loyal to Taco Tuesdays at UCLA as I was). So, in addition to being part of an incredibly beautiful wedding, I was able to spend a couple of days exploring and revisiting the coast of Mexico in Quintana Roo — mostly known for the beautiful beaches that line it from Cancun in the north, all the way down to Tulúm. I had been here once before with another former roommate, Kristen, but that was two years ago. And, it was the trip I took right before starting the day job I have now. It’s so weird to think that it’s been two years since then, because I remembered the coast so vividly.

Anyway, Em and I peaced out of DC a couple of days early to make sure we would have a day or two to explore. We knew we wanted to see the ruins at Tulúm and then spend a couple of hours at a cenote, but we weren’t sure which one. In the end, we decided to pretty much do exactly what Kristen and I did in 2012 — we rode the collectivos buses south for about an hour, visited the ruins, and walked along the beach to cute place called la playa Paraíso, and the next day, we went to the exact same cenote in Puerto Morelos called Siete Bocas. Photos from the cenote tomorrow!

tulúm // sweetsonian

 

tulúm // sweetsonian

tulúm // sweetsonian

tulúm // sweetsonian

tulúm // sweetsonian

tulúm // sweetsonian

tulúm // sweetsonian

Bergen, Norway

Train ride from Oslo to Bergen, Norway // Sweetsonian

Bergen, Norway // Sweetsonian

It was raining cats and dogs for the majority of my time in Bergen, which I’m told, is the norm for the little city no matter what time of year it is. We had to forego the hiking trip to the top of the mountains because of the rain, but the copious amounts of coffee and carbs from the most fabulous host of them all, Åse, gave me a taste of what it would be like to live in Bergen.

It’s beautiful — that’s for sure. And the people I met were all very nice and seemed to enjoy their jobs and their lives in Bergen. If it weren’t for the constant rain, I’d probably move there.

Anyway, there aren’t many photos, because the rain made me nervous with the camera worth more than my life. But I couldn’t resist photos from the fjord tour and the fish market right after. Hope you all are having a wonderful week, wherever you are! Especially my friends in DC — missing you dearly.

Bergen, Norway // SweetsonianFish market in Bergen // Sweetsonian

I could have used an orange rain jumper like that while I was in Bergen.

Fish market in Bergen // Sweetsonian

Fish market in Bergen // Sweetsonian

Fish market in Bergen // Sweetsonian

Fish market in Bergen // Sweetsonian

Fjord tour from Bergen, Norway // Sweetsonian

Fjord tour from Bergen, Norway // Sweetsonian

Fjord tour from Bergen, Norway // Sweetsonian

Fjord tour from Bergen, Norway // Sweetsonian

Anyone who saw our boat chugging along was very excited to wave. Check out all of the waterfalls behind them! There are waterfalls everywhere in Norway. I’m assuming they’re from all of the melting snow.

 

Fjord tour from Bergen, Norway // Sweetsonian

Fjord tour from Bergen, Norway // SweetsonianTrain ride from Oslo to Bergen, Norway // Sweetsonian

Fjord tour from Bergen, Norway // Sweetsonian

Fjord tour from Bergen, Norway // Sweetsonian

Fjord tour from Bergen, Norway // Sweetsonian

Fjord tour from Bergen, Norway // Sweetsonian

Bergen, Norway // Sweetsonian

Bergen, Norway // SweetsonianAse's Kitchen in Bergen, Norway // Sweetsonian

Ase's Kitchen in Bergen, Norway // Sweetsonian

Train ride from Oslo to Bergen, Norway // Sweetsonian

Train ride from Oslo to Bergen, Norway // Sweetsonian

Train ride from Oslo to Bergen, Norway // Sweetsonian

 

One Day in Oslo

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Well, friends. I’m writing from a train that’s crossing the Norwegian countryside, where I’ve also learned SO much about European geography. I’m embarrassingly bad at geography everywhere (even in the states, as exhibited by a few terrible mistakes I’ve made on maps at work), but I had trouble mixing up where Norway and Sweden were on the map.

BUT — where I lack skills in geography, I make up for in anal retentiveness for following the blue dot on my iPhone whenever I am in a moving vehicle that I’m not in charge of driving. So, after the first two hours on this train, I realized that Sweden is actually east of Norway, and the only thing immediately west of Norway is the ocean. And… we were on a train headed west, because that’s where Bergen is.

I was telling everyone in the states that I was heading north.

I’m embarrassed enough to admit that to myself. I need to work on my geography. It didn’t help that I was so incredibly overbooked with work for the past three weeks that I had to stay 30 minutes later than planned in my office, missing two buses to the airport (but saving just enough time for a slice of pizza, strictly against the health regiment I’ve been desperately attempting to make routine).

You know you need a vacation when you literally run away from your office. And this is coming from someone who loves her work so much that sixty-hour work weeks are the norm. And I do not hate my life (most of the time).

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Anyway, this pretty Norwegian is showing me the best and brightest of Norway this week. After a red-eye flight to Brussels and wishing I spoke French, I landed in Oslo Friday evening. Silje brought me to her house, and we made a simple Norwegian summer dish called reker (pronounced reh-keer, simply Norwegian for “shrimp”). Recipe below, if you’d like to make your own version at home.

Since I was rather jet lagged, it felt like 3 PM for me when it was actually pretty late at night in Oslo. It didn’t help that the sun was still shining brightly at 10 PM. So we drank wine, caught up, and watched Scandal until we fell asleep. We woke up yesterday morning to a torrential thunderstorm, which we watched from an enclosed balcony. Then, we walked all over the city, had a long coffee and wine break at a waterfront restaurant, and then toured a new modern art museum. The creepy smile statue was by far the least weird thing in that museum (it was a graphic Cindy Sherman exhibit).

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We’ll be exploring Bergen for a few days — many of the people I met in Oslo said Bergen would easily be one of the most beautiful places in the world if I’m lucky enough to catch it on a sunny day.

So, we’ll see. In the meantime, enjoy the photos from my first day in Oslo, and the recipe below.

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Reker — a simple Scandinavian summer dish, serves 2

~1 lb. cooked shrimp
1 or 2 whole lemons, sliced into wedges
Fresh sprigs of dill
Generously thick slices of bread, toasted or untoasted
Selections of mayonnaise – we opted to be healthy, so we chose the light version
1 large bowl for discarding shrimp heads and shells

In Norway, there’s only really a month or two of warm weather, so eating outside is a special occasion. While peeling shrimp might not seem like your favorite thing to do, it was nice to sit outside with Silje and peel shrimp together.

Remove the shrimp heads and peel the shells, discarding the waste in a large bowl.

Spread a healthy serving of mayonnaise onto your slice of bread, and then arrange the shrimp on top. Garnish with a few sprigs of dill, and squeeze the juice of a couple wedges of lemon over the whole thing.

Eat with your hands like an open sandwich, or use a knife and fork if you prefer to stay clean. It can get messy.

I guess it really depends on how hungry you are.

Summer Weekends

Some scenes from a wonderful weekend – most people enjoy a few days off. In preparation for grad school and unemployment, I’ve traded in most of my weekends (and lunch breaks, and happy hours) in for design projects.

Not that I’m complaining.  Hell, I handed over my social life to grad school apps and freelancing months ago. But the last month at work will probably be the longest one of my life.

I did take a nice break yesterday to visit Annapolis, where we sat on the Naval Academy campus and sipped cocktails on a bay-front dock.  It was quite the summer day.

Reader, stay close.  I’ve missed you so, and I’ll be back in a month or so.

 

English Muffins

I have a confession to make.

I am not a morning person.  Definitely.  Not.  Me.

Weird, right?  I know.  I used to think all bakers were morning people, too.  Sorry.  I was wrong.  I’m one of those girls that has to set an alarm at 6 AM to wake up sometime between 7:30 and 8.  I really do hit the snooze button that much.  It’s a problem.  How am I ever going to own a bakery? Continue reading “English Muffins”