Our Apartment: The Living Room

Sunday, July 31, 2011

I think this first picture gives you a pretty good idea of the layout of our living room (which is also our dining room and kitchen, natch). It's taken from the entrance and the door at the end is to our bedroom/office. It's not the biggest room to do all your living in and the sloping walls make it a little tricky but it's really all the space we need. In some ways I love living in a small place, since you can only have what you need. We also get lots of light in this apartment which is really important when you live in a Nordic country. It's just a bit funny to be living in an attic apartment again after living in one for years in Canada, as I've mentioned before (you can see pictures of my old attic apartment here). The funny thing about these pictures is that they were taken on different days - I guess you can see where Tiggy spends most of his time. Tiggy and I both have been sleeping on that sheepskin since we were littles, so it's nice to have it here. We needed this room to be multifunctional and with the tight space, we had to pick our furniture carefully. Since we have a lot of house guests, this couch pulls out to be a pretty comfy double bed and it's not as ugly as a lot of futons, so that was a plus.

What we did: In this little living room corner of the main room, we didn't do too much. We framed and hung up my print and Mark put in a wireless router, phone line and the lamp and organized all the cables neatly under the couch, if that counts.
Still to do: I'd like to make some pillows from the ombre tablecloths I made for our wedding, since they are just sitting in storage.
Where things are from: The couch is from the used site Den Blå Avis, as is the fridge (although I guess that should be in the kitchen post), the lamp is thrifted, the print is one of my silkscreens inspired by our trip to West Africa a few years ago, the sheepskin is from my parents, the 1960's Italian phone behind the couch is from Mark's grandparents, the handwoven tray is a gift from my mom from a trip to Hawaii and the olive tree in the window was a wedding present.

Our Apartment: The Bathroom

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Simmer down now, I know you've been dying to see our bathroom. Our entrance opens right up to the bathroom, so if you open the front door this is your view. Pretty nice welcome, right? It's a bit of a strange layout but it seems really common here. Also common for Danish bathrooms? No shower curtain! And no storage. I do like the minimal design of most bathrooms here, especially compared to the outdated fittings found in most North American apartments. But it can also be a bit cold and clinical looking with all that white tile so I wanted to add a lot of organic texture to warm it up a bit. Mark managed to put up a shower curtain this month but we still haven't found one we like and now I'm kind of used to not having one. So much more space! He also hacked an old Ikea medicine cabinet with an ugly blue door and replaced it with a piece of scavenged wood. He's handy to have around, that guy. (I also really need to work on my white balancing it seems - sorry, friends).

What we did: Installed a shower rod and shower organizer, hacked and installed an old Ikea cabinet, and put hooks on back of door.
Still to do: Buy a shower curtain and make a wood cover for Tiggy's toilet (it fits under the sink now but is not so aesthetically pleasing).
Where things are from: The medicine cabinet Mark had from before, the rattan baskets are from the local "dollar store" (definitely costs more than a dollar here), the Japanese ceramic owl and wooden crane are from flea markets, the incense holder and essential oil burner we had previously (I prefer the place not to smell like a cat toilet), the garbage can and toilet brush were scavenged (classy I know, but they were practically new!), the shower organizer and soap holder are from Ikea, the towels are from H&M Home and the photograph is one Mark took with his old Minolta a few years ago in Spain.

Our Apartment: The Entrance

Friday, July 29, 2011

I'm going to go ahead and show you all some pictures of the apartment, even though we still have some work to do on it. At least now that we've had some time to do some projects this month, it feels like it's coming together. You might be wondering why it's taken us so long, since we moved in in January (I definitely have). I think it's because we were starting pretty much from scratch, with no money and a very small apartment with strange angles and no storage. All these things meant that we mainly chose to buy things used, scavenge things from dumpsters and flea markets and custom make things for our apartment. But with the wedding, lots of house guests and school, we just didn't have any time to work on all the projects. So before we leave on our honeymoon, I thought I'd take you on a little house tour (all 2.5 rooms of it) to show you what we've done and why I've been complaining about it for over six months. It's nothing crazy but at least it's liveable now. Come on in!

I figured we'd start off in the entrance since that's where you come in and all. We've been living with no storage and no lights in this space for months. We had stacks of scrap wood from other projects that we threw our jackets over and a stack of milk crafts for shoes. Just a bit embarrassing. The problem was that the walls are super concrete and a normal drill and concrete bit doesn't work so Mark had to rent a jackhammer from a construction supply place to do the drilling for all our storage stuff. It's also a bit of an awkward space with not much room and all the utilities along the main wall. We still have to put in another white storage box (you can see the holes for it next to the other one) but now we have a place to actually put our stuff. The tall metal cabinet holds a ton of shoes, takes up no space and has room on top for us to throw our keys and spare change. Mark actually biked home with this during a snowstorm, which is nuts once you feel how heavy it is. And the hat rack holds our jackets, bags and our bike helmets which is great because there is usually no place for them.

What we did: Installed an overhead light, shoe storage, hat rack and storage box.
Still to do: Install another storage box, possibly frame the map (or probably just hang with bulldog clips if we can't drill into the wall again).
Where things are from: The 1960's aeronautical map of Denmark is from Mark's grandfather, the letterpress print is from Little Paper Dog, the vintage rug and key tray are from flea markets, the shoe storage and hat rack are both Danish made from Den Blå Avis (the Danish version of Craigslist), and the white storage box and ceiling lamp is from Ikea.

Honeymoon Planning Part 2: Flying Kit

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Finally, the even nerdier travel post you've all been waiting for (I'm sure). If you've ever been on a long flight and not loved it, this post should help. This will probably be all you need to know and more about in flight gear. I should explain first why I am so crazy about what I bring on flights though. I get bad pretty motion sickness, which is a bit of a drag after several hours, and I also usually catch whatever flu is circulating through the cabin. I also usually like to enjoy my vacations, or see the people I'm visiting, without being jet lagged and/or sick the whole time. Strange, I know. Because the classic combo of wine and Gravol makes me feel worse, I use all the holistic/homeopathic/herbal alternatives I can find. So since I don't want to feel horrible, I am now *that* person with the blow up neck pillow and bag of stuff. I don't care and neither will you, once you've travelled like this. I'm not sure Mark is totally sold yet but at least I won't be whining the whole flight (probably only some of it). So after years of trying to figure out what works and what doesn't, here is my kit:

1. Entertainment - The most important part of the kit. Load your iPod, iPhone or computer up with a flight playlist, movies, a TV series and audio books (these are the best for flying!). You need to be distracted, so go for entertainment over intellectual qualities. I've made this mistake so many times but you have to waste this time anyway so don't feel bad. Noise cancelling earphones are a must and also don't forget an universal adaptor.
2. Travel wallet - I never understood why anyone would want one of these until I got this one. They are the best! They keep your passport, ticket, itinerary, cash and cards and a pen all handy and organized. I've been digging around for these things in my bag too many times in the past.
3. Water bottle - It's super important to drink a ton of water when flying. It makes a huge difference to how you feel. I usually bring an empty bottle with me to fill up right before I board and I also buy a couple big bottles past security. White Sigg water bottles are my favourite. I also bring herbal tea bags with me (Yogi has some good blends) and ask for hot water.
4. Cozy footwear - I go kind of all out in this area. I wear shoes that can be slipped off easily for security checks but that I can also run to catch a flight if I need to (again, not so great previous experiences), which usually means ballet flats. I also wear pressure socks because walking through scanners in bare feet is yucky and so is deep vein thrombosis which can happen while flying And just because I embrace my inner old lady. Then, I bring along little slipper socks that I can wear on the plane and can be washed after. For clothes, my flying uniform consists of leggings and a long top or tunic (basically pajamas) along with my scarf/shawl (#11). I also tuck in sunglasses and an umbrella to the outside flap of my suitcase so that I'm good to go when I get to my destination, no matter what the weather is like.
5. Food - I always bring my own food with me on flights. I also order a vegetarian meal (Hindu veggie is really good!) but they often forget or it's kind of gross so I like to have some food with me. I like bringing sushi along, if they sell it at the airport, but I'll settle for a sandwich too. I also bring power bars, like the Lara Bars, and some candied ginger which helps with feeling sick.
6. Toiletries bag - I bring along a little toiletries bag to stash all my moisturizers and homeopathic pills and oils. I have a small bottle of peppermint essential oil that I roll on pressure points (wrists and behind ears) to help with sickness. I also take homeopathic anti-jet lag pills, I'm not sure if they do anything but they can't hurt. The most important is melatonin pills, which reset your body clock and make you sleepy. I take one at the bedtime of the destination I'm heading to while flying, and also one for the first couple of nights after I arrive when I am going to sleep. It is amazing for jet lag!
7. Longchamp bag - The best travel bag to put everything you need in. It fits a ton of stuff and then folds up if you don't need it. And they last forever, I've been using mine non stop for years.
8. Moisturizer - Another really important part of the kit. I always bring along a ton of stuff to keep my skin moisturized. I have eczema so the dryness of airplanes can make me break out in a rash which is not so charming. A good hand cream with glycerin and lip balm with beeswax (Keihl's and Burt's Bees are favourites) are essential but an oil or balm for your nose is also a must. It sounds strange but it really helps to not get sick! I use Vick's Vaborub, for my nose and chest, or Dr. Hauschka nose balm. You can also use face mists, nasal spray and eye drops, if those areas get dry and irritated. Sometimes I use all of these things. Just go into the tiny bathroom so you don't look like too much of a crazy. Also make sure not to bring more than 100ml (and not more than 1 quart total) of each. I put my liquids in a clear Ziploc bag before putting it into the toiletries bag, so that they don't leak and that I can pull them out quickly for security checks.
9. Eye mask - Important if you want to get any sleep on a flight, or sometimes in a hotel. I have a grey plush one that I love but I also like this Breakfast at Tiffany's style one.
10. Neck pillow - Again, if you want to get any sleep on a flight, you really need to get a neck pillow. I resisted for a long time but I love mine now. I have a blow up one which saves a ton of space. It's also grey plush (and matches my eye mask, whaddup) so it's real soft which is nice. You could also try this guy.
11. Scarf/shawl - The first thing I do on a flight is put the gross airline pillow and blanket up in the overhead. Instead, I bring along a big scarf to use as a blanket or to keep warm. It stores well and you can wear it on your trip after. In the winter I bring along a pashmina and in the summer, a big cotton scarf. This merino one by Virginia Johnson would be a dream.
12. Change of clothes - Again, I've learnt this one the hard way. Always bring along an extra tank top and pair of underwear. It takes up no room and is totally worth it if your baggage is lost. For the same reason, I bring along another little bag with a toothbrush and toothpaste, facial wipes, some makeup, deodorant, hairbrush and little vial of perfume. As soon as the plane has landed, go into the nearest washroom and freshen up. You'll feel a million times better and you would have just been waiting for your baggage anyway. And speaking of which, a cute luggage tag is a good way to be able to spot your bag quickly or to make sure it will get back to you if it's lost.

Happy flying!

Summer Camp

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Amber was visiting this past week (I just saw her off at the airport on her way back to Berlin, sniff sniff) and I thought I would show you a bit of what we got up to. It's been really grey and rainy lately here in Copenhagen so I decided to put together a little summer camp to keep us entertained. We used to make up our own summer camps when we were kids and I'd been wanting to try some of these crafts for a while, so it seemed like a good fit. It ended up being really fun! It definitely gave us something to do on those not so summery afternoons and they were all really simple crafts that only took an hour or two and used mainly supplies I already had in my stash. We made friendship bracelets, watercolour stationary (a bit inspired by these), dip dye (Amber did the more old school tie dye), and dreamcatchers. We also did lots of walking around Copenhagen with our umbrellas and ducking into cafes to warm up with a cup of tea. Along with some field trips - a canal boat tour, Viking history at the National Museum, and the last Harry Potter movie - it was pretty much the perfect summer camp. I'll show you some more photos soon!

On being a housewife

Sunday, July 17, 2011

I'm back to being a housewife! Me and the restaurant just weren't meant to be, it seems. Turns out I'm much happier getting to sleep in, make waffles, and cuddle with my guys than run around serving food all night. I also like being able to take tea and Moomin cookie breaks whenever I feel like it, which is probably too often. I've been keeping busy though, Mark and I have spent this week organizing our lives - looking into school programs, planning our honeymoon, working on apartment projects and finally sending off the wedding thank you's that I've been feeling guilty about for months. We've also been sharing my computer which makes me more productive around the house but less so on the internet. I've been spending a lot of time reflecting on my life lately and have come up with a few thoughts that are not by any means groundbreaking but that I thought I would share. Expect another long, rambly post.

Being a housewife is hard. I know there are tons of plenty harder jobs/things in the world (I mean, come on) but hear me out. Being a housewife is hard for a few different reasons. One is that because there is no distinction between "work" and time off, you are kind of busy all the time or you feel that you should be. Because work isn't really work in the sense that a lot of people consider to be work, you feel like you have to be extra productive to justify your time. Or I do, anyway. Sometimes it feels like there are never ending chores to do and it's frustrating that it's not really recognized as work, because it can definitely feel like it. Even if you spend the entire day cooking, cleaning and running errands, it might not look like you've done all that much so you're not likely to get a ton of appreciation for what you've done (unless you have a nice husband, and then you should). It also feels pretty strange to answer the "what do you do?" question with housewife because of all the negative connotations. I always feel like I should add that I do other things - I study Danish and am starting my own design company, etc. etc. Then I realized that most housewives probably do other things too and like most occupations that it's actually a rather small part of your identity. I should add that I definitely do not do all the housework at all, Mark pitches in equally (sometimes more considering all the reno work he's done lately). It's just that I don't work and when I do work, it's at home. And I'm a wife. So I think housewife is a pretty accurate description of my occupation at the moment.

Be happy with what you have, when you have it. This idea is not new and it's something I've mentioned before, because it's something that I remind myself of often. I find that it's so easy to be stuck in the mindset of not being totally satisfied with the stage of life you are in at the moment - sometimes I wish I were in grad school, or feel bad about not having a job or any money. But then I remember how fortunate I am to be having this experience of living in Copenhagen and having this time to myself, a luxury I know that I won't have for most of my life. I feel really lucky to have this time to hang out with my husband, work on my projects and figure out how I want to live my life. I've looked forward to having this time and I know that I have to enjoy it now that it's here. I'm often fixated on finishing things and the end result, whether it's our apartment or my education but I've come to that life is a constant work in progress, and that's ok. I know all these things but it's a lot harder to actually live them. I haven't wanted to post any pictures of our progress in our apartment until it's done but it probably never will be so I think I will start showing some of our projects. Maybe it would be a good way to remind myself of these things.

So going with the theme of this post, here are some housewifey favourites. With trying to get our apartment and lives organized, I've gotten embarrassingly into organizing blogs like this one and this one. There is something about seeing things all neat and tidy that I love, I guess it's the OCD in me. What I wouldn't give for Martha's Homekeeping Handbook. I should just suck it up and buy it. I've really enjoyed reading the My Balance series on A Cup of Jo this week about work at home moms. It's not quite housewife territory but it's what I'd like to do when we decide to grow our family someday, so it's been interesting to read. I also just read The Checklist Manifesto, a book of Mark's about implementing simple strategies to increase efficiency in healthcare but it's way more interesting to read than it sounds. It's also applicable to pretty much everything, I even printed this one out for us to use at home. And some of my favourite housewife things here: my Marimekko apron, my hilarious 60's style rubber gloves (which are best when Mark wears them), Maison Belle apple & thyme dishwashing soap and wooden dish brush, and forest animal cookie cutters from IKEA. Oh, and some more of our wedding photos are on Hilda's blog.

Honeymoon Planning: Packing

Saturday, July 9, 2011

New York & Iceland Packing List

This is possibly the nerdiest post I'll ever write but since I've dragged myself and my belongings across the Atlantic so many times in the past 8 years, packing is something I've spent a lot of time thinking about and doing. Both packing and flying are by far my least favourite parts of travelling so over the years I've come up with ways of making them easier, which I thought I would share. First of all, having the right gear is really important - something Mark and his family will tell you about pretty much anything. I've had a three piece set of classic Samsonite luggage since I was 15 and still love them. The carry on is perfect for shorter city trips, the duffel bag is great for trips where a rolling suitcase is more of a hassle than a help and the medium size suitcase is good for everything else. Last winter I also invested in this hard shell, super light weight, expandable, spinner suitcase which is kind of amazing. I also discovered Space Bags which vacuum seal your stuff, giving you a ton more space. Obviously this is only good for trips where you have access to a vacuum in both directions, otherwise it would suck (sorry). I'm a big fan of One Bag, which shows you how to pack super efficiently although I still roll my stuff if I have extra room. And then of course I take a whole bag of flying gear with me on the plane, which I'll show you in an even geekier post. To get myself through my long work shifts, I've started thinking about what to pack for our honeymoon. It might be over planning a bit, but packing for two such different places is going to be a challenge. First we're going to New York, a city way more hip then I am and also in the hottest, most humid month of the year. And then we're going to be camping and hiking in Iceland, which apparently rains a lot in the summer and has volcanoes and ice caps and other crazy things. Either of these places would be hard for me to pack for, since I'm totally lacking in the summer and outdoorsy section of my wardrobe anyway but packing for both places in one trip is especially hard. I'm thinking that I'll have to bring things that can be worn in either place and/or layered. I'll probably stick with pretty basic shirts and shorts for both places and add a black sack/tunic dress to wear out in New York and an Icelandic sweater for cold nights while camping in Iceland. I think a canvas bag would work in either place for stuffing touristy things like my camera, travel guides and whatever else in. And then I guess I'll have to bring my Hunter boots as well as some "sensible" sandals, yuck. You can click here if you want links for all the things above.

Renovations etc.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I haven't been very good at blogging lately and I forgot my camera at Mark's brother's place on Canada Day so this is going to be a jumbled, rambly update post. Sounds good, right? I've still been working lots but in between shifts there has been a lot going on. First, last weekend Copenhagen was hit with a crazy storm that felt like the apocaplyse and flooded lots of buildings including: the restaurant I work in, the cafe I volunteer in, and our basement. I've never been so happy to live on the 5th floor! I knew all those stair climbs would be worth it. Luckily most everything is fine and mostly back to normal by now but it was all a bit crazy. Mark's been finishing lots more projects in our apartment and I'm excited to reorganize everything and make it all pretty. There he is in his scrubs looking smug with his power tools. We've had a couple people say that our apartment reminds them of a ship, and I've decided to take that as a good thing and not just that it's really small. There are also lots of reno projects happening at the cafe this summer which I'm planning to help with a bit. This picture was taken during after I put up the exhibition for the Photo Festival last month and as you can see, the place definitely has a retro feel going on to match it's name but it needs some sprucing up. I'm also hoping to organize a summer camp at the end of August where we do some old school arts & crafts like friendship bracelets, tie dye shirts, God's eyes, play some fake archery on our forest wallpapered wall and then have a film night where we roast marshmallows by the fireplace and screen old summery movies. We'll see! Some other things I've been into lately: listening to Tina Fey's book Bossypants (usually I hate audio books but I love that she's reading it) while doing dishes and folding laundry, reading Bill Bryson's At Home (not sure where all these pop-academic books are coming from but it's good summer reading I guess), the new Bon Iver album (except that last smooth 90's rock track) and that we get to see him in New York next month! We've also had a friend from Victoria staying with us for the last few days and then Amber comes in just a couple weeks! Yay for friends visiting. Just no more storms, please and thank you.

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