Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year, everyone!

Print made by Ms. Sunshine using lettermpress for the iPad

Happy New Year, Godt Nytt År, Gott Nytt År, नये साल की हार्दिक शुभकामनाएं, ಹೊಸ ವರ್ಷದ ಶುಭಾಶಯಗಳು, नवीन वारशाच्य शुभेच्छा, નુતન વર્શ્ભીનંદન from our home to yours! 

I hope all of you have a lovely new years eve. We plan to celebrate 2011 and the upcoming new year with some Greek food, lots of alcohol and fireworks. 

We wish that all of you have amazing and happy adventures in 2012, and we hope you can all come see us this coming year.

Ms. and Mr. Sunshines

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays!

The Sunshine family Christmas tree

Happy holidays, everyone! I hope all of you are having a great holiday weekend, and are celebrating these last few days of 2011 (yikes! - where did this year go?) with family and friends and lots of good food and drinks. I would love to hear what you are doing to see off this year!

We at the Sunshine household have had a busy (but fun) past few weeks. Mr. Sunshine's cousins who study in Sweden are here to spend Christmas and New Year's eve with us. They arrived yesterday, and as usual, Mr Sunshine and I were running around trying to get the apartment in order before they arrived. A lot of shopping trips to Ikea later, I am happy to say that we might just have the most organized home we have ever had. 

We have had a lovely Christmas so far. Yesterday, we decorated our tree, listened to some good music,  went for a lovely walk around town, and ate lots. Today, we plan to make our very first Norwegian-American-Indian inspired Christmas dinner with pinnekjøt as the main star of our meal. I am keeping my fingers crossed to see how it turns out.

I am going to take a break for a few days, and try and be back to posting regularly after the New Year. If I don't get to speak with you before that - have a lovely Holiday season! Stay warm, if you are in a cold place. And if you live in a warm place, well, then go have a few Mojitos for me!

Much love,
Ms. Sunshine

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas time in Stavanger

I came across this at the Stavanger Sentrum a few days ago. The first video is of carolers (I think) in front of the cathedral. There were a bunch of older kids in white robes (you'll see them in the second video) singing hymns and carols and then little kids. The second video is a clip of a procession led by the kids in white robes, and followed by people holding sparklers. The procession started at the cathedral, went around the lake once and ended at the same place it started. I am yet to find out it's significance. You can also see the city tree in the videos.

Around and about Stavanger

The harbor the before it started snowinga
Christmas decorations

View of the harbor from one of the streets in Stavanger Sentrum

Christmas lights on a tree in the middle of the lake

The love tree

Gingerbread houses at the Aftenblad building

Gingerbread house

Gingerbread house

Gingerbread castle. I would love to live in one

I can't believe this is all edible

Sugar window panes

Winter wonderland

So pretty

Ginger bread greenhouse

Yummy Eiffel tower

Yes. They protest here too. The sign (I think) says "Stop the Islamization of Norway" 

The counter protest. Their signs say "Stop the hating of muslims" Most of these protesters were young

This one is for our dear friend L. Come visit us - there is a chocolate store full of these!

The view from our bedroom

At our first Julebord - Christmas dinner at Mr. Sunshine's office

So pretty!

We took our first train ride to Ergesund to a Christmas market. I was so excited. Unfortunately, it rained the whole time we were there (surprise, surprise) and we couldn't take a lot of pictures

At the Christmas market

The glogg stall at the Christmas market 

Our holiday cards, stamped and ready to be mailed

Christmas carolers in front of the cathedral

Lovely collaboration - Inbox (12)

From the Inbox(12) website
Inbox (12) is a collaborative project that combines four of my loves in life - travel, mail (post, if you live anywhere else in the world but the US), postcards, and art. I am or may not have done a little happy dance when I first found out about it on designworklife. So this is how it works, or at least I think this is how it works: you buy an issue - each issue is a set of 12 postcards from a city - and they send you 12 postcards in a year from the city you choose. You can also choose to get postcards from all five cities - Madrid, London, New York, Tokyo and Berlin. Each postcard is created by a different artist.

I think this would make a lovely gift idea, especially for someone who would love to travel to one of these cities. Imagine the surprise on the recipient's face when she/ he receives one of these postcards in the mail (ok, ok post). Or you could get one for yourself, and dream about faraway places!

An issue of Inbox (12)

Thursday, December 08, 2011

A few clean corners of our new home

Pretty tulips

Yes, indeed

The wood burning oven

It has been a quiet few days

The truck that brought our stuff
Do you hear the crickets? Things have been quiet around the blog and the Sunshine household lately. Our stuff arrived last week - all of it in almost mint condition. It was like Christmas, only a month early. We did lose 4 boxes  - well, actually the shipping company lost 4 of our boxes.  Mostly clothes and kitchen stuff. Thankfully we have insurance so we'll get some of the monetary value back. Sentimentally though, we lost quite a bit - all of Mr. Sunshine's wedding outfits, some of my nicer Indian outfits that I owned since my college days and was saving for any future baby girl Sunshines, and several nice (and new) pieces of clothing that I was very fond of. Ah well, I suppose it is all part of the moving process. 
Neat stacks of boxes
waiting to be unpacked

I have spent the last few days unpacking and putting things away, and the apartment still looks like a disaster zone. Gah! I hate unpacking. It is one of my least favorite thing to do in the whole entire world at par with gift wrapping (the actual physical act of wrapping of the object), and just behind chopping onions, and any kind of food prepping. 

Since Stavanger is the oil and gas capital of Europe, we meet a lot of expats here. Some of 
them in the oil industry, especially the ones who 
work off shore and in operations tend to move around a lot. One person I met has moved, with her family, 13 times in 10 years! That is an average of 1.3 moves every year! 

Let the chaos commence
While I think it would be awesome to travel so much (on someone else's expense - the best way to travel and see the world!), I can not even begin to imagine the constant packing and unpacking that goes with it. Plus, I am kind of a hoarder. 
Yes, we packed stuff in garbage
bags. We did put them nicely in
sturdy moving boxes
And NO, I am not as bad as the ones of TV. I just have a hard time parting with things. It is a trait that I inherited from my Ajji. She never threw away things. The only difference is that she would use, recycle, up-cycle and repurpose things constantly. I just keep collecting them hoping that I will need them one day. I am getting better though. I now have a policy (one that I very loosely adhere to) to deal with all the crap I (we) tend to accumulate: if something has not been used for 6 months, it is never going to be used. Throw it. Anyway, this was my longwinded way of saying: oh, my goodness! all the packing and unpacking involved in moving 13 times in 10 years -  I would not be very happy!!!! But then on the other hand, I'd get to see, and live in places like China, and Australia, and Venezuela, and France. That would be very cool!

If you had the choice of living in a country other than your home country - where would it be? Leave a comment and tell me - I would love to hear from all of you. 

Ms. Sunshine

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy birthday, Ajji!

Ajji with baby brother Sunshine.
Though she never admitted it,
he was her favorite grandchild
It is a special day for the Sunshine family. My paternal grandmother - or Ajji as her grandchildren fondly call her - would have been 92 years old today. 

I have been fortunate to have a lot of strong women in my life, but Ajji was like no other woman I have ever known. She was the rock that kept our family anchored to reality. She was the glue that bound us. She was selfless and compassionate - constantly taking care of everyone around her. She was very, very smart - I like to think that my interest in strategy as an academic is due to her influence. She was strong - she lived through the partition, married a difficult man, had two eccentric sons (I love you dad and kaka, but admit it, you are eccentric) - but I never heard her complain even once (and I heard her cuss someone out only once in my entire life time). She was thrifty, creative and a brilliant cook - nothing ever went to waste in our home.  And I think she was a closeted feminist. She was all that I want to be when I grow up. 

She taught me so much. She taught me that beauty comes in different shapes and forms, that you have to treat others just the way you want to be treated by them (a very important lesson in a country like India), that being selfless is sometimes the best way to tell someone that you love them.  

She passed away 5 years ago and I am so glad that Mr.  Sunshine was able to meet her. I wish our future Sunshine child could have met her -  her/ his life would have been so much richer with her in it.

Happy birthday Ajji! We all miss you so much. And as my little brother said, you would have been so proud to see all your grandchildren doing so well. Thank you for helping us do that.

Ms. Sunshine

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Screen shot of my Pinterest profile

Have you heard about Pinterest? It is an online pin-board, where you can "pin" anything that you find interesting, pretty or inspiring on the web. All "pins" are visual, and directly linked to the website they were originally on, so you don't have to worry about bulky bookmarks or writing long descriptions on the bookmark link.  All you need is a Pinterest button on your bookmark bar and when you find something you want to save for future inspiration or use, just click the button and save it. 

What makes Pinterest even more fun is that is sort of a social networking site - you can "follow" friends through Facebook who are already on the website, or you can start following people you don't know.

In other words, Pinterest is awesome. It is a mood board, a scrapbook, a bookmark list, an Amazon universal wish list and Facebook all together, only better, and oh so addictive!

Unfortunately, right now you still need an invite to join - you can get an invite on the website or email/ message me and I can send it to you.

If you are already on Pinterest, find me here, and follow me. I'll follow you back.

Ms. Sunshine

Happy Thanksgiving!

Give thanks print by HENANDCO

Coffee dipped, hand stamped tags turned into napkin rings.
We used the back of the tag to write down
what we were thankful for
In one of my earlier posts, I wrote about how Mr. Sunshine and I hope to incorporate traditions and the culture of places we have lived in (and hope to live in) in our lives. Thanksgiving is one of those uniquely American celebrations that we want to hold on to and make it a Sunshine family tradition. I love Thanksgiving - I love that it is all about family and friends, and about acknowledging all that we have in our lives. Of course, I also love that it is all about the food. This is the first time in several years that we won't be having a thanksgiving meal on Thursday - we have a tiny celebration planned for Sunday dinner - and I can't wait to have our very first Thanksgiving in Norway! I just have to figure out how to bake three dishes in our tiny little oven, with only one baking dish.

Last year at our first family thanksgiving, all of us wrote down what we were thankful for, and read it aloud after dinner - it was a lot of fun, and emotional and touching. There may or may not have been some tears involved (see second picture). I had hoped to make it a thing to do at every thanksgiving in the future, but then we moved. So this year I am just going to post all that I am thankful for (in no particular order) on the blog. Also, this is by no means an exhaustive list.

I am thankful for:

  • My friends and family, who bring sunshine in my life
  • Hot showers - any one who has had to bathe using a bucket and a mug knows what I am talking about
  • My grandmothers - ajji and nani - for teaching me that strength of character comes in different forms
  • My parents who let me be who I wanted to be
  • My brother for being the best sounding board a girl could ask for
  • Letterpress printing - for letting people make amazing paper products
  • Avocados - for adding that extra oomph to any dish
  • Books - for who would I be without books
  • NPR - for keeping me informed and entertained
  • Pretty dishes - so that the ramen that I make looks like gourmet food :-) 
  • The Internet - really, how else would I procrastinate?
  • Coffee - for keeping me sane
  • Friendly TSA agents and airport staff - because flying is stressful enough without having to deal with rude airline staff
  • Freedom of Speech - this one speaks for itself
  • Mr. Sunshine - he is my world
  • Pretty wrapping paper - because it is even better to receive gifts wrapped in pretty paper
  • Buntings - because, well, they make me happy
  • Handwritten mail
  • Mr. Sunshine's family - for making me a part of their family
  • Saris - because I have never seen a woman who doesn't look gorgeous in one
  • Tea - because it calms me
  • Google Maps and Google Translate - because without either, I would be getting lost everyday in Stavanger. How did immigrants in the days before Google or the Internet survive?
  • Nice smelling soap - because there is nothing like smelling pretty after a bath
  • Hair dryers - because nothing annoys me more than air drying my hair
  • The sea - because its vastness makes me realize how small my troubles are
  • Nutella - because it makes everything taste better
  • Sunshine - because when you live in a town where it rains every day, every day the Sun shines is a precious day
  • Modern medicine - because without the anesthesia my last dental surgery would have been hell
  • Happy babies in airplanes - because everyone who have flown in a flight with a crying baby knows that feeling of frustration - you want the child to shut up, but can't do much about it
  • Teachers - because even though they have the most important job in the world, they seldom get any thanks for it
  • My best friend PRR - because, well, he is the nicest person on earth
  • Everything we have - sometimes I tend to complain (and worry) a lot (sorry, Mr. Sunshine) about how I wish things could be different, or about how I wish I didn't have to make certain decisions. Then I have to stop and remind myself of all that I (and we) have. We have love, and laughter. We have friends and family that love us and care for us. We have everything we need. And I am thankful for it!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!

Ms. Sunshine

You are my world print by EeeBee and Write more letters print by Mary Kate McDevitt

There's More To Life Than Books print by Angie Muldowney and Keep Calm and Google it print by PrintLand

Coffee and Tea Prints by Gayana Danilova

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Home is wherever I am with Mr. Sunshine!

View from just down the street from our new home

We finally moved in to our own place on Tuesday! We are renting it, so it's our own as much as a rented apartment can be, but it is definitely more permanent than our previous living arrangements in Stavanger. Also, now we can decorate the place and make it cosy :-) And we can unpack and not worry about packing everything up again - at least for the foreseeable future. 

We are still waiting on our shipment to arrive. Hopefully everything will come in one piece. Mr. Sunshine and some of his colleagues have been regaling me with stories about missing and lost shipments. I may or may not have had visions of our crate floating in the sea, and our box of books at on the seabed. I better not jinx it though - I need my books, and my dinner plates, and all of my bird prints, and everything else that I thought I couldn't live without, but now can't remember what they are.  

Winter is definitely here in Stavanger - or at least I think it is. The days are getting shorter and colder, and there is Christmas stuff everywhere - every home store is full of God Jul (or Happy Christmas) decorations. In the US, I had a rule: no decorating for Christmas (or buying any decorations for that matter) until after Thanksgiving. I was going to follow my rule here too, but then I broke down and bought a Christmas tea towel (because, every kitchen needs tea towels that change with the season) and an advent calendar candle. Advent calendars seem to be a big deal here. I had never seen one until I got here, and now I think they might be the greatest idea in the world ever, and I am only just slightly exaggerating. 

Noel Tea Towel from Kid

Advent calendar candle

Speaking of decorations, I came across these big red hearts hanging off a tree on the lake in Stavanger Sentrum. I am not sure if this is part of the city's Christmas decor or an art installation or someone balloon heart bombing the tree. Whatever it is, it made me smile.

Red hearts hanging from a tree in Stavanger Sentrum

Pretty red hearts brightened up a dreary day 

Birds and hearts

I also stopped by at the Salvation Army store a few blocks away from home and look what I found:

Thrift find. Bowl from Stavangerflint found at Fretex (the Salvation Army) store