Five things I want to do in October

As we’re almost halfway through October, I try to enjoy the beautiful fall season to the fullest before the winter fully kicks inn.. I’m not ready for that just yet! So far we’ve celebrated my husband’s birthday, I went to Sweden with a good friend, tried out new recipes in the kitchen, and spent lot’s of time outside in fresh air.. Fall is truly one of my favorite seasons! πŸ‚πŸ˜ŠπŸƒπŸ

And in case you’re interested or maybe need some inspiration, here’s 5 things I want to do in October

Have an outdoor bonfire night with friends
There’s nothing better than gathering a group of good friends and spend an evening outside; soak in the cool and crisp air, have a bonfire, enjoy delicious food, drinks & snacks, and not to mention the great conversations and quality time you have with you friends – it’s the best!

Carve a pumpkin for Halloween
Even though we’re not celebrating Halloween with our traditional Halloween party this year, I still want to carve a pumpkin. It’s such a charming part of preparing and decorating for Halloween, it’s truly set’s the mood + it’s such a fun thing to do!

Start christmas present shopping early
So, I have a confession to make; I already started shopping for christmas presents. A few years back I made myself a promise to be done with the christmas present shopping before December 1st and I’ve been sticking to that ever since. First of all, it allows you to truly enjoy the month of December without running around stores like a headless chicken to find last minute christmas presents like everyone else. Another great aspect of starting early, is that you’ll get a lot of good bargains! Instead, I choose to spend my time with friends, bake christmas cookies, and do other fun things. It feels great – you should try it!

Watch my favorite Halloween movie “Hocus Pocus”
Hocus Pocus has been my favorite Halloween movie for as long as I can remember. The plot takes place in Salem, Massachusetts, which takes Halloween to a whole new level with it’s amazing Halloween decoration, witch trial history and amazing costumes. This movie is the “kiddie” version of a horror movie, which is the reason why many people find it so good and scary at the same time. I’ll definitely bundle up with a warm blanket and some snacks to watch it!

Try out some new fall soup recipes
Colder seasons (fall, winter and early spring!) demands for warmer comfort food, so there’s no better time to try out some new soup recipes! While I do have my favorites, I’m always looking for new recipes to try. After a quick search online, I would like to try this Cauliflower Soup with Hazelnuts and Bacon, this Thai inspired Chicken Khao Soi Soup, and this Creamy Tomato Soup with Cheese Toasties. If you have any good fall soup recipes to recommend, feel free to drop them in the comment section below!

Do you have any fun things planned in October? 😊

Beautiful Fall Bouquet

One of the things I love most about fall is the beautiful display of leaves in various colors; green, yellow, orange and red mixed together provides a fantastic fall foliage! On a walk a couple of days ago I picked up some leaves in different colors, which turned into the prettiest fall bouquet. Creating a fall bouquet using pieces from nature can be very festive and is a great way to decorate your home/outdoor area for fall! And the best part – it was completely free! πŸ‚πŸƒπŸπŸ’

Do you have any fun ways to decorate for fall? 😊

Interesting links from around the web #8

Aubrey captured the prettiest fall foliage in Vermont

I highly recommend this book by John Grisham. It’s theme argue of whether racism and greed will overwhelm the outcome of a legal battle steeped in 1980’s Mississippi – it’s definitely worth reading!

8 benefits of using a sleep mask

When to buy everything (that will save you money as well!)

15 ways to use the apples you pick this fall

8 incredibly easy ways to help the environment (we can all do this)

How to make the perfect grilled cheese sandwich

Great reasons to ban your phone from the bedroom

β€œHow to live without major regrets” – vise words by the older generation

5 Things I learned from my study abroad experience

Growing up, one of my childhood dreams was always to study abroad (you can read more about my college experience at an American university here.) This was my dream for as long as I can remember and it was never given that I should have ended up study at an Norwegian university. I have always been a very curious and open-minded person who’s been eager to discover everything that the world has to offer (and I still am!), so to study abroad was the perfect option for me!

When I jumped on a plane overseas back in 2010, I had no idea what to expect. Sure, I did had some thoughts of what I thought I could expect, but it wasn’t even close to the reality – it was so much better! Luckily I wasn’t affected by the so-called “culture chock” many experience when moving abroad (I took care of that during my first time living in the US), which made the transition much easier. Because culture chock is a real thing you shouldn’t joke about, it can be really uncomfortable. Not only are you moving to another country with different customs, traditions and cultures, but everything is different from speaking another language to not finding your favorite items at the grocery store. These things might seem small to you, but let me tell you, it’s the small things that makes the biggest difference. For me personally, the things I missed the most when living in the states was to drink the clean, delicious tap water (Norway truly has the cleanest water in the world!) and to be able to walk everywhere.

Despite this, it was truly a life changing experience and more importantly, it taught me a lot.
Here are some of the most important things I learned from my study abroad experience;

Studying abroad makes you a stronger person
Studying abroad is a great opportunity to leave the comfort and familiarity of your home country, because that’s exactly what you’ll do. You’ll realize that you are more independent, tolerant and adaptable than you think. You’ll gain a new number of skills and you’ll be strengthened by hardship, because it will be hard sometimes. You’ll learn to be more independent as you need to find your way around, whether it’s dealing with housing situations, register for classes, or find your way around town/campus. Moving abroad also brings you into contact with people from different countries, cultures and backgrounds, which requires you to be respectful of people and develop a great level of tolerance. This is also a huge strength and asset that will help you navigate through life. Studying abroad also makes you more adaptable due to a number of reasons; you moved to a foreign country and the sense of order/control you felt at home won’t exist. In order to have a great study abroad experience you must learn to adapt pretty fast to your “new life”. Overall, you’ll learn new skills including everything from communicating and handling situations in a different language to stepping out of your comfort zone, meeting deadlines, making new friends, etc. At the end of the day, you’ll realize you are capable of way more than you think!

You develop a wanderlust and get bitten by the travel bug
I’ll preface this by saying that I have always loved traveling. While I think I was born with the wanderlust and travel bug inside, it for sure increased my desire after my study abroad experience. During my time in the U.S. I was lucky enough to visit several states (and also got to experience the local side of America) and visit Canada + Mexico. One of my greatest memories was a road trip in the U.S. with my now husband; we booked flight tickets to LA, rented a car and hit the road with absolutely no plans. We saw so many great places and had so much fun – it’s a memory I’ll cherish forever. I have found myself filled with desire to travel the world someday… The world truly is an oyster and I can’t wait to see more of it!

You meet people from all over the world and walk of life
One of the greatest benefits of studying abroad is the lifelong friendships you make with people from around the world! While I had a really great group of friends back home, I think it’s safe to say that some of my best friends today are people I met when studying abroad – people I lived in dorms with my freshman year, whom I meet at parties, randomly at coffee shops and while traveling.. These are all people from different countries, cultures and backgrounds, all whom I had so much fun with. A trip down memory lane includes going out every weekend (college life!), dinners together, hot tub and pool pre-parties, weekend trips to Canada, different sporting events, late night coffee runs, movie nights and more traveling. While some reside in Norway, some in the U.S. and some in other countries, they are still people I consider to be my best friends and I know it will remains that way regardless of how often we talk/I see them! β™₯

Seize every opportunity
This is probably one of the important aspects of studying abroad and something I learned pretty fast; seize every opportunity! Whether it’s smiling and talking to a stranger, meet someone you barely know for coffee or accept the invite to attend a party where you don’t know anyone – these are all situations that led to some of the best experiences and funniest memories I have had. On a academic level, I decided to challenge myself and asked my professors to participate in research & editing, I was a note-taker in another course and I completed independent research credits in areas of my major. Not only did I learned new things, but I polished my language skills, I gained more confidence and made some valuable connections/expanded my international network. The moral of the story is – seek out and seize every opportunity!

You will never be the same again
Studying abroad just changes you, you will never be able to return back home being the same person as before you left. Studying abroad provides you with eternal memories of incredible experiences, you see so many beautiful things/places and you meet so many extraordinary people on the way. You live in a “bubble” that’s hard for people to understand unless they’ve been in the same situation. I actually suffered from “reverse culture chock” when returning to Norway after three years, which was rather difficult. Six years has gone by since I returned to Norway and it will always be the country I consider home, however, I do miss living in the US sometimes. In the same way as things will never be the same again, I will never be the same again – but in a good way I guess! 😊

Overall, studying abroad is something I would recommend to everyone. If that’s something you’re thinking about, I hope this post will give you a new perspective on the study abroad experience.
In addition to receiving an academic degree (because let’s face it – it’s why you’re there in the first place!), you’ll also polish your language skills, make lifelong friendships with people from around the world, experience new cultures, find new interests, become more confident/independent, create connections and expand your international network, and lastly, see more of the world! 🌍

Did you ever study abroad? And what was the most important thing you learned? 😊

My Fall Inspired Bucketlist

Today is September 1, which means fall is officially here!
Fall is without a doubt my favorite season; it’s the perfect time to slow down after a hectic and often very social summer (Please tell me I’m not the only one feeling the need to be overwhelmingly social during the summer months?) and to enjoy everything this season has to offer – there is nothing better than those first breaths of cold and crisp air, the changing color of the leaves, fall inspired drinks on coffee shop menus, and delicious fall-inspired dinners with friends & family!

Here is my fall inspired Bucketlist;

🍁 Invite friends over for a β€œfriendsgiving”

🍁 Go apple picking and make homemade apple cake

🍁 Carve a pumpkin for Halloween

🍁 Go on a cabin trip in the Norwegian mountains

🍁 Watch Hocus Pocus (my favorite childhood Halloween movie!)

🍁 Update my fall wardrobe (I want a new pair of shoes, a warm coat and a fluffy scarf.)

🍁 Go on bike rides outside in fresh air

🍁 Read new books in front of the fireplace

🍁 Dress up and throw a Halloween party with a big group of friends

🍁 Make cute fall decorations using things from nature

🍁 Have outside bonfire nights with good friends

🍁 Make warm and delicious soups for dinner

🍁 Start shopping from christmas presents (it’s never to early to get started!)

Fall, I’m so ready for you! πŸ˜€

Quick and easy tapas plate

As most of you probably know by now, I love cooking and trying out new recipes, but sometimes I just want to make something I know tastes good, is quick and easy – that’s when this simple tapas dish is my go-to-dinner!

Tapas (a “tapa”) is an appetizer or snack in Spanish cuisine and translates to small portion of any kind of Spanish food – which means tapas can be anything! In addition to the plate I made, some of my other favorites include manchego cheese, Spanish meatballs with tomato sauce, grilled asparagus, caprese salad, bruchetta, garlic marinated chicken, nacho chips with salmon tartar, bacon-wrapped dates, and marinated feta cheese.. the options are endless! πŸ™‚

There are many reasons why I love tapas and the top reason (besides being absolutely delicious of course!) is that all of these dishes divided can be plonked in the middle of the table for people to help themselves – it’s the perfect sharing food! I love to invite people over for dinner at our place, so tapas is often a popular choice of food. Another great thing is that you can also make them vegetarian and vegan friendly, which makes it easier if you have guests with different preferences.. Excluding the Serrano ham, the rest of the dishes I made are vegetarian friendly.. This dish totally breaks the myth that vegetarian food is boring!
If you feel like trying out what I made, here’s what you need;

Ingredients

6 medium size potatoes – olive oil – preferred seasoning (I used oregano, sea salt, pepper and paprika powder), green beans – salad – cucumber – red mini bell pepper – cherry tomatoes – brie cheese – baguettes – salsa – Serrano ham – garlic – mayonnaise – sour cream – mustard

Directions

Stat by making the potatoes. Preheat oven to 200C/425F. Cut the potatoes into small chunks, mix with olive oil, seasoning and spread evenly in pan. Cook for 40 minutes until golden, pay attention to make sure they don’t burn.

Once the potatoes are done, heat the baguettes in the oven for 10 minutes. To save time, you can also buy a french baguette at the store, but I prefer making them at home.

To make the aioli, mix 1,5 dl sour cream and 2 dl mayonnaise. Peel and smash the garlic, add into the mixture with 1 tbs of mustard. When mixture thicken, add a splash of lemon juice at the end.

Make a salad by using your favorite vegetables – there is no limit as you what you can use! I made an easy one with salad, cucumber, mini red bell peppers and cherry tomatoes. To make the sea salt roasted green beans, toss them in a pan with some olive oil, sea salt and pepper for about 2 minutes. Cool of before serving.

Cut the brie cheese into small chunks and serve with 5-6 slices of Serrano ham. If expecting guests, you can make a cheese/meat plate to place in the center of the table. Sit down, relax and indulge is a smorgasbord of delicious tapas! Enjoy! πŸ™‚

Have you ever had tapas before?

What to do when boredom kicks inn.. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

I can’t believe we’re already approaching the end of August, this summer truly flew by in a blink of an eye! As we reach the end of summer, the days slows down. There are no more lazy days at the beach or walking around in summer dresses & sandals, and as we hit this transition period between summer and fall, boredom sometimes kicks inn.. So let’s talk about boredom for a minute (because let’s face it – it happens to all of us).. Boredom can be a real torture, especially if none of your friends are available to hang out and you simply don’t know how to spend you time..

Image via

But you know what? Don’t cry just yet, because there are some evidence illustrating that being bored occasionally might not be such a bad thing after all – a study conducted by Academy of Management found that β€œboredom can spark individual productivity and creativity” and it’s also illustrate how boredom can be good for your overall mental health. So instead of viewing boredom as a negative thing, look at it as something positive; you have time available to do exactly what you want. Allowing yourself to be bored and take a pause from people, obligations, deadlines and technology is actually one of the best things you can do for your health!

Here’s some great ideas on what to do if you’re bored;

Try out a new restaurant or coffee shop
Even though I’m a person of habit and I definitely have my favorite places, I also love trying out new places. Maybe there is a new place in your hometown? If not, maybe there is a new place in a town near you? Do some sightseeing, enjoy a delicious lunch and do some people’s watching. View this time as β€œme time” and a word of encouragement; if you decide to try a new place, be courageous and order something new – maybe you’ll be surprised!

Read a new book
Enjoying a book is always a good idea, anytime, any day. If you don’t feel like spending lot’s of money on new books, visit your local library to borrow books for free. Another great tip is to browse flea markets or second hand stores for cheaper books. Almost all my books are (used) new books that I got very cheap! I recently bought a new book called β€œThe Widow”, a psychological thriller book by Fiona Barton. I’ve only made it through a couple of chapters, but so far it’s a good one!

Go for a walk while listening to a podcast
I love going for walks and I love listening to podcasts, so why not combine the two? Get you daily steps in and some fresh air at the same time! I also recommend going for walks before going to bed – it’s a great way to end the day and makes you sleep better. There are many great podcasts out there and in case you’re looking for some new inspiration, I wrote a blog post on some of my favorite podcasts.

Organize your home
Do you need to clean out your basement? Your home office? Or what about your closet? Organizing your home is one of the best things to do if you’re bored! A while back we had some grey and rainy days, so I took advantage of that and cleaned out our attic and basement. I sorted things to keep, donate and throw away – it was so refreshing to get that done!

Treat yourself to a (home) SPA
If you can afford going to a real SPA, I suggest you do that. But sometimes it’s nice to save those bucks and why not have a pampering session at home? Take a nice long shower, do a facial, have a manicure & pedicure, treat your hair to a nutritious hair mask, and just spend the night in a robe watching your favorite reality show (my guilty pleasure is the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills/OC!)

Call (of better!) visit a friend you haven’t seen in a long time
I truly wish I had the time to see some of my closest friend more often, especially those who lives out of town. However, I do try my very best to keep in touch, whether it’s by sending a text or give someone a call frequently. I’m a first believe that a little effort in a friendship, such as sending a text or give each other a call, really goes a long way. One of my goals is to spontaneously visit my out-of-town friends more often!

How do you spend your time when boredom kicks inn? πŸ™‚

Travel Recommendation; Leiden, Netherlands

Reklame/Affiliate – Booking.com

I love traveling and feel fortunate to be able to travel as often as I do, it’s not something I take for granted at all.. I have gained many favorite destinations throughout the years and today I want to recommend one of my absolute favorites; in 2016 I moved to the Netherlands to complete graduate school, more specially the city of Leiden, a small town approximately 30 min by train from Amsterdam. Imagine a cozy small town that are steeped in rich history, cable stone streets, cute cafes along the canals (some even have decks to sit on!), lot’s of shops, local markets twice a week (Wednesday + Saturday), lot’s of cats and great restaurants, all combined with charming houses along the canals providing the absolute Dutch feeling – that’s Leiden for you!

I believe pictures says more than a thousands words, so I’ll let the pictures speak;

Have you ever been to Leiden before? If not, I highly recommend it!
It’s cheaper to live and be in than Amsterdam, but just a short train-ride away from Amsterdam and Rotterdam (which I also recommend!) if you want to visit.

KLM provides direct flights from both Oslo (OSL) and Sandefjord (TRF) to Amsterdam Schipol Airport. After arrival, a train will take you directly to Leiden Central Station in just 15 min/one stop. It’s super easy!

I recommend staying at City Hotel Rembrandt, a 3 star hotel located in the middle of historic center of Leiden, approximately 5 min walk from Central Station. The hotel was completely renovated in 2018 and provides modern and comfortable rooms with private bathrooms. If not included in your price, the hotel offers a delicious breakfast buffet every morning for just €10!

Food Inspiration

I love cooking and always enjoy discovering new sources of food inspo, which is what I did when I came across the amazing food blog Love & Lemons! Based in Chicago, this blog is written by the duo Jeanine & Jack (who’s mainly her #1 taster), who primarily focus on vegetarian recipes (even though they don’t define themselves as vegetarian). Below is a picture of a salad dressing chart from her previous cookbook, which makes whipping up your own salad dressing super easy and possibly a game changer.. πŸ˜€

You see anything you like? Or maybe you have some other favorites?
I want to try the Mediterranean, lemon thyme, pesto vinaigrette, and chipotle aioli! 😊