This has been one amazing summer! I was a bit glum at first about the prospect of turning 35 (this happened May 25th) but since then I’ve tried all sorts of cool new things and never felt better. Thus I’ve decided more firmly than ever that I’m actually not getting any older, the number’s just getting higher for some reason. And my kids are getting mysteriously tall (the 15 yr old is 6’1″ and showing no signs of stopping).
While by brain is brimming with all sorts of things I’d like to share, I’m going to start with a much needed update about the Weather Experience project, especially for those generous people who donated funds to help make it possible, and might be wondering if the book will ever actually see the light of day. (For those not familiar with it, this is a huge-scale project I’m working on with my boyfriend Óli, started in April 2011). In my last update I mentioned we had all the most difficult locations yet to do. I’m happy to say that since then we’ve managed to cover four of those hard-to-reach spots, which is a huge relief. This means we now have completed 46 locations out of 60, with only four locations remaining that need to be reached by boat. In early May we made a trip up north to get the island of Grímsey out of the way. As the red dot shows , its a good ways offshore:
So we reserved a ride with the Grímsey ferry, which we learned would be leaving at 9 am from the small northern town of Dalvík. We were told to be there by 8:30 am at the latest, so we left the previous evening from our home in Hafnarfjörður, and drove all night.
The trip was uneventful aside from the goose we accidentally hit with the car – I became a little hysterical that we’d killed it and wasn’t at ease until Óli had turned the car around and driven all the way back to see if its lifeless (or worse, hideously injured) body was lying in the road. It wasn’t, so apparently geese are tougher than I thought, which came as quite a relief. I’d rather complete this project without any animals getting killed in the process. On a happier note, we also passed a field of horses, where a newborn foal was taking its first steps with the help of its mama:
Once in Dalvík, we hurried to the ticket office and spent a few minutes debating wether or not to spend an extra 10.000 króna (80$ or so in addition to the 160$ it cost for just the two of us) to bring the car with us. Since we had a bunch of camera stuff and no backpacks, we decided it would be a lot more convenient. At that point we were also under the impression that we’d have 4 hours on the island. So I drove the car on board, all the way as far back as it could get (as i was instructed). Then the dock workers proceeded to load a new dock (partitioned into several huge pieces) onto the boat behind my car. This did not bother me at the time.
And off we sailed. As you can see, there was still an amazing amount of snow around Dalvík in May:
Now, the boat ride itself was 3 hours, and since I’d been driving all night, I promptly fell asleep on the floor of the main passenger area and snoozed for an hour. (We were the only passengers, so this wasn’t as awkward as it sounds). The highlight of the trip was when the captain let us know there was a group of humpback whales ahead, if we wanted to take pictures. He actually swerved off course to get us closer to them, which I thought was very awesome of him.
Once we arrived in Grímsey, we were told the boat would only be staying for an hour. It then dawned on me that my car wasn’t going anywhere until the dock had been unloaded from behind it. I figured they meant we’d have an hour once we got the car off, but I was wrong. It took half an hour before we could finally get going, and we were told we had exactly 30 minutes to get our work done. (Even though Óli had helped with the unloading of the dock. That should have bought us at least 10 extra minutes)
We’d never been to the island before and had no idea where we should shoot the photo, so we asked one of the dock workers where we’d be most likely to capture the “essence” of Grímsey. She gave us directions and off we raced. I threw the dress on in a hurry, and then we spent a maximum of five minutes figuring out the best angles to try.
Once we were sure we had at least one usable picture for the book, we noticed the puffins nesting all over the cliffs below us. I figure we managed a maximum of five minutes to take some puffin pictures – something I would happily have spent half the day doing.
I did this while wearing the dumb dress (no time to waste changing back), the cold wind tangling it around my legs, my hair blowing in my face, feeling amazingly frustrated that we’d come to such a beautiful place with all the camera equipment we could possibly need, and had to leave again right away. We raced back to the boat exactly 30 minutes after we left, to find the ferry guys waiting for us. (Seriously, after a three hour trip, would it have killed them to go get some coffee and waffles or something??) I have to say, 30.000 kr for 30 minutes in Grímsey (about 8 bucks a minute) is probably the worst deal I’ve ever gotten in my life.
To their credit though, the ferry guys were very nice and let us sleep in bunks without paying on the way back, since we were still the only passengers.
Side note: On our way back home from this trip, we got a phone call telling us that the dog we were interested in adopting was ours if we still wanted her. The next day 6-yr old Spíra was brought over for a visit, and she’s been with us since.
Here she is on the right, with our other dog, 12 year old Sámur. He’s had mixed feelings about her arrival, she’s a bit pushy and boisterous for his taste, (like an annoying little sister) but they get along. Such a joy to have them both
Anyway, donations are still welcome to help complete the book. As before, anyone donating 15$ or more gets a free PDF of the completed book, which is now this far along:
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(Note: This entire post was originally published August 2010, I’m reposting now as my blog has been hacked in a most annoying way, so that when I attempt to post links to some older articles onto Facebook, advertisements for viagra show up instead of excerpts and pics from my blog. If anyone knows how to fix this , let me know! )
The photos above and at the end of this post are from a quick selfportrait photoshoot in my kitchen yesterday. I’m 32 years old, and have two sons age 12 and 10. While I’m a relatively content, marginally successful woman today, such has not always been the case (<— understatement). I’m in a warm, sharing sortof mood today. Hopefully the following words of advice will prove helpful to someone in some way.
Everyone make excuses. For any number of things. Making excuses and convincing yourself you can’t do something is usually easier than making personal challenges and tackling them head-on. I’m terribly prone to procrastination myself, and know how annoyed I get with myself when I keep putting things off, for days, weeks, months even, until, in a manic fit, too irritated with myself to take it any more, I spring out of bed one morning and decide “all right missy, today you’re getting this shit done, all of it, no more excuses!” and do my best to tackle all those things I’d been putting off, usually only remembering half of them by then. Whatever. Point is, it’s not a productive way to live one’s life, seeing as you only get one, and have no guarantee whatsoever how many theoretical “tomorrows” we have waiting patiently for us down the road.
Philosophical preamble aside, let me get to the point of todays post.
One of the most common things people make excuses about, and put off until tomorrow, next week, or next year (new years resolutions, anyone?) is the matter of getting fit. And from this point on, I am referring to otherwise healthy people, who are not disabled in any way, and have no true reason for avoiding exercise, other than not feeling like it.
I, personally, will never understand why the majority of people on this planet take their bodies for granted. You get one, it remains with you for life, and when it fails, that’s it. You do not get a replacement. Despite this very obvious fact, many people spend more time and money working on their cars, or collecting things to decorate their homes with, than tending to their own bodies.
Anyway, let me cut to the chase. Fitness should not be a fad, a hobby or a vague idea at the back of ones head. It should be a way of life. Furthermore, it should not be expensive, complicated, daunting or unattainable, and doesn’t have to be.
I suffered from severe depression from age 12-16. (I won’t go into details) Then I decided to start running. Just a spur of the moment decision that changed my life. It helped, a lot. I got into weight-lifting at age 18, and that helped even more. I started reading fitness and bodybuilding magazines, realizing I could control the shape I was in. This is the most important realization i’ve come across: How i looked and felt was all up to me, not a preordained fate I had to accept. And that’s probably something a lot of people don’t realize, or don’t want to think about because it means you have to get up and do something about it.
If you’re still reading, that probably means you’re one of those people who’ve always wanted to do something to change this, but aren’t sure where to start. To make things easier, i’m going to simply point you in a few good directions, because i can’t possibly write down all i’ve learned in the 14 years since I decided to make fitness a #1 priority in my life.
(Chinups are awesome. I have a bar at home. If you can't do even one, start by hanging. Then use a chair and try hanging with your arms at 90°. Then try lifting yourself. Be patient. Can't recommend them enough for upper-body strenght and toning. I can now do 10-12 from a dead hang.)
Because I constantly seek out new approaches to keep from being bored, I’m always curious about “trends” that pop up and can usually tell after reading the first few lines of a sales-pitch if something is legit, or a bunch of nonsense designed to rob you of your money and time. One of the things I decided to check out in depth was Mike Geary and his “Truth about Six-pack abs” program, (forcing myself first to look past the cheesy title and incredibly corny looking website). Long story short, I bought his ebook, and give it my stamp of approval, even if it does play a little too much on the necessity of having ripped abs in order to appeal to the opposite sex. ( I’m not in any partnership with this man, I just benefited from his stuff, and am therefore mentioning it to others). The book is crammed with necessary and simple information about nutrition and workouts, much of it stuff I already knew, and free of any mention of shortcuts or miracle cures which I know for a fact do not exist.
Now, after buying this ebook, I’ve gotten regular emails with extra tidbits of information, tips and recipes, which is a nice bonus. In one of his newsletters he mentioned another training program that had his stamp of approval, and I decided to check that out. I ended up purchasing the Tactfit Commando program as well, which is largely based on bodyweight exercise alone, which is attractive to me since I want to work out at home sometimes to save time, and love learning new moves that just somehow never occurred to me.
You’ll notice i mentioned “buying” both of the afore mentioned programs. They were both a lot cheaper than gym memberships and ended up being worthwhile. Still, i know a lot of people won’t buy them. Which brings me to the best fitness-related gem i’ve stumbled across in recent years:
For the second time on this blog i’m going to mention, and recommend Bodyrock.tv. This website was daunting at first. Zuzana (the madly fit and curvaceous woman you’ll see as soon as you click on the link) annoyed the hell out of me with her boobs and her much-too-ripped abs, but i forced myself to watch one video and instantly my preconceptions vanished. I’d also heard that she used to be a porn actress or something, but honestly could not care less. This girl knows what she’s doing, and generously shares, for free, a near endless stream of varying workouts that can be done at home with a minumum of equipment. These workouts kick ass. They really, really do. After a lazy summer of only working out 3-4 times a week max, I decided to get back into gear a couple weeks ago, and have been employing tips I’ve gathered from all three of these sources and focusing them into brutally intense, 20-30 minute workouts in the comfort of my living room. ( Some of the exercises I can’t do (not yet at least) and some I avoid because I damaged my lower-back weightlifting 6 years back and have to be careful not to trigger an attack which can cause me to limp around like an old woman for a few days until it gets better. My point being, don’t let it stop you if you think it looks to hard from the get-go. Just start at your own level and work from there)
Bottom line: You don’t have to spend a fortune on new workout clothes, a gym membership, or face the scary prospect of going into a gym and feeling inadequate (another common excuse I’m sure a lot of people make, which I understand very well). As i mentioned above, I have a chin-up bar installed at home, and own a set of 10kg adjustable dumbells and exercise ball as well. All good stuff to have for variety, but to start you only need yourself.
Anyway, I hope this helps at least some people, since i went to the trouble of sitting here for an hour writing this all down
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After at least two years of enthusiastically thinking about it every few months, I’ve finally put together a photo book. The first of many more to come, if all goes according to plan.
The book is a collection of photos I’ve taken of Icelandic horses over the past 5 years, and is available for purchase in the Blurb bookstore, either in soft or hardcover. You can check it out right here.
I’d heard a lot of cool things about Blurb, and am a big fan of keeping things simple, so I decided to try it out for this first tentative venture into publishing. I downloaded their free BookSmart software, and after some initial frustration at not figuring everything out at once, I soon found myself loving it. Endless possibilities and freedom with layouts and stuff, couldn’t really be easier. And since you only need to purchase one copy of each book you create in order for it to be published in the Blurb bookstore, there’s an incredibly low starting-out cost (as opposed to printing an edition of x-many books first and then hoping they’ll sell).
Again, the book can be found here, along with a preview look at 15 of its 40 pages.
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I have a little favor to ask..
I’ve never before resorted to asking for donations to support my work. However, I’m faced with a bit of a dilemma. I’ve recently undertaken a vast new project, which I can’t realistically fund out of my own pocket. I was all set to use Kickstarter, until I found out I can’t use Amazon Payments because I live in Iceland and only have an Icelandic bank account. Rather than give up on the funding idea, and since I do happen to have a Paypal account, I’ve decided to outline the project here, and invite anyone who enjoys my work and finds this idea worthwhile, to contribute a little to help it along.
Before I continue, here’s a sneak peek at some images from the project so far:
Allow me to explain:
There’s a saying in Iceland: “If you don’t like the weather, wait 15 minutes”. There are probably few places in the world as unpredictable in this regard. This is probably why Icelanders talk about the weather so much.
For as long as I can remember, the weather report on Icelandic National Radio has been an unchanging , somewhat comforting background noise, heard but never really listened to. Certain place names have become familiar from hearing them repeated over and over again, but until recently I never really gave much thought as to where these places are, exactly. Some are well known, but the majority are obscure, out-of-the-way spots few people have much reason to visit or think about.
Now let me back up a little bit:
Late last summer, when photographing a field of long grass blowing in a strong wind, I was struck with the idea to create a costume that would behave in a similar way, i.e. a dress covered with strips of cloth to catch the wind. I created three different versions of this outfit in white, and made some cool photos in the process. (see this post for pictures) But I wanted to take this further, to create a series tied together in some coherent way. (seriously, there are only so many random selfportraits one can take wearing a dress outdoors in Iceland before it begins to feel a little redundant)
Anyway, to make a long story short, I decided that I’d photograph myself in a new, black “wind gown”, in the vicinity of all the weather stations scattered around the country.
I soon realized that this undertaking would be a lot more work than I first imagined. I had no idea there were so many weather stations, (over 200 in all) or that some of them are located in places only reachable by boat. So, I figured I’d limit the spots to the ones actually mentioned on the radio forecast, which narrowed the field down to “only” 62. And still a few only reachable by boat. A challenge, for sure, but I seem to thrive on those.
Once the photographing process is complete, the resulting photos will be made into a book, along with little stories from the creation process, behind-the-scenes photos, and a map detailing where each image was taken.
Rather than attempt to do this all by myself (which is how I’ve stubbornly worked in the past) I gladly accepted my boyfriends offer to join me in a collaborative effort. In April we set out in a Land Rover, accompanied by one happy dog:
to tackle the first leg of this project, running into a few minor inconveniences along the way… like almost sinking the truck near Vík before noon the first day..
(we needed a bit of assistance getting out of that one..)
and spending an hour driving almost all the way along a mountain road called Dynjandisheiði, (which we heard was open) only to be forced to turn around and go back, when the tracks we’d been following, and with them any visible road, disappeared completely..
3200 km and one week later, we’d only managed to cover 22 spots. (Reduced to 21 when I realized that one of the farms we visited, making an hour detour to get there, was the wrong one with the same name).
All in all, the results are very promising so far, and we’re both extremely excited to continue. On this first trip, we spent roughly 900$ on gas and acommodation (as cheap as we could find, we spent 3 nights out of 6 in a tent in sub-zero temps). Realistically, we’ll need at least three more trips to cover all 62 locations, and for a few spots we’ll need to hire a boat. We’re also both putting other work on hold while driving around working on this. So any donations, from 1$ and up, will make a difference.
To make this more worthwhile, anyone who donates 15$ or more will recieve a PDF version of the finished book. As soon as I’ve received the donation, I’ll put your name and email down on the “cool people who get an e-book for helping me out” list.
Furthermore, donations of 50$ will be rewarded with a PDF of the book, plus five 12×17 cm (5×7″) prints of any 5 images featured on my website (from all categories except “people”)
Obviously, you’ll have to trust me on this, but I assure you I have nothing to gain by not keeping my word. I would however have a lot to lose, since then people would just start telling everyone that I’m a liar and not to be trusted, which just isn’t productive to ones career in any way
Thanks in advance to anyone that decides to help out.
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Late july-august here in Iceland has a particular charm for me, which partially makes up for the fact that it’s started getting dark again at night (i’m never really ok with that, its sad even tho it’s easier to get to sleep, but I suppose another summer with bright nights is due next year, i’ll cling to that fact like a comforting blanket)
Anyway, the hillsides and mossy areas close to where I live are awash with berries this time of year. Blueberries and another kind of small, tart black berry , I’ve no idea if it even has a name in english. In icelandic it’s called krækiber (which would be pronounced crikey-bear, i suppose, hehe)
Anyway, it’s the blueberries I’m after, with a nerdy passion. I’d always been under the assumption that there was only one kind of blueberry growing in southern Iceland, rather pale blue in color and growing very close to the ground. My mother kept talking about the blueberries growing up North where she grew up, called “aðalbláber” which translates to “the main blueberry” or as my mom was clearly implying: “the real deal”. Last year I discovered to my great delight that there are in fact TWO KINDS of these more elite blueberries to be found here in the south, along with the more common ones if you know where to look. One kind is dark blue and the other black and shiny, and they grow a bit larger than the other ones. I’m not about to disclose where I pick them though. The common paler blue ones are perfectly fine, taste pretty much the same, they’re just not as fun to pick, somehow.
So far, since mid-July, i’ve filled 4 or 5 one-liter ice-cream boxes with berries, stocking up the freezer so I’ll have enough to last me thru the winter, using them mostly instead of ice-cubes in smoothies. Blueberries are purported to be bursting with antioxidant goodness, so consuming them uncooked in this way has its obvious benefits. They’re quite sour, however, nothing like the giant blueberries found in the U.S., for instance, so it’s tempting to cook them into something sweet. I’ve used them in jam, pie (i’ve tried both blueberry pie and blueberry/apple, which is better) and muffins, and it’s all been delicious. So much more fun baking with berries you pick out in the wild than store-bought stuff.
Here’s a recipe for blueberry muffins I use, it’s from Joy of Cooking (my bible in the kitchen, hands down the most informative and inclusive cookbook I’ve ever come across) The pictures are added as extra incentive to do as I say and try them
mix together in a large bowl:
280 g flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Blend in a smaller bowl:
250 ml milk/ buttermilk/ sourcream/ cream or a mix of any of these
130 g sugar or brown sugar
60-115 g melted butter or oil (the more fat you use, the longer they stay moist)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine the dry and wet ingredients, by hand, don’t overmix. The batter is not supposed to be smooth.
180 g fresh blueberries
sprinkle with cinnamon sugar before baking (about 12-15 minutes at 180°C).
In closing: The picture at the top of this post shows the makings of 4-berry jam that I made with my son the other day. In addition to blueberries, and the afore mentioned “krækiber”, we used red- and blackcurrants from my parents yard, equal parts of each kind. Used no recipe. 1600g berries to 1200g sugar, boiled for an hour or so, half of the mixture sieved to get out some of the seeds and skins, and then everything pureed, and poured into sterilized jars ( i just boiled them one by one for a couple minutes).
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