mug shots.

May 30, 2012 § 5 Comments

As I have confessed before, I am an avid coffee drinker.  Not only do I enjoy the coffee, but enjoy the vehicle that gets the coffee from the pot to your lips…yes, the coffee mug.

I admit, it’s a rather strange fascination I have with coffee mugs.  If you have ever shared a cup of coffee with me, you have probably noticed my habits for commenting on the success of the coffee mug.  I question odd things like:

Is it easy to hold?

How well does it insulate heat?

How does the mug influence the way I enjoy my drink?

How does the mug aesthetically look?

(Yes, I actually think about these things.)

And so before starting my European adventure last August, I knew I wanted to collect something special from each travel I was blessed with.  That special something is a coffee mug.  To my best ability, I tried to collect a special mug from all the magical places I was privileged to experience.  From start to finish, I collected a total of thirteen beautiful mugs that will now outfit my new apartment (that I have yet to find…).  And now at the conclusion of my adventure, it is time to share these gifts with you (yes, I had a mug-photo shoot in my backyard).

And no, these beauties will not be placed on a shelf to collect dusk like so many other souvenirs (cabin crap as my mother calls it), these are definitely to be used!

So the invitation is now open, I welcome you to my home (that I have yet to find…) to take a trip around Europe (through a coffee mug of your choice) and enjoy a cup ‘o joe (en kop kaffe).

Stockholm.  This mug was my first mug purchase in Europe and my favorite.  This mug is huge and reminds me of the huge bowls of hot chocolate enjoyed again and again while in Stockholm.  The pattern, Mon Amie, one of Sweden’s best-loved porcelain series, by designer Marianne Westman in the early 1950s.  The simple sophistication and Swedish blue brings memories of this quaint country that birthed Ikea and H & M.

Finland.  This is mug is from the Finnish brand Ittalia that also produced designs from my favorite Finnish architect, Alvar Aalto.

Prague.  I found this mug while wandering through a Czech craftsman store.  The hearty mug reminds me of cozy nights spent wandering down Charles Bridge after enjoying a cup of goulash.

Budapest.  Budapest was a city with flair, as is this handmade mug.  I found this mug while at the Budapest Central Market (what a wonderful market!).  I bought the mug from a chatty Nigerian man who I shared a thirty minute conversation about cheese with…good times.

Vienna.  This mug exhibits the work of famous Viennese artist, Gustav Klimt.  The city was all about celebrating the artist’s 150-year anniversary during my visit, so I had to snap up a memorable souvenir from the artist.  Best known for the painting, The Kiss, Klimt was an influential artist in the Vienna Secession Movement.  Here is one of his better known paintings, the Adele Bloch-Bauer I, ornamented with gold leaf.

Copenhagen.  A Christmas gift from my host mom, Katrine.  She knew of my mug collecting habits and wanted to give me something from Copenhagen.  Although not from one of my travels, a mug that I hold near and dear to my heart in remembrance of my time living with her.

Barcelona.  This mug was purchased while touring world-famous Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudí’s Casa Batlló.  The home was built in and has a nautical motif and roof that looks like dragon scales. This mug is of a similar motif to many in the home.  And how great is the detachable spoon on the handle?  Memorable and functional!

Florence.  I had to find something that reminded me of the wonderful colors of Tuscany and this mug fit the bill.  Hand-painted and hand-sculpted, this mug is a work of art. Even better, I purchased it from a local pottery studio next to my friend Kristina’s humble Florentine apartmento.

Florence.  This was a gift from my Florentine friend, Kristina.  She blessed me with hand-painted beauty while visiting Copenhagen at the end of April.  The mug is from the same studio as the mug from above.  I absolutely love the hand-painted care in this mug, its imperfections make it even richer.

Berlin.  While visiting Berlin, I found myself in the middle of a protest march.  I didn’t know what the protest was about, I was just trying to cross the street!  In taking refuge, I ducked into an edgy coffee shop and had a simple conversation with the barista, a grumpy Mr. Clean-looking fellow.  This mug is handmade by a local Berlin ceramic artist and reflects the functional tradition of the German Bauhaus tradition.  The B.O.B. logo stands for ‘Best of Berlin’…the name of this edgy coffee shop I found refuge within.

Amsterdam.  Well, Amsterdam is full of coffee shops but none that I wanted to take part in! (Smoking hash in Amsterdam is legal in licensed ‘coffee shops’ sprinkled throughout the city)  I purchased this mug from the quaint and cozy, Melly’s Cookie Bar and Gourmet Coffee Shop after chatting with the barista, a fellow West-Coaster studying in Amsterdam.  The tall and skinny mug reminds me of the tall and skinny homes squished together along the many canals that create the city.

Ireland.  This mug was discovered while on a bus tour of the famous Ring of Kerry in Western Ireland.  We made a stop at a reconstructed Irish Turf village in the middle of nowhere. The green mug reminds me of those rolling green hills of Ireland and the ewe, well there were plenty of those in Ireland too.  Oh Ireland mug, I love ewe too!

Copenhagen.  In my final days in Copenhagen I was on the search for the perfect mug.  You might be thinking, it’s so simple.

Yes it is!

Yet it reminds me of everything Danish.  Light colors, natural wood, a hearty and hygge cup that invites cradling and enjoying a cup of tea.  The wood coaster (pictured on top) acts as a coaster and heat-trapping lid…wow!  Multi-functional Danish design at its finest.  I have to confess, this mug was actually handmade in Sweden…however I found it in Copenhagen, so that counts for something right?

Jeg håber at dele en kop kaffe med dig snart!


Home at Last.

May 21, 2012 § 5 Comments

Oh the joys of traveling.

After living and traveling so much in Europe throughout the year (especially in Italy), few travel hiccups can phase me.

Traveling in such extremes has taught me that with patience and a good attitude things usually turn out just fine.  And if I think of traveling as an adventure rather than a chore, it makes it all the more fun.

I have arrived safely back in home to the Golden State and in my opinion, everything went well.  But looking back, the trip was a bit hectic.  Thank goodness for patience + a good attitude (yes, I am totally that peppy girl that is incredibly annoying when all else are in a bad mood) I survived the 20-hour journey!

I started my journey at 3am Copenhagen-time as my plethora of luggage and I took a taxi to the airport.  Of course I was willing to try my luck at the night bus-metro-airport route, however after my father insisted I take a cab (and he agreed to pay for it) so I gave in.

Even at such an early hour, the Nordic sun was already illuminating the clouds bringing light to the night and allowing me to say goodbye to Copenhagen.  From Østerbro, to Central Copenhagen and out through Amager, I gave the city one last wave goodbye while holding back tears.

I arrived at the airport way ahead of schedule to find the airport almost empty and my flight to Frankfurt already delayed three hours.  I had to wait an hour for the airport service desk to open and figure out my fate.  After a long line and long process of flight-shuffling, I was placed on a new flight and my extra bag was complimentary thanks to the confusion!

Because of the flight cancellation, I arrived in Frankfurt an hour later than planned.  With only 50 minutes before my plane to SFO was to take off and I had an obstacle course of customs, passport control and security to jump through before boarding that plane, timing was tight.  And naturally, there hundreds of people and an hour-plus line to get through before.

With my calm demeanor and sweet face, I made friends with a pushy professor from Stanford on the same flight to SFO as me.  She was hysterical that we would miss the flight and be stuck in Frankfurt forever (just a little dramatic).  Despite our differences, I became friends with her and tailgated her as she demanded her way through the security lines.  We arrived at the gate just in time as last passengers were boarding.  As I scanned my ticket I let out a sigh of relief and looked forward to a long nap on the 11-hour flight.

I boarded the world’s largest commercial plane, the Airbus A380, and admired its size, two-seating decks and seating for 525 people.  After long line of waiting to find my seat, I found my number 60C empty and waiting for me.

I then looked to the right of my seat to see three smiling individuals sharing the row with me– mom, dad, and one-year old baby.  I then notice the three-year old sitting behind me, already chatting up a storm and kicking my seat.  And in the aisle across from me, a wide-eyed toddler that does not look like he is going to sleep anytime soon.

Great, I thought, I am in the kids section!

I began calculating how powerful my noise-cancelling headphones are and exactly how loud I could play music to drown out these children’s’ screams.

I loaded my oversized backpack full of the 10+ sketchbooks and journals I did not want to check in the overhead compartment and organize the rest of my belongs underneath my seat.  I decided to make the most of the situation and begin chatting with the father of the one-year-old to my right.  I learned the family had already been traveling for 10+ hours from India and the baby slept that entire flight…leaving little hope that she will sleep throughout this leg of the journey.

However, I quickly made friends with the family and find this big-brown-eyed little girl absolutely adorable.  We made a game of high-fives and waving to each other and were suddenly allies.  To my surprise, she slept almost half the flight and other than a few whimpers, was silent and content the rest of the journey.  The chatty three-year-old behind me stopped her chatting and I did not hear a peep from her for the rest of flight (was she drugged?!).  And although the wide-eyed toddler did not sleep, he barely made a sound and enjoyed taking his mom on many teetering laps around the plane (got to love active German children).

I was able to sleep most of flight (I was drugged…thank you over-the-counter sleeping pills!) and when I woke up again I found us circling see the familiar Golden Gate bridge below and starting our descent into SFO.  As the buildings become larger and runway into view, I countdown…five…four…three…two…touchdown! I was again on American soil again after nine months away.

Once landed, it took me almost an hour to go through the US passport-customs-baggage obstacle course.  While waiting by the baggage carousel for my bags, I was caught by the security dog.

Oops!  Forgot to throw out my eaten apple cores from the flight.  The officer laughs at my mistake, takes my apple cores and writes a note on my customs sheet that he confiscated my ‘apple cores.’

This mistakes put me through another line and I had to have my bags scanned again.  The security woman checked my customs sheet, chuckled and asks if I am harboring any more ‘apple cores.’

Once I am all clear, it was through the final security gates and I was greeted by the smiling faces of my family and waving a homemade “Welcome Home Kirsten” sign.  I gave my mom a hug and she busted into tears (aww, I feel so loved), hugged the rest of my family members and my dad took my luggage cart from me.  We exited the airport and the dry California heat immediately hit me.

I spent the rest of the day resting, unpacking and enjoying a delicious steak dinner with the family.  Apart from my room being a different color (my mom got sick of the Tiffany-blue and decided to painting it a more mature olive green) I find everything the same.  

Same family, same house, same car, same dog, same California.

But one thing is not the same…me!

Its just the beginning of the acclimation process however I am already having to remind myself that yes, the last nine months did happen and no, its not all a dream.

I am so overwhelmed with the blessings of this life.  Life in Denmark was such an incredible, life-altering and amazing experience.  And I have come home to such blessings as well– a wonderful family, faithful friends and a loving home.  And I have faith that all these blessings are a gift from one thing, the Father.  

For I know that

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights” James 1:17

The current state of my room.  I have some work to do…

Realizations since coming home…

Wow, everything is huge!  I could fit four of my Copenhagen apartment bedrooms in my one bedroom at home.

Wow, I have lot of stuff!  Its true, America is a consumer society.  After living out of just two suitcases of belongings for nine months, I forgot I owned anything else.  As I opened my closet back at home the amount of stuff exploding from my closet practically devoured the Goodwill I go this week!

Wow, its hot here!  I was greeted by SF blue skies and 80+ °F (27°C) weather.  I don’t have to wear a scarf and sweater?!? Where am I?!?

Wow, I am so pale!  The scarce Scandinavian sun has not given me much color in the last nine months.  When I put a dress on, my mom suggested I switch to pants.  She said the white-ness of my legs were blinding her.

Wow, I understand all the conversations around me!  I have become so accustomed to being surrounded by languages that I do not understand.  Must learn how to eavesdrop again…

Wow, my allergies are horrible!  Thanks to jet-lag, I awoke at an absurd hour this morning, decided to get some fresh air and went for an early morning jog.  I forgot how badly I the Bay Area Pollen-Bowl effects me…I am now paying for it with itchy-eyes, a scratchy throat, swollen fingers and sneezing every 5 seconds.  Good thing I am off to the allergist tomorrow!

I still have not…

I still have not purchased anything since my arrival.  After nine months of using the Danish Kroner currency, I do not remember how to use US cash (nor do I remember the prices!).

I still have not driven a car.  If I could get away with it, I never want to drive again.  But wait…I live in the United States of Automobiles.  My dad says driving a car is like learning to ride a bike again…so why can’t I just ride my bike?

I still have not gotten a cell phone.  I have enjoyed using my 10-digit archaic-brick Picell international phone for the last year.  Just calling and texting…who needs a touch screen?

The Last

May 19, 2012 § 5 Comments

The last time I jog in Fælledparken.

The last time I work late in studio.

The last time I purchase a 35dkk (≈$6) latte.

The last time I miss a Copenhagen S-train.

The last time I bike like a fiend to school.

The last time I socialize at the pub after church with friends Vineyard København Kirke.

The last time I savor chai with friends on the lakes.

The last time I enjoy a Carlsberg and picnic in the park.

The last time I attempt to order my coffee in (extremely) poor Danish.

The last time I dumpster dive with fellow poor students for rejected pastry and bread items.

The last time I walk into a building constructed in the 16th century.

The last time I indulge in a Danish chocolate snegle (pastry).

The last time I float through Illum Bolinghus and admiring all the overpriced Danish Designs I can never afford.

The last time I take tourist photos of Copenhagen even though I have lived here for almost a year.

The last time I share a candle-lit meal with so many great people.

The last time I window-shop down Strøget.

The last time I attempt to fit into Danish society by sporting all black, an oversized scarf, a high bun, aviators and my bike.

The last time I give someone a blank stare and soft “sorry?” when they speak to me in Danish.

The last time I wake up in my bed in my cozy apartment.

The last blog post…just kidding!  I am not ready to let go.  I still have a couple more posts to share with you!

This week has been a plethora of ‘lasts’ as I say goodbye to people, places and experiences that have become part of this blessed adventure.  In less than 10 hours I will board a plane that will take me away from this city that claims a large part of my heart and bring me back to the Motherland that feels more foreign than home. My bags are packed (everything fit! I am not sure who is more surprised– me or my dad), my room is clean, my boarding pass is printed and now it is just time to wait.

And even with all these ‘lasts’ I still do not feel like its the end.  Even as I say goodbye to so many people and places, it does not feel real.

I feel like I will see the same people tomorrow, just like I have every other week.  I feel like my bike is outside waiting for me to go exploring, like I have so many other weekends.  I feel like I will be back at my favorite coffee shop, like I am every Sunday.  I do not know when ‘the last’ will become a reality, but I will keep you updated when the tornado of tears appears.

Here are some snapshots of this week’s ‘lasts’….

Last Bible Study.  I will miss all these beautiful ladies!

Last time strolling down Strøget.  Thankfully it was beautifully sunny day in Amagertorv!

Last coffee date with this lovely one!  I plan on seeing this fellow west-coaster soon again!

Last chocolade bolle from Sankt Peders Bageri.

Last time witnessing old buildings and straw thatched roofs.  Day trip to Roskilde.

Last time in Tivoli.  I gave Copenhagen a proper goodbye from the high-heights of the swings above!

Last time with good friends in Copenhagen…not forever though! I will see you again!

These past nine months have been absolutely life changing and I plan on taking the next lifetime and a half to unpack all that I have experienced and learned.  This chapter might be coming to a close, yet the next has already started to write itself.  The future holds reunions with loved ones, an internship in the mountains of Lake Tahoe, my final year of college and oh, so much more!

“For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and  not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

But for now…

 Vi ses København! Farvel for nu!  Jeg vil savne dig, men jeg vil se dig igen!


May 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

You can sense the finale.

…all of a sudden boom! bang! boom!

Each second dozens of fireworks explode into the sky, painting the dark night with a vibrant fire.

This climax indicates the inevitable…yes folks, the finale.

So like any good show, I leave you with a watercolorWEDNESDAY finale.

Its been such a pleasure to share watercolorWEDNESDAY with you for…gulp…37 wonderful weeks!  Sharing my work with you every week has given me the opportunity to explore the medium of watercolor to new heights.  The weekly reminder has given me reason to paint, to explore, to learn and to share.

If one were to ask me what I have learned most about watercolor painting through these weeks, it is patience.  Waiting for layer after layer to dry and repeat has taught me much about patience (do you know how much time the Utzon Church took to paint?!?).  And with this artistic patience I have found patience in my own life.  Above all else, my experience abroad has taught to live patiently and faithfully in every moment I have been blessed with while here.

So now for the finale.

I could not just give you one painting.

So here are some of my favorite places around Copenhagen.

Swans at the Lakes.  I wonder if it was here that HC Andersen was inspired to write The Ugly Duckling?

Colorful row houses of Nyboder.  Built by King Christian IV in 1641 and still going strong!

Bridge to Christianshavn.  Although I don’t visit this part of the city often, I love the colorful architecture, cozy canals and sunsets reflected through the west facing windows.

Biking through Fælledparken.  In days with good weather (and when I feel like my allergies can take the hit) I love taking the shortcut through Copenhagen’s central park and being surrounded by fields of green.

Ørstedsparken in spring.  Yes, it might be known as the gay-park, but its still my favorite park in Central Copenhagen thanks to its fairy tale feeling and willows that drape into the colorful reflective pond.

And now for a shameless plug…

I have a handful of wonderful friends currently raising support to participate in a handful of wonderful Christian mission trips this summer sponsored by Cru.  And to help them with support raising along the way I will be selling some of my original paintings and well as making greeting cards sets of prints from the year.  Depending on the size of painting, originals will be for sale starting at $30 and greeting card sets (sets of 6 +envelopes) at $15.  If you are interested in purchasing some of my work please contact me at so I can get a feel for the interest level.

I am also available to do custom paintings if interested.


Florentine Friends

May 14, 2012 § 6 Comments

My apologies, this post is way overdue!  Better late than never, right?

I have just completed my studies at DIS and I am now soaking up one last week in Copenhagen before…sigh…heading back to the Golden State (I really have no justification for complaining, this year has been amazing!).  More on leaving later, but for now enjoy some of the shenanigans in Copenhagen with old friends.

Two weeks ago I had the joy of entertaining five Cal Poly friends that have been studying in Florence for the year.  Us Copenhagen Cal Poly kids rallied together to show these good friends a good time in our city that has become home.  Adventures in the woods, trampolines by the harbor, soccer games and good food were all part of our adventures!

Kristina and I spent a day exploring the woods in the outskirts of Copenhagen.  Never know what you are going to find out there!

We discovered an abandon castle/fortress of some sort which made a wonderful opportunity to use our camera’s self timer and find some…expressive…shots.

Welcome to the rest of the gang!  No proper visit in Copenhagen would be complete without getting a bike.  Good work boys!

Trampolines by the harbor = hours of entertainment.

New Single coming soon…

When most people visit the infamous Little Mermaid they stand on shore, smile and take a photo with Denmark’s doll in the background.

But not Kristina.

She wanted to get up-close-and-personal with this special lady…and almost got stuck in the process.

Enjoying the world’s best chai latte’s on the Lakes!

FC København v. Aarhus Fodbol Kamp!  We dragged our Florentine friends down to a game to experience Danish soccer at its best. Jooo joo jooo!

The Poly section.

Hygge.  Brunch with Kristina before departing for…ahh…four months!

Tak jer alle for besøge!
Bet you wish you had visited right?


May 9, 2012 § 2 Comments

As the semester winds down I spent a mid morning in one of Copenhagen’s beautiful courtyards and captured the sun. We had beautiful weather last week (making it way to hard to work on studio).  Praying for good weather in my next week and a half left here.  Oh my!


May 2, 2012 § 3 Comments

Speaking of sunlight, I had to capture the light while visiting Bagsværd Kirke last week.  Bagsværd Kirke is a church in the suburbs of Copenhagen designed by Jørn Utzon.

Ever heard of Utzon?

Well you should have!

He is the mastermind behind the iconic Sydney Opera House and one of Denmark’s most famous architects.

Completed in 1976, the church is a unique example of Scandinavian architecture at its finest.  Using concrete, unfinished wood and tile the church is far from traditional, yet still evokes the ethereal and spiritual with its play of light and form.  The overarching form is in the sanctuary ceiling.  The Nordic light enters from the high ribbon window and swims along a series of folded concrete curves, creating beautiful contrasts and forms.  Here I try to capture the intense contrasts within the space.

Where Am I?

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