July 11, 2012 § 1 Comment

Its back!

Well folks, I couldn’t stay away from watercolorWEDNESDAY.  Yes, my year-long Europe excursion may have come to a close (sigh) but this adventure of life still continues (and boy is it grand!).

And in this wonderful adventure, I continue to paint and would love to share with you (because come on, who doesn’t like a weekly painting?!?)

I have traded the rolling hills (cough…bunny slopes) of Denmark for the majestic peaks of the Sierra Nevada.  A month ago I moved for an exciting internship in Lake Tahoe and by golly, this landscape is too beautiful to not paint!

I can’t promise to post something every Wednesday but I will try my best and we shall see where the summer leads.

So for now let me share with you my first painting from Truckee, California.

Welcome to Kirsten in the Mountains!

Welcome to Truckee, California.  Truckee is a good ‘ol Western town  located half an hour outside of Lake Tahoe, the most majestic and beautiful lake in all the world (personal opinion? NO! fact!).

The town was established as a railroad town in the post-Gold Rush era and was home to the weary survivors of the infamous Donner Party (whose story still gives me shivers).  Today Truckee functions as the threshold to the Western Shores of Lake Tahoe.

Pictured here is the Truckee rail yard.  The tracks are no longer used for passengers, just cargo, but its part of the historic Transcontinental Railroad of the Wild West.  In fact, Truckee’s original name was Colburn Station.

I live close to the tracks so the constant hum and horn of the train follows me around the clock.  I don’t mind though.  I think of it as a good reminder for me to look around, take a pine-scented breath of fresh air and appreciate God’s work that surrounds me.

So next time you take a trip up to the mountains, don’t just ooo and ahh when you pass through Truckee.  Get out, stretch your legs, take a walk around the historic downtown and explore all this quaint place has to offer.

For those of you greeting card lovers, I am thinking of doing a ‘Mountain-set” at the end of the summer.  Stay tuned!



June 2, 2012 § 2 Comments

A melody of birds chirping adds to the tunes filling my headphones.

The music of choice? Danish top hits naturally.

Even though I have been back in the States for almost two weeks, I still have yet to change my Spotify music account from Denmark to the US, allowing me to access all of Denmark’s top hits.

I am still not ready to let go.

I sit at Linnea’s Café in San Luis Obispo (SLO).  Linnea’s is my favorite café in San Luis Obispo; which is quite a compliment because SLO is filled with a plethora of cozy and welcoming cafés.

Although quite popular in SLO, I still feel like Linnea’s is a hidden gem.  The back patio is filled with a dozen colorfully clothed tables surrounded by walls of crumbling brick and vibrant climbing ivy.  The entire atmosphere feels like one of H.C. Andersen’s fairy tales.

By routine, I feel like I am still in Copenhagen.  I biked to the café just like I would in Copenhagen.  Upon entry the delicious smells of the soup of the day, Lentil Miso, filled my nose (lentil soup just happened to be a staple in my limited Copenhagen cooking repetoir).   My usual mocha sits in front of me making that familiar foamy design that oddly inspires me.  And I am still banging away on these black keys blogging away. If the California sun wasn’t streaming down tanning (…burning) my (extremely white) shoulders, I would think I was still in Copenhagen.

And coincidence has it that as I sit here and remenice of my past life in Copenhagen, I run into three fellow classmates from Copenhagen.  We all had the same idea: fly home to States, give mom and dad a hug and immediately drive to SLO for the week.  It is surreal to see these familiar faces in SLO after spending nine months with them in a magical place far, far away.

Homecoming has been so bittersweet.  Missing my life in Copenhagen has been bitter, yet reunions have been so sweet.  I did not realize how much I missed people until I was reunited with them!  Late night baking sessions, lazy days at the beach, farmers market and more catch-up coffee dates to satisfy any caffeine addict have made up this blessed week.

Bitter or sweet, there is one thing stays the same: “The Lord is my Rock, my fortress and my deliver” Psalm 18: 2.

I am so blessed.  I was blessed by an amazing adventure for the last year.  And I am blessed by life in California, wonderful friends and such a loving family.

I just pinched myself.

I felt it.

Well, I guess this is not a dream.

“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with your joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” Psalm 16:11

Linnea’s Cafe back patio, San Luis Obispo

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!

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!

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?

1. maj 2012

May 1, 2012 § 2 Comments

Like any national holiday, few knew what they were celebrating

…yet they knew how to celebrate!

Picnic baskets, six packs, sunglasses and a good group of friends is all they needed to get the party started and enjoy den først af maj (the first of May).

Today (the first of May), Denmark celebrated Arbejderenes Internationale Kampdag, also known as Labor Day.

In Copenhagen the celebration was centralized to the central city park, Fælledparken, where thousands gathered throughout the day for picnics, live music, political speeches, carnival food and of course, drinking.

I am thankful to live close to Fælledparken so I made not one, not two, but three visits to the park throughout the day (I had to experience the day from all angles). Early in the morning prior to the celebration…midday when the picnics and live music were in full swing…and at dusk when the crowd was more boisterous, the smells of carnival sugar and beer were more pungent and the park littered with rubbish (it was a recyclers dream!)…I saw it all.

This was a celebration unlike any other I have seen in Denmark.

All the magic would not have been possible without the most important ingredient…


The Sun.

We have been Vitamin D deprived for too long.

Velkommen tilbage mister sol!

Welcome back Mr. Sun! 

Vi har savnet dig!

We missed you!

Temple Bar.

April 26, 2012 § 1 Comment

Green Converse lace-ups float upon the cobble stones.

She can’t help but dance.

The tune of the fiddle, the beats of the drum box, and the chords of the guitar blend together to produce a nostalgic harmony.

Five young lads sporting grungy clothes, unwashed long hair and taped together instruments beat along the traditional Irish folk tunes.

…two people stop…ten people stop…fifty people…one hundred people gather forming a crescent-shaped stage crowd around the band.

Her courage builds.

Her feet begin to tap and suddenly she finds herself in the middle stage jumping along the beats of her heritage.  The dance steps from her childhood effortlessly flow from her feet.

Cameras come out, smiles grow upon faces, a chorus of clapping hands begin and the clink of the coins thrown into the open guitar case adds to the merriment.

Two young girls admire the dancer’s confidence and join the lone dancer in the middle of the stage. Pair-by-pair more join the stage until the whole street explodes into a dancing parade.

Welcome to Temple Bar.

(if link does not work go to http://vimeo.com/40823918)

On a recent merry Friday night, I found myself exploring the medieval cobblestone streets of Temple Bar in downtown Dublin, Ireland.

Ever been to an Irish pub in the States? Multiple that by 1000, add some fun accents, a lot of Guinness and there you have the magic of Temple Bar.  The young, the old, the conservative, the liberal, the fun, the boring, the sober, the smashed, the beer belly, the beer keg…the pubs are filled with a diverse crowd of Dubliners and tourists.

Dublin, you make me smile.

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