Tuesday, December 19, 2006

5 days to Christmas

It's raining and I feel a migraine coming on. I am therefore not in a Christmas mood.

Here's a cute gingerbread creation for you to look at. Some of the animals are made from marzipan, others from gingerbread, and some from plastic.


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Monday, December 18, 2006

6 days to Christmas

We had our Little Christmas at work on Friday. By all accounts, our Little Christmases are very tame compared with some. We had dinner together, a typical Icelandic Christmas meal of smoked lamb, potatoes in white sauce, green peas and leaf bread. This was followed by fun and games where no-one was humiliated (too much), a Christmas gift exchange, and ended in a Singstar sing-off where it was not always the best singers who won.

Speaking of winners - the Höfði model won the gingerbread house contest.

Here are some more contestants:

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Friday, December 15, 2006

9 days to Christmas

I had a lovely "Little Christmas" with my friends last night, with plenty of Christmas food and presents. I have finished decorating the apartment, including the tree. My present last night was four silvery little birds that are now perched in my Christmas tree.

Here is another lovely creation from the gingerbread house competition:

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Can you imagine eating this? I would feel like I had demolished a work of art.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

10 days to Christmas

Yesterday after I posted my Black Christmas rant I went shopping for Christmas presents at the Smáralind mall and what did I find? The annual Katla baking company's gingerbread house competition was being held there instead of at Kringlan where it has heen held up to now. First I smelled a lovely aroma of spices and baking, and then the houses came into view. There are not as many fancy or over the top professional-looking houses in the competition as there were last year, but there are more houses that look like they were not just made to enter into the competition. Below is the fanciest house, and one of only two that I recognised as models of actual houses. This is a model of Höfði house, the house where many official receptions are held by the city council of Reykjavík, and the site of the 1986 Reykjavík summit between Reagan and Gorbachov. I will post more photos from the competition in the following days.


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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

It's 11 days to Christmas...

...and I'm not in a Christmas mood today. Why? I just had my teeth cleaned, and it was bloody expensive. And bloody. Even after a cup of sweet tea and a slice of vínarterta, my mouth is still full of the metallic taste of blood and the icky taste of the dentist's latex gloves. This means I'm in the perfect mood for a little rant.

We all know that fashion is a dictator of the worst kind, but deciding that black is the new red for Christmas is taking fashion dictatorship too far. Christmas is supposed to be a holiday of joy and happiness, lights and bright colours. Not black. Black is the colour of death and sorrow, depression and funerals, not Christmas. I snapped this gloomy wreath, better fitted for a funeral than the holiday of life and light, on the Laugavegur shopping street a week ago. While I do think that a little black dress can look very chic at any time of year, I draw the line at black Christmas decorations.


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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

12 days to Christmas

Everyone seems to have finished decorating and there are twinkling coloured lights everywhere. I decorated the Christmas tree on Sunday and am preparing to receive my, hmmm, hmmm, crafts group on Thursday. I shall be very surprised if ayone does any crafts at all ;-)

Here is an idea for recycling scratched Christmas balls: Make covers for them.
This one hangs in my living room window along with several others that I rescued from the trash last year and made crocheted covers for.
Christmas ball

Saturday, December 09, 2006

15 days to Christmas...

...and today I go on one of several Christmas present delivery runs I will make before the holidays arrive.


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Friday, December 08, 2006

16 days to Christmas

When my radio alarm switched on this morning, there was a Christmas song playing. This is the first time it happens this December, and of course it put me in a Christmas mood.
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This shop window was half-way from the transition from Halloween to Christmas displays:

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

17 days to Christmas

Last night I attended a heavenly Christmas concert at the Fíladelfía church in Reykjavík with a group of friends. The church's gospel choir performed gospel songs, carols and Christmas psalms with a pop band and a number of soloists. We all left with a lightness of heart and smiles on our faces.


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A decorated tree twinkles in the twilight.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

18 days to Christmas

Last night I did battle with a string of lights, and lost. I have two strings of coloured lights that I have hung in my living room window for the last several Christmases. Each has 50 lights and they are looong. I have not been able to bring myself to put up hooks in the window frame, so I always hang them with suction hooks that I attach to the window glass. This time the suction cups would not catch, and the whole thing fell down again and again and when I plugged it in to check the damage, about 10 bulbs were out. Not good, because the strings were bought in the USA and then re-wired in such a way that I could plug them straight in without using a current adapter (you wire two equally long strings of lights together in a special way). I got those lights at a Dollar store many years ago and they have lasted...and lasted...and lasted beyond all expectation. But now I only have one useable one, since you can’t get replacement bulbs here. Oh well, it gives me a perfect excuse for buying new Christmas lights...
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Here is a simple and tasteful Christmas window decoration:

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

19 days to Christmas

They played my favourite Christmas song on the radio this morning. Full as it it of bad language, there is something irresistably cheerful and christmassy about "Fairytale of New York", but only when performed by Kirsty MacColl and The Pogues. Last year I heard a cover version that not only featured characterless singers, but actually sanitised the song.
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Here is a window display that I like, even though it is a bit of an oxymoron.
It has the advantage of being a winter display rather than a Christmas one. The shop is great - it has all kinds of interesting retro stuff.

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Friday, December 01, 2006

23 days to Christmas...

...and today after work I will start to hang up my Christmas decorations.

My favourite chocolate shop: Vínberið. Sometimes it's enough for me to just go in and walk one round inside the shop, inhaling the aromas of chocolate and other sweets, to satisfy a craving for chocolate. Sometimes.


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Thursday, November 30, 2006

24 days to Christmas...

...and although I'm not feeling very Christmassy today, it's still early in the morning. I did consider buying a santa hat at the supermarket when I went there to buy a croissant for breakfast, but decided against it. I may stroll down to the nearest Bónus store during my lunch hour and buy a book to give my father as a Christmas present.

This watch and jewelery shop always has lovely and tasteful Christmas displays:

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A heartening sight

Seen in Reykjavík on Monday. Obviously someone felt sorry for the statue and wanted to make it feel better ;-)

A splash of colour

25 days to Christmas...

...and yesterday I bought three Christmas presents. I didn't go on my planned lunch hour walk because it looked like rain (and it did), but went to the Kringlan mall instead. Some of the recipients read this blog, so I'm not revealing what I bought.

If the weather turns out good today, I will take that walk after work and stop at this place for a cup of hot cocoa or coffee:


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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

26 days to Christmas...

...and since the weather is warming up I'm planning to take a long walk during my lunch hour and photograph some Christmas decorations. I snapped this yesterday:


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Monday, November 27, 2006

27 days to Christmas...

...and I took a stroll down the Laugarvegur, Reykjavík's main shopping street, in my lunch hour. Many of the shops already have their Christmas window displays in place, and here is the first of a series I will publish here. After Christmas, I plan to choose my favourite Xmas window display.
Christmas windows I
This first image is a mosaic of the four windows of a souvenir and gift shop, Islandia. They usually have some rather wonderful displays for Christmas.

Click on the image to see it full size.

5 sensuous pleasures I always look forward to

The smell of books.

The sight of a sunrise.

The taste of the first spoonful of chocolate mousse.

The feeling of putting on fresh socks that have never been worn before.

The sound of singing that announces the arrival of the first migratory birds in the spring.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

28 days to Christmas...

... and today I went shopping with my mother and came back with a re-useable Christmas tree, coloured lights for the tree, and a dozen small balls in different colours to decorate it with. I plan to crochet an angel to use as a topper, and will post a photo when I have set it all up (after December 1st).

Leaf-bread report

Yesterday's leaf-bread making went well. We made about 250 leaf breads, and I probably fried about half of them and decorated about 3 dozen. Below is an image of one, decorated and ready for frying. Leaf-bread really should be perfectly round, but this particular piece didn't quite turn out that way, and it's also quite a bit thicker than it should have been, probably because the person who rolled it is still in training. I make 5 with this pattern and this was the best one, so I prefer to show it rather than a perfect cake with an imperfect pattern. This, by the way, is hand-cut, meaning I used a knife and not a pattern roller to make the chevrons.


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Saturday, November 25, 2006

29 days to Christmas...

...and I am going to be making leaf-bread, an Icelandic Christmas specialty, for most of the day, along with more than a dozen of my relatives.

Friday, November 24, 2006

30 days to Christmas...

...and yesterday evening I visited a friend who had hung up her Christmas kitchen curtains. Her neighbours have put blue Christmas lights on a fir tree in their garden. This means that everyone in the neighbourhood will start putting up their outdoor decorations on the weekend.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

31 days to Christmas...

...and last night all I could think about was baking Christmas cookies. I would have started right away, but I couldn't make up my mind what kind to make, plus I had neither chocolate nor butter on hand. I'm fixing that after work, so I will be ready next time I get the urge.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Christmas on my mind

32 days to Christmas... and my crafts club had a meeting last night. Being in large part made up of Christmas maniacs, we listened to Christmas carols all evening. We drew the line at "Silent Night", however - for all of us that is something you only play once Christmas has actually arrived.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Counting down to Christmas: 33 days to go

In Iceland, Christmas begins on December 24th.

Today a friend called to ask if I wanted tickets to a Christmas concert. I said “yes, please”.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

More sparkling raindrops


Crystal clear, originally uploaded by Netla.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Sparkling like diamonds


Sparkling like diamonds, originally uploaded by Netla.

I have been asked if this is an HDR image, but it is (almost) exactly as I took it. The only thing I did was resize it and sharpen the focus to compensate for the slight loss of sharpness that accompanies resizing.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

All gone


Finished, originally uploaded by Netla.

A dandelion clock that can no longer tell the time.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Dandelion clock


Ready to fly, originally uploaded by Netla.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Drangey


Drangey - eye half closed, originally uploaded by Netla.

Window of a beautiful old house where my great grandfather lived for many years up to his death in 1987.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Damn, damn, DAMN!

I am graduating tomorrow (a master's degree with honours, so I have to attend the ceremony) and I'm coming down with what feels like a very nasty cold. Blame the season: it's the first day of winter tomorrow and flu and cold are spreading like wildfire through the population. Oh, well, at least I don't have a zit on my forehead the size of a volcano like I did at my last graduation.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Napping


Napping, originally uploaded by Netla.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Curious stares


Curious stares, originally uploaded by Netla.

Horses staring curiously at me and posing for the camera.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Almannagjá



Almannagjá, originally uploaded by Netla.

This canyon, called Almannagjá (Everyman's Canyon in English), runs along the edge of Þingvellir (Parliament Fields in English) proper, inside Þingvellir National Park, Iceland's only UNESCO World Heritage site. It marks the boundaries between the Eurasian and North American continental tectonic plates. To see more detail, click on the photo to go the the Flickr page, right click on the photo and choose "large".

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Ripples


Ripples, originally uploaded by Netla.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Gullfoss


Gold Falls, originally uploaded by Netla.

Gullfoss (Gold Fall) is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Iceland, not just by foreigners, but Icelanders as well. This is the picturesque upper portion.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Kerið (The Tub)


Kerið (The Tub), originally uploaded by Netla.

This small volcanic crater is a must-see stop on the Golden Circle route. The photo doesn't do it justice - you need a wide-angle lens to get a picture of the whole thing and of course it's best to have some people in the photo so the scale can be seen.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Nesjavellir


On a still day in the Þingvellir area you can not help seeing the steam that rises up from the geothermal power plant in Nesjavellir. Clean electricity is produced there with steam from the depths of the earth.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Autumn colours


Autumn colours, originally uploaded by Netla.

Autumn is the most colourful of all the seasons. Sure, summer has all those differently coloured flowers, but its in the autumn that you see huge patches of different colours rather than the summery shades of green dotted with yellows, reds and blues. It's one of the reasons why I love autumn. This photo was taken in Þingvellir National Park, near the end of September.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Strokkur in action


Strokkur sequence, originally uploaded by Netla.

One of my favourite features on my digital camera is the ability to take a sequence of photographs by holding down the shutter, an invaluable feature when shooting action photos. I was always very careful not to use that feature much on my Nikon film camera, as it was easy to shoot a whole film in the space of about 15 seconds with perhaps only a couple of useable photos. With a digicam all you have to worry about is filling up the memory card, which is not a problem because you then just go and erase the duds.

On a recent visit to the Geysir area I shot three different sequences of Strokkur erupting. This composite has samples from all three sequences (thanks to fd's flickr toys). As you can see from the third photo I was standing much too close to the geyser to get in a whole large eruption.



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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Autumn - my favourite season


Glowing, originally uploaded by Netla.

Not only do you get to see colours like these on the trees, but the air seems cleaner and crisper and all colours brighter, and the sun doesn't fool me into staying up until past midnight.



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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Green Man


The Green Man, originally uploaded by Netla.

Eden in Hvergagerði (about an hour from Reykjavík) is an old tourist attraction that is quite wonderful in its tackiness. From the Adam and Eve carved into the doors, to the stuffed sheep in the souvenir shop and this huge green chia head, it is an interesting place to visit.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The pros and cons of being digital

What I love the most about having a digital camera is this:

1) you know right away how the photo turned out so you can take more if it didn't turn out good,
2) there is no need for expensive film developing (and it is expensive here), and
3) you can get a lot more photos on a memory card than you can on a film (that is, if you were sensible and got something better than the puny card that comes with the camera, and even that takes more than a film if you set the camera to take lower-quality photos).

The downside to my particular digital camera is that it is not good for taking a series of flash photos. The flash takes several seconds to load, whereas even my 20 year old fixed focus piece of junk only takes about a second or so. Even single-use film cameras load faster. Indoor photos also turn out grainier than film would. After having missed the kiss at a wedding ceremony recently because the damn flash was still loading after the ring photo I have promised myself that next time I attend such an important ceremony indoors I will take my trusty old Canon Elan and an extra flash.

Today's photo really has nothing to do with the subject, except it was taken with my digital camera and I happen to like it:

Grótta lighthouse

The Grótta lighthouse, seen earlier in this blog in a sunset photo.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Three, two, one


Three, two, one, originally uploaded by Netla.

I am about to say goodbye to this view, which I have seen just about weekly for the last four winters. My master's thesis is finally done and I'm turning it in today. I'm glad it's over, but I also feel empty. It's a strange feeling, but it will go away as soon as i find something else worthwhile to do with my time. Perhaps reading for pleasure.



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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Netla's flowers (and a little extra)

I'm on Flickr. Here's a sample of some of my floral photos. Why not visit me?

Steel sculpture

On a hill in Grafarvogur (a Reykjvík suburb) there are a number of steel sculptures scattered over the hillside without apparent rhyme or reason. Singly they are ok, but as a group they distract the attention from one another. This is my favourite:


From a distance:
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Up close:
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Monday, August 21, 2006

Animal portraiture


I have always thought goats looked both intelligent and arrogant.
Just look at this guy:
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No Billy, this. Definitely a William.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Reykjavík Culture Night 2006: Fireworks!

Every year now for several years running there has been a Culture Night festival in Reykjavík. It has got so big that all the activities can't be fitted into one night any more and the programs now start around noon, with art shows, performances by actors, artists and musicians, guided walks, open house at art galleries and museums and general merrymaking. It all culminates in a fireworks show and wild parties all over town. This year was special as they turned off all the street lights along the coastline for the duration of the fireworks show. Anyway, here are some shots of the fireworks:


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These are all taken with my digital camera set on "manual" and handheld, so the focusing is not perfect. I think it's remarkable how good they turned out, considering I didn't have a tripod to steady the camera. Of course, for every one good photo I took there were three bad ones... which is what I love about digital cameras: you can just erase the duds.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Last weekend's crop of photos, part 2

From the fish day festival we drove to Hrafnagil, near Akureyri, to attend a big handicraft and agricultural show. As before, these are only thumbnails.



Once we entered the show area, we heard roosters crowing in the distance and went to look. There was a long row of cages with hens and roosters, all belonging to the lovely and colourful Icelandic breed, and in fact there was a beauty contest going on. Unfortunately all the rooster photos I took were out of focus, but here are a couple of hens:

  

  



Among the other animales were goats, sheep and a sulky mare with a foal.
The foal was a lot friendlier than mom:

  
This mountain king seemed at ease in his pen, and loved to get scratched between his horns:

  



Colourful dyed wool:

  



A couple of interesting sculptures:

  

  



An interesting guitar-sculpture: