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Zombies vs Plants

A few months ago, after finishing an episode of The Walking Dead, Chris was talking all big and manly about how if the zombie apocalypse actually happened he would totally dominate and be King of the Survivors.

“Chris, you do realize if the zombie apocalypse ACTUALLY happened right this minute, we have no food stored up, no water, no access to guns, no first aid stores and no knowledge of local hunting/gathering. We defintiely wouldn't survive.”

Cue pensive silence.

I was initially joking… but for real, we have little to no emergency supplies. (Heads up to all you neighbors keeping tabs on who to raid when the apocalypse goes down, save your precious time and just move past our house. It's not worth it.)

Emergency preparedness just always seemed like a boring adult thing to worry about. Apparently though, we are technically grown up. And we want to survive the zombies dang it! It suddenly seems a little less boring!

Bahaha Mormon joke!

So over the past year we've been trying to work on getting more prepared for emergencies.

Norway seems to be both a great place and awful place to weather a zombie apocalypse. For one thing, it's cold, so that would slow down the zombies. It's also rather sparsly populated. Less zombies to fight off. On the other hand, it's really hard to grow food here (just ask the vikings. It was way easier to just pillage and plunder). So I took that as a challenge this summer and planted a Zombie Survival Garden on our balcony patio.

Ta Da!
I am definitely a dummy when it comes to green things, so I used Vegetable Gardening for Dummies as my garden sensei. I filled my brain with seed starters, harvesting times, succession crops, watering schedules and dreams of garden-fresh salads and home-grown stuffed peppers. Since the summers here don't get that warm, I tried to focus on cold-weather, spring/fall crops.
 
The successes:
Radishes
We got a TON of radishes! If you are ever in an apocalypse scenario, plant radishes. They grow like nobody's business!

Peas

Just be sure to stake them with stakes taller than 3 feet. They grow reeeallly long. Who knew?
Carrots
I managed to get a few carrots (I planted a rainbow variety, which was awesome!) They grew a bit short and stubby unfortunately though. I'm thinking it was because the containers weren't deep enough?
Kale
It took forever to grow big enough to eat, but once it grew it was awesome! We tried making kale chips for the first time. I think I'm a fan!
Lettuce
It was so cool to think, “Hmm… I wish I had a salad to go with dinner. Oh wait! I'll just go pick one from the balcony!”
 
Not successes:
Peppers
Unfortunately it was just too cold for my little pepper seedlings. They tried their little hardest though!
Beets
They grew, but they were little bitty beets. I'm not sure what went wrong there.
Broccoli
Since broccoli is a cold-weather crop, I figured it would be a shoe-in. Unfortunately, each plant only produced one tiny bite of broccoli. And then those little bits bloomed into yellow flowers overnight. I suspect I planted the broccoli too early in the season.
Broccoli flowers! Who knew?
 
Things we learned about container gardening in Stavanger:
  • Pay attention to timing in the season. Some plants really do grow better in cold weather and others in warm.
  • Vegetables need more sun than you think they do.
  • Don't overcrowd your patio pots. The seedlings look small when you plant them, but they grow fast and you won't get big harvests if your plants are too crowded.

All-in-all, we probably only grew enough produce for us to survive a week, but I'd say it was a pretty successful first attempt. I'm not saying we're ready to survive any apocalypses in the near future, but at least if it happened tomorrow, we know we could survive on radishes!

 

Category: Daily life, Food  Tags: , ,  One Comment
A Few DOs and DON’Ts for the Norway-In-A-Nutshell Tour

As I’ve said before, this was our 2nd time doing the Norway-in-a-Nutshell tour (The first was when Julie came to visit) so that pretty much makes us NIAN experts, right?

Not quite?

Ok, fine, maybe not experts, but at least we learned A LOT the second time around. And, as it will likely not be our last considering the list of people who say they are coming to visit in the coming years, we thought it would be useful to document some of the DOs and DON’Ts for posterity and to keep in mind the next time we go.

DO take your time!

The first time we did it, we did the entire route (roundtrip from Bergen) all in one day. While it was great and definitely still fun doing it that way, this time around we stretched it over two days, staying overnight in Aurland. It was much slower paced, and we got to experiene a lot more Norwegian culture than we did when we were just passing through. Much more preferable in our opinion. But if you only have one day, still go for it! Because it’s fun :)

DON’T follow the set schedule.

Well, you can if you want to, but we learned the schedule can actually be a lot more flexible than it says on your ticket. I’m sure the tour people want you to stick to your timetables, but we found it really doesn’t matter what time you catch each of the different transportation legs. Which means if you want to spend more time in one location, as long as you know there is another bus/ferry/train coming later in the day you can skip your assigned time and just catch the next one.

We found that out when we arrived in Flåm, which was overrun with tourists. Our assigned train didn’t leave for another 2 hours, but there wasn’t much we wanted to see and do there that was worth storing the luggage and fording the raging river of people, so we were keen to leave and get back to Bergen sooner. We asked the lady at the ticket desk and she told us to just hop on the train that was leaving in 10 minutes. We realized that we could have been doing that the entire trip! We would have liked to have 2 hours to explore Voss (but we thought we had to rush straight from the train to the bus) rather than the 2 hours in Flåm and in hindsight we realized we could have done just that. It’s actually quite flexible!

DO stay overnight in Aurland.

Or another town along the way, but we would really recommend Aurland. We initially narrowed it down to Aurland and Stalheim because we wanted something that was close to half-way through the tour. We ended up in Aurland in the end because they had a cheaper hotel rate, but after driving through Stalheim we were thrilled we picked Aurland. It was on the edge of the fjord (Stalheim was up in the mountains), we had the run of the town, and there were relatively few other tourists despite being in the middle of high season (compared to staying in Flåm). Plus, the hotel was right in the center of town vs being squirrled away up on a high hill (Stalheim) so it was easy to get out and explore.

Staying overnight definitely gave us more of a dose of Norwegian culture that you miss if you are doing the entire thing in one day and now that we’ve done it both ways we would highly recommend making it a two-day trip. We (remember, we are “experts”…) would also highly recommend staying at the Aurland Fjord Hotel in one of their fjord-view rooms. It’s a little bed-and-breakfast-type place with quaint rooms, nice views,

DON’T forget to keep a few 10 nok coins handy for when nature calls. Norway is an expensive country so you’d think they’d cut you a break when it comes to relieving yourself, but alas… it’s not to be. You can go for free on the ferry and trains, but if you are in-between anywhere you’ll likely need a coin to use the bathrooms.

 

 

And lastly, definitely DO bring food and water. Especially if you are planning to fit the tour into a single day. There are a few opportunities to buy food and snacks along the way, but it’s a bit rushed and crowded with limited selections so it’s much more enjoyable if you have your own lunch and snacks to munch on. Trust me. (Although we would recommend the hot chocolate on the ferry. It’s only 10 nok – yes the cost of a precious bathroom trip – but it’s actually quite delicious! Even in the middle of August!)

 

So there you go. Our “expert” tips for the Norway-In-A-Nutshell tour. Now go explore some fjords!

 

C²’s #1 tip for an easier adjustment when moving to a foreign country

Sunset Over Hundvåg Bridge

Living as an expat (expatriate) in a foreign country certainly has its ups and downs. It’s not an easy adjustment by any means, even in a country like Norway that is fairly similar to the US culture we are used to (I mean… it’s not like the difference between the US and say, Africa or Asia).

However, one of the things Chris and I have become acutely aware of now that we’ve been living here 2 years is the prevalence of COMPLAINING among expats. Throughout the expat community, there are seemingly constant complaints about the food, the weather, the prices, etc. It has actually driven us away from a lot of expat gatherings over the past year because it feels like they are just an outlet for expats to get together and vent about differences between Norway and their home country.  And it’s contagious! During our first year here we definitely noticed ourselves falling into the habit of complaining and came to recognize that it created a very negative energy that, in hindsight, made it much harder to adjust.

Don’t get me wrong, we love our fellow expats, but once we noticed this issue and started making an active effort to avoid complaining ourselves, we’ve truly come to love it here in Norway! We’ve been able to accept and appreciate the differences rather than get frustrated by them and as a result we’ve been able to make friends with more Norwegians and become much more involved in the culture.  My number one bit of advice for anyone moving to a foreign country or currently living as an expat is to try your hardest not  to complain about your surroundings. You will be amazed by how much it makes a difference!

Just to hone my point, I read this story in a dietary cleanse book (of all things) but I loved the way it talks about complaining and the benefits of getting rid of that habit in your life so I just had to share!

The Art of Self-Mastery

From Clean, by Dr. Alejandro Junger, M.D

excerpt from pages 184 – 185

“I met Hugo Cory by chance one day at Cafe Cafe, a trendy coffee shop in Soho’s Greene Street. Sitting with him and discussing these ideas for half an hour was one of the most enlightening experiences of my life. I discovered that he meets with clients in an office on Madison Avenue and 67th Street and I began to work with him. Hugo describes his work as developing integrity and character through the learning and practicing of self-mastery. In this work, the simplest advice, which sounds almost superficial during casual conversation  is a powerful tool for transformation. “Stop complaining,” he says, and then remains silent looking right into your eyes. As if downloading a program over a high-speed Internet connection, I saw with a jolt how any complaint is really the expression of a negative emotion or state. It gives the complainer a sense of immediate relief, even pleasure. This is perhaps the reason why it is such a common practice worldwide.

I realized that 90 percent of the time, people complain about everything and everyone. The weather, the government, the economy, their jobs, the basketball game, their spouse, the cost of gas. Complaints are not always obvious. There are masters of disguise who make them sound like a joke, or make them so intellectually complex that they fool almost everyone. Except Hugo. His radar for the subtle energy of complaining has become so refined that it surprises people who truly believe they never complain (when he points it out to them without judgment). He explains that negative emotions create a certain inner turmoil that generates a type of pressure. Complaining is like an exhaust pipe in a car, it lets of the pressure, relieving the complainer in the short term. But this negative energy pollutes your environment and is doubly toxic to the people who are listening. The almost victim-like quality that this energy carries generates a curious phenomenon. Most complainers expect you to join them in their complaint. Even if it is with a nod of your head, or a lowering of your eyelids. Most people are so blind to this toxicity that they are eager to join the complainer  sometimes going as far as to engage in criticism of some they barely know. The apparent camaraderie that is generated by this interaction gives the one who joins the complainer a sense of immediate pleasure as well.

Hugo pointed out, and I confirmed by my own observation, that almost without exception, complainers and those who join them later on, when alone, feel depleted, somewhat depressed. Most never put these two dots together and have no way of ever breaking this cycle of quantum toxicity, both are personal and environmental. Over the years, I have witnessed several people completely transform their lives and end eternal cycles of drama while working with Hugo on this one aim alone, to stop and master all complaints and expression of negative emotions. Along the way, some of them saw the resolution of apparently completely unrelated health issues that were resistant to conventional and alternative treatment approaches. Take this idea and run with it. First observe and see if you notice yourself complaining. Then attempt to stop complaining about anything. Learn about Hugo’s work by visiting his website at www.hugocory.com.”

 

I can speak from experience when I say that trying your hardest not to fall into the habit of complaining will help you leaps and bounds when trying to adjust to life in a foreign country (or life in your own country too for that matter!) Yes, things are different and sometimes quite tough to get used to, but complaining about it really does produce a “pollution” in your personal environment and just as it is with smog… life is just so much better when everything is fresh and clear! You will be able accept a new culture and lifestyle much more readily and instead of focusing on the challenges and differences, you will have a much richer and fulfilling experience! This is one of our expat resolutions this year. What’s yours?