Friday, February 15, 2019

Surviving February and tips from Düsseldorf

It was a very grey and rainy second weekend of February. I know it is not only me feeling February is a little hard work some days when it is grey, cold, muddy or slippery outside and you feel tired, bored of winter, bored of nearly everything actually and it feels like spring will never come. Having said that I should really not complain that much as here in Düsseldorf the Winters are not that bad especially not as dark as up in Sweden and we can already feel spring is coming very soon. It helps thinking that is a little worst somewhere else ;) Doesn't matter where you are. If in Sweden I would say at least we have snow which is prettier then rain. And now living here I think we fortunate having longer days and more green and only snow for three days so far. I am kind of trying not to fall into the hating February trap or maybe I should do as Economy Professor Micael Dahlén embrace the fact that February is the worst month of the year - FY FAN FÖR FEBRUARI ( translated FUCK YOU FEBRUARY) is the name of his podcast. A new pod everyday during February with facts about February and ideas how to survive this dark and miserable month. But February is also a month when we can allow ourselves to calm down in the sofa, catch up on some series, read a book, wear a big woolen jumper and dream about up coming garden projects and beer garden season to open.. The podcast is called: fy fan för februari and is worth listening to if you speak Swedish...

How we are surviving February...
I had a great date with Filip 3,5 down town Düsseldorf on Saturday. We took the car, no traffic really on weekend = it only takes 15 minutes from home and we parked centrally.
We had lunch at What´s Pizza on Immermannstrasse 18. Great stone baked pizza and fresh lemonade in this nice modern restaurant. 

After lunch we had a walk around the city but the weather was pretty miserable, so we cheered ourselves up in Sostrene Grene. I bought some new notebooks as I am starting school this week and Filip found a bag of colorful plastic balls which he insisted on having ( the balls which I would never in a million year buy...)

After that we ha great coffee and a cinnamon bun at Copenhagen Coffee Lab a great cafe I got recommended by a friend here in Düsseldorf. Apart from good coffee and cool Scandinavian touch on the interior they also had tap water and glasses - other places here you always have to buy super expensive bottled water which is hurting me when the tap water is perfectly ok to drink. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Boxes of illustrations

During our Christmas break in Sweden I was going through my studio at Lundsätter.  There I have all my arts and crafts supply, paintings I have made, notebooks with stories and diaries, all my calenders saved, Illustrations I have drawn, photos I have taken and all sorts of stuff I have sewn.
We were sick most of our stay in Sweden so that gave me a chance to go through things ( not that I can trow things even if it might be needed no I like to reorganize my stuff and I am a true hoarder)  Also decide what I should bring to Germany as Loren was driving the car up and down this time.
I have boxes and boxes of illustrations I have made mainly used here in the blog 2012-2014 and I want to go through the pictures and maybe do something more with them.

Can I create a story from the pictures I already have is one thought also maybe make small prints and of course sort them and put them in Mila and Filip albums now when I have time. It so much fun to go through it all and I found the prints I made long time ago as postcards, so cute and and that was so much fun although I still haven't manage to create a little web shop to maybe sell on or two of them instead of collecting.. 

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Where we live

I thought I try explain where in Düsseldorf we live. Düsseldorf is the second largest city in the  federal state North Rhein-Westphalia after Cologne ( Köln) And Sevenths largest city in Germany.  With around 600 000 inhabitants. The city lies mainly on the east side of river Rhine. (Rhine begins in the southeast Swiss Alps and flows through the German Rhineland and ends out in the North sea from Nederlands.) Düsseldorf is close to Duisburg, Dortmund, Essen, Wuppertal, Cologne and also Venlo in Nederlands. 
The city is divided in to 10 districts and we live in district 5 which is up north close to the 8 on the map below. 

We live in Wittlaer a very cute and pretty fancy suburban area which is more like a village that have most things. It has shops, banks, pharmacy, a few restaurants, school, kinder-garten etc but also very much a feeling of that you are in the country-side. I often walk down to the river bank of Rhine and a lot of beautiful walking and biking paths in our area. I use my bike most of the time here, since we moved in August 2018 I have only filled fuel in my car two times.
Wittlaer kind of belongs to Kaiserswerth which is only 10-15 minutes with bike from us ( on the map below = where number 15 is) In Kaiserwerth you found more of a centre with shops and wider selection of wining and dining. It is very pretty with cobblestone streets and baroque houses from 17th and 18th . I will write more about Kaiserswerth another time. 

To go to city center of Düsseldorf from us is easy and only takes 20 min with U-bahn U79 to centre center and the station is only five minute walk from our house. To go with the car depends on the time of the day but in general it is a city which is not hard to drive in I think. Not billion lanes like in Moscow... 

Beautiful bike path along Rhine which goes all the way from Duisburg to Düsseldorf 

Another bike path from our house cutting through the fields to Kaiserswerth 

Rhine walk in Kaiserswerth 

Down by Rhine in Wittlaer a great place to sit and think and hear the water and to see big boats 

Down-town Düsseldorf 

Köningsallee Düsseldorf 

Birthday girl

This is Mila 6 year old illustration I made for her birthday invitations this year or actually last year as she is born in December. We left for Christmas break in Sweden early December and mid November I realized that we should organize a birthday party here with her new friends in Germany. She has managed well in only four month that we have been living in Düsseldorf to find good friends to play with and feel more and more comfortable with. Other half Swedish kids living here that I have found from a Swedes in Düsseldorf page on Facebook and also a friends from Kita. 

Also I have realized with all my movings that pretty soon you belong in the new environment more in away then the place and the environment you just left. Close friends will always or hopefully be there but the everyday social circle is in the new place and no longer in the old place. 

She really wanted her party in one of those big indoor playgrounds. I know they are a lot of fun but no not this time. So I came up or actually no Loren came up with why they don't ride ponies instead as an activity. Great idea and I managed to rent three ponies from down the road and so after waffles, cake and play I loaded kids in the box bike and biked to the stable. It was rainy and muddy and pretty cold. We had Amy, Tessan and Arthur ( which they pronounce very weird here in Germany btw) and we had a great plan to let the kids take turn and ride the ponies home to our house. How cool. Great day and she was very happy and after that day our marathon of cold and flu started. Which made her miss her actual birthday with great plan of seeing Nutcracker in Stockholm as she had very high fever and nasty infection. This is the second birthday she is sick - the down-side of being born in the middle of the winter I guess.

I thought I had more of her earlier birthday invitations but no can't find them in digital form but here is a couple of Happy birthday cards I started years back.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Unwritten posts to be turned into written posts

I always have one or two sketchbooks ongoing that I am drawing and writing in. Sometimes one in one format and one in an other format. But I can't have more then two books as I want to have a chronological order in my sketchbooks. These sketchbooks I am mainly using to draw memories from my life and Team Nikolovski´s adventures like I have always done and what this blog is based on. I also like the process of creating the illustrations and then write a short text here on the blog explaining the picture. Lately (a couple of years maybe more) I have not managed to update here that much. Why? Well that is a good question.
1. First of all I would say Instagram as it is a forum which is quicker to publish - but there I am only writing a shorter text to the pictures as my idea has always been to keep the stories here but then not got around to write more here as it feels like I have already used the picture... 
2. An other thing is that I have been writing more and more in Swedish (out of this blog) and sometimes it feels weird to write in English ( not being my first language I feel I am making mistakes and also somehow and sometimes creating some linguistic limitations) but it also feels strange to all of a sudden move over to Swedish when I have always been writing in English here and the readers I have ( my husband for example) probably don't read Swedish very well. And maybe it is a way to get better to keep doing it, right!?
3. Who am I writing for? I have no idea why I am letting that slow down my writing but thinking to much about that.
4. When I have a back-log of ideas, illustrations and photos it gets messy when I am sitting down to write. Which post do I start with and I don't know where to start and so I don't start. Is it still interesting? My need of doing thing in chronological order making things hard. So much I want to write about for example about our move and our new life and area here in Düsseldorf and how German lifestyle differ from Swedish.

Ok having said that let's now - move on from here and let's just do it and enjoy it
So here comes a few illustrations from my sketchbook from autumn last year

During autumn break here in Düsseldorf in October kids kita (daycare) organized many fun activities. As I was looking through Filip groups activities I nearly had a heart-attack. A day trip to Wild Park in Grafenberg was planned.... Fun but I feel he still is our small baby, or he was just a baby like yesterday. And now he is going with his German kita group with U-bahn through the city, change to another train and then walking pretty far uphill to the Wild Park. Having picnic with his friends and listening to his German teachers. He was so proud doing this trip and so happy and tired when he came back. I was happy but pretty nervous seeing him go and I have to admit I had left a little note in his jacket pocket with my phone number just in case he got lost... But I was also of course very very proud of him and amazed how much he has grown and that he is actually a little boy now and not a baby anymore. 

We managed a real full on Halloween experience here in Düsseldorf.  Mila had a creative idea how her costume would look like and I had another idea and so we fell out in that misunderstanding creativity.. After some screaming and a few tears we came to a peace agreement and managed to create a black dark spirit unicorn. Filip was more chilled and let me create a ghost outfit from a tablecloth and he had created a spooky mask I bought at IKEA. I had booked to met with a girl and her mother from kita in the neighborhood in Kaiserswerth where most American expats lives. Oh my God what a great experience. In this neighborhood the houses where decorated full on and its habitants ready for trick or treat. So many cool monsters, witches, super Mario, headless people and other weird characters. Outside one house they organized a party with drinks and bbq and sweets. I never though anyone related to me would be brave enough to knock any door ( as I would never be brave enough...) But I was wrong Filip love sweets and when he realized that he just had to knock on a door to get plenty he was not shy at all. And soon Mila followed behind her little brother and kindergarten friend.

Talking about halloween we have a very cool farm shop close to where we live and from October their stands were full of bright orange pumpkins in different sizes. Cute little shop selling fruits and vegetables.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Happy new year 2019

Happy new year 2019 !
Always exciting to welcome a new year and look forward to all what the new year has to offer, bring and what to make of the new year. Team Nikolovski are very happy to leave colds and ear-infections behind and to look forward and wish for health and happiness in the new year. We have just got back to Düsseldorf from a long christmas break in Sweden. This illustration is the family portrait I made for our christmas cards which I actually managed to send to some of our friends and family around the globe. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

A room with a view

 My creative room is a room with a view..
At the top floor with a big balcony - three floors up is my room. As my dad told Loren it is so many stairs to walk up that the coffee will be cold by the time you get there... Maybe not really but it is good to remember to bring what you need from first floor not having to run up and down. We had a great creative room in Moscow but I think this one is better - and with a great view over a small park.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

From the parenthood djungle

Debatable success rate in parenthood when your 5 year old daughter is asking whether you are bribing or threatening her to do something.....

I am full of plans

I have many different plans all the time what I want to do now and what to do in the future when it comes to carrier and work life. I have the opportunity while we are here in Düsseldorf to go back to my creative projects and work more in both fields of illustrating and sewing. It is no secret that my dream is to create a children's book of my illustrations.  To reach this dream it does take a lot of hard work and dedication. I have to admit it is much easier to be employed and have someone who puts deadline on your work and where you know what to do and that you have to do it.  Being free working for yourself is great but I can also choose to do other things during the day which is not leading me towards my goal. Also the feeling of being needed is easier to reach if you have a job to go to. It is a mind setting if I see what I am working with at home worth something or not and it is defiantly a privilege to be able to try to make my dream come true.  Still my plan stays that when we are back in Sweden I want to go back to being a high school teacher as I think the work with young people and education is the most fulfilling business in the world together with health care.

Back to that I have many plans. At the same time that I am working on my creative projects and book dream here in Düsseldorf I am also sometimes tempted to go back working with sport horses.

When I was younger, the part of my life I call my horsey life,  I was working with professional show jumping horses. Having grown up in a stable with my own horses that I competed every other weekend I did like many other stable girls, decided to go and work in a stable out of Sweden after graduating high school. Through contacts I got job as a groom in one of Europe's most successful and fancy stables, Stal Tops located in Holland 30 min from Eindhoven. It is big difference taking care, riding, organizing and working in a professional stable from the amateur/hobby/pony club stables where I grew up. At Stal Tops I was part of a team of championship and world cup winning horses and riders and that was a complete different ball game. It is a though world where you have to prove yourself as well as cooping with hierarchies, horses of a different explosive calibers and long hours.

I had the chance to go with Sweden's most successful rider Rolf-Göran Bengtsson to the Sunshine-tour in southern Spain to groom and to ride his 6 horses while he was away competing at the World cup in Paris and Vigo with different horses. I had never experienced how wild horses will be after traveling three days on a truck from Holland to Spain nor did I know before how to travel with six horses in a big horse truck and what you need to bring, organize for such a big competition where we stayed six weeks.Me riding and training in the same arena with my childhood riding idols was so unreal that I had to pinch myself, like when I was cantering in the Spanish nature on the horse which later won the grand prix of the hole tour next to legendary French rider Michael Robert and getting a private training session from the biggest master we have in the equestrian world, Nelson Pessoa. Many experiences in my horsey life from competitions from the best and biggest show in Europe both grooming, riding and sitting on the VIP stand. Many stories, amazing stories and memories from a different life.

I don't want to go back to that life for anything, but the area here in Germany where we live is a metropolis for professional stables as it is well located on the European continent and within reach of many good shows. And so I got an idea that maybe I can go back part-time for fun and with my experience to help out in a professional stable again now when I am here where it is possible and before I get too old for that kind of work. A combination between my creative work and work with horses, would be a dream. I have been to see a very nice yard with a German rider who are competing at high international level, lets see if it will lead to some cooperation in the future.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Literature studies

We moved to Düsseldorf in August. New house, new area, new city and new country. New supermarkets, new flavors, new brand of the raspberry jam, new kindergarten or actually it is called kita here in Germany strange enough I thought kindergarten was a German word that we borrow to the English vocabulary and then it turns out it is not even used here ?! Being new is challenging, but that is not what I am going to write about in this post. No this post is about Macbeth and my English studies.

So in all this new things on top of new things I had the plan to go back to studying at a Swedish University on-line. Actually my plan still is to add to my MBA pedagogic and didactic in order to be certified high school teacher in business and economics but I thought that maybe it would be good to also be English teacher and needed to add a few courses of English. And so I got accepted to study English B - basically continue my literature and sociolinguistic studies of English that I started successfully 11 years ago at MidSwedenUniversity. I thought, how hard can it be.. but also of course I love studying, learning new and it is a lot of interesting plays and novels on the literature list. My first assignment was to read and analyze Shakespeare's play Macbeth. Very interesting but also a pretty hard read.
In short this is what Macbeth is about 

Macbeth a warrior with a high courage who has just got back from the battlefield when he enters the play. He gets presented as a noble man who has fought the Norwegian king with violence and who came out of the fight with victory. He seems loyal to the king and has a good reputation being a violent warrior on the battlefield. Macbeth meets three witches who gives him a prophecy that he will become the next king. Macbeth is not a good man in the beginning of the play but not yet evil. He is tempted by power but trying to resist the temptation. Lady Macbeth is a strong woman and character who wants to gain power and she has the ability to manipulate Macbeth. And she uses her manipulative skills very well in order to make her husband go get the power whatever it takes. 

I did spend some time reading, analyzing and writing my first assignment. Ok kids were getting schooled in at Kita so I only had half days to study so no not 40 hours week to study, but a few hours everyday or every other day at least... When I handed in my assignment I was pretty pleased with it. When I got it back it was pulled to pieces and I can honestly say I have never got such harsh comments of an assignment thorough out all of my University studies. The language was not good enough ( actually not even readable with bad grammar and spelling mistakes) the quotes from the play not presented in the right way and the analyzes was not good enough either. I am not a quitter and if the teacher had given the comments and been a little encouraging I had got back on the horse and worked harder.
But in all the new and with a though tight schedule for the studies I had to do some thinking whether or not this is really what I want to do and can manage right now.. 

I did do some thinking and some more thinking.  I don't want to be a quitter but I had to take the decision that for now I will focus on getting my family and myself settled here in Germany and also with my time focus on my own creative projects now when I have the chance. And I will not feel guilty for this decision.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Schooling in

Schooling in can be a walk in the park
But it can also be a little painful and stressful 
And maybe the mother would doubt if it was a good idea to let kids start in kindergarten where they don't know the language... 

A couple of weeks later and the kids are super happy going to their German kita even though I guess they still don't really understand the lingo but I am sure they soon will.. And surely they are gonna thank us later for the chance of learning a new language (?!) 

Friday, September 14, 2018

Is it a new colorful tradition ?

Me and the kids went with my mother on vacction to Spain end of August. We had a great stay and enjoyed squeezing the last bit out of this long warm summer vacation of 2018. We had a set-up with one activity per day and the rest of the time hanging or floating in the pool home. One great trip was to Bena Havis where you can follow the mountain streams along although we mainly stayed at one place swimming in the cold fresh mountain water. We also had a good day down by the ocean and swimming in the waves, rolling in the sand and after eating seafood on a beach restaurant. I loved all of it apart from the sand going everywhere. 

Another new tradition I have started although a little scared calling it a tradition as it might become pressure, is my colorful portraits in acrylic. Last year I was inspired by my mothers paintings copying Picasso - with a lot of vibrant colors. My style is very much my style. Not perfect or portrait like more kind of comic picture with a lot of patterns and colors. Anyways it was so much fun painting it.

This year I also decided to make a portrait and a lot of colors but it ended up being cold colors and not warm as last year. And I think looking up at the butterflies represented a lot of hope and looking bright at the future. 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Mini-vacation to Leiden

We went on a trip to Leiden in The Netherlands last week. We have friends from Prague who has lived there for a year and so we took the opportunity to meet up with them before they move back to Prague end of this month. Düsseldorf is close to the dutch boarder and to Leiden only 2,5 hours. Of course we stop on the road at a real dutch pancake place, Pannenkoekhuis Den Strooper in Arnhem. And also first day in I think 3 months we needed to put on a hoody and finally a real heavy rain fell.

We had booked a room at the Holiday inn - family friendly it said on the webpage... Ohhh my God, yes family friendly indeed like a charter or Finland boat ( if you have been you know what I mean) Buffet, play-rooms with ball pool, bouncy castle and also swimming pool. Euphoria for kids! And nightmare for me ( I am sure many adults loves this kind of set up also me not included though..)
I made an illustration on the theme...
Clearly different emotions for a ball pool... I can't help myself thinking about all those small dirty hands which has been playing before passing nasty germs on, but at least thank God the kids old enough now not to put things in there mouth (or at least better but still happens they lick something disgusting to try...) I tried to be cool and let the kids play not to panic over all the germs but then that back-fires and the three year old refused to get out. I asked nicely, asked nicely again, tried to bribe him to get him out, told him we will leave without him ( I know not great, but come on all parents do it right?!) then I walked away hoping he would follow, but he didn't.. Then I asked nicely one more time, threatening him with different scenarios that he will never be able to go in a ball pool if he is not listening or will not get the ice-cream I tried to bribe him with.. ( I guess he didn't believe me...) By now I am getting pretty annoyed and also I could see all the other mothers in that play-room finding my attempts pretty entertaining and I guess happy it was somebody else's kid.. I topped the entertainment with jumping in the ball pool trying to catch him!!! The three year old thought it was great - I was nearly falling over and super irritated by now... I got some support by a fellow mum and after spoken to her Filip thought it was boring so he came out and we could go. Get out and enjoy nature and not play-rooms...

And did we enjoy Leiden
I love the Amsterdam style houses,  peeking in to see their bohemian interior style, the canal, cute streets, friendly people, even the wind mills I love. I lived in Holland a couple years when I was younger, first place living away from home, and so this country and the language has a special place in my heart. We went out to the sea at Katwijk and so beautiful and funky bar. And to hang out with friends the icing on the cake, so nice to catch up and hear how life in The Netherlands has been. 

 ( Photo credit to Riina Tiira-Sramko) 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

New Year wishes revision

As I have not been blogging for some time I have not had the chance to go through my humble 2018 New Year wishes in text - so now having already past half of the year let me do a revision of my wishes.

- A constant wish for good health and happiness not only for this year but years to follow...
- Having fun with my team on our new adventure and challenges - when I made this illustration I knew that later this year we would move again and this time to Germany although I hadn't shared it with that many people around me. Of course mixed feeling leaving our newly bought home in Örebro after only a year, but the experience of one more adventure abroad before kids are ready for school and we want to stay longterm in one place weighed up. Today I am sitting in Düsseldorf and it has been little bit more then a week here and from experience it does take some time to adjust. We have a great house, area and plans for our stay here. I know that it will be good and the feeling of belonging takes time to build in the new place, it is hard having this new in a place kind of anxiety which I am facing at the moment of writing. Hard to explain the feeling and I guess the feeling vary from person to person and some maybe don't experience it at all. I am so familiar with this feeling after 6 moves to different countries but also with that experience I know that with structure and time this place will feel like home. I will get back on this topic, moving/staring new anxiety...

- Less time spent on my phone - over all I do think I am not using my phone that much, or well it goes up and down. I have turned off the alert tune for getting new messages and that is great, I don't have the phone in the bedroom to avoid checking one last thing before going to sleep or taking my phone first thing when I wake up. Although being a little lost here I have to admit I use the phone a bit more when I don't know what to do or to get a break from unpacking boxes. Checking super unnecessary things, having contact with friends and family but also great help finding things to do here in Düsseldorf.

- Get back to reading good books... Well yes I have read a few book this year. I was so excited to get the fourth part of a feel-good book serie that came out earlier this year " Hjärtslaget i Rosengädda" nice sweet characters, eating good food and having different issues and I really enjoyed this last part of the serie. At the moment I am reading the latest book of Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The labyrinths of spirits - the fourth book in the serie of The Cemetery of Forgotten Books.Plan better and get up on time etc... totally not had to think of that since beginning of June when I went on summer break and before that my mornings are normally chaos because well mornings are not easy for me I want to do more things in very short time then what is possible and with kids having to ask, beg and in panic get them ready and myself and sent to kindergarten....

Be creative - During this long warm summer break I have managed to be creative in the garden planted some new plants arranged a part of the garden with pebbles and more. I have also used my creativity to rearranged furnitures and pictures at Lundsätter - I have a strong passion for moving furnitures around... Also having more time to start blogging and making illustrations again, lets hope I can manage more of that during rest of this year.

-Believe in myself and not listening to everything... Sometimes I believe very much in myself and are not listening at all to what other people think and say and sometimes I exact opposite.

-Not to get upset about minor things - I think I wrote this when I was having a coworker who was interfering in things and at the moment I don't have issues with that.

- Enjoy stable life... Not at the moment. I sold my SWB horse Qina in April. It was a good decision although hard decision to take. Qina was sold to a great girl which will enjoy her very much and spend all that time I didn't have with her. I am hoping I can find a stable here in Düsseldorf where both me and Mila can ride. Germany and this area of Germany is the metropole of stables for professional riders in Europe.

New dishes to be cooked.. No not really, same thing over and over in order to get the kids to eat.
Laugh more... I don't know probably not more then previous years
Beating Loren in board-games - no not yet but I will