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This post contains affiliate links. Happy September! 🍁 Whether you are diving straight into productive work or winding down from summer in preparation for a new school year, take a moment to set some goals for this quarter and be inspired by these poems about purpose. 1. Life Sculpture by George Washington Doane Chisel in hand stood a sculptor boy,With his marble block before him,And his eyes lit up with a smile of joyAs an angel-dream passed o’er him.He carved the dream on that...
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Happy September! Whether you are diving straight into productive work or winding down from summer in preparation for a new school year, take a moment to set some goals for this quarter and be inspired by these poems about purpose.
Chisel in hand stood a sculptor boy,
With his marble block before him,
And his eyes lit up with a smile of joy
As an angel-dream passed o’er him.
He carved the dream on that shapeless stone
With many a sharp incision;
With heaven’s own light that sculpture shone—
He’d caught that angel-vision.
Children of life are we, as we stand
With our lives uncarved before us,
Waiting the hour when, at God’s command,
Our life-dream shall pass o’er us.
If we carve it then on the yielding stone
With many a sharp incision,
Its heavenly beauty shall be our own—
Our lives, that angel-vision.
We have not wings, we cannot soar;
But we have feet to scale and climb
By slow degrees, and more and more,
The cloudy summits of our time.
The mighty pyramids of stone
That wedge-like cleave the desert airs,
When nearer seen, and better known,
Are but gigantic flights of stairs.
The distant mountains, that uprear
Their solid bastions to the skies,
Are crossed by pathways, that appear
As we to higher levels rise.
The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.
One ship drives east, and another west
With the self-same winds that blow;
'Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales
That decides the way to go.
Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate,
As they voyage along through life;
'Tis the will of the soul
That decides its goal,
And not the calm or the strife.
Also known as “The Man Who Thinks He Can” and “It’s All In The State of Mind”
If you think you are beaten, you are,
If you think you dare not, you don’t,
If you like to win, but you think you can't,
It’s almost a “cinch” you won't.
If you think you'll lose, you've lost,
For out in the world you find
Success begins with a fellow's will;
It's all in the state of mind.
Full many a race is lost
Ere ever a step is run;
And many a coward fails
Ere ever his work's begun.
Think big and your deeds will grow,
Think small and you'll fall behind,
Think that you can and you will;
It's all in the state of mind.
If you think you're outclassed, you are,
You've got to think high to rise,
You've got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.
Life's battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man,
But sooner or later, the man who wins,
Is the fellow who thinks he can.
We hear a great commotion
'Bout the ship that comes to grief,
That founders in mid-ocean,
Or is driven on a reef;
Because it's cheap and brittle
A score of sinners drown.
But we hear but mighty little
Of the ships that won’t go down.
Here's honour to the builders—
The builders of the past;
Here's honour to the builders
That builded ships to last;
Here's honour to the captain,
And honour to the crew;
Here's double-column headlines
To the ships that battle through.
They make a great sensation
About famous men that fail,
That sink a world of chances
In the city morgue or gaol,
Who drink, or blow their brains out,
Because of “Fortune's frown”.
But we hear far too little
Of the men who won’t go down.
The world is full of trouble,
And the world is full of wrong,
But the heart of man is noble,
And the heart of man is strong!
They say the sea sings dirges,
But I would say to you
That the wild wave's song's a paean
For the men that battle through.
Back of the beating hammer
By which the steel is wrought,
Back of the workshop’s clamor
The seeker may find the thought,
The thought that is ever master
Of iron and steam and steel,
That rises above disaster
And tramples it under heel!
The drudge may fret and tinker
Or labor with lusty blows,
But back of him stands the Thinker,
The clear-eyed man who knows;
For into each plow or saber,
Each piece and part and whole,
Must go the brains of labor,
Which gives the work a soul!
Back of the motors humming,
Back of the belts that sing,
Back of the hammers drumming,
Back of the cranes that swing,
There is the eye which scans them
Watching through stress and strain,
There is the mind which plans them—
Back of the brawn, the Brain!
Might of the roaring boiler,
Force of the engine’s thrust,
Strength of the sweating toiler—
Greatly in these we trust.
But back of them stands the Schemer,
The Thinker who drives things through;
Back of the job—the Dreamer
Who’s making the dream come true!
Dedicated to François-René de Chateaubriand
Woe unto him! the child of this sad earth,
Who, in a troubled world, unjust and blind,
Bears Genius—treasure of celestial birth,
Within his solitary soul enshrined.
Woe unto him! for Envy's pangs impure,
Like the undying vultures', will be driven
Into his noble heart, that must endure
Pangs for each triumph; and, still unforgiven,
Suffer Prometheus' doom, who ravished fire from Heaven.
Still though his destiny on earth may be
Grief and injustice; who would not endure
With joyful calm, each proffered agony;
Could he the prize of Genius thus ensure?
What mortal feeling kindled in his soul
That clear celestial flame, so pure and high,
O'er which nor time nor death can have control,
Would in inglorious pleasures basely fly
From sufferings whose reward is Immortality?
No! though the clamors of the envious crowd
Pursue the son of Genius, he will rise
From the dull clod, borne by an effort proud
Beyond the reach of vulgar enmities.
'Tis thus the eagle, with his pinions spread,
Reposing o'er the tempest, from that height
Sees the clouds reel and roll above our head,
While he, rejoicing in his tranquil flight,
More upward soars sublime in heaven's eternal light.
And to further help you kickstart your month, get 10% off your order from Book Depository with the discount code NO10! This offer is valid 2-15 September for orders to Norway 😉
What are your goals for the next months? Let me know in the comments below!
In January 1904, a devastating fire raged through the Norwegian seaport of Ålesund. After only 16 hours, it had destroyed 850 wooden houses, leaving more than ten thousand people homeless. Only 230 houses remained in Ålesund’s town centre after the fire was extinguished, and the townspeople set out to rebuild their city with the help of donations, passersby, and construction workers, who were in the middle of an economic depression and flocked to the town for jobs. By 1907, the town had...
In January 1904, a devastating fire raged through the Norwegian seaport of Ålesund. After only 16 hours, it had destroyed 850 wooden houses, leaving more than ten thousand people homeless. Only 230 houses remained in Ålesund’s town centre after the fire was extinguished, and the townspeople set out to rebuild their city with the help of donations, passersby, and construction workers, who were in the middle of an economic depression and flocked to the town for jobs. By 1907, the town had been rebuilt in brick and modelled after a new style its citizens deemed befitting newly sovereign Norway entering the new century: Art Nouveau. Today, it is known internationally among the likes of Barcelona and Vienna as one of the world’s most concentrated Art Nouveau cities.
There are varied expressions of art nouveau throughout the city, from the German Jugendstil to the national romantic Norwegian Dragestil inspired by the stave churches of Norway’s Viking past. When strolling through the streets of Ålesund, one cannot help but be amazed by the myriad of turrets, spires, geometric windows, and intricate ornamentation ranging from animal and human faces to dragons and elaborate flowers.
Jugendstilsenteret is located in the old Swan Pharmacy from 1907 and is both a museum and a national centre of Art Nouveau. The centre offers insight into this style by means of authentic interiors and objects as well as temporary exhibitions.
The notion of Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art) is a core principle of Art Nouveau. Architecture, design, and art are integrated to give an overall impression of harmony. This is especially true of the Pharmacy Building, where every detail was meticulously planned by architect Hagbarth Schytte-Berg. See for yourself…
Hope you enjoyed this post! Stay tuned for more
This post contains affiliate links. Seamen’s Monument Fountain in Bergen city centre In March, Eirik and I spent a weekend in Bergen, the second largest city in Norway. There is no doubt that this small city holds a rich cultural heritage — many internationally acclaimed Norwegians, including composer Edvard Grieg, violinist Ole Bull, painter Johan Christian Dahl, and (more recently) comedic duo Ylvis, all hailed from this “city of the seven mountains”. Statue of Edvard...
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Seamen’s Monument Fountain in Bergen city centre
In March, Eirik and I spent a weekend in Bergen, the second largest city in Norway. There is no doubt that this small city holds a rich cultural heritage — many internationally acclaimed Norwegians, including composer Edvard Grieg, violinist Ole Bull, painter Johan Christian Dahl, and (more recently) comedic duo Ylvis, all hailed from this “city of the seven mountains”.
Statue of Edvard Grieg outside Grieghallen in Bergen
As you can tell by its nickname, Bergen is surrounded by mountains. The most popular vantage point is atop Mount Fløyen, accessible by taking the Fløibanen.
View of Bergen from Mount Fløyen
The colourful city centre is especially great for a leisurely stroll, with its many boutiques, cafés, restaurants, and museums. If you plan your trip in advance, you can definitely see all the highlights in a weekend.
Highlights aside, I would love to visit Bergen again in the future — via train. Stay tuned for a more in-depth travel guide when I get around to it!
Let me know what you think in the comments below!
This post contains affiliate links. Today, I am delighted to present a new series of posts: Art of the City. Each post will showcase one of my favourite cities across the globe and provide you with all you need to know for an indulgent getaway of culture, gastronomy, and sightseeing. Enjoy this first post about New York City (specifically Manhattan). View of Manhattan from Top of the Rock The Art of Living Like any big city, NYC has many great hotel options to suit your needs. I personally...
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Today, I am delighted to present a new series of posts: Art of the City. Each post will showcase one of my favourite cities across the globe and provide you with all you need to know for an indulgent getaway of culture, gastronomy, and sightseeing. Enjoy this first post about New York City (specifically Manhattan).
View of Manhattan from Top of the Rock
Like any big city, NYC has many great hotel options to suit your needs. I personally recommend having a hotel base in Midtown to be within walking distance to everything. Not only does it save you a lot of travel time (that cheap Airbnb in Brooklyn is so not worth it!), but it will also enable you to maximise your cultural experience by being in close proximity with architectural landmarks like the Empire State, Flatiron, and Chrysler buildings.
The Royalton Hotel‘s perfect location in the heart of Midtown makes much of the city accessible by public transportation. It is just a short walk away from Fifth Avenue, the Theatre District, and Times Square.
Macy’s in Midtown Manhatan
If you prefer to reside somewhere away from the bustling streets of Midtown, choose an accommodation in the Financial District. I thoroughly enjoyed staying at the Club Quarters Hotel, World Trade Center – it is not far from the New York Stock Exchange and just a few blocks from Battery Park (where you can take a ferry to see the Statue of Liberty). Additionally, there is an excellent view of the Freedom Tower from the North Terrace.
There are so many restaurants to choose from in NYC, but these are my favourite places for fine dining because they offer rich cultural history in addition to impeccable service:
Nestled between Carnegie Hall and Metropolitan Tower is a whimsical escape from the bustling streets of NYC: the Russian Tea Room. It was a favoured gathering place of those in the entertainment industry (including Ayn Rand) and remains a great spot to have brunch or afternoon tea just before you head out to shop on nearby Fifth Avenue.
With wood-paneled steakhouse vibes and equestrian trimmings, the Polo Bar is a must-visit for all fans of Polo Ralph Lauren.
The original Benihana opened on W 56th Street in 1964 and was the first Japanese teppanyaki restaurant in America. Ever since, their skilled teppanyaki chefs have been delighting customers with their exquisite knife theatrics and intricate food preparation. From sushi to filet mignon, the Benihana culinary experience offers a unique dining atmosphere where you can enjoy delicious food, be entertained, and even make new acquaintances.
With OpenTable (iOS/Android), you can collect Dining Points when you dine at a restaurant you have made a reservation at. These points can be redeemed for Dining Rewards (credit that can be used at many OpenTable restaurants), Amazon Gift Cards, or hotel discount on KAYAK. Even if you do not need a reservation, it can be good to make one for point-accruing purposes
Yelp (iOS/Android) is a handy app to download if you want to read about a restaurant before heading there. In the app, you can take a peek at the menu, see which places are open nearby, read reviews ranging from general summary to in-depth guides, and even order delivery/takeout.
If you want a phenomenal view of the city from above without splurging on a helicopter tour, visit these places:
There are many places to see in New York, so go to the One World Observatory first and pick out your favourites
View of Manhattan from One World Observatory
You may be wondering: Which is more worthwhile to visit, the Empire State Building or Top of the Rock? While each offers a distinct view of NYC, I prefer Top of the Rock for its easy accessibility. Waiting times are often shorter (and easily endured while browsing the assortment of shops at the Rockefeller Center) and the multi-level observation deck allows for spacious and unobstructed photo opportunities.
After the tour, you can additionally take a stroll around the Rockefeller Plaza
The Met Museum is New York’s answer to the British Museum in London, and, like its counterpart, requires at least a day to peruse. From ancient Greek sculptures to American stained glass windows – the Met has art from cultures around the world spanning more than 5000 years and is my absolute favourite destination in Manhattan.
If you need a little fresh air while browsing through the exhibitions, pop up to the Cantor Rooftop Garden Bar for a sandwich/drink and yet another fabulous view of the city
View from the Cantor Rooftop Garden Bar
The Metropolitan Opera was founded in 1883 by a group of wealthy industrialists who wanted their own theatre in retaliation to being excluded from the established Academy of Music opera house by the “old money” New York families. Now, it is one of the largest classical music organisations in the world and produces a large repertoire of operas every year, with a roster of internationally-acclaimed artists. When the opera company is on hiatus, the Opera House is home to the spring season of American Ballet Theatre and also hosts visits from other noted opera and ballet companies.
If you can only afford nosebleed seats but still would like to attend a show (after all, nothing compares to hearing music live!), consider investing in a pair of opera glasses.
A fantastic show can set the stage for your NYC experience, and there is nothing as quintessentially New York as Broadway. Watch your favourite movies come to life in hits like My Fair Lady and Anastasia.
TodayTix (iOS/Android) makes getting theatre tickets a cinch. From last-minute discount Rush tickets to premium orchestra seats up to 30 days in advance, the app lets you skip the line without skipping the show.
Manhattan is not about just skyscrapers and museums! Here are a few of my favourite neighbourhood spots to take a stroll, admire outdoor monuments, and inhale the city atmosphere:
Central Park is the perfect place to relax (or have a picnic) and gaze up at skyscrapers piercing through the clouds.
There is nothing that screams capitalism like the dynamic, ever-changing beat of Times Square. As Michael Scott from The Office said, “This is the heart of civilization, right here.” Sit down for a break at the pedestrian plaza and be entertained by costumed panhandlers, or crash a wedding shoot like me
The Financial District is a nice area to take a stroll because it is generally less crowded than other neighbourhoods in Manhattan. I recommend starting along Wall Street from the subway station past the Trump Building, the New York Stock Exchange, and Federal Hall, then turn on Broadway either toward Charging Bull or New York City Hall.
Statue of George Washington outside Federal Hall
Brooklyn Bridge was the world’s first steel-wire suspension bridge and is the primary connection between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Stroll to the middle of the bridge around sunset for a romantic view of the New York skyline.
Once the point of entry for millions of immigrants, Ellis Island is now home to the National Museum of Immigration. I find that taking the ferry to here is adequate to get a great view of the Statue of Liberty without having to wait in line or make reservations in advance to go to Liberty Island.
So, “What’s New York City like anyway?” Let the cast of Annie tell you:
This post contains affiliate links. In honour of her what would have been her 87th birthday yesterday, let us examine the resplendent life of Elizabeth Taylor — actress, author, and business tycoon. From child star to global icon Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born on February 27, 1932 in London, England to American parents. In 1939, the Taylor family moved to Beverly Hills, California due to fear of impending war in Europe. Taylor drew much attention for her eyes, which were blue to the...
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In honour of her what would have been her 87th birthday yesterday, let us examine the resplendent life of Elizabeth Taylor — actress, author, and business tycoon.
Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born on February 27, 1932 in London, England to American parents. In 1939, the Taylor family moved to Beverly Hills, California due to fear of impending war in Europe. Taylor drew much attention for her eyes, which were blue to the extent of appearing violet, and it was not long before she landed her first Hollywood film at age 9. Her dark hair and strong eyebrows made her stand out, and, in contrast to other child actresses (like Judy Garland and Shirley Temple), she made an easy transition to adult roles.
With striking beauty and undeniable talent, Taylor captivated generations of audiences. Her career, spanning almost seven decades, earned her five Oscar nominations and two Best Actress wins, as well as her name becoming synonymous with Hollywood glamour. Her lack of professional training did not stop her from portraying a wide range female characters — from predatory vixens to wounded victims — who embodied strength, integrity, and unapologetic femininity.
After wrapping up BUtterfield 8 (1960), Taylor left MGM to become a freelance actress. Able to choose her own films and negotiate her own salaries and armed with an instinctive sense of her own worth, Taylor negotiated the first million-dollar contract for an actor for her title role in Cleopatra (1963).
In 1946, Taylor—then fourteen and a major star at MGM — published a children’s book titled Nibbles and Me. Duell, Sloan and Pearce paid her $1,000 for her story of her real life adventures with a chipmunk named Nibbles. According to Taylor, “Nibbles and Me sprang from a school assignment. Each week, we had to do an essay on any subject we chose, and Nibbles was my favorite subject. I kept a diary of our experiences together. I think it was the teacher’s suggestion that I write it with a sense of continuity, as if it were a book.”
Nibbles and Me was reissued by Simon & Schuster in 2002 (and as an eBook in 2011) after it was suggested to Taylor that there was a new generation of children who would appreciate her witty tale. “Over the years, animals have remained my sweetest and most cherished friends,” Taylor wrote introducing the new version, which also included drawings by her at age 13.
Though she did not continue to write children’s books, Taylor extended her authorship with three coffee-table memoirs: Elizabeth Taylor: An Informal Memoir (1964), Elizabeth Takes Off: On Weight Gain, Weight Loss, Self-Image & Self-Esteem (1988), and My Love Affair with Jewelry (2002).
In addition to being an author, Taylor put her flair for business into a career that made her more money than her prolific film career ever did: perfume. While she was not the first celebrity to come out with a scent, she was the first to reach monumental success. In 1987, Taylor shrewdly teamed up with Elizabeth Arden to release the first of her “celebrity fragrance” empire, Passion.
By the time of her last release, Violet Eyes, in 2010, her franchise had grown to 11 perfumes. She personally supervised the creation process for the entire collection, even when her health failed, and, unusually, she also always wore her own creation—the bestselling White Diamonds.
Backed by a $20 million media blitz and a tour of high-end department stores in the United States and Canada, White Diamonds was introduced in 1991. Since then, it has remained on the list of top ten selling perfumes and is still the best-selling celebrity fragrance in the world, bringing in $76.9 million globally in 2010.
“An actor is an actor whether it’s in Hollywood, whether it’s in Africa, whether it’s on stage, television or in film. Acting has to be generated from within.”
“I think [perfume] is more than just an accessory for a woman. It’s part of her aura. I wear it even when I’m alone.”
“I’m not fascinated by things. I dive into them. One is fascinated by fire. But when I was a toddler and crawling, I was so fascinated by it that I reached out and touched it. That’s the difference between fascination and passion for me.”
“If they don’t have passion, it means they are incapable of love.”
Elizabeth Taylor died in 2011 at age 79, survived by four children, 10 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. Today, her perfumes continue to embody a transcendent legacy that will linger long after they fade.
I often get cravings for Vietnamese food and despite having thought about making my favourite dishes at home several times, I must admit defeat – it is a daunting task to cook many of them and the availability of ingredients in Norway is scarce. Thus, on chilly winter days like these, I visit Lille Saigon for a bowl of phở bò (pictured below) to satisfy and warm my belly. The small, bustling restaurant may not seem very spectacular, but it offers authentic Vietnamese food (along with...
I often get cravings for Vietnamese food and despite having thought about making my favourite dishes at home several times, I must admit defeat – it is a daunting task to cook many of them and the availability of ingredients in Norway is scarce. Thus, on chilly winter days like these, I visit Lille Saigon for a bowl of phở bò (pictured below) to satisfy and warm my belly.
The small, bustling restaurant may not seem very spectacular, but it offers authentic Vietnamese food (along with authentic service). I recommend ordering the fresh or crispy spring rolls (numbers 5 and 4, respectively) for appetiser. Both kinds of spring rolls are juicy on the inside and served with complementary sauces.
The main dishes vary from popular Vietnamese dishes (like phở, numbers 8-11) to more obscure ones (like bún bò Huế, number 14), but also include Westerner-friendly options like beef and broccoli (number 34). By Oslo standards, the portions are quite generous and contain a decent amount of meat and vegetables.
If you are looking for a fancy restaurant experience, try elsewhere. But if you are looking for affordable, authentic Vietnamese food in the heart of Oslo, stop by Lille Saigon (the Grünerløkka location is my preference) for a tasty meal
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