And just like that another December has nearly passed. It is time for Christmas vacation and soon a new year will be upon us. Time really flies these days since I've started working, despite me having every evening to myself since Carina is studying in Brussels. Of course I'm usually having lots of stuff on my evening schedule, and when I don't there is always more than enough interesting things on the Internet to keep me busy and keep that time flying. Not to mention that the time before Christmas as always have been filled with Christmas-parties, gingerbread cookies and lots and lots of work of course. The best part of this December however has been not having to study for any exams, something that I had hoped would free up a great deal of time, but business projects apparently keep their deadlines close to major holidays too, so there has been plenty of work available to fill all my hours.
However despite this heavy workload I have been doing quite a bit of fun stuff throughout the month as well. Early in the month I went to several occupational courses, amongst other things the DnD New Monday IT-pub in self-management, and I've attended a course in interaction design. However from the 6th on outwards I have only participated in social activities, beginning with the "CX Gettogether", which is a informal quarterly gathering open to all current and former employees of Computas (CX). Most of us went there straight after work, so to avoid drinking on an empty stomach I went with half-a-dozen others to have a very good dinner at Kjøkken&Bar before meeting up with the rest of the crowd at Justisen, one of Oslos oldest pubs, where we all had a beer-inspired evening with old and new co-workers.
The very next day it was time to gather the company floorball-group for its annual Christmas party. This year it was hosted by the team-organizer, who is also project manager for the project were most of the players are currently working, so all twelve of the regulars met up at his house where we cooked up a great traditional Norwegian Christmas dinner together.
For starters we made "Rakfisk", which is half-fermented trout served with rye-bread, sour cream and wasabi. It is an old Norwegian dish, and its taste has a dubious reputation, but it was surprisingly good. For the main course we went with a traditional Christmas dish from the west-coast of Norway, namely "Pinnekjøtt", consisting of salted, smoked and dried racks of lamb-ribs which is steamed and served with potatoes, sauerkraut, mashed rutabaga, gravy and lingonberry-jam. A treat by anyones taste, and one of my personal favorites that we usually have for Christmas at our home as well. This was accompanied with plenty of beer as well as with shots of aquavit, a Norwegian spiced potato-liquor mainly used for Christmas, which perfectly accompanies such foods. To finish up the meal we enjoyed a Norwegian classic dessert called "Tilslørte bondepiker", a sweet cobbler-like apple-and-crumb cream. After stuffing ourselves with all of this we continued the evening by relaxing out with Christmas cheer, chocolates, music, good company and more beer until the wee hours of the morning...
The morning after it was back to work again, but naturally starting a little later than usual... Since it was Friday it was time for CX-Pilen again, the weekly company dart-competition, and I actually won a bottle of wine this time! Lucky me :-D Still beeing hung-over however, I spent the Friday night coding on the web-based personal inventory manager that I've worked on for a while now, but that Saturday I was up for some company and went out to meet Eirik at the Sportsbar downtown. A couple of beers there led us to head over to Alex's place at Frogner to chill out and play on his PS3, but just after we got there we were invited to join a party at Torshov. I rushed home to freshen up, before picking up Eirik and Alex with the taxi on our way to what turned out to be a housewarming-party with a bunch of cool people. When the party started breaking up we headed downtown to meet up with Monica and a few from the Bergen-crowd in Brisbane. As it turned out we found them in line to enter the Sportsbar, thus making this day of Aussie-reunions go full circle! Amazing coincidences making a great day :-)
Then on the 11th it was my birthday, but having had a great weekend, Carina being in Brussels and everyone else working I decided to just spend it home alone, having a take-out burger for dinner while watching a movie, and making waffles to celebrate myself with the few gifts got in the mail afterwards. Not exactly the most amazing birthday ever, but at least now I really want to make it a great one next year!
Following my birthday came another busy week at work, topped with more coding on my own in the evenings. However the monotony was broken on Thursday the 14th as it was time for the Norwegian Food Safety Authority-project Christmas-party! The event was held at Sem Gjestegård, a grand farm used as a school of agriculture for more than a hundred years before being turned into its current state as a historically inspired conference center. Upon arriving we were treated to a intimate concert by Hilde Marie Kjersem and Jon Ebersson, a mood-setting experience before a modern-style Christmas dinner and cocktails evening. A beautiful place and a nice evening, but maybe not the best combination of styles by our party planners...
And finally last Saturday, Carina has returned home from Brussels for Christmas! So with the two of us preparing for the holidays during this last week, the Christmas-spirit has really settled in me. The Sunday after her arrival we had dinner with her family in Lier, and on Monday we entertained her sister at our place. Also I have been busy with this final week at work, and today we had the annual company Christmas Lunch, a three hour event complete with all the traditional Christmas foods and desserts, beer, aquavit and gifts for all employees.
And now, it's Christmas!