Photo: Gunn Kristin Monsen
Photography by Gunn Kristin Monsen
Words by Lisa Reid Mjaavatten
The cabin is my haven to retreat to, and being safe in your home brings an intense feeling of happiness.
I am at my happiest when I have things with meaning close to me.
The cabin is small with two tiny bedrooms, built in the 70’s with wild strawberries and blueberry bushes on a big property with pine and birch trees. Magnificent views of the surrounding mountains frame the fjords on the west coast of Norway. When we first found this place, the cabin had no electricity, no running water and could only get to by walking a few hundred meters in the woods on a narrow path from the road. It sounds a bit primitive, but I never felt it to be a problem even though we had 3 small kids.
The experience of being out in the countryside amongst the fjords and mountains, so close to nature, is beautifully peaceful and healing. I feel I am a sensitive and lost soul, and this is just the ticket I needed to get close to my own roots and reflect over my own self as a human being. I needed to find a home for my own values and my own truths. However hard that would be…
I needed this place deep in the fjords.
Many people complain about the long winters here in the north, but I love the cold and grey months. Feeling the hard rain bite against your cheeks just gives me a little reminder that we are not in charge here, its mother nature that is in control. We are here to enjoy what she brings to us and not take it for granted. Even though there can be a little bit of complaining, with a giggle or two about going outside to the long drop in minus 15 degrees. Or scraping ice off the inside of the windows in the mornings because we cannot see out. Or cutting through thick ice in the property’s well with an axe to get water to make the morning coffee.
This is adventure and we are making memories.
In recent years, we got electricity installed and there was built a road closer to the cabin so there was both less effort and more comfort staying in the little home. There was a feeling of total luxury to be able to turn a light on. The original pine paneled walls and kitchen are still intact. I work with interior for private residences daily so this to me by not changing the interior was keeping the very spirit and essence alive in the cabin. In many ways for me living a basic life and close to nature, simply brings a sense of well-being. I do not need a lot of material things, not having material ownership is incredibly liberating, but the few things I do own have a special meaning.
I want to keep it simple and uncomplicated.
The old pine and birch woodland around the cabin offer protection from the harsh weather and winds. The swaying of the branches from the hallowing winds up the fjord sing songs when I am alone. Several of the huge mountains peaks that look upon us with their steep sides drop dramatically down into the sea. The sea is as deep and inky blue as the mountains. In between two of the mountains just down the road, is a beautiful waterfall that in summer I love to shower under. There have been findings of caves that date back to the stone age, so the region is extremely old. The sheer dramatic scenery from the mountains give me a sense of comfort and content.
They are like old friends keeping an eye on us.
Christmas is a magical time, but I find it very overwhelming, so I do like to spend a lot of time at the cabin at this time of year. I feel it easier to stay grounded from all the stress. Slow weekend mornings with coffee and walk in the woods sets the mood for a creative afternoon. Making gifts like pine wreaths, homemade jams or making candles from beeswax make for something thoughtful and personal. We do not need much. A little love made by hand for me, is the ultimate gift.
In every little thing given is a meaning of love.
Over the years this place has given me a sense of belonging. After travelling and working for many years round the world and now settling down in Norway has combated my restlessness. I am here now. In my head I may be still feel a little lost, but I have learned and accepted to be kind to myself. You have only you in this world. I have freed from myself from expectations and live true to the fact that I am a self-confessed introvert. I enjoy solitude, and I love and live for the energy that nature has to offer. Nature can be so inspiring that it has given me purpose and direction with the way I work.
Both the cabin and the nature around is my own sanctuary.
Read more in our NL3 magazine, coming soon, February 2021!
Photographer Lina Östling:
Photographer: Gunn Kristin Monsen, Essay:Lisa Reid Mjaavatten:
Photographer: Andre Reuter, Stylist: Miriam Hannemann:
Photographer: Norbert von Niman: Feature about treehotel in Sweden
Photogapher: Kristoffer Vaikla:
Photographer & Essay: Valerie Schöneich
Home of Lea Korzeczek & Matthias Hiller (Studio Oink) for Alva (alvalinen.de)
Photography & Essay: Johanneke Procee & Fanny Olsthoorn, Aore Studios :
Photography Birgitta Wolfgang Bjoernvad & Essay Annie von der Heide:
Our homes, our gardens and our home landscapes can change our habits, minds and feelings. They respond to our emotional needs, they are touching our souls, they communicate with us. Home is the place where we belong. Belonging is a deep reassuring emotion. Our homes, gardens and landscapes are a symbol for the process of growing, of leaving something incomplete, they help us to learn to let go, to rest, to accept, to find some peace finally. And thus growing a garden or a home is an ever evolving process, and at the same time with a grounding and peace bringing effect. We learn to live the process, instead of becoming blind while staring at the result. Understanding and creating a home is a lesson for life, where we can practise to give up perfectionism, to accept setbacks and where we can adapt humility, when things turned out beautifully in a way we haven’t ever expected or planned….
Title Photography: Norbert von Niman
Cover Design & Publication Design: Rowan Collins
Title Feature: Treehotel in Sweden: wwww.treehotel.se
Creative Direction: Melanie Kettner/ Thomas Kettner
Distributor: MMS London
Printing Company: Druckhaus Waiblingen
Excerpt of NL3 magazine: Photography & Words by MirjanRooze
I am a morning person and after checking the weather I would skip breakfast and go outside. Fleur, the Jack Russel, would trot along. There’s always a dog on a farm. Fleur was a special dog, she knew when a cow was in labour, she would wake up our father barking loudly. We also knew when a thunderstorm was approaching because she sensed it, dogs usually look for a safe spot where they’re nice and cosy. After my father was done milking the cows we had breakfast together. We ate bread, milk and drank tea. I loved to make weird combinations such as cheese and ‘hagelslag’, small pieces of chocolate. Or I combined cheese with strawberry jam. I combined everything with cheese, basically. And if we wanted pancakes our father would get some milk from the cows. In the evenings we would gather around the garden table chatting while the sun was setting, it is such a joyful sight to watch cows and horses grazing calmly at their own pace. Sometimes you’d see a deer or a bird of prey observing the landscape.
When you live close to nature you notice that everything is in balance. Farmers knows exactly how to keep that balance, it’s in their nature, their soul, passed on from one generation to another, people tend to disturb the peace by creating rules of what and whatnot. I look back at how my father knew every single cow by name. He farmed with so much love that whenever something was amiss you could sense the worries he and my mother carried on their shoulders. Listening to our farmers is key. Supporting local farmers by buying their local products is key. It is of much importance to educate pupils where and how our food is harvested. When you grow up in nature you are in awe with nature and above all, you respect nature, and thus harmony and balance are restored.
The garden was a magical place. My mother, she knew how to create a beautiful serene space. She knew every single flower and plant by heart and created pathways and a little fishpond. I remember one time that she organized an open garden to anyone who would like to take a stroll. She was proud of her garden and fairly so! Years later my mother became a naturopath. She was well aware that we had to go back to our roots to find and solve our health issues. Over the years I have learned so many things from her and our bond is special. She knew a lot about plants and human nature and spirituality has played an important role in our lives.
The earliness of the day is beyond magic. Everything is so quiet till birds greet you with their morning celebration. The scent of mowed grass, flowers of various kinds sway calmingly, hearing the rustling of the leaves, there you are right in the heart of it. Those precious moments are the ones I call home. Your soul is completely and utterly at peace, full of bliss and kindness. Kindness towards nature but also kindness towards yourself. In 2020 I turned 33 and I decided to focus on creating my own home. I moved to a lovely house that I painted in the typical Swedish red colour. I tend to the flowers in my tiny garden, especially roses and my Dachshund dog Karel is keeping me company. Two days a week I teach at a secondary school and I own a boutique with sustainable clothing & accessories about spirituality and home, displaying my own creative work. I still cycle towards the farm during the early mornings, capturing places that are dear to me.
Our soul recognizes people, places, languages, scents, music, cultures, historical events and so on. I love that. It connects the dots, the missing pieces. Instead of feeling homesickness towards any former property, country or any kind of subject, I think once you’ve connected the missing pieces you can learn a lot about yourself. Creating a home starts with making peace with oneself. Growing up I had difficulties in understanding society. It felt as if I couldn’t find my true self within it. The farm, our home, was the only place to connect all the dots. Because in nature you find answers and it’s true, you learn to be patient. You learn to face difficulties and obstacles in life. We are all connected, when something of an impact happens in a society or family, it might have influence for years, as its painful energy can flow through generations. That is why communication is key. When you are able to learn about the layers that caused any disruption along the way, slowly, you find peace. From that you can create your own home you love, you’ll become kind and gentle towards yourself.
Home is listening to your soul and finding your purpose in what you do. Collect the things that inspire you. We all have our different paths to follow but if there is one thing that connects us all, it is harmony. Create your own little Avalon and before you start to share it with others, take time to enjoy it yourself first, create your own home and path, be present and feel inspired.
In silence magic happens.
Soon more in our print edition!
Words & Photography by Frederique Peckelsen in NL2 magazine
As I have tried to figure out how life works, I noticed that happiness and sadness are not something I can control. They come and go like waves and I need to learn how to keep my peace within those storms. It has been like this all my life. Whereas the women around me always seemed to be calm, I had this intense whirlwind of emotions, feelings and thoughts. The landscape surrounding me whilst growing up was more like the feelings of my kin: stable and predictable. Quiet and easy. Soft and straight. But then there was me. This dark haired and dark eyed girl, with feelings as deep as the black swirling sea. I have tried to control and tame this intensity within me, but it never truly seemed to calm me down. I have always felt like my head and my heart were at war with each other. One day I could feel this intense happiness and love for everything surrounding me, but the other day I could cry because the rain and the dark sky unleashed a deep feeling of sadness and melancholia within me. And as hard as it has always been for me to admit, it is not the happiness I always go back to, but it is that somber state that remains a constant in my life. I have tried to ignore it. For years I hoped it was a passing phase, and that my dark waters would calm down one day and that I would be more like the women and landscapes I grew up with.
For as long as I can remember, I have been looking for places that equal my inside. Intense and high, dark and deep, rugged and harsh. Maybe this is why I always feel drawn to the roughness of mountains. The lands surrounding mountains are the most inspiring places in the world to me. But these are also the loneliest places, as mountains work as natural barriers for all things alive. But this is exactly why I feel drawn to them. Because these are places we can’t easily reach. Places where both nature and the weather are beyond our control and there is no hiding from it, no pausing it or getting away from it. Mountains, rain, fog and snow storms are all soothing to me. These natural phenomena awe me, and silence my inside as they make me stand in awe. They make me feel safe and protected, as they bring me back to myself, my own thoughts and feelings, with no distraction of any sort. The intenser the setting gets, the calmer I start to feel on the inside. I need to be there, just stand there, in the midst of it all, and be part of it. It is when my surroundings match my feelings and my emotions, that I am at my lightest.
In this way, nature has taught me to accept and above all value the dark sea within me. Because, if it is this majestic and dramatic scenery that calms me and leaves me in awe, then why would this intensity within me not be just as valuable? This swirling dark waters of my inner world bring so much inspiration and insights, that I learned to appreciate my emotions and longing for solitude. It taught me that this intensity within me is not just sadness, but it is a way for me to see nature and hear its sounds. It is a way to truly sense and understand it and to connect with it. It shapes the way I see things, it shapes the way I translate thoughts and sights into words and images. These dark moods are also an essential way of withdrawing from the world, and thinking things over. And instead of focussing on happiness and the effort to make all the other go away, I just let it be part of the cycle within me.
In the end, my dark waters have never settled down, but I do know these waters and their depths. And staying afloat in familiar waters is not half as hard as it was when I was fighting against the waves.
Learn more about Frederique: www.frederiquepeckelsen.com
Words & Photography by Gunn Kristin Monsen
Nothing clears my head as simplicity, beautiful flowers and the sound of the lake.
I have always been drawn to the lake. Growing up spending all my summers at my grandparents place where I could run to the lake and have a swim any time, has made it so natural. The feeling of heather scraping up my bare legs as I ran the few meters to our hidden place. The joy of the fresh water as I entered the lake to swim in the tiny bay with my friend and the amazing feeling of just existing in the moment. Luxury given by nature so generously and consumed and enjoyed totally natural as a child.
Living in Norway means for many Norwegians having the nature’s scenery as a backdrop to our daily life. The mountains, fjord woods, lakes and long coastline are our natural elements. We are so used to it and may forget sometimes the impact it has on our way of living and thinking. For me a hectic life with no stopping points to catch my breath and the growing feeling of losing the ability to be in the moment, led me to search for the feeling again of my childhood. The beautiful feeling of time just passing as the mind take a break. My surrounding were the same as in my childhood, after settling with my family in the house where I had my summer paradise. Still the nature had lost its effect on me. Being so consumed in the fast pace of my daily life I had no tools to recognize what was so close. My turning point was my first yoga class and starting to practice simple breathing techniques in my life. I discovered myself lying in bed, breathing and suddenly really hearing the sounds from the nature right outside my open bedroom window. The singing birds, the leaves rustling in the wind and the gentle sound of the lake so close to our house. It brought me back to my first winter in this house. My husband and I had just moved from the city to my childhood paradise after my grandparents. The winter was so cold, but still we kept the window in the bedroom slightly open for fresh air. My baby girl was in our bed getting breastfeed and then I heard it, the sound of the frozen lake, like a humming song. It was the ice moving and swaying and it all made a sound deep and wavy. So calming and relaxing. The most beautiful soundtrack to a precious moment. How could I have I had stopped listening to that?
Now summer is here and we have our windows wide open as often we can. Letting the sound of nature surround us, and be the soundtrack to our life. The water sounds different now with its merry sounds hitting the stones around the lake. We swim and take a trip in our old rowboat hunting for waterlilies, the most beautiful white flowers to be picked at just the right moment before it closes its crowns in the evening.
The stillness on the lake and the feeling of running you’re hand through the water as the boat slowly moves along. The seagulls watching us closely to protect their newly hatched babies. All so peaceful. At the house we move outside to live. We eat in the garden, and forget to check our watches in the light of long summer nights. This summer we have been blessed with endless warm sunny days, we feel these days in our bodies when the days of rain pouring down arrive. We are a strange people here in the north, spending so many days of the year inside waiting for these sometimes few, but precious summer days.
I must admit I still have a long way to go in letting myself really benefit from the amazing tool nature around me is as a calming source. I love my job and could do it all my awakening hours, but to do it well I need time to reflect, getting inspired and letting the stress go. I need time to be creative and to let myself be lost in the process. When the mind is filled with distracting thoughts this is really hard. So I slowly give myself more space and room to breathe, getting closer to nature again and letting the sound of the lake inspire me to a life with more presence in the moment. It’s not easy but I am blessed with the most beautiful surrounding to help me on my way.
My dream now is to build a studio in my garden. I have this image of the beautiful light from the lake streaming trough big windows in my studio, soft with a touch of blue tones from the water. Even closer to nature and its magic clearing my head time and again.
© all pictures Gunn Kristin Monsen
More of this essay in our NL2 magazine.
Images & Words: Sisilia Tiseli-
Before the day begins…
I do love waking up into the comfort of silence, it is an early morning type of silence, that breed of silence where it is just you and all that is beautiful and natural; the kind of silence that is seen with the eyes and felt only by the depth of the heart. It is at a time where the sky is a deep sea kind of blue, the air is crystal crisp, filling up the lungs with deep sighs of gratitude. Inhaling. Exhaling. Slowly. Sigh. Seconds feel like hours has passed by whilst I enjoy this kind of silence, a sense of peace, just before the day begins.
When I was younger, I was always at a pace where it was on mode “go” and sleeping was a pause between days. The alarm would go off at 5 in the morning, and I am up, ready for the first phase of the day; an hour of exercise, make coffee, shower, drink coffee, getting dressed, blending of smoothie while sipping hastily of black coffee number 2, out the door and walk to train station. At the train station, I mentally go over my to-do list for the day. When the train arrives, it signals that the day has begun. All this happened before 7:30am. This seamless and well-oiled process that was my pre-morning went on for the next 14 years. I had no complains since this pace and structure suited me just fine. However, it wasn’t until recently, that my body yelled halt, and so I had to revisit how my day begins.
Three years ago, I realised how important it was to start my morning in a way that was gentle and mindful. Most days are demanding as it already is, so it was important that the beginning of the day should be treated with much care. I came across the notion of wabi- sabi as well as the idea of “slowliving” and it helped during this time of transition. I instantly recognised that there was a sense of disconnect within myself and everything else. Nature, which was something that I never appreciated, became the line connecting me to myself and everything else. It is with nature that taught me how to slow down, to stop, to enjoy, and appreciate the beauty that was silence. I also learnt to pause and listen, within myself and also all around me.
Before the day begins…
My mornings these days are extremely simple, grounded by a large dose of mindfulness; me, myself, coffee in my comfort cup, favourite linen blanket and silence.The first thing that I do to break the state of sleep after the dedicated call from the alarm is making that first pot of coffee. The process is methodical, but I take a little time for this, since this too is also a much loved part of my morning. During the time that I have my water boiled, I walk outside with a cold glass of water to take long large gulps of the luxurious morning crisp air, and, just, wait. I wait until I hear the “snap” from inside, a sign that the water is ready. For my morning coffee, I use what I call the comfort cup. I have specific cups for my coffee, tea and hot lemon water. I don’t know when this peculiarity started, but it has always been there before I fell in love with beautiful hand thrown ceramic vessels. Ordinary vessels when made with love, is priceless. My favourite comfort cups were made by my dear friend and talented ceramist, Annemieke.
My first act in the morning before the day really begins is to be gentle with myself, to enjoy the little things and to still the mind. Life and the day will be demanding, but starting the day simply and gently is a way to reclaiming a sense of control, a pace that is defined by you…before the day begins.
© all pictures Sisilia Tiseli
More in our NL1 magazine! Available at: coffetablemags,
Ceramic pieces by Annemieke Boots Ceramics, Amsterdam.
Linen by Joanna Pietrzyk of Timeless Linen, Den Haag.