Archive | August, 2011

Truly gifted by nature

24 Aug

A Ugandan Mountain Gorilla.

Uganda's national bird, the Crested-Crane

The zebra is one of the animals on the increase in Ugandan national parks

Murchsion falls along Rive Nile

A water fall in Mpanga forest reserve.

Oh how I miss my Uganda! I have seen some of the beauty Norway has to offer in terms of nature, however, on those days when I really miss home, I start comparing and…..east or west home is best…. not my words, true though.  There is a lot in Uganda some of which I am yet to see  for myself. When I see how passionate Norwegians are about their nature, I am given inspired to discover more of my country when the opportunity next presents itself, or I will present myself with the opportunity :). Norwegians have a culture of going to the mountains which I really admire and experienced on a more  extreme than usual level when I went Preikestolen climbing. This culture, I will take back home.

Putting a twist on wall paper

22 Aug

“How do people come up with such ideas!…. using old hard book covers as wall paper?”, I remember wondering to myself. . The idea might not settle too well with many, it is ‘different’ but if you think outside the box, the possibilities are limitless. Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way. (Edward de Bono) .  This idea was developed as a collaboration of the redesign team at Fretex West Norway. Thumbs up! I can imagine using it in many places.  My imagination has been helped by the way the blocks have been used in different places at the Fretex West Norway offices as seen in the pictures below:

The redesign studio lounge.

Gym at the Fetex West Norway Offices

Another way 'hard book cover' blocks have been used

Cool gym 'wall redesign' by redesign team.

Inspiration for a great work-out!

And below, Magny Tjelta put up a display of the redesign wall paper in a furniture shop show room in Stavanger

Wall (behind Orange furniture) Decorated with hard book cover blocks.

I have to admit that  at first, the idea didn’t sit too well with me. Now, I love it. Guess it has grown on me :).

Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun. (Mary Lou Cook)

Plastic Bottles Bring Hope to Katwe Slum’s Needy Residents

19 Aug

Hamdan Wasswa

WHEN residents of Katwe, a Kampala suburb, see Hamdan Wasswa, a waste collector, riding into their crammed settlement, they chant “Owa kasasiro azze” (the buyer of empty plastic bottles has come). This is a way of telling him that they like the handsome gains from the empty plastic bottles scattered all over the slum. Read more

This is a very inspiring article, one of those that can be classified as the silver lining.

Marianne Boye a Norwegian participant  in a Design without Borders project in Uganda has first hand experience with this. Follow her blog  for more from Uganda

Laura’s Cheap Trick #10 (via laurascheaptricks)

17 Aug

Laura's Cheap Trick #10 Reuse those sandwich bags! Sounds logical and easy enough…but we don’t do it.  It’s not in our nature..we have to be cool, casual and nonchalant and toss out the baggies.  Shame on you.  Unless that baggie was good and soiled, bring them home, rinse them out and reuse them.  Chop sticks make great baggie holders to help dry them faster.     Don’t stop there.  Save your old bread bag cut it in half and knot the bottom of the second hal … Read More

via laurascheaptricks

I must admit I am one of the culprits who sometimes throws away usable sandwich bags. Shame on me indeed. I feel really guilty after reading this. lesson learnt!

Hands off my scrap.

15 Aug


Metal Scrap business has become a resort to some parents and even children since it’s a kind of business that doesn’t require any kind of capital or exclusive skills to start. 
Abdullah Sendagire who pays his school dues plus his other three siblings’ out of the business says this is the best business for starters.
 He says, “With scrap business, all you need is a sack and the energy to carry the load. No government official will come to you asking for license or rent,”
Though the business is associated with many evils such as households theft where saucepans, charcoal stoves and other home used equipments are stolen, those who have done it the right way have experienced good returns.
“With increased reports of theft, stringent measures have been put upon the scrap collectors. 
Scrap from electronic poles, piped water materials manhole covers and rails are not authorized to be bought by anybody at either the collection centers or the companies themselves,” said James Ndhote of Recycle of Uganda a scrap recycling company in Kampala. MONDAY, 08 AUGUST 2011 07:19 FLAVIA NASAKA.  Read more here

 Today I was reading an article in The East African Business Week and it brought back fond memories of home(Uganda).

One very hot day I was sited in a parked car waiting for someone, the details of who I was waiting for and when are hazy but I can not forget what I witnessed that day.

Two Teens, a boy and a girl happened to walk by carrying very bulky and dirty looking sacks.  The girl who walked ahead looked older and was much taller than the boy. As they went by, I noticed that they seemed to be searching for something and it did not take me long to realise that they were looking for scraps of metal. Many children from poor homes do this for pocket-money or to contribute to their school fees.

So any way,they both  lingered around the area where I sat in the car waiting because (I think) they were finding very many bits and pieces of metal, mostly tin, old pipe pieces and stuff like that. The girl found a huge piece of metal (I think it was some sort of car engine part, cant be sure..,) and looked very happy with herself. She tried it for weight and by the look she had, I think she figured she had her work, carrying this good find, cut out for her. As she stood over the metal scrap  trying to figure out how she would carry it, I noticed her companion(the younger and much shorter boy) inching closer and closer with a mischievous look on his face.

What happened next is like a scene from a comedy and is permanently etched onto my brain (still laugh a lot when I remember). I felt sorry for the girl but I could not help but laugh when the boy suddenly snatched or tried to snatch the metal scrap from the ground and the unsuspecting girl realised to her dismay that she had been robbed of her little gold mine. Luck was on her side however because unlike her, the  boy had no idea that what he was trying to steal was very heavy. If you have ever suddenly picked up something that you didn’t know was heavier than it looked, you know what the boy felt.


You should have seen  him trying to make a run for it with a load that was obviously too heavy for him to carry let alone run off with, hilarious!! When the shock finally wore off, the girl bolted into action and it didn’t take her long to catch up with him. The boy threw the stolen goods clearly knowing what was best for him and made a run for it bulky sack in hand. I can’t blame him because the look the girl had……. hell has no furry like a woman scorned.  The girl then shouted warnings at the boy and threw in some insults to drive her point home. She proceeded to retrieve her metal scrap which she put in her already full sack. She tried and failed to carry  the not only bulky but now heavy sack in all ways possible so she decided to drag it on the road be-hide her.  The sound ‘that’ sack full of metal scrap made was  obviously disturbing but no one who had witnessed  what had happened could scold her. I would have pitied any one who tried, she was a girl on a mission to protect her property and deal, not too kindly, with any one who got in her way. Reminds me of the movie Diary of a mad black woman or in this case … of a metal scrap collector.

This memory for me is bitter-sweet.

I look back and laugh at the funny situation and then feel guilty because it is not so funny after all.

I look back and  think how justice was served but I am saddened to depths I do not want to even go into now by the fact that a young girl had to fight for rubbish because to her, it is valuable. Was there any justice in this?

I am proud that recycling is going on but my conscience is rattled by the fact that some poor children use their free time sorting through rubbish for a chance at education or for a little pocket change. They could be playing or doing what kids do ( enjoy life and have lots and lots of fun).

Some problems are big and take a longer time to be turned into good. A lot is being done in Uganda by people to earn a living and it is truly survival for the fittest. As far as recycling goes as seen in the article  above, baby steps are being taken, but they are still steps and that counts.

It is said that “You do not know what you have until you have lost it.”.  It is now clear to me that, you also don’t know what you don’t have if you don’t have it or know it. Confusing, right?  This is what I mean:  Now that I have been in Norway for six months and see how a good system works, I have clarity about what is wrong with the picture I just painted( the story of the teenage scrap collectors) while the girl and boy have not experienced any better, to them life is normal . They do not know what they don’t have and if they know, it is an untouchable dream/ fantasy. Like if you have never eaten chocolate you will not know what you are missing. It is like that with life’s pleasures. I have tasted what a high standard of living feels like in Norway so I know what could be in Uganda but is not.

Well, its things like this that puzzle me and sometimes give me sleepless nights.  It helps to have a laugh some times, looking for the humor in the midst of problems sometimes gives the lift that is needed to face a problem head on. Every cloud has a silver lining. Knowing that you can not solve all of life’s problems also helps. You can only do what you can handle. And you can start by doing your part to recycle. Remember…


Show You Care, Do Your Share

13 Aug

“We all moan and groan about the loss of the quality of life through the destruction of our ecology, and yet every one of us, in our own little comfortable ways, contributes daily to that destruction. It’s time now to awaken in each one of us the respect and attention our beloved Mother deserves.” – Ed Asner, Actor

I must admit that when I read this quot, a pang of guilt hit me. So, I started looking out for simple things that I do on a daily that hurt the environment. I came across this in my quest and thought it mandatory to share. Here are some very simple things  I learnt that we can do in respect for our beloved Earth:

  • Don’t use non-stick pans; use cast iron or stainless steel ones instead.
  • To avoid chemicals in food, lessen the amount of processed, canned, or fast food you consume, and never microwave plastic.
  • Buy organic, eat low-mercury fish, and never use iodized salt (interferes with the thyroid).
  • Leave your shoes at the door to reduce pollutants in your home.
  • Buy natural fibers.
  • Use reusable water bottles instead of buying plastic ones and never freeze water in plastic bottles.
  • Seal outdoor wooden structures as they may contain arsenic.
  • Filter your water for drinking, cooking, and bathing. 
  • Avoid products with added fragrance.
  • Save energy by adjusting the thermostat just a few degrees, buying compact fluorescent light bulbs, opening the drapes for more light, and washing clothes in cold water when possible.
I am still learning more because I admit that I don’t know the dangers of  things like freezing water in plastic container but, thank God for Google.
Get with the green program people…..

Don’t throw that book, Play with it!

11 Aug

Artist Yvette Hawkins folds a book

There are very many ways to reuse old books and seeing as we are in the .com era, paper book reading is dieing out slowly but surely and is being replaced by computers and things like the Amazon kindle . This is a good thing since reduction in new paper production means less trees cut down. However, something needs to be done with old books that sadly no one is interested in any more. Burning is a no-no by the way!

Well, thanks to creative minds, there are numerous ways to recycle old books.  I discovered this cool blog by Jason Thompson the author of a really interesting book  titled “Playing withe books” that reveals numerous ideas on how to recycle old books. Some ideas are mind-boggling and I can’t start to imagine how they were thought up (the don’t do this at home type 😉 ) but some are really easy and leave you wondering why you didn’t think of them yourself.  An example is this wonderful work of art(below) done by the Prague Anagram Bookshop. The Prague Anagram Bookshop uses amazing book art pieces for their advertising.

Cop and Robber

Any way, don’t want to be a spoiler so …. Read more here 

Amazing book redesign 


I am not sure who did the work above but it caught my attention.

F.Y.I.  Fretex does A LOT were paper recycle is concerned, Keep reading to learn more…



10 Aug

I found myself getting really distracted from the task I had set myself to do at work today, the reason…… BUTTONS!!!

The culprits that destructed me from work

Hard to belive that  small things like buttons can take total control of my concentration but, it happened. It was for a good cause though(this is me trying to justify time spent on buttons at work ;)).

You are probably wondering how buttons could possibly destruct any one in their right mind from work, but I have a good explanation.

This craze for buttons started…. don’t remember exactly when, possibly a few years back. I remember getting into this fabric shop in Kampala called Uganda trimmings to buy fabric and immediately being drawn to this beautiful display of buttons. No ordinary buttons these were. They had been arranged according to color and size, it looked like a rainbow of buttons and I felt like a kid in a candy store. Like all kids in a candy store, I wished I could have all of them but settled for what I could afford. I remember using them on one of my fashion school projects. From then on the fascination started.

And now, It’s a joy to be working in Fretex because I can indulge my fascination.  Earlier on as I learnt more about Fretex Redesign, I found out that they remove buttons from garments that are collected but are too old to be given to charity or to be sold in the Fretex shops. Some of the garments the buttons are got from may just have a damage and can’t possibly be reused. Thankfully buttons do not age as fast or get damaged as easily as fabrics so, very many buttons end up being collected.

This brings me back to today. The original plan for me today was; 1.Clear my work space of all rubbish and fabric scraps I  don’t need and 2.Make some adjustments to a dress I am constructing. As I was carrying out task one, I realised that the unusable fabrics I was getting rid of had buttons. I am not one to stand by and see beautiful buttons go to waste so the button rescue started. A task I tought would take a few minutes ended up taking 2 whole hours! It was a box full of fabric scraps and, I will not feel bad about this, I did something good for the environment and however small the action was, it still passes for recycle. Quit frankly, I don’t remember the details of the rest of the day as clearly as this “Event” 🙂

I also happened too stumble upon this really cool do it your self video that has some ideas for what seemingly useless buttons can be made into. (Not during working hours! that would be taking button fascination toooo far) .

This video was like Pandora’s box for me ,once I saw it, I could not stop browsing for more and more and……. needless to say, my button fascination is growing.

Red button bag by Edson Raup


Button hair pins by Kelly Anderson

Blue button bracelet by Penelope Designs

Button Cuff (Black & Blue) by Pinching Pelargoniums

There goes my plan for an evening curled up in a sofa with a hot coco and a “KyiNayigeria”(Ugandan slung for Nigerian movies). I am now glued to my laptop screen and yes, you guessed right, it’s the buttons again. I can’t stop myself but if you think am kidding, follow these links. These are really cool finds

Better yet, just type the word ‘Button crafts’ into Google (hugs to whoever created Google)



9 Aug

Flower girl by Linda Filley made from recycled paper

Walk by the shop window of Paper Trail in Rhinebeck, NY, and you might be tempted to stop, stare, and linger, especially if one of Linda Filley’s delightful three-dimensional paper frocks is in residence. Read more

A stroll through time.

1 Aug
The old town in Stavanger

It is certainly very refreshing to walk through the old town in Stavanger.

Untarnished by modern structures it takes you back in time.

Like a clip from an old movie

You become one with Norwegian culture and can almost imagine what it must have been like to live all those years back.

Can’t wait to see the winter wonderland I am sure it will be.

A visit to the old canning museum(above) was very educative.

The sculptures were interesting to look at too, They reminded me of childhood fairy tales. this part was really fun!

"You are too kind Sir" Vale said as the old man helped her onto the pony

This was a Kodak moment in my opinion (lol) You can almost make up a whole conversation for the picture. Mine goes like this:

“No. no no… No Pictures allowed here lady!” the man sternly warned.

“But why?” Puli asked with that irresistible puppy look ” I want a memory with the beautiful pony, I have always wanted to ride a pony, why can’t you just let me….”

“….all right, all right, but just one and then you should move along young lady, Many tourists to be seen by.” the old man interrupted.

“Thanks kind sir!” Puli said with glee.

Sure was a fun day in Stavanger!