Friday, November 30, 2012

Sju skrivkort

Another week of linking up!

- 1 -

I don't know if a "quick take" is actually a skrivkort, but that is the best I'll be able to come up with.

- 2 -

On Monday I got to ride my bike home with my new friend! I don't even know her name! But we live in the same neighborhood, so we rode bikes home together after dance class! This is the highlight of any six-year-old's day!

- 3 -

I really like my co-workers. I realized I don't write much about work on this here blog, but I am okay with that. Or at least I'm okay with not writing my about the details of my work. Especially since I have to keep it on the DL since I just found out that someone at another university may or may not be doing a very similar project. Anyhow. I do appreciate that the majority of people here do not take themselves too seriously and can joke around a bit. I feel that with scientists, that is not an easy trait.

- 4 -

It started snowing Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, and has been snowing since (ish). I need to get my bike into winter-mode. My plan is to get studded snow tires and then lower my seat so that my feet can touch the ground while I'm sitting on the seat. So many others do not seem phased by the snow on the ground; they just merrily ride their bikes along. (Although I did see at least one blotchy spot in the snow with sliding tire marks leading up to it.) Here is a gratuitous animated gif.

- 5 -

The snow also means that things look much less depressing around here. Everyone had said that November is the worst month because the days are getting shorter and there is no snow yet, so everything is really dark. But with snow on the ground the small amount of sunlight has a lot of good reflecting surface, which really makes a nice difference.

This photo was taken well after sunset, but it was the first night of snow, and I thought it was quite beautiful.

- 6 -

We have an advent wreath* in the office kitchen. Like I said last week, really good at celebrating religious holidays, this secular country is.

- 7 -

In other religious news. Maybe you know (or maybe you don't) that the English translation of the Catholic Mass was revised in order to be a more accurate translation of the Latin Mass. The new translation was implemented last year at the beginning of advent. When we got to Sweden, we were happy to see that they had a Mass in English every Sunday. The first time we went, it was a surprise to find the old translation. Well it turns out that there is no requirement for countries that do not have English as the primary language to use the new translation (or something like that, trust me, I asked a priest). So, it wasn't wrong to be using the old translation, just kind of unfortunate (in my opinion). So, luckily (!), the church here is going to start using the new translation. And now that I have un-learned the new translation just after I was feeling comfortable with it, I get to re-learn what I un-learned.

- -

*It is really just a candle holder with four candles in a straight line. But just the first candle was lit today for advent (or at least the anticipation of it).

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

limit to introversion

One of my most favorite ted talks is the power of introverts. I am super impressed by that woman, because she precisely and concisely describes introversion so well.

And while it is true that introverts get energy when they are alone and often are drained of energy when they are with others, this doesn't mean an introvert could happily live without seeing any people ever. Or at least it doesn't mean that for me. Being with others, and connecting with others is important for introverts too. I think I've reached that life stage (even though I'm not quite over 30 yet) where making friends isn't automatically easy. Or maybe it is just a language barrier.

Either way, I've been feeling a bit stir-crazy lately, feeling the need to get out and be among people. Except that I don't really have "people" here yet. There are a few people who I'll take the liberty to call friends, but they are certainly not numerous.  I'm going to try harder to be more friendly and more outgoing though. Play the role of the extrovert. This is what it feels like to be at the limit of introversion, I suppose. Wish me luck. And happy Tuesday.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Meet our pies!

It was a bit hard to celebrate Thanksgiving in a country that doesn't celebrate that holiday. Greg and I made sure to stay up late making pies though. Here is the photographic evidence.

In order: the first pumpkin pie, the second pumpkin pie, the first pecan pie, and the second pecan pie. All homemade crusts (only option), all using a small oven and two pie pans. All referred to as "cake" by most of our co-workers.

Friday, November 23, 2012

se se se seven

Joining the others for 7 quick takes.

- 1 -

Monday. In the office. Freezing. Suspect that someone messed with the thermostat (that I messed with about a month ago to make my office a liveable temperature). Wish I had thought of this earlier so I could have checked it during my two seconds of alone-time in the office. I suppose not all of us plan extra bathroom breaks for the sole purpose of running warm water over their hands to return them to a functioning temperature. (In all fairness, I am extremely sensitive to temperatures. Usually I am freezing, but I can get equally unhappy if I overheat.)

- 2 -

Tuesday. I made it to the afternoon, but I have realized that my feet are now freezing. Not sure how long this has been going on. With foreknowledge of the office temperature, I thought I had prepared properly. wool socks, corduroy pants, wool shirt, sweater, second sweater. No such luck. I do have my scarf along today. And I can always put my hat on like I did yesterday. I guess I can try zipping my sweater up a bit more.

- 3 -

Wednesday. Getting better. The key is to wear four shirts.

- 4 -

These pictures were taken Ansel Adams style, as in, you get one shot and one shot only per day. So you better make it a good one. Or not.

The misery of being cold, as seen by my computer camera.

I am second-guessing whether it was Ansel Adams who took one photo per day or if that was another photographer, which led me to this article. I think it is a fascinating idea, but normally I am the type of person who either feels like taking pictures or doesn't. So some days get a lot of photos and some get none. However, the article is a nice reminder for me to take more care with composing photos.

- 5 -

Pie happened! I know I've kept you on your toes for a whole week plus four 'takes' wondering.. Will Meg & Greg make pie for Thanksgiving?! And oh yes they will. And they did! And the pies were deemed tasty! I had this great idea to set my camera in a corner of the kitchen and program it to take one photo every few minutes all night long. (I don't know if my camera can do this.) Then I would compile them into a little video clip. But I managed to not do this.

- 6 -

Oh and there will be fireworks on the first Sunday of Advent. This really secular country is really good at celebrating religious holidays.

- 7 -

A co-worker who had a baby about a month ago was visiting yesterday morning. She brought cake and pastries, so we really did have a bit of a feast (Swedish-style) in the morning. Another co-worker asked why we had so much food and someone told him she brought cake to celebrate her baby (even though the baby had not come to the office too). He had absolutely no idea that she had been pregnant or had a baby. Not sure how that goes unnoticed but leave it to a physicist to be capable of that.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

lights in Uppsala

It isn't part of the Lights of Uppsala, but some really cool lights in Uppsala can be found in the cemetery. There are many candles burning at various graves, which makes the cemetery look really.. welcoming? .. at night. Here is a photo I took of a grave with two lanterns with candles burning.

Here is a fun fact. Greg and I had a few of our engagement photos taken in a cemetery and a few of our wedding photos too.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Lights of Uppsala

Throughout the month of November, there is a thing called The Lights of Uppsala going on throughout town. It basically consists of brightly colored lights in different places. I guess it has been going on for a few years now. I think the idea is that November is the darkest and dreariest month, because the days are getting longer and there is no snow yet. So the lights make things nicer and keep people from getting (too) depressed.

Here are some photos I took (with my small camera (meaning I have little to no control over how they turn out)) one evening.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

New Bridge!

There is a new bridge in town, which is the talk of the town! We like the bridge because it makes our trip from work to Swedish class much nicer/shorter.

In true Swedish fashion, it is high-tech and awesome. We first heard that the bridge had opened at the physics and astronomy pub night. A group of astronomers arrived a bit later because they had to go out of their way so they could check out the bridge and do some "experiments". The bridge has a counter, which keeps track of the number of people who cross it. They ended up spending far too much time trying to figure out how it worked, because they wanted to know how accurate the counts were. And no matter how hard they tried, they couldn't get the bridge to count them more than once.

Here is the total count for the day and the week.

And also for the year (which basically means since it opened a few weeks ago). I also might have noticed that it keeps different tallies for each direction. I am not positive, because I was on my bicycle, and I didn't stop to verify my suspicions. But I am almost nearly positive that it keeps track of the two directions separately.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The castle at sunset

The other afternoon this sight caught my eye out the living room window. The castle is located in the highest part of the city, so as the sun sets, it is the last thing left in direct sunlight. Maybe the photo doesn't do it justice, but it is certainly something to see. With everything in darkness and the castle in all its glowy pink greatness.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


This year we have had a major lack in hockey compared to last year, when Greg was playing 2 or 3 nights a week (or 4 sometimes?) and also running goalie clinics for the mini goalies. Add in some Bruins games (watched on tv only, too bad we never got down to a game) and we were pretty much maxed out with hockey.

In Sweden, there is hockey all around, but we hadn't made it to a game yet. There is a team in Uppsala which plays in the second highest level league, so it should be easy enough to make it to games. Plus the tickets are quite cheap for what you get. But so far it just hasn't happened.

What has happened though, is Elitserien hockey! This is the Swedish Elite League, and let me tell you, elite it is! I don't think it is quite NHL level, but maybe more like AHL? Except that it is a totally different game, because the only thing I remember about the AHL is that it was more fightey than the NHL, which I found surprising.

We went down to Stockholm to see AIK play against Skellefteå AIK. There were a few similarities between the teams. Like having the same name (AIK), the same colors (yellow and black), fans wearing the same scarves, and calling the same chants. The fan sections were actually quite incredible. They were like fans at a college game, standing for the entire game, and yelling organized songs/chants/jeers/what have you. And they have names! The fans of AIK are the Black Army, and the fans of Skellefteå AIK are North Power. I took pictures.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The week in review in 7 quick takes.

I am a person who likes reading blogs and writing blogs. I have been a fan of the Conversion Diary blog for some time, and recently I've been thinking that I should play along with the 7 Quick Takes on Friday. I have been so close. Twice! Somehow six takes come easily, but not so much with the seventh (apologies in advance).

- 1 -

My new favorite Swedish word is 'tjabba'! Our svensklärare (Swedish teacher) told us it is his personal favorite, as far as greetings go. He said it is a somewhat dorky hello. (Update: In the following class he told us it was a "cool" way to say hello.) Also, it sounds like 'shabba'.

- 2 -

Greg and I are considering making some pies to bring to the office next Thursday. The only problem is that we would need a lot of pies. But can we really let Thanksgiving go unacknowledged?

- 3 -

Swedes are really into saffron during the Christmas season. I don't think I dislike saffron, but I'm not sure it is worth the excitement.

- 4 -

The foods that I miss the most from the US that I can't get here are those super soft delicious sugar cookies with frosting that I learned to lovingly refer to as "crack cookies" because they are entirely addicting.

I might have to try my hand at this recipe, which was the first link when I started to google "how do you make those su" and google suggested "how do you make those soft sugar cookies". Exactly, google. That was just what I wanted to search. You know me so well.

The other is the buffalo chicken wrap from Boloco (with dark meat chicken and extra buffalo sauce, of course). That thing is also addictingly good, and for some reason Boloco keeps sending emails about it. Probably just to remind me what I am missing.

- 5 -

Last Saturday there was a folk concert/dance at the cabin owned by the folk group here. I definitely signed up to go to that one. I actually wasn't entirely sure what I was signing up for, since the info was in Swedish, and sometimes google translates things in a bit of an odd way. The three musicians were awesome! They were a mother and her two daughters. I think they mainly played Bodapolskas, which is a specific type of polska that (I think) is named after a specific region in Sweden (the Boda region, of course (sounds like buddha). For dancing, there is also a specific Bodapolska dance, which is different from the regular original polska. Luckily the follow role is not unlike another dance I know, so I was able to join in without too much difficulty. Afterwards I watched some youtube videos and it turns out that the lead role is quite challenging, so it is a good thing I normally dance the follow role.

- 6 -

Although, at dance class on Monday, I decided I would try to hambo like a man. I had done the hambo enough times to feel somewhat comfortable with the woman's role. Plus there are extra women in the class. So I figured it would be a good chance to learn the lead role, especially since it is a beginner's course, so no one expects you to actually know what you are doing. Overall I'd call it a successful endeavor.

- 7 -

Now I'll talk about the weather. It is starting to get colder and darker. The cold I am fine with; it won't be any worse here than it was in NH or WI. The dark is pretty dark. Like right now it is 14:30 (that means 2:30) and it is just about dusk. There are good aspects though, like many candles in the windows of houses which feels quite cozy. And my morning commute is shortly after sunrise, so riding my bicycle with the sun in my eyes makes me feel like I get up so early. Luckily my helmet has a visor, so if I ride with my head down I don't get blinded! And lastly, every hour is a 'golden hour' because the sun is always at such a low angle.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Weekend cooking #5: chili

And look at that, almost a whole week of posts focused on the foods I cooked over a weekend.

Here is the final item.

It is a delicious chili, that we ate with our fresh-out-of-the-oven bread.


No recipe for this one folks. It is our own invention, which consists of tomatoes, many kinds of beans (including garbanzo, I love to add garbanzo), meat, onion, garlic, green bell pepper, jalapeños, chili powder, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, and the secret ingredient: puréed pumpkin! The pumpkin adds a really nice sweetness and also makes the chili have a nice, thick texture. Since I had baked a pumpkin to get ready for some pies a little later, I had extra to use in the chili.

And in case you were wondering, this is the end of the food posts from the weekend. There will be no post about baking a pumpkin. Or the seeds. Because of course I baked those too.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Weekend cooking #4: granola bars

Most of the grocery stores do not have granola bars, which is something that I normally like to have around. It is good to be able to have some quick food that is healthy and delicious. So I decided it was time to make my own granola bars. I essentially followed this recipe. I didn't use any corn syrup. For the mix-ins I used dried cranberries, dried blueberries, pumpkin seeds, chopped walnuts, and something which I think is flaxseeds.

I am guessing these will come in really handy this week, since we will be quite busy. On Monday I have dance class, and on Tuesday Greg and I start our Swedish course. This is part of the reason I've been cooking and baking, so that we will have a good amount of leftovers for lunches and dinners for a few days before there is time for cooking again.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Weekend cooking #3: bread

This was the kind of bread I had been thinking about making for a week or longer now. I wanted to use a simple recipe that was just flour, water, salt, and yeast. This one does have an egg white brushed on the top, so it is a touch above your most basic bread recipe.

I also thought it was interesting that this recipe required a starter to be made the night before. I always think of sourdough as the only type of bread that needs a starter. I tried reading about it on the interwebs, and the only thing to come of that is that now I want to make some sourdough.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Weekend cooking #2: enchiladas

For dinner on Saturday I made these delicious enchiladas! I think I mostly followed the recipe. I couldn't find green enchilada sauce, so I just used salsa. I also used vegetable broth because that is what I had. I also didn't put any green onions anywhere. And I forgot to get creme fraiche to put on the top. We did have fresh cilantro, which went into the sauce, but we were so anxious to start eating that we forgot to chop some as a garnish.

Despite all of these things, these were absolutely delicious. And absolutely worth the mess.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Weekend cooking #1: cinna-buns

Last weekend turned into a baking and cooking weekend. I've had the idea of baking bread stuck in my head awhile. I wanted to knead some dough! So the first thing I made which required yeast and kneading was this recipe for delicious cinnamon rolls.

This makes a really huge batch for just two people, but oh they are so delicious. I'm eating them at a rate of two per day. No problem.

More food/cooking posts to follow.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

immersion blender guessing game

The apartment we found comes with an immersion blender. I never knew the beauty of such a kitchen tool! So here is a fun game. Guess what food I blended! (I'll put the answers way at the end of the post.)

First there was this...

And then this...

And these...

And of course this...

I'm guessing some of these will be easier than others.

(needless space to make sure the answers are out of reach for those who take guessing games seriously)

Like the third one there, which is what I'm eating as I write this.


Did you guess that one correctly?

Those are fruit smoothies! I've been making them for the past several days for breakfast. This one is primarily a banana and frozen strawberries. It also has a portion of mixed frozen berries (consisting of Gojibär, Havtorn, Blåbär, Björnbär, Tranbär, and Röda vinbär) and also some pear raspberry juice. The smoothie I had made previously was a banana with frozen blueberries, and also the mixed berries, a bit of honey, and orange apple passion fruit juice.

And the others? Did you guess those?

The top photo is hummus. That is what I had for dinner last night, and it was so delicious. I tried buying pre-made hummus from the store here, but it was absolutely terrible, so I had a great motivator for finally making my own hummus. My own is delicious. The store-bought was recently discovered in the back of the fridge growing mold.

And the second photo is soup! It is actually the last bit of leftovers in a yogurt container. This bit of soup was supposed to be Greg's lunch yesterday, but he forgot it at home, which provided me with an opportunity to get a picture of it. Oh but it isn't tomato soup. It is red pepper soup, and I highly recommend making a batch of your own. When I took it to work for lunch, it prompted the comment "nice color!" from a co-worker.

And the smoothies, of course, which we already talked about.

The last photo is possibly the hardest to guess? Because I just took the photo of the food item that we had blended and stored in the freezer for using later. It is pumpkin! (There will be pies in our future.)

Thank you for playing.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Today I got a clementine from the fruit bowl in the office. The fruit bowl is a fantastic feature that I keep meaning to mention.

My clementine was really quite sour and it reminded me of that time I found a lemon in a fruit bowl at a conference and I ate it. Then I remembered I blogged about it here.

So that's that.