Friday, December 20, 2013

seven quick takes about stuff!

1. In Sweden offices always have a proper kitchen. I really appreciate that everyone eats lunch together and that desks are for working, not for eating. What I don't like is that sometimes people microwave 'food' which smells completely rancid. Exaggeration? Not by much.

Imagine a smell like 20 wet cats who have been living in a room that hasn't been cleaned in a year. Now imagine seeing a person eating the item giving off this smell, and just try to enjoy eating a sandwich. Hopefully you get the picture.

2. This is a great song that makes me really happy!

3. Greg and I have been playing a lot of cribbage lately. Neither of us is very good, but at least that makes us evenly matched. Maybe we're not really playing correctly, but we have a set of rules that we've agreed on based on various sets of cribbage rules we have found. The interesting thing we've found is that a hand that is statistically rare is not necessarily worth a ton of points, so a good poker hand doesn't really make a good cribbage hand. I still get excited if the turn card makes my hand a 'full house' though:)

4. The games we have in rotation that are fun for two people are: cribbage, bananagrams, and bohnanza. They pretty much take care of any type of game I'd be interested in playing. A numbers/card game. A word game. A strategy game. We need to learn the 2 player version of 7 Wonders, but we've been waiting to play the game the normal way a few times first before we play a modified version.

5. I am so glad that Christmas and New Years are on Wednesdays this year. This means we have a full two week vacation. Last year it seemed that everyone just used personal vacation days and didn't show up to the office, but this year we have official scheduled vacation, which is really so much better.

6. Plus Malory is coming to visit us! I think if we didn't have a friend coming for the holiday we would end up sitting at home far too often. I mean, I really do like sitting at home and reading books or playing games, but going on adventures is fun too:)

7. In my last quick takes, I mentioned that I had so many photos out one particular window that I might make a collection of them. Well, last week while I was sick, I went through a bunch of photos and I think I found 28 unique photos from the past year, taken out the same exact window. This will be the most riveting thing I've published to my blog!

The End & The Linkup!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sick Day

On Monday I was spouting off the wonders of gargling salt water and how it has kept me from getting a cold so far this winter. By Tuesday afternoon I had a full-fledged cold. I've gone through almost a full box of tissues and nearly drank my weight in juice and tea. Yesterday at 2:40p I realized that there wasn't going to be much more daylight, so I figured I should open the shade and let some more light in. This was the view awaiting me.


Not a lot of daylight in these parts, but what we get can really be beautiful!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

contra dancing in Denmark

My love of folk dancing started with contra dancing. All the talking I do about the goodness of contra is already toned down so that I don't scare people by my over-enthusiasm. So if you were already thinking that I had a crazy huge amount of enthusiasm for contra dance, it is really probably ten times larger.

That said, it is a shame that there is no contra dancing in Sweden. But luckily for me, there is in our near neighbor, Denmark. Although I guess I use 'near' somewhat loosely.

Several weekends ago there was a full weekend of dance, so Greg and I finally made the trip to join the fun. We traveled by train, which I love infinitely more than flying. Train travel is just so nice. (Although I learned that the Monday after we returned there was a train derailment south of Stockholm, which had caused a lot of issues and delays, so we lucked out that it didn't happen before/during our trip.)

Here are a few photos from around the web:

Greg and I with one of the callers. (source)

The band from the US; they are completely amazing. (source)

General merriment. (I'm actually way in the back of this one.) (source)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

7QT: Assorted photos from the past two months

1. A really delicious dinner Greg cooked for us. Yes, I like taking pictures of food. Yes, I like figs.

2. The kitchen getting messy during brewing. 

3. Frosty branches out the window. I probably have at least twenty photos out this very same window, either because of these shrubs or because of the sky. Maybe one day I'll post a collection of these.

4. Blurry Christmas beers with red caps. I thought this photo looked better than its non-blurry counterpart.

5. Blurry pale ales with light blue caps.

6. The night sky and a moonlit bike path. We went out one evening waiting to see if we'd see aurora. We saw none, and occupied our time with taking photos of other things.

7. Night sky in the other direction.

The End! (and The Link-Up)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Some Tuesday things

Today might be our last day of bicycle riding for the season. Or at least my last day. Tomorrow will be below 0 (celsius) and it is not likely we will have many more ice-free days before the spring.

Speaking of Celsius. That man was amazing. He did studies of the aurora in the 1740's (along with Hiorters, another amazing Swede). I don't know why I didn't know about this before, but I am blaming the fact that their paper was written in Swedish, so it was sort of off my radar. Plus, just look at the wikipedia page (in English) for Hiorters. It is pathetically small. And the page for Celsius has one line about aurora which is hidden among all his other scientific achievements.

So anyhow. In two weeks from now, it will be the date of our huge snowstorm from last year. It was the only storm of the year when the buses stopped running. I'm looking forward to the snow, but I'll be disappointed to no longer be riding my bicycle. I need an adult tricycle for snow-riding. I could be okay with a little sliding on the ice as long as stability remains during that time.

Greg and I were discussing how it is a bit strange that Swedes have a reputation for being incredibly safe about things, but then winter rolls around and they are all riding bicycles on snow and ice like maniacs. And most of them don't wear helmets. Why would adults make it a law for children to wear helmets and then not wear helmets themselves?

Oh and there is this that I heard about recently, which NPR apparently got wind of yesterday. Fancy invisible helmet. I was wondering what the cost of that contraption would be.

Moving along then.

We are approaching the time to do some more brewing. A few weeks ago we bottled the two batches that had finished fermenting, so they should be reading for drinking soon. One is a Christmas beer and one is a pale ale. We already sampled the pale ale, and it might be a bit odd (unless of course you prefer your beer to smell really strongly of flowers). I am really hoping it will come around if we let it sit a little longer, but it is possible that it will be our first beer that was not really delicious. I guess that was bound to happen eventually? We will make another batch of pale ale, and Greg has made some adjustments to the recipe, so hopefully it will work out better. And then I found a recipe for an oatmeal stout, so we will make that as well. We haven't made a stout yet, so it seems like a good time of year to try that out.

And Greg promised that next spring we can make a pink beer and use pink bottle caps. I am writing this here so that no one forgets about it. Our technique for differentiating between our different beers is to use colored bottle caps. In the past we never had more than two kinds at once, so we would just mark the tops with a permanent marker. It was simple enough, but I really love the idea of different colors for different batches. The Christmas beer is red, obviously.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

folk music and dance

A few weekends ago, we were lucky enough to have two evenings in a row of wonderful folk dancing.  I no longer even attempt to bring a camera with me, because I know that even if I'm not dancing, taking photos is the last thing on my mind. Plus there are loads of other people (seemingly) with cameras, so it is often the case that photos and videos show up on the interwebs shortly after any given event. And not to brag or anything, but I'm not terrible at google searching. Here are some of the fruits of my work.

I'm in the above video, although I think it took me several watch-throughs to notice. I'll leave my time of appearance a mystery in case we want to make a game of this, and I'll make a note at the bottom of this post for those who don't like guessing games.

And here are two more videos I found from the concerts that I wanted to see but did not get to. Youtube saves the day.

At midnight, a band that seems to be quite popular with the Swedes (or maybe with the young folks?) started playing. It was pretty much the point of the night where you think your smiles cannot get any bigger but somehow they do. When the music started there were easily four times as many people on the dance floor as earlier in the evening, which made for a crowded, but high-energy dance. I was quite fortunate to be dancing with someone who was very adept at handling a crowd.

Unfortunately, this is where I must admit that my googling skills have produced no video or photo from this time of the night, despite the fact that I am so sure I saw more cameras pulled out at that moment than at any other.

But I don't want to leave you without knowing what this band was about, so I'll include a video that was taken at a different time/location of one of my favorite tunes. Enjoy!


Friday, November 1, 2013

7QT: magic and aurora

1. I'm learning to play the Swedish National Anthem on the harmonica. Or maybe it is safer to say that on Sunday afternoon I spent several hours playing harmonica for fun, and much of that time was dedicated to playing (or sometimes just singing) the Swedish National Anthem. I was going to attempt to memorize it, but I only had the first two lines down by the time the request came for harmonica practice to be over.

2. My new favorite thing is to translate what Swedish people are saying for Greg. So, at the folk music festival over the weekend I was translating all sorts of great stuff for him. The first thing was how a guy was talking about a dog and a sandwich and then he was going to play a last song from Orsa. Then there was another thing a woman was saying about how a) they had a sister school or b) her sister is at the school. And also she said 145. I am clearly making a lot of progress with this whole language learning thing.

3. "Magic can end up being rather uninteresting." That is the essence of a comment made at lunch earlier this week after we were talking about how so many movies take liberties and get 'the physics' wrong and whatnot. For example, how long can you find something enjoyable until it just starts to upset you because of how wrong it is? Then that topic sort of morphed into fantasy/magic, and that is when someone made the comment I quoted above, in reference to taking extreme liberties without limits. It was a seemingly simple thing to say, but it sort of hit me in a hard way. It immediately made me think that this is a value of organized religion as opposed to the "I'm spiritual but not religious" mentality.

4. Aurora! The sun has been really active* lately, so I've been waiting and waiting for the clouds to clear out. On Wednesday night clear skies were predicted, so I checked the space weather** and things seemed moderately okay. So after I got home from my dance course, Greg and I headed out with camera and tripod in tow. As an aside, it was really nice to be able to use the tripod for its true purpose instead of just a long-handled spider-killer. And if you are super interested, here are all the other posts I've written and tagged 'aurora'.


Also, to avoid any confusion, the aurora in the above photo is the long green stripy bit very close to the horizon. Those little crosses near the center-top of the photo are an artifact of the lights from the building. Sort of like sun-flare, only building-flare?

5. Oh, and there is a book at the library about aurora legends that I saw while browsing that I really want to get. I believe it was Northern Lights: Legends, Sagas and Folk Tales. I'm glad it has a really high rating, should be an interesting read:)

6. Yesterday we treated ourselves to some Reese's peanut butter cups in celebration of the Halloween we didn't actually celebrate. And while I was browsing the American section of the grocery store, I couldn't help but to put some mac & cheese in our basket. I had been resisting that purchase for quite awhile. The brand of the mac & cheese is Mississippi Belle, which I had never seen and might only be available in places that are not the US? When I saw this item on a webpage I laughed a LOT when I noticed that others who had purchased it had also purchased Bette Crocker Rainbow Chip cake and peanut butter m&m's. These people really get me.

7. I'm out of things, but don't want to save this for next week, so let's just call it the end and link to the link-up. Thanks for reading:)

* I may have really low standards, what with the whole - doing my phd on auroral studies during solar minimum - thing.

** I once wrote some posts on predicting aurora, but they are rather out of date now. The two main things I looked at yesterday were data from the ACE satellite and from the GOES satellites, and I think what I wrote still mostly applies. Anything I said about Stereo satellites is no longer relevant, because their location has changed quite a bit. I am also really impressed with myself, because those two links contain current plots... not sure how I found out where to get those, but go me!

Friday, October 25, 2013

7QT: language learning, dancing, and the existence of mint-fig ice cream!

1. Long live flashcards! I had been thinking a lot about how a key element to learning a language is learning vocabulary. And in high school when I was taking Spanish classes, the only way I passed my vocabulary tests was to study using flashcards. So then I was thinking that there must be a new 'modern' way of doing this, and that surely a flashcard program (or 'ap' (or is it app) as the cool kids say) must exist. Well well well. Much to my luck I had a couple to choose between. I was immediately sold on Anki when I saw a youtube video demonstration, which showed that decks are shareable. This means I can go to the Anki webpage and search Swedish/Svenska, and immediately have a deck of flashcards (more than one actually) ready to go. Amazing! Even more amazing is that someone has shared a deck of the vocabulary list from the textbook I am using in my class. Bonus!

2. Greg and I have two beers fermenting right now. The first is our Christmas beer, which is now in a secondary with vanilla and cinnamon, and I have such high hopes that those flavors will really be present in the end product. The second is a pale ale, which is our first hoppy beer and also our first beer that we designed (as opposed to following a recipe). I have some brewing photos to share as well, so at some point in the future I might write a post dedicated to the topic.

3. Tonight and tomorrow are full of Swedish folk dance! I am really super excited, especially since the concert/dance tonight is free. Even though I go to our regular dance session every Wednesday, I feel like it has been awhile since I've gone to a proper dance event. On Wednesdays we usually focus on learning a new dance, or trying to improve a particular aspect of a dance, or things like that. So while there is plenty of dancing, it is geared toward instruction and learning. The dance events are more like a party where you just go and dance all the different dances!

I really have to work on making my words about folk dance sound as enthusiastic as I feel about folk dance. Just adding an exclamation point doesn't really help much.

4. In two weeks Greg and I are spending a weekend in Denmark. For a dance weekend of course:) A Contra Dance Weekend! Basically Sweden has no contra dancing, but Denmark has quite a lot. So we will travel there for the weekend. Contra dancing has been in Denmark for 25 years now, which also means that the group of people who enjoy the dance have aged by about that much. It is often said that the popularity of contra dance sort of goes in waves, and sometimes it gets really popular with younger people and sometimes it sort of fades away. I guess in Denmark right now there is a big lack of young people, so we'll be bringing down the average age of attendees. If people only understood that they were missing one of the greatest contra dance bands and two of the greatest contra dance callers, they would regret not going. And for the record, I have no familiarity with the other band, so I can't claim that they are a favorite.

5. They make mint-fig ice cream here. Mint-fig! I found this out the way I find out about a lot of good things you can buy in Sweden - someone was reusing the container for their lunch yesterday. And clearly I have not been paying enough attention to the ice cream section of the grocery store, because if I had seen this I just would not have been able to pass it up. I cannot even imagine what this would taste like. My new goal in life is to find this ice cream.

6. Shall we talk about the weather then? It got below 0°C a couple days ago. The outside temperature likes to surprise me, although it is not too difficult to do so. Our apartment is always very warm now that the heat is on, and it never occurs to me that I should be expecting the outdoor weather to have changed drastically in just one day. I'm bored of talking about the weather now.

7. I found this really nice flickr photo stream called Beautiful Uppsala. Such a nice reminder that I really live in such a beautiful place. This also makes me want to take my camera out more. Plus I love seeing this city in all the different seasons. Here is a particular favorite (note this is not my photo, but clicking it will take you to the photo stream).



As always, that is all from me for Friday Quick Takes; thanks for reading!

Friday, October 4, 2013

7QT - tiny cup photo, reading, dancing, and food (and working all night long)

- 1 -

Oh yeah.

Stylish Bruins players who must be thinking 'why is my cup so tiny?'

- 2 -

Alternatively, in the above photo, you might have noticed that nice outdoor wooden dance floor. I certainly did.

- 3 -

I'm not really proud to admit it, but right now I am reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Two years ago I tried to read these books, only I messed it up and accidentally read the second book thinking it was the first. As I was reading I figured out my mistake after realizing that the author was writing as though the characters had already been introduced to me. So then after reading book #2, I basically already knew what happened in book #1 and figured it wouldn't be as exciting, so I just went on to #3.

So now, two years later, I figured that since I couldn't even remember what happened in the books I did read, hopefully that would mean I had forgotten any spoilers to the first book. This way I could essentially start over. Except that once I started reading I sort of remembered at least one big outcome. Although I don't know how the outcome comes to be, and that almost seems to make it more thrilling? I don't know. Either way, I hate being so engaged by a book that is sort of a cheap thrill, but engaged I am.

Oh! My favorite part is that living in Sweden for a year has taught me some cultural context which I never would have picked up on before. For example, when the guy goes to live in a cabin that is not very well equipped, the author writes that there was not even a cheese slicer with the kitchen appliances. The essentiality of the cheese slicer to Swedes is a thing worth knowing.

- 4 -

Here are some thoughts on dancing, because a week wouldn't be complete without it. (Except for last week, because I had to miss dance to go to my first Swedish lesson.)

At the weekly dance sessions, I would classify several regulars as extremely good dancers. It is really nice to be able to dance well with someone, and it is interesting to see how certain dances work better with different people. When I first started dancing I was told that the best dancers will make you feel like you are doing everything right without any help from them. So when I end up dancing with certain people (ahem, like perhaps the person doing the instruction for the dance) I automatically know that if things aren't working out, it is really most likely to be my fault. Sometimes it is easy to start thinking that I've got the hang of a thing, and then we rotate and I start stepping all over the next person. Plus, even before the dance starts, just knowing that my partner is far better than I am makes me nervous, which causes me to be less good than I ought to be.

So, that is an interesting thing that I like to think about.

- 5 -

Have you ever bought a vanilla bean? I just bought the first vanilla bean of my life. Technically I got a pack of two. I should take a photo maybe, because they came in this long skinny tube. I feel like I just joined an elite club. The vanilla bean buyers. You should seriously try it.

- 6 -

Today is the Swedish National Cinnamon Bun day - kanelbullens dag. While still a fairly young holiday (introduced in 1999), it is certainly much loved by the people.

- 7 -

I'm running out of topics here, so let's talk about work. I am finally one of those physicists who uses a computer program that takes hours upon hours to run, so I can set it running, and just walk away (or go to sleep or whatever) and then I can brag about how I worked All Night Long! Seriously. 6pm last night until 6am this morning were incredibly productive.

- The End and The Linkup -

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Pumpkin bread!

Last week we found a cooking pumpkin in the grocery store! Greg is a major pumpkin pie lover, so I had to let him down gently when I told him I wanted to make pumpkin bread. I think we need to go buy more pumpkins so that pies can happen. I also remembered that I once made a pumpkin lasagne which I loved so much! (recipe here, if you are interested)

The store had a few pumpkins, with short descriptions in Swedish. I don't remember the name of our pumpkin, and I can't be sure of all its qualities, but I do know that it had an orange flesh and was good for soups. And it turned out to be good for pumpkin bread.

I don't have any photo documentation of this, but here is what I did. I chopped the pumpkin in half, and also chopped off the stem. Then I removed the goop and seeds (the seeds were HUGE, and Greg baked them the next day). Then I put the two pumpkin halves in a baking dish with the cut side up, and put a little water into each pumpkin half. I don't know. One time my friend who is a nutritionist introduced me to the concept of spaghetti squash and she put the water in the squash halves, so I now do that with pumpkin halves. Also, the pumpkin descriptions at the store listed a spaghetti squash, but there were sadly none in the bin, but either way that is the closest I've gotten to getting a spaghetti squash in this country. So I baked the pumpkins at a temperature that was probably too high, maybe like 190C? They were done in only a half hour, which is a shame, because the heat hadn't been turned on yet and our apartment was getting cold, and I was banking on an hour of oven-use.

After the pumpkins were cooled I scooped out the flesh. Then a couple days later when it was time to bake the pumpkin bread, Greg used the immersion blender on it, so that it was a nice pumpkin puree. I used this recipe, which calls for one 16 ounce can.

So here is a really important thing, which the internet world doesn't always understand. The ounces in '16 ounce' are a measure of weight. Since I don't have a kitchen scale, I needed to figure out what volume (aka how many cups) of pumpkin I needed. I did some searching, which informed me that a 16 ounce can of pumpkin contained either 2 or 4 cups of pumpkin. That is a pretty big discrepancy, but there is no way that you can fit 4 cups into one of those cans. Plus since I had just shy of 2 cups, I just used all the pumpkin I had.

Now that I look at the pumpkin lasagne recipe, I see that a 28 ounce can of pumpkin is equivalent to 3 cups of pumpkin. So that means I should have used 1.7 cups of pumpkin in the recipe that called for 16 ounces of pumpkin.

This is my attempt to get some blog hits via google searches for 'how many cups of pumpkin are in a 16 ounce can?' and also my attempt to never again have to do that very same google search because the results are painful.

Pumpkin Conversion
16 ounce can = 1.7 cups
28 ounce can = 3 cups

So anyhow, the pumpkin bread was really delicious, and I've been taking it for a snack every day this week. Since I like to keep the quality of the photos here high, behold.

Photo on 10-1-13 at 4.31 PM

Friday, September 27, 2013

7QT - food things

- 1 -

Apparently grape seed oil is a new popular thing? I've read about it in at least two places in just the past week, after never hearing about it before. That is, after never hearing about it in English before. You see, here in Sweden, when I wanted to buy something like vegetable oil or canola oil, I ended up with rapseed oil. I didn't even know what it was when I was buying it, but this was when I used the method of buying the item that was available in the largest quantity, because that meant it was reasonable to think many people used said item. This technique worked particularly well when I wanted to buy flour, just plain regular white flour, and I encountered at least a dozen different options.

- 2 -

Come to think of it, I find that things in Sweden work like that most of the time. There is very little variety of items due to personal preference it seems. Usually there is just one of a thing available. I think that says something about Swedes being practical maybe? So like, here is a baking soda, it is the best one, everyone knows that, everyone buys the same one, so places only sell the one option. Also, for example, the same candle holder lantern thingy that is a decoration in my apartment was also a decoration at the little snack shop in the airport. True story.

- 3 -

And you can easily figure out where Swedes have strong and differing opinions based on what items come with a lot of variety. Knäckebröd (a sort of cracker thing) and cheese in tubes fall into this category.

- 4 -

Two weeks ago was Culture Night in Uppsala. Culture Night is a full day of activities showcasing culture all throughout the town. Tons of people roam the streets and there is street food. Greg and I saw an a capella group consisting of four young men who sang a medley of Backstreet Boys songs. It was spectacular.

- 5 -

A little while ago Greg made a comment about earl grey tea smelling like fruit loops. I thought it was madness, but well, it really sort of does. Now when I have a cup of the earl, my entire tea-drinking experience is something different and a bit strange.

- 6 -

We tried our beer and it is yummy! It is still a bit 'green' as in, not quite at its prime, flavor-wise. The banana flavor is mellowing out, which I appreciate. I think I wrote before that when we bottled it, we tasted it and the overwhelming flavor was banana.

We were going to start our next batch tomorrow, but we didn't order ingredients/supplies in time, so it will have to wait a week. It is time to brew a Christmas beer! I found this recipe for an award-winner called Bad Santa that is made with cherries and vanilla and cinnamon!

- 7 -

And since I wouldn't want any 'quick take' to exclude the topic of food, we found a cooking pumpkin! In a grocery store near our apartment! Last year we had a really hard time finding pumpkin, which is a big deal since you can't buy canned pumpkin. Or at least, it was a big deal last year when we thought we could not buy canned pumpkin. But we found this cafe that is run by an American and he sells poptarts and canned pumpkin.

- The End and The Linkup -

Monday, September 23, 2013

Second round of photos from France









Here are the last of the photos from Biarritz. I posted some yesterday here.

On one afternoon there were excursions as part of Greg's conference, so we joined the wine tour excursion. It pretty much involved being on a bus for almost four hours... Aside from that, it was lovely! The last photo shows my favorite part of the train ride between Paris and Biarritz - fields upon fields of sunflowers! There were more fields of sunflowers than I ever imagined possible on one train ride!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

France photos, finally!










Here are some photos I took while we were in Biarritz. It was a really lovely beach town. The photo with the surfer and the couple enjoying their seaside vacation perfectly sums up the odd juxtaposition of this city, in my opinion. Also, that place was selling sandwiches called 'Americans' which was a roll with two burger patties and fries (in the roll) plus your choice of sauce. We went back a few days later just to try them out, never having seen such a thing in America. Oh they were yummy.

I've got a few more photos that I'll post tomorrow too!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

7 Quick Takes: bicycles, beer, and dancing with Bill Nye version

- 1 -

I saw a game of Segway Polo in action the other day. That's right. Who needs a horse when you've got a segway. And if you were thinking, 'What other crazy things do people do with segways?' here is a short list.

- 2 -

Did you know there was such a thing as dining in the dark? I was just told about a restaurant in Paris where all of the waiters are blind, and the dining room is completely dark. Apparently one of these restaurants exists in San Francisco also, and I laughed so hard reading about a review that said a person lost a piece of food on the table and had to spend a really long time finding it.

- 3 -

Our bicycles are in working order as of writing this! Last weekend Greg and I decided it was time to fix those bicycles right up. We each worked on our own, and we managed to fully change a tire each in about one hour. (I am really happy about that time, plus it was the first time I fully changed a tire on my own with no help.) My tire wasn't technically flat, but it had this hole where the tube was bubbling up and sort of pushing through. So I decided preventative action was necessary, and I changed the tire so that I would be able to save the tube.

- 4 -

I love it so much that Bill Nye is on Dancing with the Stars. So much! It bothers me that there doesn't seem to be a clear explanation of what percentage of the final standings is due to the judges and what is due to the peoples' votes, but I just had to vote anyway.

What a great person though. I think at one point he says something like, "Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn sometimes." That it does, Bill.

- 5 -

The evening after writing number 3 up there I had my handlebars come loose while rounding a turn on my bicycle. I've always had issues with my handlebars being a bit wobbly or turned crooked, so I am often tightening and adjusting. Well I didn't do a very good job I guess. Somehow I managed to get enough control of my front wheel to not slam right into the curb at a speed at which one would not want to be slamming into a curb. Kind of terrifying.

- 6 -

Maybe I've written about Humans of New York before. I really like it a lot. Maybe I've even linked to this exact post before, but I just like it so much. Such incredibly practical advice.

- 7 -

Greg has been in Belgium this past week. He returns home this evening, and I'm pretty sure the first taste test of our beer is going to happen. Hopefully it is delicious. When we were bottling it, I thought it had a very strong banana flavor and considering I do not really like bananas, I did not consider this to be a good thing. So here's to hoping that flavor mellowed out.

- The End and The Linkup -

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Transportation breakdown

That's right. The bicycles, the bus system.

The first to go was my back bicycle tire at the end of July. Luckily, I was able to repair it with a little help. The second to go was my back bicycle tire. Again. That happened on the 15th of August, which was too close to the first flat to be fair. And due to various reasons it didn't get repaired until last Sunday. And you know what happened on Monday on the drive home from the office? Greg's back bicycle tired blew out. It was a big pop and everything. We had to replace the whole tire (not just the tube) due to a large hole. The sad part is, I can tell my back tire is about to go again. A bubble is forming on the side, where the tire was a bit compromised and the tube is pushing out. It is only a matter of time. The bike shop people are making a killing on us. Although, we have only been buying parts and doing the repairs ourselves. But I'm pretty sure I'll be in there again soon buying myself a tire.

Oh. And the buses, well they got a new card system. No one told me though. I mean, I did see signs saying that there was a new card which combined the bus cards with the train cards, but I didn't realize that meant my old card would no longer be valid. My ignorance got me a free bus ride accompanied by a large amount of guilt for not paying attention and being on top of the game. At least we managed to sort out this issue by waiting in line for a half hour to get our cards changed over yesterday. yay.

Friday, September 6, 2013

7QT - no photos again, but a great birthday surprise!

- 1 -

I just read the greatest news ever! Blessed John Paul II and Blessed John XXIII are (mostly likely) going to be canonized on my birthday!!

- 2 -

We've been back from France for almost a week now. Hopefully I'll get some photos posted at some point, because Biarritz is really an incredibly beautiful place. Aside from getting sick (and getting the worst ear aches in the world on the plane home) it was a really nice trip.

- 3 -

Swedish. It is a language I do not know enough of, considering I live in Sweden. Especially considering there are free classes for immigrants offered. The problem is that most immigrants coming to Sweden and taking the free classes are (apparently?) the type of people who benefit from their language teacher shouting at them about how they need to not focus on the money and how without Swedish they can't get education or a job. Never before have I had such a strong urge to flaunt my phd to anyone.

(Don't worry, this Swedish teacher is not actually from Sweden, so my love of Swedes/Swedish culture/Swedish ways of treating people, all still remain intact.)

- 4 -

Our beer is fermented. We need to get on that whole bottling of the beer thing.

- 5 -

The water out of our kitchen sink can get incredibly hot. Honestly, I've used it for tea before (although, it isn't quite as hot as I'd normally prefer the starting temperature for my tea). For awhile, I had been having hot water with lemon right when I wake up in the morning. Somehow I forgot about that routine, even though it was so easy since I could just use water straight out of the tap, but this morning I returned to it, and I really enjoyed that.

- 6 -

I am also overdue on photos from when my mom and her husband visited me and Greg in Sweden. I think I took a lot of photos of our grand adventures, but I haven't yet had a chance to review the photos. But hopefully those will make their way here eventually.

- 7 -

There is a surprisingly detailed and useful Swedish grammar wikipedia page. This was found after trying to figure out what the 'supine' verb form is. My extensive online research has further confirmed that I need to no longer go to my current Swedish class.

- The End and The Linkup -

Friday, August 30, 2013

And then there was a nun dancing


So. Our hotel overlooks this square, and last night, for the second night since we have arrived, there was entertainment in the square. From what we can tell it is all done by the youth group from the church that is just outside of the shot on the left side of the above photo. At church on Sunday they led the music, so you see, we know it is the same people. So the night's entertainment starts with the marching band, pictured above. There is a priest playing a trumpet there. Probably their best hit is "When the Saints Go Marching In". On Monday night, they opened and closed with that one.

Last night there was more variety to the show, with several different people singing or playing or dancing. The crowd was slowly drifting away before the last performance of the night started: a nun doing interpretive dance. Nuns are amazing.

Plus we had a great view from our balcony of the nun dancing, and her shadows were pretty picturesque. So with that, I shall join the Theme Thursday: Shadow photo linkup.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

hooray for tuesday

Photo on 8-27-13 at 2.34 PM

This is me right now. Enjoying the sea-view and a cold beer on my balcony (almost). I tried sitting out there yesterday, and that lasted all of four minutes before I retreated back to the safety of the just-inside-the-door area.

I'm feeling so successful with my vacation today!

First of all, I got into this beer with no bottle opener, so that is a good feat. In addition to my cheap beer, I also bought some incredibly expensive (and incredibly worth it) macarons. I only ever had macaroons before, and I never really understood the macaron thing. And I probably won't ever be able to have macarons again, because they just won't be as good and they are dyed all sorts of showy colors.

I was going to try to get lemonade, because lemonade-beer on a summer afternoon is one of the finer things in life. I couldn't find any lemonade though, so I got grapefruit juice, and once that is cold we'll see if it does the trick.

Also, I took a photo for a couple who asked if I would take their photo. I didn't even have my camera out at the time, so they just took a gamble with whether or not they had asked a person who cared about things like framing a shot. I can't vouch for whether or not they were smiling or making weird faces, but that photo sure was framed well.

Before that happened I went to the market and got a baguette that was longer than my arm for 90 euro cents! Extraordinary lunch bargain!

So you see? So many successes, and still multiple hours of afternoon left for reading on (sort of) the balcony!

Monday, August 26, 2013


Photo on 8-26-13 at 10.44 AM

Here is the view from the balcony of our hotel room in France. The photo is of low quality, so I'll go ahead and describe what we are seeing here. Rain. It has been raining on and off since yesterday afternoon, but that is fine by me. Also pictured is our sea view and the lighthouse. Yesterday before it started raining Greg and I got to take a nice walk to enjoy the sea views, and I took many photos which I hope to share soon.

Our travels here were fun, because we flew to Paris and then took a high-speed train to the south of France. Our train was delayed though, so we missed a connection and had to wait for a later train. At the train station we got in the line at the taxi stand in order to try to get to our hotel before midnight, but there seemed to be very very few taxis coming. Eventually a bus came, which was the exact one we needed (and I was so glad I had written down which one would get us close to the hotel, and that Greg had gotten directions to walk from the bus stop to the hotel). We were feeling so good to be on our last leg of the journey, and then the bus stopped to pick up a pack of at least 20 young people who were very drunk and very slow about paying for tickets and stamping the tickets. Finally we got to get off, and while navigating the sidewalks and trying to get around many ambling people who would not get out of our way, I was fairly convinced I hated this place.

After a wonderfully long night of sleep, I woke up to see my sea view, and I definitely do not hate this place. :)

Fun fact #1: The past two mornings at breakfast we have been sitting nearby groups of people speaking Swedish.

Fun fact #2: Salted caramel ice cream can be purchased less than 50 meters from our hotel.

Fun fact #3: There is a chocolate museum in this city, but here is the dilemma: If I was going to spend some money, would it be worth it to go to a chocolate museum or better to just spend it directly on chocolate?

Saturday, August 10, 2013

August ten on ten

It has been a long time since I've done a ten on ten where I take a photo every hour for ten hours on the tenth day of the month. For reference, here are my first and second ten on ten.











1. Strawberries for 10 SEK (less than $2)! Nothing is ever cheap in Sweden so this was a great find.
2. Greg eats Swedish pancakes with strawberries and cream.
3. We were heading past the thrift store, so we stopped in for a quick browse.
4. Our wort chiller is also abstract art.
5. Moments after sweeping and mopping, we find dirt on the floor.
6. Candy!
7. Skyline.
8. The hops and malt extract.
9. My favorite of the set - adding the extract.
10. Our collection of bottles has just grown large enough to be ready for this batch of beer!

Friday, August 9, 2013

7QT: prepare to brew edition (also the no-photo edition, sorry)

- 1 -

I updated my About page. Ta Da.

- 2 -

I maintain that Conan O'Brien's Dartmouth commencement speech was the best ever commencement speech. (Here for reference.) And even though I didn't graduate until the following year, I still sort of claim it as my own. The woman who gave ours was lovely and accomplished and perfectly deserving of giving a Dartmouth commencement speech, but because I am a horrible person the only thing I remember her saying is a comment on how unfortunate it is to be the person following Conan's speech. Right.

So anyhow, that is not the point of this quick take. The point is that I saw the transcript of this commencement speech on kindness, which was really a great thing to read. I highly recommend it.
"what we really want, in our hearts, is to be less selfish, more aware of what’s actually happening in the present moment, more open, and more loving"
- 3 -

This weekend, we brew! The big surprise I got for Greg before he arrived in Sweden was homebrew equipment. It seems a little odd to buy new equipment, since we had equipment in NH, but it was actually more economical to buy new than to ship. Plus the resale value of the equipment will be quite good, from what I can tell. We found a recipe for a rye-wheat, so hopefully that turns out to be delicious!

- 4 -

That means tonight, we clean! The apartment is still pretty clean, because I spent a lot of time cleaning before Greg got here, but clutter has gathered and recycling needs to be recycled and whatnot.

- 5 -

Here are some old blog posts about our previous brewing experiences. (Note two of these are written by Greg.)

- 6 -

Today my library book is due. I really really like taking trips to the public library. So many books, just waiting to be read!

- 7 -

Last year I bought a waterproof backpack cover from a sporting goods store, but it ended up being too small. Luckily, Greg's backpack is smaller than mine, so it fit his perfectly. I've gone without for a long time now, sticking to the put-my-stuff-in-a-plastic-bag-inside-my-backpack trick. But I figured it was time to get a cover. I ordered a size small after debating between the small versus the extra small for a long time and reading a lot of conflicting reviews saying the listed dimensions were larger/smaller than actuality. Needless to say, it is about three times larger than it needs to be, but luckily it sinches waaayyyy down. I am pretty sure I could fit inside of it.

- The End and The Linkup -

Friday, August 2, 2013

7QT - less solitude, more påskmust

- 1 -

I think I had a race up the stairs with a stranger. I think I've always thought it would be so hilarious if a stranger ran up the stairs past me with the look of victory upon reaching the top first. The thing is, I didn't know it was happening at the time. I thought I was being mistaken for another person this man knew, and by the time I realized we might have just had a race up the stairs, it was too late for me to even laugh about it.

- 2 -

There is this thing called the Rule of Friendship, which a friend of mine invented. In Hanover, it means that if you are walking through town, you must walk on Main St. and not the back roads, even if those back roads might be more direct or faster. If a friend is also walking in Hanover and abiding by the Rule of Friendship, then you will cross paths and it will be so friendly!

On Monday, I applied the Rule of Friendship to Uppsala. The concept is still the same, although deciding which road is the equivalent of Hanover's Main St. is not always so obvious. There is a pedestrian road in town, where all the shops are, so I'm going to go ahead and say this is the number one road for the Rule of Friendship. Next would probably be to walk along the river, but that is beside the point.

Lately I've started to feel friendly again. For awhile, I was feeling not-so-friendly, and if I needed to go into town for something, I was sure to take the most direct route possible and walk really fast and avoid eye contact with everyone.

- 3 -

There was a little stand set up on the pedestrian road. As I walked by I saw this t-shirt being sold:


Strange for sure, but also intriguing. Where does this t-shirt come from?

- 4 -

Last week I braved Ikea, and my reward was two of the cheapest bread pans ever. I think they were even cheaper than a thrift store would have marked them. Maybe. The thrift store was on summer holiday all of last month, so I can't be sure. So before Greg arrived I made zucchini bread, because I thought it would be a good treat for him. I followed the Smitten Kitchen recipe, because it is the best ever (no chocolate chips for me, thank you). I even managed to eat one full loaf before Greg even had any. Oops.

- 5 -

Wednesday was the last summer evening folk dance. I really wanted to go and take Greg so that he could experience the joy that is the summer evening folk dance. And the waffles. The weather forecast was not on our side for the entire day, but in the evening it wasn't raining, so we decided to just ride our bikes out there and see if it was happening. And it was! We danced a little. Ate waffles. Then it started to rain so we took cover in a barn. Then it stopped raining, so we danced a little more. And then we headed home.

- 6 -

Now that I am no longer living the bachelor life and am sharing the apartment with my husband (novel concept), I find that I am talking about 100 times more than I had been talking for the past six months. I always manage to have an awful lot to say when there is just always another person there, eager to listen!

- 7 -

I was asking Greg if there was anything he wanted me to pick up from the grocery store before he arrived. His response was that he wished he could have Julmust, but he knew he'd have to wait until Christmas for it. Julmust is a sort of spiced cola type beverage that is consumed in large quantities around Christmas time. Well, since Greg had left at the end of December, he didn't even know that there is also a special spiced cola type beverage for Easter called Påskmust. So I bought a bottle and kept it a secret for MONTHS, which is a huge accomplishment for me.

P.S. Yes that image is a baby riding a rooster pulling some more babies riding an egg with wheels.

- The End and The Link-up -