Tuesday, February 26, 2013


I was just crossing the bridge, had my camera out, snapped a quick photo of this red-pant/purple-pant couple. I am the paparazzi.

Then I was walking along (seeking ice sculptures of course) and I could hear accordions. Obviously I walked myself in the direction of accordions. I wasn't even sure if some sort of place was playing recorded music of accordions, but then I spotted this accordion duet! They were so awesome! I stood on the opposite side of the square listening to them for kind of a long time.

Oh and who could that be? Hello world.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Before & after/Day & night

The past two weekends I visited the ice festival. On the first weekend, I caught the tail-end of the sculpting of the ice sculptures. Then on the following weekend I went at night, because I had been told that the ice sculptures are lit up.



I have to say, I really liked having the ice festival in town. And I really liked that it was free. But it also made me understand why I paid to get into the Fairbanks Ice Festival. These sculptures are cool, but the caliber of those in Fairbanks was in a totally different ballpark. Also, that one was a world art festival, and there were definitely sculptors from all over, including Scandinavia, so I'm not trying to imply anything about the origins of the greatest ice sculptors. Here is an old post where I included a couple pictures of the more impressive ice festival.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A riveting Saturday!

One day, I thought to myself, "I wonder if Uppsala University has a letterpress studio.."

And well, as far as I can tell, they do not. But in my searches I found out that there is currently an exhibit about bookbinding at the library. So I went by to check it out yesterday. I had brought my camera with the hopes that I'd be allowed to use it, but alas, I was not. Either way, it was such a great experience that I will write about it sans photos!

It was a pretty small exhibit, but I read ALL the signs and I stayed in there for over a half hour. I am usually the kind of person that hates history, but man, someone just needs to tell me about the more interesting things and I am completely enthralled. Here are the highlights I saw.

1. A first edition Principia by Isaac Newton. I maintain that, as a physicist, this is the coolest book I could have ever seen. Here is a wikipedia article on the book. Apparently, this particular book had been stolen from the UU collection about forty years ago. And somehow it ended up in an auction in New York, where some kind soul bought it and donated it back to the university. Pretty crazy.

2. The Silver Bible. This is Sweden's most valuable book, I guess. It is actually just the four gospels, not the entire bible, and it is in the Gothic language (they also had a bible that was the first complete one printed in the Swedish language). Mostly I just loved reading the phrase "Swedish war booty" at a bookbinding exhibit. Here is some info on the UU library webpage, including a picture that someone must have illegally taken.

3. Carta Marina. This map was huge and awesome! And it is surprisingly accurate for being made in 1539. It is made in nine pieces that, together, make a map that was four feet by five and a half feet. On the webpage you can look at each of the nine blocks, and get just a tiny taste of the detail that is on this map. The sea creatures are fantastic.

After I got home I made this white hot chocolate, because anything that is equated to a form of frosting is a thing I've got to try. And it was sooo amazing. I seriously don't know how I lived my whole life without this stuff. As a side note, even though it is a Swedish-inspired recipe, I managed to forget to buy pearl sugar and almond flavor, so I just made it without. I also think I used nutmeg, but it could have been allspice. I don't really know, and I didn't feel like looking it up, but I smelled it and was in favor. I also used a bit of cinnamon, since I was missing the almond flavor. I even invested the time in whipping up some whipped cream, which was completely worth the time spent.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

I use the internet for taking quizzes and posting the results to my blog.

I also didn't know that quizzes had two z's?

Pirate Monkey's Harry Potter Personality Quiz
Harry Potter Personality Quiz
by Pirate Monkeys Inc.

And since Ginny Weasley wasn't listed as any of the options I'm going to go ahead and say she is in our camp too.

The most impressive part (to me) is that this quiz gave me the same results (INFJ) as a full Myers Briggs test. I remember taking it in a religion class in high school and we spent maybe a week's worth of classes doing the test? Maybe that is an exaggeration, but it seemed to take a really long time. Far longer than these 20 questions.

Also, then I was thinking, I wonder what percentage of people are my same type, and after a quick google search I found this page. Not sure if their info is legitimate, but I'll just believe it as fact and say that I think it is pretty interesting. I also think it is hilarious that the one descriptive word for me is 'confidant'. Once, several years ago, after telling a friend that yet another person had told me all about the details of a situation they were in, she remarked 'people just tell you stuff.' I don't know how true this is anymore, but there was definitely a time where people did indeed just tell me stuff.

Friday, February 22, 2013

quick takes

- 1 -

These images of spacey objects are so amazing! Easily my best internet find from the week.

- 2 -

One thing I wish I remembered to do more often is to put leftover foods into the container upside down. So like, first put the stir fry, then put the rice on top. When I eat foods like this, I like the grain to be on the bottom. So if I package them upside down, I can easily dump them onto a plate for re-heating, and they are already in my preferred order.

Probably a lot of people aren't so particular about food things, but this is something I always pay attention to. And yet, more often than not I forget as I'm putting away leftovers, and then I get it wrong.

- 3 -

In the book Quiet I am learning about the trait of being high-reactive, or sensitive. I am SO fascinated by this. I wanted to read the book because I love reading about introversion/extroversion. And I had no idea that there was a trait such as sensitive. In our everyday world, I feel like being sensitive is generally considered a negative thing. But guess what. It is a biological trait (to some extent, I'm no expert, I just read things and interpret them to my liking). And it survived the gene pool.

I am a sensitive type, and I am evolutionarily important.

- 4 -

Uppsala must have a graveyard of lost mittens and gloves. Just the other day I counted three lone mittens on my walk between home and the office. They are just everywhere, stuck on top of poles, perched on fences or other high places sticking out of the snow.

- 5 -

And it happens on occasion that I hear a bicycle approaching me from behind, and I can hear that the man on the bicycle is singing. Immediate thought? That is rather strange. Then he passes and I see that there is a kid in the kid seat, and it is just a dad singing to his kid, and my heart melts a little (but my face is scowling because winter bicycle riding with a child in tow scares me (at least if the kid is in the seat on the back. those chariots that get pulled behind a bicycle don't bother me so much, because I imagine they have some sort of release mechanism for if the bicycle falls down)).

- 6 -

This is probably the trendiest item you could own in Sweden.

I didn't even know what they were called. I just googled "cool Sweden backpack" and all of the top results showed them instantly. Apparently they are made in Sweden and also quite expensive (but what isn't, really), and very very cool.
In all honesty, when I first started noticing them, they often look like a grown man was carrying his child's backpack. But the look is kind of growing on me, and I have to admit, the people who carry these look pretty cool to me.

- 7 -

Today I had champagne before 10 am. It was not the most complementary food item to coffee, that I can say for sure. Usually a full glass of champagne is a sure way to give me a headache, so I made sure to take the least full glass. But maybe the real problem is that I had previously only been drinking champagne in the after 10 am hours. Amateur!

- -

And to read the quick takes of the other quick takers, head over here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

This is what happens the day after a really good dance

I love my folk dance class so much. And the people in that class make me happy. Last night we did a lot of engelskas which involve a lot of hopping, which is kind of a major workout. Folk dance is all sweat and smiles, apparently.


And today I woke up feeling pretty vibrant, so tomato pants happened. These things glow.


Monday, February 18, 2013

The Bikes of Uppsala

The city of Uppsala has more bicycles than a person can reasonably fathom. My brother likes riding his bicycle to work in a place that is not very bicycle-friendly (as in, not many bike paths and cars are not friendly to bicycles on the road). He came to visit me and was astounded by the number of bicycles. He said something like, "I know you said there were a lot of bicycles, but I never imagined this!" And from a brother whose speech usually doesn't necessitate exclamation points, that really means something.

And even though I've been living here for awhile, I just keep being amazed by the bicycles. Last week we were getting maybe two inches of new snow each day, so there was a lot of loose snow on the paths, making them a bit more difficult to pass with bicycles. But that didn't stop people from trying! No, it certainly did not!

I heard a story about seeing a bicycle do a full 360 in those kind of conditions, and then proceeding to continue on her way. That doesn't even happen in movies!

So for awhile now, I've been thinking about how I'd like to start taking pictures for a photo series I'd call The Bikes of Uppsala.

The number of bicycles around would make it easy. And I just love seeing the different people on the different bicycles, in their different outfits, and carrying their different things. I'd love to document that with photos.

The problem is that I am incredibly hesitant about taking pictures of strangers. What if someone gets really upset and yells at me in Swedish? (Although typing that makes me realize that it is probably highly unlikely because Swedes never complain about anything.) I'm going to try to ease my way into it though. I can at least start out trying to take pictures in very not-obvious ways. And hopefully, the more pictures I take, the more I will lose that hesitation in order to get some superb shots. That will be the goal.

And now I present to you, my first paparazzi shot.


I had my camera hanging from my neck and hit the shutter button. I juuuuust barely got the bicycle in the frame. Here is the original, sans cropping.


I would describe this bicyclist as pretty far to the 'practical' side of the spectrum, as noted by her warm winter gear, waterproof pants (the winter slush on the roads can make things less than pleasant if you don't wear waterproof pants), tires that were probably studded, and a seat low enough to be able to get your feet on the ground if necessary.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Keep your toes warm!

Last weekend when I was checking out the ice festival, I happened across this fountain statue.


This makes me pretty happy.

Friday, February 15, 2013

quick takes

As always, visit Jen for others.

- 1 -

The semlor buns for Fat Tuesday were yummy. Not quite what I was expecting. It just made me want a frosting filled (and frosted.. goes without saying) donut.

- 2 -

Then in the evening of fattisdag I thought I'd celebrate my baking up one (giant) chocolate chip cookie.

- 3 -

I should start making more things in single or double serving sizes. I am getting somewhat bored of eating the same meal four nights in a row. Then again, I also haven't been too thrilled about cooking lately, so that saves some trouble there.

- 4 -

I spent my first Valentine's day as a married woman listening to The Greatest Love Songs of All Time playlist on Spotify while drinking a glass of the boxed wine that has been hanging around since Christmas. Does boxed wine ever go bad?

- 5 -

Sidenote: The playlist did include Unchained Melody. So fear not. The playlist name was warranted.

- 6 -

Low on content this week. Makes for really quick Quick Takes. My phone buzzed earlier, as though to tell me I got a text. It was pretty confusing. I think only five people have my number. One is my boss who has an office next door. Another is the person I share an office with who was sitting right next to me. Turns out, it was a message from the service provider. In Swedish. I imagine it was some sort of sweet deal, but I don't know for sure, and I'm not going to bother to figure it out.

- 7 -

Here is a photo gallery from a Swedish photographer. I found out about him because I finally purchased some stamps and he was on one of them. I really really hope they were the right stamps.

(as though I was being timed and just won. thank you very much.)

Monday, February 11, 2013

the Scared is scared

I completely adore this video.

the Scared is scared from Bianca Giaever on Vimeo.



I made these crackers the other evening. They were quite simple to make and quite nice to eat. I even managed to buy flaky sea salt to sprinkle on the top. There are a Lot of different options when buying salt, so I wasn't holding out much hope that I'd get the right one. But I did! Small victories!

I ventured into the world in an attempt to not be so purposely friendless, and I brought my crackers as a peace offering. They were well-received. And then I was told a story by a Swede who did an exchange program in the US and gained 30 pounds in the first three months he was there.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Ten on Ten

Today I kept my camera at my side nearly all day. One month ago I heard of the idea of taking one photo every hour for ten hours on the tenth of the month, aptly named Ten on Ten. I really liked the idea and wanted to try it out this month. I haven't been taking very many photos lately. Hopefully this is a good start to changing that.

I took these photos each hour from 10 am until about 7:30 pm. Enjoy.

Start with coffee.

Clear up some space on my memory card.

I have used more lotion since moving to Sweden than I have in my entire life.

Skaters on that side, ducks on this side!

Isfestivalen (aka ice festival)

I pass this frozen banana peel every time I walk to the office or to town. It has been there for several days.

Pizza dough!

Pizza! w/pesto, tomato slices, apple slices, red onions (fried until soft), cheese

Tree stump incorporated into fence.

Home for the night.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Four ingredient cookies

Somehow last week, I found myself presented with these two, very similar recipes. You better believe I made myself some of these. My four ingredients were peanut butter, powdered sugar, one egg, and chopped chocolate. And I baked them for 8 minutes. And I used natural peanut butter, even though that second recipe advises against it. I don't know about you, but I feel like, there just comes a time in your life when you join the adult table and start eating real maple syrup and real peanut butter. Although I concede that creamy peanut butter would have been better for this recipe than the crunchy that I had.

Also, I remember when it was decided that there would only be one space after a period, instead of two. I remember thinking it would take me forever to get used to doing that, if I ever did at all. And I just realized that it seems perfectly natural, so I guess that transition worked.

So the cookies ended up looking exactly the same after baking as they looked before baking. I actually think the insides just got warmed and nothing more.

These cookies are like the quick and easy version of these peanut butter balls that I adore. Actually, that makes me realize that these cookies would benefit from a pinch of salt. I guess a lot of peanut butters will have a little salt, but my recipe is totally lacking that 'flavor carrier' which is a bit of a shame. Although adding salt would probably make me want to eat these all in one day (instead of a more respectable two day).

And that is all I have to say about that.

Friday, February 8, 2013


Seven Quick Takes with Jen and Friends

- 1 -

Greg just told me about Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire last weekend, and I am smitten! I can't believe I never knew about this!

- 2 -

I rent a fully furnished apartment, except that fully furnished does not include a microwave. Even though I have never lived without a microwave, I (somehow) wasn't too concerned. I've gotten really good at re-heating foods in the oven or on the stove. Sometimes laziness wins though, and then I just eat cold food. Alternately, I bring my nice leftovers to the office for lunch and eat a sandwich for dinner. Perfect.

- 3 -

Just this week I realized that the cashiers at the grocery store often ask me if I want my receipt. In Swedish. They say "kvitto?" which just sounds like "K toe." to me. Questions don't have a rising tone, so you just know it is a question based on word order or context. I really don't know how many times I basically ignored this question due to a complete lack of realizing it was being asked of me. The thing is, the receipt always prints, so you either take it or they throw it in a bin. And I always smile and take it and say 'tack', so that is almost like giving an answer right? Goal for the future: reply "ja tack".

- 4 -

Fat Tuesday is called Fettisdag. In Sweden you celebrate by eating semlor buns. Don't mind if I do.

- 5 -

I've been thinking about things I should do or give up for Lent. I am usually really bad at Lent. This year I keep thinking of practical things that will make my life simpler. Then I realize that I should already be doing these things, and then force myself to start immediately instead of waiting for Lent to start. Exhibit A: no more snoozing through the second alarm. (That is a serious issue for me.) Exhibit B: wash bowl from breakfast immediately because I hate not having a clean bowl for breakfast in the morning. Needing to wash dishes before eating is my least favorite, but I do that to myself all the time.

- 6 -

When I started my new job I switched from programming in IDL to Matlab. (thrilling!) I am also now using immense amounts of data instead of just a small amount. So I have a need for greater computing power. Just this week I got things sorted so that I can run some of my stuff on the big research computer. And all that is to say, now I have dueling matlabs! (Also I sit in my office with the sounds of dueling banjos in my head... ddin din din din din din din din diinnn)

- 7 -

I am continually amazed that children here often know as many languages as their age. A co-worker and her husband were not from here, and not from the same country as each other, and their three year old son spoke both of their languages plus Swedish, which he learned at daycare. He might have known some English on top of those as well.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

On solitude

"The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind."
― Albert Einstein 

“Who hears music, feels his solitude
Peopled at once.” 
― Robert BrowningThe complete poetical works of Browning

“I have never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.”
― Henry David ThoreauWalden

“We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private: and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.” 
― C.S. LewisThe Weight of Glory

"My solitude, however, is not my own, for I see now how much it belongs to them — and that I have a responsibility for it in their regard, not just in my own…it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are….There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun."
― Thomas Merton

Monday, February 4, 2013

Accessorizing (in a more traditional way)

Alternately titled: A post in which Meghan wear's her husbands scarf!

It happened that my dad and step-mom sent some Christmas gifts for us. It also happened that shipping things to Sweden takes a really incredibly long time. So by the time they got here, Greg had already gone back to the States. We opened our presents via Skype. And then a few weeks later I went ahead and wore the scarf that Greg got. I decided that if I wrap it in a way that looks girly, then it won't matter that it is a man-scarf. A scarf is a really good accessory for me, mainly because I am always freezing.

Ta daa.

Photo on 1-24-13 at 9.55 AM

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Liebster Award!

It is like the chain letter of blogging, and I am a winner! I was so surprised to see that I was one of the luckies that Julie decided to pass the award along to. At first, the skeptical side of me wanted to do a bit of searching to see just what this award was. Is this real? But self, don't be ridiculous! (I say to myself.) Julie has an awesome blog and she chose me, and that is as real as real can be!

So there we go. Thank you Julie!


The Rules:
Thank the person who nominated you and link your post to their blog.
List 11 facts about yourself then answer the 11 questions given to you.
Create 11 more questions for your 9 nominees, all of whom have 200 or less followers.
Comment on their blogs informing them of their Liebster Award nomination.


Facts about me:

1. I really want to re-read The Little House on the Prairie books, except that I can't get it for free on my kindle, and I don't have a library membership.

2. I'll drink my coffee when it is either hot or after it has gone completely cold. Lukewarm coffee bothers me though.

3. My confirmation name is Theda. Or maybe it is actually Theta. I don't know if it is more terrible that I don't remember or more terrible that the confirmation teacher let me get away with that one.

4. I recently found out that my mother's father didn't have a middle name, and my husband's mother's father didn't have a middle name.

5. Here is a list of things I remember winning in life:
    - a box of crayons for a coloring contest in which I used a cotton ball for a bunny's tail
    - a medal for jumping rope for the longest time of a whole gymful of little girls at a Jump Rope for Heart event
    - a math bowl trophy and medal (I think our 8th grade team got 3rd in the 9th grade math bowl?)
    - some t-shirts from Toothpaste for Dinner because the first time I tried slacklining I was wearing a TfD shirt, and so I submitted the photo to a photo contest they had
    - this Liebster Award!

6. I spent two summers as a nanny for my little cousins. My aunt likes to joke that I potty-trained both of her kids, one each summer.

7. I also knew every word to The Lorax after those summers.

8. And at one point in my life, I could perfectly mimic the anti-smoking radio commercial that started off with: "I used to love cigarette ads. The cowboy sitting tall on his horse, riding off into the sunset. Then the cowboy died. How do I know this? His name was ___ ____, and he was my brother. [...]"

9. When I ride a bicycle, I always start with my left foot on the pedal first. If I try to start out with the right foot, it is really challenging and I almost fall over.

10. See that book called Bob's Big Book of Waltzes? I took that photo! I was pretty excited when asked if they could use my photo(:

11. I keep deodorant in my office. Smartest move ever, because sometimes you just forget before you head out of the house in the morning.


Questions from Julie:

1. What is your favorite part of the day?
    A 9 am sunrise in Sweden is a pretty nice time of day.

2. What is your favorite cereal?
    Oatmeal Squares (miss them dearly, in Sweden I eat a lot of müsli crunchy)

3. Are you named after anyone?
    Not that I know of.

4. What is your dream career?
    Obviously the one I am doing now! But if a law banned me from space science, then I'd migrate to a contra dance related career. For sure.

5. Where is your favorite place on earth?
    Lake Willoughby in northern Vermont.
    Or, in Alaska at the auroral observatory they have these glass domes in the roof, usually meant to put a camera under, but under one of them they installed this little bench, and that was a really nice cozy little place for viewing aurora.

6. What is your least favorite fashion trend right now and why?
    peplum. I actually kind of think it can look quite cute, but I hate the word, and also there is a link-up called 'Everybody, Everywhere' which was started to show how different people style the staples that nearly everyone would have in their wardrobe, and one month everyone was trying to vote for peplum, which I had to google since it was a word I had never heard of, which, in my mind makes it the exact opposite of a staple. Anyhow.

7. Morning person or night owl?
    Neither really? I just really like to sleep a lot and rarely see early mornings or late nights.

8. What is your guilty pleasure?
    I don't even know how to answer this question. Sometimes I just eat candy as a meal, but I rarely feel guilty about that.

9. Would you like to have lived in any other decade?
   No. I do like to talk about my desire to be an old world woman, but basically this involves bringing my favorite aspects of other decades into this one.

10. How did you and your best friend meet?
    Too many best friends, so I'll just choose my favorite story: On one of my first days of college I complimented Malory's shoelaces, "I like your shoelaces." And she said "thanks" and walked away. And we probably didn't talk again for several weeks.

11. What is your most cherished possession?
    my wedding rings, which were Greg's grandmother's



Questions for my nominees:

1. What is the best book you've read lately?

2. Do you have a favorite painting/piece of artwork, and if so, what is it?

3. How do you feel about Tuesday?

4. Do you have any wilderness survival skills, and if so, what are they?

5. How many (and which) languages do you speak?

6. Got any funny stories you'd like to share?

7. What is the weirdest recipe you've made and loved?

8. Are you right-handed or left-handed?

9. What would be your ideal vacation?

10. What is the age from which you have your earliest memory?

11. Can you separate an egg without using some sort of man-made egg separator?


(phew, getting so close to the end of this, my longest blog post ever in the world)

Those I would like to nominate for the Liebster Award (also, I will not at all be offended if you are not interested in making your own big long post like this. But either way, I still wanted to let you know that your blogging is appreciated. Also, if you are not one of these people but feel like answering any of those questions in the comment section, I'd be all in favor of that)!

1. Natalie

2. Sarah

3. Julie

4. Sara

5. Ana

6. Mary

7. Jenny

8. Allison

9. Sarah

Saturday, February 2, 2013

A recipe from Ellen?

Call me crazy, but I am now getting cooking advice from Ellen. I may have a small addiction to watching the clips of Ellen that are posted on youtube. And while I was watching this one, I happened to have a stack of post-its and a pen next to me, so I made a quick grocery list.

I love lentils and I was so excited to try out this recipe. And it was super delicious!

Friday, February 1, 2013

7QT - my heart will go on

- 1 -

Last weekend my doorbell rang, which has only happened once before. So I went downstairs and there was no one there. Fifteen minutes later it rang again. I didn't bother to go down, but instead ran to the window to see if I could see anyone (I don't actually have a view of my door, but I can see a bit of the surrounding area). Mainly I was checking to see if I could see any neighbor kids sprinting away or something. This happened maybe four or five times.


One morning I hear some sort of elevator version of My Heart Will Go On? I didn't know where it was coming from, but the second time it happened I realized that it was the doorbell! So strange (in a fantastical way). I am guessing this is the doorbell's way of letting me know it's batteries are dying?

- 2 -

On Wednesday I got to go to the regular folk dance session (not just the newbie course I usually go to) because they were learning a kadrilj (quadrille) that no one knew. This is the most Pride and Prejudice-like dance that I have ever done and it was Awesome!

- 3 -

I've been making hummus a lot lately. Most people eat it as a 'dip' but for me it is dinner. One batch of hummus, plus some pita, and a few small tomatoes, maybe an avocado if I really want to live it up. And in all this hummus making, I somehow always fail to remember that the immersion blender never further chops the coursely chopped garlic. Makes for some pretty potent bites.

- 4 -

I usually start my 'quick takes' early in the week and add a take as it comes to mind. I'm just going to go ahead and say that I wrote all of take #2 on Tuesday. Before I ever even went to the dance. But I really had no reason to believe there would be any bit of un-truth in it.

- 5 -


- 6 -

I heard it, and kind of saw it, and gathered the evidence! What's all this about?

I have this plant that I am plant-sitting. And I really love it. The best part is that it populates by firing seeds off. I've been waiting around to see this happen. The other day I thought I got one. I picked up some paper and some sort of seed-shaped thing fell out. So I gathered it up, intending to put it in dirt at some point to see if it grew. This is not the first time I've collected small things that could potentially be the seeds of this plant. But just now, I heard the seed 'pop!' and then across the room I heard a small 'tink' and looked over to see a seed sitting on a chair that is at least 5 feet from the plant. The good news is that it looks identical to the one from the other day.

So hopefully by April when my plant-sitting duties are over, I'll have my own little baby plant (or two) growing happily!

- 7 -

I just found out about this experiment in which bugs were sent to space.