Monday, July 29, 2013

Wednesday Wednesday Wednesday

I've always been a Tuesday person (if that wasn't obvious), but this week, I am all about Wednesday! On Wednesday Greg arrives in Sweden. To live! Here! With me! And you know what that means! Time to change my "About" page, of course!

I actually really enjoyed writing that page. Then I got to the last paragraph where I had to write that Greg and I live in different countries, and that, combined with just not being good at writing conclusions in general, led to a dismal finish. So I am glad I get to change that part, although I'm not quite sure what I'll write. I guess it is a good thing I've got another 1.5 days.

In the meantime I'll be spending the next two evenings on last-minute preparations. I spent all weekend cleaning, because I am lazy and let the apartment get incredibly untidy. I also have been gathering various surprises for Greg in an attempt to make amends for leaving him with an entire apartment to pack and clean on his own. Most of them are small, but I'm sure at least one of them will make a blog appearance in the future. So look forward to that!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

On running errands

I love that it is easy and completely unnecessary to have a car here. I really really love it. All of my traveling needs can be accomplished by walking, bicycling, or taking a bus or train. And quite easily and efficiently, at that.

This is a photo from last fall, because who wouldn't want their photo taken when they return from the grocery store with a baguette in their bicycle basket.

Pretty much the only time I think about how it would be really nice to have a car is when I am running errands. The whole concept of driving to a store, buying stuff, putting stuff in car where it will stay while you go into a second nearby store, is a pretty nice thing. As it is, when I run errands I can pretty much only manage to go to one store at a time, even if there are two together that I'd like to go to. Then I have to consider if the things I am buying can be transported by bicycle or if I'd be better off taking the bus. Then travel routes or bus timetables need to be consulted. Getting lost while driving isn't really so bad. Getting lost on a bicycle can really tire you out.

I do my grocery shopping one bag at a time, or two if I'm feeling ambitious. Stocking up at the liquor store means 8 beers maximum, because any more than that is just too heavy. Often I decide to pay more for an item at a convenient store, rather than going across town to get a better deal. Tracking down specific foods here can take a couple days if I don't find the item at the store where I am shopping. (Kale can be incredibly elusive here.)

All that said, I have gotten pretty comfortable with the system. Usually it is not a concern because I can keep up on errand-running one item at a time. But at times when I've let myself get behind and realize it is going to take several nights to get caught up, it is then that I start thinking about how this could be finished in just an hour if I had a car. But alas, it is a sacrifice I am willing to pay! Because look at me! No car!

Friday, July 19, 2013

7QT - I wasn't expecting the ducks!

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I spy...



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"When is ikea the least busy?"
That is what I googled yesterday. That led me to this nonsense. Then I realized that Swedish shopping habits don't really resemble US shopping habits, so the googling is fruitless unless I translate to Swedish, which would probably be more effort than just sucking it up and going to the ikea.

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And also this. Horsemeat scandal. ruh roh.

- 4 -

Yesterday I had a headache, and I was thinking that it was the first non-caffeine-related headache I had had in as long as I could remember. Then this morning I went to get coffee and it came out of the machine with no coffee, just water and milk. The coffee cartridge needed to be replaced, which could very well mean that yesterday's coffee was a reduced version as well.

And then I thought, let that be shared with the world via my blog.

- 5 -

Have you heard of Humans of New York? I just read about it on another blog, and I have quickly fallen in love. I mean, honestly, this lady? "I wasn't expecting the ducks!" is going to be my new life motto.

- 6 -

My 2013 book count is on track. About a month ago, I discovered that I was way behind if I wanted to even approach my book and page number counts from previous years. Thanks to Anne of Green Gables, I have now doubled those numbers, which puts me back on track. Plus I still have the two Chronicles of Avonlea books to read. Plus I love the public library, so I am really motivated to finish the books I currently have checked out so that I can go get some new ones.

- 7 -

For the past two weeks there have been no more than 5 people in the office (normally we are around 25). In Sweden, it is very very typical for people to take the entire month of July (also maybe some or all of June and August) off of work for holiday. At first it seems so strange for every single person to be on holiday at the same time. But recently someone was describing to me how it is a pretty good system actually. At an office in the US, where people are taking vacation whenever they please, it can often happen where there is at least one person missing every time there is a meeting, which can delay decisions or whathaveyou. In Sweden, if everyone is off at the same time, then that just doesn't happen. 

- The End -

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Midsummer and the Swedish language

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The Swedish midsummer celebration was fun. I think most Swedes are not actually dancing around the Maypole to celebrate (why a Maypole in June is not something I understand (Update since I wrote this long before I got the pictures added in: In Swedish it is called a majstång, maja (sounds like maya) meaning "dressed" so it is like a pole dressed in greenery... so I am told)). Either way, I was happy to go see the maypole dancing happen. I didn't actually participate in this dance and chose to take photos instead for once.

After the group circle dance there was a folk dance display. The group that did it is different from my group, and they seemed more focused on the display-type dances. Most of the dances were more choreographed than I am used to, so that was fun to watch. It was also fun to see the different folk costumes.

And here is a thing about understanding Swedish. Most of the time I feel like I don't understand any of it. But sometimes I do. So I just need to remember that I have made good progress since I first moved here a year ago. When the circle dances were happening, the leader was talking in Swedish the whole time, and I felt like I understood a large portion of his instructions. Maybe I am only good at figuring out what to do in dance situations? If you had asked me, I probably couldn't have translated too much, but I really felt like I knew what he was talking about. So that was interesting.

Lately I've been trying to be more honest with myself about how I feel about learning Swedish. To clarify, I am only talking about the learning process, not the actual language, because I think Swedish is a lovely language. The learning process is a different story, and it is a story I do not like. I just don't like it. I don't like sitting at my computer to do lessons with Rosetta Stone, even though I do feel like it is a very good and helpful program. Now that I can openly admit to strongly disliking learning the language, I also feel better about giving myself good rewards for actually taking the time to learn. So far I am using desserts and screen time (of the non-Rosetta Stone variety, obviously). I am open to any other suggestions you may have for me, because despite hating the learning, I do want to be able to know some more Swedish. So, rewards and motivators! Suggest away!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Cake!

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Here is a thing that frequently happens in my home. I'm in the mood for baking a tasty treat, but I am not in the mood to run to the store to buy any ingredients. I'd rather spend thirty minutes scouring the internet looking for a recipe for which I have all of the ingredients.

On the day that I am writing about, I happened to be interested in making a lemon pound cake. I had two lemons, and also lemon juice in a bottle, so I was perfectly set on that front. What I did not have was very much butter or milk, and no yogurt or half and half or anything like that. Then I remembered that you can make a cake with olive oil. The best recipe I could find was this vegan cake recipe. I didn't have maple syrup but I had honey, which I thought could be a reasonable substitute.

Plus, here's a thing, I like the idea of eating a variety of foods. I'm not a vegan, but sometimes I like to eat foods that happen to be vegan. Vegan dessert. That means it is automatically healthy, right?

Anyhow. Getting distracted. I was glad that this recipe worked for the foods that I had in my house.

I tasted the batter and it was strongly olive oil flavored and not delicious. But once it was baked!

This cake was SO good! I ate the entire thing in less than an hour. In my defense I only made half a recipe (which is why it is so thin).

Allowing myself to get distracted again. Looking at this photo makes me realize that this cake was basically as thin as a pancake, which makes me wonder if you can make a cake in a pan on the stove? Like a real cake, in a pan, not a pancake.

And I've had this post written and waiting for that photo to be uploaded for-basically-ever. And today happens to be Mystery Ingredient Monday - Lemons. And I don't blog unless I can link-up. Apparently(:

Thursday, July 11, 2013

7QT - bicycle repair, cooking, and other fun things

- 1 -

Here is an unexpected thing that I miss about my husband. He is pretty good at keeping me informed of big current events. I have always been terrible at current events. The weekly current events quizzes we were given in seventh grade were the worst.

So when my husband is living in a different country, I miss out on so many little conversations, including the ones about current events. Maybe I should care enough to seek out that information on my own, but I honestly don't see that happening.

I think if there was a blog that posted several times a week with the briefest of brief news summaries, that might be good for me. The other problem is that biased reporting really gets me down.

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Although I do prefer to watch hockey games that have a sportscaster who is a fan of my team. It just makes things better than an unbiased sportscaster when there is agreement with me and the tv.

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- 4 -

I got a flat tire on my bicycle this week. Punka is the Swedish for that, apparently. Punka, indeed. I watched this video on youtube (as well as a few others, but this one most resembles my bicycle) to learn what I needed to do to fix it.


Even if you don't watch the video, notice that it took this man less than ten minutes to complete the task. It took me about one hundred minutes to do the same exact thing. Not bad for my first tire change though! Although, full disclosure, I got a lot of help from my landlord. My progress would have come to a full stop at least once if not for his assistance.

Now I need to decide if I want to try to patch the hole in the tube or just throw it out. Does anyone have any experience with this and want to give me advice?

- 5 -

This is one of the more interesting blog posts I've read in awhile. It discusses the topic of the first known music video to feature contra dancing. Oh how I love the spirit of contra.

- 6 -

I also learned from that article the "electronic duo" The Knife is Swedish. I have been told several times that music is Sweden's biggest export, and that it happens so often that you find out a band or group is from Sweden, which you may not have known for years and years. I was slightly skeptical about the latter part, since that had never happened to me. Then I read the above article, and now I get it! And for reference, one of the greatest songs in the world, compliments of The Knife:


- 7 -

Last night I made a dinner that was inspired by this coconut chicken recipe. I changed a lot of things though, just because the original recipe is not possible for me in my current circumstances. For one I don't have a dutch oven. For two I'm not about to turn on my oven and leave it on for such a long time (my apartment is small and using the oven is like using a space heater... in the middle of summer). For three I just made this all in a frying pan on the stove and used two chicken breasts instead of a full chicken. For four I just noticed that it only wanted half of the pepper, but I used a whole one and it was yellow. For five I was not able to get cilantro. For six I somehow had it in my head that bok choy was leeks, so when I headed to the store I was planning to buy leeks (even though my list said bok choy). When I got to the produce section and saw the leeks I realized then that they were not bok choy. Somehow when I saw the Swedish word for leek, it dawned on me that it was not bok choy, even though I don't know the Swedish word for bok choy and could not tell you the word for leek.

Long story short, it was very tasty, and I am glad I have leftovers for three more meals!

- The End -

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Most beautiful Sunday

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Today is the most beautiful Sunday. The skies are blue, and the air smells so sweet. After Mass I stopped for a coffee to take away and strolled to the city park. I hadn't been through it since the winter, and it is just so lovely. I found a partially shaded bench where I enjoyed my coffee and some more Anne of Green Gables. Then I meandered home by way of the University's gardens, which made me glad I was on foot due to an unfortunate flat tire on my bicycle. Last year I didn't arrive in Sweden until mid-August, so I missed all of this lovely summer weather and the lovely summer flowers.

And when no one was around, I took some quick self-timed photos by some of those lovely flowers to document and share my outfit. I'm linking up with Fine Linen & Purple and looking forward to seeing what everyone else wore on Sunday(:

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Lovely summer evenings

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On Wednesday evenings in the summer there is folk dancing in "Old" Uppsala. The past two Wednesdays have provided us with perfect weather for an evening of music and dance. Also, there are waffles. This week I did even better than last because I brought my picnic blanket, so I could claim a sunny spot on the grass. I didn't expect to know anyone this week, since many from my group are at a special dance thing further north. But there were still a handful of people, so I got to do some nice dances without stepping into the world of asking strangers to dance. A perfect way to spend a summer evening, if you ask me:)