Saturday, December 20, 2014

Train Tales, volume 1

Some of my favorite time of nearly every day is my time spent on the train. Train commuting suits my person very well. I've had the pleasure of witnessing plenty of interesting/strange/lovely/funny things, and now I'll pass some of that on to you, in the form of Train Tales.
________

For a large part of my life I refused to eat bananas. I really didn't like anything about them and would occasionally claim to have a banana allergy to avoid being hassled about not wanting to eat them. I don't know what happened in August, but I ate a banana and now I am eating them daily. However! I still don't really like hearing or smelling someone else eat a banana… It is something I need to get over, but until that happens, be assured that when a man sat across the aisle from me on the train and started eating a banana, I was certainly aware of it and anxiously waiting for it to be gone. The train hadn't even departed yet, so any background noise I could hope for was severely lacking. But alas, it is one banana. It will be gone soon. And then there is nothing to worry about.

But would I be writing my first Train Tale about a man who ate one banana? No, no I would not.

This is a very hungry guy who sat near me, and shortly after finishing the first banana he starts in on a second banana. And if you are a person who hasn't eaten breakfast, I suppose two bananas could be justified. Especially if you are taking your breakfast on a train, because bananas come with their own portable packaging. I can understand two bananas, but when he cracked open the third one I started to be amazed. And I started thinking about how I needed to remember this and tell my friends.

Now this is starting to sound mythical, but I am so serious when I say: This guy ate four bananas within a twenty minute time span. Four.

The End!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

7QT: swedish, and jumping on trees, and posture

1. I think these are the most important Swedish words I know. First, fika. Second, lagom. Third, jantelagen. These mean, approximately and respectively: coffee and sweet treats, everything in moderation, and don't try to stand out above any others.

So pretty much Sweden suits me just fine(:

2. Just two short weeks ago I wrote that I really wanted to make an effort to just speak Swedish at school. I just have to be honest and say that is not really happening. I am doing a good job of hearing Swedish, but I am starting to develop the habit of responding in English. I'm really slow at formulating things to say in Swedish, and I also find it nearly impossible to express myself in Swedish. So for now, English dominates. le'sigh

3. I think it is safe to say that making friends at folk dance school is pretty much nothing like making friends at the office of a job in academia. Guess which one shared this link on fb and which one shared this link. And to be honest I didn't even read the first article, but definitely enjoyed watching the video from that second link. (And apparently 50 years is not enough time to change the fact that NASA is dominated by white men with moustaches…)

Anyhow, I didn't start this intending to go that route. I intended to make some comments about how unusual it is for me to feel so close to people that I haven't known for very long. For one thing, we are physically close because we spend all our days dancing together (and also, that general strong affinity for hugging). But there is also an emotional closeness that comes from spending all day, every day interacting with the same small group of people. You quickly move on from discussions about the weather to topics with a little more heft, which suits me and my introversion just fine.

4. Greg and I were laughing about how our facebook feeds exploded with halloween costumes on halloween. I commented about how strange it was that there were at least four alligators, surprised that this was the most popular costume choice of the year. He kindly pointed out that I was probably looking at mostly dinosaurs. Good point, my friend, good point.

5. I really like this video.

Ever since watching it, I've been thinking about how I'd like to be able to jump onto a tree like that (go ahead and skip to 2:30 if you don't want to watch the whole thing). So the other night I just tried it out. My tips for those wanting to try this: choose a tree with no low branches, and just commit!

6. Apparently posture has become such a central concept in my life that I am now dreaming about it. My posture needs improvement, and now I am just thinking about it all the time. Plus maybe we all read this already, but I am coming out of ten-ish years of being hunched over a computer screen full-time. So I've got some correcting to do.

7. The other day Greg was watching some MJ videos. I commented that Smooth Criminal was probably my favorite song of his. But then I had to quickly correct myself, because that and the song from Free Willy are both favorites. Just so good!

Fun fact: I've gotten into the habit of writing these posts over a timespan of… weeks maybe? So every time I would open a yet-to-be-finished post and read the takes I had already written, I'd find that I wrote a reference to 'yesterday' almost every time. For example "yesterday Greg was watching some MJ videos." So I'm trying to learn to just type "the other day" because it keeps things more honest around here.

__________________________

The End!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

flood of consciousness

Hej there you old blog, you old pal. I think I want to be one of those people that keeps track of some daily details of life. These people exist, right? It started when they installed this new bike counter leading to central station. Realistically, there are probably over five main ways in which bicycles can arrive at central station. On the one that I use regularly, they just installed this bike counter. It is amazing. I don't know how they can even do these things. Not counting people. Not counting too many bikes. It works through a sensor that is installed under the path, and what happens when a unicycle goes by? These are important things, but from what I've seen, it looks accurate. So then I decided to start writing down which bicycle number I was each time I passed. This is at least once or twice a day, depending on whether I go directly home or go in some other direction. I've got big plans for making some sort of plot with this information once I've gathered up a good collection.

Sometimes I think I only write about bicycling so much to give myself more dimension. It doesn't feel bad to me to be so enthusiastic about folk dance, but I can see other people register my enthusiasm as overzealousness. Overzealousness doesn't win hearts, but neither does an awkward attempt at hiding my enthusiasm or making it seem less. I'm not bothered by my love of folk dance, but I'm so sensitive to people having a negative reaction to it. I don't expect people to match my enthusiasm (or even be anywhere close to it). I sort of expect that the majority of people would have a neutral and open opinion about folk dance. Even if they don't share the same enthusiasm, they understand what it is like to be enthusiastic about a thing. Sort of a "That's cool that you are really into a thing that you love. I'm like that about [insert enthusiasm of your choice]." But it makes me sad when I'm made to feel like it is a bad thing. I don't want to hear people tell me that I shouldn't want to dance more in the evening if I already danced all day long. I have so many feelings about this, but it is not so easy to put words to it. The words really help to sort through the feelings, so I'll keep thinking on it and perhaps come back with more later.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Hunting and gathering

DSC_7441

IMG_3407

I want to be the sort of person who can be good at gathering. I think it would take my almost-crunchy ways to perfect crunchiness. And maybe one of my favorite reasons for blogging is that I can just write whatever I want without ever worrying that I'm confusing non-native english speakers with my weird language tendencies.

A month ago Greg and I went apple picking in a park in the middle of the city. The open apple picking policy in Sweden is a really good thing. Especially when you also find tiny pears.

Earlier this week I had an adventure day planned with a new friend who has dreamily wonderful gathering skills. She showed me where to find mushrooms and also told me which ones were not only edible but also delicious. We found three kinds: fingrarsvamp, taggsvamp, & trattkantareller. Sorry I don't know what they are called in English. I felt so proud and accomplished after getting so many good mushrooms. Plus I completely trust myself to be able to get a positive ID on a trattkantareller on my own. Knowledge! Too bad I have to be practically standing on top of them before I actually see them.

In the afternoon we hunted for geocaches. I had good memories of 'catching geos' with Nicki in college, and returning to the activity did not disappoint. Although I think the geos are getting smaller, as evidenced in the photo above.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A day in the life: Tobo edition

06:30. Alarm. Last week I was waking up before the alarm. This week, not so much… o'well.

07:10. Coffee needs to either be made or in preparation. Today Greg actually was awake at this time too because he had an early class to teach. Even though he is not a morning person, it is still good to have a bit of extra time where we are both home and both awake.

07:40. Leave home. Get on bicycle. Cycle to the train station. You know in Super Mario Kart where you could race against the ghost of your own driving from the previous game? Sometimes I wish I had that so I could compare my pace from one day to the next. Some days I feel strong and feel like I am riding fast. Some days I feel like all the wind is against me, and there are all the cars in the way never leaving a gap big enough for me to cross at that one intersection. But then I get to the train station, and I seem to end up arriving within the same couple minutes every day.

08:00. Arrive at train station. Search for bicycle parking. I have an ideal row where I would park. It is primarily the ideal so that I can actually find my bike again in the evening when I return to town. After my first day of class I got back to Uppsala and spent a solid five minutes wandering through the bikes looking for my Elegance 3, so now I try really hard to make a strong mental note of where I park every day.


This photo is over two years old, but that is me on my bike and I don't think things have changed much.

08:09. Train departs. I usually spend my time on the train reading, taking notes, or talking with others from the school who might happen to be commuting on the same train as me. This morning I read six (!) pages from a book I am reading that is written in easy Swedish.

08:38. Arrive in Tobo. From here I take my second bike (owning two bicycles is a sure sign of riches, let me tell you) to the institute. This is just a quick seven-ish minutes, including unlocking and re-locking time.

09:00. Class starts! We have two teachers, but usually only one of them is leading the course each day, and they alternate days according to a schedule. Today was an unusual day though, because we had both teachers, and also a guest who was a former student of the class who came to observe and will be teaching us tomorrow. When I moved to Sweden two years ago and took a beginners' course in Swedish folk dance, he was one of my teachers. Today I told him that it will be good to have a lesson with him where I actually understand some of what he is saying. Such a novelty!

Today we did a lot of observing of our two teachers dancing together, and taking note of different things and discussing those things. Then two pairs worked together, with one pair dancing behind the teachers and trying to mimic them exactly, and the other pair observing and giving feedback about what looked the same and what maybe didn't, or how to try to make it look the same. All in all this amounted to more sitting than a typical day, but it was a really interesting way to explore some details in the dance.

10:40. Fika! Stina baked chocolate cake!

11:00. Back to dancing/observing/discussing.

12:25. We were having some good discussions and no one realized that lunch had started ten minutes prior. We kind of have these ridiculously good meals every day, but I don't want to talk it up too much or Greg will be jealous of how good I'm actually eating every day. Today we had salad, coleslaw, and bowtie pasta with sauce.

13:10. Back to dancing/observing/discussing.

15:00. Fika! Still some cake left. Plus we've had baby oranges lately, but combining them with coffee is a little unfortunate.

15:20. Back to dancing/observing/discussing.

16:15. Class ends. I stay and dance for a little bit more. I really really like dancing after class, but so far only a couple of my classmates are enthusiastic about more dancing after a day full of dancing.

16:30. Wash my hands. Change back into civilian clothes. Take bicycle to train.

16:49. Take the train back to Uppsala. There seemed to be some issues with the trains today, so ours was on the opposite track from normal, and the northbound train was super delayed, but luckily no delay in my train:) I spend the train ride home taking notes from the day. Actually I wasn't even able to finish taking my notes, so I'll have to continue that on my train tomorrow morning.

17:25. This train always seems to get in a bit late. Depart train. Locate bicycle. Ride home. (bicycling during commuting times is madness)

17:50. Get home. Start laundry. Make a list of four items to get from the grocery store. Check email, realise that Greg is probably going to be home any minute. Greg arrives. We go to the store and buy eleven items. (Our little shop next door has had kale for the past few days! I couldn't be more excited, so we express our gratitude by buying large quantities! Which only explains one of the seven additional items, but I'm done blogging about the details of my grocery shopping for today.)

18:15. Return home. Wash dishes. Make dinner. [Have dinner made for me.] Eat dinner while watching youtube videos of Dancing with the Stars clips.

And so here is a thing that is not at all related to my day-in-the-life. Why the heck do they keep making the stars on Dancing with the Stars dance a waltz to music that is in beats of 4 and not 3?!?!? This makes me so super incredibly angry. I just cannot even! Don't try to claim that you are teaching these people about dancing. Music & dance. Dance & music. If you want the two to go together, there needs to be a connection between the two. Dancing a dance that is designed in beats of 3 to music in beats of 4 makes ZERO sense. Rant Rant Rant. You are doing a BAD job of teaching non-dancers about dance, DWTS!

Anyhow. The rest of my evening has been fairly uneventful, mostly revolving around laundry. And DWTS anger, apparently. And blogging this super narrative! My favorite part is that I included just one photo that was taken over two years ago. Better luck next time. Thanks for reading along!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

How my folk dance life looks

Lately I can't even grasp (or put words to) how good my everyday life is. All of it is just so so good. Even on the days when I am frustrated because I can't understand how I'm doing some step incorrectly. Or even when I understand it is incorrect, but can't figure out how to fix it. Or when I can't sleep because my mind won't let go of wrapping itself around a dance.

Even the negatives start to sound like positives.

I can't imagine many other things that could be as beautiful. To me, this is complete luxury.

DSC_7425

A foggy morning at the train station in Tobo. Have I mentioned my school is in a very small town?

DSC_7426

Paparazzi(:

DSC_7431

My favorite is the two matching dance legs in the foreground.

DSC_7435

Not Swedish, but still lovely to watch.

DSC_7436

That's more like it(:

DSC_7438

And a parting shot of the Tobo train station by night.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Hooray for the fortuitous things in life

I am a commuter now, and I feel pretty proud of myself for that. My commute originally consisted of a twenty minute bike ride, a half hour train ride, and then a fifteen minute walk. Inverse and repeat to return home. With planning to arrive early enough to not miss my train (has happened once already…) this ends up being about an hour and a quarter each way. All in all I really enjoy the time, but I was thinking that it might be even more enjoyable to turn that fifteen minute walk into a six minute bike ride. I had been thinking about starting to search for a used bike that I'd be able to keep on the other end.

Two bikes in Sweden. I am just really living large!

I wasn't looking forward to starting the search process, so I was dragging my feet a bit. Used bikes can sometimes be stolen bikes, and I wasn't sure how I was going to go about that process. And then I went to the astronomers' pub night, and I met a guy who lives in the city where my school is. We chatted a bit about the long, straight, flat walking path (used to be a railway) between the train station and town. I mentioned that I was thinking of buying a second bike to keep there. He mentioned that he had a bike there that he shouldn't be riding because it is too small for him and gives him pain in his knees. Four days later I bought his bike from him(:

And in case you were wondering, I did check to make sure the bike was a nice color (silverish-blue) and more importantly, well-named (Bellevue by Logan), before buying it.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

On my new endeavor

Soon I will be taking up my new post as a full-time student in a Swedish folk dance course. I guess I don't have too much more to say on the topic, actually.

I am really super excited.

The culture of the folky world is sort of the opposite of the culture of the academic world. This was an important change I wanted to make for myself, and I seem to have done so to the extreme.

There are many things I'm looking forward to, and also a few things I am nervous about. I hope I can keep it a place where I commit to speaking mostly in Swedish and seldom in English. I haven't had many opportunities to make first-impressions while only speaking Swedish, and I'm curious how I will come across. Mostly I don't want people to think that my bad Swedish skills mean I am unintelligent.

To be honest I hope the course improves both my dance skills and my language skills. I am interested to see which has greater improvement after the year is over.

So that is the new endeavor. I was a physics post-doctoral researcher, and now I'm becoming a Swedish folk dance student. Ta Da.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

On leaving the field

I am technically no longer a part of the academic system of scientific research.

It is often the case that if you are in the academic system, there is an expectation that you will stay put. Talking about leaving is reserved for quiet conversations among friends. The expectation comes in both the form of 'what you ought to do' and 'what people assume you will do as it is most likely.'

It is hard to break the expectation - to tell people you aren't going to do what they think you ought to, or that you aren't taking the path they suspect you will take. Probably most people can hear that I have chosen to leave the system and just say 'okay.'

But to me, it feels like I will get much stronger reactions.

And it is sort of the case that I am getting much stronger reactions, and these few are the ones that stick with me.

In the extreme case, it feels like I am letting people down and that I am disrespecting those who I worked immediately under. It is hard when you have a lot of respect for those people, and yet, making a choice about your own personal life can reflect just the opposite of that. In the not-so-extreme case, you know that people will judge you. You will now always be talked about simultaneously with "that guy who decided to pursue a career in photography after getting a PhD in physics … why even bother getting the PhD??" (not a hypothetical quotation, sadly)

I still like science. I still think my area of research is incredibly fascinating. I just have more compelling reasons for knowing that a career in the academic world is not for me.

And so I am leaving.

I don't feel like a failure and I don't feel like I am making a bad decision, and I'm trying my best not to absorb those feelings from people who think I should feel that way. It is an emotional and strange time, but I certainly don't feel sorry for myself and I hope no one else will either(:

Friday, August 15, 2014

Photos Lately

1. Remember that time I got excited about the pink beer we made? Well the pink beer will remain a dream, because this is what became of it.

DSC_7380

DSC_7381

Maybe the photos are self explanatory, but I'll write some words to go along with them. Maybe writing words can be part of my grieving process.

The pink beer was over-carbonated. We've never had a batch of beer over-carbonate, so this was a new experience for us. Normally when home brewers face this problem it means exploding bottles---glass and beer and danger everywhere. I guess we were lucky though? I managed to not put at least one cap on properly, so one evening we just heard it start to make a fizzing sound. Greg sprang into action, knowing the cap had to come off to avoid the risk of an exploding bottle. If I was as quick on my feet as he was, I would have made him wear the safety glasses. The first bottle got its cap removed indoors, and as you can see from the above photo, this resulted in pink beer dripping down our wall. The rest of the bottles were opened outdoors, using the open-inside-a-plastic-bag technique we learned from our experience eating surströmming.

2. Our garden is not a complete waste!

DSC_7385

We got these three carrots recently. I was really excited to grow these because of their unique radish-like shape. They may be small, and not very substantial when split between two people, but we were really happy considering the last time we tried to grow carrots they got eaten/trampled by a cow (I have never owned a cow).

3. We took a long-ish bike ride to explore a new section of town.

DSC_7392

DSC_7399

4. I made some really delicious pizza.

DSC_7401

DSC_7402

I used this recipe and this recipe, both of which I'd recommend.

5. Right now there are blue skies, but about an hour ago there was a total downpour, resulting in all sorts of rainbow delight.

DSC_7404

DSC_7407

DSC_7413


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Two tales

Here are two tales about what it can be like in Swedish class.

___________________


On a given day, a lot of time is spent working on pronunciation of two specific letters. This is a thing that is done every Tuesday. We are working our way through the alphabet, slowly but surely. Today was a day for R and P. P and R, maybe I should say. There is a Q in the swedish alphabet, but it is rarely used.

The teacher mentions that there are some words that have a P or an R next to another consonant, and in those examples the P or the R can be silent. Actually the example she used was the word psalm, which is identical in spelling and meaning to the english word psalm, so that is convenient.

Then a student asks about another combination of two letters in a specific word where one of the letters is silent. The teacher explains that yes, there are a lot of cases where this is true. She writes a few more examples of various letter combos on the board, along with specific words where this is the case. She talks about it for several minutes. And then she says, "We can talk more about this tomorrow, since our main objective right now is pronunciation with P and R." Except she says it in Swedish. And I have a pretty good idea that the student could understand her, but either chose to not listen or just push her own objective, because she pressed on, repeating her initial question word-for-word, as if no answer had already been given.

______________________________


Many times the teacher says something, only to have a student completely not understand and do just the opposite. It makes me laugh a lot, and I like laughing so it suits me just fine. An example is when we were gathering around a table to discuss a topic. The teacher said, "Oh we are not too many people, so we can fit around one table if we just bring over a couple more chairs." And two students looked at her, looked away, and then moved two chairs out of the way so that they could pull a second table over. The teacher just shrugged and said, "or not," which I guess makes sense, because what else is there left to do?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tuesday thoughts

I understand essentially everything my Swedish teacher says. Of course, she is speaking slowly and using simpler words, so it is not a huge brag for me to say so, but it is still a little bit of a brag. She still manages to use some words I don't know on occasion, but I can always hear what word she is saying and look it up. Hearing what word is being said makes all the difference. When normal people speak Swedish, I hear a new word and ask what does dayjorja mean? And the problem is that they were saying three simple words that I know and can use properly.

And here is a thing. The bathrooms in my school have some sort of weird feature where sound just travels between them (they are individual rooms, Sweden isn't really into a stall-system) incredibly well. The other day it sounded like a person was standing next to me talking on their phone. And today, just as I was about to flush the toilet I heard someone start chanting? I'm not sure what was happening, but I felt SO disrespectful to just flush a toilet in the middle of it.

Anyhow.

Today is another super hot day. I 'cooked' veggie wraps for dinner. Sometimes I start thinking about how there are days (maybe consecutive) where I just don't eat vegetables? I've been trying to avoid this by eating a carrot appetizer if there is not a vegetable included in my dinner choice. Today's veggie wraps had spinach, zucchini, cucumber, red pepper, red onion, avocado, and a pesto+mayo spread. Pretty delicious. Pretty friendly for a warm day.

Yesterday Greg started a trend of playing classical music while dinner is being prepared. I continued the trend today, because I like the idea of giving myself some musical education. Yesterday was a little Bach, today a little Vivaldi. Did you know that Vivaldi was a Catholic priest? And that Bach was influenced by Vivaldi's work (even though Vivaldi was only 7 years his senior)? The things you learn! Thank you wikipedia.

Did you know that rocket boots are a real thing? Leonardo DiCaprio knows it. Apparently a friend of a friend is 'rich and has fun toys' including a set of these things.

Enough topic changes without segues. Time to publish!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Cultural research

Sweden has been unusually warm lately. Since it is not typically so warm, most homes do not have air conditioning. There is just no need. Except for the past two weeks there has sort of been a need. Our apartment is on the second level, and it has been getting unbearably warm in there. We are getting a nice routine down for keeping the apartment as not-warm as possible. No oven use. Minimal stove use. Keep the window shade drawn. Hang a white sheet over another window that lets in a lot of sun but doesn't have a shade. And by hang, I mean, pin it to the wall, because sometimes that is just how things are done in our household.

And then there is the increased ice cream consumption. Swedes seem to eat a ridiculous amount of ice cream. I base this on the number of ice cream stands located throughout the city. And since it has been so warm lately, I've also decided to just go ahead and eat a ridiculous amount of ice cream. Partly, it is a way for me to cool off, and partly, it is a way for me to experience more Swedish culture. I am not like the children of Sweden who grew up eating Piggelins.

I like to think of it as cultural research to try out all of the different options. And if it weren't for this mindset, then how would I have ever discovered how amazing the Hilda is?! This is strawberry ice cream, coated in a thin layer of white chocolate, and covered in sprinkles. The box has a picture of an anime character, Swedish style.

Hilda

Aside from the fact that the real-life colors of the sprinkles are hardly as sparkly and aesthetically pleasing as the picture on the box, this was a super amazing treat. If it weren't for Greg and his reason, I'm sure the entire box would already be gone.

On a similar but different topic, there is a very similar type of ice cream treat which is made by a different company. As far as I could tell, the difference is that there are layers of white and pink ice cream in the center, and maybe the sprinkles are a nicer color. The other difference is that the name of the treat is Sitting Bull and it features a picture of a cartoon native person on the package. I feel like this is sort of a questionable thing, and I don't know if I want to be seen purchasing such an item. So, as much as I like to eat ice cream in the name of research, I think I might be sticking with the Hilda.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sometimes life calls for pink beer

Somehow I got it in my head that Greg and I needed to brew a pink beer. Probably it started because we had this idea to brew a beer with lingonberries, and then I realized that the result could be a pink beer. So we designed a recipe to ensure that the result would be pink. Mostly that involved making it as light in color as possible so the lingonberries had more opportunity to provide the color. Behold.

DSC_7372

DSC_7373

DSC_7379


Friday, July 25, 2014

7QT: ginger, beer, swedish quizzes and introductions, & a banana

1. On Monday I had a low blood sugar moment, and I ate a banana. I haven't eaten a banana that wasn't disguised in a smoothie since I reached the age of reason. Bananas are the one food that I claim to despise. But on Monday I was desperate, and the banana was the only option. So I ate it, and it wasn't actually terrible. My mother is smiling the biggest smile in the world right now (am I right?).

2. I made progress in my goal to make my own ginger beer! I made a ginger simple syrup that can be added to bubbly water to simulate ginger beer. The ginger simple syrup was made by heating 1 dL water with 1 dL sugar (1 dL is about a half a cup) just until it started to bubble. Then I added ginger. I got about a 5 inch piece which I peeled (not perfectly) and sliced thinly. Once the mixture began to bubble again, I removed it from the heat and let it steep for about an hour. After filtering out the ginger pieces I was left with a super delicious concoction, which I intended to add to bubbly water except that I accidentally bought still water (language fail). But still. Tasty!

3. An advantage of going to the grocery store practically every day and only buying food for one or two meals is that you increase your chances of finding discounted, soon-to-expire foods. 30% off local thick-sliced bacon? YES Please! Change of plans honey, we are having three packages of bacon for dinner tonight!

4. In my Swedish class I got to participate in my first 'tipspromenad.' This is a thing that is maybe popular to do in Sweden? Or at least it is very popular with some Swedes. The tipspromenad, also called tipsrunda, is a quiz that involves going around to various questions which can be posted around a house or around a park outdoors even, and choosing the correct answer from the three choices. Sometimes it is competition style, involving prizes for the winners. I guess this is an activity you can do at parties. Which brings me to my next take!

5. I have this idea to include a tipsrunda the next time we have people over for brewing. It could involve all questions about beer/brewing. Yay or nay?

6. In Sweden, when meeting new people, you simple shake hands and state your name. No extra rambling or other words that would be the equivalent of "hi, I'm" or "hi, my name is" but just your name (super nice when you don't speak Swedish). Likewise, when answering your phone, it is typical to just state your name. Some people answer their phone by saying "hi, this is ____" and I'm not sure if one way is considered more polite than the other. What I do know is that answering a phone by saying "hello?" causes a lot of confusion. I won't claim that my way is better, because really, what do I even mean with that question? And why (in both cases) are we acting like it is unlikely either of us knows who the other will be without first stating it?

7. Have we talked about Penny In Your Pants?

Penny In Yo Pants from Johanna Holtan on Vimeo.

I was super fascinated when I first saw this video, and I filed the information away in the back of my head for future use. That use came on Wednesday. I wanted to wear a skirt, because it is super hot here (tropical, I believe (based on temperatures remaining above 20C throughout the night)), and because I was going to a dance in the evening. Normally I'll just put bike shorts under my skirt, which works well for both biking and for dancing. It can get warmer than necessary though, what with the extra layer of clothing and all. So I decided to try the penny trick, and I was pleased with the results. I actually just left my skirt 'buttoned' all day, because I didn't want to deal with the hassle of re-buttoning, and also because a really wrinkly spot on your skirt is inevitable and I didn't want to end up with multiple wrinkly spots. What I'm trying to say is that I spent the whole day wondering why culottes aren't a thing anymore!!

_____________

The End & The Link-Up!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Hunting and gathering, minus the hunting

DSC_7369

Greg and I have always liked the idea of gathering food in the wild. This past week in my Swedish class, we talked about various rights and responsibilities with regard to nature in Sweden, and I think it gave new life to that interest.

So yesterday we went out for a hike in the woods, with a strong emphasis on keeping an eye out for berries or edible mushrooms (chanterelles, specifically). While it is still too early in the season for the mushrooms, we had really good luck with berries. Primarily this is because my husband has eagle eyes for spotting berries, apparently.

First he spotted the blueberries. And then we couldn't stop seeing them! There were loads of them, and they were incredibly delicious. We also spotted a few raspberry bushes, but those were not quite ripe (I think we each got one ripe berry). The best find of the day was when he paused and crouched down to verify that, yes indeed, he had found smultron! The Swedes go crazy over these wild strawberries, and I never understood the appeal. At least not until yesterday when I got my first taste of them. This must be one of the most delightful flavors of the world.

We stopped and sampled several on our outgoing portion of our hike. We decided to continue on, since we heard some people coming and didn't feel the need to let them in on the secret if they weren't keen enough to find them on their own (totally selfish, totally worth it). Plus there could easily have been more further down the trail. Unfortunately we didn't come across more. On our return trip, as we approached their location, we started to smell them before we could see them, which was a really lovely thing to experience.

Friday, July 18, 2014

7QT : Swedish, kale, coffee : some of these got kind of wordy

1. I'm trying to not sit on my computer as often as I usually do. On Monday evening I decided I just would not even turn on my computer, and I accomplished so much. I read an entire book (in Swedish, so that counts as studying and leisure), did some cleaning, some cooking, some baking, and probably other things too! The really crazy part was how often I felt like I wanted to just go sit at the computer, but realizing it wasn't an option, opted to do some other task which I typically would have ignored all evening (dirty dishes, I'm looking at you!).

2. On Sunday we harvested our kale! We had just enough to make a small salad to accompany our meal. It is really nice to be able to grow a little bit of our food, but it makes both of us really miss having a plot of land where we can garden and grow larger quantities of delicious foods.

3. I have finally found a way of learning Swedish which I really enjoy - reading books in Swedish! I am currently only reading books written in "easy Swedish," but I am finding it really helpful and really enjoyable. I have written a lot about how I am not naturally good at language-learning, and that it is really a chore for me to do any of the things that are helpful for learning more Swedish. But this is one thing that does not feel like a chore. Finally! Of course, there is no way I could have just started at this step. It is only possible because I've built up a small vocabulary to start with. I still have to always have my pocket dictionary at hand to look up words I don't know, but I am needing it less and less with each new book. Plus it makes me feel awesome when I read a book that is not already listed on goodreads.com and I have to add it.

4. Did you know there is a simple English wikipedia? Most of the articles use only words that are among the 1,000 most common words. I find language things so much more interesting now that I'm in the process of learning a new language. It makes me wonder how many Swedish words I know.

I know that I am in the B1 level of CEFR, so I thought that maybe there was a list online showing approximately how many words are known at each level. Apparently this isn't a thing they do, although random online reading makes me think that it is possible I do know 1,000 Swedish words.

BUT. More importantly, my internet searching led me to discover the Kelly Project, which I might be a really big fan of! They have a list available of the 9,000 most commonly used words taken from nine different languages. I got the Swedish list, which looks good, but it didn't include a translation to English… They also have an app for language learning. Super cool, but I have no device that handles apps. Oh well.

5. This week I started preparing myself two cups of coffee to drink at home before I leave for the day…  as in, two distinct mugs of coffee… 
Maybe it seems strange, but to me it feels so smart! I always drink two cups of coffee, but after I finish the first one, the coffee has cooled down a bit and it takes forever for my sugar cube to dissolve. Plus! (science lesson coming up) When you add milk or cream to coffee, if you add it immediately, your final result (coffee + milk) will be hotter than if you wait some amount of time and then add it. This is just thermodynamics.
Even including the time it takes to wash a second mug, I feel like I am saving so much time and effort with this new method!

6. There is an … ad? … well it functions as an ad, but is actually an interesting video from PhD Comics about coffee … that plays if I watch youtube videos that starts with "How much coffee is too much coffee?" Or something along those lines. It just makes me think of this old post of mine.

7. I won a round of Bingo in Swedish class! Unfortunately, I felt a bit sheepish, because I had previously tried to say I got a Bingo (blackout round, too!) but I had wrongly marked a number off that was never called. I blame someone else for having poor pronunciation… it could never be due to my poor comprehension of spoken Swedish. No sir. Also, for the record, it ended up that the number I wrongly marked did not even exist in the group of little balls of numbers. Vindication.

___________

The End & The Link-Up!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Musik vid Siljan

I have recently returned from Musik vid Siljan, which is a sort of folk festival that takes place over a week. Each night there is a different dance in a different location, all near Lake Siljan in Dalarna. It was my first time going to this event, and I couldn't be more pleased. I even took some photos, because I wanted to be able to show Greg some of the things I saw. Although none of the photos are of dancing, because this girl doesn't have time for taking photos when there is dancing to be had.

A group of people who are members of my same dance organization go every year and rent a centrally-located cabin. Here is the itinerary we followed:

Sunday: drive from Uppsala to Dalarna
Monday: Svabensverk
Tuesday: Vikarbystugedans
Wednesay: Bingsjöstämman
Thursday: Östbjörka stämman
Friday: Bodastämman
Saturday: drive home

My two favorite nights were Thursday and Friday. They weren't too big, and there was a lot of nice dancing to be had. Actually there was a lot of nice dancing on all of the nights. I was given some wise advice to resist the urge to dance until dawn every night until the final night. That way I would have enough energy to dance every night of the week, without feeling super tired and having sore muscles. So most nights were concluded at around midnight or 1am. On Friday we danced until 4am I think. It was awesome. Commence photos.

IMG_3327

IMG_3329

IMG_3330

IMG_3333

IMG_3334

IMG_3338

IMG_3340

IMG_3342

IMG_3344

IMG_3346

IMG_3356

IMG_3363

IMG_3369

Isn't Dalarna beautiful? Every day we explored a new place, and every time I was surprised to find that, yes, Dalarna can get even more beautiful. I think my enthralment reached a peak when I saw noctilucent clouds on our drive home from the dance on Thursday night. I was skeptical that I was even seeing what I thought I was seeing, but after returning home I saw this notice about a noctilucent outburst. Wowza.

Friday, July 11, 2014

7QT - mostly on food/beverage

1. Sometimes it is the perfect day for sushi, and you spend most of your day thinking about dinnertime, and then it is time to leave the office, and as you pull your bicycle up to the sushi place you realize things are looking a bit dark. The sushi place is closed for summer vacation! Why??

2. Then it took me an hour to decide egg salad sandwiches would be a suitable replacement. I almost never eat egg salad sandwiches, but I don't know why. I made this with hard-boiled eggs (I used to start the eggs in cold water… shameful), an avocado (makes the color questionable, if you care about that sort of thing), a scoop of mayo, a scoop of mustard, some shakes of hot sauce, salt, pepper, and paprika. On a sandwich with some cheap-o lettuce? Super tasty.

3. Speaking of mustard. I bought a new mustard the other day. I was trying to twist the lid off of the jar when I realized it was just a pop-off kind of lid. And then I realized that the 'jar' the mustard was in was eerily similar in size/shape to our drinking glasses. And I now I am 99% convinced that our drinking glasses originated as mustard jars.

4. Lemonade-Beer. I did a quick check to see if I had written about this gem of a beverage before and I was led to this post. I am definitely wearing the same exact shirt as I type this, but I am not located in France (no worries, I like Sweden better).

5. I have a small obsession with beer in cans. I just love been in cans, okay?! Sometimes I pretend like I am a beer snob, but really I think this makes me the opposite of a beer snob.

6. Yesterday I made the perfect dinner to accompany beer in cans - nachos! Greg thought I was not being serious when I suggested nachos as a meal, but I was as serious as a thing that is incredibly serious. I even made some nacho cheese, loosely following this recipe, which was super delicious!

7. I have just returned from a little city walk with my Swedish class. I had seen most of the sights that we stopped by, but I learned some new and interesting things. Plus it is a gorgeous day to be spending several hours out wandering around.

Mostly I guess that wasn't so interesting to write, but I felt the need to mention one non-food item this week(:

_________

The End & The Link-Up!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Folk Festival, Round 2

I had the opportunity to go to Ransäterstämman for the second year in a row. I really embrace that time, being outside of the normal, living in a tent in the wilderness, and dancing until dawn. This year was just as wonderful as last, which I had written a bit about here, but I wanted to write down a few details specific to this year that I know I'll enjoy re-reading in the future.

I think my favorite moment of Friday night, and possibly (probably) of the whole festival was that at some point, I think even before the 1am break, one of the musicians said something (in swedish, so just consider this a loose translation, which might be totally wrong) that we are here in this place dancing and our roots go back to the hambo, so we should dance a hambo! In the big hall the hambo is Never danced, so that was a really special treat. I expected a lot of people to leave the floor due to a lack of interest, but the majority stayed. And the most amazing part was that it just worked so perfectly, despite how crowded the floor was. Or maybe because of how crowded the floor was. It was just a really lovely moment of togetherness, and it made me glad to see that the people in the big hall can enjoy a hambo too.

That night I managed to stay dancing until 4:30am (aka sunrise). When I got to my tent I made sure to use some facial cleansing wipes in lieu of a shower. Greg predicted that one cloth could basically clean an entire body, and he was right. I was still pretty warm from dancing, and also since it had gotten to be so late/early, I missed the super cold part of the night, and slept comfortably without freezing or overheating.

During the day on Saturday, there isn't any dancing so I just stayed in my tent, having an introvert's dream day of seeing no people for 8 hours. I spent my time reading and sleeping, and it was just so lovely. It also worked out perfectly that at just the time when I started to get really warm and think I needed to get out of my tent, a gentle rain started and cooled the air to a perfect temperature. Oh it was just such a nice sleepy, dreamy day. 

I had a slow start to dancing on Saturday evening. Maybe I was slow to warm up to dancing, or maybe just slow to warm up to people again. Plus I don't always have the courage to ask people to dance. Most of the time I don't actually. I would feel bad if someone felt obligated to say yes and then ended up hating dancing with me. There are some obvious things a person can do in order to get invited to dance, and I usually take that approach. Unfortunately, it wasn't working super well. I think this was largely due to other dynamics (aka usually older men will just never ask younger women to dance, despite the fact that I wouldn't be hanging out in the dance hall with all the old people if I didn't want to dance with them).

Eventually I had to give up and head to the overcrowded dance hall, and on my way I ran into a friend who said he would dance with me. We agreed to go to the big hall and dance together a bit. That was good and helped get me out of my funk. And then somehow I just was in a mood to ask people to dance. And I just asked anyone I happened to see, the only criteria being that they were wearing dance shoes. I actually got consistently good results and was starting to have a better and better time.

Now for a twist in the story!

I went to the back of the hall to get some water, and as I was enjoying my water and thinking about who would be the next person I'd ask to dance, the guy next to me said something to me. I thought he was asking to dance, but then he was with a friend and he was trying to get the friend to dance with another girl who was standing on the other side of them, but the friend wouldn't. So this was a sort of funny and interesting situation, and I definitely had to switch to English to figure out what was going on. 

It turns out that these two guys lived in the area and just stopped in to check it out and see what the stämman was all about. They were completely unaware of all things relevant to folkdancing in the present day world. It was really entertaining for me. I think they were both sort of shocked because it was just such a new and strange world to them.

The three of us ended up standing in the back talking for a long time, while they asked questions and tried to wrap their minds around what was happening. It was SO interesting to me to see an outsider's reaction. I did eventually get each of them to dance a tiny bit with me, despite the fact that they insisted it was 'not their thing!'

All in all, the weekend was just so lovely and enjoyable. I hope there will be many more in my future!

Friday, June 27, 2014

7QT: highest latitude swim, sweden/swedish,

1. On Monday I set a new personal record for the highest latitude at which I've swum. I consider being fully submerged in the water a 'swim' but the Swedes would refer to that as bathing. Anyhow. For the record:

64°31'51.8"N


2. I think my previous highest latitude swim took place at 59.7 degrees. I'm pretty happy with my almost-five-degree improvement. That was a year ago, and I can't quite decide which swim was colder. A river at 59 degrees versus a lake at 64 is a tough call…

3. I'm really pleased that so much of my summer holiday is being spent in various places in Sweden. I really like this country, so I think it is good for me to see more of it (even if the 'more' really just means dance floors in different places).

4. For my Swedish class we had an assignment to write about a musical artist and a song of theirs that we like. It was a fun and short thing to do, but then I felt a little vulnerable when the class listened to the song. It is an interesting thing to share musical preferences with people you don't know well, and I found it really interesting (and sometimes surprising) to hear what songs the others chose. Here is my contribution:



5. When I switched from the evening Swedish course to the daytime course, I also switched my normal seat. Now I am one place closer to the center and one place closer to the front. I always always like to sit on the very edges of the room, often no closer than the middle. But I think I read that it is supposed to be better for learning to sit in the center and toward the front. I'm not sure if it is having a big impact or not, but I like to pretend it does, mostly to justify putting myself in a place that is not my ordinary.

Let's pretend like I have a great plan for these seven takes and am not just rambling…

What else…

6. Have you ever made pinnbröd over a fire?! Apparently we call it twist bread in English, but the literal translation is 'stick bread.' I had never heard of this or seen it before, but it was super tasty. Here is the recipe, using Swedish units. 1 dl = 0.42 cups, and 1 tsk = 1 tsp.

5 dl flour
2 tsk salt
2 tsk baking powder
2 dl water

Mix the ingredients in the order listed, if it is too dry add a bit more water, too sticky a bit more flour. Then you pull off a piece, roll it into a long strip, wrap it around a stick, and roast it over a campfire until the outsides are brown/black. It tasted like one of those soft pretzels to me. yum.

7. Last night for dinner I made pinnbröd, and then wrapped it around hot dogs and put them in the oven for 12ish minutes on a 'hot' temperature. It was a super tasty dinner. On a similar but different topic, I've gotten so laid-back about oven temperatures. Most of the recipes I use have the temperature in F, but Sweden ovens are in C. You would think I'd just need to remember a few important conversions (350/375/400), but somehow I am always mixing them up. I often end up arbitrarily picking a temperature. I think I've written about this before actually… using my oven with the temperature knob set to 'straight down' but when I need a 'hot' temperature then it is a bit higher, maybe like 7 or 8 o'clock :)

_____________

The End & The Link-Up!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

How can I be an introvert who gets energized from going to a folk dance with a large group of people, many of whom I don't know?

I love reading about and thinking about introversion and extroversion. I've always known that I am a pretty extreme introvert. I definitely do not get energy from being in a large group of people. However, I've recently noticed that there is one huge counter-example to this generalization. When I go to an evening of folk dance, I leave with so much energy - far more than any other typical introvert activity (jag älskar hemmakväll) would give me.

How can this be?

I've been pondering this quite a bit lately. Maybe this is a sign that I'm sliding more toward the middle of the introvert/extrovert scale? But by any other measure, I'm still an extreme introvert. So, really, how can this be?

My initial thoughts are that folk dances are different from most activities involving a large group of people. Of course, they are different in so many ways, but specifically, I think that the important factor is that there is sort of a prescribed way of interacting with people.

If I get invited to a big party where I will not know too many people, I have to spend a lot of time mentally preparing myself to have lots of small talk with new people. I have to try super hard to not be incredibly awkward. Honestly, I am happiest sitting and primarily listening to conversations, while contributing minimally. Or perhaps I'll get into a more involved conversation with one or two people, and not really talk to anyone else the entire night. Maybe I make this sound harmless, but most people can get uncomfortable with this, thinking my silence means I am having an awful time.

Now, if I am being entirely honest (and Greg would confirm this), most of the time before I head to a dance, I actually get a bit anxious and have second thoughts about going. My heart is just shouting, "Are you crazy, don't voluntarily go to an event with a bunch of strangers, especially if no one is expecting you to be there!" Most of the time, I have to rely on my brain to be the voice of reason, to remind myself that afterwards I'll thank myself for going.

My heart is so quick to judge all large gatherings of people equally. I so easily forget that folk dances have this prescribed way of interacting with others, compared to any other generic gathering of many people. You go there, you ask a person if they want to dance, and you dance. It is simple. There is usually not a lot of time for conversation. There is no expectation to continue conversation while dancing, since most people become worse dancers while trying to talk and dance. And while you may be in a large crowd of people, you are primarily only interacting with this one person, who you don't even have to talk to. To me, it feels like such a healthy reminder that there are ways of connecting with people other than through conversation alone.

Thinking about a lot of my friends who are also folk dance enthusiasts, I'd say most of them are more introverted than extroverted. Perhaps folk dances are events more suited to the introvert - a gathering of people who are all just interacting with only one other person at a time? Perhaps.

As I said, these are just my initial thoughts. I'm curious to hear what others might think. Is there agreement? Disagreement? I've also been trying to think of other examples of situations that we would typically expect an extrovert to thrive in, but secretly the introverts are thriving. I'd love to hear any thoughts you might have!

Friday, June 13, 2014

7QT: bike names, allergies, dance, vals

1. I love the names of bicycles. Mine, for example, is the Viking Elegance 3. I actually saw another Viking bike just the other day, but the name was not quite as good as mine. The most favorite bike name I've seen is one that parks near me at the office. Are you ready for this? The Silver Apron. That's right. Do you have a bicycle? What is it called? I need to start a list of these.

2. Yesterday I went over to Greg's part of the building to water his plant. The first person I ran into saw me and said, "Greg's not here! You should know that!" It was pretty funny. I wish, instead of explaining my real reason for being there, I would have said, "Well I've been looking for him for five days now!" Next time…

3. I might have a cold, but I think it is more likely that I am being allergic to whatever it is that is spreading pollen right now. The pollen report says various grasses. Okay. Last year at this same time of year, I had been thinking I had a long-lasting cold. Eventually I started to realize that it could be allergies, and now it seems to be happening again.

4. Lots of dancing in a week = lots of joy in a week. That is how it has been going for me. I went to Ransäter for my second year in a row, and for now I'm still planning a post dedicated entirely to the event, so I won't write more just yet(:

5. Looking way into the future, I just found out that it will be possible for me to go to the next two Ransäterstämmans… stämmorna? Greg has been working on a proposal to host a science meeting in Uppsala in two years from now, which we just found out was accepted! The meeting takes place at the exact time of Ransäter, which is pretty convenient for me!

6. Now it is evening and I picked up some allergy medicine on my way home. I got a pill and a nasal spray. So far I've only tried the pill. We'll see what effect it has. Here's to hoping for positive results.

7. Right now I'm obsessed with this waltz. Why are waltzes just so lovely?!



____________________________

The End & The Link-Up

Monday, May 19, 2014

Allergies!

Last year I discovered I have allergies! Hooray! According to sources online, it is oak and birch that are producing the most allergens right now. The craziest part is that Greg ("he's allergic to everything") is not really having any reactions to whatever is in the air, but I am.

So, putting aside the fact that I now want to watch My Girl…

I've been reading all sorts of crazy articles online about allergies. This morning Greg told me he'd make some coffee, because he usually finds that helps with his allergy symptoms. He's told me this before, and it sounds strange, but it really did help.

That led me to this article, about foods that help with allergies. My reactions? I'm glad I had sushi for dinner last night. And I'm glad I dislike celery. And I always thought that eating spicy foods was good to help clear out your sinuses. I am imagining pollen being in my nose and just getting washed away.

That article linked to this article, about natural allergy remedies. Reactions: I won't be stashing clothes in my garage (I don't even have a garage). I also think I might have read this article last year. This morning we closed up our house to the outdoors, and the cleaning process has begun. Hopefully by the end of the day we'll have dusted every surface and mopped all the floors.

The internet is full of so many amazing facts. Here is an article about allergy facts, which had some information I found to be really astounding.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Answer Me This!

I just love a good link-up. I can't help myself. Here is one I got excited about that Haley is guest-hosting, where you simply answer the questions. I had fun writing these, and I hope you enjoy reading my answers.

1. What's the scariest thing that's ever been in your yard?

Probably a skunk, which is nothing to be too terrified of, assuming you haven't got it cornered. I used to live in a barn (transformed on the inside to be a house) in Vermont, and we had a really high skunk population. Several times I got home late from the office, only to pull into the driveway to see a skunk milling about. So then it would just be a game of timing my escape from the car. One time the skunk was on the porch (possibly eating dog food that one of my house-mates had not skunk-proofed), and that one took the longest to wait for.

2. Beards. Thumbs up or thumbs down?

Thumbs up. See exhibit A.

DSC_6210

3. If stuff breaks, can you fix it?

I guess I feel pretty confident about my ability to fix stuff, so I usually at least attempt to fix stuff. The problem is that it often takes more than one try, and the first try might not look so pretty. Imagine my front bicycle light, dangling off of its mount, with some ineffective pieces of duct tape stuck to it in various places, and there you have exhibit B.

4. What was your first car?

A (94?) Nisan Sentra! Black with a purple racing stripe! I loved that car!

5. How often do you eat out?

When I first moved to Sweden, I ate out basically never because restaurants are crazy-expensive here. The prices for lunch are much more reasonable though, so I've started going to lunch once a week with some friends from work. 

6. Why is your hair like that?

For nearly half of my life I've just been on this trend of growing my hair long and then chopping off 10+ inches to donate. The problem is that I really don't love how my hair looks when it gets long enough to be able to donate. Plus my grandma told me she loved my short hair and thought I should always keep it short. 

319415_10151046353714598_57105437_n

profile

So right now my hair is just a bit past my shoulders. This second photo is very recent, but I've actually cut a few inches of my hair since this was taken, because the length was starting to bother me. I've been considering chopping it short again, because I like it best, but I worry that I'd pay for a crazy-expensive haircut only to have look not-good.


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Initial ginger beer research

There is so much information to know about making ginger beer! I have spent my entire Saturday morning reading up on the different options.

Now I just need to decide how 'hardcore' I want to be about this. The simplest option would be to boil some water with ginger root and sugar, essentially making a ginger simple syrup, which I could add to bubbly water.

Taking it up a notch, I could do the same sort of thing, but add a bit of yeast. This would result in a (probably negligible) amount of alcohol, and a time-sensitive beverage. Here is a really nice article about this method, designed for school children to make, I guess.

The thing is, it is tricky to have and store a sweet and carbonated beverage. The addition of yeast in the beverage will carbonate the beverage by turning sugars into alcohol + CO2. But since you want your beverage to also be sweet, you have more sugar than you want to turn into alcohol. So when you make ginger beer this way, you need to drink it within a day or two of putting it in a bottle. This is probably not a huge concern (especially if you avoid glass bottles), but it does mean making very small batches. And if you have small batches, then you don't really want to use champagne yeast, because the amount in a package would be total overkill. Maybe there is dry champagne yeast, which you could just use as you need? We normally buy liquid yeast packages though. And I'm getting disorganised in my thoughts here, but I've read that using bread yeast can add strange flavors.

The ultimate project then would lead to pasteurization. This allows you to put a beverage with sugar and yeast in a glass bottle, cap it, let it ferment a tiny bit to produce carbonation (while leaving some sugar to result in a sweet beverage), and then you pasteurize to kill the yeast, thus preventing further fermentation and the risk of bottles exploding. Pasteurization is a whole other animal. I'm not sure if I'm ready to tackle these risks just yet.

Actually when I was doing all this reading it reminded me of the time I gave away all our de-labelled and cleaned bottles when we moved from NH to Sweden. Basically I was thinking that we had spent many hours taking labels off of so many bottles that it would be a shame to just recycle them all. So I put an ad on freecycle, just to see if anyone wanted them. I actually got a few responses in a timely manner. I gave them to the first guy to contact me, who told me he was so glad to get them since he had tried making a batch of rootbeer which had resulted in exploded bottles, so his supply of bottles was lacking.

This is getting really wordy, but I have to say, I have a pretty big concern about exploding bottles. That isn't something you want to take lightly.

At the same time, Greg and I (mostly Greg) have a slight interest in making cider, so learning the art of pasteurization could be a useful skill for our future.

For me, it all sort of comes down to my goals for making ginger beer. A few weeks ago I was trying to find an interesting restaurant in Stockholm, and I found a dumpling place and they had ginger beer on the menu, and ever since then I've just been wishing I could more easily get myself some ginger beer. (That restaurant was, sadly, not open on the weekends, which I didn't realise until we were standing outside the door.)

So if I just want the experience of ginger beer, any of these methods should suffice, so logically it makes sense to just do the simplest and cheapest option, which would be one of the first two. Both are really simple, and I'm sure both are quite economical, but I could check the numbers to maximize that benefit.

I think my plan will be to start with one of these methods, because I just really want to drink a ginger beer. Then, after I can do more research on pasteurization and gain some confidence in my (our) skills in that area, step up the ginger beer-making game.

Also, for reference (for my future self, mainly), I read this entire forum which was really useful. And here is one that will be useful for pasteurization research, but really? I can handle 17 pages, but 108?

I've done a lot of other reading as well, but if anyone has tips or sources I'd love to hear about it. Brian, are you still lurking? When you made cider did you pasteurize it? I think we had some friends 'pasteurize' by exposing their cider to some sort of light? I don't know, but is this a thing?

Friday, May 16, 2014

7QT - reading, quaintness, & ginger beer!

1. Here is a fascinating video to watch. It is super long, but I saw it posted on another blog and decided to save it to watch over the weekend. It was really fascinating (double use of this word is noted and left as is for emphasis).


2. Last week I sent in an application that makes me really nervous and excited. I shouldn't talk about this too much before anything is decided, but it is definitely what is on my mind.

Recently on the internet I saw some sort of cartoon that had text along the lines of "Remember that job you applied for that you were sure you would get but suddenly stopped talking about? How'd that go?"

Hopefully this isn't one of those situations(:

3. I realized there is an indentation in the couch in the spot where I normally sit. One solution would be to stop sitting on the couch all the time. The other solution, which may or may not be my solution of choice, is to simply shift myself one person-width to the left. (The couch is super nice over here. Plus I'm closer to the window and nature!)

4. Recently I had a conversation with a Stockholm-dweller who was commenting on the quaintness of Uppsala. I do agree that Uppsala does have a nice small-town feel, despite being Sweden's fourth largest city, and that is part of what I love about this city.

He said it seemed like everything, pubs included, were closed by 6 pm. I assured him that at least the pubs stayed open later, but admitted that I didn't actually know how late they stayed open. At this point I was informed that I didn't exactly have the look of a person who spends their time closing down pubs every night. I was pretty amused by that. Definitely more amused than when he told me my "pajamas" made it look like I just rolled out of bed before leaving the house.

5. Last weekend I finally went ahead and purchased Jen's new book (I have a big obsession with free library books and free kindle books). As much as I like my books free, it is always nice to feel like I am supporting another person's creative endeavor. And I feel like this is a pretty good creative endeavor to be supporting(:

I spent a good portion of the weekend on one spot (you know, shifted to the left of course) on the couch, and Greg made the comment that he wished he had taken a time-lapse video of me sitting on the couch, gradually shifting positions (I guess I move around a lot while reading), while I devoured Jen's book.

6. I am going to make my own ginger beer! I haven't been this excited about a 'homesteading' project since I found out how easy it was to make your own cheese!

I got the tip about making my own ginger beer from Kate, who has admirable knowledge of the crunchy life.

7. I think I might have passed my first Swedish tests! I don't actually know, because I don't know how to say that in Swedish. So if they told me I passed, I didn't understand what they were saying. I do know that they told me 'they were satisfied' to indicate that the exam was over (this was during the oral exam, where you just have to ramble on by yourself). Hurrah! (maybe)

The End & The Link-Up

Sunday, May 11, 2014

May Ten on Ten

Every now and again I like to participate in this photo blogging thing called Ten on Ten, in which you take a photo an hour for ten hours on the tenth of the month. You can see my previous editions here, here, and here.

DSC_7017

DSC_7019

DSC_7021

DSC_7033

DSC_7026

DSC_7031

DSC_7034

DSC_7038

DSC_7041

DSC_7044

1. Rooftop gardening
2. Hot water is ready for coffee
3. Sometimes you miss the good ones… just moments before I grabbed my camera, I saw a man ride by on a bicycle with a double bass on his back. These next three bicycles that passed weren't quite as unique.
4. Sidewalk's edge
5. I got a bit behind my photo-taking schedule after getting lost in this for a few hours. #sotg
6. Test run of the Rhuby Triangle (can't say we spend a lot of time making cocktails, as evidenced by the use of a tablespoon over a shot glass…)
7. We have a lot of neighborhood cats. This one touched my leg.
8. Canapé construction
9. Quite a spread
10. A quick fun fact, which is neither quick nor fun: The best Bloody Mary I've ever tasted was this one, which was made with tequila, which I'm told makes it a Bloody Maria.