Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden


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the summer solstice

Today is the summer solstice! Meaning it is the longest day of the year, when we get the most hours of sunlight here in the Northern hemisphere. Despite the fact that today is the longest day of the year, here in Sweden we celebrated two days ago, on Friday. Unlike Friday it’s actually pretty sunny today! Much warmer as well. For the first time this year summer is at our doorstep. Hopefully soon to actually breach the threshold.

I am very ready for summer’s arrival. Not only because of the excellent festivities in Sweden for midsummer, as cataloged in 2012 and 2014. But also for the cake.

strawberry cake

Kidding, summer isn’t just about strawberry cake (though would it be so bad if it were?). I’m looking forward to long summer nights, sunny summer days, and wearing sunglasses daily. Basically, I’m looking forward to the sun. Me and the sun are tight. Except when it’s fire rays burn blisters into my skin. Then we’re not so tight. Definitely not doing that this summer. Stay tuned to see if I’m successful in that endeavor.

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a resolutions update: follow up plan

Let’s get this post off and running by first calling attention to the fact that I have yet to share my 2015 New Year’s resolutions. Now that we’ve called attention to it, I’ll get back to that in a minute.

As I left you after my resolutions update in November, I was focusing on making a lasagna that Evelina likes as much as I do, and finishing my painting. I did make a lasagna. I did not paint a lasagna, or anything else for that matter.

First, let me tell you about the lasagna. Step one involved getting Evelina’s favorite meat sauce recipe. Ground beef, crushed tomatoes, yellow onion, salt & pepper. Not complex. I soaked my lasagna noodles in warm water with oil while making my sauce. I carefully layered sauce, noodle, sauce, noodle, sauce, noodle. Finishing with noodles on the top was strategic, as I coated the top layer with cheese. This top layer is then easily removed, because of Evelina’s distaste of cheese. Popped that bad boy in the oven, and waited for the complements.

Latest lasagna

The best I got, was that it wasn’t as bad as the last one. (Y’all remember my pastelon?) Thanks babe. I was then informed that Evelina’s mother’s meat sauce recipe is not in fact her favorite recipe. So the quest continues. I have one final plan, the plan to top all lasagna plans. Garfield would be impressed.

On to the painting:

painting?

This is the current state of my painting. So, yeah, painting is a generous term for this. But this leads me nicely into my New Year’s resolutions for this year. I’ll be continuing my tradition of carrying over my as-of-yet incomplete resolutions on to the upcoming year. Here you have them:

  1. Do a hand stand push up
  2. Paint a painting
  3. Find a lasagna recipe Evelina enjoys as much as I do
  4. Do 5 things off Pintrest successfully
  5. Watch One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Seven Samurai

If you noticed that my “run a marathon” resolution was not carried over, kudos to you. It is still a long-term goal of mine, but in an attempt to be more realistic, I am not including it as a goal for 2015. Maybe 2017, 17 always has been my favorite number.

With one month of 2015 already behind us I’ll have to be sure to be particularly effective this year.

See you out there.

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a resolutions update

Guys, did you know 2014 is shortly coming to a close? We’ve got less than two months to go here. I learned this from listening to the radio. That’s the kind of good reporting going on here in Sweden.

Well, when I heard the news I realized that there’s not much time left to check off all the resolutions on my list of resolutions! Now, the marathon didn’t happen this May as planned. My hip just was not up to it, as you may recall from this post. That leaves lasagna, painting, reading and handstand push ups.

As you know I’m well on my way to getting the perfect lasagna recipe. Despite the pastelon attempt, I feel as though I’m right around the corner to finding the perfect combination.

I have made progress on my handstands. Check it out!

head stand

This is as far as I’ve gotten though. So it’ll be a while before I’m up on my hands, and a little while longer before I’m doing push ups in that position.

Reading has gone well! My book of the months for January, February, March, and May of this year complete my fourth resolution.

Last but certainly not least is my painting. Which hasn’t gone much farther than how it was looking this summer. So I’ll have to focus on this one before year’s end.

To sum it up, I’ll be cooking up a storm and painting the town red between now and New Year’s Eve.

Wish me luck!

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melodifestivalen

Melodifestivalen, what is it? Well it directly translates to Melody Festival. Idiomatically it translates to Song Festival. I’m sure you never would have guessed that, so I’m glad to help. As you all remember my thoroughly in-depth description and analysis of Eurovision 2012, I’m now here to explain how Sweden chooses the song they send to Eurovision. (Get caught up on Eurovision here.)

Eurovision 2013 was held in Sweden, where Denmark won. (If you have been waiting for my analysis of Eurovision 2013, it’s not happening. Sorry for the letdown.) This year the song contest will be held in Denmark.

In order to decide which song will be sent to the Eurovision Song Contest, Sweden has a song contest. What else? Melodifestivalen lasts six weeks, where artists from across the land compete with one another to get the Swedish populace to vote for their songs. (At a price. Imagine if it cost money to vote for American Idol? Think there’d be as many votes? Now imagine you could also choose to call a number where money would go to charity (as they do in Sweden). Imagine…) Anyway…

Melodifestivalen is shown on Saturday nights (high time for lördagsgodis – Saturday candy – remind me to tell you more about this later). The first four showings consist of eight songs competing for your vote. During the first four shows two songs are sent directly to the final competition. Two songs are also sent to the second chance. The competition travels around Sweden and is sent live to all the televisions across Sweden.

The first four weeks the competition is pretty much set up how you would expect it to be. Eight groups/artists perform their songs, and Sweden calls in to vote. The two songs with the most votes get sent directly to the final (and are preformed one more time). The two songs receiving the 3rd and 4th most votes are sent to the second chance week.

Week one in Malmö saw YOHIO with the song “To the End” and Ellen Benediktsom with “Songbird” move directly on to the final. Linus Svenning singing “Bröder” as well as Helena Paparizou with “Survivor” were sent to the second chance competition.

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Week two broadcasting from Linköping sent Panetoz and Sanna Nielsen, singing “Efter solsken” and “Undo” respectively, to the final. Martin Stenmarck singing “När änglarna går hem” and JEM singing “Love Trigger” went to the second chance.

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In week three the artists sent directly to the final from Göteborg were Oscar Zia with “Yes We Can” and Ace Wilder singing “Busy Doin’ Nothin’”. State of Drama and Outtrigger singing “All We Are” and “Echo” respectively were sent to the second chance.

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Then in week four, from Örnsköldsvik (I don’t know where that is either), both Alcazar and Anton Ewand were sent to the final singing “Blame it on the Disco” and “Natural” respectively. Ammotrack singing “Raise Your Hands” and Elinor Holmer with the song “En himmelsk sång” were sent to the second chance show.

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Last week, week five was second chance week in Lidköping. Second chance week is a little different from the first four weeks. First, all eight artists/groups perform their songs. Then Sweden calls in to vote (much the same). However after the votes are counted, things get interesting. The top four songs are paired up two and two, and the artists prepare for a duel. The top four songs chosen by Sweden were: “Echo” by Outtrigger, “Survivor” by Helena Paparizou, “När änglarna går hem” by Martin Stenmarck, and “Bröder” by Linus Svenning. Linus sang against Martin Stenmarck, and Outtrigger sang against Helena Paparizou. In the end it was Linus Svenning and Helena Paparizou who walked away with golden tickets to the final competition. (Figuratively, I saw no actual golden tickets.)

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The final gets even more interesting than second chance week. It starts in much the same way all the previous competitions have begun. This time, however, ten performances sing their songs for a live audience instead of eight. Sweden then calls in (or texts, not sure if I mentioned yet that you can also text – if you’re not the phone-call-type-of-person). It then gets even more interesting, as 11 international juries also vote on Sweden’s final 10 songs. This year Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Russia, Spain and the United Kingdom weighed in. The Swedish people and the 11 international juries have 473 points each to divide amongst the songs.

The points that the people of Sweden award are divided up based on percentage of votes. (If 12% of the votes were awarded to one song that song would receive 12% of 473.) The awarding of the points from the international juries is very similar to that of Eurovision, where the best song receives 12 points, the next 10, then 8, 6, 4, 2 and 1. Once all the votes are counted the winner is announced!

If you ask me….

This year Evelina and I enjoyed the whole of Melodifestivalen comfortably from our couch….or a couch at least during those Saturdays we weren’t at home. However, I highly recommend seeing Melodifestivalen live. In 2012 Evelina and I worked at Cloetta Center in Linköping, along with 6 of our closest teammates during the Melodifestival performance. (Well 6 of our teammates anyway.) We got to see a bunch of fun performances (after hanging everyone’s coat in the coat check). Plus, the jokes from the hosts of the program are just a little bit funnier in person.

The final is right around the corner, a mere 15 minutes away. And if you ask me, I vote for Ace Wilder’s “Busy Doin’ Nothin'” Since you did ask me, I think her song is a lot of fun, and will do the best at the Eurovision Song Contest. It’s not my favorite song in the competition, or necessarily the best song…but, like I said, I think it will do the best at Eurovision. But everything remains to be seen.

If you’re ever in Sweden in February or early March, you now know what to do. (AND you now hopefully understand all the minute details of the Swedish song contest.) When in Sweden…

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pictures from svt.se


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the new year’s tradition

Did you guys know that Ryan was here over New Years? Again. The first time he came for New Year’s he ended up belly dancing in a restaurant.

There's picture proof, so you know it happened

There’s picture proof, so you know it happened.

While that will be hard to beat, I’m glad he took my invitation seriously, and showed up this year as well.

#nye13

It was great having him. On #nye we enjoyed a home cooked meal at Evelina’s parents house, and then walked/ran down to the city in order not to miss the fireworks. We did not.

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I took some time off work, so we took it easy and ate a lot of fika. It was excellent.

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FIKA!

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Besides all the fika-ing we also spent a lot of time at the rink. Ryan got to try out his goalie skills in one of our practices, and I was thoroughly impressed. He also helped out the coaches as well as got some lifting time in the gym. We even ran together, seeing as I went a little crazy and signed up for a marathon. Ryan, consider this your official invitation to run the marathon with me.

Look who's in net

movies 3D style

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Movies were also watched, with HFR, hence the wicked cool shades.

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Having Ryan to visit is always a blast, and I hope we keep the New Year’s tradition going strong. In reminiscing about Ryan’s most recent visit, a summertime visit comes to mind. Both Ryan and Tyler came to Sweden the summer of 2012.

They had both just gone on a tour of Great Britain and Wales, and had had a great time.

lazing about

(Clearly not more fun than Sweden though)

Lucky for me they decided to stop by Sweden before making the trip back across the Atlantic. We spend the time riding bikes around Eskilstuna, and having fika. I hope you sense the theme. A day trip to the Natural History Museum was also in order.

The National History Museum

Where we posed creepily with the animals. Obviously.

There were serious moments as well:

the siblings

Ryan, Tyler, consider THIS your open invitation to visit Sweden the summer of 2014!

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my resolutions – in a timely manner

Alright guys, here it comes.

2014

Last year I was a little late on the uptake, and posted my New Year’s resolutions a full eleven days after New Years. Poor form. This year I’m totally on the ball. (I tell myself, it’s good to give positive reinforcement, especially to oneself.) My New Year’s resolutions read as follows:

  1. Find a lasagna recipe that Evelina likes as much as I do
  2. Paint a painting
  3. Run a marathon
  4. Read 4 books off of Francine Prose’s List of Books to be Read Immediately
  5. Do a handstand push up

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Let me explain. The avid readers out there will notice my first two resolutions mirror, almost exactly, my first two resolutions from last year. Let’s be honest, so many of us repeat New Year’s resolutions year after year without ever getting anywhere. (Unused gym membership anyone?) I’m putting a stop to all that. This year I’m getting it done. Certainly 1 & 2. I’m going to set a specific date for my accomplishments, and track my progress once I start. And I’m telling you all about it. You guys are gonna hold me accountable, right?

  1. Lasagna. That bad boy has got to be accomplished before the end of winter. That means by March 20th I will have completed this task.
  2. Paint a painting – as with children, there is just never a good time, you gotta jump right it, and learn how to swim on the fly. Don’t let my wandering metaphor confuse you. What I’m trying to say is although I may not feel like I have a ton of time for painting, I need to just set a date, and get things done. I’m going April 1st on this one. Not because this is a prank, but because I may be taking a trip in April, and I want this one done before then.

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Oh no, I’m not stopping there. Setting a specific date for your goals is an important part of seeing them through to completion. I’m gonna go ahead and do it for the last three resolutions as well.

  1. Marathon. In my list of things to do in Sweden (found by the header) I’ve mentioned the Asics Stockholm Marathon. That takes place May 31st this year. It’s time for me to get my run on. When you visit their website they’ve posted that today there are 149 days until the marathon. I’m now nauseous.
  2. Books – I have acquired over my years the following titles, which appear on Prose’s list: Bleak House by Charles Dickens, Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger, Moby Dick by Herman Melville and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. In following my book of the month posts/goal I will read each one of these books during the following months:
    .          January: Moby Dick
    .          February: Franny & Zooey
    .          March: Little Women
    .          April: Bleak House
  3. Handstand push up. This one seems a little harder to set a date for. Seeing as it is on my 25 before 25 list…oh wait, all of my resolutions/goals are from that list. Funny how that happened. Any who! Seeing as it is on my 25 before 25 list, I will give this task a completion date of one day before my birthday. June 15th here we come.

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Looks like I’ve got a busy 6 months ahead of me. Check back in for periodic updates on how my resolutions are going. That’s not all! I’d also love to hear from you, have you made any New Year’s resolutions?

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2013 – looking back

At the end of each year I like to take a moment to reflect on a year gone. Okay, no, that was a bold faced lie, sounded good though, right?

This year at least I would like to take a look at last year’s New Year’s resolutions which read as follows:

  1. Paint a painting.
  2. Find a lasagna recipe Evelina enjoys as much as I do.
  3. Make homemade macaroni and cheese.
  4. Bake a rulltårta.
  5. Watch more movies.

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It seems the only resolution I have successfully been able to follow is number five. To be fair I have also completed 3 & 4, but really just in the past few days as a last ditch attempt to be successful with my resolutions. Yes, I deem 3/5 successful. Passing grade people!

In regards to the first two. I’m pretty okay with their lack of completion, as they are both well on their way. For my birthday Evelina got me two canvases and some paints. I have already planned out what I am going to paint and how I’m going to paint it. Half way there. As for number 2…Evelina has exasperatingly explained that she does not like lasagna. She will not like lasagna. As she does not like cheese, which is a main ingredient in lasagna. Little does she know I plan on adding these two uncompleted resolutions to my new resolution list (coming 2014) and I have a little something up my sleeve. Cue evil laugh.

found here

found here

I don’t want to dwell on the things I haven’t accomplished, but rather take a look at the things I have.

  1. Well on my way on learning Swedish
  2. Read Wuthering Heights
  3. Went to Mexico
  4. Read a book a month (despite some delays in posting about it – coming soon)
  5. Own the complete 10 seasons of Friends

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And those are just the things off of my 25 before 25 list. I’ve even:

  1. Planned a Lucia celebration
  2. Celebrated my Dad’s birthday with him
  3. Attended my brother’s high school graduation
  4. Listened to my calendar when it told me to eat chocolate for breakfast
  5. Learned even more about Sweden

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I’d say this has been a successful year.

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