Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden


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black bean soup

Eggton does it again with a vegetarian (or vegan if desired) black bean soup. Now that fall is on its way a nice hot soup is a go to meal to keep toasty warm. Original recipe found here.

Once again I didn’t stray much from Eggton’s instructions. I’ve found that’s the best way for me to have success in the kitchen. It unfortunately doesn’t guarantee I don’t get burned.

Black bean soup ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery diced (did you guys know they’re called ribs?!)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 c. vegetable broth
  • 1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 410g cans black beans, drained but not rinsed
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. ketchup (use a vegan ketchup if you’re vegan)
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (omit if vegan)
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. cumin

Cooking black bean soup

Directions:

  • In a large pot or a big skillet with raised sides, melt the olive oil or butter over medium heat.
  • Add the chopped onion and celery and carrot.  Sauté until the onion is tender and translucent but not browned, lowering the heat if necessary.  Add the garlic and cook another couple of minutes.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.  Raise the heat to bring it to a boil and then lower it so that the soup simmers for 20 minutes (or less – but if you cook it really fast your veggies might still be a little crunchy – I seriously recommend cooking the veggies fast, so good!).
  • Purée half or all of the soup with a hand mixer (Eggton recommends a blender or food processor, we don’t have that and the hand mixer worked great) then stir it back into the pot.
  • Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning as desired.  If it’s too thick for your taste, add more broth and reheat. Serve with sour cream and cheese if you like (provided you’re not vegan).

black bean soup

This soup was so good I could honestly eat it every week this fall. I won’t because then I may turn into a black bean. As the old adage goes: you are what you eat.

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i’m back, ready for action

Nip it in the butt, never relaxin’ Outkast is everlastin’ – yes, this is why “I like the way you move” was written. For this blog post. My welcome back after the summer blog post.

My posts this summer have consisted of birthday posts and book of the months. Before that I wrote that I was focusing in on a few key things in my life. Partially to give my full focus to fewer tasks with the hopes of completing these tasks at a higher quality. And partially to reduce my over all stress. It worked wonderfully. I had a wonderfully relaxing and simultaneously adventurous summer. Now I’m ready to jump back into writing, and of course share all my summer excursions here.

So stay tuned, 2015 was a summer for the books.
And one last thing: I’m not clashing, not at all.

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bike fix it day

blue bikeIn Sweden you do a lot of biking. Especially when you don’t have a Swedish driver’s license. Initially I thought having a bike would be a lot simpler than having a car. But it turns out you have to also maintain a bike. Especially one that lives outside. The outside life is a hard one. For this reason I occasionally schedule a bike fix it day, in order to keep my bike running smoothly.

Since I moved to Sweden I have had two different bikes. Both of them have been bought used, and both of them were bought in Linköping. Older bikes hold up. The bikes made back in the day were good quality bikes.

My first bike had like a million gears. Or, more accurately, 10. The poor baby broke when the gears broke off of the frame and got wrapped around the pedal. Bad day. I took it to a bike shop and ended up trading it in for another used bike. This bike has been with me for almost three years now. Ol’ reliable.

green bikeBut, like I said, bikes require some maintenance. I’ve replaced the saddle, replaced the break wire, re-strung the gears (multiple times, and I will need to do this again….maybe I should ask someone to do it for me next time…) I’ve also added a basket and front & back lights. In Sweden you will be fined $100 per missing light if you are stopped by a police officer without a front or back light. Front lights have to be white and back lights have to be red.

Admittedly, I am not an expert biker. Biking in the winter is not for me, and I’ve fallen off three times since moving to Sweden. If you think I was cushioned by a nice fluffy snow bank, you would be wrong. It was more accurately a skidding-across-ice-break-my-laptop fall, later followed by a bike-falling-out-from-under-me-in-public event, and even later followed by a face-plant-into-ice incident. I was less than impressed, but thankfully (mostly) uninjured.

Ryan helpingThis winter I needed to replace the inner tube and tire on my front wheel, after it exploded with small pieces ricocheting onto Evelina – my bad. I accomplished this task with lots of help from Evelina and Ryan. Yes, the project was completed during Ryan’s visit! Now my bike looks even spiffier with a front grey tire. It was the only tire in the correct dimensions available at the bike shop, plus it looks ballin’.

I will inevitably need to do more maintenance on ol’ reliable in the future. But I’m okay with it. It’s worth it. Despite the occasional mishap, I really do enjoy biking. It’s good exercise, good for the environment, doesn’t require gas, and is in general rather low-cost. Luckily the cities of Sweden are teeming with well-lit bike paths.

See you on the streets!

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one month ago today

I thought I would take this opportunity, during a time of merriment and cheer, to reminisce on Thanksgiving. My Thanksgiving post was short and sweet, with a super cute card I got, feel free to check it out.
Now you get to see how we do Thanksgiving festivities in Sweden. You could read last years post. Or you could check out the pictures below.
Thanksgiving 2013
Now I’m hungry.
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book of november: wuthering heights

This book has been on my “to read” list pretty much since I was 10 and my mother bought me a copy. Probably for one of those gift giving holidays. Or the tooth fairy brought it. (Yes, the tooth fairy actually brought me books. Yes, I do know the tooth fairy is real, and you cannot convince me otherwise. How else would I have the book?)

Regardless…

When a book remains on the “to read” list for that long, it usually means it’s not my style. Not a book I can really get in to, and after all these years have avoided reading. What a surprise it was to read this book. I was immediately enthralled in Brontë’s world and writing style, which made this one an exciting read.

Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights is just what’s in order to get through the long fall nights. This book comes highly recommended by me. And Francine Prose. Check this one off the list!


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that time we went to mexico

For once I’m actually prompt about writing about my activities. Yes, this is prompt in comparison to my usual style. (Don’t worry, all the other stuff I have done will make an appearance here soon.) But let’s focus on Mexico. Let’s focus on Mexico, because now I’m in Sweden, and while we were gone Sweden got cold. Cold and dark.

That’s neither here nor there, because as mentioned I was in Mexico last month. Evelina and I travelled there to celebrate our friends’ wedding. The details of their beautiful wedding will come in a future post, because now I want to tell you about the adventures!

Evelina and I spent 6 days in Mexico. Six sunny, warm days in Mexico.

On Monday we arrived after a relatively successful flight down from Boston via JFK. The first thing we did was receive more information in an hour than anyone can possibly remember when it comes in that quantity. The second thing we did (After gallivanting around our room and taking ridiculous pictures. No those pictures will not appear here.) was go down to the beach. Of course we jumped in the water, all be it quickly. It really sunk in that we were on vacation, being able to walk from our room down to the beach in a matter of minutes and enjoy the Caribbean view. That evening we ate with our friends, and new acquaintances, who would be attending the wedding. After which we returned to the hotel room and enjoyed the amenities there. We were sure to get to bed early because we had two days coming up full of adventure.

Mexican mornings

#nofilter check out that sunrise!

We woke up early Tuesday for room service and a great view of the sunrise from our balcony. We had a big day ahead of us, so we had to fuel up. Tuesday we had planned to join a day trip to Chichen Itza and Wednesday we had planned to go snorkelling. Clearly we had big plans. And let me tell you, it was worth it. The adventure out to Chitchen Itza was both highly informational and fun. Even though it was entirely possible that our guide was making things up as he went, about 80% of it I remembered from 5th grade when we learned about the ancient Mayans, Incas and Aztecs.

Mexican adventures 1

The trip out to Chitchen Itza was an entire day trip, with a side stop at a grotto. We got to go swimming in an ancient hole in the ground. It was only recommended that you stay in the water for 30 minutes. Because of the bacteria. Maybe it shouldn’t be recommended at all that one swim in it. Of course I jumped in. It was worth it. At the grotto there was also a tequila factory, where we got to learn, in very fast, broken English, how tequila was made. Then we got to taste test it. Peanut butter was the best. I tell no lie. In retrospect, maybe you’re supposed to taste the tequila and then go swimming. A little tequila goes a long way, and by the time you’ve tasted all 9 flavors a little bacteria doesn’t scare you!!

Mexican adventures 2

Snorkeling was a real blast. I highly recommend it. Who knew that off the coast of the Yucatan peninsula lies the worlds second largest reef? Bobbing up and down in the ocean waves, catching a glimpse of some tropical fish, trying not to get roasted by the sun, and sipping beer on a boat was a top-notch way to spend the day. My favorite moment included our guide showing us a barracuda. Promptly followed by the bride to be swim-chasing it through the ocean, as the guide frantically points to the fish, to his mouth, and makes a biting motion with his hands. Yes, barracuda bite. No, you should not chase them.

Mexican adventures 3

Thursday was wedding day, and what better way to start the day than with some early morning Pilates on the beach. Or at least it would have been a great way to start the day if our instructor wasn’t ab crazy. That man had us do more ab work in an hour than I’ve done in my entire life combined. After that exhausting workout we had earned some pool time. (Plus our glistening abs looked great in the sun.) The wedding that evening was ridiculously beautiful. But as I said, more on that later.

bridal bouquet

Our first day of full relaxation was on Friday. So we spent it by the pool and on the beach.

beach finds

beach finds

Don’t worry relaxing for us includes an intense made up game, where the rules essentially were that you get points by knocking over cups with various amounts of pool water in them with a rubbery ball that is bounced across the water in the pool. Relaxing also includes an hour of volleyball, so don’t worry, we didn’t go overboard.

pool games

Saturday was travel day, but we luckily had a good chunk of sun time before we had to pack up and say our goodbyes. We met a group of great people, as well as got to spend about a week with great friends. What could be better? Mexico had a ton to offer. It was a fabulous, sunny, adventure-full week.

beach view

beach view

I suppose one might say that it was actually refreshing to return home from Mexico to the crisp, cold, rainy fall weather. One might say that. I would not.

Take me back to Mexico.

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book of october: david and goliath

No, I didn’t forget book of the month. Don’t you worry your little heart.

I’ve ranted and raved about how much I enjoy Malcolm Gladwell in previous posts, and when I found out he was coming out with a new book I knew it was written for me. And thousands of other readers. It was released on the first of the month, and LUCKY for me Evelina and I went on vacation this month. That means plenty of travel time to fill with reading a good book. Or five.

David & Goliath

In an upcoming post I will tell you all about our trip to Mexico. (And the ridiculous flight schedule it entailed.) For now I will leave you with these tantalizing pictures of reading an excellent book in excellent weather. On an excellent beach. Yes, everything really was that excellent.

reading on the beach

Malcolm Gladwell does it again. In a style all his own he connects dots in an ever fascinating way. He even talks about IKEA in this one. It’s a good read, you know I recommend it.

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happy birthday dad!

Last year on my Dad’s birthday I shared one of my earliest memories. With him and with you all.

This year, luckily, I was able to be home to celebrate with my Dad and family. Not on the actual day…but weekend before is pretty damn good when you live an ocean away. That’s what I say.

We watched my Dad play soccer and had a cook out. The soccer game was a good match, where Dad was in net. Or he was in net up until the last 20 minutes, where he came in and put one away. That’s right, he had a shut out and a goal, quite the Sunday morning. Dad’s goal brought the score to 4-0. An exciting game to watch on a beautiful fall day.

Dad's soccer day

Dinner was also good.

dinner time!

And of course there were presents.

Dad's birthday 2013

So: Happy Birthday Dad! Grattis! Congratulations on another year well lived.

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lindsey visits

This past weekend my friend Lindsey came to visit! My oh my was I excited. Lindsey is the first friend to come visit Evelina and I from the US at our Eskilstuna abode. (Yes, Ryan came to visit last winter, yes, he is a friend, but first he is a brother. Yes, Katie came to visit us in Linköping, and she will forever hold the award for first North American friend to visit Sweden.)

I suppose Lindsey had it easy, since she technically only came from Denmark where she’s studying for her semester abroad. I mean really technically she came from the US originally, so it still counts. Also, no points were deducted from Katie for having flown to Sweden from Spain.

I can’t help but to break down our weekend as I did Katie’s.

Friday:

12:50: Lindsey landed in Sweden, and promptly bussed it to Stockholm Central Station where she trained it to Eskilstuna. She did all this on her own, and I must say I am greatly impressed. (My own personal difficulties in getting on the correct SL trains is a story for another time.)

14:45: I met Lindsey at Eskilstuna’s Central Station. After which we walked to Evelina’s and my apartment to drop off Lindsey’s things before taking a stroll in to the city.

17:00: Dinner at Papas Tapas. This is my number one favorite restaurant in Eskilstuna. It’s a combination of Spanish and Mexican food, and you almost always need to book a table if you want to eat there. So good.

19:30: The three of us, after returning home for a quick change, went over to a friend’s housewarming party. Don’t worry, I told everyone they had to speak lots of English so Lindsey could follow along. I was pleasantly surprised at the over all English skills at the party. (Just kidding guys, I’ve always know y’all are good at English.) But seriously though, give a Swede a few beverages and the English just starts flowin’.

Saturday:

7:00: Early wake-up call today, because it’s time for Three Kronor Hockey School! Just enough time for a quick breakfast before our ride came to get to the rink.

8:00: Arrival at Smehallen. Last Saturday was the first day of hockey school for this season. Evelina and I are coaching the girls, so our attendance was mandatory. Lindsey stepped up and was a big help on the ice. She asked about a few key Swedish phrases to help her talk to the little ones.

  • Stand up! – “Stå upp!”
  • Walk like Daffy Duck – “Gå som Kalle anka!”
  • Do you need help? – “Behöver du hjälp?”

Now you also know all the phrases necessary to teach a small Swedish child how to skate!

TKS

10:30: Still at the rink, our team’s practice started at 10:30. Lindsey was absolutely up for a go at it on the ice, and it was certainly a success. Evelina’s and my teammates were impressed, and most importantly so were our coaches. Lindsey officially has an invitation to come play in Sweden when she has completed her studies in the US. Seriously, Lindsey, you should come.

12:15: Lunch time. Evelina and I did our best to impress Lindsey by showing her the finest cuisine of Sweden. Just not at this meal time…left overs it was.

14:30: After lunch and a little down time we walked into the city again to look around at the shops. There’s a bit of construction at the main square in Eskilstuna right now, but City Hall is still pretty, and there was a lot to see. We were on a quest for shoes, so we visited all the shoe stores. Unfortunately we did not find what we were looking for, so we recharged with a little fika. It was necessary.

The classic Swedish fika, coffee and a chocolate ball

The classic Swedish fika, coffee and a chocolate-ball

16:00: Still on a quest for shoes we walked out to the mall.

The walk there was beautiful. Peppered with views of the changing trees. Fall is here!

The walk there was beautiful. Peppered with views of the changing trees. Fall is here!

Where both Lindsey and Evelina were lucky enough to find some fall shoes! Shoes…let’s get some shoes!

18:30: Once the mall closed we joined Evelina’s mother, Maria, back in to town. We had been invited for dinner, so we enjoyed some classic Swedish home cooked food. Followed by apple pie, coffee and tea. You could say it was slightly better than the lunch we had to offer… In fact you probably should say that.

Sunday:

9:00: Wake up call! Although it wasn’t too late of a sleep in, Lindsey and I had gotten train tickets in to Stockholm for Sunday morning, so up and at ’em! After packing up and saying bye to Evelina we took a stroll through some parts of the city we had missed before on our way up to the station.

10:30: Train departs from Eskilstuna Central Station.

11:45: Arrival in Stockholm. We (I) decided we should walk down to the water and take a look at the old part of Stockholm City. It is one of my favorite places in the city, and not something you should miss. When we first left the train station and looked right we got a good view of Stockholm’s City Hall. My fun fact was that they had recently cleaned all the gold on top of the buildings in all of Sweden for the crown princesses’ wedding (other probably factual things I know about the royal family found here). Along the way in to Gamla Stan (the old town) you get a glimpse of Riddarholmskyrkan, which is most known for as a burial-place for kings. (I say “most known for” I mean most known by me, as in it’s the only thing I know about it. More informed people might have other opinions.) On our way in to Gamla Stan we also walked past Riksdagshuset, or the parliament building. (This time we didn’t venture in side.)

Gamla Stan!

Gamla Stan!

There are a ton of cute little shops in Gamla Stan, so we slowly made our way through.

12:45: After exploring Old Town we arrived at Vapiano. Still my favorite Italian place to eat in Stockholm. The Vapiano in Old Town is my favorite of the three in the city because of the location and the atmosphere. This is how excellent and fabulous the food looks:

photo 3 (3)

13:15: Once we had eaten our fill of excellent Italian food we took a stroll down to the water again to loop the other way through the city. Looking across the water we saw Grona Lund, some beautiful boats, and the National Museum.

Another breathtaking fall foliage view.

Another breathtaking fall foliage view.

Stockholm on the water

Turning back up to the city by the Royal Castle, we arrived just in time for the ceremonial changing of the guards.

changing of the guards

After which we made our way through the commercial side of Stockholm and saw all the stores and shopping. Since we weren’t looking for anything in particular we had a nice opportunity to have fika outside Ahlens and people watch.

more fika

We then made our way back to the train station.

14:05: Arrived back at Central Station and went over to the Arlanda Express tracks where Lindsey and I said out good byes. I hope you had an awesome visit to Sweden, Lindsey, come back soon!

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just think apples

I’m cold. Very cold. And I can’t see anything. Because it’s so dark. So I’m going to think about happier, brighter, warmer times. Like the fall, summer and spring.

We had a beautiful fall here in Sweden, full of bright brisk mornings, where the dew would glisten, frozen, on the grass. Fall started, like, August 1st. (I should have realized what was coming.) But, ignoring the signs, I enjoyed the sunny cooler days. In the fall I love going apple picking; happily so does Evelina, and apple picking we went!

Although when I say that we went apple picking I should be specific about what I mean. We went to Evelina’s parent’s house, and we went into the back yard, and we picked apples from the tree that grows there. I say that qualifies.

apples

Here’s to memories of warmer (everything is warmer than this), brighter days!

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