Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden


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swedish word of the month: lagom

This word has no direct translation to English.

Lagom. Pronounced lah-gohm it’s a somewhat difficult word to adequately describe.

Where do I begin? The closest translation is “enough”, “the right amount”, or “what Goldilocks is desperately seeking – the middle ground, the just right”. I’ve personally had difficulties smoothly incorporating “what Goldilocks is seeking” into casual conversation, so I gotta say lagom is a good alternative.

Sweden is the land of lagom. I know I’ve said Sweden is the land of IKEA…and the land of fika, but REALLY Sweden is the land of lagom. Because you should decorate your home with just the right amount of IKEA, and enjoy enough fika (not too much – that would be craziness). Here in Swedeland lagom is the golden rule…alright, the golden rule is still the golden rule…making lagom the platinum rule.

Lagom applies to everything. Food, drink, exercise, time spent with family and friends, you name it – the Swedes want it in just the right amount.

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coursera – and why my eyes are bigger than my stomach

I want to take all of the courses available on Coursera. You guys have heard of MOOC right? It’s probably the most bestest thing ever.


I say this because I like to learn, and an excellent day for me consists of reading and exploring new ideas. When I say I like to learn, I mean it. I’ve been studing, in one form or another, non-stop since pre-school. At least 24 years of my life has been spent in organized education.

This being said, when it comes to coursera, and all MOOC really, my eyes are much, much bigger than my stomach. Learning isn’t the only thing I spend my time doing, I have some hobbies. So, I don’t actually have any time for extra learning on the side of the learning I’m already doing.

I’ve started a list of Coursera courses I plan on taking. 

  1. Learn to play the Guitar
  2. Social Psychology
  3. Early Childhood Interactions
  4. Positive Psychology
  5. Calculus One

Stay tuned, if and when I start actually completing (and not just starting) these courses I’ll write about it here first. That is, when I have a spare moment. There’s just so much to learn but so little time.


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what is fika?

Listen up! This is important. Open your eyes now, people, you’re about to gain some knowledge!

An immediate differentiation should be made, that fika and FICA are two very, very different things. The latter is a taxing system that funds Social Security and Mecicare. That’s definitely not what this is about. The former is what we’re here today to discuss.

Fika, with the all important “K”, is a Swedish tradition, incurred daily, which allows for the intake of caffeine and sugar. Some argue that this event should take place at 2:30 pm on the dot, but I’m not here to set the rules, I’m here to enjoy the party!

In this instance, when I say party, I mean an often quiet moment during the day where you sit down with co-workers, friends or family and take a second to enjoy their company. As well as the aforementioned sugar and caffeine. Not to be confused with the British tea-time, Swedish fika is a beast of its own.

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Fika can actually happen anytime, anywhere. From meeting up with friends at a local café or in the comfort of your own home alone or with your favorite family members (let’s be honest, we all have favorites). Swedes can fika in public, from outdoors in a park with a homemade selection of sweets and a thermos of coffee to riding a SJ train from Malmo to Stockholm in the dining car. Fika isn’t only a daily break from the hustle and bustle that is our fast-paced lives, it’s a lifestyle of taking the time to stop and smell the coffee.

As previously mentioned there are no rules when it comes to fika, but one of my favorite treats to enjoy with my coffee are Swedish chocolate balls. (If you know anything about me you know how extrememly dificult it was for me to decide on just one treat). Here’s the recipe so you too can enjoy a moment of Swedish fika in your busy busy day:

Ingredients:

  • 2 dl oats
  • 1 dl sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cold coffee
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 150g butter 
  • Coconut shavings or sprinkles or both


Directions:

  1. Convert everything to cups if you don’t have a deciliter measuring device. I’ll help you get there by telling you that 1 dl is 0.42 cups.
  2. Mix all ingredients except the coconut/sprinkles in a bowl.
  3. Roll mixture into balls. Larger balls will be about 1.5 inches in diameter smaller balls can be about 1 inch in diameter.
  4. Pour a small amount of coconut (or sprinkles) on a plate, one or two handfuls will be enough to get started. Coat the balls with coconut or sprinkles by rolling them around the plate. As the coconut/sprinkles run out, add more to the plate. 
  5. Makes about 14 large balls or 20 small balls.







Side bar: For those of you who like words, I just had to check the etymology of the word “fika” and according to professor Lars-Gunnar Andersson at the University of Gothenburg the word fika comes from an alternate form of a Swedish word for coffee (kaffi). The word “kaffi” is cut in the middle and each side swapped, as a type of slang (since that just seems like the easiest kind of slang there is…) which results in “fika“!


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gröna lund

One of many Things To Do In Sweden, as listed by yours truly, is to visit Gröna Lund. Which is an amusement park on Djurgården island, which you can get to by ferry, bus, car, bike, skateboard, walking – and those standing scooter things that I assume were created to increase the spread of obesity the world over. And yes, standing scooter things is an official Google search term.

What I’m saying is, you can get there by many means. Once there, and you have paid the admission fee and possibly bought your ride wrist band or tickets, you are free to run around and explore the wonderful mini-world that is this amusement park.

I’ve been a few times, the most recent time being last summer. My personal favorite rides are the tallest ones, especially Eclipse where you can see absolutely fabulous views of Stockholm.

Gröan 2015

Grönan 2

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Of course no trip to Gröna Lund would be complete without Ben & Jerry’s ice cream!

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All in all Grönan (as the locals call it) is a great time!

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independence day

It’s here! The Fourth of July!

I love this holiday. Though for some reason I can’t fathom we don’t have the day off here in Sweden. I’ve written a letter to the local politician regarding the matter. I’m sure the positive response I’m waiting for is in the mail. While we wait let’s take a look back to last year’s celebratory activities.

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I hope your 4th is full of family, friends, food and fun!

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god jul

A Merry Christmas drawing I recieved on my last day at work before Christmas break.

A Merry Christmas drawing I received on my last day at work before Christmas break.

Today is Christmas Eve! That means that we’ll be celebrating today here in Sweden! In Sweden it is tradition to watch Kalle Anka (or Donald Duck) on Christmas Eve before opening the presents. Kalle Anka is a Christmas special that I don’t believe has changed in the past 50 years. And yes, you heard me right, in Sweden we wait until the night-time to open gifts.

This really bummed me out until I realized that we still open gifts a whole day before we would were we in the U.S. So to all the Swedes out there: God Jul! And to all the Americans that have yet to open your gifts: SUCKAS!

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memory lane: welcome to spain dracula!

Spain part 3 of 3. The final installment. Join me today along memory lane back to my 25 before 25 list. Number 16: visit a friend at their new residence.

“Welcome to Spain Dracula!” Katie shouted to me across the bus station.

Not really. But maybe she should have.

Since we don’t live in a fake Tina Fey improv session, when I arrived in Don Benito Katie walked across the train station and introduced herself to María-José. As you remember, my new friend.

Spain pt. 3.1

After saying farewell to María-José, Katie and I made out way to Katie’s place of residence for the past year. The difference between Madrid and Don Benito was striking. Just taking the short stroll through the city center to Katie’s apartment made that clear. Don Benito is a charming little city, where Katie was working for the year as an English teacher. Her time in Spain was coming to a close, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to travel Spain with a new native. (You become a native in a year….right?)

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Katie’s front door

The view from the balcony

The view from the balcony

After getting to Katie’s apartment (and checking off number 16 on my list), I dropped off my bags and we went back into town to drink tinto with Katie’s friends. The next day we were heading down to Sevilla so it wasn’t a late night, but it was great to meet the people Katie had spent the past year with.

Yummmm....tinto

Yummmm….tinto

Little did she know, a sun burn was on its way

Little did she know, a sun burn was on its way

Sevilla was hot. This was May, and I had just recovered from a Swedish winter, so believe me when I say, Sevilla was hot! We meandered through the city taking in the sights. Ate often at this little chain restaurant they have in Spain, 100 cervezas, where you buy tiny little sandwiches and get a pint of beer at ridiculously low prices. We drank more beer on the beach, and I managed to get ridiculously sun burnt (as I failed to heed the advice from María-José who warned me of this on our ride). Over all it was an awesome time.

Spain pt. 3.6

Spain pt. 3.7

In the evenings we ate dinner in charming little spanish squares. Where the tall buildings surround us on all four sides, yet the squares are still big enough to harbor small trees. Small children run through, laughing loudly, aided with extra energy at the late hour because of their timely siesta earlier that day.

It was in one of these squares that Katie and I had one of our conversations that I will never forget. There was the sound of a guitar trickling out a nearby open window, and Katie asked me how I knew Evelina was the one. I grinned, sipping my Spanish red wine in the moonlight and explained: It’s like I’ve found this person. I am hers, and she is mine. And everything else in the world, all the noise, it will settle down. It will resolve. there’s no need to think or worry about that. Because, forever, there will be us.

I had never before put my love to words for another before, and that evening is a moment I will always remember. For this I will always love best friends, and Spain, and red wine, and moonlight.

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happy wedding max & amelia

This summer two amazing people tied the knot. Maxwell & Amelia celebrated their love surrounded by friends and family on a beautiful island off the coast of Maine. The rehearsal dinner was entertaining and celebratory, the wedding ceremony was beautiful and lead seamlessly into an amazing night to remember.

Rehersal Dinner

Wedding

The entire weekend was made all the better as many of my high school friends were in attendance and we had our own mini reunion. The weekend surrounded by great friends was made all the better with fun activities.

Lobster dinner

Lobster dinner

On a boat!

On a boat!

Brunch

Brunch

Relaxing after jumping off the HUGE rock!

Relaxing after jumping off the HUGE rock!

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Ice cream!

The weekend on Frye island is not one I’ll soon forget! Congratulations again Max & Amelia, what an amazing weekend!

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happy birthday dearest

For your birthday this year I have written you a poem my love.

Based off of one of my favorite movies, the time-honored classic: 10 Things I Hate About You.

It’s not what you think.

10 Things I Love About You

I love the way you talk to me
And the way you cut your hair
I love the way you’re there for me
I love it when you stare

I love your gentle natured ways
And the way you read my mind
I love you so much that it makes me swoon
It even makes me rhyme

I love the way you’re always there
I love it when we lie
I love it when you make me laugh
I never want to say good-bye
I love it when you’re around me
I miss you so when you are gone
And mostly I love the way you love me so
Extremely, completely, fully, to the moon and back, yes, that long

quizzical birthday

Happy Birthday my love!

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