Saturday, December 29, 2012

Something to rock around

Let's take a look at the 2012 Frost Christmas tree and evaluate its overall appearance together with some selected ornaments.

General treeiness

Shape: even; color: foresty; smell: sprucy; needles: pointy. Well done, mom!

Grade: 5 out of 5 Yule goats

Assault pigeon

I'm sure this bird is supposed to symbolize peace and love for all mankind, but positioned at the top of the tree with wings aggressively raised for impending attack the message it conveys is something quite different. Duck and cover! 

Grade: 4 out of 5 launche missiles

Tangled tinsel

Being environmentally aware (or just plain cheap) we have re-used our garlands over and over for years, but this time I got sick of trying to straighten out the silvery mess yet again. So I simply got a pair of scissors, cut the tinsel into smaller pieces, balled them up and randomly placed them throughout the branches. Next year, I'll probably just spray paint a dozen sea urchins with silver and spread them across the tree; the effect would be exactly the same.

Grade: 2 out of 5 echinoderms

Angel of vengeance

My aunt's favorite: a sombre looking Princess Leia wannabe with ginormous feet waiving a bloody sword (or is it a red lightsaber?). This one always gets a highlighted position, for fear of aggravating it.

Grade: 4 out of 5 fallen angels

The Pianist

Ah! Imagine the merry melodies this adorable bonnet-clad cherub composes on its grand piano, softly caressing the keys and FOR CRYING OUT LOUD WON'T SOMEBODY GIVE THIS GUY A PAIR OF PANTS!?

Grade: 3 out of 5 Donald Ducks

That's all, folks! See you next year.

Friday, December 28, 2012

On the table

For my international readers I present a rather typical Swedish Christmas table setting in my parents' kitchen on Christmas Eve. It should be noted, however, that merely a third of the food was displayed when I took the picture; the rest was either on the stove or elsewhere. (There were also people present, I swear.)

Looks rather pleasant, don't you think? Let's call it the lull before the storm.

Santa baby

The best thing about Christmas? Kale!

Er... Okay; kale and being reunited with loved ones. And if you're really, really lucky, you get to meet some new dearies besides the old familiar faces. Like Diana's adorable baby boy, sleeping quietly in the arms of his excited "aunts". Matilda, Viveca, Karin, and I are jealous and proud.

The radiant mother and little Wille. Makes you never want to leave Sweden again.

 Fortunately, they have kale in Seattle too. (A quantum of solace.)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Leaving on a jet plane

The bags are packed, the fridge is empty and the heat is turned off. As far as I can tell, I'm all set for flying to Sweden. Friends and family back home, here I come!

And friends and family in Seattle, I'll be back soon. You won't have time to miss me, I promise. På återseende!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Chronicles of Christmas

Aah, time to watch a festive movie! Let's try this one that I borrowed from Scott and Shani.

Looking good.

Oh, are there two DVDs in there?

Wait a sec...



Saturday, December 15, 2012

Legalize it!

Sure, I know that it's frosting they are referring to but it's still quite funny.

Spotted at Cupcake Royale in Ballard.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas


A weekend to remember - Part III

I simply can't not write something about our Sunday as well, so here is a very brief report:

Woke up at 10-ish; Lena and I feeling peachy, Sofia being a train wreck. Nothing that a good dose of bacon and pancakes couldn't fix, though. Not at "Kiss café", however; that's just plain wrong.

David picked us up after brunch and drove us to Seattle Premium Outlets where Lena bought a lifetime supply of sneakers and Sofia almost had a seizure at the Kate Spade store. For real! I thought I was losing her; she was literally shaking. Too many pretty things and too many ridiculously good deals for one girl to handle...

Eventually, the night before started catching up with us and Mr Good Guy David brought us to his place where he cooked dinner while we wrapped ourselves in blankets, played Cards Against Humanity and laughed a bit too hard at the card reading "A gassy antelope" (you really had to be there). The food was absolutely delicious and as a bonus we learned how to spice things up with habanero pepper without actually making the food overly hot. Intriguing! Finally, we were dropped off at my place in order to get some well needed rest.

It was a day of being utterly spoiled, to say the least. The best kind of hangover day, really. To conclude: David, the world needs more friends like you!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A weekend to remember - Part II

Sleeping really wasn't one of the activities Sofia, Lena, and I engaged in during their visit, so when we woke up at 6 am on Saturday morning we decided to get an early breakfast at Roxy's Diner across the street instead of being tired or hungover from the wine tasting. The main event of the day was enjoying Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Stowell & Sendak Nutcracker at McCaw Hall together with my Costa Rican comrade David. The evening started out with dinner downtown, but for some reason wine wasn't at the top of our wish list this day. So what did we do? We aimed straight for the cocktails, of course! (Before we left the restaurant we also had some tea and coffee to prevent unwanted drowsiness.)

The ballet was fantastic; everything from the Tchaikovsky score to the mind-blowingly seamless transitions between scenes. We were completely stunned! Except perhaps for the point when one of the backdrops got stuck half way up in act II... To the audience's great joy only the bottom parts of Clara and the Prince were visible when they travelled on their golden boat. Eventually, the scene had to be retaken, after lots of laughter and cheering. Being a great fan of children's book author and illustrator Maurice Sendak I could not help but get lost in the beautiful designs he had made for this production in 1981, which have been used since. Simply gorgeous.

After the show we had planned on going barhopping in Capitol Hill, but truth be told, the three Swedes were rather tired. All of us silently wondered how on Earth we would be able to stay awake more than an hour or so... It turned out not to be a problem, really.

David waved down a cab and before we knew it the four of us were sitting at a table at Barca, sipping on some truly fine drinks made with equal parts love and skill. Well, sipping might not be the correct word; "gulping" is perhaps more appropriate. One drink became two, which became three...

There really is no good way of capturing the rest of the evening in writing; I'll just say that we had a BALL. We danced at gay bars, surrounded by half naked men on pedestals hypnotizing us with impossible dance moves; we crammed ourselves into a photo booth in a Mexican-themed subterranean lounge basking in red light; we tried all kinds of drinks, good and bad (and worse), and chatted with strangers and locals everywhere we went.

Finally, we ended up at an after-party with some newfound acquaintances; the host probably being the lousiest boy scout in history, trying to light a fire in his fireplace using one big log. No, not any big log: The Biggest Log. Ever. (It did not succeed.)

Eventually, even this fantastic night had to end. After yet another cab ride my head met my pillow at around 5:15. The world spun around me, but not in a bad way; I'd say that it was 50/50 between alcohol and pure joy.

Thanks are always due after an evening like this, and without David we wouldn't have known of either the ballet or the Capitol Hill nightlife. He completely spoiled us in every way, making this Saturday a real treat. Thank you!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A weekend to remember - Part I

Having Sofia and Lena here has been so much fun; I don't even know where to start. Today I dropped them off at the airport after six totally awesome, yet exhausting days. The three of us will undoubtedly sleep like the dead tonight. Reporting everything we've done is too grand a task for me to endeavour, so you will have to make do with some highlights from our weekend adventures.

On Friday afternoon, Scott and Shani brought us to Woodinville for some wine tasting, beginning with six flavorful glasses at Chateau Ste Michelle.

We then proceeded to JM Cellars, where the wines were even more delicious. The cloudy looking liquid in Lena's glass was actually poured directly from the barrel as we got a special tour by John Bigelow himself (the "J" in JM). A first for me!

Our spirits rose by the minute as we were presented with one glass after another of high-quality wine, and when the designated pregnant woman steered the car towards Café Veloce for dinner, the merriment in the back of the car was unmistakable.

After filling up on Italian food (and more wine, of course), we tucked us into the car again and drove around looking at beautifully and overwhelmingly decorated houses wrapped in multicolored lights and ornaments. The radio played nonstop Christmas songs and Scott and the Merry Swedes sang along with heart and soul, to the driver's delight (ehm). The whole experience culminated in an explosion of colors as we ended up at the Garden d'Lights festival in the Bellevue Botanical Garden, running around among the hundreds of thousands of lights; laughing, photographing, and singing Blue Christmas over and over (and over and over and over...) until they closed down the park and basically threw us out.

The lighting was pretty ambitious, if you ask me.

Christmas Nessie?

Scott was seriously impressed by these balls.

The whole gang! These Swedes couldn't have asked for better guides to wine and Christmas lights. Thank you!

Stay tuned for part II: What Happened On Saturday (or maybe: What Did Not Happen On Saturday?).

Monday, December 10, 2012

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Bursting with excitement

Tonight I haven't slept more than about four hours, partly because of this (thanks to my awesome friend David!):

...but also because of all the lovely little butterflies fluttering around in my stomach.

Q: What are they doing there?
A: At noon today I'm driving to the airport to pick up my long lost ladies from Gothenburg, Sofia and Lena.

Sleep or no sleep, I'm happy as a plant!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sunday Night Football + Zoo

December 2nd was not only the first Sunday of Advent, but also the first Sunday of football - for me, that is. It was finally time for me to get introduced to this #1 sport in the US, and Scott had taken on the mission of teaching me everything I needed to know. He picked me up after lunch and drove to Burien where Shani and the biggest flat-screen tv I've ever set eyes on greeted me.

Besides a home baked loaf of gingerbread (Swedish mjuk pepparkaka) I'd brought to get a little christmasy we feasted on Shani's delicious pizza slices and nachos, and Scott opened up a bottle of tasty Syrah/Grenache wine from Swede Hill (sic) Cellars.

But we were not the only ones being fed...

The rat below was dead from the start; no unnecessary cruelty here. This snake was not so bright though, stubbornly trying to eat the poor creature butt first, which I learned was nearly impossible. It took him a while to figure that out.

This lady knew better. Look at the rat-shaped bulge in her throat, not to mention the tail casually hanging out of her mouth.

Okay, so the rats were dead; these guys were not.

Which made this guy happy.

Shake it like a polaroid picture!

Hey chicks, I eat your unborn children. Have some bread!

Believe it or not; these weren't even half of the animals present. A really interesting day, for sure! (And I haven't even mentioned the guns.)

Football turned out to be a very intriguing game to watch, and I will definitely try to see more of it. It's so much more than just a bunch of huge guys mindlessly running into each other. Also, hanging out with Scott and Shani the whole day was awesome - but that part was less of a surprise. Thanks for a great day!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Do not analyze or remodel absolutely

Hello Hello Kitchen Timer Rabbit! Hello!

Please handle my backside. Carefully!

I promise not to analyze. Absolutely!

And new Cake Mold friend: you are not used to be. Therefore I will not use.

Hello! Goodbye!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Buttered up (or sideways)

Someone is trying to bribe me! Sure, I appreciate the effort, but anyone who wants me to buy more lab supplies from their company should do their research better: mass produced milk chocolate is hardly the way to go with me.

Next time, slip in a bar of locally produced organic fair trade vegan high quality dark chocolate instead and I just might need some extra tube racks...

(Yeah yeah, I admit it: it's still quite cute.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

At night they come without being fetched

Wait a second... What was that?

I'm sure I heard something.

There! Behind that thing - didn't you see it!?

Holy crap, what is that!? It's looking at me!

No wait, hold on a sec... Ah forget it; that's just another postdoc working late in the lab. Don't let it bother you, it just wants attention.

(Yes, I got a bit bored while waiting for my samples to be centrifuged.)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Holiday season (really)

I have begun to truly understand why the Americans call this time of year the holiday season; Thanksgiving simply merges into Christmas, starting with a crazy shopping spree on Black Friday when people gather in huge crowds at stores that open at midnight with sales and special offers. It seems to be a lot like what we in Sweden do at Boxing Day, which is why I made sure to avoid it as best as I could.

I did go down to Westlake Center to watch the Christmas tree lighting ceremony with a friend, though. Thousands of Seattleites had gathered to listen to Christmas carols and enjoy the fireworks that accompanied the tree being lit, as well as being blinded by the enormous holiday star that now occupies the corner of Macy's. I honored the occasion by getting a holiday seasoned latte at Starbucks and went on to Nordstrom to watch kids (and adults) sitting on Santa's knee; a tradition that kind of creeps me out, to be honest.

To recuperate from this near overdose of holiday spirit we went to the movies and watched The Man with the Iron Fists; RZA's homage to classic B Kung Fu films. Bad acting, brainless plot, outrageous wigs, severed limbs flying right and left, blood gushing, physics overruled. And Russell Crowe. (Crickets chirping.)

Anyway, I'm ready for more Christmas now!

Friday, November 23, 2012

A day in the land of plenty

Before I left Sweden for Seattle I made a mental to-do list with events and phenomena I hoped to experience while in the US. One of the posts read "A proper American Thanksgiving dinner", which was resolutely ticked off yesterday. Honestly, I didn't expect that to happen until next year but ended up being invited to no less than three different dinners. I wish I could have made two copies of myself and attended all three of them, but have unfortunately yet to master the proper cloning skills.

The evening was spent at Ollie and Nancy's house, where their son Max and his girlfriend Sarah hosted a potluck for a party of twelve, while the parents were out of town. It was a terrific event with lots of eating, drinking, chatting, laughing, and piano playing. The crowd was super friendly and trying all the dishes that were completely new to me was thrilling and fun. To my surprise, traditional Thanksgiving food is really vegetarian friendly and I was more than stuffed when I eventually left.

Sadly, the few pictures I took were of very low quality but I'll show a few of them anyway, beginning with an overview of the menu (all dishes not shown). I contributed with the salad in the wooden bowl; baby spinach and other mixed lettuces, thinly sliced pear, finely chopped shallots, chèvre, dried cranberries, walnuts, and vinaigrette. The various pots, pans, and bowls contained chipotle yams, mashed potatoes, butternut squash mac and cheese, green bean casserole, corn casserole, corn bread, leeks, brussel sprouts, Southern-style collards, turkey, paté, bread, three kinds of stuffing (two with meat, one vegetarian), two kinds of gravy (vegetarian and non-vegetarian), and two kinds of cranberry sauce.

My plate was... full. I had to try everything, didn't I? My favorite was without a doubt the corn casserole in combination with cranberry sauce. The sauce resembled Swedish lingonberry jam, but flavored with orange and seasonal spices. Yummy!

The dessert table was no less packed, displaying two kinds of pumpkin pie with whipped cream, another pie (zucchini?), sweet rolls, my apple pie with custard (both of which turned out great, at least according to me), and some completely delicious chewy pecan brownies.

My warmest thanks to the hosts of this fine evening! Next year I don't have to wonder where I'll be because Scott has already made me promise that I'll spend that Thanksgiving with him and Shani. I already look forward to it!