Friday, November 29, 2013

It's official...

...Christmas has begun! The tree is lit, as is Macy's gigantic star. And I only cried once! Well okay, twice. I couldn't quite handle being in the midst of a sea of Seattleites solemnly singing Silent Night in unison, and when the countdown ended and thousands of little lights started twinkling in the dark November night my eyes filled up with tears once more. I'm such a softie!


To me, living in the US means trying lots of strange things I would never venture elsewhere. Hence, when a new Fred Hutch acquiantance proposed gathering a group of friends for a night of square dancing at Tractor Tavern, I immediately and enthusiastically agreed. And guess what? I had a blast! At first it looked absolutely terrifying with all the intricate steps and combinations of moves, but I didn't even have time to hesitate before someone asked me to dance and the rest of the night was a jumble of spinning and laughing.

Let me tell you this: I love sweating hipster cowboys. 'Nuff said.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Yulefest! (And a little Thanksgiving)

Today is Thanksgiving, but I will not go on too much about that; I spent the day with friends and family, being thankful for all the good things in life. Fun times, as always! Oh yeah, and I got photobombed.

Instead, I will describe an event that took place last weekend: Yulefest at the Nordic Heritage Museum in Ballard. Yup, we're talking Finnish folk dancers, Norwegian pastries, Christmas decorated Dala horses, accordions, straw ornaments, and lots and lots of old people wearing folk costumes.

Awesomeness was abundant. Just watch this

 and this

and this

not to mention this

Okay, I realise that I might come across as very sarcastic but truth be told, my friend and I had a great time. It was really interesting and fun to see the American interpretation of Nordic traditions. However, I have to say that they really messed up the Lucia procession... Honestly, I have no idea what was going on, but it included a bunch of little Lucia maidens doing the chicken dance around a man in a yellow feathered mask. Oooh-kay... There was no singing, no reading of verses, not even a Lucia! David Lynch could not have made it weirder; I was too shocked to even take a photo of the travesty. But hey, at least we got gingerbread thins afterwards so I guess that makes up for it? (Not really.)

On Sunday, I can finally surrender completely to my Christmas yearnings; I will be able to light my calendar candle, make myself a cup of Christmas tea and press play on my Spotify X-mas playlist without any remorse. At last!

After the marathon, that is...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Parking violation

How embarrasing! I obviously put my bike in the horse rack by accident the other day. Luckily, I got away with it without a ticket.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday status update

This weekend has been a real treat! Happy hour with good friends, drinks with new acquaintances. Hanging out with David; eating brunch, watching movies, making plans. Sunday was all about me: I began with trying a new class at my gym (body blast), then cleaned my apartment, Skyped with Sofia, did laundry, checked out quirky Christmas knick-knacks at the Fremont Sunday market, got groceries, prepared lunches for the upcoming week, listened to podcasts, emailed, danced in my kitchen, dreamed of fun times to come... A day of crossing off items on my to do-list. A day of recuperation. And now it's finally time to curl up in that chair, enjoying a good book... Bliss!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Nerding out

Enjoy math? And Simpsons? ...maybe even Futurama? Then you're most likely a geek like me, and should definitely check out the new book by Simon Singh; a science author/journalist with a PhD in particle physics who visited Seattle last Thursday to give a talk about his new baby, The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets. Having much enjoyed two of his previous books, Fermat’s Last Theorem and The Code Book, I eagerly joined my fellow Comic Book Guys in Town Hall to hear his lecture.

My verdict: Fun! Interesting! Curious! In fact, I took the opportunity to chat with the author for a couple of minutes after everyone left the auditorium, which certainly added to the whole experience.

I should do these things more often!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Under my umbrella

Hey, November! I know most people hate on you, but I don't. In fact, I like you quite a bit.


Cheers, November!

Making Christmas*

I'm well aware that it's only November, but 2013 will be the year when this Christmas junkie spends her first X-mas away from Sweden, and it takes some preparations to make it bearable. Hence, stocking up on important (and not so important) accessories and ingredients on the brief sojourn back home was essential.

Below are some of the items I collected: bitter orange peel (pomerans) for ginger thins, a sample of my favorite Christmas tea blend, spice mix for mulled wine (glögg), almond paste (mandelmassa), traditional cookie cutters (piglet, angel, star), a calender candle, a knitted heart, dry yeast for saffron rolls, and some typical holiday sweets (Marianne mint candies and juleskum). I also got myself a star shaped paper pendant lamp to hang in my kitchen window in time for advent (not shown below).

So far, so good! I'm ready for December to start. Like, right now. Now!

*The title of this post refers to the No. 1 Christmas movie out there: Tim Burton's “Nightmare Before Christmas”. But you knew that, of course. If not: check it out!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Exit through the gift shop

01:24 am. About an hour left to go. These alpha camera images better be worth it...

Monday, November 4, 2013


A lot of people have asked me why I chose to go back to Sweden now, instead of waiting for the holidays. It's quite simple: I wanted to partake in the Conferment of Doctoral Degrees at the University of Gothenburg, which took place on October 25.

Crystal clear? No...?

Okay, the Conferment of Doctoral Degrees (doktorspromotion in Swedish) is the university’s largest ceremonial occasion when new doctors, jubilee doctors and honorary doctors receive their insignia as confirmation of their position at the university. I was supposed to attend last year's ceremony, but since it took place shortly after my move to Seattle I chose to postpone it until now.

The 2.5-h ceremony was highly formal and perhaps not the most action packed activity I've engaged in, but I'm nevertheless very glad I went. I'm even happier that my brother, sister, mother, father, aunt, and two grandmothers could share this big day with me. And they certainly did it in style; the ceremony was followed by a banquet with formal attire, and all of them had gone through the trouble of gearing up properly for the occasion. Much appreciated!

The handsome parents.

The brother (a.k.a. the date for the evening).


The siblings (and the diploma).

The Frosts.

For those who have 6 minutes and 13 seconds to spare, here's a video from the University of Gothenburg showing some highlights from the ceremony.

Even though I've had my doctoral degree for over a year now, this ceremony truly marked the end of my graduate studies. Icing on the cake!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Well, hello there

I'm back! My days in Sweden went by way, way too quickly, but I'm back and ready to kick some butt at work. Studies will be finished, meetings attended, conclusions drawn, and papers drafted. But first: a hot bath and a good night's sleep... Yawn!