Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Fare thee well, 2013!

It's time to say goodbye, farewell, adieu. Out with the old, in with the new! 2013 has been an incredibly eventful and most memorable year. I'm the first to admit that there have been times of fatigue and despair, but as I leaf through my calendar I can't help but smile at all the awesome things I have experienced during the past twelve months.

Babies have been born and cuddled with: Cian, Aiden, Felix, Emil.
Cities and places have been explored: Washington D.C., Whistler, Portland, Oak Ridge, Vancouver Island, Olympic Peninsula.
Friends and family have visited: Patrik, Anton (twice), Anders, Sofia, Martin, Tomas, Kerstin, mum, dad, Erik + friends.

I've experienced 4th of July, gone whale watching, survived a muddy zombie apocalypse (almost), tried square dancing, finished my first full marathon, and celebrated Christmas with my extended family. I've met such wonderful individuals and made so many new friends, learned so much at work, and connected with a whole bunch of interesting professionals. Music, movies, food, sports... The list of explorations goes on and on. And tonight it's time for another first: New Year's Eve at Kiran's. I can hardly wait!

To all of you: Happy New Year - Gott Nytt År! I have no idea what 2014 has in store for me, or even what part of the world I will reside in a year from now.

But I know this: I will see you on the other side.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Glowing gardens

I thought I should share some highlights from my visit with the Frayos to the Garden d'Lights 'Construction Edition' in Bellevue Bothanical Garden last week. I didn't get a good shot of the adorable slug (or its twinkling, glittery trail) but I snapped a few other colorful pics. My favorite pieces were the two setups with plants and gardening accessories that reminded me of my mum. Very pretty!

On our way to the park we passed by the massively decorated houses on Candy Cane Lane in Ravenna, eating cookies, drinking hot spiced cider, listening to Christmas music, and being blown away by Cian's spitting up capabilities. That boy! Whoa.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


...blog posts later, and all that really remains is wishing you all a Very Merry Holly Jolly Christmas!

I'll start December 24 with my traditional Christmas Eve half-marathon run and then work for a few hours before heading up to the Hill to occupy David's guest room. We'll enjoy a lovely Christmas dinner with friends at his house and then spend Christmas Day on the couch watching movies, eating candy, drinking glögg, and being joyful.

Thank you all for Christmas cards, presents, warm thoughts, and well wishings. I'm as spoiled as ever... On Sunday, the Frayos even surprised me with a little tree! My apartment is now bursting with holiday spirit and thankfulness.

Love to all! You're the best. God Jul, mina fina!

Monday, December 23, 2013


...hours of Christmas movies?

No problem! Here goes:

It's a Wonderful Life (1946) 130 min
Miracle on 34th Street (1947) 96 min
Gremlins (1984) 106 min
Christmas Vacation (1989) 97 min
Home Alone (1990) 103 min
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) 85 min
Batman Returns (1992) 126 min
8 Femmes (2002) 111 min
Elf (2003) 97 min
Love Actually (2003) 135 min
The Holiday (2006) 138 min
Un Conte de Noël (2008) 150 min

Ok, we're actually 6 min short of 23 hours... Hmm... Got it! Just add these two 3-min clips from The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) to the list:

What's This?
Kidnap the Sandy Claws

Mission accomplished. Have a wonderful day-before-Christmas-Eve!

Sunday, December 22, 2013


...days from today plus 22 more days plus the quotient of 22 days divided by 2 equals February 15.

What's so special about February 15? you ask. Well, on February 15 I take off from Seattle–Tacoma International Airport towards sun and warmth. Towards beaches and djungle, fresh fruit and volcanoes. Towards pura vida and the motherland of my favorite Tico David. That's right, I've finally booked my plane tickets to Costa Rica! I'm staying there two weeks, exploring and enjoying life. Two lovely, lovely weeks...

But today I'm still in winter mode, celebrating the fourth Sunday of advent. The candles are lit, the Christmas presents wrapped, and the second batch of glögg bottled.

Tonight, the Frayos and I will revisit Bellevue Botanical Garden; the park made famous by blog posts such as A weekend to remember - Part I from last year. Lena and Sofia, we'll miss you!

Saturday, December 21, 2013


...is the legal drinking age in the US. I'm not sure what the legal bowling age is, but I didn't get carded at tonight's holiday party with the Pagel lab so I guess I looked mature enough.

I sure am a terrible bowler, but  wine helps. Wine helps a lot.

Friday, December 20, 2013


...mm of snow made my morning. For the first time in Seattle I was walking through silently falling snowflakes, dreaming of a white Christmas.

Then reality caught up and snow turned into water...

...but it was lovely while it lasted!

Thursday, December 19, 2013


...thousand billion one hundred and two gingerbread cookies.

(or something like that)

This was the first and last time I ever make ginger thins on my own, because holy cow! that was boring. Normally I love making these guys, but apparently it's all about doing it in the company of others. Note to self.

Aesthetically, the result was quite terrible; I simply ran out of patience after the second pan. Or was it the first? Flavorwise, I'd say they were not that bad. The chemist in me couldn't resist experimenting a bit with the spices, but I think I can probably be even more adventurous next time.

However: no company, no next time. Basta.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


...seconds into this clip, Will Ferrell is presented with a bottle of OP Anderson, inspiring an entertaining interpretation of the drinking song Helan går after some Q&A regarding Swedish Christmas traditions.

I can assure you that I will not miss that particular item on the Christmas buffet this year. Good riddance!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


...is a song by Johnossi and Anna Ternheim that I listened to at least twice a day this spring. And summer. (And fall.) Perhaps it's time to pick it up again..?

Johnossi, Anna Ternheim - Seventeen (Bonus Track / Alternative Version)

But first: more of this!

Loretta Lynn - Country Christmas


Monday, December 16, 2013


...days left until 2014. Can you believe that!? I sure can't.

16 days. Boom!

Sunday, December 15, 2013


...red envelopes with holiday cheer and season's greetings for Sweden. One less thing to cross off my to-do list!

Saturday, December 14, 2013


...days into December, and even the Fremont Troll is getting into the spirit of the season.

(Still quite ugly, though.)

Friday, December 13, 2013


...is the smallest number with eight letters in its name spelled out in English. It's a prime number and an emirp (a prime that is another prime in reverse). It's a musical, a film, a song, and an album. It's bad luck, good luck, and the number of stripes on the American flag.

And December 13 is Saint Lucia's Day in Sweden. Like many of the Swedish traditions, especially around Christmas, it sounds awfully religious... But fear not; just like the rest of our holidays it's just another excuse to get drunk (lussevaka) and indulge in sweet treats.

Want to know more? Check out this instructional video.

Happy holidays and lusse lelle! says Rambo Lucia (who did not dare to light those candles).

Thursday, December 12, 2013


...letters is all it takes to spell out the most important happening in Sweden right now: 
H I S E M Ä N K P L U J  
All right, what can we make of that? Hit me with suggestions!
Hold on, that doesn't make any sense at all. Let's try again, shall we?
Mhmm... No...That's not an activity I want to applaud, really.
Now that's something I could easily promote! However, we're not requesting any Trojan headgear this time; what I'm referring to is of course...
...which is an ongoing six-day fundraising event during which three radio/television personalities are broadcasting live, 24 hours a day, on Swedish national publicly funded radio. Money is collected in a number of ways; through song requests, auctions, and various initiatives from celebrities and regular folks. The 2013 drive benefits something I feel very stongly about: every girl's right to survive her pregnancy.

According to WHO, approximately 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth every day. Every day. With better maternal health, improved sex education, and safer abortions many unnecessary deaths of young girls in developing countries could be avoided. And it's so easy to contribute! A simple text message with a song request is all it takes to donate 50 SEK, but there are other ways as well.

If you haven't done it already: please go to musikhjalpen.se and learn more about the cause, find out how to request a song, and check out the auctions and virtual collection boxes. It's a delight seeing all the creative ideas people come up with for raising money!

This little guy's mother is a very important person, to him and to me.

All of you who recently had a baby, or know someone who just did: imagine having to go through childbirth without anesthesia, trained midwives, or even a clean bed to lie down in. Then imagine that you are 17 years old. Or 15.

I urge you: please contribute to the fight against maternal mortality. Every donation counts, no matter how small (or large). Thank you!

musikhjalpen.se #mh13 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


...words to describe my volunteering experience from the Hutch Holiday Gala:

It was not as fun as I thought it would be.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't terrible or anything; I just didn't get to see as much of the auctions as I had hoped for, and some of the (non-Hutch) people I worked with weren't as friendly as one would have expected.

That being said, I met some truly lovely people too; among the organizers as well as the guests. And it sure was interesting to listen in on some of the bidding... Seattle really has some generous individuals who are willing to pay a lot for luxurious golf trips and helicopter rides, all for the benefit of the Hutch. For that I am very grateful! I'm not sure if we live in the same universe, but the truth is we couldn't do what we do without them.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


...fun facts about Fremont:
  1. The township was originally a separate city, incorporated into Seattle in 1891
  2. It is named after Fremont, Nebraska, the hometown of two of its founders
  3. It is sometimes referred to as ”The People's Republic of Fremont” or ”The Artists' Republic of Fremont”
  4. The official motto reads: ”De Libertas Quirkas” (”The Freedom To Be Peculiar”)
  5. It harbors the Center of the Universe (N 35th, Fremont Place N & Fremont Ave N)
  6. Ingrid Bergman is depicted on a big mural by the outdoor cinema
  7. The park to the west of the Fremont Library is called ”Slippery Slope”
  8. Trolloween is a yearly event that celebrates the birth of the Fremont Troll, who lives under Aurora Bridge
  9. Signs throughout Fremont give the following instructions: ”set your watch back five minutes”, ”set your watch forward five minutes”, and ”throw your watch away”
  10. The controversial Lenin sculpture placed in the heart of the township weighs over 7 tons and is currently sporting a festive holiday getup

Why so serious?

Monday, December 9, 2013


...am, Monday morning. Yet another interesting week ahead; lots of work, lots of dreaming. Late nights, early mornings. Cold toes, white fingertips. Running, cycling, boxing, reading. Writing. Deleting. Writing again.

People back home. People here. Always on my mind.
Home here. Home there. Hemma.


They say home is where the heart is. Luckily, I've got lots of heart.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


...kinds of stress struck me this morning.

The laundry stress.
The workout stress.
The making saffron buns stress.
The not enough sleep this weekend stress.
The dear Lord why is my internet connection still down stress.
The it's 2nd avent and I still haven't had time to prep my advent candlestick stress.
The crap did I just spill sugar all over the floor; now I need to vacuum as well stress.
The jeez I really didn't think through this whole blog calendar thing properly before starting; sure, 1-2-3 is easy but when you reach 8-9-10... it starts getting troublesome stress.

So, yeah... That happened.

Then the day got better! But I'll refer to the previous post for that.

Saffron buns! A whole dish drainer full of them. Tasty little buggers.


...items for glögg making. (Yes, I'm counting the pot.) Tomorrow we'll see how the Frayos like it, in the great 2013 Pacific Northwest Glögg/Glühwein Holiday Showdown.

...well, technically tomorrow means earlier today. Due to internet connectivity issues this post was published after the actual event. Nevertheless, the glögg was a success! As was the glühwein. And the saffron buns. And the traditional German wespennester (wasp nest) snacks. And the juleskum from Sofia. And the cozy open fire. And Shani's homemade pizza. (What? That's not Christmassy? Um, yes it is. Well shut up. No, you shut up. Well then take this.)

(Hah! BURN!)

Friday, December 6, 2013


...reasons why today will be a most merry (but somewhat busy) day:
  1. Hairdresser time! A well-deserved treat after a couple of intense work weeks, just in time for the...
  2. ...Student/Postdoc Advisory Committee (SPAC) Holiday Party at Fred Hutch...
  3. ...where I get to present a prestigious mentoring award to an inspiring faculty member...
  4. ...and indulge in pizza and desserts, before heading off to...
  5. ...David's housewarming party on Capitol Hill, after which I have to go home and rest in preparation for...
  6. ...the Hutch Holiday Gala, where I'll be volunteering on Saturday.
Awesomeness times six!

The gala on Saturday deserves a blog post of its own I think, being the single biggest fund-raising event in Seattle (or so I've heard). It's a black tie event, which means I get to use my black/golden floor-length dress again (or some other cocktail-worthy garment). Sweet indeed! More on that later. Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, December 5, 2013


...pm today, I finally get to play tourist and take the Seattle Underground Tour. For those of you who don't know, downtown Seattle has an underground network of passageways and basements that used to be ground level in the mid-19th century. After the streets were elevated these paths stopped being used, but this afternoon I will tread the hidden streets together with a bunch of colleagues, courtesy of Fred Hutch's HR department.

Finally, I get to cross off one of Seattle's popular attractions from my to-see list. Not a day too soon!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


...happy horses in the quiet countryside (one hiding behind me).

A flashback to November 24; a much appreciated break from city life, courtesy of my warmhearted colleague Mark and his wonderful family who invited me to their ranch in Stanwood for pre-Thanksgiving celebrations.

Monday, December 2, 2013


...sweet surprises made my day; one at home and one at work.

From mum: crossword puzzles, kakuros, and my favorite kind of Christmas tea from Köpmansgården in Halmstad.

From Sofia: an advent gift box with 24 individually wrapped little packets, one for each day of December until Christmas Eve.

If you only knew how much these things mean to me... Thank you! Thank you so much. Love and joy!

Sunday, December 1, 2013


...excited marathoner (pre-race).

I would gladly go on for hours about the run, describing every twist, turn, and hill, every detail and sensation, but I will spare you that. It was a truly unique experience, and I exceeded every expectation I could possibly put on myself.

Despite the piercing pain in hips and calves during the last 10 kilometers it was impossible to wipe the smile off my face. I'm so proud and happy!

What a great way to start December!