Monday, June 29, 2015

S'mores and more

Hold your breaths, folks: I've worked on my bucket list this weekend, in spite of the almost unbearable heat. Three friends and I started Saturday with brunch at cozy Cafe Flora—highly revered among the local vegetarian/vegan community, and well worth the generous praise. After initial conferring regarding which of the crowded parks we should head out to afterwards, followed by a wild-goose chase for an available, grill-friendly spot, we eventually found the perfect place in the shade under a tree in Carkeek Park.

Why 'grill-friendly' on such a hot day, you ask? Because we were making s'mores, of course! I'm well aware that s'more-making is a culinary art often practiced during colder, darker times, but if this girl was to try the tasty (?) treat before leaving its country of origin, then this was the time.

The Swedes out there may not be familiar with the recipe—I know I wasn't. You need: graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate, and a fire.

Traditionally, people use Hershey's rather than fancy chocolate, but we aimed a little higher. Also, we chose 'giant roasters'—not the most brilliant decision, perhaps, but it made eating the goodies way more fun (especially for the 25% of us with beards, and, in effect, even more so for the 75% without).

In short: marshmallows were put on sticks and roasted over the fire. As soon as the fluffy chunks got nice and golden they were transferred to a graham cracker that had been prepared with a respectably sized piece of chocolate; finally, a second cracker was placed on top.


Beautiful! Just beautiful. I feel like there has to be a pastry chef in me, just waiting to get out. It's nice to have a second career to fall back on, should this 'science' thing not work out.

Looks aside, the result was a success: the hot, gooey marshmallow melted the chocolate, and the whole thing was quickly eaten, accompanied by muffled expressions of general approval and mouthfuls of giggles.

I may have had two of these monsters. I may also have had three. (Go big or go home, folks!)

It took some concentration, and then... NOM!

This concludes the edible portion of my bucket list, which included a twinkie, banana cream pie, and s'mores. One of the items kind of pushed the definition of the word 'edible'—I leave it up to you to figure out which one I'm referring to.

As if this wasn't enough action for one weekend, I went to Portland on Sunday with Emerald City Supporters to cheer for Sounders as they took on Timbers at Providence Park. Beer, jello shots and chanting throughout the entire three-hour bus ride—a fun trip indeed, even if the game ended quite sadly with 41 to the hosting team. (The return trip was somewhat mopier.) My first away game, still! Big up to Isaac who made it happen.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Sorry! Förlåt!

Fellow Swedes, let me start by apologizing. I know that summer hasn't exactly kicked in back home the way one might expect, and I'm sorry that this could be interpreted as 'rubbing it in'. Because, you know, this is sort of what Seattle has been like for weeks upon weeks now:

I took the bike for a ride up to Discovery Park on my way home from work yesterday, sweat pouring from my body in the afternoon heat. The stunning views were well worth getting my clothes soaked, however. The Sound, the sail boats, Mount Rainier—all of it. So damn beautiful.

I wonder if I've ever experienced a month of June like this before—or if I ever will again.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

That was quick

It was bound to happen—better to just get it out of my system immediately, right? Why don't we all just pretend that I did it on purpose, and conclude that a lesson earned is a lesson learned.

(Still love the shoes/pedals! We just need to get to know each other...)

Monday, June 22, 2015

Ride with me!

While we're on the topic of two-wheeled undertakings...

Suddenly, it happened: a couple of weeks ago I finally bought a pair of legitimate cycling shoes and upgraded my loaner bike with clipless pedals that my dad got me for Christmas.

No, not this Christmas—the Christmas of 2013.

The thing is, I've been secretly terrified of the whole idea of locking in my feet while riding, envisioning one knee-mutilating, elbow-scrubbing accident after another caused by a dreaded inability to "lock-out" of the pedals once my feet are in place. But alas, no more! I have grown, mentally and... Well, okay—just mentally, I guess. (If even that.)

One might wonder what inspired this sudden act of courage. A charitable donation to Obliteride did.

For you non-Hutchers, Obliteride is an organized cycling event that raises money for lifesaving cancer research at Fred Hutch. 100% (yes, that means every cent) of every dollar collected goes toward developing better treatments and more cures for those in need. A supportive Fred Hutch faculty member wanted to sponsor a team through Hutch United, and I couldn't resist the offer of being one of the riders. Thus, here I am—preparing for a 50-mile ride (80 km), proudly representing HU and our generous donor on August 9th.

However, just pedalling my butt off (and possibly falling over in a ditch because of potential bike shoe-related awkwardness) isn't enough—I want you to be engaged as well. Join the cause by making a donation to our team—big or small, it doesn't matter

If you need more incentives to contribute, please have a look at these 10 reasons to support Fred Hutch. When you're ready to make your donation—as I'm sure you will be—then click on the link to my personal page and show the world that you want to beat cancer too. From there, simply hit the "Donate To My Ride" button and follow the instructions.

We can do this! I promise to conquer my shoe/pedal demons and finish the race with all of you on my imaginary luggage carrier. Ride with me! (It's super safe—for you, at least.)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Oh no she didn't

...yes she did. Fremont Solstice Cyclists Ride: another check mark on my bucket list.

Really, you're not a true Seattleite until you've partaken in the ”naked bike ride” during the Fremont Solstice Fair. From now on, I qualify.

The birthday suit was enhanced by an A Midsummer Night's Dream-inspired ensemble, a ridiculously small nude-colored thong, and some strategically applied painted green vines. And a bike, naturally. Without the bike, it would've just been super weird—right?

Happy solstice everyone!

PS. FremontI love, love, love you.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The June issue

Summer reading for everyone! In this month's edition of Science Spotlight I have contributed the following pieces:

CIVO: drug development in the fast lane
Timing of MDS relapse: a multifaceted case to crack

As you can tell by the titles, I've had a thing for colons lately. No, not that kind of colons—the punctuation mark, obviously. Sigh. You're so immature. So very, very immature.

Anyway, read them and educate yourselves! All your friends will think you're cool.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Hot, hotter, ...Alaska?

Seattle is steaming. The past week's temperature readings have gone from a comfortable 20°C on Wednesday, via 23°C on Thursday up to 27°C on Friday. And then? 29, 31, 30, and 29°C from Saturday until today. (For the locals: from 68, via 73 to 81°F; and then 84, 88, 86, and 84°F.)

If you know me, then you know that I get a little 'stressed out' in this kind of weather. So what did I do today?


I booked plane tickets to Alaska, that's what I did.

Fine, okayit's been at the top of that bucket list of mine since I started organizing my must-sees and want-to-dos, but I'm not sure if I ever thought that I was actually going to do it. Especially not after seeing how expensive the cruises are—at least the more adventurous ones that I'm interested in. If I wanted to have cocktails, play shuffleboard, and doze off in a deck chair for days on end (albeit with a gorgeous backdrop) I could easily have done that, but that's not my style.

After bumping into my next-door neighbor at a cafe the other day, I found out that he happens to be a walking encyclopedia of Alaskan adventures. Apparently, he worked as a tour guide there for a while and I did not have to ask him twice for advice; this morning, a handwritten two-page guide was attached to my front door.

Later in the afternoon, I was just going to do a quick search for airfare and then I don't quite know what happened and suddenly I found really cheap tickets and oh my the dates actually matched my summer schedule quite well but there were only a handful of seats left and somehow my Visa card simply materialized in my hand and click-click-click type-type-type an email appeared in my inbox politely letting me know that I will be flying to Anchorage on July 19... If all goes well, I will steer my little rental car back to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport ten days later, with lots of memorable hiking tales to share.

The weather forecast predicts dry, warm weather throughout the weekend, after which the temperature will gradually lower to around 20°C again. Let's hope the meteorologists are right, otherwise who knows what I'll do next—join the crew of an expedition to Antarctica? Apparently, I do those things.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Amsterdam Art Report

Please follow me on a short art walk through the halls of Amsterdam's  Rijksmuseum, zooming in on some of their collection highlights.

As some of you may know, their most famous work of art—their crown jewel, their pièce de résistance—is Rembrandt's Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq, or as most people call it, The Night Watch (1642).

Here it is, in all it's glory, as captured by my crappy cell phone camera. Mmm. Aah. Exquisite!

Ok, done.

Now, let's move on to some more interesting pieces in the same hall. First, I want to focus on Militiamen of the Company of Captain Roelof Bicker and Lieutenant Jan Michielsz by Bartholomeus van der Helst (1639). More dudes with hats and gunsokay, okay we've seen that already. But hey, what's this? Ruffles, tassles, pom-poms, rosettes...? These guys are fancy!

Seriously, these gold-fringed pants and lace socks deserve a closer look.

Dude, you're rocking that outfit.

All right, what else is on display here? How about Militia Company of District XI under the Command of Captain Reynier Reael, a.k.a. The Meagre Company, Frans Hals, Pieter Codde (1637). My eyes were instantly drawn to the solemn guy on the far right—his ability to look so extraordinarly glum whilst being wrapped in that chic ribbon is really quite impressive. I'd like to think he spent many hours in front of the mirror working on that poker face.


Another gem was found on the same floor, albeit in a different hall. You know how proud parents like to keep (embarrassing) pictures of their kids on the mantlepiece? It's hardly a new phenomenon; just have a peek at Portrait of Gerard Andriesz Bicker, Bartholomeus van der Helst (c. 1642).

There are so many things that could be said about this marvelous portrait, but I'm going to focus on two key points: i) the fact that the lovely Gerard, shown above, is twenty years old (twenty, as in two zero, 20, twenty!); ii) his clothes, which are described by the museum curators in the following way: "Gerard wears a colourful and showy outfit with a flat collar and elegant gloves." Showy and elegant, now that's just so Gerard!

Elegant is a word that is used also to describe one of my number one (perhaps the number one) works of art at the museum: Designs for Bathing Caps, H.Th. Wijdeweld (1885-1987). Again, let me refer to the curators' description of this collection of aquarelles: "These jolly bathing caps were inspired by aquatic themes. In the designs, seahorses, fish, and seaweed are draped elegantly around the head."

Draped. Elegantly. Around. The head.

This may be hands down the best thing I have ever seen. What better way to finish this short report? None. Thank you and have a good night.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Euro trip, part II

Amsterdam, what a city! The water, the houses, the cobblestone streets—the bikes, the trams, the church bells. Noisy, busy, crowded, fun—ideal for aimless strolls and people watching. My parents and I had a wonderful weekend in this bustling hub, which I wouldn't think twice about revisiting.

Just look at the houses. And the canals! Love it.

Our hotel was situated perfectly, right next to the Singel canal, in an area that was full of restaurants, bars, and cafes. And bikes. Bikes everywhere!

Across the street: a restaurant with a name that warms the heart of every Bank Für Alle-fan. I mean, this has to be the Dutch version of Hasse-Klas, right?

So what did we actually do during our three-night stay? First on the list was a visit at the Rijksmuseum, to check out Rembrandt's The Night Watch and other world-famous works of classical art. We ended up spending almost half of the Saturday there, walking through all four floors with a break for a good lunch in the museum cafeteria.

The magnificent museum entrance, with the bike paths going straight through the buildingAmsterdam truly is the bicycle capital of the world.

The evening was spent celebrating my parents' wedding anniversary (32 years and counting!) with a three-course dinner at Humphrey's across the street followed by Eurovision (and candy) in our hotel room. The drama! The excitement! Dad was perhaps a little less eager to watch the spectacle and didn't manage to stay awake even for the entire performance round, but mom and I followed the whole thing, through the excruciating presentation of votes all the way to the triumphant end. Way to go, Måns!

Sunday started with a morning run in the beautiful Vondelpark—for me, at least. The parents took the opportunity to sleep in a little. After breakfast, the three of us walked the short distance to Bloemenmarkt, allegedly the only floating flower market in the world (can that really be true, though?). Tulip bulbs and flower seeds were purchased, and we then moved on towards Singelgracht for a 75-minute sightseeing tour of the canals.

Bulbs, seeds, flowers, and souvenir trinkets.

Dad, admiring the drying eternal flowers.

On the sightseeing tour we soon learned that the canals were quite heavily trafficked, and our captain actually bumped into a smaller vessel that wasn't familiar with the practices around the major nodes. According to him, it happens quite often—I'm not the least bit surprised, after seeing the partying that goes on in some of the boats.

The Frosts, on board.

When the tour was finished it was time for lunch, and I had checked out a promising place for some Dutch pannenkoeken: Pancakes Amsterdam. We went all in and picked three items on the creative menu to share; two savory pancakes (camembert/chicory/ham/raspberry sauce [mom and dad got that one for themselves] and mushroom/spinach/onion/paprika/pesto) and one sweet (apple crumble/vanilla ice cream). Filling and yummy
—I can highly recommend a visit.

We strolled around some more, had some coffee and beer by the canal, chatted about this and that, and concluded the day with hamburgers at a neighboring pub. Early Monday morning we rolled our luggage to Station Amsterdam Centraal, where we parted ways. Mom and dad train-hopped their way back to Sweden whereas I headed to Schiphol and onwards to Seattle.

Such a fun week in Europe! First Warsaw with colleagues and friends, and then Amsterdam with the parents. Lucky me! Lucky, lucky me.