kungsbacka

this morning i took the train the opposite way i normally travel, all the way to the ‘slutstation’ (which has a very different meaning in swedish). at the end of the line is a little town called kungsbacka.

here’s what’s to be found. walk about & enjoy…

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i ran across an artist named miss li over the weekend. hope you like her:

being a student again

this week i went to my second “sfi” course, which stands for “svenska för invandrare.” in english it translates to “swedish for immigrants,” which coincidentally makes the same acronym.

the city offers free swedish language courses to all immigrants. i’m in a course which is for people who know some basic swedish. there’s one course before that for people who know zero swedish. and there’s even a course before that for people who can’t read/write (or perhaps come from a non-european language). you progress through different courses until you’re fluent, it seems like.

we meet every tuesday evening for two and a half hours. i love sfi. it’s super cool. my teacher is around sixty five. i think she said she’s originally from germany, but she’s lived here for a long time. or maybe she just knows german. not sure. everything’s in swedish except for things she really doesn’t want us to misunderstand; then she’ll repeat in english.

this week we got some books. the middle one is the course textbook, then the others are just workbooks for me to keep.

an example of something she would repeat in english: “this book is loaned – do not write in it..!”

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my classmates are from romania, england, finland, spain, china, poland, slovakia (to which the teacher asked, “czechoslovakia?”… no comment), canada, and a few other places. around fifteen people in total.

the best thing i can liken this class is dangerous minds. i mean, a significantly more tame version. but we’re kind of this (awesome) mess of different people. different nationalities. different ages. some people are really engaged. others are just kind of there. people show up late.

i do most my studying outside the course, since it only meets once a week. and i’m really enjoying being a student again!

mardi gras & semlas

happy mardi gras! (or ‘fettisdagen’ in swedish)

on mardi gras, it’s a swedish tradition to eat a dessert called ‘semla.’ one of my colleagues brought them into work for an afternoon snack. it’s basically a really sweet baked bun. the top is carved out and filled with whipped cream and almond paste (whatever that is..). then the top is put back on like a little hat.

it’s super sweet and kind of weird dessert. i think i like it. last year i was not totally sold on it, but i’m coming around. i’ve decided that desserts are the toughest thing to adjust to living abroad. at least for me personally. like in china, i’ll eat pig brains and whatever else you throw on my plate for dinner, but when it comes to dessert i’m like hmmnotsosureaboutthis…

i had homemade semla that a girl made one time. hers was more like a yeast roll with just whipped cream filling, no almond paste.

i should have taken a photo today at work, but since i didn’t.. here’s a picture i found in one of my cookbooks:

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swedes are all about days dedicated to a specific dessert. aside from semla day, there’s a waffle day, a cinnamon bun day, a chocolate cake day.. and probably even others i don’t know about yet (but am eager to discover).

a funny thing i’ve found is that usually if you ask a swede the background behind a dessert holiday, they have no clue. i think they’re just happy to have a reason to eat sweets (and probably their ancestors were the same, so maybe there is no grand mystery..!)

so if you’re observing lent, find yourself some semla or the like for one last hurrah

Cooking Club

I had such a fantastic weekend!

On Saturday a few guys came over. We ate pizza & chips, drank beer, and played Rook (a card game similar to Hearts but with a specific deck). It was so much fun! I used to play that game all the time with my friends as teenagers, and I still love it completely. So it was really cool to induct some fresh blood into the cult..

“It’s only a card game, but I’m feeling an odd chill in the air” [slogan on the box]

cooking club feb-15

On Sunday evening, the Cooking Club met (above). This group was started by a couple through Facebook, maybe a year ago. This time we had reps from Germany, Argentina, Iran, Sweden, Italy, Greece, and then me, US. I just think that’s too cool. It’s a really fun gang, super chill and funny.

Normally we meet up, go to the grocery store, buy some goods, then cook together. This time we did potluck.

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I brought a vegetable pot pie and a chocolate coconut cake to share. The pie, I made Sunday morning. The scary thing about bringing pie to a potluck is that you can’t test it without tearing it up, so you just have to pray it’s edible. The cake I had made for Rook night, but I still had half left, so I brought it on (to avoid my eating the whole thing..).

I had recently bought a baking magazine called Hembakat (‘Homemade’). All the recipes look tasty, but I settled on kokoskaka. Aaand I made it through the recipe without translating anything (granted I opted for a different glaze)! That was my proud moment from the weekend. Not that it was a super complicated recipe.. but, you know.. gotta celebrate the little victories.

Meanwhile, the sun returned this weekend and the snow melted.

Hope the brightness found you during the weekend, as well!

lära svenska

i’ve been super organized in 2015 thus far. this blog has helped (you’re reading post number twenty, by the way). the biggest help has been freezing foods – i blogged about this before (i really encourage you to try this lifestyle!).

with the advent februari, i decided to take on a new initiative: seriously learning swedish!! i once heard that it takes about 1000 hours to learn a new language. not sure if there’s any validity to that figure – don’t really care. just, that’s what i had in mind when trying to setup a learning course for myself.

so i thought.. ok if i study 5 hours a week, how long to reach 1000 hours? 4 years.. ohgodthatstoolong

so i thought.. ok if i study 10 hours a week, then it’s 2 years.. nothatsstilltoolong

i finally agreed on 15 hours per week. which really is all that’s about feasible working full time. when i was sitting for the CPA exams, i was probably studying more like 20 hours per week.

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i created this calendar for keeping myself on track. across the columns are the days of the week, and down the rows are the weeks. then each day i just write in how many hours i studied. by the end of the week, the total column should say 15.

when i studied for the CPA, i wrote out a two month calendar at a time for each exam where each day had x activity. i left a few days sporadically as ‘free days’ because i knew some days, something would come up and i wouldn’t be able to study. so if on Tuesday i was supposed to do x activity, and i couldn’t for whatever reason, i would mark that day as a ‘free day’, delete a future ‘free day,’ then shift all the study plans back without actually causing a delay.

this is a similar approach, because i just need to arrive at 15 hours in a week. some days can be more, some days can be less.

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so there’s three parts to my study plan:

1) rosetta stone, which is a really cool software. everything’s in swedish only. it has listening activities, speaking activities, writing activities, etc.. it does a lot of repetition, so there’s no chance of you missing a concept. almost so much repetition, to where it’s like, ok the horse is dead. i actually started this course awhile back, but i wasn’t fully serious about it, so i just studied whenever. now i’m like 3/4 through the first series package.

2) SFI (svenska för invandrare / swedish for immigrants) which is a classroom course that meets for 2.5 hours every tuesday evening. the city offers this courses for free and you can advance through different levels. i start this coming week.

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3) note cards! since i use the public transit, i have a 50ish minute commute each way (that sometimes turns into much longer than 50 minutes if my route is cancelled.. which happens not so infrequently, by the way). i actually don’t mind the ride, because i can space out and do whatever during that time (usually read a book). i decided that about 5 of my 15 hours can be found during my work commutes. note cards are the best way to learn anything because you learn by quizzing yourself. as you study the note cards, the ones you know after several rounds, you eliminate. plus, you remember some words just writing them out. i have tons of accounting note cards somewhere that i made during university. the key to keeping your mind active with note cards is to highlight the cards in different colors. i always use blå, rosa, orange, gult, grönt.

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anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. anyone who keeps learning stays young.

[henry ford]

i’m one week in! many more to go…!

carrot & pumpkin soup w. cinnamon scones

this morning i woke up and wanted to go for a walk to greet the day and get my blood flowing..

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there’s a church atop a hill, say fifteen minutes from my apartment, so i headed there

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and on the way, stumbled upon a snow family.

this dog is too cute. he’s smiling.!

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the other week i made carrot and pumpkin soup to freeze.

aside from the carrots and pumpkins, i added probably six cups of water, one bouillon, pepper, a little nutmeg. after it boils, i used an immersion blender so that it’s thick but not totally smooth. then i add a bit of milk so it’s creamy.

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yesterday morning i woke up early and made cinnamon scones. i just altered my plain biscuit recipe:

1 & 3/4 c flour + 2 tbs butter + 4 tbs baking powder + two pinches of salt[mix]

then maybe 1 tbs cinnamon (tops) + maybe 1 tsp nutmeg + maybe 1/8 c brown sugar [mix, sift]

buttermilk (1 cup?) until you get to a dough that’s a bit dry/crubmly, a bit wet..

bake nine or ten minutes @ 450F/230C

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after a chilly walk in the lightly falling snow, i threw these leftovers on the stove and in the oven…

a cozy and energizing start to sunday.