Does your job make you do a happy dance?

As I sat at my home desk today doing some background work I had promised to people, I checked on my main work that had been runing overnight. SUCESS! something I had been struggling with recently finally worked! (actually 3 somethings) As I did what my brother calls my “chair happy dance”, I thought does your job make you do a happy dance? At a time other than when you get your paycheck?

*Happy DANCE*

*Happy DANCE*

If your job doesn’t make you do a happy dance then why not?


What does a science nerd do when sick?


Well, you should sleep more, drink lots of fluids, and rest up…I did these and more! After dragging myself to work on Monday, in an effort to stick to my working at work pledge, I took a break from re-doing the same work over and over to go to afternoon coffee break. I made my self a cup of tea and sat down with the very few people there. The minute I opened my mouth to speak one of them asked if I was sick (I sounded like a frog). I said that yes actually I was sick again. I had the flew 2 weeks ago,spent the weekend with my cousin, and when I got home I was feeling somewhat better. Two days after returning to work I was starting to feel tired and by the end of that week I was experiencing the beginning symptoms of the flu again! WHAT? I almost never get sick. I lived in Chicago for 5 years and got only one real winter cold. Mostly I get sniffly and tired but not stay home from work sick.

After being told I looked “like death”, “really sick”, sounded “horrible”, “please stay away from me”, and that I should “probably go home” I decided to work from home for a few days till I was better. This way I could take naps, drink lots of tea, and work when I was able but not when my brain was fuzzy. It is amazing how slow you think when you are sick. I was trying to write a review article and do corrections on a paper plus write a review of another manuscript for a journal. None of this was going well. I couldn’t even focus enough to write blog posts. So I decided to turn to every science nerd’s if I only had time pile. This is the stack of papers you would like to read, the blogs you would like to catch up on old posts, and the podcast back episodes you have been avoiding because those 100+ episodes of Science Friday now feel like a job not just for fun.

I spent the last week, making figures while listening to podcasts about space, the flu (more to come later), honey bees, solar energy, nuclear waste, and the meteor that crashed into Russia. I read 20+ articles I had flagged to read later, taking extra notes to look back at when I no longer had tired brain. I went through over 40 packs of tissues and 3 boxes of tea bags. All in all, I obviously needed this break from work to get better and I was able to clear out my science nerd inbox. I wonder how long it will be till it is full again.

flu survival kit

science nerd sicky survival kit

Work Life Balance: Mary Kay Party

Tonight I attend a Mary Kay party that my aunt had. It was fun to hang out with other “girls” and talk about make up, eat some good food, and relax. I also decided to invest in some skin care.

I am a products girl. I have always liked reading girly magazines about make up tips, products you should use, etc. However I use lots of brands and sometimes change  to save money. As a chemist I know that some of these products must be counter productive and recently I have been struggling with some breakouts on my face.

I was never someone who had a lot of achene in high school so I never learned how to deal with it. When about a year, year and a half ago I got a horrible amount of achene all at once that didn’t seem to go away no matter how much I washed my face with gentle cleanser or harsher cleansers, or didn’t wear make up or did wear it, or wore the kind with achene fighting medicine in it, I thought that these breakouts must be stress related. I was trying to finish up my PhD. I wasn’t sleeping well and I was working at least 80-90 hrs a week sometimes up to 120hrs including all the writing and editing I was doing. I tried to mitigate the achene by keeping my face clean and dry and only wearing coverup when needed. It started to clear up a week before my thesis defense and I thought that was the end of it.

Recently it has started coming back. I have been researching (what else should a scientist do when you don’t know the answer to something but look for evidence?) the effect of using different products online and in medical journals. Most of what I found explains that over time certain products buildup on your skin or your skin can become resistant to them and you start using more and more.

Since my best friend and my aunt have both had success with Mary Kay I decided to give it a try. The first thing I noticed is that you use much less (about 1/5 of the face wash that I used to use). While this is not a proper scientific study I hope to have some qualitative results soon.

quick side story: at the party the sales person was letting us try make up primer, which should make foundation and make up go on more smoothly and last longer. Being an annoying proponent of using controls in your experiments I decided to only put primer on one side of my face and see if I could tell the difference…

Glad Lucia!

Lucia och pojke

Lucia och pojke

These Lucia statues were my farmor’s and are the same model as some she gave my mother many many years ago that we had all of my growing up years. I am excited to be celebrating Lucia in Sweden for the first time ever, thinking both of my family in the US and my family here…Glad Lucia!

Lusse Lelle, Lusse Lelle. Elva nätter före jul.
Lusse Lelle, Lusse Lelle. Elva nätter före jul.
Nu äro vi hitkomna så näst före jul.
Nu äro vi hitkomna så näst före jul.

Making Glögg…an American-Swede Tradition?

In my parents house the holidays smells like glögg. Every year my dad, messes with and putters with making his glögg making the whole house smell fabulous. As my little brother and I have gotten old enough to drink legally, we have also partaken in the glögg. However, I have some very distinct memories of our childhood home and the smell of Christmas tree and glögg on Christmas Eve as we made Scottish Shortbread.

Now what is glögg? It is a Scandinavian spiced & hot wine. Perfect for those long winter days (that look like nights). Go for a long walk? you need glögg. Have a long bus ride? you need glögg. Get rained on the whole time you are at Tivoli? you need glögg.

When I moved away from my parents to Chicago I needed to learn to make glögg for myself…I got my dad to write down what he does and practiced a few times for myself and close friends before making it for things like the work holiday party. Now I have been making glögg often during the holiday season for 5 years. I have a homemade is better and “Fredin’s are good at this” mentality about making glögg (I also feel this way about meat gravies which I also learned to make from my dad). Now that I live in Sweden I assumed that the glögg would be amazing.

It turns out most people (I mean everyone really) buys glögg. Either low alcohol % from the grocery store or svart vin/stronger from the liquor store. While some of the kinds I tried, both at work and with my family were good they weren’t as potent or as spicy as the homemade kind we made in the US. Maybe this is a Amerian-Swede trying to create culture or a connection to history…or maybe it is just my dad but either way I think I am a homemade glögg person for life.

Of course after telling my family in Sweden about our traditional Fredin homemade glögg, my aunt picked a day during the holiday weekend for me to make this homemade glögg for everyone. The problem is that in the US both my dad and I make our glögg “starters” at the end of each holiday season for the next year. I only had about 3 weeks until I needed to use a starter.

So, I went to the liquor store to get vodka and a sweet strong winish liquor (brandy, sherry, or svart vin) and to the grocery store to get all the spices. First, I really don’t understand small bottles of actual liquor. Liquor doesn’t go bad, and it is so much cheaper to buy a handle than a 750ml bottle, plus you don’t have to go back to the store so often. But at Systembolaget (the liquor store, Systemet) the largest bottle of vodka they had was 750ml. In Chicago I used the bottle of a handle of Jose Cuervo because it was large and square, with a good handle giving good mixing when shaking the spices into the liquor. Here I had to buy the only bottle of 750ml vodka which looked pretty cheap and was  a brand I had never heard of.

Back in my apartment I poured out a glass of vodka (an American water sized glass) from the bottle and added all the spices (cardamon, cinnamon, cloves, orange peal) and some svart vin. Then I heated the whole mixture for a few min on the stove keeping it well below boiling but still hot to get some of the spice flavor to extract into the alcohol. Then I re-bottled the starter mix and I was ready to make real glögg.

glögg starter

glögg starter

just add wine and sugar….

The glass of left over vodka I made into cucumber vodka by soaking sliced of cucumber in the glass for a few days before using it up. The extra svart vin I used to make a great wine glaze on a nice piece of chicken.

Apartment found!

YAY! Officially have an apartment! in Malmö, close to the bus (yay 25 min commute to work), and close to my farmor. All things good today! Officially have an apartment, am cautiously optimistic about my roommate even though I haven’t lived with anyone for 5 years. Excited!

When I was going to measure the room so I would know what size bed to buy (mäta not mata like I accidentally said to my farmor which lead to a 20 min discussion of how no I was not going to buy a rug today), I got to see the huge Jul tree in the market square by my new apartment lit up in the evening. Now if only we could have a little snow to cover the pretty tree….

Market Square

Market Square

Apartment Hunting…bring out the crazies

Finding an apartment especially with roommates can be dicey no matter where you are but searching for an apartment in a country you don’t live in that speaks a language you only sort of speak is even harder. I started a few months before I actually had my visa looking for roommates on some roommate finder website… I began by writing emails mostly in Swedish and saying that my Swedish is not so good so I would like to speak English at the beginning. I did 3 Skype interviews before getting busy and frustrated and therefore stopped looking.

1st interview: went pretty well, good price, nice looking apartment, the girl was friendly…then she said “oh right, you aren’t allergic to cats are you”…umm no…”good, cause I have 8” !!!! 8 cats in two bedroom apartment is TOO many!

2nd interview: nice girl…but she had those clear plastic covers on all her furniture, ah la The Nanny…

3rd interview: the guy was sleazy and hit on me the whole time, no thank you!

So now I am living in Sweden with my aunt and uncle and looking for an apartment. Some of the sites you need to pay to be able to contact anyone…often I send a ton of emails and get no responses. I decided to send a message in English this time saying that I did want to practice my Swedish but that right now I can’t talk about important concepts in Swedish…I finally finally, after multiple websites and about 20 emails got 2 responses. One apartment quiet close to the bus station and one further away.

I went to visit the apartment close to the bus station and I really liked it. I had an urge to just take it but I had scheduled to look at another apartment 2 days later. The roommate and I got along quite well and there was great common space though the bedrooms were smallish and the kitchen could have been better. When I got home that night and told my aunt and uncle about it, it turns out that this building was the building their first apartment after they got married was in! small world! I showed them where the other apartment was located and they offered to drive me to visit it that Saturday.

We arrived about 10min early to the 2nd apartment and I went in. Now online this listing was from two people who I assumed were the roommates. When I began emailing them I found out there were a couple which worried me a little. When I arrived at the apartment I called to be let in and found out that actually this is their old apartment and they rent out 2 rooms in it so they have no clue who my roommate would be…also their was nothing in the kitchen and very minimal furniture so I would have to buy a lot of things to make it work…something I was trying to avoid by finding a roommate. However, the building was purchased apartments (condos we would call them in Chicago) so they had a great laundry, gym, and sauna facility. When I was leaving the building I saw a young woman walking up the stairs of the set of apartments next to the ones I had just come out of. Her hands were full and she had just gotten off her bike, after walking past her I did a double take and looked back. It was my cousin’s Canadian ex-girlfriend….She had moved to Sweden to live with my cousin a long time ago and when the broke up I knew she had moved into the city. However, since she was Canadian and didn’t really like Sweden I assumed she had eventually gone home. I didn’t say hi but headed back to the car. When I got in my aunt asked if I liked the apartment. “Not really, but the more important question is did you see ____.” They hadn’t seen her but my aunt was sure she had the ex’s address from a christmas card they had sent a few years ago.

the world really is a fun, small place…I don’t have a confirmed apartment yet but I am hoping to avoid the crazies *håller tummarna*

håller tummarna

*håller tummarna*