Knitting Group Excursion

Today I ventured out, ignoring my nerves and acute homebody-syndrome, and went to a knitting group for international people.  I spent most of the day being rather nervous about going, and the few hours before being really nervous about going, and the fifteen minutes prior to leaving being dreadfully nervous about going.

I’ve only met approximately one person since being here (and she was from the states to begin with) so I guess it makes sense that my anxiety would reach what felt like an all-time high today with the anticipation of meeting six whole new people!  For the record, I met seven and they were absolutely lovely.  It was a nice evening, cozy, and everyone was very nice and welcoming, although I think I was a bit too anxious to really appreciate it.  I’m looking forward to the next meetings, and especially looking forward to being less nervous for them!

I don’t think this is something I’ll ever “get over” but I guess with practice, it may become easier.  However, I’m still due to have a bit of a cry over it all (not because anything went wrong, but just because I spent so long strung out on anxiety that I need to let some of it out somehow).  Something to look forward to tomorrow, I suppose, and then I’ll probably feel lots better.

This social anxiety stuff is an awfully bad trait for a person in my position to have, but I’m trying to use it as a learning and growing experience instead of just avoiding all social contact, because as I always end up discovering, being lonely and depressed is actually worse in the long run than suffering some adrenaline-streaked social events to pave the way for real friends.

Here’s to hoping I have the courage for more!

Dreams

I dreamed last night that my residence card came in the mail, but that I had to go be on America’s Next Top Model to get my picture taken for it.  Sadly, I also dreamed that my mom had another baby (17 years after the youngest) and named it Fab Yellow Submarine Moser, so I don’t think the residence card dream is a very trustworthy prophecy of what is to come.

However, when I called my mom to tell her my doofy dream, we also ended up talking about other things, and I mentioned how getting a KitchenAid mixer has been one of my “dreams.”  There’s something about a KitchenAid that represents more than just a kitchen appliance.  It means I will make bread every other day and my own noodles!  I can just imagine it whisking and beating frosting into a perfectly fluffy finished product, and warning my curious young children to keep their fingers away from it (and seeing in their eyes the desire to touch it, just to see what would happen).  And speaking of dreams, these curious young children are the most-dreamed-about-of-all.

The reason I mention all of this (aside from “because I haven’t done anything noteworthy in the past week to warrant a blog post”) is because I’ve been thinking a lot about things that are close to my heart, things I want.  A lot.  Besides a KitchenAid mixer and babies, one of the things that tops the list is a home.  Now,  I can’t claim that I never had a home and I moved around all my life and all I wanted as a kid was a steady place to live.  I had an awesome home.  I lived in a big farmhouse that I am so, so happy I can still sort of call home.  However, I realized that I have moved 5 times in the past year.  Five.  From college, to home, to Illinois, to home, to Denmark, to Sweden, and that doesn’t include all the travelling in between.  We’re moving again next week, but instead of a smooth across-the-hall move like we had hoped, things got bumped around a bit, and we’re going to end up moving all of our stuff down to the next building to live with my sister-in-law for a few days before we move it all back up again a week later to our new place which we’ll have until August somethingeth when we’ll have to move.  Again.

Besides hating the tasks of packing everything and moving over and over again, it’s beginning to take a pretty solid emotional toll on little old me.  Moving from my college town of Green Bay back home was bittersweet (the bitterness of leaving friends and the city and campus I grew to know, the sweetness of knowing I’d be getting married soon and starting a new life with my husband).  Moving from the Wisconsin farmouse to a stinky Illinois apartment in a sketchy part of town was a bit heartbreaking.  Moving to Europe was amazing (knowing I’d not have to have a long-distance relationship with Andreas) and horrible (saying what felt like an awfully permanent goodbye to so many people, places, and yes, things.).

I guess I’m just “over it.”  I’m not a young restless soul with a thirst for adventure.  I’m a crotchety old soul with a thirst for a cup of coffee and a place to plant my roots.  I want to buy a bed, and plates, and not say to myself “should I really get this, if we’re just going to have to lug it around for the next _____ amount of time?”  I know that this, along with my KitchenAid mixer and my longed-for babies, is just on the horizon, but the many moves in the meantime sort of cloud my view, and I’m left feeling a bit helpless, a bit homesick, and a bit detached.

Anyway, tomorrow is my first International Knitting Group meeting, and I have pretty high hopes!  Wish me luck with my nerves, and all this home-wanting angst.  Why am I not 45 yet?!

Mail!

Today when the mail came, and I jumped up (1% with excitement to go see what came in the mail 99% with the terror that strikes every single time the mail comes swishing through the mail slot and plops on the floor and makes me think someone just walked boldly into the apartment to steal me.) I noticed that I had mail!  Me!  With my name on it!  And look, it was from the Migration Office!

My heart pounded as I ripped it open, discarding the other mail–something about insurance, and some sort of newspapery thing–only to see that it was merely a notice that they received my application for a residence card two weeks ago when–surprise–I had turned it in.  Oh.

Maybe next time.

Versatile Blog Award

I want to extend a big thank you to Megalagom from Something Swedish, one of my favorite American-in-Sweden adventures to follow, for the Versatile Blogger Award.  This is a welcome honor, which, in the life of a housewife lies among (or should I say towers over?) other accomplishments such as remembering to water all the plants, and making Indian food for dinner.

The rules for the Versatile Blogger Award are as follows:

If you are nominated, you’ve been awarded the Versatile Blogger award.

1. Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
2. Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.
3. Select 15 excellent blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
4. Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award
5. Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

Now, I’m quite new to the whole “blogging” scene, and while I do follow a fair few blogs, it seems that my nominator follows many of the same worthy ones!  So while I may not have fifteen whole nominations, I’ll do my best here.

1. Sangui(knit)ie–for her adventures in knitting and beyond, and always inspiring me to knit again when I thought I’d lost my motivation

2. A New Story–for recipes, lovely pictures of the finished products, and bits of daily life

3. Harrietvstheworld–for a fresh and honest take on her travels around Scandinavia, not to mention the plethora of photographs

4. Fly Away Home–extremely well-written and encouraging expat adventures

5. Yes, I’m Going to Marry a Carrot–a positive voice along a journey in a plant-based lifestyle, and some twins to add excitement!

6. Tomato and Lobster–Wonderful photos detailing a new life in New York, with some crafting and baking for good measure

Though I don’t have a vast array of followed blogs yet, participating in the Versatile Blog Award has brought so many more to my repertoire, and I’ve made it a goal to expand it even further soon.

Now for seven things about myself…

1. When I was young, my brother and I used to pretend we were eating dinner at “Cave Restaurant” and would snap pretend photographs of our plates for the menu before we’d eat.  Now I end up taking real photographs of my dinner for the blog!

2. When I read Pippi Longstocking at the age of 7, I developed an obsession with Scandinavia and vowed to marry a Norwegian.  As it turns out, a Dane is what Ireally wanted.

3. I have rather long arms.

4. I have the hardest time keeping plants alive, but still hope to someday have a successful garden to help feed my family fresh food!

5.  I feel like when I get sick, I turn into the biggest baby, though no one has ever confirmed this.  Maybe they’re afraid I’d burst into tears.  Who knows, maybe that’s true.

6. I like sunny days, and I like rainy days, but the gray days in between are quick to put me into a deep funk.

7. I’ve always felt that I fit in a bit better with people at least a couple of years older than I am.  This may or may not have to do with my love of cooking/baking, knitting, babies, and being quiet.

Shiny Crinkly Gorgeous Chocolate Cookies

The other day, after making little lemon cream pies, I realized I had a few leftover egg whites in the fridge, and a hankering to make something chocolatey.  A few minutes with trusty Foodgawker later, and I had a recipe ready to go!  These cookies were not only really, really pretty, but they tasted amazing.  Like pure, chewy chocolate…except that doesn’t sound very nice.  The blog I got the recipe from describes them as “chocolate clouds,” but mine didn’t turn out particularly “cloudy.”  Let it just be left at “these cookies are so delicious that I cannot adequately describe them” and move on to the actual cookies!

Chocolate Crackle Drops
Recipe adapted from: overtimecook

Ingredients:
1.5 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 egg whites (about)
1 Tbs prepared coffee
150 g chocolate, chopped (I used dark)

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (I used to always just butter the pan and skip the parchment paper, but I think this is one of the recipes where it’s pretty important.)  Sift the powdered sugar and cocoa powder together.  Add the coffee and egg whites.  Whisk gently until incorporated, then fold in chopped chocolate.

Place tablespoon-fulls onto the prepared baking sheet (don’t mind if they look like blobs of mud with straw and stones in them, the beautification process takes place in the oven) and bake about 12 minutes until shiny and crackled along the top.  Remove from the oven and let cool on the parchment paper before removing them completely.  (That’s the hardest part.)

Then stack them up like you’re counting your gold, and enjoy!

 

Burger Day

During our fasting month, Andreas developed an intense craving for burgers.  So we decided one Friday to have Burger Day.  We would make burger buns, get burger toppings, and make french fries, and it would be glorious!  Ever since that day, we’ve had Burger Day a few more times, and always looked forward to it for days in advance.  One reason why it was so so amazing?  The buns.

We surfed foodgawker for the perfect burger bun recipe, and Andreas chose this one.

This is the perfect burger bun recipe.  I thought “egg wash?  Putting a pan of water in the oven? That sounds scary!” but it wasn’t.  Not only was it not scary, it was also magic.  These are practically magical buns.  Sometimes, it just feels good to cook something that turns out looking so perfect that you can feel for a bit like a fancy schmancy professional baker.  These are that thing.

The recipe says that each rising could take 1-2 hours, until doubled.  I made the mistake the first couple times baking them to let them rise a bit long, more towards the 2 hour mark, thinking to myself “bread can’t rise too much, right?”, and they turned out a bit large and flat, so–a word of warning, don’t do that.

These were wonderful for our burgers

but also amazing the next day for breakfast with Nutella.  Seriously.  It tasted like a donut.  I’m not even kidding.

Don’t mind that big old plastic bag on the table.  I’ll get better at picture-taking.  I promise.

Ambitions? Me?

I’ve been bitten by the ambition bug.

I’ve always told people “Yeah, I’m really not ambitious.  Mostly, I just want to have babies.” and “I have no idea what I want to do when I grow up.”  But suddenly, I feel like there’s something I must do.  I don’t know why it never hit me before, but I’ve realized recently in steps that I’m really excited about midwifery (heehee, such a funny word in English mid-whiff-er-ee).  Anyone who knows me knows my obsession about babies, and anyone who knows me a bit better knows about my obsession with being pregnant.
I feel like the reason I never really thought of it before was the sort of nonexistence of midwives in the states. Of course they exist, but the practice has been shunned and propaganda-ed and feared for so long that, though it’s making a comeback, it’s still not big. In Denmark, things are a lot different.  Midwives are almost all government-employed, working mainly in birthing centers and hospitals, and all uncomplicated pregnancies are referred to midwives.
I’ve always had a fascination for pregnancy and birth in general, and it’s only been growing stronger. Suddenly, I see myself with a future, and a plan and something besides having my own family that I’m really excited about doing.
In a way, that’s really scary to admit.  I’m used to being judged for not being an ambitious woman, like it’s un-feminist or something, but I feel like this is a different sort of judgment I’m fearing.  I am scared people will secretly whisper to each other about how hard it will be, or how I won’t be able to learn Danish well enough in time to study in Danish about how to be a midwife, or how I won’t be able to take the gory parts.  Now, I know that I think people will whisper these things about me because they’re the things that the meanie part of my brain is whispering to me,  and I also know that the majority of people in my life are going to be incredibly supportive.  I already told my mom about my tentative plans, and she’s really excited for me, as is my mother-in-law.  Both, oddly enough, have thought about it themselves in the past.
However, I also feel a bit excited about this new stage of fear that comes with having ambitions and hopes!  I’ve already become a bit overwhelmed by it and questioned my abilities, but this is something I’m really passionate about, and I will do what it takes.  Of course I’m afraid that I won’t get into the program, that I’ll take too long learning Danish and have to put it off, that it will be really scary and intimidating and stressful, but suddenly none of that is a reason to give up.  This is a new feeling for me, being so passionate and excited and positive about something that is so scary, but it’s also a relief in a sense.
I’ve been waiting years and years to have something matter this much to me.  I’ve been wondering most of my life what it is I will actually be when I grow up, and ever since I knew I’d be living in Denmark, I questioned my ability to be anything other than that weird American who can’t get a job.  Suddenly, I have an ambition, a goal, and even a (wait for it) PLAN!  Suddenly, I feel like a new woman, and also the same old girl, like I should have known my whole life that *duh* this is what I want to do.
To people who have always had a dream, and never knew what it felt like to be rather lost and directionless, this feeling is nothing new, but to me, who have been dreamless for a lot of my life, this is super-duper exciting.

Little Lemon Cream Pies

One of my more recent discoveries is how easy and simple it is to make lemon/orange/lime curd.  The first time I tried, I mixed and measured gingerly, got frustrated when it didn’t thicken, and sweated my way through.  I’ve made it probably no less than a dozen times since then, and yesterday when I decided to make one of my husband’s favorite desserts, I sort of threw things in the pot, knowing it would turn out in the end.  Because (here comes the secret) lemon curd?  Not hard.

Anyway, the following recipe is one we just sort of made up once.  Now, my husband and I don’t really have “a song” and we fail rather spectacularly at celebrating anniversaries, but we show our love in other ways (for example, he saw me eyeing these ramekins in the store and bought them for me, and for another example, I made these mini-pies for him while he was away at work) and I consider this “our recipe.”

Frozen Lemon-Cream Pie

Crust:
1 cup crushed cookie crumbs (any cookie, really.  In the states, we use graham crackers)
1/4 cup butter
2 Tablespoons sugar

Melt butter, and mix with sugar and cookie crumbs.  Press into the bottom of 6 ramekins, or a 9-inch pie pan.  Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes.  Let cool completely.

Filing:
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
zest from about three lemons
1/2 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup butter
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Combine lemon juice, zest, sugar, and egg yolks in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat.  Cook, whisking occasionally until mixture thickens (coats the back of a spoon).  Take it off the heat and strain it into a bowl.  Cut butter into chunks and whisk into mixture.  Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until completely cool.  Whip the cream (adding some powdered sugar if desired).  Fold in cooled lemon curd until well-blended, and divide between the ramekins, or pour into pie crust.  Cover and freeze overnight.  Before serving, let pie stand in the refrigerator for a few minutes to soften slightly.

I garnished mine with some of the zest I strained out of the lemon curd, which I dipped into orange juice and then granulated sugar.

We had cute and delicious dessert, and while I’m a bit disappointed with how my pictures turned out, I’m not disappointed in my little pies (or my beloved ramekins)!