Cookies, Colds, and Being Really Frustrated

The 5k on Sunday was fantastic!  Unfortunately, it was also cold, and I seem to be welcoming fall with open arms and a very, very runny nose.  When I was really tired on Monday, I figured I was tired from the race.  On Tuesday, I wanted to keep up my momentum and went for a run.  It was awful.  I could hardly run, and couldn’t wait to come home.  Turns out, I was pretty sick.  The rest of my week looked like this:

I’m now at that point where I don’t think I’ll ever stop blowing my nose or recover from my earth-shattering sneezes, but…we’ll see.

We’re also dealing with challenges concerning our Danish visa process (they sent a letter asking me to come in next week, which I can’t do because I don’t have my Swedish visa, so I was asked to go to the embassy who told me they were booked solid the next month, and to call the Danish migration office.  Again.)  I handled it all pretty well until the embassy said they were booked and we couldn’t do it there.  Then I added watery puffy red eyes to my already shiny red nose after a healthy crying session.  We’ll make some more calls, and hopefully get it all figured out next week.

Last week, I had a sudden and intense craving for something baked.  I was also slammed with a truckload of emotions or hormones or something, an dwas convinced that I would be grumpy and mean until I got. some. cookies.  So I made some!  They didn’t help that much but, I mean, they helped a little.  They are cookies after all.

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iForm Loppet Malmö 2012!

Pre-Race — Really excited to run!

So my first race has officially been run!

I was surprisingly not particularly nervous for it, probably mostly because I knew that Andreas would be coming with me, and I always feel better if he’s coming along.  I was running as part of the American Women’s Club team, and met up with some members before the race.  It was nice meeting some new people, and especially ones who understand parts of my life that a lot of people really can’t.

The race was at almost 3 pm, and I always run in the morning, so I was a bit at a loss as to what to eat in the morning and afternoon.  I know now for next time that I should probably eat a bigger meal in the morning, and just a bit of fruit or something before the race, like I normally would in the morning.  I got side stitches for the first time since I’ve started running again, and I’m going to blame that mostly on my soy dog.  I also took water in the middle of the run, even though I never drink during runs.  I wasn’t planning on it, but there was such a cute little girl handing out cups of water, and I couldn’t resist…

The race was run in and around the park I always do my morning runs in, and it was nice to be in familiar territory, but it was also nice just because the park is so beautiful!

Andreas was able to get a few pictures, which I am grateful for.  It’s nice to have something to look back on and remember.

That was the very homestretch.  I finished in 30:12 which was the best that I was hoping for!  I didn’t consciously try to run faster than usual, except in that last sprint, but I think just being with so many other runners, concentrating on zigging and zagging between them helped me pick up my pace, and it was great!  There were more than 3000 people running that day, and it was really fun to just experience the race atmosphere and make some new friends!

Post-Race: “Want a piece of my banana?”

Pink

So, I was asked by a friend the other day how things were going, and I had to answer honestly with “things aren’t.”  Nothing much has been happening.  We haven’t had any news from either visa, and though we might have a lead for an apartment to move into in December when my sister-in-law comes back to live here permanently, it won’t be very sure until sometime in October.

So the truth is that not much is happening, but I don’t want to let the blog whither while I’m newsless!  I’ve decided I want to let myself feel free to write about day-to-day things, to write about whatever I want, and not pay much attention to keeping a sort of theme for the blog.  I enjoy blogs the most when people write from the heart, not necessarily when they only write about one or two topics in their life, and I’m trying to write the kind of blog I like to read, so here you go!

Today’s topic is pink.  As I’ve been pottering around the apartment lately, I’ve been noticing certain things about the pink things I have.  The first thing I noticed was that they were few and far between.  Now, I don’t have any vendetta against the color pink.  I rather like it, actually, seeing as it ranks above orange, purple, red, and maybe yellow.  As I was noticing how few I have, I noticed that all of the pink items I had also had some sort of special meaning to me, so I thought I’d give a small tour of my small, pink things.

This mirror is probably one of the oldest of all of these.  I remember vividly the day I earned it.  I was in third grade, and one of my classmates and I had been learning touch-typing.  Like everything else in elementary school, I had thrown myself into learning and doing it as well as I could, and when I finished the program, I’d gotten to choose a prize, and I chose this!  I remember how proud I was when I picked it out, and I’ve used it ever since.

This comb wasn’t a prize for anything, nor was it a gift, but it’s just one of those things that it feels like you’ve always had.  I’ve been using it for as long as I can remember, and though it was briefly replaced with another comb (also pink) that I’d gotten at a girl scout sleepover, that one was eventually lost, and I’ve been using this one ever since.

To be fair, this pink sock isn’t technically mine…it’s my husband’s.  It was given to him by a friend of ours from Louhelen, the place where we met (and fell in love), but I stole them once when I’d run out of my own socks, and haven’t given them back.  Every time I wear it, I think of not only the friend who gave it to us, but all of the friends we made during our time in Michigan.

This spoon is part of an eight-spoon-eight-fork set I got from my little sister as a birthday/going-off-to-college gift.  The rest of the set are tucked away into the attic awaiting the day we have a place of our own, but I always keep one out as an ice cream scoop and think of my sister every time I’m scooping away!

These were the scissors I’ve had since I was in probably first or second grade.  They’re just another one of those things that have always been around.  I remember how much I loved writing on things with a permanent marker, and my favorite part about getting my backpack ready every August was signing my name on all of my new supplies!  They are now housed in my little craft-things-bag, speaking of which…

This is a purse I got from my sister Jemia for my birthday many, many years ago.  Now, I’ve heard that a girl can never have too many purses, but I am definitely a one-purse kind of girl.  If I have more than one in rotation at a time, I inevitably forget something in my “other purse” every time I leave the house.  However, there’s always a use for a small purse, and this has been my craft purse for the last five years, and I love that it always reminds me of my sister (and my birthday!)

The last pink thing I could find was this sock…it was a part of my Christmas/going away gift from the mom of one of the dear babies I used to nanny, and is so delightfully fuzzy.  However, in all of the packing (and re-packing and weighing and re-packing) I did when I moved here, the other one got lost in the shuffle of my parents’ guest room.  I’m keeping it, holding onto the hope that someone will come across the other (or that it’s shoved into some small crevice of one of my suitcases and will turn up the 14th time I check).  The fact that I’m keeping this says a lot, considering how few things I try to have while we still have to move around all the time.
Along that vein, Andreas and I are planning a trip to Ikea this weekend.  I’m making a large stuffed toy, and need some more stuffing, and although toy-stuffing is hard to find (and really expensive) over here, pillows from Ikea are not!  Hopefully, we can get away with just a pillow, and one or maybe two other things instead of the million other things one often finds themselves leaving Ikea with…

My Spoiled Knitting Group

Like I mentioned in my last post, it had been quite a while since I’d felt “up to” going to my knitting group.  But I’ve hit a streak of optimistic days, and I knew it was time to host again!  Besides, I’ve been wanting to make a really big cake, and if I get other people to eat half of it, I only get a bit fat after eating…you know…the other half.  And since the cake I wanted to make used many more egg whites than yolks, I obviously had to make cream puffs to use up the yolks…obviously.

 

And, luckily for you guys, I remembered to take pictures!

The first cake I made is the same cake as this cake that had my father-in-law raving, but I decided to add lime curd to the middle!

The cakes ended up slightly deflated in the middle, so although they weren’t as fluffy as the first time I made them, they were still light, moist, and delicious.  The craters also helped a lot to hold the lime curd in the middle without it leaking out the sides, I just inverted the top cake and voila: secret lime curd containment unit!

This picture may not do it justice, but this frosting is just the silkiest, whippiest, marshmallowiest frosting I’ve ever had.

At this point in the cake-making, I was in awe of how smooth and glossy the frosting was, and was going to flatten it all nice and smooth and perfect, but I realized that the coconut was going to go on top.  However, I do wish that I had smoothed it down some, because the coconut here is in smaller bits, and the uneveness in the frosting-job showed through.  A lot.  Luckily, it was delicious enough that I don’t think anyone noticed.

I should also probably add that this was the second batch of coconut I toasted.  The first ended up in the trash, too brown and burny.  Consequently, I ended up having to sheepishly buy some more, and when Andreas asked if we hadn’t already bought coconut, and I told him I burned it, he plopped an extra bag of coconut into the basket “just in case.”  Guess I can’t blame him, but fortunately I didn’t burn the second batch, and now have a bag and a half of coconut to use…any ideas?

Before I started the cream puffs, it was definitely time for a cup of coffee.  Now, I just use instant stuff that my sister-in-law looks at with disdain, but I’m having fun mixing up coffee drinks, and I’m definitely getting better…

The cream puffs were actually much, much easier than I expected.  I’ve made eclairs before, and although the choux pastry behaved, I had a lot of trouble getting the filling the right texture, and filling the eclairs.  I have to say that the cream puffs were a dream!  The shape makes them so much easier to fill (they were all completely full, no big ol’ air bubbles or flat bits of pastry), and using a pastry cream recipe with just egg yolks made the filling much less tempermental and liquidy.

Andreas wasn’t crazy about the cake (even though that was the star of the show for everyone else) but he loved the cream puffs.  Unfortunately, he’s now suffering the wrath of his allergies (sugar and dairy) but he claims it was worth it.  They were really delicious, and even though I ran out of pastry cream, I filled the rest with a bit of sweetened whipped cream, and they were also lovely!
The treats were delicious, and I’m glad everything turned out.  The rest of the night was great, too.  We might be renting one of my knitting-friends’ apartment starting in December-ish, and we’d probably lease for 6 months which sounds like an unbelievably (and wonderfully) long time to stay in one apartment, and it would be great to have something lined up so early, and not have to worry.  I also re-caught the knitting bug and have knitting fever!  The fact that I recently received my KnitPro set in the mail doesn’t hurt…Today I finished up a project that’s been on my needles for a long time, and I have a couple more that I’m setting out to either buy yarn for, or just jump into!

I’m really grateful to the wonderful people in my knitting group.  I may be introverted and shy, but I’m starting to get quite comfortable with them all, and was really looking forward to seeing them.  It got me thinking about how grateful I am to my previous knitting group as well, and above all, my dear friend who started it all, and taught me to knit one sunny day in Wisconsin.

 

 

My First Race

It’s official!  I’m signed up for my first race!  I’m going to be a part of the American Women’s Club team for the iForm 5k/10k run in Malmö.  I’ll of course be running the 5k, since I’m a beginner runner, and I’m super excited!  The race is on Sunday the 23rd of September in the afternoon.  I thought I would have a week after I’d finished my program to work a bit on speed, but as usual, I was off on my estimate of which day/week/month of the year it was, and the race will be two days after my “final workout”  I’m really excited anyway, and am hoping to do five kilometers in the park this coming weekend, and see how I’m doing on time.  My goal is to be around 30 minutes, but I realize that since I’ll only just have finished the program, I might be a bit slower than that.  Regardless, that’s my goal time, and we’ll see how I do.   I’m a lot more nervous about the time leading up to the race, finding my team, saying the right things, etc.  and the time spent with them after the race than I am about the race itself, but I’m sure I’ll do just fine.  I’m expecting an exilerating day, and I can’t wait to report!

For now, running is still going well, although today my knee was giving me quite a bit of trouble towards the end.  I took a different route than usual, and did a few hills which I think isn’t very good for my knees, so I’ll avoid them as much as I can until I can get a knee brace of sorts in the future.  I’m still feeling really good about how I’m doing, and get excited for each run.

Since I last posted about my various accomplishments, things have sort of slowed down a bit.  We haven’t had much time to read Harry Potter together, and I’ve hardly read my book from the library (so my goal of 50 books by the end of 2012 is looking more and more unreachable).  However, I’m not feeling discouraged about it.  I think I’m finally realizing that life, hobbies, accomplishments, come and go in waves and cycles, and I don’t get down on myself for not doing more when I’m in a lull-state.

The past month or so, I haven’t been able to make it to knitting group.  I didn’t have the easiest time with the move, and I was left feeling stressed and anxious, and couldn’t add to that voluntarily by going out.  I used to also be hard on myself for how silly that would sound, and how fragile I would sometimes feel, but I’m realizing more and more that that’s just how I am.  Andreas helps a lot by being supportive and encouraging without making me push myself too far, and I’m noticing how I recover a lot more quickly and work through issues better when I let myself take it a bit easy instead of challenging myself too much.  However, I really missed my knitting group, and I’m excited that I’m doing better now.  I’m hosting this week, so I’m making a couple really fun treats, and am having fun filling my days with baking.  I’m doing my best to take pictures along the way, and I’m looking forward to sitting down on Wednesday to do a bit of editing and post-writing!

Fall is definitely coming, and even though we didn’t have much of a summer here weather-wise, I’m ready for fall.  I’m feeling encouraged and happy that time is plodding on, and I’m looking forward to the race, more knitting (with my new knitpro set!!), introducing my in-laws to Thanksgiving, two new nieces, and hopefully a visa or two!

For reading this, you get a cookie!  Better pictures of better goodies coming soon!

Goals, accomplishments, and a little boasting

So, guess what I just finished reading last week!

Here’s a hint:

Yes!  I’ve finished the first Harry Potter book in Danish!  I read the whole thing out loud to Andreas, reading a bit every night for a few weeks.  Finishing it feels like a big step in being comfortable with Danish, and more than that, it feels like progress.  During the past half a year, it has been obvious that I’ve been lacking any feeling of accomplishments, as I’ve been feeling really stuck.  Without a job or being in school, I don’t have goals that are set for me, or set milestones to reach.  I’m not taking any Danish classes, so I can’t feel good about acing a test, so it’s nice when I do have a concrete feeling of accomplishment like this.

Upon finishing the first book, I headed to the library to get the next.  I knew where the Danish language books were, but I couldn’t find it there.  Normally, I try to avoid asking for help, but I needed that second book, so I asked the librarian, who looked it up and told me I’d find it in the children’s section, and that before I went in, I’d have to take my shoes off.  A bit puzzled, I left my shoes among the others at the threshold, and realized the children’s section is set up as a mini-playground with areas to climb, and nooks and crannies to read in, while the books are tucked into shelves underneath and around the play-spaces.  This is wonderful for children wanting to explore, but for an already-confused foreigner, it wasn’t very conducive to finding the book I was looking for.  I saw the Harry Potter series nearly a dozen times, each time realizing as I pulled out a book, that it was not in Danish but in French, Arabic, or Spanish.  I finally approached the children’s section librarian to ask for help, and was rewarded with Harry Potter og Hemmelighedernes Kammer!

I recently re-discovered Goodreads, a website I was a part of previously, but never used.  I’m realizing how useful it is, and have happily spent a few hours puttering around before I decided to set myself a reading goal for 2012.  Since time has been moving so quickly, I can’t fully comprehend that it’s September already, for goodness’ sake.  So, unfortunately, my goal of 50 books read by the end of 2012 may be a bit too ambitious, but I’m going to try anyway!  In my mind, it was about mid-April, and I still had eight months to complete the rest of the books.  However, I have a lot of free time, and I’m hoping also that the goal will encourage more frequent trips to the library, and having a reason to get out of the house is always a good thing.

In other goal-related news, my running has been going so well!  I can’t recommend the C25k program enough.  I’m on week seven (out of nine) and still going strong.  The worst was week one, the “couch-to-getting-off-the-couch” week, but since then, it’s felt like a series of accomplishments, and conquering things I’ve never done before.  I find it difficult not to talk about it a lot (as is pretty normal with a new passion) but I’m also just really excited that I’ve stuck with something this long!  Having no tennis shoes, I had to buy running shoes, and although I got them on ridiculous clearance, and so didn’t pay nearly as much as I originally thought I’d have to, it was still an investment, and something I knew I couldn’t just use a couple of times and then give up on.  Also, investing in a good pair of running shoes, I believe made it easier to continue as I haven’t had any foot, knee, or back pain (and I used to have a lot of trouble with my knees).  Since I’ve been so good about running regularly, I recently bought winter running clothes (pants and a light jacket) for the soon-to-be-coming winter weather.  Not only does this make me more likely to run, but it makes me look forward to the cooler weather, instead of mourning the loss of summer.

So as far as accomplishments go, I’ve been feeling really good!  I’m still adjusting to where I live.  My natural instinct when living with others, is to keep to myself and keep things neat and tidy, leaving things as I found them, and in general, making it seem like I don’t live there at all.  I have to constantly remind myself that my sister-in-law doesn’t actually want to live alone, and likes company, so I try to come out into the living room, even if I’d be just as comfortable in my bedroom, and to ask questions and start conversations, even if it’s still a bit nerve-wracking to speak in Danish, and I often get a bit tongue-tied.

So I’ve been doing alright.  With the exception of a few people I talk to every day, I’ve given up answering “how are you?” with how I’m feeling that day, as it changes so drastically, and so often.  Now, my standard answer is “oh, I’m okay, up-and-down, but on average, I’m doing well.”  Meanwhile, I still get excited every time I hear mail drop through the slot, even though no news has come for either my Swedish or my Danish visa, although last night I dreamed that we were moving within six weeks because I’d gotten my Danish visa!  However, I also dreamed (again, for the third time in a month) that I was pregnant with twins, a boy and a girl.  I’ve given up on thinking my dreams are any way clairvoyant, but they’re nice while they last, anyway.