His name is…

Maestro

Well, this first week together with him I have been trying to tell him his name is Maestro an uncountable number of times. On today’s walk he showed that he got it – finally.

I got some help from 36 voters to choose this name and I am happy with the result. 6 voters gave me other suggestions: Idefix, Buster, Fabio, Wilhelm Kaiser, Tarzan and Oblivion. It is nice to know that people choose to give me some extra choices too. I thought about the suggestions and both Kaiser and Buster could suit my dog but none of these names gave me that feeling that some of the names that I picked out.

The first week at home

One week in and I have welcomed myself into the world of morning and evening walks, the world of fur ending up in unexpected places and the world of dog poop bags in every pocket. New routines for a wonderful companion, I have missed it all.

I am blessed that the dog that I have adopted is pretty much issue free. He is such a good dog in so many ways that other dog owners that we meet are positively surprised over his young age. He is only a year and shows better manors than many older “well-trained” dogs. Maestro was quick to get along with the dogs at the dog exercise yard. My little sweetie has great potential.

I can admit that there are some small things that we can work on. In the beginning he refused to walk up the stairs. I quickly learnt that carrying a 25 kilos (55 lbs) scared dog three floors up is possible for a short time but there will come a day when I hurt my back and cannot do that anymore. So, I have been working hard this week on teaching Maestro that he can do it himself. We have been making progress but he is not there yet.

Maestro and I have plenty of adventures together ahead of us. We also stumbled up on a few minor adventures this week. How about a thunderstorm that was not scary at all, but the toad that came crawling over a lawn was weird and exciting? Maybe the most exciting that happened was when a wild bunny came running past us during the evening walk yesterday. Now, keep in mind that Maestro is a Galgo mix which means that he has got hunting rabbits in his DNA. No wonder he was excited. Good thing he was on a regular leash so he could not catch up with that bunny. An intense moment tough.

This charming teen dog is a bit obstinate, probably because he tests the boundaries. But, as many of you know, I am often the queen of persistence so he will have to play it smart to get his way… and who would not want a smart dog?

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I present to you – my dog

Last weekend I bought a dog. I have been waiting for a time in my life when I can welcome a new member into my family of one. I grew up with dogs and for a while I had one of my own as a teenager. Since then, I have always had reasons why I cannot have a dog (stressed economy of a student, busy life, unstable home conditions) until now.

A very busy and messy year has passed and I finally saw the end of an omnipresent downbeat and in a moment of total clarity I realized that now is the time for me to expand my family. Since I am a strong independent single lady I knew that it was time to adopt that dog I have been missing in my life.

I searched the web for organizations that handle relocation and rescue dogs. After a few hours I found and organisation that felt right in my heart. On their site they presented dogs for adoption both at dog pounds in Spain and Portugal, and dogs that already are in Sweden. I registered my interest and a few days later I got to talk with them over the phone. They recommended me to have a look at this (soon to be) one year old male crossbreed. Without doubt he matches my lifestyle and I had to take a few days to think about it to be sure.

Heart and reason were unanimous. The next weekend I went to meet the dog and again, heart and reason were unanimous. This dog was going to be my dog!

Now, I need your help. I cannot choose which name to give him. I have so many suggestions but I cannot choose myself. That is why I have decided to make a poll.

How I pranked the office prankster

Most offices have that one person who is playing jokes on their co-workers. Some are more noticeable than others, and some are only entertaining themselves since their job is a bit boring. At my job, the prankster is Fribbiz.

Fribbiz is probably one of the nicest and kindest people that I know, so he can be considered harmless. He is fresh out of the university but have been working extra at my job and also he did his master’s thesis work there. We made friends early and have already had tons of fun.

I can not remember when or how the pranks started but early on we decided that it was okay to prank co-workers as long as it

  • does not interfere with anything at work, or break the code of conduct
  • does not harm anyone in any way
  • is meant to make all involved laugh

We have been following these rules and it has been fun so far. Fribbiz has tried harmless little tricks and we have teamed up against other co-workers and we have also teamed up with other co-workers against one another. For a while, it was tricky to tell who was an ally and who was not.

Lately, the pranks became less frequent aside from Fribbiz who stuck with scaring people by sneaking up on them and then bragged to others about it. Scaring people seemed to become his weird addiction. Anyhow, he managed to scare me good a few times too so I wanted to do the unexpected to pay back.

In October the idea came to me. If I want to get back at him I should strike through a weak spot of his – he trusts me and he wants to be a nice guy. As we know from my head subjects of this blog I like baking. So I decided to bake something that looks delicious but tastes awful. As children, almost all of us accidentally got that disgusting candy that only adults appreciate. So I am familiar with the disappointment of candy tasting bad, but you cannot say anything because one does not complain about candy.

I started with mentioning a new recipe for Christmas candy that I wanted to try. A few weeks passed and there was no time for me to make my “candy” but I had figured out plenty of details. I teamed up with another co-worker who promised to join our tasting, but that she and I would have real candy that looks the same as the fake one. Devilish, I know.

In the back of my freezer I found soy balls, you know a less tasty substitute to meatballs. Perfect!!! I just needed to cover them in chocolate. And my cover-up real candy could simply be chocolate covered chocolate balls (one of the most common pastry in Sweden). To make something new out of the chocolate balls I added some cardamom. Easy! Let us not forget that this was a learning experience since I managed to learn how to temper chocolate in this project.

First thing first. I thawed the soy balls and realized that I also needed to dry them out a bit to enable the chocolate to stick to the surface. What a weird problem… After drying them slightly it was still tricky to make the melted chocolate stick but I got the hang of it after a few tries.

Dark balls = chocolate balls
Light balls = soy balls

I thought that some sort of decoration would take the attention off any differences between the soy balls and the chocolate balls. Star sprinkles it is!

No visible difference. Nobody would suspect anything.

I was fairly pleased with the result. I just needed to remember which ones that were soy balls. I brought the box with me to my job the next day, and we decided on having coffee together in the afternoon. I managed to build up some expectations along the day – I felt like an evil genius.

… the only difference is on the inside.

To make sure only my “victims” (yes, another chocolate-loving colleague got involved) I served everyone at the table. As if we were in an exclusive tasting, we all took a bite at the same time. I waited for the reactions. I got some “Mm, very tasty” from co-workers who got a chocolate ball. But Fribbiz was quiet. I looked over at him. He stared down at the half-eaten soy ball. I could see that he was troubled.

I immediately felt guilt but I could not resist to rub it in a little first by asking him if it was good. He nodded without looking up. He did not want to hurt me by saying it tasted awful but he surely did not want to have another bite. It broke my heart, I could not torture him anymore, so I revealed the prank.

We laughed about it, but Fribbiz was still in some sort of chock that I managed to trick him this good. I felt a bit sorry for my other co-worker too, but he was truly a good sport.

So, here I am, bragging about how I pranked the bragging office prankster. It will be interesting to see when he strikes back, and how that will happen.

Carrot and citrus pie by Inez

I combined recipes with my love for carrots and in the end I created a new favorite dessert pie.

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Halloween or not, this is a tasty pie and look at the orange color you get from the carrots!

It started with the classic pumpkin pie and I also tried the beetroot pie by Paul Hollywood. The later was a real disappointment. I had waited with baking it to make it a bit special. I loved the idea of using root vegetables in desserts and as this beetroot pie recipe was created by a celebrity baker I thought that there must be some guaranties. I learned how to blind bake the pie crust and then prepared the pie. It looked amazing and smelled really good. Then I tasted it…
First bite: anti-climax.
Second bite: still less than delicious.
Third bite: Nope, this is not doing it for me. I cannot eat that.

My German neighbor T was always up for tasting my kitchen experiments so I brought him a piece of beetroot pie. “Very tasty!” Wait, what?! Okay, so I guess I successfully baked the pie it was just not within my taste spectrum. It felt as a failure but at least I had learned how to blind bake a pie crust.

I used this knowledge for the crust to my citrus carrot pie, actually I borrowed the recipe from Hollywood and slightly altered it, but I recommend to use the original recipe as a start.

Pie crust

  • 200 g plain flour
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 100 g butter
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  1. Mix the dry ingredients together and put in a food processor. Add the butter in pieces and mix until the dough starts to come together.
  2. Take out the dough on a clean work surface and knead until smooth. Shape it into a ball, wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes.
  3. Put flour on a clean work surface and roll out the dough big enough to cover the inside of your pie tin. Carefully transfer the dough to the pie tin and adjust it so that the dough lies against the bottom and the walls of the tin. Allow a little to hang over the edges, you should trim this off after baking. Also, you will probably get some left over dough, use this later for decorating.
  4. Blind bake for 15 minutes at 200 °C. ( If you don’t know how, you can probably find the clip on YouTube where I learned this from Hollywood.)

This is actually one of the best that I have tried for a pie crust, so even if it feels like a big fuzz with blind baking, it is actually a necessity when dealing with such wet filling as in pumpkin, beetroot and carrot pies like this. So, the carrot filling is my invention and I am very delighted over the result.

Carrot filling

  • 0.7 kg (1.5 pounds) carrots
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 dl (0.8 cup) white sugar
  • Zest and juice from 1 lemon
  • Zest and juice from 1 orange
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 large eggs (of course organic)
  1. Peel, and cut the carrots into smaller pieces. Boil them properly in as little water as possible. It should just cover the carrots and the water should just simmer. Drain the water then run the carrots with butter in a food processor to get a puree.
  2. Let the puree cool then properly stir in sugar zest and juice from lemon and orange, vanilla powder and flour. Finally add one egg at a time.
  3. Make sure everything is mixed well then pour the filling into the pre-baked crust. Decorate the pie with left-over dough, preferably in a creative way.
  4. Bake at 180 °C for 1 hour. Let the pie cool.
Bon appétite!

The single superhero

Relationship status: single

This is not new, but I am getting increasingly bored from always being alone. I feel that the single life is more of an involuntary status and it would be nice having someone to hang out with on a permanent basis. But how does one meet a decent partner in this world of polished facades of people hiding behind their screens?

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I thought I healed…? o.O

For a very long time, I was not being serious about finding a life partner. Now, I feel like I have been hibernating for a few years too long. Well… I have been busy at the university and working on getting somewhere with my life. And, also, I have simply not been interested in “hooking up”. Seems like I somewhere along the way also forgot how to meet new people. (I guess something had to go when I made room for pharmacological bioinformatics… Okay, I will stop bragging now. 😉 )

Anyhow, I know what I want but where do I find that now?

I have started to look at it in a less serious point of view. So, even the bizarre is welcome, to a certain point that is. The other day, I went through a bunch of quizzes that pretty much speak against me getting into something serious. How about this: based on my Facebook posts I am twelve years old(!), I come from Delaware based on my vocabulary and I look French. Looking twelve might work against me in an adult relationship, otherwise I do not see any downsides so far.

Moving on. My secret identity is a superhero. As awesome it can get being a superhero, I can clearly check several traits off of the list: living alone, working too much and lacking a long and stable relationship. I am definitely a superhero! (Oh, and I like helping others…)

Another relationship quiz gave me a prognosis for the coming year:

relationship-status

Wow, that is harsh.

I am not fully out of hope. One quiz let me know that I should marry Jake Gyllenhaal. I could live with that. ^_^ Though I doubt that he would want to marry a French-looking twelve-year-old superhero from Delaware.

 

The not so comfortable vacation

So, my regular phone charger broke when I was on vacation and I could thereafter only charge my phone while my car was running. Clearly it got a bit more tricky to use battery time for blogging since I had better use of it for navigating in national parks and looking up interesting things to do in the cities that I passed. Here you have the post that I almost had finished when the charger broke.

Sweden is an amazingly beautiful country. The varying landscape gives plenty of things to do and to see. So, when driving by car from point A to point B, it is almost a shame to go take the highway unless it is just for quick transportation.

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I chose to go into the splendid outdoors for my vacation. I wanted to see new cities and enjoy some time in the forests. Therefore I packed my hiking gear so that I could sleep outdoors too. If I would have a hard time finding a proper lean-to I could just put my tent up. I also joined a group on Facebook that have collected information about existing lean-to’s in Scandinavia. They have a growing map where the lean-to’s are pinned. This is how I found the places I tried to stay at. Yeah, I really tried.

In my latest attempt in sleeping in a lean-to, I found a great shelter to stay – I thought. It was in good shape, right next to a small lake and I got to have it to myself that night. What could possibly change my mind?

The weather.

I had changed my plans a few  days earlier since the weather was a bit stormy. When had it gotten better I went out to try another night in the green. The evening came and the wind got a bit stronger. I thought “this could be worse” and chopped some wood for the fireplace. I got warm from the activity and took a quick dip on the lake. COLD!

I got out of the lake and the wind had gotten stronger so I hurried to get dressed and built a fire to get warm. It was tricky to get the fire started because the wind blew out my matches as soon as I had lit them. It was a relief when I managed to get the fire going. Next up was to make supper. The best choice was to use my camping stove. Well, I was only trying to make some pasta but it was so windy that bringing the water to a boil was hard. While cooking I moved further and further into the back of the lean-to. It had started raining and the wind got stronger and stronger so the rain was blown all the way in to the back wall – or was it also water from the lake?

Wet it was!

Wet it was!

When the food finally was done, it was getting dark outside and I had put on all of my sweaters. I felt very cold and had realized that if I wanted to stay dry I should go sleep in my car. I packed all my stuff into the car and backed it up to a less windy spot. My sleeping pad spread out in the back-seat became my bed and I crawled into my sleeping bag. To get some privacy I covered the windows with a towel, a raincoat and a shirt. I have seen a few scary movies and the thought of being watched while I am sleeping creeps me out, especially in the forest…

The back-seat felt more comfortable than the driver’s seat at first but after a few hours crouched, some muscles started to hurt and I woke up. Trying to stretch out was a challenge and I now understand why putting people in small spaces is a well-functioning method of torture in several aspects.

The next morning, the storm had passed as if it had never been at all. I got only a few hours of sleep and my body felt sore so to properly wake up I drove to a nearby beach for a morning swim and to cook breakfast. Coffee first, and it was good. Then a swim… or not! I changed my mind as soon as both of my feet were in the water. Wow! Probably even colder than the night before. Instead, I got dressed and drove off to find a new lean-to to stay at. I took aim at one that I had read about. After a few wrong turns I found it. It was at a nice location and would have been a great place to stay if it had been in better condition. And no good spot for my tent. Just my luck… I guess the sleep deprivation made it hard to keep a positive attitude. If I had not been alone things would probably not have felt as hard as I experienced it at the moment. This was only a big struggle, not at all as relaxing as a vacation is supposed to be. If this is what they call a vacation – I am not interested.

At lunch, I called my mum and asked if it was okay for me to come back and recharge my batteries for a night. (Of course it was.) I also made plans to meet up with an old friend for dinner that night. It never before felt this good to return to that town.

Vacation 2016 – Stormy start 

Last Friday, I ​finally started my well needed vacation. Not a very calm start since I hurried to go visit the scout camp where my troop was. Being back at a scout camp felt great. I could not stay very long but I returned the next day to help packing up. 

Scouting always had a special place in my heart and being back as a leader is probably a great choice for my well-being. You know… You can take me out of scouting, but never take the scout out of me.

Next on the to-do list was to clean my apartment and pack for my roadtrip. 

Yes, I am on a roadtrip in Sweden. Travelling alone, but meeting up with people along the way. This trip is only vaguely planned. I have packed my tent and sleepingbag, and my goal is to just exist for a few weeks. You know, do what ever I feel like when I feel like it. With all the deadlines in my everyday life I really need this break. 

I literally had a stormy start. When I finally found a place to put my tent the wind was blowing so hard that I chose not to. I chose an uncomfortable night in my car instead – that is how hard the wind blew. 

The next day was cold and equally windy. Not very welcoming for hiking or outdoor cooking. My camping stove even blew off the table when I was making breakfast! So, I went into the nearby city Katrineholm. 

First of all, they have some weird streets. Instead of roundabouts they have some sort of triangular system of “give way”. Never seen that before… peculiar.

I went to the tourist office to find something to do. The staff did not approach me so I chose some folders and left. On my way out they cheerfully said “Bye!”. I am not from the region but still Swedish. I obviously do not look Swedish enough…?  Got me a good laugh, at least. 

By the way, I could not find any interesting indoor activity in that city (sad?) so I decided to continue to the next city for some outlet shopping. 

At the end of the day the winds got worse so I drove all the way to my mum and stayed with her for a few nights until the winds and pouring rain had passed over. 

And by the way, who put camels in the forests of Finspång?