Friday, December 31, 2010

Top 5 unforgettable moments

Dec 30: Top 5 revelations
Dec 31: Top 5 unforgettable moments

Happy New Year!!! It's time for me to present my final list. This year has offered many unforgettable moments, but these are the ones I'm most likely to remember (or last ones I will forget) when I grow old and scatterbrained.

1. Asia with Martin. The current trip to Taiwan, plus the bonus day in Beijing, will be truly unforgettable. I'm so happy to be able to show him my roots. I'm also happy he has met my grandmother (Skype is not exactly a substitute). We have spent a lot of quality time with my cousins and even though the language at times is a barrier it's a barrier easy to cross.

2. Grand Canyon with my parents. A few months ago my parents flew from Sweden to California for a visit. We did a lot of fun stuff, but most memorable was our trip to Grand Canyon. We flew from Vegas and got a fantastic arial view over the West Rim. After landing we hopped on a helicopter that took us down to the bottom of the Canyon. This was my favorite part! After the helicopter ride a boat was waiting to take us on a ride on the Colorado River. It was amazing!

3. Wedding drop-in. Martin and I got married last year, in October. We decided to have the wedding in Sweden. But we also wanted to celebrate with our friends in the US. So, on our 6 month anniversary as a married couple we hosted a wedding drop-in in our apartment. It was great! At times it got really crowded but gathering many of your friends at the same time is never a problem. All in all about 40 friends passed through our 730 square feet (68 kvm).

4. Allergy testing. Since moving to the US I've noticed how my allergies seems worse. I decided to get an allergy test. The result was far worse than I expected. Apparently I'm allergic to every species of everything, with the exception of foods, drugs, mold and cockroaches! The best option for me was to get allergy shots. The first few months I got 4 shots a week, then it got reduced to 2 shots a week and in a couple of months it will further reduce to two shots a month. Hopefully in 3-5 years I will be cured from my allergies or at least see some improvement. If nothing else these shots will have cured is my long phobia of shots and needles.

5. Susan and E's Las Vegas (re-)wedding. I've always wanted to attend a Vegas wedding. So when our close friends Susan and E decided to renew their vows at the Chapel of the Bells we were the first ones to report for duty. It was everything I imagined (except that the couple was sober and knew each other extremely well). Thank you, Susan and E for giving us a unforgettable moment!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Top 5 revelations

Dec 29: Top 5 romantic moments
Dec 30: Top 5 revelations
Dec 31: Top 5 unforgettable moments

1. Health should not be taken for granted.
2. Your private relationships should not be coincidences, they should be priorities and by choice. It doesn't matter if it's with your husband, family or friends.
3. Romance is much more than dinners, flowers and grand gestures. Read my previous post "Top 5 romantic moments".
4. I'm my parents daughter. You work your whole life to find your own person, but you end up being your own version of your parents. It has taken me some time to realize it, but by the age I had this revelation I was old enough to appreciate it.
5. Don't forget to have a back-up system. I'm not metaphorical. I literally mean a back-up system to your computer. Man, am I glad my husband nagged about it. My computer crashed this year (or I accidentally dropped it) and I only lost a month worth of photos!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Top 5 romantic moments

Dec 28: Top 5 restaurants
Dec 29: Top 5 romantic moments
Dec 30: Top 5 revelations

Hm... romantic moments... there are plenty of romantic moments, but they are far from being as important as the things that lasts longer than a moment. Therefore I would like to dedicate this entry to my husband and his top 5 romantic gestures.

1. He understands and respects my relationships with my friends and family.
2. He supports me in my many endeavors, regardless of what nature they are. One day it can be running 5 km, another day it can be learning to belly dance. Or writing a blog.
3. He has enormous amount of patience and he brings balance and harmony into my life.
4. He surprises me. Sometimes with a gift, sometimes with encouragement and sometimes with a joke.
5. When it's cold outside, he lays on my side of the bed to keep it warm until I go to bed.

Btw, my husband just commented on this post. He had one word to say: Cheesy! It's a good thing he already has so many pluses, I just gave him a minus!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Looooong haul

Finally here! After two days of travel, we're finally in Taipei! If you haven't noticed, it's been snowing in Europe lately. We are no better than anyone else and of course we ended up being among the thousands who were delayed.

We departed two hours late from Frankfurt which resulted in us missing our connection flight in Beijing. We had already made dinner plans with friends in Taipei the same evening, but after further investigation, we had to surrender. We wouldn't be able to fly to Taiwan until the next day.

What would you do if you were jet-lagged and stranded in Beijing at noon? I would've take a long shower, watched some TV, read a book and had a lazy day at the hotel. Good thing I'm not married to myself! My dear husband took the opportunity to turn this delay into something amazing. We had a one-day visa, a free hotel night and plenty of things to see. After a little convincing from his side, we took a cab to Tiananmen Square. We strolled around there for a while and then we made our way through the Forbidden City.

The feeling was surreal. There are people dreaming about visiting the Forbidden city all their lives, and there we were, right there, almost by coincidence. After a few hours we made our way back to the hotel. We had a nice (and free) meal, took a shower and slept like babies. As I said, I'm so happy I'm not married to myself, I wouldn't have wanted the day to be any different.

Top 5 restaurants

Dec 27: Top 5 cultural experiences
Dec 28: Top 5 restaurants
Dec 29: Top 5 romantic moments

1. Sundance Steakhouse, Palo Alto
2. Olives at Bellagio, Las Vegas
3. Southland Flavor Cafe, Cupertino
4. Manana Stigbergstorget, Göteborg
5. The Country Club, Las Vegas

Monday, December 27, 2010

Top 5 cultural experiences

Dec 26: Top 5 songs
Dec 27: Top 5 cultural experiences
Dec 28: Top 5 restaurants

1. SF Pride Parade
2. Roller-derby
3. Fanime Convention
4. Boulder Creek's Lumberjack days
5. Portugese Festa

Honorary mention: Black Friday. We were out there, we saw the madness, we've learnt our lesson and next year I know we'll find parking!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Top 5 songs

Dec 25: Top 5 social gatherings
Dec 26: Top 5 songs
Dec 27: Top 5 cultural experiences

Maybe I'm not that interested or maybe I'm picky, but only three songs qualified:

1. Road Salt by Pain of Salvation (2010)
2. Hard Times by John Legend & The Roots (2010)
3. On Repeat by Looptroop (2010)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Next destination: Taiwan

Tomorrow, December 26th, Martin and I are flying to Taiwan. If you have any fingers to spare, please cross them and wish that our journey will be safe and smooth. Especially, if you know my husband, you might want to send him an extra prayer and hope our flights will departing as scheduled alternatively wish that I somehow will find the ability to stay calm and patient.

I will be reporting from Taiwan when I find time (aka when I'm not eating)!

Top 5 social gatherings

Dec 24: Top 5 gifts
Dec 25: Top 5 social gatherings
Dec 26: Top 5 songs

1. Our wedding drop-in with American friends
2. Tasty Tuesdays with Martin's co-workers
3. Thanksgiving with Family Konstantaras
4. Martin's birthday celebration at Liseberg with Gothenburg friends
5. Halloween party at Colette's

Btw, Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Top 5 gifts

Dec 23: Top 5 disappointments
Dec 24: Top 5 gifts
Dec 25: Top 5 social gatherings

1. MacBook Air (received)
2. Origami paper flowers (given)
3. Great Mall clothing challenge (received and given)
4. Solsidan tv-series, DVD-box (received)
5. Photo books (given)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Top 5 disappointments

Dec 22: Top 5 products
Dec 23: Top 5 disappointments
Dec 24: Top 5 gifts

1. San Jose Home and Garden Fall Expo
2. Sacramento
3. Björn Rosentröm concert
4. Little Dragon concert
5. Avatar

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Top 5 products

Dec 21: Top 5 stores
Dec 22: Top 5 products
Dec 23: Top 5 disappointments

1. Car
2. Netflix
3. TOMS shoes
4. Cuticle clipper
5. Swiffer Sweeper

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Top 5 emotional news

Excuse the 2 day delay. Here are the Top 5 emotional news, as promised.

Dec 18: Top 5 worst movies
Dec 19: Top 5 emotional news
Dec 20: Top 5 excursions
Dec 21: Top 5 stores
Dec 22: Top 5 products

This Top 5 list deserves more attention than the others. First, let me explain the subject. My initial thought was to write a list over the most important news this year. But how and who can define what's important or not? To me, news is information about the world we live in. Information is important, we can not care about and experience what we don't know. That's why I decided to write a list over the news that had the biggest emotional impact on me.

1. The Swedish general election
This event literally made me cry. I have written about this subject before and I will try not to repeat myself. It was a historical election in many ways. This was the first time a right-winged government had been re-elected. But more importantly, the racist party, The Sweden Democrats, was elected into government. This had a profound impact on me. Not only because I'm an immigrant myself, but also because I'm a human being. If you want to read more detailed reflections on the Swedish general election, read my other blog posts: "The Swedish general election", "Segregation" and "There are no words...", all published in September.

2. Stockholm terrorist attack
This happened just a few days ago. On December 11, Sweden experienced their first suicide bomber. He's name was Taimour Abdulwahab. He set of the bomb in the center of Stockholm and the message was a threat, that the Swedish people need to beware. The Swedish people's daughters and sisters will suffer the same fate as the sisters and daughters of islam have suffered.

As horrible as I think it is and as much as I wish Sweden would remain the safe and protected country I believed it was, I worry that the consequences of this event has just begun. I can't even start to imagine what motivated Taimour Abdulwahab to kill innocent people and leave a family behind. However, I am fully capable of knowing the fear and shock the Swedish population feel. Things like this are not meant to happen in Sweden. People are scared and afraid of the unknown. The problem is that people might not know what the "unknown" is. I might be afraid that the world is changing and I might be afraid of terrorist attacks, but I refuse to be afraid of people just because they believe in a certain god or are of a certain ethnicity!

I have already discussed how I feel about the Swedish election and the racist influences sweeping across Sweden. This random act of madness, has not only fueled the already existing protectionism and suspicions, it has turned some of the most freedom-loving and open-minded persons I know into people afraid of bearded faces. I beg of you, try your hardest to stay open-minded and don't let a mad man limit your ability to embrace people.

3. Gay rights
I'm a huge advocate of equal right for all, including equal rights to be married, regardless of sexual preferences. Right now, at this very moment, this is a very hot topic in California. This year could prove to be a very interesting year. I can try my best to give you a brief history about what has lead up to the current suspension, but why do something when someone else already has done it for you?

This year has offered great news, disappointments, frustration and new hope. Fingers crossed, next year might be the first year California, once and for all, decide to honor equality. If you want to read further reflections on gay rights and equality, read my September post "This summer's revelations".

4. Nobel Peace prize winner
I wrote about the Nobel Peace Price winner, Liu Xiaobo, when the Nobel Peace Prize Committee announced their choice. It was a great decision and he is a great man. Read more about my reaction in my October post "Let us celebrate a hero".

5. Guatemala STD experiments
On October 1st, Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius offered their apologies to Guatemala for intentionally using the Guatemalan people for STD experiments. The experiments took place between 1946 - 1948 and it involved infecting male prisoners and female mental health patients with syphilis and gonorrea without the their consent or knowledge. The experiments were an collaboration between US Public Health Service, Pan American Health Organization and the Guatemalan government, who were heavily influenced by American interests.

The whole story is insane, but there are three components that really fueled my emotions. First of all, if the American government can't find any other solutions that human experiments why not infect your own people? I guess it's really convenient to infect others who are poorer and more powerless, to act like proper imperialists. Let's not forget, the experiments started just after the Second World War, where the human race should have learnt how wrong it is to treat people like disposable lab-rats.

Secondly, this was by no means a headline, especially not internationally. The US government infects people with STDs and it barely registered?

Thirdly, Guatemala only receives an apology because a professor of Women's Studies at Wellesley College, Susan Reverby, discovered documents and posted them on her website. If no one would have found out, the US government would have gotten away with it and would never have offered an apology.

top 5 stores

Dec 20: Top 5 excursions
Dec 21: Top 5 stores
Dec 22: Top 5 products

1. Psycho donuts, Campbell
2. Costco
3. Sausalito Ferry, Co., Sausalito
4. Nordstrom Rack in Palo Alto
5. Ranch 99 Market

Monday, December 20, 2010

Top 5 excursions

Dec 19: Top 5 emotional news
Dec 20: Top 5 excursions
Dec 21: Top 5 stores

1. Boulder Creek
2. The Lace Museum in Palo Alto
3. Sonoma
4. Carmel
5. Ice skating in San Francisco

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Fashion forward? Or fashion awkward?

There is a rumor about Scandinavians. Apparently we are very fashion forward. Maybe I've lived abroad too long and become fashion backward but to me, this garment is just fashion awkward.

It's best described as a "scary sweat-jumpsuit" or a OnePiece ( and it's invented by three Norwegian men. This particular store is located at a prime location in Gothenburg (Arkaden, for those who know) and this is their only product.

How did they came up with this design? I guess it could be somewhat practical for men when using the men's room (see the crotch-zipper), but for us ladies it would be a hassle. And another question, have you ever felt the need to zipper your entire face? My husband might want to zipper my face at times, but I would like to see him try!

For those of us who haven't understood the obvious, this is apparently design and innovation. It's edgy and provocative! It's a statement piece. And it is all yours for 1350 sek ($200)!

Top 5 worst movies

Dec 17: Top 5 best movies
Dec 18: Top 5 worst movies
Dec 19: Top 5 emotional news

1. Miss March
2. Bitch slap
3. Jennifer's Body
4. Grown-ups
5. Couples retreat

Friday, December 17, 2010

I'm the birthday girl!

I just turned 28. I'm officially closer to 30 than 25.

The strange thing is that I've been wanting to turn 28 for quite some time. I was especially frustrated when I started my career at 23 and had to fight hard to be taken seriously. I figured that 28 would be the "perfect" age. I would still be young but old enough not to be considered inexperienced and naiv. My plan was to turn 28 and then stay 28 for a while.

Well, here I am, 28 years old. Now I'm not sure how old I feel. I've never been 28 so how do I know what 28 feels like? I know I still play Playstation and pay money to see Jackass 3D at the cinema. But I also know I enjoy jigsaw puzzels and at times I knit. I just got my first car but I've travelled to 30 countries and lived on three continents. I dream about going to Disney World and I dream abou owning a laundry machine.

I guess there are a few tell tale signs that I'm approaching 30 rather than being 20. It's really slippery in Gothenburg right now. I used to be afraid to fall because it would be embarrassing. Now I'm afraid to fall because I could break something. Before I wanted to live somewhere sunny so I could have a year-round tan. Now I know I need to live somewhere sunny because I can't walk on ice. I used to have ridiculous shoes, as long as they looked nice. Now I'm looking for shoes that look nice but are comfortable.

In the end of the day, I don't care how old I feel, as long as I feel good. I'm happy I've only lived 28 years. These years have been exciting, challenging, surprising and ultimately a joyride. I can't wait to see what the future holds.

Top 5 best movies

Dec 16: Top 5 tv-shows
Dec 17: Top 5 best movies
Dec 18: Top 5 worst movies

1. Kick-Ass
2. Zombieland
3. Inception
4. Youth in Revolt
5. Stieg Larsson's Trilogy (The Girl with the Dragon Tatto, The Girl who Played with Fire & The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Learn from those who know!

I really wish all of you understood Swedish. If you did you could learn a thing or two from this lady!

Top 5 tv-shows

Dec 15: Top 5 series
Dec 16: Top 5 tv-shows
Dec 17: Top 5 best movies

1. Lite sällskap
2. Project runway (favorite: Mondo Guerra)
3. Top Chef (favorite: Angelo Sosa)
4. Top Chef Masters (favorite: Marcus Samuelsson)
5. Top Chef Just Desserts (favorite: Yigit Pura)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Top 5 series

Dec 14: Top 5 "should have"s
Dec 15: Top 5 series
Dec 16: Top 5 tv-shows

1. This American Life
2. Bones
3. Firefly
4. How I met your mother
5. 30 Rock

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Top 5 "should have"s

Dec 13: Top 5 books
Dec 14: Top 5 "should have"s
Dec 15: Top 5 series

1. Should have learnt how cold San Francisco always is.
2. Should have started running earlier.
3. Should have bought an annual pass to Muir Woods.
4. Should have been out earlier on Black Friday. Maybe next year we'll find parking.
5. Should have remembered to always have snacks or a granola bar in my handbag.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The weight of the world

Fitness Expo. Not generally an event I would attend. I don't really feel I belong. Beside the fact that I'm slightly overweight and really lazy there are other aspects to consider. We have the crazy bronzed Belgium Blue-like body builders I can't help starring at, the super buff girls who frighten the bejesus out of me and the Fitness people who are a constant reminder of how out of shape I am. And on top of it all, most of the food freebies have added proteins in some form.

But if I can support a friend in his/hers endeavors I will drag my lazy behind to a Fitness Expo any day of the week.

My husband met our friend Peter at university. They were Phd-buddies. But Peter is not only a computer engineer, he is also freakishly strong. He's been doing Strongman competitions for quite some time and last year he was the second strongest man in Sweden. But everything must come to an end and yesterday he did his last Strongman competition at the Fitness Expo in Gothenburg. Luckily I was in town and could cheer him on.

Here is a picture of Peter, carrying 175 kg (386 lb) in each hand. Notice how the "bags" are constructed. In order to carry the "bags" he needs to lift his arms away from his body rather than letting them hang parallel to his body. And imagine 175 kg swinging and hitting your leg every time you take a step. I'm guessing he does not have the same struggle as I have when grocery shopping or when lifting a bag at baggage claim.

Here is another picture of Peter, now walking with an 415 kg (915 lb) yoke.

I had to leave the competition early so I'm not sure how it actually turned out. But regardless of the competition I'm damn impressed. If I ever need to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders I know exactly who to call.

Top 5 books

Dec 12: Top 5 drinks
Dec 13: Top 5 books
Dec 14: Top 5 "should haves"

1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
2. The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart
3. A Child Called it by Dave Pelzer
4. The Lost Boy by Dave Pelzer
5. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Top 5 drinks

Dec 11: Top 5 foods
Dec 12: Top 5 drinks
Dec 13: Top 5 books

1. Francis Coppola Malbec
2. Vignette Wine Country Soda (non-alcoholic)
3. Lemon drop
4. Sparkling rosé Sangria
5. Cazadores Tequila Reposado

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Top 5 foods

Dec. 10: Top 5 addictions
Dec. 11: Top 5 foods
Dec. 12: Top 5 drinks

1. Prime-rib
2. Pani-puri
3. Funnel cake
4. Bread pudding
5. Pumpkin pie

Worst food this year: Sno balls

Friday, December 10, 2010


I've been back in Sweden one week. This week has been absolutely amazing. You know it's great seeing the friends you've missed, but you don't feel how great it is until you get to wrap your arms around them. I've wrapped my arms around several of my friends during the past week and it's been wonderful!

I'm used to missing my best friend, Theres, everyday. But since I've been back I've seen her 5 days out of 7. I've had lunches, coffees and dinners with the greatest people in the world. My parents have spoilt me rotten. And I still haven't met all the people I want to meet and I still have quite a few days to spend in Sweden. I can't wait!

Trust me, I'm fully aware of the overuse of superlatives. But I think this is an attempt to put my feelings into words. I'm afraid I'm failing miserably. I'm feeling so much that I need to express it in any way that I can, otherwise I will burst!

Ok, I will stop rambling now.

Nature's Gym

For the past few months I've been exercising semi-regularly. Coming back to Sweden (and then travelling in Asia) I knew it would be challenging to keep it up. So I decided not to beat my self up if I relax while out travelling. But sometimes nature takes its course.
Welcome to Nature's Gym!

Shoveling snow: Cardio and resistance training, all in one! Try it while it lasts! It's free, available at any hour and it's just outside your door.

Top 5 addictions

Dec 9: Top 5 portable games (Nintendo DS/phones)
Dec 10: Top 5 addictions
Dec 11: Top 5 foods

1. Eyebrow threading
2. Orange nail-polish
3. Flossing
4. Costco
5. Dried blueberries

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Top 5 portable games (Nintendo DS/phones)

Dec. 8: Top 5 PS3 games
Dec. 9: Top 5 portable games (Nintendo DS/phones)
Dec. 10: Top 5 addictions

1. Professor Layton: The Unwound Future (Nintendo DS)
2. Professor Layton: The Diabolical Box (Nintendo DS)
3. Angry Birds (Phone)
4. GeoQuiz (Phone)
5. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (Nintendo DS)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Top 5 PS3 games

Dec 7: Top 5 live performances
Dec 8: Top 5 PS3 games
Dec 9: Top 5 portable games (Nintendo DS/phones)

1. Infamous (2009)
2. Borderlands (2009)
3. Battlefield: Bad Company (2008)
4. Heavy Rain (2010)
5. Singstar Dance (2010)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Top 5 live performances

Dec 7: Top 5 live performances
Dec 8: Top 5 PS3 games

1. The Lion King (Las Vegas)
2. Cirque du Solei - Mystere (Las Vegas)
3. Looptroop & Timbaktu (San Francisco)
4. The Marriage of Figaro (San Jose)
5. Green Day (Mountain View)

Honorary mentions: Back Street Boys, Lauryn Hill and Elton John. Great artists but unfortunately not so great performances.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Top 25, top 5 lists

A new year is approaching. At least that's what my calendar keeps telling me. What better way to welcome a new year than by summarizing the past year in Top 5-lists? So let me present a daily top 5-list for the remaining days of 2010.
Let me present my top 25, top 5-lists:

Dec 7: Top 5 live performances
Dec 8: Top 5 PS3 games
Dec 9: Top 5 portable games (Nintendo DS/phones)
Dec 10: Top 5 addictions
Dec 11: Top 5 foods
Dec 12: Top 5 drinks
Dec 13: Top 5 books
Dec 14: Top 5 "should have"s
Dec 15: Top 5 series
Dec 16: Top 5 tv-shows
Dec 17: Top 5 best movies
Dec 18: Top 5 worst movies
Dec 19: Top 5 emotional news
Dec. 20: Top 5 excursions
Dec. 21: Top 5 stores
Dec. 22: Top 5 products
Dec. 23: Top 5 disappointments
Dec. 24: Top 5 gifts
Dec. 25: Top 5 social gatherings
Dec. 26: Top 5 songs
Dec. 27: Top 5 cultural experiences
Dec. 28: Top 5 restaurants
Dec. 29: Top 5 romantic moments
Dec. 30: Top 5 revelations
Dec. 31: Top 5 unforgettable moments

Disclaimer: The lists are based on the experiences up until the date of publication and written based on the time of the experience, not the year of origin. Movies/games/books/music etc, may have been published during previous years.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Back and freezing

I arrived back in Sweden a few days ago. For the past few weeks I've been reading on Facebook about the snow and freezing temperatures. Being from Gothenburg and having spent the last few winters abroad, I haven't seen proper snow for a while. I was very much looking forward to it.

People were not kidding. It was COLD!!! As soon as I disembarked the plane, a cold wind slapped my face red and you know it's cold when your teeth are freezing. Apparently it was -13 degrees (8,6 F). But it was beautiful. The sun was shining and the snow was glistening white. It was like a Christmas card. I had forgotten how much I loved the creaking sound of snow.

When I arrived home with my parents, we went up to the attic, got all the Christmas decoration out. My dad put up the Christmas tree, my mum tended to the fire place and I sorted through and dusted our Christmas ornaments. We put on some Christmas music and decorated the tree. We drank some Swedish Christmas wine (glögg) and ate some gingerbread cookies. For dinner my mum had prepared a Christmas ham and vört-bread. I was in heaven!

Later that night I fell into a deep food- and jet-lag induced coma. This was a perfect start to highly anticipated visit to my dear and beloved Gothenburg.