Baking for beginners

Posted in: Life in Sweden, Swedish Tradition on 12 October, 2017 by Keely

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One of the best things about living in Sweden is that no one judges you for having coffee and a sweet treat every day (even multiple times a day). As soon as you move here, you learn about the tradition of fika, where you have coffee or tea and a pastry like a cinnamon bun. This is Swedish Culture Fact #1.

I normally meet friends at a café when I feel like indulging, but most of the traditional pastries are really easy to make at home. I’ve tried my hand at cinnamon buns, but definitely think it’s better left to the pros. If you’re set on having a cozy fika at home but you’re not so skilled with an oven, try making chocolate balls (chokladbollar, på svenska)!

We made these little balls of goodness last week because they’re one of my favorite treats to order with my coffee. I just didn’t know they were so easy to make! So easy, in fact, that most Swedish people have made them as children. If a child can do it, so can I!

I really like them because of the slightly gritty texture (maybe it’s the oats, maybe the sugar, I’m not sure!), the strong chocolatey taste, and the hint of coffee flavor. They’re usually coated in coconut flakes, but some coat them in pearl sugar which is WAY too sweet for me! They’re already filled with sugar, don’t overdo it!

We followed a Swedish recipe, but I found one in English that is basically the same:

♥ ¼ lb or 1 stick unsalted butter (room temperature)

♥ 2½ cups rolled oats (oatmeal)

♥ 1¼ cups sugar

♥ 1 tbsp strong coffee (cold)

♥ 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa

♥ Coconut flakes

Basically, you just mix up all the ingredients (except the coconut flakes), let it sit in the refrigerator for one hour, form them into balls, and roll them in the coconut flakes. Super easy, and no oven required!

Here’s a quick snap of the ones we made last weekend:


 

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Farm life

Posted in: Life in Sweden on 3 October, 2017 by Keely

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Horses, hay, and hygge

As an animal lover, I always eagerly accept any invitation to spend time at the farm of Ted’s sister, who has horses, sheep, goats, rabbits, dogs, cats, and even a lone hen (I’m sure I’ve blogged about her farm several times before!) While I love cuddling and admiring her furry and feathered family members, I never thought about the process of caring for such a menagerie. At the request of his sister, who recently purchased a new boat and needed to sail it from Söderköping to Trosa, we spent the weekend on her farm to take care of her animals while she was away. I was super excited not only to spend a cozy weekend in the country with my love, but also to learn a bit about caring for animals on a farm! As someone from a big city, I’ve had romantic ideas about country life and imagined myself owning a few sheep and some chickens one day. This weekend promised lots of insight into caring for a farm, and could make or break my future dreams of farm life.

We arrived on Friday evening, and Ted’s sister Karin went over the long list of duties she had written up for our convenience. She explained everything in Swedish because that was easier for her, so I mostly just marvelled at the three-page list we would have to accomplish each day. Days begun at 8 AM and ended at 10 PM, and consisted of feeding the horses hay four times per day, bringing in and out the horses, sheep, and goats, and checking up on the other smaller animals. The most time-consuming task for us was filling many, many IKEA bags with hay for the large animals. They eat so much hay!!! Otherwise, I thought the jobs were pretty relaxed and easy (except when I nearly, *definitely* fell in the super gloppy mud outside of the horse’s stable. Whoops.)

I’m a big fan of sheep.

The horses weren’t so interested in me.

When we weren’t caring for the animals, we took walks in the forest, cooked, studied, and watched TV by the fire. It was super cozy and relaxing and I wish we could have stayed longer!

We both like the idea of living in the country one day, and I definitely fell in love with the very stupid but equally cuddly sheep.

Auggie played hard and cuddled harder.


 

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A scarier side of Swedish nature

Posted in: Life in Sweden, Weekend on 29 September, 2017 by Keely

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Last weekend, Ted and I took our dog out for a hike in the woods near Bjärka-Säby Slott, a beautiful château located just 20 minutes from Linköping. The hiking trail indicates that you can actually walk from the château to Linköping, which might take most of the day but could be easily done because buses run from the Linköping train station out to Bjärka-Säby. Of course, we weren’t up for such a long hike so we took the car and planned a short hike and lunch in the woods.

The beginning of the trail starts out really wide, with beautiful tall oak trees and moss-covered stones cropping up from the hilly terrain. However, a few minutes’ walk reveals an extremely narrow path mostly grown over with tall grasses. As it was also really muddy, I spent most of the time trying not to slip and fall rather than enjoying the nature. It wasn’t until I found a tick on the sleeve of my jacket and another on Auggie’s tail that I decided I wasn’t so keen on this whole nature thing after all (on another blog post I confess my biggest fear in Sweden are ticks. Yuck.)

The beginning of the trail

We decided to turn around and look for a place to have our tuna sandwiches and were just heading back down the path when I heard a loud hissing noise. Ted and I were a bit naïve and let Auggie run around the forest without his leash because we’re suckers for seeing our dog run around in a state of blissful freedom. Auggie had run up ahead on the trail and was curiously running around a large pile of woods and leaves on the side of the path. That’s where the hissing sound was coming from. In a state of panic, my mind thought, “why would there be a leaky pipe in the middle of the forest?!” I couldn’t imagine the worst: that my dog was seriously pissing off a hissing snake.

A photo I took earlier that day, right next to where the snake was hiding

Ted ran past the pile and grabbed Auggie, which was really brave of him to do because his biggest fear are snakes. We just stood there, frozen, on either side of the wood pile, both too afraid to run past on the trail again because of how close the snake could be. Ted finally spotted it, and said it was a big one. I asked him which kind, knowing that there are three kinds of snakes in Sweden but only one venomous type. He replied that it wasn’t the good kind.

The Swedish viper

We both knew that the bite of the viper, or “huggorm,” isn’t dangerous to humans and is mostly just really painful. We were mostly worried for Auggie, who is small and could be seriously hurt or even killed by such a bite. Plus, the snake was hissing SUPER LOUD, warning us to back off, which was probably the most alarming part of the whole scenario. We finally decided to just run for it, and made it out unscathed but a bit shaken.

When we made it back to the château, we sat down to have our sandwiches. Apparently mother nature wasn’t done teasing us because Auggie successfully caught a bee in his mouth! And then it stung him, of course. I was worried because I had seen images of super swollen dogs who were stung in the mouth by bees, but luckily Auggie didn’t have an allergic reaction and just seemed a bit shocked.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! That night, after recounting the day’s exciting events to friends and family, mother nature had one more card up her sleeve. Around midnight, I got up to use the restroom. Bleary-eyed, I reached for the toilet paper and saw an enormous spider right next to the roll! OH MY GAAAAWWWWWWDD, I screamed, and Ted came running in. Last year we had a ton of these huge “European house spiders” in our bathroom and bedroom, but I hadn’t seen one in a while and was not prepared. We used to trap them and release them off the balcony, but were too damn tired and annoyed and smashed it with a fly swatter.

I guess we should count ourselves lucky that we didn’t see a bear or a wolf that day either, but we’re staying in the forest this weekend to look after Ted’s sister’s horses, so there’s still a possibility.


 

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Personality type

Posted in: Personal on 22 September, 2017 by Keely

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I’m a sucker for personality quizzes. You know, the ones on Buzzfeed titled, “Which Harry Potter character are you?” or “What kind of pizza topping are you?” Okay–maybe those don’t reveal a lot about my personality, but they’re super fun and a great way to procrastinate writing an essay. I just submitted a 9-page home exam for my first course of the semester, so obviously I’ve been working hard on my procrastination tool kit all week!

Earlier in the week I decided to take a real personality test on a website called 16Personalities, based on the famous Myers-Briggs personality test. I remember taking the test a few years ago, but wanted to see if I would get the same result this time (spoiler: I did). The test is free and takes “less than 12 minutes,” and it’s scarily accurate!

Of the 16 personality types, I got ENFP (-T), which they call the “campaigner.” The headline quote for my personality reads,

“It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for – and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing. It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool – for love – for your dreams – for the adventure of being alive.”

–Oriah Mountain Dreamer
I then read the entire description of my personality, and was amazed by how accurate it was! It even said that the best career paths range from psychology, counseling and teaching to politics, diplomacy and detective work. It was really reassuring to read that my personality type is perfectly in sync with the career path I’m currently on! 
Sometimes I doubt whether studying international relations is right for me. Doubting is normal, I guess, especially when I haven’t actually started a real job in the field. Sometimes I wonder if I should have started studying psychology instead and that I’ve made a huge mistake *gasp*! But honestly, I’m happy with my decision because of the dynamic nature of the field and that I know I can really make an impact on the world. 
Anyway, I highly recommend this test to anyone who needs a bit more clarity! I made my boyfriend take it and it was super accurate for him as well! We’re basically opposites, but don’t opposites attract?
Here’s the website: https://www.16personalities.com/


 

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Spending time with Swedish family

Posted in: Life in Sweden, Personal, Swedish Tradition, Weekend on 18 September, 2017 by Keely

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In my last blog post, I did some research on traditional Swedish crawfish parties because I was anticipating attending such a party and wanted to learn a little in advance. Now I’m reporting back with all the crunchy, slurpy details!

On Friday, Ted and I (and Auggie the doggie, of course!) headed up to his sister’s home for the party. The drive takes about three hours from Linköping, but it’s definitely worth it! She lives in the middle of the most scenic Swedish forest and the drive takes you past sparkling lakes, fields of horses and cows, and traditional red and white houses. Ted’s sister loves animals, and has dogs, cats, horses, goats, sheep, and even bunny rabbits! Adorable.

Auggie enjoyed spending time with the other pups while Ted and I got to hang out with his family. I really enjoy spending time with his sisters and nieces, one of whom has a 4 month old baby! He’s the cutest ever. Here’s a picture of him with an enormous zucchini they grew in their garden:

The party itself was perfectly traditional with the paper lanterns, party hats, and lots of drinking! It reminded me of Midsummer because we sang lots of songs and took lots of shots. I know I’m getting old because this was the first time it’s taken me more than a day to recover from a hangover! But it was definitely worth it.

I have to say I only tried one crawfish and I enjoyed it, but breaking the shell is a little too much effort for me. I thought it was especially neat that one of the guests actually fished and boiled the crawfish himself!

The next morning, we took a leisurely hike through the forest. The fresh air and quiet natural environment was just what the doctor ordered after a night of partying.

Can you spot Auggie in the forest?

Check out these mushrooms!


 

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Keely Witherow

Keely Witherow
Hey you guys!

I came all the way from Texas to study International and European here at LiU, and so far I am loving it!
Grab a little fika, get comfortable, and let me tell you all about my adventures as a student in Sweden!

MSSc International and European Relations

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