Saturday, 28 April 2012

About fall


My mom took a picture of the spring in Sweden right now. I'm just assuming she doesn't mind me posting it here.

Fall is my favourite season of the year. I know it's probably nothing short of a crime to say so, in particular when it's spring and really, all you should do is enjoy the fact that the sun is out (most of the time) but I keep finding perfect fall clothes and thinking of perfect things to do when it's fall. I love fall because..

Belfast is at its prettiest with red leaves everywhere.     School has just started again and everyone is full of motivation.     It's okay to dress in full-skirts and cardigans and maroon tights.     When it rains, it's just cozy.     Lots of new TV series start.     The student loan just arrived safely to your account.     Chestnuts fall from the trees.     Fall is the best time for reading.     When fall is over, it's Christmas.     Darkness outside means you have to light candles inside.     Apple pie and hot chocolate is extra-awesome.

There's about a million other reasons, but these are the main ones. I'm quite emotional, and I experience a lot of highs and lows during the year connected to the weather. My absolute most dreaded months are January and February, when life is filled with nothing but exams and coldness without coziness. There's no Christmas to look forward to, instead all you can do is wait for spring and in the meantime decorate your homes in pastel colours. March used to be the third depressing month but fortunately spring comes to Northern Ireland a little sooner than it does in Sweden. The fact that winter is slightly shorter here is so important to me that I'm willing to get over the fact that Northern Ireland doesn't really have a summer, I think.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

You have to love...


How happy does this print make you? It makes me so happy.

From Society6.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Everyday luxuries

Me and Steve just got back from a restaurant visit... Courtesy of Steve's mother as she found a deal that gave us the main courses free! I had a giant burger with bacon, cheese and chips on the side, and then a hot chocolate fudge cake with ice cream for dessert. We walked home and as soon as we got in through the door I collapsed on the couch. I couldn't possibly be more thankful for being off tomorrow.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Grown-up things

I was reading an article on HelloGiggles on the things you thought were adult and couldn't wait to do when you became a grown-up too, complete with comments from lots of people who also dreamed of doing grown-up stuff like writing checks. This made me think back on what I thought was very grown-up... Only to realise that I still think to myself "Wow, I'm such a grown-up" in a smug way every time I do them. Despite being almost 22 years old, and technically, I should be a grown-up.

1. Drinking coffee. And I'm not talking about espresso in a coffee house, I mean drinking a cup of black coffee in your home with your breakfast (preferably while pretending to be interested in the news paper) on a Monday morning. This is such a grown-up thing to do, because any student with self-respect knows that the way to go is to sleep as long as you can in the mornings, then throw yourself into the kitchen, somehow passing the shower on the way, and pouring cereal with milk in a bowl while simultaneously eating it. Then run to class. I'm so far away from drinking coffee in the mornings. I don't like black coffee. I don't even own a kitchen table.


2. Walking around airports alone. This is one of those grown-up things that I actually do at least four times a year and yet I'm just as smug every time I do it. It's almost as if a part of me thinks that I'm cheating, because it's obvious that I shouldn't be allowed into important areas without adult supervision. You know what beats walking around airports alone? Walking around airports with your boyfriend. If you stop by the tax-free and get a bottle of wine, you earn extra super grown-up points. Even if it's for your mom. 

3. Having friends over for dinner. This is the ultimate grown-up thing to do and therefore I've only attempted it once. Long story short, I mistook beef for pork and we spent most of the dinner chewing whilst I tried understanding how the meat could get so rubbery. In other words, this should be accompanied by grown-up skill #46 - knowing how to cook. Fortunately, you can bypass this by having friends who are grown-ups who can cook and then they can invite you over for dinner. I'm lucky enough to have a friend who can do this, because she is 24 and that's a real grown-up.

This list just made me realise what a child I am. A child with my own flat, boom!

Thoughts

I envy professional bloggers who somehow manage to have lots to do in life, and yet they post two blog posts a day. When I started this blog (like three months ago now, woo!) it was because I felt like no one at home knew what was actually going on in my life. There is only so much you can say during a phone call or whatever, and frankly, there are more important things to talk about than that I went out last weekend and on Sunday I had a roast beef dinner. I've decided that when I renew my phone contract I'm gonna get an iPhone and then I'll be able to just casually text people or use the Skype app whenever I feel like it. (Because right now texting or calling Swedes is so expensive that I've just banned myself from doing it. Unless it's an emergency, I'm not unreasonable with myself.) So anyway, back to the subject. It turns out that when I do have things to talk about, I don't have the time to actually write about it! Instead it's during the weekdays, when I mostly mope about in the flat and the only time I see other human beings (apart from Steve) is when walking in the hallways between classes, that I actually find myself wanting to blog. Despite not having much to say. So how do the professional bloggers do it? 

Last weekend me and Steve went out to the countryside and spent the Saturday evening with our friends at our standard pub. It's worth mentioning that this probably started out as a small pub that later added extension upon extension as it got more popular. So when you walk into the pub there is a small area with tables and a TV for whenever football is on, and then the area somehow decreases in size the further in you go and eventually it's just a long bar counter and enough space to stretch one of your arms as you're waiting for a drink. Follow that bar counter long enough and it eventually gets bigger and suddenly there's a set of stairs that leads down to a decently sized dance area. To walk from one end of the pub to the other takes at least five minutes because it's so crowded and the pathway connecting the drinking area to the dance floor is so narrow. In saying that, everywhere is a drinking area for Northern Irish party-goers. 

Yesterday my lectures started again and it feels good to see my classmates. All my coursework is being done on time (and if I keep it up, ahead of time) which is good because I received my exam timetable last week. My two exams are located on a Saturday and the following Monday. That gives me one full day to revise in between them, and just means that I have to start revising a week earlier than I planned. I also have a presentation to give on Friday and I couldn't possibly be more nervous about it. It's the first presentation I've ever given in English (that wasn't during an English class back in secondary school) and I can barely speak any language at all when I get nervous. 

Lastly, I've decided to try to drink more water. Sometimes after sitting down by the laptop for longer periods of time (studying, of course) I get a terrible head ache when I stand up. I think it might be dehydration because I barely drink anything during the day. Unfortunately I really can't stand the water in Belfast. It tastes strange to me and that's probably because it's soft water rather than hard water. So instead I bought sugar free squash that I drink. I feel like I'm eight years old drinking squash juice, but at least I'm getting lots of water! 

My boyfriend's sister ran 10 kilometers this Sunday. We started running at the same time last year, but I stopped once I moved back to Belfast and she didn't. Her running has motivated me to get started again. If only the couch wasn't soo comfortable... I could probably go on writing about absolutely nothing, but I really need to write another 700 words in a real assignment before the end of today. 

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

About the art of procrastinating

If you, like me, currently have a lot of work and/or studying to do, you may appreciate these tips regarding procrastinating. The art of procrastinating is far more advanced than you might think; it is certainly not as easy as cleaning your room when you have an essay deadline rapidly approaching. Procrastination is more sophisticated, it is the essence of finding actually important and oh-I-meant-to-do-this-last-month activities. I give you my top three procrastination tips:

One -     Get that wall of photos that you've been planning for years organised. This is not a quick and fun activity, this takes time and needs to be broken into sub-steps. The first sub-step is to spend hours on Facebook, copying and saving photos to your harddrive that you like. Once this is done, you need to spend the second sub-step editing the choice of these photos. Sure, you might like the photo of your two friends lying in a vodka-stinking pile at the end of your stairs but would you be comfortable with your boyfriend's parents seeing these? And have you really represented everyone in your life equally? This part is always troublesome, you cannot have two photos of your university classmate, but only one blurry one of your childhood friends. Sub-step three is to print the photos out and tape them to the wall, usually followed by sub-step four; fighting with whomever you live with for the next few years when he realises that he is not in any of the photos.

Two -     Arrange your entire iTunes library so that everything is in the right order. Once doing this you will sooner or later realise that you are, in fact, just messing everything up more. That is OK. Some might even say it's a vital step in re-organising your iTunes library. When you think that you're done, think again. Have you even played around with the idea of rating every single song that you have? No? You should. This means that you have to re-listen to all your songs before you can rate them. Boom. If you don't eat or sleep you should be done in 8 days and 14 hours (unless you have more music than me. Add three minutes per song you own).*

Three -     Get a blog and write posts like the one you're currently reading.

Consider yourself procrastinated.

*When I say rate, I certainly don't mean you make a hasty decision of whether you like the song or not. Absolutely not, I am actually disgusted by the thought. Rating songs involves rules.
One star is rewarded songs that are utterly horrific. The kind that you really have to fight yourself to not skip.
Two stars are rewarded songs that are mediocre at best. They are not particularly awful but they mean nothing to you. The equivalent of your friends'/colleagues'/boyfriend's cousins in the music world.
Three stars are rewarded to songs that are good. They are not your favourite songs but they are perfect for keeping on in the background and to hum along. And some three-star-songs turn into...
... Four stars are rewarded to GREAT songs. These are songs that you have to fight yourself to not listen to over and over again. (For some people, repeating songs is the essence of their music listening. My mom is one of these people. I try my hardest not to be, I like the idea of listening through an entire album and only once in a while be rewarded with one of these GREAT songs.)
Five stars are rewarded to legends in your iTunes library. These are the songs that stay with you through years, that you find yourself going back to. Rewarding five stars to a song is not a task to be taken light-hearted, and if in doubt, the song is not worthy of five stars. Remember that.

Friday, 13 April 2012

A short text about Disney


A few weeks ago I watched Pocahontas and earlier today I found myself craving for another Disney-classic that I loved as a child: The Little Mermaid. I may be one of those people who are nostalgic to the point of insanity (very likely) but I get a rush of childhood memories every single time I watch these movies. And I suspect that they influenced me a lot.

I think Disney taught me that it's okay to be a dreamer. It's okay to daydream to make yourself feel better, and it's okay to make up grand plans for your future, even if they might seem a little unrealistic (like, say, marrying a prince. Erhm). It's also okay if you're a little different.

It's okay to fantasize about completely different worlds and to imagine-play until you're so old that it's probably a little strange to everyone else. Me and my best friend used to make up our own stories all the time, in fact we did it more than most children (it seems) rather than skipping rope or chasing boys (and these were elaborate stories, some including robot panthers and kidnapped fairies). This imagination later turned into writing short stories and later attempts of great novels. And my current boyfriend said when he met me that one of my finest qualities was my imagination. It was the nicest compliment I had ever gotten.

Even more, Disney placed great values on friends, and that parents (although seemingly harsh at times) nearly always only want what's best for you. Sure, a lot of them are love stories (and I might be romantic to the point of sickly) but there's always small but valuable lessons in them. I hope that today's Disney movies are the same.

Obviously, there's bad things about Disney as well. The main characters are always very attractive and skinny for some reason. Apart from the Beast in Beauty and the Beast, but then he turns attractive towards the end as well? Is it just me or are a lot of the villains often quite chubby? (I'm looking at you, Ursula.) And it was only recently that a black princess was portrayed rather than the row of rather pasty-looking girls before that. So Disney has learnt, and has many important lessons to learn, but overall I have a lot to thank Disney for.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Currently...

Found a "Currently.." post at Skunkboy Creatures and thought I'd copy it. (Skunkboy Creatures is a brilliant craft-y blog, if anyone's interested!) The picture is from last summer in Sweden.


Obsessing over:  TV-shows... and the thought of renting a little house in the countryside instead of this minimal flat next fall! It might sound crazy for people in Sweden where it's hard to find houses for rent, but it's very common here. In fact, for the same price of our one-bedroom flat we could have a three-bedroom semi-detached house. I can't wait to actually have enough room for all of our stuff, to be out in the countryside where all of our friends live and to have a little patch of garden to sunbathe and have BBQs. Joy!

Working on:   All of the university assignments that I'm doing. Saying that, I haven't done today's piece of coursework yet but I have plenty of time left. At least I have a plan... and so far I'm sticking to it!

Thinking about:  Budget-friendly ways of making my warderobe a little more fun and what to do for Steve's birthday (again, in the most budget-friendly way possible. Poor Steve). 

Anticipating:  The summer and my trip to Sweden. It's really the only trip I have this summer and I can't wait to see my family and my friends, eat Swedish strawberries, chocolate and baby potatoes, to celebrate my brothers' high school graduation and to maybe even spend a day or two at the beach if I'm lucky with the weather.

Listening to:  At this particular moment nothing but the sound of Steve's typing (he's also studying hard) but the last few days it's been a lot of She & Him - Volume 2 (which is an awesome album). 

Eating:  Big breakfasts with scrambled eggs and mushrooms and toast, the kind that keeps you full all day (because being off means that you can spend a lot of time making your breakfast).

Wishing:  That I had a part-time job ready for this summer... Alternatively a rich relative who felt like donating loads of money for me.


Sorry for writing such a money-obsessed post but unfortunately it's the kind of thing that has to occupy a lot of my mind.. Since I don't have any (;

Monday, 9 April 2012

The absence of motivation

I'm studying today, and I cannot stress enough how unbelievably abnormally unmotivated I am. In fact, so far today I've written 140 words. It's not like I need a break after lazying about all weekend, and yet I've already taken like... four breaks. And tried motivating myself by eating cookie dough while typing (note to self, don't do that again. I feel horrendous). How am I supposed to motivate myself? I need help.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Happy Easter


Happy Easter everyone!

This was Steve's breakfast this morning. He's been planning to mix his cereal with chocolate mini-eggs all week and I've been trying to ban him from eating it to no avail. After it was all eaten he admitted that he felt a little bit sick from sweets that early in the morning though.

I made a few parts of a traditional Swedish Easter dinner today; meatballs, sausages, dyed eggs, hasselbacks-potatoes with garlic... It was a complete failure. I tried making the meatballs after a Swedish recipe instead of my usual one and they all had a horrible gooey consistency and tasted like nothing (and most of them fell apart before I got them out of the frying pan). I had left it to Steve to buy sausages and he came back with normal ones rather than cocktail sausages as per tradition. The hasselbacks-potatoes turned out nice. My dyed eggs wouldn't dye properly (what's wrong with the food colouring here?!) and my red eggs turned out gray and my yellow eggs turned out slightly ligher than before. And our store didn't have smoked salmon, and obviously not herring, Kalle's Kaviar or dark bread. Steve ate everything anyway but I think he was just being nice.

On a happier note, we bought each other chocolate Easter eggs! (When you don't have any kids around to do these childish things with, you might as well do it on your own.) I forced Steve to hide mine as well, and then I found it. Within 20 seconds or so. It's not that he's bad at hiding things, I'm just brilliant at finding them. Also, I was so focused on the task that I didn't even notice all the "fake" eggs that he had set up; an egg-shaped bump under our bed sheets, mysterious pile of towels lying on the floor... 

Either way, the rest of my Easter plans include eating huge amounts of sweets and watching Logan's Run. Not too shabby. 

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Ten great reasons to smile 2.0



Sitting home alone with everyone else at their parents' houses and with nothing planned but studying, it's easy to get a little bit moody. I thought I'd prevent that with a ten-reasons-to-smile-list.

One - It's not warm outside but it is sunny. So as long as you're indoors you can pretend that the weather is amazing.

Two - Although I have a lot of work to do, it's moving forward according to plan. (And it makes me feel good about myself.)

Three - I managed to get up earlier than expected this morning (i.e. before 11am) because the fire alarm went off at 8am. It goes off all the time, and although we do wish whoever sets it off a slow and painful death, we've gotten used to it. If you wonder why it made me get up and not Steve, the answer is simple: He sleeps through it. No kidding, I know for a fact that he's not even pretending.*

Four - At this time of the day two months from tomorrow I'll be sitting on a plane to Sweden. Cue lots of "woohoos"!

Five - I made cookies with Mars bars and Reese's Peanutbutter cups and they turned out delicious. Now I'm banned from making more cookies because the diet is seriously suffering from it. (The cookies above are ones that I made with Steve's nieces last summer.)

Six - I'm almost done with the third season of Mad Men and it is sooo good. I'm obviously only allowed to watch an episode or two in the evenings whenever I'm done with studying but I may have caught up with the newest episodes by the end of my Easter holidays.

Seven - I'm planning to make my first pasta bake according to a Slimming World recipe that I found. Exciting.

Eight - Reading on HelloGiggles' website makes me happy because there are so many clever and funny women out there that finally have an honest chance to show their brilliance.

Nine - I'm planning on making a skirt next week. Because I know exactly what I want but I can't afford paying £30 for it. Duh. (This will have to cut in on my Mad Men-watching time.)

Ten - Steve says that there's no particular type of Easter-food in Britan (other than hot cross buns and chocolate) so I may try and rustle up a mini Swedish-Easter-feast for the two of us this weekend. Go go meatballs, cocktail sausages and eggs!**

*I have to wake Steve up in the morning because when his alarm goes off he may get as far as picking the phone up... but then he just lies there. Fast asleep. With the alarm still ringing and most likely destroying his ear drums.
**Is it worrying that three out of ten reasons for me to smile are directly related to food?!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Spring flowers and coffee bags



Today I've been busy studying, and then enjoying my Chinese take-away with Steve. I banned myself from watching Mad Men because I accidentally watched nine episodes only yesterday (whoops) and it's working quite well. I'm a lot more productive when forced to do tasks than when watching pretty people have relationship dramas in fancy clothes... I also got a mark back for my lab report and I'm very pleased! Not only because it's nice to have a high mark, but I have a feeling that I'll need a better-than-usual-mark to make up for the two very difficult assignments ahead. Above you see my spring-branch-arrangement (with DIY flowers) that I posted a picture of last week, but it is far prettier now that all the leaves show themselves.


Steve's brother-in-law handed us a pair of "coffee bags" to try at home. The British/Irish are ridiculous, I have never before heard of replacing teabags with coffee bags! (But I like it.) I found it quite nice, at least in comparison to the instant coffee that me and Steve usually settle for. Then again, we're no coffee gourmets. What won me over more than anything was the cute packaging. I might buy it just to keep on our kitchen counter. Tomorrow I need to take a walk to the library and then buy mars bars and peanutbutter cookies. My latest project is to make American cookies*... but with mars bars or peanutbutter flavouring to them. This is Steve's idea, so if it turns out to be a complete fiasco, he is the one to blame.

* This cookie-making is certainly not great for this diet that we're supposedly on.

Cocteau Twins - Heaven or Las Vegas

Last week's album was a special one because me and my brother did not find it through Paste's list of the 90 best albums of the 90s... I don't know how my brother found this album at all, but I'm very happy that he did.

Cocteau Twins - Heaven or Las Vegas
An album from such an early part of the 1990s that it still sounds like the 80s. A sprinkle of synth, a dash of Kate Bush-like voice and completely nonsensical lyrics. And it just works. This may not be right up everyone else's street but it suited me very well. This is the kind of music that works well as both background music while you make your dinner (while also showing off a few dance moves in your lonely kitchen, if you're anything like me) and when you're giving the music all of your attention and emotions. It's just really catchy and moving at the same time. Spotify couldn't keep up with my listening of this album, so I ended up buying it from iTunes. Considering how broke I am, that's a good review. My favourite songs from this album are Cherry-Coloured Funk and Fifty-Fifty Clown, although I'm also partial to Road, River and Rail and Frou-Frou Foxes in Midsummer Fires. Heck, they're all good.

This week's album is the first 23 songs from The Magnetic Fields - 69 Love Songs. This is the start of our Easter project, to give the entire album an honest chance.

As this was the fifth 1990s-album that my brother and I listened to I thought I'd do a little compilation of what I think of all the albums so far:


My own personal rating of the last five week's albums:
Belle and Sebastian - If You're Feeling Sinister 8/10
Morrissey - Bona Drag 6/10
Nas - Illmatic 4/10
Beck - Odelay 5/10
Cocteau Twins - Heaven or Las Vegas 9/10

Monday, 2 April 2012

Good weekends

I've had such a good weekend, that has to be said. Not very productive - but definitely entertaining. On Friday Steve texted me and informed me that he had run into friends at university who wanted to stay over in Belfast until the Saturday. And I just couldn't say no. It was a good night, filled with Chinese food, Spotify sing-along and just general chit-chat that lasted until half six in the morning. Safe to say, I wasn't in the best shape when I got up at 2pm. However, we pulled ourselves together and headed out to the countryside for a BBQ and houseparty at our friend's house. Thankfully I got to bed slightly earlier than the night before (but just slightly). On Sunday we stopped by Steve's sisters and left of two birthday presents (one being a fourth batch of cookies that everyone keeps complimenting me on!) and then we went back home to Belfast. And now I have my spring break.

Speaking of something completely different, I have now finished the second season of Mad Men. Although the show was always very good, it definitely reached another level about halfway through the second season. Peggy is my favourite! And Don Draper is a great character... although not a very likable one. Another brilliant thing is the constant references to major historical events, such as the Cuban missile crisis (as well as smaller references to popular culture. My favourite is when Campbell talks about his mother and says "Remember Rope?" followed by a chuckle. Quite morbid.) Time to get started on the third season (in between studying, that is).