Stockholm March 2017 – Day 1

Today, it’s been a week since I returned from my visit to Stockholm.  Sadly, only days after my return – there was a truck attack in Central Stockholm which made international headlines.  This hit particularly close to home…as this senseless and violent attack occurred a week to the day after I, myself, had leisurely walked down Drottninggatan.  I bought a scarf at H&M and passed through the intersection at Mäster Samuelsgstan and walked right into the exact entrance to Åhlens department store that’s been seen all over the news with a truck driven through it.  My heart is still heavy in the wake of this event, and I’m sad for the lives lost and prayerful for those injured and recovering.

I was there in spirit with the people of Stockholm who held a “Lovefest” vigil against terror on Sunday at Sergels Torg.  Stockholm is such a wonderful place, and the greatness of the city and its people only shined in this tragedy.  

This was my third visit to Stockholm.  While Ronald worked Wednesday-Friday, I got to do some exploring.  We arrived on Tuesday evening…and most of that evening was occupied with getting settled into the city.  We traveled from Stockholm Arlanda Airport to the hotel (Radisson Blu Royal Viking) via the convenient Arlanda Express, and made a trip to a nearby Telia store to a obtain a data only SIM for me.  We stopped in the nearest Pressbyrån (chain of Swedish convenience stores) to top up our SL Travelcards with the 7 day all you can ride pass (SEK 315 or about $35 more info here ).  Finally, it was time to grab some dinner and we had a lovely walk through the St Johannes kyrkogård (cemetery) and past the Gothic revival style kyrka (church) to Bierhaus.  This restaurant is a German food and beer hall featuring homemade sausages.  We probably turned in a bit early that first evening.

Our hotel featured an amazing daily frukostbuffé (breakfast buffet), and we took advantage of it.  The selection was so plentiful you could probably have something different for breakfast every morning without repeating.  My first morning was cold, overcast and SNOWING.  So, I decided I would visit some of my favorite spots…that are fairly easy to access from the city center.  We were staying very near T-Centralen (Sweden’s largest and central railway station), and I hopped on a train to the nearby Gamla Stan station.  I walked through Gamla  Stan, “The Old Town”, which dates back to the 13th century and features medieval alleys and cobbled streets.

lovely blue gate to pedestrian paths on Djurgården

Eventually, I found myself back near Kungsträgården and feeling a bit ready for kaffe (coffee) and kardemummabullar (cardamom roll).  Café Flickorna Helin & Voltaire immediately came to mind…as it has been a favorite spot of mine since my first visit to Stockholm in 2011. It’s a charming castle like building just off some of the lovely pedestrian paths on Djurgården (an island home to several historical buildings, monuments, museums, the amusement park Gröna Lund and Skansen a very popular open air heritage type museum .  I was definitely getting some steps in by walking there along Strandvägen with it’s beautiful waterfront views.  This is a cozy spot I often long to visit when at home…so I simply enjoyed hanging our there momentarily sheltered from the cold and wet weather.

cappuccino and cardamom bun at flickorna helin voltaire

I decided to pay a visit to well known Östermalms Saluhall.  Currently, the well recognized facade of this famous food hall (originally established in the 1880s) is under construction/renovation.  Fortunately, I’ve already been in the original building, but I was curious to see the temporary covered market just across the street in the square which is housing all of the restaurants and stalls until some time in 2018.  I figured I might get inspired for lunch.  However, the hall was starting to buzz with the workday lunch crowd, and I decided I’d head back to my hotel room for a quick break and then browse for some lunch at T-Centralen.

When Ronald had an extended 6 week work assignment in Stockholm back in 2011, his flat had a coop grocery store just across the street.  I’m notorious for liking to visit grocery stores when I travel…so I was pleased to find a coop INSIDE central station.  I browsed the small but well stocked store, and decided to make myself a salad at the salad bar.  It’s a long story, but I fell victim to credit card decline and not having cash on hand when trying to pay…  Even though I had gone out of my way to set pins for my chip cards and call my companies with travel notices…and the fact that my card had worked fine at flickorna helin & voltaire…I was stuck.  Fast forward some ATM searching and getting turned around later, and I made it back to my room to enjoy my lunch.

I confess that I also needed a nap after lunch.  Ronald returned some short time later, and we had plans to see one of his friends for dinner.  We enjoyed a meal featuring Northern Swedish cuisine at Knut.  I had a wonderful cocktail that I think featured whiskey and rowanberries, and Ronald had a beer from Jämtlands Bryggeri (a brewery in Northern Sweden).  I had a Skrei cod dish and Ronald had minced moose steak.  We were quite delighted & surprised by the minced moose steak.  That’s pretty much a wrap for Day 1.

Skrei cod
minced moose steak


upcoming travels

So, I suppose it’s that time again…where I notice it’s been TOO long since I’ve blogged 😀

I just did a little design modification/update, and I suppose I’ll write a post, too.

Ronald and I are about to travel to Stockholm. This will be my third time there, and the last time was about 3 years ago. I’m looking forward to visiting some of my favorite spots again (like Djurgården)…



and eating some kanelbullar (see photo below)…yum…

I’m working on a little map (still in progress) that notes my particular points of interest.

We also have a trip coming up a bit later to Osaka…and I’m still trying to wrap my head around the time I’ll be on my own while Ronald is working. I’m looking forward to some bowls of ramen, and lots of unique portal visits in Ingress…lol

virtual walks & I <3 maps

I am not sure why…but I love maps. I think I’ve liked maps for a very long time, too. I LOVE modern technology + Google maps and Google Street View. I’m often “accused” of being a carrier pigeon…while I’m pretty sure that’s not true…I am pretty good with direction. However, I do make efforts to go back and look at places I’ve been on the map, too. It seems to enhance my knowledge of an area…

So, doing just such a thing moments ago…I was revisiting a jet lagged walk through some allotment gardens near Tantolunden park on Södermalm when we visited Stockholm last year. As I began my stroll (actually much longer than a stroll lol) back home, I walked along the Årstaviken bay and kept thinking how fun it would be to take Cooper swimming there. So, as I’m virtually recreating this walk I saw this –

and this simple thing makes me SO happy today!
*EDIT 3/23/17 apparently, the original street view along my walking route is no longer available on google maps 🙁 So, originally – you could actually see what looked like a black lab swimming & playing with its owner. So, instead of the black box saying “no street view available” here’s a new embedded image of the walking route…and someone walking their dog.

blah blah Beer…and the UFO Club

1150203_10201323363140355_1685182083_nI don’t know that it’s even possible…but I’m going to try to write this 30 min post all about beer.  I don’t know if I can fill 30 min with beer thoughts…but I’ll give it a shot.  Why?!  Well, because I’m currently at the The Flying Saucer (Addison) drinking beer 151 (of 200) in my UFO Club membership.  When I have drank my 200th unique brew…I get my own plate.  I’m wondering WHERE I get my plate…because I started this membership in Austin.  I guess my plate will be in Austin.  Who knows….we’ll cross that bridge in 49 more beers.  They let you count up to 3 beers per visit.  So, I’m looking at AT LEAST 17 more visits…maybe I can get this done before 2014.  We shall see…

My membership started in 2008, and (ACTUALLY) it was Ronald’s idea.  So, I wouldn’t say that I really got serious about trying to finish this until this year.  Looking back at my stats…it appears that I drank most of my beers in 2008 and 2013.  I have to say – I’ve learned a lot about beer.  I wouldn’t claim to be any kind of expert, but I do know more about what I like & don’t.  For instance, my early brews included: Pyramid Haywire Hefeweizen, Blue Moon, New Belgium Sunshine Wheat…lots of other wheats & obvious choices.  Now, I’m more drinking the local/craft brewers and seasonal selections.  That may not be due entirely to my taste/preference, but perhaps it’s due to striving for unique beers to add to my list.  Also, it seems my list is comprised predominantly of draught beers…only 10 bottled choices.  I guess I don’t see the point of drinking bottles at a “draught emporium”.  So, I should have developed some favorites along this tasting adventure…right?!
I’d have to say I still like the Hefe-Weizen & Oktoberfest beers.  They’re just so quaffable.  I also like Dunkel Weizen – no big leap there.  Sounds like I like German beer, huh?  More recently, (2011) Ronald & I were in London and draught beer took on a new meaning.  Fuller’s is popular there and I’d have to say one of my current favorites is Fuller’s ESB (English Pale Ale or Bitter – right?).  Speaking of that style – my other reigning current favorite is probably Dallas based Peticolas Royal Scandal.  While in London, I also got to have some Fuller’s Organic Honey Dew.  My my…I sure wish I could find this beer locally.  If it’s anywhere draught or bottled…I haven’t seen it.
I’ve also identified some of my less favored beers.  For example, I had a bad run in with Oskar Blues Ten Fidy (Russian Imperial Stout) a few years ago.  Funny thing, I obviously was interested in Imperial Stouts…or I never would’ve been drinking it in the first place.  While the Russian Imperial Stout itself is really not to blame…nor that specific incarnation by Oskar Blues…other circumstances and the hang over from Hades that followed…lead to an eventual beer recovery…but with the exclusion of Oskar Blues brews, all Russian Imperial Stouts, and many of the very perfume-y hoppy brews (like some IPAs).  Maybe some day I’ll make it back toward those…but something about perfumey hops really turns my stomach even YEARS later.
Stouts & Porters are still enjoyable, but it’s a little hit or miss.  I’d have to say that my ALL TIME/OVER ALL favorite brew is Anchor’s Our Special Ale (brewed annually for sale November-January also called Christmas Ale).  Maybe it’s the fall/holiday time, its seasonality, and/or the fact that it was born in 1975 (like me) that make it such a favorite for me.  Just writing about it – I can hardly wait for Thanksgiving to get here!!  It’s also bears mentioning – Ronald & I visited Anchor Brewery in San Francisco on our honeymoon (the week after Thanksgiving).  It was already a favorite, but that may have helped to seal the deal.
Well, look at that my time is up.  I did write about beer for 30 min…and it looks like I could keep going.  Who knew?!?!

Vacations in progress and recaps…

Well, I guess I missed the last 3 days of writing for 30 minutes…or maybe it’s just that I’ll do it 3 times a week instead of 6.

Canyon Lake
my view while writing my 30 minute post…

It’s a lovely Saturday morning, and Ronald & I are out at Canyon Lake.  My brother, Bryan, and his girlfriend Eryn are here.  Mom & Dad are on the way (with breakfast tacos from Casa Alde YES!)  Other brother, Beau, and his girlfriend Amber will be here later.  Not sure I know of a time when we all made a point to get together and just hang out (unless it revolved around a deer lease/hunting trip).  We should definitely make a point to do it more often.  Ronald and I made our way out early to do our week 1 day 3 Couch to 5k workout.  The view along Canyon Lake while we ran was quite nice.  Seems like scenery helps make running a litter easier.  I tried out to plan our route/distance.  It seems pretty handy…only problem being we ran into and area that apparently required DOD ID for entrance…  I’ll have to look into some better resources for planning/mapping routes if perhaps you’re not too familiar with the area.

We’ve made some coffee and are just enjoying the views on a lazy morning.  Not sure what else we have planned for the day, but I’m sure it will be fun.  Our dogs are staying with a good friend in our absence, and I miss them.  We’ll have to find a pet friendly lake house to bring them to one day soon.  I think they’d like a little trip like this.  I know they’re having a blast where they are!  I just hope my friend doesn’t want to pull her hair out by the end of their visit.

Yesterday, after our drive into Austin- New growler visits Salt LickRonald & I made sort of a quick tour of the major points in our relationship.  We had a quick beer at The Draught House (where we were on an outing that turned into our first “date”).  Then, we drove out toward Driftwood where we visited Chapel Dulcinea (site of our own nuptials almost four years ago) and then had an early dinner at Salt Lick BBQ (site of our wedding reception).  We brought along a growler filled with Live Oak HefeWeizen.  I’m quite fond of the “Come and Fill It” logo on the growler (acquired at The Growler Room.)

So, I’ve been thinking I needed to write a post (or a few actually) talking about our time spent on vacation in San Francisco.  I found a cool feature on google where you can create your own maps with various points of interest.  So, I started making one with all the locations we’ve visited (spanning 3 trips to SF since 2009).  (Here’s a link to my San Francisco spots map still in progress.)  I really REALLY enjoy San Francisco.  I knew it was time for us to visit again because I had started having dreams about going and having Blue Bottle Coffee.  We stayed 4 nights.  It doesn’t sound like a long time, but we did a lot.  We literally got off the plane and took a cab to Blue Bottle in Mint Plaza.  It was walking distance from our hotel – so, we headed to the hotel to get settled in post caffeine fix.  Once rid of our bags, we walked all the way down Howard toward the Bay Bridge/Pier 14.  It was a GORGEOUS day!  We wandered into the Ferry building.  Apparently, we were just a little too late for the usual Saturday farmers’ market.  We decided we’d do an early dinner at Tadich Grill.  The Cioppino was pretty epic…and the seafood sauté wasn’t too shabby either.  In order to maximize our post dinner calorie burn, we walked ALL the way over to Alamo Square Park and snapped some pictures of “The Painted Ladies”.  There was a random couch in the middle of the park…which I think made for an even better photo opportunity than the old Victorian homes…  We decided to take a bus back, and we pretty much turned in for the day.

Elvis Pupsicles

Hey, it’s only 102º!  WOOHOO!!

Hendrix had quite the eventful morning.  She got to visit the vet for the first time in about a year.  I can’t complain – she’s pretty healthy.  Sadly, a lot of the vet techs she had made friends with had left our clinic and moved on.  Thankfully, the wonderful Dr. Hunter at LazyPaw Animal Hospital took her time making Hendrix comfortable & accommodating her finicky with new people behavior.  I understand she was quite the angel in the back (blow me over with a feather).  After that, we were off to agility class.  I was trying to keep her energy up & a bit “frenzied” by tugging and she seemed very willing to play today and with some speed.  The other half of her team (aka ME) was a little off kilter though…as I had a little bit of an upset stomach this morning.  She got to chase and be chased by our coach’s BC…I think she has a crush on him (he’s quite the blue chip agility prospect).  She was pooped!  I came home to drop her off and pick up Cooper (he was going to visit his pal TuggerTails for a bit).  I peeked in on her a few minutes after leaving (yes, we have a dogcam), and she had installed herself to sleep in her open kennel.  I totally endorse that choice when she was left “free” to roam downstairs.  She remained there sleeping until we got back home a few hours later.

Looks like this 30 minute post is going to consist of mostly doggie info!  (Imagine that!!)  I thought I’d share my “recipe” for what I’ve decided to call Elvis Pupsicles.  These are great make at home treats for days like today (that is – HOT).

I guess they could be called Costco Pupsicles, too...because all of these (except the ice tray) came from there...including the Vitamix.

To make these wholesome, cool treats you’ll need:

  • plain non-fat yogurt or Greek yogurt
  • honey
  • peanut butter (get one with no sugar…preferably just peanuts)
  • bananas
  • ice cube trays
  • blender or food processor

IMG_0078I can honestly say I didn’t measure a thing for this recipe.  I just eyeballed it.  I put about half of the 35.3 oz container of yogurt in the blender, added 1 very ripe and 1 not as ripe banana (though I think ripeness is irrelevant it’s just what I had), and maybe around 1/4 cup each of honey & peanut butter.  IMG_0085I blended it all up till smooth and then poured out into ice cube trays.  The consistency was pretty thick but I went with it.  You could certainly add a little water or the dogs would probably like chicken stock – if you wanted to thin it out a bit.  Trays went into the freezer for at least several hours, and then I removed from trays and stored in a Ziploc freezer bag.



We like stuffing the cubes that will fit inside of the pups’ Kongs.  Here’s a picture of Hendrix enjoying her Elvis Pupsicle Kong…at this point she’s actually just continuing to lick the empty inside…I confess we give our dogs lots of treats.  However, we try to choose healthy ones and we balance treat intake with food portioning and lots of activity.  Our vet seems to approve of their weight & condition.

beer coma, carb coma, and other pressing weekend issues

Alinof Timer 29 seconds left!Since I didn’t complete a 30 minute post yesterday,  I suppose that means this new resolution of mine isn’t a daily thing…or maybe Sunday will just be an off day.

I’ll start this session off with two things –

  • I need to amend my Saturday “to do” list with: make my own beer
  • If you need a timer application for Mac here’s a decent free one – Alinof Timer –  I’m using it right now 😀's only 87 now!Moving on – Ronald and I had a pretty eventful uneventful weekend.  See what I did there…I love paradox…har har.  Anyway, we’ve been exercising/playing with the dogs early to avoid the near 100º heat throughout the day.  I think this week is going to be the consistently hottest so far this summer.  We’ve actually been fairly lucky this July with rain and unusually less than 100º temps.  We try to get them their activity time early so they don’t mind being indoors for a LOOOOOONG time the rest of the day.  Seems to be working so far.  Saturday we tried a new place for brunch and ventured out to the Flying Saucer by the lake to add some beers to my list.  I don’t remember much after the beer coma.  We didn’t get active again until later in the evening.  I walked both dogs (give or take a mile each).  While walking Cooper, I decided to jog a little and got the hair-brained idea to actually workout on my own when we finished.  I invited Ronald along with me and we did the pretty easy walk/jog 30 minute combo that is the couch to 5k week 1 day 1 workout.  I’m thinking either tonight or tomorrow night – I’ll tackle day 2.  I’m not even going to say I’ll get all the way through the program, but for now – at least it’s something.  Sunday morning – we awoke to discover that our downstairs A/C unit didn’t seem to be working.  BOO ON THAT.  Fortunately, we were able to get someone out same day & they were able to make the necessary replacement to get us up and running again.  It did get a little warm – but not too bad.  We also had working A/C upstairs and that kept things from getting out of control.  So, we spent most of the day working that issue out and then headed South (as is starting to be our Sunday afternoon custom) to fill our growlers at Craft & Growler.  We also had a Sunday repeat from last week – visiting the Lakewood location of Cane Rosso for pizza.  If Saturday was beer coma, Sunday was carb coma.  I had to nap off my Neapolitan crust when we got home.  Then we watched some more episodes of Game of Thrones.  We finally bought into all the hype & started watching this show.  We really liked season 1, and we’re now almost finished with season 2.  I can’t say this 2nd season has really impressed me much…we’ll see if it picks up again in season 3.  I’m pretty sure the books are WAY better, but I don’t know if they’re my kind of reads…especially now that I know a lot of the story line.  My understanding is the tv show is fairly faithful to the books’ storyline.

It’s been my experience that spa business sometimes slows down in the summer.  I haven’t really experienced the slow down yet – but I’m not so busy this week.  We’ve got agility classes this week and Cooper has a private lesson (think we’re going to work on his jumping competition height now).  Looks like I have a work conflict with Cooper’s obedience class this week, but maybe we’ll find another time to make up for it.  Other than that, it seems this weekend we might have a little family get together at Canyon Lake (us, my parents, my brothers & their girlfriends).  Should be a fun time.  I asked my brother to bring some shrimp for us to cook (I’m thinking scampi style seasoning)…and we’ll have to come up with some other grill worthy choices.

I’m feeling pretty accomplished already this morning.  I got 1 mile in with Cooper (Ronald took Hendrix on her morning mile) and I’ve already put in my 30 min!  I have no illusions that my life is tough…  Monday is my usual day off – the only other things set on the agenda are my nail appointment and movie night.  I’m gonna see 2 Guns. I probably need to go to the grocery store, too.

Stream of conscious random add on – I watched an episode of something like Hoarders – Buried Alive yesterday.  That seriously scares me…the piled up tchotchkes everywhere…it makes me shudder.  I don’t claim to be a neat freak…but just wow.  CRAZY.

Commence the 30 minute posts!

944592_10201198926429515_1757899013_nOk.  I’m always telling myself I need to write more or blog more.  (Honestly, I’m always telling myself I need to do a lot of things more.  Workout more, read more…eat better more…etc.)  I digress.  So, THIS is my new (*cough* we’ll see how long it lasts *cough*) attempt at writing/blogging more.  Setting aside 30 minutes and just putting something out here.  I set a timer and everything.  At this point, can’t say I’m even sure if this is a plan to do 30 min daily, 4x week, weekly…or what.  I guess I’ll figure that out as I go.

Today, I’ve got lots of things swirling around in my head about what I want/need to do.  I feel like there are so many things swimming around and I never capture them (write down/remember).  So, I’ll just rattle on a  list –

  • make youtube channel/commercials for my business (improve SEO & attract more new customers)
  • eventually redesign my web site
  • speaking of above – a whole host of skills I want to take some classes regarding are: photography, Photoshop (actually the whole Adobe Creative Suite)
  • there’s a continuing education photography class at Collin County Community College starting in October…gonna do my best to get in on that action
  • make a “Rox Skin Studio, LLC” sign to hang in my window at the studio as well as some menu of service cards
  • enter a hunt test with Cooper before next summer (probably HRC Started)…I’d also like to run my brother’s dog Tara for either an AKC Junior Hunter or Senior Hunter test
  • finish out Hendrix’ Open Agility and  Open Agility Jumper titles – hopefully by the end of the year…she has one leg in standard and 2 in jumpers and we’re entered in two trials (only one day each trial) so far in September
  • continue to focus on having at least one short focused play session one on one with Hendrix & Cooper – you know to remember life with the dogs is fun 😀
  • Couch 2 5k – man, I hate even writing that down…Ronald & I just did the Week 1 Day 1 workout together and it wasn’t too hard.  However, this is like the 3rd/4th time I’ve started the program.  Haven’t finished it – always stall out somewhere around week 5.  Today, I just sort of jumped on it…not so much because I want to do the program but for the structure of what to do for a not too tough 30 minute workout.  I definitely need some cardiovascular exercise injected into my life on a more regular basis.
  • buy some kettle bells
  • make eclairs – or something with choux pastry (the incongruence of this following the previous two bullet points is not lost on me)
  • think about taking on some creative writing (like short story or fiction)…remember college?
  • plan a trip in the next 2 years to Hawaii
  • get 1-2 IPL photofacials (for redness/rosacea and to lighten that strange sun spot that I can’t really figure out when it officially appeared prominently under the corner of my right eye)
  • spend more time productively less time on facebook and my iOS devices
  • I’m on beer 146/200 at the Flying Saucer – gotta knock out those last 54 beers!
  • read more – make a list of what to read (start with finishing Lanny Bassham’s “With Winning in Mind”)
  • teach Hendrix more tricks – I think that’s her favorite thing of all…maybe I need a book of tricks because my ideas are kind of dried up
  • I seriously need to buy myself some more clothes.  I hate buying clothes.
  • I already tackled & finished a recent closet clean out, but I need to organize some more cleaning and actually attempt to “decorate” more of the house.
  • repaint & put to use (probably in the studio) the curio cabinet sitting empty upstairs
  • ignoring previously mentioned spend less time on fb – leverage fb better for the business and build up a fb for

Wow.  30 minutes goes pretty fast.  I’ll have to go back and compare, but I’m pretty sure some of these items are repeats of ones I wrote down at the beginning of 2013.  I guess putting it out there on the internet where no one is reading it (but could at any moment) might help make me more accountable.  Until my next 30 minute post…I’m feeling a little like small steps in the right direction were made today.  I want to keep that forward momentum.  It’s actually almost midnight, but I think I will read some of that Bassham book before turning it in for the evening.

I’m thinking I should accompany each 30 minute post with a picture from the day…related or not.  Here’s a link to some great pics of the pups swimming with their pal Tugger this morning.  Picture above is from brunch at R+D Kitchen earlier today.

Favorite Smoothie Recipe

75501_10200335576486306_1774870468_nWhile visiting my family in Austin, I stopped in at an old favorite JuiceLand and tried their Originator smoothie. It was AMAZING! So, I had to try and duplicate it at home. Fortunately, I came up with something that’s become my new go to smoothie recipe.

I like to juice 2 fresh pink lady apples and pour that into my Vitamix. I add a scoop of rice protein, a scoop of Amazing Grass Raw Reserve Green SuperFood, half a banana, a small handful of frozen cherries, a small handful of blueberries, a heaping tablespoon or 2 of natural peanut butter, and (if I remember) a tablespoon of flax seed oil.