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Paul moved to Sweden exactly 10 years ago today.
I remember going out for breakfast before taking him to the airport, saying tearful goodbyes, and then going back to our half-packed apartment and sitting on the stairs wondering what in the hell I was getting myself into. We'd been together for just over six years at that point, but married only a few months and it seemed like we were throwing ourselves right into the deep end.
Indeed, we were.
People always ask me how long we're planning to stay here for or if we're planning to stay forever. My answer is always the same: I don't know. And honestly, I don't need to know. We have a good life here, and amazing friends. Although I ultimately feel called to the Pacific North West in my very core, I feel settled and content to be where I am without a plan to stay or go. I call it the no plan plan.
We certainly never imagined we'd still be here 10 years later; we just packed up our lives with two-year work visas in our hands and thought we'd see what happened. Well, what an adventure it has been.
My own moving to Sweden anniversary doesn't happen until May, and then is complicated by a year-long back and forth I did between Stockholm and Vancouver, so I tend to just align mine with Paul's when people ask. Happy Swediversary to us!
We're going to go out for dinner on Thursday this week to one of our favourite restaurants in Stockholm to celebrate 10 years in this place, and my upcoming birthday.
When I was in high school I used to wear deep, dark red lipstick daily and felt that I looked kind of anemic without it. Other than that, I've never regularly worn make up. I'm blessed with obnoxiously good skin, and other than the fact that my forehead is clearly losing elasticity by the minute, I have the kind of skin that I could wash with dish soap and it would be fine.
I don't have anything against makeup, it's not like I don't wear it out of some sense of protest or like I'm taking a stance for or against anything. I'm basically just super lazy and other than my morning soap-toner-moisturizer routine, I don't do much to my face. In general I only put on makeup for job interviews and weddings. Anything else and I simply can't be bothered.
This last week, though, I was sitting in a meeting where there was another woman who was also not wearing makeup, and (we're all friends here, right? cause this is going to sound bitchy AF...) I was looking at her and thinking oh my god, is that what I look like? Is this how people see me?
I mean, it kind of shook me.
I turn 41 exactly one week from today and I guess I'm feeling... dull?
I've mentioned that I've been doing an overhaul on my wardrobe, and I've definitely been feeling like I'm dressed smarter. So I suppose now I feel like my face has some catching up to do or something like that.
It's like (and I know this is the completely wrong analogy) I want my face to match my pants? Work with me here, what am I trying to say?
All of my makeup is frighteningly old. I last bought new stuff back in 2013 after some horrified colleagues made me throw away my previous makeup, which was from my wedding in 2009.
I know you're supposed to replace that shit every six months or something like that, but I just don't use it often enough to care about that kind of thing, so I just pull out my manky old makeup every once in a while and hope I don't give myself pink eye or whatever it is that happens to people who use old makeup. But this stuff is old enough to gross even me out, and when faced with the prospect of putting it on my face on a regular basis, I knew I had to take action.
I consulted a friend who knows things about stuff like this and she gave me a list of face things I need like eye cream (but, why? my eyes need special cream?) something called a "dewy primer" (wtf is that?) and a colour correcting under-eye concealer, among other things. I ignored 98% of what she said to me, but took myself to Sephora on my lunch break to try and obtain some fresh mascara and a new tube of lipstick because I can't find my 2013 stuff anywhere.
Oh. My. God. What in the actual hell kind of place is Sephora? Going there on my lunch hour was akin to going to IKEA on payday weekend for anyone else. It was a gong show! So many people! So much face stuff!
It was so overwhelming that after 30 minutes of walking around and sniffing at stuff without anyone helping me, I ended up leaving empty handed.
In the end I went to another store where I knew I could get a mascara that a friend had once given me (and I therefore recognized), and a nice lady there helped me choose some lip gloss. I made a plan to go shopping with the friend who gave me the scary list, although I'm still confident I'll ignore at least 95% of her recommendations, because do you know how much that shit costs?! It is INSANE.
I ride my bike to work and when I get there I change out of my bike clothes into my office clothes, so my plan is to keep my makeup bag in my backpack and when I get changed I'll spend an extra three minutes throwing glitter at my face, or whatever it is that business ladies do in the morning.
They throw glitter at their faces, right? That's how this works.
I feel like how I feel about putting stuff on my face is the way some people must feel about meal planning. Ugh, so overwhelming, right? But I guess we've all got our things.
But speaking about things that are NOT overwhelming, can I just tell you all how freaking much I love my robot vacuum?
I love him soooooo much. So much.
We run him every evening when the kids are in the bath, and it is amazing because they are very excited about seeing him move, so they clean up their toys in anticipation of him coming out. Niko practically begs me to turn the vacuum on, and he'll run around the house picking up stray lego and bits of paper that Viktor (the robot) might get stuck on. Truly, our place has never been so tidy.
On the weekends when we go out for an activity we'll put all of the chairs up, pick up the doormat, and we take the stroller with us, so he can really do a thorough job.
He's definitely not perfect, but he's perfect enough. The fact that he's running daily and doing an ok job means that the daycare sand and quinoa and baby dandruff or whatever else they're shedding on the floors is kept in check, and our place feels soooooo much cleaner.
I can't believe I debated buying one for nearly two years, it is definitely money well spent. I am glad I took the time to really research the various models out there, and I'm incredibly happy with the one we ended up with (the Xiaomi Roborock S5).
We still take the real vacuum out from time to time, like last night when Niko asked about taking a bottle of something from the counter "for his monster truck" and I didn't ask enough questions before saying yes, yadda yadda yadda, suddenly we're vacuuming the contents of a bottle of furikake sprinkles off the floor.
We move things that Viktor can't, vacuum the crumbs out of the sofa, and do the corners, but what was once a one-hour job every weekend now takes a mere 10 minutes and that's that.
In your ear balls
Earlier this week I was a guest on the Cook It Real Good Podcast talking all about batch cooking!
We actually recorded this interview way back in September which is why we start out the episode by discussing how I performed cosmetic surgery on a Pumpkin Pie, but I think the information about batch cooking is super relevant any time.
So if you want to hear what I have to say about batch cooking and have my Kermity voice all up in your ear balls, then give it a listen! I highly recommend subscribing to the Cook It Real Good Podcast for weekly cooking tips, tricks, and other inspiration.
ON HEY NUTRITION LADY THIS WEEK
Well what a coincidence, this week we kicked things off with a post dedicated to batch cooking, Batch Cooking For Beginners!
Next, I gave an ancient recipe from the archives a long overdue makeover. These Savory Cottage Cheese Muffins are gluten-free, grain-free, and packed with protein. They're a perfect breakfast on the go or afternoon snack.
WHAT’S TRENDING ON HNL
There was another Google algorithm update last week that really shook things up, so my posts have been kind of all over the place. Here's what's going down:
1. Mung Bean and Coconut Curry. Old faithful, holding strong in first place.
2. Black Bean and Quinoa Freezer Burritos. This recipe took a bit of a hit and needs some love!
3. Slow Cooker Chickpea Curry. Mmmm. Wish I had a bowl of this right now.
4. Turmeric Latte Mix. Sipping on a turmeric latte as we speak.
5. Indonesian Black Rice Pudding. Have you tried this?! It's so good!
COMMENT OF THE WEEK
Rachel left the following comment and 5-star review on my Edamame Bean Salad Recipe:
Definitely one to make again. The Asian style dressing was yummy and made it feel different from salads with similar basic ingredients. It received high unprompted praise from my husband! My two children also ate it happily (without the dressing). Leftovers kept extremely well too.
Yes! I'm so glad this was a hit with the whole family.
WHAT’S GOOD AROUND THE WEB
1. Good advice here: I stopped cooking everything from scratch and I've never been happier.
2. More pizza, fewer vegetables: Trump admin further undercuts school lunch rules.
3. After a decade of food access work, are people eating any healthier?