Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tillykke til os!

This week has been very rewarding for both Bobby and me. I passed my big Danish test and will begin the next level on Tuesday. The test was split over two days. Wednesday was devoted to the writing, listening, and reading portion of the test. Today was the spoken portion. Bobby came home with this lovey winter plant to congratulate me. I am very happy I passed and look forward to learning more Danish.

Bobby finished a large revision of a submitted journal article and also wrote a third grant application. He's been working on the journal article for the entire month (and then some). I told him that this past month has been very similar to the last few months of his dissertation writing; in other words, Bobby has been a work zombie. This is a photo of our typical Saturday night during September. We'd eat dinner together, then Bobby would go right back to writing while I entertained myself with TV. The candles made it a romantic working evening!

We attended a Connecting Friends dinner on Tuesday. You may remember that Connecting Friends is a program hosted by the Copenhagen language school which brings foreigners together with some Danes. As luck would have it, the hosts of the dinner wanted to show the guests a traditional Danish birthday celebrating. Bobby was randomly chosen to be the birthday boy, which was perfectly timed since his birthday is coming up soon! He was sung to, toasted (repeatedly, and by complete strangers), and even got to blow out birthday candles on a cake. It was a really fun evening made all the more special by Bobby's 'birthday'.

Bobby is test-riding this bike, which was once ridden by Bjarne Riis, the Danish bicyclist who won the 1996 Tour de France (he admitted to using steroids so the winning title has been retracted, but we don't need to talk about that). The bike is very fast and light, but Bobby has to nearly bend all the way over when riding. He's yet to determine whether or not he'll purchase it.

Bobby came home one day with this giant squash in his bag. One of the houses on his bike ride home often has a table set up with squash for sale. For 5 kroner (about $1), we ate from this squash all week! I made zucchini bread, zucchini cookies, sauteed squash, and gnocchi and vegetable stir-fry (below photo). All this cooking talk bring me to the final accomplishment of the week...

Since moving to Denmark, Bobby and I have kept a pretty tight budget. At the end of each month, we total up all of our receipts for the entire month (every receipt, weather it's for food, a coffee, or train tickets) and monitor our spending. The month of August turned out to be a pricey month for groceries. We spent an average of $11.00 per person per day for food. Mind you, we eat all three meals at home, drink alcohol (no more than 2 bottle of wine a week), eat some meat (about 1 1/2 pounds of protein per week, total), and eat a lot of fresh produce. $11.00 isn't bad, but we were spending more than we needed to. So I set a goal for myself at the beginning of September. I wanted to spend no more that 2000 kroner ($365.00) total for the month for food. I did it! I spent 1941 kroner, which means we spent an average of $5.90 per person per day on food. We didn't go hungry, we still got to eat some meat, we ate plenty of fruit and vegetables, and we drank 1 bottle of wine per week. The quality and quantity of the wine decreased, but so did our bill.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tilbage til skole

September has brought new things for Bobby and me. We are both back in school! And we both have new haircuts! Well, Bobby got a proper haircut for a barber shop. I, on the other hand, am a cheapskate and can't imagine paying to have my bangs trimmed. So I either do it myself or I make Bobby do it. This time I had Bobby do it. He took a bit too much off but it's starting to grow back. Oh well, it's only hair.

My Danish classes are resumed, though I now at a different language school than the one I was attending when we lived in downtown Copenhagen. My new school is a 15 minute bike ride from our new apartment. The school has very nice facilities and is set in a beautiful location in Hellerup. I have class three days a week from 9am until noon. I am also expected to spend an additional 5 hour each week studying at school. I really like my new classes. The two teachers are fantastic and I am learning a lot. I can already talk and read in the past, present perfect, present, and future tenses! My big test for passing out of lever 2 is already scheduled for the end of this month. It is exciting to be learning so much Danish.

Bobby's university has also resumed. He is teaching a class in addition to supervising students. This photo shows him on his first day of class. Doesn't he look sophisticated and professorly?

Aside from school, we haven't done much that's worth writing about. I continue to cook and learn new recipes and techniques with all my fun kitchen gadgets. We had a nice American man over for dinner this past Saturday. He is a climate researcher and has just moved to Copenhagen. His grandparents are neighbors with Bobby's Aunt and Uncle back in the States, so our contacts were exchanged by said relations. He is a very nice guy and we look forward to sharing more meals together. For the dinner I prepared (fresh garlic bread, Proven├žal tomato spread, Wowatouille with pasta, salad with a spicy creamy cilantro dressing, and chocolate cake with whipped cream), I got to use every paddle attachment on Anchor Baby, my cherished stand mixer. Flat paddle for the cake, whisk for the whipped cream, and dough hook for the garlic bread. You know it's a good day when you use all of the attachments!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Aalborg and Research Meringues

Last week I spent in Aalborg, where I participated in the 2010 European Signal Processing Conference. I got to present two of my papers as posters (one seen above, written with my colleauge Guillaume Defrance). I would like to say people were trampling over each other to get a look, but I take crowd safety very seriously. So I perimeterized the entire zone and allowed one person at a time. I also got to attend some excellent talks by leaders in my field, which I summarize here at my research blog.

While I was gone for the week, Carla had a great time working with her new KitchenAid stand mixer, named "Anchor Baby." Above you can see some apples she made. Carla also claims she made those meringues, but they are far too perfect for this terrestrial realm.

We also received another relief package from Carla's mom! Cold medicine, chapstick, hot sauce, and some Japanese curry cubes. There are also anchovies, taco seasoning, and a cookbook for Vietnamese food! Here we come pho! Thanks yous Sharon!

With Carla's new mixer, she was able to whip up some Hollandaise sauce in a matter of seconds! Faster than I could poach the eggs. Placed on top of the some ham and homemade bread warmed in the over, we had an excellent Saturday breakfast.

After that, I went out on the local street corner and played my accordion to much fanfare. There was no actualized fanfare, but one man stopped by and gave me his card. He is the "formand" of the Gladsaxe Accordion club and invited me to join. He said that they need youth because nearly everyone there is 60 years old. I don't know if I will bring youth, but we shall see! He also said, "We play at the old mans home every Wednesday." Now that sounds like fun.