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Showing posts from August, 2013

Skål!

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Anyone who has been to a festive Swedish dinner knows that drinking invariably is part of the action - and on extra festive occasions it starts with a "skål" of snaps or schnapps.  This is usually ice-cold aquavit flavored in different ways like these and taken like a shot.  Otherwise known as "brännvin" it literally means "firewater".  

And then there's the singing.  Everyone joins in singing the easy songs with twisted lyrics sung to tunes that we all know.  You get the words so you can follow along, and it's hysterical, especially when like my American husband you don't know the song or how to read the words!  Good times.  Ha, ha!

So now there's a fun competition at Nordstjernan where you send in your own snaps-visa.  Here's mine (sung to the tune of "Take me out to the ballgame")

Bar-room Skål take me out to the bar-room take me out to say skål! buy me some schnapps and some aquavit it better be cold or I'm stomping my f…

Welcome back summer people!

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Hej!  Här är jag igen (here I am again.)  Refreshed, and ready to go.  Does it have something with sending the little ones off to school perhaps? ;-)  I hope you all had a very happy summer, we did.  We spent four weeks in the motherland, i.e. Sweden, i.e. literally the land of my mother!  It was a wonderful break and luckily for us the weather was great so we enjoyed days on the beach, touristing, walking in the forests, and basically hanging out with friends and family.  The province that my family comes from is Skåne in the far south, and it's beautiful, but I'd love to know more about your roots dear reader and where you are from.
There's a wonderful book that I've enjoyed called Popular Music from Vittula by Mikael Niemi that I highly recommend.  It introduced me to another province in the highest north, Norrbotten, right next to Finland. Pajala is the name of the town and it's rough and fierce and full of characters that grab your heart and make you wonder a…

Beware of Swedish Skinny dipping!

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These nasty looking creatures have been found in Oresund so now, not only do you have to worry about ecoli, you have to watch your privates!  Read more here: Pacu Fish  Luckily they don't have them on the East Coast (yet!) where we are headed this weekend.  Of course there are sharks so there's that.  ;-) Not to worry though, we're going to swim where the seals are not!  I plan to catch up on my painting, socializing, eating and maybe a little skinny-dipping next week so I won't be blogging as much.  There's a lot of cleaning to do too before heading out so I need to hop to it, but first I wanted first to wish you all a happy weekend, and a relaxing last week before school starts!

Formex

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Formex, Scandinavia's largest design and interior design exhibition, is opening its door tomorrow in Stockholm, Sweden.  It runs this time from August 15 - 18 (http://www.formex.se/).

Last year my friend Christina and I took the train to Stockholm to enjoy the vast hall of innovative designers of different home items.  The creativity of the exhibitions and the beautiful items on display showcased Scandinavia's talents to the utmost. There were some interesting forums and lessons on retail design that we could partake in (I saw one on color trends that was fascinating) and I loved the way they set up the booths.  It was a lot of fun poking around the 800+ exhibitions with Christina. Here's the approximate layout for the event.
We saw many beautiful products that I would be proud to sell in the States if not for the cumbersome import regulations, shipping complexities, and high cost of the product which would allow for null profit in America. Let's hope that the talks be…

The hazy, lazy days of summer

Are the glorious days of summer turning into a fight for the remote?  This HOUZZ article reminded me of all the things I liked to do as a kid.  I would paint stones, make a soup out of gross stuff, comb the beach for shells, you know - keep bugs in jars and probably suffocate the poor things, etc.  I wish the same for my kids.  I find that electronics keeps nature out and the kids enclosed, kind of like those poor little bugs I used to stick in jars with a stick and some grass.  Set them free!  Today we are going to the beach and we'll make sure to build a sand castle or two, find some special rocks, and make a soupy mess.  Can't wait! Have a great Sunday everyone. Enjoy the article and this beautiful weather.  :-)

Turn Off the Video Games and Turn On Your Kid's Creativity
Architects, interior designers, and more ∨

Consider a versatile murphy bed when looking for guest bed furniture, find well-designed task chairs, and work with a contractor in your area to create a fun yet …

Medieval week in Visby

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Hello, please indulge my traveling back in time.  Just one brief year ago we were in Visby, on the island Gotland in Sweden for "Medieval week", this year taking place from August 4th - 11th, 2013. Gotland is a gorgeous island off the coast of Stockholm which is about the size of Long Island but sparsely populated.  It took us about 4 hours to get there by ferry.  We booked a cabin at 'Visby Strandbad' (here) north of the town several months in advance as it's a popular time to go, and we got their last "budget cabin".  Phew, it was expensive despite the name, so I'm glad we snagged it!   But check out the beach by the hotel and you'll see it was well worth it. The hotel had a nice restaurant and was close enough to town to bus.
Here's another pic from our hotel at night, stunning isn't it?
I had heard a lot about the Visby Medieval Fair over the years and it didn't disappoint.  Held annually for the past 30 years it allows people a …

Beach, blanket, books!

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happy pride week

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Last year we happened to be in Stockholm for the annual gay pride festival.  It was a total surprise to us but helped answer my question why the city hotel rooms were so packed.  Luckily I had booked early and in the coolest youth hostel imaginable.  It was a beautiful boat moored by Skeppsholmen, one of the many islands in the Stockholm archipelago, and very comfortable.  The name of the boat was "Af Chapman" and we had two rooms on board, one for the kids to share, and one for hubby and I. (Af Chapman here and above pic)
(video from You Tube captures the 2012 festival pretty much as I remember it) We spent the day of the pride festival touristing in Gamla Stan (the old part of town) and were caught on the wrong side of our hotel Af Chapman by the steady stream of pride parade revelers, floats, and large trucks dunking disco music from the 70's.  I'm all for a good party, and was happy to watch until a particularly graphic float went by and I had some uncomfortable …

It's all his fault...

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Sorry that I haven't posted in so long.  The cross-Atlantic trip tired me out for a while (major jet-lag) and then I discovered Henning Mankell.  (http://henningmankell.com/) so he's also to blame! I'm one of those people that doesn't usually read crime novels (at this point I'm guessing that there aren't a lot of us left) but they don't typically grab me like a good work of fiction.

But this time I got hooked by Henning Mankell's One Step Behind, (Steget Efter in Swedish) a Kurt Wallander mystery.   The book was exciting in a very unexciting way - it's hard to explain but the tone was very factual and low-key - and yet, as you read the facts and were led down the path that Wallander was following it became very intense and interesting.

Kurt Wallander's fictional home town is Ystad, a beautiful little town in Southern Sweden that I've visited many times.  Here's a photo of the charming hotel, Hotell Sekelgården, that we stayed at the …