Showing posts from 2014

Happy Holidays!

God Jul!  Merry Christmas from our house to yours! A link to a nice song here, and to for some more photos of a winter wonderland, check out these shots from our recent visit to Portsmouth's Candlelight Stroll at Strawberry Banke open air museum.  Here's wishing you a beautiful, magical Happy Holiday!


Here's an eerie and sweet song by the Swedish band Garmarna called "Euchari".  The lyrics are really special, check them out in English below.  This song makes me think of Christmas because when I was a girl I sang songs such as these (often with a one verse in Latin that went on and on) in Domkyrkan's choir. The church located in Lund is really special and as you can imagine singing the Christmas service there was intense.  The history that seemed to steep through the stone floors and the clear, cold air with the scent of candles and the flickering of their light combined to make it an experience that I'll never forget.

Eucharist O Euchari In leta via The sun's warmth dripped into you
Like the fragrance of balsam
The sun's warmth dripped into me
Like the fragrance of balsam
All moving things breath steadily
Sweeping across the ground
The sun's warmth dripped into you
Like the fragrance of balsam O Euchari In leta via Your hands reach out for me
In t…

Finally ready! And re-vote in Sweden

Hej friends!  A new year to come, a new look on the blog.... seems appropriate to me, let me know if you like it.  I really should take a blogger class on beautiful photography and learn how to code, and then ask advertisers to advertise, and link to other people's pages, and check my stats ... and all that!  I know, I know, but what I really enjoy is reaching out to you who have similar interests and just taking a minute to think about what's going in the world and in Sweden in particular.  Would love to learn how to make beautiful pictures like this one of the star, but for now, we will have to make do.

Currently, on the global level, I am following the re-vote in Sweden.  Turns out that they will vote again to get the right mix in the Parliament and as an American I don't quite get it.  Here we live with whomever wins, chads or no chads!  (Remember that?) ;-)  Well, as I understand it the Swedes are re-voting on March 22nd because the budget didn't get approved due…

Happy St. Lucia! 2014

So the old lady dusts off her dress, and her singing, and starts in on St. Lucia again... even though last year I vowed that it would be my last.  Read more about the holiday here.) I just can't resist spreading the love and seeing the looks on the kids faces.  This year I suprised the kindergarten class that I worked in.  At first there were a lot of giggles but then total silence as they watched me circle the room and I sang the Sankta Lucia song for them.  Later I offered them some homemade sweet bread, and we made crowns.  The little girls in particular seem to get inspired by St. Lucia, one even asked me for the recipe!  So, after a lot of preparation it was very successful day yesterday and today on the actual day (December 13th) my children sang it to HH and I in bed. Coffee, buns, and the song - they did it all and I sure am one proud mama!  Did your children sing to you today?  Drop me a line, I'm curious.

Oh snap! Gingersnaps and pepparkakor

Vi komma, vi komma, från Pepparkakeland...
Three little guys (gubbar) marching from gingerbread land... this little song is just one way that gingersnaps show up in Swedish culture, especially around the holidays.  We made our pepparkakor today.  So fun!  I let the kids mess around with theirs, debasing them with icing and sprinkles, and using any shape that they chose.  My son made a mindcraft man, and my daughter lots of broken hearts (glimpse into the future?) ;-)  At any rate, we all had fun but once things settled down I shooed them out, and made some my way.
Just simple cookies with an almond in the middle and using gingerbread shapes from home.  I love the horses and the pigs.  I read that in the Middle Ages anyone with a pig was considered well off, and so it represents wealth.  The horses remind me of "Dala höstar" (see more here), and the stars and hearts are also typical.  Plus of course the "gubbar" or guys. And some ladies too.  Yum it smells good aro…

Glad Second Advent!

From my house to yours wishing you all a Happy Second Advent!  There are four Sundays leading up to Christmas Eve, and the Swedes celebrate them by lighting a candle for each of the four.  It's just another way of saying "holy **** it's only two weeks left until Christmas!"  We got the tree today but the rest of it -- decorating the house, the tree, the kids, & the cats will have to wait.  Just a moment to breath and enjoy the pinescented room with candles lit for now will do.  Enjoy!

Happy Thanksgiving (late) and St. Lucia (early)

In the States we celebrate Turkey Day with lots of food, fun and family.  I was lucky to have been surrounded at our house with these wonderful things and I enjoyed every moment although I was a little scared that the turkey wouldn't come out right.  Well no need to fear, thanks to my mother in law's recipe* and sister's husband's help we enjoyed a beautiful and moist 25 pounder on Thanksgiving Day.  Then today after all that good food we waddled out of the house in the snow to do our part in the St. Lucia celebration that the VASA lodge puts on.
What mother's heart wouldn't melt to see her little sweeties singing angelically in this procession?  I know mine did, the kids did great and I am just so proud that they handled it like they did.  It's a beautiful tradition and I certainly don't mind having played a part in doing it two weeks early.  This way Mormor, and my sister and family could see it as well.  Normally though St. Lucia is held on December …

Syren berså - lilac enclosure

Lovely lilacs

Mer Jul (More Christmas)

Ready for Christmas?  I am already, in Sweden the Christmas markets are starting to put out the glögg (mulled wine) and goodies, people are enjoying Christmas store displays and the Lucia is being picked for the school pageant.  Of course here we have Thanksgiving to enjoy before the craziness commences but I for one am pysched for "jul kalendar" (the annual Christmas show on tv that shows one episode a day in December), cookies, candles and "jul mys".  More on XMAS Markets here.

My friend just got me the cutest tray and napkins from IKEA with "Tomte" (the Swedish Santa) on them and it got me thinking. Luckily for me there will be lots of relatives here for Thanksgiving, some Swedes to boot, and we can start filling up on glögg and pepperkakor (Swedish gingerbread). I'm leaving you with a lovely glögg recipe here, and a song that I think you will enjoy about Christimas by Adolphson & Falk whether you understand the lyrics or not.  Called "Me…

Day of the Döda (Dead)

Hello, yesterday was Veterans's Day in the States, a day when we honor those in the military who serve our country and it got me started on thinking about my family and how although we don't have a lot of fighters in the family tree, we do have a lot of love.  I miss my grandparents tremendously so I decided to honor them in my own little "Day of the Dead", a week late and a dollar short perhaps, but I had the day off and I wanted my children to think of them and know more about them.
If you have seen the wild and wonderful new film "The Book of Life" produced by Guillermo del Toro, then you know about the wonderful Mexican tradition during the week around Halloween that honors ancestors whom have passed away . It's a time to celebrate their lives, and invite the dead back into our lives with food, candles, flowers and by visiting their graves.
Marigolds abound this time of year in Mexico and actually still flourish in my garden, so I used them for my …

Avicii and Happy Father's Day Swedes!

Avicii is now on our Swedish stamps.
All over 30 be like: "Who's Avicii?"
All under 30 be like: "What's a stamp?"

(Copyright by Tore H. G. Kullgren)
HAPPY FATHER'S DAY TO ALL YOU WONDERFUL SWEDISH DADS! Grattis på farsdag till alla underbara svenska pappor!
p.s. Avicii is a famous Swedish DJ.  He co-wrote and co-produced "A Sky Full of Stars" with Coldplay's Chris Martin among many other achievements

Sleep tight

Hello bedroom.... wow, a place for a queen.  There might be room for my king here too.  ;-)
This bedroom stolen from "Sköna Hem", a Swedish interior design magazine, is so romantic it's awesome, but unfortunately hubby doesn't have quite the same taste. For example he would nix the bed ruffle in one swoop and he hates chandeliers.  I guess having a man is worth some compromising, ;-) so here's where we landed - with the åkerkulla panels from IKEA and the kvartal system that I described in this post: back-to-ikea.

There are some elements in this picture that I think we could incorporate though into our space that maybe HH would agree such as the wooden ceiling (love that) and the soft palette throughout.  It's so restful isn't it?  But the pillows he would toss, I have dozens in the closet for that reason!  BTW, how do you handle husbands who get in the way of your decorating?

Here is a link to more French inspired bedrooms:…

Happy Halloween!

I vant to suck your blood, but give me chocolate instead and I'll be good. Lonely vampire lady will be stuck with lots of Nerds and other gross candies unless someone comes by soon!  Lots of neighborhood kids would be ideal.  They are so sweet and yummy ;-)
Happy Halloween!

Swedish Gustavian Design

Hello Swedes and fellow Scandinavian design enthusiasts, today I want to try to give you an overview of traditional Swedish design and by this I mean setting the way back machine to the 1800's and before.  We all are familiar with the modern Scandinavian style which was so popular in the 1960's and still has many enthusiasts today.  While that's all very good and lovely, especially for the hipsters, by heart beats faster for the Gustavian era which was influenced by the French style  It's basically a "bastardization" of French Rococco which makes it so charming and country and earnest in its approach.  Here are some lovely pieces that exemplify this style:
FYI, they are all available as of today at the Metropol auction site so if you want to get me an early Christmas present this would be a good place to look!  Tina's XMAS present  :-) I especially like the two green clad chairs from the 1900's which are currently going for only 500 Swedish krones and…


This time of year can be stunning in this neck of the woods.  Did you know if we were going to call it by it's true name "fall" would most likely be called "get off me" season?  Wind doesn't gently nudge the leaves from the trees, they forcibly throw them off once the season is over and they don't need to create more food.  Harsh but as the days grow colder and shorter it's necessary.  So as we accumulate things -- blankets, coats, warm mittens and more -- the trees get rid of them and survive without. Interesting, but I think a trip to Mexico would be a lot more fun.  Just saying. ;-)

Mera Lagom

OK, loving this description of the Swedish word lagom from Mental Floss...
This word is interesting too.  Hopefully I won't need it any time soon, as death by bacon could be another to put it: :-) 1. Kummerspeck (German)
Excess weight gained from emotional overeating. Literally, grief bacon.  Check out this and other interesting words at wonderful-foreign-words-we-could-use-english.
Mmmm bacon, it's looking pretty good right about now... gotta run and resist at the gym before getting myself into trouble.  Have a great Wednesday!

Fleetwood Mac Gold Dust Woman at the Garden 10/10/14

Friday night handsome hubby and I saw the best concert - "Fleetwood Mac" was awesome!  What a range of amazing songs with each member of the band playing a beautiful and unique roll.  Their voices mesh so well on harmony and the instrumentation is tight - it really it a classic and enduring group.  Glad that Christine McVie is back too!  Here's what the Boston Herald thought Everyone in Boston seemed to love them and the feeling appeared to be mutual.  Don't stop thinking about tomorrow.... & enjoy this beautiful weekend!

Zara Larsson and other up-n-coming Swedish singers

This song is a big fav of mine at the moment.  It's called "Rooftop".  Can you believe that she is only 17?  She started singing at age 10 and was a winner of "Talang" the Swedish verions on Got Talent in 2008.  Since then, Zara has been working hard at her career and high-school. This song "Uncover" from 2013 was a big hit.  The girl is talented and beautiful, but there are many other Swedish megastars in the making, for example First Aid (see my blog post here First Aid). This link will lead you to the five best songs of September as decided by the Local.  Enjoy!

Happy Ragnar day!

Nordstjernan just sent out this very fine photo of Ragnar, so happy namesday man!  (Did I mention that I like Vikings?) Having a name for every day of the year is an old tradition in Sweden, and one that used to trump birthdays.  Below I copied some of the text that explains the celebration.  It's a nice tradition, and a nice photograph. ;-)  I haven't heard of the Ragnar Relay Series but I guess it's a real bear.  Also for a laugh read on for the names of his many sons.  This link from Wikipedia made me smile.  Have a Happy Ragnar day!

The name Ragnar is celebrated on October 1, according to the Swedish “namsdag” calendar. It’s a masculine name with old Norse origin, meaning "warrior" or “strong army.” Ragnar was a legendary hero of early 9th century Scandinavia. In Sweden a “namnsdag” is celebrated like a little birthday, but in the U.S., it may inspire another kind of celebration. 
In 2004, it inspired some American runners who wanted to build their strength an…

Newport the lagom way

HI, thought I'd share my wanderings to Newport, RI in the spirit of "living lagom".  I have been rushing around, trying to find work, and getting the kids back into the swing of things, so I decided to take some "me" time in the beautiful Rhode Island hot spot with a great long-time friend and my paint brushes.  First up, dinner in the trendy "Salvation Cafe"( Here's me with my huge sangria... want some?  Try this recipe on for size, traditional red sangria, and don't forget the umbrella. ;-)
Next day, painting on the porch in a local seaside town.  I tried a new technique which I'm not too happy with but the bright color did seem induced by my cheery mood!
On Sunday I strapped on my sneaks and headed to the Cliff Walk, one of the most gorgeous walks I've been on.  What a day!  A walked for about an hour until I got to the southern most part which I guess is mainly rocks, and then I strolled all the way do…

Cave woman, good paleo eating and Stone Age Finds in Hanö

Hi, those of you who have read my blog know that I like to write about all things Viking.  It's a fun way to stay in touch with my heritage and experience your inner wild child,  But you may not know that I've also tried paleo cooking so I perhaps I'm really a cavewoman at heart.  :-)  Do you like to eat like a cave woman?  I do, it really makes you feel good, helps you lose weight and fills you up.  Of course I have fallen off the wagon more than once and endulged in bread, pasta and the like, but I have tried to minimize it.  The thought is maybe if I eat like a cave woman I can look more like this Planet of the Apes babe ...
than this one.  (Well, maybe I do look more like her anyhow.) Here's where I shamelessly plug my good friend's book on Paleo cooling (or high-fat, low-carb like they call it in Sweden).  You can look but you can't buy because it's sold out and is being reprinted for the third time!! You go Anne!  I can't wait to get my copy for C…

The Social Democrats Win!

Swedes have had their day at the polls and the results are in... Social Democrats came up ahead with 43.7 percent of the votes, and the governing coalitition formerly with Reinfeldt at the head got 39.3 percent. So a shift in the pervailing winds to the left, and back to a less business-friendly environment and one that embraces more of the old fashioned "cradle to grave" social experience in Sweden.
The Guardian wrote  on Friday, 9/12 before the polls that: "Löfven is ahead in the polls on promises to raise spending on schools and hospitals and raise taxes after eight years of Reinfeldt trimming welfare. But his lead has narrowed to single digits in recent weeks – in part due to doubts about the former trade unionist's experience to run the country. At stake is who will lead one ofEurope's most successful economies. Despite growth outdoing the eurozone since the financial crisis, a housing boom and falling taxes, Löfven hopes to capitalise on voters seeking a …

a bookbook

If nothing else you should watch this for the laughs (and the accent).  Love it!  Good job IKEA!
And this from someone who loves a real book (book).  :-)  No lag, and you can simply bookmark it!

Fashionably late?

Fashion Week has started in New York and I for one am having a hard time concentrating on fall clothing in this blistering heat.  But with that said, the cooler weather is right around the corner and as soon as it gets here I am going through my closet and making sense of what to buy for the coming season.
To be honest, mainly I will be poking around in vintage and consignment shops in order to save money and be environmentally conscious.  Plus I always love the challenge of how to snaze up an old outfit to fit today's looks.  This year I will be going for classic with a touch of bohemian.  I love the rich look of multicolored knits and the latent prep in me is jazzed that Fair Isles sweaters are showing up again!

Here's just a smattering of some of the exciting fashion design coming out of Sweden these days.  Sigh!  If only I had a bigger bank account I would hit the stores but I will check the links for inspiration and see if I can make something approximate with my old Si…

all things Swedish

Hej!  Sometimes someone writes a blog that you just haven't gotten around to, like Linda Barsi in this piece on Swedish inventions like Spotify.   So in that case why reinvent the wheel?  Or "zipper" as the case may be.  Just read and you'll know why I say this: So the kitten curled up in my lap for a good snuggle while I write this, the kids are playing and life is good. Hope that you are ending summer on a happy note.  It can be a melancoly time of year (being Swedish I have to say that can be true of most months) but especially in September when the new year starts and the kids go back to school.  I live my life on an academic calendar - always have and being a teacher - always will.  It just makes sense to me.  Fall is the time of new beginnings and possibilities.  My goal to land a full-time teaching job this fall didn't come to fruition so it's back to the early …

Swedish Fish

Today we went out in the town and stopped by our local penny candy store.  It's amazing how popular Swedish fish are with my kids - they stocked up - and I started to wonder how these yummy little things started on their road to popularity.
Well I needed only to go to the google and up pops this enlightening article from Mental Floss,  They were first imported in the 1950s.
If you want to try the real deal pop on over to Sugarfina for their all-natural Swedish fish.  They're sold out (I told you they're popular) so save it for later if you really have a hankering. This is the website I should have done!

Finally did you know that Swedes buy more candy than any other country? Here's an amazing quote from Nordstjernan that blew my mind.  It might as well be called a "Swede Tooth".  :-)
"Godisgris!" Swedes are suffering from a severe case of S…