Monday, November 30, 2009

Everything I Expected and More

You're not going to believe this, but as many times as I've been to Ikea after touching down at Arlanda in July, I have never eaten there.  Ikea has a couple of dining options.  First, at about the halfway point on your journey through paradise, you'll find a cafeteria which presents bounteous and characteristically aesthetic entree, side, dessert and drink options.  Second, at the very end of your pilgrimage, past the checkout, you will find a snack bar with pizza, hot dogs, ice cream and the like.  It's all inexpensive and it's all been so alluring these past few months.  So when I spent the day with Petra, who happens to live right next to Ikea, there was only one dinner option in my mind.  And it was every bit as delightful as I had built up in my mind.  Plus, they had live performances!  Kids from music school sang Death Cab for Cutie and other selections that implored their audience to take their art seriously. 

Friday, November 27, 2009

On Cue

It's the day after Thanksgiving and Sundbyberg Centrum is dripping with lights.  I wish I had one of those giant Nikons with oodles of bells and whistles so I could show you just exactly how beautiful, how quaint and how cheerful it all is.  Or better yet, I wish you could just come for a visit, sit at a coffeeshop with me and appreciate it yourself.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mega Post

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I'll be spending all day preparing our home, along with a few of my favorite holiday dishes, for dinner with The Swede's folks.  We haven't entertained here yet and I've never cooked a full meal for anyone other than us and we are highly indiscriminate when it comes to food, so I'm a bit nervous.  I'm shaping the image of this fine holiday for these people so EVERYTHING HAS TO BE PERFECT.  With that in mind, I hope you'll forgive me if I don't find time to blog tomorrow.  And because I so appreciate your flexibility on the matter, I'm going to do a jumbo-sized post for you to luxuriate in today.  So without further ado...

This afternoon I met Petra and baby Dylan at Kista Galleria, a fabulous mall nearby that was debuting a new section today.  I walked through the park by the lakes to get to the train station and met these geese, who apparently didn't get the memo that they were supposed to have flown south. 

Petra and I did a lot of looking around in clothing shops and navigating our way through thousands of holiday shoppers.  All of this shopping was simply exhausting so we stopped to have a little coffee break.  A fika, if you will. 

Then the best thing happened.  Remember the rapper Rigo Pencheff who I mentioned last month?  Well, he had a choir in Körslaget that was just grand and diverse and talented, but they were voted off early in the program.  While they were still competing, though, they were our favorites because they, and Rigo, were so different from everybody else and, frankly, had a heck of a lot of sass.  And today I saw Rigo at the mall!  And of course, because I have very little pride, I walked up to him, explained our admiration and asked for a picture.  Rigo, a true gentleman, obliged and in doing so made my day.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Flowers of Fall

The other day I happened across my classmate Katarina on the way to school so we walked the rest of the way together and when we passed this bush we both ran over to get a closer look at the hot pinkness of it.  They look like berries until you get up close and then they appear to be tiny flowers.  We felt them up a bit trying to get a better impression of what, exactly, we were dealing with here, but walked away no more enlightened.  No matter, though, as we needed those brain cells for Swedish verbs anyhow. 

Sunday, November 22, 2009


I pass this bakery on the corner of our block at about 3:10 in the afternoon on my way home from school.  It's dusk by then and even my full winter duds allow some chill in, so when I see this golden haven of wedding cakes and lattes I always smile. 

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Best Actor in a Drama Series

Sometimes The Swede likes to pretend to be a big meanie, shooting nasty looks as I photograph and blog about him while he works like a dog sanding the wall.  I'm pretty sure he learned the act from Arga Snickaren.  Thankfully, though, during all of these home improvements he's kept his cool like a champ.  I do believe the only time I've seen a chink in his composure was last weekend, after I accidentally stuck my hand into this very wall for the third time in five minutes when the plaster was still wet, he said, "Okay, for real, baby, I love you, but I might start getting annoyed soon."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Preemptive Strike

The other day I asked The Swede if we would have a Christmas tree.  I could tell he didn't want to disappoint me, but he's a rational man, a reasonable man and, if nothing else, a sharp-dressed man, if you'd like to know.  He handled me with kid gloves, that Swede, as he thoughtfully explained that cats and Christmas trees do not mix.  I agreed at the time, but after passing the Tule Hund och Katt today I say, AU CONTRAIRE!  We simply need to decorate the tree with cat toys!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pack Cat

The kitties love, love, love laundry day because the Ikea bag comes out to play for a few hours.  It's fine by me if they want to waste their time taking turns hopping in and out of a sack instead of doing something productive like actually helping with the laundry, but whatever.  Today, though, Justin Bobby shocked me by strapping on the bag all on his own, sans opposable thumbs, and dragging it around the flat for a bit.  I hope it was fun for him this time because he basically screwed his entire future with that move.  I never have to lift a finger to move anything again. 

Monday, November 16, 2009


Today I learned how to tell time.  Again.  And, boy, it's different over here.  You see, instead of just saying that it's six twenty-five, you have to say that it's minus five minutes till a half an hour till seven.  It sounds slightly less complicated in Swedish, but that's the direct translation.  Oh!  And the military time that I thought was so cool that I just had to brag about it here a few weeks back?  It's actually not so cool when you're plowing through SFI worksheets.  The Swedish for Immigrants lessons are precisely the same kind I had twenty years ago, back in first grade when I originally learned this stuff, but I think my brain may have been a bit more absorbent back then.

Thanksgiving Around the Corner = Mini Marshmallows on the Brain

Here is a vivid and highly artistic view of one of the lakes I pass on the way to school.  These white berry bushes are plentiful around here and, while they're probably not berries for eating, I imagine if they were they'd taste just like marshmallows. 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Why I Love Him

We were clicking around on our laptops while watching Körslaget last night when The Swede set his down for a moment with the screen facing me.  He had it open to the Facebook search results page and I could see a bunch of chicks listed, but I couldn't see who.  "Excuse me,"  I said, "but who the heck is that broad?"  His answer:  Lauren Conrad.  The man was trying to friend L.C.

And speaking of Körslaget, on the finale last night the winner, Ola, wore a nylon jacket from Toledo, Ohio.  Holla!!!

And Now, The Moment You've All Been Waiting For



Saturday, November 14, 2009

Finally Rocking the Colored Paint

Bad news, folks.  The photo I wanted to share today is taking FOREVER to upload, so I'm going to hold off until tomorrow.  Start getting excited because today's photo was a "before" shot of our dining room wall and, provided everything goes as planned, tomorrow you'll also get to see the "after" photo.  Now try to get some sleep.  It's a big day tomorrow. 

Friday, November 13, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Little Like Christmas

I have to give Sweden much respect for waiting a reasonable amount of time before dragging out the Christmas accoutrements.  Though, I am curious how the determine when it's time to, say, hang the sparkly stars on the storefronts since they don't have Thanksgiving as a reference point.  Or Labor Day, as the case may be.  Cough, the United States of America, cough, cough.  The best thing about illuminated holiday decorations in Sweden?  They can stay switched on practically all day!  Because, you know, it's pretty much dark all the time now.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Get Your Stjärngosse On

With the holiday season this year comes another great learning opportunity.  Stjärngosse, for example.  I thought for sure this was a Mrs. Claus outfit for the low, low price of 99 kronor, but in actuality it is a costume for little boys to wear, along with a pointed cap and a star-on-a-stick, to celebrate St. Lucia Day.  The stjärngosse are supposed to represent the Three Wise Men in the St. Lucia musical performance.  Okay, yeah, it sounds cool, but I think we can all agree it's not nearly as cool as the girls' wreath hats.


I'll surely regret saying this, but can it please snow already?  There have been a couple of joke flakes flying around recently, but not even close to enough to stick to anything.  All of the leaves have fallen off the trees so it just looks a bit sad around here, just like everywhere else in the world stuck between brilliant fall colors and blankets of sparkly snow.  Even this sunflower is puckering up avoid the crummy surroundings.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Life Now

I'm going to break tradition / be a little lazy today and share a video instead of a photo.  I found this on one of my favorite blogs, A Swedish American in Sweden, and it's so fitting, so accurately smug, so confounding that I had to show you precisely what I'm dealing with here.  Trust me, you'll enjoy it.  I wouldn't waste six and a half minutes of your valuable time.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Like Mother Like Daughter

I received a package in the mail today from my brilliant, witty and glamorous friend Selah.  It was chock-full of makeup, holiday cards, candy corn and a teeny tiny pumpkin to make Sweden just a bit more harvest-y.  I thought I was alone in my ecstasy as I squeeled at each new cosmetic I extracted from the package, however I turned my back for just a moment to wipe away the tears of joy and when I turned back little Moses Cleveland had helped herself to a mascara and was tearing at the packaging  to give it a test run.  Don't tell The Swede, as Moses is still far too young for makeup, but I promised to do her nails while papa's at work tomorrow.

The World Begins Here

I went into the city this morning for a job interview and it occurred to me too late in my excursion that I should have been snapping photos like madman during the hour I had to spare since I gave myself an outrageous amount of time to make it to the meeting.  So I shot this one unsatisfactory photo of Sergels Torg as I rushed to the train station to make it home in time for Swedish class.  And while we're on the subject of mediocre photography, I've been meaning to give a shout out to all of my professional shutterbug friends.  It's a lot harder to take a nice picture than I ever imagined and so often I'm disappointed by what I had expected to be a fantastic shot.  So to you, my talented photographer friends, I say kudos.   

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Yesterday at one of our frequent Ikea trips The Swede and I picked up this table and chairs for the equivalent of about $27.  I know, right?  We've been looking for a dining set for as long as I've been here and found several options but somehow we always put it off.  I'm so glad we did because this bargain is perfect.  I'd brag that I put this gem together almost exclusively by myself, except I cheated and used the instructions and that is SO not allowed. 

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Get With the Times

Everyone is always talking about how modern and innovative Sweden is; on the cutting edge of design of all sorts.  Please.  Tell that to these old-school nerds strolling through the mall on a Saturday afternoon.  Even worse: these frumps were organized.  Sarianne and I were between modern, innovative, cutting edge clothing stores today when a parade of sorts marched by.  Add this to the women's beach volleyball tournament we witnessed at a shopping center in Gothenburg last week and there is only one conclusion to be drawn.  The mall is the place to be. 

Friday, November 6, 2009

Partying Söderköping Style

The Swede and I rode down to Söderköping this evening, kid-style in the back seat of his folks' Volvo, to spend the weekend with Sarianne's family.  We did a little birthday partying tonight, and kicked it off by cluttering up Sarianne's home with plastic goodies from AIK's championship event, including these giant hands. 

Next, we had a delicious dinner of fish soup and Julia spent an hour plotting our demise.

She cheered up when the Funfetti cake came out, though.  Thanks, Mom.  You saved us from certain doom.

Then:  PRESENTS!  You guys.  I got a hot dog shirt.  I also got a cupcake shirt, but I think this one really speaks to who I am as a human being.  See, I've been here less than four months and these folks already understand my fully.  So the bottom line is, I am such a fortunate woman (I wanted to say girl, but I suppose I'd be pushing it at 27 years old) to have wonderful people in my life on both sides of the Atlantic.  Thanks, everyone, for a fantastic birthday!!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Svenska Skolan

This week I started language classes along with several dozen other foo foo foreigners trying to get by around here.  The classes are two hours long and the teachers only speak Swedish so my brain hasn't worked this hard in a long time.  Vanderbilt Divinity School has nothing on Sundbyberg municipality's Swedish for Immigrants.  I'm by far the only American, and by 'by far' I mean that almost everybody else is from some place that America is at war with.  Everyone seems very friendly, though, and since it's the only way you can show your goodwill without speaking, there are a lot of folks walking around smiling like goons.  And in that way I fit in perfectly. 

Happy Birthday to Me

Note to self:  Keep this fella around.  The Swede woke me up this morning with some crazy Swedish birthday song, The Hills Season 2, this Calvin Klein dress, earrings and bracelet.  This is the nicest piece of clothing I've ever owned and I'm in love with it.  Someone please invite me to a party so I can wear it!  Until then, I'll be wearing it on the couch watching deleted scenes and other extras from the fabulous lives of LC, Audrina and Heidi.  Thanks also to Mom and RAY, RAY, RAY and Grandma and Grandpa for the generous green paper gifts! 

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Feline Flu

The poor Swede doesn't feel well.  He went to work today and managed to stay upright for dinner, but after the last bite of lasagna he cozied up with Moses Cleveland, who is apparently feeling a bit lethargic herself.  I feel like making tea.  I feel like pushing drugs.  I feel totally helpless.  And I feel exceptionally healthy. 

I'm Realizing That I Write About Food More Often Than Not

We've been out of town for a week, so the food situation is a bit sparse.  The good news is, we have the makings of a delicious and filling sandwich right here.  Butter.  Seafood in a tube.  Wasa crackers in the cupboard.  Try not to be too jealous.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Finger Lickin' Good

Holy double take!  I've been putting all this time and energy into missing Mexican food and here I hadn't even thought about fried chicken.  Aside from the fact that Americans are probably the only demographic who can tolerate all that grease, this restaurant is clearly marketing to us expats.  That red font signals the American brain to send a message to the American tummy to high-five the American tongue.


I have never, ever, ever experienced anything like this.  The Swede and I attended the final match of the season between Stockholm's AIK and Gothenburg's IFK, a game that would determine which team would win the championship.  It hasn't happened for AIK since 1998, so when they took the gold on Sunday evening I was surrounded by thousands of grown men releasing eleven years of emotion via many, many tears of joy.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Team Zoo

When our friends Jesper and Isabelle from Gothenburg came to Stockholm this summer we all went to Skansen and gave some zoo animals the ol' once over.  So while The Swede and I were gracing Gothenburg with our presence, they took us to Slottsskogen to take in a crotchety goat, some pretentious pelicans and a moose who was way too cool for school, among other tempermental critters.  I love that this is our thing because the only thing better than penned-up wildlife is unbridled enthusiasm for penned-up wildlife and these three bring it in spades.