Friday, November 30, 2007
It's too bad you can't ship Grandmom's Pancakes from Sweden.
Swedish pancakes - American pancakes 1-0.
I can't help it but it's still sounds pretty cool that "you're off for the day to Dallas". Sure sounds more fun than "I'm off for the day in Luleå" (not that there is anything wrong with Luleå). Or actually that is not a good comparision - since Luleå is what, about an hour's flight from Stockholm. It's a three hour flight to Dallas from here. Hm... let's see... three hours from Stockholm would take you to... Madrid? But somehow I think that it's less common that you "are off for the day to Madrid" if you live in Stockholm.
Sometimes the same distance is a different distance - can be shorter or longer depending on where you live...
Thursday, November 29, 2007
AP picked up the story on the active hugging Swedes and interpreted it as; "While Swedes have a reputation of being reserved, a new study shows they'll hug just about anyone except their boss".
The report had no comparison to other countries - is this a lot of hugging compared to for example Americans? Now that would be interesting to know...
I'm a hugging Swede. I've been in a lot of embarrassing situations when I've tried to hug people from southern Europe who at the same time were trying to kiss me on the cheeks while at the same time sort of keeping the distance, having no intentions of the closer contact a hug usually means... Which usually has ended in some weird wrestling situation when no one knows exactly what's going on... except that it was not what was intended...
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I interestingly read things like;
On quality of life: The Swedes love their homes, and this is apparent the moment you enter them. Candles softly glow, lightning is subdued, and fresh flowers lend an air of cheeriness. The whole effect is cozy, welcoming, restful and harmonious, for the Swedes, when not outdoors, happily spend a lot of time at home (p.84).I immediately felt the pressure... I'm I living up to this despite being a Swede abroad...? "Fresh flowers, air of cheeriness"? Gosh - I might need to hire and interior decorator!
On invitations home: To be invited into a Swedish home is a real honor. Guests usually bring a gift of flowers, candy or wine. When giving flowers, the Swedes like to pretend that they are straight form the garden, and will remove and hide the florist paper before knocking on your door (p. 78).My gosh! I've always removed the paper (which usually is wrapped around the flowers to protect them) because I think it's nicer not to give flowers wrapped in paper - never even crossed my mind that anyone would perceive it as trying to fake that they were from my garden (I lived in apartment building in down town Stockholm...).
Swedish conversation has an exchange pattern all of its own, and foreigners, especially those from North America, tend to go wrong by offering too much information too soon. The conversational comfort zone of a Swede follows a certain cadence: brief question followed by a brief answer. The length and strength of the response should match the question (p.70).Holy cow. Are we really perceived to be that slow...
Culture Smart seems to be a book series about different countries, "attitudes, beliefs and behaviors" - and there seem to be one for the US too. I might have to get that one and compare...
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
It's amazing what you can find on eBay. Historically I've found things like a identical replacement favorite stuffed kitten from Animal Alley for the Daughter that they've stopped selling in the store once she realized it was her favorite, special hooks for the stroller and other things I wouldn't even know where too look for otherwise.
Now I'm waiting for my IKEA footstool cushions that I bought on eBay on Saturday. Turned out that IKEA had discontinued the fabric we have for our sofa chairs when I went to IKEA to get foot stool and cushions in the same fabric and I was in a bad mood all afternoon until I decided to at least check on eBay. Who knows. And guess what - some seller who is specializing in discontinued IKEA slipcovers and cushions had two new cushions in the right fabric still in it's original plastic packing.
Monday, November 26, 2007
I was completely shaken afterwards, had to sit in the car in the parking lot and calm down (and I'm not even afraid of hospitals) before I could drive home. It was such a shock to see this extremely athletic and busy woman, hooked up and being so very, very sick.
If you ever feel unexplained lower abdominal pain that just doesn't go away, please see your doctor. And if you feel fine - just enjoy your day - things can happen so quickly and unexpected.
During my only stays in a hospital here, giving birth, I was well prepared, had learned all the words, expressions of labor and delivery and was extremely ready. I felt safe, and I felt I had control. I can't imagine what you go through when you so unexpectedly get sick being an alien - and have to take it all in in a second language. I'm not even sure I would know how to say "sprucken blindtarm" (ruptured appendix) in English.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
(And every year I regret it around the 587th ginger snap cookie. No, actually not - but that's when my back is usually starting to protest).
The first year we did this, I had to go online and try to figure out some important word such as "bikarbonat" (baking soda) and "kryddnejlikor" (cloves).
When we're done, we divided up all the cookies. Now I have two big jars of home made ginger snap cookies. They will last through Easter...
Saturday, November 24, 2007
"Julmust" is this very Swedish soft drink Swedes drink for Christmas (and Easter, but not to the same extent). Julmust outsells CocaCola in during Christmas in Sweden.
I love julmust. In December. During any other month it's sort of disgusting.
Seems I was the first person getting a whole box of julmust at our IKEA... 24 bottles... "All of them?", the sales assistant asked. I had already gotten weird stares for buying all the frozen "polarkakor" (soft Swedish bread). And I mean all....
Friday, November 23, 2007
But it still is sort of big to get the chance to choose from only two bridges.
Golden Gate or Bay Bridge.
We can take either one to get back home after our Thanksgiving celebration. Bay Bridge is way quicker. But Golden Gate sure is a nice bridge.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
But with our kids growing up here, Thanksgiving is going to be part of their childhood traditions and memories (even though it was not part of ours) and already the Daughter is asking about turkeys and what about the Indians.
Our local paper had a great guide in yesterday's edition. A complete hour-by-hour guide on exactly what to do to get to that huge Thanksgiving dinner done by the early evening. The guide even tells you when to take a shower and it seems that you can have a glass of wine around 1 pm to start the festivities.
If you're a Swedish reader and would like to do a real American Thanksgiving Day - here is the complete guide! You just have to find a 16 pound (approx 7 kg) turkey first...
- Make gelatin or fruit salad. (Do this a day ahead if you have time.)
- Bake pies (day-ahead option)
- Select background music and load the CD player (day-ahead option).
- Set the table and arrange flowers (day-ahead option).
- Fill an ice chest with ice and add beverage
- Prepare stuffing ingredients, but keep wet ingredients separate from dry and set aside.
- Fill the coffee pot and get it ready to start.
- Bake rolls, then remove them from the oven and allow them to cool. When cool, wrap them in foil packets (day-ahead option).
- Cook giblets and reserve broth for gravy and stuffing (day-ahead option).
- At 11:15, take the turkey out of the refrigerator so it can warm a bit before it goes into the oven.
- Prepare the turkey for the oven. Begin roasting at 12:15 (roast four hours at 325 degrees for a 16-pound unstuffed bird; plus 30 minutes of standing time before it can be carved).
- Make fresh cranberry sauce and place it in the refrigerator (day-ahead option).
- Shower and relax for a few minutes before guests arrive.
- Open the first bottle of wine.
- Prepare appetizers and place them on serving platters. Eat a few yourself to keep you on your feet all day.
- Assemble candied-yam casserole and set aside (day-ahead option).
- Assemble green bean bake, but wait to add the French-fried onion topping until the last minute. Set aside.
- Whip whipping cream.
- Fill cream pitcher and sugar bowl (day-ahead option).
- Peel and boil potatoes for mashed potatoes (day-ahead option).
- While potatoes boil, assemble the shrimp cocktails and place them in the refrigerator.
- Combine stuffing ingredients and place the stuffing into a casserole dish; cover with foil and refrigerate.
- Place any condiments on the table, including butter
- Turn on dishwasher.
- Take appetizers away from party guests so that they will be hungry for dinner.
- Rally your helpers and assign last-minute tasks.
- Take the turkey out of the oven at 4:15.
- Add last-minute items to the oven to heat: pan of stuffing, yam casserole and green bean casserole (with onion topping).
- Open wine and place beverages on the table.
- Unload dishwasher.
- Turn on CD player.
- Unmold gelatin and place it on the table.
- Make gravy with pan drippings.
- Place shrimp cocktails on the table.
- Mash potatoes (day-ahead option).
- At 4:45, place foil-wrapped rolls into oven to warm up.
- Light candles.
- Carve turkey at 4:45.
- Place the food on the table.
- Check your menu to make sure you didn't forget anything.
- Turn on the coffee pot.
- Count your blessings and pass the feast.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
During breakfast we turned on the (fake) open (gas) fire to get some instant heat to warm us up.
The sun is shining and will keep us warm during the day (day temperature will be in the low 20s), but when the nights are cold here, the house sure get chilly if you don't turn on the heat!
And when you're body is used to indoor temperatures around +25C and the temperature suddenly is +15C - I'm COLD!
When the night temperatures hit zero (C), I sure prefer a Swedish, wooden house with radiators below every window and triple glass in the windows...
4.9 million Californians are expected to travel for this year's Thanksgiving, 3.8 millions by car.
We're 4 of them.
But we're not going far - "only" 82 miles. We will try to beat most of the traffic by traveling tomorrow after breakfast. The 82 miles usually takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes, we'll see about tomorrow... And we plan to return on Friday when most of the people will be busy shopping on Black Friday...
Holiday is in the air - everyone is getting ready for a long family weekend!
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Today I found a blogger's Flickr album with pictures from Stockholm. I have no idea how I ended up on her Flickr page - but I just loved the pictures! I watched them a slide show a couple of times and they really inspired me! Exactly the type of pictures I would like to able to capture, the "everyday" details of Stockholm...
Click on the picture below to go to blacksapphire's Flickr page to enjoy some really beautiful pictures of my hometown!
Monday, November 19, 2007
I just finished the third book - the book that was to become Stieg Larsson's last (he passed away way too early). I like his idea that the female main character, Lisbeth Salander, is loosely based on Pippi Longstocking, the famous Swedish children's book character by author Astrid Lindgren that every Swedish kid still have some sort of a relationship with. Lisbeth Salander is what "Pippi would have been as a grown-up".
Now the books are heading west. The publisher Alfred A Knopf, part of Random House has bought the rights to the books. How great! Now I can give books from Sweden to my US friends.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
When taking my AlkaSeltzer cold medcine I realized that I have no longer any idea on what cold medicine to take if I would catch a bad cold when in Sweden... I know exactly what I want and what works best of all the things you can get here (24 hours a day mind you, no state owned pharmacies that closes down at 6 pm and are closed on Sundays...).
I better do like a normal tourist and bring my own medicine...
"Finns det svenskt kaffe på hotellet?"*
(*only funny for those Swedes that know their "Sällskapsresan").
Friday, November 16, 2007
I'm a huge Christmas fan and thus a huge fan of Julkalender. Last year we let the daughter watch Trolltider, the show from 1979 which is usually voted "the Best". Every day in December we turned on a new episode on the DVD player. (hm... actually I think I was the one who enjoyed it the most...).
This year's show, seems to be a more of a traditional "Christmas story" than the last couple of years' shows and since they broadcast it on the web the plan is to tune in online every day. And the grandparents that is visiting in one and a half weeks have been asked to bring the accompanying paper calender to open every day. I'm all excited - almost as if the Daughter is in Sweden! No snow outside - but at least the Christmas show on TV inside.
Read more about this year's show here and see a video clip about the show here.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
It's a logistical challenge to bring and pick up at car for service. You need two cars going there and one car but two drives picking it up in this country without widespread public transportation.
Anyway, you car almost becomes part of you so you really miss it when it's gone (not only because you get STUCK!)... here is my little car below El Capitan in Yosemite.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I wonder if I will be able to walk around town in my new Merrells of if I need snowshoes for that.
We had +23C today. And no clouds in sight.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
In my part of California we don't ever have to use snow shovels and no snow plows have never passed by early in the morning and we never wake up to that... white, soft, total silence that comes after a night of snowing.
We still have only had 2-3 days of rain since spring...
Monday, November 12, 2007
"Spöket Laban" (the Ghost Laban) is the story about the little ghost Laban and his adventures in the castle Gomorronsol (Goodmorningsun) with his friend Prins Bus (Prince ... Naughty??). The first story about Spöket Laban was the result of the authors' youngest son scare of ghosts in the late 50s.
Being a Swedish alien I really cherish that the Son happens to have a Swedish character as his lovely and is of course even more keen to find things with Spöket Laban on (just as things with the Swedish characters Pippi and Bamse are worth more than gold in the alien world) (if you have kids that is, grown-up Swedish aliens usually get just as happy to get some Marabou chocolate and Wettex wash cloths in the mail).
So I was so happy to learn that there now is a Spöket Laban concept store in Stockholm! During my last visit to Stockholm I went there and had to stop myself from emptying the store. It's a cute little store not far from the new shopping galleria in the former tax building (Skatteskapan), at the intersection of Skånegatan and Katarina Bangata on the island Södermalm.
They also have an online store and the store owner promised me that they would start shipping internationally (they carry everything from the authors Sandberg&Sandberg - Spöket Laban, Lilla Anna, Tummen and Pysen, clothes, toys, linens and games).
The visit made my suitcase significantly heavier when returning home from Sweden and I can't wait for Christmas Even when I, oups, I mean the kids, get to open their Christmas gifts...
Sunday, November 11, 2007
When you're standing at the check out, they say hello, help pack your bags, ask you if you want help outside. If there is a line, they always call for back up and they make sure the next person inline get the new, open check-out counter, and not the person last in the line ("I can help you over here, miss")
And - they always say goodbye using your name. They check the name on the receipt (if you use a credit card, or memorize the name if you pay with a check), and say "well, have a nice day Mrs XXX!"
Small courtesy that sometimes just make you happy!
(and I don't care if they mean it or not, at least they say hello and goodbye compared to the Swedish normal grocery shopping experience...)
Saturday, November 10, 2007
So I spent the afternoon trying out walking shoes (no, they're really not that pretty or cool... why can't they come in some more fun colors... or is it that you have to wear "earth colors" when walking... oh, well). I walked around the store several times in different shoes, had a great sales assistant who helped out like only an American sales assistant can and finally got these Merrell Chameleon Arc shoes. I also added a special insole that helps with arch problems - and when I took my first walks with the sole in the shoes, it felt like I was just floating around in my shoes. Almost flying!
I'm so happy - I've thought about getting good shoes for years. These I'll bring to Sweden and use for all my long walks when I'm in Stockholm (just put my office shoes in the bag). I don't know how many kilometers I walked during my 10 days in Stockholm a couple of weeks ago. It was great - but boy did my feet hurt!
I also got trekking poles too so now I'm all set for some Nordic Walking!
Friday, November 09, 2007
I usually start out the day with the company of Meredith and when it's time for a second cup of tea Kelly shows up. Rachel arrives after lunch as does Martha (who I'm actually a bit afraid of). Last but not least, The Oprah.
They really never listen to what I have to say, they just keep on blabbing. But then I usually have my back turned to them and focus on my own business. These open office spaces can be tiresome sometimes. But in the end of the day, I'm happy they're, keeping me company. Have a nice weekend girls!
Thursday, November 08, 2007
We're lucky enough to live within car distance to the Swedish consulate in San Francisco - and don't have to fly the whole family to another state, hours away.
The Swedish Consulate in San Francisco actually sends the passport paper work to the Consulate in Los Angeles. Who then sends it to Sweden somewhere. Why? No idea... maybe they like shuffling paperwork? Anyway, getting a passport as a Swedish alien literally takes months.
We applied for the son's Swedish passport in the end of August. 7 weeks (!) later, we learned that the Los Angeles office had not approved the photos of the son and new photos had to be sent in. To San Francisco. Who then will send them to Los Angeles. Who then will send them to Sweden. Then the passport will be sent back to Los Angeles and then to San Francisco. Where we have to go pick it up.
I wonder who looked at two photos of a 15 month old baby for 7 weeks, before they decided that" nah, not good enough..."?
I doubt we'll see that passport before New Year.
Nowadays you're supposed to be able to get your Swedish passport in Sweden even if you're an alien (which was not the case before, when you HAD to go to your local embassy or consulate). But still I hear of fellow aliens having problem with this. The most hilarious story is a friend who, by the police at the local police station and passport unit, was referred to "The Swedish Embassy in Stockholm", since she was an alien and they claimed they therefor could not renew her kids' passports. They seemed genuinely surprised when she told them there were no such thing...
Not that we, luckily enough, are desperate to use that passport. Both kids have dual citizenship, having been born here, and both have American passports (which usually takes 6 weeks and can be applied for at the passport office at the local post office in our own city) and the son has actually been in Sweden three times as an American so far.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Right now the channel that happens to be on shows CSI. CSI something somewhere.
Sometimes it seems I'm the only one in this world who has not jumped on the CSI train. Even in Sweden, I have friends that go home at night "to watch the new CSI".
I haven't hardly watched a full episode ever - half an episode here and there, like tonight, the TV just turned on in the background. But maybe I'm missing something spectacular? Seems the rest of the world think so... And I'm not sure I get this... are there several CSI shows at the same time but in different cities? Or is it the same that just switches cities.
Oh, well, I just saw the Brooklyn Bridge so I guess the one that is on TV right now is CSI NY?
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
I wonder what kind of personality people would think I had based on these items that all were on my "We have recommendations for you" page today...
I'm on Facebook, use Twitter, tried MySpace, keep my LinkedIn account updated, signed up at Ning, Plaxo and Orkut just to try them out. I'm active in different forums and host a community. I blog here, have a private blog and a professional blog.
My major problem with social networking is I don't have enough online, curious close friends or family members to try these things out too... (and online social networking sort of is defined by having friends in the same interface...). Maybe I'm just too curious.
Oh, well. Curiosity never did killed the cat!
On the other hand, cats don't spend as much time in front of the computer. Hm.
Monday, November 05, 2007
In the end of the day, the one thing that stuck was this cute little video that Google put on their own blog... American kids view on a magic phone.
I wonder how the same video, made in Sweden, would differ. After all, this is sort of the stone age country when it comes to mobile services. My nephew in Sweden, soon to be 4 years, has been video conferencing with my brother using his 3G cell phone for years...
Sunday, November 04, 2007
I think 90% are done. The rest will just confuse us for the rest of the week, until all clocks show the right time.
Friday, November 02, 2007
If you don't have any plans and you're in Stockholm - here is what you are going to do:
Take the subway to Skogskyrkogården (line 18) (avoid taking the car if you can) and take a long walk around The Woodland Cemetery (Skogskyrkogården), Europe's largest cemetery. If you have never been - this is a MUST. It's an amazing sight - 10000s of candles and the tranquility of this beautiful place. Go at dusk and leave at dark. You will experience something you have never done before. Take my word for it!
If you don't know anyone buried there - it doesn't matter. Bring a candle and lit somewhere or walk over to our own Swedish Hollywood star, Greta Garbo's grave (map here).
I'm going to be really mad if you don't do it - those of you who are lucky enough to be in Stockholm over the weekend... (and not in northern California half a world away). So - off you go, readers in Stockholm, Sweden!
I have blogged about this amazing place before, last year and a couple of weeks ago (with a photo slide show). Unfortunately I don't have any pictures from All Saints Day. But no picture can do justice to the real life experience.
I just found a list on the most popular names in Stockholm. I quickly googled to find the most popular names in California... always fun to compare:
Popular girl names in Stockholm:
Popular girl names in California:
Popular boy names in Stockholm:
Popular boy names in California:
Conclusion? I've all those Emma's want to feel special (and not have 10 friends in the same class with the same name...) they can come to California and the Californian Daniel boys can go to Sweden!
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Hm... my favorite purple means the people of Stockholm are in a bad, bad mood...
For us aliens, there is a live webcam so you can check out the mood of your old home town.
One day I would like to take a transatlantic cruse ship to the US. Arriving in New York just like all the immigrants from Europe did (even though the cruise ships don't stop at Ellis Island these days...) would sure be exciting (and after 7 days on a cruise ship seeing nothing but sea, you probably think anything looks beautiful!). But before I would be "home" I still would have a continent to cross...
Taking a cruise ship in stead of an airplane is actually not really more environmental friendly, you would have to take a train for that and so far there are no transatlantic trains.... (or a take sail ship... but they tend to be pretty small... and even though I rarely get sea sick, being the grand daughter of a sea captain, I wouldn't want to push it...).