Saturday, January 31, 2009


I found the time today to sneak in at a café and treat myself a "semla" - this traditional bun with whipped cream and almond paste that Swedes enjoy after Christmas and until Easter.

Mm... sooo good!

We usually made them on our own in California - but there is actually nothing like a "store bought" semla...

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Royal Opera

I spent the evening at the Swedish Royal Opera - one of the most beautiful buildings in Stockholm. On the repertoire was "three ballets in one night" - Tableau, Castrati and Miss Julie. I must admit I was kind of tired - and sitting down in a nice, soft chair in a dark room with beautiful music - can make the most interested person almost fall asleep...

But - it was really nice and interesting (and I only dozed a few seconds now and then) - I preferred the first ballet, Tableau, to the others. It was fantastic - just a constant flow of dancers.

But most of all - it's just sitting there - in this old, fantastic building, surrounded by history... amazing!

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Gravel on the sidewalks is something we never see back home in Northern California. Here it is everywhere - thankfully - since I tend to forget how slippery sidewalks and streets can become even though they look dry. There are even gravel cars that pours out gravel evenly on the sidewalks to make it easier to walk. I really wish my boots where more "rough" - because I can feel how my thin leather boots are worn down for every step I take...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

In Stockholm

So I'm finally in Stockholm after flying for hours and hours (without new podcasts in my iPod...). The only interesting thing was flying with a new Boeing to Chicago with in flight entertainment system (that didn´t work - but still - a change from the usual small TVscreens in few spots in the plane) and our unexpected stop in Oslo, Norway, after a passenger had a heart attack (and was taken care of by emergency staff on tarmac).

Since we got delayed to Stockholm I missed my usual hours of sleep and since I had an early afternoon meeting I only could crash for a few hours before heading to the office. Suffice to say I'm pretty jetlagged and tired. It sure would be nice to come back to Stockholm and not have to be so crazily tired.

On my way back from the meeting I managed to get in one hour at Åhléns City and pick up a couple of new books - but couldn't find a Pippi t-shirt and a Swedish wall calender with all the namedays for the Daughter as I have promised her...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Travel tip

If you spend days with your iPod hooked with your desktop computer* and downloading tons of podcasts to iTunes since you have hours and hours of boring flying ahead of you - you might want to remember to actually hit "sync" before unhooking the iPod and putting it your handluggae.

Otherwise the podcast will be securely stored on your desktop computer in California, while you - and your iPod - are on the way to Sweden - sans podcasts...


(*and no, I haven't manage to find the energy or time to figure out how to run iTunes on both desktop and laptop but after this mistake I surely will... )

Monday, January 26, 2009


Tomorrow at 6 am I'm off for an intense 8 days - leaving for Stockholm, Sweden and going back via New York next Wednesday. Packing really takes hardly no time. I have a ready-to-go travel kit with all the cords I need and a ready toiletry kit. as well as my travel wallet with passport, green card, Swedish driving license etc.

I only need to ad clothes and the computer and my "office clothes" are usually just hanging, ready to be packed. . The hardest part is shoes... I really don't have shoes for cold, snowy, wet weather. Oh, well, I won't have time to walk around too much anyway.

I guess I'm privileged as an alien, having the chance to go back so often - I have Swedish friends that haven't been back in years or only can go once a year. I just wish the trip would be shorter... and the time difference less...

I've loaded my iPod with podcasts from Swedish Radio - and have extra batteries... and since I haven't been flying since November - maybe there are actually some new movies in the inflight systems...

Friday, January 23, 2009

100 000

Today the blog hit 100 000 visitors. I can't remember when I turned it on - a couple of months after I started writing I think and I've been blogging for over 2 years.

The 100 000th visitor was Swedish from somewhere in Göteborg and spent seconds on the blog. So who knows how reliable that is...

Anyway - thanks for stopping by and reading. I'm having a lot of fun writing my blog. It's always a little "therapy session" to write down my small contemplations about the life here. And I have a place to "store" my thoughts. I really like living here - and I really liked Sweden - with it's good and bad sides and I hope that my critiques and praise for each are equally distributed.

Thank you all for reading!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A little time... since I saw this one

Today I got this song in my head... and it was stuck all day until I gave in and bought it at so now it's in my iPod. "A little time" with The Beautiful South.

I wasn't sure if I was going to tag it "90s" och "00s" in my iTunes. So I had to wikipedia (that is a verb nowadays isn't it??) it and it turns out it's from 1992... Ouch. I'm getting old.

I like the music video for this song - it's a "story telling" big time. It sure is from that era when the videos were more little stories. But then - what do I know. The last time I watched music videos on MTV must have been... around 1992...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What a day...

Since I have two computer screens connected to my computer in my home office, I could keep my SAGE TV feed open all day, watching the inauguration. And since I had a phone meeting at 7 am, I was up early and could follow along from the start and not miss anything. Usually we're last to see anything out here in California - hard asleep when things are going on in the rest of the western world. Obama was sworn in at 9 am pacific time (well, a few minutes later since they were running late). So all day while working on power point files, agreements, mailing, I could keep an eye on one of my screens on what was going on in Washington this historical day, looking out for a friend that was actually lucky enough to be in the audience!

But where in the constitution does it say that the new President and the First Lady has to dance, on a scene, in front of everyone else who are not dancing but documenting every single step and move with their cameras. I must say I felt sorry for them tonight...

Don't stay up late, Obama, you're going to get up early tomorrow and get started - I don't envy your

Monday, January 19, 2009

Martin Luther King Day

Today was Martin Luther King Day. It's "semi" holiday - official institutions and public schools were close, but other offices and the stores were open as usual. The kids learn in school about this day - and it was really interesting to hear the Daughter tell us about Martin Luther King and why he was important - I was impressed - she had nailed the most important parts of the story.

But sometimes it's not easy to remember names and persons... When I was preparing this blog post and looked for a video of his famous speech on YouTube - she came up behind me by the computer when I was looking at the clip below and said "Look! There he is mom! Lightning McQueen, just like we talked about in school".

Not too easy to keep long names like "Martin Luther King" (important character in US history) and Lightning McQueen (funny character in the movie Cars) apart when you're five.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

"Oh, may she live, oh may she live for one hundred years"

It was my birthday yesterday. I'm still a 30 something but the big 4-0 is getting closer. I was woken up with flowers, balloon, gifts - and the Swedish birthday song.

Then, after finishing my home made American pancakes, like I always do, I ditched the family and headed out for a day on my own, just as I have for years. My birthday is a day of selfishness and doing fun things only I enjoy - it it's a weekday - I'll take the day off. I usually get some pampering, do some shopping (a great way to get exactly what I want for my birthday). It's a tradition I established in my early 20s, out of university, single and with my parents being expats. I'm a very conservative person when it comes to tradition - so I'm sticking to my selfish birthdays.

In the late afternoon I changed my plans to head over to Borders for new books and some "fika" and relaxing time in the café and headed over to IKEA and got a couple of new bookshelves for the Master's bedroom. The rest of the evening I reorganized a "library" corner and by 10 pm, I could have my cup of tea, reading my book in my own little "Borders".

In another house I'm going to have a real "library", a special room filled with bookshelves, magazine racks and a (maybe two...) comfy recliner. For now, my little corner will do - it was a great birthday gift to myself.

Picture from - the corner combination of the
famous bookshelf Billy. Almost like my little bedroom library.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Spring is in the air!

(so now probably we will get really cold weather just because I wrote that...).

My Daughter's kindergarten is within walking distance. It's about a 7 minute walk. If I bring the Son, it's a 30 minutes walk. There are sooo many stones that has to be checked out and stored in all available pockets...

My Daughter was very shy, hardly spoke to anyone before she started preschool at 4. My Son is the social guy in the family. He'll say "Hi!" to anyone he meets and gets genuinely upset if he doesn't get a wave or a hi back.

When walking (slowly... lot's of stones around...) back from school today after leaving the Daughter, we met three persons on the little trail. They were out power walking in the beautiful weather and when the Son happily said "Hi!" they stopped, smiled and responded "Hi to you, do you like the nice sun? Are you happy? You do know that Jesus loves you, don't you?". My Son got a bit confused of all the talking - he is happy with a single "Hi!", but waved happily when they continued their walk.

Two things that would probably not happen on a walk in Sweden - people stopping to talk and starting spontaneous talks about Jesus...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

My mumbling speech

On the wedding last weekend I had prepared a speech. I don't mind doing speeches, are usually not nervous and actually kind of like it. I usually try to find an outline with a main point and then write down support words for that outline and then go through it a couple of times and then just bring the support words on a piece of paper with my to take a quick glare on - and then the actual speech is improvised around the outline to get to the main point. Easy!

Now, this was my first speech in English in a formal setting...

... and when I was standing up there, I realized that I should have prepared myself totally different. I'm not at all confident at improvising in English around an outline... suddenly I got really nervous and found myself almost mumbling.... gaah!

Well, at least it was a good experience and I think I came out ok in the end...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Time differences

I'm not sure what the optimal time difference with Europe would be when you're working from over here - but the 9 hours between California and Sweden really makes my life tricky. 

Pretty often I have to stay up late for an early morning meeting Swedish time, and then get up really early for an early afternoon meeting Swedish time - thus my sleep hours are squeeze together to mere few hours. 

If I get down to my office at 8 am, which isn't really early, but not really late, it's 5 pm in Stockholm. Since most people at the office in Stockholm don't live in the office as I do, they actually have to leave and go home, pick up kids, get food etc (my commute is about 15 seconds - and there is never rush hours), so I usually only have about an hour or so before people start being unavilabe.  Thus - I try to get up earlier to get some more time. But the earlier I get up, the more "groggy" I am. 

But usually, these few hours are not enough, and I need to catch them in the morning. 8 am in Stockholm is 11 pm here. If I stay up later, I have even more chances of catching them - must people are in by 9 am... midnight here. But the later I stay up, the more "groggy" I am. 

Sometimes I wonder what some of my colleagues think of me... "oh, it's that groggy woman calling again, yawning and sounding really sleepy"...  

(Screenshot of my dual clocks on my Google Sidebar - so I can keep track of the time in Sweden when it's really early or really late and I can't calculate time...). 

Monday, January 12, 2009

Wedding bells

I attended a wedding over the weekend. It was my second American wedding - the first being a much more informal one than this one. Since the bride and groom got married in a Lutheran church the actual wedding ceremony was almost just like the ones you would see in Sweden, without the songs and the readings by other persons (at least in this ceremony). They even had church bells in the little cute church in Palo Alto - very nice!

There are a couple of things that are different compared to Swedish weddings. There is no toastmaster - so if you're going to do a speech - you have to wait for the "microphone to be open" and just get up there when you fell like it yourself. There is no formal seating - usually smaller tables with free seating (which I guess lessens the stress before a wedding a lot - that is thing that do take a lot of time - to seat everyone beforehand - on the other hand - you can really have a lot of fun at a wedding since you'll be sitting with new people), compared with the normally u och e-shaped tables at a Swedish wedding. Since there is free seating, you don't dance the first dance with your "partner at the table" - but with whomever you came with (meaning I had to dance with my "I-never-dance-sober-or-drunk"-husband...). And people actually leave before the bride and the groom - and they wear black... and that really takes getting used to. But - I'm starting to think it's not to bad after all... It's tricky to find a suitable dress for a formal wedding - and if you can wear a black one you really can be able to use it again and you have more to choose from...

All in all - it was a beautiful wedding, the bride was gorgeous - she just couldn't stop smiling and they were so beautiful together. I'm so honored to have been invited and share this day of love - and I hope they're having a great time on their honeymoon in Hawaii!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

New place to stay when visiting Stockholm

A grounded jumbo jet has been converted to a hostel right outside Arlanda Airport in Stockholm. I saw it on my way to the airport last time I flew back to the US and it's about to open.

Cool idea - but I think I'll pass. I spend way too much time on airplanes as it is...

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Jury duty

I got a jury summons today - summoned to appear for jury service on January 26. This is the second time I get called. So now I've spent some time going online and reporting - again - that I'm not a citizen. You are not allowed to be a juror if you're not a citizen. I don't know the statistics - how likely is it that you named gets called? Last time was May 2007 - it's only a year and half away - could it be that often that you might get called?

I must admit, I'm a bit curious what it would be like...

(photo from United States Postal Service (ie "Posten"), who released this "Jury duty" stamp in 2007 to "draw attention to important social causes")

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Trettondagen and Poppe

January 6 is always a holiday in Sweden. It's supposedly religious - but as far as I remember, none I knew did anything remotely religious - just enjoying one more holiday day over the Christmas break.

One memory I have from my childhood was watching a theater play, filmed the summer before, with a very known (and old...) comedian - Nils Poppe. He was known to always improvise and change the lines and sometimes the whole esemble were laughing and trying to keep track. Really silly... I remember that I really liked evening - even though it's a little bit of an "old fashioned" way of doing theater (the theater is an outdoor play). We got to stay up late to watch - and eat left over candies from Christmas.

I found some on You Tube... and it really brough back memories... this play was done in 1985.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Quick cops scaring old guests

On New Year's Eve we were having a good time with our friends when we, at 9.30 pm, saw three cars drive up to our neighbors' house across the cul-de-sac. Our neighbors were supposedly in Utah for the Christmas holidays and as far as we were informed, weren't expected back until January 2 or 3. None of the cars were our neighbors'... We tried to call over to the house just to make sure everything was in order, but when nobody picked up the phone, despite a bunch of people obviously being in the house, we started to wonder. After contemplating for a bit, we decided to put in a low priority call to the local police office. Just that we knew the house was to be empty and suddenly there were three cars there - all arriving at the same time late on New Year's Eve. We made sure it was a low priority call.

And still - 6 minutes after I hung up the phone, the police car pulled up to the drive way. Amazing. This little city of ours must be the slowest of them all. I'm very impressed and feel very safe.

Everything seemed to be in order and the day after - our neighbors' parents - came over to say hi... They had decided to use their son's empty house with some of their friends on New Year's Eve, fleeing other houses full with kids, to enjoy a more quiet evening in company of friends.

Our prospective thieves were a group of eight retired grandparents who just wanted a little piece and quiet (and since they all are mormons they don't even drink alcohol)... Not too much action for the police to handle there.

When our neighbors returned we apologized for scaring the guests of the house and we all got a good laugh - and promised that we will exchange cell phone numbers and give each other more clear instructions on when and who someone is visiting when we've informed each other that we're travelling.

On the other hand - someone must keep the bored police officers busy. Even on New Year's Eve.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

New rules for Green Card holders

The Department of Homeland Security will start fingerprinting and taking photos of green card holders, just like other visa holders, starting January 18. It is called an expansion of the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology Program (US VISIT)" and the reason seems to be to identify permanent residents and noncitizens with fraudulent documents. I don't know... maybe it's easier to forge a green card than an American passport - or is this the first step to start fingerprinting even the citizens?

It will be interesting to see how this plays out next time I travel and how much longer it will take to go through immigration at my usual point of entry into the US, Chicago O'Hare, when I travel to Sweden next time.

Friday, January 02, 2009

A new dishwasher

We had to start off the new year by heading out to Sears to get a new dishwasher. Our old one, that came with the house and never really cleaned the way we wanted and was impossible to run if you wanted to have a normal conversation downstairs, started to make very, very weird noises and we were just waiting for it to start to fume smoke all over the kitchen.

We knew it was about to happen - but maybe not so quickly. So I spent yesterday quickly researching dishwasher - energy savings, sound levels, number of cycles and by the time we came out to Sears we at least had a overview on what was out there.

We were lucky to run into a sales person that really knew what she was talking about - and started showing us different models. They even had a couple of dishwashers installed so you could hear them and see what was going on inside.

And it seemed we timed it well - sales are going on and they had free shipping and haul off of the old one. They will actually deliver the new one on Sunday. So we only need to do two days with take out - haha!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!

2009. Where did it come from? And where did 2008 go? It feels like yesterday - or at least just a couple of months since we celebrated New Year's Eve last time with the same good friends in our house. I guess time flies when you're having fun. Or are just way too busy... Hm...

We had a very nice ending of 2008 - even though I just can't get over the lack of fireworks and celebrations outside at midnight here on New Year's Eve. It just isn't the same here. And why would you want to watch a ball drop DOWN?? Shouldn't it be fireworks going UP?

Oh, well.

The good thing about celebrating New Year's Eve in California is that you get to celebrate it twice. At 3 pm (midnight in Sweden) and midnight. There is no such thing as too much champagne on New Year's Eve (we squeezed in the New York midnight too just for the heck of it). And thankfully my brother called at 3.10 pm from downtown Stockholm so at least I got to hear the fireworks.