Feeling kinda Swedish, might smörgåsbord later

#sweden #swedish #sverige #visitsweden

As I sat in the car this morning, listening to Abba with my 3 blue Ikea bags in the back seat from my shopping excursion, eating salty liquorice, I thought to myself, “If I was in a Volvo, I would be the perfect Swede.”

Semla: The greatest of all Swedish pastries

#semla #semlor #swedishfika #fika

In the great tradition of Swedish pastries, perhaps the greatest of all is the semla. This creamy dream of cardamom, fluffy bun, almond paste and powdered sugar is typically available during January to March, though it’s actually supposed to be eaten on Fat Tuesday. However, you can’t have Fat Tuesday without getting fat first (just go with it), so it’s important to try a variety of semlor so you’ll know which one is the best to queue in line for on that special day.

image shows the amazing and perfect Swedish pastry - the semla
image shows monty python character mister creosote eating too much food and exploding

There was once a Swedish king who died from eating 16 semlor.  If you don’t control yourself, it might happen to you too.


Magic phone bags

#tech #smartphone #security #Yondr

My husband and I went to see a comedian we really like (John Mulaney) last night in Stockholm. It was a great show and he was hilarious, but that’s not what this post is about.

Before the show, we received this email from the venue:

Important information about the show. This event will be a phone-free experience. The use of phones, smart watches and other similar accessories will not be permitted in the venue.

On arrival at Stockholm Waterfront, all phones, smart watches and similar accessories must be secured inside a Yondr pouch that will be sealed until the event is over.

This is the new normal for comedy performances. I get it, they need to protect their material. However, not to brag, but in Sweden everyone is such a rule follower that it probably would have been enough to simply ask us not to use our phones.

Anyway, getting phones into the pouches caused really long lines to get in. After the show, I tried to open the pouch and discovered I couldn’t. That actually made sense, but I hadn’t bothered to check it out during the show. It was locked with the same “technology” as those theft-prevention tags they put on clothes in the U.S. (Side note: never seen these in Sweden. Again, rule followers.)

Anyway, we had to go to a person that had the special device to unlock the pouch. After exiting the venue, there were bins in which to throw the empty pouches. So technically, we could have kept them, which I wanted to do because that would be a great way to keep our teenagers off their phones. But the part of me that is now half Swedish just turned it in as we were asked.

I pee, therefore I am

#NiceFrance #Philosophy

On a public restroom in Nice.

image shows French public bathroom with "I pee therefore I am" written above it in French

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single sneeze

#France #frenchriviera #vacationphotos #camera

I went to France last week expecting to bring back wine and cheese. Instead I came back with a chest cold and fever. 

The trip went fairly well, excepting the chest cold and attitude of teenagers. Note for next time: The French Riviera is wasted on the young.

I would fill this post with many lovely photos that you would normally see when someone takes a vacation, but I feel it might be more enjoyable to see some of the other photos on my camera roll. These are the photos that everyone has, but usually don’t bother to upload. Let me know if you can recognise similar situations from your family vacations:

Image shows a stranger walking down the street in a WuTang shirt.

Me to teenager: Can you take a photo of me in front of this cute shop?

Teenager: Ok! 

(But the man in back of me was funnier, so he took a photo of that guy instead.)

Me to teenager: Take a photo of me from the side so I look natural and not so posed.

Teenager: Ok!

image shows a disturbing closeup of the side of my head

Why journal prompts don’t work well for me

#journaling #writingprompt #journalinspiration 

Today I thought I would look up some journal prompts to help me write more each day. Turns out, all prompts are one of three things:

1. List all the ways you suck and how you could improve.

2. Talk about your favourite food/pet/song so everyone can narrow down your password choices.

3. If your neighbourhood was taken over by zombies, how would you respond?

But I have a bit of a writing block today, so let’s give this a try with the most typical journaling questions from the internet:

What was the high point of your weekend? New Years Eve party at our place with friends. Good food, good company.

What was the low point of your weekend? Did not realize New Years party favors for kids made shrill, screeching whistles that I still hear in my nightmares.

What did you accomplish this weekend? Binge-watched a 10-episode show on Netflix that ended on a cliff hanger with tons of questions. Today I learned it was not picked up for season 2.

How have you grown this year? I wore high heels more often and fluffed up my hair a bit. “Grew” 2 cm taller.

What are the most important life lessons you have learned? Don’t eat expired food, don’t make eye contact with the crazy man on the subway, always floss.

What is the most exhilarating thing that has happened to you this year? It’s only day 2 of this year, so I’d say getting to trade a piece of boring chocolate candy for a piece of nice chocolate candy.

What is one good thing about today? Got an extra sandwich this morning because not that many people showed up for the Monday work breakfast.

It’s so cold, our mattress froze

#tempur #mattress #Sweden #memoryfoam

Today I learned that a Tempur mattress can freeze! This is something that I never thought I would have to deal with.

We popped into our country house today after being gone for a few weeks. I thought I would let in a small bit of the gray ‘light’ we get here in the winter, but when I hopped onto the bed to reach the window shade, I thought, “Did we put a sheet of wood under the covers for some reason and I forgot about it?”

But it wasn’t a memory issue, it was a memory foam issue. Who knew? It seems that Tempur mattresses can freeze when the weather gets too cold. Of course, our bed is indoors, but I suppose when the weather has been -13 for a few weeks, it tends to get a little chilly inside.

Image shows a bed made from a block of ice.
Photo is from the Swedish Ice Hotel and not our bedroom. However, I’m starting to see this frozen mattress situation as a possible money maker.

Why a goat?

#christmasgoat #julbocken #gävlebocken #swedishchristmas

Since I posted once again about the Gävle Christmas goat earlier this week, I’ve had a few people ask me why a Christmas goat exists as a tradition in Sweden in the first place.

I had the same question my first Christmas in Sweden. My husband bought a straw goat to sit by the tree. I believe I was told something about gnomes under the floorboards and goats either beating children or guarding the presents. I chose to believe they were guarding the presents from the gnomes or something. However, our goat is currently in a losing battle guarding the tree from the cats.

But anyway, I decided to look this up and here are some of the theories from Wikipedia:

“The Yule goat’s origins go back to ancient Pagan festivals. This event clearly marks the Sun’s annual re-entry into the astrological sign of Capricornus, and a kid goat sacrifice was made in honour of the Norse god Njord or Saturn; the god of agriculture and plenitude who rules this particular sign. The ‘cornus’ element in Capricorn’s name refers to the cornucopia or ‘horn of plenty’ with its promise of a bountiful harvest to come. …. The last sheaf of grain bundled in the harvest was credited with magical properties as the spirit of the harvest and saved for the Yule celebrations, called among other things Yule goat.”

Ok, so the wheat and harvest thing is cleared up, but why a goat? Why not a pig? A sheep? A cow?

Next theory:

“This connects to ancient proto-Slavic beliefs where the (Yule) festival honors the god of the fertile sun and the harvest. This god, Devac (also known as Dazbog), was represented by a white goat, consequently the Koliada festivals always had a person dressed as a goat, often demanding offerings in the form of presents.”

I still don’t get the goat connection. Harvest, yes. Goat no.

“Other traditions are possibly related to the sheaf of corn called the Yule goat. In Sweden, people regarded the Yule goat as an invisible spirit that would appear some time before Christmas to make sure that the Yule preparations were done right. Objects made out of straw or roughly-hewn wood could also be called the Yule goat, and in older Scandinavian society a popular Christmas prank was to place this Yule goat in a neighbour’s house without them noticing; the family successfully pranked had to get rid of it in the same way.”

Questions. Why would the sheaf of corn be referred to as a goat? Was it shaped like a goat? Why not the Yule worm? Also, why would an invisible goat spirit want to criticise your Christmas decorations? I think it’s more likely people of this time were smoking that corn sheaf with some questionable substances inside.

The function of the Yule goat has differed throughout the ages. In a Scandinavian custom similar to the English tradition of wassailing, …. young men in costumes would walk between houses singing songs, enacting plays and performing pranks. This tradition is known from the 17th century and still continues in certain areas. The group of Christmas characters would often include the Yule goat, a rowdy and sometimes scary creature demanding gifts.

So, a bunch of guys drunk off Christmas wine and beer dressing up as goats and demanding gifts. Because that’s what goats do, they demand gifts (when they aren’t criticising your decorating tastes).

During the 19th century the Yule goat’s role all over Scandinavia shifted towards becoming the Christmas gift-bringer, with one of the men in the family dressing up as the Yule goat. In this, there might be a relation to Santa Claus and the Yule goat’s origin in the medieval celebrations of Saint Nicholas.The goat was then replaced by the jultomte or julenisse during the second half of the 19th century and early 20th century, although he is still called the Joulupukki (Yule goat) in Finland, and the tradition of the man-sized goat disappeared.

Santa goat is coming to town! Also, enjoy this “nightmare fuel” photo of a goat man delivering Christmas gifts above. Courtesy of Folklore Thursday

Well this answered nothing for me except for how much people get bored and drunk. Next time I go on a Christmas animal rant, I will talk about the Christmas pig.

When will the goat burn?

#gävlebocken #julbocken #Christmasgoat #christmas

I’m feeling a bit cold today and thinking of ways to warm up, so of course my thoughts are turning toward the giant straw Christmas goat that sits in the city of Gävle.

As I’ve written on this blog before, in the city of Gävle, about 2 hours north of Stockholm, a giant straw goat has been built in the town square to celebrate Christmas since 1966. Since then, people have tried to burn or destroy it every year. At this point, we all secretly want it to burn just to add another burning to the list, but security the past few years around the goat is probably higher than it is for anything else in Sweden.

Some foreign news outlets have dubbed the Gävleboken (Gävle Christmas Goat), Sweden’s Arson Goat. This is a name of which I very much approve, mostly for tourist and meme reasons.

So, in thinking of ways to get warm today, my mind turned toward the Gävle goat and I wondered if anyone had burned it down yet. Turns out, it’s still standing. But for anyone else who might want to keep an eye out, there is a live camera set up so you can check for yourself.

(For legal reasons, I should probably mention that it is illegal to burn the goat. But feel free to buy a small souvenir goat made out of straw and burn it in the privacy of your own grill.)

Important voting issues

#SwedishProblems #swedishelections #envelopes #swedishpolitics

Swedish elections were yesterday. Sure, there is a lot of worry about certain parties, but it seems what most people want to talk about the day after is: Why do we have to lick the envelopes on the voting sheets?

A observation on the Swedish workplace

#sweden #sverige #stockholm #snus

During a meeting at work, I noticed that every man in the room uses “snus’, or what I would call chewing tobacco.

That got me thinking about how in modern Sweden, it’s a lot like the t.v. show Mad Men, where everyone smokes cigarettes in the office. But this time they’re Swedish, using ‘snus’… and wearing t-shirts and shorts instead of suits.


Starbucks 2: The Search for Frappacinos

#starbucks #frappacino #starbuckscoffee #starbuckscups

The Starbucks in Stockholm’s Arlanda airport has no Frappacinos. That’s right. And I think we can all agree that the only reason Starbucks exists is for the Frappacinos. I can get a cup of coffee anywhere, but a frozen desert treat disguised as “coffee?” That’s the magic of Starbucks. 

It’s not as if they were out of “Frappacino mix.” There were no blenders or options for Frappacinos at all.

Later in the week, we’re out shopping in Beaumont, Texas. We see a Starbucks in the distance. As we approach in the car, we see the building is surrounded by construction workers and is completely empty inside. It’s closed for remodelling. 

No problem! There’s another Starbucks located inside a grocery store across the street. We drive over, find a parking space and walk in the hot sun, desperate for something to quench our thirst, before reaching the doors. 

We approach the counter and begin to place our order for Frappacinos, only to be told they are “out of the base for making Frappacinos” – whatever that means. 

At this point, we decide to re-locate our shopping to the nearby town of Nederland. (Not because of the Starbucks problem; we were simply done with the Beaumont stores.)

The Nederland Target has a Starbucks inside. Finally, Frappacinos! We are so relieved that we aren’t even mad when we receive the cups and, instead of my husband’s name ‘Måns’, the word ‘Misc.” is written in back marker on the side. 

Best of all, this particular Target has shopping carts with cup holders! Yea America!

Texas journal

#Texas #texaslife #texassummer #journaling

This summer I spent 3 weeks with my family in Texas. While there, I kept a journal about some of the interesting things I encountered.

Texas journal Part 1:

Skeleton sitting in back to school section of store.

July 19
Saw 3 buzzards eating a dead armadillo on the road this morning.

July 26
Even though it’s July, most of the stores are putting out Halloween displays. A sales clerk walked up to me and asked if I was looking for any Halloween items today. I replied, “No. It’s July.”

July 28
We found a channel that plays ‘The Price is Right‘ 24-hours a day. Plus, they’re currently doing a marathon and are up to the year 1984. It’s fun to guess the prices on items from back then. New cars were about $6000-8000, but you really wouldn’t want any of them. However, they do match the fashion and hairstyles of the contestants pretty well, so I guess it all works out.

My husband says “When people ask me how I spent my vacation, I’ll say that I spent about a third of it watching The Price is Right episodes from 1984.”

July 29

Dad decided to teach the boys how to drive a truck.

After he took the first one out for 30 minutes in a storm, I got a call letting me know that my son only ran 2 lights, but he didn’t get pulled over so he considered that a success!


#2022 #cat #writersblock

Seeing as it’s almost September of 2022, it might be time to post my first entry of the year. But first, a list of excuses as to why I haven’t been posting:

  • The weather was bad so I didn’t feel like writing.
  • The weather was good so I couldn’t waste my time being indoors writing.
  • Covid-related excuse of some sort.
  • My cat said I had to pet him more.
  • I forgot.

Image of a cat being petted.
Photo by Fidan Nazim qizi on Pexels.com

How to get commuters to follow the rules

#publictransit #workcommute #subway #urban

Every morning, I force myself out of bed, wolf down some toast and make my way down to the subway station for the 16 minute commute into the city. Once on the train at rush hour, my fellow passengers and I keep a close eye on the occupied seats when we pause at a hub station. At the smallest sign that a person may vacate their seat, we swoop in like a flock of seagulls fighting over a stale french fry to grab a place to sit.

Of course, after scoring a coveted place to rest my legs, it’s only a few stops until I arrive at my destination, which also happens to be a hub station. Now I am in the benevolent position of granting another drained passenger the dignity of relaxing in the comfort of a thinly cushioned bench, while I escape to the platform.

I trudge up the stairs (the escalator is always broken and the elevator has an overwhelming odor of urine), and look for the quickest and most convenient way to exit the station. 

Image shows long hall to subway station exit.

This particular station happens to have a long hall that ends in 2 doors. One door exits forward while the other exits to the left. My work building is located toward the right, so I generally take the door facing forward to exit the station. 

Temperatures are currently below freezing, and because of bad construction, the forward facing door I normally take has a flimsy paper sign attached with cheap tape begining to peal off with the cold. It reads, “Please use other door to minimize cold air in the station.”

Like many commuters, I think, “This is not my problem.” Taking the door on the left means walking 5 extra steps around the corner. That’s 5 extra steps in the cold, slippery outdoors.

This is not happening.

For the past two weeks, the sign has been ignored by all commuters through the station, and rightly so, in my opinion. But today, things have changed.

Image shows scary old man blocking an exit.

When I reach the top of the stairs, I swerve through the crowd and make my way to the hallway that leads outside. There stands a grey-haired man in a faded green coat, covered in what I hope is ketchup, leaning on the wall beside the forward facing door. As I get closer, he begins to cough disturbingly, hacking and grunting, then follows this by expelling a lage glob of mucus onto the floor. 

I turn swiftly to my left and steer clear of the door guarded by this human personification of Pestilence. Those five extra steps through the biting cold now seem like a small price to pay compared to risking exposure to a mystery illness.

Genius move Stockholm Transportation Service!

Run the gauntlet of disease and mucus, or concede to take the exit less traveled? I acknowledge your superior strategy. You win this time. I shall bow to your will and use the recommended exit.

The real reason behind gluten-free diets

#glutenfree #gluten #diet #thekaiser

The reason people do not eat gluten. They must defeat the Kaiser.

Pro Winter Tip

#netflix #tvfireplace #fireplace #wintertips

During a conversation the other day about combating the winter darkness, I got a good tip.

“Turn on the continuing fireplace on Netflix on your tv in the evenings, and it makes things feel cozy.”

In the past, I’ve only used the fireplace tv for Christmas. It’s interesting how your brain will trick you, because I’ve noticed that we all keep about a 2-foot distance from the tv because of the “heat” from the fireplace. I never considered doing this during normal days, but why not?

The woman who gave me this tip said that some evenings, she turns on the t.v. fireplace and sits down with a nice cup of tea and a book.

The funny thing is that this week I’ve discovered that an office on my floor is doing the exact same thing. They have a huge t.v. screen and they run the 24-hour fireplace on it all day. I can’t believe I never thought of this before.

But I’ve also found a way to make it even better. I noticed that a few candle companies sell scents labeled “campfire” or “bonfire.” So, just buy one of those to burn while your tv fireplace is on. (And then exchange the tea for hot chocolate.)

Winter cosiness achieved!

image shows WoodWick candle with fireside scent

Finnish pronunciation

#Finnish #finland #language #finnishlanguage

I had a meeting last week with 3 Finns. While their English is excellent, it’s funny to hear the different emphasis they put on certain syllables.

For example:

Categories – ka-TAG-ories

Development – dee-vell-OP-mint

Now, I can’t speak any Finnish, of course, but I imagine many Swedes get a kick out of the way I put the accent on the wrong syllables in Swedish. And in Swedish, this can totally change the meaning of the word.

Classic example – tomten

Tomten can either mean “the garden” or “the Santa” depending on where you emphasize the word. Here’s a great example from https://albrechtskom.se

My kids and their friends are always confused when I tell them that if they’re nice, the garden will give them presents, while if you water Santa well, he will grow.

The Swedish Halloween report

#halloween #swedishhalloween #trickortreating #pumpkincarving

From having no pumpkins or celebrations for kids when I moved to Sweden over 20 years ago, Halloween has improved.
As reported in previous years, trick-or-treating has resulted in: money, candy dug out of pockets, loose chips, aspirin.

So the candy situation is getting better, but this year the kids also received:

  • One ALREADY OPENED bag of nuts
  • An orange with a Halloween face quickly drawn on it at the door since the lady didn’t have candy.
  • Loose popcorn

Titles are good enough for me

#spaceunicorns #news #articles #goodnews

Some days I only have time to read the titles of news stories on the web. And sometimes I think it’s better that I just imagine the contents. Here’s one title of a news story I didn’t read.


I only add the link to verify the source. If you actually read the article, you’ll be disappointed and bored. Instead, just look at the image that I prefer to imagine goes with this headline and draw your own conclusions.

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