This gift idea came up on my feed the other day. My hometown in Texas was home to the second-largest refinery in the U.S. Does this candle smell like pollution?
I’ve been so busy with work and the podcast that I just realized I haven’t written in a while. Time to remedy that!
The podcast I’m doing about people from other countries that have moved to Sweden (Life in the Land of the Ice and Snow) has been so much fun. Being one of these people from another country, I’ve always found a lot of humor in the mistakes and strange things about trying to fit into another culture and it’s fun to see how people all over feel the same way.
I also enjoy learning about cultural issues that may not have even crossed my mind, like when Hana from Singapore told me that when she moved to Sweden, it was the first time she ever had to buy socks (it was so hot in Singapore that she always wore sandals).
Everyone is full of stories about misunderstanding the language. And almost every person, no matter what country they are from, misses food the most. (That’s right, food and not people – because food can’t email or Skype).
If you like podcasts and enjoy ‘fish out of water’ type stories, check out some of my episodes. Each one is only 20-30 minutes and the main point is to learn something, but keep it funny.
It’s available anywhere you get your podcasts – iTunes, Spotify, Google, etc. Just type in “Life in the Land of the Ice and Snow”. I hope you enjoy the stories and people as much as I do!
Some friends and I went to a restaurant here in Stockholm the other night and ordered a margarita. These are the margaritas we received. Fork and eyeglasses for scale.
Let me show you the average margarita in the U.S. Now THIS is how a margarita should be!
And by the way, what’s up with the burnt, blackened limes they put in the Swedish margaritas? This is the second time this has happened at 2 different places. Did they just shrivel up because it’s winter?
Much like my books, it’s about the funny things that happen as an expat living in Sweden. I interview a different fellow expat friend each week and we talk about the mysterious ways of the Swedes and all the various ways we’ve made embarassing mistakes here. Our humiliation is your entertainment!
Each episode is between 20-30 minutes. I hope you will check it out and enjoy it! It’s currently available on Spotify and on iTunes.
The direct link to the podcast page is: https://iceandsnow.se/
There will be a new episode every 2 weeks because…. wow, editing takes a lot of time!
The first episode is called, “What’s Scarier, Halloween or Surströmming?”
We were told to visit a popular burger place in East Texas that serves an Apple Pie Burger. I pictured a burger with an actual apple pie between the buns (honestly, it’s not that much of a stretch with some of the other crazy foods around there), but it was a burger with apple pie ingredients added – apple pieces, brown sugar and maple syrup bacon. It actually wasn’t that bad, though I prefer a regular burger.
I’m back from 3 weeks in the states with a confused stomach and many new food observations. Today is all about pickles.
So pickle juice flavor is a thing in the U.S. now. Or at least in the south. I am a huge fan of pickles, but that’s as far as it goes. I have no interest in anything flavored with pickle juice and I honestly can’t imagine who would.
When I was young, my aunt knew that I liked pickles, so one day she made pickle jello for me. It was one of the worst things I’ve ever tasted.
Now the U.S. is selling cans of Pringles chips in pickle flavor, and even worse, the restaurant Sonic is selling pickle slushies. WHY?!
Gee, it’s 100F outside here in Texas. You know what I’d like? A big cup of salty pickle juice!
I also happened upon pickle soda in one store. That’s just wrong.
I check the Houston news about once a month to keep up with things happening back in Texas. I want to be on top of current events and important developments happening in the city, so I know what’s affecting my family and friends.
Sometimes I think I should check the news more often than once a month, and then a story like this pops up as one of the top headlines and I think, “I really don’t think I’m missing anything.”
In my old hometown newspaper from Texas, there is an article this week about a sophomore student in high school asking the School Board to remove the ban on boys wearing earrings in school.
I have tried to explain to my Swedish husband that when I went to school in Texas, you could not dye your hair, boys could not have hair past their shoulders, no facial hair and no earrings for boys. That was combined with the usual skirts past the fingertips for girls and no hats allowed for anyone.
Apparently the schools in the place I grew up finally took away the rule about long hair for boys (fairly recently). I know the earring and facial hair rule are still in effect, as well as the skirts and hats, and I’m not sure about hair dye but I think that is still banned as well.
When my husband went to high school here in Sweden, he went through purple hair, bright red hair and blue hair, among many other colors. He also had an earring. And no one cared. He was a smart and great student. No one in class was “distracted,” as some Texas schools like to say in these situations.
Imagine at your job if a man walked in with an earring (many men at your job probably already wear one or more), facial hair (shocking!) and purple hair. You might say, “Whoa Todd, cool hair!” and then do your job. I can’t imagine anyone saying, “There is just no way I can file insurance claims when I can’t take my eyes of Todd’s earring.” or “I would save this woman’s life, but I can’t perform surgery when the ambulance driver who brought this patient in has purple hair. It’s too distracting.”
My oldest son dyed his hair orange most of last year. All this week he has been wearing fake mustaches to school, nerd glasses and a hat that looks like Sonic the Hedgehog. Surprisingly, this does not affect his work or the work of his fellow students, some who have dyed hair, wear shorts or even a rabbit suit pullover (yes, I’ve seen this twice).
I live in the real world. I ride the subway. I’ve seen people dressed as zombies, people with face tattoos, people with piercings and chains. I don’t mind any of those people as long as they TAKE A SHOWER (and don’t eat my brains, of course).
Is it just me, or is the grammar wrong in this headline? I’m reading this as “this lady is set to die Friday.” Hope she’s watching out for herself.
Why does every news story I click have to have a video automatically start playing with the report? I just want to read what happened and move on! I don’t want or need to see the video and I always have to take the time to hit the pause button.
Today was a great example of why video news is awful – some of them run commercials before the story. I give you the screenshot of what I saw when I clicked on this story about an attempted kidnapping.
I always knew there was something messed up about Jack.
We seem to be having an early season for apples and other fruits here in the Stockholm area, and I’m lucky enough to live in a place that used to be a fruit orchard at some far point back in time. Or maybe it was a dump where lazy people threw out rotten apple cores and plum seeds. Whichever it is, it’s paying off now! Earlier this season the cherry trees were full of fruit, and now we’ve moved on to apples and plums. I’m also lucky to have young, eager climbers to get up and reach the good apples. The freezer is full of pies, breads and muffins.
And if I’m not in the mood to search around, people in my neighborhood who have an abundance of apples and plums from their trees often put out baskets for anyone to take extra. Just walking for ten minutes, I passed seven baskets of fruit (and came home with two bags full, while still leaving plenty for other people).
I was thinking how this wouldn’t work in the area of Texas where I grew up. People would probably just steal the basket.
However, people do have the neighborly, sharing spirit there, just in other ways. Instead of fruit, people put their old couches and televisions out on the curb. It’s understood that anything on the curb is free to take. Once or twice when one of my parents would put something like that out on our curb, I would hide near the window to see how long it would take until someone took it. I never had to wait more than five minutes.
Meanwhile in Sweden, I have this bike I bought for about five dollars that I hate and I can’t get anyone to steal it! There’s no lock on it and it’s out in front of the building. I know I need to take it to the dump, but that requires loading it into the car, which requires muscles and time. I have a limited amount of both.
Maybe if I put the bike in a giant basket and hang some apples from it, someone will get the idea. It’s worth a try.
Yesterday, I got into a heated discussion with my son about how it’s possible for KFC to have so many secret spices. My son insisted the commercial he saw in the U.S. claimed Kentucky Fried Chicken had 17 secret spices in their batter (I’ve since discovered it’s 11). To him, this was blatant false advertising. His argument was that products can have one secret ingredient but to have 17 (or 11) is completely ludicrous.
While I’m glad my children recognize these commercials in the U.S. as exaggerating and occasionally outright lying (“Mac & Cheese – a great source of calcium!”), it does get exhausting trying to explain marketing and how companies get away with things. While standards aren’t perfect here, there are many more laws in Sweden about advertising that make American advertising “laws” quite laughable.
In Sweden, companies are not even allowed to advertise toward children under the age of 12. In the U.K., advertisements must not ‘exhort children to purchase or to ask their parents or others to make enquiries or purchases’.
This is quite different from advertisements in the U.S., which are very much directed at young children to pester their parents into using a product, my best example being a few years ago when my children saw a Chuck E. Cheese commercial in Texas and then told us, “This says the coolest parents take their kids to Chuck E. Cheese. Why aren’t you guys cool parents?”
To come around to the original KFC subject, let me share something that I found interesting:
Sanders sold the Kentucky Fried Chicken corporation in 1964, and the gravy recipe was changed in the 1970s. Colonel Sanders was quite disappointed, stating “My God, that gravy is horrible. They buy tap water for 15 to 20 cents a thousand gallons and then they mix it with flour and starch and end up with pure wallpaper paste. And I know wallpaper paste, by God, because I’ve seen my mother make it. … There’s no nutrition in it and they ought not to be allowed to sell it. … crispy recipe is nothing in the world but a damn fried doughball stuck on some chicken.”
Now THAT’s truth in advertising!
Just reminding everyone that I have a new book out – “As Long as I Have My Own Bathroom” – which is great summer reading while you’re on vacation, but most of all, IT CONTAINS ABSOLUTELY NO POLITICS!
For sale in the U.S. here – https://amzn.com/1530292964
For sale at other Amazons, such as – http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1530292964
For sale in Sweden here – http://tinyurl.com/zfjql79
While many of our friends were posting pictures from their beach vacations on the Mediterranean, we were on the Texas Gulf Coast where we were subjected to warnings about avoiding the beaches because they contained flesh-eating bacteria, sea lice, alligators, sharks, and snakes in the sand dunes. I wish I was making this up, but I’m not.
I thought it would be hard to convince my kids not to get in the water at the beach, but it turns out when you let them read an article about a man losing his leg at that beach the week before and how people are breaking out in rashes from sea lice, they kind of decide for themselves not to get in the water.
And just in case you don’t believe me and think, “But why would people even live in that area if there were alligators, snakes, sharks, lice and flesh-eating bacteria?” here’s one of the articles that was in the local paper:
One drawback of having children in Sweden who NEVER see t.v. commercials is that they become quite overwhelmed by them when we visit the U.S. After about a week, my youngest was saying things like, “This breakfast today is sponsored by…” and “Brushing my teeth is brought to you by …”
I guess I should be glad they are adapting to the customs and language.
A typical baked potato in Texas – with pulled pork of course:
One of the nice things about our trip to the U.S. – I can finally get enough pickles on my hamburger.
We will be visiting Texas soon, so I thought I would check the local news.
This seems about right.
Also, he doesn’t need to give that back. Thanks anyway.