Thursday, June 30, 2011

Getting ready for Independence day celebration

Preparing and planning for our 4th of July party that we are having this weekend. C is doing a playlist of good old country music hits. He downloaded a bunch when we were in the states now in April. So we are planning on having a BBQ, some burgers on the grill, American beer and some friends over. I am having a great time already listening to C´s playlist that he is putting together.

As we are both Swedish-Americans we have to celebrate. We celebrated the Swedish national day on June 6:th and now it is time to get ready for Independence Day. We will have to with what can be done. There won´t be any parade or fire crackers but a whole lot of good country music, beer, burgers and a great time with friends :-)

I have been checking out Martha Stewart´s website today for inspiration of what to make and what kind of decorations to have.

We got an invitation to our neighbors traditional 4th of July party. Unfortunately we won´t be able to make it. Wish we had a private jet and could fly over for a weekend like that. That would have been awesome. We are happy for the invitation anyway and we will miss not being there of course.

I actually checked the website for the US embassy wondering if they would have any kind of celebration going on. I searched their website and found out they already had celebrated Independence Day on May 27! Cheaters! It had been extra early celebration this year because of someone important that could not make it later on. But it seems like they usually celebrate some days before the actual day.

Now C is playing this song that really has some funny lyrics..." save a horse, ride a cowboy instead". Well...if it is a handsome good looking cowboy hey yeah ;-)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Country Views

I took a few pictures on my way back from Öland to Stockholm. The drive or the ride with the bus took approximately 5-6 hours. Something that I find so pretty are all the large yellow fields. The are colored yellow by the all the canola flowers that are in bloom. It almost looks like a gigant quilt with patches of yellow among the green.

Öland is famous for all it's wind mills. You see them all over the island. The bridge that connects Öland to the mainland is the longest bridge in Sweden. The weather was pretty over cast on my way back. It was much prettier when we drove to Öland.

In the yard of K and A where we celebrated midsummer we found these two different kinds of orchids. Compared to many of the tropical orchids these are just so tiny but very beautiful. Unfortunately I don't know the name of these but maybe some one of you out there do.

The day I returned from Öland the weather was pretty dramatic. Heavy showers coming and going, sun and dark clouds. Green fields and red houses and barns. I love these kinds of views.

As I approached Stockholm I also got to see a rainbow! Part of a rainbow anyway. You can see where it begins but then it sorts of disappears or fades into the sky and clouds.

A week of Summer

Summer weather and temperatures are back again, yeay! Too bad I don't have vacation this week. However, I made sure to take every opportunity to get to sit in the sun by having both lunch and coffee break outside. Here in Sweden you just can't let perfect summer days like these slip you by. It is sunny and around 80F or 25 C. I love this!

The papers are annoncing that "tropical heat" has arrived to Sweden. Tropical, naah not really but nice it sure is. I love passing the city as I do when I bike to and from work. All the restaurants are filled with people, the city is bustling with life and the water just looks so blue. The scent of BBQ smoke mixes with the fresh smell of water and you see plenty of boats out crusing slowly.

Gotta go out there and enjoy because the rumor has it more unstable weather and cooler temperatures are arriving again already for next week.

I just came home from a spinning class. Yeez, that must have been tropical heat in there. It felt as if I was spinning in a sauna. The class was packed with people as they have reduced the number of classes on the summer schedule. Many places here in Sweden are not built for heat like this and also there is not air conditioning everywhere. I don't think the gym has air conditioning. My lab and office do because it is a newly built building. At home we don't have any AC but we did buy a small fan that we have close to our bed. Right now it really makes a difference.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Måndags shopping och tankar

Hittade denna boken igår på pocket shop. Jag tycker det är både kul och spännande med skillnader mellan kulturer. Denna bok tar upp vad som är typiskt svenskt och vad som kännetecknar svensken. Xenophobe guides finns för ett flertal andra länder också. Tänkte jag skulle läsa denna först och sedan skulle jag gärna vilja läsa den som handlar om USA förstås. Kanske får man reda på varför så många svenska män bär röda byxor. Röda byxor skulle man aldrig se på en amerikansk man. Amerikanska män är inte direkt modelejon. Svenska män kan å andra sidan nästan vara för moderna (kanske för mig iallafall). Kan ibland undra om de är straight eller gay. Taighta smala byxor som man ser på många män här skulle man aldrig heller ser på en amerikansk man. Fast nog fördrar jag smala taighta byxor framför säckiga byxor som är uppdragna till naveln och dessutom för korta så att man ser ett par vita tubsockor som sticker fram där byxbenen slutar strax ovanför anklarna.

Passade på att köpa en annan bok också. Har alltid gillat Karin Alvtegens böcker och sätt att skriva. Jag är inte mycket för deckare men dessa psykologiska thrillers som hon skriver gillar jag.

En fototidning har också inhandlats. Så synd att just sådana här tidingar är så dyra. Jag hade gärna köpt dem oftare just för att man alltid kan lära sig lite nytt genom att läsa sådana här tidningar och också finna inspiration för egna bilder man är sugen på att prova att ta. Macrofotografering har jag alltid varit nyfiken på och något som jag skulle vilja förbättra. Är sugen på att skaffa en macro-objektiv. Får bli ett framtida önskemål/investering. Vi har ju en närbildslins till Nikon kameran men jag är nyfiken på hur stor skillnad det skulle vara med en ett äkta macro objektiv kontra linsen vi har med tanke på att objektiven ändå kostar en slant.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Midsummer Celebration

Midsummer is one of the big holidays here in Sweden. It is always celebrated on a Friday. The first Friday after the summer solstice. Celebrating midsummer is always something I have liked and looked forward to. It seems like no one is indifferent to midsummer. Either you like it or you don´t. I think I have been lucky because I have never felt that pressure that people that don´t like midsummer talk about. I don´t plan my midsummer months or even weeks ahead. We don´t have any particular traditions that we just have to do or hold on to. What midsummer looks like and becomes has been different for me from year to year.

This year we were invited to Öland by a collage and friend of C that has a house on the northern part of the island not far from Löttorp. We were invited about two weeks before midsummer and before that we were not running around frantic trying to plan the perfect midsummer. I want to thank our hosts K and A for inviting us and for creating a great, fun and relaxed midsummer celebration. All together we were 10 adults and two kids.

When we left Stockholm on Thursday the rain was pouring down and it was just a cold, wet and miserable day.

As we drove south and reached Öland the weather became better and the sun was even shining. Öland is just beautiful. It is one of two large islands that belong to Sweden located of the eastern coast of the mainland. There is a bridge that connects Öland with the mainland. It is at Öland that the royal family have their summer residence also. The place we were going to is beautifully located just by the ocean. I love the stony beach, the sound of the waves hitting the shore, the scent of salty water in the air.

There was this large Honey Suckle bush growing just by the house. In Alabama there were Honey Suckles growing everywhere. It was almost considered a weed. I like it a lot. I think the flowers are beautiful and I love the way it smells also.

Summer in Sweden is so pretty. We were lucky with the weather because as we arrived the sky cleared up and there was sunshine. Also for midsummer eve we did not have any rain and could enjoy being outdoors.

Öland and it´s scenery is kind of different from the rest of Sweden. Not a whole lot of trees or forest here but more open spaces, fields and bushes. The wind and the ocean are always right around the corner.

Our host and C´s friend had arrived one day ahead of the rest of us and had been very busy mowing the lawn. This is his and his families summer place and no one had been here since Easter so the grass had grown a lot. Actually it was so tall that in order to be able to even use the lawn mower it first had to be cut with a scythe.This is what Barbara is doing here in the picture above.

Many people have the lunch as the main celebration but we decided to skip this and have the main celebration for dinner instead. We did not have a May pole which one usually does for midsummer. People gather around the May pole which is mainly for the kids where dances and songs are held. We instead just let the day pass doing whatever you were up to. I went for a walk with C along the beach taking pictures. Me and Anette baked some pretty advanced baguettes. The recipe took two days to complete.

This was our view from the house. Love this kind of view. It is so relaxing to just hear and watch the ocean.

We played a Swedish game called Kubb. This game is originally from the other Swedish island, Gotland. It is a lot of fun. I played a game of Kubb and did quite well. It is a lot harder than it looks. You have these wooden sticks and have to hit the other teams wood blocks from a certain distance by throwing the rounded wooden sticks. The game is always played on grass which makes the wooden sticks bounce a bit this adding to the trickiness of the game.

Something else that I found in the room we were sleeping in was a bunch of old Donald Duck magazines. Many from the sixties. I always loved reading Donald Duck when I was a kid and now I just could not help myself from taking a good old moment bringing childhood memories back again.

For me midsummer has always been a nice and relaxing days when you celebrate, have fun and do what you feel like. Taking a moment just enjoying the day in the hammock for instance.

Stawberries is something that midsummer is linked with and there was a strawberry pie made of course for dessert. This particular strawberry pie recipe had been in Karl´s (our hosts) family as a midsummer tradition. It sure was as yummy as it looks.

Dinner among friends celebrating midsummer together. Laughter, good food and great company.

There was pickled herring and both smoked and cured salmon which is typical midsummer food. Fresh potatoes and schnapps. American beer next to the Swedish schnapps. We had songs. Something that is done and Swedes like to to is to sing songs together before having a schnapps. I love that song tradition and the singing. Luckily you don´t have to finish your glass for each schnapps that is sung.

After dinner we took a walk down to the beach before we walked up to the house and had the strawberry cake. So this is what my midsummer was like this year. Now I am back from Öland in Stockholm again. I left yesterday Saturday already taking a bus back to Stockholm. C is spending a few more days down in the south. He is driving to his parents farm for a few days. Driving back today Sunday is crazy so that is why I decided to return one day ahead, to beat the traffic take care of some grocery shopping that has to be done.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Today is the day before Midsummer which is a big celebration here in Sweden. We are heading south to the island of Öland in a few hours. The Friday theme this week is about midsummer but I think I will save that for Sunday and tell you more about the midsummer celebration after we have been there. However, I flipped through my pictures and realized I have not shown the ones from Vaxholm. The other weekend when it was still nice and sunny we got in the car and decided to head to Vaxholm.

Vaxholm is one of those small towns full of charm located about 45 minute drive north of Stockholm. It is pretty deserted here all year around except for summer. As we drove out here I remembered this is actually the place where C took me on our very first date (May 1999). We had dinner at this pizza place because much still had not opened for the summer season. Then we took a walk down to the dock looking at the sailing boats. :-)
And the rest is history. From that date we have shared so much together. I remember I was not too impressed with the pizza place but I did like C´s car and Vaxholm and C of course.
I love these old steam boats that are from the Vaxholm company. They go all around the Stockholm archipelago. You can take one of these boats from the center of Stockholm and come to Vaxholm. Here is one approching the dock blowing steam.

Small town where the small town spirit still exists very much. In summer this place fills up with people and comes alive. There are plenty of small restaurants, boutiques and other small shops to visit.

We stopped and had a coffee and that is when we saw this huge sea gull sitting on one of the tables stealing left overs. He was really big so I guess he had a good life surviving on left overs. He had to be quick tough because a minute later someone chased him off.

We found this cafée overlooking the water. So this is where we sat down and just enjoyed the views and everything going on.

Vaxholm is also known for it´s old fort. You can easily visit it by taking a short boat ride from the main land out to the island where the fort is located. This time we decided not to visit the fortress.

Plenty of pretty sailing boats to admire specially for C that loves sailing boats.

We had a really nice walk just enjoying the weather. This was the last few of those warmer days we had a few weeks ago. The weather has been kind of unstable lately. I hope there will be more of those sunny and warm days.

Happy Midsummer!