Saturday, July 30, 2011

The French Riviera

We are here now at the beautiful French Riviera. The first vacation day has been great in every possible way. Even if we have had high expectations we have not been the least disappointed. The is ever so blue, the wine is good and the sun is shining.
We drove from Nice where we landed early afternoon and check out our rental car to arrive at the small coastal village called La Ciotat where we are staying our first night. I am still amazed that it is possible to reach places so fast here compared to the US where distances are so far. Here you go from one place to another and it is just a short drive or at least it seems so to us that are used to having to travel far distances. This is the old harbor we are staying at with all the lovely sailing boats.
We are at the moment in white wine region. All a long the way as we drove we passed fields of grape bushes.

This is our view from our hotel room. I just let out a big wow as I stepped out on our balcony. The most charming part of the city and the old harbor is right at our feet. Today they had this street market going on, people, vendors and live music going on. We sat here on our balcony admiring the view just soaking up the spirit of vacation and being here on the French Riviera.

Boats, boats, and more boats. All kinds of them, small, medium and super large. Fishing boats and elegant sailing boats. This is boat lovers paradise.

Old beautiful churches.

We just had a great dinner down by the harbor. They just had some great fish. I had a fish soup and some salmon and C had some other white fish. It was all really good. The French is going so so but so far we have managed to both get to the right place and also get what we wanted when ordering from the menu. So it is working out somehow.

It is interesting to see how the French hang their laundry outside their balconies in this way. Many of the old buildings would need a slab of new paint and some fixing up but in some way the old worn look adds to the charm in a way.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Last day at work. In a few hours my summer vacation starts, jippi! I am thrilled. So ready to leave work and head out for fun and good times. Tomorrow we are flying off to France. I still have to pack the last stuff. Also I orderd some books that I am going to go and pick up. Everything is set and ready for vacation. I don't think I will have any problem unwinding and forgetting about work.I usually don't think or dwell too much about work when I am off.

Tomorrw we leave quite early in the morning. So this will be the last blogpost from Sweden in a while. I hope I will be able to post a lite from France. We are bringing one computer but I have no idea if there will be connections avaialbe around. I am already dreaming about lavender fields, sunshine, good wine and food.

Beginning of the vacation this is the best feeling ever!

More American stuff on the shelves

Something I have come to like more and more is our grocery store, the Ica Maxi at Sickla. It is considered to be one of the best ones in the Stockholm area and I can agree with that. When it comes to American food products they have a large section of the store dedicated to these. Recently they this section has grown and they have added more products.
I can't say that I buy many things from here or buy any item regularly but it is still great to have the selection. When it comes to tomato sauces, diced tomatoes with spices and beans there are many other brands that cost less that come from here. Cereals with a lot of added sugar is not something that I consume here and nor did I do in Alabama either.

Marshmellows we did buy in order to make S'mores for our 4 th of July party.

We also did buy some American mustard for the party and I buy some of the BBQ sauces sometimes. I still love to stop buy and take a look here every time to see if I find something that I have been missing.
It would be fun to compare the prices because my guess is that most of the stuff here is quite expensive compared to what you pay for the same stuff at the super market in the states. But I do appreciate that you can find it here.

There used to be an all American store with food products in the city but it closed as most of the local stores started importing and putting up sections like this one. I have been to a number of grocery stores around Stockholm and our Ica has the best and the largest American section of them all. So if you are looking for anything American this is the place to go.

Meeting blog friend from Alabama

Yesterday was one of those perfectly beautiful summer days. I spent the evening with a blog friend, Charlotte. We finally got to meet and it was great. She moved to Alabama and lived there for a year in Montgomery. This was just about when we were moving back to Sweden so there wasen´t enough time to get the chance to meet up in Alabama but now we got the chance to get together here instead. She has now moved back from Alabama with her family. They were there for a year and had a great time. Me and Lotta met at this great Indian restaurant on Söder and we sure had A LOT to talk about. A wonderful evning and I am glad we got to meet because we had a lot of experiences to share.

This has so far been a real blog meeting year. I have met Annika and Anne-Marie and now Charlotte. Hopefully after we return from France I will have the chance to meet up with Saltis as well. Stockholm is a great place to meet up with blog friends as many pass by here during the year.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Storsäljare vid olika väder

Hittade denna lista i DN idag som var lite kul.
Varmt och Soligt:


Kallt och Regnigt:

Knep och Knåp

Idag är det iallfall riktigt sommarväder, varmt och soligt med 25 grader. Helt perfekt väder. Jag tycker i övrigt att det varit en bra sommar. Visst har det varit en och annan dag med regnskurar men det har inte varit något ihållande regn flera dagar i rad och temperaturen har hållt sig kring 20-25 grader. Lite film har vi ändå hunnit med att kolla.

Flipped gillade jag jättemycket. Söt feel good story. Just Go with It, var en ren chansning. Kände för en film som roade utan att kräva så mycket. Jag fick skratta lite så den uppfyllde mina förhoppningar. Jolene var också en helt ok underhållande film.

En riktigt bra film vi såg igår var Sarahs Nyckel som även finns som bok. Toppenbra film som rekommenderas varmt. Spännande och fin. Jag var även på bio häromveckan och skulle kolla på Lars von Triers senaste film Melancolia. Den hade fått riktigt bra kritik. Jag gick dit och kollade i 40 minuter men var sedan tvungen att ge upp. Hela filmen är filmad med stora svepande rörelser, lite skakig hand så som en amatör hemma film. Jag blev bara mer och mer illamående och var som sagt tvungen att ge mig efter 40 minuter. Så jobbig att titta på. Dessutom hade i stort sett inget hänt under dessa 40 minuter. En seg och tråkig film som endast framkallade en känsla av sjösjuka-nej tack inget för mig. Jag smet ut och det var en befrielse.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Count down towards vacation

Official count down towards vacation. This is my last week before we start our summer vacation. Now only four more days and then a nice stretch of vacation. We are flying off to France on Saturday. Friday I am planning to head home a little earlier to pack my stuff. The majority of people are still off at work so it is very quiet and empty. It is kind of nice.

I am still kind of amazed at how much vacation people here in Sweden have and have much they take. This is something I appreciate so much more after having lived in the US. I think vacation here is very generous. But besides the generous vacation it seems as most people that have kids also combine their summer vacation with parental leave which you are allowed to take until your child(children) are 8 years old. It is therefore common that people take four weeks of vacation and then another two weeks off but on parental leave. From midsummer that is the last week in June until mid August a lot is on slow mode or closed down.

I still feel very lucky to have another three weeks now starting on Monday considering I also had two weeks when we went to the US in April, so I am not complaining at all.

So what should I pack for France? I am trying to go light. I realize that there will be many nice things to buy and bring home. I have to leave room for the herbs, lavender products, maybe some wine and other goodies right? For now I got the guide book and my camera in my bag but I guess I have to throw in some clothes as well. I hope we will manage as neither me nor C speak French and the French like French and not English so much. We have the vocabulary and some frases in the guide book so we will have to survive with that ;-)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Weekend

I have had a very nice weekend. Filled with summer, fun, friends and sun. That great weekend feeling took off Friday by me and C going down to one of nice places by the waterfront. This place is pretty new, posh and stylish. It has a nice atmosphere and great location just by the water. I have passed it before and thought that we should head down here and have a drink after work some day. We had no idea of the name of the place but it is Zee. I have read about this place in the paper and rememberd that it has gotten very good reviews for the food. Right now only the bar and bar menu were available, the restaurant opens again in August. We will go back then and try the food.

So we had a beer and a glas of wine and enjoyed the views and the nice summer weather and Friday feeling.They have these fake palm trees. I can´t make up my mind if I like them or if they are just kind of silly looking.

The last parts of Hammarby Sjöstad are still under construction but are to be completed by next year. This weekend the guy we are renting from came by to pick up some of his mail and to talk to us. He is in the states doing a reserch project. We feel very lucky and very grateful to be able to rent his apartment while he is away. However, we were both a little nervous as we had no idea if he would let us know that he had changed his plans and wanted to move back for some reason. We talked and had some coffee and it turns out we can stay a while longer. We could let out a sigh of relief. It was the first time that I met him by the way. He was super nice. We have met his girlfriend more frequently as she has been in Sweden more often and has come by to pick up mail and so on. We are very happy we don´t need to make any moving plans for now.

Yesterday I met up with friends at L´s place where we have our stuff in her basement. My other friend A that lives in San Fransisco is here and is soon heading back so we had a great girls evening trying to catch up on as much as possible. Five girls and a lot of talking. The evening passed way too fast anyway.
I am really glad I got to meet A before she left for the US again.

That great weekend feeling started already on Thursday really as me and C met up with L and her R and had dinner at this new Indian restaurant that was great. I like Indian food but most Indian restaurants are more or less the same and therefore this place was a very nice surprise. It was much more of a new modern indian dishes and flavors. Everything we had was really good. Both me an C said we would love to go back here again.

Me and C also went out on a short run Sunday morning. I was not really up for it as we headed out but when we got back it felt like the best possible way to start the day.

Today it is Monday and the day has started with rain. I am not thrilled about biking to work in the rain but sometimes you just got to do it. I bought a new rain jacket this weekend as well. The one I had just would not transport the moisture out so I was totally soaked inside and out when I used it last week. The new one is much much better. I can open it up along the sides and under the arms so it dosen´t get so warm. I am very pleased with it.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sunset on the beach

Here are some mor of the pictures that we took at Öland that are some of my favorite. This is where we celebrated midsummer with friends earlier this year in June. The ocean was just about a couple of hundreds of yards away. It was so easy to walk down from the cabin to the beach. Could just stand there forever admiring the water and the colors on the horizon.

Just love the ocean, the way it smells, the ocean spray hitting the stones and shores.
This is how we most often spend our time and love to spend it, taking pictures. It is amazing how many you have to take to get a few of those that you really love.Ha ha this is kind of funny because this is how you would find both me and C when we say we are taking a walk a long the beach :-)

A pretty flower growing among the stones.

There is something so fresh about the sea. The splash of water hitting the shore, the salty breeze in the air. The sound of the waves rolling in.

There are two things that just are so relaxing and peaceful for both mind and soul and those are watching the ocean and a fire in a fireplace. I don´t know what it is that is so magical and fascinating about waves and flames.

Here is C taking pictures of something. I am glad we share the interest in taking pictures.

As I walked back from the beach that we all went to after our dinner to enjoy the sunset the sun was glowing and in the high grass it almost seemed like the grass was set on fire. I think it looked really cool.

The last sun rays reflected in the water giving that warm glow.

This island of the coast belongs to Sweden and is called Blå Jungfrun (Blue Maiden). I have never been on it but I guess you can take a boat to visit it.

The sun slowly setting in the horizon. I am glad we all went down to the beach to watch the sunset because it was so beautiful. The landscape of Öland is so different from the mainland. Much more flat, open spaces, low growing bushes and shrubbery, not so many trees, stony beaches. An island where the sea and the wind shape the land very much.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Going to see Dolly

Picture taken from the internet.

Totally out of the blue and kind of crazy but I am going to see Dolly Parton! I am still kind of surprised myself. This was very unexpected. Actually I wanted to go and see Brad Paisley but when C checked the tickets were sold out. Then he told me a friend and co-worker of his wanted to go and see Dolly Parton that is coming to Stockholm in the end of August but did not have anyone to go with yet. So I said maybe I should go with her and that is what I am doing.

I can't say I am a huge fan of Dolly but I guess I have heard some of her most famous songs anyway like "Working 9 to 5". I actually look forward to going to her concert. I think there is a reason why she is such a big star and why she has been going strong for so long. So now I am curious in many ways. I have come to love country music so this will be fun.It was a long time since I was at a concert as well.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Summer fruits and berries

Love cherries. They are finally in season now. Actually I think I better stock up and make a small stash in the freezer because other than during summer you can't get hold of them. In Alabama you could find them among the other frozen fruits but here I have so far not found frozen cherries. So I guess I'll just have to freeze them myself. They are the best right now, just the way they are.

The blueberries are also soon ripe. However, they wrote in the paper that this year won't give any larger quantities of blueberries. Two summers ago I picked quite a lot when I was here in August. I guess I will have to see if I find any this year. I like that they sell both kinds, the Swedish smaller blueberries as well as the larger American kind. To eat just the way they are I prefer the American blueberries but for baking and making a pie that I made this past weekend I prefer the Swedish ones.

Melons of various kinds is also something that you can get cheep right now. Honey, Cantaloupe and Watermelons. I like all of them. So sweet and so refreshing.

This weekend I also tried out these bottled sparkling fruit drinks. They are sold at Systembolaget but they are non-alcoholic, they are not like regular sodas because they contain no added sugar only the natural sugar from the fruit juice so they are not very sweet. I really liked them. Not so sweet but very refreshing. They have these two kinds, one is green apple and the other one is blood orange combined with a hint of hibiscus. The blood orange was much better than I expected it to be. Perfect for a nice summer drink or as a substitute for beer.