My dinner went really well, though as usual, I had a hard time with patience...I didn't want to wait long enough between courses and there wasn't a decent interval between the first three. :) Impatience really is one of my besetting sins. Especially when it comes to planning a dinner apparently!
Anyway, I'm recording the menu here, for posterity, because I was really pleased with it!Creamy Garlic & Broccoli Soup
, served with sourdough bread and butter and pumpkin seed knäckebröd flatsDelicious Chicken with Gorgonzola Topping
Steamed & Lightly Sautéed Zucchini, Asparagus & Kohlrabi Strips
Small Wedge of Brie with Smashed Black Cherry Preserves and Fresh Figs
But the dessert was the crowning glory! I made it up or rather mashed it up, since it was a mash-up of 2 other favorites. Chocolate Caramel Cookie
with Crème Fraîche/White Chocolate/Raspberry Goop
topped with Fresh Raspberries and an Anthon Berg Dark Chocolate Square. SO SO SO GOOD.
It was too much, though. Two of my friends couldn't even finish theirs: O! the humanity!
Despite the fact that I dropped boiling things THREE times during the making of the various courses, I managed not to do irreparable damage to myself or my surroundings. Note to self: it's perfectly acceptable to melt chocolate in the damn microwave. Or buy a double boiler, you idiot.
Fresh figs are something I only started eating in the last couple of years. I still don't like dried figs, but I do like fig jam and fresh figs, both with Brie. Yummy! Martin tried a fig tonight but made a face and said, nope, not by itself, anyway.
Today was the first choir practice of the new term. I am so happy! It's actually a jump start a bit early (the official start of the term is September 8) but we have a concert already scheduled for this coming Friday so our choir leaders called 2 extra practices, one today and one on Thursday with the band. There were only 8 of us at practice today but it went really well and it was so nice to be singing again.
Busy week ahead as we tumble into September. Tomorrow is a work kickoff event involving indoor and outdoor team activities (urgh) which means I'm missing both the first AWC meeting of the season and WW (which is probably just as well, after that dinner, ahem).
It's raining again. It was raining this morning though it had cleared up by the time I got to choir practice and the afternoon was lovely. About an hour ago, though, huge black clouds started rolling over the house and darkness descended. It started raining and for about 20 minutes it poured straight down. Now the worst has passed, I think, but it is still overcast and raining. I really hope it's nice tomorrow for the outdoor portion of the work event, though the forecast is dashing my hopes. Okay then, I at least hope it's not pouring. Pretty please, weather gods?
Martin actually updated his resume, printed it out and went around knocking on doors and talking to managers all over Lund, looking for another job today. Very happy about his initiative! He and his friends bought the plane tickets to Peru yesterday, so apparently this trip is really happening...EEK. Now he just has to get shots, order an international health insurance card, get blood tests, make an appointment with the driving school, get his driver's license, figure out what he wants to study and where, write college entrance essays, apply for college, graduate with honors, get a fantastic job, meet the perfect person, and LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER!
Karin left on her moped this evening to go to soccer practice and called home 5 minutes later, crying. I thought she'd had an accident or been hit by a car or something. "WHAT HAPPENED!??" I said (calmly) into the phone. Turns out, a wasp had flown into her jacket, gotten inside her shirt and stung the crap out of her, all over her front. She had at least 5 swollen spots and red rashy splotches all over her chest and neck. :( She got the wasp out, after stopping, screaming, throwing off her helmet and jacket and then got the stinger out as well before she called. YIKES. We don't have any sort of sting medicine except a tube of AfterBite so old it's probably more dangerous than helpful. We put a cold compress on the stings and she laid down, and now, 2 hours later, the splotches are mostly gone and the swelling spots have disappeared and she's asleep. Poor little pooh!!
I spent today doing things for everyone else. And that doesn't even count work, where that's all I do, haha! And running errands. Martin needed his resume printed out. Karin needed money for new inside shoes. I took my car back for its follow-up inspection (it passed). I picked up stuff from my friend Camilla that she is donating to our village's upcoming flea market. I went grocery shopping. I picked Martin up at the bus stop. I washed dishes. I paid bills.
In the piles of stuff that Camilla gave me was a bag of old picture frames that she was getting rid of. They're so pretty! Very old-fashioned, metal with stamped and embossed edges and in 2 cases, flowery filigree. I would have paid a lot of money for them in an antique store, so I am thrilled. Score! I've been sorting through photos and frames, so these couldn't have come at a better time.
It's suddenly warming up again and the sun was shining much of the day. I went for another "long" walk at lunch (extra 10 minutes more than usual) and it was so nice to feel the warmth on my shoulders. It's supposed to be summer weather all week, all the way up in the high 20s. What I'm Reading: Emily of New Moon
by L.M. Montgomery (finally!) and then Memory Wall
by Anthony DoerrWhat I'm Eating:
artichokes, fresh pineapple, spinach salad with salmon, baby plum tomatoes and pine nuts, mushroom soupWhat I'm Watching:
nothing, really. All my shows are over. John Oliver and Samantha Bee, when they have new stuffWhat I'm Wearing:
no-sleeve shirts, stillWhat I'm Listening to:
Haim and the rest of my Spotify playlistWhat I'm Working on:
the recipe book, duh. I drew a chicken yesterday!What I'm Coveting:
paintings by Andrea Migiano-Lavery
, Erin Hanson
, Audrey Kawasaki
, Melanie Morris
, Jess Franks
, Michelle Courier
, Flora Bowley
and Amy Montgomery
, among others...
What are YOU doing?
It's been a nice, pretty quiet weekend with the kids mostly away and me mostly puttering about the house...shades of what's to come, I guess. Martin is working and Karin was gone Friday for a soccer match in Växjö and a sleepover last night. I've cleaned house, worked on my recipe book, read, and relaxed. The weather has been up and down, but today is mostly sunny though I can see a lot of cloud cover from the window. Anders and I are going to fika with his mom this afternoon, sans kids, since Martin works until 6 and Karin is refereeing.
What else? I had dinner with Debbie and Camilla on Friday, a lovely evening of sushi and talking. After I got home, we watched the Swedish women play in the Olympic soccer final; what a bummer that they lost! Still, silver is nothing to sneeze at.
Did I mention that Martin has a second job? He's already working weekends (and some weekdays when they need him) at the apple orchard, in the café and as general gopher, and now he'll also be tutoring two kids that live just outside the village for 2 hours 2 days a week after school. He got that job all by himself. :) He doesn't particularly like working at the apple orchard, but I just tell him that's good motivation for either job hunting for something else or getting his shit together about college. He's supposed to be making an appointment at the driving school this week and he has to have blood tests done (for his skin doctor) at the health clinic as well, so he's keeping busy!
I'm glad this was a relaxing weekend because the next one will be crazy: hosting dinner on Friday, oh! and guess what? Two days after we got the invitation for Martin's diploma ceremony, we got another letter in the mail informing us that the event was cancelled because the IB hadn't got their shit together and the diplomas aren't ready. Drrrr... I'm taking Friday off anyway just so I can clean house and prepare the dinner without stressing.
On Saturday, Karin is hosting a crayfish party here (!) with 12 friends. I'm not sure if we are supposed to vacate the premises or what. Sunday I have choir practice for 3 hours because we are starting the fall term off with a bang: a concert already on September 2. One of my friends isn't returning to choir for the fall term, boo hoo, but I hope she'll be back after Christmas.
At one point on Friday, Debbie and Camilla and I were talking about aging...and how you reconcile the person you are inside your head with the person you've become on the outside. It's weird. I said, I still feel the same mostly. Even though I have grown and changed and matured and learned, I still am basically the same person I was when I was in my early twenties. I still hold many of the same beliefs and opinions. I still react the same way to many things. It's weird to think about how old I am and realize that inside my mental age doesn't really match up. But I don't really know what it would mean if I did. What does that say about what I think someone who is "my age" SHOULD be thinking and feeling?
It's hard to believe that summer is drawing to a close. The leaves are already starting to turn; I saw red ivy yesterday. The rowans are stuffed full of red berries...supposedly that means a hard winter, but they always are so what do they know? I am loving the cooler temps, though I could do without all the rain. Our flowers are all still blooming and it's lovely to see all my crazy neon pink pelargoniums still going strong.
The neighbors have two rabbits now. They are outside in a big pen in their backyard: a big grey and white one and a super fluffy grey one. They have two dogs as well, and the silly border collie Sebbis is always bouncing at the pen trying to get the bunnies to play with him. They ignore him thoroughly. They also have a white cockatoo named Laban who sits perched on one of the pen poles and stares into space. He's pulled out most of his feathers and has no tail feathers to speak of. Sometimes he screams "Mama! Mama! Mama!" over and over and it sounds just like their son Liam did when he was little. :D
I'm about halfway done with the photo frames...still deciding what to do about many of them. And yesterday I drew an asparagus. Progress!
WHEN A POST SNOWBALLS
Dammit, I ran out of photos and then I forgot to post and here it is a week later and I've got nothing. Getting back into the swing of things in my real life (as opposed to my vacation life) has taken all my energy...literally. I come home from work so tired that I can hardly see straight. Some days I take a nap and some days I manage not to. Napping is brutal...you'd think it would help but it just makes things worse. Even when I set the alarm so I don't sleep more than an hour...oof: total zombie.
Work was super slow the last two weeks, so slow that I actually started bringing my Kindle to work to read in between things, but this week? Making up for that in a big way, holy moly. SO MUCH WORK. I have lots to do there and at home, but the tired keeps stealing my motivation. Ugh.
Projects I am in the Middle of and may never see the end of, oh my god
1. Replacing old photos in all the picture frames around the house. So many old photos of my kids and my sister's kids as toddlers and our wedding, etc. SO LONG AGO. Trying to get a little updated, but some of the pics I love to much to swap out. I ordered some photo print-outs from fujifilm.se but am not really happy with the quality. I'll use them anyway, but just wanted to gripe.
2. Working on my super-secret Christmas gift recipe book. Shhh, don't tell anyone. It's taking me forever because I'm doing all the illustrations and I am slow at drawing in Illustrator.
3. Thinking about other Christmas presents and wondering if I can pull the "no money left" card on just about everyone...think it will work? It might be true soon, since we still have to pay for Martin's plane tickets to Peru and then buy a new bed.
My mom called to let us know that we left a whole bunch of stuff in the suitcase we abandoned at her house, after buying new ones. Turned out it's a good idea to LOOK IN THE SUITCASES YOU ARE LEAVING BEHIND before you fly halfway around the world. Two of Martin's jackets, his good pair of shoes, 2 books and a Christmas present. sigh
I just finished reading the first two books in a really good trilogy only to discover that the third one, which I thought was available, isn't coming out until November. AAAGH. In being totally obsessed with those two, I managed to completely space the fact that book group is tomorrow and I was going to re-read the book for it, but now I don't have time. It's All The Light We Cannot See which is a FANTASTIC book. I can't recommend it highly enough and I started re-reading it anyway last night and we'll see how far I get before 7 pm tomorrow. Re-reading it is certainly no hardship.
I am hosting dinner for a group of girls/colleagues. I don't know what to call this group. It's not like the Wonders, exactly. 3 of us are American, one of us is British and the last one is Swedish, but married to a Canadian. All of us work together, in the same department. We have had dinner at 3 of the other's homes so far, and they were all the most amazing meals. So I feel like I really need to step up my menu game. Before the summer, it took us forever to figure out a date that worked for all of us and it ended up being at the end of August, on Friday the 26th.
Two days ago, we received an invitation in the mail, to Martin's IB graduation diploma ceremony, and guess when it is? OF COURSE, it's the same night. But, the ceremony is from 5:30 until approximately 7:15 and so I'm hoping that if they are calling each kid up to get his diploma, Martin's will be early as he's early in the alphabet and I can bug out afterwards and race home to pop the dinner in the oven. I've managed to get everyone to agree to coming over at 7:30. We'll all be STARVING by then, but what else can I do? Trying to find another date was just not an option.
I'm trying to get my menu together but I'm struggling with what to serve for dessert. I have everything else pretty much decided. I'm taking the day off so I can get everything ready without stressing, then go to the ceremony and get home to greet my guests, so dessert needs to be something relatively easy or something I can make ahead of time. Hmmm...
Well, looks like I had something after all! That was a longer post than I expected to come pouring out of my fingertips!
WISH YOU WERE HERE
When you live this far apart from your loved ones, time together is never long enough, even when some days together it feels
like it. I would like another couple of weeks together just to RELAX, without plans, without parties, without anything but time to sit together, talk more deeply about our lives, get to know my niece and nephews better, give my children more time with their grandma, their uncle, their aunt, their cousins. Time to do all the family things together that we so rarely get to do with each other: play games, go shopping, eat meals, hang out on the deck, watch movies, smile, joke, talk, laugh and laugh some more. I really hope that we can make it happen sooner the next time. Not seeing my family for years at a time is HARD.( This one goes out to the ones I loveCollapse )
FILLING THE YEAR
In Sweden, the phrase for having a birthday is "fyller år" which literally means "filling the year". In Swedish, you don't turn
100, you fill
it. The word birthday is the same in both languages; födelsedagen
. In my family, we have a pile of birthdays in March (Sarah, John, Simone, Bryce) and a pile in the summer, mostly in July with mine lagging in early August (my grandmother, my mom and dad (same day), me, Sammy, Karin) and another group in December (Danely, Martin, Jakob). My sister's husband Tom, and Anders, are the odd men out, with birthdays in January and May, respectively.
Birthdays were a big part of our summer celebration, obviously, and not only because my grandmother was turning 100. This past year, my sister hit 50 (birthdays are violent in English) and my mom 75. I can still remember the year we celebrated milestone birthdays for 4 generations when it was my MOM who was hitting 50 and my grandmother 75. That year Sarah turned 25 and my great-grandmother was the one turning 100! They are all 25 years apart; pretty cool!( Who needs a pinch to grow an inch?Collapse )
FUN WITH FAMILY
When I proposed having a party this summer to celebrate all the big events & milestones in our family, it never occurred to me how it might snowball. I persuaded my mom to let me invite the entire family, never suspecting that so many of them might actually come. I thought it would be like my plans for my 50th birthday trip with my friend Russell: all
our family and friends would come...when in reality not even my brother could make it (we had a great time regardless). And we had a LOT to celebrate this year: big birthdays, graduations, anniversaries. We felt like the timing was right and apparently, so did many of my mom's relatives. Because my Uncle Sam wanted his ashes buried in Bad Axe, the site of my mom's family's origins, his sambo Joanne decided to hold a memorial service for him the day before our get-together. And my grandmother's 100th birthday fell the day after, so everything seemed to be lining up in perfect alliance.
Not EVERYONE was there, of course, even though at times it felt like it. After all, there are nearly 200 living members in my mom's family. Of the original 7 sisters and 2 brothers (one of whom was my grandfather), 2 didn't have children, but of the 7 who did, 6 of them were represented by descendants at our party. On Saturday, the big "reunion" day, we had almost 60 people in my mom's backyard. Not too shabby!
Three of the biggest reasons why the weekend was so great: my uncle Mike, my mom Linda, and my grandmother Bernice( Monkeying around on the family tree...Collapse )
FUN WITH FRIENDS
It turns out, when I am selecting photos from vacation, that I tend to take all the ones with people in them. Even though I appreciate photos of the places we've been and the things we've seen, the ones that get me, that contain the things I most want to remember, are the ones with the people we were with in them. You can find fantastic photos of the Statue of Liberty and New York and Boston anywhere online, but if you want to see what I love, then here you go. Three posts coming up full of smiling faces :)
Eks in America!( More shiny happy peopleCollapse )
IN WHICH I MENTION MY DIGESTIVE SYSTEM ONE TOO MANY TIMES
Things about jetlag that suck
1. Setting the alarm and lying down for a 1-hour nap because you are literally so tired you cannot keep your eyes open, and then, in your zombie-induced haze, turning off the alarm and struggling subsequently as if you are in sleep quicksand to wake up.
2. Getting your digestive system cycle back on track. For a intestinally-regular person like me, being completely off on my disposal schedule is discombobulating.
3. Waking up at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. and not being able to get back to sleep in the time left before the alarm goes off for work.
4. Making idiotic, simple mistakes at work because you're not tracking properly.
5. Having no motivation whatsoever beyond the absolute minimum, to get anything done beyond the necessary motions of getting through the day.
That said, I feel like the worst is just about over, though I had the sleep-quicksand issue this evening again. At least last night I slept all the way until 6 when Anders' alarm went off. Maybe I'll actually be able to sleep in this weekend, for the first time since JUNE. haha!
I've managed to get photos off my ipad and iphone onto the computer, and selected a pile of people pics from Martin's 2000 photos, but still have to actually sit down and winnow further and then edit them and that motivation is still lacking (see #5 above). And I haven't even started to think about photos of what we actually DID while we were gone.
I wanted to write this down somewhere so I don't forget about it...it's an appetizer that my Aunt Bette made at my mom's for the party: Guacamole Tomato Slices. SO GOOD. I have asked her for the recipe so I can confirm actual amounts of ingredients, but in the meantime: guac made with crushed garlic, salt and pepper, PILED in generous dollops on top of thick slices of beefsteak tomatoes and then sprinkled with crushed tortilla chips. Nom nom nom! I have to plan a dinner menu for girlfriends in a few weeks and I'm thinking this might be the appetizer I make.
I am loving my new Coach purse, even though it's not a style I would have chosen originally. The one I really wanted was $100 more than I wanted to spend so I managed to restrain myself and choose one of the 2 next choices, but so far, I really like it. I have had the same Coach purse for more than 25 years so this is a major change. When my first Coach got too beat up, I went and found the same model on Etsy and then again years later so I could keep it, I liked it so much. This one is slightly bigger and doesn't have the big front pocket I prefer, but I like it nonetheless. I've never understood people who change their purses out all the time. Doesn't that get confusing? I could reach into my purse without looking and find what I needed, every time, because everything had its place. Now I have to readjust my mental purse map a bit, but that's okay. Change keeps you young, right?
Except bowel schedule changes. That just makes you crazy.
WELL HELLO THERE!
Did you miss me? I missed me! I missed you, too! It's hard to believe that it's been a month away and now we're back. It was full on summer in the States but back home in Sweden, I feel we've landed in the early onset of autumn and I have to say I am SO GLAD. I never do well in heat and humidity and we had enough of it this past month to last me a lifetime. There's a lot of reasons why I love living in Sweden, but cool weather and no humidity trumps just about everything.
I didn't actually take a lot of photos myself during our epic vacation month, but everyone else did, and Martin managed to fill the card on his new camera with over 2000 of the things! :O I will post some selected images once I get a chance, and have recovered from jetlag.
We had a fantastic time. I got to see great old friends, like Kathey and Russell, Julie & Benny, and more. We got quality family time with, well, just about everyone I'm related to. We stuffed my entire first family into my mom's house, after we got to Michigan and then promptly broke apart for a week, while my family went to visit others and my brother's family went to a beach house. The best way to stay together is to take time apart, haha!
The list of things we did and places we went is long and intense...I need a vacation from my vacation! The family party was fantastic, with three days of chaos, laughter and hugs. My grandmother turned 100 in style :)WEEK 1
- Day in Boston with Sarah, Tom, Danely, Bryce, Kathey & Russell: Mapparium at the Mary Baker Eddy Library, Freedom Trail, Old North Church (complete with live recitation of Paul Revere's Midnight Ride), Paul Revere's House
- Day in Hartford with Sarah and Danely: Mark Twain House and Wadsworth Atheneum Art Museum while Tom, Anders and Bryce went mountain biking. (K&R went to visit her cousin)
- Real American 4th of July with everyone including K/R: hike in the morning for intrepid explorers and then a day complete with picnic, public park celebration and fireworks
- Day in New York City with the whole gang: Grand Central Station, Times Square, Central Park, Chinatown, shopping, Statue of Liberty, 9/11 memorial, One World Freedom Tower Observatory, High Line Park, Chelsea Market
- Tom, Anders and Kathey went mountain biking while the rest of us had fantastic local dairy farm ice cream (red raspberry with dark chocolate and butter crunch, yum!)
- Building a giant jigsaw puzzle of the United States given to us by K&R with each state's flag, flower and bird
- Going to see Finding Dory in an all-recliner movie theater
- Driving to Albany with Sarah, to spend the night with Aunt Joanne
- Picking up Uncle Sam's car and heading to Michigan, via Canada. Arrived at mom's for dinner. John, Simone, Sammy and Jakob had arrived the day before. Sarah & co. arrived the day after we did!
- Visiting my grandmother
- Shopping, shopping and more shopping!
- Beach house hang out
- Day on Upper Straits Lake with the entire family at my cousin Beth's with all 4 of her kids: boating, kayaking, paddleboarding and jetskiing, plus bonfire and s'mores
- Introduction to Rum Chata thanks to my Uncle Mike :)
- Celebrating Karin's 17th birthday!
- Trip with our family to Traverse City to visit Aunt Judy and Onekama (Portage Lake) to visit my college roommate Julie and her husband Benny
- More shopping, a massage (for me) beach house, bonfire, s'mores, party prep
- Visit to Detroit Zoo, more shopping and hanging out with cousins
- Celebrating Sammy's 5th birthday!
- Family starts arriving from out of town
- Memorial gathering at the Bad Axe cemetery to celebrate my Uncle Sam's life and memory with extended family members. Weiner roast with...surprise! s'mores! back at the house
- Huge family party with 63 relatives, catered food and tons of appetizers, tent, etc. 4 generations of cousins, aunts, uncles, etc., tons of photos and fun
- Celebrating my grandmother's 100th birthday with 30+ relatives still in town, more food (SO MUCH FOOD)
- Visit to E. Lansing to meet with my friend Michelle (who used to live in Sweden) and give Martin and Danely a tour of the Michigan State University campus. Lunch at The Peanut Barrel!
- Going to see Ghostbusters in an air-conditioned (!) all-recliner movie theater
- Trip to Somerset mall: finally got my new Coach purse, yay!
- Day at the beach house, relaxing, final shopping spree, returned to house to find Anders and Sammy had been attacked by wasps during a misfired soccer game in the front of the house (all well!)
- Waiting until the very last minute to take family photos, of course. Drive back through Canada to New York to spend the night with Joanne
- Picked up rental car and drove to Boston by way of Springfield and a stop at the Basketball Hall of Fame (for Karin who is currently obsessed)
- Flight left Boston at 10:30 p.m. on Friday, via Frankfurt, arrived in Copenhagen on Saturday afternoon at 2:30. Collected bags and went downstairs to the train platform only to discover when Anders opened his backpack to pull out the passports that it WASN'T HIS BACKPACK. :O Aaaaagh.
- 3 more hours at Copenhagen airport trying to track down the owner of the backpack and get ours back, with stops at the Information Desk, Lost & Found and Danish Police. Text messages finally reached the guy who was nearly home. He turned around and headed back to the airport, and another hour later we were again on our way, completely wiped out. Planes, trains and automobiles later: HOME SWEET HOME in Sweden
Now we're home and I, at least, am zombified, thanks to jet lag. Anders and I went back to work today, though I left early, lest I start stalking my co-worker's brains. We're caught up on housework and laundry but not yardwork. Martin has an interview for a tutoring job and today was offered a part-time position at a cafe and apple orchard working weekends (!). Karin is already hanging out with friends all evening and sleeping all day (school is going to be a rude awakening in a few weeks).
The weather is lovely: cool, crisp, sunny and rainy in equal proportion, but best of all NOT HUMID...have I said that enough? I can't say that enough. And I was super pumped tonight after dragging my (fat) ass (I ate ALL THE THINGS, all month) to WW to find I have only gone up 3 kilos. Score!
I miss my mom already and my grandmother, whom I realized as I was saying goodbye that I might not see again. I miss my sister and her family, even Bryce who is finally human and was my favorite child for much of the month. Never thought I'd say that, haha! I miss my brother and his family, even though Simone kept making the rest of us look bad. I miss Michigan, but there's these in the world: Michigan Homesick Candle
. I miss my cousins and my aunts and uncles because you know what? There is never enough time to spend with people you love.
I can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn
bushes have roses.Abraham Lincoln
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