FIRST SNOW & FIRST BORN
We were a bit worried about heading over the bridge to Copenhagen yesterday evening, joking around that we might have to spend the night there, if the storm worsened. We'd been enduring gale force winds for over 24 hours with no signs of stopping even though the afternoon had seen some sunny spots between blowing layers of clouds. The temperature has dropped drastically, too, but it wasn't raining that much, thankfully.
There were four of us last night, only Angie wasn't along for the fun, and we met up at the parking garage at the Hyllie train station outside of Malmö. We all had things to exchange: things left behind at Thanksgiving, salamis that my friends had bought for Karin's soccer team, socks & underwear that we had bought from Kelly for her daughter's swim team, etc. and money to pay each other back and forth. Emily had her white stick with her and told us a horror story from a few weeks ago, when she missed her footing between the train and the platform and fell between them. Thankfully, someone pulled the emergency brake and two guys helped pull her up before anything worse could happen, but eek...scary! She is legally blind, and her vision has deteriorated a great deal since I first met her. She still sees a very small pinprick of vision in one eye, but otherwise, she is for all intents and purposes, unable to see. She's getting a guide dog in January, which will be great for her and hopefully allow her much more freedom than she has now.
Anyway, we caught the train to Copenhagen, and just across the street from the Central Station we headed into Tivoli. We had pre-ordered a show meal at Groften, one of the many excellent restaurants inside the premises, and we spent a fun hour and a half chatting and eating.
The Cabaret show we were going to see has been playing in Tivoli every year for 30 years and is organized and performed by an English theater group. It's a singing, dancing revue full of raunchy jokes and silly slapstick, but it's amusing and the actors are so full of glee and good humor that everyone gets caught up in the fun. The show started at 7:30 and we got out of the theater just after 9 p.m. and walked out into a winter wonderland. It had been snowing the entire time and the whole amusement park was blanketed in white.
Tivoli at Christmastime is ALREADY beautiful and wondrous, filled with lights on every tree and outlining every surface. There are little booths full of beautiful things and food and just walking around is a delight. With the snow on top of it, it was an extra magical bonus. We shopped and walked around a bit and then stopped again and had (a very expensive) dessert at a different restaurant, before finally heading over to the train station and catching the midnight train home to Sweden.
There was snow around Malmö too, but not that much and the wind had mostly died down so driving home wasn't any problem. The sky was SO clear: shining stars against pure black, but no snow on the ground in Flyinge...until this morning. It's been snowing all day today and the sky looks ready to continue indefinitely.
We woke Martin up early this morning singing Happy birthday to him and gave him his presents. Now the house is clean, the cake is baked and frosted (Caramel Dream Cake!) and Anders is just starting to deal with dinner. His family is coming over at 5 so we still have an hour and a half before they arrive. It's hard to believe Martin is 16. I can remember MY sixteenth birthday (in Germany) and how adult I felt. We have his driving intro course on Monday, to boot. How time flies. He was just a chubby-cheeked, fat-footed toddler a minute ago! Happy birthday, Martin! I love you!!
Someone else was glad it snowed, too:Photos by Anders Ek
THAR SHE BLOWS
We're in the middle of storm number 2 so far this winter...60 mile per hour winds: it sounds like a freight train outside. It's not cold enough for snow, but the forecast is for sleet. We've lost power already once, right as I was preparing dinner, so our halfway-heated mashed potatoes were warmed with the bernaise sauce that Anders had JUST finished making. Thankfully the schnitzels were already done!
It could go out again any moment, so this will be a short one just in case. I have my list of Christmas cards to start working on, plus Martin's birthday presents to wrap, and a big book I'm in the middle of, all pleasantly electricity-free pursuits. Karin and Martin are out walking the dog. Karin was so excited by the storm that she wanted to go out in a bikini and flip-flops to "really feel it!" NUTBAG CHILD.
I hope we don't lose power so much that we lose water too, and I hope the storm is past by tomorrow since I'm heading to Copenhagen with most of the Wonders for the Crazy Christmas Cabaret tomorrow!
Not much to say really...how did I manage to find blog fodder for every day in November?
1 day until my niece's birthday
2 days until AWC julbord
3 days until the house is decorated
5 days until Crazy Christmas Cabaret in Copenhagen with the Wonders
6 days until Martin's 16th birthday
8 days until our intro driving course with Martin
9 days until mom arrives!
12 days until my work Christmas party
13 days until we go Christmas tree hunting (though we may do this earlier)
14 days until Christmas cookie baking extravaganza
16 days until the full moon
17 days until sushi out with Emily and mom, the first day of vacation and the expected arrival of my brother's second child!
19 days until the last day of school and Barky's appointment with beautiful
20 days until the shortest day of the year and the light can start returning
22 days until my friend Kathey's and my mother-in-law's birthday
23 days until Christmas eve, Swedish-style
24 days until Christmas day, American-style
26 days until the AWC glögg party
30 days until New Year's Eve and the starting gun goes off for the race through 2014!
It's the last day of November! It's Ek Family Thanksgiving Day! It's Saturday! I have posted every day for 30 days and I have to say I'm pretty proud of sticking to it, when I was so doubtful at the beginning.
It's hot in the house because the oven has been going since around 10 a.m. this morning. Two turkeys are done and resting on the countertop (under guard) and Anders is peeling potatoes. I have asked twice if he wants help but he keeps refusing me. I bought 9 kilos
of potatoes. That's something like 100 potatoes. We have had one person call to let us know there could be a problem and she might not make it tonight as her dad went into the hospital this morning. She's awaiting reports from the nursing staff before she can make a decision. Everything else is on track and the only chore not yet done is vacuuming the kids' rooms and the playroom and I'm about to yell at them again. It's only 2 pm and people aren't arriving until 5 and we won't eat until 6, so we have lots of time to just relax and do anything that we suddenly remember needs to be done. I might even get around to cleaning the fish tank... naaaah.
We are enjoying having Mental despite an episode earlier this week. He's a pleasure to walk and have around, even though he, like all the other dogs we've had, insists on fetching stuffed animals one by one from the basket in the hopes that we'll throw them for him to chase. And I do wish he'd wait until my alarm actually goes off, since letting him out to pee at 4 or 5 or 6 am when it's FREEZING out is not my idea of a good time, but hey! That's what you get with a dog, right? The fun of responsibility plus unconditional love. :)
The episode I referred to above is one that has embarrassed poor 1222
, but I hope she understands that it wasn't really his fault and we aren't mad at him OR her, and it's actually pretty amazing what one dog can do... on Monday when the furnace guys were here, Anders stayed home. Sometime mid-morning they had to turn off the water and the electricity and so, because Anders couldn't work and needed to get a couple of things done, he decided it was best to go into the office for a couple of hours...but he was worried about leaving the dog in the house with all these strange men, so he put the dog in the bathroom.
However, Mental was not at all okay with that, and he tried to get out. He knew there were people in the house and I'm sure he couldn't understand why he was in the bathroom, so he started scratching at the door, and managed to get the air vent grate off and then, well, he just kept going. When Anders came home his head was all the way out, and when I came home, the kids gleefully told me that "Mental ATE THE DOOR, Mom!"
Oy! Yes, yes he did! Now we call him Chompers.
Karin being Mental (hee!)
IF YOU'RE GONNA DO A MEME, DO ONE ABOUT SOMETHING YOU LOVE
Which book has been on your shelf the longest?
I don't know if this question means the longest as in that I have owned the longest, or if it means a book that has been waiting to be read the longest. If it's the first, one of the oldest books I have is a compilation of stories called Animals You Will Never Forget. I used to read it over and over, and if I remember correctly, so did my sister. I have most of the books I had a as child, at least all the hardcover ones I received as gifts. If it's the second, it's the fourth Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I read the first three and gave up.
What is the first book you bought for yourself?
A Spell For Chameleon by Piers Anthony. I can still remember what a thrill it was to use my own money to buy a book I wanted.
What is your current read, your last read and the book you'll read next?
Right now, I am re-reading The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, and I am re-reading it because I finished her latest book right before: Bellman & Black. Both: so good. My next book? I will probably re-read Ken Follet's Fall of Giants because I just bought his sequel, Winter of the World.
What book did everyone like and you hated?
I usually don't read best sellers or top ten books because I'm a total book snob. I disliked The Da Vinci Code rather a lot, but I can't say I hated it. I actually hated The Catcher in the Rye quite a bit. AND William Faulkner, everything he ever wrote. Also, I didn't like The Alchemist and didn't really get why everyone thought it was so fantastic. *snore*
Which book do you keep telling yourself you'll read, but you probably won't?
War and Peace, Anna Karenina, The Diary of Anne Frank, the rest of the Harry Potter books.
Last page: read it first or wait till the end?
Usually no, but once in awhile, if I really can't stand it, then I sometimes peek.
Acknowledgments: waste of ink and paper or interesting aside?
I read everything in a book, if I like it. Preface, intro, dedication, afterword, reading guide questions, table of contents, and the page on the back of the title page that has the publishing information.
Which book character would you switch places with?
Diana Barry, so I could be kindred spirits with Anne of Green Gables. Claire from Outlander. JAMIE! hahahaha! Except I have no medical training and wouldn't survive more than 15 minutes in the 1700s.
Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life (a person, a place, a time)?
Um. All of them.
Which book has been with you to the most places?
Since I have lived in 29 places and have taken all my books with me every time, all of them, I guess.
Used or brand new?
What a dumb question, who cares? BOOOOOOOOOKS!
Have you ever seen a movie you liked better than the book?
No. Most of the movies I've seen that were adapted from books, even if they were excellent, were not as good as the book. And most of the movies that people say are better than the books are ones that either I haven't seen the movie of or I haven't read the book. No wait! There is one. The Muppet Christmas Carol was better than Dickens' version. Hee!
HAPPY TURKEY DAY
I just got home from a very long day of work and then shopping and then wreathmaking workshop. I made one big beautiful wreath and bought another one and a whole box full of poinsettias, big ones and little ones to decorate the house with.
My wreath has holly and holly berries and pine cones and GOLD spraypaint and did I mention it's beautiful?? But I don't have any photos (yet) because my phone died and my car charger broke, to boot.
I hung my wreath on the front door and now it is officially the start of the holiday season.
Tomorrow is cleaning and groceries and putting up lights and getting things ready.
I'm off to call my mom and talk to all my relatives wish them Happy Thanksgiving and wish I was there or they were here.
And I wish you the very same.
LITTLE PLEASURES ADD UP TO TREASURES
Elizabeth put up a beautiful post
on the Squam blog about 100 things she's thankful for and Megsie followed suit with a fantastic list
of her own. I could pretty much just swipe everything from both their lists, but in the interest of actually WRITING my own list and not just copycatting others, even if things they are thankful for are also things I'M thankful for, here are 100 things I'm thankful for right now, in no particular order, on this eve of Thanksgiving 2013.
alone time :: internet access :: clean water :: a veritable plethora of books to read :: butt-warmer car seats :: electricity :: strong fingernails :: cavity-free dentist visits :: touch-typing class in 8th grade :: Anders :: Martin :: Karin :: my first family :: long-distance calls :: wish lists :: hair color :: laughter :: Spotify :: ibuprofin :: language :: Adobe CS :: the ability to multi-task :: 6 weeks of vacation :: my monthly paycheck :: poets and poetry :: social media :: bookgroup :: Debbie :: Camilla :: Becky :: Barky's volume :: willpower :: COOKIES :: a sense of humor :: sushi nights :: lilacs :: dandelions :: friendly neighborhood cats :: sunshine :: storks :: living in Europe :: my bed :: people who get my jokes :: snapdragons :: peonies :: ladybugs :: red seedless grapes :: avocados :: inventors :: zippers :: my massage seat :: my husband's cooking :: tape :: oxygen :: the Swedish healthcare system :: my in-laws :: people committed to making the world a better place :: flush toilets :: curious horses in the pasture behind our house :: spring leaves :: progressive glasses :: refrigerators :: Intelligent Life magazine :: Michaelangelo :: Annie Dillard :: bacon :: all my amazing blogging friends :: Yuna :: Vienna Teng :: trees, all kinds :: blue skies :: cloudy awful rainy days because they make me appreciate the blue skies even more :: myskväll :: alphabets :: airplanes :: tumble dryers and washing machines :: fluffy over-sized bath towels :: soap :: thought-provoking writing :: challenges :: motivation :: inspiration :: knife sharpeners :: routines :: Reese's peanut butter cups :: moose :: art of all kinds :: Q-tips :: hot poundy showers :: movies with unpredictable endings :: prolific authors that I love :: blended creme frappacinos :: my history :: my education :: my memories :: all the people that enrich my life :: witty repartée :: spontaneity :: maps :: IT support
Tip of the iceberg, indeed. I could go on all night. Got a list? Do tell.
LOOKING FORWARD, LOOKING UP
The past few days and nights have been below freezing, but that clear chill kind of cold that is perfect winter weather...ice crystals and blue skies and dragon-breath. It's been perfectly clear, no clouds at all, even at night and the night sky is as black as pitch. The stars sparkle against it like they're diamonds lying on velvet. Orion is slumped so far to the left that he's practically somnolent.
When I take the dog out for one last round-the-block walk, the grass crunches under our feet and the street sparkles in the light from the street lamps. We can hear a baby crying from one house, and a dog (obviously small) barking from another. It's quiet otherwise...just our footsteps and me admonishing Mental to stop pulling. He has a blinky blue light on his leash and he charges straight out the door, around the front of the house to the garden bed under the kitchen window where he lifts his leg on the ceramic cat that guards the hostas.
Can you believe it is November 26th already? Where has this month gone? Where has this YEAR gone?? Two days until Thanksgiving and 4 days until our Thanksgiving bash and NEW INTERNET! Is it wrong that I am almost as excited about the Internet as I am about stuffing?
Some people say this time of year is all about giving thanks, others that it's all about giving gifts (or getting them) and still others that it's about surviving winter. I think it's about anticipation. There is so much to look forward to; not just the holidays, but all the things that go with them: julbords, Christmas markets, cookies, good company, people visiting, get-togethers, Christmas carols, cards and shopping and smiling faces, stress (can't forget that), advent lights in windows, snow, time off, the start of a new year.
I'm looking forward to wreathmaking on Thursday, an AWC activity that we've been doing for years. I think we figured out last year that it had been 12 years so this year makes 13. I'm looking forward to my brother's new baby that's coming as an early Christmas present for him and Simone and Sammy. I'm looking forward to Martin's 16th birthday (16!) and my mom's arrival. I'm looking forward to seeing my Christmas house and tree decorations that have been boxed in the attic for 2 years!People I am extra happy for right now
(along with Daisy & Ollie) and Samiam
with a NEW BABY! Whee!!!
THESE ARE THE DAYS
Every day when I come into work, one of my colleagues greets me and then says what day it is. I don't know if this is a Swedish thing, but I find it very strange. EVERY DAY. I suspect he is saying it for confirmation because he must understand that I KNOW what day it is.
So, in case you weren't aware or don't have access to a calendar or are on vacation and not paying attention: today is Monday.
One of my other colleagues is gone on a business trip this week, so we're short one person, which means that I wasn't able to concentrate on a big presentation I'm working on but kept getting sidetracked by other things that were coming in with URGENT all over them, and questions from people and I really, really hope I can spend a good chunk of concentration time on it tomorrow or I will be completely stressed out by WEDNESDAY.
Today was the AWC meeting and the cookie exchange, which went well, except for the fact that one woman in the nuts group signed up for 2 people (because she was bringing her daughter to the meeting) but only made cookies for herself, so that whole group was expecting cookies from 6 people and only got them from 5. And one person in no-nuts group only put 5 cookies in her sets instead of 6. They WERE big cookies but, still.
We got a new furnace today and it's LOUD. It's humming like a great big loud cat out in the laundry room and it looks rather like a Star Trek beam-me-up machine. The old furnace wasn't working correctly so even though 11 years doesn't seem all that long for a furnace to last, it had to be replaced. Why is it that replacing things is so often cheaper than fixing them??
The guest speaker at our meeting was a life coach who works primarily with expats. He's an American who followed his spouse here after living in Spain for some time. He handed out an exercise on paper that consisted of a wheel divided into sections labeled
Fun & Recreation
Significant Other / Romance
The center of the wheel where all the wedges met was 1 (least happy) and the outside circle was 10 (most happy) and we were supposed to draw a line or fill in or indicate where our happiness level was for each of the wedges.
Overall, I am pretty happy with my life here in Sweden. One of my dreams was to live in Europe, and I'm doing that. Another one was to have a job I love and I have that. Almost all of my wedges were an 8 or a 9, because even though things are pretty great, there is some room for improvement, of course, in all of them. But the one that got the lowest number was FAMILY. Not because I'm not happy with my family; quite the contrary. I have a great family...great kids and a great husband; it's my first family that is bothering me. And not because I'm not happy with them, either, but because they are TOO FAR AWAY.
After nearly 17 years in Sweden, I really miss my family. I hate that I only see my mom once, maybe twice a year if I'm lucky, and that I see my brother less and my sister even less. It makes me sad, but I don't really know what to do about it. It's not like I can just fly to the States or down to Germany whenever I feel like it, and the same goes for them.
I hear other people say that they live in the same town or quite close to their siblings or parents and never see them either, but that wouldn't be the case if I had my druthers. Where are my druthers? What CAN I do about this? We DO call each other, and we DO write emails and they all read this blog and comment, but still. It's not enough. *sigh*
Anyway, I did get some online shopping done today and I'm now feeling pretty good about my to-do list. And my mom IS coming soon, so there's that. Also: COOKIES.
NOM NOM NOM
Cookies are done! They were really easy to make, except for the dipping in chocolate part, which I would do differently next time. I put the skewers in first, but then they twirl within the dough and come out when you're swirling the cookie dough in the melted chocolate. So I would swirl the ball first and THEN skewer it. And yes, they are DELICIOUS. The chocolate chips IN the cookies are dark chocolate and the melted dip was milk chocolate. Recipe below :)Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 3 TB half and half (I used half cream, half milk)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/3 cup flour
- 2/3 cup mini chocolate chips
- 2 cups chocolate chips (melted)
- 1 TB shortening
Cream butter and sugar together. Add remaining ingredients and mix well, use your hands to knead. Roll into 1-inch balls. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Dip in melted chocolate, drizzle with chocolate or eat as is. If dipping in chocolate, dip the ball first, place on parchment paper, then skewer with a half-skewer or lollipop stick (approx. 4 inches long). Let stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving. Store in refrigerator.
I can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn
bushes have roses.Abraham Lincoln
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