Friday, October 31, 2008

A Day Away from Vacation - Scandinavian Happenings Around Town!

Here are links to some Scandinavian holiday happenings around my town:

Nordic Heritage Museum Yulefest 2008

Swedish Cultural Center Scandinavian Holiday Bazaar 2008

Scandinavian Cultural Center at PLU Calendar

IKEA's November 2008 Calendar

Nordic Fest 2008 on Whidbey Island

Bothell Sons of Norway Bazaar

Country/Scandinavian Holiday Bazaar (No link)
November 13th - 15th 10:00a to 5:00p
9219 152nd St SE
This house is cute if you haven't seen it!

Julefest Christmas Bazaar
SAT Traditional Norwegian needlework, ornaments, home décor, garden decorations, bake sale, lunch, demonstrations of Scandinavian foods and arts, proceeds benefit local food banks, mission quilts and U.S. troop care packages; 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Zion Lutheran Church, 25105 132nd Ave. S.E., Kent (253-631-0100 or

Foss Home Scandinavian Bazaar

and this little tidbit, which isn't Scandinavian but I thought it sounded really interesting:

Wood Construction Center Saturday Market
SAT Sale of furniture, arts and crafts made by students and alumni of the SCCC Wood Construction Center, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, SCCC Wood Construction Center, 2310 S. Lane St., Seattle (

In Portland:

24th Annual Christmas ScanFair - sounds awesome!

In Canada:

Swedish Christmas Market - and lots of other events!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sweden Trip Day 5 - Quiet Days in the Country OR Miscellaneous Facts about Food and Family

When I was looking at my notes for Day 5 it was a weird hodge-podge of items mostly relating to food and family.

We started out the day going to pick svampan (mushrooms). This was one of my favorite times of the whole trip because picking mushrooms is something that interests me. I was definitely no longer sick, but now I had a weird bruise on the bottom of my foot - I guess I don't need to mention it, but normally there is never anything wrong with me and now besides being sicker than a dog for three days I had this foot thing!

I know I mentioned before Berit lived in Norra Rörum, but I just found this blurb about the municipality it is located in and I thought it was interesting as of 2005 there were only 203 people living there. Tony's house was the last house on the road and he was about 186 miles from the next house!

Waiting to look for mushrooms, check out my boots!

Tobbe outside his house. Tobbe was adopted by Berit - his original name was actually Zlatan, I'll let you look at the link. Berit actually built this house with an old boyfriend of hers back in the 70s.

This was the house Berit and her boyfriend lived in while the built the other house. Now this houses her dryer.

Morning in the forest...

I really wanted my mom to take a picture of my issued boots, but Tobbe decided he wanted to be the center of attention instead. Oh, my socks kept falling down all the way to my toes too...

Svamp hunden (mushroom dogs - like birddogs) Sofia and Tobbe!

I think this was the biggest mushroom of the day.

My favorite mushroom, the poisonous but ever so cute red and white polka dot mushroom.

Our catch of the day, chantarelles.

After we took our morning walk we headed out to buy a birthday present for Therese, my cousin's daughter, who we were having a little birthday party for the next day. And, my Aunt Rigmor (I pronounce it Ring-more, but technically it's more like REEG-mor, but I've been saying it my way since I was a kid, and I'm not changing) had given my mom cash to buy korv (aka, a hotdog) every day she was in Sweden and she hadn't had one yet.

So we headed out in Berit's little red car down to Löddeköpinge, with much discussion ensuing about how it's spelled Löddeköpinge, but most people call it Löddeköpe, which I guess it's like Los Angeles to LA or, you get my drift...

Berit's little red snow car...

We also passed the school where my mom attended second grade on the way up and on the way back but we buzzed by it so quickly I didn't get a photo.

Our first stop was a store called Engelbrektsboden, which I couldn't find a link for! Damn the luck, anyway, it was Wal-Mart-esque. Then we went to Center Syd (Center South), the big mall. Just my luck though, Berit and mom weren't really in shopping mode, only 'let's get this present and get outta here' mode so Center Syd is on my list of 'next trip' items.

I started to notice a theme, every day Berit likes to stop for ice cream. She's particularly fond of drumsticks. Even when we were bike riding on Ven we stopped and she got a drumstick.

We stopped at this nursery in the country to buy some flowers for my Aunt Inga-Mai's grave. She passed away in 2004. She had breast cancer and then bone cancer. We bought heather, which signifies admiration. Admiration of a lovely lady who battled cancer but still loved to go dancing!

It turns out Berit appears to be one of the keepers of old family photos, information, etc. I had no idea, I'm definitely coming back again to get all the info and copies of the pictures.

This is actually a print of the house that belonged to my mom's Farmor and Farfar (Grandmother and Grandfather on the father's side). In one of the next installments we actually drove by the house!

Mom and I with our standard issue lint rollers.

Our room at Berit's - eccentric. If you look very carefully above the bed on the left there is a black and white picture of me and my sister when we were tots...

So my mom has this mosaic mirror and my sister and I always fight over who will get it when she is gone, lo and behold, Berit had another one! It was a different color - but I was sooooo happy - I gave as many hints as possible.

An awesome dinner made by Berit, salmon covered with about 2 inches of creme fraiche, with potatoes with fresh parsley from the yard - hey, wait a minute - what's that big green bottle in the background...

We had been talking about several different fruits during the day, the paradise apple, nypon and physalis. I wasn't sure what any of them were called in English so I googled them when I got home. Nypon are rose hips, physalis are cape gooseberries and I still don't know what a paradise apple is called here, probably the same. If anyone knows, let me know.

After dinner my mom and I went down and walked by the lake. When I was a child I swam in this lake!

Cute houses in the background...

the lake

I love the mailboxes!

Peaceful evening...

Lovely Aunt Berit and her funky glasses!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sweden Trip Day 4 - Mickey Appears!

Our day started out with my mom, Berit and myself venturing over to the island of Ven (Hven), for a nice day of bike riding. One of the interesting sights on the island is the Tycho Brahe Museum. Tycho Brahe was an instrumental astronomer and alchemist, who was not without his less than fine points. However, his work laid the groundwork for many others. If you are interested in history and science I recommend reading up on Tycho Brahe, it's fascinating. The most interesting parts to me were of course, his views of women, his garden and his relation to astrology.

My pictures do the island no justice - it is absolutely beautiful!

Berit and I waiting for the ferry to leave.

Our arrival...

The countryside...

I thought this would make a great picture because of the bikes, then when I got home I noticed the toilet sign...I guess I shouldn't give up my day job...

I just loved the juxtaposition ($7 word) of the red geraniums and the somberness of the background...too bad you can't tell it's the beautiful St. Ibb's old church and cemetery up a cliff overlooking the ocean...and it's blurry...ya, I think I missed my calling...thank God for web links...

View of the harbor...

I just liked this house and garden...there were a million of these cute things on the island.

We actually rode our bikes through this field all the way from the farthest point on the horizon - I loved it!

We packed a little picnic lunch.

No self respecting Swede would be caught without coffee on any excursion.

Berit and I coming around the bend!

Just a note to make everyone feel bad - my Aunt Berit is 76 years old and made her way around that island like a champ on her bike! Old age, shmold age!

After our day of bike riding we high-tailed it on over to of all places, the dollar store, Öob, which it turns out is one of my brother's favorite Swedish stores, and then City Gross, which is kind of like a Target Greatland or Super Walmart. I know it sounds corny, but I felt the same way about these stores as I did the grocery store - happy to be there.

When we got home we got ready to go up to Tony's house for dinner. Here are the highlights:

This is the sign to turn down the one mile dirt road to Berit's house. I asked her if she ever has problems in the winter, "I always get out", is what I was told.

My mom took this picture of her big sister while cracking up because of the urchin-fab look.

Another beautiful smörgåstårta, made by Tony, curry chicken...we had strawberries and cream for dessert - YUM!

Mickey! I asked my mom, did Tony name the fox? No, Mickey is just a nickname people use for foxes in general, like we would use it if we saw a mouse.

Everyone, grab your shoes quick!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sweden Trip Day 3 - City Mouse/Country Mouse Part 2

When Mom and I got home from Malmö centrum (downtown), Aunt Berit and Tony (Berit's friend), came over to Aunt Kerstin's for dinner. Berit speaks no English. My mom said they didn't start teaching English in school until she was in the 6th grade, Berit is 76 and my mom is 70. Needless to say the majority of the dinner conversation was in Swedish, well not the majority, all of it. I didn't really mind though, it was good practice for me to hear it in conversation versus hearing it in my normal classroom setting. The only English was when mom announced Berit had cursed.

After dinner we were heading out to spend a few days at Berit's house in the country. Oh, I almost forgot, for dessert we had this fruit salad with fresh whipped cream and these cookie pieces in it that were so stinkin' good! Mandel biskvier is what they are called. Simple dessert, yet yummy.

Berit lives in Norra Rörum which is about 40 miles northeast of Malmö. Forty miles doesn't sound like a lot, but once you leave the city it turns into farmland quickly. We stopped at the grocery store where Berit bought two loaves of bread. I bought a magazine - Landet. I guess part of the dinner conversation was what we were eating for breakfast, Kerstin told Berit I was only eating half a piece of toast, my mom said, you never know, tomorrow she may eat the whole piece! Therefore, Berit bought two loaves of bread for three days.

When we finally got to Berit's it was pitch black outside, we went inside and I thought we were going to settle in for the night - I was wrong. You have to remember I have no idea what is being said all this time. I was immediately issued a flashlight and a lint roller. I didn't know why, but what the hell, I'm usually game for anything!

It seems up at Tony's house (which was the last house on the road and 186 miles from the nearest civilization), around the corner there had been a rascally fox entering homes and stealing pet food and various items of clothing, socks, shoes, etc. So we ventured up there to wait for the fox. It was pitch black outside, I couldn't even see my hand in front of my face. Thus, the flashlight. So there we were hunkered down in Tony's house with the door open, crouched around waiting, and waiting...Berit was holding her 4 year old black lab, Tobbe (pronounced Toe bay, not Toby, as I called him the whole time and was corrected by my mother constantly), listening to Swedish folk music, which is weird. It was quiet, except for the music and my mother, whispering in my ear the smart alec translations of the folk music...

There is a flock of ducks, flying wherever they fly for whatever season - suddenly, they see a man in a boat standing up...later the mother duck is looking for her's a sad, sad song...


Everyone wanted the Miller girl because she was hot, but she told her suitors the first to earn $1,000 would get her hand in marriage, so they left and earned their keep, when they got back with the money she had married the neighbor, the moral of the story, women are fickle, you don't know the mind of a woman...

It sounds hokey, but seriously it was hard to keep quiet with my mom whispering these translations in my ear because it was so funny....

Well, the fox never came, so we went home. The lint roller was to keep the dog hair off.

One thing I noticed was the toilet paper so far had sucked, but Berit had nice toilet paper. Ah, the country!
Berit and I in the dark of night...notice the green fluorescent 7-up bottle...I was instructed to bring it to Tony's. Do foxes like 7-up?

Berit keeping Tobbe from going crazy like a fox!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Sweden Trip Day 3 - City Mouse/Country Mouse Part 1

Today we hopped on the bus early and headed to Malmö!

First things first, I had to exchange my money so we stopped at the local Forex so I could get me some cold hard kronor. Silly me, I was really worried about being able to figure out how much things were, how much I was spending, your basic foreign country exchange stuff, ha!!! Come to find out, I do have a talent! All of my years of shopping and spending have given me an uncanny ability to figure out foreign money! That and food...but of course...

One funny thing happened on the bus, a young kid got on and as we got closer to the center of town more and more people were getting on the bus, all of a sudden this old lady gets on and motions to him with a scowl and a finger to give up his seat for her - I don't know if that is common there, but here that 15 year old would have been all up in her grill...sassy American delinquents!

Two old ladies on the bus! Who wouldn't give up their seats!

One of my first downtown pictures - supposed to be of my mom, but I was distracted by the cute guy in the leather jacket - I told him he was going to be a super star - he laughed!

Kerstin and I standing outside the Osthuset, my brother's favorite, The Cheese House.

Look at all that awesome cheese! Scandinavians love their cheese and bread!

I believe this is traditional old Skåne house architecture. Now it is a trendy gallery (with a kick ass store) that was having a private party my Aunt Kerstin tried to crash, I kept saying, I think it's a private party, I think she was pretending she didn't understand...only because later she commented on it to my mother and laughed...

Me petting one of the many cat sculptures along one of Malmö's canals, or maybe it's THE canal, I'm not sure.

Mom and Kerstin had this great shrimp sandwich at lunch - yum! I was still a bit under the weather so I opted for chicken.

The dreaded Coke Light - whatever.

So my mom will kill me for putting this in, but she said when she was a girl her mom would make her come down here to fish my grandpa out of this exact bar! I love it! Now it's been yuppified - what a shame, but still I'm liking the geraniums.

Kerstin took the bus home after lunch, my mom and I decided to walk part way home through Pildammsparken (the Willow Lake Park), the largest park in Malmö. For some reason I'm fascinated with big hedges.

Crown Princess Margareta's pavilion is one of the remnants of the 1814 Baltic Exhibition.

Mom whipping cream for desert after dinner. I took a picture of everyone at the table, but it was too blurry for blogging...bummer! I loved how every table was set.

Oh sure, we also stopped at the equestrian statue of King Karl X Gustav, St. Peter's Church, the oldest building in Malmö, dating from the early 14th century, and various other old historical buildings, but the pictures I took were not that great, and I was enjoying taking pictures of food, family and the bar my grandpa used to drink at! Fun times!