Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bags are packed, ready to go

Just a quick note to let you all know that we're going away for some days to Dalarna. It's in north-central Sweden...the heart of the folklore district. Travelling with my parents, Bo's parents and the dog! What an adventure! I'll share all about it when we come back! (Maybe I'll try to do some postings while we are gone as Dad is bringing his laptop.)

Whatever you do, wherever you go....Have a SAFE and FUN time!

Thanks for blogging with me! I love to read your comments!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Farhult's MölleFest Dag

Every summer many Swedish communities have LARGE yard sales called LOPPIS to raise money for their sports teams and community projects. In the village of Farhult (where my parents have their summer house), the community pulls together a "MILL PARTY" to raise funds for the up keep of the old windmill. It's another of my favorite activities to do in the summer time! At a Loppis....you never know what treasures you will find! And at this one there is a great sense of community spirit, all for the pride of the old windmill! All year long donations are gathered in a local farmer's big ol' barn.
At exactly 13:00 (1pm) the LOPPIS starts....1, 2, 3, GO! Volunteers have organized the donations into categorizes: TOYS & GAMES, FABRICS (handiwork, curtains, lace dollies, etc), FURNITURE, ELECTRIC, BOOKS, ART WORK, CERAMICS & GLASS and CHRISTMAS. You've got to get there quickly if you're going to find the "precious" stuff...antique dealers have sharpened their elbows to plow their way through first. I always find more games to use in my classroom, books, interesting fabrics, toys and cobalt blue glassware. This year's "treasure" was an old cube puzzle "MADE IN GERMANY, US-ZONE" (don't see that mark much anymore!). As far as other finds...I bought a solid ironing board to keep at the summer house for 10 kronor.* Note to Kelly Sue: next crafty day, you don't have to bring yours over!* And I found a nearly new ENGLISH spelling puzzle for Maya, she's already done it 3 times! C-A-T, M-O-U-S-E ...all the pieces were there!
Mom is right in there with the ladies looking for a bargain (pink jacket, sunglasses). She purchased everything on her list and then some....
At 14:15 the Auction starts! This is quite entertaining if you know enough Swedish to understand his jokes!

Dressed in traditional regional clothing, some of the community women sell homemade cookies and drinks to the hungry crowd for an afternoon "fika"! It's so wholesome I feel like I'm in a Carl Larsson painting!
Mom and Maya take a rest after "loppising" to have a FIKA! What gorgeous weather, too!
LOTTERY TICKETS! 10 kronor for 4 tickets...try your luck to win something on the spot!
WOW! Dad is just happy to participate! All the money goes to a good cause!
I'M A WINNER! YEAH! My lucky number 15 was a cook book by local celebrity...Tina NORDSTRöM! (She's from Helsingborg...and is featured on national TV!) Love her cooking!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Odds and ends around the yard.....

Earlier this summer we had some action going on in our yard.... "Trädgubben" (The Treeman) came to cut down the 3 large pine trees that weren't doing so well in our front yard. He was amazing...climbed up the tree with a chain saw hanging from his belt. After sawing off all the branches on his way up (Bo and Dad pulled them out from under the trees and made HUGE piles on the side), the treeman sawed the trees into large pieces and pushed them off on his way down. Bo is in the process of sawing up all the logs to use as firewood in a couple of years once it is dried out. Mom, Maya & I did our part, too, by loading up over 6 trailers full of the smaller branches and tons of needles. Bo hauled them off to the dump. Too bad it's too early for making wreaths, I had plenty of pine to use! Once all the logs are gone, I will get to plant new things in that corner! Any ideas? It's mostly in the shade.

Here is Ms. Maya is showing off her Pappa's moose antler. Not the average play toy! It's a small one but very heavy nonetheless! Those moose are strong! *Note to Liz: Maya would like to know if you have an antler for your bathroom? would you want one?*

This is all that is left of the mint that I planted...darn rabbits! It was a transplant from another area of my yard...hoping that it would multiply like it did in my flower bed but I guess the rabbits had another idea! AGH! I'm too frustrated to show you what the rest of the little garden looks like...I need to build a new fence! Our cat does his part in keeping the rabbit population down but he needs some help! By the looks of this dirt, I think I need to mix in some fresh compost, too! We don't live in a desert! *Note to Natalie: See what I mean? Your garden looks like a rainforest compared to mine!*

"Fika" in Sweden

One of my favorite things to do in Sweden is to "fika" at a pastry shop!Flickorna Lundgren is my all time favorite place for this activity primarily because of its location. On a sunny day it is perfect to sit in their lovely flower garden, drink coffee or tea or juice, eat delicious pastries & sandwiches outside. While the adults are savioring their "fika", the children can run down to the meadow behind the Cafe to feed the mini goats and pot bellied piggies. You can feel the light breezes coming off the bay and see sailboats floating by....this was a favorite place of one of Sweden's kings as well! "The Lundgren Sisters" is the place to go when travelling around the Kulleberg peninsula

They serve the coffee in old copper kettles; tea, sugar, lemon & milk in locally made ceramic pots and the pastries are on Vilroy & Boch china! You expect the Mad Hatter to make an appearance to pour at the tea party! I'm sorry I took the photo AFTER we had eaten up all the pastries! Next time I'll remember to click before devouring up the yummies!

A visit from Germany

While our friend from the USA was here with us, we had a short visit from Bo's brother and neice from Germany! They were with us for one night and the cousins had a MARVELOUS TIME together despite not having a common language! Olivia (right side, yellow flowers) is exactly a year younger than Maya. Their interests are similar...fantasy worlds of fairies, princesses, little ponies and mermaids! They started the evening dressed in their matching Mexican dresses and as the night continued they had at least 3 other costume changes! The mess they made is proof of the fun they had during the short visit!

Not a good shot...but here we are at 8:30 pm sitting down for dinner...(notice it is still very bright outside, love the summer nights here!)

Guests: Both Bo's parents and mine, Uncle Åke, Bo's 2 brothers + girlfriend, and our guest, Pete from LA. 11 at the table, 2 at the girlies table...I need a bigger dining room table! (& longer table cloths!)
Menu: Reindeer Roast,
Potatoes, Walnut/dried blueberry ruccola salad, broccoli and wild mushroom sauce. Delicious wine as always because my brother-in-law is a wine specialist and has his own shop in Germany! Our cellar is always well stocked! (lucky me & my guests!)

Reindeer as in the Sami reindeer of Lappland...not venison. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sami_people

Simple pleasures

Simply pleasures for me! While shopping at ICA MAXI (a grocery chain in Sweden), I discovered flavored "milk" (it's actually rice milk, which is better for my tummy)! Oh the joy of it! Savoring this addition to my coffee brings me back to the "coffee chat" days with my best buddy, Betsy, at our apartment building in Long Beach, California. We would meet most every afternoon over a cup (or two) of coffee and discuss the day's stressful events at school (both of us are teachers) while keeping our fingers busy with some handiwork. I loved those shared times together! And my mouth really, really enjoys flavored cream! yum!

Summer time with Mormor and Granpa in Sweden

Maya (6 years old) serves tea to her Mormor and Granpa on the front porch in Farhult, Sweden. As many of you might know, my parents purchased a "summer house" in Sweden 3 years ago in order to spend a longer time visiting us for 3 months each summer. It works out perfectly for all of us! They have a little space to call their own where they can relax, putter around, garden, and entertain their one and only grandchild, Ms. Maya! We go back and forth from each other's homes just as we would if they always lived close by...it's a 40 minute drive between so we often sleep over with each other. My parents appreciate the escape from the Floridian summer heat and we LOVE to spend time as much time as possible with them. (without driving each other crazy!)
Mormor (Swedish for grandmother...it means "mother's mother") teaches Maya how to needlepoint. Mom is an expert needlepointer! So we're hoping that Maya will also enjoy this hobby one day...she is a very crafty type of kid.
My Dad loves to build things...at the moment his summer project is adding a little bathroom on to the guest cottage at the summer house.
Every mid-day at the summer house we all have about an hour's rest time "Happy Nappy"! I usually read but everyone else snoozes...Maya has taught Granpa her technique of relaxing, the two finger suck! (I hope Granpa won't need braces later! ha ha) My Dad would be called "morfar" in Sweden (that's "Mother's father") but he can never remember it so we decided it was best if he was simply "granpa". Bo's father is "Farfar" for Maya ("father's father") and you shouldn't mix them up!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

What's it like around the neighborhood.....

Pete and my husband went for a walk down the street in our neighborhood with our dog, Pepe. Who should they meet? My neighbor and friend, Mia, with her favorite horse, Royal Oak!(She has about 8 horses, they live right across the street from us.) This is a common sight for us but looking at it through Pete's camera made me realize how used to it I've gotten over the years here. The clip-clop of horses' hooves along our road is one of my FAVORITE sounds! Mia will teach Maya to ride when she is ready...or rather when Mommy is ready!
Current backyard project: Maya's new play apparatus! The structure is STRONG and LARGE...my Dad jokingly calls it "the big erection" project. I think Maya will be able to play with it until she is 20 years old! Just to give you some perspective...Bo is a little over 6 feet tall. I'm thinking of getting Maya a parachute back pack in case she climbs too high!
I'm so proud that Bo has been working on this...so he deserves another photo! xoxo
This is the "Lillesjö" (Little Lake) that is across the street from our house...only we don't have a lake view because our neighbor's house is blocking it. :-( However, this is the view we see as we drive along our road. It was a cloudy day when Pete took this shot so I'll take another one on a sunny day. There's lots of wild life in and around this lake....today I saw a neighbor trying to wind surf on it! I think it is too cold to go swimming in! brrrr....

Beautiful Helsingborg

This is in Helsingborg...where I work. My school is up these steps, past the Kärnan Tower, through the park and to the left. When I used to ride the train to work, this was the path I took...can you believe it? I used to walk past a castle every day to get to work! Wow! Unfortunately, I drive my car these days...it's just much less stress when I have to get home to pick up my daughter from the day care before it closes.
This is the view from the top of the Kärnan's tower. The clock tower on the right side is the city hall. In the middle of the photo you can see the harbor, a ferry is coming into port through the tide breakers...it is coming back from Denmark. Denmark is on the other side of the öresund (sound) water, see it over there? Hello Danes! These ferries run nearly 24 hours a day...every 20 minutes (and almost ALWAYS on time!). You can go by foot to Denmark or you can take your car over or even by bus. The ferry station is also the train station. It's so convienient!

Pete came for a visit....and I started this blog because I learned some things about myself during his visit.

My former LAUSD colleague, Pete, came to visit us recently for 4 days. While I toured him around the area, I was reminded of just how lovely southern Sweden can be this time of the year. We are having excellent summer weather, at the moment, mostly sunny with a bit of rain to make the plants grow. As I explained bits and pieces of our life to him, I realized that after living here nine years I have really grown to LOVE it here! Although I can complain from time to time (my husband might add "more often than that"), I have come to accept many things....including that fact that I will probably never REALLY master the language but at least I know enough to fit in and work my way out of a problem. We had a great visit with Pete and I'm so very glad he came to share these days with us in our country home. Thanks Pete! Your visit made my heart smile!
Just wait and see.....here comes more!
Thanks for writing so I could practice the comment part of the program! :-)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Practicing up loading photos....

Coastal breezes at Balamku in Mahahual, Mexico. December 23, 2007.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Time check

it's important
Testing....my first blog entry....it's a cloudy day with chances of SUNSHINE!