Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Finally ready! And re-vote in Sweden

Hej friends!  A new year to come, a new look on the blog.... seems appropriate to me, let me know if you like it.  I really should take a blogger class on beautiful photography and learn how to code, and then ask advertisers to advertise, and link to other people's pages, and check my stats ... and all that!  I know, I know, but what I really enjoy is reaching out to you who have similar interests and just taking a minute to think about what's going in the world and in Sweden in particular.  Would love to learn how to make beautiful pictures like this one of the star, but for now, we will have to make do.

Currently, on the global level, I am following the re-vote in Sweden.  Turns out that they will vote again to get the right mix in the Parliament and as an American I don't quite get it.  Here we live with whomever wins, chads or no chads!  (Remember that?) ;-)  Well, as I understand it the Swedes are re-voting on March 22nd because the budget didn't get approved due to the machinations of the anti-immigrant party "Sweden Democrats", read more about that here.

On a personal level I am happy to say that the house is finally decorated which in my mind means that there is something red, glittery and lit in every room....
  1. þLiving room, tree dressed and stockings up!
  2. þDining room, big star and garlands up!
  3. þKitchen, pointsetta, red tablecloth and candles lit!
YEAH!  That's a big victory for us all at the house lagom where things have been a little nutty, a little sickly, and taken over by Thanksgiving for a while.  :-)  So worth it, but happy to have our little home decked out for the holidays finally!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Happy St. Lucia! 2014


So the old lady dusts off her dress, and her singing, and starts in on St. Lucia again... even though last year I vowed that it would be my last.  Read more about the holiday here.) I just can't resist spreading the love and seeing the looks on the kids faces.  This year I suprised the kindergarten class that I worked in.  At first there were a lot of giggles but then total silence as they watched me circle the room and I sang the Sankta Lucia song for them.  Later I offered them some homemade sweet bread, and we made crowns.  The little girls in particular seem to get inspired by St. Lucia, one even asked me for the recipe!  So, after a lot of preparation it was very successful day yesterday and today on the actual day (December 13th) my children sang it to HH and I in bed. Coffee, buns, and the song - they did it all and I sure am one proud mama!  Did your children sing to you today?  Drop me a line, I'm curious.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Oh snap! Gingersnaps and pepparkakor

Vi komma, vi komma, från Pepparkakeland...
Three little guys (gubbar) marching from gingerbread land... this little song is just one way that gingersnaps show up in Swedish culture, especially around the holidays.  We made our pepparkakor today.  So fun!  I let the kids mess around with theirs, debasing them with icing and sprinkles, and using any shape that they chose.  My son made a mindcraft man, and my daughter lots of broken hearts (glimpse into the future?) ;-)  At any rate, we all had fun but once things settled down I shooed them out, and made some my way.
Just simple cookies with an almond in the middle and using gingerbread shapes from home.  I love the horses and the pigs.  I read that in the Middle Ages anyone with a pig was considered well off, and so it represents wealth.  The horses remind me of "Dala höstar" (see more here), and the stars and hearts are also typical.  Plus of course the "gubbar" or guys. And some ladies too.  Yum it smells good around here now!  This recipe is off the Sweden site.  My greatgrandmother's recipe was richer, it used cream, but I'm sure this one is quite delicious.  Let me know if you try it will you?  Tack!
Swedish tradition says that if you break a perpperkaka into three pieces that you will have good luck.
picture by madebymary.se


Swedish Gingersnaps Ingredients

200 g (7 oz) brown sugar
200 g (7 oz) white sugar
200 g (7 oz) dark corn syrup
150 ml (¾ cup) water
300 g (10 oz) butter
2 tbs ground cinnamon
2 tbs ground ginger
2 tbs ground cloves
1 tbs baking soda
0.9–1 kg (2−2¼ lb) flour

Preparation

To make gingersnaps, heat the brown sugar, white sugar, corn syrup and water in a pot. Add the butter and let it melt. Stir and let cool slightly, then blend in the spices and baking soda. Then mix in the flour to a smooth consistency. Sprinkle a little flour on top and put the dough out to cool, preferably overnight. Take the dough and knead it smooth on a baking table, adding more flour if desired. Roll it thin and cut into shapes, using the desired cookie cutters. Bake in the oven (180°C/350°F) for 8–10 minutes. Let the gingersnaps cool on the baking sheet.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Glad Second Advent!

From my house to yours wishing you all a Happy Second Advent!  There are four Sundays leading up to Christmas Eve, and the Swedes celebrate them by lighting a candle for each of the four.  It's just another way of saying "holy **** it's only two weeks left until Christmas!"  We got the tree today but the rest of it -- decorating the house, the tree, the kids, & the cats will have to wait.  Just a moment to breath and enjoy the pinescented room with candles lit for now will do.  Enjoy!
Second of Advent; enjoy the continued season of light!http://tinyurl.com/2d8a3al (Most creative "candle lighting" from Karesuando in Sweden's absolute north, near the border to Finland.)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving (late) and St. Lucia (early)

In the States we celebrate Turkey Day with lots of food, fun and family.  I was lucky to have been surrounded at our house with these wonderful things and I enjoyed every moment although I was a little scared that the turkey wouldn't come out right.  Well no need to fear, thanks to my mother in law's recipe* and sister's husband's help we enjoyed a beautiful and moist 25 pounder on Thanksgiving Day.  Then today after all that good food we waddled out of the house in the snow to do our part in the St. Lucia celebration that the VASA lodge puts on.
What mother's heart wouldn't melt to see her little sweeties singing angelically in this procession?  I know mine did, the kids did great and I am just so proud that they handled it like they did.  It's a beautiful tradition and I certainly don't mind having played a part in doing it two weeks early.  This way Mormor, and my sister and family could see it as well.  Normally though St. Lucia is held on December 13th, more here.
* The trick is to cover the turkey with a well oiled brown paper bag.  It smokes, but it speeds up te cooking and makes for a nice juicy bird.  I put it in at 325 degrees F.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Mer Jul (More Christmas)

Ready for Christmas?  I am already, in Sweden the Christmas markets are starting to put out the glögg (mulled wine) and goodies, people are enjoying Christmas store displays and the Lucia is being picked for the school pageant.  Of course here we have Thanksgiving to enjoy before the craziness commences but I for one am pysched for "jul kalendar" (the annual Christmas show on tv that shows one episode a day in December), cookies, candles and "jul mys".  More on XMAS Markets here.

My friend just got me the cutest tray and napkins from IKEA with "Tomte" (the Swedish Santa) on them and it got me thinking. Luckily for me there will be lots of relatives here for Thanksgiving, some Swedes to boot, and we can start filling up on glögg and pepperkakor (Swedish gingerbread). I'm leaving you with a lovely glögg recipe here, and a song that I think you will enjoy about Christimas by Adolphson & Falk whether you understand the lyrics or not.  Called "Mer Jul" it means "More Christmas" and is more than a little tongue in cheek.  ;-)  Let me know if you like it.