30.12.09

airports, blizzards and the swedish language

Monday afternoon when I stepped off the plane at the Arlanda Airport outside Stockholm, Sweden I felt a rush of excitement. I'm coming home. It often feels that way when I come to Sweden.

This time, I'm "coming home" to go to a good friend's wedding on New Year's Eve - quite the excitement compared to New Year's Eve in the past where I have been a "youth worker" contributing to a "safe, fun" New Year's for teenagers, young adults, crazy peoples. ;)

I felt "home" and I felt I was "playing the part". I stepped off the plane wearing a skirt, leggings tugged into warm Ugg boots, a down jacket, handmade mittens from Sweden, iPhone, and a handbag. As I hurried downstairs to the baggage claim I thought about the possibilities of my 2 week vacation in Sweden.

First, I changed my money from dollars to kronor and cringed at the exchange rate. Years ago the dollar was strong the the kronor was weak. $1 = 10 kronor - now the exchange rate is $1=7.15 kronor - here's a better way to show it... Approximately 13 kronor per LITER of gas OR $7/gallon. I remember when gas prices were high at $4/gallon - can you imagine paying $7/gallon?

After exchanging my money I looked for my bags. They didn't have a sign to show where I could find the baggage from my airplane. I walked over to an airplane official to ask him and couldn't get the words out of my mouth.

Side note: my sophomore year of high school and one semester of my junior year in college I spent in Sweden. I can speak it fluently most of the time ;)

At this particular moment, I found myself stumbling for words. Of course, many of the airport employees must speak English, however I don't feel right speaking English if I have a Swedish passport in hand

Another side note: My mom is Swedish, my dad is American; I have dual citizenship - maybe this is TMI for the internet?

All goes well and I pick up my bags and head for the doors. I walk outside expecting a blast of cold air, but to my disappointment, it's above freezing and RAINY!

My friend Jakob picks me up and we head for Dalarna (about a 3 hr drive Northwest from the airport). As we drive north, the weather drops from 3 Celsius and raining to -15 Celsius and snowy almost blizzard conditions. Much more satisfying. If I'm going to be in a cold country, I want it to be cold and snowy, not rainy and half-cold.

We took a slight shopping detour, something I didn't mind, and continued to my mormor's house, as all you loyal subscribers read in the previous post, where I was treated to a "riktig" Swedish dinner.

Yesterday was my first FULL day in Sweden and it was quite the day. The morning was spent in my mom's hometown grocery shopping and errand running. We had dinner in the evening and then it was off to a Professional hockey game. During my year in Sweden, I went to most of the HOME hockey games of the team Leksands Stars. They are a professional team and well-known throughout Sweden. The game was an easy win for Leksand 4-0. I took a video and pictures of it, those will come later.

I'm still adjusting to the time here in Sweden. I didn't fall asleep until 3am Swedish time OR 9pm EST. Tonight is proof I'm still adjusting? It's currently 1:22am and I'm not the least tired and I'm the only one awake in the cabin...

I can blame it on the time-change, but maybe it's my addiction to the internet? Aren't vacations supposed to be time away from electronics and such (with the exceptions of cameras as they record important memories). I have to admit, I am addicted to my iPhone and am experiencing severe withdrawals from not being able to access the internet, check facebook, twitter, the weather and other meaningless possibilities the iPhone allows for. Granted, I could probably access the above for a $3000 fee at the end of 2 weeks. At this point, I'm not quite that desperate; although I did sign up for the international plan for the month so I can send and receive text messages and call people; for a marginal fee of $0.50/txt or $1/min.

At this point, those of you who are still reading are most likely bored with the drivel and I should end the blog post.

Enjoy your New Year's Eve :)

Here are two pictures my brother took.



A little red house, typical for Sweden :)



It's so cold the trees are COMPLETELY frosted over!

My brothers put together a time-lapse photo shoot. Once it's posted online, I'll include a link.

PS- Maybe my next post will be about today - shopping w/my cousins - it was quite the experience.

29.12.09

sverige

I arrived in Sweden, safe and sound. It was quite the trip, but I made it. ;)

My friend picked me up at the airport and drove me to my mormor's house (Mom's mom).

She had dinner waiting for me... Swedish meatballs and potatoes. :)

It was fabulous to see my family and friends. My parents rented a cabin on Bjorkberget; sitting here looking out the dining room window. It's beautiful. White & snowy, clear blue sky, deep snow. It's really cold outside, but it's warm in our little cabin.

I'll leave you with a picture of the sunset :)


picture by Peter MacDonald

25.12.09

Merry Christmas!

May you all enjoy Christmas with your loved ones!

Enjoy the hour, the day weekend.

Here's a story that made my eyes tear up... (you know, one of those forwards you actually don't mind receiving)


The Tablecloth
- things happen for a reason

The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry, to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn , arrived in early October excited about their opportunities. When they saw their church, it was very run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve. They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc, and on December 18 were ahead of schedule and just about finished.



On December 19 a terrible tempest - a driving rainstorm hit the area and lasted for two days. On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church. His heart sank when he saw that the roof had

leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall
of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high. The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home. On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity, so he stopped in...


One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to the church.
By this time it had started to snow. An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later.


She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder, hangers, etc., to put
up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and
it covered up the entire problem area. Then he noticed the woman walking down the center
aisle. Her face was like a sheet. "Pastor," she asked, "where did you get that tablecloth?"
The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials EBG were crocheted into it there. They were. These were the initials of the woman, and she had
made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria.




The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just gotten "The Tablecloth". The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria . When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week. He was captured, sent to prison and she never saw her husband or her home again.




The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth; but she made the pastor keep it for the church.
The pastor insisted on driving her home. That was the least he could do. She lived on the other
side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a housecleaning job.




What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve. The church was almost full. The music and the spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return.


One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood continued to sit in one of the

pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn't leaving. The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and how could there be two tablecloths so much alike?




He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety and he was
supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home again all the 35 years between.




The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten
Island and to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier. He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman's apartment, knocked on
the door and he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine.

I am not sure if this is a true story or not, but it caught my heart...

23.12.09

christmas shopping & a talent show

kim and i planned to hang out on dec 22nd since the beginning of november w/caleb, AFTER his studies were completed.

well, dec 22nd rolled around and caleb still had a paper to finish - no celebratory evening w/friends... :(

kim and i decided to keep with our plans of getting together and we went on over to danvers high school to see a talent show. we were there to watch isabelle garcia and her dance team. all i have to say it oh my goodness!!! it was such an amazing show. isabelle and her dance team were phenomenal! it was as though i was watching synchronized swimming on a stage. they were ALL in sync. i was so impressed. it was a high school dance team and they looked as though they could be professionals. granted, i'm no dancing with the stars or so you think you can dance judge, but they were fabulous. isabelle, i totally enjoyed your performance. keep up the good work. please let me know of any future performances!

here's a picture - from my iphone - i know, it's pretty terrible b/c it's from far away...



anyway, after watching the talent show, kim and i headed for some jolly old christmas shopping. i had such a fun time AND i found a gorgeous dress to wear for new year's eve - (big event this year!!! yay Johannes, sooo excited for you and Rebecka)

here's a photo of the newly weds to be...(courtesy of facebook, hope you don't mind J&R - i couldn't find a real good one of both of them, but i will be blogging once their wedding happens!!)


kim bought a few gifts and checked them off her list and i found a fun little present for caleb. then we headed to one particular store in the mall. let me tell you, it was quite the experience. being an individual who works in customer service, i was APALLED at the service. granted, it's christmas and the staff may be overworked AND underpaid... it was none-the-less horrible.
their attire was anything but professional, they were NOT customer service friendly and the employees kept sharing inside jokes with each other as if kim and i weren't there. to top it off, some of them kept letting the f-bomb slip. on the whole i'm not one to use obscenities, maybe in the comfort of my own home w/no one around, but come on peoples!! while WORKING?! if you hate your job so much, then quit, but don't inform the entire store of potential customers you hate your job...
part of me wanted nothing more than to walk out and say, "i'm sorry. this is terrible service and your store is not presenting themselves in a professional fashion" HOWEVER the employees would have probably been pleased had we done that. they're employees, not owners, their livelihood does not depend on the items sold in the store. as long as they show up, work their 8 hr+ shift they will get their paycheck.

after our disturbing experience in that particular store, we left the mall and i dropped kim off at home. we ended up talking in the car for a good 45 minutes. it was great. kim is someone i enjoy talking with and BEING REAL!! haha

why did our conversation have to get going AFTER all the shopping...

anyway... thanks kim for a fun night... i think i'm dead today... sooo tired, but i did get a nice warm shower, so i do feel alive.

for those of you who may not understand the above comment - our furnace blew and the plumbers, electricians, etc were here ALL DAY MONDAY AND TUESDAY. we had NO hot water for TWO DAYS!!!

22.12.09

sara's kitchen's faves - numero tres

Here's another kitchen favorite!

Caleb and I registered for a waffle maker at Williams & Sonoma. We didn't receive the one we registered for; we were given an even better waffle-maker from my aunt Susan. (thanks Susan)
It is also a VillaWare and it produces delicious waffles with large squares to be filled with syrup, raspberries, strawberries, whipped cream... I could go on!!

VillaWare has been around for 100 years so I definitely feel as though they're qualified to make waffle-makers.

Anyway, Caleb and I routinely enjoy the waffle-maker; I WOULDN'T want to live without it! It makes Saturday brunch and Sunday morning snow days more delightful. Some weekends Caleb will make me breakfast - always waffles.

This past weekend, Saturday morning I woke up and said "Caleb, do you want waffles for breakfast? It's been a while."

Mind you, the last time we had waffles was probably the end of November.

Caleb obliged and I set about to make the batter. (oh do I have a great waffle recipe?!)

We sat down to waffles with maple syrup and orange juice for brunch. We discussed our weekend plans and we probably discussed something philosophical - such happens on a lazy Saturday morning eating waffles with nothing to do the rest of the day...

Well, Sunday morning rolls around; SNOW day! We woke up to this...

...and still snowing. Church was canceled, I was thrilled. Don't get me wrong, I love church, but some days it's nice to NOT go per a certain snow storm. I mean, no one wants to risk their life driving to church, right?

We got busy... no, get your mind out of the gutter... we set about making waffles, again. Twice in one weekend, two times in two days. Delish!

So you can enjoy homemade waffles - none of that box mix... here's a recipe I will leave with you. (this can also be used to make pancakes - just use a frying pan instead of a waffle iron)

Sara's Waffle Recipe (developed from my mom's fabulous recipe)

2 cups milk

2 cups flour

2 eggs

2 tablespoons oil (preferably olive oil, but any can be used)

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2-1 teaspoon salt

some sugar (I usually use sugar in the raw - 2-4 tablespoons)

some cinnamon (a teaspoon?)

some vanilla (a teaspoon)

(Optional: raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, syrup, whipped cream)

In a medium sized bowl mix the dry ingredients. While stirring, slowly add the milk to the mixture. Add the eggs, oil and vanilla; mix till the batter is smooth.

Heat your waffle iron, spray w/oil to avoid stickage. Spoon batter into the waffle iron, let waffle iron do the rest.

Pull waffle out of waffle iron, put on a plate and serve with syrup, raspberries, etc. ENJOY!

15.12.09

family

caleb's been studying a lot lately... and to pass time i read, watch tv, waste time on the internet, visit w/friend, find things to do around our apartment... lately it goes like this...

i go to work 8am-5pm (sometimes later)
C leaves for work at 8:30am or 9am, C comes home from work at 6pm, we have a quick dinner and C goes to the library and comes home around 11:15pm...

so you can imagine my excitement today when my cousin invited me over for dinner... it's great having family nearby :) (her husband was meeting up w/a business friend and wouldn't be home)

she made enchiladas :) yum!!

she has two adorable girls...

this was taken september 2008 - we took a rainy trip to singing beach :)



one of the girls was our flower girl last year...



so we had dinner, i got to spend time talking with my cousin, and i got to hang out w/her adorable girls... much better way to spend an evening rather than wasting away on the internet...

when i showed up, her two girls RAN to the front door shrieking, they were so excited :)
they kept interrupting each other to tell me stories of their day and fighting to sit on my lap.
later after they were tucked in bed; my cousin and i got to relax on the couch and talk about grown up things.

14.12.09

sweden

my friend's getting married on new year's eve...

right after christmas, i'm taking off to sweden...

i'll be there in TWO WEEKS!!! i cannot wait!!! sweden during the christmas season is magical!

this is what i have to look forward to...

Siljansnäs in the Winter



Sunrises and Sunsets like this...




Pepparkakor - Gingerbread cookies



Lussekatt - from Santa Lucia - which was Dec 13th - hopefully my mormor will still have some left for me :)



Ice-skating on Lake Siljan - December parts of the lake will freeze over and if it doesn't snow, it's beautiful to skate on!



Stockholm by Day



Stockhom by Night



not to mention... i get to meet up w/family and friends...

12.12.09

sara's kitchen's faves - numero dos

back to the kitchen faves...

numero 2...
yes, it's a DISHWASHER!! it may be small, it may not look too powerful, but it does the job!!


this was a gift from caleb's youth group when he left his position as youth pastor... they gave him a surfboard... and me a dishwasher! needless to say, i was psyched.


prior to inheriting this lovely machine caleb did the dishes... just not every day...
since he started full time with his master's program, he doesn't have time to do the dishes, and i'm not really willing to do them (i hate doing dishes, i'll take laundry over dishes any day).


well, this little dishwasher sits on our counter where our drying rack used to sit. it works real hard so we don't have to. sure, we still have to wash the pots, pans, cutting boards and other miscellaneous items by hand, but we pop dirty silverware, plates, bowls, coffee pan, coffee mugs, glasses, etc into this small contraction, hit the start button and an hour later we have clean dishes! can't be beat since we have a small kitchen.
if you hate doing the dishes, this is a wonderful invention to have in the kitchen, no matter the size.



and that wraps up sara's kitchen faves numero dos :)

11.12.09

Water For Elephants

Recently I finished reading a book called: 'Water For Elephants'

It was such an interesting read. It's about 350 pages long, but it's a fast, easy read. The author, Sara Gruen, wrote a page turner. She chronicles what it's like to be involved in a circus during the Great Depression. Growing up I attended a few circuses at the Barnstable County Fairgrounds and even in Siljansnäs, Sweden when visiting my grandparents, but I often wondered what it would be like to travel with a circus.

She writes about a young Polish man who jumps aboard a moving train to escape a painful life circumstance; the train he jumped belongs to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. He attended Cornell, but he left in the middle of his final exams in his fourth year. Call it happenstance, he ditched school and jumped upon a circus train in need of a vet. Benzini Brothers didn't care about his diploma, they were satisfied to say they had a "vet" as part of their circus. During a lonely time in his life, Jacob finds companionship and rivalry. He meets Marlena, the beautiful and show-stopping equestrian performer, however she is married to August, the charming but moody animal trainer. Another person Jacob ends up befriending is the circus dwarf who is forced to share a "train car" with him. He is the circus vet, he ends up caring for Rosie, the "stupid" elephant who was a ray of hope for the second rate circus.

It was such a refreshing and fun book to read. Opens your eyes to what circus life may have been like almost 70+ years ago... Recommend.

10.12.09

another day in another life...

... seminary...
...caleb started seminary in september and there have been many changes...

1. less money
2. more bills
3. more time on my hands
4. less time on caleb's hands
5. more time for friends :)

and with that i give you my seminary wives group picture :)



...we met every tuesday for 8-10 weeks...

...camaraderie as our husbands go through school...

9.12.09

Books...

After I graduated college, I started reading books again...


What? You think I didn't read in college? Well, I did read in college; however I was unable to read as many books as I wanted for "pleasure". Sure, I read hundreds of pages about micro-economics, macro-economics, muscles, anatomy & physiology, accounting, capitalism, international econ, business law, exercise science, history, German, English literature, but most of the books I read were to ensure I passed my classes, not for fun.


During my junior year of college, I spent a semester in Sweden. One of the classes I took was an English Lit class. It was one of my favorite classes I took in college... sometimes I wonder if I should have majored in English because of my love for reading... Anyway, we read many classics, most I hadn't read before. It was such a treat to read books for fun, and it was also homework.


After college, I created a list of books I had read each year and a list of books I wanted to read. Not long after I started dating Caleb, spending time with him became a priority and reading was again put on the "back burner".


It was actually Caleb who inspired me to pick up my habit again. At the beginning of the year (January 2009), he set a goal to read a book every two weeks; twenty-six books in year. I was proud of him and at the same time jealous of him. I thought it was great that he wanted to read and set a reading goal. Many of the books he chose were thought-provoking interesting reads which prompted interesting conversation in the car and at the dinner table. In July, he was counting the books he read this year, it was almost triple the number of books I had read. He inspired me, now I was determined to get back to reading.


My first book was The Shack. I started it in January and finished it in July. You may think, 'Six months to read a book?' Well, I read most of it, wanted to know the ending, read the ending, and then didn't want to read the middle... In July I forced myself to finish reading the book and it was quite satisfying to finish and start the next book.


The next book I picked up was one I got for Christmas 2008, Infidel. After that, I was hooked. I joined a book club and was even more inspired. So far I have read more books in the second half of 2009 than in the first half!


Here's a list of books I've read so far...


The Shack

Infidel

Three Cups of Tea

Love the One You’re With

Something Borrowed

Something Blue

Guernsey Literary Society

Water for Elephants

Babyproof

The Help

The Millionaire Next Door

Raving Fans


...twelve books; which equals one book a month. We all know that it was more like two or three books a month, since I started in July. Hopefully I can read a few more books before the year's over, maybe bump it to fourteen or fifteen.


I am now inspired to read 26-52 books next year and I am working on a "To Read" list. Once it's finished, I'll post it on this blog... I may even write a few books reviews... in the event people want ideas on what books to read and what books may be a waste of time... ;)

8.12.09

sara's kitchen faves - numero uno

recently i've been inspired to cook a little more... maybe it's the christmas season and all the good eats, maybe it's because i want to ensure my husband's well fed, and maybe it's just because i enjoy dabbling in the kitchen...



along w/that... i feel the need to share my favorite kitchen tools, you know, the ones that help the cookin' process along...

so without further adieu, numero 1...


this fabulous knife was on our wedding registry at Williams & Sonoma, however i'm sure it can be found at many other stores. it was an engagement present from caleb's cousin kyle. i've recently discovered he enjoys cooking up concoctions in his kitchen... i understand (and appreciate) why he chose to give us this fabulous knife!



let me tell you, it is marvelous in the kitchen... chopping, mincing, slicing, dicing... you get the picture... definitely worth the christmas list for those kitchen fanatics...

7.12.09

...slushy shoes...

the recent snowstorm has started me thinking about the upcoming winter season, which is now upon us




evidence in the above picture; the view from my bedroom window...

here's a lovely picture from my kitchen door! it was so pleasant and peaceful, i wanted to curl up in a chair, read a book and drink a cup of hot cocoa...


the snow looks lovely outside...
...have you ever thought HOW you will to keep your house from getting wet, muddy, snowy, slushy...
a storm leaves snow outside looking beautiful and fluffy...
...once you traipse inside, it turns from white fluffy to wet puddley...

...i came across these ideas...

...the brain child of martha stewart... surprise surprise...




...if you're a wine connoisseur... you may want to recycle your corks into this lovely mat...



...great way to keep your hall tidy, your rug clean and your socks dry...

...my personal fave is martha's...

what are your thoughts?

3.12.09

running in shorts...

today i looked at my thermometer and it read 67.7F

can you believe it?! almost a SUMMER temperature...

so, on my lunch break... i busted out my shorts and t-shirt and decided to go for a jog... it was fabulous. i came back from my lunch break refreshed & rejuvenated :)

i live along the Ipswich River - such a nice little spot...
it's a TIDAL river... it experiences high and low tides just as the ocean would.

today, as i ran along the river... it was the highest i have EVER seen it...

there used to be a large boat shop near the river; this past july, it caught fire, burned to the ground, and what was left fell into the river... Talk about an environmental hazard... the shop practically blew up... so many combustible materials...
there has been much controversy about rebuilding a condominium on the lot where Melanson Boat Shop once stood...





today as i ran by i wondered if that was even possible... there was no lot at high tide... it was completely covered with water...

however... back to my run... glorious... to run outside in december in 67.7 degree weather...
could not have asked for a more perfect day to begin running again...



...again... i was on a running... hiatus... sabbatical... umm... break...


now, i'm back... i think :)