All I can say about the year 2012 is that I am grateful for the lessons it has taught me, and I look forward to see what 2013 has to offer. I feel like it will be a year of change, no idea why? It is just a notion I have. Either way - whatever happens, I want to wish each and every soul on this planet a beautiful, joyful and prosperous 2013!
I also want to thank Everyone for visiting, commenting and keeping in touch with me, it means the world to me. I am so grateful for this blog in more ways than I can explain, so again - Thank You All for being a part of my 2012! And (of course) Happy New Year Beautiful People!!! ♥ ♥ ♥ :-)
Though I celebrated a traditional Christmas Eve at my mum's with my family here in Sweden this year, we did do and eat some new things on the big day. In fact, I became so fond of some of these new things that I am sure they will be a part of many more of my future Christmas Eve celebrations. I am mainly referring to three new things - two edible ones and one Christmas game. So this Christmas Eve post will be all about Newbies And Traditions On Christmas Eve. :-)
When we first arrived at mum's on Christmas Eve, Lisen immediately took an interest in the funny looking little fellow by the Christmas tree. Hm...
Then it was time for rice pudding with a hidden almond. The tradition is that whomever gets the hidden almond wins something (I did not get it...).
My Christmas Lunch; rice pudding with sugar and cinnamon, a Christmas ham sandwich with mustard/beetroot salad and coffee.
After lunch it was time to prepare Christmas food for the Julbord. :-)
To keep up our strength through all this Christmas cooking we frequently had some sips of warm Glögg - mulled wine. :p
All that Christmas Candy my sister and I made before also kept us company during the day of course.
So I did manage to save some. ;-)
The doggies got a bit impatient with their Christmas gifts, they were constantly under the Christmas tree sniffing and barking to let us know they wanted to open their gifts. Finally we caved in and let them choose and open one Christmas gift each while we were cooking, they both chose a pig's ear.
At 3 PM sharp - Donald Duck And His Friends time! Wahoo! A very important tradition in Sweden!
My favorite scene in the entire cartoon! I remember when I was a child I was so fascinated by how the elf could paint the chess board like that without the colors mixing? Lol! It took me forever to understand that "Checkered Paint" actually does not exist in real life...
Diva's favourite. :-)
After Donald Duck it was FINALLY time for JULBORD!!! :p
And this was Newbie Number One; crayfish marinated herring - soooo goood!!! I usually do not like any pickled or marinated herring except onion herring, but this one was insanely delicious. I actually tried it for the first time a few weeks earlier in a local grocery store, City Gross, when they treated all their customers to Julbord. This herring was on that Julbord and made by the staff in the fish counter - YUM!
Newbie Number Two; saffron biscuits with mascarpone and clementin mixture. Another very tasty delight I first tried in a local grocery store, Maxi. Perfect to finish off the Julbord with because it is a quite light and not so sweet or fatty mini dessert.
But the big show stoppers on the Julbord were not the newbies of course, it was the oldies! Like;
Christmas sausage, chipolata sausages and meatballs.
My first Christmas food plate. :p
Christmas Snaps Time, also always a part of our Julbord tradition! God Juuul - Merry Christmaaas!!!
After we had all stuffed ourselves with way too much food, (Doggy) Santa arrived. ;-)
Of course Lisen was the first one to step up to receive a(nother) Christmas gift (she looooves to open presents).
Diva also tore into her gifts.
Newbie Number Three - the Christmas Gift Game. Some of you might already have heard of this, and played it, but I had not until this Christmas. To play you need a pair of dices...
... and lots of Christmas gifts. Each person who plays brings gifts worth a predetermined sum of money (we set the sum to 100 SEK - 15 USD). The gifts should be unlabeled.
Time to play! Round One; when you get two of a kind on the dices you get to choose a gift from the pile.
Round Two; when the gift pile is gone set a timer (we had 40 minutes). During the timer time roll the dices again. This time however, as soon as anyone gets two of a kind that person gets to choose a gift from another person's gift pile to add to their own. When the time is up, well then you get to open the gifts you have managed to gather.
This was my best gift in my gift pile, a scratching lottery ticket where I won 500 SEK - 76 USD. Wahoo!
After all that playing around it was time for some last Christmas sweets.
Soft gingerbread cake.
And Swedish Cheesecake.
Served with whipped cream and strawberry jam. YUUUM!!
Diva kept a close eye.
Of course she also got some. :-)
As did Lisen. :-)
I hope you all had a great Christmas/Holidays too?! Now I just need to shake off this awful cold I have caught, hopefully in time for the New Year... But I think I will manage to squeeze in one more blog post before then though, so I will hold on with the Happy New Year wishes until then and finish off this post with a big, loud and cheerful Happy Weekend! instead. :p (Ahhh-chooo!)
I just wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays before the big days arrive. Last year I celebrated Christmas Eve in Key West in Florida, this year I will be celebrating a typical Swedish traditional Christmas Eve in Rödeby in Sweden. Which means, for instance, that I will be eating lots of yummy Christmas food, watching Donald Duck on TV at 3 PM sharp and giving/receiving Christmas gifts. What I most look forward to is the Julbord (Christmas smorgasbord)!!! :p
But before Christmas Eve arrives, the fourth Advent Sunday take place (today). Which means that all four candles in my Advent Candle are now lit. The white flower to the right is a Hyacinth, a very popular Christmas flower in Sweden which smells a lot and amazing.
So, once again, my doggy Lisen and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Take care of each other and stay safe out there! We both also send you all many warm Christmas hugs from Sweden. God Jul! (Merry Christmas in Swedish.) :-)
Last week my dog Lisen and her daughter Diva (my sister's dog) decided to play around in the snow together for a little while. I always love to watch them play together, though Lisen (who turns 12 in March) is rarely in the mood to play with Diva (7 years old) nowadays. I think she thinks Diva is a bit to wild for her now. Hehe. Because Lisen likes to play, but in slow motion and very carefully - the opposite of how Diva likes to play. So when Lisen decided to actually accept Diva's play invitation in the forest last week, I think Diva was as surprised (but very happy) as I was. :-)
Below are some pics I snapped of them playing in the snow together.
Let's see what we can find then.
Searching for something fun to play with in the snow.
A stick that is stuck of course, what could possibly be more fun to play with than that?
Whaoo! I won (Lisen).
Diva running around in the snow.
Lisen, relaxing in the snow.
Until she realizes she has some snowballs stuck between her paws...
Diva helping Lisen removing snowballs from her paws. :)
Mama (left) and daughter (right) after a fun filled time in the snow. :p
Yesterday I went to my sister's to make our favourite trio of typical Swedish Christmas Candy. The candies we made were Knäck - Toffee, Kola - Fudge and Ischoklad - Ice Chocolate. Now these Christmas Candies are pretty much obligatory in Swedish households during Christmas, which is why my sister and I both have grown up eating, and making, them around Christmas.
Toffee, Ice Chocolate and Fudge, typical Swedish Christmas Candies my sister and I made yesterday.
But not only are these candies super tasty and an obvious part of our Christmas celebration here in Sweden, they are also quite simple to make. Which is why I prefer to make them at home instead of to buy them. It is also why I thought I would share how my sister and I made them this year, as well as which recipes we used. So below are photos and recipes of the trio of typical homemade Swedish Christmas candy my sister and I made yesterday. :)
1. Mix sugar, syrup and cream in a thick-bottomed saucepan or pot.
2. Boil uncovered for 15-20 minutes.
3. Chop the almonds as coarsely as you like it. To make sure the batter is ready; take a teaspoon of the batter and put it in a glass of cold water. Then roll it into a ball. If it feels tough and elastic the batter is finished.
4. Add the butter and the chopped almonds, stir.
5. Dispense the batter into toffee molds and let cool down.
To easily peel the sweet almonds before chopping them, boil them a few minutes in water and then cool them down in cold water. After that they are super easy to peel. :)
Boil toffee batter uncovered.
Toffee batter getting thicker.
Mix in chopped almonds.
Dispense toffee batter into molds. Warning: as the toffee batter cools down it hardens, so be quick...
Well, this is a more realistic finito pic. Lol! ;p
Tip: if the toffee batter becomes too hard to dispense, spread it out on baking paper instead. When it has cooled down simply crack it into pieces, it tastes exactly the same. In the photo here Diva (my sister's dog) suggests that she is willing to eat this "failed" toffee piece. Hehe. Naww darling, don't think so. ;)
Fudge - Kola
Recipe for about 125 pieces.
3 dl heavy cream
3 dl sugar
1.5 dl syrup, light
50 grams of butter
1.5 tablespoons of vanilla sugar
1. Mix all ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir well with a wooden spoon and cook slowly on stove, about 20 minutes. If a thermometer is used, the batter is ready when the temperature is 120 degrees Celsius. Otherwise, to make sure the batter is ready; take a teaspoon of the batter and put it in a glass of cold water. Then roll it into a ball. If it feels tough and elastic the batter is finished.
2. Pour batter into a well-oiled mold or on a baking paper in a mold. Let it cool down.
3. When fudge is set, cut into squares with a knife. Then wrap the fudge in cellophane or waxed paper.
Cool down time.
Yuuummy!! The fudge is my favourite of the three candies we made.
Ice Chocolate - Ischoklad
Before the recipe and photos here I want to give a short explanation of the name Ice Chocolate - Ischoklad. A name that actually has nothing to do with ice. Instead it alludes to the fact that the ice chocolate melts easily because of the content of coconut fat. Which in turn cause heat energy to be taken from the mouth whereupon a cooling sensation can occur. And I must say that eating ice chocolate does sort of feel like eating a piece of chocolate flavoured ice, which is a positive feeling. :)
Recipe for 25-30 pieces.
100 grams of coconut fat
200 grams of dark chocolate
1. Break chocolate into blocks and put them together with coconut fat in a bowl. Set the bowl in a saucepan with boiling water. Stir and let melt into a smooth batter.
2. Fill small aluminum molds with chocolate batter and put into fridge for about an hour.
Pretty ice chocolate molds.
Pour into molds.
Try to not spill.
After all this Christmas Candy making, guess who is ready for Christmas now!? Yupp, I am. :p Not sure how much of this candy will be left on Christmas Eve though... whops. Lol! But I will do my best to try to restrain myself from eating it all, but the fudge will be very hard to resist. Oh well, like I said in the beginning - these candies are not that hard to make. So if I should happen to eat them all, I'll just go ahead and make some more! ;p
The month of December is a month of many traditions here in Sweden, with Advent Sundays, Lucia and Christmas Markets for instance. So this Saturday I took the opportunity to visit an Old Fashioned Christmas Market for the first time this year, I always attend at least one every year. This year I chose to visit the Old Fashioned Christmas Market in the small village of Kristianopel, located in the easternmost part of Blekinge county about 30 kilometers from where I live here in Lyckeby.
Now Kristianopel was Scandinavia's first renaissance city. The city was built on orders from the Danish King Christian IV, because the area was Danish back then, and was completed in 1606. Originally Kristianopel was a fortress city surrounded by up to nine meters high walls. In 1677 Kristianopel became Swedish again and in 1679 the Swedes decided to close down the city. City privileges were withdrawn and the people were asked to move. The walls were razed in part and its stones used in the construction of Karlskrona. Today Kristianopel is above all a very pleasant summer destination with camping sites and cozy cafés. And a few times each year markets are arranged there, like this Old Fashioned Christmas Market I visited for instance.
And the Christmas Market in Kristianopel was indeed a charming, cozy and a joyful market to attend. There were lots of home made local goodies for sale as well as other traditional Swedish Christmas Market treats and fun events going on. And because it snowed quite heavily the entire time I was there it truly did feel like I was at a genuine Christmas Market. Our visit to the local village's parish house for "fika" - coffee and cookie buffet also made the already present Christmas spirit shine even brighter over my first Christmas Market visit this year. So I had a great time indeed. :-)
Of course I brought my camera to document this lovely visit. ;p So below are some photos from My Visit To The Charming Christmas Market In Kristianopel this Saturday.
In Kristianopel on our way to the Christmas Market.
Christmas Market entrance - yay!
Not the biggest one perhaps, but certainly the coziest. :-)
But these flames burned quite persistently through the snow.
Christmas carols performed by the local church choir.
Hot dogs for sale.
And, ehum, freshly baked Lucia Cats. The men over there remarked to this lady that the Lucia Cats looked a bit burnt, she replied that the oven was too hot. So not her fault in other words. Hehe. ;)
Gossip at the fish stand.
Where fried herring sandwiches were for sale.
As well as different pickled herrings. The pickle flavours from the left were; onion, dill and pear.
Different locally made goats cheeses.
Here we have locally and home made Cheese Cake and Farm Crisp Bread for sale.
Freshly baked bread from stone ovens.
This lady explains about the many, many different flavours of honey she has for sale there.
Some of the flavours of honey in this stand were; Saffron, Pistachio, Cardamom, Ginger, Passion Fruit and Acai Berry. Wow! I had no idea you could flavour honey in so many ways.
In one of the barn rooms I found these celebrities. :p (Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus of course.)
Not quite as famous as the previous couple, lol, but here I am trying to warm my fingers over the little fire there. Greetings from Kristianopel! :p
My little pony.
Such a cutie! Because of course at any market there has to be a pony for children to ride.
On our way to the local parish house for some "fika" - coffee and cookies. :p
The local parish house.
Yuuuummy!!! For just 50 Swedish Kronas, about 7.50 USD, we could eat as many of these goodies and drink as much coffee
as we wanted. A true bargain! Because everything I tasted was so delicious! All these cookies had been made by ladies in the village - so excellent job ladies!!!
My (first) plate of deliciousness. :p Which consisted of a Lucia Cat, a Christmas Ham Sandwich with mustard, a cookie called "Drömmar" - Dreams, an Almond Cake with cream and strawberry jam and some carrot cake.
And we were not the only ones enjoying this cookie heaven.
While we sipped on our coffee and devoured cookies the choir ladies had found their way here and sang songs while photos from the olden days in Kristianopel were on display on this big screen.
All this together created a very lovely and Christmassy atmosphere in the parish house indeed. :-)
But after a while it was time to leave.
Bye, bye Kristianopel.
Getting ready to drive home.
And I was very happy I did not have to drive in this weather...
So, my first ever visit to Kristianopels Old Fashioned Christmas Market will most likely not be the last - mainly because of that amazing cookie buffet! :-)
(Side note, I have had extreme anxiety because I have not been able to post in over a week! The simple reason for that is that I have been swamped with work and other every day life related chores. My deepest hope is that I will have time to post more frequently this week though. Yikes! I really do not like falling behind with posts, visit backs and replies to comments. It feels like I am neglecting my best friend or something... Not a good feeling. But I do hope you all understand, it is after all December.)
It is now officially winter here in Lyckeby in Sweden! Because yesterday evening snow began to fall over Lyckeby, which resulted in me waking up this morning to a crispy, cold and snowy white view over Ekebacken Nature Reserve from my window. And the snow could not have arrived more perfectly, just in time to make this first Advent Sunday of four before Christmas feel extra Christmas like. In other words, Lisen and I had A Perfect Snowy Advent Premiere here in Lyckeby today.
And below are some pics from our first walk in the snow this morning.
View from my window.
Outside walking in the snow.
Lisen sniffing away in the snow.
And in the air.
Snow Dog. :p
Ekebacken Nature Reserve.
Enjoying the snow fall.
The walk continues.
Fa la la la la - la la la la... :-)
Come on Alex.
The only thing Lisen finds annoying about the snow...
... is that it forms small snowballs between her paws, which she has to stop and try to gnaw away.
Lisen and I on the lookout...
... until Lisen remembers that with Advent and Christmas comes a lot of yummy Christmas treats and presents. Yuuum!!!
Which is true, December is definitely a fun and delicious month in Sweden indeed. So here's to the start of this year's Advent season, to a great start to this year's Christmas season and to a fabulous snowy December month! Happy First Advent Everyone!
To read more about why and how we celebrate Advent in Sweden, check out: Advent In Sweden.
Because I have no mortgages yet I feel that if I ever were to need a mortgage in the future, getting some advice from a mortgage broker beforehand would be a great idea. And one place to find a mortgage broker is via the mortgage broker site. A helpful source to find and read a bit more about why it is useful to use a mortgage broker.
I would love to buy a house one day.
Though my hope is that I will never need to take a mortgage in my life, I am also realistic enough to know that perhaps I will actually have to do so one day. Mainly because I do want to buy a house and I am not sure if I will ever be able to save up enough money to pay for it in cash. But I guess taking a mortgage nowadays is a natural part of life. Even so, I would feel more comfortable if I knew more about what a mortgage entails before taking the mortgage plunge. Therefore I wold not be surprised if I were to make an appointment with a mortgage broker one of these days, perhaps even sooner than later...