I will be flying away for the Holidays this year! But it is not always easy to find a cheap flight to the destination you want to travel to. Though in my experience, if you book either very early, meaning several months in advance, or last minute. There are indeed big possibilities to find cheap plane tickets, especially online. Which is why I have been engaging in this particular activity a lot this year, mostly in the early parts of the year.
Because it was last Christmas that my cousin suggested that our families celebrate Christmas and New Years in a warmer country this year. Something we all thought was a great idea. So we quickly initiated our search for cheap plane tickets online, finally found some nicely priced ones and booked them! Which means that I will be celebrating the Holidays in another country this year!
In fact, in less than one month I will be on my way - all the way - to... Tada - Miami and Orlando in Florida, U.S.A! And I am so excited!!! But I can also not believe how quickly this year has gone by! It feels like we just started to talk about these big plans a few weeks ago... But nope. The Holidays are indeed approaching fast, as is the date when I will be flying away.
So soon I will be seated on one of these, saying "So Long Lyckeby..." and "Hello Miami!". :p
Due to the fact that there are more dark than light hours outside this time of year here in Sweden. I am very glad that we have a tradition which entails putting up Advent candlesticks and stars in our windows right now. Because not only do they look nice, but those wonderful Christmas lights definitely help to brighten up the evenings too. Therefore I have of course also decorated my windows with some lovely Advent candlesticks and stars.
And though it might not be much, it certainly makes a big difference on the coziness factor scale of my apartment. At least I think so. :p
My decorated window in daytime to the left, and in the evening to the right.
My window (top right) as seen from outside in the evening.
And my entire apartment building in the evening. Ahh... :-)
We had quite the storm here in Karlskrona in Sweden yesterday. Especially during the evening and night. I actually thought my windows were going to blow away few times, that was how hard the wind shook them. Trees fell and blocked roads in several places around here, roofs were blown off houses and over 80 000 households in Southern Sweden lost their power (I had mine though).
But the big incident of the evening in my family was that while my sister was visiting a friend, the wind got hold of a trampoline (one of those things children jump up up and down on) from her friend's neighbour's garden. This trampoline flew all the way across the road and hit my sister's parked car. Yikes! Luckily though my sister was not in the car at the time, which was really the most important thing. However her car did get quite a few dents and a broken front window.
Now despite the fact that a storm was in full motion less than 24 hours ago, the sunset I encountered in Nättraby in Karlskrona earlier today could not have been more still and beautiful. Definitely a typical "calm after the storm" moment. And I think that because yesterday was such a stormy one, this sunset felt to me like a reassurance of the fact that all moments do truly pass. Even stormy nights. So with that in mind, I indeed took the opportunity to fully enjoy this lovely moment.
The first sunset after the storm. Location; Nättraby, 10 kilometers outside of Karlskrona in Sweden.
Today we celebrate the first Advent Sunday of four here in Sweden. To me this means lighting the first candle of four in my Advent candlestick, eating rice porridge for breakfast and putting up Christmas decorations. Also every year while I am decorating I bring out a special blinking lights Santa Hat that has been remade to fit my dog Lisen, who absolutely hate to wear it! Lol! But I just have to mess with her a little bit every year by forcing her to wear it at least long enough for me to take a photo of her. And this year our Santa Hat photo session took place in the very stormy weather outside on my balcony.
So without further ado I give you - Dog vs Santa Hat In Stormy Weather:
Hey, take a photo then.
I wonder if I get a treat efter this? Mmm...
Hellooo! Where is my treat!?
No treat = No more hat on my furry head!
Yeah, I hope the wind blow you far, far away dumb hat!
A few minutes later...
Oh man... She brought it back in...
By the way, Lisen did get a treat when we got back in. :-) Happy 1st Advent everyone!
I have been a bit obsessed with the card game UNO lately. Now I used to love to play UNO when I was a child. But for some reason I stopped playing it for a long time? However, this past Christmas I rediscovered how fun it is to play UNO. Because I bought it as a Christmas gift to some of my relatives, who loved it. So we played UNO together all through Christmas, which was a ton of fun! But then they went home, and brought UNO home with them... And so my UNO delirium came to an abrupt end.
At least for about 10 months. More specifically until my birthday, when I got UNO as a birthday present. Yay! So ever since then I have made everyone who come over for a visit play UNO with me. Lol! Which is why I am very glad that it is finally the weekend, because that means it is time to play UNO again - all night long! Wahoo!!!
Luckily for me my dog Lisen is pretty calm at home, therefore I have not had to pet proof my home very much. Although she does like to stand up on the couch to look out the window from time to time. Which is why I have actually considered to get some safe window treatments there, like blinds for instance.
My dog Lisen looking out the window.
But like I said earlier, Lisen is pretty calm at home. She also usually just sleeps whenever she is home alone. However a dog who is the total opposite of Lisen is my sister's dog Diva (Lisen's daughter). Who loves to search through the apartment, and steal, for food whenever she is home alone. So whenever I look after Diva I definitely have to make sure to pet proof my home a bit more than usual.
And some pet proof precautions I make on those occasions are; to remove everything editable and/or things that I know Diva has eaten before, like ointments. To put away all sharp objects, like dirty knives or breakable stuff, because Diva will grab and lick them if there is any food on them! To make sure the door to my balcony is closed, because Diva is also a real dare devil who is not afraid of anything (except the vacuum cleaner...). So I cannot let her out alone on my balcony either.
Because this is how Diva enjoys the view on my balcony. (I live on the fifth floor...)
But despite Diva's dare devil behaviour, I can never get mad at her. She is simply too charming and too much of a sweet heart to feel anything but love for. Although she definitely makes me think twice about how to best pet proof my home. And the fact that how to pet proof ones home depends very much on the personality of ones pet. Which is why I am very glad that Lisen is as calm as she is, except for her wild couch climbing that is. Hehe. ;-)
Sometimes I get very intense sweet cravings, and when I become really desperate. Well, then pretty much anything sweet will do. Like this desperate dessert I put together a while back.
It consisted of a pancake and a saffron bun (that had been in my freezer since last year) topped with chocolate sauce and cereal.
First I quickly heated them up in my microwave. Then, to try and make it all look a bit more fun (and taste even more sweet), I poured some bought chocolate sauce and cereal over everything. And I must say, though a bit dry, my desperate dessert did actually taste pretty good. Although I will probably not make it again anytime soon, or ever. Lol! :p
This lovely tiger photo was taken at one of the zoos I visited in Australia in 2007.
And close encounter indeed, because the only thing that kept this tiger and boy apart was a few centimeters of glass. It also seemed to me like this tiger was more intrigued by the boy than the other way around. Which in turn now makes me wonder; what was on your mind Mr. Tiger? Hm..?
When I travel I like to bring something home with me from each country, also known as a souvenir. But although I have bought most of my souvenirs in stores, my favourite souvenirs are actually the ones I have collected on my own - for free! Souvenirs like;
Top Left Jar: Sand from the Sahara Desert in Tunisia. Left Middle Jar: A rock from Grand Canyon and sand from Santa Monica Beach in California (US). Left Bottom Jar: Sand from a Desert in Egypt. And the bottle to the right is filled with water I gathered on a boat ride on the River Nile in Egypt.
So these are some of the pieces of the world I have in my living room here in Sweden. And I must say that one thing that still baffles me to this day is how clean the water from the Nile looks in that bottle. Because, not only has it been in there for more than 10 years, but the river looked so brown and dirty when I was on it. Though, I guess water can be dirty even if it looks clean. But even so, the big difference of appearance still fascinates me. And it is something I am sure I would never have noticed unless I had brought a piece of the Nile home with me.
My dog Lisen loves to eat, anywhere - anytime! She is always up for having a little snack or treat, even on our walks. And when I do not give her one, well then she tries to find something edible outside. But if she does find something to eat, she at least usually asks for my permission before she eats it. And she asks me by looking up at me with her big brown eyes and licking her mouth. However there have been a few occasions when Lisen has just gone for it and grabbed whatever she has found without asking. But those are rare occasions, and I usually manage to grab whatever she has found out of her mouth before she swallows it. Hehe.
In any case, Lisen sure seem to think quite a lot about eating during a day. At least that is the impression I get from her. :p
The Lyckeby River here in Sweden was absolutely stunning this morning. It looked like a giant, oblong mirror filled with reflections of its neighbors. An irresistible photo opportunity in other words! So below are some photos of how Lyckeby River played with the sunshine earlier today.
I LOVE Swedish Sandwich Cake, which basically consist of a bunch of layers of sandwich slices with different spreads and fillings. Now there are of course endless ways you can make a Sandwich Cake, but my favourite fillings to have in one are for instance cheese, roast beef and different mayonnaise based seafood salads. I also love when it is garnished with lots of shrimps, roast beef, eggs and veggies.
A slice of a Swedish Sandwich Cake I had a while back.
Now apparently it was a Swedish fellow named Gunnar Sjödahl who invented this delicious concept. He did so when he worked at Wedemarks Konditori (a café) in Östersund in the 1960s. However it seems that different kinds of Sandwich Cakes began to occur in food events as early as in the 1940s in Sweden. Although it was not until the 1970s that Sandwich Cake became a popular cake to serve at festive occasions such as weddings, confirmations, student and birthday parties, in Sweden.
In fact, Sandwich Cakes are still often served at events like these. Which I think is because they can be completely prepared (or bought) in advance. Also a Sandwich Cake is served cold and can be as big or small as you need it to be. And it is served just like a regular cake, simply sliced and put on a plate. So really all you have to do with a Sandwich Cake at a party is to bring it out when the time is right.
Although I do not think that you have to wait until a festive occasion to eat a Sandwich Cake. Hehe. I eat smaller versions of them every now and then, sometimes just to celebrate that the weekend has arrived. I mean, a Sandwich Cake is way too tasty to just be eaten a couple times of year! :p
Small Swedish Sandwich Cake. Suitable to eat at any time - all year round. :p
Below is a photo of Diva, my sister's dog, in a very awkward position.
Not sure how that can be comfortable!? But Diva has always slept with her front legs crossed like that. Or more accurately, when she crosses them like that you know she is about to go into deep sleep.
Although I sort of disturbed her here by taking a bunch of photos of her, sorry Diva. Hehe.
Even though Diva lives with my sister, she is, and always will be, very close to my heart. I mean, I have known her ever since she was born, 6 years ago. And before she was born my dog Lisen was pregnant with her, and 11 of her siblings, for two about months. So there are some pretty close family ties going on here indeed. However, unlike Diva, Lisen prefer to sleep with her legs up in the air. Lol! :-)
Yesterday was a beautiful sunny, yet chilly Saturday here in Lyckeby in Sweden. But I love cold and bright mornings. So I took my dog Lisen for a long lovely walk along the old retired train track here in Lyckeby. Now Lisen and I walk along this train track all the time, on the sidewalk next to it of course. But for some reason my eyes were drawn to the train track more than usual yesterday. Therefore I pulled out my iphone and snapped some shots of it, and of my dog Lisen too of course. So below are some photos of what Lisen and I saw yesterday.
Now this train track is actually an old industrial train track that stretches 6,4 kilometers from Gullberna to Verkö harbour in Karlskrona. The train track was built in the late 1960s, finished in 1971.
But even though this train track was refurbished in 2008, it is very rarely used nowadays.
Which was why I felt pretty safe to let my dog Lisen take a little breather next to it yesterday. :-)
This kangaroo is the coolest, calmest and most relaxed kangaroo I have ever met. I bumped into her, I think it is a female, at one of the zoos I visited in Australia in 2006. And what I found to be so cool about this lovely kangaroo was that even though she could walk (jump) around the zoo grounds as she pleased, she preferred to lie in the middle of the road where everyone was walking. So of course lots of people walked up to her and petted her. But that did not seem to bother her at all, in fact she seemed to enjoy it.
Therefore I have decided that this kangaroo will be my inspiration for this weekend. I will simply do as she did back then, relax and take it easy. No matter who or what happens around me. So Happy Relaxed Weekend Mates! ;-)
Collops, known as Kalops in Swedish, is one of my favourite Swedish dishes to eat during fall and winter. Mainly because it is such a warm, hearty and fulfilling dish, but also because it is so simple to make. Now Collops is easiest described as a Swedish beef stew. A traditional Swedish Collops consist of; stew beef, onion, water, flour, whole allspice, bay leaves and salt. However in Skåne, a county in Southern Sweden, they also use carrots as an additional ingredient in Collops. This version of Collops is called Skånsk Kalops in Swedish. It is also the version I prefer to make.
Another difference between a traditional Swedish Collops and a Skånsk Collops is that the beef in the traditional Collops should consist of pounded collops. Like in the photo above.
Whereas in Skånsk Collops thicker pieces of beef are used instead. Like in this photo. However both versions of Collops are usually served with boiled potatoes and pickled beets.
Now this dish was first mentioned in Sweden in Cajsa Wargs 1755 Swedish cookbook "Hjelpreda I Hushållningen För Unga Fruentimber" - "Assistant in Housekeeping for Young Women". Although why this dish was named Collops - Kalops, a name taken from the English language, is unknown. But regardless of how the dish got its name, it sure is a very simple dish to make.
So I will try my best to give an idea of how I usually make Collops. However I must warn you that my spice, water and flour measurements are usually spontaneous, therefore it is a bit hard for me to give exact numbers. But here it is;
Recipe Swedish Collops (Skånsk Kalops)
600 grams of stew beef
water, flour, whole allspice, bay leaves and salt
1. Cut beef into stew size pieces.
2. Chop onion and carrots. The carrots should be chopped pretty thick.
3. Fry beef and onion in a pot with some butter/oil until beef has gotten some color.
4. Pour a thin layer of flour over the beef and onion, stir.
5. Pour in water so that it just covers the beef .
6. Season with about 1,5-2 teaspoons of salt, 10-15 whole allspice and 5-7 bay leaves. I also put in the carrots in this step, but they can be put in when about 30 minutes remain of the cooking time. It depends on how soft you want the carrots. Or how thick/thin you have chopped them.
7. Let simmer under lid for at least 1,5 hours. I prefer to let it simmer about 2-3 hours.
8. Taste stew a few times while it simmers to check if additional seasoning is needed, or extra water needs to be added.
9. Serve with boiled potatoes and pickled beets.
Enjoy! Or as we say in Swedish when we want to wish each other a good meal - Smaklig Måltid! :-)
I have gathered some photos of stunning sunsets and skies I have been fortunate to see here in Lyckeby in Sweden. Actually three of these photos are taken from my balcony. The fourth one is taken when I was on a walk with my lovely dog Lisen here in Lyckeby. So here they are - My Burning Skies. :-)
My dog Lisen has normal sized hanging dog ears I think, which suits her pretty face so well. However she has had some issues with her right ear throughout her life, with for instance ear infections. Although a few of those ear infections were probably caused by the fact that she loves to swim in the ocean for long periods of time. But for some reason she has always gotten, and still gets, her ear problems in her right ear...? Her left ear has always been super clean and healthy though.
Lisen shaking of some water and flapping her big ears in between one of her beloved swims in the Baltic Sea in Karlskrona in Sweden.This photo was taken on May 12th in 2009 at Verkö.
Anyway, because of these issues I do keep an extra eye on Lisens right ear and clean it frequently. More frequently than I clean her "magical" left ear. So when she started to scratch her right ear a bit too much on our walk today, I did get a bit worried.
Lisen scratching her ear today here in Lyckeby in Sweden and looking very intense.
Which is why I cleaned it as soon as we got home. Surprisingly though it was pretty clean, just a bit red. Which I suspect was because she scratched it so much on the walk. So a huge relief. But also a reminder for me to keep her doggy ears under close supervision, well at least her right ear. Hehe.
I LOVE bagels! But it is not easy to find decent bagels here in Karlskrona in Sweden! In fact the best way I know how to get a hold of good bagels is by begging my sister to make some. Lol! I guess I could try to make some myself, but it just seem so complicated... Because not only do you have to make the dough, shape the bagels and let them rest. You have to boil the bagels too.
Like this. (I took these photos while my sister was making bagels a while back.)
And then let them rest again before they can finally be put in the oven.
So I am definitely glad to have a nice sister who enjoy to bake. Because home made bagels are extremely delicious too! I also like to eat them like in the photo above, fresh out of the oven with butter. Yum!
But this is how real bagels should look. And they are also the type of bagels which are impossible to find here in Karlskrona. The bagel in the photo is one of many I ate when I was in Las Vegas in 2007.
Although I had my first real American bagel when I was in the US in 2005. Which is when I got hooked on them. Sooo goooood!!! However I was surprised over how much cream cheese they put on them. But I quickly learned to love it and now my favourite way to eat bagels is toasted with lots of cream cheese and strawberry marmalade. So if only someone, somewhere within a reasonable distance of Karlskrona could start to sell some great bagels, I would be one of their most loyal customers for sure! AND I could finally stop nagging on my sister to make bagels. :-)
A few days ago I took a closer look with my Canon EOS 450D at some wet grass in Rödeby forest here in Sweden. And below is some of what I saw there.
Wet grass From A Distance.
Wet Grass Close Up.
Wet Grass Close Up.
Wet Grass Close Up.
Wet Grass Close Up.
Wet Grass Close Up.
Wet Grass Close Up.
I am always amazed at what I find when I take a closer look at my surroundings. Because beauty truly exist everywhere and all the time. Even in some simple wet grass. So Thank You Mother Nature for this wonderful photo op! Much appreciated. :p
Because I just bought 1,2 kilos of candy! Lol! It was on sale this week and I just happen to have a sweet craving when I passed the candy section at the store. So this is what happened...
I bought way too much candy...
But they had so many of my favourite candies! Which are chocolate and salt licorice. As well as the occasional sour piece. So I was doomed to fail to resist. Lol!
Oh well, I can pretend that I thought it was Halloween this weekend. Because I do always get confused over when to celebrate Halloween in Sweden. If it should be celebrated on the same day as All Saint's day or not? Which is tomorrow. However it does seem like most people who celebrate Halloween in Sweden did so last weekend. But, Halloween or not. I am definitely going to have a sweet weekend! :p
Walpurgis Eve is of course celebrated on April 30th here in Sweden. It is a celebration where we welcome spring by lighting bonfires all over Sweden. However, due to drought this year the Walpurgis bonfire here in Lyckeby in Sweden was canceled. So I have seen the original Walpurgis Eve pile of junk, also known as The Walpurgis Eve Bonfire, grow ever since. And I was beginning to think it would never get to do its intended job this year - to burn. But then yesterday it happened!
As my dog Lisen and I were out on one of our many walks we happened to come across this. It was lit!!! Yay! So even though we had a very late Walpurgis Eve Bonfire this year, at least I got to see it. :-)
My dog Lisen loves to carry things. For instance, whenever someone walks through the front door she has to fetch a shoe and carry it around for a little while. Or if I have a waterbottle with me on our walk, she wants to carry that one. She also loves to carry my mittens during winter time. So whenever I have mittens on my hands she wants me to take them off and give them to her.
Now this could be a great thing, if only Lisen did not have the habit of simply letting go of whatever she is carrying when she does not feel like carrying it anymore. Lol! Therefore I always have to pay close attention to her whenever she is carrying something to make sure she does not leave it along the way somewhere. Which she usually does.
But although Lisen loves to carry many things, at the moment she is mostly obsessed with carrying her leash. An obsession she always get after her heat period, when she thinks she is pregnant for about two months. So when we are out on walks, even when she is loose, she just has to carry her precious leash everywhere. My precious little Lisen. :-)
are some photos of Lisen and her precious leash in Rödeby forest in Sweden.
As I passed this empty school yard here in Lyckeby in Sweden earlier today I remembered that school children have their so called Potato Holiday this week. Well, no one really call it a Potato Holiday nowadays. Although that was its original name.
A name that came about when Sweden mainly was an agricultural country, before the 1900s. And because most families in Sweden were farmers back then. Schools decided to gather some scattered free days during the fall semester and create a cohesive one week school holiday instead. This way children could stay home and help their family with the harvest for one week. A harvest which most often consisted of potatoes, hence the name Potato Holiday.
Now the Potato Holiday remained in schools until the early 1900s, when the importance of agriculture in Sweden started to lessen. Which in turn also meant that the need for the Potato Holiday lessened. So over time this particular school holiday became dissolved by scattered free days once again.
However in the mid-1990s many school districts in Sweden decided to reinstate the cohesive one week school holiday during the fall semester. But instead of calling it a Potato Holiday this time, they simply called it a Fall Holiday. Which nowadays is a time when many families choose to travel on vacation. Perhaps even on Cuba holidays? In any case, I am definitely glad I did not have to pick any potatoes on my Fall Holidays when I was a child. :-)