Thursday, November 30, 2006

Christmas is Coming Around the Corner!

WOW - what an awesome birthday I had!!! Anders suprised me with dinner and a concert on Tuesday night and then continued to suprise me on Wednesday by taking the day off! We had an awesome day that ended with some Veuve Clicquot and my mom's brownie recipe - yummy! I also received a webcam and the NEW Barefoot Contessa Cookbook - YIPEE!!!! My parents stayed up past midnight (their time) to call me first thing in the morning and wish me a Happy Birthday! Thank you! I also received all sorts of calls, emails and text messages from all my friends and family wishing me a happy day. It really made turning 25 easier - he, he!! I am always so impressed by the number of people who are so thoughtful to me. I am the absolute WORSE at remembering people's birthdays (ask my mom - I've even forgotten hers!) and just wish I had an ounce of the thoughtfulness that some of my friends have. Then, their are the "other" ones - the ones like me. You could hit me over the head with a birthday book and I still wouldn't catch on. What makes this all the funnier is my best friend is the same! It drives her fiance and my husband crazy that we are so "thoughtless" when it comes to eachother, but the fact is that is so far from the truth! I guess we just don't get hung up on those silly "celebration" days and instead celebrate our life everyday...good grief, what the hell was that sentence about?!?! I think I have had too much sleep and coffee. Maybe I should start listening to rap music or something and get a little more grounded. HA!

Anywho, I didn't take too many pictures but there are a few I want to share with you:
First the boots I wore out on Tuesday night. Can you believe I walked on these things through the city and on public transporation? I mean, come on. These boots are great going from car to home or car to work or car to restaurant - but mastering the art of walking on your tip toes so your heel doesn't get caught in the subway grates is a entirely different thing. Now I know why the thick heeled boots are so popular here. I'll have to buy a pair but will wait until the end of the season since I already have TWO new pairs of boots.The bar at the restaurant/concert venue we went to on Tuesday night. No, we didn't see ABBA but we did see one of my favorite, current bands - Bo Kaspers Orkester. They sing some pretty amazing stuff, are incredible live and would you believe almost every member of the band plays at least two other instruments? At one point Anders and I couldn't remember who played what because they had changed so many times.AW, the virgin Reagan!! HA! Isn't she just the sweetest? We have so many pictures of her but this one (taken yesterday morning) is just hilarious. She's all wrapped up and snuggled in. She is such a momma's girl now since we hang out all the time.My breakfast this morning. I know, I know - it's a food shot (boring) - but I am really getting into this food styling/photography thing. Maybe I will create another blog just for this so I don't bore you all to death. Anyway, breakfast this morning consisted of corn museli and vanilla yogurt. One thing I have noticed that is a bit different in Sweden than the US (ok, there are LOTS of things, but this is more subtle) is the way they "protect" their food. In the US, there would not only be a plastic ring you would have to break or unwrap, there would also be a plastic piece on the spout you would have to remove (by the way - this particular yogurt comes in a cardboard container here - it's thinner so it pours out like milk). When I opened it this morning, I was a little scared. I even called Anders to see if he had some because it felt like someone had tampered with the yogurt. He assured me that yogurt is packaged this way and no one had put cyanide in it (Mom, are you rolling your eyes yet?).

Today will be spent putting out the Christmas decorations, putting away laundry (because I already did ALL of it this morning) and cleaning the house . I am also going to use up the leftover clementines (that I used as a centerpiece for Thanksgiving) and make a cake. I'll let you know how it tastes, tomorrow.

Thanks again to everyone for thinking of me yesterday - it meant A LOT!!!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Phood and Photography

So, many of you know that I enjoyed a long life in catering before I went to the "dark" side of HR. Well, while I was quite relieved not to have to answer to customers anymore (as they are ALWAYS right), I didn't loose my passion for food. Luckily, Anders enjoys cooking as much as I do but with recent changes in our work dynamics (i.e. I don't work and he does...) I have become the primary chef again. It's been really fun getting back into cooking and discovering new recipes. I also have discovered a love for photographing food. Now, I am sure there are food stylist around the world cringing at my latest attempts below, but hey - I am an amatuer and when it is a cloudy, foggy day in Sweden, the lighting in my house is crap too.

Anyway, I took the poached egg picture this morning and the crackers with cream cheese & lingonberry jam last Tuesday. I think it is fun to document some of what you eat (one of the food blogs I read documented ALL of the things she consumed for an entire week - that'd be tough) so I will try and do it a little more often if anything just to have pictures to post (especially since the weather in Sweden is just overcast and cool - BORING). Here's to photography and food!!! Have a Great Day!!!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Happy Monday!

I am such a loser - I didn't take ONE picture of the Thanksgiving meal but I can tell you it turned out really well. The Champagne cocktails were DELICIOUS - you must serve these at your next party. The cinnamon, sugar, orange mixture you put on the rim of the glasses is so good that I am using the leftovers in my coffee - ha! The rosemary cashews (from Barefoot Contessa) were so yummy too. I am always amazed and pleased that her recipes NEVER let me down. The turkey turned out perfect, the gravy just as delicious, the cranberry conserve - well, I think my Dad would like THIS recipe (another BC one). I also served green bean casserole (no fresh green beans here so this was an excellent substitute), mashed potatoes, deviled eggs (Mom, I swear you usually serve these), stuffed celery (you should have seen me making these - my family knows the pain these cause me every year) and individual stuffing. I made the stuffing and put it in ramekins for everyone. I didn't want to waste it and I also had heard from my American friends that Swedes really don't like stuffing. Well, not my Swedes. They loved it and everything else. Even the pumpkin pie turned out awesome. I had to bake my own crust (this time I used Martha Stewart) and learned that evaporated milk does exist here, just in the milk aisle. I was so pleased with everything and so happy it turned out good. Of course, we have leftovers and I have already made turkey tetrazzini last night and will be making turkey pot pies tonight.

The rest of the weekend was spent lounging around. Because Johan and Johanna spent the night, we made a typical American breakfast the next day (fried eggs, bacon, toast and hash browns - unfortunately they were not "scattered, smothered" or "covered"). I then spent the ENTIRE afternoon (it was a rainy day and maybe I was a touch hungover) watching seaon 2 of Project Runway. It's a show I didn't get into when I lived in the US but for some reason it was really interesting (maybe b/c it was the only english speaking program on?!? HA!).

Saturday night we went out to eat in Stockholm and had a very typical Swedish meal. I started out with pumpkin soup (not so typical, except they served it w/ salad greens as a garnish?!) and then had deer with a chanterelle sauce. I've had reindeer in the past but never deer. It was so delicious and nothing like I thought it would be. In fact, it is a lot milder than beef and really tender and lean. Anders' had this thing called gubbröra which is basically an egg salad with lots of anchovies - not too impressed and I think it was one of those moments for him where he thought he liked it and missed it, but once he got it he realized it wasn't as good as he remembered. For dinner he had elk meatballs. Now, I know what you are thinking - gross - but they were really, REALLY good. Again, a milder taste than beef and really tender and lean. I was so impressed.

Sunday was another lazy day and I finished watching Project Runway. Gunilla and Jan stopped by for a quick breakfast and to drop off some things. Again, another typical American breakfast but this time with scrambled eggs. I also got Gunilla and Jan to try salsa with their eggs instead of ketchup which they seemed to really enjoy.

This morning has been an active one already. I decided to go run on the trail again near our apartment and take the 5k route this time. It is even more beautiful but also more hilly. I started a little fast (of course, Reagan was with me and she pretty much drags my butt for the first 10 minutes or so) and got a little competitive with some of the other runners on the trail (i.e. I can't let THAT lady beat ME!) but I managed to finish it without hurting myself. What's want to know the time? Well, let's just say it was subpar and I need to get out there a little more than once a month! HA!

I hope everyone had as relaxing a weekend as I did. Tomorrow I am meeting the American girls for lunch and a walk around a new shopping center near Stockholm. Wednesday I will start looking for gray hairs since I will be 1/2 way to 70 and Thursday I will spend putting up Christmas decorations and trying to figure out where to buy an artificial tree.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Just wanted to wish all my friends and family a very, very Happy Thanksgiving! I know the holidays can be tough when we are away from each other, but I love you all very much and will be thinking about you enjoying your wonderful meal.

As I mentioned before, we are celebrating tomorrow night. Luckily we were able to get the company car last night so I spent 2 1/2 hours picking up all sorts of things. The Taby mall is so funny - just like the picture I posted of Anders pushing the grocery cart through the mall, I too had to do the same thing. It's was loaded down with groceries, wine, dry cleaning and pet supplies!! Classic moment only to be capped off with me almost sliding down the the "flat" escalator. I didn't expect the cart to start sliding back when I got on, but it did!! Thank goodness it finally caught on the ridges - the poor man behind me would have been in big trouble. Today, I will spend cleaning the apartment, finishing laundry, giving Reagan a bath (oh joy - you should see the size of this shower - one of those Home Depot corner types) and prepping a few items.

And now, the children have something to say:

Good grief, the way Reagan looks in that picture you would have thought I had just kicked her. She is the WORST picture taker in all of doggie land. Her hopes as a model have been dashed. Kissel, as usual, looks like he is about to tear my heart out. What love!!!

Have a great Thanksgiving - and Mom, tell Uncle Carl he isn't allowed to say anything that will make you cry!! I love you!!!

Love, Monica

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Hello Again!

Hello Again! Can you tell I am happy to have internet at home?!?! Now I really have something to distract me from housework, etc. (he, he, he).

Well, today is a hugely successful day already and I am sure you are wondering why. Well, I present to you 3 reasons why I am happy:
First off, the pancakes. I tried making pancakes a few weeks ago before I found my American measuring spoons and they turned out HORRIBLY. They were so doughy and disgusting. Today, I tried again and with much better results. I even made them McGriddle/Dad style and cooked them in bacon fat - yummy!
Secondly, my food parcels from my family. My sister and mom sent me kosher salt & canned pumpkin. My granny sent me cornbread, stuffing & chili. Funny enough, I was so worried about vanilla extract, cheerios and Kraft mac & cheese I never realized that Sweden WOULD NOT HAVE kosher salt, American style cornbread OR Pepperidge Farm stuffing. Thank you soooooooo much for sending these things - it's going to make my Thanksgiving so much more authentic!
And finally some early birthday presents (that'd be the 29th for some of you who might not know - Lissa?!?! HA, HA, HA!!!). My sister sent me the pink looking (in person it's more peachy) Under Armour Hoodie. I guess all that oohing and awing at Sports Authority before I left did the trick - you got the hint!!! ;-) Now I have no excuse for not running (other than pure laziness). The other hoodie is from my Granny - LOVE IT and it will be worn often. And the styrofoam cups, you ask - well, those are special packing devices used by my father (among other things). Dad - don't you know I live in an environmentally conscience society where use of styrofoam is punishable by death?!?! HA!!!

OK, so it's actually more than three things and it is certainly not the answer to world peace BUT it is things that are currently making me happy right now! Thank you EVERYONE who put together both of these packages. When the FedEx lady delivered the second one this morning, I was in the middle of making the pancakes. She was so funny - she said she could smell them all through the apartment hallway and it smelled really good. I guess I could have shared...nah, that is SO not like me.

And now for a few other pictures that are just funny...
My sister and I at dinner before we left - I think this is such a funny picture and we almost look alike. Scary that we have to make such a weird face to see the resemblance?!?!
The forest behind our apartment when we first arrived
The same shot taken today. It's rainy and 45F this afternoon. What's nice about where we live is when I opened the window to take this shot, you could hear the rain hitting the leaves of the trees. A much better noise compared to the roar of LBJ/635. HA!
And finally, a sweet picture of Kissel. It's not often I can capture him in his sweet, loving moments but this was one of them. Usually he is rolling his eyes at the camera.

Well, I am off for today. Need to run up to the grocery store to pick up dinner and pick up our dry cleaning too. FYI - you can never complain about dry cleaning pricing again (not that any of you really do) because it is costing me US$22 to get TWO pairs of pants cleaned. Next care package, please send Dryel and Bounce Dryer Sheets (that's another story, another post).

Much Love,

Monday, November 20, 2006

Hell has frozen over...

and we have internet!!! As promised, the first "from home" post will be only pictures:
The playground directly outside our apartment - this is how it looked when we first arrived
This is the same playground after the first big snowfall on November 1st.

Anders pushing the grocery cart through the mall - it was Sweden's largest shopping mall until recently and has 3 grocery stores to choose from! HA!

The trail leading to our apartment from the train station and mall - this is what it looked like when we arrived.

Anders and I (and Reagan, of course) cooking in our kitchen for Viktor and Eilish (our first house guests)

Anders with our pallets of boxes - notice what great shape they are in!

Reagan posing in the first snow - unfortunately the first day of snow, we didn't have the camera so I didn't catch her rolling around in it like it was carpet. Oh well!

The same trail to our apartment from the train station/mall - we took this just yesterday.

Reagan and Kissel "spooning" on the couch with me - those two are unbelievable sometimes.

This week I am busy preparing for Thanksgiving which will be celebrated on Friday. Johan and his girlfriend, Johanna, are coming over for some traditional American cuisine. I am really looking forward to it and will spend all week finishing up the apartment and making parts of the dinner. Once the apartment looks decent enough, I will take some pictures of it too.

Thanks for your patience, everyone, as I get caught up. It's so nice to be able to sit AT HOME and post again without having to smell cheap asian fast food or worry about how long I have. YEAH!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

AACCKK, November 1st?!?!

Happy November 1st! Can you believe it is already November?!? We left Chicago four weeks ago today and boy has the weather changed a lot since then. Today we saw the first snowfall (I know - just the beginning!) and Reagan's first experience with the snow. She walked out onto it, did a little hop and then proceeded to roll around in it for about 5 minutes, like it was carpet. Too funny.
The last week has been a blur, but I will try and update you as best as I can. Last Thursday, Anders received a phone call from one of his friends, Mats, letting him know there was a position in his office that had just become vacant. He suggested that Anders give his boss a call to set up an interview. This was in the morning and by Thursday afternoon Anders had been offered the job (conditionally). He started work on Friday and has been busy putting in 11-12 hour days ever since. How lucky and blessed are we? And to top it off, it looks like he will be getting a company car and cell phone. They told him last night that the job was officialy his so we are thrilled.

Over the weekend, Anders went to the south of Sweden for a boys weekend. I'll let him post about his experience, but anyone who knows my husband will be rest assured he had his fair share of fun. I ventured out on my own, while he was away. Friday night, I went to my brother in law's girlfriend's apartment for dinner with a group of people. I had a blast and really enjoyed meeting more people. On Saturday, I went out to one of the American girl's homes for a Halloween party - I wore devil horns and Prada...ha! I had a blast and ended up singing karoke (VHope, are you proud?!?!). Sunday, I went to eat brunch with one of my Swedish friends and another one of her friends. After we ate, we cruised around Stockholm looking for things to buy. It was so liberating to get out on my own. I was starting to feel a little dependent on Anders to get me around but this proved to me that I can do it on my own. Man, should I throw my hat up like Mary Tyler Moore and sing "your going to make it on your own"...ha!!

This week I have just been trying to get things settled with my Swedish classes. I go on Monday for a registration and profiency test - that should go by quickly. And today I meet with a lady about English and Spanish tutoring. Our stuff has cleared customs and will be delivered on Friday. We'll spend most of the weekend trying to figure out what to unpack and what not to touch.

And yes, still no f-ing internet so still no f-ing pictures. I am so frustrated right now and am only a few seconds away from buying a new laptop with wireless connection. GGRRRR!!!!

Take care everyone and send warm thoughts!