Sunday, November 18, 2007

Easy Hors D'oeuvres Idea

Check this out - I think you will enjoy it!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Stockholm City Webcam

This is just fantastic!! I got this link from one of my friends (thanks Mans!!!):

Now you can check in on Stockholm anytime!!!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Me and My Shadow

Well, as expected I woke up today to a light dusting of snow. Unfortunately, it wasn't at all like last year's first snow - a little more mushy and not too much. But, because Reagan and I were up early we were able to make some of the first footsteps in the snow. I think this should satisfy my urge to walk in fresh cross country tracks later - ha!
At least now I know winter is coming - I do love it even if less than two weeks ago I was walking around in my shorts and flip flops. Plus, I get a little break as I will be in Dallas for Thanksgiving and my...gulp...36th birthday. I'm sure it'll either be 1) nice & sunny or 2) icy. Either way, I'm prepared.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Long Black and Flat White

You say something like that in the States, and you might be hit with a lawsuit. Say that in Australia and you're simply ordering a coffee. And that, my family and friends, is the first thing I learned about Australia, it's culture, people and most importantly it's animals.

Just back from my two week work trip to Sydney and Adelaide and all I can say is - WOW. Strangely familiar in an American way, I saw and experienced some pretty cool things. While my days were filled with meetings, presentations and interviews, there certainly was never any shortage of time to partake in local culture. I arrived Saturday night, with my co-worker arriving Sunday morning. We immediately grabbed a coffee and began touring the area where our hotel (not the Hyatt, by the way) was located - Kings Cross. This area combines the artsy, eccentric group with the drunks, druggies and prostitutes. For example, after walking just a block from our hotel we immediately saw:
1. A man, dressed in a nice business suit, passed out on the sidewalk in a busy intersection
2. Prostitutes roaming the streets
3. At least 50 people STILL in the bar drinking
This all at 8am - incredible! And I thought the Swedes liked to party. But just one more block down, we were in the poshes area leading down to the harbor and botanical gardens.

People wise, I'd say they are just as friendly if not more than Americans yet totally oblivious to the fact that anyone who visits their 'island' has to travel a minimum of 7 hours to get there. I guess that just goes to show that they get a lot of tourists so it's old hat to them. Or maybe I've gotten to use to being the odd man out in Sweden. The animals were what you expected - except for the bats (or, as I later found out - flying foxes...yeah right). However, every animal we asked about or encounter always came with some kind of evil footnote. For example, if you hit a kangaroo with your car you better be sure it's dead before getting out of your car otherwise be prepared to fight for YOUR life. Luckily I left others to the driving but was a bit anxious once I did finally encounter these evil yet cuddly looking creatures at the local zoo.

The weather was amazing - sunny and hot until the last two days of my trip. It was a nice change for me knowing that back home it was getting darker and cooler by the minute. It was such a fun trip too - the hotel guys that work in Australia are amazingly funny and gracious. There is still quite a bit of chivalry down in Oz with all the men opening the door for me and letting me go through first - something you don't encounter very often at all!

And now, for some pictures:
Above the Blue Mountains - the only way to see Australia is in your business suit, by the way!The flying foxes - whatever, they look like bats to me!The gratuitous Opera House view - did you know the acoustics in there apparently stink?A kangaroo - we went to a open zoo in Adelaide but I was too scared to pet anything for fear of deathThe koalas - the haze is from the eucalyptus trees that surround this area. You can hold them as well when it isn't too hot, but apparently their so lazy that they pee on themselves so it's not necessarily the most pleasant experience.

See what I mean - everything comes with some kind of footnote. Funny, huh? The Opera House story was the best one by far. We found this out from talking to one of the cellist from the Sydney Symphony. Actually, it wasn't me who found this out but my co-worker and if you know him, then you most likely are rolling on the floor laughing imagining the conversation between these two. It was just as funny as you think!

Now, I'm off to be a little nosier in the house. I've been up since 4:30am and really REALLY want Anders to wake up and fix me breakfast - eggs benedict!!!

Monica ;-)

MY FOOTNOTE - all evil and horrible statements were made in jest and in no way do I find Aussie's to be negative. Well, except for the Opera House statement - but that's just damn funny!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Happy Thursday!

For your viewing pleasure:

PS - Ignore the 'meters' reference - apparently I HAVE been here a year! :-)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Me and My Little Surstromming

I have a rule that I tend to live by - I'll try anything ONCE. Even if it involves my greatest fear - heights - I'll give it a shot. I might not be the most comfortable (just ask my dad to reenact my first and only hot air balloon trip with him), but at least I can say "I've done that, thankyouverymuch". So this weekend was no exception.

Early in the summer my mother-in-law had told me of this very VERY typical Swedish 'dish' called surstromming. Now, most swedes who are reading this right now are probably curling their toes as they know exactly what I am talking about. Basically, surstromming is rotten fish. Literally, can bulging, bad smelling, rotten fish. I had just recently learned that the word 'sur' is sour in Swedish and knowing this certainly did not add any additional interest into me trying it. Now, my husband is not a fish eater so when he said he had never tried it, I didn't take much notice. But then, when he insist that he NOT be around when I do try it, I started to wonder. A few others had described it to me as well, but the one that really caught my ear was the description from Jan, my mother-in-laws' boyfriend. I won't tell you what he said about it, but what I will tell you is that Jan is the ultimate Swede (and a true American lover too) and the fact that he doesn't even really like this dish began to make me nervous.

But, alas, I had promised her that I would at least TRY it. So Saturday afternoon, I loaded Reagan into the car and drove to the summer home, alone. Knowing that I might not have much else to eat that day, I stopped at McDonald's for their Quarter Pounder Meal. Once we arrived at the home, I set Reagan up on her leash and began reading my book. Around 7pm Gunilla and Jan arrived. She immediately began to prepare the ingredients for our dinner and I slammed a campari and OJ (along with two glasses of red wine prior to their arrival). Once the additional ingredients were ready we were summoned into the little house for the opening of the surstromming. Now, Gunilla claims that she has a secret weapon - she opens the ROTTEN fish under water so the smell doesn't overwhelm you, the house, the neighbors, etc.. At first, it worked. I didn't smell anything. Then suddenly - WHAM!!! Not only did the smell cause a slight gag but it literally over took all of my nasal passages, leading into my throat. You know that lingering, burning sensation you get when you smell ammonia? Well, that's kind of how this fish lingered in my head. But, I was determined not to be deterred. I've watched enough Fear Factor to know there is a lot worse out there that can be eaten. So we sat down to begin the assembly of the surstromming sandwich. It basically consists of crisp thin bread, sauteed onions, almond potatoes (similar to fingerling potatoes, but are found in the Nordic region), tons of butter and the surstromming. Now, the stromming fish alone is a smelly one. This is not a fish for the faint of heart, but to make it rotten - you gotta be kidding me. But, I was persistent. I wasn't going to let my name go down in shame. I wanted to represent all of America!!! (cue "Proud to be an American" by Lee Greenwood). So, I took a bite. I mean really, how bad could it be. I had loaded the sandwich down with so much potatoes, onion and butter you could barely even see the stromming. But my oh my - you could taste it. At first, I pushed through - helped with a couple of shots of aquavit - but then, I came to a bigger stromming bite. And with that, I was done. I had managed to eat 1/2 of the sandwich - more than most Swedes could probably claim doing - but, in Jan's own words, I was a true Viking now!!!! HA!!

If you curious about surstromming at all, here's the link.

Now I can say I tried it and I don't like it! :-)

Monday, August 06, 2007

No excuses!

I'm back, I'm not house sitting anymore, my computer works and I have no more excuses. I promise to write more later, but I wanted you to know that I haven't forgotten how to long into this blog. I'm just a little uninspired, for some reason. Despite the fact that so many of my family members and friends tell me they check the blog quite often. I think I'm suffering from writers block - ha!!!

Maybe I'll start on Kissel's memoirs...

Monday, June 18, 2007

And now, for some pictures

YEAH - YIPEE!!!! Anders fixed our computer motor and we now are fully operational on our PC and internet. And just in time - we start our 2 week vacation on Friday and will be traveling around the Swedish country side with limited access to internet. HA. Poetic justice, I believe. Anyway, I've uploaded some pictures we took over the past few months and will post more soon. This Friday is Midsummer's Eve and is a HUGE tradition in Sweden. I would say this day is even bigger than Christmas or any other holiday. Think 4th of July but on a much longer, drunker scale. Did that make sense? It is the longest day of the year here with the sun "setting" around 10pm and "rising" around 3am. I quote those two terms as the sun really just dips below the horizon so it is basically just dusk for 5 or less hours. But I have to tell you a secret - the last weather report I looked at predicted rain showers on Friday. Could be a catastrophe here in Sweden - so much so it will probably headline the nightly news. I guess that's better than Paris Hilton (who, by the way, gets ZERO news time here - thank gawd!). Enough gibberish, on to the pictures:

The walk along the water not more than 3 minutes from our apartment - so nice!!!
Recognize this dork? Loving her tennis ball at Daniel's (Anders best friend since he was very little!) summer home in the Archipelago.Sunset on Horse Pink (Daniel's summer home in the Archipelago)

Notice Reagan is without leash in the last two pictures? For those of you who fell asleep in Geography or never took it (like me!), an Archipelago is a large group of small islands. Daniel's family owns one of the many islands off the coast of Sweden so it is an ideal place for Reagan to wander around off leash. Unless she gets a whiff of the sheep that are grazing there or worse yet, runs off chasing a goose and literally retrieves a baby goose for you (in exchange for another tennis mind you). If you've ever seen pictures of golden retrievers with a goose hanging from their mouths then you know exactly what we saw! Let's just say when I screamed"DROP IT!", the entire east coast of Sweden heard me!! HA!

Well, off to have coffee with a friend from my Swedish classes - later!

Thursday, June 07, 2007


Missed me?!?! I bet! We're all moved and getting settled in. Our new apartment is so nice and in a really great area. We are a 4 minute walk to the subway in one direction and a 4 minute walk to the water and nature in the other. While it is much smaller we are learning to live small and neat. HA!

Unfortunately, in true moving fashion, it took almost a month to get internet service and once we had that, our computer's motor is broken. Needless to say I won't be able to post pictures until it's fixed but Anders' company was kind enough to let us borrow a laptop so we can at least have access to the internet.

The weather in Sweden is warming up every day with the temperatures reaching the low 80s. The sun is 'setting' around midnight and rising only a few hours later...and we still have a couple more weeks to go before we hit the longest day of the year. No wonder Swedes complain about the winter - the summer light is endless!! It is certainly amazing and I am so happy to be experiencing it finally. But I have realized that I may need to invest in some curtains for the summer - ha!!!

Even more fun is that I have found someone to run with. One of the girls from my Swedish class is into running and wants to run the Stockholm Womens 10k at the end of August. We've been doing all our runs in the trails near our old apartment (remember the cross country tracks?!). It is so beautiful and the trails are laid out in 1k, 3k, 5k and 10k. There are the occasional red chipmunk that we see but yesterday morning we literally ran into something a bit larger - a moose!!! We had just rounded the corner to start the second half of our run on a smaller trail. The trail just fit the both of us and Reagan, with brush, flowers and little trees growing on each side about 6-7 feet tall. All of a sudden this very VERY large head pops out from the brush and sets into the trail, no more than 20-30 feet away. This thing was HUGE besides the fact I've never, ever seen a moose up close and personal before in my life!!! Amazing! Reagan was estatic and all to eager to meet her new friend. I, on the other hand, was not too thrilled since only the night before I had learned on the Animal Planet that captive deer (yes, I know they are different, but still) cause more deaths than any other captive animal (including lions, tigers, etc.). Now that I've done some research, I can't really find anything negative about moose (they are called elk here) except when you hit them with your car it can cause extreme damage if not death. Since they are friendly, if we ever see this moose again I think we will just run past. The funny thing was it wouldn't budge for us. It just stood in our path, staring at us. In fact, when we tried to approach, thinking it would turn around, it actually started walking towards us. Maybe it was use to humans, was curious about Reagan, or had babies to protect. Either way, we decided yesterday morning wasn't the day to find out. And to think, it was the same running trail as my cross country track and snake experience - who knew Sweden's nature could be so exciting!!! HA!

We're running again tonight but in the more popular section of the forest so we shouldn't see anything wilder than another human. And we all know those are more dangerous than moose!!!! :-)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Funny Video

So it may not be as funny as Will Ferrell, but it's close:

Today I have spent my time packing...again...ugh! Luckily it is not NEARY as bad as the first round in September but it is a bit lonelier since this time I am doing it solo. No mommy for support, encouragement - ahhhh, pooooooorrrrr meeeee! Thank GAWD I had the foresight not to unpack all 42 boxes and I am so happy I now just have to repack what little I did unpack (what the hell was that sentence - say it aloud). But it still seems like a lot as we have, naturally, aquired more 'stuff' since our move.

The apartment is absolutely gorgeous - we got to see it again this past Sunday. I can't wait to move in and cook my first meal with my OWN pots & pans!!! And sit on our new couch - we haven't owned a new couch since Boston, Summer 2000 - he, he, he!

Anyway, the big camera is acting like it feels better so I uploaded some videos from that camera too. More to follow - albeit old, but funny!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Landlord

If you haven't seen this yet, you must - it is hilarious!
Click on the picture below:

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Reagan's Birthday and Other Pictures

So this past Friday was Reagan's birthday. She turned four years old and was spoiled rotten all day long. But, as per the Dog Whisperer, she had to 'work' a little before she could play. As I've mentioned before, there is a huge nature reserve behind our current apartment with trails leading everywhere. So we filled Reagan's backpack with food and water and took off into the hills. After walking for a little bit, we decided to have our picnic in the sun. Of course, Reagan enjoys lots of things she shouldn't including people food, so rather than fight with her on who gets who's sandwich, we leashed her up to a nearby tree in the shade. Let's just say she had some words for us while we were eating! After lunch, we proceeded on the trail and found an open area for Reagan to play ball. I had bought her brand new tennis balls the day before and had kept them in their box in her bag all day. Since she hadn't seen them yet, she didn't know they were there. What's so amazing about her (and her obsession with tennis balls) is that as soon as Anders had taken them out of the box and put them in his pockets, she wouldn't take her eye off his jacket the ENTIRE TIME. Anyway, after playing ball for a bit, we proceeded home. Of course, being my mother's daughter, I had to talk to a man about a horse so I decided to walk just a bit into the woods to do so. As I am walking I hear the pine needles rustling around me, but this isn't an animal taking steps rustling. No siree, this is a constant rustling, like something SLITHERING across them. Just at that moment, realizing I could be hearing what I think I am hearing, I look down and see a gray snake slithering away from me. I decided I didn't want that horse and quickly turned around and made my way back to Anders and Reagan. I thought that would be the end of my Swedish snake tail, er tale, but of course it couldn't be. Just about 5 minutes later we all three came across another snake - sunning himself and waiting for Mrs. Right to come along. Ugg - no one seems to know if these gray snakes are poisonous or not but I have a feeling they are most likely related to the grass snake family as they were quite smooth with no additional markings.

After our very eventful afternoon, we spent the evening in making pizza and watching Casino Royale. Reagan was exhausted, finally!! Sunday was just as gorgeous and warm and we enjoyed our first (and last) brunch on the patio. Unfortunately, our new apartment does not have a patio and from the sounds of my whining on Sunday, you would have thought I was NEVER going to be outside again. Did someone say I was a little dramatic?! HA!

Here are a few videos I took during the day. The first one is of Reagan trying to get our attention while we ate and the second is of her playing tennis ball with Anders. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Anders and I saw this in the grocery store over the weekend:
What brainiac in the marketing department thought "yes, this is an excellent catch phrase for our cat food!"?!?!?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Beautiful Saturday

AWWW, it is starting to feel like spring again after a pretty cloudy and cold week. I almost had to break out my dad's parka - ugh! That thing is so warm, but did I tell you it weighs like 10lbs?!? Anyway, today we decided to enjoy the sun and warmer temperatures and play with Reagan outside. We ventured over to the daycare and played ball with her there. Then, I decided it would be fun to go for a long walk in the forest. Since the snow has been gone for a while now and there hasn't been too much rain, I knew the grounds wouldn't be too wet. As we started to walk through the forest on the little trails (not the one they maintain for runners and cross country skiers, uhhum), Anders and I decided we would try and let Reagan run around off leash. We had brought THREE tennis balls to lure her back, if she decided to run away. And would you believe - it worked?!?!? Unbelievable, but then not really if you know my dog at all. She LURVES her some tennis ball - absolutely obsessed about them. She is a total nut and at her happiest when she gets to play. So we through the ball for her a little, just to wear her down a bit more, and proceeded to walk through the forest with her being able to run around. It was sooooo much fun and I am really happy we did it. We even were able to keep her off leash when another dog came up because - you guessed it - she had her tennis ball and could have cared less.If you look real close, in the center of the picture is Reagan standing behind the tree. I have to say, that all three of us had a little bounce in our step on the way home. It felt good for her and for us that she was able to run around and be off leash!!

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Kids

Poor babies, they "almost" starved to death tonight....

Friday, March 16, 2007

Pringles and Swedish

Have you seen these in your grocery store? I just discovered these yesterday when I went to mine. They are GOURMET pringles. Isn't that an oxymoron? Anywho, they are pretty good. They have 4 flavors, but my store only carried the sea salt/black pepper and sweet Thai chili/lemongrass flavor. I am not much into sweet like potato chips, so I opted for the sea salt/black pepper version. And yes, I did pair it with a nice Merlot just like this ad suggests!! HA! I am dying to try the steak and grilled onion version - man, that's a meal right there. They should make a version with smoke salmon and cream cheese too - I could serve those as appetizers. Delicious!! (Click on the picture if you want to read about them)

I also wanted to let you all know that I no longer need to attend my Swedish classes as I managed to talk to two whole strangers in Swedish yesterday. Albeit, it was ordering a grill hot dog (grilled korv) and telling someone "yes, I live here too" (ja, jag bor har ocksa - please forgive me, my fellow swedes, as I do not have a Swedish keyboard and I am too lazy to figure out the character shortcuts). I was feeling pretty good about myself because for once, when I said something in Swedish, the person on the receiving end UNDERSTOOD me. Huge accomplishment - so yep, that's it. I'm done. (cue, Rocky soundtrack).


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Students, Spring has Sprung

In the words my favorite school principal, it truly has started to blossom here in Sweden. Of course, I'd love to show you pictures but our damn camera is still broken. Actually, there isn't much to look at...yet...mostly just city crews cleaning up the mess they made earlier when it snowed. Right now, they are cleaning the streets and sidewalks of all the gravel (usually with one of those leaf blowers pointed directly at slow moving children, elderly and Texans), wood chipping all the branches they cut down um, at the beginning of the year (has anyone heard of snakes!?!?!) and planting the usual seasonal flower. Do I sound a bit pessimistic? Perhaps, but that's because anyone who even has met Ms. Mother Nature knows she'll slap our hands a couple of times more before she lets us enjoy ourselves.

Naturally, I've been a bit MIA. I realize that a lot of it has to do with that damn camera. I just fill uninspired to write anything without some type of picture to go along with it. But then, I sit my butt in front of this computer and the brilliance just flows!! HA! But seriously, I did do a bit of work last week so I am going to use that as my excuse for not posting for 3 weeks! What's that you say? You have a question about my work? Oh, I thought you'd never ask. ;-)

Last week I went to Switzerland and Holland to recruit international graduate students from hospitality schools to work in the USA as international interns for none other than the good old Hyatt Hotels Corporation! Yes, that's right (my fellow co-workers reading this) - despite your attempts to mark "Not Eligible for Rehire", I slipped through the cracks and they actually allowed me to be the face of their organization (along with a few other poor souls). No, but seriously, all kidding aside. I had an amazing time. I felt so blessed and proud to be asked to help out and it felt REALLY good to work again. Recruiting and interviewing is something that comes naturally for me and I enjoyed the trip immensely. I saw the southern part of Switzerland (who knew there were so many vineyards) as well as the Amsterdam airport (we were there less than 24 hours and the majority of my time, other than recruiting, was spent there)! It was just a one time deal, but maybe with so many other properties opening up, they will be able to utilize me in both the domestic and international side. Keep your fingers crossed.

Aside from that, life just keeps puttering along. I'll update you more in the coming days but I've got to get dinner on the table ASAP. Anders is late, starving and ready to eat!!!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Words to Live By

A friend of mine sent this to me recently and I thought it would be nice to post this for others to read. These kinds of things remind you what it is to be human and humane to others. Hope everyone has a great weekend!
  1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
  2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
  3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
  4. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
  5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
  6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
  7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
  8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
  9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
  10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
  11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
  12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
  13. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
  15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
  16. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.
  17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.
  18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.
  19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
  20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
  21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, and wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion.
  22. Over prepare, and then go with the flow.
  23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
  24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
  25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
  26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: "In five years, will this matter?"
  27. Always choose life.
  28. Forgive everyone everything.
  29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
  30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
  31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
  32. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
  33. Believe in miracles.
  34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
  35. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
  36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
  37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.
  38. Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion.
  39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
  40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
  41. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
  42. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyfu l.
  43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
  44. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
  45. The best is yet to come.
  46. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
  47. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
  48. If you don't ask, you don't get.
  49. Yield.
  50. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Walking on Water (and other things Texans are good at!)

LOL - man, do I crack myself up. That's good, since I am by myself 1/2 the day on Thursdays and Fridays.

Yes, ladies and gentleman, today I walked on water. Granted, the damn lake was frozen but it still doesn't mean I didn't WALK on it. It was, by far, the strangest, creepiest thing I have EVER done. Reagan and I both weren't too sure what to make of standing in the middle of a lake we were just at in December with Mya. Incredible!!! What's cool about this community (and it probably exists elsewhere, I just have never been to a frozen lake before) is they measure how thick the ice is as well as plough a path for ice skating and skiing. This particular lake's ice is 18cm thick (go ahead, do the math - I just call my husband who said "yes, it's thick enough to walk on"). There were a few people out there with us - some skiing, some skating, some walking. It takes about 20 minutes to get there and I'd say about an hour to go around the lake so tomorrow I will be a little more prepared and walk the whole thing.

Tomorrow marks the end of two weeks in my Swedish class. It is going really well and some students even look to moi for help. Of course, at the beginning it didn't seem to be going so good. At one point, I had to look at my paper to say the alphabet and count. That's pretty pathetic since the alphabet is composed of all the same letters as the English alphabet (minus the W) plus the 3 extra letters (which I will not include here as I still have an English keyboard, thank gawd, and do not know the shortcut keys to make them). My brain was having a hard time understanding what I was subjecting it to at first, but by last Thursday it had located the "learning a new language" section and it was full speed ahead.

The class, naturally, is filled with people from around the world. I am the only American and there is only one other English speaking person in the class (from England). Of course, most of the other students do know a little to a lot of English so I can communicate just fine. I think sometimes it would be more helpful and easier for me to start learning Swedish if I didn't know English. The students from Iraq only speak Arabic so their grasp tends to be better. However, that being said, Arabic is so far from Swedish it is quite difficult for them to even hear the sounds in addition to writing. I can't imagine how overloaded their brains must be at the end of class each day. At least with English, there are quite a few similar words so it is easy to figure out what things are. Writing in Arabic looks like a doctor's signature and has nothing even closely related to Swedish. Plus, they read right to left so they are literally learning from scratch. I get exhausted just thinking of what their minds must be going through. Kudos to them for attending these classes - I think it is important for people to know the language of the country they live in so they can be a part of society. I won't get on any kind of rant, but I do wish the US offered something like that to our immigrants. Unfortunately, I think the situation is so far gone it wouldn't really help.

Moving on (geesh, where did that come from?!) - to follow up on the mystery night Anders had planned for us back in January of 1977 (no, it hasn't been than long - give me a break). He ended up taking me to the restaurant, Pontus by the Sea, which hosted an English comic troupe which acted out quite a few and very funny scenes. The food was a "choice of" menu and was incredible. In addition to an awesome venue, I also got to enjoy it with Marie and Freddie - two of my most favorite people. For those of you who don't know them, Freddie and Marie were two of the first people I met when I came to Sweden in 1999. I enjoy hanging out with both of them so much and it was such a surprise to see them (especially Marie, as I hadn't seen her since we moved back - silly, I know!).

My mom said that quite a few people (including one of my Aunts - you know who you are) said I must be busy since I haven't been posting lately. Well, let's just say I am getting use to having only 3-6 hours of free time during the week instead of all day. It's a struggle, but I think I will persevere!!!! Ha, ha, ha!!

Have a great Thursday, Friday and weekend everyone!!! Wish me luck in that Reagan and I don't fall through the lake tomorrow!!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Walking in Cross Country Tracks

So yesterday turned out a bit differently than I expected. My tutor cancelled and I ended up having the entire afternoon to myself. It was such a beautiful day that I couldn't pass on taking Reagan for a nice long walk through the forest trails. Plus, I realized today would be impossible as I had a bank appointment in the city this morning, my tutoring later this afternoon and then a return trip into the city for the Anders Suprise (sounds like a fancy dessert, huh?).

So, at 2pm Reagan and I took off on our forest walk. Like I said, the day was amazing - sunny and crisp with not a cloud in the sky! We took our usual 2KM route through the forest. Now, the only other true winter I have ever experienced was in Boston. That's Boston city - not a suburb or anything like that. I lived in the North End - a very city place to live. So we didn't have a lot of opportunities to get out in the snow and walk through the trails. The only time I even experienced that was in New Hampshire and it was on trails set aside specifically for cross country sking. To walk through the forest with all this snow on the trees and on the ground is an unbelievably calming experience. You hear the crush of the snow underfoot, see the snow falling from the trees as a bird flies off - really, really peaceful. So here we are, walking down the path. I notice on the path that there is one side that isn't being used as much and has what appears to be motorcycle tracks in it. So, being the novice snow/ice walker, I choose this side. Besides, the other side is really "spy ice" - ice covered with snow, trying to be snow but really it's ice and you slip and slide A LOT! As we are walking through the snow, observing nature's beauty, I hear some huffing and puffing coming up behind me. I turn around and see an older gentleman approaching me on cross country skis. Reagan and I step aside to let him go pass and as he gets closer he says something like "bork, bork, bork". I say, in my strongest AMERICAN accent (if you say it with a British accent, they still might misinterpret you and think you speak Swedish), "Sorry?". Without missing a beat, he looks me straight in the eyes, all the while sking, and says "Don't walk in the ski tracks". I immediately respond, "oh, Ok" and keep walking...for a few more seconds...until...OH MY GAWD!!!!!!!! I've been walking for the last 10 freaking mintues through those tracks. In my big ass snow boots my sister bought me specifically for these types of walks. They're like huge, er mostly because I am tall and therefore need big shoes. And here I am, with my freakin' dog, 'clomp, clomp, clomp' all through their precious ski tracks. I wanted to crawl under a rock. Better yet, cover myself with snow. It was horrible. I then also remembered the words in Swedish for "sorry" and "I didn't know" - but the man was far gone and I was too embarassed.

Well, anyone who knows me knows that my karma is not far behind. Now because this was certainly not intentional (although, thinking back I am not sure how I thought those were motorcycle tracks - I mean, there were two tracks, side by side and it was smooth - not jagged like a tire) my karma only punished me a little. You see, as we continued with our walk on the WALKING side of the trail, another man approached us coming the opposite way. I big thing for the older folks (75 year+) is to use cross country ski poles to walk with and this was exactly what this man was doing. Again, Reagan and I go to the side to let him pass, which just happened to be on "spy ice". Actually, this was like "Russian spy ice" because it was a mini pond underfoot that began to crack immediately upon us stepping on it. As he passes us, he says to us something like "bork, bork, bork...". I immediately say "sorry" but he continues with the Swedish. I finally say, in Swedish, "I don't understand. I don't speak Swedish" and then in Engish "I speak English". UH, WRONG!!!!! When, WHEN will I learn to say "Lo siento, yo hablo espanol". The probability of them speaking spanish is way lower than english and then I wouldn't get stuck for 20 MINUTES on RUSSIAN SPY ICE listening to this sweet old man, who probably is just lonely, go on and on about his accordian playing!!! Poor Reagan, at one point I feel something between my legs and look down to see her face sticking out looking at me like "Mom, can you shut this guy up". The whole time he is talking, whistling, etc. about his accordian he is also swing his poles around coming dangerously close to knocking me or Reagan out. Meanwhile, the Russian spy ice is crackling up with laughter under foot. Ah, alas...karma.

After finally pulling away from him, it was pretty uneventful...thank gawd. We did see two deer run in front of us - Reagan wasn't quite sure what they were or what to do but she did pick up on their scent when we got closer to their crossing. When Dad and I would run at White Rock, there is a section near the sailing club that has a ton of squirrels. Reagan loves her some squirrel. One morning, we started running through this area and I swear (Dad will back me up), there had to have been over 30 squirrels running all over the place. I had to stop running, tighten Reg's leash, and WALK through this section. From that point forward it was named "Squirrel Alley". Something tells me that she would be frightened of the deer if we got very close - she generally doesn't like to pick on anything bigger than her (unlike her mom! HA!).

Today is a lot busier (I can all hear your collective sighs - I know, I know but I swear days go by faster when you DON'T work). I've already been into town to add myself to our account. The "funny" bank guy kept joking with Anders and saying that I was going to spend HIS money and did he really want to add me to HIS account. Excuse me JACK A$$?!?!?! Let me straighten you out, for a second, K? Don't worry, Mom - I didn't say any of that. I just politely laughed because I am pretty sure deep down, he knew I could whoop his butt in 2 seconds flat - ha!!!

Hope everyone has a great day and remember - DON'T WALK IN THE SKI TRACKS!!!!!!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Monday Morning

Ah, Monday morning and it is still snowing. I forgot how much I really, REALLY like the snow. Today is is lightly snowing and the sun is shining. It's like tiny crystals are falling from the sky - just beautiful.

This week marks the beginning of the end for me - ha! Now, but seriously, I begin my English tuturing today which happens Monday through Friday from 4pm-5pm. Not bad except that I have recently become addicted to Las Vegas (we just started Season 3 here) and that is on at 4:30-5:30, boooooo hisssss!! Hey, give me a break - at least it is not Oprah.

In two weeks I also begin my Swedish classes. Anders and I tried the other night to only speak Swedish to each other. Needless to say it was a very quiet night. It got to the point that I made a new rule that during the ENGLISH moving Shark Tale, I was allowed to speak English. HA!

This past weekend we got together with the other American/Swedish couples for another game night. Always a good time and it is nice to get to know them a little bit more each time. Sunday, as you saw, was spent enjoying the snow. It is so deep and beautiful - I have to say even better than in Boston mostly because we live outside the city, so it doesn't get as "dirty" as fast. I'll take Reagan out to the forest tomorrow, as it is still snowing today.

As for the rest of the week, not much else going on. Anders has some kind of surprise set up for me tomorrow night - I think this was suppose to happen last Wednesday but something didn't work out. I love surprises and just hope champagne is involved somehow!! HA!


Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Snowy Sunday

Winter has arrived and brought with it almost a foot of snow - LOVE IT. Today we went out with Reagan to the daycare behind our complex and let her off leash. It has a ton of playground area and a fence surrounding the perimeter. I made sure to close and latch all the gates, but Reagan didn't seem to want to run away. She had a fantastic time and wore herself out (as well as Mommy & Daddy). Of course, our camera has now died on us, so until it's fixed you will have to put up with cell phone pictures. Blogger is also acting up and is still only allowing me to post one picture. AAAAHHHH, le sigh.

Hope everyone had a great weekend - I'll update more tomorrow!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

What do you do when you wake up and it is below freezing?!

You make Aunt Willie's Homemade Biscuits!!! And they were damn good too - hope everyone is having a great weekend.

(note to reader: this will not be appearing or be even mentioned on my "healthy" blog, the running gourmande!! ;-)

Monday, January 15, 2007

I might not know a lot

but I do know that this piece of paper is telling me I start my Swedish classes on Monday February 5th. WWWOOOOOOHHHOOOOOOO!!! This is cause for celebration!!!!

*mental note to self: you now only have 3 weeks left of complete and total freedom...ah, bittersweet.*

Could Winter Finally be HERE?!

So yesterday afternoon mother nature decided to pay a little visit in the form of major, hurricane type winds (in the southwest part of Sweden) as well as rain and snow. I remember when I first moved to Boston and one of the girls told me it was snowing outside, and it was dry snow. I nearly fell out of my chair laughing. I remember clearly saying "isn't all snow wet?!?! I mean, it's a form of water, right?!?!" It was only after a few snowfalls that I realized there is a difference in the types of snow. Dry snow is usually made up of those big, fluffy flakes that look like the snowflakes we use to cut out in elementary school. The wet stuff, while good for making snow balls and snow men, is just gross and never coats the ground like a carpet. Last night, it was wet snow. This was accompanied by wind gusts. The gusts must of been at least 30MPHs because at times I thought I was going to be pushed over. This morning, I was really hoping to wake up and see a nice fluffy layer of snow covering the ground like a big shag carpet - nope, not goin' happen. Instead, it's that crappy thin layered berber style carpet and it is sleeting. UH, gross!!!! Guess I don't have any execuses to avoid cleaning the apartment.

Last week was insane for us!!! We spent the majority of it in the house sitting home getting our stuff gathered up and cleaning up as well. We were finally moved back and settled by Friday afternoon. On Saturday, my mother in law closed her clothing store in exchange for retirement. We decided to go down and surprise her and Jan, showing up with additional food and wine. They were so appreciative and completely surprised. I really thought I could remember the code to their apartment but when we got there, it just didn't work. We ended up throwing pebbles at the kitchen window to get Jan's attention but instead he thought it was rain pelting the window and gave an evil, whathafa look out into the parking area. Finally, they saw us and realized what was going on. Funny enough, the code to enter the apartment was the 4th of July!!! What kind of person, especially an American, can't remember that?!?! I kept telling Anders to try 0415 - tax day!!! HA!

Well, I've got to get moving and pack these decorations AWAY!!! What a mess - oh well, I've got nothing but time. Later!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sweet Tooth

Blogger is still acting up again with picture posting so sorry again for the formatting of this post. Just wanted to share with you, though, a couple pictures of the sugar cookies and sand tarts I made for Christmas. Much to my surprise and amazement, shortening is sold here and I was able to make my Aunt Polly's cookies. They were the biggest hit and I credit this to the insane amount of butter and shortening involved in this recipe.

This weekend has flown by and soon we will be back in our apartment. We took a load of stuff home today, just to ease our pain when we officialy move back on Thursday. I'll spend the week picking up the house, making sure we don't leave anything behind. I hope everyone had a nice weekend and is geared up for your first long week again. I remember always dreading this week after the Christmas, New Year's holidays. Speaking of work, still no word from the Täby kommun on when I can start my Swedish classes, so Anders will be giving them a call tomorrow.

Have a great week!!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Who is RG?

Curious? Click here to find out more!

Coming Up Roses

Aren't they beautiful? What can I say, my husband is a romantic. Now most of you may be saying - "so he sent flowers, big deal? I send/get flowers all the time on special occasions". But that is just it - Anders has NEVER sent me flowers in all of our 7 1/2 years together. Not even once. Sure, he's brought home the occasional red rose, tulips but he has never had anything delivered to me. And that is just what makes this even more special and unexpected. Top this off with the fact that he actually picked out these four flowers and you've got a seriously romantic night ahead (swimming in enough sugar, yet?).

After I made my way towards Stockholm, we first went to this restaurant/bar called Gondolen. It is an amazing restaurant as it overlooks all of Stockholm and during this time of year you can really see the lights of the city. After having a couple of glasses of champagne, we headed over to one of our two nostalgic places. The first is a bar we originally went to when I visited Sweden for the first time in 1999. It's changed design, style and crowds quite a bit since then, but it still brings back memories of us sitting down, drinking a beer and trying to find a hotel in Stockholm. After having another glass of champagne there, we headed over to the other memory lane place - the italian restaurant we ate at in 1999. It is still as delicious and authentic as it was in 1999 and we enjoyed ever bite of food. We had such an enjoyable evening filled with really good food, drink, tons of laughter and a lot of ease dropping. Poor Anders, he kept trying to talk to me and all I could do was try and figure out what the italian family next to us was saying. They sit people REALLY close together in restaurants here, especially if you are only 2-4, so it is really hard to concentrate sometimes. What can I say?!?! I am nosey!!

This weekend is our last weekend in the house so I will start gathering up some of our stuff and take it back home. I am sure Kissel is ready for us to come home - yeah, right! Not much else is going on, for the moment. Blogger is really giving me a hard time about posting pictures so until it's resolved, there will be a lot of single picture entries. Sorry!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Happy 4th Anniversary to Us!

It's hard to believe that 4 years ago on this date Anders and I were married. So much has happened and it still feels like just yesterday when we were saying our "I dos".

Here's to another year and another adventure. We love you ALL!!!
Monica & Anders

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Happy New Year!

Yes, yes - I know, I know. Do I have to start every post by saying that?!?! No, not this year - I am going to live life to it's fullest and not care what other people think. What? What's that? You think I do that anyway? Well you haven't seen nothing yet!!!

But seriously, there are a tons of things to look back on and reflect on in 2006...I know you all can agree with me on that. But why should I? Just to prove I have zero memory left?! No thanks! But what I can say is that Anders and I were super blessed in 2006 and are thankful to all of our friends and family for support. Cheers to you all for getting us through one of the most difficult but rewarding years of our lives.

Life continues to be idylic and peaceful here in the countryside. I say country, because the other night we took the bus into Stockholm and waived it down at least 200 feet from it's stop. When we got on and thanked her for picking us up, she said no worries and that is how they do it in the countryside. HA! I've become a little more adventurous with my daily afternoon walks with Reagan and Allan (the dog I am currently dog/house sitting for). Yesterday we ventured down towards the water and through the most amazing cluster of lake side houses. Today we walked away from the water and through another patch of beautiful homes. We even came across what appears to be a pretty long, FLAT, running trail so Reagan and I will check that out tomorrow.

New Years Eve and weekend we spent lounging around, shopping and just enjoying ourselves with Anders' best friend, Daniel, and his girlfriend, Carina. We cooked a lot, drank a lot and slept a lot. New Years Eve night was incredible. Describing it or even posting pictures (which I have none, by the way - and don't ask why!) would do it absolutely zero justice. Let's just say they sell fireworks here (mostly roman candle type things) in the mall and you can fire them off ANYWHERE. Even in Stockholm!!! The sky/horizon is filled completely with exploding fireworks for as far as your eye can see. The sound of all those going off is a bit overwhelming. Reagan could have cared less and didn't seemed frighten at all. Allan, on the other hand, who has grown up with these things around, spent the evening shaking in the corner of the bathroom. We all felt so bad for him, but there was nothing we could do. Right before midnight we went out to the balcony and just watched. An amazing site that one really should experience!!!

And the reason for the pictures on top? Well, either blogger hates me or this computer at the house sitting house hates me. Anyway, I think you can figure out what is what, but the last picture was taken on our long walk yesterday and I just think it is plain cool.

Happy New Year everyone!!!