January 8, 2011

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a wonderful time during the Holidays with lots of great food and happy times! I was lucky to spend my Christmas and New Years Eve in Sweden with my Family. We left our dog Betsy in New York but missed her terribly throughout the trip!

To me, Christmas is snow, family and lots of food. If I can enjoy some sledding or ice skating on top of that, I will be sure to have a complete Holiday. For a New Yorker living in Manhattan (I think I can call myself that after 4 years in NY), snow is not the first think we ask for, on top of that, if it snows it is far from beautiful  30 minutes after it falls to the ground. The weeks leading up to my trip to Sweden I spend numerous hours on the phone with my sister and mom who excitingly told me about the continuous snow fall in Sweden. Apparently, it has not been this cold, for this long  in a hundred or so years. I was excited about the snow and the cold but of course, by the time I arrived in Stockholm my family had had enough of the weather and I had to put in a few requests to them to take me sledding!

My first week was the coldest for me, -15 degrees Celsius (I think that is 5 Fahrenheit), the second week was much milder, only -5 degrees Celsius. For decades, my family has participated in the Christmas market in Old Town Stortoget. Helping out there is also part of the Holiday season to me. Needless to say, It was quite cold during my days there despite my ultra warm jacket, double long johns and infra heating. My Mom has some great pictures of the Christmas market on her blog that you can view.  One of the other participants at the market is Rhoda Haglund who makes beautiful decorative candle holders, bowl and other accessories with her signature Tomtar. I purchased these two from her this year.

If you live in Sweden or if you are visiting Sweden you can partake in one of Rhoda's ceramics classes.

We took it easy during our trip but at the same time we accomplished to experience quite a lot! My husband spent heaps of time playing wii into the late night with my brother in law. My sister and I sat up crocheting (I attempted), cleaned her craft room that is used for her Children´s clothing business Kinoko. We went out for dinner at a Steakhouse, went sledding twice, had a bowling session and enjoyed great food. We met with a cousin and a father´s cousin and her wife and also managed to squeeze in some time with some friends. Time is never enough and the priority this trip was Family!!!

For New Years Eve we were at my sister´s house and them made stuffed lobster, BBQ, yes in the snow, in winter, in the Cold. It was amazing! Pictures to follow in my next post! My brother in law shot off some fire works and we sent out a UFO into the air! A perfect ending to 2010 and a perfect start to 2011!!!

My husband and I had a wonderful time and I was very sad to leave my family behind! I didn't bring my camera to Sweden but took a few pictures with my mom and sisters camera. Unfortunately I forgot to bring copies with me back home but has requested they send them to me via email. I will post them when I receive them! Until then, please look at the pictures on my mom´s blog!!!!

I think that is enough for this time, a blog with too much Text and few pictures is never exciting for readers!

All the best!

December 14, 2010

God Jul - Happy Holidays!

The Holiday season is my favorite celebration of the year. Although, I am not religious I call my Winter Holiday festivity Christmas, or Jul as we call it in Sweden.  Jul to me is family and friends, baking Saffransbullar/ Lussekatter / Lussebullar (saffron buns), Pepparkakor (Gingerbreadcookies), knäck (fudge like thing?), Glögg (mulled wine) Julbord (Christmas smörgåsbord) that will include Ham, Rödkål, Revbensspjäll, Janssonsfrestelse, Köttbullar (meatballs) mini sausages, herring and so so so  many other really yummy looking and tasting things! I love Jul for the food and the gatherings and all the candles that I can light all over the apartment. Needless to say, Gifts do also bring Joy to the celebrations but lately they have had a less important meaning. I am still thinking about a gift for my husband, it´s been years since we bought each other anything as we always tend to go away for Christmas and the trip itself ends up being the gift to each one of us. 

I decided to host a little Swedish Christmas Gathering this year and had a couple of friends over for Mullet Wine and baked goods! It was a very successful evening and I think everyone had a fantastic time! 

I bought this lantern from Pottery Barn last Winter and I absolutely love it. I change the figurines depending on  the season, the space was occupied by mini pumpkins for Thanksgiving and Halloween. 

In Sweden we decorate our houses full of Jultomtar, they are not quite like mini Santa Clauses but do in a way look like Santa. Tomte or Nisse that we also call him comes from the Swedish folklore. He is a little man with beard that protects your house, is is intelligent and protective but very rarely seen. If you get a glimpse of him you are very lucky! You will find a couple of Tomtar figurines in every Swedish persons home. In my father's cousin's home you will actually find over 300 Tomtar in all shapes and sizes. She even has a greenhouse in the garden which she populates with Tomtar in Winter. 

Here are some felted Tomtar. Just in case you are interested in learning the word for Tomte, here is some grammar for you: Tomte is singular and Tomtar is plural. 

I think all my Tomtar are purchased in Sweden. The mushrooms you see in the picture are from a wonderful 100 Yen store (dollar store) in Japan. They are made from felt and although my guests thought I must be crazy for buying felted mushrooms I think they are quite cute! 

The silver candle holders are inherited from my Swedish grandmother, I love them but they tarnish too fast and for some reason I feel like they tarnish ten times faster in NYC than back home. Does anyone know why?

If I don´t find time to publish another post before the Holidays I would like to wish everyone out there a 
MERRY - HAPPY - GLAD HOLIDAY and only all the BEST for the New Year!

Love from us all, 

Herman, Hermina and Betsy Boo

December 5, 2010

Getting things done!

I am one of the worst bloggers in this universe. I must agree with my sister here, there is no use having a blog if you can't make sure your readers have something to come back for. Unfortunately there is not enough time in the day and it is hard to find time to spend another hour in front of the computer after 8 hours of doing so at work. Well, we will always have excuses for not doing things but when we look at what others are able to accomplish, without complaining and we, or I at least, find extra energy, motivation and purpose to get up on my feet and get things done. This is also one of the reasons why I like to compare myself to other, it wakes me up from my procrastinating life ! My sister runs her own company from home, she has three young children and is currently also involved in the yearly Christmas market and the seasonal craft fair. Did I forget to mention that she updates her blog every day, EVERY day!

Since getting my dog Betsy I have been quite unproductive. Well, that is not completely true as I have raised a puppy, learned  things about dogs I never knew, learned dog characteristics and behavioral training and spent hours walking and playing with my dog. As with having children, I have shorten my sleep and the time spent on myself because my new life now involves another creature which is my dog. Don't get me wrong, I am happy with my choice but I have forgotten my other interests in the cloud of new happiness. Life has become a routine which is something I always dreaded. My new years resolution is to get things done, prioritize and not waste my time. Quality will always come before quantity but sometimes I believe I need to find a balance between the two of them. Instead of aspiring to accomplish one big thing very well, I am the kind of person who likes to have many project going on at the same time, i will finish each project while working on another one. I like to have a long list of things to do and tick them off as I complete them. It's like my work desk, I work well when my desk is cluttered with various folders with different projects and work tasks. At the end of the day I file way the completed work, i tick of my To Do List and I pile the unfinished tasks in a neat pile that will meet me in the morning of the following day.

Going forwards I will try new recipes more often, made a moussaka tonight (3 hours), I will bake, I will go hiking more frequently and I will work on my 10,000 craft projects that bring fun, creature, inspiring and exciting moments to my life. On top of that I want to pick up my interest in reading again and I want to continue spending great times with my dog and husband!!!! That's it, I can do it!


While I am on it, I thought I'd update the blog with some pictures from my most recent trip. there is no better time than the present! My husband and I just returned from Japan. I was partially sent there for work but we decided to make the trip into a vacation in order to re-experience our time in Japan and see my family. My mom is Japanese and I was lucky enough to visit Japan a few times growing up. In 2003 I also had the opportunity to spend one year at Kyoto University, during this time my husband, than boyfriend came with me to teach English. We have not been back to Japan since so we left for trip with empty stomachs and eating as the number one objective for this trip.

This is a the food at one of the hundred Izakaya's we went to in Tokyo.Casual environment and very reasonable prices! 

I had an amazing experience at this restaurant by the Tsukiji market. This is fresh tuna on the bone! We scraped the tuna off with a seashell. I am really crossing my fingers that this tuna was caught humanly to all creatures around. 

This is the jaw of the tuna. I personally don't like cooked tuna very much as it has a tendency to come out dry even when just lightly seared. I was pleasantly surprised how juicy the meat in the jaw area was. They also served cooked tuna neck which also was amazing. 

The vending machines in Japan are everywhere! In summer you find cold drinks for sale, in winter there are warm drinks for sale and in spring and autumn you will find both options. Wherever you go there will be a vending machine. Usually we are environmentally aware citizens and carry around water bottles but this time we were on vacation and wanted to try the drinks on offer. Those of you who have been to Japan know that drinks are not the only things offered in the vending machines. You will find cigarettes, eggs, rice and even naughty things that I will not mention right here. 
After a few hectic days of work we decided to spend one night at a Japanese Ryokan and Onsen (Hot spring) in Hakkone. We were awfully exhausted after all the running around in Tokyo, staying out late singing Karaoke, shopping and eating that we were in bed by 9pm. I am sure that the cold air in Hakkone, the Onsen and the extremely huge traditional Japanese dinner contributed to the exhaustion. We had a wonderful stay and my uncle picked us up at 10am the following day. 

My uncle took us on the winding roads to Hakkone where they cook eggs in the smelly sulfur water. We frequently visited this place as children and call it "The Egg Land".  This time, we passed on the eggs and enjoyed the view instead. 

This is one of the very busy shopping roads in the young area Harajuku. In the middle of this road we found a colorful dog store that sold some really fun dog clothing and beds. Unfortunately I didn't get the chance to buy anything for Betsy but enjoyed seeing the crazy costumes. 

I'd love to share more pictures but I think this is enough for now. We spent  a couple of wonderful nights on the country side with my uncle and wife. They cooked fantastic foods for us and we relaxed among the rice fields and the view of mount Fuji. During my trips to Japan as a child that house also had my grandmother and grand father living there. Unfortunately both of them have passed away but many memories are still left in the house and the gardens. 

September 29, 2010

Finally Autumn

My favorite season of the year has finally arrived, Autumn! After a long, humid and frustrating summer in NYC I can´t in words express how I feel. Autumn is for outdoors, for walks with my dog Betsy, for a nice cup of tea and for many other fun and enjoyable moments!

With autumn comes my sister´s new designs. Her recent addition is a beautiful girl´s jacket in corduroy. As I am currently working on translating her site with regards to not language but also, sizes and prices, you will notice that there is limited information on the website. If you are interested in seeing other views of the jacket please visit KINOKO. Please pay attention to the beautiful lining. If you are interested in buying the jacket this can be done through paypal or credit card, just let me know.