Something Swedish


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Facebook fun 2014

My real New Years resolution/project/challenge will be posted tomorrow (So excited!!), but for now I wanted to introduce something a little more “Something Swedish” related.

In 2014 I want to make better use of the Something Swedish Facebook page! I’ve come up with a fun way to keep the Swedish stuff coming your way!

Facebook Fun:

tisdagstipset (The Tuesday tip): Recommendations (Swedish books, movies, songs) – or advise!

onsdagsordet (The Wednesday word): Words/phrases I find interesting, fun, or helpful

lördagslänken (The Saturday link): Links to anything Swedish – Youtube clips, useful websites, news articles, funny memes

It’s unlikely that all three will be posted in the same week – but it will be fun to have some themed days!

So, don’t forget to join the other 218 followers by liking the page and stay tuned!    —>>>  Something Swedish Facebook Page

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Lessons Learned

If you’re wondering where I’ve been these last  two months, the answer is: LIVING LIFE! As terrible as I feel about not updating the blog, it feels great to be too busy to post!  When you first move to a new country you have so much free time because you have nothing to do: no job, no social life, no schedule. Now though, especially this past month, life has been filled with studying for tests, working here and there, fikas, writing papers, socializing, and everything in between.

In the spirit of enjoying working and studying a little bit more, I thought I would share some recent learning experiences since I’ve been away.

Lesson #1: “Det finns ingen dåligt väder, bara dåligt kläder.”

One of my part time/substitute jobs is at a daycare/preschool (2-6 year olds) a few times a month.  Working at a “dagis” in Sweden has opened up my eyes to many cultural differences about how we raise our children. A few weeks ago, one of these differences taught me a lesson that I will not soon forget.

Something we do with the kids everyday is go outside for an hour to a nearby clearing in the forest where the kids run around, play, and climb trees. It took me a while to adjust to this, but now it seems natural. What I didn’t think about is that we do this EVERYDAY, no matter the weather. Growing up, if the temperature is too cold or if it rains, or snows, or even looks like it might, we stayed indoors. A few weeks ago on a particularly cold, rainy, and windy winter day I went to work completely unprepared for this difference. While the kids were putting on their rain pants, rain boots, rain jackets, and rain hats, I realized that my jeans, sneakers, hat and jacket aren’t going to cut it here in Sweden.

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Another, sunnier, day outside with the kids.

For the next hour, I stood in the freezing rain – soaked – watching the kids splash in puddles and play in the mud and all I could think about was a well known Swedish saying to live by: “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing

Lesson #2: You never know when, where, or how an opportunity can happen.

Moving to a new country often times means starting over. It also means a fresh slate. There are opportunities everywhere that you maybe wouldn’t have ever considered before because they aren’t in your interest or field. Moving can be a chance to expand.

Last month an opportunity was given to me that I never would have thought of pursuing on my own, offered by someone who I wouldn’t have suspected. One day I received an email from a classmate who, at the time, I’ve only spoken to once, who recommended me to a friend who was looking for an American voice for commercials. Sometimes opportunities are just that random and out of thin air.  I’ve recorded twice so far and it has been a lot of fun. It’s uplifting to know that new experiences are out there and that people try to help, even if they barely know you.

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Recording

Lesson #3: Volunteering is networking

Last week I went to a middle school to give some presentations to students aged 12-16 about my transition to Sweden, the differences between the two countries (size, population, animals, holidays, sports, food) and all about NYC. When my husband saw how many hours and how much work I put into my slideshow and found out that I committed to presenting for 5 hours without getting paid, he seemed concerned. Yes, it was a lot of work and I was exhausted afterwards, but I got to do something I love: teach. Best of all, I got to meet five wonderful classes of interested and curious students that were full of questions. I got to see how it is to teach this grade (I’m try to decide between pursuing middle school or high school) and got more of a feel for the school environment in Sweden. I met a lot of teachers and got a tour of the school. As a result of investing my own time into doing something for “free,” I’m now on the list of substitute teachers for that school. You have to put yourself out there to get something in return. Just the experience was rewarding enough, but you never know.

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Presenting

Lesson #4: Part time is okay

I can’t wait to get a steady full time job, but until then, I’m happy with what I have. It’s not easy getting started, and beggars can’t be choosers. Even if I only work once a week plus when someone is sick or on vacation, it is still experience and something to do. It’s still a way to stay in the loop and have a foot in the door. Nothing is too part time or too small when you relocate. For eight years I had the same job in NYC and this year alone I have: Tutored teenagers, prepped and served burritos, taught adult education classes, changed diapers, edited English research papers, done voice acting, helped kids with arts and crafts, spelling, puzzles and reading. I edit from home, tutor at the library, ride my bike 6 km/4 miles to get to the daycare/preschool,  walk to the office, and take the train to the next town over to teach – and sometimes a combination of those in one day. Even if it sounds chaotic and hectic – it’s better than last year when I had absolutely nothing to do. Part time jobs are a good start, especially if you are studying.

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Teaching

Read more about working in Sweden here.

Lesson #5: Don’t underestimate

Just because you have an education that doesn’t mean that starting school over again won’t be difficult. By the time I started my Swedish high school level adult education classes I was over the whole “back to school” thing and wanted no part of it. It felt repetitive, tedious and unnecessary to be back in school when I’ve gone to school my entire life. I just want to learn the language! Why do I have to do research and read books and hold speeches if I already know how to do these things? Because I don’t know how to do them in my new language. Little by little I’m learning to not underestimate how important these exercises are in order to improve my Swedish. Of course, I already understood this, but it’s about having the right attitude. Even if I feel like the assignments themselves are easy and below my level, it’s still good practice. Even if I am tired of studying and just want to start working, being in these classes are my best shot at getting a job. I complained of boredom when I first started my current classes, but in the end I had tons of challenging work to do. The level didn’t change, but I pushed myself harder – to read more difficult books and do deeper research to learn new words. It’s frustrating being back in school, especially high school, but it’s worth it.

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Learning

That was a little taste of what has been keeping me away from updating, more details to come!


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Something Swedish in New York City: Visiting The Highline

2013-06-24 05.50.06It’s that time of the year! Visiting family, friends, and good ol’ NYC. Last year was my first “visit” back home, but not my first time being a tourist (I’ve done that every time my husband came to visit me over the years). Experiencing your own town as a tourist is like visiting a completely different place. You want to do, see, and learn more which means actually appreciating all that stuff around you that you would normally ignore. This is especially true in NYC, where there is so much going on all the time and not enough time to slow down to even notice.

Last year I had been in Sweden for only 6 months before we came back, this time the gap has been a whole year and a lot has changed in that time: Namely me. I’ve adjusted and adapted to my life in Sweden, so I’m here to tell you that reverse culture shock is a real thing. For my visit last year I ignored Something Swedish, since it wasn’t anything to do with Sweden, but since I now have readers from all around the world who might think it’s fun with a change of scenery, I’ll try to give you a taste of my trip!

Our first big outing was to the Highline, which we have been meaning to see since it was opened in 2009. The Highline is a public park built on an old elevated freight train track which preserves the old history and structure and adds a beautiful touch of greenery, artwork, and plenty of places to sit down to relax and soak up some sun. Stretching between Gansevoort street (south of West little 12th) and W29th street, it’s a great walk above the busy yellow cab filled streets below with an awesome view of Manhattan from a new angle among the rooftops, which is amazing for photos.

The old tracks:

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The view down Manhattan Streets:

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Artwork:

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Relaxing:

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The rest/random:

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There are lots of entrances/exits so this is a great way to walk through a small part of the city to get where you need to go with some refreshing scenery, no cross walks, honking cars, or street vendors. Great for easing back into the hectic city from a small laid back town in Sweden.

Bonus! Hubby has started up his own blog and his first post is featuring his select favorite photos from today’s outing. Check it out here: Ensorcella


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Lately & Two Swedish Words That Explain Why I’ve Been Missing

Remember when Something Swedish was updated all the time? Those were the days. I’m not complaining though – I’m finally more settled into my Swedish life with things to do, places to go and people to see.

I always have things to write about Sweden, because everyday is still an adventure. I read the newspaper more and learn more interesting things that I want to share. I have tons of ideas about posts, some half written, some scribbled in a notebook. Some time sensitive ones that slip between my fingers.

Then why have I been missing?  I’ll describe it with two Swedish words:

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“Hinner” & “Orkar”.

These words don”t have direct word to word translations from English to Swedish, but are easy to understand and explain.

Hinner = to have time.
Orka =to have energy to/to be able to/to manage to

So, when “hinner” or “orkar” are negated (inte) it means that I can’t find the time or the energy.

“Förlåt, jag hinner inte. Jag orkar inte att skriva idag.”
(Sorry, I don’t have time. I don’t have the energy to write today)

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Lately life has been centered around studying, working, and socializing – the way life should be!

Firstly, St. Patty’s day. Last year (here) I pointed out that it’s important to hold onto traditions even in a new country that doesn’t do things the same way. I started to create St. Patty’s day instead of just celebrating it. This year I extended our celebration and made a bigger dinner and celebrated with friends. A St. Patty’s Day care package from family arrived, we drank green beer, ate corn beef and cabbage, soda bread, colcannon, stekfläsk, and a chocolate Guiness cake! (Click photos to enlarge)

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Secondly, this month was Bokrea – which I wrote all about last year: here. Basically, it’s a country wide book sale. We picked up a mix of books, some English, some Swedish – not that I’ve had time (Jag har inte hunnit) to open any of them yet. We found Swedish graphic novels of Dracula and Tom Sawyer, a pile of Swedish audio books, and a young adult novel by one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, translated to Swedish. Once I’m done with Svenska som Andra Språk (which is going smoothly – I’ve stared the third level) I’ll make sure that my “studying” consists more of leisurely reading of the Swedish books I’ve bought.

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This month has been filled with new friends and a lot of fikas! Both at cafes and at home with the hubby:

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Life is good. I promise to share it more often again. I was being greedy.


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Awards Awards Awards

I started writing this post in October 2012 – I’ve been seriously slacking. Awards from other bloggers have been accumulating; unaccepted, unthanked, and unshared. What can I say? I really try not to talk too much about myself or this being a blog and you all being readers too often, but apparently the gig is up. These are great compliments, and I want to say a huge belated Thank You for thinking of Something Swedish. Moreso I want to recommend some of my favorite blogs to my readers.

Before I list the blog awards from other bloggers I wanted to show a very special award I received last year from a website called Expats Blog  – A website I didn’t even know about, so it came as a huge surprise. Expat Blog Award 2012: “We have searched high and low to find the best expat blogs out there.”

Moving to SwedenComments/Votes:

“By far, one of the best expat blogs on the web and definitely THE best Swedish blog.”

“I have been following this blog for half a year, and I never fail to be entertained and enlightened by Meg’s stories. She covers a full mix of expat topics: from food and language, to historical tidbits and detailed photography. She’s the sort of expat who doesn’t just want to glorify her life abroad, but is genuinely keen to educate and share with others.”

Thanks readers!!

Continue reading this post:

Continue reading


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Kanelbullens Dag: Cinnamon Roll Day! And…100th Blog Post!

Did you know that cinnamon roll originated in Sweden? Neither did I!

Not only is today  Kanelbullens Dag,

but also the 100th Something Swedish post!!

What better way to celebrate the 100th post than to research, bake, buy, photograph, and eat this beloved Swedish treat and then blog all about it!?

From the first time I visited Sweden I noticed that cinnamon buns were a big part of the culture, especially when it was time to fika [here]. While many pastries are enjoyed with coffee in Sweden, cinnamon rolls are the traditional choice. They’ve been popular in Sweden since the 1920′s, but it was in the 1950′s when baking them at home became a big deal.  In 1999 an organization called Hembakningsrådet (Home Baking Council) [here] created the day to highlight this especially Swedish pastry and to “kick off” the Autumn season, when home baking is best.

I’ve never baked cinnamon rolls before, so I gave it a shot! Thankfully, my oh-so-Swedish husband has made kanelbullar many times in his life, so I had some help. I always knew that kanelbullar and cinnamon rolls were very different, but it wasn’t until I started making them that I saw why my husband doesn’t even consider them to be the same pastry.

American Cinnamon Rolls vs  Swedish Kanelbullar

Kanelbullar are a lot less sweet than cinnamon rolls (as are most pastries here, Swedens sweet tooth is not nearly as decadent). The sugary sweet icing I salivate over when I crave a cinnamon roll isn’t what you will ever find in Sweden – instead a simple sprinkle of pearl sugar is the topping of choice.

Kanelbullar are baked with  kardemumma (cardamon – a popular pastry spice here) into the dough, giving it a very distinct flavor.

The cinnamon roll recipe called for almost twice the amount of sugar and twice the amount of filling, with a lot of brown sugar – which is not used at all in kanelbullar.

Instead of baking the cinnamon rolls squished together in one pan like in the U.S., kanelbullar are baked completely separate, like muffins or cookies.

Overall, both kinds were really yummy, but really too different to compare.

Kanelbullar are a lot easier to make (less sticky, less filling, no icing, less clean up) and you can easily eat more than one. + points for being a lot more photogenic, too.

Having American cinnamon rolls was very comforting as they reminded me of home – an overly sweet bite of NYC.

Recipe:

25  g of yeast
75g butter
1  cups milk
0.5 cup granulated sugar
1 pinches of salt
1 tsp ground cardamom (If you don’t have cardamom, then add a little bit more cinnamon to the filling to make up the lack of flavor – although it’s not the same at all.)
7 cups flour

Filling:
50g butter (softened)
0.5 cup granulated sugar
0.5  tablespoon cinnamon

Brushing:  1 egg

Garnish: Pearl sugar

1. Crumble the yeast in a bowl .
2. Melt the butter, add the milk until lukewarm (Test with your finger, should feel comfortable). Make sure to stir and that it doesn’t get too hot or the yeast dies.
3. Add yeast until it is dissolved and then salt, sugar and cardamom. Stir.
4. Start adding and mixing the flour into the liquid (use an electric mixer with dough hooks)
5. Let the dough sit and rise until doubled in size (30-45 minutes ).
6. Meanwhile, whip the filling ingredients together until smooth.
7. When the  dough is ready , knead it into a flat rectangle on a floured surface.
8. Spread on the filling and roll up
9. Cut about 1 ½ cm thick slices and place them in the muffin forms.
10. Let sit so that dough can rise again (30-40 minutes).
11. Meanwhile, whisk the egg and turn on the oven..
12. Gently brush on the whisked egg  and sprinkle with pearl sugar .
13. Bake in oven at 400 ° F  for 9-10 minutes  until a golden brown color.


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Toxic Smoke and Featured Blog Interview

Four times a year we hear loud alarms signaling a routine test of the VMA system, which would notify us of any emergencies when we should stay inside, close all doors and windows, and listen to the radio for updates. This morning we heard the alarms for real.

Late last night there was a loud noise outside and thought nothing of it. Apparently it was an explosion from a chemical factory nearby (a few miles away). The residences closest to the factory were evacuated. This morning the alarms signaled because the thick toxic smoke from the fire started blowing inward towards the center of city. The police in town were wearing gas masks and shops were closed. The fire was raging and uncontrollable throughout the night and most of the day. Finally it is under control and the chemical levels are no longer harmful. What a day.

In other, more positive news:

I was recently invited to the InterNations website as a Top Recommended blog for Sweden! They are a website filled with tons of information like guides, tips, events, blogs, and forum communities for expats around the world.

Read my interview about moving to Sweden here!


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Never Stop Doing What You Love

Four months ago my husband urged me to keep doing what I love. Writing. He knew I was out of my element when I moved to Sweden and out of the groove. He suggested to start a blog. To keep me inspired, to keep my skills sharp, my mind alert, and my passion burning. It’s hard to get back into my old rhythm, but I know that I miss it and I need it.  This is to inspire myself and others – a reminder. Moving abroad turns your life upside down and inside out, it takes time to find yourself again, but never stop trying. Take the time and do it. Take your new life and use it as ammo, fuel, momentum.

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Life changes. Things get harder just because they are different. It doesn’t take much.
You’re not where you thought you would be. Time flies. People change.
Adjust.
Make the best of it. Find balance. Never Stop Doing What You Love.
Don’t say you’ll do it later. Or that you have more important things to do now.
Even if life is perfect and all the pieces aligned, don’t neglect your passions.
Sometimes we forget we have them.
Sometimes we adapt new ones and forget the ones we had.
Remember the way they made you feel.
To write. To read. To knit. To play an instrument. To throw a ball. To dance. To sing. To draw.
These things built you. Made you who you are today, wherever that might be now.
Sometimes we feel empty and can’t figure out why.
Life can be great. You love who you are with, where you are, and what you do.
Though something isn’t right.
It’s those passions you forgot about, pushed away and neglected. Priority elsewhere.
Bored, fading, and tired of waiting, they reach out to you and beg. Tugging on your sleeve.
Pick them up. Dust them off. And start again.
Don’t think it. Or say it. Or promise it. Or plan it.
Write. Read. Knit. Play. Dance. Sing. Draw.
Now. You haven’t forgotten how.
Only how they made you feel.
Complete. Calm. Skilled. Proud.


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Moos-letter

As much as I want everyone to believe I am the only and bestest blogger to write about Sweden, an untapped world of discoveries and experiences, I need to admit there are others out there! (Many are listed on my blogroll, I am not so greedy!) An great initiative was taken by Lostinstockholm to take some of these blogs and put them in one tidy newsletter for everyone to enjoy- I am looking forward to reading this monthly collaboration and hopefully being part of it! If you love reading or writing about Sweden check it out here and sign up! The most important part is to be people involved and spread the word so more people can contribute and read!

To make it even easier this handy-dandy e-mail subscription box has been given to me so that SomethingSwedish readers can easily sign up and receive the monthly “moosletters” that myself and many others are looking forward to being a part of and supporting! (and reading!!)

Subscribe to the Lost in Sweden Moosletter

On the same note- anyone who writes about being an expat, in Sweden or anywhere else, I would love to add you to my blogroll next time I update! Leave a comment so I can check out your blog!


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Versatile Blog Award

Thank you so much Housewifedownunder for the versatile blogger award: “for all her interesting insights on life in Sweden, plus lots of great photos.”

Everyone should check out her blog, as she would have been on my list to nominate had she not just won one!

The Rules:

If you are nominated, you’ve been awarded the Versatile Blogger award.

1. Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
2. Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.
3. Select 15 excellent blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
4. Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award
5. Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

My nominations for the Versatile Blogger Award:

Well, if this has taught me anything it is that I need to update my blog roll. It is hard to narrow a reading list down to 15, which is somehow both a large and a small amount. To be honest when you follow 80+ blogs the radar gets rather jammed.  I wanted to make sure to diversify my choices,  there are so many deserving versatile blogs. The fun thing  is that I am a silent reader to some of these blogs, so I am excited to give them recognition. This list is not in any particular order.

Backpacksandpumpkins: I love reading about all the places she has been, the short stories about different countries and food she has eaten from that place is the perfect lead up to each simple and delicious recipe.
A quick succession of busy nothings: Always filled with tons of gorgeous photos of herself, her toddler daughter, and of England, where she moved to a few years ago.
Becomingmadame: She is an expat who has introduced me to anything and everything French; from cooking, to customs, lifestyle, to literature.
Dodgingcommas: She reminds me to write, to read, to be inspired, as well as inspiring.
Penny For My Thoughts: A strong voice for women in technology, politics, and her job, and the world. She is tech/geek with strong opinions, motivation, inspiration, and loves to talk about getting healthy and fit.
Americanhermitcrab: From her adventures about moving to Denmark & Sweden, cooking, photography, and all the things in-between- always a fun read.
Domesticdivamd: Fun personal stories introduce her recipes, I adore the names of the posts and dishes.
Belovelive: An American living in Sweden with her wife, she is always very positive and I enjoy her outlook on life. A day to day blog with beautiful photos.
Thenicethingaboutstrangers: Beautifully written, captivating stories about her personal interactions with, or observations of strangers.
Prince Vince Meets the World: A truly touching blog about the ins and outs of raising a child with Down Syndrome. They  just moved from Austria back to Sweden.
Eat, Play, Love: An adorable family with two young kids who “travel” by cooking meals together that come from different countries. Lovely mix of funny and touching family stories, great photos, food, and even a rating system of the food they cook.
Girlmeetsbulgaria: Scavenger hunt Sunday, Randomly Me Monday, Wordless Wednesday- follow her as she begins her journey back to Bulgaria.
BA Expat: Gives great insight and advice on being an expat, life, sleep, health, philosophy, and many more things.

My “7 Things”:

1. In  high school I wanted to be on the Volleyball or Softball team, but never did because I would have to give up on the school news paper. I loved being the photo editor and stuck with it, never pursuing any other interests until second year of college. My father was scared I’d actually become a journalist and have to report in dangerous countries.

2. Never being outside the U.S., I somehow found love half way around the world.

3. I love hedgehogs, the number 3, and the color teal.

4. It was my husbands idea for me to start this blog as an outlet to start writing again, to maybe one day pursue my dreams.

5.  At my 8th or 9th birthday party my cousin dressed up as a clown and I hid under the dining room table crying and screaming until the clown went away. Ever since then, I have had a crippling fear of clowns. And no, I have never read or seen “IT.”

6. I didn’t have a cell phone until about 5 years ago. Throughout High school and some of college I was the only person using a beeper.

7. I don’t know anything about, recognize, or care about actors, singers, comedians, politicians. If you say a famous name or even show me a photo it will go over my head 95% of the time. Yes, I have blissfully lived under a rock.

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