Something Swedish


Advice to myself: Packing

Hopefully someone out there will find this somewhat useful, even though it’s really to remind me of my packing do’s and don’ts for next year. I guess anyone that’s traveling needs to be smart about what to bring or leave behind, but this is more for those trips going “back home” when living abroad – in this case specifically Sweden to NYC.

~ You might have moved to Sweden, but all of your stuff did not. You do have clothes to wear there, and clothes/stuff you want to bring back with you. Pack accordingly.

~ Do not pack a sweater. I know that Swedish summers are cool and breezy, but you WILL NOT need one in 95 degree NY weather. Not even at night. And no, it’s not worth it because you “might get cold on the plane.” A light cardigan is enough. One, singular.

~ Only bring one pair of (comfortable) long pants and wear them on the plane. Anything that goes below the knee stays home (dresses/skirts included)!

~ Pack less, in general. Clothing is so much cheaper in NY, keep as much space available as possible.

~ Basics, basics, basics!

~ Less skirts, more shorts.

~ All those nicer dresses and cute outfits you put in your suitcase? Take them out (except maybe two) This trip is not the same as when hubby used to visit you in NY, it is all about running around to see as much family and friends as possible, not seeing the sights and going on dates. You just want to be comfortable and convenient. No matter how much you bring you will keep wearing the same basics over and over.

~ Leave the books behind. What are you thinking? Commendable thought, but you will not have the time or energy.

~ This includes your cookbook, I know you want to show off your new cooking skills and Swedish recipes, but you will NOT be cooking on your vacation.

~ Don’t bring your sunglasses, you will want to buy a cheap pair when you get to NY. (And they are annoying to carry [oh, and it’s too hot in NY to wear sunglasses anyway])

~ Leave home your running pants, you will NOT be exercising. Too hot & humid, no time.

~ Shoes are never worth the space they take up. You wore your sandals every single day. If something comes up and you need nicer or different shoes, go shopping. It’s cheaper in NY (and an excuse to get new shoes)

~ No perfume. Less earrings. Less socks (remember that socks and sandals is acceptable in Sweden, but gets strange looks in NY)

~ Bring your totes or else you’ll keep buying new ones. Too useful to leave behind.

~ Don’t forget power adapters, better yet a power strip + an adapter (and leave it there if your staying with family)

~ 3 weeks is a long trip, don’t bother packing toiletries, buy them there.

~ Once in NY don’t run out to buy toiletries until you inventory what you left there from last year.

~ Hubby was right, we probably didn’t need two laptops – even if it was nice and convenient sometimes, we just didn’t have time to use them as much as I expected. And no, you won’t bother taking it out on the plane, even if you have important work to do. An iPad is enough.

In conclusion, pack less and enjoy more!



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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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


Halloween in Sweden

Growing up in New York Halloween meant dressing up for costume parties, bobbing for apples, and trick or treating door to door. Even stores and businesses stock up candy to give to the kids. When I was a little older Halloween was more about the massive candy sales, carving jack o’lanterns, and decorating with gravestones, half buried skeletons, glow in the dark eyes, and cobwebs. You can’t go anywhere without seeing spooky decorations everywhere.

Pumpkin Picking Two Years Ago vs. “Bobbing for Pumpkins” This Year

The cashiers literary didn’t know how to ring it up or what to charge.

Halloween in Sweden just isn’t the same. There’s the occasional costume party. Some bars have Halloween themed nights. But… there’s no decorated houses, porches or windows. No Pop-up Halloween stores to excitedly browse. No gigantic bags of individually wrapped candy that will be half price in a week. No candy corn. No haunted houses. No pumpkin patches to find the perfect pumpkin. No excited trick or treaters. (So Far)

Thankfully, our local bakery bakes Halloween themed cakes:

The Americanized Halloween traditions I’m so used to were introduced to Sweden in the 1990’s, supposedly from Hard Rock Cafe and a Swedish year-round costume chain called “Buttericks”, but American traditions are also widely known and sometimes mimicked in Sweden through TV and Movies. With all the hype and festivities, a lot of people forget that Halloween is not an American holiday, but instead has Pagan (fall harvest festival of Samhain) and Christian (All Saints Eve/ All Hallows’ Eve) roots, which was brought to America by the surge of Irish immigrants in the 19th century and became mainstream in the 20th century.

Similarly to Valentines day (Read Here), Halloween is observed and known in Sweden, but not nearly to the same extent. This is ALL of the Halloween stuff I could find  in town, aside from a couple bars and bakeries:

I’ve read a few interesting reasons why Sweden hasn’t jumped on the Halloween bandwagon:

1) All Saints Day is traditionally observed here, which is a time to pay respect to saints, visit the graves of loved ones, and light candles in remembrance. The two holidays conflict too much, as the contrast between them is too drastic. Some think they are the same day, but they are not. Alla Helgons Dag = All Saints Day Alla Helgons Afton (eve) = Halloween

2) Many people here view Halloween as only celebrating with scary costumes such as skeletons, ghosts, witches, and zombies (From the few Halloween costumes I’ve found in stores I’ve never seen anything cute and fun like princess’s, cowboys, cartoon characters, or superheroes) Too many “Tricks” are associated as part of the regular tradition, such as toilet papering and throwing rotten eggs. This seems to discourage parents.

3) Youngsters in Sweden dress up as witches for Easter (Read here), starsholders for Lucia, and gingerbread cookies for Christmas. Another costume? No Thanks.

4) Trick or Treating is pointless when Swedes have a huge  lösgodis (Loose candy) consumption and buy candy regularly.

Some confusion about the “When” is also a part of the Swedish Halloween downfall. While some people celebrate on the “traditional” or “popular” date October 31st, some Swedes will still celebrate Halloween on the eve of All Saints Day, even though it is now a floating date –  the first Saturday between October 31st and November 6th. I’ve read stories of expats being very confused about finally receiving their first ever trick or treaters, but it was almost a week later and they weren’t prepared. There are also some school parties or bar themed parties the weekend BEFORE, which spreads out the holiday celebration even thinner.

I was sad to hear that carving pumpkins is also not too common (I’ve seen two outside of a toy store), and many Swedes have never carved a pumpkin! I couldn’t resist the tradition- and it turns out my husband HAS carved pumpkins and is quite skilled at it!

I just stumbled upon a website for a pumpkin patch  in Sweden that an American started in 1998: Louie’s Pumpkin Patch  It might be something to check out next year!

Additionally the island of Öland has a yearly fall harvest festival Skördefest during the last days on September, which looks like fun! Öland  is known for the Swedish pumpkin growing, and has expanded since the introduction of Halloween.

I dressed up a little witchy to celebrate All Hallows Eve, and was met with strange looks. Maybe because it was during the day. I’ve heard reports from classmates of spotting other people dressed up, but haven’t seen more than two.


My earrings are cute spiders…because the devil is in the details 🙂

Next year I’m having a Halloween party to bring the celebration to ME.

In the meantime, I’m planning Thanksgiving Dinner for my Swedish family! Any tips?

Happy Halloween Everyone! *And a lot of love and prayers to those who lost so so much in Hurricane Sandy, I am thankful that my friends and family only sustained minimal damage but NYC as a whole is on my mind – Halloween has been a needed distraction.*


Halloween – Alla Helgons Afton
To Celebrate – Att Fira
Pumpkin – Pumpa
Candle – Ljus
Costume –  Maskeraddräkt
Witch – Häxa
Spider – Spindel
Ghost – Spöke


Tickets to New York

Last week we booked our flight for New York- three week vacation with family and friends back home. Seems pretty far away, leaving June 26th, but it is really just around the corner. I’m so excited to see everyone and catch up. In the mean time I’ve made a list of some things I’ve missed and been craving…

To Do Eat List:


Fluffy DinerPancakes with syrup and butter
Diner waffles with strawberries and whipped cream
Cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese and jelly
Toasted plain bagel with Cream cheese, bacon, tomato
Deli breakfast sandwich: Egg, ham, cheese, mayo


Pizza from my two favorite pizzerias (Top Topping choices: Mushroom, Eggplant, Chicken broccoli, and garlic spinach ricotta)
Diner: Cheese Burger

Deli sandwich:
Ham, lettuce, tomato, mayo on a roll

Home cooked specialties: Chicky-ham sandwich.


Eggplant Parm Hero

Home cooked specialties:
Chicken supreme, chicken pasta, BBQ


Hershey pie
Any Entenmann’s cake



…and so much more.

I guess foods remind you of home the most when you can’t easily have it where you are. This isn’t the healthiest list…but most cravings aren’t so good for you! Looking forward to  having a taste of home for a month. I don’t intend to stuff my face with only these things the whole time, but as long as I can have each thing just once…

The biggest difference is that there aren’t really any diners or delis in Sweden. At least not the same kind, which is only natural. The Breakfast and Lunch culture is very different here than in New York.

And I know that once I get there I will crave food from Sweden. Food habits and cravings change after awhile. I eat more fruit now, I drink more water, I cook almost all the time, I eat salmon now (along with plenty of “new” foods), more pastries, less cookies, much less fast food, etc.

For now I’ll start organizing who to see, when, and what we will be doing in New York City. Home Sweet Home- The time will fly! I’m sure our stay will be busy and hectic and lots of fun. So many people to see and spend time with. Excited to go home and reconnect. And Eat.


How to Spot a Tourist in Sweden

This weekend we will have visitors from New York!

I am super excited to see them and for them to see and experience Sweden, not only because it’s where I live now but because its a beautiful country rich with history, tradition, and culture! Walking them through a few things and answering some questions made me think of being a tourist in Sweden. I decided to compile a little list to point out some culture differences between New York and Sweden, based on my personal experiences, stories I have heard, things I’ve seen when my family visited, and the questions my friends have asked in anticipation of arriving. **Some exaggeration and/or Halmstad specific examples might occur.**

How to spot a Tourist in Sweden

  • The confused person standing at the crosswalk not sure when to go. A look of panic and frustration as they dash in front of your car even though you are already stopped in the middle of the intersection waiting for them to cross.
  • The ones pointing, giggling, and taking photos of/with exit or entrance signs. (Utfart, Infart)
  • The ones taking photos of ANY signs, trash cans, buses, cobblestone, etc.
  • Enters your home without acknowledging that everyone else has taken their shoes off.
  • Speaks slowly, expecting you to hardly understand English.
  • Says “Hey” to everyone and wonders why it is not obvious that they don’t speak Swedish.
  • Walks blissfully unaware while you are trying to cycle past them; they don’t seem to have the sixth sense of being able to hear your tires as you approach, nor the slight ring of your bell.
  • Is more worried about getting hit by a car than a bike.
  • The one who is still bundled up while the Swedes are grilling and sunbathing.
  • Is shocked to see any other ethnicity in Sweden – anything out of the blonde hair and blue hair stereotype is surprising.
  • Wants waffles or pancakes (Snack food) for breakfast instead of open sandwiches, and “regular” sandwiches for lunch instead of full “dinner” meals.
  • Laughs louder than everyone else in the room, usually at things you do not find so funny.
  • Talks louder than everyone else, all the time.
  • Insists on striking up small talk with every stranger.
  • Expects stores to be open no matter what, at any time.
  • Talk about Ikea, Abba, and the Swedish Chef non-stop.
  • On the hunt for Swedish Fish.
  • They are surprised to find H&M in Sweden.
  • Gawks at the amount of fathers with strollers in the street.
  • Doesn’t expect a bar to close at 2am.
  • Tries to book a hotel room where smoking is allowed.
  • Leaves the largest tip for dinner at a restaurant. Or any tip for a lunch meal.
  • Doesn’t order a sweet pastry with their coffee, or even worse – doesn’t drink coffee.
  • Orders water, then spits it out when the bill comes.
  • The only one at the restaurant not eating plank steak.
  • The only one at the restaurant not eating their burger with a fork and knife.
  • Asks for a doggy bag to take home their left over food.


Any to add? Hope these were fun to read or relate to!

Being Easter weekend I would greatly appreciate some things for them to do in Goteborg that might be open/available this time of year! Any suggestions? Also #1 things in Stockholm if only visiting for one day!


New York Pizzeria in Sweden?

Everyone in the U.S has seen this before, no matter what State they are in, a “New York Pizzeria.” Why? Because N.Y. is famous for their pizza, and N.Y. is famous. Now these pizzerias claim to have captured the essence of New York Pizza, they have supposedly harnessed the special power, the secret ingredient. They try to get it to taste the way pizza tastes in the Big Apple. (Its said to be the water, I’ve been to a great pizzeria in Florida who actually drives to New York once a week and brings back gallons of tap water.) Anyway, this obsession with New York pizza does not only go as far as the American borders. It’s here in Sweden too, but as far as I have experienced, the presence is only cosmetic decoration and appeal.

Last night we went to a pizzeria that we have never gone to, but have always passed by. I noticed a large gray-scale painting of the Brooklyn Bridge hanging on one of the walls. I didn’t take a photo but I took a note of it and decided it was time to bring this pattern to light.  I’ve only  been to five local pizzerias, three of which have New York paintings on the walls, one being this “New York Pizza & Kebab,” which takes the cake. I can assure you that none of them have New York pizza, nor do they even attempt to. There is no mention of the pizza being New York style, and it is very classically Swedish pizza.

While I am used to having a great deal of selection in New York, I would say that Swedish pizza has a much wider variety of pizza toppings, mostly due to some we wouldn’t usually put on a pizza. Swedish pizza is known for this large selection of toppings to choose from, anywhere from bananas to béarnaise sauce. I estimate that I normally see 30+ toppings at each pizzeria we go to, each topping normally comprising of 4-5 items as opposed to our typical toppings of one or two. It takes me a long time to read through each description (A pizza menu was the first thing I studied in Swedish, so if its on a pizza I know it! (mostly..) I usually end up with the veterinarian since I get overwhelmed and am familiar with the mushroom, pineapple, asparagus, artichoke, olive, onion, pepper combo.

The most popular and most “Swedish” pizza topping is the Kebab with a hot sauce and a yogurt based sauce, sometimes with french fries baked onto the pizza as well and maybe a sprinkle of lettuce. A “plain” slice of N.Y pizza is just tomato sauce and cheese, while Swedes throw ham into the mix.

Since the pizza is sold by the pie and not by the slice there is no viewing the pizza to help decide what you want, everything is made fresh from when you place your order from the large menu. This means that Swedes do not feel limited by the choices of pre made pizzas in front of them, like New Yorkers often do, pointing at the pizza we want instead of asking for our toppings. Normally only giving a “special order” pizza over the phone since it will take some time to make, otherwise it will not be as delicious as the ones on the counter because the toppings you chose will usually only be thrown on top of a plain slice of pizza and the flavor won’t meld correctly.

While you wait for that fresh pizza to be made up you have your pizza salad to munch on,  shredded cabbage marinated in vinaigrette, which is adored by most Swedes and is always a side dish to pizza. You eat with a knife and a fork, half because of the pizza salad and also because your pizza pie is not cut into slices for you and the crust is extremely thin and soft- not crispy like New York pizza. (I’ll never forget watching my in-laws have New York Pizza for the first time, teaching them to fold it in the center)

And so, where is the New York in this pizza?


Is nothing like this:

And nor should it be.

Why do these Swedish pizzerias turn to the New York skyline for inspiration? Is that the number one thing we are known for in Sweden? It seems that Swedish pizza is much more similar to Italian pizza, why not idealize Rome? I have seen New York paintings in a restaurant other than a pizzeria as well, so maybe it is more of a food culture than only pizza. In that case where are the delicatessens and the bagel shops. Swedish pizza is amazing and shouldn’t  have to take on the presence of something its not, the two types of pizzas are very different and should be represented that way, proudly showing Swedish culture instead of New York.

I’m sure there  are New York style pizzas in Sweden, somewhere (Aside from Pizza Hut), but I have yet to encounter any. If there is the attempt to make actual New York style pizza, with a thicker crust, different selection of toppings, and sold by the slice, then the photos, name, and theme would make a lot more sense.

Has anyone else noticed so many pizzerias with New York theme decor in Sweden?

Oh, now I am really craving New York Pizza.


Feeling at Home: Känna sig Hemma

I know today is a day to support the website black outs, but while I support it, instead of talking about that, which I assume will be a popular topic for today’s bloggers, I will carry on with my regular content.  Learn more about the SOPA/PIPA  black out here, here or here.

Everyone moves at some point, be it down the block, a few miles away, a different state, a different country. Every time you move you almost rediscover yourself, and in a way need to reinvent yourself. Its a fresh start, even if it’s a five minute walk away from where you were. Moving becomes more and more drastic the further the distance.Why? Even if you are not materialistic, the fact of the matter is you need to start over.

You go through your old stuff, find that a lot of it can be thrown or given away, not worth the hassle of bringing, doesn’t fit, too old, no longer your style or hobby. You organize while you pack, every box has a label and you know where everything is, it might be the most organized your belongings have been in years. You unpack into a new place, new space, new dimensions, new colors. You find where everything has a place. If you can’t make it fit you get rid of it. You are a master of your own domain, but that environment also makes the person. You create it the way you want it to look and feel, the flow of the furniture, the functionality of your belongings. The further you go usually means the less belongings you bring with you, so the less control you have. It’s not about being materialistic, its a comfort zone. Some people pack three suitcases for a 5 day trip, for flexibility, comfort, and security.

Home is where the heart is, I believe that completely. That’s why people are able to move around the world or across the country. Sometimes home is where the money or success is too, it depends what you already have, who you are with, what you need in life. Your “house” changes, not your home. Home is where you make it and it is what you make it to be. My home is now in Sweden, with someone I love, in a small apartment, with about a fourth of my belongings. For those of you that have moved to another country, what did you bring with you? What was important enough to bring and easy enough to leave behind? How many suitcases did you drag to the airport?

Once you’re there, how do you make it feel like home after you threw out or gave away (or left behind) a lot of your stuff? You shop. You decorate. Well, at least I do.  We started transforming the apartment to be more “ours.” We shopped at Ikea (Which is from Sweden for those who don’t know, and usually has a nice cafeteria with some Swedish food  if you are ever curious), we bought from nearby stores, we scouted thrift shops, and flea markets, trying to tastefully meld our styles.

Its also about which things you bring. Sentimental items, photographs, memorabilia, decorative touches, hobby supplies. Those are the items that make the place more your own, no matter where you are.

(Yes, that is my first NY souvenir, bought out of JFK Airport right before my  flight to Sweden)

Maybe this post is a sentimental follow up of yesterdays post about adjustment, or maybe it was triggered by a thoughtful gesture the hubby made. He didn’t only make a gesture. He made a cubby.  That’s right, my hubby made me a cubby! Apparently the word “cubby” doesn’t translate well into Swedish, so it threw him off when I said I needed a cubby and that I would go and shop for one. Cubby, short for cubby-hole, being a small space or enclosement used for storage, I suppose is not an often used term. I fondly remember having cubbies in elementary school for our jackets and belongings.

So, yesterday he arrives home from work with a bag from Clas Ohlson, a large Swedish chain that has a little bit of everything-household, in one hand and a large plank of wood in the other. Whats in the bag you might ask? A large hand saw, nails, and some ruler-leveling tool, of course! Before I knew it my husband transformed into a carpenter right before my eyes and build me the most perfect cubby ever! What do you do to save space or get organized? Apparently I love shelves and hanging things up!

It’s the little adjustments we make that makes a house feel more like home. Just like the adjustments you need to make in yourself to make your new life feel like home. Three small shelves has made my day and made me feel more comfortable, I can only imagine what it will feel like once I learn the language. What makes you feel more at home after you move?