About Nell

Goodbye April

If March was uneventful, April has been the complete opposite. I have hundreds of photos in my phone of things I did in April and no more than 10%-ish is of my crochet projects, so a definite improvement. ๐Ÿ˜

Shall we get the crochet projects over and done with immediately? Yes? ๐Ÿ™‚

I made leaf- and bunny Easter decorations and you’ll get to se more of them in another pic. I finished the bunting for the grandbaby’s bed I talked about in March, and I also finished the shawl I’ve been working on (and let’s not look at my hair, please, because apparently I didn’t know how to use a brush on this particular day). I also made a granny square book sleeve, and we’re not looking too closely at it because it’s crooked, and I desperately need to work on my tension because despite blocking the squares, they still aren’t the same size. But it protects my book from getting scuffed in my bag when I bring it to read on the train on my way to work, which is the most important thing, amirite? ๐Ÿ˜

Speaking of the train; this beautiful view greeted me one morning when my husband dropped me off at the station. The fog was so intense, I could almost feel it against my skin. I’m addicted to fog; it’s pretty and mysterious and a little spooky at once, and it’s extra interesting on days like these, when the sun colors it.

And then my best person (and her parents, too, ofc ๐Ÿ˜€ ) came for a visit for a long Easter weekend. I hadn’t seen her in so long, and when they arrived and I opened the car door to pick her up, she reached out for me, gave me a tight, tight hug, and said I love you, gramma.


Easter is a pretty secular affair in Sweden; we’re not a very religious people, and most of us see it as an opportunity to spend the long weekend (Good Friday and Easter Monday are both public holidays) with family and friends. The hubby and I have never really celebrated Easter, but now that we’re grandparents, things changed. Since the grandbaby absolutely loved to decorate the Christmas tree, I thought she’d probably love decorating the pรฅskris equally much. Pรฅskris (pรฅsk=Easter, ris could mean rice, but in this case it means a bouquet of twigs and tree branches) is a Swedish tradition (read about it here) traditionally decorated with feathers, but that’s changed recently because the feathers used to be collected from live birds (no! Just no!). So I decided to crochet some decorations, hence the leaves and the bunnies in the first picture. We also bought wooden letters that read GLAD Pร…SK (=happy Easter) and fluffy tulle decorations, and my daughter and grandbaby made paper Easter eggs from a painting made by Little W.

Then we collected twigs from the garden and handed over the decorations to Little W, and you can see the results in the pictures above. I was right, she loved it as much as she loved decorating the Christmas tree, and the decorating style was the same: the more stuff on one branch the better. It was the prettiest pรฅskris I’ve ever seen in my life ๐Ÿ˜

My parents also came for a late Easter lunch and stayed for hours. We arranged an Easter egg hunt for the grandbaby; the hubby made a treasure map for her and she was super excited. Let’s go find the treasure chest, she said and set off, correctly identifying the pool and easily identifying the swing set where we’d hid the egg. I’d filled her egg with lots of stuff, but I’d casually thrown in a bottle of soap bubbles on top, and that was her favorite thing. She spent over an hour outside, blowing bubbles with the entire family, having a lot of fun.

It was the best Easter in my life.

Easter Sunday was a lovely day and we decided to visit a nearby zoo, because that’s one of Little W’s favorite things to do. Her favorite animals are seals, so we spent a long time by the seal enclosure, trying to catch a glimpse of them, and she was so happy when they came swimming by. It was a lovely family outing, even if I’m not a fan of zoos: I believe that animals should be allowed to roam free and live in their natural habitat and not be imprisoned.

And you know…principles are good and all, but they vanish out the window when the grandbaby wants to go hang out with the seals ๐Ÿ˜†

The weekend after Easter, my BFF came for a visit. She arrived on Friday, and we had dinner and wine and hung out by the fire. On Saturday we went to Lund, a town about 45 minutes away, because we were going to a concert that night. But first we ate and had a couple glasses of bubbly in a restaurant located in a 500-ish year old house (I love old houses, and so does my BFF). It was a light snack and I just want to say that the olives in the picture were magical. I don’t even like olives, but these were sweet and lovely and I could’ve eaten a hundred of them.

Then we walked around the city, looking at other old houses. Lund is an old university town, with a 1000-year history, so there’s a lot of interesting things to see. It was unfortunately very windy that day so we almost froze to death, and took shelter at a glassed-in patio where we had a glass of wine or two. And before the concert, we had delicious sushi for dinner at a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant that didn’t seem too impressive at first sight, but the food was amazing.

The concert was a Swedish artist called Thomas DiLeva, who’s doing a David Bowie tribute tour. It was a fabulous show and his Bowie interpretations were great. He’s a quirky artist, unlike everyone else, who was greatly inspired by Bowie when he grew up, so he’s the right person for the job.

Spring has finally arrived for real (even though we’ve had a few frost nights recently, as though it’s trying to keep us on our toes), and one day at work, the sun was shining so brightly outside, I had to go up on the roof during my lunch break and enjoy the warm weather. I spent 20 minutes or so watching the ferries going to and fro Denmark (the land you can see in the back of the picture is Denmark, it’s a stone’s throw away from the office) and when I went back inside, I felt very refreshed and energized.

I also got book mail: my author copies of the Naked Gardening Day stories, and the 2022 Top Ten Gay Romance anthology. Iiiih, they’re so pretty ๐Ÿ˜

The weekend after my BFF visited, the hubby and went to Helsingborg (where I work) to go to yet another live gig: this time by a Swedish synth pop band called Elegant Machinery (listen to one of their songs here). Hubby has known the guys in the band for ages, so when they came to play in our neck of the woods, we had to go, of course. It was a warm Saturday so we met up with friends before the gig and had a picknick in a park first, and then we went to the club. I’m not really a club goer and the place was packed, which isn’t a dream scenario for an introvert like me. But the show was awesome and completely worth it…but now I don’t want to see anyone who isn’t my husband for a long time ๐Ÿ˜

I have an eleventh picture for you this time, because I just had to include my favorite flowers: wood anemones. They’re everywhere right now, but these are growing wild in our garden, and I love them so much.

And that was all from me this time. Tell me about something you did in April!

About Nell

Goodbye March

March has been…uneventful. When I scrolled the photo gallery on my phone, I realized exactly how little has happened in my life last month. No wild and crazy dinner parties like February; instead, it was mostly pictures of my crochet projects. That’s okay, too, because who needs excitement in their lives all the time, amirite?

But luckily, I have photographed other stuff too, or this would be ten pictures of crochet projects which would be boring (for you, at least). Shall we take a look?

March started out foggily; you can barely see the outline of my office building beyond the bridge, and I almost expected to be eaten by a Stephen King-esque monster on my way to work. Fortunately, that didn’t happen and I made it safely to work.

As I’ve waited for the train to take me to work, I’ve been fascinated by the long shadows cast by small pebbles when the sun hangs low above the horizon, and I’ve been wondering why the birds seem to favor this particular tree for nesting. There are other equally tall trees around the station, but this is the only one the crows like. There are lots of crow couples fighting over it, and I’m glaring at them, thinking stop squabbling and pick another tree, when they caw and screech at each other, but no. They want this one. I’ve started thinking about it as The Love Hotel (yes, I’m currently beta reading one of Amy Tasukada‘s yakuza thrillers, why do you ask? ๐Ÿ˜)

I’ve been writing in March. I almost wrote that I’ve been writing “a lot” but that’s an exaggeration, unless you compare with the barren winter months with a word count of ZERO, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a lot. It’s enough to make me happy, though, and my goal for my writing this year is to accept that I don’t have time to write enough for 6-10 releases a year, so I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished. I do love my writing time in the morning office with Hollyfelia, though, and I’m glad I’m back on a semi-regular basis. And Meeting Lucky is going well. I’m in love with the story and I look forward to finishing it.

Like I wrote in the beginning of this post: I have one gazillion pictures in my phone of my crochet projects, and here are a few. On the left, I’ve croched a garland for this year’s Christmas tree. Yes, I realize it’s a bit early to think about Christmas trees in March, but I’m a newbie, and if I want crocheted Christmas decorations, I need to give myself time. ๐Ÿ˜ In the middle picture, I’m making a bunting for the grandbaby’s new bed. And to the right, a super-cute bookmark, because one can never have too many bookmarks, amirite?

This month’s book haul. From the top, two Agatha Christie novels translated to Swedish that I bought cheap on sale. Dead and Gondola (a cozy mystery about two sisters named Christie who has a cat named Agatha that takes place in a bookstore, so I couldn’t resist it even if I usually don’t like series or punny titles ๐Ÿ™ˆ), Dangerous Liaisons, (one of my all time favorite movies), an annotated version of Persuasion (because one can never have too many editions of Jane Austen books) a special edition of If We Were Villains (a book that absolutely slayed me when I read it recently so obviously I needed a second, super-pretty edition) and finally I Have Some Questions For You (a mystery thriller that intrigued me when I downloaded a sample).

I was home alone for almost a week, because the hubby needed to go take care of a family emergency. So I ate all the things he doesn’t like (fish! he doesn’t like fish!), treated myself to a lazy breakfast and a pot of tea, wrote by the kitchen fire, and tried not to miss him too much.

March 25 is Waffle Day in Sweden, and the hubby and I celebrated accordingly. The waffles was delightfully crispy on the outside and tasted divine with whipped cream and fresh raspberries that I’d mixed with a tiny bit of sugar. My mouth waters just looking at the picture.

And then daylight savings came…and we’re back to darkness when my alarm goes off att 5am and watching sunrises while waiting for my 7am train. I hate the stupid time changes with the strength of a thousand suns and I wish we could just pick a time and STICK WITH IT. A plague o’ both time changes, to paraphrase Mercutio (this clip from the fabulous 1996 Romeo+Juliet shows exactly how I feel about time changes!)

And if that wasn’t enough, we got more snow. Let me tell you, that even a little snow that only stays on the ground for a few hours is very depressing in the last week of March.

But the snow disappeared and I celebrated with a cappuccino because we’ve bought a new milk frother. But Nell, you say, I thought you didn’t drink coffee? I don’t. At least not regular coffee, only decaf because I’m super sensitive to caffeine, but I can’t resist a good milky coffee drink on occasion. So that’s my decaf oat milk cappuccino with cinnamon. Is that a hipster-y coffee order, or isn’t it complicated enough? ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve also been immersed in Dangerous Liaisons every free moment. I’ve read it once before, when I was in my late teens, after I’d seen the movie the first time. At that time, I didn’t like it. I found it incredibly boring and wondered how they could make such an excellent movie of such a snooze fest. But it’s been 30+ years and I figured I’d give it another chance. I really love epistolary stories, and the copy I read was an old Swedish translation (that was kept in storage in my local library, so the librarian had to go down in the basement and search for it when I requested it, and she handed it over to me with a thick layer of dust, that’s how old it was) and thought that maybe there’s a newer, better English translation I could try and there was. So I started reading it in the Storytel app first, but I got hooked immediately and decided to order a physical copy since it felt wrong to read it digitally. And it’s a great book, I’m at the edge of my seat reading it even though I know what’s going to happen. I wonder what other books I rejected at 18-19 that I would love today.

And that’s all. Like I said, an uneventful month. April will be different, we have lots of stuff planned, so stay tuned.

Tell me something you did in March.

About Nell

Goodbye February

February was the month I kept a close eye on the sky, watching for the light that was supposed to return. And it wasn’t a promising beginning…

…because snow. Yes, I know. It wasn’t much. And it melted and disappeared pretty much the next day. But still. It was disheartening and made me wanna crawl into bed, pull the blanket over my head, and go into hibernation with the bears and the hedgehogs.

But I didn’t. Instead, I lit some candles and planted my ass in front of the kitchen fire. There’s probably a cup of tea somewhere in the vicinity, too.

One Saturday in early February, we had a couple of friends over for dinner, drinks, and dancing. (Oh-em-gee, so much dancing.) Among other things, I made this caramelized shallot and thyme galette which tasted divine, and it’s basically the only picture I took the whole evening that’s fit for public consumption. I’m not going to post a photo of all the bubbly bottles we emptied, or any the shaky videos of us jumping around and “singing” along to 80s synth hits until 3am as though we were eighteen again. I’m not going to post a picture of our tired faces at the breakfast table the next day and I’m not going to tell you that I fell asleep on the couch as soon as the guests had the good grace to leave the next day.

Instead, we’re going to pretend that the rest of the evening was as refined and cultured as this Fancy French Galetteโ„ข๏ธ. Right? Right. ๐Ÿ˜†

I told you I’ve been keeping an eye on the sky for the entire month and even though it doesn’t feel like it, the camera roll on my phone tells me there’s been a lot of pretty skies for me to photograph. Like this one, which welcomed me home from work, giving me hope that the light was actually on its way back.

I told you in January that I’ve decided to learn how to crochet, and I’ve continued that project in February. I’ve started a shawl (not in the picture) and I’ve made a few different bookmarks because they’re little things I can finish quickly and practice different patterns. I’m practicing how to make star granny squares, and I have lots of ideas and projects I wanna make. I love crocheting. I didn’t think it was going to be so much fun!

And then it was Valentine’s Day. We don’t do V-day in our house; we love and appreciate each other every day, not just on the one decided by commerce. But I admit I wasn’t upset about the yummy vaniljhjรคrtan (vanilla heart pastries) we got for fika at the office on V-day. I could’ve done without the heart-shaped balloons in the break room, though. ๐Ÿ˜†

One morning I refilled one of my long-neglected fountain pens and decided to write by hand again, instead of trying to do it on the computer. I don’t even know why I’m trying to write my first drafts on my laptop; pen-and-paper style is so much better for me. More inspiring. More fun. So I wrote a good chunk of words in my current WIP called Meeting Lucky.

And then it was time for more fika. Fat Tuesday means semlor (read more about it here) in Sweden and who am I to break with tradition? I chased the hubby away to the bakery and told him not to come home without at least one semla, and he returned with two…and a chocolate cupcake for himself because he’s not a fan of semlor. Well, I am…so I ate his, too ๐Ÿ˜†

Ever since I bought the bookshelves for my office, I’ve been on a book-buying-spree so the shelves won’t be so empty and sad. This is February’s book haul: it’s a nice stack and I’m itching to read all of them.

And then on the last day of February, I looked up and realized the migrating birds were back and the sky was bright and pink at seven am.

It’s here. The light. It’s here to stay.

About Nell

Goodbye January…

…and good riddance. I never wanna see you again, Stupid Awful Month.

Usually, my worst month of the year is November because it’s gray and dreary and dark, but surprisingly, November didn’t suck last year. So I thought I’d made it through this winter season without the obligatory The-Darkness-Makes-Nell-Very-Depressed episode…but life and the universe had other plans. They decided to postpone the episode to January instead.

Because seriously. Has January been darker than usual? Grayer? More depressing? Has it gone on and on and on for one thousand years? Yes. Yes it has. But now we’re done with it and February is a blessedly short month, so soon spring will be here. And the light. I need the light. Because f*ck, I can’t get used to the constant darkness of the winter months in my neck of the woods, even if I’ve been back in Scandinavia for over three years. I miss living next door to the equator and 12-ish hours of daylight every day, and when people ask what I miss most about living in Malaysia (I bet you miss the heat!) my answer is always, always DAYLIGHT!

But okay. The month hasn’t been all bad. In fact, it started pretty great.

Because if you remember, my beloved daughter and her family was here for New Year’s and they stayed for almost an entire week after. Which meant I got to hang out with this amazing person for days, and life is always better with the grandbaby around. If you’re wondering what she’s doing in the picture, she’s working on my computer and drinking coffee…because that’s what all the adults in her life are doing (except for me, I drink tea, but the principle is the same).

Hey honey, let’s read something, I said.
No, gramma, I gotta work, she answered and started typing away, stopping only to pour more imaginary coffee for herself from her watering can. ๐Ÿ˜

Not even getting stuck outside the train station because the fire alarm was triggered for some reason, so no one was allowed to enter the building, leaving me standing outside in the freezing rain for 45 minutes sucked, because my daughter, her fiancรฉ, and Lille W came and picked me up and drove me home. I wish they’d permanently move in with us. We have the room. But alas, they have other plans.

Before they went back home, we had a beer-tasting event. My son-in-law’s mission in life is to find beers for me that I really love. In general, I prefer wine over beer, but he wants to share the experience of a good beer with me. And after trying for years, he finally managed to find me a five-star beer. The Trappistes Rochefort 10, (to the right in the picture), is the best beer I’ve ever had. I loved all of the beers above, but the 10 was extra special.

I spent so much time in January looking up at the sky, hoping to see a glimmer of blue amidst all the gray clouds, and one evening when i looked up from the computer after working from home, the sky decided to reward me with this color show. It was so beautiful IRL, I almost cried.

One Friday after work, the hubby and I decided coldcuts and wine and a fire was in order. We listened to a bunch of favorite vinyl records and stayed up way too late, and it was glorious.

You know when you take down the Christmas lights and you set them on the floor “for a second” before you’re gonna put them away for the season, and then something distracts you and you forget about them, and the next morning, you rush to work, not paying attention to the lights abandoned on the floor…and then the vacuum cleaner robot starts his scheduled programming and you come home to a battleground where the Robovacuum won over the Christmas lights and dragged one of his opponents back to the charging station?

No? It must be just us then ๐Ÿ˜†

My chest almost burst with happiness when I got home from work one evening and it wasn’t pitch black outside.

The only good thing about January is that it’s blood orange season, and I love blood oranges. It’s my second favorite fruit, beaten only by pineapple.

I’ll learn to knit when I become a grandmother, I’ve always said, and now that I’ve been a grandmother for close to 2,5 years, I decided it was time. Only, I decided I wanted to learn how to crochet instead. My mom taught me the basic stitches back in the day, but I probably haven’t touched a crochet hook in 35-ish years. So even if this is the wonkiest and most crooked excuse for a granny square you’ve seen in your life, it’s not bad for a first try in over three decades, is it?

And! I’ve already improved since I did that thing. My goal is to crochet a blanket of granny squares for the grandbaby. Deadline: before she turns ten ๐Ÿ˜†

There’s only one way to end this post: with a sunrise on my way to work.

How has your January been? Tell me something that made you happy in January!

About Nell

Goodbye December

New Year’s Day
sunlight on every field
is beloved

Matsuo Basho

That was 2022, folks. There have been better years, don’t you agree? But the focus of this blog post is December, and overall, it wasn’t too bad. Some parts were even excellent. Shall we have a look?

The first weekend of December, we went to visit my daughter to set up the Christmas tree. This year we had help: my very bossy and enthusiastic grandbaby did most of the work…as you probably can see on this detail image from the tree. Usually, we try to space out the decorations a bit more, but little W had other ideas. It was so much fun to decorate the tree with her. ๐Ÿ˜

One early morning on my way to the office. I loved the color palette. I didn’t love the icy winds as much.

We were hit by a cold spell. For a few days, the temperatures plunged to -15C (5F) and I almost froze my behind off, but we lit both fires to keep warm. It was very cozy, but I was happy when it got warmer.

We had tickets to a concert one Friday evening. It was a Swedish synth-pop band playing, Adolphson & Falk, who were on tour celebrating the 40th anniversary of one of their most popular albums. It was a fantastic concert and we were energized and happy when it was over.

Only a couple days before we were meant to set off on our Christmas travels, we had car troubles and we had to leave it in the shop. The problem was more advanced than they’d first anticipated and it took longer than expected, so we had to wander around Malmรถ for hours and hours, waiting for the damned thing to be finished. In the end, they couldn’t fix it the same day, and since we were leaving early in the morning the next day, we got a rental. It was a foggy and dreary day and we had lots of stuff we were going to do that day in preparation for Christmas that we never got around to because of this hassle.

Let’s go to a bookstore, I said to my husband as we waited for the shop to get in touch with us about the car. I have new bookshelves to fill, after all. But Swedish bookstores are kind of boring if you don’t want to read Swedish or translated books, so I didn’t find a single thing I wanted to buy. Instead, I sat on a bench outside the store, muttering about how boring it was while reading a Christmassy story on my phone.

But in the end we left home as planned and arrived at my daughter’s house on schedule, where we kicked off the Grand Christmas Tour. On the morning of Christmas Eve (Swedes celebrate on Eve), my granddaughter discovered gifts underneath the tree that hadn’t been there when she went into the shower earlier, but that suddenly appeared at the same time as Gramma and Grampa ๐Ÿ˜

After we’d opened presents and had breakfast, we left to have Christmas lunch with Little W’s other grandparents. Then we spent Christmas Day with my in-laws, and Boxing Day with my parents and brother.

On the 27th, the tour continued to a friend’s house where we were treated to lots of lovely food and conversations. Our friends have a huge great Dane who loved me (of course, he did; I’m allergic and can’t cuddle, so all dogs work hard to seek my attention) and guarded me and wanted to sit on my lap. He’s a beauty.

After that, we could finally go back home to some peace and quiet and a calm morning with tea and a book. I say “some” peace and quiet, because my daughter and her family went with us, and the house is never quiet with a toddler, right? ๐Ÿ˜

New Year’s Eve was a lovely family affair, with an outdoors hot dog lunch, a beautiful New Year’s cake, a wonderful dinner, a New Year’s quiz (that I won!!), and cuddling with Little W by the kitchen fire. This moment right here in this picture, was the best moment of all of 2022.

Tell me something you did in December!

And here’s to a happy new year. May 2023 be better than the previous few years, amirite?