About Nell

Goodbye April

Another month is over and April has been a hectic one for me, so hectic, I’ve hardly had time to write. Or even read!! Life is also returning to normal after 2 years of pandemic restrictions, so suddenly there are lots of things planned, people to see, places to go. Parties are being planned, concert tickets are bought. And while I’m sure all that will be super fun, I miss the days of lockdown when me, Ofelia, and Ally had time to write our little hearts out, and could get away with not leaving our houses for weeks without anyone considering us weird.

But I also hated being locked up and not being allowed to do whatever I wanted, so maybe this is better after all? Despite the excessive socializing? πŸ˜† And not all socializing is bad as you’ll see in this month’s pictures.

Shall we start?

If you remember, March ended with moving the Day Job office, which means April opened with moving into the new building. It was pure chaos with furniture and boxes everywhere and people trying to connect their own computers. But I’m happy to report I managed to connect my own on the first try πŸ˜€

The new building is fabulous, and we’re almost properly settled in. The best part of the move is the location: we’re right on the sea, and this is the view from one of the office windows. If you look behind the tiny lighthouse to the left in the picture, you can see Denmark. HelsingΓΈr, to be exact, where Shakespeare’s Hamlet takes place.

I’ve spent lots of time battling weeds in my garden. We inherited them from the previous owner, but after living a year in the house now, we’ve decided to properly evict them. But OMG, it’s hard, back-breaking, never-ending work.

Did I buy a green notebook and pens in five different shades of green to use as my garden journal? Yes, yes I did. 😁

I also planted things. Like these cherry tomatoes that I probably should have started much earlier, but better late than never, right?

My beloved granddaughter, little W, and her parents came to stay for Easter. My husband is a musician, so he’s bought a synthesizer for the grandbaby. It’s a real instrument, not a toy, that he can actually connect to other instruments in his studio, and little W loves it. She pushes the buttons, pull the levers, and bop her head in tune with the music, melting the hearts of the rest of us. Especially her granddad. 😍

Easter also meant inviting my parents over for Easter lunch on Saturday (us Swedes celebrate all major holiday on -Eve instead of -Day) and on Sunday we had a couple friends coming over for fika (if you’re new to the blog and unfamiliar with fika, the most important social event for Swedes, you can read about it here).

The hubby and I decided to test the strength of our marriage by buying and assembling lots if Ikea furniture, because everyone knows that if a relationship survives assembling Ikea furniture, it’ll endure anything.

I’m happy to report that we’re still married πŸ˜€

Spring arrived in full force, so one day I had lunch (Thai red curry and rice) outside at a restaurant located close to the office. It was lovely and I did not want to return to work when I’d finished my meal.

And on the last weekend of the month, my daughter and her family returned for another visit (yay!). We went to a nearby garden center, and I bought a tree, a pussy willow. I wasn’t going to, but I looked at it with hearts in my eyes, so my daughter, who eagerly enables my garden cravings, resolutely picked it up and carried it to the counter where I promptly paid for it without complaining. It barely fit (height-wise) into the car, and when we went back home, I sat in the back seat, holding it gently so it wouldn’t tip over.

My darling daughter, Little W, and I spent another Saturday digging up the flowerbed (which in reality was a patch of weeds) by the pool and finally started planting things. Little W has been very helpful in digging up weeds, but didn’t understand why she wasn’t allowed to dig up the newly planted lavender after spending so much time digging up other stuff. She found us very unfair 😍

And that, my dear friends, was a few snippets from my April. Tell me something fun you did last month!

About Nell

Goodbye March

March is such a loooooong month, don’t you think? After the brevity of February comes the neverending month that never can decide whether to be winter or spring. The month that teases you with returning light in the mornings, only to snatch it away when Daylight Savings Time hits at the end of the month. One day you’re having lunch outside in short sleeves, and the next day you wake up to -7C and wonder what the heck happened.

March. It’s my second least favorite month, only beat by November. But now it’s over. And here are 10 pictures to show you what I’ve been up to.

The month started with us upgrading the living room open fireplace. While an open fire is very cozy, it’s not very safe, so we decided to install an inset stove.

This is the finished result. Well, not finished, of course, because as you can see it’s not painted. We have to wait 4-6 weeks before we do it, so that’s on the agenda for the end of April. Or maybe beginning of May, or whenever the fireplace season ends. But we have started using it, and it’s much more effective in warming up the house than the open fire was. It’s lovely. We love it. And we can go to bed while the fire is still going without having to worry that the house will burn down.

One day, I had a fountain pen spa. When the upstairs bathroom was being built, my temporary office was downstairs as I’m sure you remember, and my desk was too small for me to use my notebook and pens. They lay unused for months, making the ink dry up in the pens. Shame on me! So when I moved back upstairs, I decided to take care of my babies and gave them a spa day and unclogged them.

The hubby snapped a pic of them drying in the kitchen and posted to his Instagram, and I thought it was funny, so I’m sharing it with you 😁

I was sooooo happy when the light returned in the mornings. My alarm goes off at 5am when I’m going to work, and it’s much easier to get up when it’s light outside. Life, everything, is easier when the sun greets you like this when you’re waiting for the train. And it only got better and better…until DST. Stupid effing crap. Can we please get rid of it??

I haven’t forgotten the kitchen fireplace in favor of the new fancy living room one, and spending an hour or so with a lovely cup of tea and a book of poems is a wonderful way to spend a Sunday.

We’ve had lots of lovely, sunny days this month, so one weekend, I grabbed my garden gloves, poured myself a glass of lemonade ice tea, and got to work in the garden. It needs looooooots of attention and TLC.

Let’s take one more look at the sunrise, one of the last ones I photographed before we tampered with time and made everything dark in the mornings again. (Yes, I’m very grumpy about DST, can you tell? πŸ˜€ ). This lovely sunrise accompanied us one morning as my husband drove me to the train station, and it’s entirely possible I had hearts in my eyes the entire ride.

And then, the last weekend of March this piano virtuoso came for a visit. My grandbaby, the sunshine of my life, the best cuddler, and the owner of my heart. She’s an 18-month-old ball of energy who bosses the entire family around…and we let her. Gladly. She learns new words every day, and would you look at her piano playing technique?? 😍

On Saturday, my husband and son-in-law brewed beer, while me, my beloved daughter, and darling grandbaby were out in the garden, digging up a storm. Well, my daughter did most of the digging; the baby and I explored the garden, picked early spring flowers to give to her mother, and collected important rocks. But we helped a little, and one of us (guess who!) was covered from head to toe in dirt when we finally called it a day.

It was the best Saturday of the entire year. Maybe even including last year. And the best thing is that they’ll be back for Easter, so keep your fingers crossed for sunny skies so we can do some more gardening πŸ™‚

And the last picture from March is from the mayhem that is the Day Job Office; we’re moving on April 6th, and the majority of us is working from home all next week, so we’ve all been packing this week. Packing and stumbling over randomly placed boxes. I hate moving with a passion, so I told my boss she needed to give me a oh-my-gosh-I’m-so-traumatized-by-this-move bonus. She just laughed at me. Harrumph. πŸ™‚

Tell me something you did in March. Did you have the best Saturday of the entire year, too?

About Nell

Goodbye February

In my family, February is The Birthday Month. My husband’s birthday is on the 21st and my daughter’s on the 24th, and this year they turned 50 and 27. So while February is still winter here up north, still dark and dreary, still too cold, my focus is on other, more pleasant things. I also like the whole only-28-days thing February’s got going on, so even if it’s cold, it’s at least short, right? πŸ™‚

All in all, February was a good month, and we were unusually busy. So for once, I’ve taken pictures of something other than my kitchen fireplace, believe it or not. Wanna see? πŸ™‚

Project Build Nell’s Fancy Bathroom was almost finished in February, and by almost, I mean that we’re still waiting on the tub, but everything else is done and I’ve already taken many showers in the lovely two-person shower. And that meant I could move back into my office. I’ve had a temporary office space downstairs, because Project Build Nell’s Fancy Bathroom was a noisy project, not conducive for neither writing nor working the Day Job from home. But now I’ve reclaimed my space. Yay.

Since everyone at work (except me) had covid in January, we’re all healthy and back to work now. But work offers a completely different trauma now; moving! We’re moving offices (in April) so there’s lots of frenetic sorting, throwing things away, and packing going on around the office. And I hate moving and now that we’ve found our forever home, the hubby and I are in agreement; we’re never moving again.

And then work came along and threw a wrench into that plan. But at least there’s one upside of being new at the office: I haven’t had much time to accumulate a lot of things, so I can just throw my stuff into a box and call it a day.

And I don’t even have to carry it myself πŸ™‚

One day, something yellow in one of the dead flowerbeds caught my eye, so I grabbed my phone, ran out into the garden, and snapped pictures of these little darlings. Aren’t they a sight for sore eyes? (And let’s not mention that a few short hours after I crowed “SPRING HAS SPRUNG!” so loudly that my neighbors probably heard me and they’re half a mile away, it started snowing, but at least it didn’t stick around for long.)

I made a fabulous dinner for me and the hubby one weekend when I was in a cooking mood; I seared a pork fillet and stuffed it with garlic and fresh rosemary, and then finished it off in the oven. It was divine!

And now that the bathroom project was done, the next set of contractors arrived; the solar panel guys. This particular day was a cold one, with rain coming down sideways, and I sat inside by the fire warming up my icy cold bones, while the solar panel guys crawled around on my roof in that horrid weather.

That’s another profession added to my list of jobs I’m never applying for.

A short while before my husband’s birthday, all covid restrictions were dropped, so we decided to go out and celebrate him. He’s not as introverted as I am and needs to see someone else than me occasionally, so we spoke with a few friends, made reservations, and went out for drinks and dinner at the hubby’s favorite craft beer place in MalmΓΆ where we used to live before we moved to the house.

It was weird, being around so many people again. It was fun to see our friends again, but I won’t lie: I would’ve been just as happy at home with a glass of red, a fire, and a great playlist. I would also have preferred to wake up in my own cozy bed instead of the super hard am I lying on a plank? bed at the hotel where we stayed the night.

We took a wrong turn when we were out driving, which isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes you end up on narrow, twisting roads flanked by a beautiful landscape.

We’ve had lots of rain and snow (that’s melted) and storms in my part of the world this year, so the small creek behind our house has swelled to triple its width and flooded areas that aren’t usually under water. We have a rickety shed pretty close to the creek that usually is far away from the water, but currently the creek is less than a foot away. So let’s all hope it doesn’t get any higher, because if it does, I wouldn’t be surprised if the shed is swept away with the water.

The last weekend of the month, we went to visit family in our old home town because of the dual birthday situation. And I got to see my favorite person in the whole wide world again, my darling granddaughter 😍

My mother-in-law had a soccer ball sized globe-shaped lamp on the floor of the sunroom, and my grandbaby patted it and said “Ball.”
“No darling,” I said, “it’s a lamp. Look.” I turned on the switch to show her.
She patted it again. “Ball.”
“Yes, I know that it looks like a ball, but it’s really a lamp. See.” The switch again.
She furrowed her brows. “Ball!! Ball!!” She was unhappy with me until my father-in-law found her a real ball that she could play with and then everything was forgotten.

She’s the light of my life.

And on the last day of February, it suddenly wasn’t dark anymore. The sun peeked over the horizon when we left home at 6:20 am, and when I arrived at the train station, I was greeted by this gorgeous sky.

“SPRING HAS SPRUNG,” she crowed so loudly the neighbors could hear.

Tell me something about your February!

About Nell

Goodbye January

Do you remember how miserable I was in December? Well, January wasn’t much better. Well, sure, I finally shook off the cold/flu/whatever it was that ailed me in December that wasn’t covid. But instead, everyone else caught the plague which was a whole other level of stressful. But let’s hope that’s over and done with now that January is over. And not everything that happened in January was bad. In fact, it started in the best possible way…

…because the first (long) weekend of January, my beloved grandbaby and her darling parents came for a visit. My grandbaby loves tomatoes and meatballs, so I decided to cook something just for her; meatballs in tomato sauce. She loved it.

The great loves of my life: my daughter and granddaughter. We went for a walk in a nearby national forest when they were visiting. My darling granddaughter even managed to lure my husband into the forest…something my daughter can’t ever remember happening from her childhood. I guess grandbabies really are extra special? 😁

After they left, we were sad and the house was empty, so I made a yummy breakfast to comfort us. Scones, tea, and jam. And a roaring fire. What more do you need?

Then covid hit everyone hard. Coworker after coworker tested positive (but not me) and suddenly there was hardly anyone left who could go to the office, so I donned my stupid face mask (face masks and glasses is not a match made in heaven!), took the train to work, and took one for the team. For two straight weeks.

And when I say that hardly anyone could come to the office, I’m not kidding. 60% of my team was infected within 2 weeks, so we were like 5-6 people rattling around in a space that usually holds 70-ish employees. At least the lunch room wasn’t crowded 😁

But suddenly, one day, it wasn’t pitch black at the end of my shift. The light returns so slowly that you don’t notice. Until, bam! Light. Magic.

I made the yummiest Asian inspired soup for lunch one weekend: chicken noodle ginger sesame garlic goodness. My mouth waters just looking at this picture. And I think it’s really funny that I managed to live in Asia for eight years without learning to cook with Asian flavors and it took me moving back to Sweden to figure it out.

Sunrises are magical and it’s very important to photograph them. This was a weekend morning and I was writing with Ofelia and Ally in the morning office, but the sunrise enticed me, so I snuck outside to immortalize it.

I end this post with the kitchen fire and a glass of red wine. I came home from the office one evening in a foul mood, so my husband poured me a glass of red and told me to sit by the fire to collect myself, and so I did. Because really, is there anything better than a glass of wine (or a cup of tea) by the fire?

(Yes yes. Cuddles and sunny smiles from the grandbaby of course. But other than that? I think not πŸ™‚ )

Tell me something memorable you did in January!

About Nell

Sunday Book Recommendation

I barely read any holiday books last year unless you count a few holiday themed fanfic stories, because most of what I read in December was Snarry (Harry Potter + Severus Snape) fanfiction. When I’m sick, I want to read (or watch) something familiar, so I wasn’t ready for something new.

I still bought a few books, though, and one of them, Dreidels & Do-Overs by Kim Fielding, caught my attention a couple days back and I decided to try it. And I really loved it.

As Caleb took the book, their fingers brushed. That alone was nearly enough to bring him to his knees.

Quote from Dreidels & Do-Overs

Caleb Stern was the high school hotshot, but a bad attitude and poor decisions led to years of misery. Now he’s trying to do better, and a job on the cleaning crew at a holiday craft fair could be a new beginning. What he didn’t expect was that his new start might be tangled up with ties from long ago.

Jasper Adams left an unfulfilling career and unsupportive boyfriend to follow his dreams. His handmade journals are a big success at the craft fair, which is great, but the real holiday miracle turns out to be a blast from his past.

Hanukkah nears, and both men yearn for holiday happiness. But moving forward often means first making peace with where you’ve been.

Jasper moved close and took Caleb into his arms. His hug was even nicer without clothing between them. He was warm and strong and simply…there, in a way nobody had been before.

Quote from Dreidels & Do-Overs

Dreidels & Do-Overs is exactly the kind of book I love the most, it’s quiet and gentle, with imperfect, normal people as main characters. There are no over-the-top romantic gestures, no banging each other against a wall, but there are plenty of tender moments. Moments of openness and honesty, of understanding and acceptance. Of courage and hope. All the things that makes me look like a heart-eye emoji and melts my heart in my chest.

Do I wish that the middle part had been more fleshed out? Yes, I do. But everything else was perfection so I can overlook it.

Dreidels & Do-Overs is definitely on my Goodreads feelgood, re-reads list, and I give it my warmest recommendations.