About Nell

Goodbye August

Lo! a ripe sheaf of many golden days
Gleaned by the year in autumn’s harvest ways,
With here and there, blood-tinted as an ember,
Some crimson poppy of a late delight
Atoning in its splendor for the flight
Of summer blooms and joys­
This is September.

Lucy Maud Montgomery

September is here and i’m so ready for it. Not because it’s my birthday month (because apparently we have those nowadays), but because I’m so ready for fall. I’ve been longing for sweater weather for ages. I want steaming tea and crackling fires and beautiful gold-orange-red leaves. I want the crisp air and the beautiful light. I’m done with summer, I’m done with August, especially August, because we barely got a single drop of rain and the leaves are falling off the trees prematurely because it’s so dry. August has also meant working too much at the Stupid Day Job ™️ and not having time to see my beloved grandbaby. That last thing bugs me the most.

So unfortunately there will be no pics of Little W this time. But hopefully you’ll stick around anyway.

We started re-arranging my office in August. First we turned the desk in the other direction which I like much better and which makes the room feel bigger. We’ve also bought new storage units for the desk, and we’re looking for bookshelves to buy so I finally can take my books out of storage and display them. Ideally, I’d like a classic manor library vibe with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and a ladder so I can reach the top shelf…but since I don’t live in Jane Austen’s England, I guess I’ll have to settle for Ikea stuff 😁

The best part (so far) with the office upgrades, is the coffee/tea station (on the shelf against the wall). My darling daughter gifted us their coffee pod machine thingy that they never used and so we set it up upstairs in my office. It also provides me with warm water for my tea, so instead of having to trek downstairs to get my morning fix, I now have something like five paces to reach the machine. Shorter, if I feel like crawling under desk (spoiler alert: I don’t!) 😁

“Let’s have wine and cold cuts and cheese when you get off work today,” said the hubby on a lovely Friday. I said “LET’S!!” and this was the result. Everything was really yummy and it was a lovely evening, spent with my favorite person, listening to vinyl records, and sharing a bottle of superb red wine. All Fridays should be like this one.

Also, if someone told me I had to pick one thing to eat for the rest of my life and nothing else, I’d probably pick parma ham. Or ramen. It’s a toss-up between the two.

One sunny afternoon when I was in a hurry to get home, there was a fire situation at the train station. Alarms were blaring and we weren’t allowed to go inside and the trains didn’t depart and I kept staring at my watch, desperate to go home. Luckily it was a false alarm and we were soon allowed inside…in time so I didn’t miss my train home. Yay!

One day when I worked from home, the hubby whisked me away and took me out to lunch. Granted, the reason was that we didn’t have any leftovers from the day before to eat, but it was really great nonetheless. There’s a nice restaurant only a few minutes away from my home, in a converted station building, who are only using local, in-season produce. It was a warm, lovely day so we sat outside, enjoyed each other’s company and the lovely food, and I even had a glass of wine to go with the pasta. Don’t you just love these little moments in life, the small breaks from mundanity? It’s the perfect way to recharge the batteries.

Speaking of restaurants, we tried another local “restaurant” or should I say stationary food truck. This is a Thai food place in the middle of nowhere (yes, that’s a barn behind it) and we were met with lovely smells and and a lady from Thailand when we arrived so we had high hopes for the food quality. Unfortunately, it wasn’t great, so we won’t be returning. Too bad, I like supporting the local businesses. And also, how great would it’ve been if this little food truck in the middle of nowhere had served excellent Thai food? 🙂

Speaking of supporting the local businesses; we went to a tiny hole-in-the-wall pottery shop in the nearest village where the hubby decided I needed a pretty tea mug for the upstairs coffee/tea station, and this beauty is what I picked. We also bought a few other things, and I intend to go back because I love that little shop. And the artist (who has a Stupid Day Job of her own at the local grocery store) is so friendly and nice so I definitely want to support her.

The story behind this picture is really boring (trying a new train route to work, blah-blah-blah) but this old station building from the late 1800s is so beautiful so I had to include it. I have thing for old brick buildings (or old buildings in general).

And speaking of old buildings (lots of “and speaking of” in today’s post 😁) we went to an even older building to have coffee. This is Alunbruket, the oldest coffee shop in my province. The coffee shop itself dates back to 1930, but the building is from the early 1700s. This was a five-star experience; the house, the garden, the fika (you know we Swedes are fika crazy!), the company (my brother and his partner were visiting), the fresh mint tea with mint from the garden…everything was perfect 😍 I’m definitely going back there; I want to bring my darling daughter and her family because I know they’d appreciate it.

Seriously. If you’re ever in the south of Sweden and want to have a fabulous cup of coffee in an amazing location, you need to visit this place!

The month ended with me voting in our upcoming election. Election day is on my 50th birthday (9/11), and I don’t feel like spending it by voting, so I voted early. One morning when I was on my way to work, I noticed that they’d set up a polling place at the train station, so the next day I brought my voting card (Swedes don’t have to register to vote; as soon as we’re eligible, we get a voting card sent to us and we need that card and our ID to be able to vote) and did my democratic duty.

It was a difficult decision this year; all parties (we have a multi party system in Sweden) are more or less terrible, and in the end, I went with the least awful party that still aligns with my values. Ugh, is that really how democracy is supposed to work?

Yes, I know that this is the eleventh picture, but I felt that the last pic ended on a negative note, so I thought a timeline cleanser was in order. Echinaceas are currently my second favorite flowers (second only to wood anemones), and I’m planning on planting lots of them in my garden next year. Aren’t they pretty?

Tell me something you did in August 🙂

About Nell

Goodbye July

July sped past at light speed, and now August is here. To be perfectly honest, I don’t mind. While I love summer, I long for the fall season. I want steaming tea, crackling fires, yellow-orange-red leaves, and crisp air, and August is one step closer to that utopia. So while it’s a little scary that time flies past so fast, I’m good with August. We’re going to be friends, August and I.

But before we leave July behind, I have a few pictures to show you of what I did. I had 3 weeks of PTO in July; in Sweden all employees are guaranteed at least five full weeks of vacation time per year, and I took three of mine in July. Here’s a few glimpses of what I did.

Let’s start with the best part, shall we? My beloved grandbaby W, my ray of sunshine, my little bumblebee, was visiting for almost three weeks: first ten days at the beginning of my time off and then they came back the last weekend before I got back to work, and stayed for whole other week. Which meant I came home from work and was greeted by a sunny smile and lots and lots of babbling from little W, I was served dinner cooked by my son-in-law, and was treated to hugs and closeness and conversations with my darling daughter. “Lovely” doesn’t begin to describe it, and I wish I could convince them to move here permanently.

Since little W is a bookworm just like her Gramma, this is what it looks like most of the time when she’s here. “Let’s read, Gramma,” she’ll say, and we’ll curl up on the couch and read. Or she’ll bring a book to her Grampa and they’ll sit in his favorite chair and read. She even convinced her Great Grandmother to sit on the porch and read. Or she’ll read to us. She knows what happens in the books because we’ve read them so many times, and she sits next to someone, telling the story in her own words. It’s my favorite thing to do, to listen to her re-tell the stories.

We read a book about animals, animal babies and parenting in particular.

“This is a banggai cardinal,” I said.
Little W scrunched her eyebrows together, looked at me and said, “Fish, Gramma.”

Gramma – Little W 0-1 😁

But PTO only means time off work, the work at home never ends. So we also cleaned out the garage to make room for a huge pile of firewood we’d ordered and that was delivered one sunny afternoon. The hubby and I spent hours and hours stacking 6 cubic meters of firewood in the garage. I would probably have had a less busy day at the Day Job…but I’ll be very happy about this stack of firewood come fall and winter.

I baked super yummy walnut bread in my Dutch oven. I’m not a baker, but I want to be, so I went looking for an easy, no-fuss recipe and found one. You stir together four ingredients (five if you want walnuts) in a bowl, no kneading required, then you let the dough rise in the fridge overnight. In the morning, you shape the bread so it fits into your Dutch oven, then bake it for close to an hour. It’s heavenly, and so, so easy to make, and it’s now a staple in my kitchen.

I also harvested my first ever cucumbers. It’s a modest harvest, I know, but it was an experiment. I found a variety that can grow in pots with small-ish cucumbers (not even 4 inches), and I wanted to grow something Little W could pick and eat. And here’s the first three cucumbers I picked; the were very tasty and extremely crunchy. And Little W loved them too, and finished off the last ones on the plants and then went looking for more. Luckliy, new cucumbers are coming so she can have some more the next time she’s visiting.

We grilled lots of food, because any self-respecting Swedish house owner always grills in the summer. It’s more or less the law.😁 These are herb-marinated vegetable skewers that were served with grilled corn, and pork fillet. Delicious!

We’ve also had our master bedroom renovated, and we could finally move into it in July. We’ve been sleeping in the second guest room since we moved into the house, but no more! The master bedroom is a lovely space, and we’ve spent half the month decorating it to our tastes. It’s almost done, but this is the finished result before furniture.

And on the hottest day of the summer (35c/95f) our BFFs from Malaysia came for a visit. We had no other visitors, and our friends left their one-year-old with his grandmother, so we decided a pool party was in order. We hung out in the pool, litened to music, and drank lots of bubbly, just like the good old days in Malaysia. We also ate excellent food that our friends brought, and stayed up late talking, laughing, enjoying each others’ company. It was a perfect summer day.

This big cloud heart that sailed past our house high in the sky one lovely July day will be the last picture. It’s been a busy month, with lots of visitors (my parents, my in-laws, my brother-in-law, my son-in-law’s mother and stepdad, and assorted friends have also stopped by), lots of chores (the firewood being only one of them), tortured writing (but I’ll talk more about that in a separate post), and lots and lots of cooking. But most of all, it’s been full of laughter and love and family, so this picture represents my July and is the perfect ending to this post.

Tell me something you did in July.

About Nell

Goodbye June

I realize today is the fourth of July and these posts are meant for the first of every month, but I didn’t even notice that June ended, to be honest with you. June whirled past and I couldn’t keep up and now July is here and I’m afraid I’ll blink and it’ll be November. Can someone please slow down time a little, please and thank you??

Considering how busy I was in June, I didn’t take many pictures, but at least I managed to find ten to show you so you can see what I’ve been up to. And we’ll start with the best: the darling grandbaby!!

My dearest little W and her parents were here for a visit. W and I hung out on the floor and she read to me, one of her favorite books about ladybugs. She loves reading, just like her Mommo (Swedish for Gramma) and she loves ladybugs. But not as much as she loves seals, she loves seals more 😍

New neighbors moved in across the road: cows! I love them, they’re making me so happy. Early one morning, my doorbell rang and I opened the door to a stranger who asked if it was my cows? When I said no and asked him why, he told me that they had broken out of the pasture and he’d come across them, walking along the road, on their way over the bridge that leads to the nearest little town.

Who said life in the countryside is boring?? 😁

One day, Götheborg of Sweden sailed into the harbor where my office is located. It’s a replica of the old East Indiaman Götheborg I that launched in 1738. It was built using old, traditional techniques, and it’s one of the world’s largest operational wooden sailing vessels. It announced its arrival with a cannon salute, and everyone at the office stood with their noses pressed against the windows, staring at it 🙂

I love cooking outdoors and take every chance I can to do it. Peeling potatoes is much more fun outside than in the kitchen, don’t you agree? I dream of an outdoor kitchen, but it’s toward the bottom of the list of plans for the house. There are so many things we want to do first…

…like renovating the master bedroom. We’ve stayed in one of the guest rooms since we moved into the house (because of reasons), but now it’s time to move upstairs into our real bedroom. But first, it needs updating, so that’s going on right now.

The garden is something else that needs lots of TLC, but it can be a bit overwhelming at times, so one day I needed a quick project that I could start and finish on the same day. So I emptied this iron planter that’s built into the stairs leading down from the porch and filled it with garden cosmos. It didn’t even take me an hour, but it made me very happy! 🙂

One day after work, we jumped on the ferry to Helsingør, Denmark, but we didn’t stay. We did some shopping on the ferry, admired Kronborg Castle, or Elsinore as it’s called in Hamlet, and returned back home.

Nell and Helsingør in the background. I love the smell of the sea.

On Midsummer’s Eve (which is a big holiday in Sweden, only rivaled by Christmas) we went on a roadtrip to visit a dear friend 300-ish miles away, where we celebrated a traditional Midsummer with a giant phallic symbol, pickled herring, and snaps. Two other old friends were there too, and it was lovely. Really and truly lovely.

And finally, on the day after Midsummer, we were invited to another friend’s surprise b-day party 125 miles away from the Midsummer party. She turned 40 and the hubby and I were a surprise within the surprise party: and we performed a song for her, our Party Song Number One (an obscure Swedish song from 1983 that no one’s ever heard except us) and she was so happy to see us she cried. It was nice seeing old friends again even if the party itself was a bit too wild for me. (It was also the first party ever I attended where body shots happened…and no, I didn’t drink any 😆).

And after that, I bet you were expecting a pic of said body shots, but instead I give you this picture from the day after the party when we visited with the birthday girl before we had to start our journey back home. This is the view from her balcony; isn’t it lovely?

Tell me something you did in June!

About Nell

Goodbye May

O the month of May, the merry month of May,
    So frolic, so gay, and so green, so green, so green!

Quote from The Merry Month of May by Thomas Dekker

I know I’m a few days late with this post. It usually goes out on the first day of the new month, but my week has been busy and I haven’t been able to find the time to write it. Heck, my entire month of May has been busy, and I feel like I’ve been playing catch-up all month. (I still am, you should see my laundry basket 🙈) How do you even juggle a Day Job, a house, a huge garden, a family, a life, and a writing career? I have no idea. If you do, please tell me how to do it in the comments.

Is May the most beautiful month of them all? I think it is, at least up here in Scandinavia. It’s over-the-top ridiculously beautiful and everything living explodes, every single tree and bush and plant blooms, one more colorful than the other. It’s as though all plant life is trying to show each other up. Look at me, I’m even more spectacular than you are. Like this rapeseed field that we passed on a road trip. Can you see how it’s boasting about its pretty yellow color, how it says a single one of us might be plain, but all of us together are breathtaking.

Rapeseed-field-yellow is my favorite kind of yellow 😍

And when I say “everything living explodes,” that includes weeds, too, of course. And yes, I know that weeds are just plants growing in the wrong place, but there’s a lot of that going on in our garden, so I’ve spent lots and lots of time last month trying pulling up weeds. This is my hand after a gardening session. And before you ask: yes, I was wearing gloves 😁

What you need after a long gardening session is a long bath in the yacuzzi style bath tub in our new fancy bathroom. I love it so much; there’s room for both of us, it comes with colorful lights (as you can see), and lots of bubble features. And bubbles are the best when you’re tired and sore after a long day in the garden. Even better with a glass of drinkable bubbles to go with it, a great playlist, and my hubby ofc.

The best thing that happened in May, was that I finally got to see one of my absolute favorite artists, Thåström, live. He’s Sweden’s biggest rockstar, and I’ve loved him for most of my life, probably close to 40 years, but never managed to see him live. We went to the second-to-last show of the tour and I’d spent lots of time watching clips from other stops on YouTube, and even footage taken through cell phones with bad audio was so great it raised my already sky-high expectations.

But he didn’t disappoint. It was easily one of the best live gigs I’ve ever seen, and I’m not ashamed to say that I cried when he played my favorite songs.

Here’s a clip from the actual concert I attended (filmed by someone in the audience on their phone). So somewhere in the audience is yours truly, singing along to this song from the top of my lungs, living my best life.

My darling daughter and her family was here visiting for the concert (she came with us), as was my husband’s sister and her husband. And on the day after the concert, we had lunch at a local restaurant in a nearby village called Röstånga. It used to be an old station house, and now they’re a restaurant, making food from seasonal, locally grown produce. The asparagus-green pea soup I had was fabulous.

It had been raining, something my beloved grandbaby appreciated. Pölar, pölar, pölar, she said happily as she splashed all the puddles she could find. (pölar = puddles). And her mother wanted in on her fun, so they both splashed around, saying Pölar, pölar, pölar, as though it was the best thing in the world.

Did I take one gazillion photos of this spectacular show? Yes, yes, I did 😍 Did I also buy my grandbaby a second set of wellies (yellow with tiny bees) so she can splash in more puddles? Yes, yes I did 😀

But then they went back home and I had to work. But at least there were lots of pretty things to look at while waiting for the train. Boastful May.

This is the worst when you have a mountain of work to do. Did I have to wait hours and hours before I could log on to the system again? Yes. Ugh. How stressed do you think I was when I finally was able to go back to work?

I’m in the mood for a charcuterie board, a great wine, and vinyl records, I told my husband one evening, and we made it happen. Aaaah, just looking at the picture makes me hungry and in the mood for a repeat.

And the final picture from May is my mother-in-law’s cat, Luna. Luna has a fancy cat tree and a scratch post and despite this, she prefers to sleep in this beer carton. Classy. 😀

My MIL turned 75 so we went back to our old hometown to celebrate her. It was a lovely, but busy weekend, full of family, grilled food and strawberry cake, and bubbly. The perfect early summer birthday party, I’d say.

And that’s it for May. I’ll be back with more pictures from my life in a month.

Tell me about something you did in May?

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? 😆 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 😀

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. Helsingør, 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 😀

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!