Friday, May 8, 2015

Changes are coming!

Its been a few months since my last update, but life has been busy with school and all. I have been kind of putting everything on hold so that I can finish this semester strong and feel confident moving forward without thinking "Oh crap, why did I try harder?" later.

A few updates:

  • Thom will finally be arriving in less than a month to Minnesota! Hurrah! This is the first big milestone that I can check off my list!
  • "Wedding" planning will begin once he is here and we can focus on that instead of school, moving, jobs etc etc
  • Sweden is in our very very near future!

A few other notes: Wedding planning is not my strong point. I was never one of those girls who had her whole wedding planned in a scrap book by the age of 14. I didn't have this big dream about what I would wear, where it would be, the special song Id dance to, the food I would serve, etc etc. That is just not me. I have however made a Pintrest page which is generally the accepted thing to do...I posted a couple things but never touched it again. The whole idea of planning a wedding really makes me want to just take a nap.

Not only that, but in the US weddings are really just a big marketing hoopla of gigantic proportions. Weddings cost a lot of $$$$. In fact, the average cost for a wedding in the US is $25,200!! What?? That just blows my mind. So needless to say, my fiance and I decided to go an alternative route...aka not have one. We will be getting married on our honeymoon in Sweden. When I tell people our plans, it tends to be a bit confusing because they naturally assume its a destination wedding...sure! But its a destination wedding that no one is invited to. Maybe we are eloping? But does it count if you plan an elopement? Whatever category our choice falls into, that is what is happening.

Now we aren't excluding our families completely (my mother wouldn't allow that, and of course I wouldn't want to) so we are having a small reception when we return. Our wedding planning will basically consists of planning a fun trip to Sweden where we take a quick lunch break and say our I do's.

Upcoming things:
Swedish language crash course
Planning, planning, planning

More updates later!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Swedish American Institute

Kind of a cool thing about being in a semi Scandinavian like state in the US means we have fun things like the American Swedish Institute.

It started out as the home of the Swedish immigrant Swan Turnblad and his family. He came to the US as a child in 1968 due to poor harvests and built the house in 1903. It is an extremely gorgeous house and it was donated by the Turnblad family in 1929 to the American Institute for Swedish Art, Literature and Science (Now just called the American Swedish Institute).
The house is connected to a newer building that acts as the sort of reception or entrance area. There you find the information desk, gift shop, and cafe all filled with Scandinavian goods!!! I went there with my fiance in January when they still had all their Christmas themed exhibits up! It was beautiful! The theme was Christmas in Scandinavia which included quite a few of those lovely places including Sweden.

We started our visit by getting a signature Swedish beverage from the cafe. I got a cup of hot glögg which is basically mulled wine served with a ginger bread cookie! The glögg was really really sweet though...almost too sweet. But it was still fun! And I loved saying the word glögg because it sounds like gloog, ha!

Wandering around the mansion was so fun! Seeing all the various rooms and nooks. The main attractions were held around the 3 floors and depicted Christmas settings from Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Sweden. The pictures I took were not very good, but it kind of gives you the idea.

It seems like the number one thing the institute offers is community. They have so many shops and activities throughout the year that I can only dream of being able to attend. They even offer Svenska language classes that would be AWESOME to take  before moving but they are offered at times that I cant make. :(

Short post but life is busy right now. School and work are demanding! More updates later! The fiance has everything in order to move to Minnesota in July for our -hopefully- short transitional period before moving to Europe.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas and the end of 2014

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Things are moving along quite swimmingly for me! The holidays are nearly over and that just means the long, cold winter is ahead. As I write this, it is -3 F (-19 C) outside and according to, it is 32 F in Stockholm. With all the info Ive read on Swedish sites forewarning expats to be prepared for cold winters....I honestly think that moving to Sweden will be like a tropical vacation in comparison to what Im used to.

Plans for moving the fiance to MN for our transition period are underway. We have many appointments to look at some apartments and we are organizing our ELOPEMENT in Sweden. Yes yes! We have decided that all the hullabaloo of a full blown, $15,000 (On the conservative side of price too) wedding is simply not for us. I informed my mom (and crossed my fingers that she wouldn't be upset with being deprived of a "real" wedding) and she was actually quite ok with it. In fact, she thought it was a splendid idea!

So thats that! Im still trudging along with my Swedish lessons! Talar du Svenska? And thats going as well as can be expected..I suppose. I would like someone to speak it with me! But alas I am on my own for now. 

For Christmas I was able to chortle while my siblings opened their presents wrapped in classy Justin Bieber paper. It was quite enjoyable!

My older sister decided to make some delicious punch for us that used frozen fruit to keep it cool (it also served as a special treat!). She used raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. However the only blueberries she could find were very small and subsequently looked like rabbit turds. (It was still delicious though)

We also made yummy and colorful ginger bread houses (actually graham cracker but same thing right?) and mine was obviously the best.

And of course no Christmas would be complete without hot cocoa plus peppermint schnapps! mmmmmm

See you all in the new year!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Language Update


Hej! Mitt namm är Claire! Jag har på en blå tröja. Svenska är inte min första språk. 

Well now that might not be completely perfect, but its a vast improvement from a few months ago when I had 0 Svenska knowledge! :)

I have officially completed the first of three sections of my Rosetta Stone Swedish Level 1. Its been quite fun and the rosetta stone process is pretty good for someone who has never learned any other language. The only thing that I feel myself wanting to understand more is the grammar. Its easy to fly through some of the lessons and feel confident, but I know there is a lot of intricacies that I am not fully grasping. 

Articles are something I struggle with. Swedish doesnt really have "the" in their language; it turns into an ending of the word similar to our "ing", "ed", and whatever else. It also depends on the gender of the noun (which there are 2 of in Swedish: Common and Neuter). I remember being so confused through some of the lessons when we were simply learning the names of random items for instance Ett äpple, ett bord, en kopp, en boll. Some have "ett" and some have "en" indicating which are common nouns and which are neuter. I didnt figure that out until later! But even knowing it now wont help me much because its really kind of obscure as to which nouns are common and which are neuter. People are pretty easy, they are common, but some of the other stuff just doesnt have any pattern to it and Ive been told I need to just memorize it. 

For instance, a cup (en kopp) is common but a table (ett bord) is neuter. Why? Who knows! Maybe someone reading this who has a much more vast knowledge of Swedish can explain it to me? Or is there a trick to remembering what is what? But right now that is about the crux of my learning experience. I realize that these common and neuter genders dictate a lot more in the grammar department but since Rosetta Stone doesnt really explain those things (maybe they will in later lessons) I have to do my own digging in the mean time! :)

One thing that is really nice though is a lot of the sentence structure is similar and in fact, there are quite a few words in swedish that while are not spelled the same way as english, tend to sound the same if that makes sense. All in all, its been quite fun and Im enjoying rosetta stone! I also have some fun apps on my phone and tablet that help me practice vocab while Im out and about. 


Thanksgiving is this Thursday and Ill  be flying out to New York to spend the holiday with my fiance's family. I always enjoy spending time over there for the holidays but I am thankful this year in particular that I dont have to worry about going to Buffalo. 8 feet of snow is just too much. Too much I say!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Fall and Halloween

Fall and Halloween

Its that time that I love! The in-between! When temperatures are mild, the trees start to color, and there is a particular scent in the air that tells you it is fall!

The only bad thing is that it is way too short. :(
I snapped the picture below on my way out in the morning, I thought it was particularly pretty to see the frost all over the ground yet these flowers are still kicking. Unfortunately, by the time I posted this entry the flowers are dead...ode to the summer finally spent! :(

I know Halloween isnt as big over in Sweden, but we can always bring a little spook along with us. Some friends and I had our annual (for 2 years so far) Halloween pumpkin carving party complete with pumpkin (or relatives) inspired dishes and mulled wine! Yummm!

Its also traditional to play a classic Halloween  movie. Last year was Son of Frankenstein and this year was Hokus Pokus (a Bette Midler best!)

In other news... 

The US had the Midterm elections recently and it was a bit of a let down. Im not too interested in getting into the gory details, but it was a reminder of how disconnected the political process is with reality here in the States.

But all is done and the world keeps on spinning! The trees are mostly dead and brown, the days are getting shorter, and I can no longer take my normal runs outside for fear of losing my limbs to the cold. I have to start readjusting to the long winter that is impending so that I dont lose my mind. Last year I had experienced seasonal depression for the first time and it was awful. I am doing my best to take measures to prevent it this year.

Looking forward to the Christmas and Holiday season is always fun, but after that its the long and dreary cold that offers little comfort. I have some little projects I will be starting up. I decided that I want to make my Halloween costume next year but that means I have to learn to sew...God help me! But I think it will be something good to keep my mind occupied.

As ever, I am still working on learning Svenska! Its going slow but Im enjoying it. More on that later!

Stay warm everyone!!! :)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Min kanelbullens dag! (My Cinnamon Bun Day!)

My Attempt at Cinnamon Buns

I wanted to celebrate being aware of my first Oct 4th Kanelbullens Dag by making some cinnamon buns! It was kind of ...ok I guess. Haha! I have never been much of a baker but I sure did my best! I followed the recipe located on the website  and I had to convert everything from grams and milliliters to cups or ounces so Im not sure all my measurements were exactly spot on, but close enough right?

Well here is a picture of the initial dough with the yeast. It was super sticky! Not sure if thats right or not, but I rolled with it. Waiting for this to rise took quite some time because I wasnt smart enough to add warm milk to the yeast first so they get their little engines revving, 

Next step was to roll it out into a flat rectangle and put some butter on it so that the cinnamon and sugar stuck on.

Then I had to roll it all up after the cinnamon and sugar was coated. This was the hardest part because like I said earlier, the dough was extremely sticky. I had to peel the bad boy off the table as I tried to roll. The end result it kind of looked like a log blob.

Next I cut the log blob up into small slices and BAM! Cinnamon rolls! As you can see, mine are not in little cupcake paper trays because I didnt have any...nor did I have any pearl sugar...oh well! Before throwing them into the oven, I sprinkled them with some powdered sugar and let them rise some more.

I threw them into the oven, let them make for a short amount of time, then I took hem out to cool! They werent all even but they smelled nice! My family enjoyed them so I consider it a job well done!

This bun was probably the best looking one...Ive compared it with an image I found on Google. They look identical dont they? Yeah! You cant even tell the difference right?

Ill have to keep practicing...
Until next time, hej då!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Coffee, Cinnamon buns, and yummy things!

So there are a few things Swedes really love! Coffee, Cinnamon buns, and meat balls!


A very popular Swedish tradition that is quite a delight to both natives and visitors a like is Fika! Basically, everyone in Sweden takes a coffee break...and not just a spur of the moment break, or a  "I have a few minutes break", this is something that always happens regardless of your schedule. You just do it. You go out with friends, have coffee and a pastry and hang for a bit. Relax, enjoy yourself! Sound good? Yes...yes it does. And since everyone does it, you dont have to feel guilty about doing it too! So go grab your favorite roast, cinnamon bun, and chat!

Now granted, you dont have to dress up in a suit and be as creepy as Johan is while sipping a dainty cup of joe...but just get your Fika on!

Kaffe (Coffee)

Maybe one of the reasons Swedes have this tradition is because they love coffee so much? Or maybe this tradition has promoted a love of coffee?...which ever the case, the Swedes definitely love their coffee...take a look at the picture graph below. It depicts coffee consumption by country and the Swedes are definitely one of the top runners.

I hope I dont set myself up for being shunned when I say coffee is ok. I wont go nutty over it but I do enjoy it on occasion! (typically only decaf since I am very sensitive to caffeine)

Cinnamon Bun Day (kanelbullens dag)

I guess Swedes love their cinnamon buns so much they gave it an annual holiday! Im down with that! I need more sweet buns in my life.... :)
The holiday lands on October 4th which is actually the day that I met my fiance (in person) for the first time! HOW PERFECT! I guess this means we will have to start an annual tradition of eating some cinnamon buns together every Oct 4th! 

Swedes have a particular way of making their Cinnamon Buns in that they are generally a lot more simplistic:
 "The Swedish cinnamon bun is much less sticky and sweet than the typical American cinnamon roll. Another essential difference in Swedish cinnamon buns is the cardamom spice in the dough, which adds another dimension of flavour.
The buns are baked for just a few minutes in a very hot oven, making them light and fluffy with a golden brown surface. They are then topped with grains of "pearl sugar" as opposed to frosting or glaze."
Here is a recipe I found if anyone was interested in making their own Swedish Cinnamon Buns (I know Im going to try!!!). You can find it here! The recipe is for 25 buns so unless you plan to make them for a party of people, you might want to reduce the ingredients! :)

Ill take pics of my first ever cinnamon bun attempt this past Oct 4th and let you all know how it goes...


So this isnt specifically Swedish related, but I enjoyed this correlation that is depicted below. The New England Journal of Medicine released a study where they looked at and found a huge correlation between chocolate consumption per capita of a country and their number of Nobel Laureates. There is no real way to know why this correlation exists, but maybe it implies that smart people eat chocolate more often? Sweden isnt the worlds highest chocolate consumer, but they are up there, thats for sure. 

Sweden is actually kind of the outlier on this graph since they dont appear to follow the nice linear trend. Looks like they have just as many laureates and Switzerland without having to eat as much chocolate. Maybe the chocolate in Sweden is more potent? Ill have to investigate! I will accept this quest! For science!

Swedish Meatballs! (köttbullar)

Im not sure what is more Swedish than Swedish meatballs (At least judging from my Ikea experiences) so I thought Id attempt to make those as well! Again, here is the recipe for some Swedish meatballs! Ive never made meatballs, it will be a fun experience.