ADVENT CALENDAR

My husband created an advent calendar when we were dating and tiny gifts every day in December has been a family tradition since then. Tomorrow is the 1st of December and I must say, the first 7 packages  were fun to wrap but by 14 it was tedious and the last ones were pretty boring. Hopefully they'll be more fun to open. 

JIM'S CRASH COURSE

Jim Grundström is a former restaurateur, rag trader, event planner, and decorator. Presently he is the co-owner of interior furnishings boutique Oscar & Clothilde in Stockholm, famous for its ambiance. Consider this your crash course in Scandinavian christmas decorations.

"There is no need to spend a fortune on decorating a home for christmas. Pare down the amount of artificial decorations. The original Swedish christmas is not pink, purple, or golden. The nature surrounding us has a tremendous and beautiful array of colours that we can incorporate. A beautiful christmas palette is forest green, brown, white and rowan red.

Jim's advice for creating Christmas ambiance 
1. Lights & Sound
A quick aid to awaken our sensibility is candlelight. Naturally they need to be grouped together. Flickering candlelights and beautiful music appeal to our sensitivity.

2. Floral arragements
Don't crowd all seasonal flowers in a large mixed arrangement. Create unity by grouping the same flowers together. For example,  a window sill with five white poinsettias in white pots.

3. Setting the table
Create a buffet in some form where everyone can serve themselves.

4. Decorations
'Tis the season of gnomes and trolls but cluster them in select areas rather than evenly throughout the home.

5. A day off from christmas foods
Give the christmas menu a day's rest during the season."

From an interview in Sköna hem december 1998.

LOOKING FOR THE SILVER LINING?

                     

My grandmother has "a thing" for necklaces. It may be hereditary, although my accumulations are meager by comparison. I played with her many strands and chains in front of the mirror as a child, and loved to sort them according to length one day, according to colour the next day. 

Anna Örnberg is a glass designer who shifted materials and creates handmade jewellery with a humorous twist. I am in love with the two above. With the price of silver ever increasing these days I better add them to the wish list while affordable. Most pieces are one of a kind. Visit the homepage and webshop to find your favourites and future heirlooms. 
IMAGES: ANNA ÖRNBERG SILVER, USED WITH PERMISSION

ICE ICE BABY

Snowflakes never cease to amaze, intricate and fragile even when layered by the millions. 

THE RED BED

Last night we had a beautiful snowfall. As temperatures dropped to well below freezing, the bright white bedlinen in our tiny bedroom seemed like hostile territory, cold and uninviting. Tonight we are heading towards the linen closet to dig out the red set of bedlinen.
IMAGE: PRESS IMAGE FROM MILLE NOTTI AB

FINALLY HOOKED


Next year I will banish those layers of jeans and hoodies that seem to float around on furniture in lack of a designated area for items that are post-closet but pre-laundry. Hello sturdy brass hooks. Our home is your home.

Hooks from SIBES, available in 3 metal finishes, in Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland.
IMAGES: SIBES WEBSHOP

SING IT AGAIN SAM

Since 2007 Swedish author and illustrator Catharina Kruusval has illustrated popular songs for toddlers. The first books were an instant success that grew into a series of 10 little books. This fall she added two sweet christmas songs to the collection. A given favourite at a great price.
IMAGES: ADLIBRIS.COM

ADVENT


"Arise and rejoice,
In joy, in peace, in sacred rest,
Rejoice in the Lord"

PURPLE REIGN

In the northern regions of Norway, most advent candles and wreaths are purple rather than white or red. Purple objects for home interiors are showcased as a christmas colour alongside red, white and green.
1GartenStiefmütterchen
In Lutheran and Catholic liturgical tradition the advent candles are purple, there are various interpretations as to why. One tradition says purple is associated with royalty, signifying that Jesus Christ is the king of Israel. It is also the colour of repentance and fasting, as well as the colour of suffering. The colour is therefore used during both christmas and easter, linking the two, and in orthodox churches a fast is part of both celebrations.
IMAGE: FRIEDRICH BÖHRINGER (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5] via Wikipedia Commons

BERIT IS VISITING

Extreme weather "Berit" is supposed to hit this area tonight, but at least the intense rain and hails of yesterday have ceased. Possibility of hurricanes out at sea as "Berit" moves further north along the coast of Norway, and the water is rising high. We're staying indoors, to put it that way. 

PLAY IT SAFE - DENMARK

Whether Denmark belongs to Scandinavia or not is a matter of definition, but we don't want to leave them out. We've handpicked small gifts that fit just about any adult recipient. With love from Denmark. Prices range between 80-299 SEK / 70-250 NOK/ 12-43 USD.

Tea light holders in Blue Fluted Mega, Royal Copenhagen. Kitchen timer, Stelton. Calendar candle, Georg Jensen. Bottle opener in teak, Trip Trap. Glass bowl, Grand Cru M, Rosendahl. Chocolate fondue for microwave, Odense. Salad servers available in 6 colours, Bodum.
IMAGES: TRIP TRAP WEBSHOP, ROYAL COPENHAGEN WEBSHOP, BODUM WEBSHOP, ROYALDESIGN.SE, ROSENDAHL WEBSHOP, ODENSE-MARCIPAN:DK, DANSKDESIGN.NU

LAST GLIMPSE OF THE SUN

A BASKET CASE

 
Prettier than any number of novelty items available as seasonal "decoration" is a large basket. Fill it with an extra woolen throw, your guest slippers, knitting yarns, a few toys for visiting children or simply round up some teddy bears. If you decide on a smaller christmas tree it sits nicely in a bucket in the basket as well. The bonus is you won't long for its removal by New Year's Eve.

These baskets come in 3 sizes with a reasonable price tag. From Lagerhaus.

OLFACTORY FACTORY

My sister, who lives in the US, stocks up on pure stearin candles from Liljeholmens. She confesses to pulling them out of the cupboard not to light them, but to have a whiff. Why? They smell like christmas, she says.

Since 1830 Liljeholmens Stearinfabrik has been producing high quality candles, making them a christmas staple in most Swedish households. It was these candles we lit in advent as we read advent poems, it was these candles we carried when singing the Lucia processions, it was these red candles mother lit on Christmas Eve.

There's another secret to why they are a quintessential christmas smell. Liljeholmens are suppliers to most churches in Sweden. Since these may date back centuries, even to the medieval age, theirs is a characteristic smell of old stone, wood, metal, glass, and lit candles. Of those the easiest to export is, of course, the candles.

Available internationally through Swedishop, Scandiafood, and Fjorn Scandinavian. Their factory outlet is located in Oskarshamn, Sweden.
IMAGES: LILJEHOLMENS STEARINFABRIK, USED WITH PERMISSION

THE RED THREAD

I scored some red high quality embroidery floss this summer and had visions of embroidered grandeur for christmas. Well, visions or delusions. Potejto potahto. 

Britta Johansson has a large collection of small historical knit and embroidery patterns, and offer free ones on her blog Korsstygnsbolaget. These caught my eye. Decorative, simple and small (i.e. easy to finish).   
IMAGES: KORSSTYGNSBOLAGET, USED WITH PERMISSION 

MØRKERTID & ADVENTSLYS

bricka
The first Sunday of Advent is this week, which means the Scandinavian christmas season is officially here. Coincidentally, but quite fitting, the same Sunday is also the first day of polar night for us.

SLEET & SLÄNG

As much as we all prefer the idyllic white christmas, the truth is that gray skies and sleet is a pretty common winter reality in many parts of Scandinavia as well. Apparently even here in the very north. Melting snow at Stureplan in Stockholm 1948
Stureplan, Stockholm, December 1948
IMAGE: STOCKHOLMS SPÅRVÄGSMUSEUM

PLAY IT SAFE - NORWAY

We've handpicked small gifts that are appreciated by just about any adult. Round 2, with love from Norway. Prices range between 150-250 SEK / 130-215 NOK/ 22-37 USD.




Handmade blueberry soap, Alveland. Small tiered server, Skeidar. Small moose leather purse, Jopo.  Multesyltetøy, Askim Frukt og Bærpresseri. Small glassbowl in green or blue, Hadeland Glassverk. Herring fork in pewter, Shop Norway. Cheese slicer, reproduction of original from 1925, Bjørklund.
IMAGES: BJØRKLUND, ASKIM FRUKT OG BÆRPRESSERI, HADELAND.NO, SKEIDAR.NO, FREIA ON FACEBOOK, ALVELAND.NO, SHOP NORWAY

HIMLA CHRISTMAS OUTLET

HIMLA OPENS TEMPORARY OUTLET 
30-70% off all textile goods, including the christmas collection. 
Where: Outletbutiken, Öregrundsgatan 3, Stockholm 
When: Wednesday 23th of November 10.00-20.00, Thursday 24th and Friday 25th of November 11.00-18.00, Saturday 26th of November - Sunday 27th of November kl 11.00-16.00

Visit the HIMLA homepage to view their collections. 

ICE AGE

We're in between. The snow isn't completely melted away yet, but hasn't arrived in droves either. 

PLAY IT SAFE - SWEDEN

We've handpicked small gifts that are appreciated by just about any adult. With love from Sweden.
Prices range between 150-250 SEK / 130-215 NOK/ 22-37 USD.




Handmade pralines with Swedish Berries, or Christmas Flavours, Chokladfabriken. Key rings, braided leather or leather heart, from Ordning och Reda. Small tray, in navy, red or black, Svenskt Tenn. Phonecase in leather, in natural or black, Svenskt Tenn. Jellybean dessert bowl, avaiblabe in 15 colours, Jelly Bean. Wool fleece bikeseatcover, Skansenbutiken. Puck candleholder in crystal, Orrefors.
IMAGES: CHOKLADFABRIKEN WEBSHOP, ORDNING&REDA.COM, SVENSKT TENN WEBSHOP, JELLYBEAN WEBSHOP, SKANSENBUTIKEN.SE, ORREFORS WEBSHOP

FINALLY

The first snow. It won't stick around. We know the type. It's welcome all the same. 

STAR LIGHT STAR BRIGHT

This would look great in our living room. More glimmer than glitter and a neutral colour that works well with a combination of several metallics: silver, gold and brass. Anemon from Åhléns
IMAGE: AHLENS.SE

WHITE AND BRIGHT

I'm grateful that although never lavish, my christmases have always felt safe and not once have I had to dread that moment when my parents' or relatives' drinking turns ugly, or wonder why grandpa is too loud, why auntie can't stop giggling, and mom's hugs feel strangely detached.

The campaign VIT JUL (A White Christmas) asks adults to take a stand. They ask that adults, parents or not, support the campaign by refraining from drinking alcohol with more than 2,25 volumepercent during the three days of Christmas.

Pledge to support the campaign by signing your name here: Vit Jul. I did.
IMAGE: PRESS IMAGE VIT JUL, PHOTOGRAPHER PERNILLA FÖRNES

SNIPPETS AND SN-APP-ETS


I associate Swedish weekly magazine Ica Kuriren with my grandmother who'd cut out and collect snippets with its recipes. Times are a-changing. Download their free app for Ipad "Den goda julen", for inspiration and recipes.
IMAGES: ITUNES PREVIEW/DEN GODA JULEN

THE NO SHOW SNOW

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The lack of snow is getting eerie. It's too warm. Will all polarbears be homeless by Christmas? Will they swim in this direction? Can we convince them Alaskans taste better?

HIDE MY WALLET!

Svenskt Tenn has opened their christmas shop. Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

FOR MY BOOKIES




















Floris Books in Great Britain has a great selection of the classic Swedish authors translated into english. Since their page isn't very user friendly I've made a selection of links below. The english editions are also available in Sweden through Adlibris.com, in Norway in through Norli.no, and in the US through Amazon.com.

A HomeA FarmA Family, by Carl Larsson 
The tomte's christmas porridge, by Sven Nordqvist. 
 A Calf for Christmas, and In the Land of Twilight, by Astrid Lindgren
Goldie at the OrphanageGoldie at the Farm, by Martha Sandwall Bergström (Kulla Gulla) 
Books by Elsa Beskow are available both in regular size and mini editions. 
IMAGES: ADLIBRIS.COM/SE

PINING AWAY

Before the actual tree enters the home, I love to buy tiny greenery. No decoration needed, just place in white or gray pots, perhaps with a few pinecones to cover the soil. It's just enough of an aperitif as we approach advent season. A prelude. 

If they are superfluous when the tree has arrived their snippets spruce up gifts, the christmas buffet, or they can be placed in the children's room. (It's great fun for the kids to craft decorations for their own tiny tree.)
IMAGE: IKEA.COM

NOVEMBER

november

LEAF ME ALONE

My keyring broke yesterday. Yippiee, now I have a good reason to add this favourite to my wish list: a pewter leaf by Carl Milles, the reknowned sculptor. Available at the museum and the webshop.
IMAGE: MILLESGARDEN WEBSHOP

EASY PEASY LEMON SQUEEZY



Cleaned the refrigerator a couple of days ago and found a forgotten lemon in the back of the top shelf. I usually dry some orange slices, but we'll have a twist to the mix this year.

EXPANDING THE CIRCLE

"It is easy to diminuish christmas to humbug and ignore it. It's all the more difficult to invite the old lady on the second floor, the newly arrived immigrant family, the teenager and the single mother. To dare despite the fear and the awkwardness of intruding, overcoming 'political correctness', finding the courage to open one's door for the old and the young, friends and acquaintances, people who suffer from loneliness and alienation, natives and newly arrived....

Whom will I see this christmas? Santa Claus or Jesus? Uncle Scrooge reflected in my mirror? Or can I reach out and see the real people around me?

Some people find this kind of celebration funny. I've found it to be great fun when you dare to make it your own."

Louise Boije af Gennäs is a Swedish author who wrote this as part of an article in Sköna hem, December 1996, p. 57.

DAZZLE

With small children in the house glass ornaments are a gamble, but we haven't given up all hopes for the future. Handmade in the Czech Republic, some in molds more than 100 years old, these from Danish newcomer Brink Nordic would make great keepsakes. Their fancy ribbons are the perfect finishing touch. In fact, I'd like to get extra rolls and change ribbons on inexpensive ornaments we already have for a budget friendly upgrade. 
IMAGES: BRINK.CC

STARRY KNITS

Congratulations to those of us who can't knit for ourselves. Svensk Slöjd has a new collection:  Stjärna by AnnMari Nilsson. The red cardigan looks perfect for chilly winter mornings.
PRESS IMAGES SVENSK SLÖJD, BY PHOTOGRAPHER ELINOR HALL

POLKAGRISAR


Polka pigs is the literal translation of candy cane in Swedish. No one knows the reason for the name only who invented the recipe: Amalia Eriksson, a poor widow from Gränna, Sweden in 1859. In Gränna more than 10 million traditional canes are made, most by hand. They're perfect stocking stuffers.

A traditional Gränna-type cane bakery has finally opened in Stockholm. I'm really excited about it!
It's such fun to see how they are made. Visit Gamla Stans polkagriskokeri at Nygatan 10, in the Old Town.
IMAGES: GAMLA STANS POLKAGRISKOKERI'S FACEBOOKPAGE

A SCANDI-GLOBAL AFFAIR



Favourites from Indiska's christmas. These are the best budget pieces I've seen this year. In stores now.
IMAGES: INDISKA.COM

THE ONLINE TABLE CLOTH FITTING

The Swedish company Klässbols produces damask linen. In production are patterns from each distinctive style period in Sweden since the beginning of the 19th century.

I just discovered their calculator for table cloths. Enter the measurements of your table (in cm) and it will suggest suitable linen size (incuding margins for shrinkage after washing), how many people will fit along the table, as well as available products in these sizes. Brilliant.

Above are my favourite linen towels Julius and Kökstrivsel.
IMAGES: KLASSBOLS.SE

BEHIND THE SCENES

I find glass ornaments and baubles fascinating and German ones are spectacular. Though I doubt the wonderment would last past the first couple of hundred baubles. Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F030766-0028, Produktion von Christbaumschmuck

Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F030769-0005, Produktion von Christbaumschmuck
IMAGES: BUNDESARCHIV VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

CHILLIN' WITH MY GNOMIES


Lisa Larson is a ceramic artist whose signature style has made her figures a Swedish classic. We started collecting her Lucia children a few years ago and soon had a complete set (thanks to our generous families). These gnomes are a far cry from the Coca-Cola Company's poster man. I wouldn't mind feeding them buttered porridge once a year in return for keeping watch over my homestead and stables.

All tomtar at 10% discount before November 15th in the Lisa Larson webshop
IMAGE: LISALARSON WEBSHOP

SWEET DREAMS

Contemplating a gingerbread creation? Visit Milda's gingerbread campaign for inspiration (complete with blueprints) or instant inferiority issues. I belong to the latter category as ours will be a practical graham cracker version.  More bread than ginger this year.

NOT COOL

nosno
Someone is not entirely pleased about the warm winter. At least the lack of snow doesn't stop you from getting your gear on and hitting a slope one way or another. The sprigs of fir were supposed to end up in ice candles, but have so far waited two weeks to move beyond their wet twig status.

SLÅ I GLASEN

This little family business produces an apple cider (the alcohol free version in this case) that is wonderfully refreshing, as well as an outstanding glögg. It is flavorful rather than an overwhelmingly sweet, and at only 19 SEK (3 USD) a bottle from IKEA, it was a steal. We used to have a shameless amount despite being only two adults responsible for emptying them. Now that IKEA doesn't offer any brands but their own in their food section, and few of us live close to Kullabygdens Musteri i Mjöhult we need to be on the look out for these! If you spot any, stock up first, then tell your friends.
IMAGES: PRESS IMAGES FROM KULLABYGDENS MUSTERI

WHAT'S THE DISH

Although Scandinavian christmas celebrations have common themes, the events and the foods on christmas eve are quite different between the different nations. We've been lucky enough to be invited to relatives every year since we married, and haven't had to armwrestle about who'll decide the menu: the Swede or the Norwegian. At least there is china that fits both traditional and contemporary holiday fare from all regions: Corona by Jonas Bohlin for Rörstrand. 

THE (LAZY) REASON


A good reason to keep it Scandinavian. Fewer letters. Try the cross stitch generator for your own wordings.

WINTER IN WAITING

The snow is 3 weeks late which makes Christmas feel so far away. Yet it's a mere 2 weeks until advent season begins. We'll start small this weekend: changing a few throw pillows, bringing in the woolen blankets, sheepskins, and trays filled with candles and tealights.

I'm considering these (cheap!) pillows from H&M as a childproof seasonal addition to the couches.
IMAGES:  H&M.COM

FARMORS FRALLOR

småbröd
The family's soon-to-be-3-year-old has been refusing to eat bread for a couple of months. Attempts to win him over to the darker side of the grain game has been futile. I dug out the recipe for my grandmothers rolls: white flour and a hint of sugar. My childhood's summer breakfast highlight. Mom demanded we hadt at least one "brown" bread for every roll we ate. Luck was finding the combination of a broken whole grain slice and a generous roll in the breadbasket!

Apparently they haven't lost their game. He ate three straight away.

GRANDMA'S ROLLS - yields 35 rolls or 80 mini rolls
10 dl of  lukewarm water
100 gr (cake) yeast
 1 dl oil
 1 egg
 1 tbs salt
2 tbs sugar
29-30 dl flour

Solve the yeast in the water. Add the rest of the ingredients. Knead to a smooth and elastic dough and form rolls. Rise ca 45 min or until twice the size. Bake for about 8 minutes at 250 C or 480 F.

(I made 1/4 of this batch and got 15 rolls)
småbröd2