YOU'LL BE HAPPY YOU DID


As the after christmas sales start, my best tip is to find the christmas outfit for next year. The one that you'll be wanting in early december next year, but will not have the time to shop for. A christmas outfit that is perfect for the office party and the family celebrations and advent concerts and dinner with friends? Danish designduo Eva & Claudi puts a spectacular spin on Nordic knitwear. Browse the autumn/winter collection or  christmas collection 2011.
IMAGE: EVA & CLAUDI FACEBOOKPAGE

A NEW STAR WAS BORN

fgh

STRAW-NG OPINIONS

Outdoor museum Skansen is a favourite spot, and its shop has a great selection that I browse for a little too long every time I visit. This goat handmade from straw divides our family in two: one side argues it's decorative and a long standing tradition, the other side wonders where one would place a straw goat for it to be decorative?
IMAGE: MUSEUM SHOP OF SKANSEN WEBSHOP

POLKA DOTTED


I love a good shortcut. As fantastic as homemade candy is, this is the candy that I go to in my read-a-christmas-magazine-moments or write-the-last-christmas-cards-moments or wrap-the-gifts-moments. It's simple enough and christmassy enough. It also works as a cleaning-up-after-christmas-until-midnight treat. 

NUTCRACKER

häst
This year I was invited to attend the ballet The Nutcracker and absolutely loved it. Though I've enjoyed Tjajkovskijs music for decades, seeing the stellar performance was something else. If there's a little girl in your life tickets to the Nutcracker is the gift for her next year. Sheet music and arrangements of The Nutcracker are found here.

LET THERE BE LIGHT

On Gotland, an island in Sweden with a rich medieval heritage, candleholders are decorated with tissuepaper for christmas.  Tove Adman has created a version in aluminium which is less flammable, and brings a modern expression to the longstanding tradition.
IMAGE: DESIGNONLINE.SE

GOD JUL

LISBETH CARLBORG

Lisbeth Carlborg is a former minister and vicar in the Church of Sweden and is presently a lecturer and instructor.

"Keeping it simple is the most difficult! We've extracted ourselves from the real meaning of christmas.
Christmas is the time when we should pause our life, be still, enjoy the silence and open our eyes to life's simple gifts. Instead we rush about, christmas has grown stressful, something that isn't in tune with it's original purpose.

Lisbeths's advice for a stress-free christmas:

1. Say a christmas prayer
The [lutheran protestant] christmas prayer is just the right duration, for both adults and children. There is enough time afterwards for Santa and gifts.

2. The church
Visit it to light a candle. Be reminded of the meaning of christmas and delight in the beauty around you.

3. Limit the numbers
Dare to be a few of you! It provides more time and space for enjoying each other's company. Read the christmas gospel aloud.

4. Go for a walk on christmas eve
Calm your mind with a walk and give yourself time to ponder and reflect.

5. Sit in your favourite spot
Relax with beautiful music. Rejoice in the good things in your life. "

From an interview in Sköna hem december 1998.

RECLINE IN STYLE


Chang & Biörck designs products in Chinese materials (silk, Mongolian wool) but with a distinct Swedish design heritage. The result is stunning. Pillow cover in silk and linen available in two sizes at Designonline.se. 
IMAGE: DESIGNONLINE.SE

LAST MINUTE DECORATIONS

POL apple
Winter apples are beautiful against white table linen. Place in a bowl as centerpiece, one on each plate, hang in a small christmastree, or from an iron chandelier.

STICK IT TO THEM

LA2-Blitz-Deutsches Edelschwein

As a schoolgirl I made a skinkpinne every year: a tissue decorated stick serving as an ornament for the christmas ham. I don't see school children walking home with papered sticks any longer. Are they out of fashion? Am I that old? Are my childhood traditions extinct? What are we poking the pork with nowadays?
IMAGE: MEYERS BLITZ LEXICON; PUBLIC DOMAIN

ONE DAY LEFT

amapölka
Last minute preparations are in full swing, thanks to my mother-in-law who's preparing the julegrøt. I'm going to bed instead, my level of ambition is closer to my pillow than the star at the top of the tree. Good night.

MR POSTMAN


I adore the products from Swedish design company ExMez. This mail holder is at the very top of my husband's wish list. The one I'm writing for him anyway...
Available at inreda.se and the ExMez webshop.
IMAGE: INREDA.SE

HEAR THEM BELLS

Garpenberg Miners' Chapel, Dalarna, Sweden
If you haven't already done so, plan a visit to a church this christmas. Pictured here is Garpenberg Miners' Chapel in Dalarna ca 1900. The chapel was constructed in the beginning of the 17th century.
IMAGE: PHOTOGRAPHER THORVALD GEHRMAN, SWEDISH NATIONAL HERITAGE BOARD, PUBLIC DOMAIN

DRAWING NEAR

kvistmm
It's the day before the day before...

MAKE A NOTE OF IT

I live by pen and paper, but am starting to feel slightly panicky since I'm running out of notepads. How about an upgrade from loose leafs, receipts and crummy pads to colourful notebooks. Time to prettify the everyday essentials. 
IMAGE: ORDNING& REDA.SE

SUPER BOWL

The irregularities of a few handmade items on the christmas buffet, the julbord, is that small detail that makes the difference between good and great. PS bowl from IKEA is versatile (punch, fruit, ricepudding, greens) and matches both modern and traditional dishes.
IMAGE: IKEA.SE

WINTER SOLSTICE

THE HANDMADE OR UNIQUE


Epla is an online store modeled after the American community Etsy.com. If you are looking for gifts that are handmade, vintage or materials to create your own gift, this is for you. It should come as no surprise to readers of this blog that the t-shirts from Het Potet with bunad prints were right up my alley. For international customers their FAQ states: "If you live in any other country than Norway, and still want to shop on Epla we recommend that you contact the seller of the items you want to buy to agree on the terms in advance."
IMAGE: EPLA.NO

DECK THE TABLE

mateus
I've been trying to let go for more than two years, trying to remind myself of the difference between need and want, but I can't help it, I want more. Tableware from Mateus, designed in Sweden and produced in Portugal, still holds a firm grip around my heart.
IMAGES:MATEUS 

LOW HOW A ROSE E'ER BLOOMING

Christmas rose, or Helleborus, is the most wondrous flower of the winter season: the rose that blooms in winter. Its quiet beauty is the first sign of spring. Whether it is the symbolism or the seasonality that's linked it to christmas I haven't been able to find out. In Kivik, Sweden, there's an annual exhibition with thousands and thousands of christmas roses of different varieties.
IMAGE: BERNARD M [Public domain], VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

WHEN IS THE PARTY OVER?

As most readers have figured out, this blog features a season. The question is, for how long should we be posting updates on this blog? There seem to be a consensus in our family that christmas preparations and inpirations start in october, but when does christmas season end?

In Sweden, christmas celebrations traditionally ended on the twelfth night after christmas, which was also the nameday of Knut. Hence christmas lasted til Knut's day. When Knut's nameday was moved in the 17th century to the twentieth day after christmas, the season was simply extended by a week. Then, of course, there's also the traditional song Nu är det jul igen that coined the phrase  "christmas lasts until easter"...

CARL LARSSON

Julaftonen av Carl Larsson 1904
Christmas á la the Larssons, 1904. Read more about the Larsson family's christmas and get Karin's recipe for gingerbread thins at SR.se (in Swedish).
IMAGE: Carl Larsson [Public domain]

BACK IN THE DAY

Byggfabriken is a great resouce for home owners. They manufacture a "large range of products for renovation, restoration and decoration for old and semi modern buildings and interiors in a Scandinavian tradition... [They] aim to provide classic materials and fittings in order to preserve the original qualities of older housing environments from the 1900th century throughout funtionalism and modernism."

Their christmas section follows suit with items reminiscent of christmases past. I can't help but feel nostalgic.
IMAGE:BYGGFABRIKEN WEBSHOP

THAT'S MORE LIKE IT

IMG_3751
We were right, it wasn´t there when we woke up the next morning, but has returned and promised to never leave us again. Apology accepted. This is the amount we received in 2 hours. Anyone with an intense interest in shoveling will be adopted into this family promptly.

WATCH IT

View this year's broadcast of Lucia from Göteborg at SVT PLAY.

GLAD LUCIA!

Lucia-13.12.06
IMAGE: CLAUDIA GR¨NDER [CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

ON THE RIGHT TRACK


Makers of wooden toys since the 1800's BRIO continues to produce favourites for the whole family.
(They have a Playoseum in Osby, Sweden, were visitors can play with toys and enjoy historic displays.) The trainsets and their add ons are constantly on this family's wishlist.
IMAGES: BRIO.SE

LUCIA BUNS

These buns in traditional shapes have long standing traditions. Vikings offered bread shaped as a sun at the winter solstice to their gods. In the early middle ages saffron was one of many mediterranean spices and trade goods that were brought to the North. About the same time the region was converted to christianity and introduced to legends of saints, Santa Lucia among them.

2005 baking of saffron buns 03

This is an easy recipe that renders great results with ingredients available world wide.

SAFFRON BUNS - makes about 30 single buns
200 grams butter

5 dl milk (preferably 3-4% fat)

100 gr cake yeast (or appropriate amount of active dry yeast)

2 dl brown sugar

1 gram saffron

1 tsp salt

1 large egg

ca 1 kilogram white flour 
raisins
1 egg

Break up the yeast  in a large bowl. Melt butter and add milk. Warm or cool the mixture until appropriate temperature for the type of yeast used. Pour into bowl and gently dissolve the yeast. Beat or grind sapphron with a pinch of sugar in mortar. Add to the bowl along with salt and sugar. Add the egg and stir.

Add flour gradually and beat the dough on low speed as it absorbs. Beat until the dough is forming a smooth elastic ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  Cover and let rise for at least 45 minutes or until doubled in volume.

Transfer to floured surface. Knead lightly and cut in two. Divide each half into 16 equal parts. Form buns. Transfer to baking sheets. Preheat the oven. Poke raisins into the buns as decoration and let rise about 20 minutes. Brush on top with a beaten egg and bake for about 8 min at 225 degrees C (437 F) with rack in the lower part of the the oven.

Cool on rack covered by a kitchen towl and freeze those that are to be stored as soon as they are completely cool.
CREDITS: ORIGINAL RECIPE FROM ALLT OM MAT 1973 VIA SMASKENS.NU VIA WERONICA
IMAGE: PHOTO BY THOMAS HELLBERG

MULTI

I realized that most flower pots had been doomed to the garbage pile during the last move as I wandered around the home, wet plastic container and flower in hand, looking for a pot.  The multicups from Agneta Livijns classic line have a rough expression that contrasts nicely with the romance and daintiness of delicate small flowers. Handmade in Portugal by Swedish ceramic designer Agneta Livjin.
IMAGE: PRESS IMAGE AGNETA LIVJIN

THIRD SUNDAY IN ADVENT

We lack a krubba/krybbe/créche/nativity scene. Plans of the future include a visit to Germany, Italy or Slovenia for its aqcuisition. I carefully folded and pasted last year's nativity. It lasted about two weeks until our toddler transformed it into confetti.

Have you visited the Papermodelkiosk? They offer several free print outs for nativity scenes in different degrees of difficulty, as well as a large selection for sale. You need a (free) account to download. The magi nativity and Candle Triptych are perfect for children to complete. Assembly instructions on the site.
IMAGE: PAPERMODELKIOSK

JUST CAN'T GET ENOUGH?

One of our most enthusiastic readers of the blog has tipped us off: the Norwegian public radio also has a channel fully devoted to christmas music.

Listen in online at NRK Julemusikk.

SÅ MÖRK ÄR NATTEN I MIDVINTERTID

This is what our winter world looks like at daytime. And nighttime.

A NOBEL AFFAIR

Since 1901, the Nobel Prizes have been presented to Laureates at ceremonies on the anniversary of Alfred Nobel's death, the 10th of December. The official webpage of the Nobel foundation is wonderfully comprehensive, with everything from educational games to science documentaries to live webcasts of the awards.

Most commissions for the banquet,  from Swedish suppliers, are available commercially as well. A bit on the pricey side for every day use, but great souvenirs for the design oriented. Beats a plastic viking helmet.

Table linen Nobel from Klässbols by Ingrid Dessau
Tableware Nobel from Rörstrand by Karin Björkqvist
Silverware Nobel from Gense by Gunnar Cyrén
Stemware Nobel from Orrefors by Gunnar Cyrén

Other ways to sample the event: Visit the Nobel Museum. Take a virtual tour of the City Hall. Enjoy the Nobel menu of previous anno at The City hall restaurant, Stadshuskällaren. Your cheat sheet to the event from Sweden.se
IMAGE: GENSE.SE

DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR III

                  

Three different genres, but all three ladies bring something to the table beyond the traditional chorals or jingle bell-dashing. Silje performs the definite version of Sonjas sang til julestjernen in my not-so-humble opinion. Linnet's Jul features original material that provide welcome variation and would be perfect for that long drive home for christmas without any of the sappy sentimentalities. Click on a cover for a preview/samples. 
IMAGES: ITUNES

MENU PLANNING



I should be cleaning the kitchen. Instead I'm sifting through recipes for the holidays. If all else fails I'll resort to Google: easy+delicious+feed+a+crowd.
IMAGES: LEFT, SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS;  RIGHT, JELLYBEAN, USED WITH PERMISSION

A STARRY SIGHT


If my planning wouldn't get in the way of actual execution I might have finished my initial intentions before Brita Johansson of Korstygnsbolaget tempted me to change the plan with these stars.
IMAGE: KORSSTYGNSBOLAGET; USED WITH PERMISSION 

BROWN RIMMED

It's when you lose them that you realize how much you need them. We made chokladbollar. A nailbrush, a nailbrush, a kingdom för a nailbrush! These are from favourite handicraft store Iris
IMAGE: PRESS IMAGE IRIS HANTVERK, PHOTOGRAPHER: MOSHEN HASHEMIAN

OPP AMARYLLIS

White amaryllis
To get a straight amaryllis when there is no sunlight is quite the challenge and I've failed miserably. It got confused by the lamps in the room and swayed left then right then left again. Poor thing had to be cut off and put in a vase today before it would break from the strain of trying to please every lightsource we have.
IMAGE: MUFFET [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

LET IT SNOW

Tonight a soft blanket of snow finally covered the ground again. I know that it's not a prerequisite for christmas, but I must confess that it adds substantially to the occasion. It's an instant mood lifter as well, not to mention how it brightens our dark days.  Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
IMAGE: CARL LARSSON,  PUBLIC DOMAIN  

'TIS THE SEASON

Whoever scheduled flu season to coincide with the holiday season must have been Scrooge's best friend. The only upside is being able to cozy up in front of a movie after lunch on a weekday. 

HARD TO BEAT

You'd think it's the three year old in the house who's responsible for our need to buy new glasses. He's never broken a single glass, but his mother has more than a few on her conscience. The more we look at different designs, the more I fall in love with the original Duralex Picardie

EN SOCKERBAGARE...

I'm the kind of mother who would love to make cute soft play foods, but end up never taking the time to do it. And since I don't have a stash of fabrics I doubt it'd be cheaper. In other words, I'm the kind of mother who would run to Bombadill Design's OUTLET SALE on the 6th of December 10.00-18.00, at Bäckvägen 90, Hägerstensåsen. Aren't these just fantastic? They look like so much fun!
IMAGES: BOMBADILL DESIGN'S FACEBOOK PAGE, USED WITH PERMISSION

SONS'N'ROSES


Lillemor Kax started design company Emy Little and transported a folk costume from 19th century Dalarna to childrens' wear of the 21st century. A more comfortable, washable, version of traditional wear will get my vote any day. I think they are simply adorable. Their range of products also sport babyblankets, bonnets, bowties and items for the home. Visit the international webshop here.
IMAGES: COPYRIGHT PHOTOGRAPHER LILLEMOR KAX AND EMY LITTLE, USED WITH PERMISSION 

LUCIA

It's time to find the Lucia procession gear. I think I know where the nightgown and the red ribbon is, but I've always been a tärna and have no crown. A tärna without Lucia feels a little random so I suppose we're going back to the pre-huge-processions era: mom getting up early to serve breakfast and lucia buns with candles in hair and singing. These metal crowns come from SGSAB. Seven candles are beautiful, but I think for our informal setting at home five is enough. Don't forget to use Liljeholmens kanalljus with small tunnels in them to catch the melting stearine.
IMAGE: SGSAB.SE

LISTEN IN

Did you know that the Swedish Public Radio has two channels devoted to christmas music only? The channels are available between 29th of November and 9th of January.  Both stations are available online:

P2 Klassisk jul, tradditional christmas music
P4 Bjällerklang, popular christmas music

As a service to those of you that are technically or "swedishally" challenged, I've also added them to the sidebar of this page. Just press play. Happy listening!

ON THE DARK SIDE

An animation of satellite images over northern Europe shows no sunlight even close to our home town as the earth rotates. (Hint: the images load before the animation starts) 
IMAGE: PHOTO BY NASA, PUBLIC DOMAIN, EDITED BY SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS

GET IT!

This pure silk scarf was a great deal but now on sale it's a steal (49 SEK/49 NOK/8.5 USD). Cool enough to match a leather jacket and neutral enough to work with most suits. In other words the perfect gift for most ladies on your list. From H&M.
IMAGE: H&M WEBSHOP

DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR - II

      
The chamber choir of Täby Kyrka is a less known recording, but in my opinion the best in its genre. It's been difficult to find in stores, but has become available for download, making it easier to enjoy for those of us not in Täby. The vocal  arrangements on Adolf Fredrik's youth choir's recordings remind me of the Lucia concerts our family have enjoyed, and who can resist Jojje Wadenius' jazzversions? Click on a cover to preview.